The Greening of Cebu’s hills-A A +A
Saturday, September 22, 2012
URBAN Cebu City may be congested but up in her hills, there is still a lot of space: 85 percent of the city is located in those hills that provide fruits and vegetables, and cut flowers to the lowland.
Some decades ago one could see the city’s bald mountain tops. But today, a lot of those hills have become green. Development there started in earnest in the mid 1980s with the entry of the Central Visayas Regional Projects (CVRP). I
Its regional management training center was devolved in 1994 and became the Cebu City Resource Management and Development Center (Cremdec) up in Barangay Taptap.
The center sits on what once was a barren hilltop. It had three buildings, one of which was burned down some weeks back. What remain are the buildings that house its research and training facilities, and its dormitory that can accommodate 45 live-in seminar participants. The vision of the facility is for it to be a “self-propelling machinery for public service excellence in the Cebu City Government” with a mission to “offer continuing education and training programs for the Cebu City Government and other local government units, and assist Cebu City Government in research and development courses and projects including international communication technology.”
Cremdec offers courses, such as systems and procedures; barangay participatory planning and budgeting workshop; leadership options and vision for enhancement for ecology; feasibility study/project proposal preparation; and micro-watershed development and management.
An offshoot of CVRP was the project meant specifically for Cebu City. Now known as the Hillyland Management Board (or Hillyland), it is the policy-making, management and monitoring arm of the city government focusing on her 31 hilly land barangays, created by an ordinance. Hilly land barangay captains, councilors, and department heads meet twice a month to discuss and resolve issues in the area.
The board is chaired by Mayor Michael L. Rama, represented by his executive secretary, Belinda K. Navascues, with former Cebu City Councilor Franklin Seno as consultant. The program project implementers are Allan Bautista for infrastructure and agro-forestry concerns, and Leo Maglasang for tourism and livelihood components.
Among the Hillyland programs are the propagation of the Santo Niño flowers; the propagation of the bhut jolokia, the hottest chili in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, which will be used to produce Hillyland Hot Foods; assistance in the marketing of agricultural produce; the making of a Hillyland Tourism E-Book; training on briquette production; irrigation and electrification projects; monitoring of Hillyland road projects; and the production of digital photos and videos of the city’s Hillyland (areas).
Involved also in the development of Cebu’s hilly land is the city agriculturist, Joel Baclayon. And to further reach out to the people living in the area, Cremdec is also the Cebu City Hall sa Bukid, which helps the residents do business with City Hall. The Cremdec Center, once built on the crest of a barren hill, is now green with towering trees, one hillside devoted to the Hillyland plant propagation projects and the other side lush with a man-made forest.
The greening of this hill is symbolic of the continuing development of the area, which is now a pleasure to visit with its network of mostly concrete roads, and for the pleasure of seeing undulating green hills, for breathing in cool, fresh mountain air and, yes, for buying fruits and vegetables by the wayside.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 23, 2012.