The operator of the Torpedo Boat Ride, an extreme and thrilling river ride along the stretch of Ulot River in this town, received 12 new boats in support of their livelihood.
The Taft Hydro Energy Corporation represented by its president Ruben Diego Picardo led the turnover on Thursday to the people’s organization composed of men formerly engaged in illegal logging and now involved in tourism activities.
Eugene Igdameo, the organization president, thanked the energy firm for the new boats since they don’t have to rent to ferry river cruise tourists. The group has been paying PHP1,200 daily for each rented boat.
“With this donation, our organization is assured of higher income. We are committed to take good care of these boats,” Igdameo said.
The river cruise rate is PHP1,825 per boat for five people. Those who wanted to have a picnic at the end of the cruise will have to pay an additional PHP200 to PHP350 per person for the pre-arranged meal provided by villagers.
Igadameo added that they need eight more boats to complete the 20 boats required by their group to fully operate.
The group launched the eco-tourism activity in 2008, providing alternative earnings to locals previously engaged in illegal logging.
Torpedo offers an extreme boat ride covering a portion of the 100-kilometer long Ulot River, the longest in Samar Island.
The extreme river ride uses a wooden boat with no outriggers, a traditional transport mode for communities established near the river.
At the end of the river cruise is Deni’s point where tourists may swim and have a picnic.
The group also thanked the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Samar Island Natural Park management, Samar 2nd district Rep. Sharee Ann Tan, Samar Governor Reynolds Micheal Tan, and Paranas Mayor Eunice Babalcon for continue giving them support and assistance especially now that their livelihood was heavily affected by the pandemic.
“It was not out of pure luck that the Torpedo became recipients of this assistance. Hard work, consistent quality service, good values, and positive attitude are the reasons why they earned the admiration and support of benefactors,” DOT Eastern Visayas Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said.
“No wonder why many other people’s organization in Eastern Visayas look up at the Torpedo with respect and often choose to learn from them best practices of a community-based tourism organization,” she added.
In 2018, the group was awarded 1st place for best practice on community-based responsible tourism by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines – Department of Tourism Pearl Awards for Best Tourism Practices.
The donor, the Taft Hydro Energy Corporation is an electric power producer in San Rafael, Taft, Eastern Samar. The firm is eyeing to produce 16-megawatt electricity to augment the supply to the Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative. (PNA)