Today's Punto
Today's Punto
That matter of filling
By Bong Lacson

Mar 16, 2017

PASSED BY San Simon again Wednesday – to Manila and back – and rued anew the continuing devastation of its vast wetlands, the steel frames of warehouses and factories multiplying above raw earth, hazy in the dust stirred up by bulldozers and dump trucks.

What comes to mind at this sight? Asked travel buddy Deng Pangilinan, he of the keenest of eyes.

Desertification. The price of progress. Greed.

No, who comes to mind at this sight? Mabalacat City’s double visionary rephrasing.

The Tambakan King.

Maybe, but how soon have you forgotten the Punsalan Doctrine.

Yikes, how could I when I have devoted so much column inches about it. Most serendipitously – with the issue at hand – in this piece here on April 2, 2008 titled Asenso Model. Thus:

FOR THE high price of panambak -- that’s earth used as filling material, to you non- Kapampangans – a million-dollar investment project was pulled out of San Simon.

Thus rued Mayor Digos Canlas of the great opportunity lost forever to his town. And that is just one woe wrought about by the Capitol’s cluelessness on the nature, if not the dynamics, of panambak.

Digos claims the P1,500-per-truck filling material at the time of the Lapid son at the Capitol has ballooned to over P3,000 per truck under the watch of the Reverend Governor.

Endangered too of being mothballed is the Libreng Pabahay para sa Mahirap on a 9.7-hectare site acquired through a donation from the ambassador of China and with a counterpart national government commitment of P35 million. Again, it is a problem of panambak, says Digos.

Then there is the apparent collateral damage wrought by the new P120-million bridge to the farmlands in its vicinity. Farmers have to resort to double pumping to make irrigation water fl ow to the farmlands. Thus, doubling too the cost of irrigation. And a large hectarage of farmlands is still covered with the debris Mount Pinatubo vomited almost 17 years ago. So what has got to do with panambak?

“Everything,” says Digos. The farmers want to desilt the irrigation canals to increase the reservoir of water they hold. They wish their lahar-covered lands be scraped of the debris and made productive again. The end-product of desilting and scraping? Panambak.

Now, if only the Capitol can free panambak from a purely commercial categorization, then, Canlas says, all will be good for San Simon.

Perhaps Canlas can go seek some advice from the once reigning barako of Mexico. Yes, the sometimes lamented former Mayor Ernesto Punsalan himself.

For all his perceived brusko posturing, Senor Don Ernesto wielded the wisdom of the rural folk. Or have we forgotten how the Great Asensado Solomonically dichotomized the quarry-panambak predicament thus: “There is no quarrying in Mexico. There is only the scraping of private agricultural lands, in the pursuit of our noble objective to make these highly productive again. For the prosperity of our people.”

And the Lapid Capitol left Don Ernesto largely to himself in the pursuit of his Asenso Mexico. Unmindful and un-intervening even when loose talks circulated around the province that SM City Pampanga, Robinsons Starmills, uppity Lakeshore, and the rehabilitated North Luzon Expressway were all built upon the panambak of Mexico.

So there…

MY, MY, so fast the Simonians have learned and how!

San Simon’s Quezon Road area has more, much, much more tambak than all of Mexico.

That can only mean you-read-who is now way more asensado than Senor Don Ernesto.

So, comes 2019 this campaign blurb: Dig us more earth for San Simon’s progress.

Yeah, the environment be damned.

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