LUNA, Apayao -- From its heyday as one of the hotbeds of rebellion associated with the CPP-NPA during the 80’s, when strong opposition against the Marcos regime was on its height, the province of Apayao has come of age as one of the game changer in terms of economic status in the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
Lagging behind in infrastructure and other developments before being separated from Kalinga as an independent province in 1995, then Apayao Congressman Elias K. Bulut Sr., authored the Republic Act 7878 which was then enacted into law on February 14, 1995, separating Apayao as an independent province from Kalinga.
“When it was Kalinga-Apayao, the National government only knew the province as Tabuk,” the elder Bulut said who now serves as Calanasan mayor.
“All development fundings were concentrated in Kalinga, leaving behind the whole of Apayao sparse in development and continued to experience hardship and poverty, especially in the outskirts of Apayao, Bulut” added.
“You young generations may have not experienced that, or even saw that but your parents and grandparents did,” he stressed, pointing out how life in the province then was so meager in its development during his speech at the Versola memorial stadium.
The municipality of Luna then was where the feared Marag Valley was located, it was where the New People’s Army camped and trained recruits who rebelled against the Marcos regime, a source recounted tales while growing up during the Marcos years.
But everything changed when then Congressman Bulut, after years of inception and creating unity amongst the Mayors of the seven municipalities of the province to work as one in developing their province.
At present, Governor Elias C. Bulut Jr. handles matters in the province with the same tenacity as the elder Bulut in building farm to market roads as the main priority. On top of it, Gov. Bulut is also tapping the provinces resources for renewable energy such as the Apayao River for hydroelectric production feasibility.
“Four out of the seven municipalities of Apayao still needs electrification, most especially in the inner parts where road improvements are badly needed,” Bulut said. “Roads without electricity are not enough to bring progress in an area,” he added.
DOE Asst. Sec. Daniel Ariaso Sr., who was the guest of honor showed his impression for the present administration of Apayao in their bid for renewable energy and vowed to assist their preparation for their own renewable energy. “Prepare all the necessary requirements and we shall be here to aid and assist with your endeavor for renewable energy,” Ariaso said to the Apayao LGU.
Past and Present
Apayao Foundation Day also coincided with the province’s Say-Am Festival, where culture and tradition takes center stage during the event. Indigenous games, woven products using indigenous materials such as Nito, a rattan specie, are used to make handicrafts.
Agriculture remains the main source of income in the province with vast tracts of flatlands mostly tilled with rice crops. The forests regions are still teeming with wildlife as shown during the trade fair where wild boar meat are sold, captive Philippine monkey and lizards were displayed.
The Isnags remain as the majority of people living in Apayao, with Ilocanos, Ibannags and other minorities also form a part in the province’s population.
But Mayor Bulut Sr., said it is not a problem, “Unity is the main solution in creating a better future, that is why we want to mold these younger generations of politicians and leaders to move in a way where the province will develop for the good of its people,” he said.
For the province, Apayao is moving on toward its goal in development as foreseen and steered by its senior leaders.
“I have planned to step down in the near future, and I want to see our future leaders of the province work more on the development and improvement for Apayao,” Bulut said.