AN agrarian reform community of 5,332 people heaved a big sigh of relief after a five-kilometer farm-to-market road, which they described as “very crucial for their survival,” was finally opened to traffic by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) last Monday in San Andres town, Catanduanes.
DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano inaugurated the P21.632-million road in Barangay San Isidro to the big applause of the local residents, who swarmed the former chair of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) upon his arrival for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting to show their deep admiration to him for looking after their welfare.
The road is the last under the joint program of the DAR and the Japan-sponsored Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP), which is on its third phase of implementation. It is a combination of half concrete, normally covering steep portions of the road, and half gravel and sand.
Touched by the heartwarming response of the local residents belonging to the Burabod Agrarian Reform Community (ARC), Mariano said the second phase of the road project worth P18 million is coming in the near future to ensure the safety of commuters passing to and fro the steep Mayngaway-Calomagon-San Isidro farm-to-market road that is cascading through the Mount Ayemit.
Burabod is an expanded ARC of six barangays, from the original two barangays of Bislig and Cabcab, the nearest to the town proper. Barangay San Isidro is the farthest, being 20 kilometers away.
The Barangay San Isidro is actually sitting at the footsteps of the mountain ranges so that a heavy downpour is enough to cut them off from the town proper as the level of water in the river quickly rises.
Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization (ARBO) chairman Oscar Tan said the road means so much to him and to his constituents as it serves as their alternative route to the town proper since their only “access road” is actually the river bed of the Mayngaway River, which dries up during summer and turns into a roaring tide of rainwater that is rushing down from the mountain ranges during rainy season.
“The completion of the road just came at the right time since the rainy season is already on,” Tan said even as he recalled the hardships that they had gone through whenever there was a heavy downpour.
“We could not venture out of our homes because the surging river went up as high as nearly two meters and the current was too strong so that it was practically suicidal to try crossing it,” he said, adding that it takes at least a week before the river subsides to the level a man can handle.
Tan said the road also helps reduce the mortality rate in their barangay as they could bring their ailing community members with ease, much unlike before when they manually carried their sick on a cradle or on a sled pulled by a carabao as their only access road then was impassable for tricycles and any four-wheel vehicles.
He added that it helps travelling easier and affordable. It also enables residents, especially students to enjoy San Andres Mayor Peter Cua’s pet project dubbed as: “Pasada Escuela,” a free-ride to and fro the barangay and poblacion/school for students and residents alike.
Farmers, on the other hand, are enjoying greater economic opportunities as they can market their farm products at fair price and purchase farm inputs at lower price, Tan said.
“Before, we, including our school children, used to trek for more than an hour to go to school or town proper. On the other hand, farmers’ morale was low because we could only earn too little due to high cost of transportation, limited capacity of carabao sled and long hours of hauling, normally taking at least two hauling for every transaction,” Tan explained.
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