Camarines Sur in dark ages

The first thing about Camarines Sur you’ll notice once you have entered its territories—if you’re traveling the day trip schedule—is the near-pitch darkness that engulfs the province at dusk. Light posts and electricity seem to have become nonexistent. It’s a gradual dimming of the light as you pass by and exit the last remaining municipalities of the Quezon province.

Then long patches of darkness dotted by occasional flashes of light punctuate the surrounding landscape up until you have reached your destination. It’s hasn’t been always like that. I’ve been coming and going to Naga City since I was a child but I do not recall the province being this dark in the past. Even my son shares the same observation and he’s just been here a few times.

Going from Pacol (where we live) to Centro means passing vast expanses of empty lands and rice paddies with sporadic dots of human habitations and light posts that seem to have their last maintenance checks done during the last century. Those that do work, are few and literally far between. Just a day ago news in the local TV reported that parts of the Rinconada area composed of municipalities like Baao, Bula and Bato just had their electricity back after days of being devoid of it.

Electricity, or lack thereof, seems to define Camarines Sur for a while now.

I talked about it with my mother, who related what she and a bus conductor talked about a while back in comparing the Bicol region to the other provinces he passes by on a regular basis on their way to Visayas. And that according to the conductor “Nawalat na sana an Bicol sadto ibang probinsya.” (Bicol is left behind by other provinces.)

jeep
photo by Mark Wiens

You have got to hand it to the administrators and LGUs in this place. It’s bad enough that the rest of the country’s in the dumps, but the level of deterioration that’s apparent in the way the structures of Naga Centro are looking these days—and I suspect in the rest of the region, are enough to put any proud child of Bicol or someone who has fond memories of the place to a gloomy disposition.

Centro, the city center, while a bustling hive of activity and business, one can’t help thinking that while it looks great that commerce is alive and well, most of these said “bustling” is because of overpopulation and not necessarily due to some lofty economic principle. Just take a look at the crumbling and soon to be demolished structures as well as small retail shops that, while modern-looking, surely won’t survive in a more competitive environment like in Metro Manila.

It’s as if the bane of the much-vaunted Pinoy ‘pwede na’ mentality took nest in this region and its administrators and decided to stay and even enforce its devious nature to the majority of its vast population. Like an extreme form of apathy and fatalism that trumps even its ilk in other regions in the country.

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