BAYBAY CITY – “I’d rather build you a bridge rather than have me sitting in a beautiful City Hall,” said City Mayor Carmen L. Cari here after she turned over a P 50-million bridge to locals on Monday morning, December 22.
The mayor said Baybay City is the only among 16 new cities that remains without a beautiful city hall, but she has given constituents of at least 10 villages the gift of a bridge that will not only be for the current generation, but the future as well. The newly inaugurated Ciabu Bridge is solely funded by local funds, a project that would not have become a reality if Baybay remained a municipality.
People from 10 villages came to join the blessing and inauguration of the Ciabu Bridge. Locals were happy to note that the bridge will not only erase the inconvenience of wetting their feet when crossing the waters, but one that could change their life for the better.
Brgy. Ciabu chairman Marilyn Avila said that the bridge has not only made possible the transport of agricultural products from Baybay’s remotest villages at all times, but has dropped the cost of transport, as well.
Teachers listening on the sidelines also cheered, saying their sandals will not get wet anymore and children do not have an excuse not to attend classes anymore.
Mayor Cari, who led the cutting of the ribbon, said the bridge is one of her legacy projects. She said they have been talking about putting up the bridge when she was a first time mayor in 1992, but it was just all talk then.
“This has long been our dream to have this bridge, but because there were no funds, it remained a dream. Now, it is no longer a dream, but a realization of that dream,” she said.
The mayor said that the construction of the bridge was made possible when Baybay become a city. With an increased Internal Revenue Allotment, they worked on making that dream a reality by working on the bridge through phases. She said they allotted around P 50-million to build the bridge.
She added they even dispensed with the plan to put up a City Hall for the bridge, because she knows it is more important to the people.
“We preferred this bridge over a beautiful city hall because we know it would serve more people, that the people here needed it more,” she pointed out. It was also learned that aside from directly linking nine villages, the bridge now makes reaching Brgy. Monterico in Mahaplag, Leyte with vehicles easier.
Mayor Daisy Lleve of Mahaplag was also present to show her appreciation for the project.
On the other hand, Col. Dinoh Dolina of the 802nd Brigade based in Ormoc City said it makes their job easier to keep an eye on the said village. Monterico is one of the villages where mass graves of alleged victims of the New People’s Army purgings in the 80’s were found, indicating its remoteness was a fertile breeding ground of insurgents in the past.
In relation to Dolina’s observation, Mayor Cari said the bridge does not only signify easier transport and convenience, but also peace and order.
The other villages connected by the bridge are Makinhas, Maypatag, Amguhan, Ampihanon, Kabungaan, Zacarito, Sapa and Mapgap. Four villages are totally cut off from the poblacion when the water swells, and that will not happen anymore, said the mayor.
The mayor was also a principal author of the cityhood of Baybay and 15 other cities when she was congresswoman, an issue that caught the public’s fancy when the Supreme Court flip-flopped twice over its constitutionality.
The mayor told the audience that the very reason why she fought hard for Baybay to become a city was to get a bigger IRA so that it can see its dreams, like the bridge, become a reality.
After the program, city officials, barangay officials and people from the 10 villages indulged in a “budol” feast at the middle of the bridge.