ONCE considered to be the country’s most popular theme park before being closed to give way to the expansion of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Nayong Pilipino has since been barraged by controversies.
During the time of PGMA, the government-controlled park got relocated at the 3.5-hectare section of the polemical Clark Expo (formerly Expo Pilipino) which was closed by former President Joseph Estrada after the unfinished theme park accumulated losses.
Former CDC president and visionary, the late Levy Laus (may he rest in peace) had made a statement that the move was supposed to boost local tourism as venue for live presentations, multi-cultural events, exhibits, festival activities, and even liturgical services including weddings inside the replica of the historic Barasoain Church.
But instead of weddings or liturgical mass, it was rather a mass firing of officials and board members that got served last year after President Duterte discovered about the lease contract which the theme park granted to a foreign firm that was allegedly “grossly disadvantageous” to the government. It was a Landing project that will not be set on the ground.
Fortunately, the calm has already arrived after the storm. By good fortune, the once most famous park has acquired a new face that would provide the proper kick-start required for the revival.
On her first days in the office, executive director Michelle Aguilar-Ong has vowed to make a comprehensive review on the park’s operations and possible mismanagement to identify the factors which contributed to the deterioration of the government’s tourist destination in Clark Freeport.
Moving forward, Aguilar-Ong has already set a good pace on the major rehabilitation of Nayong Pilipino before the holding of the upcoming South East Asian games, targeting participants including domestic and foreign visitors.
To give some new taste and flavor, Aguilar-Ong is already working on to provide additional activities and attractions, such as the one similar to the Giant Lantern Festival of City of San Fernando, and also demos showcasing the culinary expertise of Kapampangans.
Without a doubt, under the leadership of Michelle Aguilar-Ong, the revival of the Nayong Pilipino will reintroduce our Filipino culture in the right manner with honesty and integrity.