Building roads and bridges: PRDP brings La Union farmers closer to markets
In 2014, the Province of La Union proposed the very first infrastructure subproject in Ilocos Region under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) – the Rehabilitation of the Balecbec-Basca Farm to Market Road and Balecbec Bridge.
The FMR-bridge was twice subjected to the approval of the Regional Project Advisory Board (July 25, 2015 and March 18, 2016) and twice reviewed by the World Bank Team (February 2015 and May 2017).
According to the residents of Balecbec, Naguilian and Basca, Aringay, the condition of their road and bridge had not improved since they can remember. Understandably, at first, people did not believe that the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) will truly construct a better and safer road and bridge for the community.
“Idi 2015, ibag-bagadan nga adda ti kalsada nga umay. Ket kuna met dagitoy lalakay, mamati kayon ton nu adda ta lakay kami ditoyen … [In 2015, there was talk of the town that a road construction project will come to our place. However, elders in our community said, ‘Better believe it when it’s already here because we’ve grown old here…]” shared Mr. Zaldy Reyes, a resident of Barangay Balecbec, to the PRDP. He plants rice and vegetables within the FMR-bridge influence area. He was also hired as a laborer for the stone masonry construction of the subproject. At the time of the PRDP interview, Mr. Reyes was ready to harvest string beans.
“Haan mi nga ekspektaren nga adda ngay iti umay nga programa ti PRDP. Idi damo, kasla haan mi nga patyen ti umay da… di rukrukuden daytoy kalsada… [We were not expecting that a road and bridge project of the PRDP will come to our place. Before, we did not really believe that a project will come … till people came and started measuring the length of the road…]” Ms. Manuela Sabado, a resident of Barangay Basca, also shared to the PRDP. Ms. Sabado owns a sari-sari store along the stretch of the FMR subproject.
Before the PRDP, people experienced extreme difficulty in transportation particularly in the delivery of their agricultural products. Mr. Reyes accounted his experience to the PRDP, “Idi ubingak, awan ti kastoy nga kabibiyag. Ti naranasak idi ket addo ta lubak-lubak… Idi itoy produkto mi ditoy, haan mi pay malaklako no dadduma ta apan mi pay ipagpaguyod ti nuwang, pasagad.. Adu ti mapirpirdi nga mulmula. [When I was a child, we did not have this kind of (comfortable) life. I experienced a road that had a lot of potholes and rough slopes. In the past, we sometimes could not sell our products to the market because we needed animal-drawn wagons. A lot of our products go to waste because of the poor road condition.]”
The construction of the FMR started on July 24, 2016 and was completed on December 20, 2018 (based on the Management Information System). The FMR has a total length of 7.92 kilometers traversing the municipalities of Naguilian and Aringay, La Union and is worth Php102,862,545.89. Meanwhile, the Balecbec Bridge measures 30 lineal meters and is worth Php26,033,250.04. The construction of the bridge was completed on May 2, 2018.
With the recent completion of the FMR-bridge, the residents of Barangay Balecbec and Basca need not worry about their transportation. According to Ms. Sabado, “Uray no sumangpet kami ti alas-diyes ti rabii, hangan mi nga problema, ta adda maluganan mi, adda sumabat nga single motor. Haan nga problema. Makasengpet kami ladtan iti balbalay mi nga safe and sound. Haan nga kasla idi nga, “Anya nga ta? Maipaspasama ka idi nga nagbayag dan. Kungkuna ti kamang ti pamilya mi nu haan da ngay makasangpet ngay ti oras … [We have no problem going home late at night because there are available vehicles or our family can fetch us with motor cycles. It [Transportation] is not a problem anymore. We can reach our homes safe and sound. It was unlike before that our families worry and ask, ‘Where are they?’ Our families used to constantly worry when we come home late or are not home in the supposed hour…]”
At present, the residents especially the farmers can now reach the market and sell their produce anytime they want or need. “Tatta ket uray nu anya nga ororasen, mabalin ka mapan ti ili, mapan ka gumatang nga conforme nga gatangen. [Now, at any time of the day, one can go to the market and buy what is needed.”
When the FMR-bridge was first validated by the PRDP, staffs walked barefoot for around seven (7) hours to cover its entire stretch. Vehicles can only reach up to mid-stretch from the Barangay Balecbec Hall. Today, all types of vehicles can pass through the FMR-bridge and can reach the market within 30 minutes. Opportunities of earning higher income from increased production, better quality of produce, and shorter travel time are given to the farmers of Balecbec and Basca to which Mr. Reyes was grateful, “Pagyamanan mi ta adda datoy inted ti PRDP. [We are thankful for what has been given by the PRDP.] Thank you very much!”(Ilocos InfoACE)