Town or City development planning in the Philippines, for many years, happened only on table. Communities are considered only as passive recipients of development programs. Thus, time and again, many development efforts that have been implemented failed not only because they are inefficient but because the program gained no support from the communities it was intended for. This paper presents the dynamics of how communities affected by "development" actively participates in selection of development program that would be implemented in their areas. Such is the case of the two rural barangay of Cagayan de Oro City - Barangay Bayanga and Barangay Mambuaya.
Bayanga is strategically located as the first rural barangay after urban barangay Lumbia, where Cagayan de Oro airport is located. Mambuaya sits next to Bayanga. Both barangays have been of great interest even in the international arena because of white water rafting, the Macahambus Cave and Gorge and recently, the discovery of the nearly extinct tarsier in one of the districts in Bayanga.
Early this year, the concern for the declining supply and the increase of prices on focalized fuel became a source of concern among countries including the Philippines. The discovery of jetropa and cassava as sources of alternative fuel brought excitement not only to the Government and environmentalists but also to local industries. But where and how the waste byproducts of its processing will be discharged has become a problem. Such is the case of the proposed 100,000 liters/day bioethanol project that is planned to be constructed in a 20 hectare land located along the boundary of barangay Bayanga and Manbuwaya. The construction of the proposed Bioethanol Plant of Alsons Consolidated Resources, Inc. was unanimously approved for by the City Council on August, 2008. The plant will be built close to the cave complex and will utilize the existing river that drains to Cagayan de Oro River for its liquid waste.
This scenario presents opposing opinions from the affected barangay and concerned NGO and the academe. Mambuwaya, which is located on the upstream of Cagayan de Oro and the Munigue rivers, favored on the construction of the plant while Bayanga, which is located on the downstream of the rivers opposed the project. Between these opposing sides, the academic community together with an NGO looked deeper into the characteristics of the affected community and the following are recommended to the City Government as alternatives: (1) Development potentials for eco-tourism, (2) Harnessing local people's strengths, (3) Conserving and protecting the natural resources, (4) Establishing markets for indigenous agricultural products, and (5) Improving basic services.
Upon receiving the proposal the City Government together with the group of academicians, NGOs and the locals are now drafting an ordinance to declare Barangay Bayanga and Mambuaya as "cultural heritage" and protected areas. But the cause of protecting the area is not over until the local law is penned and signed.
Ass. Prof. Noel Cornel Alegre
CUREXO-IDS, Capitol University
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines