As a preview of things to come in the next Philippine Model Cities Forum and Awards, a Most Promising Municipality Award has been given to a rising star in the South – Nunungan, in the Province of Lanao del Norte – where amidst the conflict in Mindanao and the challenges of clan feuds (called rido in Maranao), has strived to embrace peace and worked toward a future that is safe, sustainable and prosperous.
Situated in the hinterlands of Lanao, Nunungan is gifted with fertile soil, rich natural resources including lakes teeming with aquatic trove and a mountain abundant in flora and fauna.
Central to the locality is the majestic Mount Inayawan, rising 5,036 feet above sea level with the Mount Inayawan Range Natural Park as a protected realm and a critical watershed territory.
The park hosts the remaining largest rainforest in the province. Its three lakes – Lake Pantar, Lake Tongkod and Lake Malaig – supply the water needs of the Kapatagan Valley. It is as well home to endemic rare and endangered species like the Mindanao flying squirrel, Philippine eagle, Philippine deer, Mindanao cops owl, Mindanao hornbill, white collared kingfisher and the Philippine warty pig.
Dump trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles have been the only means of transportation available to traverse the 15-kilometer road to and from the inland town for four agonizing hours. But under the leadership of Mayor Marcos Mamay, things have changed as the roads are being built to make the journey just over 20 minutes.
When the road project is completed, agricultural products – including strawberries and vegetables like those cultivated in Baguio – from the arable land of Nunungan will reach the market and supply the needs of neighboring places in the region, and possibly even as far as the Visayas.