Visit Bicol and experience three times the fun!
The Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon (ALMASOR) tourism alliance has brought more tourists to the Bicol province in less than a year after its inception in 2012. This alliance was formed in March 2012 by Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) led by its chairman and Albay Governor, Joey Salceda.
Now being called as the “Soul of the South”, it was designed to bundle the tourism potentials of the three provinces into a one-stop-shop package for tourists and its an integrated and inclusive promotion approach to market the Bicol province by grouping the three provinces into a tourism sub-region similar to another Bicol alliance, Catanduanes-Camarines Sur-Camarines Norte Tourism Link (CCTL).
ALMASOR has been providing significant benefits to the three provinces, especially on tourist arrivals and infrastructure. The alliance helped the Bicol province to attract 3.7 million domestic and foreign tourists last year, an increase of 8% from 2011. This made possible the funding of big tourism infrastructure support projects in the area now amounting to P4 billion.
Albay posted a 49% tourist arrival growth in 2012, making the province fastest growing tourist destination. Sorsogon garnered 31% and these two provinces will likely pull-up Masbate.
Governor Salceda said that because of the tourism boom brought by ALMASOR, the projects intended for the three provinces are now easy to fund and became financially feasible than it was difficult before. The Department of Tourism already approved a P1.4-billion tourism support infrastructure package for Albay.
The flagship infrastructure project is the P3.6-billion Southern Luzon International Airport in Daraga, Albay which is expected to open in 2014. This airport, which is among the pet project of Governor Salceda, will be the Bicol’s main entry point and is expected to further boost the tourist arrivals.
The national government is funding a road project for each province: P 1.56 billion in Albay, P 1.25 billion in Sorsogon and P 900 million for Masbate.
The Philippine National Railways will start the modernization plan for its rail tracks all the way to Legazpi City. The P278 million Albay Sports Center and the P 250 million Mayon International Convention Center is now in the works.
This year, the DPWH – DOT joint infrastructure program will also take place and will focus much on Masbate including the P400 million Masbate City Road Project, West Ticao Coastal Tourist Highway and Sto. Nino-Guinhadap-Monreal Road both costing at P250 million.
Albay is one of the provinces in the Bicol region. The province’s capital, Legazpi City, is the regional administrative center of Bicol region and is located in the southern foothill of Mayon Volcano, the symbol most associated with the province.
The legendary volcano is one of the icons of the Philippines. Acclaimed as the world’s most perfectly cone-shaped volcano, it forms a scenic backdrop to the city of Legazpi and is visible throughout the municipalities and cities of Albay including the surrounding provinces.
“Albay is also a vibrant province with lots of tourist destinations to choose from,” Raph Torralba, an Independent Communications Specialist of Mr. Ramon Cuervo, said. “When a person hears the word Albay, the first thing that will come to his mind is Mayon volcano. We always see Mayon directly from our ancestral home in Polangui and it’s always a fresh morning everytime we wake up seeing the Mayon volcano.”
Albay is also the location of posh Misibis Bay Resort, a small luxury hotel in Bacacay, and the five-star The Oriental Hotel in Legazpi City.
Tourism plays a vital role in Albay. “With 49 percent arrival growth in 2012, Albay is the fastest-growing tourism destination – almost doubling in domestic tourism and 23 percent in foreign tourism. Moreso, out of the 251,000 incremental tourists, it had a market share of 67 percent, or two out of every three new tourists going to Albay in 2012,” Governor Salceda said in a news statement.
Agriculture also plays an important role in the economy of Albay. The province produces rice, coconut, sugar and abaca. Forestry, cement production, handicrafts and paper-making are also a vital source of income. Fishing is the main livelihood along both shores of the province.
The rapid urbanization of the cities of Legazpi, Sorsogon and Naga has led these cities to become as hubs of economic activity, as well as cultural, business and religious centers of the Bicol region.
Mr. Ramon C.F. Cuervo III went to Legazpi City for the first time sometime in the summer of 1968 or 1969. He went with his father, Ramon Cuervo Jr. and brother, Fico, to attend the convention of the Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards.
The trio was joined by realtor, Gabby Ambrosio, PAREB Officers and members, and they all boarded the Bicol Express train.
“My brother, Fico, was with me and we were just 2nd year high school student that time. Typical naughty boys that had lots of fun in the train. This was a night trip and we were hyper, drinking beer, and enjoyed the balut. With that, we didn’t sleep nor allowed others to sleep because of our jokes, laughter, and fun,” recalls Mr. Cuervo.
Up to now, Mr. Cuervo still cherishes the wonderful time he and Fico had in the PAREB Convention, especially the dances, the songs, and beautiful ladies that kept both of them at bat at the day care center.
“We were young teenagers and did not care much about the convention so instead, we took a day tour around the city. Then, we joined he excursion to Mayon Volcano. It was so beautiful! And the people are all so kind and hospitable. This was one of my best travels and happy memories with my father and brother,” he said.
Masbate is a first-class island-province in the Bicol region. Its capital is Masbate City and the province is composed of three major islands: Masbate, Ticao and Burias.
The island is an agricultural province and is a net importer of consumer and industrial products. The supply of goods came from Metro Manila, Cebu, Panay and Bicol Provinces. Construction materials, particularly cement are sometimes sourced as a far as Iligan City in Mindanao.
Because of these industries, major infrastructure projects are now being planned in the province such as the road system, transportation, communications facilities, seaports and airports.
Transportation sector has been a growing industry in Masbate with aircon minibuses and jeepneys regularly plying the road of the mainland Masbate and giving the people a round-the-clock transportation services.
Masbate is gifted with rich natural resources. Its agricultural proucts are rice, corn, rootcrops and coconut. Fishing industry also abounds in its shorelines. Livestock and poultry raising also abound and the province
In line with its agriculture are other industries such as large farming, livestock and poultry raising. Along its coastal areas, fishing industry predominates. Agricultural lands are planted with rice, corn, copra, rootcrops and coconut. The province ranks second only to Bukidnon in raising cattle. About 70% of these are sold to Metro Manila and other provinces in Luzon. Farming is the main source of livelihood.
Rich minerals are found in the province. Masbate is described by geologists as a province sitting on a “pot of gold”. Other minerals found in the area are manganese, copper, silver, iron, chromite, limestone, guano, and carbon.
Sorsogon is the 2nd class southernmost province of the Bicol region and faces the island of Samar to the southeast across the San Bernardino Strait and Ticao Island to the southwest. It capital is Sorsogon City
Sorsogon City is the province main economic hub.
According to a Wikipedia source, Sorsogon indeed had a great contribution on the 97-percent growth in investments for the first quarter of 2008 and increasing tourism arrivals that buoyed the Bicol Region economy, despite the damage brought about by incessant rains and a rice shortage. This is according to the Quarterly Regional Economic Situationer (QRES) released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Office in Bicol (NRO 5).
Among the provinces, Sorsogon posted the highest growth (293% respectively) in investments from the previous year. Next to Sorsogon is Catanduanes that posted a growth of 280%. Albay contributed 39%percent to the region’s investments and posted a growth of 221% from the preceding quarter.
“For the third time, Bicol Region hosted the kick-off of Asia’s premier extreme sailing event, the Philippine Hobie Challenge last February 16 at Gubat, Sorsogon. This 260-mile journey from Gubat-Sambuyan-Bacsal-Marambut-Suluanto Siargao enticed both local and foreign water sports enthusiasts. It opened the opportunity for the municipality of Gubat to showcase the town’s best,” the QRES stated.
**With sources from Philippine Star and Wikipedia