DOT SPEECH ELF APRIL 1999
Elf Aquitaine Authentic Adventure Race
Secretary Gemma Cruz Araneta
Department of Tourism
Farewell message, MacArthur Park Hotel
Tacloban, Leyte, April 1999
When the proponents of the Elf Authentic Adventure Race came to my office at the Department of Tourism, they said they decided to hold the “endurance ” sports in the Philippines because they felt they were venturing into unknown territory. They were looking for a “very rough place” with dense forests, uncharted jungles, hidden rivers, extreme conditions that would test the mettle of 23 teams for endurance and survival. ( And here we are trying to make tourists as comfortable as possible!)
I thought of Eastern Samar, which a century ago the Americans turned into a “howling wilderness”. I got in touch with Congressman Marcelino Libanan and he suggested Biliran, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar ( his province) and Tacloban, Leyte. Thank you, Cong. Libanan for your assistance beyond the call of duty.
You know, there were influential groups who were strongly opposed to the Elf adventure; they claimed that it was a cover-up for future extraction industries like mining and illegal logging. The good congressman explained everything to them and persuaded them to dismantle their demonstration.
Then, there were security issues, the New People’s Army (NPA) has an undeniable presence in the Samar provinces, so they had to know that the Elf adventurers are sports people, environment-friendly who have to be protected, not harassed or harmed. Thank you for all that , Congressman Libanan and also for securing permission for ELF to use that abandoned landing field for their helicopters.
The participants have shared many unforgettable experiences. They said there were times when they had run out of food and were so touched that the people who lived in those isolated jungles, poor as they were, offered them fruits, chicken eggs, rice without asking for anything in return. That was true Filipino hospitality!
To the Elf Adventurers, thank you for coming to the Philippines, do come again there is more to see, visit our 8 Anchor Destinations next time. . Mabuhay!
*To this day, 21 years later, Elf keeps promoting the Philippines! You can still view the Elf Authentic Adventure Race on AIM Sports TV, www. aimsports.tv — GCA