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    DoT cashes on Fil-Am golf to help boost tourism

    BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Tourism is cashing in on the Fil-Am Invitational Golf Tournament to help boost tourism for the Philippines when it partnered with its organizers this year.

    With its newly revived “bring home a friend” program to boost tourism, the DoT believes the Fil-Am golf as one of the events that will help highlight such. With the partnership, the department is confident that tourism will surely spike up, said DoT-Cordillera representative Bayani Malicdem during a press conference for the 68th Fil-Am DoT Golf Invitational by San Miguel Corporation last Nov. 27.

    The program was launched in 1994 by then DoT secretary Mina Gabor to boost tourist arrival in the country. Last October, the DoT revived and launched the program. To spice it up, the DoT included a raffle for tourists whose winners will bring home either a condominium unit at Magallanes, Makati, a brand new car and a P200,000 gift certificate from Duty Free Philippines.

    The promotion will last until April 15 next year.

    Camp John Hay Golf Manager and Fil-Am co-chair Tim Allen said that the idea to partner with the DoT, or golf tourism, was CJH Development Corporation president John Sobrepeña’s.

    With the Fil-Am golf as a major tourist drawer with its more than 1,200 players many of whom are foreigners, it could be yet of help to the DoT program, Allen said of Sobrepeña thought.

    The Fil-Am golf will have 240 teams of which 68 teams will see action in the senior side or 55 years and older.

    The senior Fil-Am, which was started in 2004 during its 55th year, will have flights for Championship, A, B, C and D for both the Fil and Am sides.

    “This is up by 40 percent from when we started when we only had three flights – Champ, A and B,” added Allen.

    This time, General Manager Anthony de Leon of co-host Baguio Country Club said the Fil-Am is also gearing up for the opening of a third category, the super senior competition for 70 years and older next year.

    Meanwhile, the co-chair admit that the delay in the start of the Fil-Am has greatly helped the event with players from the US able to celebrate Thanksgiving Day before flying to Baguio and play.

    “It has been a long clamour by Americans or Filipinos living in the US to have a later start so that they can celebrate Thanksgiving with their families,” said Allen, an American.

    “You know in the States, Thanksgiving is even bigger than Christmas,” he said.

    “When we announced that it will start on the 29th, we received an unbelievably positive response,” he added.

    Moreover, the Fil-Am will also be safe from the rains, said de Leon, who said that several staging in the past specifically the first week, saw plays shortened due to cancellation of game when the course is unplayable due to strong rain.

    The two, meanwhile, announced that the courses are in good shape, actually at its best in years.
    “The courses have never been in this shape,” said Allen.

    Games for the senior side starts on Dec. 2 and will be played until the seventh. San Miguel Northern Cement led by former Eddie Bagtas defends in the Fil-Champ side.

    On Dec. 8, practice rounds for the regular Fil-Am begin and the tournament proper to commence on Dec. 11 and will be played until the 16th.

    Last year the Carmona, Cavite based Manila Southwoods won both the Fil and Am Championship flights in dominant fashion. Yuto Katsugarawa, who shot an eight under for 152 points last year, will lead the Fil Championship flight team, while the Am team, which won by 88 points, will be led anew by veteran Junjun Plana. PR / ABN