Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eco-Tourism Summit, Kinabayo Festival Successful In Dapitan City

Journalists pose for picture during the 1st National Media Summit on Eco-tourism held recently in Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte province in the southern Philippines. Also in the photo are Dapitan City Councilor Apple Marie Agolong, left, Tourism regional operations manager for Mindanao Romeo Urian and Dapitan City Vice Mayor Patri Bajamunde Chan during the opening of the summit at the Dakak beach resort. (Mindanao Examiner Photo / Mark Navales)

DAPITAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 29, 2008) – Dozens of journalists have pledged to support and help promote eco-tourism in the southern Philippines after the two-day 1st National Media Summit on Eco-tourism held in Dapitan City.

The summit, held at the Dakak beach resort, also coincided with the annual Kinabayo Festival, which is celebrated every July 25 in Dapitan City. Some 50 media participants, together with tourism officials, attended the media summit, said organizer Cheng Ordonez, president of the Peninsula Media Network.

City Councilor Apple Marie Agolong, who chairs the City Council's Committee on Tourism, said the summit was aimed at providing awareness to media practitioners the importance of eco-tourism on national and local economy.

She said resource persons from the Philippine Tourism Authority and City Tourism Council also spoke during the summit. “The role of the media is very vital in promoting local tourism, thus we have conceptualized this media summit,” Agolong told the Mindanao Examiner.

Agolong said Dapitan City is being promoted a major tourism destination in the country because of its beautiful beaches, among them the world-class Dakak resort, and rich culture. “That is why our local tourism stakeholders have come up with programs to aggressively promote Dapitan City as one among the world class tourist destinations in the country,” she said.

Agolong said Dapitan City is also where the Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal was exiled for four in July 1892 by the Spaniards. While in exile, Rizal practiced ophthalmology, built a school and waterworks, planned town improvements, wrote, and carried out scientific experiments.

Then he successfully petitioned the Spanish government to join the Spanish army in Cuba as a surgeon; but on his way to Spain to enlist, the Philippine revolution broke out, and Rizal was returned from Spain, imprisoned, and tried for false charges of treason and complicity with the revolution. Rizal was executed on Dec. 30, 1896.

The day before he was executed, Rizal wrote to a friend: “I am innocent of the crime of rebellion. So I am going to die with a tranquil conscience.”Agolong said among the city's tourism potentials include the historical shrine of Rizal.

“The historic exploits of Jose Rizal during his exile in Dapitan make our city a historical tourist place that could not be found in other places in Mindanao,” she said.

She said journalists were also given the opportunity to witness and cover the Kinabayo Festival which is being celebrated in honor of St. James. The festival is a colorful pageant re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars, mainly the Battle of Covadonga where the Spanish forces under General Pelagio took their last stand against Saracan.

They were able to overturn the tide through the miraculous spirit of St. James. The addition of local color and modernism has made this annual celebration a popular attraction which brings thousands of tourists to the Dapitan City.

St. James, the Greater is the patron saint of Dapitan City. Earlier on into the Spanish rule, Dapitan was still flooded by Moro pirates. The Jesuit priests fatefully set up St. James, to protect the locals from an attack of invaders. It was believed that in the fifth century, an apparition of St. James, atop a horse carrying a sword, guided the Spanish soldiers into victory over the Moors in the Battle of Covadonga. (Mark Navales)

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