A homage to my Ilonggo roots: Night Owl in Hiligaynon

BY

NIGHT OWL

Why I will vote for DIWA Party-list

Last March, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, which is chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., approved 194 high-impact priority projects worth ₱9 trillion as part of the government’s Build Better More program. These are new projects as well as those that have been carried over from the previous administration.

From the onset, President Bongbong committed to continue and expand the infrastructure program of the previous administration. In fact, among the projects that he wants to continue is the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge that is part of the Mega Bridge Project — a series of short and long-span bridges linking island provinces to eventually connect Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao via land travel.
For him, the 32-kilometer Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge is an important infrastructure that will finally connect all six provinces of Western Visayas by linking Panay Island (where the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo are located) to Guimaras and Negros Occidental.

I remember, at the height of Build, Build, Build of the Duterte administration, critics said that there were no projects in the Panay island. They did not realize that in the whole of the Western Visayas Region, where the Panay island is part of, a total of 2,193 kilometers of roads, 467 bridges, 508 flood mitigation structures, and 11,556 classrooms were completed.
I know this because aside from being part of the Build, Build, Build Team, Western Visayas is my home region.

My father, Manuel Lamentillo, was born in Iloilo. In fact, the late Ilonggo Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was his classmate and friend. I remember when I was in grade school and we would go to the province, I would wonder why we had to take a boat or an airplane to travel from Iloilo to nearby Negros Occidental. Why was there no bridge between the two provinces like the San Juanico Bridge that connected the island provinces of Samar and Leyte.

Fast forward to Build, Build, Build, we now have projects such as the Negros Connector that will connect the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental; the Tumagbok Bridge along Iloilo-Antique Road; the Bacolod Negros Occidental Economic Highway; the Antique Esplanade; the Kalibo Bridge in Aklan; the Aganan Bridge that will ease mobility between Maasin and the municipalities of Alimodian and San Miguel in Iloilo Province; the Iloilo Bypass Road; Iloilo River Esplanade; Panay East West Highway; and Boracay Circumferential Road, among others.

Meanwhile, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge is one of my dreams for Panay island. This bridge was never meant to be fully constructed within the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte. What we aimed for from the beginning was a blueprint that would turn this dream into a reality. That is why I am glad that President Bongbong committed to continue its construction.

I am also glad that I will soon be able to share with my fellow Ilonggos the story of Build, Build, Build as we work on the Hiligaynon edition of Night Owl: A Nationbuilder’s Manual.

This is my homage to my home province and region. My fellow Ilonggos would better appreciate the narrative of Build, Build, Build and the importance of infrastructure projects—roads, bridges, classrooms, flood control structures, evacuation centers, airport and seaport projects—to boost local economy and open more opportunities for Filipinos especially those in the countryside.