Panganiban LGU opens 1st floating restaurant
Panganiban, Catanduanes  ·  
posted 10-Apr-2019  ·  
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Touted as the first of its kind in the Bicol region, a floating, mobile restaurant was formally launched last week by the municipal government of Panganiban town as part of its plan to boost eco-tourism prospects.

Mayor Robert Fernandez said in his message during the March 28, 2019 blessing and inauguration of the project that the restaurant is unique in that it will be operating out in the sea of Babaguan Bay, unlike other floating restaurants in the country which are either cruising in rivers or permanently anchored.

To be incorporated with its operation is an island-hopping adventure in a tie-up with the local government of Bagamanoc, with which it shares the island of Panay where the United States once operated the Long-Range Navigation (LORAN) station.

The chief executive recalled that in 2016, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) came up with the proposal to fund tourism projects in Panganiban through the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) program. The Local Poverty Reduction Action Team (LPRAT) identified eco-tourism for Panganiban as the primary goal but Fernandez insisted on a new plan, not just focused on eco-tourism as the town cannot compete with more well-known beach resorts in the island.

He urged the LPRAT members from various sectors that the project should be unique and not copied from others, citing the case of neighbors setting up sari-sari stores or barangays planting similar vegetables to their common detriment.

“It is certainly difficult to start such a project but as long as everyone supports the municipal leadership, it will prosper,” Fernandez said, stressing that the focus should be on why one must want to visit Panganiban.

Under the BUB program, the municipality was granted P1.8 million for various tourism development projects, including the training of would-be hosts of home-stay establishments and immersion trips to established tourist destinations particularly Sorsogon province.

“What we saw in Sorsogon, there are much more that Catanduanes, including Panganiban, can offer,” the mayor stated.

The floating restaurant the Panganiban team visited was on fixed anchor and the river it was on was not exactly environmentally compliant, with many houses discharging wastes into the waterway, he said.

“In Panganiban, the people are aware of the impact of pollution on the ocean,” Mayor Fernandez.

He also pointed out that firefly watching would be much better in his town, as one cannot count the fireflies showing off their lights at night even in his fishpond, unlike in Sorsogon were the insects were few at the time.

“Our floating restaurant is an upgraded version and can cater to social events for many people,” Fernandez disclosed, adding that the facility is dedicated to the people who believe local officials can help develop the town.

He expressed belief that government agencies outside the island province like the Department of Tourism can help assist the LGU with funding for its tourism projects.

The guest of honor during the launching, DOT-5 Tourism Development and Regulations Division chief Rommel Natanauan, brought both congratulations and assurance of support from Regional Director Benjamin Santiago for the project which he described as “a sure winner.”

“We should not be limited by our lack of resources,” he said, citing the department’s effort to look for private properties that could be open for investments, particularly Chinese businessmen who are aggressively pursuing projects in the country.

He bared that in Pamplona, Camarines Sur, a Chinese investor has bought 60 hectares of idle, unproductive land that is now being developed as an adventure park.

Natanauan shared his elation in seeing many changes that have happened in the town since he first visited during the launching of the Kinis Festival.

“I want to see Panganiban earn income even before the tourist enters the town proper,” he said, suggesting that a giant mudcrab marker should be installed at the town boundary at the floating restaurant’s mooring site at Banquerohan where booths selling local products and delicacies could be sold.

A light-and-sound show could highlight the history of the site where many Japanese soldiers died in a battle with guerillas during World War II, he said, something that could bring in tourists from Japan who want to pay homage to their war dead.

For his part, the Sangguniang Bayan tourism committee chairman Tito Villamor said the restaurant and other tourism projects would spur job generation and economic opportunities for Payonhons.

He later told the Tribune that this early, the LGU has already received requests for reservations for use of the floating, mobile restaurant in the next months from Payonhons abroad when they come home for their summer vacation and during the town fiesta.

However, the municipal council has yet to enact an ordinance that would set the rates for its use and how it would be operated by the LGU.

Mayor Fernandez said he has already asked the SB to pass such an ordinance and, pending its approval, would meet with the Local Finance Committee on guidelines, particularly on reasonable rates that could be charged in order to secure funds for the facility’s proper maintenance.

On the other hand, town planning and development coordinator Rafael Valledor bared that the municipality has been given P9 million under the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) for the establishment of a grow-out mudcrab industry to be implemented by the Panganiban Fisherfolk Association, which would ensure the availability in the local market of the tastiest mudcrab in the country.

Constructed using the P1.05 million counterpart funding of the LGU, the restaurant’s fixtures were solicited by the chief executive from the Tourism Promotion Board then chaired by actor Cesar Montano.

According to municipal engineer Silvestre Villamor Jr., the steel structure is made afloat by 61 sealed plastic containers lashed together with nylon ropes and framed with water-resistant lumber.

Marine plywood ¾-inch thick make up the flooring, which will be overlaid with vinyl tiles later, he said, while the roofing is riveted galvanized iron sheets. The restaurant has two comfort rooms, with its waste discharging into a plastic container that could be removed for disposal of waste on land.

In a test done several weeks earlier, about a hundred people were invited into the floating restaurant, with the entire structure hardly affected by the weight and activity.

The popular attractions in Panganiban include the Lorong Point Lighthouse on Panay island and the nearby Kumagat beach resort, the Spanish era Almacen ruins at Babaguan, Bintingan Falls and Lagoon in Cabuyoan where the mangrove river, Cabani beach and Sarag nin Banog cave are also found, Langwad Pavilion and Fishing Resort in Pangcayanan, St. James the Greater Parish, the Kinis Festival and the town plaza where a water fountain with multicolored lighting has been installed.

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