Sports tourism seen in new Tondaligan Park

THE rehabilitation of the Tondaligan Park, once Dagupan City’s pride for its long stretch of the Blue Beach coastline, is being rushed to regain its status as one of the major tourist destinations in Pangasinan.

Its initial salvo in promoting it following its ongoing rehabilitation was the holding of the two-day beach volleyball on Feb. 26 and 27 by the Beach Volleyball Republic, Inc. (BVR) where an unexpected big crowd, unmindful of the scorching heat of the sun, stayed until evening to watch the games.

Tondaligan Park, or also locally referred to locally as Bonuan Blue Beach, according to war veterans, was the place where Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the American Liberation Forces made the beachhead on Jan. 9, 1945 to fulfill the general’s promise of “I shall return” at the end of World War II.

BVR is an organization formed in June 2015 that seeks to develop the growth of beach volleyball in the Philippines. It has toured different coastal areas across the country for its exhibition matches and tournaments.

BVR, co-founded by former Ateneo Lady Eagles volleybelles and current professional players Charo Soriano, Gretchen Ho, Fille Cainglet-Cayetano, Dzi Gervacio, Bea Tan and former Petron Blaze Spikers player Alexa Micek, organizes organizes beach volleyball tournaments in different beaches and public places in the Philippines mainly to promote the game program for the young and aspiring players at the grass roots.

Soriano told The PUNCH in an interview that Tondaligan is ideal for sports tourism.

She noted that while the Philippines has 7,100 islands, yet the playground for such a sporting event like beach volleyball, is not being maximized.

She lauded Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez for sharing BVR’s vision and hosting the beach volleyball tournament.

“Tondaligan Beach actually is very clean and I like it because the waves are very nice,” Soriano said noting that the beach has a wide stretch and a wide shoreline which is conducive for beach volleyball.

She added, “I think that perhaps, sooner or later, we can actually promote surfing here if that’s possible.”

Soriano said she was greatly impressed by the interests and enthusiasm shown by local residents who stayed from morning to evening to watch the matches.

“It’s amazing,” she said.

Like the thousands of beach lovers who come and revisit the Tondaligan Blue Beach, Soriano said they are willing to return again for another tournament during the Bangus Festival. (Tita Roces)