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Increasing Returns:
BPL Technology: Romblon's Pride

By Martin F. Lasaga III

Provincial Amnesia: Language as a Cure
By Nicon F. Fameronag

Sibale: A Misannexed Municipality
By Atty. Eufronio M. Fallarme

 

Sibale: A Misannexed Municipality

Atty. Eufronio M. Fallarme

 

Of the municipalities comprising the province of Romblon, the island municipality of Maestre de Campo also called Concepcion but more popularly known as Sibale is the farthest from the capital. It is located north of Romblon and east of Oriental Mindoro.

 

Historical records show that on July 2, 1907 Sibale was created as a township or aldea and was under the administrative jurisdiction of the province of Mindoro.  This lasted until March 15, 1919 when Administrative Code of 1907 abolished the Township and created it as a municipal district. Without consulting the inhabitants or the benefit of a referendum, Sibale was annexed to the newly created province of Romblon by mere agreement made between the late Assemblymen Juan Luna of Mindoro and the late Leonardo Festin of Romblon.

 

The annexation of Sibale to Romblon did not give much advantage or benefits to the inhabitants of Sibale. Its far distance from the capital isolates it from the rest of Romblon and so the social and the economic growth of the town has been slow. It takes almost 5 hours to travel by motorboat between Sibale and Romblon. There are no regular trips or any sort of transportation between Sibale and Romblon; the capital. One has to hire a motorboat, which is expensive and time consuming.

 

Because of its distance from the capital, Sibale is seldomly visited by the provincial officials. And if they ever do visit the island, it is during election time; town fiesta or when there are other important occasions when there are many people in the town. Hence, the economic condition and needs of the municipality rarely come to the attention of the government officials concerned and, therefore, the least attended to and less developed as compared with the other municipalities.

 

On April of 1958, a great conflagration razed the whole town of Sibale to the ground. No early or immediate aides were sent nor received by the victims of the catastrophe who lost their houses and personal belongings. They were left to fend for themselves. Others have to solicit aides from relatives and friends from the neighboring towns of Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro. Sibalenhons residing in Manila organized a fund raising campaign and the proceeds were sent to the fire victims to alleviate their sufferings.

 

A few months later, congress enacted a law appropriating a certain amount for the rehabilitation of the town. Sad to say that very few have ever received or benefited from the sum allocated. Not much concrete evidence could be seen to have been rehabilitated out of the fund allocated by congress. People have to rely on their own efforts and resources to rebuild their homes and restart their shattered lives anew. And one could just wonder: where did the money go? Some even speculated that the bigger portion of the amount appropriated by congress could have been diverted to the benefit of another town named Concepcion also, located in the island of Tablas.

 

Travel to and from the capital is hazardous. The wide span of ocean that separates Sibale from the capital is treacherous and unpredictable. On April 2, 2001, a great tragedy occurred. A motorboat full of students who where bound to attend a seminar in Looc capsized in Tablas straight. Help arrived a day later; too late to render the much-needed help. Many perished in that catastrophe. Had that sea accident occurred between Pinamalayan and Sibale, help could have been easily rendered by passing passenger motorized boats and fishermen; survivors could have drift ashore on the wide span of coastline of Oriental Mindoro.

 

On the other hand, its proximity to the town of Pinamalayan in Oriental Mindoro makes it easier and convenient to transact business. It takes only 2 hours to travel between these two places and travels are daily and frequent. People from Sibale sell their produce in Pinamalayan and buy and bring back supplies to Sibale. Mail matters bound for Sibale are routed through Pinamalayan. Sometimes, mails are delayed or lost as they are inadvertently sent to another town named Concepcion located in the island of Tablas.

 

Prior to the establishment of a high school in Sibale, students who graduated from the elementary school in Sibale attended their secondary schooling in Pinamalayan, Bongabon, Roxas and Calapan. Some teachers in Sibale attend Saturday classes in colleges in Pinamalayan and come back to Sibale on Sundays for the class on Mondays.  Those going to Manila either to enroll in college or for some other personal business pass through Pinamalayan which is easier, faster more convenient and less expensive.

 

Infrastructure projects remain unfinished and neglected. The seawall remains unfinished since it was started four decades ago. Likewise, the municipal building remains unfinished too.  One has to be extra careful in going up the stairs to the third floor otherwise you bump your head on the third floor. School buildings in the barrios are in decrepit and in a dilapidated condition. There are no playgrounds for the physical education of the school children.

 

The telegraph office which is the only link to the outside world was abolished. People have to go to Pinamalayan to post their message at the telegraph office there. Thanks to the resourcefulness of the people of Sibale; through solicited donations they were able to devise a private communication system that enabled them to communicate with outside world. A Motorola bag-type, three watt cellular phone and one duplex type VHF radio were installed in Mt. Bandirahan and another in the town proper. Now one could contact someone in Sibale by telephone through the following numbers:

 

                      Masudsud:      Fixed Mobile     - 0973020911

                      Town Proper:   Fixed Mobile     - 0973283931

                      Town Proper:   Portable Mobile - 0973516151

 

To make a call from the US one has to dial 011 + 63 + 973283931

 

Because of its far distance to the provincial capital, it makes it inconvenient for the people to make commercial or official transactions in the capital. Municipal employees who have to attend conference or follow up important matters have to hire motor boats and encounter problems of where to stay while in the capital. Court cases that fall within the jurisdiction of the MTC and RTC in Romblon, the provincial capital makes it difficult for litigants from Sibale to attend the hearing due to lack of transportation and the financial burdens. Hence, cases oftentimes are dismissed when the party litigants fail to attend. People then feel frustrated. Recently, the Sanguniang Bayan Council filed a Resolution requesting the Supreme Court for a transfer of venue of cases triable in Romblon MTC and RTC to be litigated in the MTC and RTC in Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro.

 

At present there is no doctor assigned there. Previous doctors who were assigned there resigned due to lack of medical equipment and supplies. On April 2, 1990, a hepatitis epidemic broke out in Sibale infecting a number of persons.  Since the telegraph office was abolished and there is no other means of communication to request help from the Provincial Health Officer.  The  vice mayor has to hire a pump boat to request for doctors and medicines in Romblon, the capital which took her two days to get back.

 

Meanwhile, some of those infected with the deadly disease have already died. Some who were lucky were brought to Pinamalayan where there are hospitals with the necessary facilities. Serious cases were brought to Manila through Pinamalayan serviced by the ambulance that was allocated to Sibale, but is stationed in Pinamalayan.

 

Concerned of the health situation in Sibale; the graduates of the Sibale Academy class '83 who are now professionals organized and conducted a Medical & Dental Mission on April 17-20, 2003. With medical and dental equipments and supplies  solicited from various donors, the mission was able to diagnose and treat a number of patients which could have been  taken care off had there been a Rural Health Officer assigned in Sibale at that time. The following are the cases attended to:

 

Acute Upper Respiratory infection                     25 cases

Urinary Tract Infection and Gastritis                  13  cases

Costochondrites & Hypertensions                      6  cases

Iron Deficiency Anemia & Intestinal Parasitism   5  cases

Transient  Ischematic Heart Disease                  4  cases

 

In addition to the above cases other treatments were administered to acute attack of Bronchial Asthma, mild Pneumonia and Abortion with minimal bleeding.

 

Criminal elements ply their illegal and unlawful trade with impunity in and around the island of Sibale. Illegal fishing using dynamites by fishermen from the nearby provinces of Mindoro and Marinduque remains unabated; thus destroying the coral reefs which could attract foreign tourist for scuba diving. So also are the cattle rustlers using motorized lansons with high powered firearms. No army men with high powered firearms and fast speedboat are assigned in Sibale to go after and apprehend those culprits.  Under such circumstances, the people would just but keep silent for fear of retaliation from the criminals.  Whereas, if Sibale is under the jurisdiction of Oriental Mindoro, a call to the Army based in Pinamalayan could easily intercept those criminals in the middle of the sea between Pinamalayan and Sibale.

 

With Pinamalayan now made as the provincial capital of Oriental Mindoro, it will be easier and more convenient, and faster for people between the two places to transact businesses. Officials who follow up papers in the provincial capital can go to Pinamalayan in the morning and come back to Sibale in the afternoon. In fact the current Vice Mayor Raul Luistro has his residence in Bongabon, Oriental Mindoro. And yet he attends and performs his official duty regularly in Sibale.

 

Many Sibalenhons have settled and established businesses and have bought farmlands and are now enjoying a good life in Oriental Mindoro. A number have sought and got employed in the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro. To mention among them are: Atty. Sancho Ferrancullo, Municipal Judge of Gloria and became a member of the Provincial Board; Avelino Artiza, Municipal Treasurer of Roxas, Bongabon and Pinamalayan; Leandro Senorin, Sanitary Inspector of Bongabon; Quirico Fallarme, municipal treasurer of Mansalay; Edgardo Artiza, District Supervisor of Roxas; Arnaldo Fallarme, Principal of Roxas High School; Atty. Arnulfo Fajilan, Comelec Registrar of Bongabon; Gerardo and Susan Fanoga, municipal councilors of Pinamalayan; Cecilia Fajutagana Yumang, administrative officer, Gloria High School; Aquilino Fallarme, municipal councilor of Calapan; Manuel Mores, Postmaster of Bansud; Dr. Jesusa Fornal, Rural Physician of Socorro; Narcisa Ferrancullo, professor, Mindoro Colleges; Zoraida Fallarme Hernandez, teacher Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy, Pinamalayan; Cleopatra Seniorin, teacher, Bongabon and Andres Senorin, teacher, Naujan to mention a few.  I for one had been employed as an elementary school teacher and assigned to teach in barrio of Banilad where majority of the students are children of parents from Sibale, Banton and Simara who have settled there. Majority of the people in that vicinity speaks the ASI dialect.

 

On the other hand, only three Sibalenhons are employed in the provincial office of Romblon, namely: Noe Senorin, Provincial Assessor; Elvigia Fallarme Senorin, Provincial Dentist and Amante Fesalbon in the Assessors Office.

 

Not so many of the people in Romblon know that Sibale is a municipality of Romblon and its location. For even those knowledgeable ones donít know that Sibale is a part of Romblon.  This was shown when one time my uncle; Atty. Alfonso P. Fallarme went to the office of the Provincial Governor for a courtesy visit. On entering the office, he noticed the map of the province of Romblon above the entrance door and that the map of Sibale was not included. He then called the attention of Governor Jovencio Mayor who ordered to bring it down and include the map of Sibale immediately. In another occasion, while surfing the Sanrokan Website, I come across the map of the province of Romblon and noticed that again the map of Sibale was not included also. I then sent an e-mail to Miss Darlene Dawner inviting her attention of the discrepancy which she immediately corrected.

 

On March 16, 1924, Act. No. 3131 was introduced in congress segregating the municipality of Maestre de Campo from Romblon and re-annexing it to the province of Mindoro but for some unknown reasons, it did not go through. Instead, in 1938 Commonwealth Act. No. 581 was enacted creating the special municipality of Maghali comprising the three island municipalities of Banton, Sibale and Simara. Banton was made the center of administration. Sibale and Simara became a mere district represented by district councilors. This move hindered the political and economic advancement of Sibale and Simara.  In 1947, Commonwealth 581 was repealed and Sibale and Simara regained the status of a regular municipality.

 

Considering the attendant advantages and disadvantages of the people of Sibale, it would be wise to hold a referendum for the inhabitant to decide of whether Sibale will be re-annexed or not to the province of what is now known as ORIENTAL MINDORO. And on these premise, we call upon the municipal officials of Sibale to initiate the move to realize this cherished dreams of the people of Sibale to reannex the municipality of Sibale to the province of ORIENTAL MINDORO. 

_____________________

 

Atty. Eufronio M. Fallarme

2325 NE 94th Street

Seattle, Washington 98115 USA

E-mail: e.fallarme@att.net

Tel. No. 1- (206) 526-1219

 
         
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