MAKILALA, North Cotabato (MindaNews/17 August) – Looking for a videoke noise-free place to stay?
Then come to the newly-developed eco-tourism park in Barangay Israel here. Recently developed by the provincial government, the site offers a homestay service for tourists who want to enjoy cool climate and a quiet setting.
Bernadine Paraiso, tourism officer of the village, told MindaNews that they have recently completed a two-day training on homestay accommodation facilitated by the Public Affairs Assistance Tourism and Sports Development Division of the provincial government.
Though they have yet to finalize the accommodation fees, Paraiso said they have initially identified one of the 25 houses that can accommodate up to 12 persons.
She added that the house owner is charging P750 for an overnight stay.
Among the attractions in the park are the 2.3-kilometer ziplines, the tamed Macaque monkeys and its lush surroundings, which is ideal for backpacking, she said.
The zipline ride costs P200 per person.
Sometimes a wild deer can be spotted freely roaming underneath the lauan trees along the ridges, Paraiso said.
With the opening of the zipline last month, the village is expecting an influx of tourists from neighboring towns, provinces and even foreign tourists, she said.
Hence, Gov. Lala Talino-Mendoza suggested offering the homestay service instead of putting up a hotel in the barangay as she wanted the homeowners to earn, she added.
The homestay service covers food preparation as well as tour guide services.
Gateway to Mt. Apo
The village is also one of the gateways to Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak.
Sid Mainit, the town’s tourism officer, told MindaNews that the trail to Mt. Apo has been reopened three years ago.
Peace and order problems had prompted the local government to discourage trekkers from utilizing the trail, Mainit said.
The periphery of the village used to be a haven of the New People’s Army.
“Karon okay na, they can pass the trail again going to Mt. Apo,” said the tourism officer, adding it takes two days to reach the summit.
Unlike some other tourist destinations, the ecotourism park in New Israel doesn’t have videoke machines.
Since the village is also home to the religious sect “Moncadista,” videoke machines, smoking, liquor and eating of any four-legged animals are prohibited.
This explains why the villagers only eat fish and vegetables.
Village chief Lovely Guibernas-Paraiso said her barangay is a perfect place to rest for those who hate the noise of videoke.
“The only noises you can hear here at night are the insects and some birds,” she said in an interview with MindaNews last month.
The village chief also clarified that tourists may also bring any of their preferred food and drinks for as long as they keep it for themselves only.
Canned meat products are not available in the sari-sari stores of the village, she disclosed.
She added they are planning to develop a one- hectare pond, where tourists can enjoy boat rides.
At the view deck where one can see the plains of neighboring town Bansalan, a sari-sari store offers coffee made of droppings from Philippine Civets.
Paraiso said they will also build a mini-zoo in the village. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)