EXTREME. The boat ride experience at Ulot River in Paranas, Samar. Boatmen managing the site get new engines to sustain their tourism activity. (Photo courtesy of Spark Samar)

TACLOBAN CITY – It was an early Christmas gift for members of the Tour Guide, and Boat Operators for River Protection and Environmental Development Organization (Torpedo) after the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) turned-over on Tuesday 10 motorboat engines to the group.

Torpedo president Eugene Igdameo said the engines are very helpful in their recovery after the pandemic restrictions prevented the visit of tourists who want to experience the extreme boat ride in Ulot River in Paranas, Samar.

He recalled that their members had lost hope because there was zero income between 2020 up to early part of 2022.

“We are thankful to the TPB. We have been waiting this for so long. This will help us earn more as tourists start going back to visit our destinations,” Igdameo said.

TPB head for the domestic promotions department Cesar Villanueva recalled that it was during their visit in 2020 to Paranas town when they saw the situation of the local tourism organization.

Villanueva found out that of the 22 boats used in the river cruise, only four are owned by Torpedo members and the remaining are rented from local boat owners. The boatmen pay 60 percent of their income to the boat owner.

“There was a bit delay in the turnover because of the procurement process, but now the engine is here, I hope that you will use this properly,” Villanueva told the association members.

Witnessing the turnover were Paranas Mayor Eunice Babalcon, Department of Tourism Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes, and Samar Tourism Officer Marvin Pecson, representing Governor Sharee Ann Tan.

Prior to the donation of the engine, a private company Taft Hydro Energy Corporation turned over some boats to the organization in August last year, according to Tiopes.

Torpedo is just one of the people’s organizations in Samar province that manages eco-tourism sites in their respective locality.

The members used to be illegal loggers transporting logs along Ulot River.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the DOT organized the group in 2007 into an organization to run the extreme riverboat ride along Ulot River, the longest river in Samar Island.

In 2018, the group was awarded by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines – DOT Pearl Award for Best Tourism Practices as the best practice in community-based responsible tourism. (PNA)