[Nov.07 필리핀] Local Government of Bohol Province in the Philippines
Local Government of Bohol Province in the Philippines Initiates Measures to Protect and Promote Its Cultural and Natural Heritage
Melchor L. Lagartija
The province of Bohol is located at the Central Visayas region of the Philippines which is about 700 kilometers from Manila, the country’s capital. Bohol is a first-class A province composed of 47 municipalities and one city which serve as its capital- the Tagbilaran City. Considered as the tenth largest island in the country, Bohol is a wellspring of culture, history, ecology and natural heritage sites that have earned worldwide interest. It is a home for many historical landmarks, centuries old colonial churches scattered all-over the province, clean waterfalls, natural caves with stalagmites and stalactites, exotic wildlife, pristine beaches and resorts. The chocolate hills, with its numerous mounds of limestone formation and are the only ones of heir kind in the world, is the greatest attraction of the province. Bohol province is also a proud sanctuary of Philippine tarsier, the smallest primate that is indigenous to the island. The area is aptly called “God’s Little Paradise” by those who witness the grandeur of its natural and cultural richness as well as its charm and mystery. As tourism industry is becoming a huge part of Bohol, all sorts of business ventures have sprouted along continuous improvement of infrastructure and other physical resources. Its capital, Tagbilaran is already fast becoming highly commercialized with increasing trading activities. And since recently Panglao Island was declared as the first tourism estate in the country, investors keep pouring in. Because of these, the Local Government of the province is alarmed about the negative effect to its natural and cultural heritage face to face its vision to make the province a prime eco-cultural destination.
In response to this, the Local Government of Bohol initiated several measures for the attainment of both objectives having all actions geared toward economic, ecological and most of all cultural gain.
Specifically, it concentrated on areas of preservation, restoration and adaptive-reuse of ancestral houses; revitalizing historical districts as community tourism destination; instilling pride of Boholano and Visayan cultural legacy and artistic excellence; restoration of selected landmarks of Bohol’s cultural patrimony; raising and establishing repositories of Boholanos heritage, among others.
To systematically and properly materialize all of these areas, the provincial government created sub-units and sub-groups that will take care of the various components. It created the Tourism Development and Promotion Unit under the Office of the Governor. Its function is to make certain that cultural and tourism projects development should be in accordance with the principles of ecotourism. The agency undertakes the promotion of Bohol as the “Heritage Province”, and the “Eco-cultural Destination” of the country.
The unit came up with “The Provincial Tourism Sketch Plan” which shows how tourist assets of the province can be developed into thematic and non-thematic cultural-tourism properties. The sketch plan likewise directs planners and implementers on how these properties could be promoted cost-effectively to developers and to tourists, with high consideration on the least negative impact on the environment and the host community.
The Provincial Government likewise created the Center for Culture and Arts Development (CCAD), again under the Office of the Governor. Its main function is to preserve and revitalize the intangible forms of the province’s cultural heritage such as Bohol’s traditional music, dance, plays, festivals, ways and folkways as well as its local traditions. It also undertakes the development, promotion and preservation of Boholanos (local people of Bohol) art and culture that are very important in the establishment of a Boholano identity.
A multi-sectoral Tourism Council which is a policy-making, advisory and recommendatory body to the provincial leadership specially on matters pertaining to the development, regulation and promotion of cultural-tourism in the province, was likewise created. The counterparts of this body to the municipal level are also being encouraged in order to oversee proper tourism development initiatives at local government level. This will also establish consistency of actions and purpose.
Aside from the creation of various units and offices under the Provincial Government, there are also key institutions that are assisting in the promotion of cultural-ecotourism in the province. This includes the Department of Tourism, which conducts various technical seminar-workshops aimed at maintaining sustainable development in tourism policies and programs in the local government units. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the other hand was likewise given its own role to play. This office expected functions include the implementation and monitoring of environmental laws, regulations and policies for the preservation and conservation of natural resources. Together with DOT, the DENR is also instrumental in formulating a framework that will serve as a guide in the development of national policy and strategic guidelines on ecotourism.
Other than these national and local government units, the Coastal Resource Management Program has also its own role to play. It mainly assists communities, private groups and local government in planning balanced use of coastal eco-tourism management, to ensure livelihood and business opportunities to comm unities, promote environmental awareness and best practices.
There is also the World-Wide Fund for Nature-Kabong Kalikasan ng Pilipinas (WWF-KKP) effort that assisted in the establishment of the Pamilacan island dolphin and whale watching enterprise, another strong attraction of the island. This is a community-based sustainable tourism project.
With all these efforts of the local and national governments and the existing cultural-tourism activities, along with the established cultural-tourism facilities, the province of Bohol is not far from gaining cultural prestige in the world.