The tourism industry is increasingly becoming one of the economic pillars that provides the needed revenue to the government’s coffers. And taken as a whole, it is ecotourism that tops them all. It can be considered as a poverty alleviating industry as it creates jobs in remote parts of the country which is composed mostly of fisherfolks and farmers.
While it is a common, yet unfortunate occurrence that urban development usually overshadows and even neglects the peripheral communities, a different trend may be happening in the City of Ormoc – a bustling city by the bay with its long coastal communities and large swaths of lands with sugar cane plantations.
But where nature is allowed to thrive, it sustains and makes communities productive. Ormoc City is one such place. All it takes is a local government unit in convergence with other national agencies, the private sector and the communities to come up with plans to provide economic opportunities to the underprivileged sectors of society. One such effort is the promotion of ecotourism in the area.
The once barren mud flats along the coastal barangays of Naungan, San Juan and Lao of Ormoc City became a thriving mangrove forest with the intervention of the DENR through its Community-Based Forest Management Project (CBFMP) and the National Greening Program (NGP) coursed through the Naungan-San Juan Mangrove Planters Association (NSJMPA). The success of its plantation project led to the infusion of funds from the private sector to what is now the Ormoc City Mangrove Eco Park that offers a place for visitors to stay, relax and commune with nature while they indulge on its aquatic resources and other local delicacies.
Not to be left behind, a proclaimed protected area under the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act, the upland part of Ormoc City has its own ecotourism area which is the Lake Danao Natural Park (LDNP). The guitar-shaped lake with cool atmosphere, offers a serene and relaxing escapade for nature lovers.
While both were damaged by two separate natural calamities – super typhoon Yolanda of 2013 that destroyed the mangrove plantation and the 2017 earthquake that damaged infrastructure and facilities of the LDNP, these have since been rehabilitated and are making a strong comeback to cater to the visiting public.
Just recently, the Camping Pavilion at Brgy. Lake Danao made possible by the LGU of Ormoc City is a welcome relief to those whose income depends upon tourists of the park. At the Ormoc Mangrove Ecopark, a newly constructed public toilet was also turned-over by the Department of Tourism (DOT) to the Naungan San Juan Mangrove Planters Association (NSJMPA) to cater to the needs of its visitors.
“Let us conserve and protect this ecopark for it provides us the needed livelihood,” says Hon. Jaime Higano, a barangay official who expressed appreciation to the LGU of Ormoc City, DOT and the DENR for the projects.
“The DENR in Eastern Visayas appreciates the convergence of support from the Local Government Unit of Ormoc City and that of the Department of Tourism for the facilities introduced to Lake Danao Natural Park and the Mangrove Ecopark, both in Ormoc City. This will not only provide convenience to the visiting public but as the number of visitors grow, so also is the knowledge of the need to protect our protected areas and the importance of our wetlands, mangrove forests included,” shares OIC-Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Eugenia Baustista who represented DENR Regional Executive Director Tirso P. Parian, Jr. at the turn-over rites.