HOT AND COLD SPRINGS. Tourists take a dip at the hot and cold springs of the Mt. Balungao Hilltop Adventure in Balungao town in Pangasinan. Tourists may also enjoy the zipline and other activities at the resort. (Photo by Hilda Austria)

BALUNGAO, Pangasinan – The green surroundings, zigzag road, and cool environment greet tourists to the extinct volcano-turned resort here – the Mt. Balungao Hilltop Adventure.
The mountain-volcano resort showcases the sulfuric water of hot and cold springs that are believed to have healing and calming components, which draw tourists from Pangasinan and its nearby provinces.
Balungao Tourism Operations Office chief, Cromwell Oliver Hernandez, said they have already recorded 47,000 tourist arrivals from January to June this year, already exceeding pre-pandemic level.
The tourism industry here has already recorded some PHP4.4 million in income in the first half of 2022.
Hernandez said most of the tourists were from the provinces of Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija.
“The local government unit (LGU) used to allocate funds for the resort but now, the income of the resort contributes to the basic services provided by the LGU through its different departments,” he said.
Hernandez added that aside from the 45-degree Celsius sulfuric water hot spring as well as the cold spring that is believed to heal wounds, smoothen skin, and even aid in fertility, the resort also has new amenities that cater to tourists, such as the hotel and function hall.
He said the Department of Energy is also inspecting the place for the second phase of its study, and has found volcanic rocks around the area.
Hernandez said they also plan to add water sports activities in the nearby water impounding area, such as kayaking and water biking.
“We were supposed to launch the water sports activities but the pandemic happened so the budget was realigned but hopefully, the LGU could fund it this year,” he added.
The small water impounding area, intended to irrigate the farmlands in the town, is also expected to be an added tourist attraction as it draws bikers and joggers because of its Instagrammable view.
Hernandez said the LGU is also eyeing a convergence project for a coffee plantation in the area, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“This will bring income to the farmers or people’s organizations who will later act as caretakers of the coffee farms,” he said.
Irish Origines, a tourist from Umingan town in Pangasinan, commended the beauty of the laid back place that is close to nature but also has cool activities that she and her family enjoyed. (PNA)