Past Governors of Bicol – Masbate

Masbate is known as “the wild, wild west of the Philippines” and “the poor man sitting in the pot of gold”. Thanks to recent developments, the province is starting to shelve these names. Election observers for the May 2010 elections found Masbate to be relatively peaceful compared with the previous elections, and that the National Statistics Coordination Board noted Masbate “sliding in the list from being the poorest province in the country in the year 2000 with 70.2% poverty incidence to the 8th most poor in 2006 with 59.5%.

Unknown to many, however, Masbate is one of the early settlements in the Bicol Region. Artifacts dating back to as early as 10th century were found in Kalanay (now Aroroy), and when Captain Luis Enriquez de Guzman anchored on the shores of Masbate in 1569, he found tiny settlements spread along the coasts engaged in flourishing trade with China – an explanation why there are a number of Chinoys in the island-province. Masbate is also said to be the place where the Christianization of the Bicol started.

In part because it is the source of class lumber for the construction of galleons during the Spanish period, Masbate was declared a province in 1864. In 1908, this was revoked and Masbate was annexed to Sorsogon. Masbate again became an independent province on February 1, 1922.

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A break, at last!

Since January, work was heavy. Dakul nagtataram: Maray pa ngaya an trabaho mo pa-easy-easy lang.

I smiled and murmured to myself: Kung aram mo lang.

It was seven months. Pero pagmate ko, it was seven decades. Lalo pa kung maagi ka sa mauntog na dinayang highway asin mamrublema sa traffic sa Legazpi o kaya mapagalan maghanap paparadahan sa Iriga. Konsuwelo na lang, dai maurot an buhok mo pag yaon ka sa bulod kan Estanza asin nadudungawan mo an siyudad kan Legazpi asin Albay Gulf, o kaya hinahapros ka kan paros na hale sa dagat samantalang nagpapasiram-siram sa Embarcadero. Medyo malilingawan mo man na embattled palan si Cong. Fernando Gonzalez poon pa kan karampanyahan kung magda-drive ka sa kahalabaan kan Tercer Distrito kan Albay asin pinapandungan ka kan mga kahoy na garo pasiring sa paraiso; o kaya malilingawan mo na igwa ka palan na deadlines kung nasa CWC ka sa Pili, Camarines Sur lalo kung kabungguan mo an nagkakapira mong kabisto. Maisip ka: Ano kaya kung dumiretso na lang ako sa Caramoan? Pero siyempre kaipuhan mo magtrabaho. I-enjoy mo na lang an dalan sa Bicol National Park o kaya sa Quezon National Park, o kung dai makatios, mag-agi sa Lucban lalo na sa Batis Aramin asin magloblob sa malipot na swimming pool na garo man sana sa Deo Endheka sa Sabloyon.

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The “An Daya” Highway

Because of the elections, I was in Bicol almost every other week.  I used to travel by southroad as it’s both convenient and relaxing. It’s a bit expensive, though, especially if one considers gas and the toll fees. Maray sana ta dai pa nag-implementar kan 300% SLEX toll fee increase kan mga nakaaging bulan kundi sa June 30 pa. Maray na bakong maray dahil kaherak an mga commuters asin biyahero. Dagdag sa agony ang car maintenance especially passing the highway named after the father of budget secretary-now-elected Congressman Nonoy Andaya.

Picture taken in 2006 and definitely the same until now. Photo credit: darleneCMF (

True to its name, Andaya Highway is really An Daya o madaya o dinaya dahil bigla ka na lang malulubak o kaya kaipuhan mong pumundo dahil dakul na parte an mga one way-one way sa kahalabaan kan Ragay asin Sipocot. For a driver, it’s really “panirang moment” as you were speeding on a clear road then suddenly you have to make a full stop. This easily damages car brakes and suspension.

Pero nata ta arog kaan an Madayang Highway? To note, repairs had started even in 2004 and 2005 but still, dai pa natatapos. Where’s the beef… err, budget? And Andaya the son is the DBM secretary? Ano yan?And the guts to call that Andaya Highway? Does that reflect the good Secretary-turned Congressman-elect?

Andaya Highway
Another portion of the Dinayang Highway taken First week of June 2010

Okay, assuming Nonoy Andaya only releases what has been allotted, where’s the allotment? Imposible naman na wara considering that Luis Villafuerte sat in the appropriations committee and yaon man si Datu Arroyo? Or the allotments were released pero naibulsa lang kan nakaaging eleksiyon? During the first semester of 2009, warang masyadong trabaho sa dinayang highway pero when the last quarter came, sunod-sunod na alagad usad-pagong. This continued until elections pero the other week, halos wara na naman na nagtatrarabaho. Doesn’t this mean something?

Well, iba-iba naman siguro ang mga tawo. But heck! Would you name a rotten highway in honor of your father? Or, would you boast your closeness to Malacanang (or claim that the President is your mother) and leave your yard as dirty as before? Kung sabagay, may kasabihan man nanggad palan: May kwarta sa basura.


There are three ways to reach Bicol Region: By air, by sea, and by land. There are also three ways to travel by land: By train (which is currently being rehabilitated), by commuting, and, well yes, by South Road.

The term “south road” never dawned on me until a revered consultant and former NEDA Director, Tony Buenaventura, asked: Nag southroad kamo?

Earlier, I thought “southroad” refers literally to the road going to the south of Manila — that is, SLEX, then Maharlika Highway, then the Quirino-now-named Dinaya …err, Madaya …, err, An-daya Highway. Or, it could be a different route, I supposed, taking diversions and shortcuts. Pero pareho lang palan kan mga inaagihan kan mga bus. Hence, I realized the new meaning exclusive to the Bicolanos: Southroad means travelling to Bicol with a private car.

Iriga City: Inch by inch towards development

Slowly but surely. This could be the best description one can give on the development efforts of Iriga City’s local government unit headed by Mayor Madel Alfelor-Gazmen.

The new city hall courtesy of IC PIO available at:

Looking for an historical note on Iriga, I found Frank Penones’s article Iriga’s Colonial Economy. Frank narrated how Iriga’s economy started from purely agriculture-based economy such as growing abaca to exporting the same in the 19th century, and then shifting partially to service-oriented economy with the first bus company in the Philippines — ALATCO.

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