Sunday, December 16, 2007

YES my friend..... This will happen

Yes my friend...this will happen...

By LTC Francis Eugenio L Lardizabal, CO, 21ST IB, 5ID, PA

Fresh flower plants around the oval surround the White Carabao marker. There was a heavy volume of vehicle, but traffic was smooth. The traffic light that was installed hanging at the center of the oval was very precise, that even in the absence of police officers; everybody was much disciplined to obey the traffic rules.

In front of the Saint Williams Parish is an information booth for tourists. Foreigners and local tourists trying to find ways to inquire where they could get accommodations before they could go to their own destinations packed it. It is the season for the much-awaited White Water Rafting at the Chico River. For other tourists, it is the time for the sight seeing tour to the splendid numerous waterfalls of Lubuagan. But there seems to be a shortage of hotels, both in Dagupan and Bulanao of Tabuk City. But even though, the usual practice of offering some private homes as motel has always served the visitors. Anyway, turning homes into inns became a lucrative business for everybody in town.

Meantime, the grounds of Rizal, Kalinga was also jump-packed by people coming from as far as Visayas and Mindanao to attend to the Annual Pinikpikan Festival. Yah... even foreigners were invited to attend and participate to the celebration! The Provincial and Municipal Government are hosting the affair, where prices were at stake. Contests like Duck-Relay, Duck Cooking, Duck-Beauty Pageant, Biggest Duck, Smallest-Duck, and many more involving ducks were on the line. The municipality became the Duck Capital of the North.

The province was so alive that wherever you go, festivities seem to be a normal affair. Over in Tinglayan, foreigners and local tourists are busy buying their own costumes to participate in a Play. The Legend of the Sleeping Beauty, a Play that was inspired for its cultural richness became a success after it was shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines some years back. The Play is a three day affair. Tourists in costumes act as members either of warring tribes, or maybe with any cast whom they prefer. This is a tourist package where one experience living in the traditional Kalinga houses, hike near the splendid waterfalls of the municipality, and visit more spots that could not be found anywhere in the world.

The former mining area of the Batong Buhay Gold Mines Inc (BBGMI) has become a main attraction of the province. Waiting list in the reservation line reaches at least two weeks before one could get an experience in the place. Families line-up, and could stay two days in make-shift bunkers near the tunnels. The bunkers were turned into some sort of inns with basic amenities. It is the experience of getting inside the tunnels, collecting and milling their own piles that give the visitors a taste of adventure. One family was so lucky to get ten grams of gold, and this was made into a ring as a souvenir at the nearby goldsmith inside the mine compound.

The first-born ladies of Lobo in Tanudan have returned! They were forced to get back to their homes, and stay there permanently with their families to take care for a very promising future. Students, couples and other people from the metropolis now swarm their locality. Their rice terraces has become the alternative of the Banaue Rice Terraces. The clean waters of the Tanudan River gave splendid moments to the visitors to dip their bodies, and stay away from the pollutions of the city. Tanudan also became a favorite place for honeymooners and environmentalists. The ecosystem was preserved in the municipality, despite the 45 minutes ride towards Tabuk City.

And who could prevent people from going to Balbalan, and have a look at the awe-inspiring parks with roaming deers and other wild animals. The place was practically turned into a National Wildlife and Reservation area. The municipality became the Worlds Second Tourist destination, overtaking Palawan. Despite the tour package price ranging from $2000 to $3000 dollar per person, reservations are pouring in for the whole year. The Eco-Walk alone, stretching kilometers of forest land, reaching Abra and Apayao Provinces is one of its kind in the world. It is one package where visitors can enjoy nature at its best. Some former rebels were turned into tour guides, while others as zoo keeper.

The Ilocanos of Kalinga has something to be proud of. They were hired as cooks in restaurants, demanding good pays to serve original goat delicacies all over the province. Pinukpuk and Nambucayan of Tabuk City became the Center for goat raising of the province. Restaurants serving said delicacies became a normal attraction in every municipality of the province. It is only in Kalinga where one could eat goat delicacy to his heart’s content, and at the cheapest price. Moreover, businessmen from other provinces and cities come in close contact with our local raisers in order to be prioritized with their orders. The situations seems to have changed now-a-days…they, the people from other places now seems to come without reservations.

The Province has recently received the prestigious Most Developed Province award. It has surpassed by an average 55 percent in tax collection for the last five years. Employment before was a big concern. The tourism industry alone has a shortage of at least 3000 tour guides for the last 5 years. Hotels sprout like mushrooms in every municipality, and the province alone could not satisfy the demand. Almost every sector faces the challenge of looking for capable employees. As a result, workers have to imported and trained from nearby provinces just to satisfy the requirement.

The Weaving Industry contributed a lot to the coffers of the provincial treasury. Tourists and locals buy the product, and this became a backyard industry especially to the retired citizens. The approved resolution made years back, adopting the Kalinga dress as the official daily uniform for all government workers down to the barangay level worked. This has actually helped in the promotion of tourism in the province.

Though the province has reached its boom, the ecosystem was preserved for this is the main resource not available anywhere else in the country. The exception however is the electricity provided by the waters of Chico River. The lands submerged in Pasil proves to be a good sacrifice, as the town and its people are the direct benefactors of the hydro-electric plant that was completed five years ago. The fishing industry is owned by the people themselves through their cooperatives, and resorts at the nearby dam has brought tourism at its best.

The problem of Peace and Order in the province is a thing of the past. The Kalinga Police Provincial Office (KPPO) was placed at the Hall of Fame for being adjudged as the best peacekeeper of all time. For five consecutive years, there was a 98 percent crime rate solution. Practically, criminality is unheard-off in the province. Most cases heard in courts are on family settlements like battered husbands, or maybe boundary disputes. Thanks to the experience of the province on the Malapiat incident wayback in 2007, all major land disputes were solved.

The NPA’s were never again heard after the successful dialogue made some years back. The people talked in that dialogue, where they gave an ultimatum to the insurgents. The people did not understand any ideology, and their only concern are their children’s future. The people, as if begging to the insurgents during the dialogue were very successful. Majority from the Kalinga Group went down, and this became the beginning of everything.

Yes, its really nice to stay or visit the province. As each visitor leave the portals of Kalinga, maybe along any of its five gates (Tinglayan-Sadanga, Balbalan-Abra, Pinukpuk-Tuao, Rizal-Solana, and Tabuk-Isabela), one could really notice how this area, once notorious for its culture of violence, became to what it is now. The people have learned the hard way, and it is the sacrifice of accepting change and realities that helped each individual shape the province.

As I leave the portals of Kalinga…driving my vehicle and already an old timer and a tourist, I stopped and looked… and there it was…the immortalized scriptures at the goodbye sign…”NEVER AGAIN WILL THERE BE VIOLENCE!”.

Riiiiiiiiing!, Riiiiiiiing!, Riiiiiiing! Wow, it’s five in the morning. Have to go to work. The alarm is a real savior for a man like me. But my dream…it’s a very a very wonderful dream. So my friend…I bet you, this will happen.

1 comment:

Jenaisle said...

That was an inspiring article. I had never thought that the once tribal war ridden province of Kalinga would turn out to be what you are describing now. Now I want to go back and see for myself. Thanks for that article.
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