LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The coldest town in this province is crafting a dress code rule for tourists as it prepares to open its tourist sites before the end of the year.
In a phone interview on Saturday, Mayor Raymundo Sarac of Atok said the rule will be part of the tourism ordinance and plan stipulating restrictions, entrance fee, and environmental fee, among others.
Sarac said that after a briefing on the ordinance, arriving tourists will be requested to wear clothing that fits the weather and will not annoy the locals’ culture.
“We need to respect the local culture and upon their (tourists) arrival and before proceeding to the different tourist destinations, there will be an orientation to inform them about our people, our culture, and the place,” he said in the Ilocano dialect.
Sarac said the dress code will also be for the protection and safety of the visitors.
“Atok is one of the coldest places and they should be wearing a jacket or a shirt and there should be ‘no skin’ that is showing,” he added.
Sarac said “very short” pants will not be allowed considering the weather and for safety reasons.
“Atok is a mountain area and if they slip, they might be wounded and nobody wants that happening,” he said.
Sarac said if visitors, especially the ladies, will be wearing “decent” clothing, there will be no “whistle” coming from a local which others may perceive as insulting and demeaning.
“We want to avoid conflicts or anything that may lead to confrontation so we added the requirement, anyway it is cold in Atok,” he said.
Atok became popular with the establishment of the Sakura garden at the Heights Place in Paoay, a village located at the upper portion of the town where frost forms.
It also boasts the Northern Blossom in Sayangan along the highway that has a view of the sunset, as well as the country’s second highest peak — Mt. Pulag and the Mt. Timbac.
Atok is also popular as one of the sources of flowers, among them are those that require a cold temperature to grow like the carnations and tulips.
Several greenhouse gardens of the Puyat farms owned by the family of Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat are also located in the town.
During the visit of Puyat to this town last week, Sarac told her that Atok is not yet ready to open its borders to tourists but he assured they hoped to receive visitors by September or before the year ends.
“I have asked the different barangays and owners of the tourism destinations to use the time to prepare their lodges, restaurants, comfort rooms, and parking,” he said.