With the Canadian Executive Service Organization’s (CESO) continuing support to empowering societies, Ilagan City is the third city of the Province of Isabela to benefit from the expertise of a CESO Volunteer Advisor on Place Branding, after Santiago City and Cauayan City. This project was a partnership between the Department of Trade and Industry-R02 through its Regional Director Ruben Diciano and Isabela Provincial Director Ma. SalvacionCastillejos, and the City Government of Ilagan under the leadership of Mayor Evelyn Diaz.

Mr. Roger Wheelock, a registered tourism planner in Canada, was the serving consultant and Volunteer Advisor (VA) for the assignment. Before the formal start of his work, he met with various officials of the City Government including the mayor, DTI Officials and CESO Officer Erwin Altamarino on August 1, 2017 to discuss the expected outcomes and the processes that he will employ in the more than two-week engagement. The technical working group was also organized during the opening meeting composed of the key officers of various units under the city government.

VA Wheelock, with the members of the TWG, conducted site visits on the city’s existing and potential tourism spots, facilities and historical infrastructures. He also had some informal discussions with the community and held a series of formal workshops participated in by different stakeholders in the city. With all that he has gathered and the invaluable contributions of the TWG and all those involved, VA Wheelock was very confident in his final presentation and exit meeting which was held on August 17, 2017 at the Executive Conference Room of the City of Ilagan.

The Volunteer Advisor discussed the outputs of the different workshops, specifically pointing out on the strengths and weakness of the city’s tourism aspect. He also gave his recommendations in order to make Ilagan City one of the most talked destinations in Northern Luzon. The Brand Statement of the city was refreshed to “Tara Sa Ilagan…worth the journey”.

Among the recommendations of Mr. Wheelock were the following: an intensified promotion of Ilagan City as the Corn Capital of the Philippines, establishment of a CORN-er which will feature integrated activities related to corn, improvement of the city’s road landscaping, promotion of heritage sites, celebration of Jeepney Festival and other equally great opportunities for tourism. He emphasized the importance of standardization of service providers such as hotels and restaurants and transportation.