The first time I joined the President’s delegation — we were in Bicol region. Typhoon Nina, internationally known as Nock-ten, entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on December 23, 2016. It intensified into a typhoon on December 24 and made landfall over Catanduanes province on the evening of December 25. At about three p.m., on Christmas Day, I received a message asking me to report back to central office and prepare a report on the damages sustained by the provinces affected by Typhoon Nina. We were informed that the President wants it on his desk the following day, including actions already undertaken by the department.
As soon as it was safe for our ground personnel, Secretary Mark Villar ordered the dispatch of our prepositioned equipments and to proceed with the clearing of debris so as to facilitate rescue operation and give way for the distribution of relief goods.
By December 27, we were already on the ground with President Duterte — first in Catanduanes, and then, in Camarines Sur. He skipped the gift-giving ceremonies and called it “corny” and “over-dramatic.” But behind the doors, away from the camera, he met his men and asked them to deliver. For DPWH, we only had 48 hours to ensure that roads are passable and cleared.
I soon regret the fact that we didn’t bring any food. It was very different from what I originally expected it to be. I remember how an entire plane shared two pieces of Skyflakes brought by Secretary Briones.
Today, we’ll explore Bicol Region — an area composed of six provinces — Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and Masbate.
According to Secretary Villar, DPWH has completed a total of 1,670 kilometers of roads, 295 bridges, 706 flood mitigation structures, and 8,437 classrooms in Region 5.
- Imelda Boulevard in Catanduanes
The 6.532-kilometer Imelda Boulevard, which leads to Virac Port in Catanduanes, also serves as a flood control structure which will mitigate the impact of storm surges.
2. San Fernando-San Jacinto-Monreal Road in Masbate
The 24.50-kilometer expressway, which includes the construction of five bridges, will traverse the municipalities of San Fernando, San Jacinto and Monreal in Masbate.
3. Esperanza-Placer Road leading to Pasiagon beach front in Masbate
Heading to Balay na Bato or Pasiagon beach front? Drive through the 30.56-kilometer road network which will also aid in transporting aquatic and agriculture products.
4. Camarines Sur Expressway Project
The 4-lane 15.21-kilometer Camarines Sur Expressway project will reduce travel time from San Fernando to Pili from 51 minutes to only 11 minutes.
5. Pasacao-Balatan Tourism Coastal Highway in Camarines Sur
The 40.69-kilometer coastal expressway will traverse the municipalities of Pasacao, San Fernando, Minalabac, Bula, and Balatan in Camarines Sur. The project, which serves as an alternate route to Daang Maharlika, will traverse 15 barangays and benefit about 8,000 motorists a day.
6. Legazpi City Coastal Road
Want to enjoy the panoramic view of Mount Mayon? Drive thru the 3.10-kilometer Legazpi City Coastal Road, which traverses four barangays in Albay: Baybay, Rawis, San Roque and Bonot.
7. Albay-Sorsogon Connector
The 15.87-kilometer Albay-Sorsogon Connector, which follow the east coast, links two national roads: The Legazpi-Punta de Jesus Road in Albay and the Junction Sorsogon-Bacon Manito Road in Sorsogon. It is expected to benefit about 5,000 travelers per day.
8. Cagraray Island Circumferential Road in Albay
Heading to the beach? Try the 40-kilometer Cagraray Island Circumferential Road which connects four barangays in Cagraray Island to Bacacay town proper via land.
9. Sorsogon City Coastal Bypass Road
The 5.52-kilometer four-lane Sorsogon Coastal Road, which includes a jogger’s lane and a bicycle lane, serves as a diversion road when going to the municipalities of Casiguran, Gubat, and Castilla.
10. Matnog-Sta. Magdalena-Bulusan Road
The 31.41-kilometer highway will connect three municipalities in Sorsogon (Matnog, Sta. Magdalena, and Bulusan) and facilitate the transport of farm and marine products within the region.