TAFT, Eastern Samar — The local government here offers tourism activities along the town’s major river once polluted by mining operations two decades ago.
After the closure of mining operations, the government initiated efforts to rehabilitate the mined site, bringing Taft River’s natural wonders back to life.
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“Taft River is a sleeping giant waiting to be a popular tourist destination in Eastern Samar,” said Leonardo Balmes, Taft tourism council president.
Seeing that the river is once again alive and its great tourism potential, the tourism council, composed of government officials and local business leaders, introduced kayaking and paddle boarding as tourism activities. A two-hour use of kayak, paddle board, and life vest costs P300.
“As of now, that is the initial activity that we can offer at the river for summer tourists, but we have more plans in the future,” Balmes told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.
Taft River is one of the major rivers in Eastern Samar. Among its tributaries are rivers and streams in Hinabangan, Samar.
This once beautiful river and abundant of various flora and fauna eventually died due to the negative impact of mining in Samar Island.
From 1956 to 1992, mining operation in Hinabangan town had polluted the river, killing the river’s marine life and even plants nearby. The Bagacay copper and pyrite mine site are located within 113 hectares of land in Bagacay village in Hinabangan town.
Aside from kayak and paddle boarding, tourists are also encouraged to visit the town’s Dangkalan Beach Resort endowed with exhilarating orange-sand beach, skim boarding, mini-zoo, and mini-park.
Another attraction is the cave in San Pablo village, believed to be the longest underwater cave in Southeast Asia and the more accessible Maysuwa Cave in San Rafael village.
For waterfalls lovers, the picturesque three-layer Maharlika Falls also in San Rafael village will fascinate them after a 30-minute trek within the so-called virgin forest.
Taft, a 4th class town in Eastern Samar, is about 140 kilometers northeast of Tacloban City, the regional capital. (PNA)