Limitless socio-economic opportunities enjoyed by Pangasinenses have mushroomed, owing to the sustainable development programs on natural and cultural resources of Pangasinan being pushed by the Espino administration.
This became evident according to Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (PTCAO) Chief Malu Elduayan, who bared during the “Pangasinan in Action” Talakayan sa Kapitolyo held on August 13 at the Urduja House Ceremonial Hall the indicators of tourism growth and cultural development in the province which stirred positive impacts in the local economy.
Elduayan emphasized that the administration of Governor Amado I. Espino III sees responsible tourism or sustainable management of natural and cultural resources of the province as the key to a booming sustainable tourism development, which spurs economic opportunities for the locals.
“We are looking forward to the completion of the Provincial Tourism Development Framework Plan (PTDFP) this year. This will serve as the backbone of the province’s tourism and cultural development thrust,” said Elduayan.
Noting that many city and municipal Local Government Units in Pangasinan have embraced the significance of developing tourism and culture, Elduayan said these LGUs have also started developing their respective local tourism master plans to complement the PTDFP.
With Elduayan was Center for Pangasinan Studies (CPS) Executive Director Perla Legazpi who said the CPS, contributes to the growth and development of the province, by pursuing its cultural mapping activities.
The CPS is currently undertaking its cultural mapping initiative in its pilot areas: Calasiao, Lingayen, and Bayambang.
According to Dr. Legaspi, CPS is conducting trainings for LGUs to fast-track and broaden cultural mapping operations all over Pangasinan.
“We are doing this (cultural mapping) to increase the level of awareness of the people on the significance of the assets (cultural values, treasures, etc) of the locality. Knowing these assests will stir up economic activities in the area,” Legazpi said.
“In order for us to become more progressive, we should have more knowledge about our culture… about our community,” she said. The cultural mapping is spearheaded by the CPS in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Province of Pangasinan and the LGU of the locality subject for the cultural mapping process.
A consortium of five higher education institutions in Pangasinan assisted and supported by the University of the Philippines and the Provincial Government of Pangasinan, the CPS was launched in July 2015 under the administration of former Governor Amado T. Espino Jr.
In underscoring the growth of tourism in Pangasinan, Elduayan said the province has registered the highest tourist arrivals in Region 1 for the year 2018 at 9.17 million. This data forwarded to the Department of Tourism was based on the records of tourism establishments of the province.
According to the Department of Tourism in Region 1, Pangasinan cornered 60 percent or 9,254,372 day tourist arrivals in Region 1 from January to December last year.
This was followed by Ilocos Norte posting 19 percent or 3,086,007 arrivals, while Ilocos Sur registered 11 percent or 1,743,849 and La Union generating 10 percent day visitors with 1,559,059.
Based on hotel accommodations for January to December in 2018, DOT-R1 bared that Pangasinan still posted the most number of tourist arrivals with 725,356 or 30 percent, while Ilocos Norte and La Union had registered almost the same number of tourist arrivals at 28 percent with the former receiving 659,242 tourists and the latter with 657,267. Ilocos Sur lagged behind with 336,002 or 14 percent tourist arrivals.
The Minor Basilica of the Our Lady of Manaoag visited by devouts and pilgrims remains as the top tourism lure of the province.
Culture and heritage preservation is heavily pushed by the Espino administration, made evident by the following milestones : institutionalization of April 5, 1580 as the official founding date of the province, adoption of Luyag Ko, Tan Yaman as the official hymn of the province, the annual conduct of the Kurit Panlunggaring (a literary contest in Pangasinan language), the completion of Pinablin Dalin (a book on Pangasinan History and Development), and the completion of Pangasinan Orthography, which are now used as material in educational institutions of the province. /Mark Gerry Naval Oblanca