ORMOC CITY – This city’s next tourist destination, that is, the mangrove eco-park located in Sitio Quinto Limbo, Barangay Naungan had its grand opening on Tuesday, February 14, 2023 just in time for Valentine’s Day.

No entrance fee yet, accordingly, while the ordinance for the implementation of the entrance fee and other fees is yet to be approved, as currently, it is still undergoing a series of committee hearings.

During the said event, Punong Barangay Jaime Hitgano of Naungan and members of the said barangay’s People’s Organization (POs) presented the project to the local government, led by Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez and Leyte 4th District Representative Richard I. Gomez, believing that said eco-park will become for them a sustainable livelihood source.

Hitgano also encouraged and urged the POs to manage properly and develop the said livelihood given, to help in inviting tourists and implement safety measures.

The said POs that were given a livelihood through the restaurants found in the said eco-park are the Naungan San Juan Mangrove Planters Association (NSJMPA), Naungan Fisherfolks Associations (NAFIAS), New Naungan Fishcage Operators and Fisherfolks Association (NEFCOFA).

Accordingly, members of said associations have successfully undergone seminars and trainings in handling and managing their livelihoods for them to be successful in their restaurant endeavors and for the eco-park to prosper along with the associations’ success.

Meanwhile, City Councilor Perok Rodriguez, the Chairperson for the SP Committee on Tourism, Culture, and the Arts, shared during the eco-park’s opening ceremony that more infrastructures are in the planning to be built on the said eco-park, which will include, accordingly, a concrete platform to house the POs’ restaurants, as currently said restos are only using native huts.

On the one hand, Forester Rosilyn C. Sanchez of the Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO)-Ormoc left a reminder to everyone in her closing remarks, saying, “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, and kill nothing but time.” The eco-park’s ribbon-cutting event was led by Councilor Rodriguez, Forester Sanchez, Engr. Fulton Manawatao of Ormoc Waterworks Administration (ORWASA), Engr. Ranulfo Oliveros of the City Engineer’s Office (CEO), Senior Agriculturist Judith Paredes of the City Agriculture Department (CAD), Captain Neftali Castillo of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Nelson Alindogan of the City Tourism Office, Christine Yap Garnace of Psalm Outdoor Adventure, and the Brgy. Naungan Council. By Gwen Maurillo (EV Mail Feb. 13-19, 2023 issue)