Laoag Diocese backs gov’t plan to boost heritage tourism

LAOAG CITY (PNA) – The Diocese of Laoag is set to embark on a multi-million mix-use development project to attract more investors, generate livelihood and boost heritage tourism here.

Church officials led by Bishop Renato Mayugba (right) of the Diocese of Laoag along with Laoag City Mayor Michael M. Keon (left), and Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc (second from left), witness the release of time capsule during the recent ceremonial groundbreaking of the San Guillermo Complex in Laoag City. (Alwyn Formantes/PNA/MANILA BULLETIN)

Located at the heart of the city is a large chunk of the church real estate property where two of Laoag’s historical landmarks are located -- the Saint William Cathedral and its sinking bell tower.

Within the church complex are currently being occupied by a chain of fastf ood restaurants and some stall owners who are renting the church property.

According to Bishop Renato Mayugba, the San Guillermo Plaza will soon be developed as a vibrant hub for business activities without violating the religious sensitivity of the place.

In time for the feast of Laoag's patron, Saint William the Hermit, Mayugba led the groundbreaking Thursday of the plaza development which features the construction of a mix-use building with a conference hall and a wide parking space that could accommodate 500 cars at a time.

Once completed in three to four years’ time, he said the project will have a long-term benefit to the locals particularly in creating more job opportunities while boosting heritage tourism.

Instead of renovating the old church properties, the Laoag bishop said they decided to just construct a new one for some practical reasons.

“The mix-use project will be done in two phases. The first phase involves the construction of a Chapel of the Resurrection with candle offertory in honor of the Black Nazarene. The architectural design of the complex will have to blend to the Baroque Cathedral and the church bell tower to restore its cultural character,” said Mayugba during the groundbreaking ceremony in front of the Laoag Cathedral, attended by city and provincial officials.

For his part, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc on Friday lauded the project as it supports the provincial government’s effort to attract more investors and provide more jobs for the Ilocanos.

To date, documentary requirements are now being processed with partner investors and the construction phase will start anytime soon.