The municipality of Lambunao will develop a lake located on a plateau in the town’s remotest Barangay Cabatangan as an ecotourism destination.
Called “Tinagong Dagat” this is situated some 2,000 feet above sea level.
Lambunao tourism officer Jennifer Osorio, in a phone interview, said that while legends abound as to how the water formation got its name, the older generation tends to believe that it is a “dagat (sea)” because it is a huge body of water, but fresh water.
The approximately 5.3 hectares of Tinagong Dagat is the headwater of the Ulian River that provides irrigation to farms in adjacent barangays.
Its surrounding forest provides sanctuary for threatened species including the Visayan writhed-billed hornbill, (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni), Rafflesia spp., (mabitang / Varanus mabitang), the Philippine spotted deer (Rusa alfredi), and the Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons).
“Tinagong Dagat is an important cultural property because of its significance to the community,” she said, adding that annually they submit mapped-out cultural properties as a tourism indicator as among the requirements for the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG).
“It is already included in the inventory of the cultural property of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the municipality of Lambunao because we now have a certificate of compliance,” she added.
Osorio said they would like to restore the lake to its original size of about eight hectares, which through time has been reduced to just over five hectares due to siltation while some portions have been converted into farms.
The natural site is a destination for extreme mountaineers.
From the last stop in the barangay proper accessible to land vehicles, one has to trek for about eight to 10 hours to reach the area.
It takes a 45-minute ride from the town proper before reaching the barangay proper, she said.
While the local government is not yet opening the area to guests, Osorio explained they could not control those who did not pass the local government and just proceeded to explore the place.
The trail going to the site is not yet prominent; there are areas where landslides occur even during summer, she added.
“If they want to explore Tinagong Dagat we can coordinate their trip with barangay officials. They formed part of the porter and at the same time local guides for them to have a safe visit,” she said.
If they want to visit the place, they need to prepare because going to the area entails not just an ordinary walk.
The Tinagong Dagat and its vicinity with a total area of 3,0329.99 hectares have been declared as a protected area by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and as a critical habitat by the Sangguniang Bayan.
The Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office has also designated Bantay-Gubat personnel to watch over illegal activities within the area.
Meantime, Osorio said that they will conduct a survey of the 1,000-hectare Mari-it (enchanted) Eco Park in Barangay Jayubo as part of the initial development activities on July 7.
She said that Mayor Reynor Gonzales is looking at providing an initial PHP5 million to develop the park, which hosts two waterfalls, and a virgin forest at the back of the Mari-it Wildlife and Conservation Park. (PNA)