Camalig town in Bicol wants to build an international convention center

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Cloud shrouded Mt. Mayon as viewed from the Food Court of SM City Legazpi. Who needs a new convention center only to view the almost perfect coned volcano?

smileredunhappyImagine this. A handsome building rising on Quituinan Hill fronting the majestic Mount Mayon would be a sight to behold.

That prospect emboldens the municipal council committee on infrastructure of Camalig in Albay coming forward with the plan.

They proposed to build a P3.5 billion Bicol International Convention Center located on a 7.443 hectare lot somehere about the hill.

That amount will cover the architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical components of the entire project, which also include a sports arena with 4,000 seating capacity.

The proposed project allegedly has received the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte. It is awaiting for inclusion in the national appropriation as construction is targeted to start in 2019 with expected project completion between two to three years.

Already, the project feasibility study had been completed and now with Albay 2nd district engineering office of the Department of Public Highways.

So why again a need for an “international convention center” in a town with 66,900 population nearly nestled at the foot of a volcano?

Council member Meden Gamboa said the project is geared to stimulate the economy of Bicol region (sic) specifically the tourism industry (sic).

He volunteered the information it is the initiative of Albay 2nd district congressman Joey Salceda. The same politician decades ago was the representative of the 3rd district (to be exact, house terms 1998-2001, 2001-2004 and 2004-2007) whose pet project was the Pantao Regional Port, the white elephant residing on the shore of Libon town.

Gamboa added that the poor residents of Camalig are expected to benefit from the project, particularly from tourism receipts.

“This is expected to provide an avenue for conferences, tourism activity, market place for local products, create local jobs, livelihood and increase revenues. It will increase the income of the poor men and women and improve their livelihoods through active participation in the value chains,” the councilor said.

“The first to benefit from this project is the municipality of Camalig but at the end of the day, the entire region will benefit from it,” said Gamboa, pointing out that the BICC, which is a purpose-built conference center, will be of international standard.

Gamboa is aiming for the moon with the proposition though. But the proposal is worth a gamble, by the way.

In the end, what Camalig needs is a huge modern market which can be converted at a moment’s notice as an evacuation center when Mayon rumbles.

 As for a convention center, naah. Don’t you think that somewhere around the city of Legazpi or even in Misibis, a venue is always waiting to host a convention with a comfortable living accommodation as well.

In retrospect, when a tourism convention was held in Camarines Sur, the province had to scramble not only for the venue but also the accommodation, etc. During that time, outsiders and non-believers of the tourism value of the province were bashing. We are pointing out here that a convention center is not enough. It will have to come in a package.

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