SanFernando City, May 2, 2003 -- Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon, recently bared plans to rehabilitate Paskuhan Village in San Fernando City, Pampanga in a bid to bring tourism and culture closer to the regions, following the successful transformation of Intramuros, now known as the "History Town Philippines," into a one-stop shopping, cultural and entertainment center as part of the "Visit Philippines 2003" program.

Paskuhan Village is the third in the world and only Christmas theme park in Asia where it is Christmas the whole year-round and wherein foreign and local tourists can buy Christmas knick-knacks, toys, gifts and giveaways.

Among the changes that will be implemented is the change of name from "Paskuhan Village" to "Nayong Pilipino sa Gitna at Hilagang Luzon." It will feature the best of Central and Northern Luzon, showcasing its history, culture, music, food, arts and crafts, folklore, songs, dances and products, among others.

A Historical Museum will be constructed which will trace the colorful past of Central and Northern Luzon from pre-historic times to the present. Some of the major historical events which will be featured in the museum are the Revolution, Malolos Congress, Mount Pinatubo eruption, Great Flood of 1972 and the turnover of the US military bases.

The new "Nayong Pilipino" will also be a venue for trade and tourism exhibits, consumer shows and daily musical performances featuring popular and upcoming talents from all over the regions in various genres of performances and an eclectic choice of music from the "Kundimans" to popular music, brass bands and more.

Gordon said that the project calls for the active involvement of the local government units (LGUs) who shall be the ultimate beneficiaries of the project, providing business and livelihood opportunities for the provinces.

Domestic tourism is expected to boost Central and Northern Luzon areas as more locals now have an increased awareness of the importance of tourism industry and its enormous contribution to the economy.

The rehabilitation of the Paskuhan Village into a "Nayong Pilipino" is expected to become a template for other regions and destinations to follow.

Gordon has also lined up other possible areas for rehabilitation, which includes the Malasag Gardens in Cagayan de Oro, Marcos Park in Cordillera, Fort San Pedro in Cebu and Mac Arthur Park in Leyte.

He is expected to meet with concerned local government officials and the private sector to thresh out the details of these forthcoming projects, and to ensure the continuity of the concept even beyond this administration. (By Jaser A. Marasigan)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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