Bayambang, Pangasinan Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao on revolutionizing agriculture as a gateway to progress
BY JAVIER FLORES
PHOTOS BY MANUEL GENEROSO
We reached Bayambang, Pangasinan at daybreak and saw a figure towering over what otherwise were
the unadorned horizons of the town, sparking curiosity and awe. Its height was difficult to miss. As we moved closer, we learned that the figure was the statue of St. Vincent Ferrer, the patron saint of builders, which, at 50.23 meters, is as tall as a 15-story building, taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil. It only seemed fitting that the statue was completed this year in time for the 405th founding anniversary of Bayambang and the quadricentennial (400th anniversary) of the town’s St. Vincent Parish.
There was however another reason for the town to celebrate. The statue had vied for the Guinness Record for the World’s Tallest Supported Bamboo Sculpture, an all-new category. On April 5, 2019, Guinness Official Adjudicator Swapnil Dangarikar declared that the statue had complied with all the
requirements to be declared the holder of the Guinness Record, ensuring that it is not only a relevant religious attraction but also a significant tourism destination. The declaration was just in time for the 600th death anniversary of St. Vincent de Ferrer who died on the same day in the year 1419.
Not too long ago, nothing stood on the site of the St. Vincent Ferrer statue. It took the term of incumbent Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao to conceptualize and execute the feat in a short span of time without spending any funds of the local government.
LOCAL BOY WHO DID GOOD
Mayor Quiambao is a true son of Bayambang, having been born there in 1948 to small-scale business folk Simplicio Quiambao of Pampanga and Veronica Terrado of Bayambang. Upon finishing high school at Bayambang National High School (BNHS), he went to Manila to take up Business Administration at the University of the East (UE), supporting himself by working
as a messenger and a jeepney driver.
He tried his fortune in Indonesia as an overseas Filipino worker and worked hard until he slowly ascended the corporate ladder to become the executive vice president of PT Green Timber Jaya, a leading timber company. Every year, he would come home to reunions with his classmates, who never failed to remind him of the sad state of Bayambang, how the town he left was still virtually the same, as if
time had passed it by.
The latest project that Mayor Quiambao is conceptualizing is an agricultural economic zone, totaling
67 hectares. The Saint Vincent Ferrer Prayer Park is part of that zone.
In 1994, he returned to Manila for good and met good fortune engaging in significant projects such as land titling computerization program through his Land Registration Systems, Inc. (LARES). He also ushered the Land Transportation Office’s license system into the digital age through his company Stradcom Corporation. He was at the forefront of building the Metro Manila Skyway Phase 1 and the STAR Tollway. He also had several successful ventures abroad such as the Guam Regional Medical City, the
Vivekananda Bridge Tollway in India, and road projects in Vietnam.
He never failed to be thankful for all his blessings. He organized a program with his fellow alumni of BNHS called “Baley Ko, Pawilen Ko, Aroen Ko, tan Tulungan Ko” (My hometown, I will return to you, I will
love and help). He undertook to build roads, clean up the public plaza, and establish the College of Information Technology in Pangasinan State University-Bayambang in 2000. Through the Kasama Kita sa Barangay Foundation, the recipient of CSR funds from his many corporations, he provided TESDAaccredited trainings and seminars.
He even put up the Royal Mall, and transferred the address of his corporations from Manila to Bayambang ensuring a boost in local revenue. Having no desire to seek a post in government, he supported the bid of local politicians. Through time however he noticed that those who promised change failed to deliver; worse, they only wanted to preserve their power once elected. This caused frustration on Quiambao’s part.
Wanting to put Bayambang on the world map, Quiambao sponsored a campaign for the Guinness Record title of The Longest Barbecue in 2014. He spent close to Php20 million of his own funds for Kalutan ed Dalan (Barbecue along the Road), complete with the reenactment of the
entry of General Emilio Aguinaldo into the town and proclaiming it as the 5th capital of the Revolutionary
Philippine Republic. With the people setting up an 8,000-meter long grill, Bayambang wrested the Guinness Record from erstwhile holder Turkey.