By Erwin M. Mascariñas
This capital city of Surigao del Norte province, which has been hosting the International Dragon Boat Festival since last year, is being positioned to become a center for water sports as even the Department of Tourism (DOT) and local officials push sustainable tourism in the country.
“Since Surigao City is a coastal city, we are very much suited to host such an event, like the Surigao International Dragon Boat Festival,” said Surigao City Mayor Ernesto U. Matugas Jr adding that with the success in hosting international race for the 2nd year, he wanted to develop Surigao City as a watersports hub that balance with eco-tourism promotion.
He said that it is natural for the people in Surigao to be in harmony for such events as people and those around living in communities around the city grew up in the coastal waters of Surigao.
International dragon boat competition would hopefully kick-start a trend for the city, according to Matugas.
“This dragon boat race is very important as it would set as a landmark for our city,” he said.
Surigao City has a total of 17 islands and islets and is comprised of 54 barangays, 33 in the mainland with 21 islands barangays.
Arturo P. Boncato Jr, Undersecretary of DOT expressed optimism with the direction Surigao City is headed.
Boncato said that the dragon boat festival is one of the most sustainable activities that the city like Surigao can pursue; it does not involve fuels or anything that will harm the environment. “With that we will support Surigao City and we will focus on the soaring of sustainable tourism, as it is the key to the future, with it we are able to provide opportunity to everybody,” said Boncato.
Surigao City and Surigao del Norte province has a huge role in the growth of tourism in the Philippines, its contribution to the tourism sector of the Philippines, being part of Mindanao.
“With that we can hopefully brand surigao City as a dragon boat and watersport destination in this part of the world,” Boncato added.
DOT Caraga Regional Director Ana Nuguid expressed that part of the region’s trust is to push forward and create Caraga Region as a premier international sports-tourism destination.
She added that while the international dragon boat festival is on its second year, other international sporting events that has drawn tourists into the region and the province of Surigao del Norte has been going on for several years.
“This year the Siargao International Surfing Cup with be on its 25th year, that’s the longest running international independent sporting event in the Philippines. We just had our 12th year with our International Game Fishing Tournament in Pilar Town last April and then we will be having our 3rd Siargao International Marathon race in Del Carmen town,” said Nuguid.
The organizers of the 2nd Surigao International Dragon Boat Festival stated that they are expecting a much bigger event next year with more international and teams from the Philippines competing in the race.
This year a total of 19 teams from the Philippines and three teams from China competed in the dragon boat competition.