By: Phyllicia Anne M. Baguyo, DOST PSTC-Palawan
Athena Colline L. Verdey, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office
Dr. Ma Josefina P. Abilay, DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Office
A bike with a frame made out of bamboo is now the newest attraction at Ugong Rock in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Called the Bamboo Zip Bike, the adventure is a fun combination of bike and zipline that will surely give the tourists, both local and foreign, the thrill and the possibility to enjoy nature.
The Bamboo Zip Bike Adventure allows thrill- seeking visitors to explore the breathtaking scenery in Ugong Rock using a bike made out of the bamboo plant on a 250- meter long high-wire suspended at about 90 feet from the ground. Along with two more traditional ziplines, the bamboo zip bike adventure is now one of the most popular activities in the city. It is usually included in tour packages offered by various travel agencies and has made headlines as the first tourist spot offering an environmental-friendly cycling adventure.
Ugong Rock, found in Brgy. Tagabinet, Puerto Princesa City is one of the go-to places of tourists and is known for its spelunking and zipline adventures. It has taken its name from the reverberating sounds or “ugong” produced by stalactites found within the caves of the limestone formation that stands 75-feet high. Ugong Rock prides itself as an ecotourism spot and a front runner in sustainable tourism in the province.
The place is run by the Ugong Rock Multipurpose Cooperative (Ugong Rock MPC), an organized group of indigenous people (IPs) in Palawan along with the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation. Ugong Rock MPC is formed through the Community-based
Sustainable Tourism Program of the Puerto Princesa City Tourism Office. Currently, they have 45 members, all working for the improvement and sustainability of the eco-tourism site.
The bamboo zip bike adventure was introduced to the public in October 2016. It was inspired by the first-ever zip bike launched in Bohol, Philippines but comes with a twist. Ugong Rock MPC provided a new kind of adventure and experience to its clientele while staying true to their commitment of being an environment steward by using a bike made out of an abundant local raw material, the bamboo plant, in its newest attraction.
Through the Department of Science and Technology’s flagship program Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), the Ugong Rock MPC was able to start the pioneering project delivering sustainable livelihoods and opportunities to the people in their community. They were able to acquire zip bike facilities such as bike lanes, cable wires, harness, and handmade bamboo bikes. With the assistance from KawayanTech in San Jose, Tarlac, bamboo bike frames with two support cords, for safety, were hand made for the bamboo zip bike adventure setup. KawayanTech is a company whose vision is to “promote a lifestyle of health and sustainability using bamboo as an alternative and appropriate community-based technology with practical applications”
“Nakatulong po ng malaki ang tulong ng DOST lalo na ang programang SETUP na nagbigay sa amin ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng pinapangarap naming bamboo zip bike. Dahil dito nadagdagan ang kabuhayan namin at nagkatrabaho ang aming mga kasamahan. Nadagdagan ang kita ng community. Yung mga taga-community ito na ang trabaho nila araw-araw. Kung ma-destino sila sa bamboo zip bike sa buong maghapon para mag-assist ng guest parte ng kita nila doon yun na ang sweldo nila. Maliban sa pag-assist ng guest, may photo din kasi na kasama ang package ng bamboo zip bike. So kung mayroong mag zip bike kukuhaan din ng staff ng photo ang nag zi-zip bike at dagdag iyon sa kita nya” said Mr. Romel Ortega, President of Ugong MPC.
The SETUP assistance has allowed them expand their tourism activities from famous spelunking and zip line adventures and now to include a unique bamboo bicycle experience. An estimate of 100 to 200 tourists come to Ugong Rock daily which means more and more customers are enjoying the activities they offer. To accommodate to more guests, Ugong Rock is planning to add more bamboo bikes soon.
“Ang plano po talaga sa bamboo zip bike na ito, dadagdagan po talaga ito. Sa ngayon dalawa pa lang ang unit dito. Nasa plano po na dagdagan pa ito ng dalawa pang unit para maging apat” Mr. Ortega said.
In addition to providing the tourists an unforgettable experience, Ugong Rock focuses on developing activities that raise environmental awareness and promotes sustainable management of natural resources.
You can ride the bamboo zip bike for only Php 500.00. This includes a souvenir photo of you on the bike to remind you of the experience. Ugong Rock’s Bamboo Zip bike supports sustainable tourism in Palawan and is the beginning of growing a green economy for the province. Every visit will not only satisfy your adventure gene but will also be able to help the local community.
“Ang kita ng zip bike pumapasok sa reserve fund namin na ipon po namin para maka-bili ng bagong units ng bamboo zip bike. Ang kita naman namin para sa spelunking at zip line pumapasok sa general fund namin na pinagkukunan namin ng pangbayad sa repayment sa SETUP, maintenance, gastos sa operations, salary at benefits ng mga empleyado, at rentals namin”.
For more information about the Bamboo Zip bike and Ugong Rock, you may contact DOST Provincial Science and Technology Center- Palawan (DOST PSTC- Palawan) at (048) 433-0489 or through their email add firstname.lastname@example.org.