Can Lupon Empanada Festival place Davao Oriental in the country’s tourism map?

Good food has always been one of the factors that make people want to visit a certain area. This is exactly what the organizers of the Empanada Festival are rooting for when they started planning for the festival which was held on March 25 this year in Lupon, Davao Oriental.

Empanada of Batac Ilocos

“Lupon lacks activities that will bring in people from other places so we thought of something that will increase the number of visitors in the area,” Ramil Corbeta said.

Empanada is a traditional fastfood that is either fried or baked, and has meat and vegetable fillings. The Empanada Festival was first conducted in Batac City to celebrate its first anniversary as a Charter City in 2008. This time, it might just work its magic for Lupon.

A total of 10,000 empanadas were given to the public for free during that day, and some were even used for the locality’s feeding program for children

Corbeta, along with his business partner Daniel Murais, attempted to produce different types of empanada filling for that day’ including turkey, lamb and native chicken filling, among others.

“The challenge is to produce empanadas which the visitors will only be able to taste here in Lupon,” Murais said.

The Empanada Festival is actually meant to lure visitors to visit Lupon via the newly operational fast craft ferry from Davao City to Lupon, Davao Oriental. Davao to Lupon is estimated at 123 kilometers, with a travel time of up to 3 hours at a cost of P240 for an air-conditioned bus. The fast craft is the fastest alternative to Lupon with a travel time of only 1 hour and 12 minutes, and will cost you P350 for Business Class and P300 for Economy Class and P250 for the sundeck.

The 150-seater fast craft, which boasts of very comfortable airline-like seating, is being operated by DANSPENTA General Services, Inc. Barely a month after the maiden voyage of the fast craft, the company has already noticed the lack of passengers boarding the fast craft.

Corbeta said the fast craft company is starting to get discouraged about the minimal number of passengers as they cannot even fill up the seating capacity of the fast craft. He said they hope to establish the Empanada Festival to be a yearly festival to encourage visitors to the area and also to encourage the fast craft company to continue with its operations.

Lupon, one of the municipalities in the province of Davao Oriental, has over 60,000 people occupying its 88,639-hectare area. The name Lupon actually came from “naluponan”, a native word which refers to the accumulated land at the mouth of the river as a result of accretion. The municipality’s primary festival is thus called the “Naluponan Festival” which showcases the different tribes inhabiting Lupon.

Among the major investment areas of Lupon includes water fast crafts which already became a reality. Those who want to take advantage of the fast travel between Davao City and Lupon can invest in the municipality’s agricultural plantations, particularly banana plantations, hotels, banks and lending institutions, beach and resorts considering it has a variety of falls and hot springs, feed mills manufacturing and even recreation centers.

Lupon Mayor Domingo Lim said the faster means of transportation between Davao and Lupon is expected to lure more investors in the area. He said this project has been in their drawing board ever since he became mayor.

A lot of people have been asking the significance of a fast craft that will ply from Davao to Lupon when there are in fact no major attractions in the area. It is really a chicken and egg thing because for Mayor Lim, faster travel between the two areas will open up a host of trade and economic opportunities for Lupon. (PNA)

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