Author: James Z. Carpio
How are we today? This I customarily ask our guest who hails all the way from Europe. Oftentimes, after his walk from the city center where he shopped from an upscale, cosmopolitan supermarket where he bought his supplies of imported goods: Different cheese, butter, jams, fruit juices, wines and German beers. Then bread without sugar and newspaper he had purchased from elsewhere. His reply would be a jovial, “I am doing good.”
Europeans like to walk. At least our guest does. Thankfully, our house is situated near the downtown area. He had a favorite diner he went to for breakfast and told me one time that I should try their lava cake. Well, he went ahead and bought a take away for me– one order of lava cake and I must say it was delectable.
Whenever he went for a walk he always had a story or two to tell when he came back home. One time he was so elated to tell me of his discovery of a diner that had a name in his native language. I guess he missed his home country a little bit already.
Now about the weather in Naga you may ask? He liked it. He says it is one to two degrees cooler than Metro Manila. He religiously checked the weather report as to whether it would rain or not. Otherwise his regular walk would be postponed.
As a host, I’ve had a lot of guests at our humble abode. The rest of them liked to be toured around in a van or a car. They were mostly from Manila.
With the advent of convenience stores sporadically spread out around the city it has indeed brought convenience to its patrons. There is one 24/7 convenience store a block away from our house. A perfect location indeed!
I usually categorized their tours in three packages; the city tour, the night life tour and the nature tour. For the city tour it is more like a religious tour as they visit the ancient Spanish architecture-inspired churches, the seminario, the Universidad de Santa Isabel and Porta Mariae. A side trip to the shopping malls and smaller stores for great deals and souvenirs. The night life tour which was taken care of by my older brother is going to the different cafes, the bars, the restaurants and the live music bands the city offers at the Magsaysay District. The nature tour is a relaxing escapade to the Panicuason forest and hot springs.
As the guests leave they always say they will return. Some do come back and we appreciate that very much while others, probably due to work and time constraints just keep their options open like a long standing lifetime reservation.
It is amusing that the house is being run like a bed and breakfast hotel now. I even provide complimentary new toothbrushes among other toiletries, the whole nine yards actually. Even family members make reservations especially during the Christmas season.
Like I always say which my other brother doesn’t like hearing by the way because I always say it, different strokes for different folks. With guests, same thing of course but they always seemed to have enjoyed their stay in Naga City.
I am pleased that the city is getting much cleaner through the years. My sister was all along over the well maintained City Market– The Naga City People’s Mall. The cooperation between the local government unit and the private sector makes tourism a resounding success in this part of the nation. Personally, having a sales background at a national telecom company, the signal is strong and we are in the radar as it is easy to market Naga as a prime tourist destination. That informal partnership between the government and its citizens will continue to overshoot tourist arrival estimates.
Going back to our European guest, he loves the tropical fruits that we have here most especially the mangoes. He bought them frequently that he got acquainted with the lady fruit vendor so much so that he was very happy to report, one fine day, that he even got a discount. It may have been a small discount but the act itself went a long way and had endeared our guest to the invaluable hospitality of Bicolanos in particular and Filipinos in general. With this kind of friendly demeanor and each member of the community doing his/her own part, the trickle-down effect will surely turn into a downpour. Surely, tourism will help catapult comprehensive development and progress here and the rest of the country.