Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat and Governor Amado I. Espino III led the inauguration of the newly restored Pangasinan Casa Real on June 21 in Lingayen.
They were joined by National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Rene Escalante, DOT Regional Director Joseph Francisco Ortega, Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil, Second District Congressman Jumel I. Espino, at Fourth District Congressman Christopher “Toff” De Venecia.
Built in mid-19th century, the Casa Real was the first Provincial Capitol in Pangasinan. It was also the only Provincial Capitol in the Philippines built during the Spanish Period to be declared by the NHCP as a National Historical Landmark.
“Ito ay idineklara bilang isang Pambansang Palatandaang Pangkasaysayan noong 2002 dahil napanatili nito ang dati nitong kaanyuan bilang isang civil architecture noong panahon ng Kolonyal. Nararapat lamang na mabatid ng lahat ang Casa Real, bilang isang pamanang lahi, ay dapat alagaan at ituring bilang isang yaman ng bayan,” said NHCP Chairman Escalante.
Dr. Escalante added that historical infrastructures like Casa Real are witnesses to the rich history of the town of Lingayen.
“Ang mga gusaling natitira sa bayan ng Lingayen ay mga saksi sa mayayaman, masasaya at malulungkot na bahagi ng kasaysayan ng bayan. Ang mga gusaling ito ay buhay na patotoo ng pagbabago at pag-unlad,” said the chairman.
DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat hailed the beauty of Pangasinan and its tourist destinations.
“Ang ganda ng Pangasinan. Ang hinahanap ng lahat ngayon is open air, open space, beach, mountain, culture and heritage na lahat naman ay nandito sa Pangasinan,” said Sec. Romulo-Puyat.
The secretary also commended Governor Espino for the continuous support of the Provincial Government to uplift the tourism sector in the province.
“Thank you, Governor Pogi. Lagi kong sinasabi na tulungan lang sa re-start ng tourism. Maganda ang working relationship namin with Governor, your congressmen and with your LGUs,” said Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat.
It was also bared by Sec. Romulo-Puyat that the DOT was able to assist more than 30,000 tourism sector workers under the Bayanihan 2 program.
“Thanks to Bayanihan 2, marami na rin tayong nabigyan na tourism workers. Here in Pangasinan, we have been able to give 30, 478 individuals worth P187,390,000. Hindi lang workers ng hotel ang nakakuha. Binigyan din namin ang mga tricycle drivers, masahista, souvenir shop, lahat ay binigyan namin because tourism is everybody’s business,” said Sec. Romulo-Puyat.
Pangasinan Governor Espino expressed his gratitude towards the DOT and other partner agencies for their support in restoring the Pangasinan Casa Real which will become a Provincial Museum.
“Ang pasasalamat sa inyong lahat — individuals and agencies na naging parte para matupad itong pangarap noon pang panahon ng ating former governor at ng ating congressman noon at congressman ngayon to give back to the next generation na malaman nila ang mga bagay na importante sa atin especially the history of our beloved Pangasinan,” said the Governor.
The provincial chief executive also revealed the plans of the Provincial Government to relocate the Provincial Jail and renovate that building which is believed to be older than the Casa Real.
Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil stated that the opening of the Casa Real as a provincial museum will be a good opportunity for the tourism sector in Pangasinan.
“Napakaganda ng pagkakagawa ng Casa Real na ito na ngayon ay isa na namang maituturing na karagdagang atraksyong pang-turismo at pangkasaysayan na maaaring ihanay sa mga tanyag na museo sa buong bansa na kalaunan ay maaaring magbigay ng trabaho at kabuhayan sa maraming Pangasinense,” said Mayor Bataoil.
Meanwhile, Sec. Sec. Romulo-Puyat said that the DOT will cooperate with the Provincial Government to assist the tourism industry despite the pandemic.
“Lagi naming pinapaalala na hindi porke bukas ay pwede nang mag-party, mag-mass gathering. Dapat pa ring sundin ang mga minimum health and safety protocols,” said the Secretary.
DOT Regional Director Jeff Ortega also commended the tourism frontliners and the local government unit of Pangasinan and Lingayen for their continuous support to the undertakings of the DOT.
“Ang tourism ang pinakaapektadong industriya. However, despite of it being the most affected, ang sipag-sipag pa rin ng tourism industry frontliners. Maganda ang relasyon namin kay Gov. Espino, ang galing ng pamamalakad dito at kay Mayor Pol Bataoil na mataas ang respeto namin sa kanila dahil naging smooth ang integration at collaboration ng national government agency sa Provincial Government natin,” said DOT RD Ortega.
/Paula Jhea Sison