Nora Soriño .
ILIGAN City — Now, in this city, as practically everyone here knows, there was once a time when it basked in the glory of being recognized as “the Industrial City of the South” with the king of the industries then, lording it over — the National Steel Corp..
The employees of that plant then thought they were in the perfect company. Hence, their living in the high life, the good life. “Oh, the good life, full of fun, full of joy…,” says some lyrics of a half forgotten song of yesteryears. So, it was said that some of its employees then only had to throw the gray jackets to the unbelievers. “But that was long ago and many loves have I…,” goes another song.
This city had then since been referred to in jest as “the Industrial City nga Nasawot.”
Of course, not all industries are memories only; like bitter-sweet memories of a lost love, for there still remains some industries,some manufacturing plants like the cement plant, Granex or the plant for processing coconuts. All is not lost therefore in the matter of industries and one does not rest on his laurels or past memories.
Practical minds like Councilor Eric Capitan say now that it’s time to look forward and think agricultural and less industrial. And, anyway, the city has big barangays in area that are suited for agriculture. Rogongon for one has more than 40,000 hectares. There are also the LDKP or Lanipao, Dulag, Kadingilan and Kabacsanan, all hinterland and upland barangays. All suited for agriculture, he says.
Capitan, to note, is the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food. He says that along with Octavius Molo, city agriculturist, and other similar minds saw that it’s really time to think agriculture, practically speaking. In the past, he said this aspect was overlooked for said reason of being an “industrial city.” The farmers though have to be assisted like helping them finance their agricultural needs among them, help them get mechanized instead of manual as they go about in their farming activities so that they can harvest bigger volumes. Cut flowers, vegetables and coconuts are among the agricultural products that are wanting in support.
For this year, Capitan said, support for agriculture is only P10.6 million out of the P1.9-billion budget. Proposal for the increased budget of P2.1 billion for the city is only P17 million or an increase of about P7 million which is only one percent of the total budget if one gets to analyze.
But Capitan says other minds do not recognize that much the importance of agriculture. (Maybe, they see other things as more important than agriculture, like committee services for the SP members which is given a budget of P30 million. And this goes mostly to the meals of the city’s “powerful people” and you know what I mean!)
Anyway the good Councilor Capitan sees this as an “improvement.”
From the budget of P10 million only in 2018, the proposal for 2019, with an increased total budget of P2.1 billion on agriculture is P17 million now. An increase, says he.
Mayor Celso Regencia’s note on the proposed budget was “attention to agriculture.” (By the way, meals, I think does not fall under agriculture, which is given greater budget of P30 million under Committee Services of the Sangguniang Panlungsod; we will dwell on this sometime. Although after meals result could help the agricultural aspect, if you know what I mean.)
Regarding coconuts, one can go to producing virgin coconut oil, instead of copra since copra demand is in all time low, it was learned.
Although the city’s upland barangays comprise over 70 percent of the total land area of the city and also suited for agriculture, much still has to be done in this aspect. The one percent alloted to it is way way below.
Time to change the city officials’ mindset if that’s the case!
Some residents and voters though say that not only the mindset are to be changed. The owners of those minds also.
I don’t know whether to agree or not with this thinking!