Two New Projects to Boost Livelihood in Pangasinan

By Zac B. Sarian, Agriculture magazine (05.2009)

Two new projects of the Abono Party List were launched recently, aimed at promoting farming and other livelihood projects in Pangasinan. One is the province-wide white corn planting competition and the establishment of the Pangasinan Special Pasalubong Center in Carmen East, Rosales.

The white corn planting competition started last February and will culminate in a harvest festival in May. The project aims to promote the production of white corn for human consumption. This is meant to help supplement rice of which the country is still in short supply. Rosendo So, chairman of Abono Party List, said that white corn is an excellent rice substitute. In fact many Visayans prefer eating white corn over rice. And one belief is that the superior performance of basketball stars and boxers from Cebu and Mindanao can be attributed to their corn diet.

Under the scheme, the 1,200 barangays in the province were provided with P1,000 worth of seeds for planting on 2,500 square meters. On the other hand, the provincial government headed by Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. provided P1,500 worth of fertilizers and other inputs that the participants can use in producing their crops.

The barangays can use the latest technologies in growing their white corn. The winners in the barangays in each town will be selected and given a cash prize of P200,000 which they can use in putting up a livelihood project of their choice. The winners in the barangay level will then compete in the district level (Pangasinan has six districts). And the winner in the district will get a cash prize of P1 million which they can use to start their own project. From the six winners in the district level, the provincial champion will be selected and given another P1 million prize. Thus, the champion will get a total of P2.2 million in cash prizes.

To further support the campaign to plant white corn, corn mills will be put up in each town so that the planters will not have any problem in milling corn for human food. Dr. Artemio Salazar of UP Los Baños will be helping the white corn project in this aspect, according to Rosendo So. He adds that the households will also be taught the proper way of cooking white corn as rice substitute.

The Pangasinan Special Pasalubong Center is strategically located along the highway in Carmen East, Rosales town. It is also under the initiative of the Abono Party List together with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Tourism.

The main building has already been finished and many of Pangasinan's special products are now showcased for sale to passengers passing through the province. Modern comfort rooms are in the process of construction and a spacious parking area will be provided. Next to be constructed is a restaurant that will cater to the travelling public.

Today, the special products of each town can be bought from the Pasalubong Center. These are mostly products of the One-Town, One-Product (OTOP) project in the province. among such products are the Bonuan bangus of Dagupan City, dried mango of a cooperative in Manaoag, processed meat products (beef, carabeef, pork) from Mangaldan, muscovado sugar from Mapandan, rock salt from Dasol, dried fish from Sual and San Fabian, bagoong from Lingayen, goat from Balungao, puto from Calasiao, furniture from Binmaley, pottery from San Nicolas, bricks from Sta. Barbara, rice cracker from Bayambang, and others.

Aside from the display of the various products from the different towns of Pangasinan, the Pasalubong Center will also serve as an information center for the tourist attraction in the province.

Mike Morden who is in  charge of the Center says that Pangasinan boasts a lot of festivals and tourist destinations. Among the points of interest to local and foreign tourists are the beaches along Lingayen Gulf as well as in Western Pangasinan. The province has a coastline of 160 kilometers boasting of fine public beaches as well as resorts owned by private individuals.

One favorite destination is Hundred Islands in Alaminos where one can engage in diving, snorkeling, kayaking or just plain basking in the sun in a small island of his own choice. Other wonders of nature are the Cacupangan, Binmatya, Villacorta and Nalsoc Caves in Mabini, Infanta and Bani.

Then there is Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine and several other attractions for pilgrims. These include Lingayen's Church of Epiphany which has a collection of historical bells, the Mt. Zion Pilgrim Mountain and Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine, both in Bugallon; Bolinao's St. James Great Fortress Church with its imposing façade hewn from coral rocks and others.

The province also boosts a series of festivals throughout the year. These include the Pista'y Dayat or Sea Festival of Lingayen, Bangus Festival in Dagupan City, Talong Festival in Villasis, Goat Festival in Balungao, Pidudungo Festival in Bolinao, Mango-Bamboo Festival in San Carlos City, Pandan Festival in Mapandan, Longganisa and Talaba Festivals in Alaminos, Binungey Festival in Anda, Manaoag's Galicayo Festival, Puto Festival in Calasiao and Corn Festival in Sto. Tomas.

Surely, the white corn competition and the Pasalubong Center will go a long way in improving the livelihood of farmers, fisherfolks, entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders in the province. And that is thanks to the initiative of the Abono Party List and its supporters.