Brighter prospects from the trail of tragedy - 2-A A +A
By Jun Ledesma
Thursday, January 17, 2013
LAST Monday, Davao Oriental Governor Cora Malanyaon scooted to Davao City to meet with foreign aid representatives to present a reconstruction and development framework for her province. She handed me a copy and frankly, I am amazed at how quickly she came up with an extremely comprehensive plan on how to address the present crises and then project that Davao Oriental will be starting this January up to the full recovery in 2016 when she shall have bowed out of office. Of course, it did not come as a surprise to me given the fact that she is a certified public accountant, an entrepreneur, a lawmaker having been once a member of congress, and a multi-awarded governor. She had been through ups and downs but her unstinting spirit made her move on.
I was elated to have been given the opportunity to see the R&D Framework which had a bold caption: Way Forward.
Way Forward is a blueprint for reconstruction, rehabilitation and redirection of development programs for Davao Oriental.
“We cannot afford to stare in limbo and surrender to the plague that hit us,” Malanyaon told me.
She said that “we cannot rely forever on the generosity of aid agencies and countless of good Samaritans that help us from day one. We cannot stay idle in the midst of agony and defeat.”
It is awe inspiring to hear from an embattled governor ranting off what are her plans of action.
Her enthusiasm and tenacity are undiminished. She has unceasingly touched base with various agencies of government, including political leaders whom she believed has the heart and the means to help.
The other day, she met with Sen. Loren Legarda, the indefatigable chairperson of the Senate Committee on Climate Change. The senator has given her so much encouragement and drive. She assured her with continued assistance starting with P10-million worth of housing units from her priority development assistance fund.
Furthermore, the lady senator said she will personally deliver to her the much needed geo-hazard maps for every municipality and for every barangay.
Loren, after all, felt personally obliged to be a proactive participant in dealing with climate change and its impact in Comval and Davao Oriental in particular and the entire country in general for she is the chairperson of the Committee of Climate Change.
There are classic ironies that had unlocked the hidden potential of Davao Oriental that had seemly been isolated for decades. The province had always been thought of solely as a coconut country. But the economic potential of this traditional crop never really improved the living conditions, specifically of people in the east coast.
The tragedy brought domestic and worldwide attention to Comval and Davao Oriental. Even when much of the lush vegetation and virgin forest preserve were wiped out by the violent storm, what cannot be altogether wiped out is the undeniable potential of the land.
For after all, even as these vast regions of undulating earth are bare, the soil is fertile. Even as the nearly 95 percent of the banana plantations in Comval were wiped out, the agricultural lands remain as a singular potential for the resuscitation of the banana industry in the province.
In Davao Oriental, Governor Malanyaon has received inquiries for possible palm oil and cassava plantations both in partnership with landowners and in industrial scale.
The storm also claimed hundreds of fishermen from General Santos City who were fishing in the eastern seaboard of Mindanao few miles off the coast of Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur. The sea mishap sparked an idea from Malanyaon to consider a fishing port in the cove of the province where Pujadas island is situated.
“The hundreds of fishermen who were caught by the typhoon could have been saved if their base of operation in my province,” Malayaon said.
She said that “after all, the rich fishing ground is right across our shores so why travel the hundreds of miles to General Santos when the rich fishing ground are right in our shores?”
For now, Malanyaon said they are helping their small fishermen by providing them basic gears. Soon, we will see them graduate into entrepreneurs. She said they need very little training.
“We will redirect their traditional fishing to entrepreneurial scale. We will bridge them with capitalists who are interested to put in their money in joint ventures with our local fishermen,” she said.
Yesterday, I received a text message from Governor Malanyaon that they will start this January with the construction of 1,000 houses consisting of duplex and single-detached units spread in the most severely-hit towns in the east coast. These, she said, is through her own initiative. Each unit will have an estimated cost of P80,000. She showed me an architect’s perspective of the building. Low-cost, a mix of concrete and indigenous materials salvaged from felled coconuts.
By the looks of the housing units, whoever are the recipients will surely have a better house than what they have before. They laborers are the typhoon victims themselves. In the coming months she hopes to build 15,000 housing units in badly devastated towns.
There are so many developments taking place in Comval and Davao Oriental. As Senator Legarda had said, it’s waste of time to be looking for what and who to blame. It’s time to move on. The two provinces with the dynamic leadership of Governors Arthur “Chongkee” Uy and Corazon Malanyaon are in fact on top of every situation. It is good that the two have no political adversaries in the coming elections for they can dedicate their time on planning, rehabilitation, relocation and reconstruction.
In the aftermath, I can see brighter prospects ahead for the two provinces. The tragedy opens new opportunities. This is an irony but given the lethargic growth of many isolated towns and barangays especially in the east coast, the future is brighter now than their moribund past.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 17, 2013.