New year and something new in Albay

The province of Albay has been busy last year responding to different issues and events or planning new ones at least from “A” to “Y” – that is, from ALECO and AlMaSor to Yolanda operations. Because of these, the land of Mayon is expecting (in some cases, realized) something new for 2014. The list includes the following:

1. A new beauty queen. Albay has a new beauty queen in its roster in the person of Ms. International Bea Rose Santiago. Santiago hails from Masbate but of issues with some officials of the rodeo province, she decided to stay away, at least for a while, from her hometown. This gave Albay the opportunity to adopt her. (To be politically correct, however, Salceda calls her a daughter of Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon or AlMaSor.)

2. The Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Alliance. Though conceptualized in the previous yeas, the AlMaSor tourism program hit the ground running last year. Harvest is expected this year with the influx of tourists both domestic and foreign. The program, however, is being contested for not being inclusive. Read here.

3. Recognition of Albay Disaster Response Team. Albay has been sending a disaster response team all over the country that it was given by the Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PAPI) a recognition of “Most Outstanding Disaster Response Award” while Gov. Joey Salceda” is PAPI’s 2013 Filipino of the Year.

4. A new ALECO management. Primarily because of the inefficient management of Albay’s electric service provider resulting to spiraling debts and frequent brownouts, a significant of consumers turned out and voted for the take-over of SMC in the management of ALECO. Though still contested in the court on issues of technicality, the SMC has started instituting organizational and billing reforms.

5. The South Luzon International Airport or SLIA. Finally, after a long wait, the new airport will have its maiden voyage this month. If the Americans were the first to land in the moon, the Chinese from Xiamen will be the firsts to land in SLIA. Well, at least it’s just an hour ride to Bulan. SLIA is expected to boost the AlMaSor tourism and, of course, the traffic in Daraga, Albay.

6. Albay boom. From the “Albay Rising” battlecry, the provincial government expects the “Albay Boom” not only in terms of the economy and tourism but also in the aspects of culture and the arts, and the social well-being of the Albayanos. The boom is expected not only because of the AlMaSor and SLIA but also because of the programs and projects that the provincial government as the foundations for the development of Albay. Complementary with this, albeit un-intentional, the Bicol University and the Bicol Center for Development Initiatives (BCDI) established the Jesse Robredo Institute of Local Governance to capacitate local politicians and nurture them as effective local government managers. With the presence of the institute, sustaining the “boom” can also be added in the list.

On the bane, however, is the “development” of new and more responsive politicians. Can Albay, with the Bicol University and other colleges and universities in the province , add in the “something new” list the reversal of this trend by adding programs that will encourage the growth of “guapos” (or genuine and alternative politicians) in the province? It appears that the names in the list of local politicians are almost the same every election with some hopping from one position to another.

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