A portion of the cemented Larap road passing in front of the JPNHS campus. Notice
(to the right) the paved portion leading to the campus gate. -- MWBuzzpic by ARNEL P
‘Bayanihan’ for Mayor Dong’s road rehab project
IN ANY country, be it in Asia, Africa or South America, good road has become the key to the progress of the community.
Many remote places came to life as soon as vehicles rolled down the paved road that bisected the heart of community.
But while this is a glowing truth that should be seen immediately in the dark by any sensible government and the leader running it, this has not always been the case.
The reasons are varied – some are justifiable, some are not.
But in any case, millions of people across the globe are suffering from the lack of decent roads.
The absence of accessible roads especially in remote areas has prevented the delivery of goods and services to the people.
Likewise, the coming of development in the form of financial investment has also been frustrated.
No investor worth his salt would sink his money in an area which could not be reached by transportation that would bring his goods, facilities and people.
Such had been the case in our very own community – our beloved Mambulao.
For decades, this place that happened to sit at the end of the world had been overlooked by politicians who sat in the provincial and congressional offices.
It was only during the recent time that a paved road – courtesy of the higher government --finally penetrated the municipal perimeter.
Cemented road that stretches from Mambulao all the way down south of Camarines Norte to the Bicol region has improved the flow of commerce -- to and from the community; travel both ways has been hastened.
However, within the municipality itself, the story was different. Until a couple of years ago, the prospect of seeing a cemented road in a remote baranggay was unthinkable.
It seemed that road improvement was not in the immediate agenda of the former mayor William Lim.
If it were, Mayor Dong Padilla would not have a hard time putting the roads on the road, so to speak.
With only 14 million pesos in its coffers as annual development funding allocation from the national government, how could he rebuild or rehabilitate a baranggay road that could cost 5 million pesos per kilometer?
Just consider the fact that over the past many decades, the 80 kilometers of town and baranggay roads had been left to deteriorate; this anomaly has prejudiced development and progress and harmed the riding public.
This is the same length of road that Padilla is now trying to deal with.
When he assumed office in June 2010, he agonized over the 14 million peso-development funds sitting in the coffers.
There’s just no way to do a massive rehabilitation work with that paltry sum.
But some imagination could work and this what Padilla did: He appealed to Mambulaoans, laid down the cards on the table and told them the truth: We can’t build our roads with only 14 million pesos.
Humbling himself, he approached his schoolmates at the Jose Panganiban National High School – the Batch 81 graduates to which he belonged: Please help me push this.
And so the campaign for cement donation that came to be known as “A bag of cement for a cause" took off, alongside the public appeal for pledges for a donation of a bag of cement from those who have extra to spare.
All this despite skepticism from many who had asked: How do we know the cement would go to the road project?
As of May last year, Mayor Dong had about 3,000 bags of cement in pledges; 1,000 of this would come from Batch ’81.
At the same time, he was in talks with some investors who would like to put a stake in the iron ore deposits in Larap; they were potential donors towards the project.
To date, all the road-building materials from donations shall have been used up.
But there are proofs to show – all in concrete.
In just 12 months, Mambulaoans have seen what used to be a trail in the baranggay becoming a paved road – cemented at that.
In Parang, the biggest of the 27 baranggays, a nicely-done cement roads has made tricycle drivers the new “motorcycle daredevils”. But somehow, everyone in Parang was happy as mobility has become their second skin.
Also concreted is that stretch of the Mambulao-Larap road on the outskirts of the poblacion called “biglang-liko/kurbada” up to that portion in front of the Ramon Adea property in Parang.
Now, what is left in this massive job is the 5km stretched towards Larap proper.
This stretch has become the frustration of every Larap resident. Those who are overseas, on their Facebook accounts, castigated the municipal government for being deaf to the mobility needs of the people of Larap.
Indeed, this stretch has become a pain in the neck as far as Dong Padilla is concerned.
But he is determined to finish what he has begun before his term is up by June 2013.
And such resolve would be tested by the 5km stretch of rough roads, which everybody in Larap said has been the cause of their daily misery and the reason why their community does not progress - both socially and economically.
The good news is that with the coming of the dry season, road building will resume and this road – a concrete one – will end up right there at the heart of Larap.
Mambulaoans should not make the shortage of funding a hurdle to finishing the road to Larap.
Everyone can help towards this endeavor.
Mambulaoans should - for the nth time - strive to make the spirit of “bayanihan” a functioning engine again.
A network of good roads is a decent legacy that Mayor Dong Padilla could leave to his constituents should he decide to quit politics next year.
But then, Mambulaoans would not mind if he waves his hand for a second term
-- AP Hernandez