MANILA – With Sitio Pungayan, the setting of ABS-CBN’s teleserye “Forevermore,” slowly turning into a tourist destination, the crew and cast remind the public to protect and preserve the region.
“We constantly remind people to protect it. We integrate this message into the story, like when crops were attacked by pests. We discussed right farming techniques. We tried to point out to the audience how important La Presa is to the people here. If their crops were destroyed, they would lose their source of livelihood,” said Forevermore lead male actor Enrique Gil.
“Whether or not to turn the place into a commercial area is not the network’s decision but of the local government and the tourism office. We just want to remind people that protecting this region is a shared responsibility,” said Forevermore head writer Mark Angos.
Sitio Pungayan is an upland village in Mount Kabuyao. It is the location of the teleserye’s fictional Sitio La Presa, hometown of its lead female character, Maria Agnes Calay, played by Liza Soberano.
Since last year, the Forevermore crew had called it its home.
“It was just us back then. It was so quiet. I remember that there was only one small sari-sari store standing here. We would buy snacks from it. A few months later, it began selling what it called La Presa hats as well as necklaces similar to what Agnes would often wear. That started everything,” said Soberano’s onscreen partner Gil.
With its final episode set to be aired on May 22, the crew will soon leave the haven. They, however, planned to leave behind what they had built in the area, including a small shack, an iconic bench, and a signpost.
“We are hoping that the people will keep them because they are iconic and are important elements in the program,” said Angos. “Baguio and Benguet became characters in the story, too.”
Popularized by the teleserye, Sitio Pungayan’s tourism continues to boom. Although this has given business opportunities to locals, garbage dilemmas and congested roads have also occurred. These alarmed the residence and the local government.
ABS-CBN management has earlier announced a Forevermore concert to be held in the region as a thanksgiving event to all its avid viewers. They had, however, postponed the concert due to ‘environmental concerns on its venue.’
The Forevermore crew and cast still continue to thank its audience for their support.
“They tell us that even TFC (The Filipino Channel) viewers like it. We’re up here and don’t really know what’s happening in other places. We don’t have any idea how big the show has become. We’re just happy with the feedback. It’s so unexpected,” said Gil.