Cebu Resort [Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort] Tourists get taste of Filipino culture

Maribago Bluewater's Beachwing pool and Allegro Restaurant

Maribago Bluewater's Beachwing pool and Allegro Restaurant

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Putting the Filipino culture on center stage is the heart to the 19-year existence of Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Island, Cebu.

“As a Filipino-owned corporation, our vision is to showcase our culture, which we should be proud of because we are one of the few countries with a rich culture and heritage,” said general manager Rhyz O. Buac.

Buac, who has been with Maribago since 1990, said the management made sure that the structural designs of the resort’s 158 rooms exude the homey and native ambiance of the Filipino home.

Careful detail was given to the materials used in the construction.

“We are using cogon for the roof. For our restaurant, The Cove, we bought a foundation made of tugas (hard word). We went to very old houses in the towns, which are about to be destroyed and purchased those foundations,” he said.

Aside from the accommodation, cultural shows featuring dances from all over the country are also staged every Saturday.

The resort’s 300 regular and casual employees are all Filipinos, including the chefs.

“We are very particular on the fact that as a Filipino company, we should be hiring Filipinos as well. That’s not common to other establishments here,” Buac told Cebu Daily News.

Because their chefs are Filipinos, the resort’s specialty is also Filipino cuisine.

Buac, however, was quick to say that they too can serve international cuisine such as Italian and Japanese food for guests who would like to dine on these dishes.

But the showcase of Filipino culture does not stop in the accommodation, people and food. It extends to visual and experiential activities.

In 2005, the Bluewater gallery was added to the list of the resort’s cultural features. Cebuano and Filipino painters and photographers can display artworks.

It is holding an art exhibit from November 29 to December 15. It carries a theme “Garbo sa Bisaya” which features the artworks of nine Bisaya artists.

Every week, the resort also conducts puso-weaving (hanging rice) lessons to guests.

The products of these lessons are displayed during buffet lunches and dinners of the guests, said Buac.

Resort facilities and amenities include spa, three swimming pools, shark pond, scuba diving and four restaurants—Allegro, The Cove, Molto Joli Italian Restaurant and Amuma Spa Café.

The entire resort covers seven hectares including the 1.1-hectare Alegrado Island, where special occasions can be held.

Maribago Bluewater was established in 1989. It started as a resthouse of the Alegrado family from Carcar City, which was then a municipality.

Interested individuals however started coming in and the Alegrados decided to build 32 rooms to accommodate guests.

But interest for Maribago Bluewater continued to spread, enticing both local and foreign tourists to spend their vacation and special occasions in the resort.

The resort had its share of birthing pains but the tenacity and passion of its owners Arcadio Alegrado and Marle Montalban, coupled with dedicated staff, contributed to its success.

Maribago Bluewater is owned and operated by family-owned corporation, Almont Holdings Inc.

It also has other resorts in the Visayas namely Panglao Bluewater Resort in Bohol and the Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort in Oslob town.

The family also owns four other properties in Surigao and Butuan. These include Almost Inland Resort Hotel and Almont City Hotel.

Buac said he expects a challenging year ahead for Maribago Bluewater.

“News of the financial crisis hitting on tourism is not affecting us yet but we are preparing. I think our different concept will help us. It’s a different experience that we are offering,” he said.

Ninety-eight percent of the arrivals are leisure tourists, who are on honeymoon or simply on vacation. Of this percentage, 95 percent are foreign tourists said Buac.

“Yes, we’re a dollar-earning establishment because a majority of our tourists come from abroad. The local tourists come here not really for overnight stays. They come to hold functions and celebrations here.”

Buac said Koreans and Japanese are their number clients because their countries are closer to the Philippines and due to availability of direct flights.

European tourists, especially the Russians, start coming in October until March.

The regular expat market from Hong Kong and growing China market also visit the resort.

As the resort turns 20 years old next year, Buac said upholding the Filipino culture will remain their primary weapon against the predicted slowdown.

“Our highest mission is to give genuine care and comfort to our guests and we always remind ourselves that. We always realign our operating procedures and tell ourselves that we have to be different,” he said.

“We always have in mind to ‘wow’ the guests and we are delivering that. We have a good share of repeat tourists and that makes good business.”

Written by Cris Evert Lato of Cebu Daily News and was published on December 8, 2008 (Monday).

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