Poro town’s ambitious project-A A +A
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
WHEN Abel Garciano called me up a couple of weeks ago, it was like I was transported to the time when I was with The Freeman and covered a survey conducted in Poro town by a group of anthropologists from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. That was in the ‘90s when Abel was a fixture in the town hall as an aide of then mayor Isaar Rama.
The late mayor had lost his voice box to cancer and had to use a mechanical device to communicate. That posed problems because of the robotic sound the device produced. When we talked with the mayor, Abel, who knew the sound better than us, had to repeat what his boss said.
Abel is still with the Poro Municipal Government as administrator, this time under the incumbent mayor, Isaar’s brother Luciano Jr. Abel called me up because Mayor Rama wanted to arrange a meeting with me and marine biologist Dr. Filipina Sotto of the University of San Carlos.
But due to some errands in Poro, Abel was not around when we finally got to meet last Saturday at the university’s marine research station in Maribago adjacent to one of the resorts in Mactan island.
I don’t personally know Mayor Rama, but I know Poro town because my mother Juliana was born there. I spent many vacations in Poro and nearby Tudela town in my younger years.
My knowledge of Poro deepened when I was commissioned by USC to write a book on the history of Tudela, the birth place of my late father Timoteo. Tudela was once a barangay of Poro.
In my visits in Poro after the conduct of that anthropological study by a UP team, I would link up with the young councilor and later vice mayor Ronald Carcellar (he’s now in Canada). We would exchange ideas about how Poro should retain its advantage over other municipalities in Camotes islands (aside from Tudela, they are San Francisco and
That was before the tourism boom that saw San Francsico town threatening to eclipse Poro, the consensus “capital” of Camotes, as the premier town of the said group of islands. San Fran is a natural magnet for tourists because of its white beaches and Lake Danao, plus the recent proliferation of resorts there.
San Fran’s growth spurt can also be attributed to the aggressive ways of the Arquillano clan, which has controlled the town’s politics for some two decades now. In the same vein, Poro, Tudela and Pilar lagging behind San Fran can also be because of the overall passivity and lack of creativity of their municipal leaders.
But Mayor Rama wants to change that. He and architect Nestor “Boy” Liston has
conceived an “ambitious” project that they hope could be a “game-changer,” one that could push the center of growth back to Poro.
I am talking about an eco-tourism project that seeks to transform hectares of virtually “deserted” mangrove areas near the town’s boundary with San Fran into a major tourist destination. The idea is for Poro to make up for its lack of natural attraction by building one.
“Kun dili ni nato sugdan karon, kanus-a man?” Mayor Rama said when questioned about the eco-tourism project, which would need years to be completed and millions of pesos in funding. But if the mayor wants to find one model of persistence, he should look no farther than the town’s “modern” port that also took years to build and cost millions of pesos.
What Liston presented in that meeting was only the general concept, meaning that the particulars could change later (he talked about board walks, marina, swimming pools, a wake-boarding area, a lagoon, etc). But I like Rama’s decision to solicit the help of Sotto and the USC in the endeavor considering that the site is a mangrove area. This will ensure that the project site’s ecosystem will be protected.
I must admit that the task the Poro Municipal Government has arrogated upon itself is herculean. But seeing Mayor Rama’s determination to at least see the initial phase of the project through during his current term (he is a second termer) is a confidence booster.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 27, 2013.