The year 2016 -- the year of the Fire Monkey -- is when efforts are greatly rewarded.
For the province of Bulacan, 2016 is a year of many triumphs and remarkable accomplishments. There were some lows too, but overall, the "province of noble heroes and beautiful women" was very blessed.
The year saw how the people of Bulacan gave the dynamic tandem of Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado and Vice Governor Daniel Fernando an overwhelming fresh mandate for their last term as top provincial leaders via a landslide sweep against their political rivals.
And the blessings began pouring shortly after Alvarado and Fernando took their oath of office on June 30, when the international and Germany-based organization recognized the provincial government as "ISO certified."
As the year progressed after the elections, Alvarado once again received the "Outstanding Governorship 2016" recognition from the international award giving body Superbrand International. The governor also received the same award in 2013 and 2015.
Major national awards were also bestowed to the province such as the "Seal of Good Local Governance" from the Department of Interior and Local Government; "Best Performing Local Government Unit-Cooperative Development Office "(provincial level) by the Cooperative Development Authority and "Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit".
Aside from these, the Government Quality Management Committee (GQMC) awarded the provincial government of Bulacan a plaque of recognition for successfully establishing a Quality Management System Certification to ISO 9001:2008 standards.
Before Christmas, Alvarado, together with the team from the Provincial Cooperative and Enterprise Development Office (PCEDO), received the PAGASA award from President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang for the regional recognition of the Civil Service Commission.
The governor said that the people are grateful of receiving a bounty of Christmas blessings which is the result of hard work and good governance.
"We are thankful because of good "fruits" that our province are reaping now. We will continuously promote good programs for our province under the guidance of good governance," Alvarado said.
He said that the CSC has recognized the entry of the PCEDO which provides assistance to small scale enterprises through the Provincial Packaging Center and its outlet, the Pasalubong Center.
The governor said that the CSC central office validated the success of budding businesses in the province.
The award, according to Alvarado, shows that the bustling province of Bulacan is fast becoming the "Mecca" of investments, both foreign and domestic.
Aside from providing the needed engines of growth, Alvarado said that new leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, particularly in his crusade to stump-out corruption, criminality and the drug menace in the country, has contributed to the progress now being felt in Bulacan and other provinces.
While we are creating an atmosphere conducive to business and investments we are also, at the same time, creating an atmosphere not conducive to criminals and lawless elements," Alvarado said.
The governor has commended the Bulacan Police Provincial Office for bagging the "Best PNP Provincial Office" for 2016.
In the province's all-out-war against the proliferation of illegal drugs, acting Bulacan police director Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr. said that reformation centers or "Bahay Pagbabago" were established in all the towns and cities of Bulacan.
He also disclosed that in the implementation of "Oplan Tokhang," the Bulacan PNP has visited a total of 16,148 houses in the province's 21 municipalities and three cities.
He also reported to the governor that from July 1 up to Nov. 17, 2016, 748 drug pushers have voluntarily surrendered to the authorities in Bulacan.
During the same period, a total of 1,138 police operations were conducted where 199 armed target dopesters were killed and 1,693 arrested while the number of the so-called "death under investigation" (DUI) reached 192 persons.
The Bulacan police also recovered a total of 4,384 sachets of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) weighing a total of 2,211.187 grams; 6,334.772 grams of marijuana and 35 high powered firearms and 181 small firearms.
A total of 240 out of 562 barangays or 42.70 percent have so far been cleared from the influence of illegal drugs.
In the same year, the Angat Hydro Corporation, operator of the aging Angat dam, began the rehabilitation of the 49 -year-old rock-filled dam in the mountains of Norzagaray.
Dam Engineer Russel Rigor said that Phase 1 of the rehabilitation and strengthening was completed in October and that Phase 2 started on Nov. 1.
The Bustos Irrigation dam also known as the Angat Afterbay Dam in Bustos town is also undergoing repair.
The Bulacan Bulk Water System project that will give Bulakenyos a taste their own supply of surface water is also on the rise.
Alvarado said that for the first time, the people of Bulacan will soon savor the bounty of their own water resources from the mountains of Norzagaray.
He added that many Bulakenyos will have job and other enterprising opportunities once the laying and construction of the pipelines commences.
On a sad note, two major explosions rocked the fireworks industry in the province.
Last October, two persons were killed in Barangay Biniang 1st in Bocaue when a stockroom of chemicals used in the production of firecrackers exploded.
Killed were shop owner Gina Gonzales and former village chief Manny Ayala. Twenty-six others were injured from the blast that also destroyed adjacent establishments and scores of vehicles.
After almost a month, two young children and their mother were killed when a factory in Barangay Pulong Buhangin last November.
Police said workers were making sky rocket, locally known as "kwitis", when the blast happened, killing siblings Ashley Mayo, 2 and Brylee, 5. Their mother, Mary Grace Mayo, 28, also died later in a hospital. The three went to the factory to just bring food for the head of their family, Benjie Mayo, who works at the factory making "kuwitis".
The Sta. Maria police headed by Supt. Raniel Valones arrested and filed charges against the owner of the shop who was identified as Wilfredo Alonzo.
The twin explosions prompted Gov. Alvarado to convene the Provincial Pyrotechnics Regulatory Board and come up with solutions to the industry's problem on safety and make it more safe and globally competitive.
The move came after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued a work stoppage order on all stakeholders of the local fireworks agency on Nov. 24.
The order was subsequently lifted several days later after stakeholders complied with the safety requirements of the DOLE.
The province was also spared from the wrath of two strong typhoons this year.
Last October, typhoon "Lawin" swirled past Northern and parts of Central Luzon without inflicting major damage to Bulacan.
The province was also spared from the fury of typhoon "Nina" which devastated the Bicol Region but swirled past Bulacan without any untoward incident.
Meanwhile, the "C4 Room" or the "Communication Command Control Center" of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), where real time weather forecasts can be monitored, is now functioning, helping provincial disaster control officials in their course of actions during times of calamities.
As if major awards were not enough, the Province of Bulacan once again reigned supreme and emerged as "Overall Champion" in the 2016 edition of the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association which the province hosted at the sprawling Bulacan Sports Center in Barangay Sta. Isabel here.
The Bulacan delegation reigned supreme again after bagging 268 medals in different sports events held at several venues in the province, placing them as the overall champion that will represent the region in the upcoming Palarong Pambansa.
The Bulacan team's victory also marked the 25th time that the provincial delegation emerged as overall champions.
Source: Philippines Information Agency