A status report that lifts up the spirit
THE SOUTHERN BEAT  - Rolly Espina () - November 20, 2007 - 12:00am

When one looks at the situation around us, there is a feeling of big letdown. One wonders what is going on. Bombings in Glorietta, another in the House of Representatives. Politicians get assassinated and the killings continue, while political turmoil grips the country.

Even the approach of Christmas seems unable to lift the gloom that seems to pervade the atmosphere. In Bacolod, slightest rains inundate low portions of the city and even floods posh subdivisions which, in the past, had escaped such disasters.

Yet, somehow one gets hold of a piece of news that lifts up the spirit of depression.

I am talking about the status report of children in Antique Province released recently by Antique Gov. Sally Zaldivar-Perez. And it is an enlightening glimpse of what the country’s poorest provinces have silently done to boost the status of its children.

Gov. Perez’s report was made during a gathering at the Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park. It was actually the children’s folk festival.

What caught my attention was Gov. Perez’s report that maternal deaths had declined from 13 in 2005 to only five in 2006. And more importantly, breastfeeding has gone up to as much as 90 percent and as long as six months.

The under-five mortality rate plummeted from 20.77 per 1,000 live births in 2002 to 17.4 per 1,000 in 2006.

Antique has a total children population of 210,629 in 2000 or 45 percent of the province’s population. Of the total 107,830 are males and 102,799 are females.

Guests of honor for the occasion were Glenn Genovate of Save the Children, a non-government organization, and Rev. Edwin Laisa of the Central Philippine University.

Juliana Cepec, provincial planning and development coordinator, credited the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for helping the province lift up the plight of Antique’s children.

Well, if one realizes the implications of these gains achieved, they provide us a ray of hope that the future is not as dark as they seem to be.

The other enlightening item is the report that Aklan is already making plans for the one millionth tourist expected to visit Boracay in 2010.

Aklan Gov. Catalino Marquez had reportedly instructed Nieven Maquiran, Caticlan-Cagban Port administrator, to map out plans with the Provincial Engineer’s Office to ensure that the one million tourist goals will be realized.

That optimism must have been boosted by the recently-concluded Western Visayas Tourism Assembly held in Bacolod last week.

And, if it is something to crow about, the floods that hit the northern section of Bacolod during the weekend was less than what they were last week, when posh subdivisions of Sta. Clara and Villa Valderrama were inundated.

Apparently, the city government has managed to alleviate the situation. I personally went around the area yesterday as torrential rains poured down Bacolod.

Water at the Purok Riverside did not overflow. Neither were Carvic in Mandalagan and nearby areas overflowed as in the past.

But there were slight floodings in Sta. Clara II, still, it was not as bad as it was just barely a week ago that prompted the members of the Anti-Baha coalition to mount a caravan and invade the sanctum of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan to demand for immediate action to stop the flooding.

Executive Assistant Joemarie Vargas and Mayor Evelio Leonardia personally inspected the northern Bacolod flood-prone areas yesterday.

Saturday, Councilor Robert Rojas, chair of the city’s Anti-flood Task Force, undertook the clean up of the Purok Riverside and the Banago River and carted away tons of debris.

Bacolod officials are also asking Sipalay City Vice Mayor Oscar Montilla to find out if the city could rent that southern city’s dredging machine to clear and deepen the Banago River.

The machine will be made available after 10 days yet. Meanwhile, for the moment, city folks can rest a while from their obsessive concern about the floods. Until the next torrential rains which could determine whether the projects being undertaken by the city register their impact on the floods of Bacolod.

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