By Chito A. Chavez
Pedicab drivers in the island-province of Siquijor were trained as tourist guides by a state college so they could earn a little more this summer.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge (OIC) Eduardo M. Año said what the Siquijor State College (SSC) in the town of Larena has done is worth emulating.
The state college taught the pedicab drivers how to speak basic Korean and French, among other skills.
“SSC’s initiative is a very novel idea and perhaps the first in the country. Where else can you find pedicab tourist drivers who are conversant in Korean, French, English, Filipino and Visayan languages?” Año said.
Among those who benefitted from the school’s initiative are the 40 members of the Province of Siquijor Tourism Accredited Drivers Association (POSTADA).
They went through a month-long training to develop their conversational skills, cross-cultural communications and cultural diversity and basic first aid.
Año said the training for was made possible through a grant from the DILG to the Siquijor State College based on the findings of a survey on the Citizen Satisfaction Index System (CSIS).
The survey showed that the areas of economic and investment promotion particularly in the transport services need dire improvement in order to be at par with the rising demand for tourism in Siquijor.
Año said the school’s proposal was among the 10 proposals chosen by the Department’s National Program Committee (NPC) and was granted with P200,000 technical assistance fund.
Dr. Maria Imogen Quilicot, Siquijor State president, said that with the training, public transport drivers who are at the forefront in dealing with domestic and foreign tourists can now effectively approach guests, close deals, and convince visitors to do their share in preserving the beauty of the island province during their stay.
Quilicot said POSTADA members were also provided with tourist driver’s guidebook and first-aid kits at the end of their training.
POSTADA President Neolito Samson said the training changed their lives for the better.
From the usual P200-300 income per day, the members are now hired three times a week for a P1,000-1,200 per day for an island tour.