No one used to dare set food on the Municipality of Kabacan in North Cotabato. The lack of roads kept many barangays isolated and vulnerable to lawless elements. There was very little trade, and basic services were not reaching residents.
To Kabacan City Mayor Luzviminda Jumuad-Tan, the problem could be solved by a bridge. Nine bridges to be exact, all built within a year. These would immediately link 2,587 households to the city center and open access to 6,650 hectares of farm land.
While the project’s P140-million funding largely came from international donors, the LGU had to pump in sustained financing from internal sources.
In many ways, the Kabacan bridges triggered a domino effect.
Residents suddenly gained access to the basic services of the local government. Officials also brought their programs closer to the farthest barangays, reaching residents who have been cut off from availing government programs, from health to livelihood.
Travel time from one barangay to the next was drastically cut, translating to cheaper transportation costs especially when it came to hauling agricultural products. This also resulted in greater access of traders to farmers and vice-versa, eliminating the middleman and increasing the farmers’ income.
With the newfound connectivity, it became easier to encourage birth registration among the Muslim population. And with a more accurate count of its constituents, the local government is now in a better position to conceptualize programs for its people.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2005 Galing Pook Awards.