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The BLISTT: As some others see it
by Morr Pungayan

INTRODUCTION:

The BLISTT acronym – as many know it now, stands for: Baguio (City), La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay.. the last four being present municipalities of the Province of Benguet and surrounding or – having ‘common boundaries’ with, the first-mentioned City of Baguio.

For some of us, ‘ordinary’ or regular citizens of ‘Baguio-Benguet’ – another earlier coining made ahead of today’s current “campaign” for BLISTT, we simply ask: What’s the BLISTT? and Why?

Certain officials – of the Present and the Past; some mighty, real ‘Adherents’; and still a few others.. might we call them ‘Think-tanks’(?), agree seemingly to a definition of BLISTT as:

“A conceptual development framework to spread out economic activities from Baguio to the outlying towns of Benguet [i.e. La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay] especially in the fields of Education, Health, Tourism, Trading, Banking, Shopping, and Governance”.

Note: this definition – plus or minus a few words on the sides, embodies the contents of media reports or discussions on the BLISTT so far reached up to the recently-finished meeting of [the BLISTT] respective town executives held last August 5, 2013; with of course the attendance of Line Agency heads. And, for an Update of “all of us” – a second or follow-up meeting is set on August 23, 2013, to be held at the Capital Town of La Trinidad, Benguet Province.

But so, is said ‘definition’ clear and simple for us, the ‘ordinary’ citizens? In the meantime, we can alternate the term native – Ngayongay, either of for both the English terms ‘regular’ or ‘ordinary’ – in order that many of our fellows in Baguio and in the Benguet BLISTT towns may better understand or appreciate what we are trying to input on the present ‘issues’ of the BLISTT concept or framework.

Further and finally, the tail-phrase in our title which reads: ‘as seen by some others’ is where is anchored this present discussion – particularly not only the Indigenes of Baguio but also, those of the four aforecited towns of Benguet.

Question finale is: is the BLISTT idea crystal clear, understood, and therefore feasibly ‘acceptable’ also to them? Let each of us in the BLISTT Concept, or its ‘peripheries’, lend an ear to some of what they say.

THE QUESTIONS ASKED

“UPON WHAT Theory, Design, or Principle is the BLISTT Concept patterned after? The news reports and broadcasts touch on the Economic benefits; but what about the political, historico-cultural, and other ‘sides’ of the issue? Why must those other sides be prioritized aside – in favour of the Economic side?” This is the question that is foremostly shot by Informants when asked to comment on the current BLISTT discussions, and the next Question comes:

“IF ONE looks at the BLISTT acronym, he will get the impression of Baguio City ‘as a whole’ plus the five (5) towns of Benguet; to the Ngayongay that will be like: the present 13 towns minus five equals a remainder of eight (8) towns?” But with due diligence, the Ngayongay Benguet citizens hear an explanation from an ardent Adherent:

“No, beloved townmates, the coverage shall be: the whole of Baguio City – yes, you are right; plus some selected parts of the five (5) towns of Benguet.. I’ll show you the map.” And even if the ‘ordinary’ citizen keeps quiet, a big Question lurks:

“BUT WHY indeed garud, must the BLISTT only include ‘some parts’? Will that not constitute a newly-carved ‘political’ territory and.. ‘distinct’ or ‘attached’, to the present political boundaries of Baguio City?” And the next and most telling Question comes from the present and since-time-immemorial occupants of the five (5) Benguet towns:

“The ones to be affected are my co-indigenes – as you cited”, says one vocal researcher on the BLISTT framework. And she continues:

“They are the Ibalois mostly; but also the Kan-kana-eys, Iowaks, Kalanguyas, and other tribes.. are their benefits-to-be as well, clear in the Concept of the BLISTT?”

“Who shall speak truly for my fellow-indigenes – especially in the Planning, Discussion, Implementation, etcetera?

“Surely, the mayors will have but the allotted time to co-plan, co-discuss, and the like.. with others on the Drawing Board. I cannot seem to pleasantly imagine those town executives shall ‘bend all efforts’ for the BLISTT; when they have other concerns to immediately and prioritily address, po.”

Another frequently-asked question on the Concept is: “why is Governance’ included in the ‘Definition’ or coverage of the BLISTT? Are we expecting sooner ‘special amendments(s)’ of the Local Government Code; or, is there already a ‘special’ provision in the same, which details the to-be ‘Governance’ of the BLISTT; when finally organized and constituted?

The last and seemingly-‘innocent’ question shot by our informants is: “why the ‘Rush’? why do the Adherents – officials or otherwise, want it done soon”?

“The curiousness amplifies when one wonders how so many boundary ‘disputes’– barangay, municipal, and provincial – have lingered unfinalized over the years, decades..
“Even the issue on regional Autonomy itself for the Cordilleras has remained ‘Status Quo’ for a long time already.. although people say the Processes have to be followed or undergone.. and the BLISTT now.. they want it so soon? How, or why so?

“If indeed the BLISTT Concept was primarily aimed to ‘benefit us all’, are we not therefore ‘all’ entitled some pieces of howfors – even at the Theoretical Stage only?”

There go the ‘more definite’ but direct questions posted us by the Informants when we went to gather some “People’s pulses” on-the-field, relevant to the agreed-to focus of Topic in this Supplementary issue, that is: the BLISTT.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The foregoing Questions were encased from their original forms – whether posed in the Informant’s own native tongue(s), in the Cordi Iluko lingua franca, or in-mixed-tongue versions – up to this present Output; in our medium of: plain, readable English.

Far from things otherwise, we perceive most – if not all of the Questions, as: not intended to belittle – much less undermine, whatever great, magnanimous, or noble intentions of the original (and later) Adherents and Braindads of the BLISTT Concept.

In a country, democratic such as ours, questions are asked and answers are sought. These done, the staking parties are all clarified, the issues ventilated, and there’s a hope or expectation of a happy, ‘meeting of minds’.

If but little we touched on our attractions or ‘Parallelisms of Attachments’ to some of the Questions posed, it is because our ‘bracketing’ was to allow the free Flow of the Informants’ thoughts and/or reactions to the BLISTT Concept unhampered – so they can derive near-maximum Responses from appropriate quarters.

As media people, we may not ‘nip in the bud’ – by meeting early or halfway – the participation of the ‘to-be-affected’ peoples e.g. the ‘Indigenes’ in the intended BLISTT coverage. We’ve heard ourselves recite, with comprehension, in our earlier years of Training, the avowed Principle that: “Sovereignty resides in the people”; thus their involvement may not just be overlooked in matters where they are Parties – active or indirect.

We await therefore the August 23, 2013, ‘2nd Round of Talks’ Meeting. Who will be there? What other or related issues will ensue? Which ones shall be resolved? And many other things we, you and I, may want to ask and find out. Unfortunately or not, the submission of these articles  on the BLISTT shall precede that of the August 23 Meeting.

Just the same we pray for good, old Wisdom, Dedication, and Care to come upon the Minds and Hearts of those who shall play major roles in that said meeting. Hopefully, the BLISTT-in Time, shall be truly ‘beneficial to us all’ – as has been assured and articulated by seasoned or experienced Speakers of the Past recent and the Present. Agbiag ti BLISTT ken Cordillera, Apo!

WRITER’S POSTSCRIPTS:

1.   The use of the term Ngayongay is for the Posture of ‘humility’, rather than of social stratification. In fact, many of the Informants say: no dakami ay Ngayongay.. i.e. “we, the ‘ordinary’ citizens”.

2. Likewise, the application of Indigenes is for group ‘specificity’ rather than of duration of attachment to the physical environment.

3. All terms, expressions, etc., enclosed in double (“  ”) and single (‘  ’) quotes are faithful documentations of the writer from his informants on the topic at hand; thus, do not necessarily render themselves as the writer’s own – even if some ‘parallelisms’, or ‘shades’ of these, may at times obtain.

4. As one citizen of Baguio and Benguet, and an indigene too: my simple observation is the Silence, or the ‘No-comment’ Stance, of so many, whether: Baguioite, Ifenget, or ‘none of the above’. The Question really is: why, apay ngai? And also

5. Since most indications of the BLISTT point to “Economic”, I entreat the proponents and drumbeaters to shoot a glance also at the ‘Urban’ Poor and the ‘Rural’ Poor – of Baguio and the to-be-affected five Benguet towns; not only to inform them what you have ‘in-blueprint’ for them, but perhaps to crystallize how they shall be alleviated from the economic gaps that have so long distinctified them from the luckier – or better-favoured(?) – sectors of the present BLISTT communities. Maybe you can also explain to them how the BLISTT Plan intends to achieve, or ‘co-achieve’ this long-sought objective?

6. Finally, to the six (6) mayors: I beg of your Sirships and Ladyship to bear with me just a minute. Let me ask you this Question: after the BLISTT Plan shall have been ready ‘for implementation’ and as you separate-ways with those to-be-by-then part of the newly-constituted BLISTT ‘areas’, will you just be content to sing them: ‘Goodbye, I hate to see you go, but...” For, it is almost certain:

Right there or a little after, they may sing back the blues – “Am I losing you? are my tears running true? Tell me what to do.. [and then, their] Refrain:

“Are we too blind to see.. what can happen, you see...?”
Other news
:: Random thoughts on BLISTT
:: Why BLISTT?
:: Beyond Boundaries: Realizing the potentials of a public-private partnership in BLISTT
:: Do we need a big brother in BLISTT?
:: Andebok, a foundational site in Baguio’s political history
:: The need for a legislative response to the BLISTT framework
:: BSU’s role in the development of BLISTT
:: BLISTT: Transforming distrust to mutual cooperation
:: Local resources, global directions in the service of the CICM Mission
:: Making BLISTT work

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