By Rhaydz Barcia
LIGAO CITY --- The western coast off Albay province with its white powdery beaches, mangrove forests and unique rock formation is the newest site for tourism development and investments that has been made more accessible by the development of a new road network.
“A road network being developed along the province’s western coastal towns of Pio Duran, Oas, Libon and Ligao City is now in the final stage,” said Albay 3rd District Rep. Fernando Gonzalez.
The Albay solon made the disclosure during a coastal caravan organized by his office for media and visitors to celebrate the 16th cityhood of Ligao City, a fourth class component city of Albay which was converted from a municipality into a city on March 24, 2001. It has a population of around 111,400.
He said that after the road projects have been completed, the water system and telecommunication lines will come next.
“We’re looking for local and even foreign investors to help develop the western coasts (of Albay),” said Gonzalez.
He said this will provide employment in the countryside and decongest Manila of rural folks seeking work in the big city.
Among those who have seen the bright prospects for the tourism market in Albay’s western coasts is Inocentes Sabando, 66.
A native of Polangui, Albay, Sabando worked as a seaman for two decades before putting in his retirement savings in a resort facility which he calls Victoria Bay Resort. The resort is located in Oas town, a municipality with a population of nearly 68,000.
He said he is grateful to the local government’s initiatives to make the roads in the western coast of the province accessible to the public, especially the tourists.
Sabando said local businessmen like him have been encouraged to invest their hard earned money in helping develop the local tourism industry and spur growth in the countryside.
“With a good road network and easy access to the western coastal towns the locals will no longer go to Manila to seek employment. They can work here and promote our place,” he said.
Sabando said the scenic landscape and seascape in this part of Albay was inaccessible to local and foreign tourists in the past due to the absence of a concrete road network.
Victoria Bay Resort, which is located in Sitio Imacoto, Barangay Cagmanaba, Oas town, is a good jump-off point for local and foreign tourists seeking to go island hopping in nearby areas, particularly the so-called Trinity islets.
Sabando said the islets are situated between the coasts off Cagmanaba, Oas town and Barangay Catburawan in Ligao City.
During the coastal caravan media visitors also passed by the coasts off Barangay Maonon, also in Ligao City, for other attractions that could lure more tourists to visit when the road network is completed.
Gonzalez said the coasts off Maonon is home to three fish sanctuaries with unspoiled coral reefs where various marine species thrive.
“It is also site of the unique rock formation called ‘Batong Languyon’ which is about half a kilometer from the shoreline,” he said.
Gonzalez said the area is most suited for snorkeling while a floating cottage was also set up for tourists visiting the rock formation.
He said Batong Languyon could be easily reached by smaller boats but the more famous boat is the air-conditioned boat called Armageddon that could ferry around 50 tourists.
Also off Sitio Tambac, also in Maonon, tourists are greeted by the white sands and long shoreline with crystal clear waters.
Gonzalez added that off the coast of Barangay Cabarian, also in Ligao City, visitors will find 62 hectares of mangrove plantation.
“Since 2008 the Ligao city government has been planting 340,000 mangrove propagules in the area,” he said.
He added the city government has also initiated a coral reef rehabilitation and sea grass protection program in the area.
Gonzalez also noted that a must see is Barangay Catburawan in Ligao City, which has been given the name “orchid village” as every corner and street in the village has been planted with different varieties of flowering orchids.
He noted with pride that the beaches in the western coast off Albay are “most clean and totally pollution free.”
Gonzalez said even a P3M worth of local investments will boost development in the western corridors of Albay that could be the next tourist haven in the province. PNA