When a Road meant more

Created on Tuesday, 29 March 2016 Published Date

As if trying to catch up with time, farmers from barangay San Juan, in Sogod, Southern Leyte seem unmindful of taking a meal break. They were busy bringing bags of copra downhill, and piling them up by the roadside.  From afar, one could see how difficult it must be.

Clemente P. Senop, the barangay Chairman however, quickly points out, “The situation is even far better now.” He recalls, “If not for the concrete road, the tougher part could have been how to bring those copra to downtown. In the past, only few vehicles pass by here, mostly single motorcycle locally known as habal-habal, because the road was bad.”

Chairman Clemente further said, It was a rolling terrain so, when going somewhere, we need at certain points, to climb uphill. Worse, whenever it rains, walking may be the only option as the road is left impassable. Of course, the fare was high. Before this project, we have to spend Php100.00 in going to town. This time, we can already get a ride for only Php60.00 to Php70.00. I think we will be getting a lower fixed rate soon, especially when the project is finally completed.”

With high transport cost and very limited load capacity of a habal-habal, farmers can only sell a maximum of 4 bags (50 kilos per bag) of copra per day.  In Sogod town, the price of copra per kilo is at Php30.00. This means, a farmer only gets a gross income of Php6,000.00. By deducting the cost of transport, which at that time, was at Php50.00 per bag, the payment for laborers (kargador) at Php75.00 per bag, he earns only a net of Php5,500.00. This goes assuming a farmer gets it in full – as landowner.

The FMR sub project

The farm-to-market road sub project in Sogod now nearing completion, after it was started few months before the end of 2015, lies along barangays Suba, Kanangkaan, San Vicente and San Juan (the tipmost barangay).

Major crops grown in these barangays are rice, coconuts, banana, abaca, root crops, fruits, and vegetables.

The sub project is expected to benefit 438 households or a total population of 2,151. The total road length is 4.23 kilometers with a project cost of Php30.6 million.  It is the first-ever infra sub project implemented in the region with funding support under the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).

PRDP is designed to establish the government platform for a modern, climate-smart and market-oriented agri-fishery sector.  It is being implemented under a cost-sharing scheme where 10 percent of the total cost of any proposed sub project is shouldered by the local government unit.

Once a dream, now it’s real

Fernando G. Aguillon, a coconut farmer residing in Barangay San Juan claims, “This road will bring a major change in our lives.  It was our dream though to have a better road but truly, I never thought this would ever come true – at least in my lifetime.”

Fernando grows coconut, rice, abaca and vegetables in his 1-hectare farm.

He said, “With a better road, we will be able to conveniently deliver our products to the poblacion (town) at cheaper cost, faster and with less hassle. I can just imagine how this road will gradually change lives – our community. I am certain more of our children now will finish college.”

It is undeniable that the bad road also adds up to the burden of their children apart from the lack of financial support. This could precisely be why many of them end up losing their appetite for further studies as early as in their elementary levels.

Opening up opportunities

Sogod takes pride of its natural resources, and scenic sites.  Its barangays spread as though nestled in the middle of beautiful landscapes and seascapes. Within the sub project site, in particular, it soothes to watch as rivers rush around and splash with clear waters, against a backdrop of lush, serene environment.

With the new road, residents of the barangays covered by the project expect a boom in agriculture and tourism activities. For sure, this will generate employment and livelihood opportunities for the ruralfolk in this part of the municipality.

Early on, and even as the road concreting is still underway, barangay Kanangkaan already claims to have one favorite site – the Eco Adventure Mountain Resort, with rising popularity among locals and foreigners.

Several years ago, the Province of Southern Leyte ranks among the highest in terms of malnutrition, which according to the barangay officials here may largely be attributed to lack of good road network. Essentially, it impedes the flow of income opportunities, resulting in poverty and malnutrition.

Malnutrition incidence in the province was seen however to have gone down since then and may well continue to drop in years ahead as it gears for more funding support for its intended livelihood and infrastructure investments under the PRDP.  (RODEL MACAPAÑAS, PRDP RPCO-8 InfoACE)

Photo shows Clemente P. Senop, Chairperson of Barangay San Juan, Sogod, Southern Leyte points to a newly-concreted pavement. The PRDP-funded FMR, albeit still under on-going construction has already brought some positive changes in the lives of the barangay constituents. It is seen to spur more economic activities along the covered areas.

Photo shows a farmer from barangay San Juan, Sogod, Southern Leyte carrying a bag of copra. Taking it from uphill, he needs to bring it few kilometers away, where at least a single motorcycle (locally called Habal-habal) is available for transport to a copra buying stations at Sogod town. The road is often left impassable for motorcycles during rainy days, a situation prevailing before the PRDP –funded road project was implemented.

Fernando G. Aguillon (in photo) pointed out that with a better road network made possible under the PRDP, farmers like him will now be able to conveniently deliver their agricultural products like coconuts, rice, abaca and vegetables to the poblacion (town) at cheaper cost, faster and with less hassle. This time, he also expects more children will finish college. In the past, he disclosed that seldom would even finish elementary level, which could be attributed in part, to the difficult terrain they need to pass in order to go to school. During rainy days, the road is impassable so, classes are suspended.


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