Feats of courage: declaring Bonifacio as a nat’l hero and Mayoyao as tourism zone

By Anthony A. Araos

“ The rewarding feature of November 30- or the National Heroes Day, is the fact that there is a strong awareness and consciousness among the people, most especially the young, that Bonifacio was a humble, honorable and highly respected leader.”

History is full of changes. The debate on the rightful choice for the country’s national hero persists. Dr. Jose Rizal or Gat Andres Bonifacio, take your pick? Revolutionary leader Andres Bonifaciio has given the people a legacy that can sigmificantly benefit the Philippines in 2019 and beyond. Bonifcaio believed that fighting the Spanish colonizers should be waged to liberate the country. He fought for independence and not assimilation of the Philippines as a regular province of Spain.
The vision of Bonifacio has been manifested through impressive tangible results, such as the people’s uprising mounted by the Katipunan.
It will be almost impossible to right now sell the idea of declaring Bonifacio as the national hero. It is likely to take place in a not-so-distant future. The legislative process operates too slow and the requirement of a majority vote is the key of the game. Members of the ruling Partido ng Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Congress are too focused on the shift to federalism and not stamping out the vestiges of colonialism in the country. Yet, many are still upbeat on revisiting and rewriting Philippine history. This is how it is going to be.
For now, it is hoped that some congressmen and senators opt to file bills for the declaration of Bonifacio as the national hero. This is already a victory for the Filipino people. It would go a long way to recharge the movement to undo a grave error in the nation’s history. Given such reality and scenario, others are expected to take related actions.
May this thought not be the only instance of putting Philippine history into proper perspective. In other words, the sheer dominance of the rich and powerful in the legislative mill doesn’t mean that the clamor to take up arms against a foreign colonizer did not happen.
The rewarding feature of November 30, or the National Heroes Day, is the fact that there is a strong awareness and consciousness among the people, most especially the young, that Bonifacio was a humble, honorable and highly-respected leader.
Ifugao residents and private sector stakeholders are truly hoping for a new tourism masterplan under the helm of a new set of officials by 2019 for them to be able to enjoy the benefits of increased tourist numbers in the province.
The results of next year’s midterm polls should certainly affect the tourism industry in this part of the country. Up for grabs in the elections are positions for congressman (or representative), governor, vice governor, board member (eight for the two geographical districts), mayor, vice mayor and councilor (the last three positions are contested in Ifugao’s 11 towns).
At this juncture, let’s focus on the next Congressman of Ifugao. Oppositionist Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of the Liberal Party (LP), who is serving his third and last term, is running for governor. He is up against two worthy opponents.
There are five aspirants in the congressional race. I’m fervently hoping and praying that Rep. Baguilat’s successor has a new mindset in so far as refocusing and reformatting the province’s tourism program. It is simply antiquated.
I knew the stakes are rather high on this matter. I’m now zeroing down on a particular case. This has reference to the vast potentials of Mayoyao town as the next destination in Ifugao and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
There are several reasons for declaring Mayoyao as a tourism zone. I have discussed at length the merits of visiting this town in my previous commentaries. It is famed for its numerous natural wonders.
Any of the 27 villages (barangays) are the perfect destination for local and foreign n visitors. There are a number of breathtaking rice terraces, waterfalls and mountain ranges.
The upcoming congressman- of whatever persuasion or political party, should henceforth file a bill at the House of Representatives seeking to give Mayoyao the status of a tourism zone. I am most willing and ready to help him draft this bill.
I am confident that the next congressman will be able to understand and appreciate the rationale of this proposal. By declaring Mayoyao as an ecological tourism area, it shall also promote environmental protection. Other benefits, of course, include the paving of the way to make tourism industry a major source of livelihood and a means of generation of employment for the town folks.
The new congressman should easily see the positive effects of this noteworthy move and subsequently could focus on would be destination development which would surely contribute to job generation as new businesses are created. As it is, unemployment rate is quite high in Mayoyao. Think of the other developments on skills training as additional employment opportunities arise. Tour guiding is likely to be affected. Foreign-language speaking guides are needed. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who have acquired language skills, should be tapped to become guides.
Thus, this is the easiest and fastest way to boost the town’s tourism industry. I see no reason why a bill outlining this plan by the next congressman of Ifugao shall not be enacted in Congress. After all, Mayoyao is undoubtedly a unique landscape. The terraces and falls are superbly photographed and thought by many to be the CAR’s most beautiful.
To understand the values of this initiative, it is important to define what Mayoyao has to offer its visitors at any given time of the year. Looking beyond the debate, the reason for opting to have Mayoyao be accorded such status should not divide the people. Instead, it be one of the common grounds in the quest to improve the people’s quality of life and elevate it to the stature of dignity and worth reflective of the Almighty Creator’s wisdom and grace. Sadly, Mayoyao is still one of the poorest towns in the province. Its people definitely deserve a better and more fulfilling life.
Narrow-minded Ifugao folks claimed that is should be Banaue, Asipulo, Kiangan or even Hingyon that should be declared as a tourism zone and would do more harm than good and will put the best interest of the province at a risk.
Finding common grounds between them and the right-thinking and well-meaning folks is difficult yet important in realizing the task of upgrading the people’s plight through a new and well-attuned tourism masterplan. At the end of the day, I’m expecting thorough discussion on this matter. Therefore, review and inputs of all sectors are vital. Moreover, at the day’s end, Mayoyao should be the perfect choice for a vacation. It should be popular to everybody. At the core of this issue is the value and quality of life of Mayoyao folks, many of them are poor.**

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