8:07 pm | Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
The San Roque Dam that was blamed for the widespread flooding
in eastern and central Pangasinan as Typhoon “Pepeng” struck
in 2009 is gearing to become the new face of ecotourism in the
The dam in San Manuel town, touted as Asia’s second largest
water containment facility, will soon have a reservoir cruise.
And this adventure promises a new experience for tourists, especially
nature lovers, says Tom Valdez, vice president for corporate
social responsibility of San Roque Power Corp. (SRPC).
“It will be more than just a sightseeing tour,” says
Valdez shortly after former President Fidel Ramos and Japanese
Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe launched on Monday
the first reservoir boat, a thatch-roofed, wood-decked, nipa
hut-inspired craft pushed by a small motorized tugboat.
40 bird species
The reservoir, which boasts a surface area of 12.8 square kilometers,
offers not only the scenic views of the Cordillera and Caraballo
mountains and the beauty of its serene water, but the joy of
bird watching as well.
Valdez says the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) found
during a visit in 2008 that more than 2,000 Philippine ducks
(Anas luzonica) now live in the reservoir area.
In a trip report posted in the WBCP website, the eight-member
group composed of birders recorded seeing more than 40 bird species,
nine of them endemic, during a three-day tour.
The endemic species, aside from the Philippine duck, included
the pygmy swiftlet
(Collocalia troglodytes), blue-headed fantail (Rhipidura cyaniceps),
red-keeled flowerpecker (Dicaeum australe), Philippine bulbul
(Hypsipetes philippinus), Philippine coucal (Centropus viridis),
Philippine cuckoo-dove (Macropygia tenuirostris), white-eared
brown dove (Phapitreron leucotis) and spotted buttonquail (Turnix
During Monday’s launch, a temporary dock was built behind
the dam’s spillways. Valdez says each cruise can last the
whole morning or the whole day that can take visitors to the
other side of the reservoir in Benguet.
Ramos, a native of Asingan town, says he and his children once
took a speedboat ride on the reservoir and reached Itogon, Benguet,
17 kilometers from the dock.
“We really hope that we could open this to the public
very soon,” Valdez says.
He says SRPC is finalizing the plan and the objective is for
the community to handle that as part of their livelihood. The “community” he
was referring to are the residents displaced by the dam that
have been relocated in various resettlement sites in San Manuel.
Valdez says a guide will be trained to talk during the cruise
about the ecology of the reservoir and watershed and their importance
in irrigation and in providing power for the country.
“The guide can also talk about the engineering of the
San Roque Dam, the relevance of the watershed and its impact
on climate change and even on the history of the dam,” he
Gov. Amado Espino Jr. says he is happy that the project, which
was conceptualized in the late 1990s while the power plant component
of the dam was being built, is finally beginning to be realized.
Espino was Pangasinan police director at the time of the dam’s
construction and was involved in its “social engineering.” “This
is a big boost to the overall effort toward the realization of
our vision of Pangasinan as the best place to invest, work and
live and raise a family,” he says.
He says it should not be difficult for the San Roque Dam to
attract tourists because it already has accommodation facilities.
SRPC has a housing village, including a clubhouse with a swimming
pool and restaurant, that is available to its visiting executives
Valdez says the immediate thing to do is to work out a plan with
the National Power Corp. (Napocor), which is in-charge of the
watershed and the reservoir.
He says the cruise will complement Napocor’s program to
promote ecotourism and at the same time encourage people to protect