NVizcaya DENR eyes amusement and wild life park
by Ben Moses Ebreo
Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya (June 2) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here has started to improve former New Tribes Mission (NTM) compound in barangay Darapidap here into an amusement and wildlife park.
"The original area was a barren lot but it was improved and developed by the NTM missionaries," said Robert Apigo, provincial environment and natural resources officer, referring to the 10 - hectare NTM compound here which was leased by the NTM since June 6, 1979 for a period of 25 years from the DENR served as the abode of American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham while doing missionary work for the tribes in the province.
The compound has been reclaimed by the DENR after its lease expired in June 6, 2004 and its management is now back within the supervision and control of the DENR here.
The Burnhams have been in the country for 15 years, particularly in this town and constructed roads, chapels, multi-purpose halls and provided training for tribal pastors and scholarship grants to children of indigenous people in Nueva Vizcaya.
The couple was responsible for the construction of an airstrip in barangay New Gumiad in Dupax del Sur town where Martin who was also a pilot used to bring the needed assistance such as medicines and literacy materials to the Bugkalot tribe, a former headhunting tribe in the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora provinces.
Martin and Gracia Burnham, NTM missionaries were abducted in Palawan in May 27 2001. During a rescue attempt by government forces, Martin died while Gracia was unharmed, now back in the United States.
At present, the lot is now teeming with fruit ? bearing trees and landscaped in a park-like environment with grasses.
According to Apigo, the NTM compound now houses the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Aritao.
"Since the lease agreement has expired after 25 years, we have to take over the property, Apigo explained.
The NTM left the improvements made within the compound such as 15 buildings with comfort rooms.
Also donated by the NTM to the DENR were wooden beds, tractor, a generator, lawn mower chairs, water tank, sports facilities and a hangar.
The DENR, Apigo said have laid out plans to transform the former NTM compound into a mini park where children and adults can enjoy its amenities and wild life.
Included in the plan, he said were the purchase of airconditioning equipments for rooms, refurbishing of damaged rooms and quarters and the development of a Regional Training Center (RTC) which can accommodated 250 participants to be funded by the DENR.
"We will also install a marker in honor of Martin and Gracia Burnham and the NTM workers for their unselfish missionary work in the province which benefited most of our indigenous tribes," Apigo said. (PIA NVizcaya) [top]