Thursday, April 10, 2008

Unfulfilled Expectations: Indog Lianga

A couple of years ago, a group of professionals and prominent persons from Lianga or who trace their roots to it came up with what seemed a timely idea. Concerned about the town's lack of progress and development, its economic decline and the failure of successive local governments to come up with a coherent and viable plan to bring it back on its feet, the group began drawing plans to form an organization pattered after the so called "civil society" organizations that played rather prominent roles in the successful EDSA II people power actions against the presidency of Joseph Estrada.

The idea was simple. To harness the influence and political clout of Lianga's finest and illustrious citizens and use to it to push, motivate and inspire the local government and the townspeople into initiating programs and projects designed among other things to jumpstart the local economy, reform the corruption ridden local government bureaucracy and promote civic responsibility. Revolution and change from above became the slogan of the organization that eventually become Indog Lianga (Stand Up Lianga).

In the months and years that followed unabashed idealism crashed head on with cynicism, mutual suspicion, parochialism, vested political interests and the hardened institutional inertia of a local government mired in corruption and apathy. The end result is a weakened and dazed organization in stasis, akin to a boxer who has taken an opponent more than his match and wondering, after many gruelling and battering rounds, whether he still has the wind to finish the fight let alone win it.

That is not to say that Indog Lianga has done little for Lianga. On the contrary, it has had mixed success in its self-appointed role a fiscal watchdog over the municipal government and has intervened in several cases where it felt that town money was being squandered needlessly. It has cooperated with the local government in the formulation and implementation of local ordinances. It's contributions in the areas of tourism promotion for Lianga can also be noted.

But it was as an advocate, lightning rod and spark plug for change that Indog Lianga was formed and envisioned. It was supposed to tap in to the vast reservoir of expectations and dreams of the local people. It was supposed to give them the voice to speak out and the opportunity be heard. It has sadly been unable to do that convincingly or effectively. At least not yet.

Neither has it been able to truly define the role it wants to play in the present and future of Lianga. It has tried to dabble in politics and play political kingmaker as part of its advocacy for change when it is supposed to be apolitical and suffered much damage to its credibility because of such ill advised actions.

One wonders if this organization will go the way of so many other similar organizations in the past which have been launched with much fun fare in Lianga only eventually to disintegrate after a while due to internal squabbling and conflicts of interests among their membership who have always represented the cream of Lianga society. Perhaps one should not put too much faith in the noblesse oblige of the local town aristocracy as a catalyst or impetus for change.

If there must be positive change in Lianga, whether realized through social, economic or political progress or all of them, perhaps that change must come through a popular groundswell and genuine demand for it that cuts through all sectors of society. That means genuine people empowerment that is rooted in widespread political and social awareness. Only then can civic pride and civic responsibility develop and become the engines for progress in Lianga.

This is where I believe Indog Lianga must direct its efforts and where it can be most effective.

There can be no greater advocacy than the planning and implementation of programs and projects designed to raise social consciousness, political awareness and civic responsibility among the people of Lianga. To educate, motivate and inspire them to be better and more responsible citizens, to provide the environment conducive to positive change and to make it possible for the people to fully, freely and meaningfully participate in the democratic process.

That can be its greatest legacy. Otherwise, it will be just one among the many other organizations in Lianga in the past which have tried to be more than what they are.... and failed miserably.


  1. Benjie,
    Some things that people here in this area need to set aside, bury deep in the bowels of the earth, is jealousy and gossip. Over the last few weeks I've made plans to open a Gas Station in St. Christine. During my planning I've discovered that many here would do anything to stand in the way of progress. There are people here who have good ideas, and are doing well in the businesses that they operate, but now that I'm planning a Gas Station I hear there are at least two others here that amazingly now want to open a Gas Station. My plans for a Gas Station here in the area started in February 2005 when I was last here for an extended period. I met with the Barangay Captain of St. Christine at that time and was promised a piece of land to put up a gas station. I went back to the US to secure funds so I could come back and get started. In April 2007 I did come back and started making plans, however I found that the promised lot was already taken, making me change my plans. I've now secured a new lot, completed the Survey, and I'm well on the way to getting under construction within the next couple of months. I’ve performed the feasibility studies and determined that a gas station only in the exact location that I’m planning will have the possibility to make a decent return on investment. The plans that I’m now hearing about another gas station in this area will do nothing more than take away profits from both stations until the one with the lesser ideal location goes out of business. I feel sorry for those in this community who do not realize that we all have talents, not always the same as our fellow residents, that each of us should stick to what we do best and stay out of the way of others that are pouring their hearts and souls into trying to improve the economic conditions here in our area.

  2. I am so embarrassed with what happened to Mark. Here's a concerned individual who was trying to help stimulate the local economy by providing a business but was shut out of that opportunity--because of what? Mark, you hit the nail right on its head with your observation of some people's attitudes. You could have expanded your business to benefit community members. Better luck on your other business ventures. Don't be discouraged with the experience. You'll find more credible folks in the community. Good luck.