‘Cherry blossoms’ park to rise in Puerto Princesa

Keith Anthony S. Fabro

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‘Cherry blossoms’ park to rise in Puerto Princesa
Balayong, which is endemic to Palawan, is in full bloom in February up to summer

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A new eco-tourism attraction is on the rise in this city, where one can experience cherry blossoms that resemble Japan’s famous Sakura parks.

Over a thousand residents participated in the Balayong Tree-Planting Festival on Saturday, July 29. Balayong is the local name of the endemic Palawan cherry (Cassia nodosa).

The  P250-million Balayong Park is one of the city government’s priority projects to further boost tourism in this city, known around the world for its underground river.

Balayong Park, which covers an area of 73,461 square meters, has been planted with 1,200 balayong seedlings which are expected to be fully grown in 5 years. The balayong bears light pink and white flowers and are in full bloom from February up to the summer.

TREE PLANTING. Mayor Lucilo Bayron leads the mass planting of Balayong trees in Puerto Princesa City. Photo courtesy of Cheradee Lestino/City Information Office

Once completely built, Balayong Park will also feature a restaurant with view deck, food complex, fitness and recreational park, children’s park, museum and library, artists’ pavilion for art exhibit, among other public facilities.

The three-year project is in line with the City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which recognizes the vital role of parks and open spaces in making Puerto Princesa more sustainable and attractive.

“The Balayong Park Project is man-made tourist destination within a tropical design envisioned to demonstrate the City’s strong commitment to creating green and organic architecture providing significant environmental, social and economic benefits to the local communities and all stakeholders,” the city government said.

Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron said that the balayong would “greatly help in absorbing air pollutants and excess rainwater.”

Bayron added: “Instead of planting exotic tree species, why not plant native species like Balayong that we can call our own?” The flowering tree is generally considered to be endemic to Palawan although some botanists have claimed that it is an introduced species.

“The next generation of Puerto Princesans will someday look back and celebrate this historical day when the people of Puerto Princesa united to establish this park,” Bayron said. – Rappler.com

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