Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles is upbeat that the new ₱40 million Pantabangan Lake (PL) Resort Hotel here will further spur tourism and economic growth in Central Luzon.
Nograles, along with National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Ricardo Visaya, led the opening of the facility inside the scenic mountain top in this town’s Barangay Fatima on Thursday.
He lauded the NIA officials, particularly Visaya and Engineer Rosalinda Bote, department manager of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System (UPRIIS), for undertaking the project two years after it was recovered from a private Korean firm which gained its management contract from the provincial government of Nueva Ecija 20 years ago.
Nograles said the resort hotel is strategically located adjacent to the Pantabangan Dam reservoir, which is considered as one of the biggest in Asia.
Noting of the picturesque scenery of the Caraballo and Sierra Madre mountain ranges, he said the NIA Pantabangan Lake Resort Hotel shows a huge potential for further driving the economic and tourism growth and development of Central Luzon.
The facility is the first hotel owned by the NIA and managed by the UPRIIS, which is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) operating under the Office of the President, particularly the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.
It was built in the 1970s and was then called the NIA Guesthouse, which accommodated guests from the World Bank, NIA and other government agencies and offices especially those working in various irrigation projects nearby.
The Nueva Ecija provincial government, however, gained control over it in 1999, which awarded its management to a Korean firm that branded it Best Hotel.
“For some reasons or another, it was neglected for more than 10 years. Kaya napakalaking tagumpay po para sa ating lahat na naibawi natin, naiuwi po natin uli sa NIA itong resort hotel po na ito (Thus, it is big success for all of us to regain it and brought back this resort hotel to NIA),” he said.
Strategically located atop the mountain that overlooks the lush greeneries of the Pantabangan Watershed and the calmness of the lake’s blue water, the facility is described to be a “perfect landscape of nature that is well-suited to capture each memory and moments of celebration.”
With several amenities, the hotel has 17 standard rooms, suite rooms, a function hall, a restaurant and a veranda.
Bote said with these, the PL can easily compete with its private counterparts.
“NIA Pantabangan Resort Hotel is now ready to compete with other hotels here in Nueva Ecija as venue for seminars, conferences, team buildings, and other government agencies and stakeholders and also our irrigators associations,” she said.
Bote expressed gratitude to the agency’s top management for “all the support given to UPRIIS,” especially for the establishment of the resort hotel.
Visaya, meanwhile, said the facility is one of the income-generating ventures of the agency in the light of the Duterte administration’s resolve to provide free irrigation service to farmers with eight hectares and below of land.
The other is the provision of floating solar power farm that is now being implemented in the 4,500-hectare Magat Dam.
“Hindi lang dapat irigasyon ang ating facilities. We have to optimize the utilization of our facilities na pagkakakitaan para sa gobyerno at para katulong din sa ating mga kababayan (Our facilities should not be only for irrigation. We have to optimize the utilization of our facilities that could generate income for the government and at the same time, could help our countrymen),” Visaya told NIA officials and employees in a brief program held at the hotel’s Pantabangan Hall.
“Not only for irrigation but also for power. We have hydropower here of FirstGen and we will add more,” he added.
Floating solar farms, he said, spare agricultural lands from conversion. (PNA)