Archive for the ‘Bato’ Category

The San Fernando, Camarines Sur-Oas, Albay Diversion Road

November 23, 2008


The construction of a San Fernando, Camarines Sur to Oas, Albay bypass (diversion) road has recently been approved. It is one of 10 priority projects in Bicol for 2008-2010 along with the construction of the new Legazpi airport. P500M has reportedly been released for the project. The rationale of the project is to decongest the main road running from Naga to Legazpi. A shortening of the travel time between the two cities is expected.

The planned diversion road is 61.90 kilometers long. Only 14 kilometers will be new road as it just intends to use old roads that already exist. Thus, 32.22 kilometers of existing gravel road will be paved and 15.68 kilometers of the existing Maharlika highway will be improved. An old bridge will also be repaired and a new 40-meter bridge will be built. The total project cost is estimated to be P2.25 billion.

This bypass road will connect the old roads connecting Legazpi to Naga (see my previous article, “The Old Roads of the Naga-Legazpi Corridor and Dialectal Variations Along Its Way”, 11/18/08). From the town of Oas it will probably use the old Mayao road that connects the town to Libon, Albay.

From Libon, it will use the gravel road that connects it to the upland barrios of Nabua. This is the Libon-Buga-Tandaay road. This road crosses the Nabua-Balatan road in the big barrio of Tandaay, Nabua. The road runs through the southern shores of Lake Bato.

From Tandaay,Nabua a gravel road runs to Bula, Camarines Sur, running south of the plains irrigated by the Bicol River. This road skirts the southern side of Lake Baao. This is the old Malawag road.

It seems the new road construction mentioned will be used to connect Bula to San Fernando, Camarines Sur. It is probable that the paved road running west of Bula to the barrio of Panoypoyan will used. If not, some other farm-to-market (feeder) roads might be used like the road to Bagoladio. It seems the new bridge will be used in this stretch since the Bicol River will have to be forded here, a connection that hencetoforth does not yet exist. Before reaching San Fernando, the road will pass through portions of Minalabac, if not the town proper. However, Milaor will be bypassed.

This diversion road for the most part will pass through the foot of the long mountain chain on the southern side of Bicol which is always visible from the road when one is traversing the Sipocot to Ligao stretch of the Maharlika highway.

Concerns have been raised about the possible effects on Naga and the towns that will be bypassed by the new highway. There’s fear that the economic downturn suffered by Daet and the Camarines Norte towns when the Quirino Andaya highway was opened will be replicated here.

But to sustain progress sometimes new infrastructure must really be built. There is no question that the Naga-Legazpi road is already a little bit crowded and this won’t get better anymore. Anyway the first users of this highway will probably be the cars, trucks and buses that just passes by the area en route to Sorsogon and Eastern Visayas.

Whatever, it is imperative that a comprehensive study be made of the possible impacts of the new highway should be. This is needed to warn the sectors that will be affected and also anticipate future problems.

It is now being bandied as the “GMA Highway”. The information is from NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) Region V office so it must be official now.

RO-RO Politics In SRNH And Bulan

November 6, 2008

A RO-RO (abbreviation for Roll On-Roll Off) ship are ferries designed to load vehicles using its wheels to roll onto the vessel and roll off the moment it hits port.

Last April, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inaugurated the Central Nautical Highway (CNH) of her Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH). This “highway” is supposed to connect Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao thru the central portion of the country.  From Bulan, Sorsogon, supposedly one can load a vehicle to a RO-RO bound for Masbate City. From Masbate City one should drive to Cawayan, Masbate to board a RO-RO for Bogo City, Cebu. Driving to Cebu City it could board a RO-RO for Tubigon, Bohol. Then driving to Jagna, Bohol, a RO-RO should be available for Mambajao, the capital of Camiguin. Then driving south to Benoni, Mahinog, Camiguin a RO-RO is available for Balingoan, Misamis Oriental. The final leg is a drive to Cagayan de Oro City, the terminus.

Complicated? Yes.  A pipe dream? Partly.  Some of the routes are simply not existing (maybe for show, yes) and will not exist for sometime because of lack of traffic, notwithstanding government lending programs.  There are better ways to get around inter-island and for the uninitiated, loading vehicles aboard RO-ROs is not cheap and for shippers it means a truck not rolling (no pun intended).

Obsession? I think so. Her father dreamed the Pan-Philippine Highway but Marcos appropriated it and renamed it after his fetish word, Maharlika.  No way to appropriate it back, she must leave a mark to replace what her father lost. Is it a wonder that some of the ports are named after her mother, Eva Macaraeg Macapagal?

But why is the northern terminus Bulan when the actual gateway to Masbate is Pilar, Sorsogon? Scuttlebutt is it is her way on getting back to the Escuderos who lord it over the 1st District of Sorsogon who are her political enemies.  The congressman of the 2nd District to which Bulan belongs is a long-time ally. 

Will this succeed? Fat chance. Passengers and shippers will always take the shorter and cheaper route. Decades ago Bulan was the gateway to Masbate but people and carriers shifted to Pilar even though it has no good port. But woe to all those that use Pilar. I do not know how to judge the IQ of decision-makers in the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) who would rather finish a port in Castilla, Sorsogon, a place that has no RO-ROs. Hmmm! Anyway, isn’t it known that we have “bridges to nowhere”? After all, as they say, everything in government is politics. I begin to wonder now what is the mortal sin of the mayor of Pilar against the powers-that-be.

Comparative examples? Plenty. San Isidro, Northern Samar is the official port opposite Matnog, Sorsogon. But since it is farther Allen, Samar got developed by private enterprise and now nobody uses San Isidro port anymore.

Same case with Maasin City, Southern Leyte. It is the official port of entry of Southern Leyte from Cebu. But when the port was finished upgrading only one ferry company remained using it. More ferries were using Bato (pronounced Baaato, not like the Bicol variant which is pronounced hard like the object it represents), Leyte though it is not part of Southern Leyte, all for the simple reason that it is nearer, cheaper and the travel is faster.

Is it any wonder why people cut across lawns rather than go around it?

Grandma’s Yummy Favorites in the Bicol Kitchen

August 4, 2008


1. Ginota’an na Natong (Laing) is probably the most popular Bicolano food. It’s made of fresh or dried natong (dasheen bush leaves) bathed in gota (coconut milk.) It’s flavored with pork bits and spiced with superhot siling labuyo(chili,) garlic, ginger and shrimp.

In places like Iriga City, Ginota’an na Natong includes fresh libas leaves which give a tasty sourness to the dish. Ginota’an na Natong, also called Bicol Express, comes in many versions in different Bicol provinces. Green hot peppers, squash, young squash leaves and flowers, curacding (mushrooms,) balatong (string beans,) eggplants, lambo (bamboo shoots,) and langcawas tubers are ready natong susbstitutes.

2. Gulay na Lubi-lubi is a special treat from the tropical forest. The uncommon wild young lubi-lubi leaves are cooked in coconut milk with minched tinapa (smoked fish) and a cube of flavorful roasted dina’ilan (shrimp) from Camarines Norte. Similar gulay can be made from green papaya, jackfruit, marigoso, calunggay or young cassava leaves.

3. Because of environmental conservation, Kinunot, a dish made from sea turtle may recede in the background. That’s because pawikan, the endangered sea turtle is now a protected species like the tiny tabios (sinarapan) fish found in Buhi Lake. When cooked in coconut milk, chili, black pepper, salt and vinegar, sea turtle meat is as yummy as pating (shark) and pagi (stingray.)

4. Tabios, the diminutive endangered fish from Lake Buhi is wrapped in banana leaves, cooked over hot rice, and flavored with lemonsito (calamansi) juice. A yummy alternative is to cook it fried with cornstarch just like ukoy.

5 Sinanglay—tilapia, karpa or puyo (martiniko) fish garnished with chopped onions, ginger, tomatoes, and sour iba (kamias.) The fish is wrapped in fresh dasheen bush leaves and cooked low fire with thick gota (coconut milk) and a dash of hot peppers.

6. Baduya (Sinapot) is very popular with the children. Ripe native bananas dipped in cornstarch are fried. Versions like caling-quing (Bicol camote fries,) tinanok (boiled camote,) and banana/camote cue and linabonan na camote (boiled sweet potato) are excellent meriendas.

7. Sina’sa , common in Rinconada towns like Baao, Nabua, Iriga, Bato, and Buhi is made from charcoal-roasted freshwater fish like puyo (martiniko,) talusog (snakehead) or tilapia. It is garnished with finely chopped tomatoes, ginger, fresh onions, red peppers and a dash of vinegar.

8. Bokayo—young coconut meat, cooked brown with sankaka, sweet caramel prepared from sugar cane.

9. Paksiw na Casili—fresh-water eel (burirawan) cooked in vinegar, ginger, onions, pepper leaves, and black pepper. Paksiw can also be prepared from fish like mirapina, tuna, carpa or tilapia. Frying the eel and fish are good cooking options.

10. Tinuktok na Hito—a soup dish of chopped hito fish and young coconut made into fish balls with garlic, ginger, onions and red peppers; fresh camote tops or breadfruit slices (ogob or og-og.) are added.

11. Piga nin Carpa—carp ovaries and eggs sautéed with ginger, onions, garlic and marigoso (bitter melon.)

12. Adobong Orig—cubed pork meat cooked slowly on its lard with rock salt to taste and black pepper.

13. Tinolang Manok—hot soup of native chicken with lemon grass, fresh green papaya, sayote, calunggay (moringa) and pepper leaves.

14. Ogama—small boiled crabs dipped on salted vinegar, sili ng labuyo (tiny red peppers,) garlic, and onions.

15. Pinuyos—sticky rice with coconut milk and a dash of salt wrapped in banana leaves also called Binugtong. Ibos, a similar version is glutinous rice wrapped in young coconut leaves.

16. Sinabawan na Carabao—hot soup made from young tender carabao or beef meat with taro roots, pechay leaves, cabbage, and red pepper.

17. Lechon—roasted pig of Bicol is usually flavored with rock salt and tamarind leaves. It is served with a brown sarsa (sauce) made of roasted pork liver.

18. Balaw—baby shrimp fries, wrapped in banana leaves, flavored with generous lemonsito (calamansi) juice and cooked over rice.

19. Pancit Bato—noodle dish flavored with chorizo, slices of fish cake, pork or chicken meat, and wrapped in banana leaves.

20. Miswa—hair-thin white noodle soup with hibi (dried baby shrimps) and sliced green patola.

21. Sinugbang Talong—charcoal-cooked barbecued eggplant with a dash of lemonsito (calamansi) juice and salt. Talong can go with fresh garden tomatoes, dina’ilan with lemon.

22. Balaw—shrimp fries sautéed in oil, pork meat, green peppers, and lemon juice. Balaw goes well with blanched camote tops, kangkong, or upo (white squash.)

23. Linubak—boiled green bananas, taro or camoteng cahoy (cassava roots) pounded with grated young coconut, milk, and sugar.

24. Su’so—fresh water spiral black snails or river clams boiled with coconut milk, bamboo or pako (fern shoots,) onions, garlic and ginger.

25. Dila-Dila is sold by itinerant vendors on the street together with suman. It’s made of grounded glutinous rice, deep fried and topped with glazed sugar cane caramel (sankaka.)

Bicol cuisine is mainly dominated by the use of coconut and its derivative products. Scrumptiously hot with fresh siling labuyo and black peppercorns, the native Bicolano food is a fusion of Asian-Polynesian influences as demonstrated by the use of exotic lemon grass and tropical edible plants like dasheen bush, libas, lubi-lubi, kangkong, and calunggay which grow abundantly in the region. =0=