More than just the splendor of its people and nature, Bohol at 162 now is an island-province lauded by socio-economic agencies, raters and development partners for its growth index.
The economic and social indicators of progress have resulted from sustained development efforts, whose main highlights include the reduction of poverty incidence, increasing employment rate and agricultural production.
These have been cited by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) and Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO).
But there is yet â€œso much to do, aim for, and as long as we have strong faith in our capacity to continue working together harder, as a persevering people, Bohol shall keep rising,â€ Gov. Edgar Chatto said at the 162ndÂ Bohol Day commemoration Friday, July 22.
The provinceâ€™s birth anniversary ceremony had guests of honor and significance to Boholâ€™s continuing achievements like Korean Project for International Agriculture (KOPIA) Country Director Jeong Taek Lee and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Regional Director Freddy Bernal.
Bernal represented Executive Director Julito Vitriolo to the launching and soft opening also of the CHED Bohol Satellite Office in Tagbilaran City which establishment, the regional official said, the commission is long been due to the province and the governor.
Development and growth have also been indicated by the increases in tourist arrivals, business establishments and investments, with such alternative determinants as the increasing number of banks and deposits, and even vehicles.
All these have been gained from the programs of the government in partnership with the rest of the stakeholders of development.
Chatto assured that these are just continuing since Boholâ€™s leadership has kept closest focus on the current initiatives promoting local economic development
One â€œimpactâ€ result of the sustained development was the reduction of magnitude of poor families from 105,470 in 2000 to 83,455 in 2012 and poverty incidence drop from 50.2% in 2000 to 30.6% in 2012.
Chatto has served as governor since 2010 and, according to the NEDA-7, Boholâ€™s poverty incidence decreased further to 24.7% for the first quarter of 2015.
Boholâ€™s poverty drop was, for the first time, lower than the regional poverty incidence of 27%, the NEDA said based on its most recent Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES).
The NEDA and NSCB also reported the reduction in the number of households with income less than the food threshold and that the annual average family earning significantly increased by 92% over a nine-year period.
The employment rate improved from 93.3% in 2013 to 95.6% last year while labor force participation rate rose to 66.3% in 2015 from 58.2% two years earlier.
Food sufficiency involving basic commodities has remained high at 106% for rice, 107% for corn and 662% for rootcrops despite the recent El NiÃ±o, which recorded the hottest earth temperature ever.
Bohol has posted increasing production and yield per hectare of major food commodities, according to the PPDO based on the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA) data.
The sustained development effort has at the same time upped the sufficiency levels of all livestock, poultry meats and eggs, reported the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian (OPV).
From 2011 to 2015, tourist arrivals grew by 43% while the number of accommodation facilities doubled from 180 in 2009 to 360 in 2015, increasing the rooms from just 2,982 to 6,370 in the same period alone.
The NEDA said the inflow of Bohol tourists and guests registered a 10.6% increase in the opening quarter of 2016 compared to that of the same period last year.
Like Chatto, Rep. Rene Relampagos cited Boholano heritage, culture and arts as a wealth that does help magnet visitors, but he also reminded that still Boholâ€™s â€œbest attraction is its people.â€
New hotels, resorts and malls rose at a total investment of P6 billion in 2013-2015 while the number of registered business establishments engaging micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sustained its growth with a total of 3,577 businesses in 2015.
Investments from the MSMEs reached to P5.77 billion in five years, 2011-2015, according to the government Bohol Business One-Stop Shop (Bohol BOSS), adding to them 299 cooperatives operating at P2.54 billion in total asset.
The private sector investments in agri-business accounted for P8 billion.
In Central Visayas, Bohol province posted the lowest average inflation rate of 1.6% in the 1stÂ quarter of 2016.Â Cebu had 2.8% and Siquijor, 1.8%.
In the construction industry also in the first three months this year, Bohol registered the highest increase, 154%, in the number of new projects constructed.
Another indication of Boholâ€™s growth has been the number of banks, which grew to 85 in 2015 from 65 in 2011, resulting in total number of accounts from 399,269 to 561,332 and a total deposit of 32.87 billion as of 2015.
More automobile dealers entered the province, increasing the number of registered cars, vans and trucks by a yearly average of 8.5%.
Over a six-year period, the number of shipcalls at Bohol seaports increased by 34% and passenger volume surged up from 3.448 million in 2009 to 4.34 million in 2015.
But the most significant indicator of the provinceâ€™s success in fostering sustainable development and inclusive growth is Boholâ€™s moving out of the â€œClub of 20â€ poorest provinces in the country.
Visionary mindset is the first requirement of progress, but Bohol has done more than imagining as more major programs and projects have been on-going or are currently implemented.
These are on top of forthcoming big projects which realization Chatto and fellow Bohol leaders have been working on and bullish to pursue until their concrete fulfillment.
To further boost local economic development is the on-going construction of the new Bohol airport in Panglao which will be completed in late 2017 and operational early 2018, tripling tourist arrival by then.
Open for public-private partnership, an Ubay airport will be developed for general aviation, training and flying school, and transport services for agri-business and tourism on the other side of Bohol island.
Also important growth accelerators will be the power eco-zone for reliable island-based energy generation, bulk water supply and sanitation project, and Malinao dam upgrading for more farm productivity and food security.
Feasibility studies are done for the Bohol northeastern basin irrigation project, the ambitious bridge linking the island-town of Pres. Garcia to mainland Bohol via Ubay, third bridge connecting Tagbilaran City and Panglao island, and Talibon-Bien Unido bridge.
Road development has been constantly pursued as in the highways bridge project between the provincial government, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
In Catagbacan, Loon, the international cruise ship port development is targeted for completion next year after its destruction during the epic earthquake in 2013.
Bohol leaders are at the same time pushing hard for tourism enterprise and economic zones as well as the information technology park.
The Chatto administration is also firm to complete the modernization program for the province-run hospitals which directly touches people’s lives.
The governor has been uncompromising in likewise sustaining peace and order, of which the top order of the day is eliminating illegal drugs at all fronts, by all legal or acceptable means.
Chatto welcomed the order of the Supreme Court for additional 240 trial courts nationwide to handle drug cases.
At the Bohol Day rites, the Galing Purok Awards were conferred to recipients with outstanding community programs or best practices, including one in Sagbayan for anti-drug campaign.Â (Ven rebo Arigo)Â