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Two North Samar towns await first RP president’s visit to their area

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
June 15, 2009

CATARMAN, Northern Samar  –  The people of the hinterland towns of Catubig and Las Navas  both in Northern Samar province, are already excited to welcome President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo into their midst.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-ArroyoIf and when her visit to Northern Samar on Tuesday, June 16, pushes through, President Gloria will become the first President to visit Catubig and Las Navas, Las Navas Mayor Arlito Tan said.

The people of Las Navas have many things to thank the President for. The Catubig-Las Navas Bridge which the President will inaugurate on Tuesday links the municipality of Las Navas to Catubig town by land transport.

Ever since, the municipality of Las Navas has only been accessible through navigation along the Catubig river with the use of pump boats and bancas. The pump boats ply from Las Navas to Catubig daily at P40 per person. These small boats dock at small docking facilities called "Look" in both Catubig and Las Navas. It only takes 30 minutes to get to Las Navas from Catubig, and boats traverse the river daily, leaving Las Navas at 5:00 AM and arrives at around 5:30 AM in Catubig and vice versa.

The municipality of Las Navas is located at the heart of the island of Samar. It is bounded on the north by Catubig, Northern Samar, on the east by Jipapad, Eastern Samar, on the west by Silvino Lubos, Northern Samar and on the south by the municipality of San Jose de Buan, Western Samar (Samar).

Motorboats and bancas are also used in going to the different barangays, although hiking is still practiced by many barangay folks in going to and from the Poblacion.

“Now that there is land transport because of the bridge, it will no longer be too difficult to reach my school at the Las Navas Agri-Industrial School,” Ms. Viviene who is six months pregnant, said referring to the school just below the bridge.

Although there is a complete elementary school district offering all level, the other 39 barangay primary schools offer limited levels. It has a complete secondary school which offers Agro-Industrial Technology and basic academic requirements.

People in the area get tertiary courses from an affiliate of the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP) located in the town of Catubig, although well-off families prefer to send their children to various colleges and universities in Metro Manila, the country's capital.

There is a good reason to the great excitement and expectation of the people of the two towns. The HCAAP project when fully completed, will impact a great change in the economic situation of the people in the area.

Farmers could now bring their products more easily to Catarman and will also insure that fresh farm produce from these areas are able to enter the market without being spoiled and with lesser danger of accidents which the perils of sea transport brings.Map of Catubig-Las Navas in Northern Samar

On the other hand, Catubig, also an inland town, lies on the banks of the Catubig River, a waterway that empties near Rauis and the traditional passage to the town. Also called Cagninipa after an aquatic palm, it is located south of Palapag.

The Catubig Valley, known as the rice-producing valley in Northern Samar, is where one can find the municipality of Catubig, identified as the potential site for developing an intensive rice producing area in Northern Samar.

Said undertaking is known as the Help for Catubig Agricultural Advancement Project (HCAAP), a priority water sector (irrigation) project which is part of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Medium Term Development and Investment Plan under the Super Region scheme.

The project aims to alleviate poverty by raising income level of farmers, generate employment opportunities and improve the social infrastructure and services of the target areas in Catubig and Las Navas, Northern Samar. The project components are civil works, schistosomiasis control, agricultural support services, institutional development and procurement of equipment.

The implementing agencies are the National Irrigation Administration as lead agency, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, the Province of Northern Samar and the municipalities of Catubig and Las Navas.

The bridge which the President will inaugurate is a part of the HCAAP implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.