Cebu leads in nation’s tourism growth
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2019 - 12:00am

For more than a week now, I’ve been getting a lot of comments as to why I never wrote anything about President Rodrigo Duterte undergoing a kidney transplant last January as written by a columnist… because two years ago, I too had a kidney transplant and I wrote about this issue in many of my columns. Clearly the article written about the President was entirely false and has to be corrected with the truth.

Indeed, when I realized that my kidneys were starting to fail, I had to find ways to prevent it from worsening and ending up having a dialysis treatment. Thankfully, I was able to meet my transplant surgeon in the person of Dr. Alvin Roxas who trained under Dr. Enrique Ona of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) who created a transplant team for the Visayas and another group for Davao.

Dr. Roxas realized that I had not yet been in dialysis treatment and challenged me that if he had 20 patients in dialysis treatment and I had not yet tried it… he’d give me priority. Since I knew that within six months I might already have to undergo dialysis, I decided to accept the offer of my surgeon and on Nov. 8, 2016 he performed my transplant. My greatest blessing was getting a non-relative donor with a rating so high he could pass for my relative.  The post operation is what many people ought to know about kidney transplant.

Unlike in heart bypass operation the major difference with kidney transplant is right after the operation you are placed in total isolation for at least three months. I violated my isolation and only stayed for two months. So if Pres. Duterte had a kidney transplant… he shouldn’t have gone out for at least two months. This is where the columnist made a serious mistake and ended up writing a total falsehood, which affected his credibility.

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During the 100th year celebration of The Freeman and the birthday of Sir Dodong Gullas last Friday evening at the Grand Convention Center, after sitting down with Amb. Frank Benedicto waiting for the arrival of Sir Dodong and Sir Miguel and Milette Belmonte, I moved to the table where my good friend, Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Shalimar Hofer Tamano was seated and he gave me the big news that the DOT finally prepared the performance of Central Visayas for the year 2018. We had 8,099,346 million tourist arrivals last year.

This figure is broken down to foreign tourists arrivals where Cebu got a total of 2,805,115, Bohol – 646,082, Negros Oriental – 116,310, Siquijor –66,788 for a total of 3,643,295. For domestic tourists, Cebu got 2,770,781, Bohol – 850,047, Negros Oriental – 766,985, Siquijor – 77,238 for a total of 4,456,051 which gives us a grand total of 8,099,346 tourist arrivals in 2018.

Compare this figure to last year’s tourism arrivals which is 6,974,674. We had an increase of 1,124,672. Thanks to the opening last June of Terminal 2 of the GMR-Megawide. The terminal put Cebu on the world map of many of our neighbors. We have our powerful neighbor China and Japan just a few flying hours directly to Cebu.

The DOT named top tourist destinations, Cebu City with 2,559,742, Lapu-Lapu City – 1,716,938 followed by Panglao at 863,372, Dumaguete City – 706,689 then Tagbilaran City at 391,657, Mandaue City – 205,795. I won’t mention the rest anymore. All told, Central Visayas earned P44.2 billion in tourism receipts. It would be interesting to note what 2019 would bring us.               

I got this piece from Rappler, the supposedly anti-Duterte media entity which reported, “In a statement, the DOT said tourist arrivals from January to June this year rose by 10.4%, compared to the 3.3 million recorded in the same period in 2017. ‘The DOT’s continuous marketing promotions, aggressive actions to create new air routes and develop new tourism products, travel facilitation, and confidence in tourism investments drummed up the industry and resulted [in] this stellar performance,’ Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said.”

No doubt the 2018 figures for Central Visayas at 8,099,346 million is truly remarkable. That Metro Cebu led the nation in tourism arrivals cannot be denied. But the constant problem of Metro Cebu is an unsolvable monstrous traffic problem, which Director Shalimar admits was helped by the tourism numbers. Hence the need for a quick solution to the traffic problem before it is too late.

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