Gov. Imee inaugurates S-Mile project, calls for excellence in education

In line with Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos’ commitment to education, Sirib Mile project was finally kick-started with its gateway inaugurated and master plan unveiled, February 8.

The event which began at 3:30 in the afternoon last Friday was graced by Gov. Marcos, Vice Governor Angelo Marcos-Barba, Bishop Renato Mayugba, Schools Division Superintendent of Laoag City Aracelli Pastor, Ilocos Norte Department of Education (DepEd) Superintendent Dr. Cecilia Aribuabo, Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) President Miriam Pascua, other Capitol officials and employees, municipal mayors, heads of schools, and hundreds of elementary and secondary students.

Firstly introduced by Gov. Marcos on her speech during the 47th charter day celebration of Laoag City last July 2012, Sirib (Ilocano term for ‘knowledge’) Mile project or S-Mile is a part of the province-wide comprehensive development master plan of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) with acclaimed architect and urban planner Felino Palafox, Jr.

Situated between public schools Ilocos Norte National High School (INNHS) and Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trade (INCAT), the gateway or ‘arch’ was designed by internationally-acclaimed artist Leeroy New who took the inspiration for the arch posts from the main characters of the Ilocano epic, Biag ni Lam-ang (Life of Lam-ang).

Gov. Marcos who arrived in her famous shirt imprinted with the logo of the ‘Kabataang Barangay’, which she chaired after its creation in 1975, led the ribbon-cutting and the unveiling of S-Mile’s master plan.

On her remarks, she highlighted that the project is a way for Ilocanos to “look to the future” in celebration of the upcoming bicentennial fete of the province.

“We’re talking about the bicentennial and the heritage zone of the Capitol…But actually, what’s more important is what we will be 200 years from now; it’s about the youth,” Gov. Marcos said.

The project which shall traverse parts of Ablan Avenue and roads connecting surrounding public schools such as INCAT, INNHS, MMSU—Laoag campus, Divine Word College of Laoag, and other roads connecting the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena, Marcos Stadium and the provincial Department of Education building, aims to develop the university belt into a “learning community” which shall set the common ground for various schools in the province.

Succeeding infrastructure projects after the S-Mile arch include the refurbishing of Centennial Arena which shall “serve as the center or the hub of our student activities”, a transport hub, the construction of educational and commercial areas, and covered walkways from the arch towards the transport hub.

A free shuttle will also be provided for students who would want to go around the educational stops within the hub.

“I am hopeful that together we will establish educational centers not merely in Laoag but in all the key areas of Ilocos Norte,” Gov. Marcos said.

Meanwhile, following shortly this event was the inauguration of the expansion of the main I-Hub located beside the Centennial Arena.

I-Hub, short for ‘Information Hub’, is an all-inclusive multimedia library conceptualized under Gov. Marcos’ administration.

The expansion is a computer learning center consisting of 200 desktop computer units offering low-cost internet services for students.

16 students who were actively using I-Hub services for the past months personally received free membership cards from Gov. Marcos.

Students who attended the event also got the chance to use the computers for the first time for free.

“It’s a sign that we make known to the world the excellence and scholarship that has characterized every Ilocano both here and overseas. Certainly, this is a dream come true,” Gov. Marcos said.—Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO