Almost two decades after it was erected, the Cebu Pacific Flight 387 memorial in Gingoog City is expected to be a major tourist destination in Misamis Oriental complete with a souvenir and café shop.
During the 21st anniversary commemoration of the air crash last Saturday, Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano said he saw how almost dilapidated the shrine is – the wooden bridge leading to the edifice is in a sorry state, the seats in front of the shrine are worn, the toilet is a mess.
“We will be renovating the whole area. We will also install a roof above the seats so people who visit can be shaded,” Emano said.
The governor said that as early as 2013, he had already intended to renovate the tourist spot but plans were always delayed due to the ongoing land dispute between Gingoog City and the municipality of Claveria where the shrine sits.
But the provincial legal office had a go-around solution: establish a trust fund for any income from the proposed souvenir shop and café.
“Only then will we turn over the proceeds once the court has ruled to whichever LGU (local government unit) the shrine belongs,” Emano said.
The governor took notice of the growing number of tourists who visited the shrine not just on weekends but also on weekdays due to its proximity to the newly-opened Gingoog-Claveria highway which is a shortcut diversion to the Cagayan de Oro-Butuan highway.
During the anniversary commemoration alone last Saturday, more than 400 mountaineers took part in the activity. The mountaineers were instrumental in retrieving the remains of the Cebu Pacific Flight 387 victims when the airliner dove to the hillside of Mt. Sumagaya in Claveria in February 2, 1998, killing all 104 on board.
Emano said coffee produced in Misamis Oriental and other food and non-food souvenir s indigenous to the province may be sold to shrine visitors to maximize the tourism potential of the province.
He added that budget for the renovation would come from the province’s 20 percent development fund although provincial tourism officer Jeffrey Saclot had explored earlier the possibility of using Misamis Oriental’s share in excise taxes.
In a related development, Emano outlined the following as his tourism priorities this year: the development of Mt. Anggat in Gitagum municipality, facelift of the jump-off point in Jasaan municipality leading to Agutayan island and certifying Tiklas Falls in Gingoog City as a prime spot, among others.