STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES – For nearly two years now, Leonardo Lustria Jr., manager of the Sta. Cruz water district, has been at his wit’s end trying to find ways to protect the town’s watershed, which feeds Sta. Cruz’s two irrigation systems and provides local folk with potable water.
Some 20 kms from the town proper, the Sta. Cruz watershed was also reforested more than a decade ago through an P18.1-million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project, which called for the planting of mahogany, acacia, agoho, eucalyptus, and other types of trees, was carried out from 1994 to 1999.
STA. CRUZ, ZAMBALES – Nickel is not doing too well in the world market these days, but residents here do not seem to mind, even though nickel has become one of this town’s major revenue earners.
That’s because whenever nickel commands top dollar, red dust smothers the town’s main highway and the pier, and red mud cakes the roads. Residents also have to share their small barangay roads with huge, lumbering trucks, and when rains come, floodwaters the color of blood fill their ricefields. Meanwhile, up in the mountains, armed guards hired by mining firms menace real and imagined foes and sometimes engage each other in deadly shootouts.
CABANGAN, ZAMBALES — The Rural Bank of Cabangan sits proudly outside the center of this dusty town, where it is housed in one of the handful of commercial buildings in the area. Established in 1973 with a start-up capital of just half a million pesos, the bank now has an authorized capitalization of P9.5 million, with more than P70 million in resources. It is the only bank in Cabangan, and practically one of the few things that have shown improvement (at least in terms of profits) here in the last two decades. It is also the bank the town mayor sometimes runs to whenever Cabangan needs loans for its purchases and operational requirements.