Abatan River Tourism in Maribojoc Bohol

Politics barely affect the community life tours, says Abatan River Development and Management Council (ARDMC).

New leaderships or any wayward development plans along the Abatan river is decided by not just one but a council, and that consultative forum does not threaten the operation of the tours, agree both erstwhile and present council chairs and former Maribojoc Mayor Gavino Redulla and current re-elected Catigbian Mayor Roberto Salinas.

Mayor Salinas said even with new leaders elected for Antequera and Balilihan, the new-comers are not new to the program as they have been a part of the widespread participatory planning process, which laid the ground-works for the new eco-tourism product.

Former Mayor Gavino Redulla, who used to head the council also said that they were careful that the product development, that is, that the community life tours undergo participatory planning sessions from communities in five towns to make sure everybody knows what they are into.

Speaking at the recent Kapihan sa PIA which tackled the newly launched community life tours of Abatan River towns as ecotourism development strategy to sustainably manage the river resource, both council leaders believe newly leaders are generally familiar with the activities and the Abatan River development master plan.

Balilihan's new mayor, Dominisio Chatto was then vice mayor, while Antequera's Mario Pahang also sat as the town vice mayor during the product development stage.

Cortes Mayor Apolinaria Balistoy, Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr and Catigbian's Mayor Salinas have retained their seats and would continue so in the next three years, at least.

Often regarded by many as a competition for the already famous Loboc River Cruises, the Abatan Community Life Tours is an entirely different experience, stresses Governor-elect Edgar Chatto, whose congressional funds then helped finance the endeavor.

The community life tour as managed by the beneficiary towns showcases aside from the often misunderstood mangrove ecosystems, the communities living about in their usual daily rituals, Redulla said.

Starting from the main community village center in Cortes, the tour takes one to some five major stops, all in riverside communities of Abatan-Lincod, Santo Rosario, Kawasan Falls and Catigbian's Dagook Falls.

The tour also includes artistic and cultural presentations showcasing rituals of Wadji, nipa mangrove livelihood activities, basket-weaving and home industries, rural community immersions in Balilihan and Catigbian as well as a package of innovations in governance.