Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail : A Review


Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail : A Review

Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail | Sonny Cabahug reminded me to watch my diet, while Jojo Bayona appeared unaffected.

Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail: A Captivating Journey into Nature’s Embrace

Introduction: Sonny Cabahug’s Tranquil Retreat Unveiled

Our anticipation soared as we embarked on a journey to explore the tranquil haven that our dear colleague, Sonny Cabahug, had built in Silay City. A testament to years of unwavering dedication and hard work, Sonny’s cherished property sparked joy among us. Eagerly absorbing his plans for the future—a quiet retreat to be enjoyed during weekends after the hustle and bustle of the workweek—we looked forward to celebrating his housewarming, brimming with excitement.

Selecting Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail for a Culinary Escape

Drenched in the festive spirit, Lei Lani, Jojo Bayona, Sonny Cabahug, and I sought a break from our usual lunch spots. In this celebratory mood, we collectively decided to venture into the renowned Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail. Nestled in the quaint Brgy. Tomongtong of the EB Magalona Municipality, my earlier post-pandemic visit had only scratched the surface, leaving me eager to delve deeper into its allure.

Reflecting on Brgy. Tomongtong’s Roots: My Community Development Days

Brgy. Tomongtong holds a special place in my heart, dating back to my days as a Community Development Officer for PACC in the Province of Negros Occidental. Assigned to the City of Talisay while my friend Mylene Monotilla-Gocon covered EB Magalona, we often collaborated for training sessions in Tomongtong. The landscape, vastly different from its current splendor, presented challenges. Our projects aimed at community development and artificial reef initiatives for the local fisherfolks, who welcomed us warmly. Nights spent at Manong Andy Malunes’ house, indulging in generous offerings of big crabs, lobster, and abundant shrimps, are etched in my memory. The absence of mangroves, replaced now by the captivating mangrove trail, was a stark difference. There was a sandy beach and a sandbar where mangroves now stand, adding to the rich tapestry of my memories.

Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail

L-R: Sonny Cabahug, Yours truly, Lei Lani Dusaban, and  Jojo Bayona at the entrance of the forest

Evolution of Tomongtong: A Joyous Return [Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail]

Returning to Tomongtong today elicited a profound sense of joy, tinged with surprise at the community’s remarkable evolution. The once-familiar faces were replaced by newcomers, and the landscape, adorned with the Mangrove Eco-Trail, testified to the community’s transformative journey.

Arrival and Unveiling Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail

Lei Lani’s vehicle ushered us into an enhanced covered court, a necessary addition due to limited parking near the Mangrove Eco-Trail. A short walk brought us to the entrance, where a reasonable entrance fee of 25 pesos awaited each visitor. Glecenda Caberte, the enthusiastic leader of the women’s group overseeing the site, enlightened us about the purpose behind the entrance fees. Contributing to environmental initiatives and the salaries of dedicated women assigned for the week, with 20% of the total income supporting these women, illustrated a commendable cycle. With around 70 women members, each week ensured income for seven women, completing a cycle in ten weeks. While this might not be sufficient, it provided additional income to these women, contributing positively to the community. Our observations, coupled with an insightful interview with Glecenda Caberte, uncovered the far-reaching benefits of the Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail—ranging from effective waste disposal to economic opportunities for local fisherfolks, contributing to the overall well-being of the community.

Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail

Jojo Bayona challenged us to strike our best pose while people were lining up to pass because we were blocking the way.

Traversing the Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail: A Symphony of Senses

Embarking on the journey along the trail, a bamboo bridge weaving through the heart of the mangrove forest toward the seaside dining area, unveiled meticulous efforts to maintain cleanliness. However, certain elements, such as the use of plastic canvas for shelter and an inadequate number of bamboo cottages for visitors, created a stark contrast against the vibrant green backdrop of mangroves. While the use of natural materials like bamboo aligned with environmental preservation, the suggestion to incorporate concrete bases and posts for cottages, coupled with bamboo ceilings or roofing, aimed at enhancing durability and ease of maintenance.

Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail

of course, we need to stop eating for this photo

Culinary Delights Amidst Nature’s Embrace | Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail

Our visit secured us a table under a plastic canvas, a necessary refuge given the occupied bamboo cottages. The pleasant weather enhanced our experience until the tranquility was briefly disrupted by an arriving family with a shrill transistor radio. Prompt intervention by the vigilant caretakers swiftly addressed the matter, preserving the serene ambiance.

Obviously, the place is well-maintained. Congratulations to the community for being vigilant in maintaining orderliness. Take a look at this bin specifically designated for used single-use plastic.

Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail | Observations and Experiences 

Several observations surfaced during our visit, most notably the sluggish service attributed to cooking being conducted away from the shoreline. Acknowledging the provider’s staff shortage and equipment limitations, it’s crucial to underscore that this critique aims not to disparage but to inspire continuous improvement. While the Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail has undeniably contributed positively to the community, the culinary realm calls for refinement, prompting suggestions for training programs to elevate the community’s gastronomic expertise.

Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail: Enhancing and Sustaining Support from LGU, Tourism, and Private Institutions

The community’s culinary journey necessitates additional training to refine the diverse array of dishes offered. Processes such as cooking speed, the art of serving dishes at optimal temperatures, and ensuring good taste demand meticulous attention. Despite the absence of sophisticated language, the warmth and friendliness exhibited by the customer service, down to the farewell bid by the Brgy Tanod, significantly contributed to the overall positive experience.

Furthermore, recommendations have been made for the local government to contribute to road concreting, ongoing sanitation monitoring, and improved mobile signals—a potential boon for streamlining food orders and preparations. While acknowledging the LGU’s support for the community, we encourage them to further enhance the area by providing continuous training for cooks and food servers. Cementing the parking area outside the mangrove forest will undoubtedly make the place more enjoyable and easier to navigate, especially during rainy days. Improvements in the cooking area of the food providers are also essential for expediting the cooking process, while the addition of concrete cottages will ensure that guests are more comfortable and likely to return, enhancing the overall experience.

The Tourism Department should also play an active role, particularly in accrediting food providers. Their involvement in marketing the place and improving customer service will undoubtedly contribute to the community’s growth. Private institutions, such as schools, are encouraged to extend a helping hand, especially in the area of training, further strengthening the community’s capacity for culinary excellence and hospitality.

Hope Sprouts for Tomongtong Mangrove Eco-Trail

Amid identified areas for improvement, our optimism for Tomongtong’s community remains unwavering. Extended support from local government units, the burgeoning tourism sector, private institutions, and steadfast patrons will undoubtedly propel the area toward sustained growth. As we eagerly anticipate our return shortly, our optimism is coupled with the expectation of witnessing positive changes and an enhanced economic condition for the people of Tomongtong. The collaborative efforts of the local government unit, tourism industry, private institutions, and patrons will be crucial in scripting the next chapter of Tomongtong’s flourishing narrative.

I wish the community all the best in the days ahead. May you persist in self-improvement by consistently focusing on areas where you can enhance yourselves, even without external support.

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