Bicolnon: Exiting in Its Nutshell towards Socio-Economic Sustainability

“Economic growth without social progress lets the great majority of people remain in poverty while a privileged few reap the benefits of rising abundance”. An American writer Ernest Hemmingway was certainly correct. Bicol Region is now facing the paradox of fighting a war for peace – a silent revolution against poverty through digging Bicolandia’s roots.


What would you do to stop poverty in punishing Bicol Region and heal the sufferings of its people? Is there any answer to this major problem? If so, what is it? That’s exactly what we are trying to answer for so many years. Bicol Region itself has its answers but we are still blind that we can’t find out what we are looking for to this question which is a matter of life and death. Indeed, a matter of life and death because the barbaric being of poverty is the root cause of hunger resulting to malnutrition, low literacy rate due to lack of education and the worst of all is the penetration of evil in mind which causes high crime rates. If this situation is left unchanged, what was written in an article entitled State of the Nation: a challenge to Christian Statemanship will certainly happen. According to Samuel Wiley, the life that we will have will “degenerate into a human jungle where neighbor is pitted against neighbor in a desperate fight of survival”. That is very hard to accept the fact that we are facing our tomorrows without light, that fear is always in our heart, that people would choose to die rather than to live because living is a curse. But it is never too late. There are still more sunshine that warms our heart and feeds our mind that awakens our spirit and consciousness.


Well at least it seems that we, the Bicolnons, with the primary guide of our indefatigable leaders already found a pinch of the ultimate answer. According to Bicol Mail in one of its news stories, Bicol economy is rising relatively faster than National Capital Region but poverty incidence remains disturbingly high. Although our region already graduated from being the fourth poorest region in the country in 2004 and now places itself in rank seven according to the latest info-statistics release by National Statistics Coordinating Board, we should not be contented to the results. Even though it is a good thing, a sign that we are developing, we should be more eager to cast away the name of Bicol Region in the list of the poorest region in the country. We should take a lot of effort to put our region in the list of the richest regions and most livable place in the archipelago.


Our very own region is a pot of golden opportunities and natural resources suitable for agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining, manufacturing and tourism. We have Mount Mayon of Albay, white beaches of Caramoan, summer swing of Pasacao, Bagasbas beach of Camarines Norte, sinarapan of Buhi, whale sharks of Donsol, rodeo of Masbate – truly the Wonders of Bicolandia. We serve as the perfect destination for adventure and relaxation. We offer a lot of beautiful beaches, caves to be explored, waterfalls to be admired. Our region is also famous in our chief crops such as coconut, abaca, pili nut, rice, maize and the delightful Formosa pineapple. Gold mining, jewelry manufacturing and handicrafts are widely practiced and already making its name. Our region is also rich in cultural and spiritual heritage and Bicolanos are known for being lovable, hospitable and respectful. But despite of these Bicolandia’s strengths, the region is still facing different challenges such as providing the basic needs of the poor, creating stable and adequate paying jobs, balancing the utilization of natural resources and sustaining economic growth.

It's more fun in the Philippines Region V Bicol

While these weaknesses exist we should strive more to look for the answer of the question of poverty. Just like Mr. Banua said – a NEDA official, eliminating poverty will take a long time given the prevailing social structure of this country. “Economic mobility is shackled by lack of jobs and low productivity. Creating competitive environment and moving more people outside the poverty trap should the primary mission of our government.” Very well said, this will truly help alleviate and gradually eliminate poverty in our region. But words only can’t work for itself, ideas are fired with work and perseverance to gain success. We, the Bicolanos will make it happen. We are known for being brave, courageous and open-minded. We are like eagles that soar when storms of life cloud in. We Bicolanos are true Oragons. Oragons not just in words but also in work. A living proof of being Oragon is our very own humble town of Daet in Camarines Norte whose name is in the top four of the list of the most competitive town in the country. A great achievement that we really deserve. It serves as an inspiration for us to strive more and stretch our mind to look for ways towards Bicolandia’s betterment.


Bicolanos must rise and cultivate the unfulfilled potentials of our region to achieve socio-economic development and be more competitive. It is now the best time to crack and come out of our nutshells to expose our intelligence, be competitive not only locally but also globally and show off to the world how truly Oragon the Bicolanos are. Here are the ingredients of the mouth-watering “Bicol Express of Success”: First is the betterment of government – our government must refresh the essence of their existence. They have to eliminate excessive bureaucracy, red tape and corruption and promote transparency and trustworthiness among the officials. Public office is a public trust. Second is building more and best infrastructures – since our region is far from the center of trade and commerce, a well-developed infrastructure both in transportation and communication truly reduces the effect of distances, connecting between regions resulting to easier transactions at a lower cost. Having easy access means openness to success. Third one is the stability of macroeconomic environment – government can’t offer services efficiently if they have high interest payment of past debts and business establishments will experience difficulty when inflation rates fluctuate. The government must invest smartly in competitive-enhancing measures. Fourth is the optimum health and best quality of education – all Bicolanos must have a sound body and a sound mind. We have to invest more on education because it is the catalyst for development. Fifth is goods and labor market efficiency – goods and services offered in our market must be in its best quality through building brands, marketing and distribution or simply business sophistication. In labor market, workers must be designated correctly in their appropriate positions according to their abilities and capabilities to be more productive and be able to work effectively and efficiently. Sixth is technological readiness and innovation – openness to technological advances means opening different venues of opportunities and continuous innovation in having new products at all time to make shopping experience not boring. And lastly is digging Bicolandia’s roots – we should not forget to cultivate and improve the agricultural sector of our region because it is the producer of raw materials used in different industries and we should protect and conserve our natural resources.


We should take an active part and be the fuel that that will ignite the great powers of our mind. We should not forget our hands to those who need help. All Bicolanos must work and be united of our will. Work is honorable; it dignifies man. In work, we are not just satisfying our goal but also satisfying ourselves as a human being. As a human being we have intelligence – our special privilege. As we work we gain honor, as we gain honor we continue to work. As we continue to work we become industrious, continuing it there is success. Who earns success? Of course every Bicolano who works. As we work and gain honor we achieve success. We satisfy what we must be – not just a person but a human being. Work and unity with the divine aid of Almighty God uplifts our spirit and most of all boosts our identity as Bicolanos.


Solidus est unus. Go Bicolnon! Go Oragons!



By:  Giezelle Z. Freyra, Mabini Colleges

The essay above was the winning entry in the tertiary level category of the 2nd Bicol Essay Writing Competition. The National Competitiveness Council was a co-proponent of the competition held last December with the theme “Achieving Socio-Economic Development and Competitiveness of Bicol Cities and Municipalities”. Organized by the Bicol Harvest Magazine, Kaya Natin Movement, and the Local Government of Daet, the on-the-spot writing contest aimed to encourage the youth to take a more active role in making their hometowns more competitive.


Click here to read the winning entry in the secondary level.