FACILITIES. Pangasinan First District Rep. Arthur Celeste (third from left) and Governor Ramon Guico III pose with officials of Dasol town community hospital during their visit and inspection last Friday (Sept. 9, 2022). The two officials went around the Western Pangasinan to check the status of the province's facilities. (Photo by Hilda Austria)

BOLINAO, Pangasinan – First District Rep. Arthur Celeste is eyeing the construction of a world-class convention center here to further boost this town’s tourism sector.

“We will make it a world-class convention center. According to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)’s estimate, it would cost around PHP150 million. Governor Ramon Guico III has already committed to allocating initial funding worth PHP20 million,” Celeste said in an interview on Monday.

He added his office will allocate PHP50 million and the ABONO Partylist, PHP20 million.

The center will be built at the current location of the Bolinao Civic Center at Poblacion beside the Saint James the Great Parish Church, which is a tourist attraction being one of the oldest churches in the country and where the first mass in the country was possibly held, Celeste said.

The public market situated at the back of the church and the civic center will be transferred to a one-hectare lot to be donated by the family of Dr. Miguel De Perio.

“Since the first mass was possibly held at the Saint James the Great Parish Church, a park should be built beside it where the residents and tourists could go,” he said.

The main tourist destinations in Bolinao are the Patar white sand beach and Cape Bolinao Lighthouse nearby, two areas of waterfalls, caves, dining at Sungayan Grill while on a river cruise, and the Bolinao Marine Laboratory (research station of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute or UPMSI) that are in charge of the giant clams at Silaki Island, among others.

“With the convention center, more tourists will come here and it would generate income for the province and municipality and livelihood for the residents,” Celeste said.

The local government and the congressman are also looking into the development of the 10-hectare Silaki Islet, a sitio of Barangay Binabalian, as another tourist destination.

Silaki island is the home of giant clams under the care of the UPMSI.

Pangasinan East-West Expressway

Governor Ramon Guico III expressed his support for the tourism development plans of the solon in Bolinao town.

“Bolinao is a beautiful place known in almost all of the country. But it is not that accessible even if you are already from Pangasinan, say from my hometown in Binalonan. It will take hours depending on the traffic situation, how much more from those coming from outside the province,” he said.

Guico said an east-west expressway road network project has been proposed to promote accessibility of tourist destinations all over the province.

“We have already met with the officials of the DPWH and the local government units and I asked them to align the construction of bypass roads to the proposed east-west expressway,” he added.

The expressway will shorten travel time from the first district of Pangasinan to the fifth and sixth districts of the province.

Meanwhile, Guico said WCC Aviation Company, which his family owns, is planning to put up an airstrip in the town of Bolinao.

“If we put something in Bolinao, even though it is a privately run airstrip for the meantime, at least there is an airstrip. We can promote travel here from Manila. Its initial requirement is just a one-kilometer runway,” he said. (PNA)