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After 2014 tragedy, Biak-na-Bato National Park reopens

/ 12:10 AM February 24, 2016

CITY OF MALOLOS—Biak-na-Bato National Park, a historic tourist area in San Miguel town in Bulacan province, was reopened this month but with stricter rules for visitors.

The Protected Area and Management Board (PAMB), which is responsible for the administration and management of the park, allowed the reopening and imposed the rules almost a year and a half after seven students drowned while crossing a river inside the place.

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It said it considered the impact of the park’s closure on local residents who depend on tourism opportunities for their livelihood.

The 2,117-hectare Biak-na-Bato National Park, which was declared a protected area in 1937, served as hideout of revolutionaries during the Spanish colonial period. It was also where the Biak-na-Bato Republic was established under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.

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Among the most visited sites are Paniki (bat) Cave, Bukal Cave and Aguinaldo Cave, where Aguinaldo, the country’s first President, stayed during the later years of the Philippine Revolution.

Under the new rules, visitors can enter the park only through Sitio Madlum in San Miguel’s Barangay Sibol, said Ofelia Conag, area superintendent. They will be required to wear helmets if they intend to enter the caves or life vests if they cross the Madlum River.

The number is limited to 200 per group. A tour will be conducted in the morning and another in the afternoon.

The safety regulations were issued after seven students from Bulacan State University drowned while crossing the Madlum River during a downpour in August 2014. The students were not wearing safety equipment and were swept away by the strong current.

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TAGS: Biak-na-Bato, Biak-na-Bato National Park, Bulacan, Malolos, national park
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