Mt. Arayat’s heritage-A A +A
Monday, April 7, 2014
AS AN ardent visitor of the Mt. Arayat National park during its heydays, I was among those who were saddened when it natural swimming pools and other facilities ceased to be the favorite recreational places especially during summer.
The once favorite summer destination has not actually withered but the operation of the national park as a resort.
The said place houses some swimming pools, those Olympic sizes are even with diving boards. Another pool has a mini-falls where the flow of cool water never ends. The temperature of the water is a natural cooler for those who take some dip in it.
The national park rests on the foot of the mountain. With thick foliage, century-old trees act as natural canopies that cool down the heat of the dry season.
I can still remember the famous fire-trees which blooms have the color of fire, the reason perhaps why the said trees are called such. There is also the “kusigkusigan”, that we used to play when we were young. They are like the bigger version of the fruits of ipil-ipil.
Atop the national park are camping sites where tourists can enjoy spending the night, under the cloak of nature. It’s nature-tripping at its best.
Before reaching the camp sites, there is this way leading to a trail to the camp sites. Who wouldn’t know the “one hundred steps”, a series of concrete steps that were made as an attraction?
I used to thread on these steps when I was young without being able to worry on aching knees and feet. Of course, those were the days, when we were young.
There are facilities at the national park where bivouacs, conventions, meetings and gatherings are held. I was told that they are in their dilapidated state now, with the lack of funds for their maintenance as the reason.
A mini-zoo complements the park where birds, monkeys and other animals from the wild are being kept and taken care of. They might have been released in the wild when the natural resort at the national park stopped its operations or perhaps have died now in captivity.
During the national park’s operation then, there were stores that sells grilled corn, sweetened fried bananas on sticks and other native delicacies that makes tourists enjoy their summer stays.
I have written before things about Mt. Arayat and its national park and support its possible rehabilitation and the bringing back of its former glory. As an advocate of nature and the environment, I would gladly promote it to the present generation and to those who haven’t visited the place yet.
In relation to the Mt. Arayat National Park, it was proposed recently that it shall be included in the list of Asean heritage parks and reserves.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional director Francisco Milla, Jr. disclosed that the Mt. Arayat National Park is among the four areas in Central Luzon eyed as Asean parks.
If included, it shall be made a beneficiary of funds from Asean and European countries for its conservation and protection. Once the said national park qualifies to be so, perhaps then would be the time that it will be rehabilitated and be made again open to the public.
Meanwhile, for it to be qualified to the list, it should be ecologically complete and should represent different ecosystems. It should also be a conservation area and has a management plan for its conservation and protection.
Let's keep our fingers crossed that the Mt. Arayat National Park would qualify to be in the list of heritage parks and reserves.
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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 08, 2014.