Antipolo vows to bring back splendor of Taktak falls | Inquirer News
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Antipolo vows to bring back splendor of Taktak falls

/ 11:23 PM February 17, 2012

Can it still live up to the song that invites us to take a dip in its salubrious waters?

Hinulugang Taktak, Antipolo’s famed waterfalls once known as a favorite summer picnic spot for weekend tourists, remains a shadow of its old splendor, despite improved resort amenities in the city and rehabilitation plans announced three years ago.

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On a bad day, a foul smell assaults visitors at the entrance of the sprawling 3.2-hectare recreation area.

When the Inquirer dropped by recently, the lagoon at the foot of the waterfalls was almost entirely covered in snow-white soap suds from upstream laundry and sewage water waste.

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“This happens after long periods without rain. But after a rain shower, the garbage is flushed towards Manila Bay,” said Antonio Suner, a maintenance worker at the park.

Hinulugang Taktak, named for the gushing waters of  Taktak River and a 16th century legend about a church bell thrown (hinulog) into the steep cascade, was declared a national historical shrine in 1990 by the National Historical Institute.

It was later listed as a protected area by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). In 2009, the local government and the DENR agreed to manage the area and work for its rehabilitation for three years.

The two agencies then announced plans to pool P100 million for the task. City Hall and the DENR then pledged P30 million each for the effort.

Far cry

Suner, however,  could only point to the renovated swimming pool, newly-built toilets and a souvenir shop as the new changes.

The rehab, apparently, had not extended to the waterfalls.

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Hinulugang Taktak today is a far cry from the tourist attraction once immortalized in the bouncy folk song “Tayo na sa Antipolo,” which sings praises of a bather’s paradise and a perfect spot to enjoy local treats like mangoes, cashew nut and suman, a sticky rice delicacy.

Officials of the City Environment and Waste Management Office (CEWMO) and the DENR provincial office admitted that the rehabilitation plan trumpeted in 2009 did not materialize.

“What P100 million?” CEWMO head Jocelyn Masangkay and DENR provincial office chief Raymundo Crisostomo replied in separate interviews when the Inquirer asked them for updates.

Masangkay said it was a proposal made three years ago that eventually lost traction due to changes in government personnel.

Since the signing of the 2009 agreement, its main accomplishment so far has been the creation of a local Protected Area Management Board currently chaired by Mayor Nilo Leyble and the DENR regional director.

But while it may seem to be most doable solution for now, the periodic cleanup has become a frustrating exercise since people living upstream continue to treat Taktak River as a dump.

“Our hands are tied. We cannot intervene fully in the rehabilitation because DENR still has the upper hand,” Leyble said.

Hopeful

Yet Crisostomo is hopeful. “The river is not yet dead. I can still see small fish from time to time.”

Masangkay said her office submitted a proposal recently to Leyble for the construction of a P13-million facility that can “cleanse the water flowing to the waterfall.”

Still, technology can only offer a short-term solution. “The long-term goal is to educate the people and make them care for the river,” Masangkay said.

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TAGS: Antipolo, environment, Hinulugang Taktak, Tourism, Travel
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