BUTUAN CITY – As she introduced the municipality of Esperanza in the province of Agusan del Sur and its potential tourist spots during the Network Briefing News hosted by Secretary Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Friday, Mayor Leonida Manpatilan also highlighted the rich culture and tradition of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs).
The lady mayor said that the municipality has three IP tribes, namely the Higaonon, Manobo and Banwaon. "They are the first inhabitants of this municipality. We are also the hometown of the Golden Tara, which is now secured in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. It was found here in the creek of Esperanza,” she said.
“In terms of the culture of the tribes, we are really rich in culture. As a Higaonon myself, I have been willing and very eager to promote and conserve the culture of the tribe considering that we are still very unique. Years before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Higaonon, Manobo and Banwaon tribes usually gather every year to celebrate the Nalandang Festival, wherein these three tribes showcase their talents and the culture of its individual tribes," Manpatilan added.
When asked about the status of its local economy in the municipality, Manpatilan said that Esperanza is engaged in farming and cultivating agriculture and forestland, considering that the major crops are rice and corn; and there are plantations of rubber, as well as individual planters of rubber, fruits, coffee, and livestock.
“Because we are landlocked, we have fish pens with tilapia as our one town, one product (OTOP). The bananas reach Manila because it is brought to the Nasipit port in Agusan del Norte province, and our corn and rice also reach Davao and Cagayan de Oro City,” Manpatilan added.
Also, when it comes to peace and order situation, Mayor Manpatilan said that of the 19 identified barangays as New People’s Army (NPA)-infiltrated areas, they are already cleared last year and are included in the list to receive the benefits from the ELCAC (Ending Local Communists Armed Conflict) funds.
“We have not totally gotten rid of insurgency, but there are already 19 identified infiltrated barangays declared as cleared and they will receive due benefits from the ELCAC funds. There are still splinters left in the mountains because Esperanza has a wide expanse of mountains. The government also continues to intensify the campaign against insurgency through a whole-of-nation approach,” Manpatilan said.
Manpatilan expressed her gratitude to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his administration for all the support they have extended to the different LGUs including Esperanza amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She also asked the national government to help fast-track the accessibility of the Malaybalay road to Bukinon from Esperanza, so farmers and local entrepreneurs in the area could easily mobilize and bring their products to different markets. (JPG/PIA-Agusan del Sur)