• God, country, Bayawan



    The rainmaker, a bamboo tube filled with small pebbles, seeds or beans, symbolizing the rainforest, is believed to bring about rainstorms. Upended, its contents run to its other end, making a sound reminiscent of falling rain. This, for our country’s many farms and for the city of Bayawan, means torrents of heaven’s blessings.

    As the nation transforms one city at a time into “islands of good governance,” Bayawan is also rediscovering its distinct role in the Filipino countryside.

    A settlement founded by the Spanish friars in 1751, the community prospered as Tolong Nuevo 116 years later. The name changed to Bayawan in 1953 and, 47 years after, in December 2000, Bayawan became a component city in the third district of Negros Oriental. Now, 15 years into its cityhood, Bayawan City crosses a threshold of hope and carves its niche of being the “Top Farm Tourism City in the Philippines by 2020” through the Performance Governance System (PGS). Guided by the program, Bayawan is rising to be part of the nation’s dream and redirects its resources with a renewed, aligned, and measured focus. Since 2007, Bayawan has been the only local government unit to pursue the uphill climb of PGS in the province of Negros Oriental.
    Our city’s rich history is defined by our people’s resiliency—we surge above difficulties and reconstruct them as opportunities. What Bayawan has achieved today in the areas of micro-economics, environment, commerce, and agricultural sustainability are incentives to celebrate. What direction it now seeks to accomplish calls for multi-sector efforts, fiscal measures, and solidarity. Most importantly, what Bayawanons can share with the rest of the country is “bayawanihan”—a combination of the local words bayaw (“to offer”), bayani (“hero”), and ani (“harvest”)—that for us has come to mean simple acts of volunteerism of the heroic kind. Our people’s initiatives and advocacies, small seeds offered and nourished, can become rainstorms of grace. Every Bayawanon teacher, vendor, student, and farmer is a rainmaker for God, country, and Bayawan.

    |A melting pot of migrant ethnicities, Bayawan now pursues governance to honor those who sowed seeds of promise in the city’s 69,908 hectares of fertile land. The city, which is bordered by a 15-kilometer coastline facing the Sulu Sea, perceives agriculture to be its main economic opportunity. Once recognized as one of the Top 10 Best Cities to Live in (2007), Bayawan is now an agricultural hub with the most beautiful city plaza in the province and the longest boulevard in the country. Its produce includes sugar, rice, corn, rubber, and tuna.

    Nature showcases itself in exalting, zero cool waterfalls: Mag-aso, Lourdes, Niludhan, and Habhaban Cave Falls. We also appreciate that myriads of tourists continue to come to learn our way of life and replicate best practices notably in the challenging fields of organic farming, solid waste management, diversified agriculture, wastewater and septage ministration, inland aquaculture, riverbank re-vegetation, integrated college scholarship program, inspired entrepreneurship, DepEd senior high agri-program, peace and order, and award-winning disaster preparedness. The first half of the list comes from the hand of God; the other half is made of true-blue bayawanihan commitment.

    Bayawan’s devotion to its collective vision is strengthened by charismatic leadership. City Mayor Pryde Henry Teves, a farmer at heart, fits the vocation as he seizes each day as an opportunity to bring about innovation and sets his gaze on the future of our farms. Bayawan’s richest harvest is its people, and city government has remained open to their best ideas. In the days to come, Bayawan expects a breakthrough as it journeys toward becoming the country’s top farm tourism city by 2020. All it needs is constancy as it carries out a transparent and participative strategy, and brings to fruition a magna carta of shared responsibility.

    For one, being investment-friendly is fundamental. While the LGU breaks ground for a modern medical center via public-private partnership, it offers alternative trade opportunities to farmers such as activation of the essential oils processing industry. Taxation reforms are set while infrastructural provisions like the proposed farmers’ market, fish terminal and processing zones, and advancing farm-to-market roads are foremost.

    Bayawan deserves only our best, and this best involves fidelity to a performance scorecard to track long-term goals, accreditation of quality organic farms and consumer products, exciting outdoor and interactive farm-recreation experiences, outstanding farm sites, accommodating families and guests, and wellness and sports centers. Counting all these can showcase the overall eco-industrial difference, culture of governance, and inclusive economic impact.

    Bayawan’s story of governance hammers on the corporate wisdom of city administration, empowered employees, and the many rainmakers of our cause. A new dawn is breaking for our city, and truly, there is no better place to enjoy the sunset, invest in business, feast on rice cakes, and dance to the beat of local celebrations.

    Nick Elemia is the author of the book ‘Light Bearers’ and the Community Affairs Officer of the City Government of Bayawan, a partner local government unit of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA). Learn more about their joint pursuit of governance reform and their efforts to build our Dream Philippines through isacenter.org.



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