Saturday, March 14, 2020

Taal Lake Rises from the Ashes thru Watersports

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Watersports like sailing holds hope for Batangueños affected by Taal Volcano’s recent phreatic eruption that started on January 12, 2020. Taal Lake Yacht Club (TLYC) and the Philippine Home Boatbuilders Yacht Club (PHBYC) are organizing the first major sailboat race or regatta on Taal Lake barely three months after the seismic event. The Oz Goose National Championships 2020 will happen in the town of Talisay, Batangas on 28-29 March 2020.

Taal Volcano’s phreatic eruption displaced many of Batangueños, families were moved to evacuation centres and residents of Pulo or Volcano Island had to be resettled as no one is allowed on the island for the foreseeable future. Many residents around Taal Lake rely on tourism for their livelihood, through boat trips to the volcano, volcano tours and horseback rides.

With the Volcano on semi-permanent lockdown, tourism income from volcano trips is no longer an option for these Batangueños, alternatives are needed to bring tourism back to Taal Lake. PHBYC and TLYC believe that this can be through Watersports. This is the reason why both clubs decided to hold the Oz Goose Nationals in Talisay, Batangas. PHBYC’s original plan for 2020 was to hold the regatta in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte where there is a new Oz Goose fleet managed by the Balangay Marina Sailing and Yacht Club. However, recent developments on Taal Lake made them decide to hold the event in Taal Lake again where it has been held for three years running.

According to Michael Storer of PHBYC and a resident of Batangas, “It is important to have activity on the lake to give the residents hope for their future and illustrate how sailing and other watersports can be a sustainable form of tourism income. The layer of volcanic ash that covered Talisay is almost all gone and the vegetation is starting to grow back, changing the color of the surroundings form grey to green.” Mr. Storer added.

The Batangas Tourism Office is equally enthusiastic with the first regatta to be held on the lake after the January 2020 eruption. Ms. Sylvia Marasigan, Provincial Tourism Officer of the province of Batangas said that: “Taal Volcano’s eruption has really stifled tourism income in this area; Taal Lake is the largest body of fresh water in the Philippines conducive to watersports, PHBYC and TLYC’s initiatives to hold this regatta is a great start to reviving sports tourism on Taal Lake.”

More than 20 sailors from all over the Philippines are expected to arrive in Batangas on the last weekend of March to compete in the2020 Oz Goose Nationals. Peter Capotosto of TLYC commented that: 90% of TLYC income is derived from Volcano tours and it is great that corporate sponsors like, Broadwater Marine, Pioneer Adhesives and Imperial Homes chipped in to make sure that this regatta will be a success, all we need to hope for is better weather” .

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