Lingayen- - -What used to be the just a mere symbolic seat of power, the Provincial Capitol is now a busy hub for people transacting business and a beehive for promenaders and lovers of nature.
Since its transformation in 6-1/2 years ago, the Capitol building has turned into one of the most frequented places in Pangasinan and favorite site for tele-novela setting, backdrop for pre-nuptial or birthday shootings, family outings, study tours, and several other gatherings not just among the locals but among foreigners, as well.
The lush and verdant environs, clean lawns and public comfort rooms, the scent and whiff of fresh air-- all these have gathered positive feedbacks from visitors here and abroad with an impression that it is truly fun to be in Pangasinan.
It can be recalled that immediately after Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. took his oath as the provincial chief executive in July 2007, changes took place leading to the unparalleled transformation from mediocre to excellent state of the Capitol and its environs.
Dave Peralta, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who hails from Urdaneta City, is all praises with what he saw at the Capitol grounds while holding their pre-nuptial shooting in a weekday.
“Nagulat po ako sa malaking pagbabago dito sa Capitol,” he said as he disclosed that his last visit to the place before going to the Middle East was in 2005.
Amazed with what he saw, the OFW recounted his visit to the Capitol nine years ago with his college friends.
“Dati po makalat dito. Nagkalat ang mga plastic at kung saan-saan nakaparada ang mga tricycle. Ang Capitol building hindi ganyan kaganda at ang Urduja building naman hindi mo aakalain na official residence ng gobernador kasi ang daming taong pumapasok na naka-tsinelas at naka-sando lang. Ngayon marami at malaki ang pagbabago. Pakiramdam ko para din akong nasa ibang bansa. Maayos, malinis at maaliwalas. Very obvious na maganda ang pamamalakad ni Gobernador Espino,” said the soon-to-be-groom.
The Capitol complex is primarily a busy district by day but before the employees sign off from their regular working hours at 8am to 5pm, a group of youngsters troop to the Capitol Plaza with their skateboards enjoying every acrobatic move and stunt of the game.
Erwin John Castillo, an incoming college student from Maniboc in Lingayen, said that skateboarding at the Capitol Plaza is a regular pastime of his peers for almost two years now.
“Palagi po kaming nandito mg alas-cuatro po ng hapon nagprapraktis at nag-eenjoy ng tropa hanggang sa gabi po. Mas maganda nga po sa gabi kasi hindi na mainit. Enjoy po kami kasi may background music, maliwanag, at maraming tao,” the 16-year old boy said.
Based on the records of the Tourism Operations Division, the Capitol complex which includes the historic and elegant Sison Auditorium, Urduja Palace, Pangasinan Training and Development Center (PTDC), Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Complex (NRSCC) registered a total of 86,337 during the first quarter of this year.
The tourism office has likewise recorded a total of 268,257 tourists arrivals last 2013.
Ma. Luisa A. Elduayan, TOD chief, said that more local government units in the country have expressed interests to conduct study tour at the Capitol to benchmark its unprecedented progress that transpired in such a short span of time.
Elduayan said that the present administration has set its sights to implement more innovative projects to further boost Pangasinan tourism.