‘Butanding’ bring revenue to Pangasinan town
SAN FABIAN, Pangasinan—Resorts and boat owners in this coastal town have been cashing in on the presence of “butanding” (whale sharks) here.
Lina Paculan, a chambermaid at Sierra Vista Resort in Barangay (village) Nibaliw here, said more tourists had been arriving there, especially on weekends.
Four butanding have been in the waters off the resort-dotted beaches of this town since early May. These are members of a pod that visited the area last year, said Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center here.
Paculan said resort guests would rent boats to go near the butanding, which are frolicking about a kilometer from the shoreline.
Sara Rusela Lazo, San Fabian tourism officer, said the butanding’s presence boosted the tourism industry of the town.
“Tourists from northern and central Luzon do not have to go to Sorsogon to see the butanding,” Lazo said.
Butanding watching has been offered as an attraction to tourists to visit Donsol in Sorsogon, where whale sharks are frequently seen.
Lazo said the whale sharks’ presence meant added income to boat owners and fisher folk. “During this period, it’s already off-peak season. But with the butanding, the fisher folk and boat owners continue to earn,” she said.
Fisherman Nito Castro, 34, said that for three weeks now, he has stopped fishing and just uses his boat to ferry tourists to where the butanding are.
On a weekday, Castro said he makes at least three trips to the area, earning at least P500 per trip.
“But on weekends, I earn more because thousands of tourists come here just to see them,” Castro said.
He said the best time to see the whale sharks is during the early morning, when the sea is calm.
Castro’s boat can get as close as 3 meters to the whale sharks.
But Rosario warned fisher folk not to get too near to avoid hurting them with the boat’s propellers and outriggers.—Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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