By Anna Valmero
CARMEN, BOHOL— Photographer Reynaldo Inson firmly believes that more Filipinos should visit local tourist destinations before going abroad.
“In my work, I meet foreign tourists who know more and have visited more of our islands than Filipinos who actually live here. Our country has 7,107 islands that offer a lot of adventure for different types of tourists so I hope more Filipinos will travel around the country,” says Reynaldo.
“For me, I was thankful that the beautiful Chocolate Hills is here in our province because I have a regular job and can take extra work in the hospitality industry, if the time permits.”
Reynaldo finished a course in Hotel Resort Service Technology in a local college but found more joy in taking snapshots of tourists at the Chocolate Hills.
Asked which of these is his favorite, he points to the cone-shaped one just in front of the view deck - perfect for snapshots during summer as it turns brown then turns to green during the rainy season.
As a photographer, Reynaldo has met hundreds of local and foreign tourists who visit the 1,776 Chocolate Hills daily. Most of them, he says, always raves about how unique these are and consider it one of the must-see sites in the Philippines.
While it was true that more and more tourists are carrying their own digital cameras to capture the beauty of the Chocolate Hills, Reynaldo said that there are still some who want to have their pictures taken by a professional photographer.
Reynaldo charges P100 for a creative shot of a person or a group of up to five with the Chocolate Hills as the background. The creative shots range from flying on a broomstick, jumping above the hills, and pointing or creating a heart-shaped frame around the hills with lover's arms.
Moreover, he says tourism also generates indirect jobs and helps transform sleepy towns in Bohol, like those along the coast of Abatan River. Predominantly, the handicrafts and agricultural produce in the area are sold to nearby towns but the growing popularity of the river boat tours have allowed them to sell their crafts to visiting tourists.
At his hometown in Tagbilaran, Reynaldo says housewives also actively join cottage industries like food production and making pasalubong items sold in tourist spots.
Overall, he points out that allows the locals around the country to get jobs and share their cultural heritage through the tourism destinations where one can find the local products and watch the folk songs, plays and dances.
The Bohol native says that if he had the money, he will chose to see the Banaue Rice Terraces and Underground River in Palawan instead of traveling abroad because he believes “one must first know his culture and country before traveling to see other borders.”
He adds that Filipinos will find it easier to travel around the country because there is no language barrier, save for some spots where locals are not so fluent in Tagalog.
He is also in full support of the current tourism slogan “It's More Fun in the Philippines”, noting that it's a clever way of putting how travel is such a unique experience in the country because of the people and local culture.
“Plus of course, it is cheaper to travel around the country than abroad so you can get your value for your hard-earned money,” Reynaldo says.
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