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Surprising Twist in Surigao City May 28, 2013

Surprising Twist in Surigao City

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

Earlier than Scheduled
My trip to Surigao City came sooner than I planned. From Cantilan, I planned on going to Socoro Island to visit Suhoton, the much talked-about cave with islets. From there, I would have explored either Dinagat or Siargao before going to Surigao City to cap my Mindanao odyssey. Unfortunately, my laptop broke down. Without my laptop, my life is practically put on hold. I had to cancel everything to make it to the nearest city and purchase a brand new unit - thus my earlier-than-expected departure for Surigao City, the capital of Surigao del Norte.

Stranger in a Strange Place
Like most places I go to, I didn't know anyone in Surigao City, haven't been there before, and didn't even know where I'd sleep for the night. The first day of arrival to a place is usually the most challenging. I'd be lugging my heavy gear from lodge to lodge, negotiating the best deal I can get. I probably relish the unpredictability despite all my complaints.

Prohibitive Lodging
I was shocked to find out how expensive lodging is in Surigao City. Imagine a coffin-sized fan room with hardly any ventilation going for P280/night? That was the cheapest I could find. From the 'cheap' lodging places I've canvassed, regular fan rooms were going for P350/night - insane! I noticed that here in the eastern region of Mindanao (Butuan, Britania, Surigao), hotel lodging is more expensive than the national average. I was rushing to get myself out of Surigao City as soon as I got a new laptop. I didn't want to stay another night.

Tourism Office
Fortunately, I took the time to stop by the local tourism office to see if they might be receptive to what I can offer them. My hopes were not exactly high. I was able to meet Ms. Roselyn Armida B. Merlin who is the Supervising Tourism Operations Officer. After explaining to her what I've done for other destinations, which is essentailly what I can do for Surigao City, she explained that they badly need someone like me. I explained to her my predicament about lodging. She concedes and added that it's an issue they had been addressing - good to know they're doing something about it. Immediately, she assigned a driver and her assistant to transfer me to an air-conditioned room in one of their guest houses - Maharlika Annex. Whoa! I was treated to a sumptuous lunch as we talked about the various activities they could arrange for me to write about (making it clear that my blog is not an editorial advertisement of any kind - I call a spade, a spade) - fiestas, scuba diving, caving, etc. Arrangements were also set for me to make a presentation to establishment decision-makers (not rank and file employees). At the same time, she assigned her staff, the indefatiguable Ms. Ping, to arrange with the local resorts and hotels for my accommodation and board. Whoa!

Call to Action
This is a unique situation for me. I've met several tourism heads of many cities and municipalities - they all loved my work. Some stopped at saying, "good luck". Others made promises that were never fulfilled. Others took the next step but without sustained support. Others made half-measured assistance. Of course the program languished. Without the help of Tourism to open doors for me, very little can happen - I know this by experience. Like in Cortes, here in Surigao City, I found a tourism officer who's going beyond the polite nod. With a sense of urgency and a pro-active ownership of the tourism mandate, a lot of things already happened on the first day. Finally, I meet a rare someone in authority who gets it!

The Glass is Half Full
Suddenly, I wasn't in a hurry to leave anymore. The light at the end of the tunnel showed up. Now, I feel optimistic about the positive changes I can do for this place. This is still a strange place for me - I hardly know anything about this place and I still haven't met anyone who is not a client. But with the tourism office supporting my efforts, I see wonderful possibilities.

Ending Thoughts
I've always wondered why most tourism officers seem oblivious to what I'm putting on the table. I don't see it as rocket science. How often does it happen that a web designer/traveler walks into their town, offers a highly effective integrated online marketing campaign to benefit their tourism efforts, on a well-oiled web machinery that's already in place, search-engine-optimized and all, and does it at no cost to the city? All they need to do is rally the support of the commercial establishments and take me to their tourist attractions so I can increase public awareness on what they offer. Why do they let an opportunity like that just slip through their fingers? When will another guy like me, walk into their town and make the same offer? If I were the tourism officer, I'd part the Red Sea in welcoming that stranger and give him all the reasons why he should stay longer. I'm somehow thinking that if I had made my offer with a 6-figure price tag (which my work can command), that I would get their attention. Fortunately for the Municipality of Cortes and Surigao City, they have the likes of Vincent Duenas and Roselyn Merlin who see the value in what I'm offering, and more importantly, taking decisive action to make it a reality.

Many many thanks to the Surigao City Tourism office.

--- TheLoneRider

ps - If you want me to objectively cover the features of your city or municipality or barangay for this website (fiesta, waterfall, mountain trail, lake, river, cave, food, islands, beach, etc.), email me.

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How to Get to Surigao City from Cantilan

  1. from the Cantilan bus terminal, take a bus bound for Surigao City, P157/pax, non aircon, 3 hours, 30 mins
Surigao Travel Information

Surigao City Blogs (and nearby areas) by TheLoneRider

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

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Reader Comments:

Kent MasionKent Masion
(June 14, 2013) Thanks sir for posting our picture...thank you also for sharing your website. It helps a lot especially to the travelers...from: Octagon

May 28, 2013

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