To the benefit of the local government and his constituents, Mayor Honesto C. Tabligan II has brought his mindset as a businessman to the town of Pandan particularly in crafting and implementing his vision of sustainable tourism development.
Last week, the chief executive, still young-looking at 45, spoke with members of the local media to discuss what his administration has accomplished in the first six months of his three-year term and his plans to harness the beauty of his native town’s bountiful nature and talented people.
Like former vice governor and former three-term mayor Teofisto I. Verceles, who died in Manila recently, Tabligan left a thriving business venture in brokerage, construction, marketing and consultancy in 2018 to return to Pandan and see if he could help his town.
The certified public accountant and law graduate thought hard before making his plunge into the murky world of local politics, going to the barangays to talk to residents right inside their homes. By the time the campaign period began, he was ready.
In the first few weeks at the helm of the town that has produced diplomats, cabinet members, and top political leaders of the island, Tabligan immediately realized that limited funding, overlapping projects, and political issues were keeping the local government from achieving its goals.
Taking a cue from the national government, he resorted to convergence budgeting, combining similar projects targeting the same clientele into one fully-funded program, with convergence teams from different departments handling its implementation.
He also used his personal foundation to provide funding for the scholarship of Alternative Learning System (ALS) graduates so they could finish technical or college courses.
“My goal is to make Pandan’s potentials, particularly its many tourist attractions like Hiyop Point, Carrangyan bean resort, Tuwad-Tuwadan Lagoon, and Hinik-Hinik Falls, among others, develop and remain sustainable,” Mayor Tabligan disclosed.
He himself has acquired a 20-hectare lot at the Hiyop Highlands that is now being developed into a nature resort with native huts and villas as well as footpaths and rest stations, as well as a restaurant at the Paraiso ni Juaning park that would cater to tourists.
Despite the considerable investment, he sees its great potential, with the resort to open before the end of the year.
This, he said, is just one of the three hotels that would soon rise in the town: one alongside Delfino’s Restaurant in Tabugoc, another hotel with a pool at the lot of Cong. Hector Sanchez in Baldoc, and the third in the Mambang beachfront property of Atty. Merito Fernandez.
To pump up interest in Pandan, Tabligan said the local government is hosting the 2019 Provincial Jamboree in Hiyop in the third week of April, alongside the celebration of the town’s long-running Dinahit Festival and the 343rd anniversary of the town’s foundation.
“I have invited bikers from Valenzuela City, the Bicol mainland and here in the province for an island tour to raise awareness about our town,” he said, adding that he hopes the LGU will be allowed to host the provincial athletic meet in October.
The existing track-and-field oval and swimming pool, as well as other sports venues, will be rehabilitated in time for the meet, he added.
Soon, the LGU will have three convention centers: a small one right inside the municipal compound, a multi-purpose building in Napo which will be converted into a 1,000-seat convention center-cum-evacuation center, and a P50-million one in Hiyop to be constructed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
This Feb. 17, 2020, investors will visit the town to assess the viability of setting up an international port where foreign vessels passing in the major shipping lane that runs along the Philippines’ eastern coast could stop and take in provisions. The group will also evaluate the impact of dredging the sea bottom to make the port at least 100 meters deep, and the installation of a fuel depot along the port.
Four days later, another group engaged in exporting mud crabs to China will see for themselves Pandan’s capability to provide their requirements by harnessing at least three fishponds with a combined area of 44 hectares, Tabligan revealed.
His administration is also looking into seaweed production, with Euro-Med Laboratories reportedly interested in buying seaweed for use in making drugs and medicines. The company will provide the seedlings, refrigeration facilities and packaging equipment in return for an assured supply, he added.
In providing livelihood opportunities to his townmates, the chief executive said he pushed for the reactivation of the TESDA center in Pandan to focus on handicraft training and technical-vocational courses.
“The technical know-how of ALS graduates is now being used to teach the trade to senior citizens and ‘istambays’,” Tabligan stated, saying further that the LGU has organized cooperatives in each of the 26 barangays that would produce or create different projects, with the market spillover to benefit the other barangays.
He likewise cited the possibility that the dressmaking training now going on at the TESDA center could lead to production contracts with big malls like LCC and SM.
Support from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) is being sought for livelihood development.
On the other hand, one of the mayor’s pet projects is the construction of the Hiyop View Deck, a two-story structure that would afford the tourist a 300-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and the town’s coast.
A cable car from Hiyop to the “parola” or lighthouse in Canlubi is being proposed, with the cost of the income-generating project to be shared 70-30 by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and Pandan LGU.
Mayor Tabligan also said a P5 million funding will be used for producing flour from cassava and for selling various coconut byproducts such as the husk, shell, oil and the leftover sludge, with the latter to be sold to a food conglomerate.
In education, he launched the Pa-OLOGragan, an academic competition for local schools intended to develop the students’ values through debates, extemporaneous speech, and literary contests.
The Sangguniang Bayan headed by Vice Mayor Eric Rodriguez has also supported his bid to create the Baldoc Integrated School so its youth would no longer walk to Tabugoc to attend school, and the establishment of a science high school with the support of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
From the town’s last or second to last placing in the provincial athletic meet, the mayor hopes to change its sporting chances by rehabilitating venues with the assistance of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), focusing on other events, including boxing which will be boosted with the donation of a boxing ring from Sen. Manny Pacquiao.