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Ilonggos’ unearned shame and humiliation

Ilonggos’ unearned shame and humiliation

By Alex P. Vidal

“If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us.”— Francis Bacon

IT’S grossly unfair to all the Ilonggos living in Western Visayas and anywhere around the world that they have to endure the terrible shame and humiliation inflicted by the rancid P680-million Ungka flyover in Pavia, Iloilo.

The indignity and chagrin worsened when visitors from other regions and countries who came for the recent week-long Iloilo Dinagyang Festival 2023 heard and witnessed first-hand how puke-inducing this Department of Public Works and Highways (DPW) project has become.

Before the tourists came, the scandalous project had already earned infamy and notoriety after it was exposed in the mainstream and social media and repeatedly reported all over the world via the internet because of its unique aberration since 2022.

If you are an Ilonggo working or living in Budapest, Doha, Berlin, Phuket, Yokohama, Auckland, Acapulco, Perth, Denver, Abu Dhabi, Kaohsiung, Johannesburg, Dhaka, Winnipeg, Mexicali, Guangzhou, Havana, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, among other major cities in the world and you are asked about the disgraceful Iloilo flyover project, you feel like shrinking in shame and embarrassment.

The subject matter is indefensible, unjustifiable, and unforgivable.

In fact, it’s distasteful even for a morning coffeeshop hobnob.

How can you begin a light conversation about the issue with foreigners in foreign lands when you are aware of your impending doom?


The scandal has become an international fiasco for Iloilo; some foreigners (although many of us may hiss “we don’t care about what the foreigners will say. If the flyover project is a sonnabavitch, well, it’s our sonnabavitch and not theirs”) will think the Ilonggos are dishonest and unreliable when it comes to hosting and building a “mere” flyover project.

If the Ilonggos “can’t be trusted” with a flyover project, how can they be trusted with a superhighway or an industrial complex-sized project?

The damage to reputation has almost become irreparable.

The Ilonggos did not intend and never wished to be in the list of disreputable and unscrupulous creatures on earth.

The Ilonggos, in general, are known to be patriots and honorable citizens, not crooks, cretins, rascals, and ninny lobcocks.

Hey, wait a minute, the Ilonggos are, in fact, the primary victims here. When public officials like those in the DPWH goofed in the projects intended for use of general public, in this case, by the Ilonggos, the latter were in the receiving end, the first to be smacked across the face.

When traffic turned into a colossal nightmare because the building of the flyover, supposedly conceptualized originally to curb the monstrous snarl, was a product of a sloppy job, it’s the Ilonggos—the motorists and pedestrians—who were “punished” and thrusted into the hellish ride, not the other inhabitants of the archipelago.

This is a grand insult, an unearned guilt for the city and province of Iloilo in particular, and the Ilonggos in general.


Adding insult to injury, the DPWH has not been so transparent about the flyover project’s real score, prompting Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas to recently egg the DPWH to make a report on the project’s status as chair of the Regional Development Council committee on infrastructure.

No update means no information. No information means no progress. No nothing means no accountability and justice.

Has the tarnished project already been completely and neatly eviscerated?

Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation, said Atifete Jahjaga

It is but proper that the House inquiry, through a resolution filed by the gallant Ilonggo Representatives Raoul Manuel (Kabataan Party-List), Arlene Brosas (GABRIELA Party-List), and France Castro (ACT Teachers Party-List) on the Ungka and Aganan flyovers in the city and province of Iloilo, should commence as soon as possible and be endorsed and supported by all members of the House of Representatives—Ilonggos and non-Ilonggos.

Let the chips fall where they may and give justice to the taxpayers who are on the verge of being bilked with P680 million by the irresponsible, shameless, corrupt, incompetent, and criminal public officials and their collaborators. Shame on them!

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)