By Kaye Mangabat
Matnog, Sorsogon – This town is the officially the last town in the island of Luzon before you cross the sea leading to Samar in the Visayas.
A port town, Matnog might be the last place that you can think of when spending a weekend getaway but you might want to think again because this quaint town is where one can find a hidden sanctuary in the middle of the sea.
Accessible via a short boat ride from Matnog, Juag Lagoon offers visitors a close up view of the thriving marine life in a one-hectare sanctuary. The deepest part of the lagoon does not exceed 15 feet, thus, visitors can also swim among the fishes and other marine life.
“Juag” got its name from a vine that locals use to tie their nipa huts. The lagoon is a sanctuary in the middle of a tranquil sea surrounded by small, green “islands.”
But more than a tourist spot, it is also a sanctuary that needs to be protected, according to Matnog local Alex Genablazo, who is also the caretaker and “guardian” of Juag Lagoon.
Manong Alex shares that he has made his living by bringing tourists to the small island using a motor boat although he does not charge any “entrance” fee to the lagoon.
Visitors can hire Manong Alex’s motor boat to reach the small lagoon.
He charges about P1,500 for a group of five.
The lagoon has a few “platforms” that visitors can traverse. Visitors can either snorkel or swim to see the rich marine life, or simply feed the fish to get a closer view.
One will immediately notice the tranquility of the water because the lagoon is not readily affected by typhoons because of the surrounding small islands protecting it.
Aside from a variety of fish, Manong Alex says lobsters and a few marine turtles are also found in the crystal-clear water of the lagoon. A cluster of giant oysters can also be seen near one of the bamboo platforms. A few huge sea cucumbers are also found.
But Manong Alex says he does not intend to sell or commercialize the marine life in the lagoon. “Hindi ko binebenta yan, pinapalaki ko muna saka pinag-aaralan ko kung paano paramihin” (I’m not selling those, I’m learning how to cultivate them).
He says for him, it is more important that many visitors see and learn about the importance of conservation instead of looking at the lagoon as a source of business.
If you are on a trip to Sorsogon, a visit to Matnog and Juag Lagoon is highly recommended.
Filquest Media Concepts, Inc. , the parent company of loQal.ph, is a multimedia publisher and provider of web, print, mobile and video content. We do this for our own media properties, but we also extend that service as an outsourced provider for news organizations, web, print, mobile and broadcasting companies.