Leyte eco-tourism community uses pandemic to upgrade

The current pandemic has opened a window of opportunity for the people’s organization managing the Mahagnao Natural Park and Volcano (MNVP) here to improve its products and services.

Myrna Agustin, 39, the president of the group of locals running the eco-tourism destination said on Wednesday the prolonged movement restrictions have given them ample time to refresh what they have learned in past capacity-building activities and think of new ideas.

“One of the things we have discussed recently is on how to enhance our food preparation to satisfy our guests. We also devoted time to plan tour packages and make souvenir products,” said Agustin, who returned to Mahagnao village with her husband 10 years ago after years of working in Metro Manila.

The group leader, who worked as a saleslady, cashier, household worker, and lady guard in the National Capital Region, said there’s a lot of opportunities in their community in terms of eco-tourism and they are thrilled for the re-opening of their destination.

“We have been planning on the menu that we can offer to our visitors such as coconut juice as welcome drink, camote (sweet potato) cheese roll for refreshment, and native chicken dishes for lunch,” Agustin added.

Camote is the main product of Mahagnao village, a community situated 18 kilometers away from the commercial district of Burauen, the biggest town in Leyte province.

When movement restrictions prevented people from leaving their community, they spent most of their time cultivating the crop.

The 34-member organization also came up with tour packages for younger tourists who want to trek to the volcano or explore the hot spring and for elderlies who want to see the century-old trees and wild plants.

The summit of the volcano is a steep-walled heavily forested crater that opens to the south with a peak elevation of 860 meters. Calor hot spring is just located at the southern foot of the volcano. It is a system of springs heated by an active thermal feature.

In 2019, the destination has welcomed 4,000 visitors, a small number for more popular sites, but big enough for Mahagnao, a community which has been isolated by poor road system until the full completion of road concreting project last year.

MVNP is about 65 kilometers south of Tacloban City, the regional capital. Proclaimed as a national park in 1937, the site near the volcano is endowed with other natural attractions — a lake, falls, multi-colored mud, hot springs, virgin forests, and lagoon.

Mahagnao’s summit is a steep-walled heavily forested crater that opens to the south with a peak elevation of 860 meters.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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