By LIZA ABUBAKAR-JOCSON
An island in the Zamboanga Peninsula region is slowly shedding its image as a pirates’ lair to become the next major tourism destination in Mindanao.
Olutanga Island is partnering with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) to develop its vast tourism and agro-fishery potential.
The island, located at the southernmost tip of Zamboanga Sibugay province, is composed of Olutanga, Mabuhay and Talusan municipalities.
It is known as a hiding place for lawless elements in the region, thus obscuring its pristine waters, white sand beaches and wildlife.
“Mas mabuti madevelop areas namin for tourism. We have unique attractions,” said Olutanga councilor Neri Ruste.
Ruste is referring to the twin islets of Pulo Lawom and Pulo Mabaw, the bat-inhabited Kabugan Island and thousands of sea snakes at their famous Snake Sanctuary.
The twin islets are touted as a dream destination for divers where they could find lobsters and high value fish in pristine corals.
Plans for the island include a Navy detachment at Pulo Lawom and a barge to allow accessibility from the mainland.
Last March, MinDA personnel assisted island officials in creating a Master Plan aimed towards transforming the area into a tourism and agro-fishery hub within the next five years.
The meeting is the first step for a once hidden island’s entry into the gateway of security and progress.