LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Restraining tourists in entering Mount Santo Tomas in Tuba is just like killing the hen (goose) that lays the golden egg.
Thus stated Board Member Juan Nazarro Jr in his resolution asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to allow again tourists to visit Mount Santo Tomas, which was made famous as the fictitious community called “La Presa” in the telenovela “Forevermore”.
The area was closed last year to tourism activities due to the enforcement of a Permanent Environment Protection Order issued by the Court of Appeals. The PEPO was issued due to the case against former Baguio congressman who developed an area within the forest reservation, according to Nazarro.
The closure had a domino effect and brought about decrease in income among residents in the area, and the town as a whole.
While the “La Presa” fever still remains, this should be taken advantage of, said Nazarro. He claimed the Notice of Judgment issued by the Court of Appeals does not include banning tourists to enter Mount Santo Tomas.
Other attractions and adventures in the area include trekking, visiting the life size Stations of the Cross, panoramic view of Baguio City, parts of the province including outlying areas like the Lingayen Gulf and a breathtaking view of stunning clouds below tossing the mountains.
Tourism in the area should continue because it is beneficial not only to the province but to other people as it offers livelihood opportunities such as hiring of tourist guides, he added.
With the influx of tourists, one of the issues raised was the uncontrolled installation of market stalls within the vicinity of the “La Presa” area which Nazarro suggested could be located before the entrance. He urged the fast tracking of the crafting of the management plan of the forest reserve which integrates tourism aspect./JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet