A goose city that serves Samal Island

By Cha Monforte
A goose city that serves Samal Island
Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario might just have a far-reaching vision- the Samal Bridge too far. OK, it been long officially justified that the bridge can spur massive development to the island.
“But it’s not free, how much is its toll fee?” asked Vice Mayor Al David Uy, who’s family is long friends of Ronald Bangayan, owner of Mae Wess ferries. It might cost more than the P10 ferry ride at present.
The vice mayor categorically said he is in favor of the bridge, but he just have a lot of questions. Another one is, will authorities first develop infrastructures inside the island before the bridge, or put up the bridge first before the infras? “It’s like a chicken and egg question.” 
That’s only for the future, folks. Meantime, IGACOS Councilor Alberto Ortiz enjoys riding a ferry or short sea trip as the island is so near to Davao City in the first place.
He fears about the influx of squatters, settlers once the bridge is there. And come to think on how to dispose their additional wastes, and provide land to accommodate them. 
A community organizer Jojo Tejano charges that the the IGACOS city government has been ejecting people from island’s coastlines through the years using the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) as a legal cover.
He claimed that Samal shorelines have been cornered by the rich and developers leaving no public beach for the islanders to swim on freely. 
But the city government has been penalizing beach resort owners for their over-water structures to implement its position for an open access to shorelines and foreshore areas.
Really, there’s no such thing a free lunch. There should that toll fee for every passage of person or vehicle in the bridge. Constructing the Samal Bridge costs a lot- P6 billion, which could be instead use to solve the problem of lack of classrooms in typhoon-ravaged provinces.
But then, there’s only heavy traffic of people going to the island during the weekends, and what to do with the bridge during the rest of the days? Is the bridge really that feasible with that traffic?  
Samal Island for this present epoch – while on the road to recovery from typhoon Pablo- can be left to its being just an island. The bridge is just not necessary. It’s an island so interconnected to the workings of Davao metropolis. And here’s the goose. 
The goose metropolis, Davao City that is, has been there serving well the island. It’s been laying the golden eggs for Samal. If foreign tourists have been visiting in greater number to the island in the recent years, it’s because Davao City’s tourist operations center has been including the nearest Samal Island as a lush beach and eco-tourism destination.
If the island has been massively trekked on now by people mostly from Davao City especially during weekends, it’s simply because it has the nearest and still unpolluted beach resorts, and by now it has already many swimming facilities- pools and the sea with breakwater- to choose from.
It’s not only coins for videoke but also dollars converted to pesos that have been left in the island each time outsiders and people from Davao City and nearby provinces go there.      
So there, Samal Island has been looked up as a part of the city than a part of a province. Proximity often defines the interconnectedness of one urban place to another. The magnetic pole of a larger city is boosted by how far it serves the market and populace of its neighbors. 
Because Davao City is a metropolitan city and it has all the products and services that people need, naturally it benefits more from the patronage of its neighbors. Samal’s market is ever dependent on the goose city of Davao, that’s just a 15-minute lantsa or ferry ride from its unpolluted beaches. (@chamonforte, @ruralurbanews)

The two contentions – yes and no to Samal Bridge


By Cha Monforte

What’s there for a bridge? Samal Island despite that it has been underdeveloped frontier through the decades, many visitors and tourists come flocking in droves because of its fresh and unpolluted beaches. It’s a weekend hideaway despite the frequent power outages of the divided Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative.

There are two contentions whether there’s a need to have the Samal Bridge or not. One wants it, and the other just wants Samal Island retained as just an island without a bridge.


The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. The masterwork of architect Joseph B. Strauss, whose statue graces the southern observation deck, the bridge took seven years to build, and was completed in 1937. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed, and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco and California. Since its completion, the span length has been surpassed by eight other bridges. The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge. http://www.touropia.com/most-famous-bridges-in-the-world/#sthash.IimXX4Mv.dpuf


The island-forever contention asserts on the need to live in a garden city island that has bountiful eco-tourism destinations, fresh and unspoiled beach resorts – “under an urban setting” as a later appendage. Island Councilor Alberto Ortiz forewarned if there would be a bridge, squatters and more settlers will swamp down in the island, and the consequent high demand for housing, their wastes and the feeding of an increased population would pose big problems. For sure, I know, the unspoiled will be spoiled. That’s being environmentalist.

But then there’s also this pleasure of riding a ferry or barge, having an exciting experience of crossing a sea in a shortest time. That’s because, Davao City is just a stone’s throw away from the island, proverbially speaking. It’s quite a valid reason and it’s awesome to be leisurely sometimes especially for those tourists from land-locked provinces.  Candidly, this is the specific reason that I, for now, like Samal Island without a bridge.

But people’s leisurely wishes can be frustrated by policy decisions of government.  That’s if our government has billions and political will this time. Well, the Advisory Committee (AdCom) of the Regional Development Council (RDC) –XI last April 15 included the Samal Bridge as one of regional development priorities for 2015. Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario moved for a full blown feasibility study (FS) and detailed engineering as first phase in the implementation of the Samal Bridge project.

The Samal Bridge proposal has been there since then; we don’t know when it started. Formally, in 2002 a pre-feasibility analysis on it was incorporated in the Davao Integrated Development Program (DIDP) Master Plan. But in our country, a master plan is often a guide forgotten if not a thing deviated from during implementation.

In the case of the Samal Bridge, it’s often one wishful thinking as where will we get the P6 billion to construct a costly bridge that’s just about 1.2 kilometers in length. We’re no advanced countries that had their famous bridges constructed way long back in the 19th and 20th centuries out from capitalist coffers. What was ex-President GMA did say in 2007? “In the next 20 years we will become a First World country.”  Her mea culpa yet.

The yes contention can be better appreciated in the governor’s foreseeing of a rapid development and investors coming in the island once there would be bridge. He has been pushing for a circumferential road around the island to prepare for it.  After his SOPA (State of the Province Address) two weeks ago, Gov. Del Rosario said that Samal’s Babak District is an ideal place to put an international airport to connect with Davao City through the bridge. Babak can have light manufacturing industries, while Penaplata District would be the seat of government, and Kaputian District would be for eco-tourism.

“If I were a mayor, I’ll donate Talikud Island to Davao City.” He actually meant that the city halls of the island and Davao City could make a sort of sisterhood arrangement to develop Talikud Island. “Talikud is facing the Sta. Ana wharf, which the Davao City government could develop with tourist hotels and port facilities,” the governor added.

For all of his advocacies, these thoughts should all the more be pursued: the master plan can be better vindicated of its name if leaders and implementors love its rationale and know its details. The master thoughts of the seasoned and tested governor-manager can only be realized if he wrests the island’s governance itself. Then he has to run for mayor by 2016 with that platform. His winning is a ratification of the Samal people- that they, too, want the bridge. (follow @chamonforte, @ruralurbanews)

column to various newspapers (in Mindanao, natl)

posted april 18, 2014