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Palina Greenbelt Ecotour

Touring can be both fun and educational. And so it is with the Palina Greenbelt Ecotour that takes students and visitors out into the waters off of Barangay Cagay in Roxas City to appreciate the reclamation of the Palina River after it was silted up from the excessive number of fish pens in the area. This tour is conducted by the fisherfolk who sacrificed their own fish pens and livelihood in order to save the river. And now they are our guides on this barge trip as they unravel the story of the rehabilitation of this river and the rich mangroves that were planted to stem floodwaters and nurture fish, bird and plant life.

Bamboo Raft

We were towed by an outrigger to the open waters while two able bodied men navigated our bamboo barge with their bamboo poles, steering us forward or sideways with their muscles and then turning the barge into the narrow passage leading to the Panay River where a huge surambaw commandeered a big slice of the corridor and we had to gingerly edge our way around it.

 Surambaw

There are more surambaws undulating up and down the mouth of the Panay River, trapping sea creatures for commercial consumption. A big fish pen looms by the shoreline. Not all fish pen operators willingly give up their business even though they are aware of the harm and damage their fish pens may cause to the river and even when they have lost substantial revenues from a dried up riverbed.

Fish pens in the river
We had pre-ordered a simple lunch onboard and everything was fresh and flavorful. We ate lapulapu fish caught from a fish cage nearby, laswa mixed vegetable soup with shrimps and steamed rice served in simple plates lined with banana leaves. We also had a bowlful of dayok (shrimp paste) which was so good. It complemented all the dishes. We drank coconut juice from the source and had a selection of fruits for dessert. All for P400.00 for 3 people. What a steal!

Rice, lapulapu and laswa

Here’s the recipe for laswa: http://www.pinoyrecipe.net/laswa-recipe/
There’s more to be done to save the waterways but this tour teaches the youth and visitors alike to be more aware of their environment and the consequences of their actions. It is a big step forward.

The Palina Greenbelt Ecopark is managed by the Palina River Development Association Inc. (PARIDA). It's located in Sitio Cablatan, Cagay. In addition to the floating raft, the association has paddle boats, a function house and a couple of huts to rent. And they also offer a footspa and manicure/pedicure on these tours. To make reservations and inquire about prices, please call 0922-352-4479 or 0923-828-8091 or 0948-131-4147.

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Images by Charie

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