STA. ELENA, CAMARINES NORTE – For Barangay Chairman Fermin Gutierrez of Brgy. Pulongguit-guit, this municipality, the Concreting of the 3.44-kilometer Poblacion to Pulongguit-guit FMR funded by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) was implemented and completed at an opportune time.
“Kada bagyo, medyo nalalagay sa alanganin ang sitwasyon (ng ilan naming residente) kasi nasa tabing-dagat at tabing-ilog sila,” he said. According to Gutierrez, this puts his community at risk for storm surge. “Ang pagkakaiba ngayon lalo pa’t may mga kalamidad, mabilis po naming (naililikas) yung mga tao kasi maganda ang daan, nare-rescue agad namin sila. Nagagamit namin ang mga sasakyan namin upang sila ay maihatid sa mga evacuation centers,” he shared.
The concrete FMR also allows incoming locally stranded individuals (LSIs) to avail of ambulance services from Brgy. Tabugon to the designated isolation areas. This enables the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) of Pulongguit-guit, headed by Gutierrez, to keep his community COVID-free.
Aside from helping them manage disasters amid the continuing fight against COVID-19, the P70.52 million-worth infrastructure development (I-BUILD) subproject, which was designed to support the municipality’s agriculture and fishery production areas now benefits farmers, fisherfolk and other sectors in the community. Of the 2,088 households beneficiaries of the FMR, 540 families thrive on farming and fishing.
“Napakabilis na ng biyahe at yun pong mga nilalabas na kalakal tulad ng mga isda na unang-unang puwede naming mailabas, hindi na sya nalalasbog (di tulad noon) gawa ng tagtag sa sama nga po ng daan,” Gutierrez said.
The FMR project also complements the P7.62 million-worth enterprise development (I-REAP) subproject Coco Geonet Production and Coco Peat Processing Project of the Samahang Organic-Fair Trade Coconut Farmers Bicol-Quezon (SoFaCoFa B-Q) located within the road influence area.
Gutierrez believes that the road completion will contribute to his barangay’s development and progress.
“Ako po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat at kami po ay nabigyan ng PRDP ng ganitong proyekto… Nakita ko po na maganda at mahigpit po ang naging pagpapalakad ng paggawa nitong proyekto… Talagang napakaganda, matibay, at maaasahan… Umunlad yung barangay namin. Isa rin yung kalsada na dahilan para matuloy ang plano ng LGU (para sa aming barangay),” he added.
Analyn Laureles, a resident of Brgy. Pulongguit-guit, said that the road from Sta. Elena to their barangay used to be rough, eroded and had deep potholes which caused accidents. She mentioned that the Concreting of the Poblacion to Pulongguit-guit FMR will significantly benefit her father and husband who both work as farmers, her mother who serves as a day care worker, and her brother who is a fisherman.
“Mahirap po kasi nung nag-aaral pa ako yung daan sobrang rough road pa, maputik pag papasok kami. Hindi mo maiiwasan na matutumba yung motor, uuwi na lang kami kasi puro putik na kami. Ngayon naman, maganda kasi puwede kang maglakad malapit na hindi kagaya dati na ilang oras. Mabilis nang mailabas ang mga produkto. Maraming marami pong salamat kasi malaki ang naitulong sa amin ng kalsada,” she said.
Agriculture and fishing are the main sources of income in the road influence area composed of two barangays. The community is also engaged in off-farm activities like fish vending, buying and selling of coconut, copra and other agricultural products, food processing, geonet and fish processing, as well as nipa shingle making. Sta. Elena is a coastal municipality located on the Northwestern portion of the Province of Camarines Norte. It has a total land area of 19,935 hectares, about 2,135 hectares of which are planted to coconut while 1,345 hectares are planted to rice. Other agricultural areas in the municipality are planted with abaca, fruit trees, vegetables, and root crops. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V/RPCO V InfoACE Unit)