Eco-tourism booms in Danao, Bohol
MANILA, Philippines - Almost 10 years ago, you would be hard-pressed to know where Danao, Bohol is, much less what you can do there. Its best claim to fame is that it is the hometown of Philippine hero Francisco Dagohoy, leader of the longest revolutionary movement against the Spaniards.
Today, thanks to the efforts of the local government, Danao has become one of the major tourist destinations in the province.
The approximately 144-hectare property devoted for eco-tourism is dubbed E.A.T. Danao, for "Eco, Educational, Extreme Adventure Tour Danao." Located at the Danao Adventure Park, only a small portion has been developed at the moment, but they have a lot of activities already geared for both the adventurous and the laid-back traveler.
Things to do in Danao
A unique attraction in E.A.T. Danao is the canyon swing they call The Plunge. They hook you up to a sturdy rope and then with a cry of “Bombs away!” drop you down the canyon where you will swing afterwards. The drop is just 75 meters [or around 4 seconds of free fall], but it’s certainly one activity that’s not for the fainthearted!
They also have a zipline called the Suislide [a play on the word "suicide"], which consists of two lines: one line is 460m long, and the other one going back is around 480m. You can go solo or in pairs. It’s currently their bestseller.
For those who want a slower kind of ride, E.A.T. Danao also has a cable car they call the Sky Ride. It can be pretty tame compared to The Plunge and Suislide, but those who are afraid of heights would probably not like looking at their feet, where the river 200m below can be clearly seen.
Aside from these adrenaline-pumping activities, they also have caving, cliff rappelling, kayaking, root climbing, river tubing and a village tour. Pretty soon, they will also offer guided tours on the Dagohoy trail, ATV/buggy rides, paramotor air tour and an ultralight.
To accommodate visitors who would like to spend a few days in Danao, the management also provides rooms for rent at P600/day.
An LGU initiative
Setting up the eco-tourism site has been the initiative of former municipal mayor Louis Thomas "Tom" Gonzaga. Due to his exposure in the tourism industry, he immediately saw the potential of Danao’s natural resources for income generation when he was elected to the office in 2004.
By 2009, Suislide and The Plunge were operational, and the cave where Dagohoy’s headquarters were located during the war was already opened to the public. All staff members of the adventure park [numbering over 300 now] are locals of Danao.
According to town councilor and Sangguniang Bayan member Teodorico Auxtero, the primary thrust of E.A.T. Danao is to earn more, because part of the income goes back to social services in the municipality.
“At the moment,” he said, “we give full scholarships to more than 50 college students. We also have feeding programs, and give free medical services in the hospitals and clinics.” They are also making sure to set aside a portion of the income to fund projects meant to protect the ecosystem.
Future plans for E.A.T. Danao
One of the major plans for E.A.T. Danao, according to Auxtero, is the conversion of the area to an accredited tourism zone. It will mean, among other things, huge savings when they continue to add more attractions to the park, as there will be no tariff imposed on whatever equipment they will import if they were accredited.
They also plan on having conference rooms built, to cater to companies who would like to mix business with pleasure. Once they can get investors, they would also like to give livelihood programs to the farmers along the river, by having them set up fish cages.
E.A.T. Danao has certainly become an excellent example of what local governments can do, not only to promote and develop the natural attractions in their locality, but also to make sure to observe sustainable and responsible tourism.
Managed by the LGU and some people’s organizations, E.A.T. Danao is located in Barangay Magtangtang, Danao, Bohol, around 72km from Tagbilaran City. - Rappler.com
Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor who has backpacked solo in the Philippines, India, all over Southeast Asia and Europe. She writes about her experiences as a solo female traveler at Solitary Wanderer.