Group explores Guimaras tourism potentials
Crystal clear waters, coral reefs, natural mangrove forests and unique rock formations are some of the attractions for ‘restorative vacations,’ an ecotourism package Green Forum Western Visayas is developing with fisherfolks near the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve (TINMAR).
“We’re helping develop sites where visitors can enjoy refreshing break from pollution and other urban hassles while restoring the ecological systems especially those damaged by the oil spill,” said Dennis Taborno the community facilitator of Green Forum in Brgy. Lapaz and Brgy. San Roque in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.
Last May 23, in celebration of the International Month of the Oceans, members of We Heal (Workers for Environment and Health), Pro-SR (Professionals for Social Responsibility) and Green Forum enjoyed island hopping of the potential ecotourism sites.
“It was an opportunity for the fisherfolks and local youth groups to explore the concepts of restorative vacations and ecotourism by making the activity an on-the-job training of sorts on tour guiding and story telling,” added Taborno.
The island hopping started with breakfast of ibus, mango and coffee at an old batil (sailboat) in Sitio Alman Sur. The community talked about their experiences with the sailboats that used to ply cargoes and passengers all over the archipelago. Mastery of wind and sea currents fueled the transfer of goods and people then. Mechanized and steel ships displaced them and the MARINA policy where their cargoes cannot be insured ended their trade.
The group visited Calirohan in Taklong Island for a look on the Tabon Scrubfowl habitat. Tabon, an endangered species, is known as mound-builders or incubator birds. To incubate their eggs they bury them by building large nest-mounds of sand and humus. Decaying vegetation provide the heat that incubate the eggs.
The tour ended with a group discussion in Isla Miguel for feedbacks from the visitors, food preparers, boatmen and tour guides. There were suggestions for improvements and on policies to deal with claimants who fenced some beaches as private properties.After Calirohan, the group proceeded to Binabaywan for snorkeling and swimming then to Tabonan Islet for a view of a lagoon and bat cave. Lunch at Talisay in Sitio Cumian, Brgy. San Roque. Nearby is an interesting rock formation of an islet shaped like a wild boar with a rich legend of the giant Lumawag. Tour guides interviewed their grandparents for the legends and epics of the areas to share with the visitors.
Filipino Community in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate raised funds for the capacity building activities on ecotourism as an alternative livelihood of communities affected by the oil-spill. The fund is managed by the CPU Bulig Na with field facilitation by Green Forum.