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Surigao eyes becoming top destination in Caraga

Surigao City Tourism Council chair Richard Nick Amores
By Vanessa Almeda

SURIGAO CITY —Dubbed the “City of Island Adventures” Surigao aims to become the choice destination city by year 2020 in the entire Caraga Region, City Tourism Council president Richard Nick A. Amores said.
The official voiced the plan a week before the city celebrates the Bonok-Bonok Festival and Feast of St. Nicolas, both of which fall on Sept. 10, 2012.
The target is based on the Tourism Master Plan that the city government and the private sector aim to complete soon.
Amores said tourism activities that are lined up starting this year aim to achieve this target by 2020 with the active participation of all stakeholders in promoting the city as the next choice destination.
He said Surigao’s edge over other cities in the region is its infrastructure facilities, location, natural tourism spots and food.
“We position ourselves as a service provider of the tourism needs of our tourists. We are a place of a little of everything,” the official said.
As a service center, the place boasts of a number of hotels and restaurants. There are currently 146 hotels, pension houses and a homestay program in the city accredited by the Department of Tourism.
The Parkway Mall, which hosts a hotel with at least 50 rooms, is expected to open before the end of the year, Amores said.
“You can really see there is growth in tourism in Surigao and the good thing is we don’t cater to just foreigners but we expect Surigaonons and nearby provinces to come and visit the city,” he added.
He said the brand “The City of Island Adventures” owes itself to  Surigao’s uniqueness as having “many islands which are habitable and livable.”
Twenty-one of the city’s 54 barangays are islands.
“We have (scuba) diving, island hopping and eco-tourism which is in Day-asan and Silop. On top of that, since we are situated in the topmost part of Mindanao, we are the entry and exit points of tourists that is why we can say we are the center of tourism services,” Amores said.
He said Surigao offers tourists’ “pocket adventures” like the Silop Cave Adventure which is 30 minutes away from the city and known for the labyrinth of caves with 12 cave systems.
“Excursionists can actually experience these adventures in less than a day,” he said.
Surigao plans to host big events like next year’s Cave Congress. This year, the congress is slated on Sept. 15, in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur.
The home of STK
Surigao boasts of its “STK,” the initials for “sugba-tula-kilaw (grill-soup-sushi), native fish recipes that have been promoted in blog sites and through word-of-mouth.
City Tourism Officer Roslyn B. Merlin said a visitor profile showed tourists love Surigao’s fresh seafood cuisine or the “STK” that they go to places like Babielyn’s Eatery at the public market and Dodong Eatery at the city boulevard.
“Surigao is known for the best STK gajud (indeed). Fresh fish and other seafoods are popular that tourists especially foreign guests start to love our Surigaonon cuisine,” she said.
Tilaw Festival
Banking on this penchant for fresh and good food, Surigao prides itself with the Tilaw Festival which has become the source of newly discovered cuisine which is purely Surigaonon.
Merlin and Amores said the city has been holding the festival for the last 14 years to highlight the rich culinary talents of Surigaonons and discover new products that will become its brand.
Pan de Nicolas, which got its name from the city’s patron saint San Nicolas de Tolentino, is one of Surigao’s latest product brands that may compete with Iloilo’s browas and Cebu’s otap, Amores said.
“Our reason for this contest on native delicacy is we want to discover other delicacies that schools and our mothers who are simple cooks can create and which we can promote,” Merlin said.
Surigao City is also known for its suman roll and sayongsong, a native delicacy made of ground sticky rice, coconut milk and brown sugar. It is shaped liked a small trumpet and wrapped in banana leaves. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)


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