TO continue luring local and foreign tourists, Gov. Ryan Luis Singson of Ilocos Sur province and his team are working closely with the national government, particularly with the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Tourism, in repairing roads and preserving the province’s colonial heritage.
To make it easier for everyone, they have designated a tourism officer to identify all the potential tourist destinations in the province.
And, since Ilocos Sur remains a largely agricultural province, Singson considers it logical to also invest in and strengthen farming and other agricultural activities.
“We’re still engaged in agriculture, since our province [remains] agricultural. But, with all the lands that we have, we would like to see the establishment of factories that can offer jobs to our people here. That is what we want,” Singson said in Filipino in an interview.
“Actually, there are companies from Thailand that want to open factories here in Ilocos Sur. [Meanwhile], the provincial government [and] the Sangguniang Panlalawigan [Provincial Council] are drafting an investors’ code, [which] we would follow once investors come here, so that both the province and investors could benefit,” he added.
One good thing about the people of Ilocos Sur and their leaders is that they admit that change is inevitable, and that they have long prepared themselves for whatever change may come. They also admit that investors bring immense benefits to the province, giving jobs and improving the quality of life of everyone.
They’re certain of one thing, though: Vigan City and some towns will remain as they are.
“Actually, we welcome everyone here. Just last year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines declared Ilocos Sur as a safe and investors-friendly province. So this is one of the things that make us proud, and, I think, this is one of the reasons investors are coming in. Lately, we have investors from Malaysia who are planning to open a government satellite center. This is one of the ongoing projects in the province,” Singson said.
Provincial leaders also welcome foreign investors who will help them protect Ilocos Sur’s environment and natural resources. Among these investors include organizations that can help promote renewable energy and solar farming.
But, amid the technological advancements made and the opportunities offered at the present, a very important question remains: How will Ilocos Sur’s leaders protect its cultural heritage?
“Our investors are [investing] outside Vigan. We also want to explore the other towns of Ilocos Sur” to fulfill the province’s full potential and maximize it, Singson replied.
Also contributing to Ilocos Sur’s growth is the governor’s uncle, businessman Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr., who has put up several businesses—and is the owner of Hotel Felicidad, one of Vigan’s top hotels—to help boost the province’s tourism industry. He is encouraging everyone to come to Ilocos Sur and invest by highlighting the progress being made there.
”The high rate of progress that we’ve been experiencing [is not only due to the] active [management] style of the [provincial] government [and the] local government—and I’m not just talking about the local government units, which are also very aggressive in keeping their towns productive—but also [to the efforts of] private individuals and businesses. They’ve been very supportive…. I started doing business here when I was 25 years old, and Vigan has been very good to me.”
Monopoly is hardly visible in Ilocos Sur, as the province promotes healthy competition among local and foreign investors. The hotel industry is one good example. Local leaders say it is the next big thing in the province.
Right now the two Singsons and other officials of the province are continuing their efforts to put Vigan on the list of New7 Wonders Cities of the World, especially after it advanced to the semifinal round of the global search for those cities. But, of course, achieving such a feat—which would not be hard to do—would just be the proverbial icing on the cake for the people in the province, for it would just reaffirm what they—and we—already know: that Vigan is a splendid and ageless city, and that Ilocos Sur is a province that is progressing while preserving the past.
For more information on Ilocos Sur, visit www.ilocossur.gov.ph. For more information on Vigan City, visit www.vigancity.gov.ph.