Giant Holy Cross: A boon to La Castellana’s flourishing tourism industry

April 3, 2022 by No Comments

THE Municipal Government of La Castellana, under the leadership of Mayor Alme Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilimutan, has been putting premium to the development of its tourism industry which is being regarded as a major economic booster in the southern Negros Occidental locality.One of the eye-catching developments in the town is the giant Holy Cross that stands 13 meters in the middle of a hilly green field at Barangay Mansalanao. After enduring an 83 steps hike going to its pedestal, one is treated to a scenic spot — the magnificent cross and the enticing beauty of the town’s overlooking landscape.Forming part of the Mandayao Panorama View Park, the white religious structure is adorned by the majestic beauty of Mount Kanlaon. Their synergy is a picturesque view that allures every local and foreign tourist visiting the town.Nicor-Mangilimutan, on the sidelines of the blessing of the structure yesterday, April1, said they welcome tourists to visit the place, especially during the upcoming Holy Week.The local government, she said, is not yet imposing any fees for now. But, the attraction is being positioned as an income generating project of the town so it can fund additional developments in the area and even other projects in the locality.“Our plan is to transform the area into a tourism enterprise zone,” Nicor-Mangilimutan said, adding that the municipal government is really banking on tourism development as a measure to further boost the town’s economy through one, creating employment and livelihood opportunities for the locals.The giant Holy Cross is situated within the 3.6-hectare property initially developed by the local government after entering a usufruct agreement for 25 years with the land owner, the Infante family.About half of the P7 million budget sourced from the town’s aid to the barangays fund was already utilized for the first phase of the project.The second phase includes the lighting of the structure, development of a garden, and the construction of an “economical chapel” which will host events like weddings, prenuptials and pilgrimage, among others.“La Castelleños have big faith and the structure is also a reminder for us that we should keep this faith alive,” the mayor said, adding they are open to interested investors for the development of the chapel.In order to pave the way for more developments in the area, Nicor-Mangilimutan said they are pushing for public-private partnership (PPP).Aside from the Holy Cross, it also hosts the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ Shrine. The blessing of the two other giant structures donated by the Infante family was also conducted yesterday.They serve as the centerpiece of the Century Leaf Garden, which is the takeoff of the town’s tourism highway.“Through the tourism highway that we will be creating, we will connect all the tourism spots in the upper barangays of La Castellana,” she added.Aside from increasing the number of cafés to cater to more small businesses and entrepreneurs in the town, other future developments in the area include a hotel, resort, cable car, and tourism hub that will showcase various products of the locality, among others.“This huge project will really complement our tourism industry recovery efforts amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic,” the mayor said, as she urged visitors to be responsible members of the community through one, maintaining the cleanliness in the area.Moreover, the total area being poised to become a tourism enterprise zone is actually 56 hectares. Based on the City Land Use Plan, the entire area is intended for tourism development.Nicor-Mangilumutan, however, pointed out that a portion of which may be covered under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) of the Department of the Agrarian Reform though there’s already a pending application for which to be reversed from agricultural land to a tourism site.“We will only touch whatever is allowed,” she said, adding that “we have planned these developments even before the pandemic and tourism is really a priority of my administration because, again, it is an economic booster, it will help alleviate the lives of our people.”*