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A Trip to the Heart of the Philippines

By: Danica Supnet

From my home in Cainta, Rizal, it took me over an hour to reach the Jac Liner bus station in Kamias, Quezon City. Traffic was terrible. Good thing the driver kept me company. We talked about the traffic and the blow-by-blow re-blocking of roads along EDSA. And how’s this for a cosmic sign? It turns out my taxi driver is from the first town I will visit — Torrijos, Marinduque.

I was nervous; with the bus ride, the next leg involves a boat, and it’s my first time to travel by sea. But I was excited as well. This is my first field assignment in iCSC.

At the bus terminal, I was expecting to get a not-so-good-bumpy-back seat because I wasn’t able to reserve a ticket, but I arrived quite early, I got seat no. 4, which is on the first row, window side—another good

sign! Later on I got another good seat in the Roll On-Roll Off (RORO) ship in Dalahican port, Lucena, Quezon. More good vibes.

Arriving at Balanacan port in Mogpog, the thrill of seeing Marinduque province for the first time is exhilarating.

Marinduque is a heart-shaped island-province in the Southern Tagalog Region of Luzon—the home of the Moriones Festival and a place tagged as “the heart of the Philippines.”1-DSCN2396

The waters are clear and blue with stunning shores lying between Tayabas Bay to its north and Sian Sea to

the south. The province is a mix of elevated volcanic peaks, idyllic towns, and ocean scenery.

Boac, the capital of Marinduque, is 30 minutes away from Balanacan port and is an hour away from Torrijos.

Gasan and Torrijos are the two towns in the province that received the Seal of Good Housekeeping (2014 revised version-Seal of Good Governance) in 2012—an award given by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to 4th to 6th class municipalities in the Philippines that have shown exceptional performance. The Seal is also a requirement in accessing the Performance Challenge Fund or PCF, a resource for local governments that is also the subject of iCSC’s research effort.

I set for myself a number of goals for this trip: on-site visit of PCF projects in Gasan and Torrijos that were tagged under the Fund’s “Disaster Risk Reduction-Climate Change Adaptation” category (DRR-CCA); track the process of accessing the PCF from the perspective of LGUs, and gain better understanding of the DRR-CCA nature of the project. I hope to interview local government representatives involved in the initiatives, including members of the public, hopefully people who received and benefited from the project.

The fieldwork is part of iCSC’s Adaptation finance Accountability Initiative (AFAI) agenda. Insights from this trip will be used to paint a clearer picture as to how adaptation finance reaches localities. I also expect to gain a deeper sense of the level of appreciation and understanding local executives and planners have with adaptation.

A report on my field visit will be made available in adaptracker.ph, AFAI’s portal. Research findings will also be shared and reviewed by the Bureau of Local Government Development, which is managing the PCF and part of the DILG. This process is part of a partnership with DILG that seeks to improve the accounting of projects tagged as DRR-CCA in the PCF.

Day 1 was tiring particularly because of the length of the trip. But I still have five more days to go. For now, I shall rest, enjoy the place, and prepare for whatever it is that the next few days will bring. Hopefully, even more good vibes will be in store.

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