N. Samar’s Biri rock formation cited as among Top 10 Philippine Gems

TACLOBAN CITY, (PNA) — Northern Samar’s amazing rock formation has been included in the Top 10 Philippine Gems, a project undertaken by Isla Lipana & Co. to entice more tourists and encourage possible investments.

Located in the island town of Biri facing the Pacific Ocean, the formations are said to be carved and shaped by nature for millions of years.

The Biri Islands Rock Formation ranked fifth in the online voting, according to Mayor Antonio B. de los Reyes Jr. It is the only tourist destination in Eastern Visayas that vied for the search.

He expressed elation that Biri was chosen by the organizer as cover of the brochure “Philippine Treasures Revealed” as revealed during Wednesday’s announcement of winners.

The awesome and breathtaking rock formation in Biri has attracted local and foreign tourists at the onset of the search.

“Biri is a protected area and seascape since 2000 as declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It has not only magnificent rock formation, but also rich diverse marine life with expansive coral reef, beach forests and mangrove cover,” said Corazon Horca Makabenta, division chief of Coastal and Marine Management Division of DENR.

This island with 11,000 residents as of 2010 census is the location setting of three movies, the latest of which is the movie “Badil” of award-winning director Chito Roño who is from Calbayog City.

The search was launched to highlight the 91st anniversary celebration of Isla Lipana & Co. It also forms part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) project.

According to Allan M. Cao, assurance director of Isla Lipana & Co. the company started with a list of 175 destinations gathered from their employees and online travel bloggers and trimmed down to 50.

The screening committee agreed on a shortlist of 25 destinations, which were opened to online voting until middle of September.

Also included in the Top Ten Philippine Gems are Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte; Lake Sebu, South Cotabato; Tubbataha Reef Natural Park Palawan; Caramoan Island, Camarines Sur; Biri Islands Rock Formation; Mt. Kanlaon, Negros; Danjugan Island, Negros Occidental; Panglao Island, Bohol; Apo Island, Negros Oriental and Batanes.

“The Philippine Gems steers awareness and appreciation for the country’s pristine and natural sites, even the underdeveloped ones. In our modest way, we aim for these places to gain local and international attention, and in due course, greater economic activity,” Cabrera said during the announcement of the top ten in Manila Hotel.

The project was made possible with the help of the Philippine Tourism and Promotion Board of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the University of the Philippines-Asia Institute of Tourism.

The screening committee is composed of the Management Association of the Philippines and FleishmanHillard Manila, travel blogger James Betia and media personalities Love Añover, Jing Lejano and ace director, Jose Javier Reyes.