By: Tara Yap
THE PROPOSAL for a tour along the Iloilo River has been revived.
Atty. Helen Catalbas, acting regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT-6), disclosed that the plan for an Iloilo River cruise is one of the agency’s flagship projects for the next two years.
“It is envisioned to be included in the cultural tour for visitors coming to the city and province of Iloilo,” Catalbas said as Iloilo City is hosting the 1st Philippine International River Summit, which opened May 30 and will end June 1.
“It will show visitors how the Iloilo River has been part of Iloilo’s history and culture,” Catalbas emphasized.
The 15-kilometer Iloilo River has long been considered as a source of food, livelihood and as a transportation gateway.
The winding river has played a pivotal role in trade and commerce, most notably with the opening of the Iloilo Port during the middle of the 19th century, which paved the way for Iloilo to engage in international trading.
The P5.4-million river cruise project is a public-private partnership (PPP) to be initiated by the DOT and the Tourism Enterprise Zones and Administration of Incentives (TIEZA).
Catalbas said the river cruise will be an added attraction to the 1.2-kilometer Iloilo Esplanade, the river park project funded by Sen. Franklin Drilon.
Designed by renowned Filipino architect Paolo Alcazaren, the Iloilo Esplanade is set to be reminiscent of Singapore Quay, which is also the architectural work of Alcazaren.
Meanwhile, DOT-6 and TIEZA will have to initiate the building of a prototype boat that will ferry tourists along the river.
The project is still in the conceptualizing and planning stage as DOT-6 is awaiting for the complete cleanup of the river including the removal of illegal settlers and derelict vessels.
Since March 2011, the Iloilo-Batiano River Development Council has embarked in a massive rehabilitation and development of the two rivers traversing the city of Iloilo and neighboring Oton town.