City government officials during the launching of four CBST sites in Tagkawayan and Simpokan. (PN File Photo)

The city government of Puerto Princesa is seeking the revival of the tourism development project in Tagkawayan Beach, which was initially funded by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Called the Tagkawayan Beach Tourism Development Project (TBTDP), it was announced in late 2019 by the TIEZA as one of its big-ticket projects all over the country. Included in these projects were modular floating docks to be placed in several barangays of Puerto Princesa, as well as the construction of hyperbaric chamber facilities in El Nido and Coron. All Palawan-based TIEZA projects initially were allocated a budget of P854-million, according to an article from the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The project did not push through in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The City Tourism Office is now in talks with TIEZA to revive the project. According to city assistant tourism officer Demetrio Alvior, the Tagkawayan project was initally funded with P500-million, but is unsure if the TIEZA will allocate the same amount this time.

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The City tourism officials during the ribbon cutting at the Tagkuriring Waterfalls. (PN file photo)

“Noong 2020, dapat mag-start na dito ang construction ng TIEZA. May malaking structure na ilalagay dito for the public. Unfortunately, magda-download na sana ng fund sa city government, kaya lang nagpasok yong pandemic, binawi muna, ginamit muna sa pagbili ng mga gamit para sa COVID [response],” Alvior said in an interview on Wednesday.

He added that TIEZA planned to build a two-story building that would serve as rental stalls for local entrepreneurs.

He stated that while waiting for the project to commence, the city government decided to develop community-based sustainable tourism sites (CBST) both in Tagkawayan Beach and the neighboring Barangay Simpocan.

“Although nagfo-follow up ang TIEZA, may hinihingi na mga documents, pero wala pang assurance kung kalian talaga [magsisimula ang development]. So para ma-maximize talaga ang potential ng area, sayang naman kasi, ang ginawa naming pinasok namin ‘yong mga CBST para mapakinabangan ang area habang wala pang project ang [national] government,” he added.

The four CBSTs that were reopened and launched by the City Tourism Office on Wednesday were Tagkawayan Beach in Barangay Bacungan, Tagkuriring Waterfalls, Mother Tree, and the Marine Turtle Reserve in Barangay Simpocan. Alvior stated that these CBSTSs aim to provide income and employment to residents of the area, who are most reliant on fishing and farming.

Alvior explained that Tagkawayan used to be a popular beach destination for Puerto Princesa locals because of the Karagatan Festival initiated by the private sector back in 2002. Tagkawayan is also an emerging surf and camping destination.

“Dati, kilala talaga ito sa Karagatan Festival. Mahirap ang road [noon], hinahakot pa ang mga tao papunta rito. So ibig sabihin, kapag sinabing Tagkawayan, nakatatak na sa isip ng mga locals na maganda ang beach. Dati kapag sinabing Karagatan Festival, inaabangan ‘yan yearly. Medyo nahinto lang siya, pero ngayon gusto nating i-revive habang wala pa ang project ng city at national government,” Alvior explained.

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