“Balik Probinsya”, an excellent idea whose time may not come
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - May 20, 2020 - 12:00am

Senator Bong Go should be given credit for quick thinking. He proposed to unburden the cities with too many informal settlers crowding the metropolitan centers, thus exacerbating the problems of coronavirus infections. He is reviving the call for people to go home to the villages and plant camote.

Easier said than done, is my quick comment. I remember the line spoken by Portia to Nerissa in William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 2, “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels would have been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces.” Which means that the distance between words and actions is as far as Fuente Osmeña in the heart of Cebu City to the mountains of Pusodsawa, in Langin, Ronda. Senator Bong Go's idea is an excellent one but it is very hard to implement and translate into reality.

How can we attract the informal settlers in Tondo or in Sambag 2 at the back of the TB Pavilion to go home to their barangays if there are no jobs in Tulang, Argao, Salagmaya, Alcantara, Kansalonoy, Ronda, or in Balaygtiki, Dumanjug? The factories are in Cebu City, Mandaue, Talisay, and the other urban centers. If Bong Go wants people to congregate in rural areas, then he should whisper to his dear boss to give incentives to Tessie Coson to put up an SM in Kinakursan, Malalay, Ronda, or in Gutlang, Argao. He should tell Hans Gokongwei to put a Robinsons Mall in Papan, Sibonga, or in Tunga, Moalboal. Or to tell Dennis Uy to build a five-star hotel near Kawasan Falls. Which are, of course, not commercially viable. Or tell the Gaisanos to put a mall in the Camotes islands. Which would mean throwing money to the wind.

The point is clear. Bong Go's thoughts are ideal, not unlike Shakespeare's poetic imaginings, and are still not viable in a very real world of hard facts and cruel realities. Nonetheless, we should be pleased that there is one senator who is much concerned. I commend Bong, for this good and hardworking senator from Davao is using his brains and thinking of solutions, while the other honorable men and women, who are multi-millionaires, are perhaps sleeping during quarantine, watching Netflix or drinking champagne, President Duterte's ever loyal and faithful disciple, Bong, the beloved (not unlike John to Jesus) keeps on cracking his head to find some long-term solutions to many socio-economic problems besetting our cities.

Besides, the new generation today does not want to till the soil. Most of them just want to do Facebook and “Tik Tok”. The beauty of village life does not appeal to the young ones anymore. They want to stroll inside giant malls and enjoy the air-conditioned restaurants and shops. They want to work in call centers and factories. Not too many want to remain in the corn fields plowing, sowing or feeding the carabaos and goats. The millennial people just want to enjoy urban amenities and savor life's modern technologies. If Senator Bong Go can bring all the modern amenities all to as far as Osmeña’s Peak in the mountains of Dalaguete and Badian, then "Balik Probinsya'' may become more attractive.

As of now, we just have to look at the stars, and borrow Cassius' words to Brutus, in Shakespeare's other masterpiece “Julius Caesar”, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” And so, the problem, dear Bong, is not in our government but in our people that we have lost the real meaning and purpose of life. We are all underlings.

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