Jolo Island Sheds Off Bad Image, Gets New Face

September 1, 2007 at 12:29 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clouds cover a mountain and the magnificent Tulay Mosque in Jolo island in the Sulu Archipelago in southern Philippines. Jolo Governor Sakur Tan is embarking on a massive tourism program aim at luring investors and visitors to the island, about 950 kilometers south of Manila. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)


JOLO ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 31 Aug) – Jolo is undergoing a major face-lift, literally, shedding its skin of bad news and putting on a new face to once more bring back its lost glory as one of the most beautiful island in southern Philippines.

Jolo Governor Sakur Tan said he is embarking on an ambitious tourism program that will lure travelers to the island, where dive sites, pristine beaches and virgin forest resorts are the main attractions, of course aside from its rich cultural heritage and exotic fruits and fresh seafood and mother-of-pearls.

“There is always this wrong impression that our place is dangerous or that there are fighting everywhere. Taosug or the local people are friendly and hospitable. There is no strife here, although operation to maintain peace and order is just but natural in any place.”

“We have a good and sound economy. We exports our famous coffee and exotic fruits and other products to other regions and provinces. Air and sea travel is not a problem. We want to be known as one of the best place to go in the Philippines,” Tan told the Mindanao Examiner.

Next week, a C-130 transport plane will pick up a cargo of mangosteen berries and durian fruits for shipment to supermarkets and agriculture and trade fairs in Manila.

Sen. Loren Legarda has filed a bill proposing the creation of a special economic zone and free port in Jolo island to promote and hasten the industrial and economic development of the area.

She said the bill allows foreign individuals and organizations to invest in the zone. Investors shall be granted fiscal incentives and tax exemptions.

“The bill answers the need for development in the area through the creation of a special economic zone and free port,” Legarda said.

Tan welcomed the proposal and said the zone will attract Filipino and foreign investors and give livelihood opportunity to many people.

“This is a good proposal. Put up an economic zone and turn the province into a trading hub that will open new gateway to Malaysia and neighboring countries to promote business and tourism,” he said.

Once approved, it shall be managed and operated by the Sulu Special Economic Zone and Free Port Authority (SSEZA) headed by a board of directors.

The SSEZA shall be provided with transportation, telecommunication, and other facilities needed to attract legitimate and productive foreign investments, generates linkage with industries and create employment opportunities for the people of the province, she said.

Tan said he would invite newspaper editors, television and radio reporters to Jolo and see for themselves that there is no truth to all the negative publicity journalists have written about the island.

“We are appealing to the Philippine media to be responsible and write only the truth about the island. We are not a war-torn island as depicted in news articles about Jolo. We are inviting every one to come and visit us and see the beauty of the island we call home,” he said.

Jolo island, known in the Philippines as Sulu province, was once under the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. Although consisting of a mixed community of Muslims and Christians, the Taosugs dominate the Sulu Archipelago.

The Taosugs were among the first Filipinos to embrace Islam as a religion and a way of life. Their traditional religion-political structure is the sultanate. The sultan is the head of all ranks within the sultanate. (Mindanao Examiner)


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