A new tourist destination that tells about Igorot folklore and showcases the locals’ rock-laying skills will be opened here by midyear.

Photo: IGOROT STONE KINGDOM. A new park that showcases Igorot culture, practices and traditions as well as the life of the inhabitants of the Cordillera region, is expected to open middle of this year in Baguio City. The locality, known as the “summer capital” of the Philippines, struggles to revive its tourism industry after reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

Currently completing the final touches on the park on a mountainside along Long-long Road, Pinsao Proper village, owner Pio Velasco said “the whole concept is an Igorot child’s fantasy of castles, his childhood in Mountain Province, the stories about the first Igorot people, man’s belief that there is a caring God and culture of family brought out by the Igorot’s skillful hands of stone laying.”

The park covering a 6,000-square meter area features the Igorot ingenuity in creating stone walls similar to the rice terraces in Battad, Banaue.

“We did the traditional ‘riprap’ that did not use cement inside but for purposes of reinforcement had to top it with cement,” Velasco said.

On the right side of the mountain facing the stone wall are modern-day castles made of cement and hollow blocks.

Velasco said, “hindi lang basta stone wall ang itinayo sa gilid ng bundok, may mga iba-ibang kwento na kumikilala sa bawat province ng Cordillera (it is not just a stone wall built on the side of a mountain, it contains the history of the different provinces of Cordillera)”.

Among the main attractions at the stone kingdom is a tower that depicts the fantasy story of Gatan and Bangan, an Igorot man and woman who survived the great holocaust, a fertility stone tower, and a Kabunyan (Igorot God) tower.

Velasco said the park is a representation of both the new and old Igorot culture and values of the Cordillera people.

“One area of the modern side of the park is dedicated to my sister who was killed in an accident in another country while the huge living rock at the entrance of the ancient side is dedicated to my mother who raised us in wonder, doing her best to give us good future amid the difficulties she was in then,” he said.

Velasco noted that the whole concept of the park was borne when the community quarantine was declared in March 2020. He said the project idea popped up when he visited the property which had been in his possession for over 20 years.

Sitting on a corner, he viewed the property which had been unstable and continuously degrading for years. He then realized that the place has its architectural beauty which can hold his idea of a beautiful blend of old culture and the modern Igorot.

“Because I had a vision in my mind, the figure slowly emerged, showing my dream fantasy kingdom,” Velasco said.

He said the park will also house life-sized statues of prominent Igorots who have made a name and were proud of their ancestry. “I’m thinking of having Roxanne Baeyens who is the first Igorot beauty queen, among the many names who will be honored here,” Velasco said.

He said he hoped to complete the park in two months’ time and open it to the public by June. (Liza Agoot, PNA)