The open mine pit that has become an artificial lake over the years. – MWBuzzpic by ARNEL P HERNANDEZ
By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
LARAP, which was the site of a defunct iron mine in Jose Panganiban, CamNorte, is being proposed for development as another eco-tourism park.
The idea was advanced by the LaPIMa (Laking PIM Ako), an organization of individuals whose families benefited from the mines operated by the defunct Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) until mid-1970s.
As a theme park, it will showcase how the mineral iron is being mined in exactly the same way PIM did it during its heyday until the middle of 1970s.
The LaPIMa and JPNHSAA have endorsed the proposed project to Mayor Ricarte Padilla for inclusion in his nine-year development plan for Mambulao.
Mateo Ella Espana, former president of the Jose Panganiban National High School Alumni Association (JPNHSAA) and the project proponent, said that a prototype/scale model of the mine’s operations should be put up as one of the displays at the eco-tourism museum.
The museum is also proposed to display souvenirs from the mines that included safety headgear, shovels and picks and equipment and others that have something to do with the mine.
A centerpiece display would be the open pit mine, which has become an artificial lake after being filled over the past 40 years with water from nearby tributaries and rains. The pit is about 1km in length, 500m in width and 500m in dept.
It will also showcase a scale model of the pelletizing plant at Calambayungan Island where Japanese vessels waited at the pier to haul off the iron ore to Japan.
Espana said the project will achieve multiple objectives:
1) It will eventually perpetuate the memories of Larap PIM, a successful mining community whom the baby bloomers of the late 60’s in JP the present and future generations could hardly remember;
2) It will create a window of opportunities for small entrepreneurs run by a multi-purpose cooperative selling snacks and souvenirs;
3) It will put Jose Panganiban on the map as another tourism destination.
Espana is confident that the eco-theme park will draw visitors, especially those children of former Larap employees and workers who grew up elsewhere in the Philippines.
Espana said that since funding would be the main consideration, LaPIMa should also consider an option to partner with the Department of Trade and Industry under its on-going program promoting the One Town One Project (OTOP) scheme where a P1 million loan funding could be availed of.
Under the OTOP scheme, a town will develop one specific product unique to the place and promote it commercially on a national and global scale.
The iron mine made the municipality of Mambulao prosperous by providing stable jobs to Larap residents and to most of Mambulaoans and spurring various economic activities.
However, years after PIM shut down and most of the residents left for new opportunities elsewhere, the mining camp that comprised the Larap community became desolate and gradually turned into a desert.
Most of those who stayed had survived doing marginal farming and fishing and other odd jobs, while others engaged in small-scale livelihoods.
LaPIMa, which is working for the benefit of families who have remained in Larap, is aiming to revive economic activities at the former mining community by working closely with the development thrusts of the municipal government.