(The Philippine Star)
“Tourism is where the money is.”
Thus said North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza as she led officials and guests in the recent groundbreaking ceremonies for a 1.2-kilometer zipline in Barangay New Israel in Makilala town, right at the foot of Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak.
The zipline, touted to be the longest ever in Southeast Asia, will cost at least P5.8 million.
The Makilala zipline traverses two villages — New Israel and neighboring Barangay Buhay – and will have a height of 360 to 920 meters above sea level.
Barangay New Israel is also considered one of the points of interest in North Cotabato, as it is home of the Moncado group.
The Moncadistas are known for their strict adherence to rules and disciplinary precepts, including a smoking ban.
And as an added feature, Barangay New Israel is also where friendly monkeys and even deer roam around communities.
“What is good about New Israel is it still has thick forest cover which could inspire those who would experience the zipline with such a view of the green forests,” Mendoza said, adding that the sight of the Mt. Apo peak is another come-on for those who are into the zipline adventure.
The new tourism facility will also offer horseback riding and feature other attractions and amenities, including fruit and vegetable stores and a pasalubong center to cater to the needs of the visitors.
Makilala is also known as the “fruit basket” of the region where tropical fruits like pomelo, durian, marang, rambutan, and mangosteen, among others, abound.
“The provincial government is excited about the new zipline in Makilala as this will provide income to the residents. This also shows that North Cotabato is ready for tourism,” Mendoza said.
The governor added that the construction of tourism facilities is also a peace indicator, showing that the province is ready to welcome tourists and other visitors.
“It shows that North Cotabato has such a strong potential for tourism and all it needs is for people to discover the place,” she said.
Video Courtesy of PTV Philippines