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Arayat tourism reforestation spots lure Gemma, Cerilles
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Arafin D. Hilario
Date: 1999-07-01

ARAYAT, Pampanga - This resort town starts to reap the fruits,

figuratively and literally, of its tourism reforestration program initiated

two decades ago by the municipal government and national

government agencies.

As this developed, Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta and DENR

Secretary Antonio Cerriles are coming to this town today to inspect

tourism-oriented reforeatation projects around Mount Arayat.)

Mayor Benigno Espino said that fruit-bearing trees now help provide much

shade, oxygen and even foods to mountaineers and hikers in barrios located

on the slopes of legendary Mt. Arayat. These trees were planted in 1981

during the mayor's first term under the aegis of the MagalangArayat Task

Force (MARATAF) which was composed of the municipal governments

sharing the fabled mountain, nearby Magalang town under the late mayor

Daniel T. Lacson and this town, and all national government agencies in

Region 3 including the Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) under the

presidency of Fortunato Battad.

Spearheaded by now dormant Educational Program Implementing Task Force

(EDPITAF) under the late assemblyman Waldo Perfecto, the MARATAF

reforestration program and fruit bearing tree planting project has become a

boon not only to tourists and adventures but to the maintainers as well.

The mountainside barangays that now reap the gains of the 20-year old

reforestration scheme are Baliti, Palinlang, Gatiawin, San Juan Baqo and San


Farmer-maintainers now earn between P25,000-40,000 annully from the

efflorecence of the trees. The fruits that make money for the barrio folks

include atis, casoy, mangoes, bananas and camachiles.

In 1981, trees were also planted by MARATAF along the main thorougfares of

this town and they now serve as environmental shades to passers-by and

small scale businessmen such as restaurant proprietors that serve Filipino

cuisin. They erect their tourism-related establishments behind tree-lined roads

to secure that much needed "environmental ambience."

The recent onslaught of El Niqo and La Niqa have significantly reduced the

income-generating potentials of the fruit bearing trees. Espino said however

that their municipal agriculturist Felino Cangco has counseled the tree

maintainers on the proper way to beat the twin scourges.

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