PART 2: Beyond balyena and uga

Part 2 of 4

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The whales are lowing.

At night, residents say, the gentle giants are making their presence felt with their gentle baying, keeping the residents somehow feeling safe.  They are reminders to tourists and visitors that Cadiz, primarily is a coastal city. 

In fact, to outsiders, there are two things in mind when it comes to Cadiz City: balyena (whales) and uga (dried fish).

Recent developments, however, might soon change those impressions as the city’s economic pulse is quickening, its nascent investment side slowly picking up.

Mounds of dried fishes (uga) at the Cadiz City Public Market. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles
Mounds of dried fishes (uga) at the Cadiz City Public Market. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles

Cadiz is one of those hardest hit by the slump in the sugar industry, with tumandoks being forced to turn their backs on field work (karga, tapas, and guna) to find jobs in the urban centers hopefully as office workers or as domestic helpers. 

But, officers of the city have seen a reverse happening. 

THE CITY AWAKENS

“They are coming back now,” Local Economic and Investment Promotion Officer Lyn Regodos told DNX.

“They” refers to young people who once left their hometown for the proverbial greener pastures and are now back in the city and investing with business-minded friends.

“Doing business here is advantageous to them; it’s near their family, and there’s a possibility of earning bigger,” city investments promotions chief Lyn Regodos says. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles
“Doing business here is advantageous to them; it’s near their family, and there’s a possibility of earning bigger,” city investments promotions chief Lyn Regodos says. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles

Thus sprouted the coffee shops, printing presses, small enterprises that are thriving thanks to the business-friendly climate of the city.

“Doing business here is advantageous to them.  It’s near their family, and there’s a possibility of earning bigger,” she said.

Speaking of bigger, something BIG is happening to the city which has kept it on the radar of certain big businessmen so far.

The first is the prospect of an eight billion peso port which will transform the city into a gateway for businesses in the north. 

Fishermen stitch their fishnets in preparation for their next voyage. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles
Fishermen stitch their fishnets in preparation for their next voyage. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles

Regodos said the project would propel the city into the area of big players, as the port could create employment opportunities during its development stage, develop the city into a business hub, and improve the already existing industries in the city.

The Metro Retail Stores Group is yet another big player investing in Cadiz, with the hypermarket set to lease the old existing market of the city.

Petrophil Oil and Fuel Trading Corporation is the third player about to enter the city.

These three, Regodos said, could open more business opportunities for Cadiz.

OPPORTUNITIES, OPPORTUNITIES, OPPORTUNITIES

“Mayor Salvador Ecalante is aiming for good governance… to continue giving good services,” Regodos said.

This would explain why the city government under Escalante is trying to balance social services, peace and order, and business and finance.

A big project such as the port could inject some much needed lifeblood in any economy especially Cadiz with its strategic location north of the province.

Ships on the dock while stevedores enjoy their lunch on deck. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles
Ships on the dock while stevedores enjoy their lunch on deck. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles

Regodos predicted – or rather hoped – that this would usher in new investment opportunities in the city.

Fishing and canning, manufacturing, and garments making are among the three major possibilities that have been opened once the port becomes operational.

It would also open international opportunities for the existing dried fish industry of city, especially when dried fish makers would be trained how to mechanize their trade.

THREE MAJOR GROWTH AREAS

The city is inevitably headed towards “economic development and market expansion for commercial, industrial, and tourism areas”, City Planning and Development Officer Engr. Gilbert Alparito said.

Children enjoying their noontime swim, while a banca passes by from the opposite side of the Hitalon bridge, Cadiz City. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles
Children enjoying their noontime swim, while a banca passes by from the opposite side of the Hitalon bridge, Cadiz City. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles

Alparito said the planning office has already identified three growth areas and these are: Tinampaan, which has infra projects making the area viable for investors and is in partnership with Dynamic Builders; barangay Caduha-an, which shares borders with barangay Burgos (location of stopover terminal to Lakawon), and Cabahug.

“These are all government-owned lands, and with investments coming in, the city will certainly have its share in the income,” Alparito explained.

These areas will be home to full-blown development and infrastructure projects once the development project of Cadiz is in full-swing.

A tractor hauling canepoints passes through the welcome arch leading into Cadiz City as DNX TV unit head Banjo Hinolan shoots B roll. | Photo by Richard D. Mariveles
A tractor hauling canepoints passes through the welcome arch leading into Cadiz City as DNX TV unit head Banjo Hinolan shoots B roll. | Photo by Richard D. Meriveles

It is basically laying down the groundwork to transform the city into business district, a gateway for trading with more and more players putting down their cash.

There is, for instance, the P400 million new city public market which would be leased to the Metro chain of stories, and the multibillion port project.

A steel company is also planning looking for prospects to invest, while there are also talks of purchasing land for a solar power plant.

But with such a BOOM comes a challenge.  Alaparito admits that a city like Cadiz might not have enough manpower to sustain the infrastructure projects but, he said, TESDA schools within the city are ready to train new welders, carpenters, masons.

The city is, indeed, ready.

With more infra and development projects set to pump-prime the economy of Cadiz, the city is poised to becoming the business hub in the north.

The whales continue lowing.

Times are a-changing, and they too, can feel it.

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