BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The barangay of Mansalanao in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, that according to Mayor Rhumyla Nicor-Mangilimutan, was a former mass-based area of the New People’s Army, is now up for massive transformation into an eco-tourism zone of the town.
Its development started with the putting up of a 3.6-hectare Mandayao Panorama View Park, and the 1.2-hectare Century Leaf Garden, with the majestic Kanlaon Volcano in the background. The property owner, Francisco Infante, entered into a deed of usufruct with the local government unit for the temporary use of the area for 25 years.
Soon to rise in the park is a giant cross and a universal chapel.
The 3.6-hectare is the take off point of the tourism highway in Mandayao, where cafés mushroomed during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mangilimutan said.
“The pandemic has pushed us to innovate and open these sites for the establishment of cafés so that residents with entrepreneurial spirit can do business to address the impact of the economic crisis caused by Covid,” she added.
Mangilimutan, however, said the cafés in the Mandayao area will be relocated as she announced plans to put up permanent booths for the 13 barangays in the place where the Banana Festival will be held.
The Infante family, Mangilimutan said, is entering into a public-private partnership with the government to develop their 56-hectare property, known as the Mandayao Legacy Park, and the LGU was allowed to develop it into a tourism zone.
She said she plans to put up a hotel and resort, with a swimming pool and camping area, on the three-hectare area purchased by the municipal government, to accommodate tourists from other countries, as part also of their preparations for the Korean-Philippines Association of Festival and Culture Exchange, where, aside from Germany, Bailes de Luces had been showcased.
“I have traveled to beautiful places abroad and I want to replicate beautiful parks and gardens that will lead to the tourism and economic growth of the town,” Mangilimutan said.
Meanwhile, the 15th Limpio Verde Festival of La Castellana, on the theme “Ecosystem Restoration”, was highlighted on June 24 with the recognition of winning barangays in the Leaf Garden landscaping competition, that was conceptualized by Sangguniang Kabataan leaders.
Barangays Cabacungan and Mansalanao won in the landscaping competition, categories A and B, respectively.
The activity was attended by La Castellana Councilor Anejo Nicor, chairperson of the Sangguniang Bayan Committee on Tourism, Association of Barangay Captains president Noemi Nicor, businessman Frankie Uy, and personnel from the Office of Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo, among others.*