Batanes braces for preservation of cultural heritage
by Ben Moses Ebreo
Cabarroguis, Quirino (26 February) -- The provincial government of the island province of Batanes is embarking on various programs to provide livelihood for the villagers to preserve their cultural heritage.
"We have become a mere point of reference for years but if you noticed, we are no longer being visited by typhoons and the most important thing is that the four seasons were left for us. We now have spring, summer, autumn and winter which is attracting tourists," Castillejos told the INQUIRER during the opening of the Cagayan Valley Regional Athletic Association(CAVRAA) meet in this town.
He said they are now involved in various programs to develop the province as an eco-cultural tourism attraction, particularly providing funds for the development of traditional houses and as a source for livelihood among the Ivatans.
The governor admitted that while the local government is not yet prepared for a full blast competition among other tourist attractions in the country, the natural beauty of the province is now attracting local and foreign tourists.
Castillejos said they are now preparing a program to preserve and sustain the beauty of the province since Batanes has been nominated for its inscription in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) heritage sites.
The program covers the sustainable protection and preservation of its environment and culture coupled with strong livelihood foundation for the villagers.
Batanes boost of its tag as the most peaceful province in the country, having only a number of minor crimes in a year.
According to Castillejos, Ivatans who have migrated outside Batanes for better opportunities in the country and abroad are now returning back to the province and started to invest in their lands.
"They were able to compare the quality and beauty of Batanes to other places and they are now spending much to develop their lands here where its prices are fast increasing," he explained.
The governor said villagers are now involved in various livelihood projects with the support from national government agencies and the provincial government.
The villagers, for instance, he said are now producing souvenir products to be sold among tourists visiting the island.
The provincial government on the other hand, Castillejos said is also promoting homestay program by providing funds for the refurbishment and recovery of Ivatan houses into their old style.
"In this way, we can provide livelihood for them whenever tourists spend their days inside their houses, they will earn P500.00 to P700.00 per day excluding their treat for native dishes… I think this is helpful for them," he explained.
The funding support, Castillejos pointed out is released under an agreement so that others can also avail of the same assistance. "There are many seekers and we are ready to dole them out if they cannot pay so that they will not have reason in embarking on a livelihood venture," he stressed.
The livelihood program is also intended to augment the income of Ivatans fishermen who rely on the trade on a mere seasonal basis and competition from Taiwanese and Chinese fishermen.
"But we are solving this problem through diplomatic means so that they will respect our territorial waters," he said. (PIA NVizcaya) [top]