As several Bohol towns have started enjoying in the benefits of tourism, Trinidad local officials are trailing their scopes on the ecotourism bandwagon and identified its twin hills and cave complex as well as pristine Kawasan Falls as the townâ€™s gems .
In Barangay Banlasan, is Batongay, a coined term for bato-sangay or twin rock hills that prominently rise in defiance to the otherwise flat uneventful landscape dominated by kilometer upon kilometers of rice fields and farms.
The rocky karst limestone hills with tropical dense secondary forest cover, rise over 200 meters and provide a stunning vantage point for the adventurous who would venture past the challenging scramble and climb to the hill top.
A hill gifted with a network of caves that has been traditionally visited by medicine men and quack doctors during the Holy Week, Batongay Cave has also been a challenge for spelunkers and the mountaineers seeking for the thrill of a lifetime.
BatongayÂ CaveÂ has been technically mapped and guides can be had to anyone intending to do cave adventure, but we also would adhere to the caveâ€™s carrying capacity, according to the mayor in her second term.
With the bulk of people, both the religious and those pursuing the mystical, visiting the Batongay, we deemed it appropriate to help them in making the place more accessible for the devotees, Mayor Judith Cajes shared.
Herself a staunch Marian devotee, the Batongay peak is now a venue for a Marian Shrine while the town constructed concrete steps and metal balusters to aid the devotees on their way up and down the shrine, the lady mayor said.
Along the way, the town also put up the station of the cross, as a fitting motivation for more and more people to go up the peak and commune with nature and express their devotion to Mary.
As the image of the Virgin Â Mary stood to symbolically look out to the people of Trinidad , a local initiative to put up a donation box, now affords the town to pool in more resources to further develop the area.
Recently, a Marian devotee, who happens to be a landscaper from nearby town Ubay dreamt of the vigin pleading him to improve the shrine. Firmly believing in the message of the dream, the landscaper who was convinced what he saw in his dream was the exact position of the virgin and the shrine vicinity, is now pursuing the landscaping, which continues.
The next plan is to transfer the radio repeater tower which our local disaster team is using, to another location so it does not ruin the view of the virginâ€™s altar, Mayor Cajes said. The technicians are now looking for a new site and the transfer would be not any longer.
At present, moves are in to complete a Gawad Kalinga model community of 30 households at a lot very close to Batongay, the mayor told.
Mayor Cajes said they have just completed the negotiations with 4 beneficiaries and are still in the process of validating other beneficiaries to complete the new community.
Gawad Kalinga, a movement that attempts to be positive even in this seemingly troubled times, gives houses to poor families and does not stop there. They also help the family beneficiaries in personality development, livelihood and in Christian life.
Their architect has submitted the house plans and soon, building can start, the mayor added.
With the GK community a close proximity to the ecotourism site in Batongay, plans are in to swing tourists to the community to do social tourism activitiesÂ like volunteering or giving inspirational talks to community members, Trinidad officials also suggested.
Meanwhile, in nearby Santo Tomas, the local government has put in additional features before fully opening Kawasan Falls to tourists.
The falls, a drop of water about 20 meters high off the southern cliff amidst a thick forest, forms a new contrast to the otherwise green and gloomy shade forest.
The water falls off into a small pool and makes its way to the creek accentuated by gigantic smooth boulders, like huge pebbles scattered to screen off the already clear inviting water.
Shaded by a canopy of trees and the surrounding cliffs, Kawasan Falls is now the object of over P6,194,185.00 local funds from 2007 to 2015, data from the local development priority for tourism revealed.
Concrete steps and access roads have been carved to make the Kawasan Falls a new hub for environment lovers and those simply looking for a place to relax from the hectic bustle of city living, local officials said.
For all of these, we wish that when completed, these could further get us in a better position in tourism so that our people could start feeling the benefits of tourism as we attempt to hitch into the bandwagon, states Mayor Cajes.Â (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)