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Sunday, April 27, 2008

What's New Today?

I am posting the Commencement Speech of Bono (rock star of U2 fame) delivered in 2004 at the University of Pennsylvania. I got interested in this when I read Mareng Winnie’s column yesterday at the Philippine Daily Inquirer. (Mareng Winnie is Solita Monsod, former NEDA Director General during the time of Cory, a UP economics professor and media personality). She made reference to Bono’s speech when discussing the moral blind spot of hardcore landowner legislators who continue to oppose the agrarian reform program refusing to accept the results of independent impact assessments that it has benefited the poor, in spite of its implementation shortcomings.

It’s amazing how a rock star such as Bono could be a staunch activist in the fight against the unjust poverty in Africa. Bono said that every era has its defining struggle and the fate of Africa is one of them. He says that history will judge us by what we did or did not do. His transformation happened after the 1985 Live Aid Concert in Philadelphia (remember the song “We are the World”?). He went to Ethiopia with his wife after that concert and saw for himself Africans dying every day and felt that it was a stupid poverty when children die of hunger and AIDS in a world of plenty.

We are no Bono and neither have we pursued strong advocacies. But maybe, we can take a look at where we came from – Camarines Norte. Isn’t it lagging way behind in terms of development? I looked at its official website just to read the development vision, mission, and priorities. I didn’t see clear directions where the leaders want it to go. I remember Ed C. say that we should forget about the politicians, but we cannot. Unless there is a strong civil society group in the province, defining the development plans and priorities is left to the provincial and municipal development councils composed mainly of the elected officials (politicians. Please continue reading next page.


The website states that the investment priorities are projects that would go into pineapple production (dried, dehydrated, juice); pina fiber; fine jewelry; processed marine products (tuyo, tinapa, and daing); and production of native delicacies and pastries (kakanin). One cannot see what it is that would be the catalyst that could trigger “development”.

In contrast, we can see the aggressive promotion of tourism in Camarines Sur. Last year, I made a comment which I posted here in our blogsite expressing my doubts as to the financial viability of the man-made Cam Sur Water Sports Complex located within the compound of the provincial capitol. I was wrong. It is now one of the popular destinations because of its wake boarding facilities. In addition, it is also promoting other sites such as the deer farm in Ocampo, Lake Buhi which has the smallest fish, dolphin watching in Ragay Gulf; rock climbing in Caramoan (it’s really a beautiful place, allegedly it’s the location site of the Survivor, French version, they say there’s a confidentiality clause in the contract, that’s why nobody from the local government or residents want to speak out), etc.

What about Cam Norte? A few years back, Bagasbas beach was touted as an ideal site for wind surfing. In fact, a nationwide competition was held there and it was featured on national television. But how does Bagasbas beach look now? One blogsite described it as “a long and beautiful beach, with good surf. However, it also has piles and piles of garbage and a seafront dominated by the most tatty and ruinous videoke bars and sari-sari stores in the northern hemisphere.” Calaguas Island in Vinzons and Apuao Beach Resort in Mercedes are said to be beautiful but nothing is being done by the provincial government. One doesn’t even see pictures of these in the Provincial Website, just a list of the tourist spots. By the way, La Consolacion College (our DPS) is also listed as a tourist spot?

Many of us, including me, do not know much about Camarines Norte now. We will do a continuing feature on the province to better understand it, and maybe have a clearer idea of what and how we can be of help. We will start today, with its geographic and demographic features, as well as the list of local government officials. It would have been very useful if beyond listing the names, we can have additional information, such as how many terms of office has the official served, the political affiliation (the magnitude of assistance that can be provided by the national government is certainly a function of how close the local executives are to PGMA).

The frequency and the level of details of our postings would vary depending on the availability of time that we have for research. Everyone is welcome though to contribute.

Sor Victorina de la Providencia, Mother Superior of Daet Parochial School

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