By JOSEPH GREGORIO
BAGUIO CITY — Travelers in search for memorable photo at the highest section in the Philippine highway system now have to travel to Ifugao after the original stop for the title at Barangay Cattubo, Atok, Benguet along the Halsema Highway was dislodged.
For decades, the portion along the Halsema Highway, that runs 142 kilometers from the National Toll Gate in Tublay, Benguet to Bontoc, the capital of Mountain Province, was the recognized road portion with the highest altitude.
However, this February, the Department of Public Works and Highways identified a portion of the Kiangan-Tinoc-Buguias Road as the Highest Elevation of the Philippine Highway System. With part of the road located at the height of 2,428 meters above sea level, the area new “highest point” topped the one in Atok by a difference of 173 meters.
According to the memorandum from the central office shown recently to Baguio media recently by DPWH Cordillera, the new “Highest Point” is now located at Mt. Gui’ngaw, Barangay Eheb in Tinoc town. This road connects Kiangan and Tinoc towns of Ifugao to the neighboring municipality of Buguias, Benguet.
The validation and assessment for the title was conducted in January in reference to the endorsement by the DPWH Cordillera on November of last year. This was in response to the municipal council resolution passed on July 17 last year requesting for the “validation and identification” of a new highest point.
The department already advised the 1st District Engineering Office (DEO) of Ifugao to install a marker specifying the location and elevation of the new highest point of the Philippine Highway System.
Meanwhile, Ifugao representative Teddy Baguilat said the new highest point in Tinoc will not disappoint travellers as it also offers scenic landscape comprised of lush mountains and vegetable gardens.
The Kiangan-Tinoc-Buguias Road opened in 2002 and paving started in 2011. It was converted into a national road by virtue of Republic Act No. 10551 on May 15, 2013, hence it was not considered when the site in Atok was declared said DPWH.
“Today about 95 percent of the road is already concrete,” said the solon who T authored the law that reclassified the provincial road.
He sees the declaration of the spot as the new road with the highest altitude as “very timely and providential.”
“It will certainly boost curiosity to the remote mossy Tinoc. Hopefully, it will spur toruism development,” Baguilat said. # # nordis.net / Photo courtesy of Brian Mijares