Antique to introduce Sibalom Natural Park as ecotourism destination

Sibalom Natural Park
Sibalom Natural ParkPhoto from Sibalom Natural Park's Facebook

SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique – Antique will officially introduce its Sibalom Natural Park (SNP) as an ecotourism destination in the southern part of the province on May 10.

Republic Act 11038 declared SNP a natural park. It extends to 18 villages of Sibalom, including Mt. Porras in Barangay Imparayan, and covers an area of 6,778.44 hectares.

SNP Protected Area deputy superintendent Joery Oczon said in an interview Tuesday that they will provide forest tours, serve food and beverages, and offer a community experience distinct to the area.

“The tour-guiding, housekeeping, customer service, and other skills required by tourists will be done by the trained Bantay Gubat (Forest Guardian) volunteers,” he said.

He said the opening the park as an ecotourism destination is an offshoot of the tour-guiding and community-based ecotourism development training conducted by the United Nations Development Program-Biodiversity Finance Initiative (UNDP-BIOFIN) in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) since 2022.

The UNDP-BIOFIN and DENR identified the SNP as a recipient of its ecotourism product development training, being home to the wildlife Visayan warty pig, tarictic hornbill, Walden’s hornbill and spotted deer.

“The world’s largest flower Rafflesia speciosa grows in the SNP aside from the boulders of gemstones,” Oczon said.

The Rafflesia speciosa is considered the world’s largest flower because it can expand up to 56 centimeters in diameter when in full bloom.

SNP has ready amenities such as picnic tables, gazebos, and cottages to cater to families and organizations wanting to hold their meetings or stay overnight stay.

“Bantay Gubat volunteers will entertain tourists and visitors with local songs and dance,” he said.

Local dishes such as native chicken dishes porbida (cooked in alupidan leaves) and papisik (stuffed with tomato, onions, and garlic cooked on a clay pot and firewood) that won in the 24th SNP anniversary cooking competition on April 23 will be served.

Rafflesia, a concoction of fruits growing within the area, will serve as signature drink.

He said Bantay Gubat volunteers are now putting up their makeshift reception and orientation facility made of bamboo and coconut leaves, among other preparations for the launch.

“We envision the SNP to soon become a world-class ecotourism site after its launching,” Oczon said. (PNA)

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