Tourists came in droves to Aurora this Holy Week to witness the grand opening and the different sports, musical, art, dance, and other environmental, entrepreneurship, and religious activities included in the 2nd Summer Festival in the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority.
The weeklong celebration was anchored on the theme “Tulung-tulong sa pagsulong: Kabuhayan, Kaunlaran, Kapayapaan.”
The event highlights the Aurora Economic Zone as a leading partner of the Provincial government in terms of preserving Aurora’s cultural ingenuity and history, environment and natural resources.
It also serves as a tool for economic progress by improving the tourism aspect and all areas of possible investments spearheaded by the APECO.
The Grand Opening Ceremony on March 26 was graced by distinguished guests from national and local governments, NGOs and guests from the private sector.
Among those who attended was the Department of Tourism’s Spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre, who had committed the DOT’s support for the Aurora Ecozone.
He said that the five-day festivity which offers business opportunities, training programs, sports, beauty, arts, dance and other competitions, health and wellness and many other interesting activities will prove to be memorable for the residents and their guests.
While remaining positive that the government will overcome the Boracay problem, he said that “for tourism to really work, we must be responsible caretakers of the community resources and to be fun yet responsible hosts to our visitors.”
He noted that the clean and beautiful beaches in the province, the historic places in Baler and the promising tourism sites in San Ildefonso Peninsula “are more than enough to promote the province of Aurora.”
Alegre added that the churches in the area, especially the most-visited Ermita Church, will encourage faith tourism.
Another guest, Undersecretary Emily Padilla of the Department of Agrarian Reform spoke on how federalism will work in Aurora.
Noting that APECO is the only ecozone facing the Pacific Ocean, she said “with the problems that we have concerning the West Philippine Sea, we can go back to the original route used by the Acapulco and the Galleon Trade to spur economic activities in the eastern seaboard.”
“We need APECO as we need to build 200 economic hubs in the country,” Padilla said.
She stressed the strong support of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the Department of Agrarian Reform for the Aurora Ecozone.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Virginia Orogo, who also attended the event, said that APECO is the hope of economic progress in Aurora.
She stated that DSWD targets to lower poverty rate in the country by at least 14% and one way to do this is to help the country attain peace by eradicating people’s rebellion caused by poverty.
“The theme Tulong-tulong sa pagsulong: Kabuhayan, Kaunlaran at Kapayapaan is very timely and aptly put together. Aurora is now accessible by land, sea and air. Our natural resources are vast, and we need to involve everybody in preserving and nurturing what we have,” she said.
“Invite investors as there are lots of opportunities in this province. DSWD has sustainable livelihood programs that Aurora can avail of. The Duterte administration’s thrust is geared towards what APECO wants to become,” Orogo concluded.