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About Time: Caramoan Province

It’s great that Ateneo will be hosting a non-political, private sector summit on the proposed partition of Camarines Sur into two provinces through a new province covering the fourth legislative district in the Caramoan Peninsula. Indeed, ABOUT TIME we divided Cam Sur. But, of course, the devil will be in the details. Hence, the conference could very well thresh all these things out in time for the next session of Congress.

For practical considerations, we can draw lessons from our beloved Archbishop of Caceres, Leonardo Z. Legaspi, OP, DD, STD. He has shown Cam Sur partition as the way to more effective management when he divided into two the Archdiocese of Caceres that then covered the geographical area of Cam Sur through the creation of the Prelature of Libmanan way back in 1989. And after 20 years, in 2009, Libmanan was promoted into a full-fledged Diocese independent of Caceres. In terms of governance, our local Church has certainly proven to be more than 20 years ahead of our civil authorities. Who knows there could yet be another partition for the Caramoan Peninsula with the increase in population and developments there?

Now, “Camarines Oriental” and “Nueva Camarines” have been floated as possible names to choose from. I don’t know why the need to cling to “Camarines”, which is actually the plural of the Spanish word “camarin”, that is, a mere storage place. But following Archbishop Legaspi’s lead for the Prelature of Libmanan after the name of its seat in Libmanan, it would be better if the new province were named after the mainland of Caramoan Peninsula. Thus, I go for “Caramoan Province.” Its capital could be the town of Caramoan itself.

More importantly, for tourism and development purposes, it’s Caramoan that has become well known around the world. Nobody would know “Camarines Oriental” or “Nueva Camarines.” But Caramoan is tops given its popular branding already as the Philippines’ secret paradise that’s even much better than Boracay. No need for expensive kay ganda campaign ad gimmickries, too. As Wikipedia informs us:

“The Caramoan Peninsula has gained tourism popularity in recent years. After the place has been featured in the news and local television programs, local and foreign travelers started to explore the beaches of the peninsula. Caramoan is one of the National Parks of the Philippines.”

“Popular tourist destinations are the Caramoan National Park, the Centro, and Gota Beach, and popular activities include diving, swimming, snorkeling and spelunking.”

Verily, we even have R.A. No. 9445 passed by Congress in 2007, which “declare[d] the islands of Lahuy, Cotivas, Guinahuan, Luksuhin, Malibagan and Masag, off the northeastern coast of the Municipality of Caramoan, Province of Camarines Sur as national tourism zones.”

“For a relatively unobtrusive island known as the Philippine’s secret paradise, Caramoan Peninsula has probably had the most international TV exposure than any of the country’s 7107 islands,” Manila Bulletin reported in a feature article “The Lure of Caramoan Island” written by Jacky Lynne A. Oiga, Feb. 20, 2010 (

Caramoan is even rich in history and environmental significance as we may glean from Wikipedia:

“The name Caramoan has been officially adopted since 1619, the year it was founded by a Spanish missionary friar, Francisco de la Cruz Y Oropesa. Fr. Oropesa penetrated the thick virgin forest of the Caramoan Peninsula and founded a small settlement in a place called Baluarte. This settlement was subsequently turned over to the administration of the Holy Bishopric in 1696.”

“The small town of Caramoan is located at the tip of Caramoan Peninsula, a rugged place of land extending into the waters of the Maqueda Channel on the North and East and Lagonoy Gulf on the South. Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, it was determined that the place was once called Guta de Leche, which was given by Dutch traders who operated a gold mine in Lahuy Island and who frequented the area to trade with the natives. The name was perhaps derived from the milkdrop stalagmites found among the rocks of Guta Port. Upon the arrival of the Spaniards, the place came to be called ‘Carahan’ for the sea turtle, which was at that time to be found in great number along the shores of the Peninsula.”

And as a final and most important point, allowing self-governance for the people of Caramoan Peninsula who have historically been isolated and neglected by the national and provincial governments—until now you can’t travel by road to their various communities—would be the best path to genuine development.

Power to the People!

Significantly, creating a Caramoan Province in this year 2011 would be highly symbolic and most timely. 2011 is the 25th year of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development that was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly on December 4, 1986. This Declaration affirmed that development is a human right. And one of the implications of this international recognition was the fact that government trickle-down policies that sacrificed certain sectors of the population in the name of national or local economic growth, for example, unjust relocations in favor of dollar earnings, constitute an egregious violation of human rights.

Core provisions of the Declaration read:

Article 1

  1. The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.
  2. The human right to development also implies the full realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, which includes, subject to the relevant provisions of both International Covenants on Human Rights, the exercise of their inalienable right to full sovereignty over all their natural wealth and resources.

Article 2

  1.  The human person is the central subject of development and should be the active participant and beneficiary of the right to development.

Godspeed for the new Caramoan Province!