Department of Tourism Pledges Full Support for the Revitalization and Conservation of Pagsanjan Gorge National Park
The Department of Tourism (DOT) affirmed its unwavering commitment to bolster the local tourism industry in Laguna and safeguard the Pagsanjan Gorge National Park (PGNP), home to the renowned Pagsanjan waterfalls. Spanning across Pagsanjan, Cavinti, and Lumban, the PGNP stands as one of the country’s oldest national parks, covering approximately 152 hectares of lush landscapes and towering cliffs.
In a historic event held at the Municipal Hall of Pagsanjan on June 6, 2023, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, alongside local leaders, signed a tripartite agreement aimed at fostering collaboration to rejuvenate tourism and conserve the PGNP. The signatories included Cavinti Mayor Arrantlee R. Arroyo, Lumban Mayor Rolando G. Ubatay, and Pagsanjan Mayor Cesar V. Areza. Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez and DOT-CALABARZON Regional Director Marites Castro served as witnesses.
Tourism Secretary Frasco emphasized the symbolic significance of the agreement, highlighting the collective will and spirit of the people of Laguna to preserve the natural wonders that have been a source of livelihood for generations. She underscored the importance of unity in overcoming challenges and revitalizing tourism in the region.
The signing ceremony also marked the establishment of the Pagsanjan, Cavinti, and Lumban (PACALUM) Tourism Council, tasked with overseeing and regulating tourism activities within the river’s two-kilometer stretch, benefiting local communities economically.
The first tripartite agreement among the three towns occurred 30 years ago, in 1993. Pagsanjan Mayor Areza reflected on the positive impact the Pagsanjan Falls had on the local community during the peak of tourism, sustaining the education of around 2,000 boatmen’s children. As tourism weakened, the livelihoods of these workers were affected.
To further boost tourism in Laguna, Secretary Frasco announced additional projects, including the establishment of a Tourist Rest Area in the neighboring town of Bay, the revival of the old Pagsanjan Resort through a private-public partnership, and the donation of more boats for Pagsanjan boatmen.
Acknowledging the historical and cultural significance of Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna Governor Hernandez hailed the agreement as a symbol of unity for the province, emphasizing the falls as not just a tourist destination but a part of Laguna’s history.
Furthermore, the DOT pledged support for tourism education in the region. Secretary Frasco, along with Deputy House Speaker Duke, pledged P200,000 from their personal funds to support the education of Pagsanjan boatmen’s children. This initiative aligns with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Philippines Chapter’s advocacy on tourism education.
In closing, Secretary Frasco expressed the DOT’s commitment to equalize tourism development across the country, collaborating not only on established destinations but also supporting emerging tourist spots. She urged unity and collaboration to ensure the resurgence of tourism benefits all.