cdn mobile

Tour guides struggle after boat trip ban in Santa Fe’s Balidbid Lagoon

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram April 04,2024 - 11:06 AM

No more boat trips inside Santa Fe’s lagoon

A local tends to a banca in Balidbid Lagoon in Brgy. Balidbid, Santa Fe, Cebu. | CDN Digital Photo by Morexette Marie Erram

CEBU CITY, Philippines – After losing his livelihood of guiding tourists around the scenic and serene lagoon in Brgy. Balidbid in Santa Fe town, Jose Anuncio has been relying on random and sometimes odd jobs to help his family.

But the 72-year-old grandfather of 12 still looks forward to the day when he could take his boat to the waters of Balidbid Lagoon, also known as the Santa Fe Lagoon, again.

In June 2023, the national government decided to suspend tourism operations at the iconic lagoon which is one of the many marine protected areas in Santa Fe, Cebu.

Santa Fe forms part of Bantayan Island, a popular tourist destination in northern Cebu that’s home to some of the island’s pristine white-sand beaches.

Both the local government of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Substation of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed that engine-powered, pump boats in Balidbid Lagoon have been disallowed since it is a protected area.

“The Balidbid Lagoon is a protected marine area, only low-impact water sports activity is encouraged for the long-term conservation of marine resources,” Ruby Bacolod, tourism officer at Santa Fe, said in a message to CDN Digital.

Ecotourism destination

The Balidbid Lagoon is an emerging ecotourism destination in Santa Fe, which has been known for its stretch of fine, white-sand beaches.

A banca sits idly on the edge of Balidbid Lagoon in Brgy. Balidbid, Santa Fe, Cebu. | CDN Digital Photo by Morexette Marie Erram

It is also home to a mangrove forest and, like most parts of Santa Fe’s coasts, has fine white-sand banks.

In April 2022, Santa Fe’s local government introduced the “Paunda sa Katunggan”, an ecotourism program that aims to further promote the lagoon. Full operations began in early 2023.

It was also intended to help spur economic activity in Santa Fe following the Covid-19 crisis and to support locals in Barangay Balidbid to find a more stable income.

Tourists will only pay a total of P100 – both for the boat rental and entrance fee – for a roughly 10-minute, roundtrip boat ride around the river-like lagoon, with its crystal-clear waters and lush mangrove greenery.

They can also swim in its waters but only when the current is safe.

Since the Balidbid Lagoon is a protected area, visitors are discouraged from bringing in food and drinks. If they do so, they must observe the clean-as-you-go policy.

During peak season, especially in the summertime, boatmen like Dagul Escaran can earn more than P1,000 per day by taking tourists on a cruise around the lagoon.

Photo courtesy of Con. Jaypee Lao from RatedJP/Facebook

“Dako na kaayo og tabang among makita, labi na pang allowance og paskwela sa mga anak,” said Escaran who, together with his wife, is raising two young children, both still in school.

With the Paunda gone, tourists who want to access the Balidbid Lagoon will have to travel further north—to Barangay Baigad in neighboring Bantayan town—and probably shell out more, as they need to pass through privately-owned properties to reach the area.

In some instances, boatmen like Escaran and Anuncio will have to refer guests to Bantayan if they want to access the lagoon.

Protected area

The orders to halt the Paunda in Santa Fe came from the Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR).

Frank Leo Catiggay, commander of the PCG Substation in Santa Fe, said they received instructions from the national government agency to implement laws in protecting marine areas, like the lagoon in Balidbid.

DENR ordered to ban all types of watercraft in Balidbid Lagoon under Republic Act 11038 Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 2018, Catiggay said in a statement.

“The PCG is a law enforcer and has a core function in protecting marine environment,” he added.

Santa Fe is located approximately 140 meters northwest of Cebu City. /clorenciana

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

TAGS: Bantayan, Cebu, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, Santa Fe

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.