BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The mangrove eco-trail in Brgy. Tomongtong, EB Magalona, Negros Occidental, is now open to the public, with strict health protocols and limited capacity.
Mayor Marvin Malacon said yesterday that the mangrove eco-trail is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., with visitors limited to 50 percent of its capacity to accommodate, or equivalent to 250 persons.
The Tomongtong mangrove eco-trail is a makeshift bridge made of bamboo, covered with a vast array of mangroves, as high as 20 feet. The bridge extends toward the shoreline and has a makeshift bamboo tower where visitors can have a top view of the mangrove plantation and fishponds.
Malacon said they will not accept walk-in visitors.
Jojo Vargas, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources officer, said yesterday that prior bookings should be coursed through https://www.facebook.com/Tomongtong-Mangrove-Eco-Trail-931228860576073/, or they may contact him at 0921-3248393.
Vargas added that only those 15 to 65 years old will be allowed entry.
Even during the holidays, Vargas said the eco-trail will be open to visitors.
Non-residents of EB Magalona, Malacon said are required to present a barangay health certificate from their place of origin, stating that they are not Persons Under Investigations or Monitoring for Covid-19.
The mangrove eco-trail opened on Dec. 5, and about 200 visitors enjoyed the fresh seafoods and scenery, several months after it was closed because of the pandemic.
Malacon urged visitors to strictly observe the mandated health protocols, such as wearing of face masks and physical distancing.
During its closure, the municipal government constructed more facilities in the area, with a restaurant and small stores now ready to serve visitors and expected to also generate additional income for residents of the barangay.
On its reopening, Malacon said they were able to generate P15,000 from entrance fees alone. The management of the Tomongtong mangrove eco-trail has already been turned over by the municipal government to the barangay officials and a women’s organization in the barangay.*