Thursday July 19, 2018

Mercado: The bridge at Abacan

OVER two decades ago, Regional Director Ricardo Serrano of DPI-3 was assassinated while waiting for the traffic signal in Quezon City. Serrano was the fearless and uncompromising head of Central Luzon’s Department of Information who led the crusade against violations on the environment.

Earlier, Ding Cervantes, ace Philippine Star correspondent, while entering the premises of a large alcohol plant in Apalit, Pampanga, was either fired upon or was the alleged victim of an “accidental fire” by the firm’s security guard. Cervantes is a known investigative reporter who was following up Director Serrano’s expose’ of an alcohol firm that was causing heavy and toxic pollution in the Pampanga River.

Last week residents of Masantol and Macabebe protested the massive fish kill in the coastal towns which chief industry is fishing and aquatic enterprises. Old-timers still remember that once in history a Director Ric Serrano paid with his life while fighting the pollution by alcohol plants along Pampanga River.

The bureau of fisheries which regional officials appeared to be hibernating in their area’s “kangkungan” attributed the fish kill chiefly to sedimentation, and partly to pollution caused by the leakage of some 46,000 liters of waste molasses used in alcohol manufacturing.

Board Member Ananias Canlas’ Jr. seems to smell a cover-up or a muddling of issues even as the fisheries bureau cited complex reasons while failing to blame the Far East Alcohol Corporation for the disaster.

Alleged accidents and acts which continuously depredate the ecology
remain unabated. Whether it concerns odor pollution by piggery and poultry farms or smelting plants, even imported toxic waste, corrupt government men are certainly involved in the impunity.

FEACO’s general manager alias Tony Co denies his firm’s leakage of toxic molasses had caused the fish kill. Board Member Pol Balingit will believe him if Co and the negligent Fishery officials here will take a dip or swim at the river site where the factory drains its effluents at night.

Susmariosep! Recently it was the chicken epidemic, now the fish kill. The witches of Ber are still around. Depending on how well and credible will he conduct the investigation of the notorious polluter firm, Jun Canlas would have earned his ticket to the race for vice governor.


It can be said that the political career of Edgardo Pamintuan was the result of the Pinatubo eruption in ’91. If the Remagen Bridge was crucial to the US invasion forces in Germany, and the Calumpit Bridge to the American liberation army, the Abacan Bridge in Balibago was crucial to the socio-economic life of Angeles City.

With waist deep strong currents rushing down from Abacan river, Angelenos suffered great ordeal in crossing the river. Abacan bridge had fallen down.

It was the start of EdPam’s rising from the ashes. Thru his chief lieutenant, a Pala (Shovel) Brigade was organized. First, EdPam led volunteer workers to shore up eroded portions of the shoreline. Then they erected a stable footbridge across Abacan. Holes and crevices along the riverbanks were filled up to protect accidental falls .Alex Cauguiran inspired Brigada volunteers to work day and night in three shifts braving incessant rains and volcanic fallout.

Thousands of barefooted residents used the narrow footbridge and makeshift tall bamboo ladders ascending the riverbank. Elderly people navigated the currents with the help of Pamintuan supporters. They also rode on carts pulled by carabaos. Distressed residents saw a future leader at work.

Saddened by the blight and squalor of an almost dying city in dire need of hope and optimism, Edpam and his chief lieutenant organized "Tigtigan Terakan," a street musical festival to whip life and cheers to an otherwise gloomy city. The event has evolved into a life of its own. It is the central activity on the second fiesta day of Angeles along with cultural and hospitality activities orchestrated by First Lady Miniang Pamintuan.

The twin fiesta observance of ancient Kuliat is carved in revered stone. Tigtigan Terakan is now a well loved tradition. Aging Angelenos support it with sentiment and remembering. It has become the symbol of the youth’s robust creativity. A rallying dance of the Angelenos eternal resilience, it’s the momentum of “Baguis (wing symbol) to the Next Decades.

Angeles City will remember Pamintuan for his transformative performance.