Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Arsenio M. Balisacan recently visited the NEDA Regional Office 02 in Tuguegarao City to personally interact with the staff and to check on the progress of the current face lifting activities of the NEDA building and the improvements being made on its physical environment.

Through an informal gathering at the Pamegafanan Hall of the NEDA2-RDC2 Building, DG Balisacan expressed his pleasure and excitement over the accomplishments being made.

“I believe that you can only be as productive as your environment,” the Cabinet Secretary said in approval.

“We want to be able to serve our country better. There’s so much that’s demanded of us as bureaucrats, technocrats, and workers in the government,” he added. “Especially so that while our neighboring countries are prospering, we are left far behind, hence, we have a lot of catching up to do,” the Secretary averred as he encouraged the NEDAns to work harder and to continue excelling in their respective fields.

Together with the DG during his visit were NEDA Deputy Director General Margarita R. Songco, Assistant Director General Kenneth V. Tanate, and the DG’s executive assistant  Karl Manalang.

This was not my first visit to Region 2, the Secretary said during his inspirational talk as he gave the NEDAns a glimpse of his young life.

Hailing from the Ilocos Region, the DG used to join other farmers who travelled to Claveria, the Cagayan town adjacent to Ilocos Norte, to work as harvester during summer vacation.

“We stayed in the houses of farmers in the towns of Claveria, Sanchez Mira, and Lallo, and I used whatever money I earned there to pay for my tuition fees.  For this, Cagayan will always be a part of my life,” he recalled.

The young boy carrying one cavan of palay to sell to the nearest trader along farm to market road back then is now the country’s chief socioeconomic planner and the current “father” of NEDA.

As the big boss of NEDA, the Secretary disclosed that he and President P-Noy share one important characteristic - they are both evidence-based persons. For him, dealing with and understanding data is crucial, especially in NEDA’s work.

“NEDA is the heart and soul of policy making. We are tasked not only to plan but also to advise, recommend, voice out and advocate the right policies. We want our advocacies and policy positions to be grounded on good data, good analysis, firm commitment, and a clear understanding of what works and what does not,” he emphasized.

The DG then encouraged the NRO2 staff to continue pursuing higher education to keep up with the fast pace of developments happening across the globe.

“If we stop educating ourselves, we become irrelevant. Take advantage of opportunities that come along your way,” he urged. “I strongly believe that the organization is as good as its people, therefore, we always need to retool.”

For her part, DDG Songco expressed her joy in seeing the big changes in the physical surroundings of the regional office. She congratulated the NRO2 for effecting major improvements within only a year, adding that everything looks different since her last visit to the region back in March 2014 during the meeting of the Regional Development Committee – Luzon at Sta. Ana, Cagayan.

In her response, Regional Director MaryAnne ER. Darauay conveyed her utmost gratitude to DDG Songco who was very instrumental in making it possible for the regional office to receive budget augmentations for the upgrading of its infrastructure and facilities.


Dir. Darauay also sincerely thanked DG Balisacan for his truly special and inspiring visit to Region 2 and for spending quality time with the staff. It was a humbling experience indeed for everybody to personally chat, jog and share stories and jokes with the DG himself, as well as to take photos with him – selfies and groufies included. #