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Department of Tourism
Region III


The recent spate of untoward incidents that has occurred in and around the crater of Mt. Pinatubo demonstrates a dire need for the Department of Tourism – Region 3 Office to issue its own travel advisory relating to the safety and security of foreign and local tourists aiming to venture into a lahar-laden landscape.

This advisory hereby serves as a WARNING to all tourists who intend to mount an uphill climb to crater of Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales via the jump-off point in Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac that the serene yet crystal blue lake thereat is meant to be a glorious and majestic vista to behold only to be charmed by its natural beauty; never to be treated like a resort playground for swimming, kayaking or aqua cycling. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has determined that the Pinatubo crater lake water which contains hazardous substances such as arsenic (As), aluminum (Al), boron (BO), chloride (Cl), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), sulphate (SO4) and total solids (TDS) may affect the human health in various ways and may become fatal over an extended period of time. Tourists are forewarned never to stay close to the lakeshore as this poses a potential threat to one’s life due mainly to frequent occurrences of rock falls and landslides, especially during heavy downpour.

Further, any development in the area should be low impact, provide economic benefits, promote environmental protection, provide education to tourists, and encourage the full participation of the local communities as subscribed by Phivolcs in its most recent travel advisory.

After a physically stressful 2-hour trek, tourists are advised, instead, to lie down and rest awhile; if possible, say a little prayer before the deity of our indigenous brothers in the uplands called Apu Malyari.

For the guidance of all concerned.

Issued this 4th day of January 2013, Angeles City, Philippines.



By Tonette Orejas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 5, 2013

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Mt. Pinatubo is best for trekking, not for swimming. And don’t go there during heavy rain.

Mayor Antonio Rodriguez of Capas, Tarlac, aired this advice on Friday after a 44-year-old man drowned at the volcano’s crater-lake on Jan. 2.

Roselito Julao ventured into Mt. Pinatubo via Barangay Sta. Juliana in Capas, the most popular route to the volcano straddling the boundaries of Tarlac, Pampanga and Zambales.

A local guide, Orlando Herrera, told police investigators that Julao and his companions reached Barangay Sta. Juliana, the takeoff point of the trek at 6:30 a.m.

“Upon reaching the area, the victim suddenly swam in its crater [lake] despite the presence of a warning sign prohibiting swimming,” a report to Senior Supt. Alfred Corpus, Tarlac provincial director, showed.

Herrera said he had advised Julao not to swim but the latter ignored his warning.

Rodriguez said Julao “might have died from a heart attack because when the guides and his companions fished him out of the water, blood oozed from his nose and mouth.”

Corpus said Julao’s wife did not have the victim’s body autopsied. She informed the police that he took regular medication for a heart problem.

Julao’s kin in Mabalacat, Pampanga, believed he drowned, a friend of the family told the Inquirer.

Rodriguez said Julao was the first drowning victim at the crater-lake. The lake formed when rainwater pooled at the volcano’s summit that sank after the eruptions from 1991 to 1993.

The crater was 2.7-km wide—and its lake water 87-meter deep and 3 meters away from the rim—in August 2001 when the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) drained it by digging a canal on the Maraunot notch to avoid lahar avalanches on Botolan, Zambales.

Between 1995, when treks to the volcano began, and 2012, three foreigners and four Filipino hikers had drowned at O’Donnel River in Capas and Pasig-Potrero River in Pampanga that both drained from the volcano’s watersheds.

In the recent incident, Rodriguez said, “there were enough public safety measures but these were ignored.”

He said the swimming ban is announced through a billboard set up at the hill before the descent to the crater-lake. Guides among Aetas and farmers are also trained to enforce the ban.

Tourists are required to report their medical condition in a visitor’s form that they fill up when they register at the tourism satellite office in Sta. Juliana.

“Pinatubo trekking is not for everybody, only for those who are physically fit,” said Marissa Vidal, municipal tourism head.

The Department of Tourism has issued advisories warning against trekking during rainy days for risks of landslides and strong water currents at O’Donnel River.

And Phivolcs also warned against drinking the lake’s water because it is laden with sulfur.



By Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 5, 2013 - 12:00am

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines – The death of a swimmer in Mt. Pinatubo’s crater lake last Wednesday has prompted the Department of Tourism (DOT) here to issue yesterday a warning that the lake has been found to contain “hazardous substances.”

According to the DOT regional office, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has found the Pinatubo crater lake to contain such hazardous substances such as arsenic, aluminum, boron, chloride, iron, manganese, sulphate and total solids that “may affect human health in various ways and may become fatal over an extended period of time.”

The Pinatubo’s summit, which has become a major attraction to tourists because of its deep crater lake, should “never to be treated like a resort playground for swimming, kayaking or aqua cycling,” it said.

“Tourists are forewarned never to stay close to the lakeshore as this poses a potential threat to one’s life due mainly to frequent occurrences of rock falls and landslides, especially during heavy downpour,” it added.

The advisory came in the wake of the drowning last Wednesday of 44-year-old overseas Filipino worker Roselito Julao, of Mabalacat, Pampanga, who died after diving into a deep section of the crater lake. He was rescued but did not survive.

Police said there were no signs that Julao was drunk or drowned, as he was rescued seconds after he failed to surface after diving.

Julao was the first to die in the crater lake which was formed after the Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Several tourists though died on the slopes of the volcano during rainy weather while attempting to trek to the summit.


Observers warn of bigger accident in Mt. Pinatubo

By ASHLEY MANABAT, Punto Central Luzon

ANGELES CITY— A bigger accident is waiting to happen on the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo, warned observers, after a man drowned in the active volcano’s emerald waters on Jan.2.

Observers said the “tourists’ viewing deck” constructed on the edge of the crater-lake which was made of loose volcanic materials and concrete topped with a metal railing could give way anytime sending it crashing into the crater-lake of the active volcano. The viewing deck could accommodate as many as a hundred tourists but unknown to them, the constant scouring of its foundation every time it rains weakens it and makes it in danger of collapsing or falling into the crater-lake, they said.

On Jan. 2, an OFW who went home to Mabalacat City for the holidays drowned in the crater-lake of Mt.Pinatubo after diving into its pristine waters. He was identified as Roselito Julao, 44, a civil engineer from Barangay San Joaquin in the said city who worked as a surveyor in Saudi Arabia. He left a wife and three children.

The warning came as tourists continue to be drawn by Mt. Pinatubo’s majestic beauty which was complemented by a variety of aqua sports activities on the crater-lake being offered by a Korean firm in conjunction with the municipality of Capas, Tarlac where a trek to the volcano begins in Barangay Sta. Juliana of the said municipality.

The accident prompted the Department of Tourism (DOT) Region III to issue a travel advisory on tourists wanting to visit Mt. Pinatubo volcano. Director Ronnie Tiotuico issued the travel advisory warning “all foreign and local tourists intending to venture into the medium heights of Mt. Pinatubo to exercise due vigilance and watchfulness in case of a heavy downpour. “

The DOT warned of “the frequent occurrences of rock falls and landslide on the crater wall.” The DOT added that “such active occurrences are evidenced by the existence of significant fresh talus deposits along the crater lake shoreline. Many other portions of the crater’s inner wall are in danger of collapsing, as indicated by huge cracks and steep slopes.” The DOT explained that “collapse may be triggered once a heavy rain occurs within the area. In addition, fumarolic or thermal activities on the eastern crater lake shoreline are risky and may cause scalding or burns upon contact. Moderate to strong wind will also affect the mobility of water crafts (kayaks, boats) near the breached two-meter wide maraunot outlet.”

The observers said, tourists are tempted to venture into the pristine emerald waters of the crater-lake because of several cabanas on the beach. Some of the cabanas offer aqua cycles, boats and kayaks for rent. The other cabanas can be rented as private cabins inviting tourists for a swim. The DOT said tourists should also be warned on the toxic chemicals in the crater lake which experts confirmed is composed of heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, lead, chromium, and arsenic. The DOT maintains that tourists should not swim in the lake.

Experts said no other lake has such a turquoise blue color because the color is the result of the chemical reaction of the water’s volcanic minerals with the lake’s blue-green algae.

Tiotuico expressed concern over the safety and security of tourists “who pay homage to the Aeta – revered volcano in view of the announcement of Pagasa that a string of typhoons is bound to hit the country within the next few months. Tourists are advised to seek travel advisory on weather condition permeating in area close to the mountain from the local government units of pagasa.” He added that “the rule of thumb is that whenever there is a typhoon brewing, it is best to keep out of harm’s way by postponing one’s trip to a later date, preferably from October to May, or if not possible, wait for the sun to shine for a week or so when the water current along the O’Donnell river in Capas, Tarlac becomes stable.” The same is true for other mountain trails en route to the crater such as the so-called Porac peak in Pampanga and that in Sapangbato, Angeles City, Tiotuico said.

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Department of Tourism - Region III (Central Luzon)
Paskuhan Village, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines
Phone: (63 45) 961-2612 / 5617 / 625-8525
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]
Recipient (Best Ecotourism Project - Mt. Pinatubo): PATA Gold Intl Award 2001, Kalakbay Natl Award 2001, ASEANTA Intl Award 2002
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