During the Spanish period, the Chinese are considered as second class citizens. But a number of them rose to prominence shaping Bicol Region’s history and culture. Among those that ring a bell is Jose Ignacio Paua which we featured earlier — a leader of Andres Bonifacio’s Katipunan and later a mayor of Manito, Albay.
Another that literally and figuratively rings a bell is Simon Li Tuanqui, a pure Chinese ‘known for donating the now equally well-known pair of “Li Tuanqui Bells” to the Peñafrancia Shrine in Nueva Caceres in 1863 and 1868‘. He was one of the early Chinese migrants baptized in the Roman Catholic faith in the Bicol Region.
Aside from donating the bells, he also donated a significant amount of his wealth for the construction of the Peñafrancia Shrine and financed the building of the first pagoda for the annual procession in the Naga River.
Simon Li Tuanqui spent the rest of his life in the Bicol Region as businessman. He resided in Polangui, Albay and fathered sons and daughters who shaped local politics and the economy.
Source: The Enduring Legacy of Simon Li Tuanqui
In a golden era, people should be feasting on cakes and beef and not nutribuns and snail-meat. In the period of rice sufficiency, no one should be hungry with people being more at risk for diabetes rather than malnourishment. But do you know that then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos introduced programs befitting a Third World Country during the times when the Philippines is considered to be at its “golden period” and economic peak?
Nutribun distribution program during the Marcos era. (Picture credit: Proud Bisaya page)
In May 1973, Marcos introduced the Masagana ’99 which goal is to produce 99 sacks of rice per hectare. The program was, in part, instrumental to the increase in yield especially with the introduction of the “miracle rice” developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which rose from zero in 1965-66 to 81% in 1981-82 with average productivity increasing to 2.3 tons per hectare in non-irrigated farms and 2.8 tons per hectare on irrigated farms at the end of 1983. This enabled the country to attain rice sufficiency and eventually export a small amount. It should be stressed, however, that IRRI is not Masagana ’99, and the research institute is not an agency of the Philippine Government.
In 1992, James Carville used the economy to catapult Bill Clinton in what is supposedly an uphill presidential battle against George Bush. The slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!” not only broke Bush’s approval rating but also sharply turned American opinion that from the 90% approval rating in 1991, the then US President was hammered with a disapproval rating of 64%. Intentionally, supporters of House Bill (HB) No. 4820 are also riding on the economy as a slogan to further push for the creation of a new province called Nueva Camarines out of Camarines Sur. But is the proposal to partition Camarines Sur really an issue based on “the economy, stupid!”?
One of the tarpaulins scattered in the different towns of CamSur
House Bill (HB) No. 4820 authored primarily by Partido Cong. Arnulfo Fuentebella seeks to create “a new province from the present Province of Camarines Sur to be known as the Province of Nueva Camarines consisting of the City of Iriga and the municipalities of Baao, Balatan, Bato, Buhi, Bula, Caramoan, Garchitorena, Goa, Lagonoy, Nabua, Presentacion, Sagñay, San Jose, Siruma, Tigaon and Tinambac.”
As of this writing, the bill is at the Senate Committee on Local Government headed by Senator Bongbong Marcos after passing the Lower House at a vote of 229 to 1 with Rinconada Congressman Salvio Fortuno as the lone dissenter.
Bukag, Buwag and the Article’s Latag
The proposal to partition Camarines Sur is already bearing fruit. Even before any plebiscite is held, HB No. 4820 is already dividing not only the politicians in the province but also families especially those living in the Partido and Rinconada areas. It really stirred (bukag) the people that the debate which should focus on the merits of the partition has shifted to “the political versus the economic” debate and digressed further to ad hominem.