Siargao town mangroves among LGU gems that shine sans fanfare
For transforming mangrove cutters into fisherfolk and illegal fishermen into tourist boat guides, a social tourism program of a town on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte was among this year’s winners in the annual search for outstanding local government programs.
The “Siargao It Up! Mangrove Management and Social Tourism Program” of Del Carmen town is among the 10 winners of the 2018 Gawad Galing Pook.
Vice President Leni Robredo, the keynote speaker, led the awarding of the winners in ceremonies held on Thursday. She also conferred on Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal the 4th Jesse Robredo Leadership Award, which is named after her late husband who served as interior secretary.
In her speech, Robredo challenged local officials to be “defiant and fierce against the tide.”
“It may be easier to stay on the sidelines during tumultuous times such as the times we face today. But history is not made by those who choose to be always on the safe side,” she said.
The Galing Pook awards, she said, proves the existence of men and women who are “disrupting the political scene by doing extraordinary things for our people quietly, without much fanfare.”
“Filipinos are resourceful and very creative; there is no shortage of bright ideas in our nation. So, let’s all give each other license to copy, adapt and improve,” Robredo said.
Now on its 25th year, the Galing Pook program selects the best practices of local government units (LGUs) and shares information on these beneficial programs for replication.
The awards have cited some 319 programs from at least 200 LGUs over the years, including this year’s winners.
Based on impact
The winners are chosen based on the impact and positive results the projects have brought to the communities, their empowerment of the people, the project’s transferability and sustainability, innovation and the efficiency of its service delivery.
The year’s other Galing Pook winners include an innovative early childhood and nutrition program in Navotas City. The rest are repeat awardees: the towns of Bindoy in Negros Oriental, Loboc in Bohol and San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte, and the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Naga, Tagum and Valenzuela.
The winning local government entries involved a variety of innovative programs on land tenure, environmental conservation, cultural heritage preservation, literacy and education, healthcare and community safety and security, according to Galing Pook Foundation, which runs the event.
The place to be
Robredo noted how Siargao’s Del Carmen program sought to preserve “the largest contiguous mangrove forest in Surigao,” while its capacity-building activities, community organizing and educational advocacy campaigns opened doors of opportunities to many residents there.
“It is my wish that mentoring becomes a by-product of the excellence around us today. For mayors who are looking for great ideas, [Galing Pook] is the place to be,” she said.
Rosal, who is now on his fifth term as mayor, was credited for the “slew of public service awards” that Legazpi City has received, including the Seal of Good Local Governance of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, for three consecutive years.
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