Campbell Memorial Park seen to boost ecotourism in Ifugao town
by Dan B. Codamon
ASIPULO, Ifugao (15 October) -- The Julia Campbell Agro-Forest Memorial Park (JCAM) located at Barangay Pula here, which was inaugurated on June 3,2007 soon after the death of US Peace Corp Volunteer Julia Campbell, is seen to boost eco-tourism not only in this municipality but to the entire province.
Envisioned to be fully developed by February 2008, the park is already opened to the public and hosted a number of volunteers, hikers, tourists and campers alike.
However, due to lack of boarding facilities to provide housing for campers, the maximum benefit cannot yet be realized so effort is being undertaken by the Indigenous Farmers for Sustainable Agriculture (IFSA) of this municipality to construct native and environmentally friendly houses at the park by seeking funds from generous donors for the project.
They said the project will use indigenous materials such as cogon grass and native wood trees procured responsibly and in an environmentally conscious manner by licensed woodcutters.
If finished, these could house and accommodate 42 visitors and campers all at the same.
Recently, the local government of this town also announced its plans to develop the Asipulo area to accommodate hikers and campers who wish to visit the beautiful outdoors of Ifugao to complement the project.
Situated in a 40-hectare ancestral land owned by the family of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Puguon Sr. at Barangay Pula, the JCAM offers a scenic view of beautiful rice terraces, virgin forests, native villages and an area of wildlife.
This is a tribute by the municipality of Asipulo to the fallen US Peace Corps Volunteer Julia Campbell who was mercilessly slain in Barangay Batad, Banaue on April 8 and hurriedly buried in a shallow muddy grave.
Although suspect Juan Duntugan voluntarily surrendered two weeks later, the case is still pending at the Regional Trial Court Branch 34 of Lagawe to determine whether the crime committed is murder or homicide.
After Campbell's death, the people of Asipulo felt a great sense of sadness and moral responsibility to strengthen their friendship with the US Peace Corp Volunteers.
With this strong feeling of sympathy, the community took on the idea of developing a memorial park for their new found hero, Julia Campbell as they had been enjoying and appreciating their time and projects with previous and present US Peace Corps volunteers who are working for the betterment of poor communities.
It was this joyous working relationship that inspired them to voluntarily offer their place for the park as a way of showing their gratitude to the US Peace Corp Volunteers and to finally have closure to the painful death of Campbell, and instead remember her inspirational and fulfilling life.
The idea of the park came to reality when the Puguon Family offered their organic farmland and virgin forest to be used for the JCAM.
The Puguon family will take responsibility in maintaining the quality of the park land with the assistance of the IFSA while the local youth organization, Providential Youngster Society volunteered their services for trail and campground maintenance.
On the other hand, the local government of Asipulo promised to continue to assist with park celebration and functions as well as appointing municipal employees to help in trail renovation and development.
The community can benefit from the project by having free available camping areas for youth trainings, seminars and campouts, along with the ability to activate their eco-tourism plans with the newly created position of Municipal tourism Officer and the appointment of municipal tour guides.
Knowledge and skills in eco-tourism, solid waste management, native house development and accommodation relations can also follow that will further inspire and prepare the community for the development of other potential eco-tourism spot in the municipality.
Moreover, the IFSA can earn extra income through the cottage rentals to guests where the profit will go directly to the account of the organization.
The park will be ran in a cost and labor efficient manner that will insure its presence within Asipulo into the distant future and at the same time serve as an important cornerstone in the development of the municipality's newly formed eco-tourism plan. (PIA Ifugao) [top]