ILOILO — Officials of this province and the municipality of Leon are planning to make Bucari an educational center where people of all ages can learn more about global warming and climate change.
Known as the “Little Baguio of Iloilo”, Bucari is a popular destination among locals due to its cool climate, gorgeous towering pine trees, lush green rice terraces and captivating waterfalls and landscapes.
According to Mayor Rolito Cahilig, Bucari has an ideal environment where people can study while camping, hiking or riding their mountain-bikes.
“Many things have changed and people have to understand why and what they can do to about this new phenomena,” Cahilig said noting that his own hometown is at risk of erosion should there be an earthquake or typhoon.
Leon is located 28 kilometers away from Iloilo City and it is sitting in new Panay fault. It has 85 barangays where 80 percent are located in the mountains.
So far, Cahilig said they already have the architectural design for the proposed pavilion to be constructed in Bucari.
The infrastructure, which was proposed in 2013, is eyed as a reception or venue for meetings and seminars. But the national government is yet to release the budget for its construction.
“Bucari will soon be trending in all social media. But don’t expect for a hotel when you come here. What we can only offer is the hospitality of our people and the experience of being here,” he said.
Tired of Waiting
“It seems that I can no longer wait for the national government’s plan for Bucari,” said Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. in response to the proposal.
To fast tract its implementation, Defensor said he will convene a meeting with Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority of the Department of Tourism, Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Department of Agriculture.
“We have so many plans for Bucari — we want it to be a premier tourist destination and vegetable capital of Iloilo. But what we always lack is the capital to make it happen,” he admitted.
But if there is a way that the province can do it on its own, the governor said he is willing to explore on this option.
In 1996, the governor, through Executive Order No. 170, announced the plan to develop Bucari, including its 21 neighboring barangays, into a special zone for tourism and ecological enterprises.
Eventually, Bucari’s 10, 432.87 hectares of land (Leon – 7490.625 has. and Alimodian 2942.25 has.) was declared as eco-tourist zone.
Of the total land area, 60 percent is forested, mainly by a combination of secondary growth and reforested area and a sprinkling of old growth forest in the very steep slope at high altitude.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ reforestation effort in the Aganan Watershed was responsible for the 30-50 yr. old forest trees, particularly pine trees.
The project area for reforestation was 5500 has. and 4469 has. of which have been rehabilitated, according to the town’s website.
In support to the reforestation effort of the national government, the province of Iloilo is planting 1.5-million trees and half a million mangroves every year to help cushion the impact of climate change.
Among the biggest contributor in this Action for Re-Greening and Transformation for Climate Change Adaptation (ART for CCA) is Leon’s “tree growing activity” every Arbor Day on June.
The activity involves most of the residents of the town in planting around 50-60,000 seedlings of endemic tree species in Bucari area.
“This tree growing is like a tradition here. People are looking forward to it every year. In fact, the municipal government does not spend much for this since people are bringing their own food and vehicles to reach the area,” he said.
The gains of ART for CCA placed the province as 1st runner-up in Environmental Governance in 2013 Excellence in Governance Award (EXCELL Award) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
EXCELL Awards aims to recognize best managed local government units in the field of administrative, social, economic, environment and valuing fundamentals of good governance.