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Lucid Thoughts

Surigao City Flow Jun 22, 2013

Surigao City Flow

City Hall GPS waypoint: N9 47.447 E125 29.606
Location: Surigao City, Province of Surigao del Norte

TheLoneRider In Wonderland
When I came out of the bus and stepped foot on Surigao City, I was a drifter. I didn't know anyone, haven't been to the place and couldn't find a cheap-enough hotel to rest my head for the night. I was even in a hurry to leave Surigao feeling there was nothing there for me. Now, just 3 weeks later, I am seated at the head table beside the Tourism Director of the entire Caraga Region together with Surigao City's tourism brass, giving a talk about increasing Surigao City's tourism profile in front of a batch of tour-guides who just completed their 3-day workshop. I was then chauffer-driven to Silop Cave where a cave guide was waiting to take me on a cave exploration. After that, I was driven to my upscale resort hotel by the famous Mabua Pebble Beach where a sumptuous dinner was laid-out. That was one day. The last 3 weeks were more or less like that. I haven't paid one centavo for any of that. Whoa! How the hell did that happen? This is stuff dreams are made of!!!


Not for the Money
To begin with, I didn't aim for that pampered luxury. I knocked on the Tourism office and after what I told them, they saw an opportunity where my unique skill set would prove useful. Surigao has been known simply as a jumping board to the rest of Mindanao, or as a passage to the surfing areas of Siargao. As one travel book described Surigao, "there's nothing there". As a mining town, tourism is a hard sell. But there is more to Surigao than what the travel books allude to. They have a floating village, a pebble beach, the islands, caves and waterfalls. Without any consideration to any form of monetary gain, I took on the ambitious task of giving Surigao City a facelift on the tourism landscape. However, if a commercial establishment signs up for subscription, then I put loose change in my pocket. All I asked for was a roof over my head and food in my belly. I used to joke around that with the bursting of the internet bubble in 2000, I would stand up on a street corner with a sign saying, "WILL HTML FOR FOOD". What I got was 5-star treatment to the city's finest resorts and hotels with full board!

Tourism is the Key
Why am I doing this? My backpacking used to be for pure hedonistic pursuit. But then I realized that my skill set is unique and modesty aside, quite powerful. With my web machinery in place, utilizing SEO (search engine optimization), web usability and thought-through information architecture, I am in a unique position of make a difference. With my site traffic and search engine ranking, I can influence public opinion about a destination. What a waste of talent and opportunity if I just 'pleasured myself' without telling the world what a wonderful place this is. Through increased tourism revenues I can effect two things:

  • First, is to provide increased livelihood specially to the marginalized sections of society - the 'bibingka' vendor will sell more bibingkas at the bus terminal, the pumpboat operator will have more clients and the many college graduates who spend the whole day at home can find work (as tour guides?). With more business, there is money to fix the leaking roof and perhaps send one of the kids to school. Of course the big hotels will have increased occupancy and perhaps provide more employment. Coron, Palawan is a good example for that.
  • Secondly, if people start making money from tourism revenues, they'll begin to see that a live Grouper in the coral reef will mean more money to them than a Grouper on someone's dinner plate. The fishermen or even the poachers themselves will police the reefs, ensuring its health and well-being. I've already seen this happen in Apo Island. Perhaps that might end dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing or muro-ami. By addressing the economic imperatives of the marginalized class, they morph into stewarts of the environment.

Yes, those two things can happen - the key is increased tourism. That's where I come in. With the collective efforts of everyone else, I hope to reach a critical mass that might change the economic and environmental landscape of the area.

What About Money?
I've come to realize that money is not the cure-all that people seem to attach to it. In fact, I have a few wealthy friends who envy me for the freedom I exercise (they can't, not despite of wealth, but because of it). What I do is meaningful. I get to do what I want to do (travel, explore, meet new people, broaden my horizon, etc.) in a way that serves as catalyst for positive change I want to see on the planet. Sure, I don't have money - but I live in nice hotels and eat good food. Should I want for anything more? If I can already have these, what need would I have for a million dollars? Very few people get to live this life. And very few still are given an opportunity to make a difference. I am blessed to have been given both.

--- TheLoneRider

ps - Many many thanks to the Surigao City tourism office

Surigao Travel Information

Surigao City Blogs (and nearby areas) by TheLoneRider


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(along the Surigao coastline from Surigao City to Surigao del Sur)




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Jun 22, 2013

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