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Lucy touched at how a simple contraption can change lives

ORMOC CITY – ‘I will never look at vegetables the same way again”, this was how Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez described her “humbling” experience with the vegetable farmers of Brgy. Cabingtan here, when she visited them for the inauguration of a tramline project there on Thursday morning, August 23.
The simple, but what she described was a “life changing” project for many needy people, has again strengthened Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez’s resolve to do her best to serve her constituents after her visit there.
Brgy. Cabingtan is one of Ormoc’s vegetable-producing village situated in the highlands, and it was there she came up close to knowing what one farmer has to go through before their cabbages, carrots, tomatoes and other products reach the tables of many homes.
The congresswoman said she never realized how a simple, almost primitive technology, can give hope to simple vegetable farmers of a better life.
She was referring to the tramline, which is akin to a small “cable car” or dumb waiter, that will bring down from the mountains the high-valued vegetables that farmers produce, without bruising and decreasing its farm-gate prices.
As the vegetable farmers, especially their wives and children, eagerly circled the congresswoman, they were profuse with their gratitude to her saying the project will no longer let them become victims of preying middlemen who would just offer low prices for their produce after “finding fault” with it.
They told Lucy that before the tramline, they would bring down their produce the traditional way – either by carrying it on their backs in wicker baskets or transporting it through carabao-drawn carts.
The latter method is faster but bruises their vegetables more, bringing down its price. The former preserves the quality of their vegetables better, but very tiring that they do not have enough energy to haggle with middlemen. While they could bring their produce to the market to sell it directly to the people, the prospect of a glut and of their produce not being sold out in a day is another problem.
This forces them to stay overnight at the market and there’ve been reported incidents of muggings, depriving the farmers totally of their earnings.
Either which way, they told Lucy, they were “kanunay alkanse”. (We are always on the losing end.) But with the tramline, they said, it gives them hope. Vegetables that are brought down in good shape command better prices and can be kept fresh longer.
In her brief speech, Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez thanked the vegetable farmers for their warm welcome. She also said it made her realize that there is a different world than what she’s been used to, and it was an eye-opening experience for her.
She will never look at vegetables the same way again, she quipped, because she would always remember that behind one cabbage leaf is a story of the backbreaking work of a farmer.
She told the farmers that she would always pray that the tramline, a project she got from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and implemented through the Department of Public Work and Highways (DPWH), would somehow ease their lives and make a difference.
She also asked them to use it well, maintain it, and report any needs for repair to the tramline at the slightest sign of wear and tear.
DPWH district engineer Lino Gonzales said that the tramline was constructed with some P 1.8-million and finished on time in 90 days, adding that with Cong. Gomez, all projects in the district were implemented “at the right cost, right quality and the right time”.
Gonzales said that the tramline is the longest in the Visayas, spanning 580 meters. It will now save the farmers the long walk where they have to cross two rivers, treacherous during rainy season, and climb one hill just to go to their farms and back.
The tramline can accomodate 500 kilograms of vegetables. The DA, he added, will organize the farmers to formulate rules and guidelines for its use and maintenance needs in the future.
Lucy and her party were received at Cabingtan by barangay chairman Alfredo Panchacala, councilmen and supporters.
With the congresswoman during her early morning visit to Cabingtan were political allies councilors Roland Villasencio, Dr. Mario “Mayong” Rodriguez, Atty. Bennet Pongos, Emma Fiel Fragata, brother-in-law Vince Rama and political affairs officer Lito Cotiangco.
They will be running under the Liberal Party slate with Richard Gomez for mayor come 2013, and the congresswoman said that if the people of Ormoc would give her husband their mandate, that they would be able to do a lot for the city.

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