By Uriel C. Quinguing
Misamis Oriental Provincial Press Office
THE Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) recently turned over a P10-million cheque to Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar S. Moreno for the ongoing Lasang Secret Adventure project.
Located inside the 1,300-hectare Initao National Park, the first phase of the project consisted of five-span canopy walk, 80-foot spiral staircase, 100-meter boardwalk and 100-meter zip-line and these were opened to the public in August last year during an inaugural program.
â€œThis is a big boost to complete the project,â€ said Moreno during a news conference when the P10-million funding support was handed to him by documentation division head Joy Sison of PTAâ€™s Physical Planning Department.
Ms. Cerilina Chan, the officer-in-charge of PTA-managed Gardens of Malasag Eco-Tourism Village in Cagayan de Oro, and tourism consultant Dorothy Jean B. Pabayo witnessed the simple turnover ceremony.
â€œThe provincial government has already invested about P7.6 million to the project,â€ the governor said, adding that the total project cost would be about P40 million. This, he said, is being pursued because â€œtourism is one of the key movers of the economy.â€
Moreno said he expects the entire Lasang Secret Adventure project, with the major components and expansion, to be completed within this year. These include the construction of a complex for a restaurant, coffee shop, business center, function rooms, dormitory, parking spaces and other amenities.
But the P10-million funding assistance from PTA could not be disbursed yet due to the prohibition in the implementation of projects within the campaign period.
â€œThere is no restriction in the release of funds (for projects),â€ Sison stressed, adding that what is prohibited is project implementation.
Conceptualized in September 2008, the development of the 50.58-hectare Lasang Secret Adventure project is predominantly characterized by century-old and naturally-grown Talisay trees where various types of endangered animals, birds and plant species thrive.
Pabayo, a former DOT regional director who now heads a task force for the Lasang Secret Adventure, said project is a jointly being undertaken by the provincial government of Misamis Oriental, Department of Tourism and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
She said that the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) through architects Richard Tan and Ma. Linda Escaba as well as the De Oro Mountain Explorers (Dome) through Jerome Garcia and Aye Navarro have been involved in designing and the installation of the vertical and horizontal structures of the Lasang Secret Adventure.
The project area covers portions of Initaoâ€™s Barangay Tubigan and Libertadâ€™s Barangay Gimanlayan, on the left side if one is headed to the west and opposite to the so-called Initao-Libertad Protected Landscape and Seascape on the right.
Meanwhile, wildlife enforcement officer Eddie V. Macasusi said that aside from the forests there have been sightings of tarsiers since 1987 and there could be about 20 of them in the area. Tarsier is considered as the worldâ€™s smallest monkey. Ordinarily, one could not see tarsiers during the day since they are nocturnal.
â€œWhat we usually see are the long-tail macaque monkeys and there are hundreds of them here,â€ Macasusi said.
Aside from tarsiers and monkeys, Lasang has been the home of many endangered animals and these include monitor lizards (palao), seal-fin lizards (ibid), flying lemurs (kagwang), and chicken-like dark-brown fowls known as megapodes (kahael).
Among the rare birds that thrive in Lasang include imperial pigeons (bawod), native doves (alimokon), emerald doves (manatad), and serpent eagles. There are three serpent eagles, all males, two of them were released in 2007 and another one last year.
â€œCertainly, the lush vegetation, the animals, birds and insects are attractions by themselves. But it takes more than that now since we have already put in place the structures and amenities for visitors in the area,â€ Pabayo who is considered as the provinceâ€™s tourism guru concluded. â€”