After the May 10, 2010 general elections, the local government of Siruma and its town folks received its first ever and most distinguished visitor of the land, and a surprise yet.
In a “surprise” short visit, outgoing PH president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo planed in to the Pili airport on May 13th. From there she opted to take a helicopter ride, instead of traversing the ardous four-to-five-hours road trip, to the Siruma town center and the high school campus.
Many pondered what would become of the president had she taken the ride by road and endured the inhospitable and uncomfortable bumpy sojourn, complimented with dust and the works. It would have been the best opportunity to give her a first hand experience without the need for second hand feedback from (officials of) government agencies about the road condition (which usually is laced and quoted with lies to save their butts).
The people and the LGU put up a brave front, flexed their good smiles and rolled out a great reception for Mrs. Arroyo. Applause and buoyed cheers characterized the folks’ appreciation for the visit yet.
In return, the president made important announcements which are part of her going away legacy- the installation of a satellite broadband in the town as part of modernizing the educational system in the countryside.
Lifting her sagged performance, Mrs. Arroyo said the administration have already done so much to improve the educational system yet thinks more is still to be done. “We already have a lot of gains in education, we have constructed classrooms and we have provided our teachers with trainings but I would like to reiterate the need to modernize our educational system by having available internet access to all our teachers, particularly our students,” she said.
One advantage of her visit though, despite the cordon sanitaire that sorrounds her, maybe one or two folks may have whispered to her ears of the travails of residents have to suffer travelling the national road. Mrs. Arroyo promised a separate budget allocation for its re-gravelling and maintenance.
Despite the ills in her governance, some plus points are worth the praise here. Arroyo batted for availability of low cost medicine and made afffordable to barrio folks with the establishment of Botica ng Barangay (Drugstore in the Villages). Siruma have its share with stores located in barangays of Pamintan, Salvacion, Tandoc, Vito, Nalayahan, San Ramon, Fundado, and Matandang Siruma. Another botica is located at the town center.
The president was able to visit flash stores dubbed as “Tindahan ng Palengke” used to be known as “Tindahan ni Gloria” and Botika ng Barangay at the town’s poblacion.
The president’s whirlwind visit of Siruma is comparable to the passing whisp of the wind. She arrived at the Pili airport about 9:50 in the morning and took the brief copter ride to the town’s high school. The ceremonies and visits to Botica and Tindahan lasted for about fifteen minutes. At about 11:00 in the morning she was on the plane on her way back to Malacanang in Manila. She spent more time for travel than the actual visit.
Yet, again, Mayor Nonito Vier expressed elation of the visit: “For a small, coastal town to be visited for the first time by the highest official of the land, is indeed one of the greatest honor for all of us- and to think that a few days from now, her term of office as our president will already expire.”
Postscript: Mrs. Arroyo left the instruction of regravelling and improvement of the secondary national road to Bicol public works and highways regional director Danilo Manalang, who as of this writing has been replaced already. Will the instruction of the past president endure and carry over through the new administration and a new highways director? It remains to be seen.
(To be continued.)
Want to read more about Siruma, the series?
1. The Almost Forgotten Town of Siruma
2. Second Part, Siruma Surprised, Hosts a Distinguished Visitor
3. Third Installment, Siruma: Faded Photographs and Fresh Memories
4. Conclusion: Exposing The Other Side of Siruma