A fenced complex, neatly tucked along the city’s main thoroughfare, yet inconspicuous for its distance from the buzz of traffic, is now fast becoming a Bohol tourism centerpiece for city tours.
The complex, topped by a 1920 structure which was later rebuilt to reflect the renewed political climate in 1965, also includes at least three more buildings that broadcast to tourists of Bohol’s development priorities in the present administration.
The new Bohol Tourism Complex is a visible sign of Bohol’s eco-cultural tourism centerpiece for development program and puts tourists into a better understanding of Bohol development priorities in its effort to oust its people from poverty, explained Cristopher Boncales, Bohol employee at the Tourism Office and one of Bohol’s respected tour guides.
Governor Edgar Chatto also urged tour guide members of Kahugpungan sa mga Bol-anong Tour Guides (KABOG) Inc. to include Bohol Tourism Complex in their tours, which has been retrofitted to bring back its grandeur as a residence of past governors.
The complex features the Governors’ Mansion, the official city residence of the governor, which was built in 1920’s as a dormitory for girls from out of the city and nearby towns as they attend Bohol Provincial High School.
During the incumbency of then Governor Carlos P. Garcia, who hails from Talibon town, the building was transformed into his unofficial city residence, which also marks the year when the building was embellished to suit into the stature of the residing official.
It was then called the Governor’s Mansion, in consideration of Garcia, a name which will stick until after the EDSA Revolution.
During the war, officers of the Japanese Imperial Army used it as their billeting quarters, according to a printed profile of the Governor’s Mansion.
This could be the reason why some people affix a negative connotation on the building, making the succeeding governors distance themselves from the care and upkeep of the building, according to a neighbor who added that a certain derision against the Japanese army came out naturally from peace loving Boholanos then.
Years of neglect and cursory fixes later, the building underwent major face-lifting by a local architect in the administration of Governor Lino Chatto, recalls historian Marianito Luspo.
Architect Venerando Dumadag transformed the structure into the now stately mini-Malacanang of Bohol, complete with well manicured lawns and lit-up fountains.
In the late 1980’s, the Governor’s Mansion was renamed People’s Mansion, a name it retained until recently.
The ascent of Gov. Edgar Chatto to power also marked a new season for the People’s Mansion.
The administration saw the potential of the Mansion to be a showcase of Bohol’s eco-cultural tourism destination and centerpiece programs of the administration.
Recently, the government refurbished the historic facility, which now can be claimed as reflective of the cultural heritage of Bohol, Boncales pointed out.
To complete the tourist allure, Bohol also housed within the complex the Telephone and Radio System Integrated Emergency Response 117 which links and coordinates local rescue and response units through its communications unit, emergency medical unit and rescue and retrieval teams in the event of emergency and disaster.
Also inside the complex is the Bayanihan Coordinating Unit, which mainstreams the synergy, cooperation and collaboration and teamwork for the sustainable development of the Boholano.
Among the Bayanihan Coordinating Unit’s flagship programs is forging partnerships in education especially in classroom building construction, provision of teaching equipment and school supplies to raise the quality of education and private sector participation.
Among the complex’s features is a Bahay Kubo and vegetable garden showcase.
The garden is a demonstration farm which eloquently states the Bohol agricultural development and food sufficiency plan with its Food Always in the Home (FAITH), herbal and Organic Plants Enhancements (HOPE) and Chicken Always Raised in the Yard (CHARITY) slogans.
Another key service, the Bohol Tourism Office sits at a nook in the complex.
With tourism as one of the key economic drivers in the province, Bohol legislated the office which shall be responsible in implementing tourism development plans serving as tourism promotion and marketing arm of the province.
Now located inside a single stop, the place, called Bohol Tourism Complex poses itself as a veritable first stop for guests coming into the province especially that the Department of Tourism set up Bohol as a “Tourism learning center,” a brochure from the complex said.
The complex will support functional linkages with other key stakeholders of the tourism industry for the promotion and tourism advancement in Bohol, Chatto told the tour guides. (rmn/Rey Anthony H. Chiu/PIA Bohol)