MAASIN CITY— In the days following the completion of the spacious gymnasium in Barangay San Agustin, as well as the completed concreting of the road network getting there, a number of special occasions both public and private have been held in the barangay.

The gatherings ushered a steady upsurge of economic opportunities for the barangay folks, comprising about 100 households, in addition to its recovering abaca industry. It also added a lively touch to the rural, hinterland community, which is located some 20 kilometers away from the city proper going up northeast.

“Daghan na dinhi ang naghimo sa ilang mga kalihokan tungod sa daku ug luag na nato nga gym, ug sementado na sab atong kadalanan. Diha nay nag-seminar. Karong Mayo daghan ang nakalumbay. Naay mag-birthday ijang bata, tag-ija og construction company, anhi dinhi I held,” said Frederick Mejares, chairperson of barangay San Agustin.

(Many groups have conducted their activities here because the gym is big and spacious, and the roads have been cemented. A seminar had been held. This month of May, a lot of schedules were reserved. One owner of a construction company whose child will have a birthday, the celebration will be held here.)

The barangay council had crafted an ordinance exacting minimal fees for those private individuals or groups using the gym for their programs, the collection to be used for maintenance and necessary upkeep of the facility, but when used as venue for public meetings, for delivery of government services there will be no fees, Mejares shared.

On April 26, the new structure was inaugurated, along with the finished paved roads linking barangay San Agustin to other mountain villages in the area, by personnel from the implementing agency, Department of Public Works and Highways – Southern Leyte District Engineering Office (DPWH-SLDEO), and top officials of the province and city, including First District Rep. Luz Mercado, and former DPWH Secretary Roger Mercado.

Other than serving as a venue for public and private group activities, the barangay gym is also a place for recreation, sports, and other physical fitness activities of the residents, and a refuge during bad weather days, said Remonda Lopez, a San Agustin citizen.

“Multi purpose building man ni, kay puwedi pod ni kabakwitan, simbako naay bagyo o natural nga kalamidad,” Lopez added.

(This is a multi-purpose building, since this can be turned into an evacuation center during typhoons or natural calamity, God forbid.)

District Engineer Manolo Rojas described the new facility as designed to be typhoon-proof capable of enduring harsh weather conditions, especially strong typhoons.

Rep. Mercado acknowledged that the new building has multiple uses and a center for various activities, adding that part of the P7 million budget for its construction was shouldered by the city government.

As to the road concreting project, based on the DPWH-SLDEO press briefer, 10 kilometers were constructed traversing six adjacent, cross country barangays with a total budget of P120 million, from February 2021 until June 2023. (MMP, PIA Southern Leyte)