Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remote Subic village gets first water system—and first visit by a governor

BATIAWAN, Subic, Zambales—Gov.-elect Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. broke a record of sorts when he inaugurated a water system at this remote village on June 22, exactly a week before his scheduled oath-taking as the new provincial governor of Zambales.

Ebdane, a former secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), not only delivered the first water system to this community of some 2,500 residents; he also became, Batiawan folk said, the first governor to ever set foot in this upland village tucked some 1,160 feet high into the foothills of the Zambales mountain range.

“He’s the first to ever visit us here,” said former barangay captain Jesus Dizon, who located in the area in 1958, barely three years after then President Ramon Magsaysay opened Batiawan for settlement.

“The others before him? They didn’t bother with us,” Dizon added. The official neglect claimed by Batiawan folk was apparently borne by the fact that the upland barangay is two provinces removed from the rest of the town of Subic.

To get here from the Subic town proper, one has to travel down south to Olongapo City, go southeast to Dinalupihan town in Bataan, head north via a portion of Floridablanca in Pampanga, then turn westward for several kilometers of rough road to reach the center of the village.

All this, apparently, did not deter Ebdane from again going the distance on Tuesday and visiting the area for the second time in just seven months.

Ebdane, who is fast earning the reputation of an action man, facilitated the implementation of the deep-well project by the DPWH Zambales office after Batiawan residents requested his help in December last year.

“We endeavored to provide barangay Batiawan with safe and potable water because the  health of residents is an important concern,” Ebdane said during the simple inauguration ceremony for the water project.

Previously, Ebdane noted, the residents had to draw water for their household needs from a creek three kilometers away from the barangay center.

“After this, we plan to build two more deep-well systems so that we can extend the benefit of the water system to a larger area,” Ebdane added, explaining that a piped-water system was not advisable because it was expensive.

According to DPWH district engineer Neil Parala, the project was hard work for the DPWH team due to the high elevation and especially when some equipment broke down at the early phase of the project.

“We had to dig up to about 480 feet deep, using a truck-mounted boring machine loaned by the DPWH office in Manila, before we could draw water,” Parala recounted. It was only after the elections that the DPWH was able to fast-track the project to meet its self-imposed deadline of June 22 for the inauguration.

Meanwhile, with the deep-well project in place, Batiawan can hope to see more progress coming its way, said Subic town’s mayor-elect Jay Khonghun.

He told residents that Ebdane, “even when he has not yet taken his oath as Zambales governor, has already solved one of the biggest problems of the Batiawan community.”

“Gov. Ebdane has brought with him the brand of public service that made him so effective as DPWH Secretary — prompt action. He really deserves to be our governor,” Khonghun added.

Batiawan village chief Jesus Lawag echoed Khonghun’s appreciation and added that his village was deeply honored, as well as inspired, by Ebdane’s visit.

He added that he still sees himself in the next few years wasting about two hours in travel each time he attended meetings at the Subic municipal hall, but now he believed that change will soon take place under the Ebdane administration.

And now that they have the governor’s attention, what is next in Batiawan’s wish list?

“Of course, a road connecting us directly to Subic!” Lawag beamed. Written by Henry Empeño / businessmirror.com.ph Correspondent

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