FINDING one’s hometown unchanged after decades have passed may be comforting for some, but for those who live in places like Cabangan, Zambales the lack of progress can be quite depressing. About 186 kms north of Manila and practically next door to Subic and Olongapo City, one would think that Cabangan would have no trouble attracting businesses and keeping its residents employed. Instead, the town of some 21,000 people, has an unemployment rate of more than 30 percent, and the three or so new businesses that open each year happen to be sari-sari stores.
Cabangan’s one and only bank, however, is doing well. The town itself has taken out loans from the bank, at interest rates that are higher than what it could have gotten from government facilities. The bank’s biggest shareholder is no less than the town mayor, who has been Cabangan’s chief executive since 1988 — excepting the three years that he stepped aside (because he had reached his term limit) and his wife took his place. According to one resident, they keep voting for him because “he will win anyway.” It seems, however, that the perennial loser has been Cabangan.
It’s a tale that may sound familiar to those living in obscure rural towns across the country. We hope, however, that the piece, which is part of our current series on Faces of Change and Changeless Places, will have readers putting more thought on why they are voting someone into office.
Read on at pcij.org.