Kalibo, Aklan: Bakhawan Eco-Park & Research Centre
Huge bodies of water surround the Philippine islands which leave coastal residences vulnerable during natural calamities such as typhoons and tsunamis. On the contrary, Mother Nature’s artistry devised a solution which could withstand her destructive forces. In Kalibo, Aklan, a joint group of Kalibonhons converted a mudflat into a mangrove forest, as the town’s first line of defense against strong surges, and has become a tourist attraction known as, Bakhawan Eco-Park & Research Centre.
An extensive range of mudflats sprawls on the coast of Baranggay New Buswang in Kalibo making the village prone to floods and storm surges during unfortunate weather. The local government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the non-government organizations such as United Services and Welfare Assistance Group (USWAG) Development Foundation and Kalibo Save The Mangroves Association led by Atty. Allen Quimpo, an environmentalist and former political leader in Aklan, took action against the problem by turning the muddy shoreline into a mangrove reforestation site starting with 50-hectares expanding three times the size as the project progresses.
The community-based project did not only address the baranggay’s flood problems but also gave a means of livelihood for the participants. Areas were assigned to KASAMA members/families to maintain and manage. In return, they receive salaries and also allowed to harvest mud crabs and shell fishes within the allocated site. The Mangrove Reforestation Project has served the local communities in two ways, as a sustainable solution against flooding, and a means of income.
Bakhawan Eco-Park & Research Centre serves as one of Kalibo’s prime attractions. Visitors could visit the eco-park and enjoy a nature stroll through the 1.3-kilometer bamboo trail that runs deep into the forest teeming with different species of mangroves and wildlife and ends on a scenic view of the beach. The eco-park is a perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Kalibo. It is a sanctuary where one could enjoy peacefulness in the arms of Mother Nature.
The successful Mangrove Project proved to be an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to both security during calamities and a source of income and food for the locals. In fact, the project, the organizations, and individuals has received awards in recognition of the town’s environmentalism initiatives, the hard work, the ups and downs encountered, and of course, the triumph. Bakhawan Eco-Park & Research Centre is truly a vital contribution to the society and sets a benchmark for a greener Philippines.
Some fast facts that may help you on the trip:
1. Bakhawan Eco-Park & Research Centre is located at Baranggay New Buswang, Kalibo. To get there, take a blue tricycle from RC Supermarket or Gaisano, or you could just charter a tricycle for your convenience.
2. Entrance fee costs P20.00 only. Donations are also gladly welcome.
3. The park is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
4. Strictly observe the rules to ensure safety and cleanliness of the park.
5. This is the fifteenth post on my two-week long backpacking journey in Panay Island and Guimaras. Next stop would be still be in New Washington, Aklan.
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9. Happy travels and be safe.