Hagonoy, Bulacan – On January 3, 2021, the Facebook page of Hagonoy News Live uploaded a photo of Hagonoy welcome arch with the caption “before and after.” Bulakenyo netizens slam the new welcome arch with Mayor’s full name in cut aluminum letters. Many said that the mayor’s name occupied the majority of the arch instead of the welcome sign of Hagonoy.
Another netizen pointed out that each cut aluminum letter is around Two Thousand Pesos (2,000). If we look at the picture, his name, Mayor Raulito “Amboy” Manlapaz, Sr. has 27 total letters, excluding the punctuation marks. With the alleged price per piece, we can assume that it costs 54,000 pesos, more or less. According to locals, the total budget for the said project is around 2.9 Million Pesos. With the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, every centavo counts, especially for government projects.
January 4, 2021 – Hagonoy News Live removed the said post and posted a live video removing the mayor’s name in the welcome arch. “Ang AMA ay nakikinig sa kanyang mga ANAK. Kasalukuyan pong inaayos ang Arko ng Hagonoy, Bulacan,” is the caption of the video. Many netizens confirmed this and applauded the mayor’s fast action by removing his name in the new Hagonoy welcome arch.
Hagonoy Welcome Arch
Welcome arches are considerably among the most noticeable landmark of a particular place, and in most cases, the first that you see, whether you are a local or a visitor. Local artist and legend Cenon Mangahas Rivera designed the last stone Hagonoy welcome arch in 1981. This is in celebration of the 400th founding anniversary of the town.
The great Cenon Rivera was born on April 16, 1922, in San Jose, Hagonoy. He attended high school at Araullo High School and the University of the Philippines. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from the University of Santo Tomas in 1948. He was a professor at the UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts from 1956 until his retirement in 1992. He served as director of the UST Department of Fine Arts in 1965 in place of Victorio. Edades. He pioneered the introduction of the cubistic abstraction style in the field of painting in 1951. He died on 25 November 1998.
We were told that Rivera’s stone arch had to be replaced with a modern one as approved by the incumbent local government of Hagonoy. In fairness to the new arch versus the old one, it follows the required new vertical clearance based on the Minimum Horizontal and Vertical Clearances for Welcome Arches/Overhead Boundary Markers, Overhead Utilities and Power Lines Crossing and Along National Highways of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) standards.
Local residents told us that big trucks used for construction and deliveries had a hard time passing through old Hagonoy welcome arch before. This is because of the low vertical clearance and road construction/reconstruction which somehow raised the road level overtime.
In 2011, the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, filed Senate Bill 54, or the Anti-Signage of Public Works Bill or the “anti-epal” measure. The said bill prohibits the placement of a public official’s name or image on a signage of a public works project, be it proposed, existing, or ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation. In 2017, Senator Manny Pacquiao filed his own version of the measure and provided for a penalty of P1 million and jail time against violators.
In 2016, former Senator Francis Escudero filed Senate Bill 776 prohibiting the naming of government projects after elected or appointed officials or after personalities that may be associated with them. However, up to this day, these bills haven’t been enacted into laws.
The Anti-Epal Memorandum Circular of DILG (MC 2010-101) is still in effect today. This circular memo was introduced by the late Secretary Jessie Robredo which states “Banning Names or Initials and/or Images or Pictures of Government Officials in Billboards & Signages of Government Programs, Projects & Properties.”