Sagada, a walking lane on Holy Week

SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE - All visitors and residents of this tourist town are advised that the road from the Poblacion terminal to Ambasing barangay will be a walking lane on Holy Week, April 17-20.

This developed after a consultation among innkeepers, drivers, tourist guides, souvenir shop owners, local officials and restaurant owners held March 31 at the Municipal Building.

During the meeting, stakeholders agreed the two- kilometer stretch of the national road from the terminal to the section above Sumaguing Cave will be closed to cars except for public utility vehicles.

The consultation called by Sagada Mayor Eduardo Latawan stemmed from the Sangguniang Bayan initiative proposing an operational plan with the Philippine National Police Sagada and tourist guide groups Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SEGA) and the Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SAGGAS) to help curb the heavy traffic during the holiday.

Police officer SPO4 John Ewan said there is a need for 50 traffic police and volunteers to man the flow from Kiltepan to Sumaguing along the Dantay Sagada national road.

A total of 52 policemen inclusive of volunteers from the 19 barangays of Sagada especially those from the immediate Poblacion barangays of Patay, Dagdag, Demang and Ambasing will serve as traffic aides.

Two police hubs will be established manned by four police officers and seven traffic aides. First at Kiltepan junction to provide information to incoming drivers and passengers and advised if the car will proceed directly to their inn reservation otherwise directed to the pay parking site.

The second police hub located in front of the Sagada Coop post and above the basketball court directs the car to the pay parking site at the Mission compound. All cars including private vehicles shall park at a designated space within the Mission compound except cars with private parking spaces.

Apart from the police hubs, traffic areas are located in 10 areas manned by 32 volunteers to assist three police officers.

A traffic point is located at the road beside the church of St. Mary the Virgin where assigned traffic aides shall direct the vehicles to the Tangeb parking site manned by three guards.

The Nangonogan junction locates traffic aides who direct cars going to northern Sagada. Traffic aides will also be found in front of the Centrum Building to monitor cars going to Danum Lake.

The road at Dagdag will be manned by four traffic aides. Major traffic congestion is noted at Dagdag where the streets are narrow with some private structures adding to the traffic jam.

Heavy traffic continues to be a problem owing to the narrow streets of Sagada especially along Daoangan with vehicles rarely moving for unreasonable period of time due to parked cars.

At Sumaguing Cave, traffic aides will ensure no cars are parked along Sumaguing road.

PUJs will be stationed at the Poblacion terminal area to accommodate those who don't want to walk from the terminal to the Sumaguing Cave.

Tourism Committee chairman Dave Gulian said the Holy Week traffic operation will serve as a model to other similar situations.

Sagada registers a number of visitors every Holy Week or during every peak season. Peak tourist arrivals fall on All Souls Day, last week of December, first week of February during the Etag Festival, and during weekends. (Gina Dizon)

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