The kilometer-long mangrove eco-trail in Brgy. Tomongtong, EB Magalona, Negros Occidental, is becoming famous because of the social media and endorsement of celebrities, among others.
Neophyte movie action star Javi Benitez, who marked his 25th birthday yesterday, and actress Sue Ramirez, led hundreds of youth volunteers and environmental advocates, who planted mangrove propagules at the vicinity of the 10-hectare eco-trail.
EB Magalona Mayor Marvin Malacon said yesterday that the mangrove eco-trail project, that was started in June this year, is full of visitors, especially during the weekend, who came not only to taste the blue crabs and other seafoods, but to learn how the mangrove area is being preserved.
The mangrove eco-trail is a makeshift bridge made of bamboo, covered with a vast array of mangroves, as high as 20 feet. The bridge extends toward the shoreline and has a makeshift bamboo tower where visitors can have a top view of the mangrove plantation and fishponds.
Javi, son of former Rep. Alfredo Benitez, said yesterday that he decided to spend his 25th birthday by planting mangroves, in an effort to rally the youth to preserve the environment.
“The effect of what we did, will not end today. Many will be benefitted in the future of what we did today,” Benitez, who was welcomed by EB Magalona officials, led by Malacon, and Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Paduano, said.
In 2013, mangroves that were planted more than two decades ago, saved from destruction many houses and prevented loss of lives in Brgy. Tomongtong, EB Magalona, when super typhoon Yolanda hit.
Malacon said they have started to invest in facilities for the area, with a restaurant now ready to serve eco-trail visitors, and small stores also sprouted there, that also generated additional income for residents of the barangay.
The management of the Tomongtong mangrove eco-trail has already been turned over by the municipal government to a women’s organization in the barangay.
Malacon said the management earned as much as P15,000 a day, especially during weekends, with P10 as entrance fee.
Paduano and Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District), also committed to further improve the view deck area, coastal area protection, and livelihood programs for barangay residents.
The mangroves, serving as marine life sanctuary and a breeding ground, were planted as early as 1991 and the forest has now expanded to reach 20 hectares.
Brgy. Tomongtong is also home to migratory birds and wild ducks, with the mangroves serving as their refuge area and also protected the coastline against tides and storms.
Malacon said they are planning to put up a 25-hectare conservation area for blue crabs, and affected residents will be provided with sources of livelihood, through the help of Reps. Benitez and Paduano.*
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