MOST of us are now eager to go somewhere to get a breather from our daily grind, especially that the pandemic has kept us always to our home.
When the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) against Covid-19 loosened the restrictions in areas under Modified General Community Quarantine and the government opened up some of the tourist destinations with guidelines to follow, the Mainit hot spring resort also reopened.
Bearing the new name, Bilawa Mainit Hot Waterfalls, the resort in Barangay Mainit, Maco in Davao de Oro is now ready to cater to tourists who want to experience relaxing while dipping their bodies into the hot water from the falls.
According to Brgy. Mainit Captain Michelle B. Lim, Bilawa is a place in Mainit named by the Mansaka tribe where the source of the hot spring originated and flowed to where the resort now exists.
While the pandemic brought us the “new normal” even in the tourism-related activities, Marestan Suelto-Villacarlos, Tourism Officer 2 of the Municipality of Maco, assures that health and safety protocols are strictly observed so that transmission of Covid-19 is prevented.
“For the Tourism industry, they cannot operate unless they have a Provisional Permit signed by the mayor. Our office, the Tourism Office, is mandated to conduct inspection and assessment regarding the new normal guidelines and protocols before the issuance of such permit in order to assure safety of both parties,” she said.
She said the Tourism office strictly adheres to “No following of basic health protocols, No entry” for tourists.
Lim also added that the barangay implements the “Booking first” policy to ensure that the tourists will comply with the minimum health protocols.
“The ‘booking first’ policy is implemented so that we can explain first to the tourist all the necessary health protocols required upon their entry to the resort. And, in the Management’s (of the resort) side, logbook and health declaration form will be filled out first, taking tourist temperature, and posting of signage related to minimum health protocols are visible to the tourists,” she said.
The resort’s reopening is a huge boost to the economic activity of the barangay, and the town in general.
Suelto-Villacarlos said the main goal of the resort’s reopening is to help the locals with their livelihood during this pandemic.
“Re-opening and/or opening of any tourism-related enterprise or destinations are a big help in terms of economic growth in our municipality,” Suelto-Villacarlos said.
She revealed that while their Municipal Tourism Code states that tourism-related establishments must employ at least 50 percent of locals, all the Bilawa Mainit Hot Waterfalls employees are locals.
Lim, meanwhile, said that the reopening of the resort is a great help to the barangay residents in putting food on their table as it provides them a daily income.
“The resort provides some of the barangay residents livelihood such as massage services, food service, transport and other livelihood that is related to tourism and the income for the barangay will also help finance the plans and programs related to the delivery of basic services to our constituents,” Lim said.
However, both the officials believe that they can only do so much without the help of the stakeholders that is why they are very grateful to them.
Apex Mining Co., Inc. (AMCI), also located in the same municipality, has been actively supporting the resort, which was in fact included in their Annual Social Development Management Program (ASDMP).
“Since AMCI implemented ASDMP, it became part of our plan to assist in terms of financial and technical concern,” Jerry Ellaga, AMCI Community Relations Supervisor-Livelihood Program Coordinator, said.
He revealed that when they learned that the resort was reopening on January 22, 2021, AMCI immediately provided cash assistance for its development.
“Last November 2020 nagbigay po ang AMCI ng P200,000 for the development of the resort’s cottages, pero last third quarter of 2020, P400,000 was turned over to the local government of Maco for the renovation of the resort’s building, comfort room, store and for the painting (of the building),” he said.
AMCI has also been helping the resort’s workers by sponsoring the training of members of the worker’s association, especially in massage therapy training.
“For the government officials in Maco and the stakeholders, especially the Apex Mining, our heartfelt gratitude to your all-out support, from the infrastructure, finances, ordinances, and advices. With you anything is possible,” Suelto-Villacarlos said.
“We invite tourists again to revisit the Bilawa Mainit Hot Waterfalls because it has many changes physically. You will surely appreciate the amenities compared to its previous state and you will experience its relaxing water that can provide wellness. May the private sectors and the stakeholders continue to support this resort for a sustainable livelihood and realization of the vision of this barangay to be the No. 1 tourist destination in the country,” Lim said.
Indeed, as Suelto-Villacarlos said, “new name, new excitement, new adventure!”