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Baguio closes Igorot Stone Kingdom amid violations; page alludes to issue in Bill Gates 'quote'

By NICK GARCIA Published Nov 09, 2022 7:18 pm

The local government of Baguio shut down man-made tourist spot Igorot Stone Kingdom, citing permit and safety issues.

In a statement Nov. 9, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Igorot Stone Kingdom—located along Long-Long Road in Pinaso Proper—was operating without a business permit since it opened in 2021.

The stone structures inside, Magalong noted, are also not covered by a building permit, which "puts the structural integrity of the construction in question.”

The mayor said the owner had been notified of the permit violations and advised to comply with the requirements, but had failed to do so.

"Instead, the management ventured to build more structures against the advice of the city government," the mayor said, adding the business "continued to defy cease and desist orders." This prompted the City Buildings and Architecture Office to file a criminal case for violation of the National Building Code last Nov. 7.

Magalong also noted that Igorot Stone Kingdom's structure is in a "very high landslide exposure"—based on the city's climate risk and vulnerability assessment, conducted by the Asian Development Bank and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

The Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources also declared the area as "prone to erosion," the mayor added.

The 6,000-square meter Igorot Stone Kingdom features a castle-like structure with towers and stonewalls, which resemble the Ifugao Rice Terraces in Banaue. It's surrounded by trees and has different symbols about Igorot culture.

Igorot Stone Kingdom has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Hours after Baguio's statement, however, the Igorot Stone Kingdom Facebook page shared a text image of American businessman Bill Gates. In the photo, Gates is supposedly giving advice about being serious in one's dreams, in which one must be ready to be alone, to be laughed at, to be doubted, to be criticized, to be misunderstood, and to lose many people.

“After the calm comes the storm, after the bright day comes the dark night, yet after the pain comes relief," the post's caption read. "Change is a continous (sic) thing, nothing is forever. God is there watching. Let us hope for the best."

Owner Pio Velasco also shared the same post on his Facebook wall.

PhilSTAR L!fe also reached out to Velasco for comment.