“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
By Alex P. Vidal
WHEN former Guimaras Governor Emily Relucio- Lopez dreamed of building a bridge between Guimaras and Iloilo in the early 90’s, she was hailed as a “visionary” leader by both the media and fellow leaders in Western Visayas.
Relucio-Lopez toyed with the quixotic idea after President FVR appointed her OIC governor when Guimaras’ became a full-fledged island province on May 22, 1992, after a plebiscite was conducted to ratify the approval of its conversion pursuant to Section 462 of R.A. 7160.
When then senatorial candidate Miriam Defensor-Santiago thought about the same project, excited fellow Ilonggos absolved her from her “sin” of waltzing with ousted President and now Manila Mayor Erap Estrada.
The list of dreamers for a Guimaras bridge hiked every political season: Nikki Coseteng, Manny Villar, Tito Guingona, and all the gadflies and political adventurists queuing for Ilonggo votes.
Relucio-Lopez did not pay a lip service to her grandiose proposal; she brought the matter seriously before the Regional Development Council (RDC) headed then by former Negros Governor Rafael Coscolluela.
Relucio-Lopez was probably imagining an extra dosed cable-stayed bridge similar to the four-lane, 1,237-meter (4,058 feet)-long Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Cebu, one of the widest and longest bridge spans in the country today.
Lack of investors and interested parties in the private sector as well as commitment from foreign-based financial institutions like the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) stalled the proposed project. Not a single serious feasibility study was ever conducted.
Years have passed and FVR, Relucio-Lopez, Coscolluela, among other proponents of the Guimaras bridge, were no longer in power. Politicians come and go. No one was talking about the bridge anymore. It was a dream that turned into a nightmare, so to speak.
Although the construction of the bridge never materialized, nobody faulted Relucio-Lopez, et al. For trying their best, they didn’t suffer the thought of what might have been; the rest was simply beyond their control and capacity.
Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, for his part, has his own big dream: a proposed Light Railways Transport (LRT) in Panay Island “that would boost the local tourism industry.”
Per the advice of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), he has requested for a feasibility study from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and is optimistic to get a positive response.
The city council has backed Mabilog’s proposal for a feasibility study in a resolution. The mayor is eyeing passengers and tourists to have easy access from Iloilo to Boracay, Aklan in particular and shorten their travel time from six to at least two hours.
Among the four governors in Panay Island, only Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. has expressed pessimism saying the proposed project is “too ambitious.”
Let us hope that the proposed LRT project will not end up as another proposed Guimaras bridge project. Like what we said here earlier, politicians just come and go; times change and circumstances change with them. The dream lives on.
Even if, by a stroke of luck, the proposed LRT project would push through, Mabilog, et al won’t be there anymore at city hall to share the limelight.
But we must credit Mabilog, though, at least for thinking what others haven’t thought. Leaders have the right to dream big and dream higher for their constituents.
Dreaming is good, especially if it redounds to the benefit of the majority. It is in not doing anything when opportunity presents itself that is bad.
After all, it is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong.
Constructed by hand, stone by stone, conquest by conquest, Rome, a great empire as well as a great city, wasn’t built in one day. Founded by Romulus, Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its legendary founding in 753 BC.
The proposed Guimaras bridge and the LRT projects must live on. There’s no harm in trying—and dreaming!