Tribesmen celebrate enactment of a tourism code and being represented to the sangguniang bayan. Photos by Armand Galang
BONGABON, Nueva Ecija — A tourism code that encompasses both the economic well-being of locals and ecological protection was enacted in ceremonies at the garden of late First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon’s swimming pool, in mountain ranges along the Nueva Ecija-Aurora Road in Barangay Labi here on Friday.
The signing that coincided with the swearing-in to office of Joel Bacyadan as the first indigenous people mandatory representative was a historic event for the town which has been trying to address the challenges in various tourists destinations, especially on waste management.
“Ito po ang magiging guide namin kung paano pauunlarin ang turismo base sa kultura ng bayan po namin,” said Mayor Allan Xystus Gamilla, noting that the newly-approved tourism code contains provisions to preserve and conserve the natural resources while promoting tourism. “Kasama na po yung kung paano i-manage yung kapaligiran na talaga naman pong maraming pagkakataon na nakikita po natin na maganda po ang turismo pero marami rin pong basurang iniiwan.”
Besides the natural and ecological destinations such as Labi and Jordan Rivers and rich mountain ranges, among the most visited places in this town, dubbed as the “Onion Basket of the Philippines,” were the old swimming pool area and the Shrine of Doña Aurora Quezon which are located in different places in Barangay Labi, said Gamilla.
The shrine is located in the actual area where Doña Aurora, wife of the late Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon and the first spouse of a Philippine president to be addressed First Lady for being involved in humanitarian activities and serving as first chairperson of Philippine National Red Cross, was ambushed in 1949.
Also killed in the attack were her daughter “Baby” and Quezon City Mayor Ponciano Bernardo, according to historical accounts.
The pool, located a few kilometers away from the ambush site, was reportedly built when the first lady frequently travelled from Manila to Baler.
Gamilla said the signing of the local code and swearing-in of the tribesman to a council office was held in the habitat of various tribes as a manifestation of the local government’s high regard and respect to culture and values of “our indigenous brothers.”
“Dito po sa hardin ng swimming pool ni Doña Aurora kung saan po nasa paanan ng Sierra Madre para po maipakita po natin talaga na buhay po ang kultura at nire-respeto po natin ang mga values at kaugalian ng ating mga kapatid na katutubo sa bayan po ng Bongabon,” Gamilla said.
Tribal leader Dominga Angayon, of Ifugao tribe, said their groups who live by planting vegetables and trees had been working to keep the mountain areas clean amid the influx of tourists prior to and even during the pandemic. “Ang aming pamunuan ay gumagawa ng mga polisiya kung paano mapanatili na maganda at maayos lugar na ito,” she said.