Efforts to promote eco adventure tourism in this quiet mining town east of Baguio is gaining headway with tourist arrivals this year almost double the figure recorded last year.
The town is slowly making its niche as an eco tourist destination foremost of which is its Mount Ugo Summer Climb which has been recognized both in the local and national levels. For two consecutive years, it bagged the Best Tourism Event in the Philippines under the Sports, Adventure, and Wellness category in the National Convention of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP). The town is working hard to get the Hall of Fame next year.
The Mt. Ugo Summer Climb is an annual invitational and promotional summer mountaineering activity held in April which is joined by mountain climbing enthusiasts of all types and is unique as it has historical and cultural features.
It traverses a Spanish trail connecting Nueva Vizcaya and Pangasinan while native houses of the Iwak tribes are found along the way. It also includes community immersion where you learn the culture of the people through cultural presentations, sharing of stories, and their way of life such as the eating of “watwat,” boiled pork or beef.
The Mt.Ugo Climb first garnered an award in 2006 as Best Tourism Event in the Philippines under Nature and Sports Tourism category of ATOP. In 2007, 2008, and 2010, it was adjudged the Best Tourism Event in Sports, Adventure and Wellness in the Philippines under the municipal level.
The invitational climb was initiated during Councilor Norberto Pacio’s term as barangay captain of Tinongdan together with the municipal government, and through the years, has gained prominence in cooperation with the provincial government unit, Department of Tourism-Cordillera, SN Aboitiz, Benguet Corporation, among other partners.
Mt.Ugo - Eco Adventure Tourism - courtesy of Bachwitz at forum.philboxing.com
Food for sale in stopover areas, hiring of vehicles in the locality, and hiring of tourist guides and porters create livelihood opportunities in the community. This also creates a ripple effect on the livelihood of the community in Tinongdan and the nearby areas such as Bokod and Cayapa, Nueva Vizcaya en route to the Mt. Ugo.
Other areas frequented by visitors are the mushrooming resorts and the Itogon hot springs which are very accessible.
There is also the Balatoc Mine tours which offers an opportunity for visitors to see and learn about the mines and the process of gold mining.
The municipal government got inspired by the potential of the local eco adventure tourism industry and they boldly ventured to re-package a comprehensive tourism development plan to include among others strategic approaches to enhance its scenic spots and strengthen promotional and marketing strategies, according to Mayor Oscar Camatiles.
Lined up tourism projects with funding are the enhancement of the 13 level resorts and the restoration of the Ave Maria historical site, he said.
The other barangays will be enhancing their eco-tourism potentials and we will develop and promote for national and international tourism-markets, Mayor Oscar Camatiles added.
The mayor also expressed appreciation to the barangay government and leadership of Tinongdan, which hosts the Mt. Ugo Summer climb, for their exemplary mark insofar as eco adventure tourism is concerned.(JDP/ Joseph B Zambrano/Susan Aro-PIA CAR)