Road repaired, credit a strange mix of sports and politics
ONCE in a great while, a story in this space actually brings results.
I saw this happen as I drove on a road once described by fellow Inquirer Sports columnist Recah Trinidad as a savage, fissure-filled stretch “unfit even for carabao carts.”
Though I’ve been away for two years from my hometown, Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of the hellish, clogged, six-kilometer artery that leads to the town center from the Tarlac border.
It became infamous, with the constant call for its repair via footnotes to Southpaw and mentions in the Inquirer columns of my friends Trinidad and Ramon Tulfo.
Well, I got a big surprise two weeks ago!
The road that’s been rutted by craters for as long as the people of Cuyapo and the adjoining municipality of Nampicuan can remember, is no more.
In its place is a ribbon of highway that, saved for touch-ups here and there, is paved and gleaming in the sun.
For now, the Nampicuan-Cuyapo road no longer offers a mismatch to local travelers, including farmers with goods to sell, and motorists looking for an interior and scenic route to Baguio and points north.
Tourists passing through for the first time will have a feast for their eyes. If there is a finer place than Cuyapo in the summer when the fire trees are in flaming red and bougainvilleas are in a riot of colors, I am not aware of it.
Unless of course it is neighboring Rosales, in the progressive province of Pangasinan run by Gov. Amado Espino, when the feathery blooms of the talahib (pampas grass) give way to kakawati (madre de cacao) flowers.
My hometown is now a regular route for a major passenger bus company, with arrivals and departures for Cubao three times a day, seven days a week. The motorway is hoped to cease as a deterrent to the flow of progress to Cuyapo proper.
The townspeople tell me work was annoyingly slow for the road’s rehabilitation and served as a countryside circus for the provincial governor and his Congress member wife clearly pushed to action by political expediency and a sports column.
While work went on, a rural jumbotron—a giant poster plastered with the faces of the husband and wife team—appeared atop a storefront.
As “epal” (a play on the Filipino word mapapel, a slang for attention-grabber) notices go, the tarpaulin images made it appear that the couple, and not the provincial government, was springing for the project.
Sports and politics usually don’t mix but worked well this time around.
Only time will tell how the renewed highway will withstand floods and other furies of nature.
The onus is on the termed-out governor, now running for Congress and his wife, a candidate to replace her husband, and their political adversaries from a powerful political clan.
These protagonists will have to outdo each other after the May elections to ensure the constant maintenance and care of the once-dreaded Nampicuan-Cuyapo road.