PARANAS, Samar – Ulot River is not just Samar’s longest, but it is also provides one of the most thrilling adventures this summer.
This town’s Ulot River offers an extreme downstream and upstream river boating adventure. It’s deep, green and cold water is truly refreshing.
Included in the “Tandaya Trail” tourism loop, promoted by the Samar provincial government and the Department of Tourism under their slogan “Spark Summer,” Paranas is one of the three towns in the province identified as tourism-ready.
This farming town is about half-an-hour travel away from Catbalogan City, the capital of Samar province and one-and-half hour drive away from Tacloban City.
The river is within the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), the remaining lowland forest in the country that covers high significance for global biodiversity, harboring within some 38 species of mammals (50 percent endemic), 215 species of birds (55 percent endemic), 51 species of reptiles (69 percent endemic), 26 species of amphibians (52 percent endemic) and more than 1,000 species of plants (53 percent endemic).
The first recorded sighting of Philippine Eagle in 1896 was also recorded in this town.
Ulot River, the longest river systems in Samar has its sources in upland San Jose de Buan town and drains in the coastal town of Taft in Eastern Samar.
In early times, this almost 100-kilometer Ulot River was the nautical highway of locals from Eastern Samar, transporting their goods to Samar. This river was also used by timber poachers in transporting their illegally cut logs within the SINP area.
The problem on timber poachers has prompted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with help of the Department of Tourism to come-up with an activity that will divert source of livelihood of people living within areas covered on SINP in Paranas town by using Ulot River.
This activity is called Torpedo boat ride which is an acronym of the association name – Tenani Boat Operators for River Protection and Environmental Development Organization (Torpedo). The boat used in the activity is also called torpedo.
Since this is a extreme water adventure activity, getting wet is inevitable as they would bump into rapids after rapids and swim upon reaching the final destination of the boat ride.
Torpedo Boat ride starts from Sitio Camp Uno in Barangay Tenani, Paranas and ends at Deni Point, 10.5 kilometers from the jump-off point.
Downstream travel using torpedo boat would take about an hour canoeing, using the torpedo boat powered by motor engine.
While on their way to Deni Point, tourist will be treated with beautiful scenery surrounding Ulot River that includes water cascades, thick forest, water rapids and various birds that can only be seen inside the SINP and some rock formations.
At Deni Point, visitor may do picnic and swim, but the best experience in Deni Point is conquering your fear by jumping down to the rapids.
First timers may jump at the boulders close to the rapid but for those who are adventure seekers may do it at the biggest boulders at Deni Point.
“It’s exciting,” said Gio Niccolo Tiopes, 6, who had jumped at Deni Point for four times in his recent trip at Torpedo Boat ride.
Those who will jump at Deni Point should take precautionary measure by ensuring to wear protective gear such as life protective vest and helmet to ensure safety as there is possibility that one may bump or hit its body against rocks while being carried by rapids.
Protective gears are provided by the people’s organization managing the torpedo boat ride.
The exciting part of visiting Ulot River is when going back to the jump-off point as boat will now go against water flow that creates big splash they call “salmon run” when boat bumps into rapids.
Going back to the jump-off point takes an hour and half, and more difficult as there are shallow parts of the Ulot River that requires for tourist to walk so boat could cross the rapids.
Since Extreme Torpedo Boat Ride started its operation in 2008, it help residents of Barangay Tenani of having alternative source of livelihood by offering tour guiding and transportation for tourist who wants to experience the extreme boat ride. It also gradually address problem on timber poachers.
For five years now Epifanio Obidos, has been offering tour guiding job for visitors of Ulot River. Before touring the river, Obidos job is to brief them on the safety tips and back ground of the river.
Obidos used to be a construction worker and welder in Metro Manila, but when he got married and tour guiding job was offered to residents of Tenani, he tried his luck and immediately enjoys his new found job.
“We don’t earn a lot, but being with my family is more important than having bigger income in other place,” said Obidos.
Torpedo boat operators that is compose of three people (boatman, spotter and guide) earns PHP1, 800 for a group of five people per boat. A share of PHP250 from the payment is given to him after the tour.
The fee is inclusive of the SINP entrance fee, boat rental, tour guiding fee, safety gears rental and community development fee.
Since its opening to public, this extreme tourist destination in Paranas town had attracted not only domestic, local and foreign tourist which makes the provincial government to decide in providing aide to local operators.
Just recently, before the launching of “Summer sa Samar” tourism campaign of Samar province, four additional torpedo boat were donated by Governor Sharee Ann Tan-de los Santos to the TORPEDO association.
Since transportation is also a problem from Brgy Tenani to Buray junction, for tourist who does not have vehicle of their own, Governor Tan also donated two multicabs that will ferry tourist from the junction of Brgy Buray to Brgy Tenani and back to Buray.
Officials of Samar Island Natural Park are also asking support from the provincial government through a resolution forwarded the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Samar asking telecommunication companies operating in Samar province to expand their cellular site coverage in Paranas area aid Irish Mate of SINP.
The recent typhoons had resulted for limited signal in the area that affected flow of communication.
As solution to this problem while waiting for response from telecommunication companies torpedo boat operators will be trained in using two-way handheld radio, which is necessary during emergency cases.
Donations of two multicabs from the provincial government was decided after a series of meeting with various tourism stakeholders of Samar province on the needs for improvement for Ulot River Torpedo Boat Ride.
A view deck at Sitio Camp Uno is also planned by the provincial government to construct added Mate.
With this assistance coming from the provincial government, Mate hopes to improve the services provided by the tour operators in Ulot so tourist will keep coming and experience a unique adventure not just this summer.