PRIETO DIAZ, Sorsogon – A remote village in Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon province is offering a new tourism activity for adventure and nature lovers.
Just 15 kilometers away from Sorsgon City proper, the newly opened Bigaho Eco-Park in Brgy Talisayan in Prieto Diaz town offers hiking and trekking activities in going to an islet where views of the majestic Mayon Volcano and Albay gulf provide the best background for “instagramable” photos.
Gilbert Catabian, supervisor of Bigaho Island and Eco-park, told The Manila Bulletin that aside from these views, they also have camping sites for those who want to spend the night in the park.
“Open na po ito since June last year but due to the pandemic, nagsara muna and then lately nagbukas na uli kami but with strict compliance with the minimum health protocol. We are offering here sight-seeing kung gusto mong ma-relax dahil sa maingay na syudad. Pwede rin mag-swimming at pwedeng mag-camping,” Catabian said.
(We have been open since June last year, but because of the pandemic, we had to close temporarily. But we have since opened again, but with strict compliance with minimum health protocol. We are offering sight-seeing if you want to relax from the noise in the city. You could also go swimming and go camping)
Named after the local grass called “Bigaho”, that is used in making handicrafts, the eco park is among the most visited places in Prieto Diaz aside from the mangrove forest in Barangay Diamante.
Visitors should register for contact tracing purposes, and, from the highway, will have to cross a bamboo bridge, passing through a mangrove forest to reach the island park.
“Mula doon sa pinaka-entrance hanggang dito sa pinaka-ibaba ng isla nasa estimated 750 to 800 meters. Yun yung layo niya. Madaming kawayan o kung tawagin po dito sa amin ay “marurugi” ang naubos diyan na sinisiguro din naman natin na name-maintain upang maiwasan ang aksidente,” he said.
(From the entrance up to here in the island, it’s about 750 to 80 meters. There were lots of bamboo, or what we call “marurugi”, that were used for the construction of the bridge to make sure that it is maintained and that there will be no accidents)
While traversing the long bamboo catwalk, a mangrove forest will also stun visitors or tourists.
“Sa tulay, dun mo makikita yung iba’t ibang species ng mangrove. Kaya tinawag din namin siya na isa sa eco-park kasi yung protected area ng mangrove yun yung isa sa mga advocacy namin na i-promote yung eco-tourism,” he said.
(At the bridge, you will see different species of mangrove. That’s why we called it an eco-park because of the mangroves which is part of our advocacy to promote under eco-tourism)
Catabian disclosed the mangrove forest, which covers three villages – Barangays Sawanga, Talisayan and Manlabong – has seven species.
“Makikita rin yung mga fish sanctuaries sa loob ng mangrove forest,” he added.
(You will also see fish sanctuaries inside the mangrove forest)
The park is also offering “paluto” for tourists who want to taste locally cooked food.
“Pwede po silang magpa-luto, halimbawa seafoods na dito na-harvest. Pwede rin silang mag-order ng tinolang native na manok at madami pang iba. Depende sa gusto nila meron po kami dito. Soon, magkakaroon na rin kaming pwede yung turista mamingwit at yung nahuli nila pwede nilang ipa-luto,” he added.
(Visitors can ask meals to be cooked for them, like seafood that could be harvested here. They may also order chicken stew, and many more. It all depends on what they like. Soon, we could have the tourists catch the fish that they would like to be cooked)
The Sorsogon Provincial Tourism Office has been helping this newest tourist-ready destination, considering that it helps the local community in their livelihood, especially during this time of pandemic.
“Lahat ng staff namin dito, maintenance, yung bantay dito sa Bigaho at Island Garden Resort lahat sila taga rito. Yung mga pagkain na niluluto, kinukuha namin sa mga taga rito lalo yung mga shells at iba pang products. Yung mga tour guides natin dito are also from here. So kahit papano, nakakatulong tayo sa mga taga rito para mabigyan sila ng hanapbuhay,” Catabian said.
(All the staff, the maintenance, the guards here at Bigaho and Island Garden Resort, all of them are from here. The food we cook we source from local folk, especially the shells and other products. The tour guides are also from here. So at least, we help the people here to have a livelihood)