Thursday, April 23, 2015

6,000 Masons in Legazpi for 99th AnCom

LEGAZPI CITY, April 23 (PNA) -- Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima led on Wednesday the 6,000 delegates of the Freemason Fraternity from across the country on the grand occasion of its 99th Annual Communication (AnCom) of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines.

For an event starter, Purisima, the current grand master of the Freemason Fraternity in the country, together with over a hundred delegates who are PNP ranking officers in various parts of the country, converged on Wednesday and visited Camp Gen. Simeon Ola, the headquarters of the police regional office here.

Purisima’s party was met by police officials led by Bicol Regiona Police Director Victor P. Deona, who arranged for a simple welcome ceremony at the camp's ceremonial ground.

The police director general welcomed his police officers who are also active members of the Grand Mason Fraternity, noticeably giving a very short welcome address.

Purisima, wearing a neatly pressed white polo barong, acknowledged and shared pleasantries with local police officials led by Deona.

At the ceremony, Purisima was accompanied by Ismael Manguddadatu, governor of Maguindanao, and had a boodle fight lunch.

The group of Purisima then proceeded to the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation (ICR), the convention venue here, to register as delegates to the four-day AnCom.

Other prominent personalities that will attend the convention are Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

City Mayor Noel Rosal, who is the Mason Regional Grand Master, said the 99th AnCom is one of the biggest conventions in the country this year which the city is hosting starting on Thursday until Sunday.

Rosal said they also expect foreign delegates to attend the convention.

He said "it’s all systems go" for the AnCom delegates as over-2,000 hotel rooms are reserved for the delegates and their families.

Several other accommodation facilities in nearby localities like Daraga, the home to the historical Cagsawa Ruins, the resort town of Sto. Domingo, the Misibis Island Resort in the municipality of Bacacay and the cities of Ligao and Tabaco have also been tapped,” Rosal said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD/

Country's first DRRM 2-in-1 facility breaks ground in Albay
By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, April 23 (PNA) -- The country's first 2-in-1 disaster risk reduction and management facility of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) will soon rise at the Philippine Air Force (PAF)-Tactical Operations Group 5 compound following the groundbreaking ceremony here Wednesday.

The project costs PHP46 million, with funding coming from the Department of National Defense (DND).

The lot is a donation from the PAF while the Provincial Government of Albay (PGA) shared PHP800,000 as its counterpart.

The project will have two two-storey buildings, with hangar 1 and 2 and a warehouse facility of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

It will serve as the operation center of RDRRMC while the OCD 5 regional office at the Camp Gen. Simeon Ola will become the administrative office and training center of OCD5.

The project will be constructed in nine months or 260 days starting this July.

Other regions at the eastern seaboard like in Samar and Caraga will also have the same facility from the DND.

The groundbreaking ceremony was led by Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda; Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, guest speaker; Undersecretary Alexander Pama, OCD administrator and NDRRMC executive director; Maj. Gen, Julius Cesar Guillermo, division commander, Ist Air Division of PAF; other officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Southern Luzon, Bicol Region, Albay province; and OCD Regional Director Raffy Alejandro.

Also present were national and local agency officials and media practitioners.

Salceda said the PGA was able to prove the importance of the DRRM and climate change adaptation (CCA) since he started serving as the father of the province.

This, he said, is the key to the continuous development of Albay and its constant attainment of zero casualty every time there is threat of or there is actual calamity in the province.

"The DRRM and CCA are the best practices of every Albayano. These are part of the daily life of every resident of the province," the governor said.

Gazmin asked the PGA to continue its sterling achievement in the field of DRRM-CCA.

He said this should be replicated by other provinces and places in the country so that the national government will achieve its goal of having safer, disaster-resilient and climate change-adaptive communities in the entire Philippines. (PNA)

DSWD-5 ties up with Sorsogon town LGU, resort owners

LEGAZPI CITY, April 23 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office V (DSWD-5) has formalized partnership through a memorandum of understanding with the local government unit (LGU) of Donsol, Sorsogon, and six Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited beach resorts in the town to provide a sustainable livelihood to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries in the municipality.

The beach resorts are Elysa, Vitton, Woodland, Dancalan, Amar Farm and AGM beach front resorts.

DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia on Thursday said the MOU signing was held recently at the Vitton Beach Resort.

The areas of cooperation among the parties include: 1) Employment of 4Ps beneficiaries/sustainable livelihood program participants in private business establishments and tourism areas; 2) Provision of areas for promotion/trade display SLP participant-made products; and, 3) Market and linkage of SLP participants produced and harvested crops.

Garcia expressed his gratitude to the LGU of Donsol and resort owners and hopes for a better partnership in the future. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

Masbate cattle festival gallops to higher mileage of success
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY, April 22 (PNA) -- Loud screams, amid the sun’s glittering beams, from first-time spectators echoed in the Grand Arena when the cowboys proudly displayed their skills in the Bull Riding competition.

The challenging sounds of the screams and the apparent bull-riders’ dreams to win simply defined the essence of the sport called the Rodeo.

For Gene Gregorio, Masbate Gold Project (MGP) communications director, this was his first time to experience watching a Rodeo.

His urge for watching the competitions intensified by the day and he became a regular in the Grand Arena every afternoon.

“This growing passion for Rodeo could be likened to Hemingway’s love for bullfighting. The sun, the sand, the cheers of the crowd, and the dangers of Rodeo events reminded me of scenes from Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’,” Gregorio said.

The MGP is one of the major sponsors of the Rodeo, represented by its key officials composed of Danilo Latuga, Ray Mead, Ramon Velasco, and Florencio Cayco.

Reckoning the Rodeo Masbateno Festival as Masbate’s main sport and cultural event annually, the MGP management threw its full support behind it.

The Rodeo reached new height this year because it was enjoyed not only by the locals but also by tourists from all over the country and from other countries.

It was speculated earlier that the 2015 Rodeo Masbateño Festival would not thrive due to recent political developments.

It, however, defied doomsayers and simply hopped along to become the howling success that everyone enjoyed.

Spell-binding Rodeo competitions, nightly events with bands at the Beer Plaza, and a carnival were brought on by Rodeo Masbateno Inc. (RMI) with the help of its major sponsors; the provincial government of Masbate, the Masbate City government, DMCI, and the MGP.

In an interview during the MGP Night, Community Relations manager Ramon Velasco reiterated MGP’s untiring support to the province’s needs and welfare to help improve the life of Masbateños and its economy.

“The Masbate Gold Project’s support for Rodeo Masbateno Festival 2015 and the Balud Beach Football Festival clearly shows the company’s support for sports and tourism as part of its sustained efforts to contribute to Masbate’s social and economic development. That is MininG resPonsibly,“ Velasco said.

Indeed, Masbate’s pride is on the rise as the Rodeo acquired the rating of one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions from the International Directory.

On its 22nd year, the Rodeo Festival has achieved the purpose of making Masbate’s cattle industry known across the country, recalled one of the original Rodeo founders, Charlie Agatep.

The PR guru, a close friend of the late Gov. Moises Espinosa Jr., helped conceptualize and organize the first-ever Rodeo event in 1993.

Agatep, then group chairman and chief executive officer of Agatep and Associates (now known as Grupo Agatep) was commissioned by Governor Espinosa to handle public relations for the first Rodeo.

Their concept went beyond Rodeo sports, the event was also a means for attracting merchants and cattle buyers.

At that time, cattle of different brands were also being displayed in the corral for trading.

Although Agatep was not around for this year’s Rodeo opening, he sent PR consultant Kathryn Caday and PR executive Michelle Bayhon to experience the event and the other delights of Masbate.

Complementing this year’s Rodeo as a tourism and sports event was the recently-conceived Beach Football Festival held in Palani, Balud from April 16 to 17.

The first-ever national beach football tournament had 51 teams participating from all over the country.

Aside from beach football, Gregorio mentioned another first in this year’s Rodeo, namely, the launch of the Proud Masbateño Ako Inc. (PMAI) headed by Maloli Espinosa during the MGP Night.

The Rodeo event normally pays tribute to the competing cowboys by feting them to dinner, cowboy songs, beer, and souvenirs at the Rodeo Grand Arena.

To make the general public more aware of MininG resPonsibly, MGP set up a booth with different exhibits on gold production, the uses of gold, and how gold is invested.

Thousands of visitors had their pictures taken in a photo booth or behind a stand with cowboy or cowgirl attire free of charge, while MGP personnel were on hand to provide information.

MGP’s solid support for festivities like the Rodeo positively impacts on the provincial economy because Rodeo is simply a unique festival.

It attracts tourists and investors to experience the event, contribute to local livelihood and revenues, and discover the potentials of Masbate.

The Masbate Gold Project has supported the Rodeo Festival for several years now to the mutual satisfaction of Masbatenos and the company’s employees.

“MininG resPonsibly is at the core of MGP’s commitment and contributions to the community. This can be seen in the MGP’s social development projects, its contributions to Masbate’s economic development, in MGP’s environmental management programs, and its support for the province’s culture and sports. In this way, we support its heritage that attracts tourism investment and leads to economic development,” Velasco said.

Indeed, the MGP’s vision of “Mining Responsibly cares for the future” is evident in the sands of the Rodeo Arena and of Palani’s football festival.

“Mining ResPonsibly cares for the future” means all of MGP’s plans and actions are geared toward a better future for Aroroy children and the following generations. (PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/EDS

Reforestation of huge mangrove, beachfront forests in Bicol to involve coastal communities
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 22 (PNA) -- Bicolano coastal communities will be busy working on the reforestation of their beach fronts and mangrove areas this year and onward.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has recently announced its release of Php400 million in initial amount to finance this undertaking nationwide called the Mangrove and Beach Forest Development Project (MBFDP) that is part of the National Greening Program (NGP), a flagship environmental agenda item of the Aquino administration.

The release represents 40 percent of the total Php1-billion funding requirement of the project as recommended by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) which will be charged against the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (RRP) under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA), according to the DBM.

Under this project, the national government — with the participation of concerned stakeholders from both local government units (LGUs) and the private sector or non-governmental organizations (NGOs)— will develop mangroves and beach forests in areas affected by typhoons and other disasters that hit several regions in the country.

Under RRP, all rehabilitation efforts are to be grounded on ensuring the safety of communities against natural disasters in the future, thus, comprehensive preparation and prevention are key elements in the policy of “build back better (BBB)”, which includes the reforestation of mangrove and beach forests on local coastlines.

Among the priority sites of the project are areas in the Visayas and Bicol affected by Typhoon "Yolanda"; communities in Zamboanga affected by siege and unrest; areas in Cebu and Bohol which were damaged by earthquakes; and areas in Mindanao badly hit by Typhoon "Pablo".

The estimated land area of 27,400 hectares covered by the project is broken down to 22,000 hectares of mangrove forests and 5,400 hectares of beach forests and the activities involved are site preparation, nursery development, mangrove and beach forest planting, maintenance, and protection.

The DBM said that since the Php400 million was an initial release, subsequent releases of the remaining fund would require the DENR to submit requirements, including identified sites for target planting activities and actual planting activities supported by with geo-tagged photos—to the DBM.

Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, in announcing the release, said, “Our country’s natural resources not only shower us with abundant riches but also provide us with a natural defense against typhoons and storms.”

Hence, proper management of resources is part of the Aquino administration’s strategy in climate change mitigation to safeguard our countrymen against future calamities, he stressed.

Under the FY 2015 GAA, the national government allotted a budget of Php21.7 billion to implement BBB strategy that integrates a preventive approach with efforts that focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction management actions and interventions, Abad added.

DENR Bicol Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales on Wednesday said that with the region getting as much as Php135 million for the rehabilitation under MBFDP, a total of over 7,100 hectares of beaches scattered through the region's six provinces, NGOs and other community-based organizations would be tapped into its implementation.

The areas of implementation insofar as Bicol is concerned involve 1,000 hectares in Camarines Norte; Camarines Sur, 1,100 hectares; Masbate, 2,130 hectares; Albay; 1,000 hectares; Catanduanes, 700 hectares; and Sorsogon, 314 hectares.

The DENR’s regional Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) has been tasked as overall coordinator of the project while its implementation is assigned to the respective Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs) of each province in cooperation with local government units (LGUs) and support of other line agencies, Gonzales said.

So far, he said, DENR-Bicol already has its composite action team composed of its personnel who would conduct site assessment, validation and mapping, and determine the sources of planting materials to be used.

Site preparations, production of planting materials, planting, maintenance, protection and other activities will be delegated to barangays or communities through duly registered people’s organizations — meaning the actual implementation works would make people in the barangays occupied by these activities, he said.

Every activity is assigned with budget--with the seedling production getting 67 percent of the fund—that is why involvement in any of the activities of the project implementation will also provide these barangay folk extra earnings, the DENR regional chief added. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS

Legazpi City gets traffic lights from MMDA
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, April 22 (PNA) -- Legazpi City will soon have new traffic lights, courtesy of the Manila Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA).

Mayor Noel E. Rosal, members of the Sangguniang Panlunsod headed by Vice Mayor Vittorio C. Roces and MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino led the ground-breaking ceremony for the installation of traffic lights at the Imelda C. Roces Avenue corner Benny S. Imperial Drive on Monday.

The project materialized after the MMDA approved the proposed Legazpi City Traffic Management Program submitted by the city administration earlier.

The Traffic Engineering Center of the MMDA also conducted a traffic management plan study on how to establish the traffic lights in the area.

After the flag-raising ceremony, Tolentino turned over the plan to Rosal and to the SP members to serve as their guide for the enactment of a traffic ordinance in Legazpi.

Tolentino disclosed that these traffic signal facilities are only part of an initial donation by the MMDA to the city as his office will install another traffic lights at the Rizal Avenue Street intersection near the Liberty Commercial Center (LCC) and the L. Los Banos Drive and F. Imperial Street intersection near Gaisano Mall and 101 Mall.

He said that this project is part of the MMDA's support to the city administration in order to address the congested traffic situation and also to improve the vehicular flow, particularly in the commercial areas at the downtown portion of this city.

The MMDA chief revealed that the AMEG Construction, based in this city, has started already the civil works of the project.

Then, he said, the personnel of the MMDA Traffic Engineering Center will start the installation of bulb-type traffic lights and other signal facilities that include four units of Type A Post, four units of Type B Post, one unit of stand pipe for local controller, three sets of 300 mm six aspect of signal lantern, one set of 300mm three aspect of signal lantern, three sets of 200mm six aspect of signal lantern, one set of 200mm three aspect of signal lantern, eight sets of pedestrian lantern and one unit of local controller.

The installation of traffic lights at the Imelda Roces Avenue corner Benny Imperial Drive is expected to be finished on or before the second week of May, Tolentino added.

Rosal described Legazpi as the regional center of government agencies where almost all the government offices are located,

He said the city is also the center of education in the entire Bicolandia with two high standard universities -- the Bicol University (BU) and Aquinas University -- and other local colleges operating in this city that have produced a high volume of students, most of them coming from neighboring provinces.

Legazpi is also the center of transportation in the region with an increasing number of vehicles plying inside the territorial areas of this city that resulted in the high volume traffic incidents, he added.

He revealed that this traffic light project is part of the modernization program of the traffic system in Legazpi, which is designed to improve and promote the safe and smooth flow of vehicular traffic on the road networks in order to hasten the movement of all daily transactions by the motorists and other commuters.

The city chief executive disclosed that this project would also minimize, if not totally prevent, vehicular accidents and also reduce the traveling time going to the points of destination of the motorists and commuters.

This traffic light project is another welcome addition to the many landmarks established by the city administration, Rosal said. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EPS/CBD/EBP