Cebu News

Dapitan fascinates foreign military attachés

Emmanuel Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The City of Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte is a hidden gem that is a very safe and secure place to go.

This was declared by no less than Col. Geajaindren Mariapan, the Singaporean defense attaché to the Philippines who is also the Dean of the Foreign Armed Forces Attaché (FAFA) Corps, during their 2nd Semester FAFA Tour hosted by the city government of Dapitan led by Mayor Seth Frederick "Bullet" Jalosjos in partnership with the Province of Zamboanga del Norte headed by Governor Rosalina "Nanay Nene" Jalosjos last October 6-9.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, under the leadership of Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., along with Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence MGEN Ferdinand Barandon and Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM)commander MGEN Steve Crespillo, conducted the activity that aimed at informing the FAFA Corps about the current security situation in the country.

Present were 16 defense attachés and assistant defense attachés/secretaries from Australia, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Germany, and Poland.

During the course of their four-day tour, Mariapan finds Dapitan very enjoyable, relaxing and fun, leading him to say that it's truly a place where one can travel safely.

“I think there's been not a shade of doubt that this is a very safe and secure place for all of us to come here and enjoy the beauty of this place. [Dapitan] is a hidden gem that not many people speak about in the Philippines. We've spoken about El Nido, of course, Coron, and Boracay. But I think Dapitan City is very undermined, and it should rise to the top," said Mariapan during their historical tour at the Museo ni Rizal sa Dapitan or Rizal Shrine.

"It has been a wonderful experience so far, both in terms of safety and in terms of hospitality and cultural experience. After this, we will be learning about how Dapitan and Zamboanga [del Norte] as a whole will move forward in the economic sense of things, and at the same time, we will also be learning about how the WESTMINCOM is doing its part in the military aspect to boost the economy in this area," Mariapan added.

Dapitan leveraged the occasion to underscore the area's reputation for a low crime rate and seized the opportunity to demonstrate the tranquil ambiance and hospitable community that characterize the city.

"We fervently hope that this extremely important engagement and establishment of partnership with the city will spur tourism advancement through partnership agreement and tourism product immersion," said Mayor Jalosjos.

Over the years, Dapitan has made a mark as the top destination in the Zamboanga Peninsula region. They achieved that by staging high-profile events that drew attention not only locally but also worldwide.

The city has a proven track record when it comes to organizing large-scale events and ensuring the safety of participants. It has successfully hosted a variety of local and international events, including the Ironman 5150 Triathlon Dapitan, the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC), the World Art Olympiad, the Mrs. Tourism Pageant, and the Miss Universe 1994 Provincial Visit. Additionally, the city has also hosted Miss Universe 2014 Reunion, Cinemalaya, the National Chess Championship, Ride of Heroes, Motocon, Palarong Pambansa 2012, and the Mutya ng Pilipinas Eco-Tourism Tour, among others.

"We are continuously gearing towards a massive campaign and marketing effort to put Dapitan in the spotlight of tourism in the country as one of the major destinations for foreign and domestic tourists," said Dapitan City Tourism Officer Apple Marie Agolong, who is helping out in running the FAFA Tour even while on US vacation in Gardnerville, Nevada.

"This big event involving foreign military attaches from all over the world bodes well with our vision. We are hoping that it will sustain our efforts in maximizing Dapitan’s tourism potential," Agolong ended.  — (FREEMAN)

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