We recently caught up with Mr Gerry Bie ”Andoy” Dalimag, a volunteer guide from the Northern Philippines. He was recently awarded the TOURISM STAR PHILIPPINES by the Philippine Department of Tourism for his zeal and passion for the tourism industry, so he was the perfect candidate to give us an insightful local perspective of this incredible destination. …
Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born in Sampaloc, Manila but my family migrated north to the Cagayan Province when I was 2 months old, so I grew up here in Penablanca. One thing that keeps me in the town is the culture.
What do you do in your spare time?
Aside from volunteering to guide, I spend my time with my family and hanging out with my friends playing basketball games.
Why do you enjoy showing people Callao Cave so much?
Callao Cave is very special and guiding guests around gives me great pride that I live here – I like to share the things that I know with people who are visiting for the first time. Guide work also helps me earn money for school.
Describe how you felt when you first ever went in to the chambers of the cave?
When I first explored the cave, I was just a normal kid in our community. I remember being amazed by the beauty of the skylights and the chambers of the cave, and looking in wonder at the awesome rock formation of limestone.
A few years later I attended the tour guide seminar and became one of the local guides in the cave. I think it is God’s plan for me. And because of tour guiding, I appreciate and much more know about my personality.
Can you tell us a bit about why the Northern part of the Philippines is so special?
For me, the Northern Philippines (especially my own town of Penablanca) is unique because this word will come into your mind: “ADVENTURE”. From the spectacular caves and mountains, the more you explore the more it will challenge you and let you really appreciate nature.
Penablanca is really special. It is known as the Cradle of the Philippine Civilization because this is where they excavated bone which is believed to be of the oldest man in the Philippines.
Caving aside, what is your favourite thing to do in the area?
I usually swim on the river and go boat riding; these are my favourite things to do in the area because for me, my tour guiding career does not make sense if I don’t experience the activities for myself. As a guide, I consider myself as a front liner in our destination. Without us the tourists that come to our area will never find and learn about the top spots that we would recommend.
Can you recommend a good, authentic local place for a sun-downer cocktail?
Anywhere in my town. I can say that it is best for cocktails at dusk because you can really appreciate the nature at that time.
If you had to describe the Philippines in just 3 words, what would they be?
Cultured, hospitable and adventurous.