CEBU’S western town of Tuburan is so big that one can walk in its mountains and chance upon people fewer than 10.
I say walk because that is what we did on a rainy afternoon of Sept. 1, 2021—four local journalists who missed the pickup truck that would have taken us to Tuburan Cafe in the town center. We missed our ride because the foggy mountains held us hostage with their beauty.
Tuburan is mountainous, which is why it was a hotbed of rebels in the 1980s till the early 2000s. That reputation no longer precedes the town.
Tuburan is now known for its coffee, and in four years, it will be known too for its black bamboo.
On that rainy afternoon of Sept. 1 wearing black wading boots, we witnessed the beginning of the Bamboo Tunnel in Barangay Kabankalan.
Led by Tuburan Vice Mayor Democrito Diamante and Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Shalimar Tamano, representatives of different government agencies who had attended the convergence meeting on Tuburan’s coffee business three hours prior, planted the initial rows of bamboo seedlings.
In five years, the black bamboo seedlings would have grown and formed canopies, that’s what we’d been told by Fr. Victor Labao, Diamante’s black bamboo adviser.
Those canopies will create what will be known as the Bamboo Tunnel whose length could be as far as five kilometers or five hectares. Fr. Labao said when the Bamboo Tunnel is completed, another 20 hectares will be developed into a bamboo forest.
“It will be a sight to behold,” Fr. Labao says. It will open Tuburan to scenic tourism.
The soon-to-be Bamboo Tunnel lies on land that Diamante owns. Nearby is the coffee plantation that is likewise on Diamante land.
The vice mayor says the Bamboo Tunnel will go all the way to the Bamboo Village that will be facing the mountains that afford a 360-degree view.
Black bamboo have ebony-colored stalks or culms, and thespruce.com says they are “known as the diet choice for panda bears.” Hello, Po! Black bamboo have green culms when they first appear and transition to black during the second or third year of growth.
I am not certain what variety of black bamboo is planted in Barangay Kabankalan, but thespruce.com says black bamboo can grow to as high as 30 feet and the culm can thicken to two inches.
They can grow fast and create dense walls or natural privacy fences and noise barriers.
Eavesdroppers would have to wear hearing aids at the Bamboo Tunnel of Tuburan.
Bamboo catch rainfall, making them a natural water catchment. More bamboo means more water resources can be preserved.
Diamante is developing more than 20 hectares of his land into a multi-variety bamboo forest.
With bamboo in abundance, Tuburan can produce bamboo furniture. Diamante is optimistic that bamboo furniture making can replicate the success of Tuburan Coffee.
Diamante envisions a Tuburan that has sustainable livelihood and that will be known as “a training capital of public safety.” He says he has donated two hectares to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and two hectares to the Bureau of Fire Protection for them to build training centers.
He is working on donating four hectares to Don Bosco Technical College for its training center as well.
“I am creating an impact for the future. I was born here in Kabankalan. (After years of being away from Tuburan) I came back to help my town,” Diamante says.
“I am donating land that will be of use to the future (generation). I want the people of Tuburan to stay and find gainful employment here. I hope to see people come to Tuburan,” he says.
The 2020 census put Tuburan’s population at 68,167 spread across 14,974 households in 54 barangays.
Big mountainous town, few inhabitants. This was why we enjoyed walking in its mountains in our wading boots under a drizzle—we had a part of Tuburan to ourselves; we may never get that chance again.