By: Alger O. Inocencio
WHILE OTHER cities capitalize on their local attractions such as springs, falls, caves, lakes, mountains, beaches, man-made resorts
and festivals to lure tourists to come, there is a place in Panay Island that has become so popular
simply because of its product that comes in abundance, freshness and in numerous varieties. Products from the sea and the tributary waters that provide natural sanctuaries to fish species.
An old historic town of Capiz which later became a bustling city with its 45 accommodation establishments holding more than 800 rooms that can accommodate three thousand guests at any given time.
A seafood haven, that supplies 70% of the fish requirement of Divisoria, fifty sacks of oysters to Iloilo and one ton of Lapu-lapu to Manila on a daily basis.
A place that has been a major source of Capiz Shells locally known as “pi-os”, where big hotels and restaurants got their windows, chandeliers and decors, that gave their premises a touch of Capiz – a touch of elegance.
A city where fishponds still exist (despite massive conversion to subdivisions) and where tons of seafood are harvested then shipped to various places in and out of the country, either live (or oxygenated), frozen, dried , bottled or canned.
A destination where one can find some rare bivalve, tender, juicy and succulent shell food known as Angel Wings or “Diwal”.
And a place known as the Seafood Capital of the Philippines which was virtually declared by the Department of Agriculture as “red-tide” free.
Historically, the place is the 2nd Spanish settlement after they left Cebu (and shortly after Pan-ay town). Its long stretch of shoreline that covers five coastal barangays of Culasi, Baybay, Dumulog, Cogon and Punta Cogon is one reason why they chose to stay and settled. Its presence signifies the possibility of good and wider business trade and abundance source of food. The old church, the architectural designs of the old houses, the placement of the plaza, the narrowness of roads and bridges and the strategic locations of cemeteries - are all remnants of the old Spanish colony and its strong influences.
Religiously, it is one of the few remaining cities in the country whose residents still observe the nightly “angelus”. It is also a city blessed with a river that equally divides the city into halves. On record, it is the only place in Western Visayas that has produced one illustrious son that became President of the then Philippine Commonwealth and later as President of the Philippine Republic. President Manuel Acuña Roxas was born in this place on January 1, 1892. The very house where he was born is being preserved and is frequently visited by tourists interested in local history. It was in his name and honor, that the old Capiz town was named Roxas City.
In the Philippines, seafood has become synonymous with Roxas City, Capiz – the seafood Capital. Its popularity has become so widespread that even in Moscow, Russia, Roxas City is known as Seafood City of the Philippines. For more than two decades, the image of the city has been promoted as distinct tourist destination with seafood as a major “come on”. During the Arroyo administration, the City of Roxas and the Province of Capiz was tagged as the seafood trip venue in the Visayas. Tour packages were then focused on the very same image with the inclusion of seafood lunch and dinner at the city’s premier tourist destination – the Baybay Beach. The local administration with the direction of the Department of Tourism supported the promotion effort and initiated the development of the seafood plaza in the shores of Baybay Beach. To date, there are around 35 establishments in the vicinity of Baybay Beach which include hotels, restaurants, resorts and seafood stalls that offer seafood menu from morning till dawn. To compliment further the seafood image, the city government launched the establishment of eco-parks and mangrove plantation in various coastal areas in the city. This program ensures the sustainability of its seafood image as fish sanctuaries were provided for species of fish to thrive.