Itogon sets rules, safety nets for hikers, visitors

BAGUIO CITY — A popular destination for its hot springs and mountains, the town of Itogon in Benguet province is now ready for the influx of local and foreign tourists this Holy Week.

“We have agreed in a meeting with the (town’s) tourism committee that there should be lifeguards and signage to advise the public about safety guidelines,” Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview on Sunday evening.

Palangdan said the local government of Itogon would have a standby ambulance with trained responders to attend to emergency cases.

“They will be on standby to assure the safety of visitors who will go (swimming),” he said.

Itogon, which is less than an hour land trip from Baguio, is host to numerous hot sulfur spring water swimming pools, which are popular among locals and visitors alike.

Palangdan added that resort operators would also have their own responders to attend to emergency situations and to prevent drowning in their areas.

Comfort rooms were also provided for the use of the public, the mayor said.

Barangays in the town, he added, had prepared their respective environmental guidelines to prevent littering or throwing of garbage anywhere.

Barangay Ampucao, he said, had even put a certain limit on the number of people who will be accommodated in the hiking areas to prevent the destruction of its surroundings.

Palangdan cited among the favorite spots in Itogon are: the Mount Ulap and Mount Ugo, which are both popular with hikers; and the “Ave Maria” pilgrimage area put up by the town’s previous administration, adorned with crosses for the Roman Catholics’ “station of the cross” Lenten practice.

Mounts Ulap and Ugo are also favorite spots for foreigners doing the “skywalking”, an extreme sport that involves standing or walking on top of dangerously high places.