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Pangasinan officials unveil 300-hectare eco-tourism zone

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, Philippines – This 430-year-old province wrote history on Monday when its officials led the groundbreaking of a tourism and investment hub in this capital town.

Gov. Amado Espino Jr. thanked former President Fidel Ramos for signing Proclamation No. 1258 on June 22, 1998 empowering the provincial government to pursue the development of the 300-hectare eco-tourism zone in Barangay Estanza here.

In his speech during the Pangasinan Day celebration on Monday, Espino said he knew that this particular project was part of Ramos’ grand plan to attract investments and economic activities in Pangasinan.

He credited Ramos for the two power plants in the province: the Sual coal-fired power plant and the San Roque multi-purpose dam that supply the Luzon grid with 1,545 megawatts of power.

Espino recalled that when he was still the provincial police director, the sprawling land underwent a relocation survey in 1996 and was subsequently segregated and declared by Ramos for eco-tourism and other related projects.

He said he was disappointed to realize that after so many years, this large area has remained idle “and we have continually lost the opportunity to develop the same for the benefit of our people.”

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“And as we toiled to reclaim and to clear the area, President FVR’s dream of an eco-tourism zone – golf courses, family vacation and recreation facilities, hotels and tourist residences, shopping areas and convention facilities, a marina and other sea adventure facilities, and eventually an international seaport – began to unfold slowly, but vividly, before us,” Espino said.

A number of Korean investors were present during the groundbreaking and signified their interest to develop the area.

Meanwhile, Ramos and National Artist Francisco Sionel Jose led 11 outstanding Pangasinenses who were given fitting recognition by their province mates in Monday’s 430th founding anniversary celebration.

Ramos and Jose, who hail from Lingayen and Rosales towns, respectively, received the Balitok award, the highest commendation given during the awards night at the newly renovated Sison Auditorium, which was renamed as the Cultural Center of the North.

The other awardees were Reynaldo Villar (government service), Dr. Francisco Duque (medicine), Santiago Villafania (arts and culture), Westly Rosario (aquaculture), Menardo Jimenez (business), Rina David (mass communications), Eric Noble (community service), and Rodolfo Tan-Cardozo (sports).

A plaque of special recognition was awarded to Jaime Lucas, founding president of the Ulopan na Pansiansiay Salitan Pangasinan and former provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry.

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