TACLOBAN CITY – About 35 elderly residents from Tacloban City and Palo town have undergone a community tour guiding training program organized by the regional office of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The initiative is part of the department’s goal to make tour guiding inclusive for all sectors of the community.

The training, conducted in partnership with the tourism offices of the Tacloban City government and the municipal government of Palo, as well as their respective Offices of Senior Citizens Affairs, aimed to equip the elderly with the skills needed for effective tour guiding.

“The skills you have taught us will not go to waste and will help improve the tourism industry in Tacloban City and the municipality of Palo,” said Marino Cinco of Palo town, one of the trainees.

The seven-day training program included first aid training, a lecture on the ‘Filipino Brand of Service Excellence’ by accredited trainer Jerick Florano, and tour guiding topics with Rey Jorda.

The program also featured a mock tour.

The mock tour route included Real St, passing Tacloban Hall, Madonna of Japan Shrine, Magsaysay Boulevard, the old provincial capitol building of Leyte, and finally McArthur Park in Palo town.

During the culmination program, DOT-8 Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes encouraged participants to gather more reliable and factual information about their locality to enhance their storytelling skills and deepen their knowledge of their place.

“Tour guiding is storytelling. Tourism is all about stories. You may have a very beautiful natural site, but that is just a site if there is no story to tell,” Tiopes said.

“As guides, we have a great responsibility to bring out the best of our place, the place we call home. You are the heart of the tour,” she added.

Tiopes also showed pictures of Eastern Visayas tour guides, such as Eugene Igdalino from Paranas town, who operates the Ulot River Torpedo boat extreme ride and adventure, and Larry Rambacod, who has transitioned from a community tour guide in Basey town to a regional tour guide. She aimed to inspire the participants to become valuable assets in the tourism industry.

“We give you this opportunity to learn. It is now up to you if you really have the passion to become part of the tourism family,” she concluded.