MORE than 6,000 residents in five coastal villages in the City of Mati and Governor Generoso town are overwhelmed by the government’s services during a three-day Outreach Caravan.
Sheer joy and excitement are seen on the villagers’ faces, especially the children, who for the first time saw all government agencies flocked together in their villages to bring them much-need services they seldom get.
Tucked away and isolated from the bustle of urban life, the villages of Cabuaya, Luban, and Lanca, which are situated at the foot of the world-famous Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in the outskirts of the City of Mati and the villages of Pundaguitan and Lavigan at the tip of Governor Generoso town are the latest recipients of the Provincial Government’s flagship program Nagkakaisang Lingkod-Bayan ng Davao Oriental Barangay Outreach Caravan.
Although endowed with scenic landscapes and picturesque countryside outlined by a long stretch of coastline and rugged rock formations, serving as a backdrop for the caravan, these marginalized remote villages belonged to the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) wherein the main challenge lies in accessibility.
“We are lucky if we could go to the capital City of Mati once a year. Most of the villagers here seldom go there because of the long travel time, the poor road condition, and the expensive fare. Today, we are very happy to see government workers here giving us all these services we need,” said Leonardo Sumimba Sr., 56, a resident in Barangay Luban, who availed of free medical checkup and medicines at the caravan. He said residents here are thankful for the medical services provided as most of them could not afford the expensive P300 one-way fare to go to the hospital for a checkup, let alone buy medicines.
For the more than fifty motor vehicle owners in the village of Cabuaya, the caravan which brought the services of the Land Transportation Office is already a huge help. For so long, motorcycle drivers in the village want to have proper documents for their vehicles especially now that the national government imposes strict policy for licenses as a way to fight illegal activities. “Since we are very far from the city, many have failed to secure a license. With the caravan being held here, we have been properly informed about the requirements for securing a license without having to spend money for fare to go to the city just to ask for information,” said one resident.
Living modest lives in the villages sandwiched by mountains on one side and the sea on the other, most residents here, for years, depend on producing copra or fishing as their livelihood. The mountain was declared a protected area for being a habitat of diverse flora and fauna including the Philippine Eagles. These villages are also known for producing lobsters and other high-value aquaculture. They may be richly endowed with natural resources, but these villages are not immune to the challenges faced by many remote rural communities which is accessibility.
Pursuing higher education is also a challenge for the students here. Langca Elementary School Principal Aquilina Lumactod said that among the 218 students from kinder to grade 6, only a handful of their graduates proceed to high school and much fewer students make it to college due to early pregnancy and poverty. “It is really the distance from school that hinders our youth here to avail of the free higher education. The nearest secondary schools here are in Lavigan and Pundaguitan which are more or less 13 kilometers away. Fare, food and lodging are too expensive for farmers and fisher folks in our village,” Lumactod said. She said children as young as fourteen tend to marry.
With this “alarming scenario among the youth”, Lumactod says that the NLD Barangay Outreach Caravan is an opportune time to lobby their request to the Provincial Government. She hopes that the Integrated School they have long been requesting will soon be established in the area so that students will not have to go far to attend secondary school.
Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, who strongly pushes for an enhanced connectivity in the province through road infrastructure, has vowed to improve the road connecting the villages of Cabuaya, Luban and Lanca to the city proper of Mati. “Construction of roads requires a huge financial requirement but we will find a way to allocate a budget for it in order to push through the project,” the governor said. Although geographically part of the City of Mati, these villages are separated from the city by mountain ranges.
Recognizing healthcare as one of the main issues in these far-flung communities, Governor Dayanghirang, has established an office in the Governor Generoso Provincial Hospital which would serve as direct linkage of the people seeking medical assistance to the Provincial Governor’s Office.
In support to tourism, Governor Dayanghirang has announced during the caravan that the Provincial Government has allocated a total fund of P15 Million to further develop the Cape San Agustin in Governor Generoso town which is one of the main tourist come-ons in the province since it was first renovated during the administration of Former Governor, now First District Representative Corazon N. Malanyaon.
Recently, a throng of eco-tourists from Japan and Manila trooped to the town of Governor Generoso as the town also host the habitat of the highly endangered Philippine Eagles. The town is now a new beehive of tourism activities in the province. Governor Generoso town Mayor Katrina Joy Orencia says that it is important that residents living near the bird sanctuary be given livelihood assistance so they can help protect and preserve the protected area. Through the bird watching activity, locals have generated income by offering home stays and other services to the tourists. (Karen Lou Deloso and Riza M. Golez)