Monday, September 17, 2007

Perpetual Frustration

The past week or so I have been traveling a lot in and around the Lianga area and once again,
like so many of the local residents here, as well as the occasional visitor who unfortunately had the unique experience of coming to this part of the country, I had the urge to tear at my hair and scream with frustration at the miserable state of the local roads. I am particularly referring here to the portion of the national highway servicing most of the first district of the province of Surigao del Sur to which Lianga has the misfortune to belong.

At first it was all potholes and rocky bumps all throughout the area's unpaved gravel roads. Then weeks and weeks of unremitting sunshine and no rain plus the government's feeble attempts to dump inadequate amounts of gravel on some of the critically damaged road sections only led to the turning of the gravel into a layer of fine dust that can make traveling on them like a journey into the depths of the Sahara dessert in the midst of a raging dust storm.

Passengers on public and private vehicles with open windows and no air conditioning going through these roads have to cover themselves up like Bedouins or ninja warriors or face the prospect of choking on the fine dust and arriving at their destinations looking like victims of a talcum dust explosion. Either way it is certainly not a fun experience.

Inevitably the ire of the local residents get logically and properly focused on the local government and their elected offcials who, in the past, may have been dragging their feet with regards to the task of modernizing the province's road network. They cannot understand why the road networks in most if not all of the surrounding provinces have already been concreted and even expanded and beautified while they, on the other hand, have to contend on a daily bais with rough, primitive and absolutely disgusting dirt roads.

Governor Pimentel, Congressman Pichay and the rest of the province's local officials have their work cut out for them and the people of their constituency are up to their necks in frustration at the decades worth of false promises coming from politicans like them to improve and upgrade the area's road system. Enough of the campaign promises and sweet talk. Just get it done!

I have been reliably told by officials from the district office of the Department Public Works and Highways in the provincial capital of Tandag that by 2010 the concreting of most of the provincial highway system which has already been programmed will be completed. It is said that work on many of the problematic road sections is scheduled to start any time soon.

I told them that I am very glad to hear the good news but I am not particularly eager to celebrate the news and jump with joy at the prospect of a fully modernized road system servicing the Lianga area and the entire province. You see, I have heard the same promises before so may times. And just like the so many of my fellow province mates who have become wary of such announcements, I prefer to wait and see what happens.

This time really I need to see before I will believe.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Lethargic Kind Of Life

"How can you live in a place like this?", a friend visiting me in Lianga once asked me while incredulously shaking his head. "Nothing happens here!" I made no comment because If I told him why he would probably not understand my reasons or worse, not believe them.

The fact is a lot of things happen in Lianga but they happen at a much slower pace than the frenetic and almost manic tempo of life in the cities and more urbanized environments. And that fact, depending on your own particular viewpoint and perspective, can be both a blessing and a curse.

Take Barobo for example. This town just fifteen kilomenters southwest of Lianga is a beehive of activity at almost all hours of the day. The streets are always buzzing with people, both local residents and visitors, rushing about their business. The main street is often choked with all kinds of vehicles and the public market is most often awash with shoppers and bystanders.

Lianga, on the other hand, is almost like a ghost town in comparison. The pictures here were taken in the middle of the day yet the streets look almost deserted. Unnerving and even almost surrealistic if you are not used to it.

Yet it is this desolate and lethargic quality that give the town its own unique charm. For in Lianga, time seems to move at a more sedate pace and the hustle and bustle of the city has no place or relevance. It is a place that encourages rest, meditation and the soothing of souls scarred and wearied by the demands of lives lived in the fast lane.

I have lived in Lianga for more than a decade and in many ways I have come to live with and even appreciate its rural and rustic character. There are those, of course, who may not share the same view.

But Lianga has always been what it is. Like an obnoxious, stubborn and aged crone, it placidly goes on and limps on resolutely and with nary a care or thought for the views and opinions of the outside world.

Come to think of it, why should it care though? It may be slow, old and decrepit but it is also tenacious and stubborn, clinging to life and existence with the dogged persistence of someone who does not know better.

That has always beens its greatest virtue.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Boiling Hot

After being away from Lianga for a week or so and after sweating through the heat and congestion of the city, I came home with the expectation of finally being, once again, to be able to sinfully enjoy the coolness and tranquility of life in this rustic town by the sea. I was, however, destined to be sorely disappointed.

For if there is one thing that is a physically draining constant in Lianga these days, it is the persistent heat, the blazingly hot sun in the midst of cloudless skies and the lack of even a hint of refreshing rain. It is as if the town is in the middle of a long, hot and unending summer.

There are, of course, those who rejoice in the rainless and swelteringly warm days that follow one after the other. The local beaches are full of their breed and you can see them frolicking in the waves or running half naked or scantily clothed across the sunbaked sand.

I, personally, have no objection to hot and parched days like the ones we in Lianga are having now. But too much of this good thing can be.....well....a bit too much.

Would it be too much to ask if we here can have today or tomorrow or even for just an hour or so the drenching goodness of a good and hard rain shower? Even just a teeny tiny bit of rain would be nice if we can have one. Please?

In the meantime though Lianga swelters and perspires while air conditioners and electric fans hum and rattle all day long. Yet whatever the delicious relief from the remorseless heat they offer is merely temporary and costly as well.

What is needed is needed is a good rain. And yet from what I see from outside my window, that is something that may be no more than, on my part, wishful thinking.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Thousand Apologies

It has been more than a month since I updated this blog. That fact is unprecedented since I started it over a year ago.

The fact is that living in a remote town like Lianga also means that when your computer and your access to the Internet runs into problems of the serious technical kind, it is well......really serious and, of course, takes time to remedy.

I just came home from a short trip about four weeks ago and when I tried to get online all I got were error messages and eventually a system crash. Probably just my old and trusty CPU finally saying adios and goodbye after months and months of hard work and gaming abuse.

That and other more pressing matters have made me neglect this blog and that is something I deeply regret. For this blog has become so much a part of my life nowadays and I have no intention to abandon it nor set aside and the satisfaction and fulfillment I have felt at sticking to the task of nursing it for over a year already.

So to those who have been wondering where I am and why this blog has been seemingly left forlorn, please accept my abject apologies.

I am back and I intend to be back for good.