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Legarda: Programs on Protection of Environment, Arts and Culture to Boost Tourism in Antique

April 14, 2019

Senator “Inday Loren” Legarda today said she wants Antique’s tourism to flourish like its sister provinces in Western Visayas and believes that this is possible through environmental protection and arts and culture promotion.

Legarda noted that Antique is the province in Western Visayas with the second lowest number of tourist arrivals in 2017 and the lowest in 2018. According to data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) Region VI, in 2017, there were only 162,925 domestic and international tourists who visited Antique out of the 5.8 million total tourist arrivals in Western Visayas Region. In 2018, Antique only had 108,220 out of the region’s 4.9 million tourist arrivals.

“Antique used to be the poor sister province in Panay Island and we want to change that. Many good things are happening now in Antique, and we really intend to make our province a premier ecotourism destination with sustainable livelihood that will bring jobs to our people,” said Legarda.

“Antique is a treasure trove of natural wonders. It is known as the province where the mountains meet the sea because it is such. It is home to the cleanest rivers, verdant peaks, magnificent beaches and caves, all of which are cared for by Antiqueños,” said Legarda.

Antique is home to the Bugang River in Pandan, one of the cleanest inland bodies of water in the country; the Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park and the Sibalom Natural Park, which are both protected areas; the historic Malandog River in Hamtic where the ten Bornean datus first landed when they arrived in the island of Panay during the 13th century; and the rice terraces in San Remigio that are well kept by the Iraynon-Bukidnon indigenous community. These are only a few of the many other tourist destinations in the province.

To make her home province a premier ecotourism destination, Legarda has been supporting local micro enterprises like the Bagtason Loomweavers Association in Bugasong, the Malabor Abaca- Piña Weavers Association in Tibiao, and the Sto. Rosario Multi-purpose Cooperative in Pandan, through government programs that will improve their products and sustain their businesses. She has also partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to bring local enterprises to Manila through the National Arts and Crafts Fair, and to invite tourists to go to Antique through the showcase of products in Antique Harvest, in partnership with the DOT.

“Local food and products are always part of the experience when visiting a province that is why we help our local industries that produce Antique’s best products such as tablea, muscovado sugar, handwoven patadyong, handmade clay pots, and handicrafts made of nito, buri, bariw, abaca and bamboo,” she explained.

The preservation of Antiqueño heritage is also a big part of Legarda’s plan not only to boost tourism in the province but also to ensure that its culture and traditions will be passed on to the next generations of Antiqueños.

Legarda, together with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), has been supporting the School of Living Tradition (SLT) of the Pantad Ati Indigenous Community in Sitio Pantad, Igcalawagan, Tobias Fornier. This SLT teaches the Ati Language, nito and buri weaving, and the Meroy Kareñosa dance to the youth of the community. This SLT is featured in the book,Everyday Culture: Our Schools of Living Traditions, one of Legarda’s book projects on culture that features facets of the country’s cultural heritage that have become part of everyday living.

Legarda has also partnered with NCCA for Antique’s hosting of the 2019 Pista ng Komedya after discovering that her home province upholds the important komedya tradition, made evident by the presence of several komedya troupes in different municipalities, such as in San Jose, Barbaza, Laua-an, Bugasong and Sibalom.

Among Legarda’s other projects for heritage promotion and environmental protection are: the renovation of the Old Capitol building to be repurposed into a textile gallery and museum; the restoration of the Gella-Azurin heritage house, which is the only remaining bahay na bato in Antique; the installation of the first Bantayog-Wika in the country, the Kinaray-a Language Marker; the construction of the Pandan Arboretum and Eco-Park; the Malandog River Rehabilitation and Development Project; and the Sibalom Natural Park Conservation and for Ecotourism Development.

She has also ensured that the needed infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and ports are in place, even reviving the airport in San Jose and bringing back Philippine Airlines flights to Antique. Soon there will be a FastCat route that will connect Antique (Culasi-Caluya) to Mindoro.

“Antique has so much to offer, each of the 18 towns has its own beauty to boast. Tourists will be in awe of its natural wonders and have fun and would surely want to go back for more. In the years to come, Antique will be the rising star not only of Western Visayas but also of the whole Philippines, ” Legarda concluded.***

Please find attached photos of Senator “Inday Loren” Legarda:

(1) at the Bugang River

(2) at the Malandog River

(3) experiencing the kawa bath in Tibiao

(4) at the Tibiao River

(5) with members of the Iraynon-Bukidnon indigenous group from Laua-an during the Antique Harvest last December 2018

(6) at the Weaving and Processing Center in Brgy. Malabor, Tibiao

(7) with weavers of Sto. Rosario in Pandan

(8) at the Bagtason Loomweavers Association weaving center in Brgy. Bagtason, Bugasong