The Cebu Provincial Government last October 20 launched its Big 5 ecotourism destinations and its “1521” tourism magazine, ushering in a new chapter in sustainable tourism efforts in the province.

The Big 5 (Aloguinsan, Alegria, Alcoy, Argao, Boljoon) are destinations managed by people’s organizations (POs) that, with the assistance of the Capitol, are packaged to form part of a three days, two nights tour for guests.
Prior to the launching, members of the respective POs underwent various trainings and workshops, which include visitor management, food handling, food presentation, first aid, to prepare them in giving guests the unique experience each site offers.

As per tour package, guests of at least 10 per group, paying P6,500 per person, go first to Aloguinsan town’s Farmhouse, which is a demo farm about organic farming; Barangay Bojo for the River Cruise, taking a ride in a glass-bottom boat that allow them to gaze at corals; and the white-sand beach Hermit’s Cove in Barangay Kantabogon.

Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito Costas gives an overview about the Big 5 ecotourism destinations and the tourism magazine 1521.

The Farmhouse is managed by the Aloguinsan Rural workers Assn. (ARWA); the Bojo River Cruise by the Bojo, Aloguinsan Eco-tourism Association (BAITAS); and the Hermit’s Cove by the Kantabogon Ecoutourism Association.
From Hermit’s Cove, guests ride for Batong Malunhaw resort in Alegria town to spend the night there. In the morning the next day, they would go to the Que Alegre Demo Farm, which offers farming practices that promote a healthful environment and the wellness of consumers, for a farm-to-table tour. The farm is operated by the St. Peter’s Academy of Alegria Foundation, Inc. (SPAAFI).

From Alegria, guests proceed to the forest reserve in Nug-as, Alcoy for a birding and nature tour, where they get the chance to see the Cebu Hawk Owl and other birds and experience nature. The tour is offered by the Kapunungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Yutang Lasangnon sa Bulalacao, Nug-as, Alcoy (KMYLBNA).

The administration of Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III (third from left) was instrumental for the development of the “Big 5” ecotourism destinations, which were represented during the launching by (left to right) Riza, Alvarado, Kantabogon Ecotourism Association (Aloguinsan) president; Sofronio Encontro, Kapunongan sa Mag-uuma sa Yutang Lasangnon sa Bulalacao, Nug-as, Alcoy president (Alcoy); Dr. Jorelyn Concepcion, Cebu Tecnological University-Argao campus director for extension services (Argao); Nozzie Medida, Asosasyon sa Boljoanong Mamumuo sa Turismo (Boljoon) president; and Dr. Gilberto Magallon, St. Peter’s Academy of Alegria Foundation, Inc. president (Alegria).

Guests then spend the night at the Research Station in Nug-as before proceeding to Boljoon for its heritage tour the next day. Guests get to visit the town’s centuries-old church, the church museum, the gran baluarte, and other remnants of the past at the cabecera. The tour is given by the Asosasyon sa Boljoanong Mamumuo sa Turismo (ABOMATU).

From Boljoon, the last stop of the Big 5 tour is Argao town, where guests would see how its famous torta and tableya are done. They also get to see how hablon is made and taste coconut wine and even mango wine.
“With the launching of Cebu’s Big 5, we will be promoting community-based tourism in five of Cebu’s towns – Alcoy (with its bird-watching and nature trek), Alegria (with its wellness and adventure tours), Aloguinsan (with its Bojo River Cruise), Argao (with its culinary tour), and Boljoon (with its heritage tour),” said Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito Costas, in a prepared speech during the launching.

Models present copies of the maiden issue of the Cebu Provincial Government’s 1521 tourism magazine, which features as its main stories the Big 5 ecotourism destinations.

Officers and representatives of the POs managing the respective town tours expressed eagerness in already starting the tour, while at the same time acknowledging the challenge to sustain the offering and improve customer experience.

They all thanked the Capitol for the assistance, both in infrastructure, training and other forms of help, in making the project a reality.

Stories about Aloguinsan, Alegria, Alcoy, Argao, Boljoon were also the centerpiece articles in the “1521” magazine launched along with the Big 5 project.

The 126-page maiden issue featured what the five towns have to offer to guests participating in the tour package.
“The magazine features Cebu’s very best – its rich heritage, storied history, diverse culture, and compelling destinations,” Costas said of the quarterly publication.

It was named “1521” as a hark back to the year when Cebu entered the annals of written history with the coming of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
With the magazine, the Capitol intends to continue the narrative about Cebu, particularly on its tourism destinations.

The launching of the Big 5 ecotourism destinations and the 1521 tourism magazine was a festive affair with the food prepared for the occasion by Cebu Parklane International Hotel and the Golden Prince Hotel chefs.


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