Ifugao history reshaped on May 13, 2019
By Anthony A. Araos
When Atty. Solomon Chungalao lost the congressional race to re-electionist Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. of then ruling Liberal Party in 2016, Chungalao would spend three years thinking all that he and his people had lost. He bounced back on May 13, 2019, beating four other worthy contenders. Is Congressman-elect Chungalao a courageous fallen warrior or a politician with a never-say-die spirit? His story would lead us to believe that he is both.
In the years that followed, Chungalao kept busy. He planned, prepared and, above all, prayed. I saw and talked with Mr. Chungalao at two engagements in Banawe and Lagawe. We discussed the appalling conditions of the people. There were mounting problems on poverty and unemployment. Solutions are needed to address these problems. Someone has to take charge. Others would simply follow.
Young Ifugaos will be captivated by riveting first-person accounts and dramatic events told in an accessible and intimate style. The foregoing will assist them in this information to one of Ifugao history’s most fascinating figures.
It has been pointed out that nine long years of “absence” from public service took its toll on Chungalao’s consciousness in the minds of the province’s young voters or the so-called “millennials.” But the vile efforts of certain quarters have all come to naught. Instead of weakening or sliding down in the youth sector, Chungalao emerged stronger, more popular, and victorious as ever.
Thus, as youthful members of Ifugao’s electorate reminisce many years of Chungalao’s stint at the House of Representative, they will never forget to give credit and thanks to his invaluable contributions in the past. In short, the results of the just-concluded polls are truly worthy of recognizing Chungalao’s exemplary record as a lawmaker.
Soon, Chungalao shall reclaim his seat in a legislative chamber where people want to debate and scrutinize issues affecting the well-being of the people. It is a healthy exercise for legislators since the nation can’t just enact a law without knowing its implications. Undeterred and rigorous discussion is healthy for democracy. This is the essence of democracy. The government remains best placed to nurture the culture of intelligent thinking in Congress. After all, the avowed goal of a member of the House of Representatives (as well as the Senate) is to promote quality legislation.
Ifugao folks may well conclude they have been thinking of the job of a congressman in a too narrow context of being their guest speaker in a town fiesta or “ninong’ (godfather or sponsor) in a wedding ceremony. At the very least, they must realize that their congressman (or representative) shall take part in the meticulous, tedious task of crafting the General Appropriations Act of 2020 or the national budget of the following year.
The 2020 budget bill shall be passed by the House and Senate and be sent to the President for approval. Failure to enact it would lead to a reenacted budget. A two-thirds vote of both chambers is needed to overturn a presidential veto. The best proof of that need for a tried and tested lawmaker who has a sophisticated grasp of crafting the budget bill is the fact that Ifugao should have found the right man at the right time to be its voice at the House other than him. The Chungalao vote finally put to rest the ambiguity on this matter. No reason exists to justify putting an amateur at the House.
It has come to a full circle. May 13, 2019 is a testimony how Ifugao folks honored Atty. Chungalao during his previous stint at the House of Representatives- doing his work each day professionally, competently and responsibly. To serve the people faithfully and dutifully well at all times.
Detractors say Chungalao is corrupt. A reason enough for the voters to show their displeasure and show him the door. Instead, he won handily. Expressions of strong support poured in from across the province, even in bailiwick towns of his main rivals. What the people said is very clear. They should have backed someone else but they gave him their full trust and confidence to be the people’s voice at the House of Representatives. Mudslinging in Ifugao has certainly become one of the most effective means of tarnishing the image of well-meaning politicians like Chungalao. If incredibly stupid Ifugao folks are making noises about this allegation and if they think that it shall work for them all over again during the May 13, 2019 midterm elections, they found themselves in such a horrible position as evidenced by the “big win” of Chungalao despite running on meager resources. Unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against an upright-thinking public servant like Chungalao left a bad taste in the mouth of insurmountably ignorant Ifugao folks, considering he is known for his well-pronounced platform on curbing graft and corruption. On May 14, 2019, they were disturbingly quiet. I hope it would never happen again.
To my mind, Chungalao is humble, approachable and extremely intelligent. He has the heart and brains and it is good for an impoverished province because he already knows what the problems are in the grassroots level. Surely, Chungalao has what it takes to become a good legislator all over again. Even to his chief rivals, Chungalao is well-respected. To the vast majority of the people, he is seen as a down-to-earth person. From here on, Congressman-elect Chungalao can work together with the people to bring inclusive growth in depressed villages and provide prosperity for all for Ifugao folks. To a degree, that’s totally a bright hope in the horizon and disaproportionate to the small gesture of those who spewed out traditional promises of better lives.
To the extent of his legislative powers will allow, Chungalao showed strong political will and astuteness in his actions and decisions, and firm resolve to carry out on his pronouncements despite criticisms from varying interest groups. But there is always a limit what he can do to institute change and to correct flaws in the government.
What is next for Ifugao with Chungalao at the helm of the House of Representatives? The challenge is that Representative Chungalao can find a way to lift out of poverty countless poor Ifugao folks. Chungalao is set to join 32 other Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) representatives in the 18th Congress. The House has 302 incoming members, of which 95 are from the administration PDP-Laban.
Time goes on and stories of the victory of a man who never wavered to retreat for the sake of the people are likely to be retold a number of times. History has been reshaped for good by Rep.-elect Solomon Chungalao! Hopefully, the just-conducted polls had been meant to turn the page on decades of underdevelopment, mediocrity and backwardness.
For the remaining months of 2019 and next year, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation of Ifugao should focus on the youth’s role in implementing programs and projects geared toward the promotion and protection of environment.
Simply told, Ifugao’s SK officials have a vital role to ensure the prevalence of a clean and green environment beneficial to the present and future generations of Filipinos.
It is high time to cultivate the capacity to actively implement the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or Republic Act 9003 through sustained efforts. Laudable initiatives may be pursued by replicating best practices and exemplary conttibutions in the implementation of environmental laws in Alfonso Lista, Asipulo and Kiangan towns. RA 9003 is an excellent, relevant and timely law, as it addresses an important aspect of the Filipino’s way of life. It also commits the Philippine government in addressing the problem of environmental degradation. I hold the firm belief that SK Ifugao Federation president and concurrent Board MemberAezel Dumangeng will not hesitate to answer the call in advancing the goals of RA 9003 and contribute in a much bigger way to safeguard the province’s endangered environment.
Today, most Ifugao towns would need materials recovery facilities (MRFs) just enough for RA 9003 to make sense. It is worth mentioning that Alfonso Lista’s MRFs have consistently helped build the town’s environmental protection program. Credit it to the initiatives of outgoing Mayor Glenn Prudenciano, who is Ifugao’s next vice governor.
Indeed, as stewards of the environment, SK officials should be able to contribute to nation-building. Hopefully, they provide inspiration to other local officials to strongly support programs and projects designed to save Ifugao’s environment. The SK Federation of Ifugao, in the meantime, should spell out its position on issues on reforestation and kaingin practice. Kaingin- or slash and burn farming, has spread far and wide in Ifugao’s 11 towns, the challenge of stopping it has not in any way diminished.
Little by little, SK officials can do so much for the environment and they must strive to raise the awareness and consciousness of their peers that actions are needed to protect forests. Genuine care for the environment entails several social, economic and political dilemmas for the people and their officials.
Thirty four youngsters are now better adept to photography after undergoing a four-day training, under the Workshop on the Process of Documentation Program of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), at Barangay Poblacion West in Lagawe.
The workshop is an educational campaign of the NCCA that aims to teach the young the importance of indigenous arts, skills and sports. It offers children a good grounding on basic photography course.
During training, participants were given hands-on and demonstration techniques. They were also given lectures on basic Do’s and Don’ts while taking photographs. Edward Alan Dinamling and John Glenn Dulnuan served as lecturers.
To further instill a culture of excellence among children, the participants were also given interactive exercises at some town proper sites.
The workshop addressed the pressing need for youngsters to understand the fundamentals in photography. Participants were also given a better feel of the wonders and benefits of photography as a hobby- from the vantage point of a youngster inside the school campus or during summer vacation.
“We at Poblacion West Barangay Council are thankful to our sponsor for providing our young people a valuable and unforgettable lesson on photography. This, indeed, is a very enriching experience for them,” Punong Barangay Simplicia Dipia-o said.
The council is also composed of kagawads (councilmen) Marcial Bogbog, Robert Guimbungan, Adelina Dalingay, Paula Ballogan, Wilfred Unghiyon, Ceasar Tumapang and Ramon Dominong. Likewise, Mariflor Capuyan, Ronalyn Balao-oy and Revelyn Lunag, all of the Ifugao Cultural, Educational, Scientific and Communitg Development Center, Inc. (ICESCDCI) took part in the activity.
I’m of the opinion that an injustice has been done in the delay in the release of funds to SK organizations because of the failure to craft the guidelines for fund releases.
The government should address, once and for all, this issue. This concern should get in on the government’s priority list. Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano should order someone out there in his department to work round-the-clock and coordinate with the Commission on Audit and other government agencies to address the problem. I am optimistic that through the intercession of Secretary Ano and the coordinated action of these agencies, subject to self-imposed deadline, they will be able to finally meet their goal.
With the release of these funds, one can see a light at the end of the tunnel. It is so crucial in the operations of the SK. Now is the time to release the much-needed SK funds, especially in far-flung villages. As the enlightenment of the young leaders grows, so does the need for SK officials to act on their programs, projects and activities.
Finally, here are some thoughts for our readers: “Great are the works of the Lord.” Ps 111:1-2
“I will be better tomorrow if I say yes to Christ today, and I will be worse in the future if I remain fixated in the failures of the past.” Chris Padgett, a teacher at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, United States.**