Thursday, August 11, 2016

Legazpi puts up tourism desks; gears for Ibalong Festival
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 10 (PNA)--Expecting an influx of tourists for the 25th year celebration of “Ibalong Festival” this month, Mayor Noel Rosal called on the City Tourism Office (CTO) to establish numerous tourism desks in Legazpi City’s major tourist attractions.

He asked City Tourism Officer Antonio Reyes to put up desks at Lignon Hill, Embarcadero de Legazpi, the City Boulevard, Grand Terminal station and other areas sought by tourists.

Rosal said aside from serving as a monitoring station on tourist arrivals, the desk will assist visitors who want to spend their vacation in this city.

Legazpi City, which has been tagged as a “city of fun and adventure” by the Department of Tourism was recognized on July 14 as the “third most competitive city” among more than 1,300 local government units nationwide for offering an attractive business climate to investors.

The National Competitive Council, a public private sector partnership initiated during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, gave the recognition.

CTO records showed the city, which hosts an annual average of 35 various gatherings, posted a 45 percent increase in tourist arrivals in 2015 compared to the previous year.

The number of visitors in 2015 was up to 967,396 from the 666,210 in 2014.

Rosal said the city expects more visitors to come this month as the city formally opens the silver year anniversary of the Ibalong festival on August 12.

Based on the “Ibalong epic” written by the late Bicolano scholar Merito Espinas, the festival is a yearly non-religious fiesta depicting Bicol’s ancient period that tells of mythical superheroes, villains, monster and wild animals.

Reyes said since the festival is based on Bicol’s indigenous legend, it is probably the only such celebration of an epic in the country.

He said the festival that showcases Legazpi City as a major tourist destination effectively complements its number one crowd drawer, the fabled Mayon Volcano, depicted by local lore as a “daragang magayon” (beautiful maiden) at times given to seething fury.

Lignon Hill

Visitors coming to the city will be challenged by the hike to Lignon Hill, home of the Mt. Mayon observatory of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Located near the Legazpi domestic airport, Lignon Hill at 511 feet offers the best view of the volcano and the entire city landscape that stretches to as far as Albay Gulf and the nearby Albay towns of Daraga and Sto. Domingo.

The CTO said during early morning hikes up the hill the breezy air and majestic view of the 2,460-meter Mt. Mayon, whose nearly perfect shaped cone is said to rival the beauty of Japan’s Mt. Fiji, will be a soothing sight to the tourist.

During afternoons, Lignon provides a welcome mat to hordes of picnic loving Legazpeños, among them students, private and government employees, and workers from the service industry such as shopping malls and call centers.

Legazpi City visitors, who are into physical fitness activities, will get a leisurely workout through the eight-kilometer “Southern Boulevard,” a seaside road that is a favorite venue for biking, jogging or walking with its two-lane expanse framed by palm and coconut trees.

The coastal road network, that extends from the city’s central business district and port area to the southern villages, provides a picturesque view of Mayon and what is referred to as “Kapuntukan hill” to the north.

A visitor walking along the boulevard would come across the waterfront commercial complex called “Embarcadero de Legazpi.”

Located at the city harbor, the multi-billion public private investment of businessman Elizaldy Co, it provides space for various name brands in the lifestyle market.

The Legazpi City Central Terminal located at the sprawling satellite market site provides visitors with land transportation amenities, that include UV express vans, aircon buses or non-aircon public conveyances for those coming from the National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog or the Visayan provinces.

It is also a favorite shopping area for “pasalubong” where stalls sell abaca-made products and confectioneries concocted from pili, a major Bicol crop.

Ibalong festival’s opening day activities will consist of simple rites at the Ibalong heroes monument in Barangay Lapu-Lapu and the launch of the “Third Ibalong Weekend Market” at the “Boulevard” to be followed by the opening of the “First Bicol Construction Expo” in the afternoon.

Aside from the “Beach Volleyball Republic Royals,” there will be other national and international sports events. These include the Mayon Triathlon and the volleyball exhibition match between teams from Ateneo University and De La Salle University.

There will also be national competitions in such events as dragon boat race, open autocross (alongside a car show), and mountain bike race.

A badminton tournament and a pigeon race will lend color to the festivities while Rain or Shine and Global Port will carry the banner of the Philippine Basketball Association during the festival.

Visitors will get a sampling of local culture through a street presentation with competing dance groups from the various Bicol provinces.

On Aug.16-17, “Ibalong the Musical” will be presented at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation.

As to how to get to these riveting sites with riotous color and fun, visitors are egged on to ask the city’s various tourism desks.(PNA) FPV/GVR/EPS/CBD