Thursday, July 24, 2014

'Glenda' leaves 55,000 homeless Albayanos
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PNA)-- Albay province was heavily affected by typhoon "Glenda" (internationally known as Rammasun) last July 14-15, and suffered severe damage with wind force of 140-180 kph that lingered over the entire swathe of Albay landmass, Burias Pass, and Albay Gulf for almost seven hours.

Despite this hazard, the province was able to achieve zero casualty through its pre-emptive evacuation strategy benefitting 100,936 families or 711,490 individuals.

Though the province has achieved zero casualty unfortunately Albay suffered massive damages specifically on agricultural crops wherein 9.4 million of coconut trees with an estimated output loss of P1.3 billion.

Around 54,339 houses made out of light materials worth P1,640,170,000 were flattened to the ground.

Damage to public infrastructure was recorded at P670 million, while P540 million in other infrastructure and P620 million in telecom infrastructure -- for a total of P6,107,462,295 based on the recent report from Albay Public Safety Management and Emergency Office (Apsemo) here.

Majority of houses made out of light materials and built within the slum areas of this city either flattened to the ground or gobbled up by thick sands that pile-up during the height of typhoon "Glenda" due to storm surges.

For a week now, Aldrin Bangate, 49, father of a three-year-old girl, is almost recapturing his home again from seven to eight feet high of black sand that piled-up his abode due to storm surges brought by typhoon "Glenda" last week here.

Using only shovel, Aldrin is indefatigably removing the big volume of sands that smashed into his home and to numerous houses built within the shoreline of Sabang, Pigcale, Baybay and San Roque villages here.

“This is very tiring for me but I have to dig out my home as this is our haven that needs to be salvage after the storm. But if, I’m capable enough to buy a land, I will build a safer home for my family not in this coastal area where weather is the constant threats specifically that typhoons area getting stronger nowadays,” Aldrin said.

Aldrin’s wife, Fe, 48, is still recuperating from the injury after she incidentally stride out a sharp object on their way home from temporary shelter provided by the government for safety.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, UNFCCC Green Climate Fund co-chair for Developing Countries, said the fight against climate change, its causes and effects will trigger higher poverty and higher malnutrition.

Seven years ago, Salceda said that typhoon "Durian" took away 1,500 lives and 45 percent of the underlying economy of Albay province.

“Since then, we invested 9-11 percent of our annual budget to keep people safe in the midst of the risks and make development resilient to disasters and to climate change. In six years, we increased our forest cover by 88 percent and our mangroves 4x from 700 hectares to 2,100 hectares while achieving all MDG indicators much earlier in 2011,” he noted.

"In 2013, we all witnessed the devastation of "Yolanda" in our southern neighbours. However, on July 14-15, the climate evil was at our doorsteps -- Typhoon "Glenda" made a landfall in Albay, lingered for eight days with winds of 150-180 kph," Salceda said.

Currently, Albay is struggling to restore power wherein only 20 percent restored after typhoon "Glenda" battered the region for a week now.

“The provincial government attained the zero casualty goals in contrast (with) our neighboring provinces and the rest of Philippines. The last death count were 100 and growing. However, the social and economic effects were staggering -- 77 percent of our coconuts will not bear fruit for three years, some 9.417 million coconut trees and some 45,000 coco farm workers and 9,400 landowners lost their cash cow and 54,700 of our households were critically and totally damaged,” Salceda said.

“The climate bill is initially estimated at P6.2 billion, or roughly 11 percent of our underlying GDP in terms of lost productive capacity and income streams. That’s a lot of hungry and homeless. Wherever it may take us or whatever it amount to, we will draw on our meagre savings and realignments of our budget away from the more growth-inducing investments. That’s two years backwards. Now, we really have to run just to stay in place,” the Albay governor said.

With extreme climate resources are induced by the sight of the dead and the debris in the streets rather than those who invest in relocation, permanent evacuation centres and other risk reduction measures and adaptation, he said.

“I beg you and ask for your assistance with your home countries for any help to ease the pain so that the world community of nations afford hope to our people,” the GCF co-chair for developing countries said. (PNA) LGI/FGS/RBB/CBD/

Albay posts Php 7.6-B damage from 'Glenda'
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) – While Albay recorded no casualty during typhoon “Glenda,” the total damages in the various sector of the provincial economy ballooned to Php 7.6 billion, according to the latest report of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO).

Dr. Cedric Daep, APSEMO chief, said this could go higher as reports are not yet complete and these keep on coming from the 15 towns and three cities of the province.

Of this total, the infrastructure sector posted the highest, with Php 3.6 billion.

Damages to bridges and roads totalled Php 242.7 million; flood control, water irrigation system and provincial buildings, also amounted to about Php 242.7 million.

All these are under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Engineering Office.

Among the local government units (LGUs), the Municipality of Polangui registered Php 190 milion; Legazpi City, Php 100 million; Sto. Domingo, Php 64 million; Tabaco City, P23.2 million; Guinobatan, Php 23 million; Ligao City, Php 18 million; and Jovellar, Php 9.7 million.

The Agriculture and Fisheries sector registered Php 1.9 billion; coconut industry, Php 1.3 billion; vegetables, Php 386.8 million; rice, Php 166.4 million; corn, Php 18.2 million; and fishpond Php 0.4 million.

Livestock recorded Php 4.250 million.

Destroyed houses cost Php 2.2 billion, broken down into: totally damaged houses, Php 720.1 million; and partially damaged, Php 24.0 million.

Critically damaged houses were estimated at Php 1.5 billion and a total of 48,785 houses were damaged.

As a whole, the affected population in the province totalled 136,825 families or 711,490 persons while those evacuated totalled 100,936 families or 500,506 individuals.(PNA) LAM/FGS/NIM/CBD/

UN chooses Albay as global model in DRR-CCA

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) -- The United Nations (UN) has chosen the province of Albay, which is often visited by typhoons, as its global model in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate-change adaptation (CCA).

Private sector leaders expressed no surprise because, they said, local government authorities, headed by Governor Joey Salceda, have already established measures ensuring the safety of people -- including those living and working in far-flung communities -- during floods and typhoons.

In fact, Salceda now sits as co-chairman of the UN Green Climate Fund, representing Southeast Asia and developing countries, they said.

Albayanos and non-Albayanos in and outside the province noted that Albay again posted a zero-casualty score during the destructive pounding of superhowler Typhoon “Glenda” which swept across the province Tuesday night, uprooting trees and damaging billions of pesos-worth of houses, buildings and other infrastructures.

Crediting the residents themselves for the zero casualty, the soft-spoken but hard-working Salceda was even quoted as telling print and broadcast journalists that “taking care of themselves has become ordinary, as taking a bath or eating.”

Various quarters, however, attributed the zero-casualty record to the provincial government’s “pre-emptive evacuation” of residents, which was carried out by members of “Team Albay,” headed by Salceda himself.

Team Albay is a home-front emergency group organized by the Albay governor to spearhead mercy missions in the different parts of the country during natural and man-made disasters and other national emergencies.

Hours before "Glenda" made a landfall in Albay, packing center winds reaching 180 kms per hour, the team had already evacuated more than 65,000 families from risk areas to the safety of evacuation centers in various parts of the province.

Salceda pioneered pre-emptive evacuation and the “zero casualty” goal, which are now bywords in disaster risk reduction and adopted by the national government and many local government units (LGUs) across the country.

And for the sake of the Filipino people and the country, which is visited by an average of 20 typhoons and storms every year, other LGUs would do well to adopt Salceda’s highly-successful “pre-emptive evacuation” strategy, even national leaders said.

“Ito ay kung gusto nating walang mamamatay tuwing may bagyo o baha sa ating lugar (That is if we want no casualty in times of typhoons or floods in our area),” they added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Power restoration in Albay may take 2-3 months, says supplier
By April M. Mier

LEGAZPI CITY, Legazpi City (PNA) -- The whole province of Albay would have to wait for at least two to three months for the full restoration of the power supply after Typhoon "Glenda."

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, engineer Russell James Serrano, chief of the Technical Operations and Maintenance Division of the Albay Power and Energy Corp. (APEC), said they are now prioritizing all the backbone lines or primary lines that have been damaged.

"Based on our assessment, the restoration of backbone lines would take until the end of July but it would be two to three months for the whole system to fully function," Serrano explained.

Backbone lines are poles or posts which are connected within the main road wherein hospitals, schools, central business districts and institutions are located.

On the initial report after the clearing operations, a total of 321 poles from Branch 1 in Tabaco City, Branch 2 in Legazpi City and Branch 3 in Ligao City have been damaged.

As of Jan. 21, Serrano said, a portion of backbone lines in Legazpi City from Washington Substation and Bitano Substation have been energized.

"We have deployed 12 teams in the whole province to restore the supply as fast as we could," Serrano added.

According to Jane Rogando, head of the APEC Customer Service, as of now they are still coordinating with the barangays in the whole province to assess all the damages.

"The restoration would take long for lateral lines in every barangay until we finish the assessment," Rogando stressed.

Most of the rural areas in Albay do not have electricity yet due to damaged transmission lines and power facilities.(PNA) LAM/FGS/AMM/CBD

Bicol U family mourns death of a legacy -- the Centennial Tree
By April M. Mier

LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) – “The centennial tree measures the length of your legacy if you plant a tree,” stressed Bicol University (BU) President Dr. Fay Lea Patria Lauraya in an interview when all had calmed down after the fury of superhowler typhoon "Glenda" that struck the Bicol region on July 15.

Lauraya could not help shedding tears when asked about the 107-year-old acacia tree, popularly known as the Centennial Tree or CenTree, which was uprooted when Glenda unleashed it wrath on standing structures along its path on July 15, leaving a swath of destruction regionwide.

"It was already 107 years old. It was a tree that connected the inter-generation of all alumni. Bicol University is just 45 years old, so it means that all the graduates of BU had witnessed it. It was a tree that had seen many wars, even the Japanese Occupation. It was a tree that connected all the stories of alumni and so it is indeed very sad, very painfu!" said Lauraya, as she gently wiped the tears slowly rolling down her lightly made up cheeks -- preventing them from falling on her plain pink dress.

The BU president said she started her school days at the BU Laboratory School.

Grief was also very evident on Dr. Shirley Maloles, Speech and Theater Arts Department chair of the BU College of Arts and Letters, when interviewed by the PNA after the CenTee succumbed to the blend of Glenda's pounding winds and piercing rain.

"I am so sad because that tree was such a memorable thing to me, especially in my high school years when we were in our CAT way back in 1981. We used to eat in a canteen under that tree wherein a lot of students also took rest and relaxed. Like a human being, I think it was time for the CenTree to take a rest, eternal rest," the soft-spoken Maloles said in slow, emphatic manner as she tried to bring back the memories she had with the CenTree.

Students of the biggest state university in the Bicol Region also mourned upon learning of the sad fate that befell the tree.

They say that you are not a true graduate of the Bicol University if you do not know the CenTree.

John Orbeta, a 5th year Chemical Engineering student of the BU College of Engineering, visited the slumped CenTree right after the typhoon.

"How sad because we consider it as an iconic view as it witnessed the start of Bicol University. It was such an iconography of our school!" Orbeta uttered as she shook his head.

The centennial tree had withstood the heavy punches of all the strongest typhoons that had hit the region -- and only Glenda knocked it down.

Lauraya is now calling on the university alumni to share ideas on how to preserve what is left of the fallen tree.

"We will not cut it and we are thinking of how to still make it meaningful and memorable. We are thinking of putting a portion or panel of the tree in every office in the school," the BU president added.

Based on her plans, every panel of the tree to be displayed in an office will be labeled with "1907-2014, this is the length of your legacy if you plant a tree."

The iconic tree fell on the road side near the BU-College of Nursing.

Aside from the centennial tree, lots of big trees inside the campus have also been damaged. .

Until now school authorities are consolidating reports to assess the extent of damages of Glenda on the school -- aside from the death of a legacy.(PNA) FPV/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Albay to celebrate Mabini’s 150th birth anniversary
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay will celebrate the sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary of the birth of Apolinario Mabini on Wednesday.

The event aims to honor Mabini, the “sublime paralytic,” who, being physically handicapped, was considered as the brains behind the Philippine Revolution.

It has for its theme “Mabini: Talino at Paninindigan.”

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said Tuesday that he has always acclaimed Mabini, a profound thinker and political philosopher, as his personal model and national hero for disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation within the more overarching fight by the disadvantaged and disabled for social justice.

Apolinario Maranan Mabini was born on July 23, 1864 in what is now Barangay Talaga, Tanauan City in the Province of Batangas.

Mabini served as the prime minister and head of the Cabinet of the First Republic under the administration of Emilio Aguinaldo on January 2, 1899.

The event’s highlight will be the unveiling of his statue made by reknown scuptress Julie Lluch in the lobby of the Provincial Capitol of Albay at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday.

Abdon M. Balde Jr., Albay poet laureate and consultant for cultural affairs, will deliver a short biography of the hero while Albay Provincial Administrator Jesap Salceda will read the governor's annual Mabini speech.(PNA)

Training set for LGUs' resiliency building efforts
By Rey M. Nasol

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PNA) – Despite the brunt of recent super howler "Glenda" last week, the three-day training-workshop for the formulation of the Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) will proceed as scheduled on July 23 - July 25 at the Hotel Casablanca here.

Nong C. Rangasa, Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD Inc.) executive director and resident trainer for the LCCAP formulation, assured the participants that the event has no hassle as the venue is very much ready with its facilities, good supply of water, ample supply of electricity from its 210-kilowatt generator set, continuous wi-fi Internet, communications and other amenities.

The same assurance was issued by the hotel management.

“For this batch (July 23-25, 2014), there are 11 LGUs that have re-confirmed attendance of their delegates from the different municipalities of the provinces, mostly from the northern regions of the Philippines,” Rangasa said, adding that the participants have scheduled their arrivals as early as Tuesday, a day before the start of the training-workshop.

The LCCAP document is listed No. 16 in the array of requirements for the Seal of Good Local Governance Award to be given by the Department of the Interior and Local Govenrment Central Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, among others.

The training-workshop is a highly technical writing capacity building for LGUs to come up with their respective local capacity assessment framework, climate change sectoral vulnerability assessment, undertake anticipatory adaptation measures, contingency plans and LCCAP document. (PNA) CTB/FGS/RMN/CBD

CamSur town mayor focuses on access to affordable education

PILI, Camarines Sur, July 21 (PNA) —- The municipal government here has included in the town’s development plan innovative ways to increase access to quality but affordable education.

These will be topped with infrastructure projects for proper education service delivery, according to Pili Mayor Alexis San Luis III.

“The future lies in the ability of the children and the youth to take the cudgels of development. We must exert effort in providing good and quality education to our young people to ensure that they become productive citizens of our municipality and are provided with the opportunity to realize their potentials to the maximum,” San Luis said in a statement Monday.

Three weeks ago, he said, the local government unit (LGU) of Pili started the construction of the Php 2.3-million National Child Development Center in Barangay Anayan here.

The center will serve as a national learning center to introduce best practices of the integrated early childhood care and development services to selected 0 to 4-year-old recipients.

It will also house a laboratory where research and innovations about early childhood development will be conducted to enhance parenting skills and at the same time, increase the level of capabilities of the educators.

The high-tech day care room is equipped with modern facilities to give children the optimum exposure to learning.

The local engineering office has also constructed classrooms and repaired and improved daycare centers, multi-purpose rooms and classrooms.

Over 10 education-related infrastructure projects were funded from the Agrarian Reform Communities Project and Comprehensive Development Plan which benefited more than 10 barangays.

With the indigents in mind, San Luis ordered the strict implementation of a “No Collection” policy in all 31 elementary schools situated in various parts of the municipality.

He pointed out that although public education itself is free, the parents still have to take the burden of paying the miscellaneous fees.

Togas and medals are also given free by the LGU during graduation.

The LGU Pili’s Local School Board Plan has allotted P3.5 million as educational assistance for high school and college students and offers vocational trainings in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

“Even before I was sworn into office, it has been my dream that policies and programs addressing the concerns of children and youth must be given priority for us to take pride in pursuing a truly meaningful development of our municipality and our people,” San Luis added.

He believes that it is only through education that the younger generation becomes disciplined citizens and counted as members of the labor force with skills and capabilities at par with their counterpart. (PNA) LAP/FGS/JME/CBD/

NBI hunts owner of illegal logs found in graveyard
By Joh Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, July 21 (PNA) — Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Naga City office are still on the hunt for a local dealer of hardwood and operator of furniture shop who they claimed owns the 3,000 board feet of assorted hardwood lumber from the second-growth forest that they found in a graveyard in Tinambac, Camarines Sur, early morning of July 11.

Lawyer Tomas Enrile, acting regional director of the NBI-Bicol, identified the subject of the manhunt as a certain Mariano Clapis, who had been on surveillance since July 2 after NBI agents intercepted and confiscated some 6,000 board feet of hardwood lumber along Tamban River in the same town, which were said owned by the suspected illegal lumber dealer.

Enrile said they had already filed criminal charges against Clapis for possession of forest product without permit under Presidential Decree 705 or the forestry law of the Philippines, which has a minimum of 12 years in prison as penalty, aside from fines that may be imposed on him.

He said that when they launched the July 11 operation, after court’s approval of a search warrant, they were surprised to discover that the thousands of board feet of lumber, which had been earlier positively confirmed stocked in Clapis’ warehouse, were already gone.

The NBI official said they almost lost hope to retrieve and confiscate the illegal lumber confirmed kept in Clapis’ warehouse when NBI agents scoured the surrounding area at the back of the establishment, which is the cemetery of the town.

Enrile said there they found 17 piles of hardwood lumber hidden beneath dried leaves, twigs, and grasses inside the graveyard which they inventoried to be more than 3,000 board feet that could be contained in more or less three medium-sized trucks.

He revealed that Clapis was not in his establishment when they conducted the raid and thus, avoided the authorities’ apprehension.

Enrile said the lumber Clapis stocked in his warehouse were covered by a moratorium because these apparently came from the forest and the government does not issue permit for this.

He said the government only allows the cutting of trees for commercial and domestic use from privately established tree farms.

The NBI official noted that it was the biggest haul in one month this year under the campaign against illegal logging which totaled almost 10,000 board feet of hardwood.(PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/CBD/

CamSur town celebrates 436th annual feast, Bamboo Festival
By John Mark Escandor

BULA, Camarines Sur, July 21 (PNA) — This town will hold its fluvial procession of the image of Saint Mary Magdalene at the Bula River on Monday and its 436th annual fiesta main celebration on Tuesday with the theme “Our People, our Treasure.”

The town also celebrates the Bamboo and the Tambubong Festival.

The celebration’s theme clearly manifests the local government’s appreciation of the significant contribution of its constituents, not only in their local economy but also in the preservation of their rich cultural heritage, Mayor Rolando N. Canet said Monday.

“After more than a year that the new mandate has been entrusted to us in leading a responsive, new leadership to our constituents, it is only appropriate to give back and express our gratitude to God for all the blessings bestowed upon us through the intercession of Mary Magdalene,” Canet said.

He enjoined the cooperation of all sectors to be a part of the celebration as they take pride in celebrating their festival in this opportune time when the town of Bula rises behind new achievements for new and productive changes.

Canet added that it is not important that these accomplishments are enumerated but to ensure that the constituents can see, feel and experience these tangible changes.

Bula is famous for the rich supply and abundance of bamboo, known as one of the fastest-growing plants in the world – thus, the creation of the Bamboo Festival here.

The product’s economic value can be seen in the line of bamboo furniture makers along the Maharlika Highway.

Bula is a first class municipality classified as partially urban and boasts of its big ricelands where Bulaeños get their source of palay.

Tambubong for Bulaeños means palay in its early blooming stage.

Canet also commended the LGU’s elective officials, heads of offices and its employees, including the socio-civic and religious organizations for their unwavering support to rapidly transform the system of governance in Bula, which resulted in the social and economic growth of the municipality.

Bula, according to history, is among the towns in Camarines Sur founded by the Spanish conquistadores when they arrived in Bicol after their sojourn from Visayas in 1576.

Other areas include Naga City, Quipayo, Calabanga, and Nabua.

The local government has also prepared a long list of activities in time for the town’s feast on July 22.

A grand motorcade was held on July 12 to jumpstart the celebration, followed by Youth Day, Barangay Day and three-in-one celebration of Senior Citizen’s Day, Health Day, and Persons with Disability.

To recognize the contribution of the farmers and fishermen to the local economy of the municipality of Bula, there was also a Farmers and Fisherfolk’s Day on July 16 where they showcased their produce.

Other activities held were: July 17 - LGU Day; July 18 - Araw ng Kababaihan and the much-awaited Coronation Night of Ms. Bula 2014; July 19 - DepEd Day and the one-day civic parade; July 20 - Military Parade; July 21 – Fluvial Procession of the Image of Saint Mary Magdalene at Bula River, and on July 22 - the main date of the celebration. (PNA) FPV/FGS/JME/CBD/