OFW Surigaonons launch tourism, investment drive

After two successful projects of granting scholarships to deserving college students and providing old but still usable textbooks to elementary schools in the Philippines, the United Surigaonon Association in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (USA-EPSA), a regional organization of Filipinos from the provinces of Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte, officially launched a campaign to promote the tourism and investment potentials of their two provinces and their respective cities.

The tourism and investment drive, targeting overseas Filipino workers and foreigners alike, was announced during the 4th annual general assembly of the USA-EPSA held last Friday at the Philippine School in Dammam (PSD).

“The provinces of Surigao and Surigao City are endowed with all the amenities and infrastructure necessary for tourist destinations and have investment opportunities for overseas Filipino workers,” said Ferdinand Arana, founding president and adviser of the association, updating the Filipino community on the current projects of USA-EPSA.

Arana said information materials promoting tourism and investments in the provinces of Surigao and their cities, located in the Caraga administrative region of the Philippines, will soon be distributed among OFWs and their families in Saudi Arabia.

Imelda L. Manalang, another adviser of the association, said the tourism spots in Surigao provinces are among the finest in the Philippines and probably in Asia. “We offer these beautiful spots not only to our compatriots overseas, but to all foreigners who are looking for world-class tourism destinations,” she said.

As for the investment potentials of Surigao, the provinces have industries, mining, agro-industrial, and tourism business opportunities, according to Arana and Manalang.
USA-EPSA, which was founded in 2000 with 15 members and now has over 300 members, launched its scholarship program in 2006 starting with two scholars. The association is now evaluating applicants for its next batch of scholars.

The book donation campaign, called Aklat Mo, Tagumpay Ko, benefited three elementary schools in Surigao del Norte and Surigao City. The books were collected from the International Philippine School in Al Khobar (IPSA) and Philippine School in Dammam (PSD).

The drive to donate usable textbooks to schools in Surigao will continue. Solicitation of usable textbooks will be expanded to other international schools in Eastern Province, not only from Filipino schools.

As part of the campaign to encourage Filipino students to excel in their studies, the associatioin this year awarded three students the Rafael E. Seguis Leadership Award (named after Rafael E. Seguis, former Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia). The student-awardees were Edsel Magtoto, who was president of the supreme student council of IPSA and who led the successful collection of old textbooks from his school, James Manalo of PSD who excelled in both academics and extra-curricular activities, and Kimverlie Molina, also of PSD, who brought fame to Filipino students in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia in the international arena by winning the The Filipino Channel Popstar Grand Championship held in Dubai last year.

During the 4th general assembly of the USA-EPSA, the newly elected officers were inducted into office by Philippine labor attaché David Des T. Dicang, who was also the guest speaker.

Inducted into office were Ted Cagampang, president; Ferdie Magallanes, executive vice president; Pol Eledia, external vice president; Jun Eledia, internal vice president; Greg Barcos, secretary; Romy Elizaga, assistant secretary; Vice Dela Costa, treasurer; Felix Ycong, assistant treasurer; Ric Gloria, auditor; Jess Angchangco, assistant auditor; Ted Picol, press relations officer, Louie Catubigan, assistant press relations officer; Larry Cabago, business manager; Cheruyl Caguimbal, assistant business manager; Danny Sumampong, sergeant-at-arms; and Imee Manalang, adviser.

The highlight of the USA-EPSA fourth general assembly was the giving of the RESLA award to outstanding leaders of the organization. The recipients of the RESLA awards this year were Ferdinand Arana, founding president of the USA-EPSA, Imelda Manalang, outgoing president, and Jun Eledia. Other recipients of the USA-EPSA 2007 service awards were Agnes Eledia (outstanding committee chairperson), Greg Barcos (most outstanding member), Pol Eledia, Ferdie Magallanes, Charlie Dahug, Roger Manalang, Claire Cagampang, Felix Ycong, and Cheryl Caguimbal.

Ted Cagampang, in his acceptance speech as the newly elected president of the association, urged USA-EPSA members to improve themselves while working in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere overseas. “It is by achieving success and progress in ourselves that we could also provide help and support to our less fortunate countrymen,” he said.(Joe Avancena, Saudi Gazette)

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