Night Owl: A Nationbuilder’s Manual

Published December 10, 2021, 2:00 PM

by AA Patawaran

Former Build, Build, Build committee chair Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo’s book takes the reader across 29,264 kilometers of roads and 5,950 bridges throughout the Philippines

ROAD WORK AHEAD Cover of the Night Owl

Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo’s Night Owl is a detailed look at where the Philippines is going, as well as where it has been. In 342 pages, it is many books at once. It is part a historical account of Philippine infrastructure over the past 50 years and further back. It is part a progress report on the ongoing Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration. It is part a road map on the vision to connect our 7,641 disparate islands across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao via land travel. Part travelogue and part memoir, it is also part a blueprint for the future of every Filipino, if not even part a prospectus for emerging generations of nation builders, investors, and partners.

In a nutshell, Night Owl, dedicated to the 6.5 million Filipino workers who have turned Build, Build, Build from vision to reality, is a close look at the 29,264 kilometers of roads, 5,950 bridges, 11,340 flood mitigation structures, 222 evacuation centers, 150,149 classrooms, 214 airport projects, and 451 seaport projects built over the past five years.

As former chair of the Build, Build, Build committee under the Department of Public Works and Highways, Lamentillo in this book also tackles the massive nationbuilding initiative, a medium-term development strategy dubbed as the Philippines’ Golden Age of Infrastructure, from both the little-things and big-picture perspectives, highlighting with equal care little details like the Infra-track App and its built-in geotagging, satellite technology, and drone monitoring, which have been put in place in compliance with the government’s mandate of increased transparency and accountability, as well as a broad view on how Build, Build, Build and each of its manifold projects tie in with the master plan of ASEAN connectivity.

CHASING PAVEMENTS The author of the book and former Build, Build, Build committee chair Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

In Night Owl, the numbers speak loud and clear, measuring accomplishments in kilometers or how travel time between locations is reduced from hours to minutes. The numbers also include the cost of many projects, including how they were funded, whether through national government financing, public-private partnerships, or official development assistance.

In a nutshell, Night Owl, dedicated to the 6.5 million Filipino workers who have turned Build, Build, Build from vision to reality, is a close look at the 29,264 kilometers of roads, 5,950 bridges, 11,340 flood mitigation structures, 222 evacuation centers, 150,149 classrooms, 214 airport projects, and 451 seaport projects built over the past five years.

BUILDING BRIDGES A spread in the book on former Secretary of Public Works and Highways Mark Villar

Yet, Lamentillo imbues the nuts and bolts with personal anecdotes that allow each road, bridge, airport, or seaport to take the reader, for instance, to the Seven Falls of Lake Sebu via the 101-kilometer road network of Surallah – Lake Sebu – Maitum Road connecting South Cotabato and Sarangani or from NLEX to SLEX, once a distance of at least two hours between Alabang and Quezon City in Metro Manila, via the 17.973-kilometer Skyway Stage 3, which now takes no more than 20 minutes. It details, for example, how the scenic 24.22-kilometer Daang Katutubo in Pangasinan will provide the Kankanaey, Bago, and Ibaloi groups in Barangay Mapita access to markets and basic social services or how getting their products to commercial hubs for the farmers in far-flung areas in Isabela, who used to take a 74-kilometer detour, now only takes half an hour, thanks to the new 450-meter Pigalo Bridge connecting Angadanan and San Guillermo. 

Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo (Noel Pabalate)

With forewords from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, and Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar, Night Owl by Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo, published by Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation, connects us in more ways than one. Its detailed discussions of roads and bridges will inform policy debates today and in the future. A record of this generation’s legacy for the information and inspiration of the next generations, replete with how infrastructure interventions can be solutions to national issues such as identity, poverty, and security, it is a map as well as a guide on the road to progress.

Night Owl: Build, Build, Buld is published by the Manila Bulletin and is priced at P1,200.00. For orders and inquiries, you may call +632-85277522/26, +63917-8173578 or email [email protected]

 
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