CAMIGUIN, Philippines – Earning its reputation as one of the country’s top tourist destinations, this island has launched another attraction for both outdoor enthusiasts and mountain trekkers.

Camiguin’s chain of volcanoes, especially Mt. Hibok-Hibok, would be the radar of adventure seekers as the provincial government, the Department of Tourism-10 (DOT-10), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-10 (DENR-10) launched “Climb Camiguin” on Saturday, March 23.

Climb Camiguin is a way of promoting the province as a prime destination for mountain tourism in the country, said Camiguin Gov. Maria Luisa Romualdo.

“The province recognizes the potential of Volcano Tourism for driving the socioeconomic growth and development of the local community,” the governor said during the launching.

Mt. Hibok-Hibok and the adjacent Mt. Timpoong were recently declared by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Centre for Biodiversity as an ASEAN heritage park, now officially known as the Mt. Timpoong-Mt. Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument, and now counts as among the few of such protected areas in the country.

The mountain range is also home to some of the endemic species of flora and fauna found in this part of Mindanao.

Some of the similar sites in the Philippines include the Apo Natural Park, Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park, Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park, Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

The number of protected locations in the region – Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park, and the Mt. Timpoong-Mt. Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument – has inspired the Department of Tourism-10 to launch the mountain tourism in Northern Mindanao, said DOT-10 regional director Marie Elaine Unchuan.

Unchuan said the mountain tourism is the latest addition to the products that DOT-10 has introduced, which also included packages for farm tourism, dive tourism, faith tourism, and cultural tourism.

One of the concerns that the tourism department has considered before launching the project was on the crafting of legislation by local governments to protect the mountains in their areas.“Legislations should be in place, and communities must be involved in this,” she said.

Gideon Lasco of the Philippine Mountaineering Today said development must not just focus on improving the lives of people, but also on preserving the natural resources of a tourism area like Camiguin.

“The need to protect the mountains is a very valid motivation to take care of the environment. But we who climb mountains, and all our friends, have the opportunity to promote a different kind of motivation to protect the mountains, and that is because we love them,” Lasco said.

Fresh from completing the Seven Summits climb, professional mountaineer Carina Dayondon has joined other trekkers in hiking to the top of Mt. Hibok-Hibok.

“We climbed mountains and crossed vast seas. That gives us the opportunity to explore and conquer ourselves, our fears and doubts, and go beyond our limit,” Dayondon said.

Mambajao Mayor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo has appealed to the climbers to help spread the word about Camiguin’s mountains to their respective families and communities.

“Wherever you go, please speak about Camiguin and be our spokespersons to promote Camiguin and help us in our conservation of this beautiful province,” the mayor said.

Kicking off the launching, a team of climbers and social media influencers hiked their way to the summit of Mt. Hibok-Hibok.(davaotoday.com)

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