DOT eyes cultural village after Mt. Apo closed off to tourists

THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism (DOT) is developing T’boli Cultural Village in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur as an alternative site for the tourists who want to get a glimpse of the country’s highest peak.

Roberto P. Alabado III, regional director of DOT XI, said the cultural village will be opened as tourist destination once the road leading to the project would be completed.

“We can also have livelihood there,” he said.

Apart from getting a glimpse of the country’s highest peak, he said the tourists can trek near the village. The department is developing an alternative site as the Mt. Apo was indefinitely closed following the fire incident.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported that 113 hectares of grass land were identified as damaged when the fire started on March 26.

“This is also an opportunity for other provinces to showcase their destinations like Mt. Candalaga (in Maragusan, Compostela Valley) and Puting Bato (in Island Garden City of Samal),” Alabado said.

On Monday, during Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao Annex, organizers of Visit Davao Fun Sale were able to raise P100,000, which would be turned over for the rehabilitation of the burned part of Mt. Apo.

The organizers, Alabado said, are looking to provide the fund either to a local government, a non-government organization or a group that aims to rehabilitate the mountain.

Sta. Cruz tourism officer Julius R. Paner said they are also looking to provide livelihood to those affected by the closure of Mt. Apo. He said there are about 30 tour guides and 70 porters in the municipality that help direct the trekkers going to the peak.

“We hope to give them alternative livelihood while the mountain is still closed,” Paner said.

Working as porters and tour guides, he said, are the main source of income of most locals especially those residing at the foothills of the mountain apart from farming. A porter can earn P500 while the tour guide’s income is P1,500 a day.

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