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Sep 29th
Home Columns Noy (Bicol Column) Bringing Home the Bacon to the Poor Towns of Sorsogon and Not Just to a City
Bringing Home the Bacon to the Poor Towns of Sorsogon and Not Just to a City PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Noy (Bicol Column)
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Friday, 23 September 2011 13:31



Why and How Sorsogon Can Be the Richest Province in the Philippines on a Per-capita Basis


Part One of a “SorsoGolden Province of Economic Opportunity” Series


By Lolo Bobby M. Reyes of Sorsogon City


After being asked for THE VISION of his candidacy, a politician answered: ‘I cannot even do multiplication and you want me now to do division?’ – An old Sorsoganon joke


P er many online sources, the idiom to “bring home the bacon” means “to do something successfully, especially to win a game or race”. Or “to earn money to live on.” Taken from this context, the 2000 move of Sorsoganon politicians of annexing the old municipality of Bacon in order to make a city out of the Sorsogon provincial capital town has backfired.


The forced merger between the towns of Bacon and Sorsogon did not succeed in winning the race against poverty, lack of infrastructures, ignorance and other social cancers. Nor did it provide ordinary families enough money to live a decent or better quality of life. The merger between the two municipalities is described in this earlier article: Why Bacon Must Be Freed from an Eggshell of Gerrymandered Sorsogon City


Perhaps Sorsoganon politicians must learn to do multiplication instead of merely being able to do addition (i.e., Sorsogon + Bacon = Sorsogon City).


The politicians’ reason advanced for the forced merger was that Bacon’s population and income were needed to make viable Sorsogon’s first city. The combined population of Bacon + Sorsogon towns resulted in a Sorsogon City of 151,454 souls (as of last survey), with Bacon contributing less-than a third of that figure.


But then as I pointed out in postings in the Facebook, Canlaon City (Negros Oriental) has a population of only 50,208; Muñoz City (Nueva Ecija) has 71,669 residents; Dapitan City (Zamboanga del Norte) has 72,792 people and Maasin City (Leyte) has only 79,737 souls.


By adding the incomes of both Sorsogon town and the Bacon municipality, Sorsogon City has become a third-class city. I argue that Sorsogon politicians ought to have developed the resources of Bacon, so that it becomes a city by itself and thereby emulate the State of Minnesota, which has the twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.


“Bringing Home the Bacon” to the Bacongnons


If politicians want to “bring home the bacon” (pun intended) to the Bacongnons, the true native residents of the old town of Bacon, then they must restore its township. For Bacon town has so many natural resources – that if developed – it can have enough income to become a city by and of its own.


Here are some of the natural resources of the ancestral town of the Bacongnons:


1.0             Half of the Bac-Man Geothermal Plant (BMGP) lies in Bacon; the other half to Manito town of the Province of Albay.


1.1             The town can impose certain fees and/or sales tax on the BMGP and if its owners, the Energy Development Corporation refuses, then it can expropriate it and pay the present owners just compensation.


1.2             The geothermal field can be tapped to power air-conditioning units for hospitals, schools, public buildings, dormitories and even retirement homes (without the need of electricity generated by the BMGP). Bacon does not have even a single college but it can offer new campuses of educational institutions willing to relocate to it.


2.0             Some of the remaining forested areas in Sorsogon Province are in Bacon, which is home to the endangered monitor lizard species called  locally the “Layagan” or “Butaan” in the other parts of the Bicol Region.


2.1             Gray's monitor (Varanus olivaceus) is a large (180 cm, >9 kg) monitor lizard known only from lowland dipterocarp forest in the east of Luzon and a few smaller adjacent islands in the Philippines such as Polillo Island, where it is locally known as the butaan. It belongs to the subgenus Philippinosaurus. [3] It is largely arboreal and extremely shy. It is classed as vulnerable by the IUCN because most of its habitat has been destroyed over the last 60 years. Its diet consists primarily of fruit, especially Pandanus, and snails. (From Wikipedia).


2.2             Once bred in captivity, the “Layagan” can thrive and proliferate at a rapid rate. When there are too-many monitor lizards, permission can be obtained from wildlife authorities for a systematic culling and their skin turned into expensive leather and made into designer shoes, handbags, belts and other leather craft. This can result into a multi-million (in US dollars) industry. But to save the "Layagan," Bacon town must undertake a massive reforestation, which can combine mahogany, molave and pili as shade trees with cacao, coffee and cash crops such as black pepper planted in the appropriate portions of the reforestation areas.


3.0             The Bacon town faces the Pacific Ocean and it has many areas that can be turned into local versions of Spain’s Costa del Sol resorts, after all it has some of the oldest permanent houses built during the Spanish regime. Building condominium units turned into hotel rooms (condotel) and Caribbean-style resorts and affordable housing for retirees can bring lots of real-estate taxes to the town and the province, aside from the multiplier effects on the local economy. (Will politicians note that “multiplier effects” needs only the basic knowledge of multiplication?)


3.1             Especially if the road from Bacon’s Sawanga District is finished up to the town of Prieto Diaz, areas overlooking the Paguriran Islands of Sawanga can be turned into world-class resorts. But then the provincial road has not been completed for almost 60 years, despite the yearly appropriation for its construction in the annual provincial budget.


3.2             The building of tourist-oriented infrastructures will certainly include a golf course, tennis courts and other sporting venues plus marinas and other fishing grounds.


4.0             The Bacon-Sorsogon Airport (that it shares with the now-Sorsogon City) can be turned into viable domestic and even a commuter airport, which can bring in revenues – from passenger terminal fees to landing fees paid by airlines and charter aircraft.


5.0             Having the Pacific Ocean as an asset can bring three distinct economic opportunities for Bacon (aside from the tourism-oriented development, as stated in par. 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2), as the town is the ideal place:


5.1             To locate a sewage-treatment plant (STP) to service Sorsogon City, with the treated waste water pumped into the Pacific Ocean (whatever is left from the use of it as irrigation water). The STP should not be located in Sorsogon City, as to maintain the targeted purity of Sorsogon Bay.


5.2             For its harbor as the site of a dock for gas-carrying vessels to be stored in state-of-the-art facilities of a propane storage-and-distribution center. Finishing the road to Manito (Albay) and Legazpi City will enable the laying of pipelines to cater to the propane needs of several cities and towns in Albay, in addition to Sorsogon City and the towns along the shores of Sorsogon Bay.

            5.2.1  The imports of propane -- liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) -- can be funded by exports of clean and potable water from the natural springs of Bacon town & Sorsogon City (that emanate from the Pocdol Volcanic Range) and other nearby rivers. This can be done by counter-trade (barter) agreements with countries that may supply the LPG or CNG. But the huge gas tankers that can carry potable water back to the gas-exporting countries (as per the idea of this writer) have still to be built.


5.3             Bacon, together with the towns in the province that face the Pacific Ocean (Prieto Diaz,  Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan, Santa Magdalena, Matnog and Bulan) can benefit by fielding modern fishing boats in the Pacific Ocean, up to and including the country’s 200-mile Economic Zone. To date, the Manila-based national government cannot exercise control over the said EcoZone, which is being exploited by foreign fishing vessels. This writer has forecast a billion-dollar (in US dollars) fishing industry for Sorsogon Province – both from its Pacific Ocean and China Sea waters, including Sorsogon Bay, which can be the biggest “fishpond” in Asia, if not in the entire world.


6.0             There are other economic opportunities in Bacon town – from the manufacturing of violins, ukuleles, bandorias and guitars, as some of its craftsmen used to do in the 1960s to operations of fishponds, fish-meal plants, seaweed processing plants, manufacture of chocolate candies with pili nuts, etc.

            6.1       Bacon can also be the center of the revival of the abaca industry, as it has                    a historical claim to it, since in 1669 an abaca stripping machine was                          invented by a Spanish missionary, Father Pedro Espellargas, who was then                 assigned in the Bacon Parish.


Sorsogon City (Without its Bacon District) Can Be Still Viable


T he capital city of Sorsogon can even become a first-class city since it should become the financial and communications center of the province. The provincial hospital and TB Pavilion in Sorsogon City can become the headquarters of a Health-maintenance Organization (HMO), which can be a multibillion-dollar operation (as will be explained in subsequent articles in this series). It is the educational capital of the province.


Sorsoganons are starting to realize that their province is the pili-nut and abaca capitals of the world. It can also be a leading manufacturer of natural medicine and herbal supplements. It has ample number of coconut farms that can sustain an integrated-coconut industry.


(To be continued . . .)


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Last Updated on Monday, 02 September 2013 13:31

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