My family is not lumad (native-born) to this town of Isabel, Leyte. We were uprooted from Orion, Bataan some 25 years ago, when my husband was “pirated” by a giant fertilizer plant situated in the Leyte Industrial Development Estate here.
So many exciting changes are taking place in the town now, mainly due to the leadership and discipline of the newly-elected mayor, Hon. Gen. Saturnino Medina, Jr.(Ret.) He has been in the service for barely 7 months, but his accomplishments to date, could put to shame a not-so committed public official of 7 years.
During the turn-over ceremonies with the former mayor, it was so touching that leaders of the different religious denominations were present to offer their prayers. The leaders of the Roman Catholic church, the Iglesia ni Kristo, the Protestant church, the Seventh Day Adventist, the Baptists, the Brother Muslims- each said beautiful prayers of reconciliation, cooperation and hopes for a better Isabel. God must have heard their prayers, for truly, the town is now a place that every Isabelanon could be proud of.
The first notable change is the cleanliness everywhere you go, especially in the public places, like the municipal hall, the plaza, the Freedom Center, the public market, the shoreline, the bus terminal, the public restrooms, and on the streets all over the town. Beautification is also taking place in every corner. Standing proudly at the entrance to the poblacion, is a well-landscaped area, where the name of the town in gold-plated metal is announced in the off-white wall behind a water fountain. Just recently opened to the public is the Isabel Baywalk, where people of all ages and walk-of-life, converge for relaxation and a view of the beautiful sunset in the bay. There is so much improvement in the town hall, which is now very clean, orderly, well-ventilated and very functional. With fewer employees, efficiency and discipline is very evident in the different departments. Mayor Medina had a Taxpayers’ Lounge constructed in a space between the rows of offices frequently visited by taxpayers. It is fully air-conditioned, with very comfortable seats and a cable tv. The plaza has been re-landscaped into a very serene Japanese garden. Two gazebos were constructed on either side, where positive values are inscribed. Strategically located are seats where people can while the time away, while listening to well-chosen music and watching the gustling water from the giant fountain. The Freedom Center (a covered multi-purpose structure for social events and basketball games, constructed by the former mayor, Hon. Jun Fuentes) is now surrounded by bleachers to accommodate more people during such events. During the last Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Barrera fight, people were admitted free to watch it via live telecast on giant screens. It was so thoughtful of him to have done that.
Driving through the town’s streets is a breeze now, because vehicles never park on either side anymore. With the absence of parked vehicles, it seems like the thoroughfares were widened overnight.
One feels safer going to the poblacion, at any time of the day, with the very noticeable police visibility anywhere you go.
The once dilapidated, unsightly barbecue stalls are all gone. Recently inaugurated were the concrete ones that house the “barbekyuhan” in a section of the market complex along the bay. The “litsong manok” porta-stores, painted uniformly in golden yellow, are now located near the barbecue stalls. Even the popcorn and junk food “tiendas” near the plaza, now sport a uniform structure in the same golden yellow color.
Under construction at present is a new transportation terminal. Once it’s finished, the old terminal will be renovated into a Children’s Fun Center. Street lighting from end-to-end of the town’s boundaries, as well as in the town proper, is on-going. This is in connection with his fiery fight against drugs, crime, gambling and all forms of vices. He believes that the best deterrent to all these is a well-lit community. Next in his agenda is the construction of a hospital. Mr. Jose C. Alvarez of PHILPHOS, who is the mayor’s good friend, has recently donated a hectare of land for this purpose. To bring the government closer to the people, Mayor Medina and heads of the different departments bring the basic services to far-flung barangays where they conduct monthly medical missions and outreach programs, complete with doctors, dentists, midwives and entertainers.
Negotiations are now on-going with a commercial bank, for the establishment of a branch in this industrial town. This is a long-overdue dream of the thousands of employees of the companies, as well as of the businessmen here. At present, people either bank with the rural bank here or go to the city of Ormoc for banking needs.
Foremost in all his accomplishments is the pride and discipline that he has instilled in the hearts of the Isabelanons. He has made the town into a place that we can all be proud of. Because of that pride, everyone wants to maintain its beauty and cleanliness. Seeing garbage, even cigarette butts, is a thing of the past. People have learned to use the garbage binswhich are strategically located all over the town. Even the market vendors, keep on cleaning their stalls, so the market, even the wet market, is so clean. It’s a common knowledge that the good mayor is a stickler for cleanliness and orderliness, so everyone has become conscious of keeping the town clean. AFTER ALL, IT’S A LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE.
In recognition of his feat, the LIDE LADIES CLUB, an Isabel NGO, has awarded the mayor for his exemplary performance on his first 100 days in office.
I wrote this article to show my appreciation for the mayor’s dedication in making this first-class town, truly first class, and to encourage all public officials to exert as much effort in their respective communities. How I wish that a concerted action be done by every elected official and by every citizen, to make the Philippines as progressive as it should be. I believe in the innate goodness and ability of every Filipino. If this feat can be done in the town of Isabel, IT CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY!
Our hats off to HON. MAYOR SATURNINO MEDINA, JR! May your tribe increase!
Jo, Thanks for this posting! It is really very encouraging and inspiring to read and hear about examples of leadership and discipline in our country which seemes so bereft of well-meaning and cogent leaders like retired Gen. Medina. My snappy salute to a comrade who is worthy of emulation! At a time when people are becoming desperate in looking for an ideal, comes a man that stands out of the rest of grandstanding politicians and government officials. I believe that a hero is born out of conflict and chaos, and who takes courage to effect change. You pricked a certain nostalgic feeling in me having remembered Isabel during my flying days when my colleagues and I would hover around town, stroll the beaches, and take snack of litson manok amidst the anarchic array of tricycles and vendors and istambays. Your description of a new Isabel keeps me away from my old picture of a dilapidated, rustic, backward, and disorderly town. It is indeed a relief to see it transformed by an officer and gentleman. A model leader and a model town should serve as inspiration to all of us Pinoys! Regars!