By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — “Culture should not bend for tourism.”
Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Pura Molintas during the weekly Kapihan last August 15 reiterated that indigenous practices should not be sacrificed for the sake of tourism. She added that what is needed is a more efficient advisory and information dissemination to inform prospective tourists about upcoming indigenous rituals before hand for them to consider in planning their trip.
Molintas explained that tourists, especially foreign visitors who visit the Cordillera, want to see the indigenous villages and they get disappointed when they do not actually get to see the villages due to restrictions of indigenous practices. She said that if visitors are disappointed chances are they will not come back.
She added that these tourists plan their trips months before so if they are informed properly about the indigenous practices they will adjust accordingly. “Tourists will respect the indigenous practices for as long as they are well informed,” she said.
Bontoc Councilor and Chair of the Committee on Tourism Constantino Mirado shared during same Kapihan that Maligcong village in Bontoc made some adjustments to accommodate tourists by declaring a certain portion of the village to be open all year round even during the Tengao period. He added that the Maligcong rice terraces is the leading tourist destination in the municipality.
Mirado explained that Tengao is a two to three day prayer and thanksgiving ritual after the harvest period. He said that during this period nobody is allowed to get out from or get into the village. “All the Bontoc villages still practice tengao but only Maligcong folk decided to open a certain portion of their village to visitors even during the tengao,” he added.
The councilor stressed that visitors are allowed only in that certain portion the Maligcong folk call Poblacion during the tengao period while the rest of the village is closed to visitors.
Moreover Bontoc Vice Mayor William Aspilan highlighted the importance of coming up with a comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) for the municipality. He explained that a CLUP will serve as a development plan of the town and help ensure the conservation of the environment.
Aspilan acknowledged that tourists come visit Bontoc for its rice terraces and natural landscape. He also agreed that some services need to be improved to accommodate the visitors such as accommodation and banking services.
“The CLUP will identify which areas are viable for the establishment of hotels or residential houses and which areas must be preserved and protected,” he further said.
Aspilan also reiterated the need for a more efficient and aggressive information dissemination about the tourist spots and possible activities in Bontoc to attract more visitors. He disclosed that the local government has improved its tourist information center and is working for the accreditation of tourist guides with the DOT. He mentioned that the guides will be attending seminars and workshops with the DOT for capacity building. # nordis.net