Durian Central: I Love Mati

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

THIS is the tagline of Mati City’s new tourism campaign under Mayor Carlo Rabat.

The idea is for Matinians and visitors to fall for the charms of this idyllic city facing the Pacific, and that “love” could be quickly shared through social media.

And this marketing concept is reaping benefits to Mati, with visitors coming in huge numbers.


“Na-surprise kami sa development saMati (We were surprise in Mati’s development),” says Mati City Mayor Carlo Rabat.

“When we spend holy week in Dahican City, there were just a few people, now it’s filled with people.” He recalls seeing the crowd at Dahican.

This writer was part of a select group of photographers and bloggers who were invited during the Holy Week in the City by the local government. We toured around the City Hall, the Baywalk, Carmelite Monastery, Subangan Museum, had an ultralight flying experience over Dahican, an island tour in Waniban and strolling at the famed Dahican Beach.

The group caught the Mayor frolicking at Waniban beach along with his family. During holy week, he made it point to spend the days around the beaches and islands of his city.

Mayor Rabat says the secret to the recent successes is maximizing exposure in Mati, these means putting up or supporting events that will attract visitors.

He recalled that the city began getting national attention when a group of celebrities had a pictorial in Dahican for a glossy magazine. These included actor/athlete Enchong Dee, Miss World 2014 Megan Young and sultry actress Jessy Mendiola.

The city then began supporting events particularly massive Electronic Dance Music parties, Sembreak in last year’s Sambuokan and the recently-held Summerfrolic.

The Mayor attributes the recent arrivals as an offshoot of those parties "of the thousands who attended Summerfrolic almost all of them had a Facebook account." The Mayor explains the power of the social media as an effective marketing tool.

The place has become some sort of a Mindanao’s Palm Springs, where young people converge during school breaks. It has attracted throngs of adventurous beachgoers drawn to the long coastline of Dahican.

The local government and private businesses are also inviting celebrities to Mati, these has a double-edged purpose, celebrities entertain constituents and also these social media savvy artistascan spread the beauty of Mati thru their social media accounts which are heavily-followed.

Fine examples include Kathryn Bernardo and JessyMendiola who snapped shots of Mati and uploaded it on their social media accounts like Instagram.

Currently they are building a water system in Dahican to attract more investors, Mayor says this is a partnership between the Mati Water District and the City. Dahican has no water system and is dependent upon wells.

The city is continuing with the Dahican Beach Strip development started by the previous administration. The DBS contains a visitor information center, day-time cottages and comfort rooms.

Mayor Rabat says the plan for Dahican is to develop the area without destroying the pristine natural environment. Its waters are home to dugongs, dolphins and whale sharks. It is also an important sea turtle nesting site.

One firm plan the City Mayor is bent on keeping is to keep the eight-kilometer beach barrier free, jetties, breakwaters and barriers are not allowed to be constructed in the area.

Aside from Dahican the Mayor is also exploring the potentials of Mt Hamiguitan as an eco-tourism destination. The protected area known for its bonsai forests is shared by the towns of Governor Generoso and San Isidro. It is being submitted for listing as a World Heritage Site.

They are also waiting for the private owners of Pujada Island to enter into partnerships with investors, the 156-hectare island is home to fine white sand beaches.

The City Government also wants to put ultralight flying as part of their itinerary for Mati. The Mindanao Saga Flying Club the operator of a ultralight facility in the airport offers Trial Introductory Flights for P1,600, a 15-minute ultralight ride which takes you above the scenic Dahican coastline.

There are perhaps a thousand reasons why someone would love Mati, and through these initiatives the city government is trying to add some more.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 01, 2014.


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