It’s all on Kiangan P2P connections

By Anthony A. Araos

“ The number of Japanese visitors in the Philippines is reportedly increasing each year. Yet, only a few of them opted to visit Kiangan, where the Yamashita Shrine is situated. ”

It is indeed high time to take additional adventures and less-worries in Kiangan town.
To continue with my commentary on the need for Point-to-Point (P2P) connections to and from Kiangan, I’m tackling this time around some other important matters related to this concern.
Undoubtedly, Kiangan is an ideal place in Ifugao for an all-out effort to push cultural tourism. I have always been impressed and astonished by the museum at the Gabaldon building situated at the premises of Kiangan Central School. Kiangan is where most of Ifugao’s cultural and historical landmarks are built. One day it might also be where most of the so-called heritage sites are identified.
Being recognized as a cultural hub in Ifugao- being blessed with countless gems attesting to its rich cultural heritage, what does it all mean for Kiangan? You need to really know! Cultural tourism shall tell domestic and international travelers the wonderful story of Kiangan’s past. More importantly, it shall serve as a platform to ensure tht the town’s heritage structures and objects would be preserved and enjoyed by present and incoming generations.
I like the idea of something that makes the town so special, that a visitor can make it his or her own second home.
Still, a few officials here are beginning to recognize the need to connect Kiangan to the outside world. As articulate and intelligent as this relatively small group of public servants are, less and little-thinking folks among the populace lord it over in Kiangan. Part of this is simply a matter of mindset.
A P2P bus service between Kiangan and Manila and another one linking this town and Baguio City are needed.
I guess that means a lot in boosting the tourism industry in Kiangan and the province. The P2P routes shall surely improve travel in Kiangan.
The number of Japanese visitors in the Philippines is reportedly increasing each year. Yet, only a few of them opted to visit Kiangan, where the Yamashita Shrine is situated. Do the hassles and inconveniences of a tricycle ride make you wonder why the moneyed Japanese tourists opted instead to visit Banaue?
It takes a business-oriented bus company owner to see the need to operate or field better buses for local and foreign tourists. Buses with reclining seats, WiFi, global positioning system, closed circuit television cameras and other safety features for these routes are beneficial for tourists and migrant workers. The sad thing is that most Ifugao folks are mum on this concern than say something about it. None of the town folks I spoke to were shy in their views on this matter. But there were complaints about the inconvenience of making tricycle or jeepney transfer trips in Lagawe in order to reach Kiangan. Long minutes of travel and waiting for a ride at the tricycle terminals were the most common grievances. This is, after all, a daily hassle. Some complained about the overloaded tricycles and cramped muscles of the feet during these trips because of said conditions.
The best measure available for Kiangan to tap is, of course, is the P2P connection.
From the standpoint of the frightening difficulties of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in traveling the same routes, a new, better passage emerges. Today, there is a significant number of OFWs in Kiangan. Precisely, the reason why the Kiangan Overseas Filipino Workers Society (KOFWS) was established some years back as a means of promoting their well-being. Government data placed the number of OFWs in middle of 2015 at 7.8 million. How can you make a domestic helper in Hong Kong feel comfortable in such a situation when she gets off an Ohayami Trans bus in Lagawe at 5:20 a.m. and takes a tricycle back to Kiangan? A P2P connection is the most-friendly way of rolling out, so to speak, a red carpet welcome to the “modern-day heroes” of the Philippines. After all, the remittances of the OFWs are propping up the country’s economy.
There is such a thing in value of comfort among tourists and migrant workers. This is what the P2P connection is all about.
The importance of the P2P connection takes nothing away from the splendor of Kiangan’s popular rice terraces. Rather. These are complimentary: they fit together!
Meantime, I’ll pray for a positive development on this matter. Again, I’ll do whatever I can do to be most helpful.
Believe it or not: Of the 81 provinces in the Philippines, there is one province presently gasping for breath without a functioning or operating Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office or PDRRMO. Yes and sadly, it is Ifugao. The PDRRMO, located in the capital town of Lagawe, remains closed since July 1.
What happens next? God forbids, a disaster or catastrophe hits the province, there is no PDRRMO to respond to an emergency situation. Translation: Ifugao is in big, big trouble!
The trouble is the mere fact that existence, foundation and character of the PDRRMO in Ifugao is shrouded with numerous black holes, loopholes and controversies. Past administrations miserably failed to attend to these problems.
For it to re-open, according to Board Member Clemente Bongtiwon of Banaue, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has to pass first an appropriation ordinance. This measure is intended to spell out the provision of salaries of the personnel of the PDRRMO. He’s right but I have strong reservations. But the process is long and tedious. An ordinance has to undergo three readings before it is enacted into a law. Goodness sake, the first reading entails only the reading of the proposed ordinance. Meantime, the men and women who used to work there and are now re-applying for whatever positions have to wait, wait and wait and it is indeed a nerve-wracking thing to do. Think of their daily needs just to feed their families or loved ones. They are not even sure of being rehired. Most of them are identified or associated with the previous administration. Political and kinship ties frequently cut across employment opportunities in Ifugao. For each position, there are probably 300 applicants at most. Unemployment rate is high in Ifugao. The now jobless PDRRMO personnel have made great contributions to the cause of disaster preparedness in the past. To get new ones simply means retraining them. That entails huge expenses.
Long deliberations, lengthy debates and endless questions as well as who-knows a possible postponement of sessions due to inclement weather conditions threatens to delay the passage of an ordinance on this concern, raising the spectre of prolonged pains, worries and anxieties of all concerned individuals.
Therefore, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan should place in its priority agenda an appropriation ordinance whose elements include increased wages of PDRRMO personnel and even the provision of hazard pay to the staff. Absent of any of these, social security effort will be unsustainable. For these reasons, I believe that Governor Jerry Dalipog should certify this proposed measure as urgent. This ordinance will have a far-reaching effect on the people. Therefore, it is only fair that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan acts on it without delay. For it is clearly contrary to the interest of public safety and the common good. It has to pass the ordinance at the quickest possible time! Surely, it’s right thing to do in the best interest of the people!
Fully aware of the commitment of Vice Governor Glenn Prudenciano to promote good and responsive governance in this part of the nation, I am confident that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s presiding officer shall exert his utmost to make this happen. To truly understand the far-reaching implications of the foregoing discussion, one must appreciate the values, work ethic and vision of Vice Governor Prudenciano. A furor over the people’s criticism of failure to address this matter shall turn into a “disaster.”
Unless the board members move fast, anxious folks could see and realize the ill-consequences of slow action on this matter. That could be horrendous for the people when a calamity or disaster like typhoon or earthquake hits the province. And there’s not much the people can do to stop a storm or a tremor.
Finally, may I underscore the need to intensify education efforts to enable all sectors to meaningfully engage the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in the discourse on the vitality of re-activating the PDRRMO at the soonest time!
I take note with great interest the queries raised by Vice Governor Prudenciano on the two mini-hydro plants in Kiangan town during a recent session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Prudenciano has been clear and firm in his stance about electrification and irrigation concerns of the province. It is reasonable to expect that the Dalipog administration shall work hard to improve the infrastructure network of these mini-hydro facilities, in terms of quality services and maintenance.
May Vice Governor Prudenciano continue to keenly monitor the operations of these two mini-hydro plants. Many years of hard work, perseverance and dedication to work is indeed a milestone and many have witnessed Vice Governor Prudenciano’s commitment to progress and sustainable development. He is heaven-sent and shall be an essential part in harnessing the full potentials of these all-important, provincial government-operated plants. This calls for a concerted effort to upgrade the plants’ productivity. That requires a level of competence in operating them that is diminishing by the hour.
May Vice Governor Prudenciano continue making a significant impact not only in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan but most importantly, in the lives of those whom he serves outside of its hall. I pray for the Almighty Creator’s blessings and Lord’s guidance that you persevere more into the future with unending passion to serve the people, most especially the poor.
Come to think of it, another intriguing development just took place in Kiangan. Ifugao’s mayors reportedly met to map out plans on disaster preparedness concerns. Someone forgot to tell them that the PDRRMO is even not operating. Hehehe! In the past, when a mayor is in need of equipment or some other assistance during a typhoon, he usually seeks the help of the PDRRMO. This time around, God forbids, where do you go Mr. Mayor? How about Lagawe Trading? Or Milas Restaurant? Legality does not presuppose rightness. It is true that there are still no typhoons around the province yet, how about the flashfloods, landslides and mudslides to handle during a heavy downpour? Make no excuses for these lapses. There is much at stake. That’s how the foregoing commentary got started—and why the PDRRMO’s fate is so crucial and its future in doubt. And that’s an Issue Ifugao folks all hope to resolve sooner not later! I think there should be a clear pathway for that. In many ways, how to make the Sangguniang Panlalawigan work better for all of the people is what the last May 13, 2019 midterm polls was all about! Good governance is still possible. The people should continue to be vigilant and assertive of their rights. They should really “pay more” attention to what is going on out there. It’s not hard to imagine why Ifugao folks are not in attendance in practically all sessions. I know why, but Vice Governor Prudenciano can be so persuasive. Things would have to change! How could board members not have noticed in the past and the present a nearly empty session hall? You should have said something, I could have helped. Willingly so!
Finally, a thought for our readers: “My love is everlasting and my faithfulness extends to all generations.” Ps 100:5**

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