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Angat Watershed the Next Big Thing in Ecotourism?

Sure, there must be some forests in Angat watershed where people can hike, see wildlife, and have great views of the lake and the dam. But things and facilities for people to actually visit the place? The answer would probably be a "naaahh...".

Technically, Angat Dam is in a place called Angat Watershed where thousands of hectares of protected forests provide the place for huge amounts of water supplied to Metro Manila and nearby provinces. And its not only water for domestic use, but also for power and irrigation of rice plantations in large parts of Luzon Island.

But things may be changing in the future.

You see, the government agency tasked to protect the watershed, the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) is now open to allowing people to visit Angat.

But its not solely for tourism. There are many reasons why and you would definitely agree to these.

Tourism to allow more "eyes" to see the true state of the watershed. The more people seeing the area, the greater the possibility of more eyes witnessing illegal activities like logging and poaching happening in the area. Much like what happened to Tubbataha Reefs in the early days when during the dive months, there were no illegal fishing in the area.

To bring more awareness to the people. Yup! you will hardly love what you do not know. When you visit Angat watershed, you will find out the significance of intact rainforests, the wildlife, stories that you won't forget the rest of your life, and probably how you can contribute to keeping the environment as pristine as possible (a humungous challenge, really).

To provide alternative livelihood to the people within and around the area. Its been proven in many sites in the Philippines (and in many countries). Hunters become guides, charcoal makers become handicraft makers who ensure that what they take are easily replaced by nature.

And in my opinion, make the Filipinos become a bit more proud of their environment. It is actually hard considering that we are left with less than 5% of the nature we had  some decades ago (like forest size from 16 million hectares in 1935 to less than 800,000 hectares in the 90's)... That we could make things right again.

This abandoned building called JVAC could become a museum complex and a take-off point to short hiking trails for nature walks

Lichens are interesting subjects for nature walks that are now hardly seen in highly urbanized areas but very common in forests. That these white, living spots are indicators of clean and breathable air. That they cannot live in air laden with fumes with tiny particles of lead, asbestos and the like the we urbanites breathe everyday.

Angat Watershed is a perfect open space laboratory for climate change studies. It does not take a genius earth science or meteorology teacher to make his/her students fully appreciate and understand climate change while looking at the natural features of Angat.

Trekking through the trails, people will learn a lot. Spined plants have stories to tell. People will learn survival, wildlife, and understanding how things turn out to be as such in natural areas.

Can you imagine yourself "flying" over this vista? Much better than seeing the tops of buses, jeepneys and roofs, di ba? And nope, I'm not talking of a zipline

If things go according to plans, it would be possible to explore the great lengths of Angat Lake and be with nature.

Bitbit Bridge is a playground for extreme adventurists. Guess what they do here?

Metro Manila is becoming choked with selfish urbanization wherein every family and business owning a piece of land go out of their way to fully commercialize their site, leaving no space for greenery. Even government units are guilty of this. While the gray and urban spaces are increasing, the green patches are decreasing in alarming numbers. But their values, though are exponentially increasing. Not in money matters, but in quality of living matters. Try to put an equation into that.

I am wishing NAPOCOR all the luck they can get! Its a slow process considering that they have to go out of their comfort zone and go into ecotourism where very few in the organization have some decent amount of applicable skills and knowledge. They need all the push and encouragement we can give them.

Getting There
Angat Watershed in surprisingly near Manila. One can easily reach it through Norzagaray, Bulacan thru the Fairview-Lagro-San Jose del Monte route. Travel time is only about 1.5 hours from Philcoa. 

You can contact Carol of NAPOCOR if you want to visit angat as they now have facilities that can accommodate visitors on educational tours of Angat. Her number is: 09759629564.