There are places that can take away the stress from an all day’s work. Just walking past the Burnham Park provides a sigh of relief. Benguet came up with another stress-relieving sight. In 2016, residents of 3 Sitios (Stone Hills, Botiwtiw, and Sadjap) started painting their houses following the design of Tam-awan Village Artists on the quiet slope of a mountainside along Km.3. Alas, it gave birth to the Colors of Stobosa.
The project was a collaboration of the provincial government, the La Trinidad municipal government, Davies Paint, the Tam-awan Village Artists, and DOT-Cordillera.
Accordingly, Davies Paint had to supply 2800 gallons to cover the more than hundred of houses with an area of 18,000 square meters. Other materials were provided by the local government of La Trinidad.
Residents and other volunteers were initially trained before the painting that started in January 2016. The chosen design is sunflower with rainbows since the area was home to these flowers before.
The other Sunday and just this Sunday, I had to endure the traffic jam heading home. It’s not that I am not used with heavy traffic in this city but I knew there was a different reason of the clogging of cars. A number of vans and SUVs were piled up on the right side of the narrow highway along Km 3. There was a shooting of scenes of the “Probinsyano” teleserye of ABS-CBN. I remember this is also where another afternoon primetime teleserye of the same giant station shoots.
The scenic beauty of the place plus the advertising this spot is generating from these shows, Stobosa is expected to be a box-office destination for tourists.
The booming popularity of Stobosa is no doubt a good news to this municipality. Tourists mean income. Small store owners nearby can have bigger sales at the end of the day. It means busier work for local officials. Jeepney drivers feel it’s ordinary to stop on the area to unload visiting passengers. When I pass by the place, I usually catch individuals on the painted hanging bridge posing for a photo before the sprawling bunch of houses resting on this mountainside. Passengers of both public and private utility vehicles never fail to turn their heads and wonder. When your kid asks you what a head-turning place looks like, you just need to drive them here.
The challenge associated with tourist spots like Stobosa comes with the maintenance and improvement. See what happens to Boracay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The president called it a “cesspool” and warned of its closing unless concern agencies and sectors make a big transformation.
To avoid this dilemma, Stobosa and all other tourist attractions in the region must be committed in the maintenance and sustenance of such destinations. Along cleanliness, security and comfort of visitors must also be checked. Traffic jam has been a problem before and I don’t think we can make immediate measure to appease this problem now. Let’s just hope tourists have this in mind before they pack their bags. The local officials can only do its part to systematize the flocking of tourists.
Barangay Balili especially the three sitios with full cooperation of the municipality of La Trinidad must continue to make ways in attracting tourists to the area. Attitude towards visitors is one big factor. Residents may welcome them with smiles. The colors must be kept bright. To conform to the project’s vision, the painting should be revisited after 5 years since its inauguration to keep its form. I can only imagine if the Apo Balili River is still running like she did many many years ago. People perhaps could be riding on painted boats while enjoying the fascinating beauty of Stobosa. Maybe they could bring their fishing rod too. But well let’s go back to reality.
Cleanliness, security, and comfort must be provided. The good news is that the local government of La Trinidad is supportive of this cause. Accordingly, a view deck and a parking area are to be set-up to provide spectators more room to relish the beauty of this design. A budget was already allotted and technical study was already completed. The side of the road facing the river was also adorned with white fences and little dried painted trees. Barangay officials must continue to be emphatic with their cleanliness program. Security is felt with the continuous presence of police officers or traffic officers like the one I see every day. Donation from visitors for the maintenance of the place is expected but it should be tourist-friendly. Failure to drop must not hinder them to walk in.
And how about putting up another bridge?
Stobosa is another manifestation of the ingenuity of the people in this region. We are making most of our geographical setting. From what I’ve heard, this work of art has become an inspiration to others. The impact has resounded outside the Cordillera and others are conceptualizing similar exploration. The challenge, however, of maintaining and even improving the cleanliness, security, and comfort of visitors must be kept in check all the time. Having a legitimate tourist spot right in front of our doorsteps is an opportunity not only to show what we have but the occasion to show who we are.