SHORE IT UP
The eco-tourism efforts of Cordova town on Mactan Island received a boost with the implementation of the multi-million peso Mangrove Propagation & Information Center at its 278-hectare mangrove area in Barangay Day-as.
The municipality has been chosen as the site of the first mangrove center in the Visayas by the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) Foundation under its Shore It Up program.
"The center completes the nationwide position of Shore It Up in helping to rescue, restore, and revive the mangroves," according to Melody del Rosario, president of the MPIC Foundation.
Del Rosario said the foundation recognizes the importance of mangrove forest to the shorelines ecosystem.
In her speech during the groundbreaking of the center at Barangay Day-as on March 2, Del Rosario cited the need to protect the countrys mangrove areas, which have long been threatened.
Thus the foundation came up with its Mangrove Propagation & Information Center as a way to create awareness of the importance of mangroves as well as protect these areas from further degradation.
Two such centers have been established at the mangrove areas in Alaminos, Pangasinan and Del Carmen, Siargao Islands.
"These centers advocate the propagation and protection of mangrove trees in coastal estuaries, including the rehabilitation of degraded mangroves and provides information to locales, tourists and guests on the values and benefits of mangroves in our ecosystem," Del Rosario explained.
Siargo: countrys largest mangrove site
She also cited the economic benefits generated by the presence of a similar center at Del Carmen on Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, which is the site of 4,200 hectares of mangrove area, the largest in the Philippines.
The municipality now has several boat tour operators, once illegal fishermen or boat operators, offering tours at the mangrove area with each boat teams earning P30,000 each month, Del Rosario disclosed.
Also, the centers Sugba Lagoon, located within the mangrove area earns P80,000 each month for the group that manages the facility, she added.
The center also adds to the attractions of Del Carmen, considered as the surfing capital of the Philippines.
The Del Carmen mangrove area serves as the sanctuary to rare and endangered wildlife species such as the endangered dugong, green sea turtle, Philippine cockatoo, olive ridley turtle, hawksbill turtle, golden flying fox and the largest living saltwater crocodiles.
Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho expressed appreciation for the selection of Cordova as the location of the center in the Visayas.
"We are blessed and honored to take a major part in your quest to rescue, restore and revive the coastal and marine environment," Sitoy-Cho said.
According to the mayor, the center will be a welcome addition to the natural attractions of the municipality.
"Over the years, we have successfully placed Cordova on the national tourism map and I believe that gradually we have also been winning the hearts of international tourists. Yong Marine sanctuary on Hilutungan Islands dinadayo ng mga tourists from Japan, China and even Korea," Sitoy-Cho pointed out.
Cordovas eco-tourism sites include Gilutongan Marine Sanctuary, established in 1999 and the Nalusuan Island Marine Sanctuary, established in 2002. The tip of Day-as Wharf in Barangay Day-as which sits on the vast mangrove area has been declared as a Marine Habitat Village in 2003.
At the same time, the mayor also said the center would generate livelihood opportunities for the Cordova residents.
The MPIC Foundation will be training eco-guides to become knowledgeable about mangroves, including the identification of species, and its importance to the ecosystem.
Aside from providing sanctuary to land and sea animal species, mangroves also shield inland areas from huge waves generated by storms and minimize damage.
SHORE IT UP