More areas eyed as Benguet heritage site

THE Provincial Tourism, Culture and the Arts Council has recently identified an additional area in Ambuklao, Bokod, Benguet to be included in the existing list of protected heritage sites in the province.

In a report by the Provincial Tourism Office to the office of Governor Crecencio Pacalso, the Shakilan Ni Ikulos-Indigenous Peoples Organization (SNI-IPO) has requested for the validation of the identified heritage spots.

The areas include the Ambuklao Elementary School, Tublay School of Home Industries-Annex, the Ambuklao Municipal Building (formerly used as Barangay Ambuklao Hall), and the existing basketball court, tennis court, chapel, kiosk plaza, and waiting shed.

The two schools alone were already reported to have at least 17,000 square meters of combined land area, Ambuklao Elementary (13,670 sq. m) and Tublay School (3,445 sq. m).

In 2009, the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Heritage Site of Ambuklao was established through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between and among the National Power Corporation (NPC), Power Sector Assets and Liability Management (PSALM), SN Aboitiz Power Benguet Inc. (SNAPBI), the province, the Municipality of Bokod, Barangay Ambuklao, and the SNI-IPO.

They were named and organized as the Stakeholders Council under the effect and approval of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

The site contained the agreement areas and facilities no longer needed by the NPC and PSALM and excluded in the privatization of the Ambuklao Plant in Sitio Sombrero managed and maintained by indigenous peoples.
Upon the turn over, the Indigenous Peoples Heritage Site of Ambuklao was officially listed and included in the Provincial Ordinance No. 16-189 identifying, preserving, and protecting all heritage sites and structures located in the Province of Benguet.

The request aims to aid the current stakeholder’s council and be included in Benguet Tourism Situationer to be submitted to the Department of Tourism-Cordillera for promotion.

Presently the SNI-IPO administers the identified areas. Policies and fees on the usage of the heritage site were crafted and implemented.
The facilities are now being utilized not only by the community but also outsiders for several activities such as sports, camping, and as venue for adventure tourism.

Meanwhile, the tourism office is still on the lookout for more heritage sites to be identified. At least 30 areas in Benguet have been identified which include Mt. Pulag, Mt. Ugo, Mummy Apo Anno Cave, Abunan and Mummies of Domolpos and St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Itogon, Binga Heritage Site, and Aran Cave located at Twin Peaks and the Asin tunnels.

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