With summer just around the corner and the huge influx of tourists expected to flock to different Philippine destinations, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) cites the efforts of a state college in Central Visayas in training local pedicab drivers to be world-class tourist guides and first-aiders.
DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano says that the Siquijor State College (SSC) in the town of Larena has prepared local folks, particularly the pedicab drivers, to cater to the needs of the growing number of foreign tourists who are visiting the province by teaching them how to speak basic Korean and French, among many other skills.
“SSC’s initiative is a very novel idea and perhaps the first in the country. Where else can you find pedicab tourist drivers who are conversant in Korean, French, English, Filipino and Visayan languages?” Ano says.
Those who benefitted from SSC’s initiative are the 40 pedicab drivers-members of the Province of Siquijor Tourism Accredited Drivers Association (POSTADA) who underwent a month-long knowledge and skills training sessions on developing their conversational skills with mixed languages including French and Korean; tourism skills focusing on customer delight; cross-cultural communications and cultural diversity; and basic first aid.
Ano says that the training for pedicab drivers in Siquijor was made possible through the project grant of the DILG to the Siquijor State College (SSC) based on the findings of the survey on the Citizen Satisfaction Index System (CSIS).
CSIS results showed that the areas of economic and investment promotion particularly in the transport services need dire improvement in order to be at par with the rising demand for tourism in the Siquijor province. Ano says that the SSC’s novel proposal was among the ten proposals chosen by the Department’s National Program Committee (NPC) and was granted with P200,000 technical assistance fund.
Dr. Maria Imogen Quilicot, SSC President, says that because of the training, public transport drivers who are at the forefront in dealing with domestic and foreign tourists can now efficiently and effectively approach guests, close deals, and impart ways for the visitors to do their share in preserving the scenic and beautiful island province during their stay.
Quilicot says POSTADA members were also provided with tourist driver’s guidebook and first aid kits at the end of the training which they used in their day-to-day life as pedicab drivers.
For six-year POSTADA President, Neolito Samson, the month-long training provided to them changed their lives for the better. From the usual P200-300 income per day, the POSTADA members are now hired three times a week for a P1,000-1,200 per day for an island tour.
The POSTADA drivers also closely monitor their local and foreign guests up to the minute details such as asking the tourists if they know how to swim or if they need floatation device whenever they ask for permission to wade into the crystal clear sea waters.
Aside from serving as drivers, tourist guides, and first aiders in one, they also remind their local and international guests to throw their garbage in proper places as trash cans are adequately available in strategic locations all over the island province.
The tiny province of Siquijor composed of just six municipalities has been gaining prominence for the last 10 years next to the more popular tourist destinations like Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, Camiguin, Siargao for their white sand beaches, old churches, falls, caves and other tourist attractions.
To know more about Siquijor’s novel idea, interested LGUs and parties can contact the Siquijor State University at telephone number (035) 377-2223 or (035) 377-2222, visit their website at www.siquijorstate.edu.ph, or follow their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Siquijor-State-College-639134252841349/.