At the crossroads of development

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    Gazing across the once desolate area of Barangay Tabun, Mabalacat Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales heaved a sigh of relief and murmured: “We are so blessed. Malugud ya ing Apung Ginu kekatamu.”

    Morales was at the groundfloor of the new Mabalacat Municipal Hall at the plush Xevera Mabalacat waiting for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to arrive.

    Just a year ago, Morales had been planning to relocate the Mabalacat Municipal Hall in either Barangay Tabun or Barangay Dolores and even planned a Central Business District (CBD) in a 3,000-hectare area north of the town. And now, the pieces of the puzzle are coming in their right places at the right time.

    Morales said the presence of the modern Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expresway had been valuable not only to the development of Mabalacat town but also to the entire corridor, pumpprimed for the development of a logistics and services hub. Clark has the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport while Subic has its deep-sea port.

    Mabalacat town is now linked to this vital superhighway via the Dolores Interchange, Mabiga Interchange and the Panday Pira Interchange. Like manna from heaven, the interchanges had been strategically established in the town linking it to the SCTEX.

    “We are grateful to President Arroyo for having supported the development of the SCTEX because now we are reaping the fruits of this flagship project,” said Morales. “Because of the SCTEX now we have the P6-billion Xevera Mabalacat real estate project and more real estate developers  are eyeing the viability of the CBD.”

    On Thursday, President Arroyo witnessed the turn-over of the new P70 million Mabalacat Municipal Hall in Barangay Tabun. The modern Mabalacat Municipal Hall was donated by developer Delfin Lee of Globe Asiatique.

    Just four days before President Arroyo’s visit, Vice President Noli De Castro visited Xevera Mabalacat and expressed amazement over the transformation of the area which had been engulfed by volcanic sediments.

    “Nagulat ako,” said De Castro of the transformation asking: “Who in his right mind would dare to invest in this area before?”

    The national government has noted that the presence of SCTEX will attract new investments in the vibrant Subic-Clark-Tarlac Corridor. President Arroyo has specifically wanted the development of a logistics and services hub in the corridor with the presence of the deep-sea port of Subic and the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark.

    “This is a single investment that will truly make a difference in the lives of Mabalaquenos. This development will be followed by other big investment in Mabalacat which can be the next Makati north of Manila,” said Morales.

    Morales has already put in place the development of various infrastructure and other support facilities like educational and health institutions. The town’s tax collection efforts had been tremendously improved with the installation of the Mabalacat Municipal Hall Annex at the Clark Freeport Zone. The poignant changes are expected to fast-track the town’s bid to become a component city.

    As Morales would always say: “Mabalacat first.” Now, the town is treading the road to unstoppable development.

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