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PIA Press Release
Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Watershed TWG puts together insights from exchange tour

by Elsa S. Subong

ILOILO CITY, Jan 24 (PIA6) – For Vice Mayor Jose Bermudo of Maasin, Iloilo, his place may not be as abundant in resources as those they visited in Mindanao, but he said the localities in the Tigum-Aganan are also potentialeco-tourism destinations.

Bermudo, together with the other members of the Tigum-Aganam Watershed Management Board (TAWMB), visited Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Malaybalay and the Dahilayan Adventure Park in Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon, and the Mapawa Nature Park in Malasag, Cugman in Cagayan de Oro City.

The TWG members were there the other week, on a trip, which was sponsored by the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI), a partner agency of the TAWMB.

CUI Project Manager Benjamin Luz said CUI is supporting its partner local government units and national government agencies in dealing with environmental and disaster management issues in relation to economic development.

In consolidated insights presented by the group during a post-activity meeting, Vice Mayor Bermudo said that they need to sit down again and revisit the developments they have implemented in their areas.

“We have to discuss more innovations that will address the need of providing livelihood for the people while preserving the watershed area,” Bermudo added.

Meanwhile, in recent scoping activities conducted by Canadian Watershed expert Gary Wilkins, Maasin Mayor Mariano Malones, Sr., said that his town, being the headwater source for metro Iloilo, has engaged in various undertakings to preserve the watershed area.

Malones has mobilized his constituents to plant more bamboo trees as a source of their livelihood, and establish a bamboo village to promote its culture and showcase the locally made bamboo mat or the more locally known “bamboo sawali.”

He said he is intending to continue the annual holding of the “Baklay Bukid,” a mountain trekking event, explore and develop Mt. Puting Bato as the viewing deck overlooking Iloilo City; protect and preserve the wildlife in the western part of the watershed; and revisit projects such as the 4,000-hectare bamboo, rattan and abaca plantations previously funded by foreign donors to make sure they still exist.

On the other hand, comparing the developments with Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Mapawa Nature Park to Dahilayan Adventure Park, Bermudo said those of the first two are more feasible in Maasin because of the natural features, with less costly improvements.

The TWG had noted that Mapawa Nature Park is managed under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) with the government, and presently employs the strategy to strengthen its relationship with nearby community through what they call “Social Cultivation” wherein farmers who are willing to till portions of the vast tracks of land inside the ranch are given the chance to do so on some conditions.

TWG member Rubenie Castellanes, also the chairperson of the katilingban sang mga Pumuluyo sa Watershed (KAPAWA) said that they also have the practice of Social Cultivation but they did not have contracts with the farmers working inside the watershed.

“We can put into full enforcement the Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) and strengthen the member-organizations to enhance their institutional and technical skills,” Castellanes said.

KAPAWA is a federation of the upland community organizations that facilitates access to capacity building programs and assists in establishing livelihood projects for its members.

In putting their insights together from the trip, the TWG said that they have also come to identify areas which are suitable to ecotourism site developments, the towns of Leon, Maasin and Alimodian where natural resources, topographic features and natural travel destinations abound and its main attractions are the wildlife, flora and fauna as well as its cultural heritage.

Meanwhile, Sherwin Berring, TWG Chairperson, said the insights can guide them in making a feasible and workable plan for the TAWMB. (JCM/ESS/PIA-Iloilo)

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