‘Igorot Stone Kingdom’ owner quizzed anew over park safety

‘Igorot Stone Kingdom’ owner quizzed anew over park safety

/ 04:35 AM February 07, 2024

Park --Stone Kingdom 3 taken on February 6 2024 by Neil Clark Ongchangco

FANTASY LAND Igorot Stone Kingdom, built in 2021 in Baguio City based on a fantasy scene that contractor Pio Velasco has been dreaming about, is now a popular tourist site. Velasco is addressing city permit issues that have yet to be resolved. —NEIL CLARK ONGCHANGCO

BAGUIO CITY—The popular theme park made of indigenous Cordillera stonewalls in this city again came under scrutiny after building officials disclosed that the owner had put up new structures there without permits, amid assurance from him that the facility was safe and has been cleared by engineering experts.

Pio Velasco, a building contractor, made this commitment during the city council’s session on Monday to discuss safety issues involving his innovative tourist attraction, Igorot Stone Kingdom.


The attraction opened in May 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately drew paying guests through “word of mouth” because of its stone castle and a landscape filled with concentric stone corridors, until Mayor Benjamin Magalong shut it down on Nov. 7, 2022 due to safety and permit violations.


‘Childhood dream’

Velasco said he was required to undertake comprehensive soil and geological testing, a new zoning classification, and obtain an environmental compliance certificate from the Environmental Management Bureau.

He was allowed to reopen in April last year and has since paid the city government P3.2 million in amusement taxes.

“My workers had nowhere to go when the pandemic struck,” Velasco said, noting that he paid them to build the theme park, which he described as his “childhood dream.”

READ: Baguio tourist spot shut down over safety, permit violations

Last week, he was given a commendation by the city council for his contributions to Baguio tourism.

But Velasco was again issued notices of violation for putting up two unlicensed structures, according to Assistant City Building Officer Stephen Capuyan, who attended the session.


Velasco said the new structures were sanitation facilities, which the Department of Tourism suggested during a recent inspection.

According to him, he had applied for building permits but could not proceed further because he was required by the City Building and Architect’s Office to produce a land title.

Vast land

Only a portion of his 6,000-square-meter property near Longlong Road in Barangay Pinsao Proper was titled. The rest, he told the city council, was covered by tax declarations and are currently subjects of applications for land patents with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The council intends to deliberate on special building rules for facilities that utilize or showcase indigenous Cordillera technology, said Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, a lawyer and chair of the committee on health and environment.

Stone walling (locally called riprap) is an indigenous engineering technique to shore up mountainsides using mud and small boulders fit intricately together like jigsaw puzzles to form walls. The technique is still being used today, but cement has replaced mud as a binding element.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

But Capuyan said the National Building Code would still prevail, and indigenous structures still needed to pass building standards. —VINCENT CABREZA INQ

TAGS: Baguio, Igorot, Safety

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.