MANILA-- Homestay accommodations in Surigao del Norte are increasingly becoming popular among tourists, particularly foreign game fishers or anglers who were recently in the province to attend an international fishing competition in the town of Pilar.
The four-day 10th Siargao International Fishing Competition in Pilar town, Surigao del Norte, which kicked off last April 6, was attended by some 75 anglers from across the globe.
Contestants and their entourage stayed in homestay houses accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as they have to set sail at the break of dawn. Most of the houses were just a stone's throw away from San Roque River, the game fishing battlefield.
Among the contestants was Siargao sports fishing living legend and homestay patron Marfin Tan who booked in Carmencita Ombos Homestay, the same homestay he availed of since the early stages of the tournament.
Okay ang homestay, makatulong din financially sa mga individuals dito. At the same time, you can find a home and a second family, Tan said.
You become an adopted son for that matter and build camaraderie with them, shared the General Santos City native, who bested anglers from 11 countries in the Biggest Giant Tanguige and Giant Dorado category.
Norwegian angler Sultan Gyori agreed with Tan sharing that he had stayed in the same homestay for five years now and their host has been kind and helpful from the very start.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo welcomed the successful hosting of the event noting that she was grateful that foreign visitors chose to experience hospitality in their homestay with host Filipino families.
Foreign and Filipino sport fishers who stayed with accredited homestay units had the tangible experience of our campaign promise that 'when you're with Filipinos, you're with family, Teo said.
When you're with Filipinos, you're with family is the new tagline attached to the agency's original It's More Fun in the Philippines slogan.
As fisherfolk return from the sea back home to their respective families, the competing anglers virtually come home to their host families, the tourism chief said.
When with Filipinos, you are treated with utmost respect and care. Our homestay hosts treat tourists as their own 'bisita (visitor or guest)'. They even go out of their way to make sure that all bases are covered, she added.
Teo, meanwhile, encouraged more homeowners to join the homestay program. To be an accredited homestay, owners are required to assure the safety, sanitation, and availability of rooms and other basic amenities such as clean rest rooms and kitchen and continuous water supply.
If you have a spare room, furnish it, and have it accredited by our Regional Offices. You'll get to earn extra income while making visitors feel at home while they are away from their homes, Teo said.
Teo explained that homestay is an alternative accommodation offered by locals, including board and lodging while sharing the Filipino culture and lifestyle to their guests.
There are currently a total of 105 accredited homestays are available nationwide with 14 from Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte accounting to almost 30 rooms for anglers and tourists all year round.
According to the DOT, for a fixed rate of PHP1,400, competing anglers this year were billeted in an average of three spacious and well-ventilated rooms with individual and communal rest rooms plus the local authentic meals prepared by the host family.
In the earlier phases of the game fishing tourney, homestay owners were granted PHP75,000 each for comfort rooms repair and installation of air condition unit.
DOT Region 13 included basic tourist reception refresher, frontline services training, food handling seminars and hiring of professional chefs to upscale the host families' pallet and menu choices.
At present, the Pilar homestay program is now being adopted by other nearby towns like General Luna and Del Carmen which are also take off points for surfing and other tourist spots in Siargao Island.
The DOT and local tourism offices also provides training and accreditation to elevate the homestay program into Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) standards.
Last year, five facilities from the country were awarded certificates that complies to the ASEAN's standards during the inaugural ASEAN Homestay Award Ceremony at the ASEAN Tourism Forum.
The five homestay recognized are the Agan's Homestay, Ates Homestay, Estelita Homestay, Xylla's Homestay and Omandam Homestay, all from Central Visayas.
A list of all DOT-accredited accommodations can be viewed on its official website www.tourism.gov.ph.
Source: Philippines News Agency