Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The P234 million road works in southern Sagada and horses reverie

Suyo, Sagada-  Located near Balangagan cave is a structure being built folks say is owned by  Sagada Mayor Engr Eduardo Latawan Jr.  In front of the house are materials used for the construction of the  P128 million Sabangan-Taccong, Sagada road  project.

SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE – From the   defective works of  BMK Construction along the Dantay-SAgada  road is the construction company’s  128  million road project  awarded by the Department  of  Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for BMK to do the  continuation of the P100 million Sabangan-Sagada road via Madepdeppas now passing through Taccong, Sagada  joining the Suyo- Ambasing road,  a convergence program of the Department of Tourism and DPWH.

I cannot help thinking how said construction company was awarded another road work project when an existing road project is currently under DPWH instructions to remove and replace defective works besides still  on validation stage by DPWH.  It is a basic rule that  projects whether from a private undertaking or under government terms have to finish and get certified good or satisfactory or outstanding before awarded another project. 

And so I tried to ask from the DPWH regional director Engr Edilberto Carabacan any special arrangement or rather special conditions of the contract with BMK construction. I introduced my name and told him am from the media and would like to ask him a question.  This is the second time I  talked with Director Carabacan via phone interview, the first time of which was about a controversial  road project in Sagada two years ago.

Carabacan seemed  hesitant and said flag ceremony is going on.  Well, I must have called at a wrong time.  So I told him I will call again. And when I called again, his phone kept ringing. I thought maybe he is busy in another ceremony.  I called again in another time of the day and another day and the phone kept ringing. I guess the director is busy in another ceremony as expected from heads of offices who   do keynote speaking and cut ribbons during launching rites. 

Anyways, this   134 million peso road project  down south Sagada  awarded at a low of  P128 million  to the Tarlac-based company BMK is now the subject of my curiosity much as Balangagan cave is located somewhere  near the road project  in Taccong and so on I took  a visit to see the cave and what other  tourist spots the  DPWH-Dept of  Tourism convergence road  offers  till I reached a dead end.  I say dead end as I found it difficult to go to the other side of the road with wet and muddy mass of soil barring the way. Workers said I have to climb the adjacent slope or walk through the mud. I was not in the mood to get a wet and muddy adventure so I contented myself getting shots around the construction materials area.

Trucks and back hoes  were parked and mounds of sand and gravel were seen obviously used for the on-going construction of the 128 million road project. A number  of water pipes were seen around. I wonder what the pipes are for when the construction project is one that calls for road upgrading and not waterworks project. I glanced around to see a house being built and asked workers around it who owns the house being constructed.

“Si Mayor”, one worker said. I verified, “Latawan?”  And he said yes.   

Wow.... I told myself. Here is a house being built alongside a public construction project just like how the mayor’s house was built at Kal-i, Antadao at the same time that the new Municipal Building was being built sometime during his first term of mayorship in 2009-2010. I wonder if the house will get bigger in dimensions or a much bigger structure will be built in front of the spacious lot where the construction materials were located.  

In front of the house getting constructed is a space potentially wide enough for a big building to be built on and space wide enough for  business to get going. With Balangagan cave located nearby and tourists projected to come in, well, who wouldn’t think of making money when the opportune time comes? And so I came to know the Mayor bought a more than a hectare lot in this side of the town located near the cave.

An enterprising location it is just like any other place located near or within a tourist spot.  Think of Pacdal Circle in Baguio where horseback riding is a come- on with  many souvenir shops  and nearby Mines View Park   where souvenir shops too are a sight. I wonder what business plans the people in Taccong and Suyo have strategized  so that it’s not only the mayor apparently  devising about tourism income a few years from now.

On the other side of the hill is the P100 million Balili-Suyo road via Maduto. A serene atmosphere  greeted me as the vehicle winded down the road with majestic greeneries on the sides of the mountains. Now I understand the tourism potentials of the Balili-Suyo road. While the area  poses a great site for bird watching, the virginal sights are enough of a breathtaking view one can indulge in. The vehicle moved further till I came to a sign that the road is being constructed by Sepian Construction.

Real interesting that the mayor visits the road works at least twice a week, I came to know. I am led to ask the question if the mayor is the contractor also? 

Located further above Maduto is Marlboro hills locally called Lamagan within the territory of Antadao. The Marlboro trail is projected by the municipality of Sagada as a trekking site in its tourism program. I ask,what would be the difference when its already an established trekking site.  

And so I came to know during the  local tourism development  council  meeting a week ago that Marlboro hills is projected to see horses prancing around  with the matching construction of horse stables  getting  me amused  if the mayor’s family  is going to have the land leased  or donate it when these pranced around horse stables and equally prancing horses shall be made  to be  visible  in a projected tourism site on a tax-declared lot measuring 68 hectares  registered in the name of Eduardo Latawan.  Of course it’s another story how a spacious pasture land  got registered in the name of one person while folks from Antadao claim the lot is communal. 

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