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"Tong Free" highway in Nueva Ecija on the rise
 
        CABANATUAN CITY, Jan. 8 (PNA) -- Once completed, the 150-kilometer or so diversion road 
traversing the entire length of Nueva Ecija between its boundaries  with Bulacan in the south and 
Nueva Vizcaya in the north, is seen as a solution to the "checkpoints and highways patrol" system 
that preys on travelers and traders.
 
        Nueva Ecija Gov. Tomas Joson III, in an interview over local radio station DWNE, said the toll 
road is now in the works and once operational, it will not only  help in easing vehicular traffic congestions
 along the stretch of the existing RP-Japan Highway in the province but will also help solve "highway crimes."
 
        Joson estimates that presently, around 30,000 vehicles pass through the lone Nueva Ecija highway connecting  
the Cagayan Valley and Metro Manila via Bulacan, which further add to the local vehicular traffic load.
 
        "There are also the check points and supposed patrols which victimize  traders transporting all sorts of 
agricultural products and handicrafts bound for Metro Manila," he noted. 
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GMA releases P38.2 million for infrastructure projects in NuevaVizcaya
 
     TALBEK, Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya, Sept. 20 (PNA) - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 
today brought progress and development to the province of Nueva Vizcaya when she turned over 
checks worth some P38.2 million for various infrastructure projects in the province.
 
     The biggest assistance worth P20 million was extended by the President for the construction 
of the Uyao-Bilanse-Binwangan road connecting Nueva Vizcaya to Quirino province.
 
     She also announced that each of the 15 towns of Nueva Vizcaya would be getting P1 million each 
for development projects.
 
     The native Bugkalots cheered the President when she arrived this morning at this scenic 
mountaintop town to join the First Bugkalot Festival.
 

 Airlines bolsters Cordilleras tourism

By JUAN B. DAIT, JR.

BAGUIO CITY - Tourism in the Cordilleras particularly Ifugao province, home of the world-famous rice terraces, received a big boost when the Andres Soriano Airlines recently made its inaugural flight to the Bagabag Airport in

 

Other than Salinas Salt Springs

Nueva Vizcaya offers a number of unspoiled natural attractions

By BINGO CADABONA

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya - The July 1990 killer-earthquake has badly damaged the Salinas Salt Springs in Bambang town - the only popular tourist attraction known in this landlocked province aside from Mount Pulag National Park in Benguet which can be reached through a trail in Kayapa town or in Ambaguio, the country's second highest peak.

In 1996, experts from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) conducted study on the spring's flow. Town officials had sought their help following reports that Salinas is being traversed by an earthquake fault, which is feared to burst, like a volcano once it is triggered by a tremor.

The PHIVOLCS study showed however that the springs' inactivity was not due to faulting since the northernmost portion of the 125-kilometer surface rupture along the Digdig Fault segment to the Philippine Fault Zone is in Kayapa town which is 25 kilometers southwest of Bambang.

The study attributes the springs flow disruption to fissures that tightened up after intense ground shaking in the region. The ground water flow was blocked and redirected by a collapse of a cavern and deforestation of the watershed area.

Nueva Viscaya has alway been known as an agricultural province and the gateway to Cagayan Valley which is known for its rich citrus production farms - most popularly known for delicious Perante oranges, high-quality vegetables found in abundance from highland towns of Kayapa, Kasibu, Ambaguio and Sta. Fe and sweet pineapples in Bagabag town. It is considered as one of the major producers of premium quality rice.

Local and foreign tourists usually pass by Nueva Vizcaya to avail of hotel accommodations before going to the worldrenowned Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, some 35 kilometers from this capital town.

At present the development of the Dalton Pass area in Sta. Fe town which is envisioned to serve as a one-stop shop major tourism complex to guide tourists on a variety of information regarding tourist attractions in Region 2 is in progress. Part of this ambitious project is the construction of P1.5 million world-class comfort rooms. "If we look at it on a high level, we are projecting our province as the venue of a world-class rest rooms," Gov. Rodolfo Q.Agbayani jokingly stressed.

The Vizcaya-based Sang-an Salug Outdoor Club (SSOC), a group of backpackers and spelunking enthusiasts rediscovered what they described as a combination of the Sagada in Mountain province and Caraballo Caves in Peņablanca, Cagayan.

According to Agbayani, the caves were initially exhibited in a recent summit of the USAID-funded Governance and Local Democracy Project at the Heritage Hotel in Manila. It was showcased in a photo display by the Nueva Vizcaya delegation headed by Agbayani.

The SSOC group with the Sierra Madre Outdoor Club, some Japanese experts and cave photographers conducted a partial exploration of the Alayan Caves in barangay Capisaan in Kasibu town.

To reach the place, one has to use a 4x4 vehicle against the rough and slippery mountain trail after passing the municipality of Solano and turning eastward through Quezon town. It takes two hours to reach the Alayan Caves, which was named after barangay Alayan of Malabing Valley in Kasibu town.

"The cave is multi-chambered and full of stalagmites and stalactites in various shapes and formation," said SSOC vice chair Ulysses Paredes. Paredes added that a swim on a subterranean river underneath is an added treat for cavers longing for unusual adventure before reaching its natural beauty - still in pristine condition. The tourism department in region 2 described Alayan as a world-class cave. One must avail of an approval from the office of the governor before going to the place, which is required as part of its management and security measures.

Explorers have just scaled Heaven Cave at Brgy. Capisaan, also in Kasibu town. Apart from this a new cave was discovered by local residents near the Alayan and Capisaan caves. "It's white as snow," exclaimed one cave guide who peeped through the tunnel-like entrance of the cave. It is located east of Brgy. Capisaan and is a one-hour hike from the barangay road. The entrance is a four-meter duck walk and a 3.5-meter snake crawl. The opening is wide for a medium-built body to fit it.

The SSOC in coordination with the environment department is in the process of exploring other features of the cave to record necessary data for its promotional programs. Cave guards have been assigned in the area to protect it against cave treasure hunters and to prevent its indiscriminate use.

The provincial government has allocated P200,000 to provide basic accommodations to interested local and foreign tourists in the area A proposed master plan to fully develop the place is now being worked out, provincial officials said.

 

By Villamor C. Visaya, Jr.

 

    ILAGAN, Isabela, Oct. 3 (PNA) - - Seven fauna have been listed endangered in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park.

 

    According to William Savella, protected areas superintendent and concurrent community environment and natural resources officer (CENRO) in the coastal town of Palanan, the endangered species include the sea turtle (pawikan), the bats (bayakan), and monkey-eating eagle, the wild  pigs, deer, the cloud rat and the flame-breasted fruit dove.

     Savella said the other remaining fauna at the natural park include: the duyong, bildog, Luzon scops   owl, pythons, woodpecker,  kalaw, okong, tambulu and bukarot (crocodile) which continue to have their presence felt along the park's waters and forest zone but are also diminishing  in number.

       The official likewise noted the fast diminishing forest cover at the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park which has been known as the "last paradise" in the country. "These are the reasons why we are soliciting the help of fellow environmentalists to come to the rescue of the diminishing species and the forest cover,"  he said.

 

    The park which is the country's largest and one among the few remaining virgin forests comprises nine municipalities:  the coastal towns of Dinapigue, Palanan, Macanacon and Divilacan, and San Mariano, San Pablo, Cabagan, Tamauini and Ilagan, all in Isabela.

 

    With an area of 359,500 hectares, the park boats of its rich flora and fauna which are mostly listed endangered in the country and in the entire Asia, as well. Other species remain to be discovered, though.

    The water and forest products in the area have been catering to the needs of Isabela and some neighboring provinces.

 

    At least 1,007 Agtas and Dumagats, indigenous peoples who are likewise decreasing in number, consider the area as the largest abode of their tribes.

 

    In 1901, the area was still tact, In 1926, the logged over portions became bigger. In 1960, the logged-over area  has tripled in in 1987, only one-third of the eastern portions remained virgin forest.

 

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