A component city in the Western Visayas region is now starting to make its mark in the tourism industry with the help of a collaborative undertaking between the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and a private university in the region.
So-called “sweet city in the heart of Panay,” Passi City, a fourth class city in the province of Iloilo, has immensely benefited from the tourism development plan crafted by the Central Philippine University (CPU) funded by the DILG Technical Assistance (TA) program for Local Research Institutes (LRIs).
Implemented by the DILG’s Bureau of Local Government Supervision (BLGS), the DILG-TA program for LRIs provides a grant of P200,000 to academic institutions like CPU that submitted notable proposals that will address the gaps identified in the results of the Citizen Satisfaction Index System (CSIS).
The CSIS generated relevant citizens’ feedback on the delivery of basic services by the local government units (LGUs) particularly in the areas of health, support to education, social welfare, governance and response, public works and infrastructure, environmental management, and economic and investment promotion.
DILG OIC Secretary Eduardo M. Ano says the CSIS results and the DILG-TA program have been instrumental in making sure that the programs and projects implemented at the ground level are really suited to their needs.
“While the DILG-TA fund is very small compared with other DILG programs, its contribution is huge for component cities like Passi City to come up with strategic plan which has become the blueprint for promoting the agro-tourism industry in the city,” Ano says.
“More tourists to Passi City will result to more income for their city. With more income, they will become their own center of growth and be ready to stand on their own once we have transitioned into a federalized country,” he adds.
Premier tourist destination come 2020
Passi City Mayor Jesry Palmares says that through the intervention, they are now getting nearer to their vision of becoming the premier tourist destination come 2020 as they are increasing the awareness of their constituents on federalism.
“Our overall direction is for Passi City to be known as an agro-tourism destination through sports, wellness, historical places, caves, products, personalities, and events,” says Palmares.
“Our advantage is that we are at the center of everything, from Boracay and Aklan and from Iloilo City. By harnessing our tourism industry, we will open growth opportunities for our people and we will be able to stand up on our own once we become a federal government,” he adds.
Following CPU’s recommendations listed in the strategic plan, the mayor says the city’s tourism office has been more pragmatic and systematic in coming up with activities that highlight their caves, pineapples, carabao ride, and other unique tourist activities and attractions in Passi City.
In fact, the recently concluded Pintados de Passi Festival last March 2018 has drawn media attention, tourist influx, and social media blitz. The City Tourism Office reported that the tourists have tripled from 1,000 to 3,000 and that the hotels in the city were fully-booked throughout the two weeks celebration.
Based from the Tourism Development Plan, the city’s tourism office has spearheaded different activities to increase awareness of their stakeholders and promote Passi City. Among others, they had conducted Eskulympics (quiz bee, poster, and slogan contest for elementary and high school students); Tricycle ko Gwapo for tricycle drivers; Farmers Day; photo exhibits; agency-based accreditation, ocular sites to the different caves; and showcase of local offerings and talents.
DILG-TA results presented in local and international conferences
According to CPU- University Research Center Director Mary O' Penetrante, the research results of the DILG-TA program has also brought honor to CPU as they had presented it to local and international conferences like the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) academic forum, GIZ Philippines, and in Vietnam.
She also shares that the output gathered from the research in Passi City has been used as inputs for classroom discussions. It has also helped increased the rank of the CPU, the research center, and the researchers.
The CPU research unit also expresses their willingness to help other LGUs who want to replicate the success of the strategic planning in Passi City in their respective areas.