Datu Sikatuna Award Given to Bea Zobel Ayala and PPA Boss

By Kit Bagaipo - Bohol Chronicle

In recognition for their commitment to the upliftment of Bohol and its people, the provincial government bestowed the Datu Sikatuna Award to four outstanding individuals during the 154th Bohol Day commemorative program yesterday morning at the Bohol Cultural Center.

Vice President Noli de Castro conferred the Datu Sikatuna award, in behalf of the Bohol

officialdom, to this year's four awardees - Philippine Airlines chair and CEO Lucio Tan, Cebu Pacific Air president and CEO Lance Gokongwei, Beatriz Zobel de Ayala Jr. of Ayala Foundation and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Atty. Oscar Sevillla.

Gov. Erico Aumentado said in his message that Tan, Gokongwei, Zobel Jr. and Sevilla are given the Datu Sikatuna Award, the highest citation given by the provincial government, to recognize the partnership they forged with Bohol in the field of local development, tourism and trade and industry.

Tan and Gokongwei have helped spur the influx of tourists in the province by establishing 3 airline flights each for PAL and Cebu Pacific serving the Manila-Tagbilaran-Manila route, the governor said.

"The six daily flights of PAL and Cebu Pacific have immensely contributed to the tourism industry of the province even at a time when the flights to Bohol were considered as missionary flights," Aumentado said.

In 2007, Bohol had 600,000 tourist arrivals.

Bea Zobel Jr. is cited for helping in the preservation and development of old houses in the province that are now used to host local and foreign tourists while giving the opportunity for livelihood to its owners.

Zobel Jr., who has also embarked in the restoration of Bohol's centuries old churches, is actively involved in the promotion of culture and arts in the province through Ayala Foundation.

PPA head Sevilla is likewise conferred the Datu Sikatuna Award for bringing in some P278 million in port improvement projects in Bohol's four major ports located in Tagbilaran City, Tubigon, Jagna and Ubay which are now major links of the Strong Republic Nautical Highways (SNRH).

In his speech, De Castro congratulated the awardees for their very important roles in development.

The Datu Sikatuna Awards was established as a citation of friendship and cooperation that perpetuates the memory of the Sandugo, a blood compact between a Boholano chieftain Datu Sikatuna and Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The event that happened in March 16, 1521 is the first recorded international treaty of friendship between a native of the country and a foreigner.

Zobel Jr., in her acceptance message, said the wealth of Bohol must be fully developed not only to benefit investors but the people and the community.

She called for a sustainable and responsible tourism development for the sake of future generations.