Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo seems to think so, as she casually threw shade at Boracay Island and other beach destinations while promoting Malabon as the next big thing in local tourism.
In an interview with reporters , as she took them on a tour of several attractions in Malabon, Teo said: “Come to Malabon instead. Boracay is congested already. Let’s fix it first.”
She stressed: “Malabon is a nice place, it’s different. It’s a place we should patronize. It’s a new destination [where you can find] faith tourism, culinary [food] and culture. We’re finished with beaches. We should go to other destinations so they will be more known.”
The Department of Tourism (DOT) has been trying to fight off its critics, even lawmakers, who have taken them to task for allegedly being unable to protect Boracay from pollution, overbuilding, traffic and flooding. In a recent hearing at the House Committee on Tourism chaired by Rep. Lucy Ann Torres-Gomez of the First District of Leyte, Teo showed, however, that most of the issues of Boracay are under the jurisdiction of the local government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The DOT chief made the pitch for Malabon and other emerging destinations in the National Capital Region, while onboard a tricycle to visit the destination’s best-kept secrets, such as the 404-year-old Bartolome Church, Syjuco Heritage House, the art gallery of Angel Cacnio, the Borja Mansion and the Immaculate Concepcion Church.
“This tricycle is very unique. There’s nothing like it anywhere else, that is why we should make an effort to promote this project,” she said, at the same time lauding the local government unit’s efforts to promote Malabon’s sights.
She also underscored that these tricycle tours “can also help local communities by giving jobs to tricycle drivers. Nowhere in the world can you find tricycles except in the Philippines. So we’re going to promote this.”
Malabon City Mayor Antolin Oreta III hosted the Malabon “Lugaw Xperience” for Teo and the media, featuring special chicken arroz caldo, along with the popular Pancit Malabon, and delicacies like puto and kakanin.
He said tricycle drivers have been trained to bring tourists around the city, and many of them are articulate enough and have enough good stories to tell visitors. “We have alternative tour guides, but the tricyle drivers have more stories. You can either take the heritage tour, or the food tour, or both,” he said, which will take about three hours.
Oreta said the tricycle tours have been offered since 2014. “In the beginning, we had locals visiting us, and when I mean locals, this includes people from Malabon. The next years, we received more foreign tourists,” he said.
Members of the media were also taken on a tour of Las Piñas City, this time by Tourism Spokesman and Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Frederick M. Alegre. Popular attractions include the the 196-year-old Bamboo Organ at Saint Joseph Church, the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecological Area, and the Sarao Jeepney manufacturing plant.
“Las Piñas City has preserved its old town charm and intimacy. The home of the iconic Bamboo Organ resonates with Filipino hospitality, especially during the traditional festivities,” Alegre said.
He also pointed out that the area is an international destination for 84 species of migratory birds, and extolled the extraordinary Filipino craftsmanship in the manufacture of the jeepney, a cultural icon, that will soon be phased out by the Duterte administration