For so long, French tourists are just a few miles from Mayoyao

By Anthony A. Araos

“ I look back now and feel I am fortunate, having been an “endorser” of Mayoyao at the airport. It is such a wonderfully memorable feeling, knowing I have shared with them some insights of the town. ”

European tourists clearly outnumber other foreign tourists who are visiting Ifugao. My guess is that there are several French tourists who opted to see the panoramic vistas of Banaue.
So when I met two travelers from Paris, France and another tourist from Fresno City in California, U.S.A. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Pasay City, I immediately took the opportunity to tell them to visit places like Subic Freeport, Baguio City, Sagada in Mountain Province as well as the towns of Asipulo, Banaue, Kiangan and Mayoyao. I told them (young French businesswomen and a young American engineer): “If you travel anywhere soon, even just a short trip, it will please you to see Mayoyao because of its scenic spots. You really need a change of scenery. Visit its rice terraces and some other “different” sites such as the Tenogtog Falls. It is one great place where tourists feel the full energy of nature. It is surely a sight to behold for local and foreign tourists.
“There is also the astounding view of the town’s lush terrain, and so Mayoyao is absolutely a sight to see,” I added. “Great. We’ll have coffee there,” one of them– a 6-2 stunner who is of Brazilian and French descent, replied. And speaking of that, I told them I’ll start learning how to drink coffee. “Oh yes, that would be nice. Thank you,” my parting words. The short conversation ended with good-natured exchange of pleasantries.
Why the stress for a Mayoyao trip? Mayoyao never disappoints me. Trips to this upland farming town are never unexciting and uneventful, it seems.
In 2015, a total of 45,505 tourists from France went to the Philippines. Just a few thousands of them chose to visit Ifugao. Perhaps, 3,000 French travelers visited Banaue. Probably, a few hundreds of them ventured to the nearby town of Mayoyao. My guess, a conservative one at that — just about 300 of them included Mayoyao in their travel itinerary and I’m disappointed.
So what’s the big deal with these figures? The French tourists who visited the country four years ago contributed $34 million in tourist receipts during the period. Think about the huge revenues derived from the French tourists. I’m imagining thousands of French tourists travelling through picturesque mountain trails and taking a dip into the cool charms of Tenogtog Falls. Mayor Jimmy Padchanan Jr. should capitalize on the captivating power of the town’s natural wonders. And this gift of the Almighty Creator that almost each tourist from here and France (and other countries throughout the world) has loudly declared can be hard to resist. Therefore, Mayor Padchanan and other municipal government officials should claim the town’s rightful place in destiny as the “next destination” of the province.
French tourists flock to Banaue. They don’t go as far as Mayoyao in huge numbers regularly. When they do, they come in insignificant numbers. This failure to attract a bigger slice of the pie is accounts for by the weakness of the town’s tourism program. It is no longer in consonance with the challenges of the times. Too bad since Mayoyao is just about an hour and a half away from Banaue and is suffering from poorly performing tourism officials.
Increased revenues from the town’s tourism industry are essential for Mayoyao’s growth and development. Consequently, Mayoyao folks should see the most profound testament to strength, unity and courage that define them as a people.
I look back now and feel I am fortunate, having been an “endorser” of Mayoyao at the airport. It is such a wonderfully memorable feeling, knowing I have shared with them some insights on the town.
For now, all-out support of Rep. Solomon Chungalao, Governor Jerry Dalipog and Vice Governor Glenn Prudenciano and the private sector are the instruments that keep the ember of hope still alive in invigorating the tourism industry of Mayoyao.
It is high time to transform Mayoyao from a sleepy, underdeveloped, provincial town to a bustling, progressive and tourism-driven hub in the second geographical district of Ifugao. Start small, grow big and move forward. I suppose this is what people mean when they backed Mayor Padchanan in the last May midterm polls. Underdevelopment is a reality. It also connotes that being poor is a frame of mind. Whatever the case is, attitude is everything. It is hoped that tourists from Normandy and other places in France should be visiting Mayoyao, blooming with economic potential coupled with its God-given wonders that’s ripe for appreciating and enjoying. It is actually more like an honest-to-goodness effort of reinventing Mayoyao’s tourism program. It is basically focused on improving the conditions of the people and reverses the dismal state of Ifugao’s tourism industry because the number of arrivals is way, way, way below the mark. Past administrations failed to grasp the real import and goal of a robust economy as brought forth by a booming tourism industry. Huge revenues can be achieved only if a well-attuned tourism masterplan is crafted. Nueva Vizcaya province continues to count its blessings because there are more tourists who visited it compared to its neighbor Ifugao province. Nueva Vizcaya has had great success in determining which destinations would be prioritized in terms of infrastructure development at the shortest time.
Mayoyao needs to compete in tourism. It is now fully prepared and driven to do so.
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The Dalipog administration still has challenging tasks ahead. It must create jobs, improve infrastructure and boost agriculture, commerce and tourism. Add to the list making a policy breakthrough in the cooperative sector in Ifugao.
Over the years, the province’s cooperatives often performed limited functions of holding annual general assembly activities. The positive news at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) is that Board Member Agustin Calya-en is about to submit a proposed ordinance outlining the creation of the Ifugao Cooperative Council which should prompt a reassessment of priorities in the provincial government.
Calya-en, who is from Tinoc and manager of the Kalanguya Cultural Community Multipurpose Cooperative, hit the ground running in the effort to upgrade the conditions of cooperatives in impoverished Ifugao. To my mind, the filing of the ordinance is timely and relevant. It is a step in the right direction. Its creation shall provide a direct link of the cooperative sector to higher decision-making levels within the government bureaucracy.
For now, the proposed measure should go through the legally correct process of drafting and approval. I’m expecting its passage on first reading. It should be adopted quickly for obvious reasons.
The creation of the council shall also nurture the “development consciousness” in the provincial government, working intelligently this time with the cooperative sector.
The Ifugao Cooperative Council is under the executive so the Governor can also do much in the area of ensuring the ordinance’s immediate passage into law by certifying it as urgent. Such action must also start at the committee level. The Committee on Cooperatives and People’s Organizations, chaired by Board Member Calya-en, should give a green light for its enactment. Five board members of the said committee are likely to support the proposed measure. It is my fervent prayer that the remaining six SP members show their appreciable contribution to this noteworthy initiative of Board Member Calya-en. Each one of them has an immediate duty and responsibility to make this happen.
As such, it is greatly hoped that the SP should seriously view and consider that the plan to create the Ifugao Cooperative Council through legislated action will be but another occasion to raise the level of collective effort to elevate the cooperative sector to even greater heights.
Interaction between the cooperative sector and the officialdom must be pursued at a greater momentum. I’m sure that the ordinance’s passage does bring about the good of the cooperative movement, thus, certainly serve as a legacy for future generations to appreciate.
Many provinces have taken concrete steps to create their cooperative councils. When is Ifugao going to join them? Oh well, I can pray, can’t I?
Then and now, I see in Ifugao that only a few in the cooperative sector are given the opportunity to participate in decision making and this is usually because they are hardly afforded a venue to articulate their sentiments. Hopefully, provincial government officials and cooperative sector leaders working hand-in-hand will end the sector’s woes.
With these apparently reasonable points considered there is no reason whatsoever for delaying the legislative mechanisms to go into play. The SP has come up with big decisions on big concerns. This is one such instance and the time is now. Board Member Calya-en, who remains persistent in his advocacy for cooperatives, has been making the appeal to prioritize this concern. I am proud to be identified with this cause.
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Unlimited odd thoughts unloaded: Sign at the municipal hall: “Mayor Self-Help Department Needs Assistance.”
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For our food delights corner: At one time, I got a wonderful treat of lemon-cucumber juice in Kiangan. I also sampled a cucumber juice in Diffun, Nueva Vizcaya. Of course, chilled lemonade is splendid in Taipei City and Las Vegas, Nevada all day, every day, any darn day.
Well, how about trying kiwi-cucumber juice. It is excellent for lunch or dinner. Likewise, I’m not ruling it out for snack or merienda time. Kiwi, a fruit raised in New Zealand, is my favorite, even if it is expensive here. Cucumber is also my favorite. Fortunately, it is not expensive.
I usually add cane or palm sugar to my kiwi-cucumber juice. Good food and chilled juices usually are normally main draws of my trips. Then I look forward to my meal possibly full of pleasant surprises at dinner time.
Kiwi-cucumber juice and pizza (go for ham, mushroom and cheese) make a perfect pair. You can’t get a perfect combination as this one. Thus, drink like there’s no tomorrow, because kiwi-cucumber juice is simply superb!
These thoughts of chilled kiwi-cucumber juice were meant for sharing with the family, loved ones and close friends. Delight them all with a chilled kiwi-cucumber juice while watching television after a busy day at the office.
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Finally, some thoughts for our readers: “Never tire of doing good, for in time you will reap a harvest.” Gal 6:9
“Because there is nothing else save that God is love.” Gospel: Jn 21:20-25**

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