Eastern Visayas or Region 8 comprises of the two main islands of Leyte and Samar. It consists of six (6) provinces Leyte, Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar and six (6) cities – Tacloban, Ormoc, Calbayog, Maasin, Catbalogan and Borongan. Region 8 is famous for its San Juanico Bridge, the longest and most graceful looking bridge in Southeast Asia, which connects Leyte and Samar. It is also known for some of the country’s historical events – notably the first Christian mass in Limasawa Island and the world’s longest naval battle in history, the World War II Battle of the Leyte Gulf or the famous Mac Arthur landing in Palo, Leyte.
NIA Region 8 had humble beginnings. In 1947 it started as an Irrigation Division Unit under the Bureau of Public Works(BPW) headed by then District Engineer Graciano Militante Sr. with an initial complement of twenty-five (25) personnel housed in a building in Malirong Palo, Leyte. Provinces covered in addition to Leyte and Samar were Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Cebu and Bohol. His five (5) year stint was followed by three more District Engineers who held offices in Quonset Huts and finally to a rented house in Tacloban City.
NIA as a corporation started its Maiden Year on March 17, 1964 with the enactment of RA No. 3601 when the Irrigation Division was abolished under BPW with Engineer Alejandro Sison as the 1st Regional Director. Ten more RIMs succeeded him covering both Regions 7 & 8 until February 23, 2009, when Region 7 was separated from Region 8 per NIA Board Resolution 7567-09 in a nostalgic turn over rites at Bohol Tropics, Tagbilaran City on April 5, 2009. It was attended by the former Administrator Carlos S. Salazar and Sr. Dep. Administrator Alexander A. Reuyan, Regional Manager Romeo G. Quiza, the incoming Reg. Manager for Region 7 Modesto Membreve and Staff. The former NIA, Region 7 and 8 had as solid partnership for so many years sharing in both the struggles and triumphs encountered in its journey. The most significant accomplishment of Region 7 and 8 was being elevated to the Hall of Fame in CY 1990 for financial viability of all operational units, toppling for the 1st time the perennial Hall of Famer, Region XI. The region garnered its first trophy under the stewardship of the late Engr. Ebenezer J. de Pano.
NIA Region 8 continues to help uplift the quality of life of farmers providing their needs. Irrigator’s Associations as partners in Irrigation Development aggressively support the government’s goal of Rice Self Sufficiency. Average rice production have quadrupled from 23 cavans/ha in 1947 to 100 cavans/ha thus increasing the farm income and ultimately improving their standard of living. We can see farmers no longer live in dilapidated huts but in modern/concrete homes with electricity and television sets. Some farmers take pride that irrigated rice farming has produced professionals. All these are vital indicators of the improved socio economic status.
NIA Region 8 also envisions to continuously accelerate irrigation development. As of December 2012, irrigation development is high at 76% for Leyte but still low at 30% for the Samar Provinces. Today, under the dynamic Leadership of Regional Manager Romeo G. Quiza he continues to surpass what his predecessors had done with the able assistance of his two lady Managers – EOD Manager Gloria A. Sevilla and AFD Manager Jesusa A. Sibonga, . He vigorously pursued implementation of irrigation infrastructure development in Communal, National Systems and foreign assisted projects despite the implementation of NIA Rationalization Plan wherein a number of technical personnel were separated/retired from service. Project funds continue to pour to finance previously lined up project which could not be implemented due to lack of funds thereby increasing irrigation development to 55%.
He is also responsible not only for the major renovation and facelift of the Regional Office with all of its employees working in air-conditioned rooms but also receiving salaries and other benefits on time. His work ethic is being pro-active, innovative and dynamic. He makes sure that projects are completed before the scheduled target date.