Last weekend, I embarked myself on weekend getaway in the municipality of Bolinao, Pangasinan. Bolinao, a
third first class municipality in the province of Pangasinan, Philippines. Bolinao, Pangasinan is quite far to get to because it’s at the tip of Pangasinan province. It took us about 7 hrs to reach Costa del Fuego in Patar, obviously it was far but definitely worth it! I’ve been to Pangasinan multiple times but I found a peaceful destination where you can just simply bum around the whole day. In addition to nature tripping, we enjoyed some of the scenic attractions in Bolinao such as the Enchanted cave, Patar Light House, Patar White Beach and city tour . We also had the opportunity to visit the Balingasay River, twice winner of the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran Award for inland bodies of water in the Ilocos Region and a recipient of the highly prestigious Wetlands Conservation Award in 1994.
Kuya Marvin, our local guide shared to us that there are bird watchers visit Balingasay River every so often to check out migratory birds and other wild species. This community project of the local government will certainly benefit the locals as it increases awareness to the environment, produce livelihood programs to create more jobs and boosts the tourism of Bolinao, Pangasinan.
The 15 hectares of century old and new growth mangroves at Balingasay River is a protected area in Bolinao. Seeing Balingasay’s rich biodiversity will surely leave a mark in every visitor’s heart like me. It is also noted that the river has century-old and new growth mangroves areas, 30 hectares of nipa and mangrove palms, wild ferns and trees hanging into the water. We have also noticed wild ducks swimming around us.
Mangroves generally are fish sanctuaries because they serve as a source of food for fish, shrimp and crabs living in rivers and the shallow areas of the river provide a safe crib for juvenile species of fish, shrimp and crab located in the river of Balingasay. Aside from that these mangroves also protect the area from erosion and pollution. Different species of wild birds can be seen around such as wild ducks, birds, monkeys and other animals.
Mangroves play an important role in carbon sequestration as it breaks down pollutants. I just recently learned that just one hectare of mangroves is capable of neutralizing 17 metric tonnes of carbon for the whole year.
The Balingasay River Cruise has been around for quite a while and still in the learning process but it feels ultimately great to know and find out that community initiated an organization that will facilitate and regulate the numbers of tourist. They’re actually open to suggestions and recommendations in fact we suggested the firefly watching and educating tourists and locals about the species that can be seen in the protected area.
Balingasay River is known as the cleanest river in the province and one of the cleanest in the Philippines. The crystal clear waters of Balingasay River is no doubt a real treasure of the people in Bolinao, Pangasinan. Let’s all help influence people to practice responsible tourism.