Pasinag sa Hilaga

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Friday, July 4, 2014

By Ching Pangilinan

A NEW dawn will be rising at the former Paskuhan Village, now known as Hilaga, with the latest public and private partnership aimed at resurrecting this once bustling tourist attraction in Pampanga.

The Paskuhan of my youth differs vastly from the Hilaga of today. When it opened in the 1990s, Paskuhan was designed to be the only Christmas Village in Asia and the third of its kind in the world, in recognition of San Fernando as an undisputed Christmas Capital and as a lasting tribute to the Filipino Christmas heritage. In the late 1990s, the property was redesigned as host to the Florikultura or Gardens of the World, with airconditioned greenhouses and landscaped garden exhibits from over ten countries. Then came the WOW campaign which turned the property into WOW Hilaga as a showcase of the northern regions that include the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon.


What is left now of the property are empty gallery spaces, heavily weeded gardens, and abandoned stalls including what’s left of the former Days Hotel turned Paskuhan Hotel. If it were not for the effort of the TIEZA staff assigned there, the spirit of the property would have died a long time ago. The caretakers and gardeners who love the place continue to plant ornamentals, herbs and vegetables in the spaces that they could manage. The marketing staff continues to promote the available venues for government and office functions. Students from various schools have found it conducive space for rehearsals.

Fortunately, the outgoing OIC of TIEZA in Hilaga is a Kapampangan who has a heart for the arts and culture. Leo Mendoza has cultivated a vast network among Kapampangan arts and culture enthusiasts during his stint at TIEZA. Last May, the venue played host to the Kapampangan Indie Music Festival and several other concerts that featured nationally renowned bands.

This July, Paskuhan Village will once again open its doors to the public through the “Pasinag sa Hilaga”, a sneak preview of the new attractions which attempt to revive the place into a haven for arts and culture in our region.

During the Cityhood Anniversary of San Fernando in February, the Art Association of the Philippines Central Luzon Chapter spearheaded the opening of the AAP Art Center and Gallery which brings together works of some of the best artists in Pampanga and Central Luzon.

During the Independence Day Celebration on June 12, private sector leaders and collecting enthusiasts led by Tito Jorge Cuyugan led the opening of the BCI Collectors’ Museum which features awesome and amazing displays of various collections ranging from rocks and minerals, to stamps and coins. The Collectors’ Museum brings the hobby of collecting to a higher level.

This coming August will feature the start of Academy of Performing Arts’ theater season with “Atin Cu Pung Singsing”, an interactive presentation designed to introduce and encourage the use of the Capampangan language among pre-school and elementary students, especially as part of the Department of Education’s mandate on Mother Tongue Language Education. Knowing the strict standards for quality and value of the Academy of Performing Arts with Michelle Aguilar Ong at the helm, “Atin Cu Pung Singsing” will definitely be at par with world-class productions.

Another must-see attraction starting on August at the Paskuhan Village is the “Digmaan 1942: Death March”, a light and sound show and historical exhibit that focuses on the Second World War. This is a timely and appropriate presentation considering the historical importance of our province and our region in World War II chronicles.

The synergy of efforts of the private sector, TIEZA and the City Government of San Fernando are laudable, especially in their willingness to lease a new life to Hilaga. Through the new attractions at the Hilaga, I hope that the place will once again become a beacon of tourism, culture and the arts in Pampanga.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 05, 2014.


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