GUIMARAS A HARD SELL? DOT seeks to reposition island after Iloilo Strait tragedy

first_imgParticipants included students, businessmen, motorboatoperators and workers, motorcycle and jeepney drivers, and resort owners, amongothers. The Department of Tourism Region 6knows what it has to do: reassure tourists that it remains safe to cross theIloilo Strait. But Director Helen Catalbas acknowledges there’s a lot to do. MARINA actually ordered the phase outof all wooden-hulled passenger motorboats and replace these with aluminum- orfiberglass-hulled ones but boat operators said the cost was prohibitive. “What Guimaras is currently gettingare independent or individual travellers, small groups. Gone are the big groupsof tourists crossing the Iloilo Strait to visit the island in buses and vans,”said Catalbas. Stakeholders present includedrepresentatives from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime IndustryAuthority (MARINA), local government units of Guimaras, tour operators,resorts, hotels, and restaurants. “In the minds of tourists, it’s noteasy, it’s not safe to go to Guimaras anymore,” lamented Catalbas. According to the Guimaras ProvincialTourism Office, 19,439 same-day tourists visited the island in August and16,908 in September – significantly lower than the 49,295 visitors recorded inAugust 2018 and 31,856 tourists who came in September last year. From the Parola wharf, the berthing area of motorboats plying the Iloilo City – Guimaras route has been temporarily moved to the old wharf of Bacolod City-bound fastcrafts on Iloilo City’s Muelley Loney Street to give way to the dredging of the mouth of the Iloilo River. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN Last month a group calling itself Hugpong Guimarasheld a “unity walk” in Guimaras to dramatize the sorry plight of the provincedue to the tightly regulated operation of motorboats. “We have to respect the ‘safety first’policy of MARINA and coastguard,” said Catalbas, “but we have to come up withsolutions which will allow tourism and Guimaras to move forward.” Wearing black shirts, they called for the return of the way motorboatsoperated prior to the Aug. 3 Iloilo Strait tragedy. “We will reposition Guimaras as a safedestination. We need to assure tourists that traveling to Guimaras is stillsafe. But we have to get the commitment of all stakeholders,” she said duringyesterday’s inter-agency dialogue at a hotel here. Tourism has become one of the maineconomic drivers of Guimaras which boasts of export-quality sweet mangoes,beaches and dive sites. The PCG and MARINA imposed strictmeasures on sea travel following the Aug. 3 Iloilo Strait tragedy. Theseincluded limiting motorboat trips (from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. only), removal orrolling up of tarpaulins or canvas that give shade to passengers, and mandatorywearing of lifejackets throughout the trip. Catalbas also suggested that fastcrafts and roll on, roll off (roro) ships make themselves available for chartertrips of big groups going to Guimaras. Stakeholders also agreed to lobby withMARINA to reconsider one restriction – the removal or rolling up of tarpaulinsor canvas that protect passengers from the scorching heat of the sun. ILOILO City – After the capsizing ofthree motorboats that drowned 31 people in the Iloilo Strait, tourist arrivalsin the island province of Guimaras dropped by 73 percent in August andSeptember this year from arrivals recorded in the same months last year, datafrom the Guimaras Provincial Tourism Office showed. “Our plea is that for the time being, samtang wala pa ang modernization, ibalik ang trapal with some modifications,” said Fred Davis ofHugpong Guimaras. “With a lot of events and conventionsin Iloilo City, Guimaras has to be ready to accommodate tourists. Whether weadmit it or not, whether we realize it or not, Guimaras is one of theattractions of Iloilo City. They (visitors) come here for events and they hopeto cross to Guimaras which is only 15 minutes away,” said Catalbas. One of the things that dialogueparticipants agreed yesterday was to modernize or improve motorboat services. Gov. Samuel Gumarin of Guimaras and Cong. Lucille Nava themselvesearlier warned of the economic dislocation of motorboat operators, crew andtheir families if the phase out of wooden-hulled boats is not done gradually./PNlast_img read more

VA history project reunites buddies

first_imgAnd when the grandkids care, that interview James is doing now will become one of the most precious things in their lives. James has conducted 45 interviews with local vets so far. She doesn’t get paid. She’s strictly a volunteer, as are most of the people who work in this office. Truth is, James says, she’d probably pay the VA for the privilege. “I go home at night feeling great,” she said Wednesday. “I’m spending the day meeting some of the most incredible people in this country’s history.” Not an Eisenhower, Marshall or MacArthur. No, guys like Marine Sgt. Sam Cordova. Sam says the thing he remembers most from those freezing nights in Korea 54 years ago, as he lay in a bunker and wondered when the next attack would come, was Red Goulding passing around his rosary beads. A little prayer never hurt, Red would say. Give it a try. And the eight other guys in that bunker with Red did just that. “The last time I saw him was at Treasure Island after we got back to the States,” Sam said Wednesday. “He leaned out a bus window and said, `Goodbye, Sam.’ I looked up at him and said, `Goodbye, Red.’ “For 13 months we had been best buddies, watching each other’s back. Then he was gone. That was the last time I saw him.” Becky turned off the camera to let Sam gather his thoughts. Then she started working at her computer. She had names, dates and unit designations. If Red Goulding was still alive, she knew she could find him – and she did. “Why don’t you give him a call?” Becky said, handing a stunned Sam Cordova a Georgia telephone number. “Now?” Sam asked. “You’ve been waiting 54 years, Sam,” she said. “Sure, now.” Becky turned the camera back on as Sam dialed the number. “Red?” he said. “Is that you?” “Sam?” Red asked. Fifty-four years later, Goulding still remembered his buddy’s voice. With tears rolling down her cheeks, Becky James kept the camera rolling – recording a poignant, important piece of history for the Library of Congress and Sam Cordova’s grandchildren. This June, Red Goulding, a retired priest, is coming out to California to visit his old war buddy, Sam Cordova, a retired attorney. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. (818) 713-3749160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! There comes a time in every interview when the old vets pause and ask Becky James to please turn off the camera for a second. Maybe it’s to wipe away a tear, gather their thoughts, or try to bring back the face and name of a buddy who didn’t make it home from World War II or Korea. Whatever it is, James, an Air Force veteran, complies. She’s in no rush. The men and women who served this country in time of war have come to this volunteer office at the Sepulveda VA in North Hills to tell their stories for posterity. It has taken a lot of courage to stir up the memories from 50, 60 years ago. James can give them a few more minutes. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventThe Veterans History Project, now going on at all Veterans Affairs facilities in the country, may be one of the most important, most worthwhile programs Congress has enacted because it gives a face and a heart to some of the greatest and worst times in the history of the United States. The war stories are not told through any filters – not the generals and politicians doing the talking. The privates, corporals and sergeants are talking. The GIs on patrol, the Marines hitting the beach and the Army nurses washing the blood off MASH operating-room floors. A DVD and cassette tape of each one’s wartime experiences will end up in the Library of Congress. Another will go home with the veterans for their families – and to leave behind for their grandkids. They might not care now what Grandpa or Grandma did in the war, but they will one day, James says. last_img