Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ka katapusan it imahinasyon

Nakabalik ako sa Odiongan it kag usang dominggo matapos ka kuyang-kuyang nak pitong tuig na waya ako nabisita.

Kag pagbabag-o it gi-udahan it kapitolyong komersyal it Romblon ay marako ag masyado’t halata. Sa ako pangmuyat, nag-uswag ka Odiongan. Kag lugar it dating merkado ay naglimpyo.
It has turned into a public space.

Nagrasig ag nagtigson ka ekonomiya. Karamo iy ka nagtitinra ag nagni-negosyo. Halos kumpletoy ka pasilidad it pagbabangko, telekomunikasyon, ag edukasyon. Nagramo ka tawo, nak ka mga balati-on ay pay nagkapag-asa.

Mahabang panahon ka pitong tuig. Kung mas marasig, siguro ay mas mayado pa ka naabot it Odiongan. Reli gi susuyor ka ‘intervention’ it gobyerno sa pag-uswag it usang banwa. Ka pag-uswag ay ging aanak it matadlong nak pagpapanguyo ag matibay nak gobyerno.

Kada kung moderno’y ka Odiongan, siguradong ka gobyerno ay inggwa it nahuman.


Yes, but only partly. The history of modernity is a history of a people coming together to promote and act for the common good. The government may claim credit for uplifting people’s lives, but only partly. In the end, it is still the common people who should get credit for moving forward.

Kaling kaisipong kali ay nagyutaw it kag magbisita ako sa Odiongan. Nakaabot ako sa Brgy. Tabing Dagat. Reli ay nakahilera ka mga konkretong posteng sa kahahadag ka iwag; nak sa sobrang hadag ay siguradong masabo ka isra pag taob ag maruyom ka buyan. Ugaling ay siguradong pagsabo it isra ay kaibahan ka sayabay, dahil ka hadag ay waya it ging pipiling a-iwagan. Basaha kag istorya it nanay ni Jose Rizal sa “The Lamp and the Moth”.

What’s the point I am driving at? That a lighted public place both repels and attracts. It repels criminals who shun the light. It attracts visitors and encourages leisurely activities. The only problem when I visited the “baywalk” along Brgy. Tabing Dagat was that there was not a single promenader. The place was silent as a tomb.

Nagsawa-iy sa hadag ka taga-Odiongan?

No. They might have just other important things to do than killing time under the bright lights of the “baywalk”, such as, perhaps, working to earn a living, or taking a rest after a hard day’s work.

This is not to disparage the Tabing Dagat lampposts. They are beautiful and serve a purpose. This is, however, to question the priorities of those who put it up. Whoever did it lacked imagination.

I was told the lampposts, 100 pieces in all, cost P3.5 million. That is P35,000 per. I was also told there are similar lampposts in Calatrava, put up by Mayor Bong Fabella, and they cost only P17,000 per. What mathematical corruption was committed in erecting the Tabing Dagat promenade lights? Ask Gov. Natalio Beltran, Jr. Most probably, he will say, “None”.

But that’s exactly my point. The P3.5 million is not peanuts. And nobody might have benefited financially from the lampposts’ construction. Yet, it is taxpayers’ money and should have been wisely spent.

I have not seen P3.5 million in my whole life and—argue with me on this—so have 95 percent of all Romblomanons. We are a poor province pretending to be rich. We are dark, but the pockets of bright spots, whether they are in Tabing Dagat or somewhere else, do not shine equally on all of us. Get that?

In other words, if you are the governor, why would you prioritize spending P3.5 million on lampposts if P3.5 million can build 12 concrete classrooms, or buy 5,384 fifty-kilo sacks of NFA rice, or used to dig up 20 deep wells in areas where there is no safe water for residents? I calculated that the P3.5 million can also be used to buy 583,000 Neozep tablets, more than enough to prevent all Romblomanons from contracting common colds.

Come on, I am not being simplistic. In these times when a ganta of rice in Sibale is about P80, there is no time to kid each other how we could possibly survive the economic crunch that majority of Romblomanons is suffering from. We all have to be practical and to do it is to call on our leaders to set aright their priorities.

Alas, Gov. Beltran’s priority—which is the beautification of Romblon (go to Romblon’s website to see this)—clashes with reality. Beautify Romblon when Romblomanons are hungry? You must be joking. Why should we install bright lights in streets with less traffic—human and vehicular—when there are families in the mountains who don’t have electricity connection? Pray, tell, where is the sense of practicality and commonsense in this?

Another thing. Romblon is pristinely, naturally beautiful as it already is. There is no need to “beautify” it some more, if the governor’s beautification projects are aimed at papering over Romblon’s face with cosmetics to attract tourists.

We are sick—our provincial government is sick—with incrementalism. The solution that we think and implement for our monumental problems are always incremental and superficial. Small and short-term and cyclical. We plod. We muddle from one election to another. A paved road here, an artesian well there, a lamppost over there, a basketball court here, a waiting shed there, etc. In doing so, we try to please a small number and leave the majority hanging high and dry. Result? Problem unsolved.

We do not appreciate the big picture and we do not do the practical, incredibly big things for the long-term benefit of our people. Government is not rocket science. It requires only commonsense and a good heart. It also requires honesty and hard work.

I call this incremental attitude, this distorted sense of priority, the end of imagination, a quote from Nadine Gordimer, one of my favorite writers. Many elected government officials have reached this end.

You need not have proof. Just go to Tabing Dagat and see the lights. After that, visit Sibuyan where the poor are pressing their empty stomachs with their calloused hands and staring blankly into nowhere.

Who pays for the electric bills, anyway, Gov. Beltran? The barangay? Nakakahilak si kapitan. Nabawasan kag ida internal revenue allotment.

Sometime ago, I wrote that MMDA chair Bayani Fernando had reached the end of his imagination because he painted the EDSA toilets pink.

Now, it’s Gov. Beltran’s turn to reach that end. But I am not even sure that he has the imagination, so we ask: How could he reach its end?

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