The Suroy Suroy Sugbo Southern Heritage Tour ended with huge smiles from participants, mostly balikbayans, who enjoyed the first of four tour legs this year.
Forty-one guests, mostly Overseas Filipino Workers and retirees from Canada, Texas, and Australia, joined the three-day, two-night tour from January 24 to 26, 2018.
After a year of sorting things out with the Commission on Audit (COA), Vice Gov. Agnes A. Magpale considers the Suroy Suroy South a success.
“For a while, there were some comments from COA but we were able to convince them. This is one of the best promotions that we can do to our province. I must say this year’s Suroy Suroy is even better and more focused on faith tourism and ecotourism,” Magpale said.
Magpale currently sits as the Provincial Board’s chairman for tourism and heritage.
While Suroy Suroy has always been focusing on the guest’s experience on culture and heritage, the Department of Tourism (DOT) recently launched faith-based tourism, which is seen to attract pilgrims from all over the world.
According to DOT Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo, the office will propose a budget that will help in the restoration and preservation of the country’s old churches and historical shrines.
During the trip, Argao mayor Stanley Caminero showed off the town’s well-preserved church – the Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel.
Caminero also boasted of the recently restored bamboo pipe organ inside the church, which was publicly played last December 8 – a remarkable display after 50 years of the instrument’s inactivity.
“We have joined efforts with the Provincial Government to really preserve the structure,” Caminero said.
Having the same patron saint, Samboan town also presented to the tourists the recently completed painting atop their church’s ceiling.
The painting was done by artist Leonardo Ortiz and the collaborative efforts of National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), Fr. Bryan Brigoli and the Municipal Government of Samboan.
Suroy participant Mary Eveline Lim, who has been working overseas for 43 years, travelled with her brother Sergio as a breather from their hectic work schedule.
“We came home to experience Cebu south. Together with my brother, I really enjoyed Suroy Suroy and I am definitely telling my family and friends to participate in the next Suroy Suroy,” Lim said.
Lim added that the Boljoon church is one of her most unforgettable stops, as the well-preserved structure and the town’s artifacts struck her.
“I never expected that such a quiet town can preserve such culture and heritage. I love to know more of Cebu’s past and I am glad that this trip has showed me a glimpse of Cebu’s history,” Lim added.
Boljoon church, also known as Nuestra Señora Patrocino de Maria was built in 1599. Beside the church stands the town’s museum where archives dated back in 1700s are kept.
Boost in Cebu’s tourism
“Suroy Suroy has always been a good blend of cultural and ecotourism. We visited some of the province’s oldest churches, went to Samboan’s Aguinid falls, and even learned about Alegria’s organic farming, to name a few. I am glad to see guests helping themselves with what Cebu has to offer,” Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito “Boboi” Costas said.
He added that the second of the four Suroy Suroy Sugbo 2018 is scheduled this summer in Camotes Island.
“After this, I’m pretty sure mu-saka pa ang number (After this leg, I am expecting an increase in the number of participants),” Magpale added.
Local tourists and couple Fairy and Danny Palermo both enjoyed Suroy Suroy and are looking forward for the next leg.
“We are Cebuanos but we never had this kind of trip here in the south. The fun and learning we acquired are priceless, and these are the main reasons why we are definitely joining the next Suroy,” Fairy said.