Baguio City’s agricultural eco-tourism eyed
Councilor Philian Weygan-Allan has proposed an ordinance that seeks to establish Bilis, Santo Tomas Central Barangay as an agricultural eco-tourism center.
Agricultural eco-tourism, as defined in the ordinance, is an agriculture-based operation that brings visitors to a farm or ranch for the purpose of leisure, education, or active involvement in the activities therein.
“Santo Tomas Central is an agricultural barangay in the City of Baguio producing high value crops such as strawberry and leafy vegetables,” the ordinance stated.
“The barangay has its natural mountain terrain and vegetable location for bikers and sightseers and a natural cave for spelunkers.”
The proposed ordinance specified that a masterplan will be designed for the development of agricultural eco-tourism in the said barangay. The proposal added that this masterplan will be crafted by the BIlis community in partnership with the City Government of Baguio and other government and non-government agencies. Furthermore, the ordinance stated that the proposed agricultural design for the project will include walk paths, stopping areas for refreshment and souvenirs, photo areas, a car park, and other features that the community may want to include.
Upon the approval of the ordinance, a technical working group will be created consisting of the City Mayor or his representative; the chairperson of the Committee on Market, Trade & Commerce, and Agriculture of the Baguio City Council; the City Veterinary and Agriculture Officer; the City Planning and Development Officer; the Punong Barangay and/or other barangay officials; a local cooperative member; a representative of the Local Farmers Organization; the Baguio Tourism Officer; and a local community representative.
The proposal stated that the City Government will designate the specific location of the agricultural eco-tourism site in the barangay after the completion of the masterplan.
According to the proposal, tourism activities will be conducted in the eyed agri-tourist attraction during the summer months while its operation will be closed during the rainy months.
The ordinance proposed the collection of fees from all individuals who will enter the agricultural eco-tourism area including parking fee, environmental/entrance fee, strawberry/vegetable picking fee, and other fees to be determined as needed.
The proposal indicated that the project will be managed by the City government for the first five years then then it will be turned over to the community to be managed by a management board consisting of seven members from the City Government and the barangay officialdom and personnel including a manager, a finance officer, and a bookkeeper.
The proposal was approved on first reading during the city council’s regular session on March 20 and was referred to the Committee on Market, Trade & Commerce, and Agriculture for review and further enhancement. ** Jordan G. Habbiling