IN its past, a village in Mandaue City was feared for the arrows that struck intruders who attempted to enter. Its people were so quick to protect the place that they were described as being winged.
A combination of wings and arrows—“pako” and “pana” (as well as “panaan” or armed with arrows)—eventually led to a name: Paknaan.
Today, Barangay Paknaan is one of the busiest barangays in Mandaue. With at least 28,000 people, it is also the village with the highest population in the city.
Chaos and other problems caused by congestion may be expected whenever a big number of people gather in one area, but not in Paknaan.
The barangay was recently declared as the most outstanding barangay in Mandaue during the city’s 48th Charter Day celebration. It was the village’s third time to receive the award.
Paknaan Barangay Captain Malaquias Soco said he already had a vision for Paknaan before he was elected as the village’s top executive in 2010.
“Lahi man gud ang akong vision. Once naa nako diri, nakapangutana ko: unsa may angay buhaton? Mao na ang pag-motivate… Ang mga bata di sila magmakuli sa pagsuporta nato. Nakita man nila unsay atong gibuhat (I had a different vision for Paknaan. What I did was motivate people to support the barangay officials. Luckily, they did not hesitate to do so because they saw our work),” said Soco.
With the huge population the barangay has, Soco decided to create a governance coalition involving the youth, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, academe, business, fishermen, and beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or the government’s conditional cash transfers.
Soco said he involved representatives of these different sectors in their development council planning, so their concerns will be addressed.
Smaller, closer circles
The barangay, which has 24 zones, is establishing a purok system.
“My secret for this award is to believe always in God’s will. A second one is the people: I organized the people and they are very active in extending community service,” he said.
From a budget of P8 million in 2010, Paknaan kept raising the amount each year, and plan to propose an annual budget of P21 million for 2018.
The barangay captain attributed this development to the participation of the business sector and the fact that they regularly paid their taxes.
Around 300 companies operate in Paknaan. Many of these are warehouses. These businesses have been helping the barangay through their corporate social responsibility programs, including building classrooms and providing two sacks of rice every month for the barangay volunteers.
These volunteers clean the drainage system and keep the barangay peaceful, among others.
A big portion of the population makes brooms for a living. Every February, the barangay hosts a Silhig Festival in line with the fiesta of the village’s patron saint, Señor Santo Niño.
Jose Leaniel Casilagan, 28, believes the festival is a big factor that has made Paknaan an outstanding barangay.
“Basin mao na’y naka outstanding sa Paknaan, ang Silhig festival, sports events. Llimpyo pud ang kadalanan kay naa’y street sweeper inig kadlawon. Limited na kaayo ang mga adik (Probably the festival makes the Paknaan the best barangay. We also have sports events. The streets are now cleaner because street sweepers work every dawn. I also noticed that there are fewer drug addicts),” he said.
Keeping it quiet
He acknowledged the barangay officials efforts in fixing dilapidated roads.
However, Casilagan, who has lived in Paknaan all of his life, would like barangay officials to look after the youth that have been making noise late at night and are sometimes involved in commotions.
Nilo Manatad, a three-time awardee as the most outstanding barangay tanod, said they have been trying their best to address this. He said they had arrested persons involved in different incidents. It was why he received death threats before.
“Kabantay sila nga trabaho lang ato, nitahod sila (When they realized that we were just doing our jobs, they learned to respect us),” he said.
Manatad, 54, was awarded as the outstanding barangay tanod in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He said he was challenged to do his job better, just like what he noticed about the current barangay captain.
Since Soco began to serve as the barangay’s leader in 2010, Manatad, who has been in public service for 18 years, said he followed the captain’s best practices.
“Holiday angay unta mopahuway pero kang kap anytime or kutob sa kinahanglan mi moari mi sa barangay (Holidays are supposed to be our time to rest. But our barangay captain advised us that anytime we are needed, we should report to the barangay hall),” said Manatad.
Soco, for his part, thinks an increase in crime is one of the challenges Paknaan will face. The village currently has 46 tanods, but Soco wants to have at least 60.
He has asked different organizations to serve as force multipliers, just to keep the area peaceful.
Paknaan also implements a community-based rehabilitation program for drug surrenderers.
Cielo Brigoli, who grew up in Paknaan, said he is proud that the place has barangay traffic enforcers, has its own ambulance and fire truck, and has kept its streets free of garbage.
However, he would like to see barangay officials provide more support to the people who make brooms in Paknaan.
“Proud ko nga kita ra naa’y festival pero tan-aw nako mora’g wala nakatabang kay ang festival ra ang gi-focusan sa barangay. Ang mga nag-labor sa silhig way support (I am proud that only Paknaan has a festival, but I think the broom-makers deserve support and the officials shouldn’t focus only on the festival).”
A barangay ordinance institutionalizing the festival was already approved by the City Council.
Soco said Paknaan is the barangay that has the highest approved ordinances in the city, including measures on solid waste management, disaster preparedness, health, and economics.
Their only problem now, he said, is the 6.5-hectare relocation site that suffers from floods when it rains, because it is near the Butuanon River’s outfall. Paknaan was previously identified as being one of the city’s flood-prone barangays.
Soco said this will soon be addressed because the river will be developed by the City Government for the River Summit next year, which Mandaue will host.
“Sometimes I feel stressed with my job, but most of the time, I feel happy,” Soco added.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 10, 2017.
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