Ecotourism Site Spotlight: Masinloc, Zambales
Masinloc in Zambales can be found 230 kilometers northwest of Metro Manila and 110 km from the Subic Bay Freeport. It is known to be the birthplace of coastal resource management in Luzon and the first community-run marine protected area.Residents of San Salvador Island used to conduct illegal fishing before they were converted to stewards of nature. The area was considered a “dead zone” of corals due to cyanide and dynamite fishing.
More than a decade ago, the decline in fish population caused great concern among the residents. It led them to seeking the help of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) in Pangasinan to mitigate the problem. The community lobbied for stronger protection and pushed for an active participation of local fisher folks in the management of marine sanctuaries in San Salvador.
Today, San Salvador has a coral and giant clam farm and other marine protected areas. The people of Masinloc now actively help in protecting the marine life, seeing the benefits from the livelihood that ecotourism brings.
Visitors have the opportunity to go snorkeling in the 2-hectare giant clam farm and the marine protected area in San Salvador.
Other spots of interest in Masinloc are the Bacala sandbar where visitors can lounge on the beach or swim in the shallow waters, the 9-hectare Yaha islet mangrove forest, Bani which is known to be one of the best dive sites in the province, and Panglit Island, a 5-ha ranching site for sea cucumbers where sea horses can also be found.
Visitors can avail of a one-day ecotour to visit some of these places. Masinloc’s reef rangers, trained local fisher folks, serve as guides in these activities. They not only assist guests during the tour but also share their knowledge of the sites, marine life, and the importance and benefits of environmental conservation and resource management