Hot water pools and steam bath in Itogon
A mere 19 kilometers from Baguio city is the town of Itogon. It is a place of mountains, deep valleys and steep slopes. People say that it was once a pristine wilderness where creeks and rivers with clean clear water meander through the canyons. The Agno River runs through it and provides water for Binga Dam and the San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam in Pangasinan. Upstream of Itogon is the Ambuklao Dam.
Photo by Cye Reyes/NORDIS
One of the tourist spots are the swimming pools in Poblacion with hot steams and bath. Lito Kimmayong is a member of the Barangay Tourism Council and recounts how a local resident named Avelino Tiangao one day saw kids wading in the small natural pools created by the spring. An idea started to gel in his mind. He decided to harness the water of the spring and build a big pool where the children can swim better and more freely. This was in 2005. Since then other people have built several other pools in varying shapes and sizes.
There are now eight swimming pool owners and they have banded together to form an association. They aim to provide safe and enjoyable experiences for the visitors. They also wish to come up with regulations and policies that will ensure that the water of the springs are not contaminated by mining or other highly pollutive activities.
“We monitor the water quality quarterly and we inspect the small scale mining activities that are going on up the slope. We monitor for the presence of e-coli and heavy metals. These pools are now a valuable resource and we need to protect them,” said Kimmayong.
While the warm and hot pools provide wondrous and relaxing moments, an equally fabulous experience when visiting Poblacion is to cross the long stretch of hanging bridge. It is quite a unique and challenging activity especially for people who come from the city. A bonus is to spend some time in the “nature spa,” a diversion tunnel from where steam and hot water come through. The guide warns people not to dip their feet into the boiling water. People flock to this place to detoxify themselves. It has the potential to be developed into a real and honest to goodness steam bath. Indeed there are some people huddled together inside, some even brought their own chairs.
Photo of Chen Reyes-Mencias