LEGAZPI CITY (14-Aug-2012/PNA) – The Regional Development Council (RDC) for Bicol has approved the allocation of over P129 million for the construction of the Masbate City Tourism Access Road.
With the recent approval, the project proposal will be forwarded by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to the Department of Tourism (DOT) for funding and to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for implementation, according to NEDA regional director Romeo Escandor here on Tuesday.
The proposed road project with a length of about 18 kilometers of concrete structure will traverse from the Masbate City proper through nine barangays along the coastline of the Masbate Pass and two upland barangays. The amount of funding recommended by the RDC for the project is P129.4 million.
The project, according to Escandor will link with the coastal road connecting the fishing municipality of Baleno and the gold-rich town of Aroroy and shorten travel time between these areas to the city, the provincial capital and Masbate’s center of commerce and transportation.
Baleno, a fourth class municipality with a population of some 25,000 is considered as among the top fish and agricultural products producer in the province of Masbate.
Aroroy on the other hand is a first class municipality considered as one of the richest in the country in terms of mineral resources that include gold, copper, silver, iron, manganese and chromite.
It plays host to the biggest so far, gold mining operations in the Philippines being undertaken by the Australian-owned Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC) and the Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corporation (PGPRC) that operate the Masbate Gold Project (MGP) presently covering a 13,000-hectare upland property and still expanding.
In the project proposal submitted to the RDC for approval and endorsement to the DOT for funding by Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuason, it was noted that the project will primarily benefit about 4,000 households of farmers and fishermen for the convenient and prompt delivery of their products to the market.
Tuason said in the proposal that the proposed road will also serve as the main access to the Bugsayon Marine Sanctuary, a 50-hectare marine reservation being maintained by the city government for eco-tourism and biodiversity conservation.
The sanctuary located in Barangay B. Titong features the Bugsayon Reef, an underwater system of live corals which was ranked by a recent study conducted by marine biologists as the number most resilient marine sanctuary in Central Philippines.
Accounts on the historical background of Bugsayon gathered by the study have it that the marine reserve was only an algal community seven years ago. The nurturing and protection provided by the city government enabled it to develop into a fish sanctuary with a 40 percent live hard coral cover and moderate fish biomass of 40 metric tons per kilometer.
These natural traits of Bugsayon waters make it highly resilient to the impacts of the prevailing climate change phenomenon as it bring down temperature stress to allow faster recovery of the coral cover and fish biomass.
The sanctuaries is now home to a tremendous volume of parrot and surgeon fishes owing to its strict protection from fishing that has turned 40 percent so far of the vast area covered with live corals also covered heavily with brown algae called sargassum.
The nearby Pawa Mangove Ecosystem and Wildlife Park, a 300-hectare mangrove plantation serves Bugsayon’s lifeline both as a tourism facility and biodiversity system being Masbate City’s biggest area of natural mangrove growth.
Located in Barangya Pawa, the wildlife park offers dramatic scenery along its 1.3-kilometer wooden boardwalk and fascinates bird watchers for its being a perfect place to see kingfishers, herons and other estuarine birds.
The Pawa mangrove park that offers serene and healthy atmosphere is ideal for bird watching, picnics and marine biology studies for students and researchers, among other worthwhile activities for nature lovers.
When the tourism access road is put in place, Tuason said in the proposal, these sites will certainly be developed further into a world-class eco-tourism destination and help Masbate improve its economic situation labeled today as the poorest in the Bicol region. (PNA)