TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- What follows in this article were excerpted from the message I delivered to the officials of Kalinga Province, Tabuk City, and local residents in the communities of Bado Dangwa and Guilayon, who were gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of their road project: “Improvement of Bado Dangwa-Guilayon Farm-to-Market Road (FMR), last October 18, 2018.
When ancient and perennially problematic rugged roads have become the roads of mountain communities towards well-being and progress, a tectonic shift in leadership thinking, may have happened with regards to the implementation of rural development and service delivery to marginalized communities in these parts of the globe.
I figured that is so, as I struggled to scribble a message that I was forced to deliver during an important event here, in behalf of my superiors.
I was instructed to come to Kalinga last Thursday, October 18, to cover this groundbreaking ceremony of your 10.4 kilometers road improvement project under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) with a project cost of P230,569,079.
But the people who were tasked to represent our office on this occasion were also unable to make it. Our provincial agriculturist and PRDP Provincial Project Management Implementing Unit (PPMIU) head kindly informed me that DA-CAR, as a partner of the local government unit (LGU) in the implementation of the project must be represented in this milestone event. In effect, I must do both the coverage of this event and also represent the agriculture department-CAR for and in behalf of its leadership to our expectant public, you most especially who are gathered here at Nansibakan, Nambucayan, Tabuk City.
Under the circumstances, my role is rather simple: To give voice to the good things not spoken that you as stakeholders of the PRDP have done in the Province of Kalinga; and, to affirm the good things that you have done to advance rural and community development here.
The rugged roads of Kalinga have seen the worst for several generations until now when the current leadership saw these roads as roads to progress – not death roads, abortion roads, roads of rebellion, and where the worst of accidents and delays to travel could be encountered.
In the hinterland barangays of Kalinga, the old and the young can say the same thing about the need to improve their dirt access roads. “It is a dream and aspiration of their ancestors which was passed on to them.”
The Bado Dangwa-Guilayon access road is like all the rest - steep and narrow, muddy and slippery when wet; dusty and more like a river bed during summer. With a road like this, farmers could not produce more to bring to the market. Isolation thus ties them up to a life of poverty.
For almost a decade, Kalinga has been celebrating its existence and founding with the tagline, “Kalinga Shines.”
In the implementation of the PRDP in Kalinga, I told our listeners that they have not only succeeded but had and continue to show the best of the province and its people, their culture and traditions to the world.
Under the PRDP, you have taken advantage of what exists in the place and enhanced, developed, and improved it. You are thus leaving imprints and legacies that shine. What you are doing makes us all happy, glad, and proud as Cordillerans.
“You made Kalinga shine” when you launched, completed, and facilitated the turnover of the first big PRDP FMR Project in record time, not only in the Cordillera, but Northern Luzon, and perhaps, the Philippines.
When the turnover of the Banneng-Gombowey Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) in Tanudan was yet followed by the completion and turnover of another bigger project, the Bulanao-Amlao FMR of Tabuk City, “you made Kalinga shine” brighter not only in the Cordillera and the country but among the World Bank’s rural and community development public as well.
Many have ventured to implement PRDP rural infrastructure projects. They all found it is not easy. They complained about the stringent, strict, and difficult requirements. “But your successful implementation of PRDP projects show that the requirements being sought which are existing Philippine standards for roads and other rural infrastructure projects could be upheld in the Cordillera.” In the pursuit of community development and progress, established standards are not meant to be circumvented or compromised.
You make Kalinga shine brighter still with the impending completion of yet another bigger project, “the Catabuggan-Waggud access road” in Pinukpuk.
It is not only big-time rural infrastructure that you have completed. We must include here, with pride, the successful turnover of the Kalinga Coffee Trading Center (KCTC) held on July 18, 2018, which was a trailblazing endeavor.
Today, we break ground for yet another big-time PRDP access road project that will become the road of the local folks in the peripheries of Tabuk City to progress. We are certain that this road will also be a successful project seeing that the key players involved in all the other successful PRDP infrastructure projects in the province are here and will play their usual and winning ways to get this project done.
I am certain that as far as PRDP is concerned, what happened and are happening Kalinga, in terms of rural and agricultural community development, is what makes “Kalinga Shine.”
We thank you for your successes in making Kalinga shine, whose light also is good and helpful for all of us in the Cordillera. You model right and good leadership in the implementation of agricultural and rural infrastructure development in the region and the nation as well. Let us continue to identify and work for the good things that make Kalinga shine and sustain the excellent legacies it will leave behind to our people and the next generation.
Finally, in this groundbreaking ceremony, let me thank all our usual partners, even most especially our dedicated, sacrificing, and committed contractors, and our people who supported the implementation of the PRDP Project and who will work to accomplish this milestone road project.