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PRESERVING PROTECTED AREA

Lopez: Rid Pangasinan national park of urban trappings

/ 12:05 AM December 20, 2016
The Manleluag Spring National Park in Mangatarem town, Pangasinan, features a pool where water from a natural hot spring is collected. —WILLIE LOMIBAO

The Manleluag Spring National Park in Mangatarem town, Pangasinan, features a pool where water from a natural hot spring is collected. —WILLIE LOMIBAO

MANGATAREM, PANGASINAN—The lush forest of Manleluag Spring National Park here may have impressed her, but Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said the local government should try to remove its urban trappings.

Lopez said she was dismayed to see the pools and concrete walkways and picnic sheds in the area.

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“What you have is beautiful. Preserve it and don’t create an urban environment because your specialty is the fact that it’s not urban. Why will people come here to see an urban environment?” she said during a visit to the park on Friday.

The 1,935-hectare park in Barangay Malabobo was declared a national park in 1940 and a protected area in 2004. It is managed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

According to Paquito Moreno, DENR regional director, about 900 ha of the park had been designated as a multipurpose zone, where a 100-ha recreational area was developed. The park, which is 6.5 kilometers from the Tarlac-Pangasinan Road, features a hot spring, two swimming pools, a pavilion and several picnic sheds.

“Put up eco-lodges made of bamboo … serve healthy food and then keep the place beautiful and ban smoking so people can enjoy the fresh air,” Lopez said.

“I suggest you put trails for jogging, hiking and biking for people to enjoy nature. Manila is so polluted and you can come here and have fresh air and [engage in] bonding [moments],” she said.

Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino Jr., who was the governor from 2007 to 2016, said he had asked the DENR to allow the provincial government to manage the national park.

He said the provincial government spent P25 million to improve the access road leading to the park, aside from the many tree-planting activities he conducted in the area.

“This is the first beautiful place in Pangasinan that tourists can visit through the Tarlac-Pangasinan Road,” he said.

Lopez said that she would convene a committee to look into Espino’s proposal for the province to manage the park.

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TAGS: Gina Lopez, Manleluag Spring National Park, national park, Pangasinan
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