DAVAO CITY –The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is home to beautiful natural wonders but two areas of major security incidents have been surprisingly attracting visitors – the sites of the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre and the 2015 Mamasapano attack.
ARMM Tourism Secretary Ayesha Mangudadatu-Dilangalen said these sites of two notorious security incidents are giving them the idea of hosting “hazard tourism” by turning war zones into tourism destinations.
Dilangalen said they were surprised that people continue to visit and take photos of the Ampatuan or Maguindanao massacre and the Mamasapano sites.
She said the tourism plan would include putting up a tourism center to host visitors.
Since the Maguindanao massacre happened in Ampatuan town on November 23, 2009 at the height of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2010 elections, the area has been frequently visited by people from other provinces and cities.
The site is where the mass graves of at least 34 journalists who died in the massacre.
On the other hand, Tukanalipao in Mamasapano, Maguindanao was the site where 44 members of the police Special Action Force carrying out a police operation code named “Oplan Exodus”, were killed on January 25, 2015.
Aside from the two areas, Dilangalen said they are also proposing to the Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to open their camps for tour packages. “People are curious and wanted to see these camps,” she said.
“Pero bigyan natin sila muna ng chance (But let’s give them the chance first),” Dilangalen said, adding that this is just a proposal initially offered to the two organizations to give the families of the MILF and MNLF other forms of livelihood.
Dilangalen said they would want the MILF or MNLF to take care of the visitors when they are inside the camps.
When asked about the response of the two organizations on the proposal, Dilangalen said they were receptive. They are also hoping the cooperation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military.
“Hindi lang puro offensive (It should not only be about offensive),” she said in an interview after Monday’s Kapehan Sa Dabaw at SM Davao Annex.
According to her, the PNP and military’s role in this project is to ensure overall security of all sites.
Overall, Dilangalen said ARMM is receiving more visitors year-on year. In 2016, ARMM recorded about three million visitors but the biggest chunk of the arrivals was recorded in Tawi-tawi.
Dilangalen said Tawi-tawi’s top destination is the Panampangan Island, which is famous for its powdery sand beach.
Tawi-tawi is also known for its rich seafood and for being the seaweeds industry capital in the country.
Next month, ARMM is launching the Inaul Festival. Inaul is a Maguindanaon word which means “weaved”. It is a known fabric manually and meticulously woven mostly by Maguindanon women weavers in Mindanao.
The Inaul Festival is slated from February 1 to 15.
Datu Paul Ampatuan, provincial planning officer of Maguindanao and Inaul FestivalDirector, said Inaul is a textile of Maguindanao that the provincial government is trying to popularize and make as its icon.
Inaul was used during the Mindanao tapestry event for the Miss Universe candidates during their Davao segment recently.
Ampatuan said the demand for Inaul fabric is increasing locally and internationally.