PAOAY, Ilocos Norte, March 9 –The provincial government’s Metro Ilocos tourism plan will revolve around the town’s tourism centerpiece, the centuries-old St. Augustine Church or Paoay Church as it is set to get a facelift.
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos created the plan that includes developing Paoay and the towns of San Nicolas and Currimao and the cities of Laoag and Batac for tourism support and development.
“We envision Ilocos Norte to become the northern gateway of the Philippines. We have more natural resources. We have a lot of potential tourist attraction to be developed, enriched appreciated and to be enjoyed,” Marcos said.
For this town’s development program, Marcos had tapped globally renowned architect Felino Palafox Jr. to design a tourism plan that would consolidate Paoay’s existing infrastructure facilities that surround Paoay church like the plaza, the ruins of the Catholic convent and the frontage of a state-run university.
“Tourism is the largest industry in the world, bigger than oil,” Palafox had said when he agreed to come up with a tourism design for Ilocos Norte.
The other tourism plan includes the development of the Paoay Lake and areas flanking it like the view deck and the sprawling lot below the Malacañang of the North.
Locally known as the “Balay ti Amianan,” the former rest house of the Marcoses was set on a vast lot in barangay Suba in Paoay town with a commanding view of the pristine lake.
The Malacañang of the North has been under the supervision of the Philippine Tourism Authority after the 1986 Edsa Revolt until the provincial government took over its upkeep late last year.
Governor Marcos has introduced improvements on the once run-down facility and opened it to private functions aside from a regular tourist stop.
To generate more tourist activities, a commercial arcade along a stretch of the road lining the Paoay church will rise. It will be a stop for the town’s unique products and other Ilocano souvenir items.
Interestingly, the provincial government launched a design competition to implement the town’s tourism plan which covers the commercial arcade and plaza and the Paoay Lake National Park.
The competition will bring together the ideas of local architects and engineers including students who were called to bring in concepts that are grounded on Ilocano culture.
(Local historian Constancio Diaz wrote in his published article that Don Martin Guiang was the founder of Paoay who ruled the town in 1701-1704. Don Martin Guiang with the title “Capitan Bosar” and first chief executive, had formally established the Municipality of Paoay through a Royal Decree by the King of Spain, Ex-Mayor Diaz further wrote.-Editor).(JCR/CCA- PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)