DAVAO ORIENTAL – The Province of Davao Oriental will soon launch its very own provincial festival that will showcase the province’s rich natural and cultural heritage.
The Kabilin Festival which is set to be launched next year will have a soft kick off on May this year dubbed as the “Prelude to the Kabilin Festival”, which will give locals and tourists a glimpse of what to expect on the much-anticipated event that is likely to draw more tourists from all over the country.
Series of activities have already been slated for this five-day event. Among them is a tour caravan to the various tourism sites in the province – from Banaybanay town to Boston town – to be run by local and Davao-based tour operators. Among the highlight destinations are the Mount Hamiguitan World Heritage Park in San Isidro town, San Agustin Eco Park in Governor Generoso town, Pusan Point in Caraga town, Aliwagwag Falls Eco Park in Cateel, and Subangan Museum in the City of Mati.
Provincial Tourism Officer Miguel Trocio listed several exciting activities for the festival such as cultural performances by indigenous-based performing groups. There will also be workshops on script writing, directing, dance choreography, tour guiding, and events management. He said workshops like these are deemed necessary seeing that the province needs to boost entertainment as part its tourism sector, mainly in the area of culture and the arts.
He added that the province further needs to work on its tourism, culture and the arts as this is the new essential assessment area included in the Department of Interior and Local Governance’s Seal of Good Local Governance.
In addition to those activities, there will also be stage competitions such as singing contest, choral competition and even a drag show featuring local impersonators.
While the Provincial Government sees the festival as a good vehicle to gain recognition and be promoted especially as a tourism destination, the Kabilin Festival aims to spur economic activities to benefit the localities resulting from the anticipated influx of tourists.
For the first few months of this year, the Provincial Tourism recorded more than 700,000 tourist arrivals here in the province. “This is more or less 15% higher than the previous year,” said Trocio, noting that there are about 12,000 to 13,000 foreign tourists who arrived here.
“Our tourist arrival is the best indicator for our tourism industry’s progress,” he said, noting that Davao Oriental has one of the highest tourist arrivals in the region. He noted, however, that the bulk of the tourists are only here for a day tour. “This means that most tourists do not stay overnight,” he said, saying that those who stay overnight only consist of 20-30 percent of the total tourist arrival. He said this is mainly because the province’s existing accommodation facilities such as hotels and inns don’t have the capacity to house the surging number of tourists.
While the Kabilin Festival is Davao Oriental’s first and official festival, it is also touted to be the first festival in the country that is ‘truly devoted to the conservation of the environment with strong advocacy to fight, abate and adapt to climate change, a phenomenon that is in the agenda of many developed countries’.
The province, who is working together with many national government agencies, is coming up with ways to promote tourism while at the same time protecting the environment. “More people mean more garbage. That is why we are looking at the carrying capacity of the sites to make sure they are not too crowded with tourists,” Trocio said, adding that they are reminding tourism facility operators to adhere to the solid waste management law. He said that the key is to make people aware of their responsibilities to help protect and conserve the province’s natural heritage.
As to the security measures, the province is working together with the Davao Oriental Provincial Police Office and the Philippine Army to ensure the safety of the tourists from threats of terrorism and insurgency. Trained police officers have already been stationed to every tourism sites to safeguard the communities and tourists from various threats.
“We cannot just cower down. Wherever you are in the world there is always violence. That’s why we need to strengthen our efforts while helping to project the province as a vibrant tourism destination. To do this we are collaborating with the barangays and the communities.”
“We are still experiencing birth pains in terms of management of our tourism sites,” Trocio said, noting that propping up tourism does not happen overnight and is continuous process. However, he assured that the gains for the province and for the community will be all worth it in the end. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan