KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Mar. 10 (PIA) -- After a two-month hiatus, popular eco-adventure tourism destination Lake Holon in Tboli, South Cotabato reopens Friday, March 10.
Rodel Hilado, tourism officer of Tboli LGU, told Philippine Information Agency that 250 individuals are joining the Pilgrimage to Holon Season 3 dubbed as "The Great #Hugot Trek" on March 10-12, which also signals the reopening of Lake Holon to adventure seekers.
"Why #Hugot Trek? Last year 65% of the over 48,000 who visited Holon were 'hugot people,' millennials who when asked for their reasons for climbing Holon replied, 'to move on, 'dahil sa Holon may forever,' 'si Holon lang ang naghihintay sa akin' and similar 'hugots'," Hilado explained.
As in the previous pilgrimages, trekkers will take either the Sitio Nabol trail or the Kule Trail. Of the two trails, Kule is more challenging but is popular because the deck along its route offers a panoramic view of the Lake Holon. Reservations for Kule trail were filled three days after the registration, Hilado said.
"Along the trail, climbers will compete with each other on best hugot lines that they will write on freedom walls installed in pre-determined stations based on the 15 guardians of the lake," he said.
This year at least six celebrities will be joining the pilgrimage, Hilado said but refused to disclose their identities. He, however, pointed out that like the other pilgrims, these VIPs will randomly be distributed to groups such as Team Sawi, Team Move On, Team Pag-ibig and other hugot teams.
At the campsite on Saturday evening, trekkers will be treated to a tribal entertainment of dances, music, chants as well as Tboli short stories by cultural masters.
Meanwhile, PCInsp. Ramil Villagracia, chief the Tboli PNP assured the security for the pilgrims saying at least 62 members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams have been trained to augment the police force deployed to Lake Holon and along the trails.
These besides the emergency and first aid personnel positioned in strategic positions, Hilado added.
Holon was closed to visitors on January 6 in accordance with the local government's annual program to allow the lake and its environment "to rest" and conduct activities intended to rehabilitate the area and improve its facilities.
"While Lake Holon was closed the Municipal Tourism Office conducted activities to upgrade the capability of the frontline service providers," Hilado said.
At present, Tboli has more than 1.400 service providers including motorcycle drivers, guides, porters, cooks and others.
Because motorcycle drivers play major role in the transportation of visitors to Lake Holon and other tourism destinations in Tboli, the Municipal Tourism Office required all motorcycle drivers, locally referred to as "habal-habal drivers" to attend a course on safety driving, guest handling, first aid and personal hygiene.
"As a new rule, motorcycles-for-hire are only allowed to carry two passengers.' Hilado said. "Also, it’s only in Tboli that motorcycle drivers issue receipt to passengers they convey to our tourism destinations."
Besides Lake Holon, Tboli is also known for its other popular destinations such as the Bakngeb Cave that offers a 3-kilometer water rafting, Hidak Falls which is being developed into an exclusive rainforest resort, and Lamhaku hot spring, to name a few.
It has also put in place a homestay program that offers an experience with the rich Tboli culture, traditions and cuisine.
Tboli is one of the Top 10 Green Destinations in the World in 2016. (DEDoguiles-PIA 12)