Saturday, September 6, 2014

Agricultural Tourism at its Best in Leon

Bucari mountain ranges, Leon, Iloilo by King Erlano

Agricultural tourism was unheard of in Iloilo in the past, but many visitors have discovered that there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained by visiting farms. A new wave of business tourists are coming to Leon and are in increasing numbers.  Agricultural tourism plays a very important role for its economy. It is now a popular trend offering urban dwellers the chance to escape their fast-paced lifestyle and re-discover their rural roots.

The rise of agricultural tourism in Leon has resulted positive interests from local tour operators to put together custom-made agricultural tourism packages. The agricultural tourism packages offered by local tour operators include a visit to protected areas, ensuring that agricultural tourists also get a taste of the natural beauty and wildlife that it has to offer. The ecological integrity and the scenic value of its landscapes made the town attractive for the establishment of enterprises and for the tourist and recreation businesses. Tourists can sample local food, participate in local customs, and practice fair trade by purchasing handcrafts and agricultural products directly from producers, benefiting the local economy.

photo by John Ray Palmares

There is something for everyone in Leon, and with just a little planning and pre-trip discussion, visitors can experience a rural vacation that will inspire, excite and leave lasting memories.

Bucari, Leon, Iloilo by fotokoja.blogspot.com

Active travellers can take a challenging hike or bike to the scenic pine-clad area of BUCARI, Sitio Tabionan and experience some of the best off-road trek that Iloilo has to offer. It has access to acres of unspoiled mountain pastures, with panoramic views. Visitors will not go home disappointed. Situated 1,200-meters above sea level, Declared as an Eco-tourist zone, Bucari is 10,432.875-hectares and features a subtropical highland climate and on some days it even gets foggy. It is popularly known as the "Little Baguio of Iloilo."  You will be amazed by the impressive views of verdant mountain ranges of neighboring towns. Whether you are enjoying a thrilling downhill path on foot or on bike or stopping for a picnic at a scenic spot, you are going to have a great time trekking or mountain biking. The upland barangay of Bucari can be reached by jeepney at the Leon public plaza on a scheduled trip daily. Along your way to Bucari are scenic patches of vegetable producing sitios known for their cabbages, sweet peppers, eggplants, beans, sweet potatoes, monggo and peanuts. This has brought a lot of income to small farmers. Not to mention mango orchards where the town is noted for, the sweetest and the best mangoes in Iloilo.

photo by John Ray Palmares

Bucari plays a very important role for the promotion of Leon. In recent years, many day-trippers visit the area, though the town is still struggling with their overnight stays due to few accommodation establishments, Bucari is the centrepiece of every tourism activity in Leon. For those who would want to stay overnight, the area has bamboo cottages lodges and standard lodge rooms. Booking in advance is the best way to secure the accommodations you want. Before booking, visitors are encouraged to do some research online to get a feel for the area's geography and decide which lodging best suits them.

Talon Inn, Bucari National High School

PINERIDGE BUCARI in Barangay Bacolod is the most popular vacation and adventure getaway attraction in Leon. The entire property is set in the midst of mountain ranges and every room has its own special view of this splash of nature. The pine-clad area is also never far from the resort and you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful Agua Colonia foothills from anywhere in the resort and you will find that your accommodation has nothing but the best natural setting. For visitors, a minimum fee of P150.00 goes with a native coffee and dessert. For those who would want to stay overnight, the room can accommodate six (6) persons for a fee of P1,000.00. Gourmet meals are on a reservation basis to a minimum of five (5) persons with price ranging from P300.00-P500.00.  A 3-day reservation basis is needed. For more information, please call (033) 320 0977 or mobile at +63-906-399-4319 or you can email them at info@pineridgebucari.com. For the budget-conscious traveller, TALON INN situated within the premises of Bucari National High School offers bamboo lodges perfect for a group of four. It has sweeping views of beautiful mountain ranges and scenic rice terraces. For more information, please contact 09098963503.

For the history buff, they can explore the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church The Baroque architectural design the church was once considered as the biggest stone edifice in the whole of Panay. The construction started in 1869, three years after the town was transferred from Camando, the original townsite. The interior was Renaissance-Romanesque in style. It measures 100 feet high and 300 feet long and covering almost two streets of the town, namely Sta. Catalina and Sto. NiƱo. The walls were three and a half feet thick and five feet in each post is elevated to more than 32 feet to the roof. The rocks used in the construction were quarried from neighboring sitios.

Leon is 28 kilometers on the west-southwest portion of Iloilo. It is bounded in the north by the municipality of Alimodian; in the west the municipality of San Remegio of the province of Antique; in the south by the municipalities of Tigbauan and Tubungan; and in the east by the municipality of San Miguel. It has a total land area 14,005 hectares politically subdivided by 85 barangays. It annually celebrates its patronal fiesta every 25th of November in honor of Sta. Catalina de Alejandria. Market day is every Saturday.

Get to know more about Leon and the places to see on the 10th TUMANDOK Celebration on September 18-20 at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Mrs. Rose Leah Kilayko-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09108167169.



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