Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lambunao: A Municipality for Wildlife

Travel is one good way to relieve pressure and it has become popular that more and more people choose going around places during their spare time. And a tour to the municipality of Lambunao is very popular because of its many tourism resources.

Aside from being home to more than 30 waterfalls, the municipality is also known for the diversity of its animals, and for the number of species that would be considered rare and endangered. The town is in fact considered a “hot spot” for containing unique and unusual species.

Because the town contains such a high number of sensitive and potentially rare and endangered species, the municipal government along with a private conservationist group, a number of public agencies adopted a reserved area inside the West Visayas State University-College of Agriculture and Forestry, Lambunao campus in barangay Jayubo that addresses the need to protect important populations of rare and endangered species. It is a 2.5 hectare agro-eco park situated 16.3 kilometers from the poblacion.

The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List is a widely recognized evaluation for threatened plant and animal species. It has classified many animals in the Philippines including those found inside the WVSU-CAF Agro-Eco Park as endangered or critically endangered where they face a very high or extremely high risk of extinction.

The Visayan Spotted Deer, also known as the Philippine Spotted Deer is a nocturnal and endangered species of deer. It is one of three endemic deer species in the Philippines, although it was not recognized as a separate species until 1983. The deer is small and short-legged yet it is the largest endemic species of deer among the Visayas. This species is easily distinguished because of its distinctive "A" pattern of beige spots in both sides of the animal. It also has cream underparts and white fur on the chin and lower lip. Its head and neck are brown, but lighter than the body, and the eyes are ringed with paler fur. Males are larger than females and have short, thick, bumpy antlers. The diet of the deer, which consists of a variety of different types of grasses, leaves, and buds within the forest, is the primary indicator of its habitat. Since 1991 the range of the species has severely decreased.

The Visayan Warty Pig got its name from the three pairs of fleshy "warts" found on its visage. The scientific reason of the warts is that it acts as a natural defense against the tusks of rival pigs during a fight. Boars also grow stiff, spikey hair. It lives in groups of four to six. The diet of the pig mainly consists of roots, tubers, and fruits that can be found in the forest. It is not a protected animal and continues to be hunted that resulted primarily for its population decline.  As of its IUCN Red List assessment in 2008 it is classified as critically endangered.

photo by Toby Pagulayan Jr. (PALI)

The Visayan Tarictic Hornbill or Forest-dwelling Hornbill live in groups and frequent the canopy of rainforests. These birds are noisy and emit an incessant. Despite their noise they are difficult to find, being well camouflaged by the dense foliage.  The male has a creamy-white head and neck, a white upper chest and a reddish brown lower chest. The tail and bill of the female resemble that of the male, but otherwise the plumage of the female is black, and the ocular skin is blue. The bird has a very small and severely fragmented population which is undergoing a very rapid continuing decline as a result of lowland deforestation and hunting. For these reasons it is listed as Endangered.

photo by Toby Pagulayan Jr. (PALI)

The Rufous-headed Hornbill or the Visayan wrinkled hornbill can be recognized by the yellow throat and ocular skin for the male, and the blue throat and ocular skin for the female. They live in small groups and are noisy. The captive breeding of the Visayan Writhed billed hornbill in the Agro-Eco Park began in 1995 and in January of 2005 the first successful breeding in the whole world took place. According to IUCN the Writhe-billed Hornbill is actually critically endangered, with some 100 pairs on Panay.

CPU sophomore tourism students for TUMANDOK 2012-Lambunao group

Through “learning by doing” and scientific study, the local government of Lambunao through its tourism-oriented municipal mayor, Hon. Reynor Gonzales have gained extensive knowledge of its animal species. The people begun to understand wildlife population trends on their lands and are finding innovative ways to protect and enhance the sensitive habitat on which wildlife depends.

The area is also home to a temperate rainforest blessed with beautiful cascading sceneries of waterfalls, Montillano and Inas where trails leading to these falls offer a moderate hiking experience to its visitors.

The municipality of Lambunao is a 48-kilometer or an hour ride by either jeepney or van from Iloilo City via the terminal fronting Christ the King memorial Park in Jaro. It is a second class municipality in the third district of the province of Iloilo and is comprised of 73 barangays. For more information, please contact Miss Jennifer Osorio- Municipal Tourism Officer at 09102401933.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

San Joaquin: A Hidden Luxury of Coves in a Network of Marine Protected Areas

Coastal tourism and recreation are important parts of the largest most rapidly growing activity in the province of Iloilo. Tourism and recreation-related development is one of the major factors shaping development patterns in the coastal municipalities of Iloilo.

Local tourism in Iloilo, much of it coastal-motivated, provides significant economic benefits that relate directly to Iloilo’s position in an increasingly competitive global economy.

Coastal tourism and recreation embraces the full range of tourism, leisure, and recreationally oriented activities that take place in the coastal zones and the offshore coastal waters. These include the development of resorts, restaurants, vacation homes, and the infrastructure supporting coastal development such beaches, dive shops, fishing and recreational boating areas. Recreational activities such as swimming, recreational boating, recreational fishing, snorkeling and diving.

It is common knowledge that these human activities have environmental impact on the variety of life in our seas. Establishing a Marine Protected Area is one of the tools that can be used to ensure such activities do not have an unacceptable environmental impact in our seas.

Numerous Ilonggos may have holiday at a Marine Protected Area and is not aware of it. If you have gone snorkeling in Concepcion, fishing in Carles and Banate, boating in Ajuy or swimming in San Joaquin, you have probably been one of the many visitors to a Marine Protected Area.

A Marine Protected Area or MPA is a geographic area with discrete boundaries that has been designated to enhance the conservation of marine resources. It is a versatile management tool that maintains biological productivity, and support sustainable marine fisheries.

A “Marine Reserve” is a subset of this definition, and includes restrictions on some or all extractive activities. These threats can contribute to impacts such as decreased abundance of target organisms, habitat loss, ecosystem degradation and a sense of aesthetic and spiritual loss of wilderness value.

San Joaquin's Marine Protected Areas form networks of remarkable places along its coasts that protect its municipal’s incredible variety of marine life and help sustain its communities. As a developed town in the province with a rich and important maritime area, San Joaquin has a special responsibility for the conservation and management of its marine and coastal environment and its resources. In order to establish a representative network of marine protected areas, San Joaquin’s marine environment has been classified and a range of habitats and ecosystems were represented.

The identified barangays formed the basis for classification and implementation of the MPA Policy set by the town. In 2011, the classification outlined 15 out of the town’s 85 barangays and are as follows: Pagang-Guibongan Marine Sanctuary in barangays Tapikan and Manhara; Crossing Dapuyan Turtles Marine Sanctuary; Tambi-Tambi Marine Sanctuary; Talisayan Marine Sanctuary; Baybay Marine Sanctuary; Igbangal Marine Sanctuary in barangay Siwaragan; Masagod Marine Sanctuary, Sta. Rita Marine Sanctuary; Tiolas Marine Sanctuary; Balabago Marine Sanctuary, Basang-Basa Marine Sanctuary in barangay Amboyu-an; Cata-an Marine Sanctuary; Igcundao Marine Sanctuary; Bugnayan Marine Sanctuary in barangays Lawigan and Igcadlum, and the more popular Kuliatan Marine Sanctuary in barangay Sinogbuhan.

The Kuliatan or Sinogbuhan Marine Sanctuary in barangay Sinogbuhan is 22 kilometers from the town center. It is the last barangay of San Joaquin with a total population of 1,700. The sanctuary is 35 kilometers from Anini-y of the province of Antique. It became an MPA via Municipal Ordinance No. 7 series of 2009 as amended by Municipal Ordinance No. 2011-4.

The sanctuary aims to restore the underwater condition in the area allowing fish stock to regenerate through time with the help of the Local Marine Sanctuary Management Board with Excalibur Seterra, Municipal Coordinator Coastal Resource Management Program, George Mendoza, Operations Unit Manager and Raymundo Sican, Barangay Captain.

The Kuliatan Marine Sanctuary contains an array of marine biodiversity in the area. It’s neighboring marine sanctuaries contain many fish varieties and species of invertebrates, plants and micro-organisms. From its beautiful cove are known fishes such as the clown fish, butterfly fish, angel fish, damsel fish, surgeon fish, lion fish and sweet lips. Also common in the area are blue and crown of thorns type of starfish, crabs, gastropods, giant clams and colorful corals.

The sanctuary is fast-becoming a tourism attraction of the town. At present it has a pavilion/ reception hall made of bamboo and can hold a small group lecture activity. It also has a bamboo house that can accommodate a group of 4-6 for those who would want to stay overnight at a very minimal fee of P400.00. 

CPU sophomore tourism students for TUMANDOK 20112-San Joaquin group with Mrs. Erlyn Alunan-Municipal Tourism Officer and Excalibur Seterra-Municipal Coordinator Coastal Resource Management Program

It has a viewing deck that is connected by a bamboo bridge suspended between two huge coral rocks. It has a refreshment hut that serves carbonated drinks and junk foods. Although the caretakers do not demand for an entrance fee, donations are accepted to support future development programs for the area. The swimming area is delineated with bouys, with markers and signages to mark about the do’s and don’ts in the area. 

To get to Kuliatan Marine Sanctuary, one can take a San Joaquin-Lawigan jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Oton. When in San Joaquin proper, one can also take a tricycle ride to the area with a contracted rate of P200.00.

For more information, please contact Barangay Captain Raymundo Sican at 09186516932, Mr. Goerge Mendoza at 09212609866 or Mrs. Erlyn Alunan, Municipal Tourism Officer at 09179857804.

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