The local government of Matuguinao, Samar, is pushing the development of its cold spring and cave as an eco-tourism site in the town, which has been affected by decades of armed struggle.
Mayor Aran Boller said in an interview Wednesday that they sought assistance from the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office to get funding from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to set up facilities near Sulpan Cold Spring and Cave in Barruz village.
“Now that our town is peaceful, we want people to visit our tourism sites and create livelihood opportunities in communities,” Boller told the Philippine News Agency.
The proposed budget is PHP45 million to construct the grouted riprap, concrete path bridge, pathway, installation of amenities, storage area, entrance ticketing office, public grounds, and solar lights.
The cold spring and cave are about three kilometers from Matuguinao town center.
The Department of Public Works and Highways is currently implementing an opening and concreting of an access road. Boller said about 500 meters of the proposed road stretch are still up for opening.
Meanwhile, the local government said the Maslog Cold Spring within the town center has continued attracting tourists to Matuguinao since 2021.
“Last year, Matuguinao logged about 10,000 tourists. We didn’t have visitors in the past before the completion of the Gandara-Matuguinao Road,” Boller added.
The mayor noticed that after the completion of the access road, it has been usual to see visitors in their town, which used to be a site of clashes between rebels and government forces.
Matuguinao is only 30 minutes from the main road of Samar Island, after a four-hour boat trip from the highway in Gandara town.
Matuguinao is a fifth-class town in Samar province with a population of 7,288 people. The town is 105 kilometers from Tacloban City, the regional capital.
Almost all of its 20 villages used to be influenced by the New People’s Army (NPA). At present, all communities are free from NPA influence, although four villages are under monitoring for recovery attempts by rebels.
About 40 percent of the population is living in poverty, based on the 2018 survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority. (PNA)