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First Stop: Poblacion Torrijos, Marinduque

By: Danica Supnet

Everything seems to be moving into place. Alan Mistal of the Bureau of Local Government Development-Department of Interior and Local Government (BLGD-DILG) Region-IVB called our office in Cubao last March 10. There was a bit of misunderstanding with regard to the iCSC researcher for the province; the letter of endorsement from the DILG national office indicated Kairos, which I had to correct because I was the one going and it could have created complications if the ‘wrong’ person turned up. Good thing I was able to talk to Mr. Mistal immediately.

It seems the good vibes that accompanied me during the start of this trip remains strong. Mr. Mistal informed me that he had already forwarded the endorsement letter to Ms. Joyce Ricardo pf DILG-Marinduque. Ms. Joyce on the other hand quickly attended to all the necessary preparatory arrangements with local government officials in Torrijos (my first stop) and in Gasan (the next). She was really thorough. The local bureaucracy received instructions from her early to prepare whatever data that I might need.


I could see the town’s municipal hall from my hotel room. It’s a cream-colored, stone box-like building. At the entrance is a large sign welcoming people: “Congratulations!!! Municipality of Torrijos, an awardee of the Seal of Good House Keeping CY 2011”.

The town of Torrijos is a 3rd class municipality. It was given a 1 million peso incentive from the DILG’s Performance Challenge Fund

(PCF) in recognition of its acquisition of the agency’s Seal of Good Housekeeping. The fund was used to build the town’s Municipal Intervention Crisis Center or MICC.


Torrijos Mayor Gil Reginio Briones gave me a warm welcome. The good mayor introduced the offices under him that are in charge of the operations of the MICC. I talked to Engr. Eugenia Crusado, head of the Municipal Local Development and Planning Office, Ms. Mary Ann Larracas, head of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, and Mrs. Lani L. Mascareñas, Municipal Local Government Officer (MGOO) of DILG-Torrijos.

It wasn’t really difficult to talk to the Torrijos officials. Tagalog is the official language of the province, and the LGU representatives were spry, warm and attentive. As expected, all the documents I had requested was made available. In fact, when I arrived, they were already photocopied for me. The documents include accomplishment reports, report of disbursements, certificates of acceptance and turn-over, the PCF-Seal of Good Housekeeping compliance, and the project completion report. Wonderful.

Why is the project categorized under DRR-CCA?

According to Mrs. Mascareñas, the project was not really intended for DRR-CCA,. The initial plan was to build a center intended for victims of abuse. A high percentage of cases in the town was reported as stemming from a barangay located far from the poblacion (town proper). The DILG-MGOO together with the Norwegian Mission Alliance, MDSWD, the barangay social welfare representative, and the mayor, crafted the project proposal collectively. The categorizing of projects is mainly done in the national office, according to Mrs. Mascareñas. The LGUs are only entitled to comply with the requirements of the Seal of Good House Keeping and the Performance Challenge Fund.

Engr. Cruzado and Ms. Larracas on the other hand see the possibility that the DILG national office could have thought of the project as an evacuation center—an initiative with a potential DRR-CCA component. Although this notion needs to be validated, according to the town officials they could also use the center as an evacuation center during times of calamity, especially given that Torrijos is part of Marinduque – and island-province. Cruzado and Larracas recalled their experience during Typhoon Reming in 2006, when most of the low-lying areas in Marinduque were flooded due to a storm surge. (They also provided data on the said typhoon.)

From my exchanges with the fine officials of the town, I sensed that the questions I had about the Torrijos Project had finally been decoded.

Wednesday is “Tiangge” Day in Torrijos, a day when all

the products

are sold down the stretch of the poblacion. On this day, people from alll over town, from all the villages, head straight to the Poblacion. This will be my backdrop; today ends my Torrijos fieldwork. Tomorrow it’s time to head to the town of Gasan.

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