Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who's To Blame

The comment made by an anonymous reader to the blog post titled "Through the Needle's Eye" is the kind of comment I am always gratified to get for this blog. It is raw, passionate, insightful and truly spoken from the heart of someone who has more than just a passing knowledge of Lianga and its people. As such it deserves a reply.

Why indeed can't Lianga be handled like the municipal corporation that it really is? One that can be progressively run like a corporate business with the emphasis on using assets to borrow funds for investments in community projects and programs that would spell sure profits and economic growth in the long run.

Why can't the local government stop depending on the IRA or the internal revenue allotment coming from the national government for its own operating expenses and allotments for development programs? And why is it unable to free itself from myopically dreaming of economic recovery based on a resurgence in the presently moribund logging and mining industry that had once fueled its growth and prosperity in the not so distant past?

Why can't the municipal leadership break free of that kind of outdated mentality and find new directions for economic expansion specifically in the field of eco-tourism which a coastal town like Lianga with magnificent beaches and pristine mountain scenery can truly excel in? Why is this town seemingly stuck in a rut, not certainly sliding backward economically but also not moving forward fast enough to provide a healthy, growing and competitive economic environment for its people?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lost Forever

My Uncle Diony passed away recently after a prolonged bout with the effects of a devastating stroke that laid him low several years ago. Dionisio Salon was married to my Auntie Feling who happens to be my mother's youngest sister. Both have lived for a long time in Pensacola in Florida in the United States where my auntie works as a nurse.

I only had the chance to meet Uncle Diony two times in the past when he and my auntie visited the Philippines. The last time we saw each other, he was still basically a vigorous man despite the fact that he was already in his eighties and retired from work as a chemical engineer for a well known American chemical company.

We did not have the time to get particularly close but I personally liked him. He was mentally active and intellectually inquisitive for a man of his advanced years. He and I had many productive conversations in the backyard of the house in Lianga about many topics ranging from politics and current events to philosophy and history. And it was during one of such discourses during his last visit to this country many years ago when he finally broached to me his desire to leave a written record, a memoir of some sort, which would chronicle what he felt were the many events of his long, interesting and productive life.

At first, I must confess that I thought it rather presumptuous of him to even contemplate the idea that his written autobiography would have interest, historical or otherwise, for people other than the members of his family, his friends and relations. He even asked me to help him out on on the project, a request that I initially had reservations granting not just because I had doubts about its viability and usefulness but more so because I personally felt I did not have the proper skills and experience to do justice to such an endeavor.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Through The Needle's Eye

Traveling by road around the Lianga area nowadays, particularly on the Lianga to San Agustin road section can be hazardous to one's health and well-being. There might be some local people here who might say that I may be exaggerating a bit on that point but for the many who do regularly ply that same route on a daily or weekly basis the truth is plain for them to see and experience.

In a past blog post I have mentioned the fact that the concreting of the road and highway system around Lianga has been going on for some time now. In some areas like the southern Lianga to Barobo road section, the rehabilitation and concreting work has been going at breakneck speed. One can almost see the progress on a daily basis and people like me who travel around regularly can almost see the paved portions of the national highway from both Barobo and Lianga creep inexorably towards each other, finally meet in the middle and become one unbroken, gray ribbon of concrete spanning 14 or so kilometers.

The road from Lianga to San Agustin to the north is another story. For some reason, the rehabilitation and concreting work has been plagued by unexplained delays and a failure on the part of the private contractors undertaking the massive project to keep portions of that road section conveniently accessible and passable to motorists at the same time.

Some sections, particularly along that 20 or so kilometer stretch are virtual quagmires of sticky mud on rainy days simply waiting like treacherous quicksand traps ready to ensnare vehicles of all kinds of sizes from private vehicles to commuter buses and cargo trucks. On hot, muggy and sunny days they become long sections of furrowed, undulating and hardened mud tracks that can wreck a car's suspension system or tear off portions of its under chassis when you least expect it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


In the waning decades of the 19th century, a young man trading his dried and salted fish for rice and other goods made his way to the rice-growing town of Tago in the northern part of what is present day Surigao del Sur. He was also a skilled fisherman, like his father who was said to have come from the Visayan province of Bohol. He was born and raised in Hinatuan, a town on the southern tip of the Surigao provinces where his father had met and married a local girl.

In the course of his trading visits to Tago, he met and fell in love with Ignacia Morse Pacheco of the local Pacheco clan. They eventually got married around 1880. Ignacia prevailed upon Manuel to make Awasan, a small village near Tago, his home and the couple soon became the nucleus of a growing family. They would have a total of 9 children, 5 sons and 4 daughters.

The couple, by dint of hard work and a sound business sense, soon prospered in their new home. Manuel, in recognition of his growing status in his community, was appointed cabeza de barangay or village head and was said to have traveled often farther north to Surigao, the capital of the then undivided Surigao province, to deliver to the provincial governor sums of money collected as tribute to the then Spanish colonial government.

To provide for his expanding family, Manuel together with a few other hardy pioneers moved to the south of Tago to a coastal area then locally known as Punta Langbay and founded a new village which became known as Sitio Bayabas. The term "bayabas" is the local name for the guava tree, a large and stout specimen of which was said to have stood near the Murillo house.