Lawmaker, guv lead exploration of new route to Mt. Pinatubo

April 4, 2011

PORAC — Two top government officials led 56 individuals who explored the new 22-kilometer route that gives Pampanga an access to the famous Mt. Pinatubo crater.

Second district Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Governor Lilia Pineda led the opening of a new route to Miyamit Falls, Mt. Pinatubo, and the Porac Highlands.

Pinatubo Memorial Executive Committee (PMEC) chairperson Levy Laus, Mayor Condralito Dela Cruz, Vice Mayor Dexter David, Board members Fritzie David-Dizon and Nestor Tolentino, and members of the Pampanga Off-Roaders Club Inc. (Porci) led by businessman Rene Remero joined the expedition.

overnor Pineda said the route, which has been developed by the Municipal Government of Porac, will become an alternative route for eco-tourism enthusiasts and hikers who would like to see the Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake.

The new route is a 22-kilometer dirt road that spans across barangays Sapang Uwak, Villa Maria and Inararo. The road crosses between ridges and even on top of steep mountain ranges in what could be an ambitious engineering accomplishment. It ends along a camping site on top of a hill that provides a view of Zambales and Tarlac. Mt. Pinatubo would only be a two-hour hike from the drop-off point.

Currently, people wanting to see the crater would take the Capas, Tarlac route via Barangay Patling.

Laus said the new route cuts travel time in half, providing other worthwhile attractions.

The formal opening of the new route will coincide with the June 15 commemoration of the destructive Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991, he added.

Vice Mayor David said they have spent months in clearing the road with the help of Aeta guides. He said the road will be made available to tourists once security preparations are in place.

Meanwhile, Dela Cruz is urging the Provincial Government to help in the construction of box culverts along road curves that are frequented by rain water during the rainy season, to minimize possible damage on the road structure.

Adventure Tourism

Romero, an off-road enthusiast, said the new access road still offers a challenge to four-wheel drive racers.

Romero’s group Porci has been the first group to have fully explored the potentials of the Porac Highlands.

Romero said off-road races will now have unlimited access to the other racing areas along Mt. Pinatubo. He added that tourists may also opt to take four-wheel rides to the drop-off point.

Hikers and professional rock climbers, he said, can also find the challenges of climbing Mt. Negron, a mountain within spitting distance of Mt. Pinatubo, as a worthwhile challenge.

“Currently, we are finalizing preparations to ensure the security of the area. There is a plan to set up a local police and army presence there and set up a monitoring system to check the people coming in and out of the tourism zone for safety purposes,” Romero said.

He also said Representative Arroyo plans to set up a community museum and other necessary facilities to facilitate the influx of tourists. The tourist guides, he said, will be Aetas that live within the villages with the tourism area.

Aetas happy

Inararo barangay captain Mary Bulatao said her kinsfolk are happy with the renewed interest of the Provincial Government of Pampanga and the private sector in pushing for livelihood programs for residents here through eco-tourism.

She said the programs will bring in commercial activity in the town and spur economic development.

She also urged the government to further strengthen ancestral domain laws to protect their tribes from lowland people who might take advantage of the tourism development.

Meanwhile, Porac Councilor Mike Tapang said the ongoing creation of the Porac Land Use Plan will usher in long-term development needs for the area.

He said with the plan in place, local officials and the business sector here will be able to effectively address the needs for infrastructure development in the end and address other support services needed by tourists and the local communities.

Under an effective land use plan, Aetas will also be able to effectively manage their ancestral domains in line with the development objectives of the National Government, said Tapang.



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