By Wyslly S. Ala
LEGAZPI CITY --- The Bulusan Natural Park in Sorsogon province is set to reopen its tourist area to accommodate visitors after over a year that it was closed to tourists following an eruption and unstable condition of Mt. Bulusan in June last year.
Benjamin Santiago, director of the Department of Tourism (DoT) for Bicol, said the reopening of the park’s tourist area came after the move this week of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs) to lower the alert level on Bulusan Volcano from 1 (abnormal) to Zero (normal).
Santiago said trekking, hiking, and water paddling on Lake Bulusan will be reopened as Phivolcs has noted a general decline in volcanic activities.
Lake Bulusan, the main attraction inside the 3,672-hectare park, is a developed tourist site with a trail around its 2-kilometer circumference and facilities for boat rides above its 33-meter deep waters.
In its latest bulletin, Phivolcs said since last June this year, Bulusan’s upper slope has deflated and the occurrence of volcanic earthquakes has declined, signs that it was safe again to carry out human activities in the park’s tourist area.
The mountain, with its lush forest cover, stands at 1,559 meters above sea level with a base of area of about 400 square kilometers.
Tourists can also opt to visit the adjoining town of Irosin, known for its several hot springs that are traced to the hot bowels underneath Mt. Bulusan.
Phivolcs resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said “small explosions” may still occur during the volcano’s normalcy.
Although gas emission has dropped below detection levels, Laguerta said they were strictly prohibiting people from entering the 4-kilometer radius from Mt. Bulusan, within which Phivolcs warned should be restricted from any form of human activity.
This is because of the possibility of a sudden and hazardous ash explosion, rockfall and landslide, Laguerta said.
Laguerta added that erosion may occur because the upper slopes of Mt. Bulusan is covered by loose volcanic rocks.
He advised the local government of Bulusan to issue and enforce safety guidelines for the anticipated arrival of tourists.