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Albay, Sorsogon primed for world-class tourism

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

SORSOGON CITY --- Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco has commended the officials of Albay and Sorsogon provinces for their outstanding innovation, delectable culinary offerings, rich biodiversity, and rich cultural heritage. She praised their world-class readiness as premier tourism destinations in the country.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) brought guests of the Philippine Experience Program (PEP) to Sorsogon to witness the grand opening of the Kasanggayahan Festival and in Albay.

Frasco, who graced the first salvo of the Department of Tourism Philippine Experience Bicol caravan, visited various tourism destinations in Albay and Sorsogon.

In Sorsogon province, Frasco participated in the opening of the month-long Kasanggayahan Festival 2023, commemorating its 129-year establishment as a province on October 17, 1894.

The opening of the 129th Kasanggayahan Festival coincided with the first salvo of Philippine Experience (PhilEx) organized by the Department of Tourism regional office in Bicol from October 8-10. Kasanggayahan means prosperity.

Frasco and the delegates of the PhilEx experienced the rich cultural heritage and savored unique culinary delights in both provinces of Albay and Sorsogon.

The provincial government of Sorsogon, led by Governor Edwin “Boboy” Hamor, treated the PhilEx delegates to a distinctive array of seafood and pili candies.

VISIT Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco visits Barcelona Church in Barcelona town, one of the oldest churches in the Bicol Region built in 1874 made from coral rocks. Rhaydz B. Barcia photo

Frasco's group visited the Bulusan Volcano Natural Park (BVNP), a protected rainforest covering 3,672 hectares around Mt. Bulusan, a breathtaking sight.

The Bulusan Volcano National Park, declared a National Park in 1935, is home to two geothermal lakes, Bulusan and Aguingay, and boasts rich biodiversity. The park is ideal for birdwatching, with a variety of flora and fauna in its rainforest. Tourists can enjoy boating, fishing, kayaking, trekking, or simply savor the scenic view from the viewing deck.

After the BVNP visit, Frasco and the delegates headed to Barcelona Church, one of the oldest churches in the Bicol Region, built in 1874 from coral rocks. It was restored in 2018 through joint efforts of the local government unit (LGU) of Barcelona and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

Near the neoclassical Barcelona Church are the ruins of two other buildings, the Presidencia Building and the Escuela Pia. The Barcelona Ruins and Church serve as a gathering place for Barcelonanons.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco expressed her excitement in joining Sorsoganons in celebrating Kasanggayahan. She emphasized the importance of tourism for the country's economy.

In fulfillment of the President’s directive to promote tourism across the country, the DOT launched the Philippine Experience Program (PEP), a cultural, heritage, and arts caravan that introduces tourists to the heart and soul of the Filipino people. Festivals, local products, and community immersions are all part of the experience.

Frasco lauded the provincial government of Sorsogon and Governor Edwin ‘Boboy’ Hamor for their warm welcome to the PEP delegates and for showcasing culture, traditions, food, and eco-tourism destinations.

Frasco's goal is to make the Philippines a tourism powerhouse in Asia, and the PEP in Bicol is part of this initiative.

Delegates of the Philippine Experience Program (PEP) Bicol, led by Frasco, traveled to the Pepperland Hotel in Legazpi City after a one-day tour in Sorsogon. They immersed themselves in nature and cultural heritage and joined the month-long Kasanggayahan Festival 2023. They met Albay Governor Edcel Greco Lagman, who hosted a dinner for the PEP delegates.

The PEP aims to reintroduce the Philippines to the world, highlighting the strength of its natural assets and the Filipino people. Frasco emphasized the importance of tourism in economic recovery, especially in areas hit hard by the pandemic.

In Albay, PEP delegates visited several destinations, including Legazpi City Boulevard, the giant statue of Our Lady of Salvacion in Pawa village, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride through the rugged Mayon trails, Cagsawa Church, Cagsawa Ruins, Farm Plate in Daraga town, and Sumlang Lake in Camalig town. They experienced the local culture and cuisine, including abaca weaving, pili nut cracking, and cacao tsokolate making.

Frasco noted that the Bicol Region is ready for world-class tourism events, emphasizing its delicious cuisine and unique cultural heritage.


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