Thursday, July 23, 2009


Hermogenes "Jun" Ebdane, Jr., former Philippine National Police head honcho and presently Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways must have thought he had a good thing going with the idea of plastering his face and that of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on colorful billboards placed along many of Surigao del Sur's national roads. Ebdane, who is expected to make a run for the Philippine Senate in next year's scheduled local and national elections, could not be faulted for this rather disingenuous if certainly not uncommon way of generating a little publicity for himself and, of course, the President as a result of the massive, on-going road concreting program that is expected to modernize land travel in this province. Countless other politicians, gunning for both local and national elective positions, have done the same thing before and had certainly gotten away with it.

Some groups in the province, however, as these pictures show, were not overly impressed with Ebdane's tour de force. Some of the obviously well designed, generously funded billboards were recently discovered to have been defaced with red paint by still unknown parties. From the nature and intention of the graffiti, however, the finger can obviously and logically be pointed to the communist New People's Army or its supporters although no official confirmation of that fact can be had at present.

A red X had been marked right over Ebdane's portrait in one billboard and the words "Oust GMA" have been hurriedly marked in the center. Similarly themed revolutionary slogans ("revolution is the solution to the crisis") have also been painted in bold red on the protective concrete side railings of some bridges in the San Agustin-Marihatag road section where most of the defaced billboards were also located.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Same Old Story

For the past 10 days or so, the Lianga municipal gymnasium (photographed above in more happier times) also more officially known as the Prospero B. Pichay Sr. Sports and Cultural Center ( in memory of the father of Surigao del Sur's erstwhile 1st district congressional representative and defeated senatorial candidate, Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr.) has been the temporary home of more than 40 families from Purok 5 of Barangay San Isidro in the hinterlands of Lianga. These evacuees (shown in the pictures below with municipal Vice-Mayor Jun Lala), numbering more than a hundred individuals, mostly women and children, are fleeing what they say are intensified military operations being conducted in their community by elements of the Philippine Army's 58th Infantry Battalion and the Task Force Gantaugan against insurgent guerrilla forces belonging to the communist New People's Army.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tangible Progress

There has always been a lot of cynicism among the folks in Lianga about the capability and, above all, the sincerity of the the national government to deliver on its promise, given so many times in the past, to address at the soonest possible time the urgent infrastructure needs of the local communities. At the top of the list, of course, is a modern road and highway system linking them to the rest of Mindanao and the nation.

Just over a year ago, I took a picture (with a cellphone camera) of a stretch of road just four kilometers southeast of Lianga that is part of the national highway linking Lianga to the municipality of Barobo and then on to the regional capital in Butuan City. It was at the height of the rainy season and the dirt road clearly shows the ravages of constant rain and recurrent flooding.

Two days ago I took another picture of the same stretch of road as it is actually now, at present, widened and bedecked in all of its paved and concreted glory. One can almost swear, unless one is in the know, that this clean, elevated and smooth ribbon of gray concrete is not the same narrow, muddy and gloomy dirt track depicted unflattering in the first picture.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Street Market

Fresh, still wriggling, scrumptious and exotic seafood. That is what Lianga, as a coastal town, has always been known for in this remote part of Mindanao.

Even nowadays when the local fish catch is dwindling due to overfishing and the persistent use of environmentally unsound fishing practices, the town is still a mecca for fish and seafood lovers from within and outside the Caraga region. Local beach resorts, for example, always make sure they have ample stocks of fresh fish, squid and lobsters for their out of town clientele.