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Bontoc, Mountain Province – Unity, resilience, creativity, innovations, and adapting to changes to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic are the traits of the Bontoc community that were highlighted during the celebration of the 113th Bontoc Founding Anniversary on September 16, 2021, at the Bontoc Municipal Capitol grounds.
By tradition, a grand celebration was held yearly to celebrate the Bontoc Founding Anniversary and Am-among Festival. Due to the health crisis and in compliance with health protocols, a Thanksgiving Mass celebrated by The Most Rev. Valentine Dimoc and a simple program were held with a limited crowd this year.
Mayor Franklin Odsey in his message acknowledged that it has been a challenging year, and everyone has struggled to meet the challenges to stay strong and prepare for the changes and resetting of plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It taught us many lessons and I know we will emerge from it, strengthened and enriched. This pandemic has shown us the value of partnerships as one community, and how, together, we can make a difference in people’s lives,” Odsey added.
Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC) President Dr. Rexton Chakas, who was the Guest Speaker during the celebration, reminisced the joyous celebrations of the Bontoc Founding Anniversary and Am-among Festival in the past years.
According to him, the celebration calls for reflection on the graciousness of God for allowing us to reach this far despite the pandemic.
“The celebration marks the beginning of a new year for Bontoc as well as to re-design our strategies and achieve our goals of sustainable development. The celebration is a way of stepping back to re-imagine the Bontoc we would like to live in, Chakas said.
Likewise, the guest speaker relayed his research on the significant initiatives and measures passed by the Sangguniang Bayan of Bontoc from 2015-2020 to address Sustainable Development Goals.These include eradicating poverty, ending hunger, ensuring health and well-being, and providing sanitation.
He mentioned that he did this research because the constituents of this capital town are satisfied with the programs and services of the Bontoc LGU.
This was reflected in the survey conducted by the Research Section of the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC) under the 2018 Citizen Satisfaction Index System (CSIS) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The services rendered by the Bontoc LGU are categorized into Health, Support to Education, Social Welfare, Governance and Response, Environmental Management, Public Works and Infrastructure, and Economic and Investment Promotion.
Based on the Citizen Satisfaction Report, the respondents are generally satisfied with the above-stated services with the Health Services that gained the highest level of satisfaction.
“With these findings, I am very sure that the Sangguniang Bayan of Bontoc, together with the Municipal Executive and other offices in the LGU Bontoc can be counted upon to set in motion the process of innovating and resetting policies so that Bontoc can survive through the rest of the pandemic and the post-pandemic era,” Chakas remarked.
Mountain Province House Representative Maximo Dalog, Jr., joined the other officials and the guest speaker in acknowledging that cooperation of everyone is a requisite of sustainable development.
“Let us continue with the good cultural traits of ours such as the Og-ogfo, which is the best exhibition of our unique culture of helping one another as we endeavor to make life better for our people and our communities. Our oneness and cooperation, if done together, makes our burden lighter and life better especially during these trying times,” Dalog emphasized.
The lawmaker added that despite the pandemic, there have been many achievements of Bontoc that its people can be proud of. He lauded the Bontoc Local Government (LGU) as the only LGU in the entire Cordillera region qualified for the Performance-Based Bonus granted by the national government for the year 2020 and given this year 2021. Likewise, the Bontoc is a Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Awardee which is one of the highest awards given by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to LGUs which recorded exemplary performance in government service. Under the leadership of Mayor Odsey, the municipality of Bontoc had passed the test of good governance for three consecutive years from 2017 and was the lone awardee in Mountain Province in 2018 and 2019.
Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr., in his message, remarked that the government has to adjust and strategize with the policies, plans, and programs in response to the pandemic. Despite the adjustment to the “new normal”, Lacwasan mentioned that the pandemic has strengthened the Bayanihan spirit and family ties.
Bauko Mayor Abraham Akilit who is also representing the League of the Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP)- Mountain Province Chapter is one with the officials in recognizing the “Bayanihan”/ Og-ogfo spirit” of all Cordillerans which is very much alive.
Focusing on the theme, he acknowledged the need for the government to innovate its policies to contain the virus while ensuring that the negative effects are at the minimum possible.
Likewise, he conveyed his continuous support to the aspirations of Bontoc. He said that together with Mayor Odsey, they facilitated the inclusion of priority and impact programs for Bontoc in the Regional Development Council for endorsement of funding by various national government agencies.
He added that in his eight years as Mayor of Bauko, he ensured the protection of forests and watersheds in their municipality so that there will be water that will run in the Chico River to supply various livelihood activities in Bontoc.
In closing, Vice Mayor Eusebio Kabluyen thanked everyone for extending their help in the current health crisis. Likewise, he joined the officials in conveying their felicitations to the Bontoc community in celebration of the 113th Founding Anniversary of this capital town. // Alpine L. Killa, Bontoc LGU