Gubat adopts Donsol’s tourism map | Inquirer News

Gubat adopts Donsol’s tourism map

By: - Correspondent / @SBarramedaINQ
/ 11:37 PM September 04, 2013

LOCALS used to avoid this thick mangrove forest leading to Dangkalan Beach due to rumors of enchanted beings said to be living here. Now, it is used as a route by Gubat Inc. tour guides to lead tourists to the surfing spot and coral reefs of Gubat, Sorsogon. PHOTOS COURTESY OF GUBAT INC.

Strapped with an improvised snorkel to protect his eyes and nose, Nico Mercader surveyed the shallow waters of the little-known surfing spot in Gubat town in Sorsogon that he, his brother Noli John and fellow surfers would often visit.

The waves were not yet swelling under the early afternoon sky—not ideal for surfing but perfect time to go snorkeling for at least a few more hours. Nico and his friends scoured 250-300 hectares of live corals clasped around a subterranean cliff.


Noli John, president of Gubat Bay Surfers, fondly calls the place “Nico’s Reef” after his brother who braved its biggest swells three years ago and discovered that the sea of Dangkalan Beach whips waves fit for surfing.


The beach, not to be mistaken for Dancalan Beach Resort in nearby barangay (village) Buenavista, has a coral reef that hugs the shoreline of barangays Panganiban and Pinontingan.

Along with the adjacent dry mangrove forest, the shore has withstood years of climate change, which has been identified as the cause of the receding waterline and the consequent death of corals, Noli John said.

Gubatnons have remembered that Dangkalan Beach used to have fine white sand comparable with Subic (now being introduced as Malarosa Beach because of its pinkish white sands) in Matnog, Sorsogon. Now, the sand looks ordinary.

They believe that the beach and the other unknown attractions are in danger of further damage due to climate change and other activities of people living in surrounding villages.

Out of this concern, the Mercader brothers, their fellow surfers and a group of local villagers organized Gubat Inc. and have been rallying the people of Sorsogon and their officials to act on the slow destruction of Gubat’s natural resources.

They are hoping that if given attention, Gubat’s natural attractions could become Sorsogon’s answer to the decline in the number of whale shark (locally known as butanding) sightings in Donsol, another Sorsogon town.


“Gubat town is easy to access and has a lot of natural resources that no other place in Bicol has,” said Jomar Enguerra, president of Gubat Inc.


Gubat Bay Surfers often receives tourists entrusted to them by travel agencies not specifically based in Sorsogon.

Noli John said some travel agents immediately take their tours to Gubat for a day of surfing and snorkeling so as not to disappoint their clients whenever the gentle sea giants do not show up in Donsol.

Peak season for surfing in Gubat is October when the waves are high.

THE VARYING waves of Gubat, Sorsogon, perfect for beginner, intermediate and professional surfers, are the primary reasons the town is now known as the “surfing capital of Sorsogon.”

“Aside from having the coral reef which may be a potential diving spot, the entire shoreline of Gubat also has varying levels of surfing waves to suit beginner, intermediate and professional surfers,” Noli John said.

His group accepts as many as 60 visitors.

Despite the unsteady number, Mercader and his group hoped that the visitors’ experiences would prompt them to advertise the town to friends to draw more people.

4 caves

Aiza Encinares, municipal councilor and head of Gubat Tourism Council, said Gubat officials were coordinating with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in identifying places that tourists may visit.

Aside from providing support to surfers who teach tourists the basics of surfing, the council is looking into the possibility of opening four caves in barangays Togawe, Bagacay and Paco for spelunking, Encinares said.

She said they hope the municipality under Mayor Roderick Co could formulate a climate change mitigation plan and organize a tourism office.

Next to Donsol

Cris Racelis, provincial tourism officer, said steps were being undertaken to develop Gubat as a “secondary tourist spot,” next to Donsol.

Noting the decline in whale shark sightings in Donsol, Racelis said her office was far from declaring that the marine creatures would no longer visit the usual sites.

It was supporting only surfing in Gubat, however, she said, pointing out that the town has only a five-kilometer shoreline of fine powdery grayish-white sand and very few swimming spots.

The shoreline is also slowly being “eaten up” by the sea, which could mean that hotels and restaurants are off limits to the area, Racelis said. Businessmen should learn to adapt to the changes, she said, because “these are driven by nature and could not be prevented.”

In an interview, Maria “Nini” Ravanilla, tourism regional director, said her office had provided free diving boards and training to the local surfers.

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If Gubatnons believe that they could also develop new activities and spots there, the DOT regional office would be willing to extend more help so tourism could flourish there, Ravanilla said.

TAGS: butanding, News, Regions, Surfing, Tourism

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