Central Mindanao’s new branding: The 12th Paradise

Posted on August 01, 2014

REGION 12 -- also called Central Mindanao or the rather dizzying Soccsksargen (which stands for South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) -- recently launched its new branding scheme, calling itself the "12th Paradise" (sic) to attract more tourists to its natural and adventure destinations.

One tour package includes meeting the members of the T’boli tribe and visiting the majestic waterfalls in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
"It’s time for the region to be known and get the big slice of the tourism market. Our destinations will be promoted with our partner travel and tours agencies," said Nelly Nita Dillera, Region 12 director of the Department of Tourism (DoT)

Eleven DoT-accredited travel and tour operators within the region will implement 12 tour packages developed jointly by the government and the local industry stakeholders.

"The tourists are now looking for new places to go. This is our time to be on the tourism map," Michelle Solon, chief of the Regional Tourism Council, said during the brand’s launch.

The "12th Paradise" tours are divided into different categories and activities:

• "Float in paradise" bundles the various beach and swimming activities;

• "Shower in paradise" is for the different waterfalls in the region;

• "Dip in paradise" for the diving sites; 

• "Immerse in paradise" promotes interaction with locals and the unique flora and fauna;

• "Wear in paradise" for the traditional clothing and the modern creations of local designers fused with indigenous designs;

• "Dance in paradise" for the cultural dances of the different indigenous groups;

• "Create in paradise" showcasing local creativity;

• "Delight in paradise" for the picturesque landscapes;

• "Marvel in paradise" for the architectural, cultural and historical structures;

• "Play in paradise" for the various sports events;

• "Savor in paradise" for the local food and delicacies; and,

• "Explore in paradise" for the different adventure activities.

"Everything in the value chain of tourism is already connected with one another in the tour packages," said Ms. Dillera.

A two-day-one-night trip, for example, can be spent in South Cotabato highlighting cultural immersion and nature tours. This will include a visit to the 20,000-hectare Dole Pineapple Plantation and Tupi Fruit Park as well as a trip to Lake Sebu, home of the T’boli tribe, which is known for T’nalak weaving and brass crafts, and the Seven Falls Ecotourism Park.

A half-day trip to General Santos City (Gensan), where an airport is located, includes a visit to the Gensan Fishport Complex, the Sarangani Highlands Garden or the Mt. Sabrina Mountain View Resort, the mansion and gymnasium of world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, and the city museum.

From Gensan, more adventurous tourists can go south for white water tubing at Pangi River in Maitum, and go diving at Lemlunay Dive Resort in Maasim, Sarangni Province.

The Agri-Industrial-Eco tour focuses on the province of Sultan Kudarat, with a visit to the Rookie Milling plant where organic muscovado sugar is processed.

Nature-enthusiasts can go bird-watching at the Baras Bird Sanctuary in Tacurong City and bathe in the hot and cold springs of Marguez resort in Ezperanza.

The region is also a take-off point for a hike to Mt. Apo, the Philippines’ highest peak, via the Kidapawan, Makilala or Magpet trails in North Cotabato.

Cotabato City’s cultural and architectural sites can be explored in a day for a separate tour. The guided trip includes a visit to the imposing Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, the People’s Palace, the Immaculate Cathedral and the Al Jamelah Weaving Center. A tour bonus is feasting on the huge king crabs which are harvested in the city.

Ms. Dillera said they are now finalizing uniform prices for the packages that will cover airport transfers, accommodation, meals, tour guide and entrance fees.

Ms. Solon said the local tourism industry is optimistic that "Soccsksargen will be the next  big  thing in tourism. Our destinations are sought after by the tourists… it’s  unique, it’s new, it’s  fresh." -- Louie O. Pacardo