Koreamazing

The Korean Wave or Hallyu is undeniably within the Filipino stream. It all started when Korean dramas were first aired on local television. Thereafter was an unstoppable wave that made popular music, food, fashion and even cosmetics no longer foreign to Filipino taste and preference.
 
Beyond K-Pop, K-Drama, Kimchi and Soju, South Korea is also a leading economic force in East and South East Asia. The unprecedentedadvancement of the country in technology, infrastructure and manufacturing has led it to be an economic engine in the region and the entire world. As such, from an Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) recipient, South Korea is now an official donor of development assistance to growing countries including the Philippines.

The Iloilo Province is one of the recipients of these development assistance provided by the Korea Economic Development Cooperation Fund (KEDCF). This is through the implementation of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Stage II (JRMP II) under the management of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). Eighty percent (80) of the project was funded through a tied loan with the KEDCF through the Korea Eximbank in 2012. 

On top of the many benefits that can be derived from the project such irrigation, bulk water and hydroelectric power, JRMP II also aims to strengthen the partnership of the governments of South Korea and the Philippines in inclusive economic development and stability. 

As part of the Project Implementing Team of JRMP II, we had the chance to experience amazing Korea through an Invitational Training for JRMP II sponsored by the Korea Rural Community Corporation (KRC). The training ran from April 4-17, 2018 and aimed to expose and educate participants about concrete dam construction and water resource management. KRC is a public enterprise under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), for designing the “happiness” of Rural Community. This includes implementing, operating and managing Water Resource Facilities, Irrigation and Drainage, Farmland Consolidation, Rural Road Network, Ground Water Development and Rural Comprehensive Development. In joint venture with Saman and Dasan, KRC also prepared the Detailed Engineering Design of the JRMP II dams, canals and appurtenant 
structures.

From this “once in a blue moon” experience, we collected our realizations and lessons from various places and projects that we visited. We feel that these realizations are important to us as project implementers and to our dear readers who will be stakeholders and beneficiaries of JRMP II. 

1. Perfect Combo
Not unknown to many, Korea found a perfect pair to support its unprecedented growth, that is through Agriculture and Rural Development! The Saemaul Undong or “New Community” Movement which started in 1970s kicked off the development programs for the rural community in Korea. Banking on principles of diligence, self-relianceand cooperation, the movement aimed to bridge the gap of rural and urban development and support the growth of other industries through sufficient food, sustainable energy and other rural resources. Today, Korea’s agriculture sector produce sufficient food for its people. Rice production has been sufficient through various irrigation and dam projects which ensured timely and sufficient water for food production. Rural communities are also equally growing as the urban cities. 

Learning from this Korean Combo, the Philippines can also achieve the same development Korea reached. This trend is now undertaken by NIA though the modernization of its irrigation projects, including construction of new ones that are not only climate resilient but also multi-purpose in nature.

2. Cool and Clean
This phrase pertains to environmental management which continuously been a challenge in implementing large infrastructure projects. 

In Korea, environmental management plays an indispensable role in ensuring that projects are efficient and sustainable. The country has massive infrastructure development plans including the management of more than a thousand dams. As such a careful and inclusive management plan is a must. The goal is to ensure that these water impounding structures are cool and clean which are hallmarks of effective management of project impacts. This includes watershed and water resource management and even goes to cover resettlement management and other social issues. 

In JRMP II, the same is our goal for environmental management, a cool and clean reservoir that will ensure sufficient water for farm lands, for houses and for industries. Plans and programs for project impact management during and after project completion are in place to ensure sustainability of project. 

3. Models
In Korea, models are not always people strutting in the catwalk, some are scaled miniature of infrastructure projects like impounding dams, sluice gates, and irrigation canals. Through this hydraulic models, detailed designs of structures are reviewed and evaluated in relation to climate, rainfall and flooding data. Climate risks are calculated and mitigating measures are developed through models.

Hydraulic Modeling and Testing has been a trend for Korean Dam designers. Even existing dams were subjected to the same though they have long been constructed to ensure that these structures will be adaptive to climate change. 

In fact, the same were also used in Korea’s monumental sea dike, the Saemangeum Project. A one hectare research facility of the Hydraulic Research Center of KRC was dedicated for the hydraulic model of the project. The results of the model and testing for Saemangeum made the project more acceptable to its stakeholders and critics. The JRMP II was also subjected to the same model and testing. A scale model of the dams were produced and simulated to ensure that the design considerations will be met.

4. The future is now
These words were turned into actions in Korea’s vision for a creative and inclusive economy. All plans and programs are currently implemented to address future issues and needs. The Saemangeum project, the world’s longest sea dike was envisioned to accommodate future expansions of various agricultural, manufacturing and IT industries of Korea. 

NIA also aimed to address future needs for irrigation, bulk water and power in Iloilo through JRMP II. However, the continued delay in project implementation the benefits of the project are much-needed now than in the future.

5. Bruised and Battered 

While we think that the delays and criticisms in the implementation of JRMP II are discouraging, we found refuge in the story of the Saemanguem Sea Dike Project which took 19 years to complete. Within the said span of time, the project construction was halted twice because of project opposition and court hearings. But in all of these issues hurled against the project, the government of South continued to affirm and confirm the necessity of this monumental project to welfare of the country and its people. 

A writ of kalikasan, tedious FPIC process among many other challenges can never deprive the people of Iloilo with the benefits of JRMP II. While the project is about to commence its 
implementation, support from the farmers, 
Indigenous Peoples Communities, government leaders, religious groups, business groups among others are outpouring because project benefits are clearer and much-needed.

If former Philippine Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Herman Ongkiko would describe it, ODA projects like JRMP II makes the Filipinoimplementers better. Not only that we are 
accepting development assistance funds from other countries but we also acquire knowledge and technology. All of these in an effort to make our country better! /JP (Steve Cordero, Kervy Ann Barlis, Sheila Atonio)