WHETHER in the lowly village, in urban centers, or at the special economic zone, life goes on with visible human enterprises in action.
Cottage industries, once leveled by inundation and volcanic eruption, are back; poultry and piggery industries resume operations. The rice fields, with lahar scooped out, are planted in two annual crops; fishponds yield abundantly, with idle farmlands now teeming with vegetables.
In town centers public markets are a beehive of trading, with the indications of local growth including small grocery stores, even malls, beauty shops, eateries, eletronic shops. Busy streets are traversed day and night by the ubiquitous pedicabs and tricycles.
The main center of economic and industrial activities is the Clark Economic Zone, the largest job provider in Pampanga with its over 300 firm or locators and tourism oriented establishments.
Once a desolate, abandoned and lonely community after its widespread destruction by Pinatubo, the devastated infrastructures buried by ash, Clark Field today is the boom economic center of Northern Philippine an aerotroplis-driven commercial, residential, industrial zone and tourist haven.
Along with the Subic port, a former U.S. naval facility, the two economic and freeports form the backbone for the economic development of the Central Luzon Region.
“Kapampangan leaders, with their advocacy of Pampanga’s rehabilitation after Pinatubo, continued with their driven momentum to focus national policy to the province,” reported Mayor Pamintuan when he assumed the Presidency of the League of Philippine Cities.
After Clark Field was converted in to a special economic zone, local leaders rallied government officials to transform the former Clark airport into a future world class international airport.
Efforts are moving to that direction, with basic groundwork and initial development already in place.
“In the spirit with which local advocates fought for the mega-dike, resettlement centers, and the conversation of Clark into its present special zone status, they are now united in the strong clamor to realize the alternative international airport.. It is expected to be able to accommodate 50 million passengers yearly within 20 years. This would make Pampanga-Clark specifically - the global gateway to the country,” CIAC chief loves to brief investors visiting his office.
Clark’s easy access by land transportation has been assured with the North Expressway which has reduced travel time from Manila to Clark to 40 minutes, Levy Laus, former CDC president said in a prognosis
The “in-between corridor” (Subic-Clark area) is the growth nucleus of Northern Luzon development as the sea-air base complex and economic zones are linked by a modern 94-kilometer expressway, Laus proudly toldto local businessmen.
Known as Subic-Clark Expressway, the new infrastructure wilbusinees magnate De time between the areas to 40 minutes.
Parallel to the expressway will be the North rail project, a high speed rail link to connect Clark to Metro Manila with its passenger terminal and strategic stations.
With those ongoing projects, Pampanga residents have welcomed a ‘new province’ with warm optimism, a high expectation of joining the opportunities to meet challenges arising from these developments.
Our leaders must not lose sight of rural development as their big focus centers on Clark and urban revival, Pamintuan in his second election victory said:
“There is the demand to speed up agricultural growth by helping the farming communities which comprise the countryside. These require funds for vital pump-priming projects like irrigation systems, flood, control, certified seeds and fertilizers.”
The tragic Pinatubo episode offers our people many lessons in achieving and expanding Kapampangan progress, freedom, and human development.
“Courage, indomitable will, and resiliency of spirit are powerful virtues innate in the Kapampangan character,” said .business leader Dennis Uy, an avid partner in Angeles City’s development.
The Save San Fernando Movement and Laus had set the model and mechanism for self-help.
Now a sense of urgency to sustain this endeavor or private initiative to marshal and intensify people’s empowerment must be institutionalized in local communities.