Biyaheng Bukid resumes
BEAUTIFUL BICOL REGION:
THE AWAKENING OF A GIANT
By Manny Pinol
Right after the day-long Cabinet meeting Monday, I and members of the Dept. of Agriculture family took off at about 9 p.m. for a night-long journey to Naga City to resume “Biyaheng Bukid,” the provincial sorties aimed at taking a first hand look at the situation in the countryside.
I have travelled the road to Bicol many times in the past and in all of those journeys I was always endlessly amazed by the beauty of the region.
This trip, however, is no longer about appreciating the beauty of the region but a discovery of how such a huge area with fertile soil and ideal rainfall could be the source of food for the hungry Metro Manila.
Arriving at about 5 a.m. in Naga City, I took a 2-hour rest before proceeding to the town of Pili, Camarines Sur where the regional office of the DA is located.
The crowd which attended the consultation was very impressive, not only because it included the farmers and fisherfolk who were there to receive initial assistance from the Duterte government but mainly because almost every important political leader of Bicol was there.
All the Governors were present – Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes – and almost all the Congressmen, including such iconic political figures as Edcel Lagman and Joey Salceda – were right in front of me.
My old political classmates in the Governor’s League were there – Tony Kho of Masbate, Al Francis Bichara of Albay and L-Ray Villafuerte of Camarines Sur.
It was a DA show, if I may say so. But I was deeply impressed by the attentiveness of the political leaders as they listened to the presentation of the new direction agriculture will be taking under the Presidency of Rody Duterte.
I was told that it was one rare moment in Bicol’s political history that so many respected political leaders of the region were gathered in one occassion.
Bicol is notoriously known for the divisiveness of its political leaders.
In fact, in the last elections, four of the vice presidential candidates were from Bicol. Of course, as everybody knows by now, a Bicolana was proclaimed Vice President.
What is in store for Bicol?
Monday night, during the Cabinet meeting, Dept. of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade presented to the President the urgent need to build and rehabilitate the Bicol Railway System.
Sec. Tugade argued that the Bicol Railway System popularly known as the Bicol Express, would boost the growth of the region long neglected by the Central Government.
I agreed with Sec. Tugade.
The construction and immediate completion of the Bicol Railway System would also spur the growth of the agriculture and fisheries sectors in the region as it would facilitate the transport of the products to the market.
Yesterday, judging from the reaction of the political leaders and the farmers and fisherfolk, I made the conclusion that at long last, this region will no longer just be known as a land of beautiful scenery and Mayon Volcano.
It will soon be known as an emerging major supplier of food for Metro Manila and the rest of the country.
Yesterday, I saw the awakening of an agricultural giant.
Dios Mabalos Bicol!
(Photo of Mayor Volcano downloaded from Google and composite photo of Bicol consultation taken by John Pagaduan.)