PANGASINAN Gov. Amado Espino Jr. led a dog and pony show Tuesday for a planned golf course on the shores of Lingayen Gulf.
The guv greeted everyone with a smile while mixing with a horde of his province’s mayors, tourism and police brass, barangay leaders and media types milling around color picture panels of the proposed championship course in Lingayen’s Barangay Estanza.
The 30-hectare layout, featuring four par fives, the longest at 514 yards, will be carved out by Filipino course designer Cris Pascual from a 300-hectare ecotourism zone.
Patches of the proposed Lingayen Golf and Country Club—Pangasinan’s first 18-hole course—have been cleansed of black sand. The alleged extraction of the commercially valuable magnetite from coastal villages in the capital town sparked controversy recently.
Espino denies there is black sand mining in his neck of the woods, that waterways pollution feared by detractors is inconceivable since Pangasinan is a hall-of-famer among local governments when it comes to clean rivers.
“The only black sand removed will make way for grasses to grow into turf and for native plant varieties to prosper and line the layout’s fairways,” chimed in provincial administrator Raffy Baraan.
A public and private partnership, the golf and country club will employ over 200 during construction and a permanent workforce of 40 when it is up and running, said provincial urban development officer Alvin Bigay.
Drumbeaters say the club will be a boon to the local economy and will ostensibly become part of a provincial sports program, a step in nation building.
A major component, a much-awaited sports academy, will finally swing its doors open to local athletes in January, says Baraan.
The academy will maximize facilities of the ultra-modern Narciso Ramos Sports Complex—the main venue of the Palarong Pambansa and recent Batang Pinoy regionals—that ring Lingayen’s government center. Initial emphasis will be on Olympic sports like track and field, swimming, boxing, karatedo and cycling.
There’s been an exodus of Pangasinan cyclists lately. Without support from home, they fanned out to several provincial and commercial teams to prepare for next year’s Ronda Pilipinas bike classic.
As he headed to another public engagement, Espino tapped Baraan to talk to me about the academy. The straight shooting Baraan said the school, which would have pushed Pangasinan front and center as a leader in grassroots sports development, has been delayed by politics.
In May, the re-electionist Espino faces Alaminos Mayor Hernani Braganza, a former press secretary, one of the House of Representatives famous Spice Boys and a relative of golf enthusiast and former President Fidel Ramos.
Espino’s running mate, incumbent Vice Gov. Jose Ferdinand Calimlim, son of the late Gen. Jose Calimlim, will go up against ex-national police chief Arturo Lomibao.
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A grassroots group led by Fr. Lloyd Nepomuceno, the youthful Catholic parish priest of Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, meets today to map out moves to force the town council and the provincial board to recall their imprimatur for a landfill project in Barangay Simimbaaan.
My birthplace is in a tizzy emotionally over the approval without public input of the regional garbage dump, espoused by Gov. Oyie Umali and Mayor Jong Corpus, that will make Cuyapo the Payatas of the central plains and the mountain provinces.