Canigao Island: From fishermen’s sanctuary to tourist destination-A A +A
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
FROM BEING a sanctuary of fishermen during typhoons to what it is now- a booming tourist destination.
This is the dramatic transformation of Canigao Island, which is separated by the Canigao Channel from the mainland.
The three-hectare island was once owned by the Philippine Navy, where fishermen from Matalom and nearby towns took sanctuary as they wait for the weather to clear during typhoons.
Last week, members of the various media outlets from Tacloban, Ormoc and Catbalogan explored the island.
In 2005, the local government of Matalom took full control of the island and sensing its potential as a tourist destination, made some improvement here and there.
“And from thereon, tourists both local and foreigners keep coming to the island even only for a short visit and enjoy its pristine water,” Cayetano Garong, member of the planning team organized by the local government of Matalom, said.
Garong said the island has at least 2,000 daily visitors, especially during the Holy Week and holidays.
“It has become our top tourist attraction,” he said.
Among those who visited the Canigao Island was popular television host and commercial model Lucy Torres-Gomez, who is now a congresswoman representing Leyte’s fourth congressional district.
Garong, also the school principal of Matalom National High School, said at least a hectare of the Canigao Island is a forest reserve as mandated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
At least 20 species of indigenous trees could be found in the island, which includes “lawat”, “bangalnaga”, ”pagatpat”, and “talisay.”
The big portion of the island has been open to the public to enjoy its clear and pristine waters.
It is about a seven minute boat ride from the harbor located in Barangay Itum.
He also said several businessmen have tried to convince the local government of Matalom to develop the island, but this was turned down by local officials and even by the local populace.
“We are afraid that if this would be developed, ordinary people may no longer be able to afford to come to the island,” Garong said.
“Residents from Matalom can come here anytime they want for free. But those coming from other places, they have to pay for a minimal entrance fee and, of course, for the boat ride,” he added.
The Department of Tourism, it was learned, has included the island among the region’s natural assets on its promotional campaign. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)