Bohol Philippines: Mangrove Forest Tour in Banacon Island & Candijay

Written on March 20, 2009 – 5:35 pm | by Etravel |

Bohol is considered as one of the few provinces in the country that has possibly one of the most biologically diverse mangrove ecosystems. Mangroves surround most of the province of Bohol are most common around river systems, estuaries and off shore islands.

Banacon Island Mangrove Forest

Banacon, an island located north of the municipality of Getafe, Bohol is recognized for its extensive mangrove plantations with scenic trails beneath overlapping mature mangroves that make every passionate photographer drool at the awesome canopy this intertwining of bakauans has created.

It has an approximate area of 425 hectares with only 15 hectares dry land and 410 hectares mangrove plantation on the tidal flat area. Banacon Island got its name from fish species called “banak” or mullet (Mugil cephalus) which was once very abundant in the area before the proliferation of destructive fishing practices.

About the end of 1950, it was reported that Banacon Island was almost without mangroves because of excessive cutting done by a resident identified as Pilot Camacho, who at that time held a mangrove concession permit that included the said island.

Due to very limited dry land area, the people of the island were entirely dependent on mangroves for firewood and poles for the construction of houses and fish fences. This dire need for fuel and construction materials gave another resident, Eugenio “Manong Denciong” Paden, the idea to establish a bakauan (Rhizophora stylosa) plantation. According to a research conducted by Emma Melana, chief science research specialist of the Ecosystems Research and Development Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resouces-7, Paden observed that mangrove propagules that fell, got stuck in the mud and which have grown into fine young mangrove plants gave him the idea that bakauan can be directly planted or seeded.

Hence, in 1957, Manong Denciong established his first bakauan plantation by directly seeding propagules. At first, folks in the island reportedly called the act “foolish and futile”. However in 1966, when he started harvesting wood from matured bakauans as well as poles for houses, people in the island were encouraged to establish their own bakauan plantations. From then on, planting has become extensive as more and more families showed eagerness to embark on the pursuit. To facilitate mobility in the area, Manong Denciong together with other island folks agreed to establish a 10-meter-wide right-of-way called “highway” for motorized outriggers at the center of the plantation as well as foot trails in between individual plantations where people could pass through.

Manong Denciong’s efforts reaped for him the Likas Yaman Award of the DENR in 1989 and the Outstanding Tree Farmer Award by the Food Authority Organization in 1991 that gave him an opportunity to travel for free to Manila and Bangkok, Thailand respectively to receive his award.

At present, 196 families inhabit the island and are dependent on the mangrove plantations and foreshore marine animals such as shells, crabs and other mollusks and crustaceans, blue crabs, shrimps and other coastal resources dependent on the established mangrove forest.

Candijay Mangrove Forest

Another mangrove forest haven in the province is the one in barangay Panadtaran in Candijay town, some 92 kilometers from Tagbilaran City. The barangay used to be considered poverty-stricken but the development of the mangrove forest into a tourism destination has helped improve the lives of residents.

In 1996, residents in the area, composed mainly of fishermen and farmers, organized themselves and formed the Panadtaran Mangrove Association or PAMAS. In 1999, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources awarded the group with a 600 hectare mangrove plantation and challenged them to develop the area into a place for eco-tourism. Today, the organization has grown and has succeeded in promoting the area for eco-tourism. With an initial membership of 40, the group to date already has more than a hundred members.

PAMAS members serenade tourists as they tour the marshlands or go bird watching. Bamboo walkways have been constructed so that visitors can have a closer view of the mangroves.

PAMAS has their very own tour guide, who gives out bits of information to visitors about the scientific names of the trees and their uses. One such information is that the bakauan babae is peeled and eaten and the lugs of its stem can be made into wine. Its bark, roots and fruits make good mosquito repellants, cure for asthma, fever, convulsion and sore throat. Female members of PAMAS have also undergone training on cooking and table presentation.

Getting There

Banacon Island is located in the town of Getafe, which is a 3-hour bus ride from Tagbilaran City. Upon reaching the Getafe wharf, take a 45-minute pump boat ride to the island. Guided tours are provided by the Banacon Fisherfolks and Mangrove Planters Association. Those interested may contact BAFMAPA president Dondon Calubo at 0918-7368741. Candijay Mangrove Forest is located in Brgy. Panadtaran, which is approximately 92 kilometers from Tagbilaran City or a two-hour ride from the capital by bus, private vehicle or vehicle for hire. Guided tours are provided by the Panadtaran Mangrove Association (PMA) Tel. No. (63-38)526-0197.

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