Nestled on the shores of picturesque Lake Lanao, the town of Lumbatan in Lanao del Sur is about to make itself known as one of the more progressive municipalities of Mindanao.
New Mayor Allan Lao said he wants to upgrade the town’s infrastructure and further develop its agricultural industry, which is the backbone of Lumbatan’s economy.
At 44, Lao is the youngest mayor to serve Lumbatan. It’s his first term and his first time to hold public office. For a newcomer in politics, his victory was astonishing, yet Lumbatan’s voters welcomed him with open arms.
“There were no tensions during the campaign, no threats or any sense of danger,” he said. “The elections were peaceful and so was the transition from the old administration to my administration.”
Under the young mayor’s term, the town he grew up in will be marking its centennial on April 21, and Lao has huge plans for this milestone.
“We’re going to hold a week-long sports festival,” he said. “Each barangay is forming its own teams that will compete in basketball, volley, and other popular sports. The championships will be held on the day of the anniversary itself.”
A cultural competition will also be held, with booths that will showcase the colorful heritage of the Maranaos. Again, each barangay will participate and will be assigned a booth to decorate with materials used by Maranaos, Lao said.
On April 21st, a dance parade will be held on the major thoroughfares of Lumbatan, with a cultural show in the evening with the performers of the cultural dance troupe of the Lanao Agricultural College, which happens to be in Lumbatan.
The mayor admits one term in office isn’t long enough for him to turn Lumbatan into a model town, but says he’s working hard to establish the fundamentals that will pave the way for the town to progress.
“We have to fix the infrastructure, build passable roads, and provide electric power to every residence in town. To accomplish this, we must have peace and stability, and this can be realized by putting a stop to the longtime feuds between certain groups and families, which we have already begun doing,” he said.
When this is achieved, the mayor said he could even start promoting the tourist attractions of Lumbatan. A two-hour drive from Marawi City, Lanao del Sur’s capital, Lumbatan has many natural attractions, with its proximity to the scenic Lake Lanao.
Although he wanted to be a lawyer, Mayor Lao said he had always felt despondent about his hometown’s lack of progress. “It seemed hopeless, it’s why I decided to run for office. I want to turn the town around,” he said.