By Analou De Vera
The Department of Tourism (DOT) said that it is ready for the expected influx of tourists in Balangiga town in Eastern Samar, who are interested to see the three historic Balangiga bells.
“We, at DOT, are so happy for the people of Eastern Samar as the homecoming of Balangiga Church bells may yet turn not only Balangiga town but the whole of Eastern Visayas into an emerging tourist destination. In time for the Christmas season, this is one of the best gifts for the region could ask for,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
The DOT said the historic bells are seen to boost tourism activities in Balangiga town, which is located in the southern part of Eastern Samar province.
“Eastern Visayas is really rich in history and among these historical places that can help in improving our tourism is the town of Balangiga which has figured prominently in both the Philippine and American history,” said Puyat.
The tourism chief added that Balangiga is also “blessed with attractions ideal for nature, marine sports, adventure, historical, heritage, cultural and religious tourism.”
DOT Eastern Visayas director Karina Rosa Tiopes said the department has already been assisting the local government for the town’s tourism development projects.
“Foremost of these is the improvement of the Balangiga Incident Marker, funded under the DOT-Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Project worth P9.7 million which was downloaded to the LGU,” said Tiopes.
“The improvement includes landscaping and beautification of the park and the small museum located at the back of the marker to make it more presentable to tourists and pilgrims who will be visiting the town,” she added.
The DOT will also conduct training programs for mangrove paddling guides, waiter servicing and food handling, community tour guides, mountain guides, effective customer service and entrepreneurial development.
The DOT also provided a fund worth P629,000 to the LGU for the procurement of livelihood gears that include kayak with paddles, personal flotation device, fisherman’s hat, rash guards, first -aid kits, tents, solar lamps, beach umbrella, plastic tables, monoblock chairs, abseiling ropes, harness, carabineers and various office supplies for Bayakha Falls, Ladder-Bangon Falls and Sitio Marag Mangroves.
“Enhancing other tourist destinations in Balangiga will make visitors stay longer, giving them the opportunity to get to know our people, experience our culture, taste our cuisine and discover the Infinite Escapes in Eastern Visayas” Tiopes added.
Tiopes also said they are looking at the possible accreditation of homestay units to address the lack of accommodation establishments in Balangiga town.