Last night, on May 1, 2023, I had the pleasure of hosting a surprise visit from former Kagawad Roberto “Abing” P. Rodulfo of the Municipality of Virac and Bato town, accompanied by Preacher Macario ‘Jun’ Arcilla. The bond of our five-decade friendship is truly something extraordinary, as the years effortlessly slipped by without us realizing it. Reflecting on Mitch Albom’s book, “For One More Day,” which beautifully illustrates the enduring power of a mother’s love, my heart resonated with the eternal strength of deep friendships.
Their visit was inspired by their reading of the captivating Catanduanes Tribune series, “Exploring Tourism Part 1 and 2.” Having served as a Councilor in Bato town a few years ago, Kagawad Rodulfo was captivated by the majestic view from the summit of Cabugao Mountain and envisioned its potential as a tourist destination. From that vantage point, one can behold a panoramic view of the sea stretching towards Albay, as well as the meandering Bato River winding its way below.
Kagawad Rodulfo envisioned the construction of cabins or lodges for tourists on the lower slopes of the mountain. Another ambitious dream of his was to unite the Marinawa and Balongbong rivers at this very spot on Cabugao Mountain. Dreams, as actor Bruce Willis once said, die hard—especially for Kagawad Abing Rodulfo.
In light of this vision, Kagawad Rodulfo proposed that our local leaders convene a Tourism Congress for Catanduanes. Furthermore, both Jun Arcilla and Kagawad Rodulfo believe that Catanduanes has the potential to emerge as the next Boracay or Siargao, offering tourists an uncharted and pristine paradise. They argued that these popular tourist destinations have already been marred by overexploitation and are in need of a fresh and unspoiled alternative—enter Catanduanes.
However, they acknowledged that achieving this feat requires collective efforts from our government leaders, affluent individuals willing to invest in the cause (to be identified by the town mayors), and the cooperation of all Catandunganons. Kagawad Rodulfo suggested establishing sisterhood ties with Boracay, Siargao, and El Nido, proposing that the Sangguniang Bayan of Virac pass a resolution to this effect. He emphasized that, just like the friendship between Mandaluyong and Makati City, the more friends we have, the merrier—and the stronger the mutual support. We have individuals within our community, such as those associated with CatSU, who can expedite the approval of our resolution.
In this pursuit, my dear friend Atty. Al Aquino, who could have been my classmate had he not entered the seminary, offered a few valuable suggestions regarding tourism. He emphasized that the responsibility of marketing and promoting our incredible tourist attractions should rest with our tourism officers, rather than individual business owners. By doing so, the entire beauty of Catanduanes will be showcased on television screens, rather than solely focusing on specific establishments.
To preserve the pristine nature and salty fragrance of our beaches, it is crucial to prohibit the construction of hotels in close proximity to the sea. We have already witnessed the consequences in Boracay, where the government had to suspend hotel operations due to the foul smell caused by waste. Let us learn from this lesson and implement preventative measures early on.
With our leaders at the helm, diligently working towards improving our island and making our tourism industry competitive with established destinations, CatSU’s plan to welcome foreign students will undoubtedly be a significant boost for tourism in Catanduanes.
The university is currently preparing several courses tailored for foreign students, alongside other necessary documents awaiting approval from the Bureau of Immigration and CHED.
Picture this: in the not-too-distant future, as you take a leisurely stroll from the San Pablo Public Market along Rizal Avenue towards the Provincial Capitol, you will find yourself greeted by smiling foreigners, basking in the joy of being on our island. At that moment, let us collectively celebrate, for we would have achieved our shared goal.
May God bless us all.
Afterthought: Don’t forget to visit BOOKLATAN at ARDCI MART from Friday to Sunday, between 4:00-9:00 pm, where a treasure trove of new books awaits you, all at affordable prices. Delve into a world of captivating stories, insightful knowledge, and thrilling adventures, carefully curated to captivate readers of all ages.
Writer : Armando V. Zafe
Place : Buyo, Virac, Catanduanes
Date : June 4, 2023.