Sambawan Island. Photo by Jalmz.

Several weeks after announcing that Biliran would welcome tourists once more, the provincial government had set a much stricter limit and guidelines.

Late March, LGU officials sent out a memo which states that only visitors from the Eastern Visayas region would be allowed to visit local tourism sites. The announcement was made after the National Capital Region (NCR), Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, and Cavite were placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine due to a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Biliran, one of the country’s smallest and newest provinces, is an island in the Eastern Visayas region. Biliran province takes pride in its attractions such as the Sambawan Island in Maripipi Island, the shifting sand and the sunken chapel at Higatangan Island, and various waterfalls like the Tinago and Tomalistis Falls in Caibiran town, and the Ulan-ulan and Recoletos Falls in Almeria.

The province also has Department of Tourism-accredited farm sites such as SofTea Garden in Bato village, Biliran town, and Canaan Hill Farm and Honey Garden in Uson village in Caibiran.

All incoming tourists from the region are advised to drop by at the Tourist Assistance Booth located at the provincial border for registration. Local tourists who will visit the island province will need to present Biliran QR Code (https://register.securebiliran.net), and proof of hotel booking.

Sta Cruz Island, Zamboanga City. Photo by Gene Paraji Salialam.

Meanwhile, in Zamboanga City, the local Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 has suspended all in-bound commercial flights from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) effective April 5 until further notice.

The local IATF said that also suspended are the connecting flights from Cebu or Davao whose flights origin are from NAIA, with passengers en-route to this city. The suspension came amid the reimposition of the ECQ in the “NCR Plus” regions.

In another part of Mindanao, the city government of General Santos (GenSan) has restored the quarantine protocol for travelers and returning residents from abroad and areas in the country with confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 variants.

The LGU in GenSan directed the mandatory isolation and 14-day quarantine for all concerned travelers. The order mainly recalled the general scrapping two weeks ago of the quarantine requirement for travelers and returning residents in compliance with the IATF regulations.

For those from other areas, the mayor said the quarantine requirement will be waived but they have to present negative test results for Covid-19 through antigen or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

Photo from Mt Pulag: Adventures Above the Clouds Facebook Page

Moving up to the northernmost part of the country, in Benguet, tourist attractions remain mostly closed to tourists. However, there are municipalities that have opened some destinations exclusively for locals.

The same goes for Atok (which has not yet opened its borders to tourists), the home of the Northern Blooms, a man-made garden attraction that features different flowers. 

The town’s Sakura plantation park is also among the areas visited, aside from the beautiful flower gardens that are a result of the cold temperature enjoyed in the town.

In Tublay, the Bengaongao cave, river parks, and other destinations are still closed. It’s a similar story in Bokod where the Mt. Purgatory and Badekbek sulfur spring are only for Benguet residents. 

Mt. Pulag, the second highest peak in the Philippines, located in Kabayan town, is also still closed to tourists.

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