“Real eco-tourism, like the Bohol model in Loboc River, can actually be good for Laguna Lake,” says Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, professor of the School of Environmental Science and Management and 2016 Outstanding Researcher of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

She emphasized the “real” eco-tourism as one which preserves the naturalness of the landscape or the seascape. It is not about construction of dikes or buildings.

“The idea of developing Laguna Lake, with eco-tourism as a platform, could actually help bring in more jobs because old boats can engaged in tours, people can produce food and handicrafts,”she says.

Currently, there are studies undertaken by the UPLB that shows that water quality in the lake, in terms of biological, physical and chemical parameters is bad. But Espaldon is hopeful that there are many ways to improve the water quality.

“All that’s needed is a concerted action and strong leadership in terms of improving the water quality of the lake,” she says.

There should be an integrated management of the Laguna de Bay, wherein all sectors should be engaged and responsible. Some studies that are already published show the presence of pollutants, such as pesticides residue in the tributaries of the lake and these can eventually find its way into the lake. Once the people become responsible and accountable, pollution can be reduced.

The good aspect of the lake, however, is the water quality. It is fresh water, so if it is of good quality it can really be a good source for the domestic and agricultural needs.

“Mas magandan gagawin syang water supply. Kasi kung alam ng taong doon galing iinumin nila, hindi na si latatae dun. Ang water supply talagang ipo-process bago ilabas. Pagginamit yang water supply, meron yang value formation na driven by economics, kasi alam mong may value ang tubig na ‘yan, bakit mo pababayaan? (It is better to make it a source of water supply because if people know that it is the source water that they drink, they will not defacate in it. Water supply normally undergoes treatment process before it comes out. When the lake is used as water supply source, there will be a value formation that’s economically driven. People know that it’s valuable to them so why would they neglect it?)” Espaldon explains.

She suggests that the local governmentsshould be more empowered in managing their rivers to help improve the water that goes to the lake.

These are just some of the issues confronting the Laguna lake which the Department of Science and Technology - National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) aims to address in its upcoming Science and Policy Forum for Sustainable Laguna Lake Management on November 22 to 23 2016 in Summit Ridge Hotel, Tagaytay City. The forum,which will be a gathering of fishers, farmers, environmental experts in the academic, administrative and legislative sectors is NRCP’s activity for the five-day celebration of the 2016 National Biotechnology Week (NBW).

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