A short stretch of unpaved road

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - October 3, 2015 - 10:00am

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to acquire a very small parcel of land in a mountain barangay. I was so excited to make a garden plot out of it where I planned to grow vegetables although because the lot area was so small I knew that the harvest, if any, would barely be enough for my family's consumption. Even then, in the few months that ensued, I planted, along its perimeter few species of hardwood trees like Bayong, Mabolo (the lumber of which is commonly known as Kamagong), Sangil and Tugas, and such other common fruit trees as Avocado, Bugnay, Caimito, Cherry, Chico, Lumboy, Macopa, Nangka and Tambis. And after learning few things on horticulture, I started cultivating it with the fervor of a new-found lover.

Quite sadly, my initial enthusiasm began to dampen when I realized that even if my garden plot is still located within the City of Cebu and, in fact, just about 22 kilometers from home, its access was not as easy as I presumed. It dawned on me that it was a case of so near yet so far away. The condition of road was totally irreconcilable with the boast of the former mayor of good leadership. I could not understand why a mayor who would always be heard making statements as if he were the best in the world would fail to consider a simple fact of providing good roads to his constituency?

There was a time when a sharp jagged edge of protruding stones punctured the otherwise brand new tires of my old rickety jalopy. I was then carefully choosing which part of the bad road to drive my tires thru until the left rear tire slipped to cause the vehicle to careen.  One time too, my old Beetle got stuck, almost irretrievably, on the road that turned to be more than just a mud pool.

When I collated those horrible road travel experiences, I went thru the process that I thought was normal and logical. Even if we were not previously formally introduced to each other, I dared to see the barangay captain to ask his council to prepare a resolution requesting the city administration to pave the road. To his credit, he was very frank. Without meaning to dissuade me, the captain said that in his own experience, the mayor would not easily yield to similar pleas because the voter population in that mountain barangay was small and could not affect the outcome of elections. In fact, he told me that he, just the same, kept pestering the mayor to improve the road condition, to no avail. And so, I slackened the frequency of my visit to the mountain.

Then, few years ago, a new mayor took over the city hall. Emboldened by the fact that he was a student of mine in Political Law, I went to see him. In order to lay the predicate, so to speak, and perhaps to strike a connecting chord, I opened our meeting with a quote of the definition of social justice from old case of Calalang vs. Williams. "It is the humanization of laws and the equalization of social and economic forces so that justice in its …." and, to my great surprise, the mayor continued the quote saying "objectively secular concept may at least be approximated." It thus, became easy for me to take the cause of mountain folks as my own cudgel.

Before I wrote this article yesterday afternoon, I just came from my garden. I have been doing that almost every Saturday for the last five years because the travel is no longer dangerous and slow. Between home and my garden, the road has almost entirely been concreted. Thanks to Mayor Michael L. Rama.  The total unpaved length may be no longer than half a kilometer. But, there is a stretch of about twenty meters, not far from my garden, that has not been touched. Perhaps, the engineer's office has overlooked this segment. It sticks out as a sore thumb of sort. The otherwise leisurely trip I now enjoy, is interrupted by this dirt road. May the mayor find time to send his engineers to correct this ugly strip.


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