Sunday, 08 September 2013 00:00
The God-forsaken Island in the south
The island was once called “Happy Isle.” But it hardly resemble one today. People there called their island LAMINUSA. I prefer to call it as an option “LAMI-SUSA” meaning happy and sad. For an island with more than 10,000 inhabitants, majority are fishermen, one would expect a developed fishing industry. That is not the case with Laminusa or Lami-susa.
On a recent visit to this island, this column entirely unapologetically felt disappointed with the teachers and barangay officials. The first thought that popped up in my mind is to write something worthy. There is more than just heartache to see the plight of impoverished and undernourished school children. The school attendance is adversely affected by lack of interest on the part of pupils attending the classes. Obviously pupils have no motivation to be visibly present in the classrooms.
Sad to say, education has deteriorated despite the fact that in the past this island had produced prominent educators, scores of professionals and to include political leaders. Atty Jamal M. Kulayan, the head of Dep-Ed ARMM is a native-born resident of the island. He comes from one of the prominent families in the Municipality of Siasi, Sulu. Likewise, Atty. Irving L. Saipudin, Maritime Industry Authority, Region IX Director is a bonafide resident of the island of Laminusa. There are other prominent residents holding prestigious government positions in other places like Davao City and Metro Manila, needless to mention, hereabouts.
It will be recalled in early 1960 by presidential fiat, together with the Municipality of Pandami in Siasi, Sulu, this island was supposedly created into a municipality but this was not realized due to strong opposition from an influential and powerful politician in the Municipality of Siasi. To date Laminusa is still part and under the jurisdiction of the municipal government of Siasi in Sulu. It’s geographical development has been structured on turtle-pace motion. No electric energy provided by the NEA-funded electric cooperative except, the poles and transmission lines erected five years past. A political propaganda of a good friend of mine, a former vice mayor.
Just being curious, is it possible to reopen the creation of this island into a municipality? Maybe, why not? ARMM Governor Mujiv Htaman is most likely the right political figure tasks and being asked to look into this vital concern in the desire to speed up the development of this God-forsaken island.
Special concern on education in this island is worth looking into by the national or ARMM government. Why not change the school houses on stilts to semi-permanent school buildings if indeed ARMM government has funds for this kind of project? This writer has some photos showing schools on stilts in the island on both wings north and south. Teachers spent personal money to build these schoolhouses.
In the past, people of this island are so proud of their legacy producing brilliant and talented students. I know of one elementary school graduate from this island who finished her secondary course at Philippine National Science High School in Metro Manila and was chosen as the class salutatorian upon her completion then a scholar grantee.
Now under the ARMM government, sad to say, the need to have more stout-hearted teachers with proficiency in moulding school children is nonetheless a basically an ingredient to help improve the quality of teaching-learning status in the island. Well-off families sent their children to study outside of Laminusa. Some sent their elementary grade children to big cities like Davao and Zamboanga. Likewise, high School students study in cities where competent teachers are available.
It is not uncommon to hear comments in this island that the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of the barangay benefits only one family the Barangay Chairman. For decades, people have been lamenting why the disbursement of IRA funds are not subject to auditing process. If ever there was such an audit made, it’s not farfetched possibly conspiracy did exist. This reminds me of one golden rule, permit me to quote it” he who holds the gold makes the rules” more often than not it prevails.
It has been pointed out that some of the most critical policy, reforms for achieving beneficial and economic growth have long been known and understood but policy makers have simply failed consistently to get these thoughts done through the years.
We live in an age where the world is vast and intertwined network. What happens in remote places like an island is indeed unimaginable. In times like these, it is easy to forget, who we are in most cases, we live in fear away from mainstream society without protection, security and the rule of law provided by the government. That’s how people in Laminusa feel nowadays. They become submissive to the whims and caprices of gun-totting hostile elements roaming the island day in and day out. The islanders, I mean the residents are resigned to have a kind of fulfillment on a silent crisis over there across the beautiful island with natural pristine white beach under the sun.
Believe you in me, I intend to write more about the island-LAMINUSA in due time, GOD WILLING.
By PERRY S. LAHAMAN
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