GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/02 July) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is investing some P30 million this year for the development of various tourism-related infrastructure in Tupi town in South Cotabato.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said such investment is part of the DOT’s continuing efforts to develop new tourist attractions and destinations in the countryside, especially in parts of Mindanao.
“This is a financial grant for the construction of tourism facilities like cottages and tourist or visitor information centers as well as the improvement of road networks,” she said.
The governor said the project will be implemented in Barangay Linan in Tupi, which hosts a tarsier sanctuary.
She said the funds will be drawn from the P30-million allotment earlier approved by the DOT’s Tourism Infrastructure and Economic Zone Authority (TIEZA) for tourism projects in Lake Sebu town.
She said they asked TIEZA to realign the funds to Tupi town following the approval last month of a P120-million grant for the development of a road network within Lake Sebu’s “eco-tourism circuit.”
Tupi Mayor Reynaldo Tamayo said they are pushing for the utilization of the TIEZA funding for the improvement of the road from the tarsier sanctuary in Barangay Linan to the national highway.
He said they are eyeing for possible additional grants from the agency to further boost the development of the town’s tourist attractions.
The mayor specifically cited the town’s hot and soda springs, cold springs, waterfalls, tarsier sanctuary, among others.
“We need to work for the inclusion of Tupi into TIEZA to fully develop the tourism potentials of our municipality,” Tamayo said.
Barangay Linan has emerged as one of the province’s top attractions in the past several years due to the discovery of the tarsiers in the area.
California-based conservation group Endangered Species International (ESI) is currently conducting field studies regarding the primate, especially its habitat.
The ESI team, which is headed by its founder and president Dr. Pierre Fidenci, launched the tarsier research in December 2011 in two sites within the he Mt. Matutum Protected Landscape (MMPL).
The municipal government of Tupi had endorsed ESI’s research project as part of its efforts to tap the tarsiers and its habitat for ecotourism development.
In 2009, the indigenous people of Sitio Bagong Silang in Barangay Linan captured a tarsier along with three grass owls.
The Philippine tarsier, which has brought fame to Bohol, is one of the country’s primary flagship species for conservation.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) has been classified as “near threatened.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)