|Arayat tourism reforestation spots lure Gemma, Cerilles
|Source: Manila Bulletin
|Author: Arafin D. Hilario
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
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.