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Canadian envoy visits Guimaras

May 12, 2007

CANADIAN Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Sutherland started his first visit in Guimaras yesterday to see projects funded by his government, especially those implemented following the oil spill that hit the island-province last year.

Sutherland’s first stop was Barangay Tando in Nueva Valencia, one of the worst-hit areas, where he turned-over pumpboats to fisherfolks.

Arriving with Sutherland for a two-day visit (May 10-11, 2007) are Myrna Jarillas, senior program officer of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and Carlo Figueroa, public affairs officer of the Canadian Embassy.

In the afternoon, the ambassador met with the steering committee members of the UNICEF Country Programme for Children, a project that is also funded by the Canadian government.

On the second day, Sutherland will visit the Guisi Community-based Heritage Tourism Project in Barangay Dolores, Nueva Valencia, a project initiated by the provincial government in partnership with the Canadian Urban Institute.

The project — with components on governance, environmental conservation, cultural preservation and economic development — is being managed and operated by the residents through the Barangay Dolores Tourism Council (BDTC).

Sutherland will be met by Nueva Valencia Mayor Diosdado Gonzaga and Jose Garonita, president of the BDTC. The ambassador and his party will experience the unique tour package that the people in the area offer to their guests.

Guisi has about 80 families whose main sources of sources of livelihood include copra making, fishing, seasonal farming and gathering of forest products. The place boasts of a scenic white-sand beach, forested hills, a cave and a waterfall. The coast also offers a magnificent view of the sunset over Panay Gulf.

Peopled by settlers from southern Iloilo in the 18th century, the inhabitants have preserved their indigenous culture. It is also home to a Spanish-era lighthouse that was built by the colonial government in 1857.

Before flying back to Manila, Sutherland will also visit the Guimaras Trade and Information Center (GTIC) in Jordan. (NCLujan, The News Today, May 11, 2007)

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