By Restituto A. Cayubit
Barangay Looc, Cabucgayan, Biliran – The mayor of this town is encouraging coastal communities in Eastern Visayas to protect the mangrove forests in their areas not only for environmental concerns but also as a source of livelihood.
Cabucgayan Mayor Edwin Masbang said residents of Looc and nearby areas earn by protecting and preserving the village’s mangrove forest.
Masbang said the 18-hectare mangrove forest not only provides a natural habitat for different marine species but is being developed as a tourist destination, providing livelihood for 100 registered sustenance fisherfolk.
It also serves as a barrier against storm surges.
The mayor said Looc’s mangrove forest draws about 1,000 visitors on weekdays and 5,000 on weekends.
A boardwalk has been built among the mangroves allowing visitors to roam the forest.
“The boardwalk offers visitors a place to relax and to commune with nature,” Masbang said.
The boardwalk has a restaurant, cottages and boats for rent.
The entrance fee is P20 for adults and P10 for children.
Masbang said other coastal communities in Eastern Visayas can also develop their mangrove forests into a tourist attraction.
Cabucgayan is a fifth-class municipality with 13 barangays with a population of 20,788.