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Inquirer Southern Luzon
‘Survivor’ won’t desert Caramoan

By Juan Escandor Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:57:00 01/27/2010

Filed Under: Tourism, Television, Government

AGAIN, ?SURVIVOR ISRAEL? will rent the whole Gota Village Resort, which is owned and operated by the local government, in Ilawod, Caramoan, Camarines Sur, to film two editions of ?Hisardot (Survivor).?

Jimmy Binyamini, production manager, cited ?best place, good people and unique sites? as reasons for the comeback and filming three straight times.

Last year, one edition of ?Hisardot? was shot and shown until last month on Israeli national television Channel 10.

This time, the shooting will start on Feb. 28, while filming will end in late May or early June.

The no-celebrity shoot will last 40 days and the celebrity edition, 30 days, excluding the 45-day pre-production to prepare equipment, props and sites, according to Binyamini.

Adventure site

Aside from promoting the adventure appeal of the Caramoan Islands throughout Israel, ?Hisardot? will employ some 200 Filipino workers to assist the 120 production members, Binyamini said. ?Caramoan is a great adventure site ideal to our show,? he said.

?Hisardot? has two parts?the ?reality? and games to test the participants? wits and survivor instincts. Like castaways on an island, they will be exposed to the cameras under very primitive conditions round-the-clock for 40 days.

?Hisardot? is actually the second media outfit of ?Survivor? to film their editions on small islands strewn northeast of Caramoan, facing the island-province of Catanduanes.

The French Survivor, ?Koh-Lanta Caramoan,? filmed its edition in 2008, followed by media outfits from Israel, Bulgaria and Serbia in 2009. ?Koh-Lanta? was shown in Europe to an estimated 12 million viewers.

A top executive of the provincial government, who asked not to be named because negotiation was still ongoing, revealed that ?Survivor USA? would also be filmed here next year until 2012. Its production crew searched many areas in the Philippines and found Caramoan the most ideal place for filming because of its unique geographical features and available facilities that meet production standards.

Ning Villanueva, provincial tourism officer, said Camarines Sur?s hosting of ?Survivor? had brought in droves of foreign tourists, making it the most visited destination in the Philippines last year.

Records from the Department of Tourism office in Bicol showed that in the first nine months last year, 1,022,092 visitors came to the province, 206,937 of them foreigners. Americans comprised the biggest number of arrivals, followed by Israelis, British, Australians and Japanese.

Tourism revenues in the region reached more than P1 billion, of which P700 million came from Camarines Sur.

Protected area

Caramoan?s variety of sceneries and unique sites cater to the adventurous spirit, said Jovi Villareal, recreational officer of Gota Village. The resort is inside a 4,000-hectare national park being managed by the provincial government as agreed upon with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Half of the area is protected and being developed for ecotourism, Villareal said.

The park has many unexplored sites, such as small tiny lakes, subterranean water passages and underwater caves in the small limestone islands. Islets are scattered sporadically and swept by plants and weed trees, and offer narrow beaches and coves accessible by boat or kayak, he said.

On the fringes are towering limestone walls suitable for rock climbing.

Geologic configuration

The primary attraction is the scenic view of a unique geologic configuration in the middle of a wide coastal marine environment.

Caramoan exhibits the so-called karst topography, according to a 1981 study of the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences. This means a landscape defined by a varied formation of limestone cliffs created through geologic processes.

?As for the ?Survivor? production coming back, they must be profiting from the sceneries here that draw television viewers to their show,? said Euphi Peñano, the resort manager.

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