Governor Imee Marcos has generally described the province as newly transformed Ilocos Norte, citing various impressive accomplishments such as poverty reduction, doubled financial income, more student scholars, more job opportunities and tales of Ilocanos who gained remarkable progress in their lives.

The accomplishments were bared during her fifth State of the Province Address (SOPA) held at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena, Laoag City on August 10, 2015.
According to Gov. Marcos, Ilocos Norte is one of the few provinces that had achieved the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set by the United Nations Development Programme this year.

MDG is a worldwide movement adopted by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) which aimed to significantly reduce, if not decisively eradicate, extreme poverty.

“We have done what we set out to do, exceeding poverty, employment, education, maternal health, and reforestation. From the alarming increase in poverty in 2010 (at 28%), poverty has now fallen to a record of 8.4%,” she said.

She added that progress in the province began with the physical transformation of the Capitol edifice itself from a dark, filthy building into a tourist-friendly structure.

“Ang pag-asenso ng Ilocos Norte (ay) unang nakita sa Kapitolyo. Dati madungis at madilim, ngayon walang tigil ang mga taong magpa-selfie sa harapan! Inaaway pa ako ‘pag pinapatay ang fountain!” she quipped.

Gov. Marcos stressed that the “provincial income has doubled to P1.42 billion today, from a mere P739 million in 2010. More significantly, our self-generated income is now P319,541,427.”

With its strengthened governance, PGIN has maintained its ISO 9001 Certification, “now including tiny municipalities and remote extension hospitals. ISO ti International Standard para iti naurnos ken nadalus a panangidaulo,” she added.

She highlighted the improvements of PGIN frontline services especially on health, education, jobs and livelihood as well as the remarkable developments in all sectors—from transportation, peace and order, infrastructure, tourism, agriculture and environment.

“Today, ours is a strong transitional economy, growing rapidly at 16.7%. With better- planned education, improving public health and social services, our human development index remains high… and Ilocanos consistently outlive other Filipinos by 6 years, an average 75 years old,” she stated.

She also cited the upcoming projects and developments of her administration starting from the partnership with Parsons Brinckerhoff, a leading multinational engineering and design firm, “to masterplan an integrated system of traffic management (and) signaling pedestrian facilities.”
The province is also building new tourism infrastructures to cater to the growing industry which has multiplied into 380.64% in the past two years.

A Cultural Policy Ordinance will be enacted to further protect, develop and promote the cultural heritage of Ilocos Norte as a primary driver of growth, opportunity, livelihood and development.

Social services will also be improved through the establishment of a Women’s Charter and organization of Senior Citizens into active Office for Senior Citizens Affairs and Federated Senior Citizens Association Groups.

Gov. Marcos said the “ordinary and extraordinary people building our province anew” are the Ilocanos whose lives have been meaningfully transformed for the past five years.

“Goodbye kurapay!” (Goodbye poverty!) said Gov. Marcos as she recounted some stories of transformation.

Bonifacio Aga, a beneficiary of PGIN’s Self-Employment Assistance Program, attested the efficiency of the present administration. From being a small time trader of scrap materials, he became a wholesaler to a major business establishment in the province—after borrowing a certain amount from the program.

The SOPA also featured stories of various people who exemplified Ilocano talent, creativity, boldness and solidarity.

Among them are SEA Games Gold Medalist-Chess Champion Mhage Sebastian, National Most Outstanding Cop of 2015 SPO1 Aurora Joy Manuela and famous web designer Vince Canlapan.

What’s important is our concern for everyone during hard times. Big projects do not make impacts if you do not know how to care. But small projects matter most when it benefits everyone,” Gov. Marcos emphasized.

While assuring sustainable progress in Ilocos Norte, Gov. Marcos asked for a continuing cooperation and collaboration in all sectors of the province by launching the newest provincial slogan ‘Timpuyog ti baro nga Ilocos Norte.’

According to Gov. Marcos, ‘timpuyog,’ an Ilocano term for unity, was the foundation of Ilocos Norte which helped rebuild the province anew in the past five years.

She added that ‘timpuyog’ or “the endless network of communities” is the most important key to achieving future goals of the province. “Unity is seen through cooperation and recognizing that everyone who needs help is a friend. Everyone here is an Ilocano, including our leaders and barangay officials,” she asserted.

In order to achieve the visions for the province, Gov. Marcos pointed out that everyone must have the sincerity to serve, referring to the ‘Marcos Magic’ which is inherent to every Ilocano.

“Timpuyog! Let us honor the great Ilocano community, let us celebrate the new Ilocano!” Gov. Marcos concluded in her 61-minute SOPA.—(Jennifer T. Pambid, PGIN-CMO)