By: Loejan S. Anudon
The immense need to provide schoolrooms to meet the ever increasing number of students at the Urdaneta City National High School (UCNHS), Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, impelled the school officials to bring their dilemma to then Congressman Mark Cojuangco.
Their request was granted and a three-story building with six classrooms per floor was soon underway, overlooking the vast expanse of the Urdaneta City athletic field at its western end. On the end of each floor, state of the art comfort rooms were apportioned in the building plan to match the expansive classrooms. The design included toilet bowls and sinks imported from the U.S.
The storm brews
On March 2, 2012, the UCNHS celebrated its 67th founding anniversary and Pangasinan 5th district representative, Kimi Cojuangco, was invited as the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the coronation night. The graceful presence of the congresswoman is always a welcomed event in any celebration and this night was no different.
To the consternation of the congresswoman, she arrived at the venue to find that the festivities have not yet started and only a few organizers were milling about to the accompanying melodies created by the famed EC Jammers Orchestra, overpowering the still night air.
The school principal, Dr. Alexander Patacsil, came in haste as soon as he was informed of the congresswoman’s arrival. While waiting for the program to begin, the topic of conversation wound its way to the still unfinished building that then Congressman Mark Cojuangco approbated for the school. The revelation that the building is still not completed to this day, particularly the comfort rooms, compelled the congresswoman to request for an outright tour inside the building which the principal led with pleasure. It was dark along all its corridors as electrical connections have yet to be installed properly thus cellphone lights and anything on hand that could help illuminate the way were utilized.
The abysmal sight of makeshift doors, broken windows, uninstalled toilet bowls, missing sinks, and all six comfort rooms sullied and covered with cobwebs was extremely disappointing and shocking for the congresswoman. The stagnant state of the construction project caused her to let loose a storm triggering mayhem and a hurricane of frantic activity among her staff. Even as it was late in the evening, she ordered her secretary, Ms. Dhang Manaois, to call all the engineers in charge of the building construction but not one replied to the continuous rings except for DPWH District Engineer, Noel Diaz, who ended up bearing the brunt of the ire intended for all.
The congresswoman’s ire was magnified by the realization that the building project was still unfinished to the extent that it is; even as the Four Million Pesos (Php4,000,000.00) from the congresswoman’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to complete the CR project including the water system was released long time ago.
The eye of the storm
In her speech, she passed on good wishes to the school and all the teaching staff including the members of the event’s royal court and the parents who shared their time and effort in supporting the school program. In addition, she also pledged the immediate revival of the stalled construction and to complete all the comfort rooms of the building that her husband initiated during his incumbency as congressman.
The day after – hurricane of activity blows in
True to her promise, construction resumed vigorously the following day as four contractors were called on to divide amongst them specific tasks to ensure the completion of all the comfort rooms. A representative from the DPWH office also arrived to help oversee that each contractor was appropriately assigned and on schedule for completion.
Engineers from the office of the congresswoman were tasked to supervise the completion of the project which includes the installation of all electrical wiring in the whole building.
Urdaneta City Vice Mayor Bong Gorospe and Mayor Bobom Perez’ executive assistant, Ronald San Juan, in behalf of the mayor who is out of the country, also arrived to provide any help that the congresswoman might require.
Two days later – the aftermath
“Puwede pala nilang tapusin agad kung gugustuhin!” (So, it is doable to finish the project immediately if they want it) One staff said referring to the construction engineers.