There should have been nothing regretful about this trip, except that the road to Bontoc is in such a terrible shape. Most of the Benguet side of the highly controversial Halsema Highway was well-paved, but most of the Mt. Province side was rugged and dusty, turning the Rising Sun bus we rode in into a virtual galloping, drunk horse (and a scarred viper, I suppose, as it snaked its way along the mountainside) . My back problems tortured me the whole time, which kept me asking where all the millions of public funds earmarked for the (endless) rehabilitation of this historic but disgraced road have gone. Gone maybe to the brand-new gas guzzlers and the bonggacious houses of some unscrupulous contractors who give more premium to profit than quality, and politicos who always salivate for their “SOPs.” As many of my friends have wished, mabulunan nawa ang mga buwaya sa kanilang pagnonoche buena at media noche ngayong taon at sa susunod pang mga taon!
We passed by Sabangan and envied its lavishly spent-for highway. Well, well, well, good for them they got their Pilandos and Dominguezes. Of course, Bontoc has Dalog so its main roads are well-cemented. Perhaps, future congressmen should also come from each of the other eight municipalities of the Mt. Province so that all the main roads of Mt. Province will finally be concreted. Should this be the case, we will have to wait for about half a century more before the whole concreting process will be completed. That is, if each congressman does not make a comeback after a six-year stint in office. But given the greed for power and money among most politicians here who have somehow deluded themselves into believing in their indispensability, the whole thing may well be stretched into a full century of “public works.” But then again, by that time, most of the sub-standard concrete sections of the Halsema Highway would have been broken into jigsaw-like concrete slabs by only a few months of use .