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Park visitors recommend innovative ecotourism services

By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
September 6, 2009

BASEY, Samar  –  The students of Masters on Public Resource Management (MPRM) of Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) Burauen Campus in Burauen Leyte has visited two of the famous ecotourism sites in Samar as part of their 2-day educational tours over the weekend.

Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park - photo by DOTLed by campus director Dr. Felixberto E. Avestruz, Dr. Ann Rose Refuerzo and Dr. Dennis de Paz, all professors of said campus, the group visited the mystical Sohoton Caves in Basey and the Langon-Gobingob Caves in Calbiga town, which are both protected areas under the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) last August 29-30, 2009.

In Sohoton, the group composed of Melinda Tan, Lizley Prejula, Darlene Monteros, Fe Maningo, Riza Dumaduma, Erlinda Malate, Iman Alvinez, Aileen Tacbalan, Eduard Nerja, Luisito Rodriguez, Liza Pedere and Crisostomo Badeo were entertained by members of the Sohoton Services Association (SSA), a people’s organization duly registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) who at that time having meeting. They were interviewed by the group before taking the cave tour.

At around 10:28 a.m. the group entered the Sohoton Cave and amazed by the different rock formations distinctly described by the guides as stalagmites, stalactites, helectites and columns or pillars.

At the end of the Sohoton tour, the group recorded the following observations, to wit; the management should install public calling booth within Sohoton area, improve the vicinity map, revive usual visitor management by briefing them first before entering the cave, and provide trash receptacles in the area, among others.

In Calbiga, on the other hand, the participants of the tour, most of them wore sandals and rubber shoes, said they experienced their most difficult journey of the tour as they hike at least three kilometers to the cave, and while inside the cave, loose soil, sticky and slippery rocks made them feel uneasy to walk.

After an hour cave explorations, the group got out exhausted. “(Majority of us) experienced difficulty on breathing due to insufficient supply of oxygen wherein one of our classmates was not able to continue and decided to go out for fear that she may collapse inside the cave,” said Forester Crisostomo Badeo, one of the participants who is also a DENR employee.

But nevertheless, “we are mesmerized by the huge doom ever seen by our naked eyes, I think that first chamber has the size that can fit the 5-story building inside,” one of the participant said in full excitement.

At the end, they arrived at the following observations. The trail leading to the cave needs clearing and maintenance, picnic tables and kiosks at the cave entrance should be installed, graded trail with hand railings and elevated cantilever bridge within the cave is suggested as, according to them, it may serve the tourists better.

In an interview, Dr. Avestruz informed that the tour was a culminating activity of the three subjects and was conducted with a concomitant purpose of yielding salient information about protected area management of the park.

“Apart from unwinding break after a series of lecture-discussion in the four-walled classroom, this activity enabled the students’ erudition to review on how biodiversity resources along with the identified mapped and non-mapped issues were addressed by the SINP as contained in its management manual and thereafter come up with a group report with categorical recommendations,” the director said.

It was learned that the group, through Dr. Avestruz, will submit their observations and recommendations to concerned agencies such as the respective local government units and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, particularly the SINP.