Bill declaring Sagrada Familia caves as ecotourism zone hurdles House
By Billy Begas
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure declaring Sagrada Familia in Zambales an Ecotourism Zone.
Voting 196 affirmative, no negative and six abstention, the House approved House Bill 8774 authored by Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla.
Sagrada Familia Caves in Sta. Cruz town are series of caves that are popular tourist spots for avid spelunkers.
The collective name of the caves was derived from the formation of stalagmites in one of the caves that resembled the structure of the Holy Family which when translated to Spanish is Sagrada Familia.
A few crevices on the roof of the caves allow penetration of sunlight that makes it easy for anyone to appreciate the beautiful rock and mineral formation within.
The textured stairs leading to the caves are made up of coral fragments alongside the cliff. These coralline remnants are scientific proof that millions of years ago the area was part of the ocean floor.
Tourists flock the area especially during Holy Week due to the belief that climbing up the mountain to reach the holy cave is a form of penance.
Despite the hidden beauty of the Sagrada Familia caves and the frequency of tourist visit in the area, no comprehensive plan has even been made to ensure the protection of the caves.
The measure mandates the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to develop an ecotourism master plan.
A similar measure was filed and approved by the House of Representatives in the 16th and 17th Congress. However, the Senate failed to pass it.
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