Un­ex­pected pag­babago in Bal­ibago

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOP­NIN­ION -

Let’s talk about Bal­ibago, the vil­lage that never sleeps. It’s the heart of the en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict of An­ge­les City where peo­ple come to get some de­li­cious food, some good laughs with fam­ily and friends, or to just sim­ply have a great time. I also grew up from this barangay, and yes… I also have a multi-coloured neigh­bour­hood. Many lead­ers have fought to get a seat to gov­ern this huge bar­rio – the Pa­bal­ans, Flores, Boni­fa­cios, and the cur­rent chief, Rode­lio Ma­mac.

This strate­gic lo­ca­tion has been called Bal­ibago which was named af­ter a tree that was abun­dant in the area dur­ing the Span­ish era. One of the first set­tlers of this vil­lage was Cap­tain Aniceto Gueco and his fam­ily. When other folks got en­ticed by the po­ten­tial of this 160-hectare flat land, other pi­o­neer fam­i­lies started to re­side in the said bar­rio. Fam­i­lies of De Guz­man, Pa b a l a n , En­riquez, and Datu were among the first fam­i­lies to live in this vil­lage which was later de­clared as a barangay dur­ing the time of Cap­tain Pac­ito Pa­balan in 1972.

When the Amer­i­cans built the Clark Air Base, they placed its main en­trance in Bal­ibago where the “Salakot” land­mark was orig­i­nally erected as the main gate­way to the for­eign mil­i­tary base. With this de­vel­op­ment, barangay Bal­ibago be­gan to grow dra­mat­i­cally. It in­vited peo­ple to in­vest and re­side in this area as many sub­di­vi­sions de­vel­oped, among which are Sta. Maria, Mt. View, Di­a­mond and Manuela Com­pound.

It has been a no­tion from the lo­cals here that man­ag­ing Bal­ibago is like gov­ern­ing a mu­nic­i­pal­ity, cit­ing the huge rev­enue and pop­u­la­tion. This is why many An­geleños say: “manya­man mag­ing kap­i­tan keng Bal­ibago.” But is there truth to this say­ing? It might be for some… es­pe­cially to those who has no plan to ex­er­cise his or her ex­ec­u­tive role if given the man­date. But for me, a barangay cap­tain is a pain in the spot where the sun doesn’t shine. I mean, it’s like be­ing a mayor of a small com­mu­nity. He or she has to deal with the busi­ness sec­tor, the traf­fic sec­tor, the en­vi­ron­men­tal sec­tor, the stu­dents, the youth, the se­niors, the LGBT, the women, the peace and or­der sit­u­a­tion, the noisy muf­flers, the videoke-ad­dict neigh­bors, the hus­bands and the wives, among oth­ers.

Do you know that feel­ing of open­ing up a sari-sari store where you also sell ice for one peso, and while hav­ing your much needed siesta in the af­ter­noon, some kid will knock on your store to buy just only one ice? For me, that is how I see the daily life of a vil­lage chief – there is no rest.

At the sec­ond half of the year, two in­ter­est­ing news cir­cled around the city con­cern­ing Bal­ibago. First was about the se­nior politi­cian Tarzan Lazatin, the for­mer con­gress­man and mayor, who showed in­ter­est in run­ning as cap­tain of Bal­ibago in the next barangay elec­tion.

But not long af­ter, Coun­cilor Edu Pam­intuan, the son of City Mayor Ed Pam­intuan, reg­is­tered in Bal­ibago at the lo­cal COM­ELEC of­fice af­ter the mayor de­liv­ered his State Of The City Ad­dress for 2016. The young Pam­intuan has le­git roots in Bal­ibago. His mother, Her­minia “Mini­ang” Pam­intuan is an orig­i­nal De Guz­man of the said barangay. Edu has re­ceived a lot of love from his ka­balens in the past as he got elected three times as city coun­cilor since 2010. If the two politi­cians will pur­sue to run head-to-head for Bal­ibago in the next poll, this will def­i­nitely be­come one of the most in­ter­est­ing matchup in barangay elec­tion his­tory in An­ge­les City.

I HAVE this nag­ging and ir­ri­tat­ing feel­ing that our pro­gres­sive neigh­bors in Asia, not to men­tion of course the al­ready rich coun­tries of Europe and North Amer­ica, are feel­ing sorry for us and treat us with con­de­scen­sion. That’s be­cause we lack self-re­spect in that we are con­stantly beg­ging for aid from them.

Lo­cally our men­di­cant cul­ture (that’s what it is, right?) works this way. In­stead of pro­vid­ing struc­tures for an eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of the ben­e­fits of the coun­try’s re­sources, our politi­cians pre­fer to ap­pease the ex­cluded poor with dole outs.

In for­eign re­la­tions, politi­cians seek for­eign aid to re­place the money they steal from the gov­ern­ment and which they use to buy re-elec­tion plus a com­fort­able life for their fam­i­lies. But with all of that for­eign aid why are we not self-re­liant yet?

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