Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tourists flock to Mantigue Island during Camiguin "Panaad"

by Homer R. Jajalla

Camiguin Province (14 April) -- "Snorkel or dive in one of the world's best diving sites. Enjoy pure white sand and crystal clear seas. Have close encounters with exotic wild life. Trek under the canopy of a virgin forest. Get to know the paradise that awaits you…Mantigue Island."

So goes a sign that invites everyone to spend summer in Mantigue Island in Mahinog, Camiguin Province, which is being developed by the local government into an eco tourism site.

The island is surrounded by a gleaming white beach of powdery coral sand, making it ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving. In the center of Mantigue is a lush, green mini-forest filled with several wild trees and plants.

It is also a home of a number of migratory birds and turtles.

Mahinog Mayor Alex R. Jajalla proudly announced that restoration process in Mantigue Island is gaining headway after efforts to relocate some residents in the island to the mainland started last year.

"The on-going activities to restore the glory of this island already reaped fruits as shown by the heavy influx of local and foreign tourist visiting Mantigue Island during the recent observance of Holy Week," the mayor said.

A nature park is now open which offers services ranging from picnic shed, sea food restaurant, bat viewing, turtle watching, scuba diving and snorkeling at the marine sanctuary.

Visitors can order sea foods prepared by volunteers composed of former islanders, the mayor said.

During the holy week, the number of registered visitors to Mantigue Island were recorded at 1,026 and the number of trips of motorboat reached to 202 compared to only a handful during the same period in previous years, the mayor reported.

For this, motor boat operators, food service providers, accommodation establishments and islanders are already enjoying the effects of this tourism development happening in Mantigue Island which also has a big impact on local economies.

A visitor to Mantigue has to register at the registration counter located at barangay San Roque, the kick off point to Mantigue and pay P550.00 for a round-trip motorboat fare good for a maximum of six passengers and an entrance fee of P10.00 per visitor. The island can be traveled for 15 minutes motorboat ride from barangay San Roque sea port.

To ensure the safety and security of the visitors while traveling to the island, volunteers of a local radio group Mahinog Response 143 were posted at San Roque seaport and Mantigue Island to monitor incoming and outgoing trips, while personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and civilian volunteers were also posted to secure the travelers.

Since the island is still under rehabilitation, the island is open to visitors up to 6:00 P.M. only. (Municipal Information Office)

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