LANDMARKS OF PROGRESS

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LANDMARKS OF PROGRESS

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Cartoon editorialNO ONE CAN ARGUE against success.  Despite the bad manners of a giant earthquake of 7.2 magnitude and some foul weather that greeted the new regime, City Hall has succeeded against doomsday soothsayers.

Mayor Baba Yap has enough citations and statistics to trumpet his administration’s success. We would just  like to cite the  currently visible and the  blueprinted landmarks of progress.

From a BOT deal plagued with controversies under the previous regime, the Tagbilaran City Square has so far remitted P 24-M as the city’s share in the partnership with the TBC Realty Corporation.  It is now truly a proof of a functioning collaboration between the public and private sectors that could be a model of future big ticket undertakings under the PPP.

The old City Hall was a monument of neglect, appearing then  like an unkempt edifice in a dusty desert of the Wild Wild West. But a city hall is the face of governance and the blueprint of well structured office, parking space and greens can only befit a city that moves from minor to major.

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The contemplated four-storey  “Tagbilaran City College” to rise in Dampas will be the Great Equalizer, giving access to quality education to deserving but poor students who cannot afford the luxury of relatively expensive private education.  Verily, Education is the kind of investment that yields the highest return on investment.

The 100 million Filipino populace  is a very young one- average age of 23- and giving the youth the keys to their future is a legacy any government will be proud to display for posterity.  This will be in addition to the 43 new classrooms in the city and the 606 subsidized scholars.

The investment from the heart should be the” Paglaum (Hope) Center” – which literally brings new hope for children in conflict with the law-many times through no fault of their own-  like broken  homes, poverty and circumstance. These kids represent some of the “least of our brethren” that needs emancipation.

The “Bohol Friendship Park”, on the other hand, will be first major step in the city not just contented in being a Gateway but becoming  a part of the whole tourism package; in fact,  as the mayor sad: the first stop in the incredibly popular Countryside Tour. This would not have happened in a regime where the previous leader “did not believe in tourism”- despite its being the province’s flagship industry.

It will be a “breath of fresh air” as the park will capture likewise  the rich culture and history that Bohol is known for -and therefore should be a delight to both tourists and locals who will be re-immersed again to the roots of our proud race and ancestry.

If the replicated Legaspi Galleon that docked at Bool, and  helped mark the first international treaty of friendship  together with Rajah Sikatuna -comes into fruition -with all the amenities therein, it is a dream come true. It is also a symbolic landmark- to distinguish Boholanos from the rest of the brown Filipino race: a people that will bend backwards for the sake of friendship and goodwill.

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On a personal note, it will be a dream fulfilled as well for  the patriarch of the Bohol Chronicle the late Jun Dejaresco , though not strictly a tourism practitioner,  had one of his  dying wishes to have that galleon installed on the waters of the Bohol shoreline.  He could be smiling already just thinking of this evolving  prospect.

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Few people know that Dejaresco was one of the party in the group who scaled the  the very existing Chocolate Hill that houses  the  view deck-  with their bare bodies to pinpoint where the center of the magnificence of the 1,000 hills should be developed. He  also accompanied “The Father of Bohol Tourism” Anos Fonacier  aboard a helicopter when they spotted the white sand beach of where the Bohol Beach Club (the first major Panglao resort)  originally pitched its first cottages.  He believed in tourism as much as he did in his law books.

Twelve thousand two hundred forty two meters of concreted roads, on the one hand- now and soon- is this regime’s answer of  the past nine years of neglect of the road artery of a city aching to be among the nation’s best.

On the lighter side,  it can be said that the psychic needs of the city body politic was not neglected with the deep involvement of the city government in sports development -believing that a Juan who works and does not play is no good. A City Band and the Tagbilaran Choir are likewise examples of a wholistic nurturing of an ever growing populace.

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But all of these heavy commitments to progress always comes with prudent fiscal management. Good relationships with Manila for national projects (from agencies), creative partnering with NGOs and private sector engines for PPP projects, good tax collections like the more than half a billion in real  estate taxes are in that laundry list of sources of funds to spur development of other landmarks. So far, the results are encouraging.

Of course, every city is always a work in progress. There are  still more mountains to be scaled, there are  other rivers to be crossed.

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For instance, the much ballyhooed “next emerging BPO city center” for Tagbilaran  is taking some more  time than expected. There are still kinks reportedly being ironed out with two major telcos to refine the fiber optic situation. If now in place-  that  could have created hundreds of high paying jobs and move the currency in faster circulation which your friendly economist will  always confirm as a “positive for the local economy.”

The peace and order- particularly the proliferation of the drug malady in our midst – is still to be addressed completely. During the Charter Day celebration, a group of civic minded citizens were still aghast that while the bishops, the rooks, the towers (as in a chess game)have been arrested- there kings and the queens have not been checkmated.

They also want an inventory of the drug related arrests and the convictions and to find out the culpability in those botched cases where the culprits escaped the iron hand of the law by some method or circumstance or another.  There has to be an honest to goodness review of the method and the madness of the Drug Trade.

That said, it is with gladness that July 1 marked the beginning of the month- long festivities here  where friends far and near will be our guests. Certainly, we will not be shame-faced to declare  to them that  indeed in this city (and the province was well) : THERE IS GOOD NEWS HERE!

Let the city landmarks be the impetus to build more for the good of all. Our only city.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

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