Thursday, August 10, 2006
About two-thirds up the eastern coast of Mindanao is a bay which shelters in its bosom a town with which it shares the same name.
It is an old town but like many places like it in this part of the country, very few existing historical records exist that detail its origins. There is, however, general agreement that it was already a significant population center in the area even by the dawn of the 20th century. Because of this many of the surrounding towns had Lianga as their mother municipality and the local townfolk take great pride over this fact. That is however one of the few things they can really be properly proud of about the town.
You see, Lianga is like an old heiress, an dignified old lady of quality living on the glories of a colorful past while contemplating an increasingly difficult present and facing what may be a dismal future. But the lady limps on, desperate to keep up appearances. But deep inside she wonders when the pretending will have to stop.
The collapse of a profitable logging industry, a lukewarm local economy, corrupt local politics - all these aggravated by a resurgent Communist insurgency have wrought havoc on the town and the collective energy of its people. There is a desperate need to get out of the present rut but they either don't know how to do it nor do they have the unity and common push to heave themselves out of the mess.
If I sound cynical about the present and future of Lianga,I do not mean to be completely so. The town, after all, has some things going for it.
The town land area encompasses many beautiful beaches and coastal areas perfect for a vibrant eco-tourism industry. The local beaches, in fact, are quite well known over a wide area of the region. The local small fishing industry, now moribund, does have some potential for development and can be a money earner if properly regulated and assisted. Small and medium scale enterprises and industries can take root in Lianga given the proper atmosphere and local government support.
But first, I believe, that the people of the town must take a long, hard and critical self-examination of their present situation. Only by accepting that the fault for all the present mess rests squarely on their shoulders can they start climbing out of the hole they have dug for themselves.