THE scenic 24.22-kilometer "Daang Katutubo" that would link Aguilar to Mangatarem in Pangasinan and Sta. Cruz, Zambales is 70 percent complete, a project engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Ilocos said.
The road project began in 2018 with initial funding of P784 million until this year from DPWH and the Department of Tourism, Willer Bince said in an interview.
The remaining 30 percent, including the 210-meter bridge and the road that would link "Daang Katutubo" to "Daang Kalikasan" in Mangatarem, would still need funding of P740 million, he said.
"The road is a two-lane road unlike 'Daang Kalikasan,' which is a four-lane road. It is called 'Daang Katutubo' because the residents in the barangays along the road are indigenous peoples (IPs)," Bince said.
"Daang Katutubo" will not only link Mangatarem to Sta. Cruz, Zambales but will also benefit the IPs and encourage economic, trade, and agro-tourism in the area, he said.
"It used to be a muddy trail, especially those going to Sitio Mapita here. But with the said road, over 100 families in Sitio Mapita will benefit most from it," Bince said, adding that along the road are ylang-ylang plantations that would boost agro-tourism.
The project was initiated in 2012 by then Second District representative, Leopoldo Bataoil, now mayor of Lingayen town.
"This road linking the two provinces will hasten not only travel but also trade and tourism since it passes through mountains and its construction will also ensure the protection and preservation of the remaining virgin forests in the area," Bataoil said in a recent interview.
The "Daang Katutubo" and "Daang Kalikasan" in Mangatarem have been temporarily closed to visitors to prevent delays in its construction.
Both roads draw tourists due to the breath-taking view of the mountains. (PNA)