BONTOC, Mountain Province – Rep. Maximo Dalog, Jr. recently filed a bill in the House of Representatives seeking the declaration of the Municipality of Barlig as a tourism development area (TDA) and appropriating the needed funds for the said purpose.
The neophyte lawmaker claimed it is a policy of the State to promote a tourism industry that is ecologically sustainable, responsible, participative, culturally sensitive, economically viable, and equitable local communities and towards this end, the State shall support the establishment of Tourism Enterprise Zones (TEZ) and ensure the full implementation of this Act and the mobilization of resources for the institutional mechanisms herein established to attract and focus investment on specific geographic areas within the tourism development area.
Under the proposal, the different natural and historical areas in Barlig which are endowed with natural beauty, pristine waters and mountain resources, and rich historical significance shall be included in the tourism development area, thus, developed as tourist destinations, including the Mount Amuyao and the mountain range of Kadaclan; the rice terraces in barangays Gawana, Fiangtin, Macalana and Latang; the Kadaclan rice terraces in barangays Lunas, Chupac, Kaleo and Ogo-og; the Lias rice terraces and Challos falls in barangays Lias Silangan and Lias Kanluran; the Topnew and Lingoy hot springs and Lake Tufob in Barangay Lingoy; the Mornang hot spring, the Mornang and Allob falls, the Siblaw Taraw lake and the Wonderful Rock in Barangay Latang; the Lettang burial caves and the Lettang, Moyopoyop and Patyayan falls in Barangay Lunas; the beautiful Or-or falls in Barangay Kaleo; the Amfitayok falls in the Barangay of Ogo-og; the Tokchag falls in Barangay Gawana; the Lusong Fukian Kan Wikian rock formation in Barangay Fiangtin; and the Pangngor Chin stone and Tomallan waterfalls in Barangay Macalana.
Dalog recommended that the development of the Barlig TDA shall be prioritized by the Department of Tourism (DOT), subject to the rules and regulations governing the development of tourism development areas.
Further, the Tourism Development Plan of the Municipality of Barlig shall be incorporated in the DOT’s overall National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) pursuant to Republic Act No. 9593, otherwise known as the “National Tourism Act of 2009” and shall be jointly implemented with the local government and the Provincial Tourism Council of Mountain Province taking into consideration Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the “National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992” and its implementing rules and regulations.
The bill stipulated that the DOT, in coordination with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and other concerned agencies of the government, shall delineate well defined geographic areas within the Barlig TDA and coordinate the integrated development of these areas for the optimum use of natural assets and attractions, as well as existing facilities.
According to the proposed bill, there is hereby established a trust fund under this Act to be known as the Barlig Tourism Development Trust Fund for purposes of financing projects which shall enhance tourism in the municipality. The Trust Fund shall be administered by a Trust Fund Administrator under the Municipal Tourism Council of Barlig. the Trust Fund shall be derived from fees collected from visitors/tourists, other resources from the province, proceeds from the registration and lease of multiple-use areas, including tourism concessions, fees, proceeds and contributions from industries and facilities directly benefiting the municipality and that the Trust Fund may be augmented by grants and donations, endowment from various sources, domestic or foreign entities and individuals, for purposes related to their functions; Provided, That disbursements therefrom shall be in accordance with existing accounting and auditing rules and regulations: Provided, further, That the Trust Fund shall not be used to cover personal services and expenditures.
Dalog claimed that the Philippines boasts of its beautiful and various tourism destinations ranging from heavenly beaches to majestic mountains, waterfalls, lakes, caves and man-made attractions like the different rice terraces in the Northern part of the country. These tourist destinations have in fact attracted around 2,204,564 visitors for the first quarter of this year alone.
However, despite the number of known tourist destinations, there are a lot of tourism potentials in the country that have yet to be developed, discovered and more importantly preserved and one of these lesser known tourism potentials in the Philippines is the municipality of Barlig in Mountain Province.
He said that Barlig is home to the tenth highest mountain in the Philippines, Mount Amuyao frequented by adventurous local mountaineers for its thick mossy forest cover and abundance of flora and fauna. It is also where the famous Philippine Eagle was sighted in the late 1990s. In addition, Barlig offers varied tourist spots from cascading waterfalls, cool pristine lakes, hot springs, wonderful rock formations, majestic mountain ranges, beautiful rice terraces, burial caves, unique cultural patterns that is showcased during the three festivals in the municipality and the most sought after cool temperature during summer which give an unforgettable and distinctive experience to those who both love nature and culture.