Zambales province, one of Luzon’s top destinations in the pre-COVID era, recently unveiled the Surf and Glamp Adventure to highlight once more two of its major tourist recreations – surfing and glamping.
Backed by the Department of Tourism (DOT)-Central Luzon regional office, the launch focused on the coastal municipalities of San Felipe, San Narciso and Botolan, which boast of sought-after surf sites and bountiful bodies of water.
“We have everything that tourists would want – from waterfalls and rivers, to beaches and islands. And they can enjoy all of these in relative safety and comfort even during the pandemic,” says Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. during the program launch.
He noted that the phenomenal growth of tourist establishments is due to the development of new attractions during the pandemic to provide guests with vast open and green space which are compliant to health standards.
Based on recent tourism figures, its accommodation establishments have more than doubled to 340 compared to its pre-pandemic number of 151.
“Aside from beach hotels and restaurants that offer open-air dining, other accommodation types had surfaced and became hugely popular in the last three years: pool resorts, farm and garden resorts, and campsites. These helped local tourism to bounce back after an initial slowdown at the onset of the pandemic,” the local chief executive revealed.
Ebdane predicts that if the growing arrival trend continues until the yearend, Zambales may exceed its pre-pandemic visitor arrival level.
Zambales has a coastline of about 300 kms, with most of the municipalities situated along the West Philippine Sea.
With the famed Liwliwa beach and surf site as event hub, and The Glamp as homebase, the program includes surfing introductory lessons and tournaments, bodyboarding, beach sports, yoga, and evening entertainment.
The participants trekked to Lubong Nangaluan Waterfalls tucked inside San Felipe’s lush interiors which has a curtain-like cascade and a natural icy basin.
The launch swung by the Botolan Mangrove Eco-Park, where guests navigated the area on board a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or pedal board.
This unique ecosystem can be accessed through the Bancal River Adventure Park which has a cozy boardwalk, restaurant and floating cottages overlooking the scenic waterway and wetlands.
In a related development, the provincial government also relaunched the Laruk-Laruk Festival in Candelaria town, a cultural activity which is based on the long-lost tradition of making rice crisps as part of thanksgiving after the palay harvest season.
Held at the beach village of Uacon, the event was conceived in 2012 by Governor Ebdane who grew up with the tradition which dates back to the mid-1800s.
Headed by the Candelaria municipal government, the five-day fest put to the fore the townsfolk’s culture, indigenous games, homegrown produce, and way of life. The core activity is the pounding of rice husks by townsfolk, men and women, in preparation of the laruk-laruk which is popularly-known as pinipig.
“This is a rediscovery of the culture which defines us as Candelarians and Zambals, and we hope this would rekindle among the present generation an appreciation of local culture and ignite love of our town and people,” Ebdane said.
The tradition of making laruk-laruk best exemplifies the town’s closely knit community and cooperative endeavors like pukot, wherein neighbors help each other haul fishing nets at Uacon Cove at daybreak.
Adding color to the farm-themed fest were sports, entertainment, and special events to attract a bigger audience within and outside Zambales.
Candelaria also takes pride in its panoramic Uacon Cove which has several spacious beach resorts, Uacon Lake, and the white sand island of Potipot which is being redeveloped for glamping and water-based recreation.