Friday, January 29, 2016

As roads mgt facility closes, 
KALSADA opens for LGUS

TAGBILARAN CITY, January 29 (PIA)—Because good things need to be sustained, a former foreign funded project implemented in Bohol is now eyed to continue in the 63 provinces, via a new name: Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran (KALSADA) Program.

And the mother program which gave birth to KALSADA is Provincial Roads Management facility (PRMF) a project assisted by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), bared Rosalinda Paredes, former project coordinator. 

“PRMF is part of AusAID’s global economic development program,” Paredes, who has guest at the weekly Kapihan sa PIA said. 

The AusAID saw that a good road governance plays a key role in the integral development of a place, promotes connectivity, access to basic services, opens up transportation and ease of mobility and perking up sleepy economies. 

“It was the first time that I saw a [foreign funded] project which funds infrastructure,” Paredes, who used to be connected to an award winning NGO admits. 

But PRMF was not just about physical works, what it built were good secondary roads built in line with the national standards that approximate the Department of Public Works and Highway’s (DPWH) blue book. 

The DPWH’s blue book is a national standards manual for all national roads and their life spans before needing necessary maintenance activities. On the other hand, PRMF caused the crafting of the Local Roads Manual, one that can be guiding the opening up, maintenance and concreting of local roads, Paredes explained. 

Other than the funds, the PRMF also looked at the formulation of a road sector team for Bohol from looking into the human resources, which also triggered the expenditure management and the numerous interlinks which affect the entire roads value chain, she explained. 

At the end of the Bohol project, PRMF completed the rehabilitation of about 120 kilometers of secondary roads with funds reaching P200 million, the determination of 14 core roads which assure connectivity and access of communities to services, the formulation of the local roads manual, the recording of these roads as assets and not liabilities, while helping governments firm up the its road sector map. 

This also frees up a sizable amount of local budgets for the roads, which goes to other sections that were not within the priorities, the PRMF coordinator added, considering that foreign funds were also infused for the road rehabilitation. 

These road sections that were built by the PRMF in fact proved beneficial when the earthquake hit Bohol. 

Much of the national roads then were impassable as bridges toppled, the crucial roads stayed on and provided alternate access, Paredes claimed. 

And with the good track record, she shared that it would be a great loss to the people if the project terminates. 

And then, a DPWH source declared by the end of 2016, much of the national government’s road infrastructures would be concrete and the annual budget allocated for them can now be freed, local government units saw the opportunity for a continuation of the project, now using national funds.

After December of 2015 however, the PRMF reached the Department of Budget and the budget department mulled on piloting the project through KALSADA in some provinces. 

The other LGUS were not amenable and insisted that the project be opened for all, as long as the LGUS can comply with the requirements for availment of Kalsada funds. 

With the launching of the KALSADA program in Bohol last week, some funds are already set for two crucial road sections: Sikatuna Balilihan via Badiang Road and Alegria Catigbian-Hagilanan Road, sources from the Office of the Provincial Engineer bared. 

Another 35 provinces who would be availing of the KALSADA project have accordingly received their certificates of fund allocation, according to Paredes. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)

Bautistas baptism of fire: selling
Over 500 kilos of ubi in 3 days

TAGBILARAN CITY, January 28 (PIA)—They never thought it was profitable until from their left-over stocks, they still sold a neat 120 kilos cashing in over P4,000. Now they are aiming at selling over 500 kilos in 3 days. 

That also marked the time when the Bautistas would have their baptism of fire. 

When Policarpa and his husband Eladio Bautista gave planting kinampay, baligonhon, binanag and tam-isan a second hard look, they knew it would also mean hard work. 

But, from a family of hard-working farmers who had seen the prospect of ubi market, both knew that the returns are no joke either.

This year, at the invitation of the Municipal Agriculture Office in Cortes town, the couple hauls in over 500 kilos of their crops after making sure they still have between 80 to 100 kilos of prime crops for seedlings in the next cropping. 

Stockpiling the biggest bulk of their harvest at the Cortes booth in the 3-day Ubi Festival which runs from January 27-29 at the Plaza Rizal, the Bautistas knew what it would take to produce that much. 

“It was never a serious business,” Policarpa, 53, of Lourdes Cortes, confessed at the sidelines of the brisk selling Ubi Festival selling January 28. 

“Until we had to haul in bags upon bags of organic fertilizer from Danao town, and my husband temporarily stopping from driving when the fares are slow, then it was in a way, getting us into it seriously”, she bared. 

Herself born from a generation of ubi growers, she admitted planting after she married, was more of following a tradition and making sure they do not beg for the favored crop every harvest season. 

“It is always cherished to have nilunaw every time we long for it,” she said, the belief in never breaking tradition clearly etched in her mind. 

Nilunaw, is a starchy afternoon-snack favorite, which is boiled cubed-ubi, cooked in coconut milk and brown sugar. “We can’t keep our children from not longing for it,” she shared, as she leans on a booth at the argi-fair that has ubi as its main product. 

“We plant, and in fact ask our neighbors to help us in the harvest the farm.” She also shared that they would give the neighbors sack full of crops for the labor. 

“But after we realized there is money [in ubi], we both decided to just get the kids helping us harvest,” excitement manifesting in her face as she takes a breather from minding bulk buyers at the Cortes booth. 

We had about 700 hutoks (planting mounds) then, and we were still able to sell, after sharing to neighbors, over 120 kilos. We had to leave about 80 kilos for sits (seedlings) for the next season. 

This year, noting the brisk sales then, the Bautistas responded to the invitation from the Cortes Municipal Agriculture Office to display their produce. 

Asked how they were able to get a good harvest despite the unpredictable climate, she said, everything has to be done right. 

By doing right, the Bautistas admit they still follow the age-old tradition they inherited from her parents. 

“Cortes does not have very favorable soil, so we put in organic fertilizer. Rotten rice stalks are now used in place of the dried banana leaves. At the first hungit; or feeding the holes with the seedlings, we dig in a shard of mature coconut meat and brown sugar,” she shared, somewhat disbelieving. 

“This makes sure the harvested binanag, tam-isan ang the white varieties are immaculate white and sweet. And from our picnics in the beaches, we bring in seaweeds and hang them in the fields, to let the ubi breath from it. Somewhere in the field, an empty coconut shell is hung, this allows bad will to just pass through,” she shared. 

First harvest, she said is always from a small patch and is reserved for the All Soul’s Day’s “padogmak”. Padogmak traces its roots from the pagan thanksgiving offering before winter comes, and in Bohol, is a lavish spread of the best harvests which every family member and relative partake, in communion with the departed. 

“At the padogmak, we have hawok, the ritual kissing of the old and the new crops: the remnants of the last cropping and the new harvest, kissing by the family altar,” she narrates. 

“Of course, we do not know if all these is true, but it doesn’t pay to obey, right?” she quipped. 

With the brisk sales, Policarpa, who personally handles the marketing of their stocks believe their profits this year would buy them a good shovel. 

“My husband has asked for a shovel so digging the planting mounds would be easier this April.” That way, we can also save a bit for the kids’ education, she timidly disclosed. The couple has six children. 

Ubi growers start the ubi season in April and harvests the crops in November to December. (rca/PIA-7/Bohol)

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