Crater-lake in South Cotabato closed next week for rehab

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 January) — The municipal government of T‘boli in South Cotabato will close down anew the famed crater-lake Holon to visitors starting next week to pave the way for the rehabilitation of the prime tourist destination.

T’boli Mayor Dibu Tuan issued on Monday a temporary closure order for the entire 304-hectare lake and portions of Mt. Melebingoy effective Jan. 11 until March 5 or a total of 55 days.

The closure is the second for the lake since it was initially declared off-limits to visitors for nine months starting June 2014 to March 2015.

The mayor said the move will allow the lake to recuperate after hosting more than 700 visitors during the Christmas season.

“The local government of T’boli will rehabilitate some physical structures at the site and construct additional comfort rooms,” he cited in his order.

Tuan directed Rodel Hilado, head of the town’s community-based economic tourism unit, to spearhead the implementation of the closure order.

He said the shutdown will cover the three main three main entry points to the lake in Barangay T’bolok and Sitios Kule and Nabul in Barangay Salacafe.

In line with the lake’s closure, Tuan said the municipal government will focus on the training of more tourist drivers, tourist guides, porters, horse drivers and other local tourism frontliners.

The town’s tourism unit will also work on the accreditation of additional tourism destinations within the municipality, he said.

The lake’s initial closure in 2014 was implemented by the local government to ensure the proper implementation of the comprehensive rehabilitation and development program of the ecotourism site.

The provincial government of South Cotabato had released some P5 million for the construction of cottages, view decks and other facilities at the lake.

Lake Holon, formerly known as Maughan, is nestled at Mt. Melebingoy (Mt. Parker), which is listed as an active volcano.

The lake is a declared protected area endowed with rich flora and fauna, as well as wild animals.

In 2003 and 2004, Lake Holon was declared as the cleanest inland body of water in the entire country.

The Department of Tourism in Region 12 has been promoting the lake as part of a local ecotourism circuit that includes the Bakngeb Cave in Barangay Laconon, Lamhaku Hot Spring in Barangay Lamhaku, and Hidak Falls and Hikong Kemebel in Barangay Kematu. (MindaNews)