Romblon: Running on Nature
Romblon’s primary claim to fame may be its booming marble industry that produces world-class crafts, but in recent years, it has made a name for itself in a completely different field. Being a primarily agricultural region, it is very important for the province to preserve its tracts of land for rice and copra, and its pristine waters for fishing. This necessity, along with an abundance of natural beauty in the form of falls and beaches, has been channeled into a hit brand of eco-tourism that every Filipino should see.
If ever you find yourself in Romblon and would like to see something completely different, try out the following amazing eco-tourism sites!
1. Looc Bay Fish Sanctuary
This fish sanctuary is a protected area established in 1999. The clear blue waters house a whopping hundred different marine species, from a multitude of fishes to clams (even giant ones), octopi, and turtles!
There are various activities you can do here in the sanctuary. For example, the middle of the bay houses various floating platforms with openings in the middle, allowing you to watch and feed the swimming mass below. This is amazing, since the water is so clear you would think you’re looking down at an aquarium! For those who wish to have a more first-hand experience, snorkeling and swimming are recommended activities.
Aside from its marine inhabitants, the bay also features a lighthouse in its middle. Stories say that the lighthouse dates back to World War II. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to go near it in order to preserve it.
Finally, the bay is a perfect picnic spot for family and friends! You can bring in food. Boat ride from the port to the bay costs only P100 (USD 2), and renting snorkel gear costs only P50 (USD 1).
2. Mangrove Restoration
Mangroves are very important in a marine ecosystem. For one, it provides both shelter and food for fish that swim near the coast. They also act as natural walls that prevent the destructive storm surge from reaching the inland towns. To this end, Romblon is proud in its mangrove restoration and preservation program.
The project began back in 2009, seeking to plant a massive 490+ hectares of land with mangroves. These are spread out in various areas of the province, from Looc’s Buenavista Fish Sanctuary to the Verde Island passage that Romblon shares with its neighboring provinces. Go to any of these locations to see a unique synergy between plant and marine life! You might even spot various species like sea stars, sea urchins, slugs, crabs, and more.
3. Pawikan Nursery
I once experienced the release of the Pawikan in Bataan. It’s good to know that Binucot Beach, located in Tablas, is always among the top spots that tourists visit in the province of Romblon. But aside from its kilometer-long stretch of white sand and pebble, the beach also houses a hatchery for sea turtles!
If you’re lucky, you can actually catch these adorable little creatures being “escorted” by the nursery staff into the blue ocean.
4. Nature exploration
Romblon isn’t as famous as, say, Bohol or Cebu in terms of tourist awareness. But that does not mean it doesn’t have enough natural beauty to rival other locations! Far from that, in fact. A good part of Romblon’s treasures are largely unexplored. For example, there are large stretches of unspoiled white sand beaches. The province has active laws against any form of activity that will damage these locations. There are also various waterfalls, and even a salt lake! Simply trekking through these wonders would be a perfect bonding activity for any group.
5. Plastic Bottle Library
This isn’t a building that collects plastic bottles, nor is it one that is funded from selling used plastic bottles. It is one that is literally made from plastic bottles! The Bayanihan Plastic Bottle Library Project spearheaded this endeavor that has created a durable and eco-friendly structure for the province’s Cobrador Elementary School.
The structure just opened last May, and has been the collaborative work of several volunteers. During its construction phase, the project also drew “voluntourists” from across the nation.
6. Farm Tourism
Romblon is also one of the stops of various cruise ships! This affirms its place as a prime destination. For those who visit the province by this means, stopping by Cumming Highlands (located in Tablas Island) is a must. Aside from traditional resort facilities, this place has also begun a tourist-friendly leisure farm that the local government wishes to emulate in other areas.
The farm has rice, vegetables, pili nuts, fruits, and of course, farm animals! Cumming Highlands boasts of a fully self-sustaining farm which produces various products. Experiencing this would be any naturalist’s dream!
Like most of the Philippines, Romblon houses a lot of tourist-worthy places. If only more places could put an emphasis on ecotourism like they did, then the world would be a much better (and greener) place!