Twenty-one (21) Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) participated in the Seminar on Cultural Heritage Preservation and Eco-Tourism in Cebu on 12-16 July 2016. The seminar was spearheaded by the Department of Foreign Affairs – Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines (DFA-TCCP) and aimed to immerse the most recent batch of FSOs in Cebuano art, culture, heritage, history, and eco-tourism.
The seminar kicked off with an interactive discussion on Cebuano history and the significance of Cebu in Philippine history and politics. Acclaimed Cebuano anthropologist and historian, Dr. Jose Eleazar R. Bersales, conducted the lecture.
With the assistance of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Incorporated (RAFI), the group visited some of Cebu City’s key historical landmarks scattered along the downtown area such as Plaza Independencia, the Basilica Minore complex, the museum trail leading to the private museum houses along Zulueta Street, and the Halad Museum of Cebuano Musical Heritage.
The seminar included a visit at the various Spanish colonial churches situated at the southern rim of the province, as well as a stopover at Carcar City. Carcar is one of the four heritage towns in the Philippines alongside Silay (Negros), Taal (Batangas), and Vigan (Ilocos Sur).
One of the highlights of the trip was a brief exposure to the eco-tourism best practices of the Bojo Aloguinsan River Tour. The said community-driven initiative is an award-winning sustainable tourism program led and maintained by the Bojo Aloguinsan Eco-tourism Association (BAETAS).
The FSOs were shown a glimpse of Cebuano fashion design through a runway show featuring the capsule collection of designer Dexter Alazas. Alazas is known for his work on hablon, a locally woven textile from the southern Cebuano town of Argao.
The participants were also exposed to the Philippine brand products of Profood International Corporation in Mandaue City, and visited the showrooms of renowned Filipino furniture designers, Vito Selma and Kenneth Cobonpue.
The group was led by TCCP head, Hon. Jose Maria Cariño and Amb. Claro S. Cristobal. Key officers from selected DFA offices, FSI personnel, and representatives from Metrobank Foundation, Inc., Sri Lanka and Timor Leste also participated in the program.