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Wednesday, August 8, 2012
TWO-THIRDS of my day yesterday I spent in an upland village that people thought is one of the most sparsely-populated among the 28 barangays in our municipality. While I am familiar with the names of our town’s villages—-both coastal and upland—I have not personally visited all of them. And upland Barangay Duangan on the southeastern part was one of these.
I could not believe that about half of the barangay appeared to me to be uninhabited, a rolling upland plain of uncultivated space. Although the place seems crisscrossed with recently opened narrow rural roads, the uncultivated shrub land on either side of the road attest to the distant packets of habitation.
It is one of the barangays hemmed in by progressive neighbors like Cantibas or Cansomoroy, which prides itself of being the site of an Aboitiz commercial sports-entertainment project.
Public opening of the complex is being breathlessly awaited by the people. But here was the couple we met who had lived together for six years. In those six years, they were blessed with five children. When the mayor chose to hold the public service program there, the couple came because they wanted to avail of the public services brought to their village by the town government.
They revealed that their children were not registered and were not baptized. The couple was not married. They had lived a rather illegitimate life all these years. This is just a sample of what I discovered about the life of some of the people in the upland communities.
Talking with the municipal personnel who accompanied the mayor to Duangan, I learned that the attraction the visitors held for the people was the fact that almost all of the services the village folk want were brought by the town folk to them. Even the parish priest who came offered to wed the unwed couples for free if they are ready with the required documents.
Elements of the Armed Forces that heeded the mayor’s invitation gave haircuts to the men and the boys for free, while the police contingent offered the “police clearance” for free, too. One of the residents told me that the municipal services they were getting for free that morning would have cost them all of P500 each if they were to go to the munisipyo to get them in a single trip.
Indeed, the only thing the inhabitants who came had to pay was the residence tax certificate. The adults were asked to present their residence certificates first as a sign of true citizenship in the barangay, entitling them to public services. They were asked to pay only P29 for it. And yet, there were still a few who could not afford to pay the amount. Some town officials paid for them.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 09, 2012.