“Today, we make history! At long last, Pangasinan has a birthday!”
This was the pronouncement of Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. to a large multi-sectoral crowd who gathered at the Capitol Plaza last April 5 during the Opening and Commemorative Program of the 430th “Agew na Pangasinan.”
Governor Espino said that for this celebration, all Pangasinenses set aside their political differences and gathered as one people to celebrate “Agew na Pangasinan” for the very first time, 430 years after its founding day. He took pride that the long, elusive quest for the province’s founding day has come to a conclusion.
“Today, we stand as one province proud of our rich culture and heritage, proud of our distinct character and identity as Pangasinenses,” Governor Espino said while he added that we must celebrate this historic moment with firm resolve “to sustain the collective effort to transform Pangasinan as the best place to invest, work, live and raise a family.”
Governor Espino also made a rundown of remarkable feats the province was able to achieve under his leadership for the past two years and nine months which he said has shown that Pangasinan, with its reservoir of human and natural resources, can excel and become number one in so many areas.
These include Pangasinan’s topping of PhilHealth insurance registration for indigent families in the entire country which has reached over 267,000 enrollees as of March this year, being awarded as Garantisadong Pambata National Champion in 2009 for outstanding achievements on nutrition and child survival programs, and emerging as the Region’s top tourist destination in 2008 and 2009.
Governor Espino also made mention of the province’s outstanding strides in peace and order, health care, poverty reduction, coastal resources management, disaster management and programs supporting millennium development goals (MDG) aside from maintaining its position as the Region’s food basket.
Further, Governor Espino also bared that the long overdue strategic projects which are designed to attract more investments and industrial locators and will pave the way for more jobs and livelihood opportunities for Pangasinenses are now in the offing with the construction of the Sual Port and the groundbreaking of the Pangasinan Eco-tourism Zone.
Towards the end of his speech, Governor Espino said, “As we savor the sweetness of this treasured moment of oneness and as we enjoy each other’s company in this jovial atmosphere, let us add meaning to this celebration and look beyond today with a solemn commitment to work even harder to bring our province to greater heights of progress and prosperity.”
Meanwhile, the most illustrious son of Pangasinan, former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos, the program’s guest of honor and speaker, said he is most delighted to be part of the historic occasion, more so, because of the upbeat atmosphere that now exists in the province.
“It is a good time to be here. This long overdue occasion is the beginning of a new future for Pangasinan,” he said.
All the episodes in the province’s rich history, from the Malong and Palaris Revolts to the Lingayen Gulf Landings in the Second World War, he said, are sources of pride for all of us Pangasinense, while we remain cognizant of our remarkable ancestry and the high purpose we are capable of achieving.
“Today, we take great pride in affirming our identity as Pangasinense as our long history of struggle produced the real essence of Pangasinan culture, hospitality, energy and a lifestyle of hardwork,” he added as he advised the crowd to learn more about Pangasinan in order to love and serve the province more.
Former President Ramos also challenged every Pangasinense to be up to the challenges of today as he said that the province is right at the center of the global economy.
He said the enemy today is not foreign invaders, but poverty in all its form and faces such as complacency, ignorance, environmental degradation, political conflict, lawlessness, and in some places, ineffective governance.
For this, he said that every Pangasinense must strive for higher levels of achievement and make the province the heartland of four Ts: tourism, technology, teaching and team work.
“It is time for Pangasinenses to win the future,” he said.
For her part, Vice Governor Marlyn Primicias Agabas said she hopes that by establishing Pangasinan Day, they have also stirred interest among Pangasinenses to study its history, which she added, is an important step in loving our province.
She also said that the 6th Sanggunian is doubly honored to be part of the historic celebration and as the legislative body that passed Provincial Ordinance 143-2010, which declared April 5 as Pangasinan Day. She also thanked and congratulated the Research and Study Group members for sharing their time and talent during the tedious research project.
Lawyer Gonzalo Duque, head of the Research and Study Group, expressed elation that finally, Pangasinan has a founding day, the determination of which has become his personal quest.
“The missing segment of our history elusive to Pangasinan for the past 429 years has been completed,” he said, as he added, “Pangasinan can no longer be likened to a hapless orphan who does not know when she was born.”
“It was only Governor Espino who had the guts, the courage and the political will to do it,” he said.
He thanked each and every one of the members of the group, whom he described as 25 dedicated, determined, disciplined and competent Pangasinenses.
Before the program, a thanksgiving mass was celebrated by Bishop Jesus A. Cabrera, that was followed by an ecumenical prayer. (PIO/Rafael Manuel)