By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
WHILE researching on the word “bolasi”, I found a site called “bucaio”, featuring the food and culture of the Philippines. Among the features were landscapes, products and resources of Pangasinan and Cavite. Bolasi, according to the writer, is called abukos or asobe in Cavite. In Pangasinan, bolasi is dried, and together with “tuyo” (a.k.a. lapad” and “tulis”) constitute the major products of the coastal towns.
Bolasi is also a barangay whose historical significance was indicated by a plaque and memorial, which stated, “This sacred and historical site where both the US liberation Task Force 78 (1945) and General Masaharu Homma and the Japanese Imperial Army forces (1941) came ashore.” This plaque was stolen, but the foundation where the plaque used to be, still remains.
In 1973, President Ferdinand Marcos built the San Fabian PTA Beach Resort in this same barangay, now operated by the Philippines Tourism Authority (PTA).
Aside from tourists, Bolasi has a rare visitor, a friendly butanding (whale shark). The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is “a slow-moving, filter-feeding carpet shark” and the largest known surviving fish species. “They feed almost exclusively on plankton and small fishes, and pose no threat to humans.”
What poses a threat to the residents and the fishing community is the possible establishment of the “Proposed San Fabian Cement Grinding Facility” whose operation, according to them, will pose dangers to their health and livelihood activities. The facility includes a cement grinding equipment, bulk storage, pier facility and other support facilities. It will be installed in a 101,900-square meters private property owned by San Miguel Northern Cement, Inc. “The proposed project site is bounded in the north by PTA beach resort, in the east and south by some residential houses and open land and on the west, by open areas.”
The project will surely deplete the water resources in the area and degrade the air quality, not only in Bolasi, but in the whole town of San Fabian, Dagupan City and adjacent towns. As it generates domestic wastewater, groundwater quality will be compromised. Eventually the wastewater will be emptied into the sea, where it contaminates marine life. Accidental spills will also contaminate the ground where vegetables and other crops are currently planted.
Former Speaker Jose de Venecia considers San Miguel Corporation’s entry as the “long-neglected push to industrialization” towards the building of a “satellite city” in San Fabian. An industrialized city that will surely make bolasi and other river creatures extinct and replace Bolasi’s food supply with imported galunggong from China.
The San Fabian PTA Beach Resort used to attract tourists during “a time when their grass was green and well kept, their guards busy taking their rounds and the place was beaming with sounds of life.” Today, according to one visitor, the presidential suite looked dismal, “the carpet ragged and old, no life guard on watch” and “the bathroom was a scary place to be in”. It could further deteriorate, and may totally lose its clientele with the presence of the cement grinding facility competing with normal conversations, replacing the quiet and serenity of the sea.
Finally, the historical significance of Bolasi, whose markers were stolen, will lose all traces of what it stands for, its remaining foundation washed away with the wastewater of the cement grinding facility, eventually killing its loyal visitor, the butanding.
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