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DOT allots P2M to turn Zamboanga into City of Flowers

Zamboanga City Hall’s distinctive architecture is well-maintained and deserving of its landmark status. Paulo Alcazaren, file
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Department of Tourism is alloting P2 million to bring back Zamboanga City's reputation as the "city of flowers." 
Antonio Fernando Blanco, regional director, said the DOT will buy bougainvillea that will be initially planted in villages within the seven-kilometer radius of the city’s center. Planting will later extend to the rest of 98 barangays.
The project, "Mio Ciudad Limpio y Floriao" (My Clean and Blooming City), will be launched next week. Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo is expected to attend the launch.
“The project is part of invigorating the potentials of tourism in the countryside to accommodate the increasing number of tourists’ influx,” Blanco said.
Blanco said the city can offer tourists the city's diverse historical and cultural sites in this city, which was recently rebranded as Asia’s Latin City because of its Spanish heritage.
Ric San Juan, DOT-9 consultant, said one of the aspects of reinvigorating the city is bringing back its old glory as the city of flowers.
San Juan said they have chosen the bougainvillea since it is the same ornamental plant used to adorn the city.
“We have to re-bloom this city because this is what it was known before as the ‘sitio de flores’,” San Juan said.
Blanco said the reblooming program will be timely as the city is celebrating its month-long festival in honor of La Virgin del Pilar.
The regional Tourism official claimed martial law, which was declared over Mindanao in May, has been positive for the city.
“Most of the businessmen I met in conventions feel the crime rate went down,” Blanco added.
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