KIANGAN, Ifugao – This world heritage town is one of only two areas in the country that was identified by the tourism department to pilot test international standards of the homestay program of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a senior tourism official said here.
Purificacion S. Molintas, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Tourism (DOT-CAR), said aside from Kiangan, the other area chosen by the DOT to pilot test the ASEAN standards of homestay is Siargao in Surigao del Sur in order to ensure the country’s readiness to accommodate the expected influx of visitors from the member nations, especially those wanting to experience homestay in key tourism destinations.
“Our local tourism industry stakeholders are ready to entertain foreign visitors wanting to avail of the homestay in our area as shown by their willingness to learn how it works in other countries. They were able to easily adopt it in their midst,” Molintas stressed.
Mayor Joselito Guyguyon said the selection of the municipality as a pilot area for the ASEAN homestay program has been instrumental en empowering local residents to actively participate in tourism-related activities and be a part of the community in welcoming the influx of foreign and domestic visitors.
Kiangan is considered to be a world heritage site because it is where Gen. Tomoyoi Yamashita of the tyranic Japanese Imperial Army surrendered on September 2, 1945 before he was brought to Baguio City where he formally signed his surrender documents at the American Residence inside Camp John Hay the following day.
Aside from the Yamashita shrine, the town also boasts of scenic rice terraces, an open air museum among other sites worthy of visiting.
Mayor Guguyon said senior citizens who are retired professionals volunteered to become tourist guides and cooks for foreign and domestic tourists that is why people visiting their place are amazed over the warm welcome that they experience while viewing the scenic tourist spots in their place.
“We are elated over the overwhelming support that are constituents showed when they underwent the required trainings for the ASEAN homestay program over the past several months.” Guguyon said.
He added foreign and domestic visitors who look for their own delicacies when visiting their place will have difficulty in doing so because they have trained cooks who can easily cook for them while they enjoy their stay and visit to the different tourist spots in the town.
In terms of lodging facilities, Guguyon said some 30 homestay houses were able to renovate their respective homes to conform with the standards prescribed by the homestay experts from the DOT central office. The documentation of homestay residences are also in place after the owners were able to be trained on the proper handling of records of people visiting their place.
Guyguyon expressed his gratitude to the DOT regional and central offices for continuously assisting them in enhancing the knowledge of the people in the town relative to the international standards of homestay so that they will be able to meet the requirements of various nationalities who are expected to visit their place in the future. By Dexter A. See