“In a world where everything seems to be uncertain due to the impediments brought by the pandemic, what we all need is a huge positive energy to overcome the negative forces. Hence, I urge everyone to reinforce our inner being, and build our confidence and focus for the good of humanity,” words of Regional Development Council, Region 1 (RDC-1) Chairperson and Vigan City Mayor Juan Carlo S. Medina in his State of the Region Address during the CY 2020 State of the Region’s Development Conference (SORDC) held virtually via Zoom and facebook live last May 26, 2021.

The SORA highlighted the region’s economic momentum, halfway thru the plan period, of realizing relevant milestones in achieving its vision, but had to revert back due to COVID-19 pandemic which resulted to economic slowdown. This led to the contraction of the region’s growth to a negative 7.7 percent. The Services Sector was hit the hardest contributing 5.0 percentage points to the total decline in the economy due to the contraction in the tourism industry, transportation, and education services brought about mainly by the imposition of community quarantines. The Industry Sector also suffered a reversal as it recorded a negative 9.4 percent growth due to the contractions in the construction, and mining and quarrying sub-sectors. Despite all the adverse effects of the pandemic, there were also good news with the recorded gains in the Agriculture and Fishery, Finance, Information and Communications Technology, Health and Social Work, and Public Administration subsectors. The government also continued its Build, Build, Build program in the region through Public-Private-Partnership such as the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). With the opening of the final section of TPLEX in 2020, travel time from Tarlac to Rosario, La Union was reduced by an hour. Moreover, the battle against insurgencies thru the RTF-ELCAC also continued to prevent the armed groups in taking advantage of the pressing situation.

With high hopes, Medina urged everyone to build resilience by adapting to the new normal, continue the efforts, and march toward a better tomorrow. He also mentioned that the region shall continue to prioritize the policy directions to further improve the management of health crisis and expedite economic recovery. He highlighted the importance of adherence to the minimum health protocols as the region open its economy to reverse negative effects of the pandemic.

A press conference followed where queries revolved around the current efforts related to infrastructure programs under the Build, Build, Build program, tourism, environmental issues, education, among others. The event ended with the RDC-1 Awards and Recognition Program for the Best Project Implementers and Most Outstanding Project Monitors for CY 2020. Also, the RDC-1 recognized former RDC-1 members who have retired or transferred to new tasks or other regions, who significantly contributed in the region’s development through its Parangal Awards. Eight Regional Directors who were former Council and sub-committee chairs or members were conferred with the said award.