ILOILO – The local government of Carles in northern Iloilo has temporarily closed to tourists its famous saltwater lagoon in the island barangay of Gabi for a month-long cleanup.
The Tangke is a popular tourist destination in Carles.
It is good that the local tourism industry is gaining traction, according to Mayor Siegfredo Betita, but the surge in tourist arrivals also brings environmental challenges to the Tangke Saltwater Lagoon.
“Damo items nagakalahulog. Kis-a ang bilin da ang kwan sang bata, sanitary napkins sang babaye,” said Betita.
The closure started on Sept. 1 and will last until the end of the month.
Another reason for the temporary closure is public safety, according to the mayor.
“It’s the habagat season or southwest monsoon season. The seas are rough. Basi madisgrasya ang mga tawo nga nagakadto,” said Betita.
The habagat season is characterized by frequent heavy rainfall and a prevailing wind from the west. It starts sometime in May or June and ends sometime in November.
From the mainland, visitors to Tangke – a lagoon of about 1,000 square meters and surrounded by steep, rocky cliffs – must take a motorboat. The trip is roughly an hour.
Every year, Carles closes Tangke for a month. It has been attracting local and foreign tourists, thus providing livelihood to boat operators.
Betita said the local government has the responsibility to protect, conserve and preserve Tangke which, according to some people, have healing properties.
“Hambal nila masalum ka kon may sakit ka. Medyo madula-dula,” said Betita./PN
By: Ime Sornito