Month-long event

CATARMAN, Northern Samar– The provincial government of Northern Samar is to mark its 59th founding anniversary on June 19 with a month-long activities lined up.

The celebration began with a float parade competition last Sunday (May 19), featuring floats from various towns of the province decked with decors showcasing their local products and tourist attractions.

The top three winners—Lope de Vega, San Roque, and Pambujan—received cash awards, while the remaining participants received consolation prizes.

Vice Governor Clarence Dato emphasized the importance of tourism as a key economic driver for Northern Samar, home to over 639,000 people.

He noted that the tourism industry is gradually attracting more visitors, both local and foreign.

“For the past several weeks, we have seen a surge in overbooked flights,” Dato said.
At the request of Governor Edwin Ongchuan, the provincial government is negotiating with PAL management to increase the frequency of flights.

Currently, PAL is the only airline servicing the Catarman-Manila route, with four flights a week.

Dato also mentioned plans to relocate the current airport from Catarman, which is situated on Philippine Army property, to the neighboring town of Pambujan.

The provincial government owns over 30 hectares of land in Pambujan, which they believe would better support increased tourist arrivals and investor interest.

The Aboitiz Infra Capital has expressed interest in constructing the new airport through a public-private partnership (PPP).

The provincial government has asked all 24 towns to submit their tourism plans for harmonization, aiming to address any potential gaps and necessary interventions.

Dato said that aside from boosting its tourism industry, the provincial government under the helm of Gov.Ongchuan is also aggressive in inviting investors to the province, notably in the energy sector, particularly on renewable energy.

Several companies that are into renewable energy are relocating to the province with the assistance from the Bureau of Investment (BOI).

According to the vice governor, aside from generating power to the province, companies that are into renewable energy ensure protection for the environment.

Ma. Josette Doctor, the provincial tourism officer, highlighted that the Ibabao Festival Float Parade is a means of showcasing what Northern Samar’s municipalities have to offer.

“This is only the second year of the Ibabao Festival Float Parade, but we are already seeing interest from foreign tourists,” she said. Ibabao is the ancient name of Northern Samar.

Police placed at over 18,000 the number of people who watched the float parade.

Doctor did not provide a specific tourist projection for this year, but she noted that the province saw a significant number of visitors last year involving more than 900, visitors.

She also mentioned that a wind farm in San Isidro town, managed by Aboitiz Renewables Inc. and Vena Energy, could become a tourist attraction similar to the one in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

“The location is fantastic—on top of a mountain but along a national highway,” she said.

The wind farm will feature 33 turbines, each 110 meters tall, across six barangays of San Isidro and is expected to be operational by next year.

Aside from the float parade, other lined-up activities include food and trade fairs, sports competitions, concerts, and a province-wide beauty search.
The provincial government set aside over P10 million for the month-long celebration.