Bright Prospects for Ilocos Norte

LAOAG CITY, Jan.3 (PIA) – Ilocos Norte will step into 2011 with a fresh outlook amidst new infrastructure developments that will help generate local income and, in the process, reduce dependence on the national government.

Governor Imee Marcos promises to bring the province back to business by introducing various investment and tourism prospects in select towns.

She kicked off her infrastructure plan right at her doorstep with a spruced up Capitol grounds. Ilocanos had the first sight of the well-lit Capitol building during the holidays.

Marcos had made the Capitol surrounds more inviting to the public by knocking down fences around the compound and putting up fountains and landscaped grounds.

Part of her infrastructure map is the construction of a duty free shop which will also house national food chains within the Museo Iloco compound right beside the Capitol.

“I am confident that the province can one day earn its keep, no longer relying solely on the capricious remittances of the national government,” Marcos said.

Marcos had tapped world-renowned architect Jun Palafox to develop a master plan that will upgrade buildings and lay down tourism centers.

Marcos “regained” the Malacañang of the North, the former presidential residence of her family during Ferdinand Marcos’ regime, with the transfer of the building’s supervision and upkeep from the Philippine Tourism Authority to the provincial government.

The former presidential rest house, located in barangay Suba in Paoay town, has undergone a facelift from a dilapidated structure to a spacious function hall complete with landscaped surrounds to attract more tourists.

The Rizal Park, located in this city, had undergone a makeover from a mere picnic ground to a sports hub and will soon offer a climbing wall and overhead bridges that will connect other sports facilities like the Marcos stadium and Centennial arena.

Part of the Palafox master plan is the development of the Paoay plaza as a tourist center with the world heritage Paoay Church as its main attraction.

For its part, the Laoag city government will complement the Capitol’s infrastructure plan with the construction of Laoag’s first mall project. The long-awaited shopping center was derailed last year due to a dispute on the conversion of a public school lot to a mall.

Laoag Mayor Michael Fariñas, who represents the city government in an agreement for the mall project, has agreed to keep the Laoag Central School from being demolished while the shopping mall will be built on the same lot beside the school.

Residents also expect a modern health care facility with the opening of the P350 million Laoag City General Hospital in February.

Fariñas fought for the hospital’s upgrading throughout his nine year-administration noting that Laoag residents will soon enjoy the benefits of a modern health facility that is comparable to Manila and regional hospitals.

The city government expects additional income from the hospital’s operation making it as one of the city’s economic enterprises. It will employ an initial 170 medical personnel to man the more than 50-bed facility. (ARZADON)