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Geologic Formations in Bicol and Calabarzon
Victor B. Maglambayan

The team composed of Dr. Teodoro M. Santos of the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS), Dean Evangeline Ortiz of the Asian Institute of Tourism (AIT), Dr. Victor B. Maglambayan of NIGS, Dr. Eddie L. Listanco of NIGS, and Mr. Carlos Libosada of AIT has started their research in December 1999 about the geologic places of interest for tourists in Bicol, particularly Albay and Sorsogon and Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon).

These two regions were chosen as pilot areas for documenting and explaining to the layman how geologic processes shaped the many tourist attractions like Mayon Volcano, Taal Volcano, the highlands of Caliraya, the seven lakes in San Pablo City, and many other wonderful vacation sites. The two regions were selected out of 31 sites of geologic interest in the whole country that were initially identified for a five-year program. The two regions were selected on the basis of their general impact and accessibility.

Calabarzon was chosen because of the following other spots: pristine forests and bathing spots of Hidden Valley; river rapids of Pagsanjan Falls; waterfalls and river crossings of the Famy-Siniloan area; Banahaw Volcano for the waterfalls, caves, and spring waters which are interesting to psychics and many religious sects; the geothermal fields of Makiling and Banahaw; and the caves of Quezon National Park.

On the other hand, Bicol region is frequented by tourists because Mayon Volcano has one of the world’s most perfect cones. Other notable places are Bulusan Volcano, fossil sites in Pilar, Sorsogon and good outcrops of the Philippine Fault.

Since many of our country’s beautiful landscapes result from a particular distribution of rock outcrops and the action of natural, geologic processes such as volcanism, erosion, and sedimentation, the research team felt that local and international tourists will want to know how the landscapes came about.

Many of our volcanoes are known all over the world for being destructive but the scientifically inclined tourists might want to understand why Mayon builds its cone more grandly than does Taal. It would surprise many that volcanic activity is also responsible not only for forming the hot springs in Pansol and Los Baños and the scenery of Hidden Valley but also for the seven lakes of San Pablo. Many waterfalls exist because of geologic faults. Many caves and underground rivers are the handiwork of running water on the surface and underground.

Moreover, the researchers observe that existing facilities in many Philippine tourist spots do not provide a venue for educating tourists. In the case of Japan, the education of tourists is welcomed by many such as those who are interested in knowing the chemical composition of the spring waters and their differences in color, smell, and temperature. On the signboards in hot spas, the association of specific chemical elements dominant in the waters inform the bathers of the particular curative powers such as for skin diseases, rheumatism, etc. In volcano parks, simple explanations about how the volcano is formed are found on billboards, signs, and even inside tourist-related buildings. Records of the historical eruption of the volcano, where the craters are located, and how the surrounding villages were affected by eruptions become interesting bits of information which can be remembered for a long time.

It is important to disseminate the scientific view because it can add to the wonder and excitement of these tourist spots to the young and old alike. There is now a horde of young people in the forefront of mountain-trekking and ecotourism movements in the country — the Generation Txters who have an insatiable mind for information. We can also add to this number the spelunkers, the fossil collectors, culture and history buffs, and many other types. There are students who seek additional information for their science courses.

By catering to their appetite for scientific information, the researchers also seek to help elevate the consciousness of Filipinos about the notion of our Archipelago. Perhaps, a greater impression of the Philippines’ geologic development can be achieved subliminally with this study. By sharing what the group will learn — since we still do not completely understand a lot about the geologic processes that occurred — we can motivate children to appreciate the uniqueness of our archipelago. This will be a step toward elevating our people’s consciousness about the common heritage that we share as residents in the archipelago whose formation in the geologic past can be explained by Earth Science.

The researchers view that most tourists will appreciate that the processes which occurred to form the beautiful landscape in front of their eyes can be explained in easily understandable language and tone. In the Philippines, the public especially needs to be educated about the earth sciences because our country is disaster-prone. We can do this by disseminating information through brochures. The research project will come out with brochures and flyers for each region. These will explain to the layman, particularly tourists and students, the geologic processes which occurred to form the sites.

Another objective of this research undertaking is to explore avenues of cooperation with local government units for the adequate, proper, and efficient management and development of these two regions for tourism purposes.

In the long-term the research team plans to set up model tourist structures that can house all information about the well-known volcanoes in the Philippines. Such Volcano Museum shall have all artifacts relating to the volcano and its surrounding attractions such as the upland vegetation and fauna, local food products, local handicrafts, etc.

Where the craters of some volcanoes can be observed, the museum can serve as the lookout point from where tourists can rest and partake of the scenery. Inside the museum will be TV screens showing tapes of recorded eruptions (if any), dioramas of the volcano, and colorful pictures of the volcano and its surroundings, its eruptions' effect on the environment, etc. Binoculars can be installed. Maps, samples of ejecta from the volcano, narrations of what occurs in the earth’s interior to cause volcanism, etc. certainly have a place in such a museum.

For active volcanoes such as Pinatubo, Taal and Mayon among others, this will involve close coordination with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology for the update on newest evidences for the volcano’s seismic activity. This will avoid planning infrastructure over areas still physically "in-danger" or in harm’s way of a possible eruption. Planning should also include space for restrooms, restaurants, souvenir shops, (selling mainly pictures, postcards, accessories, camera, film, etc.) in addition to the museum display.

Indeed, coming to the museum should mean an occasion to appreciate the power of nature as displayed by volcanoes and also a place to rest for weary tourists. Other such tourist structures for lakes, caves, waterfalls, fossil collection sites can also be planned.