Monday, May 31, 2010

DTI in Bicol beefs up monitoring of prices of school supplies
By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, May 31 (PNA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regional office in Bicol has intensified, through their provincial offices across the region, its monitoring of prices of school supplies in preparation for the opening of classes on June 15.

DTI regional director Joy Blanco said “The public can expect in increase of prices in terms of school supplies but it would be very minimal.”

All provincial offices of the DTI in six provinces have been conducting simultaneous monitoring both in public market and malls.

Blanco said that immediate sanction will be imposed if the monitoring team will find unnecessary overpricing of school supplies.

DTI Camarines Norte chief Ernesto Pardo said that the agency's monitoring team is staging a weekly check of basic commodities to prevent unreasonable increase in the prices of the said supplies.

He said that recent monitoring of prices of school supplies remains normal based on the suggested retail price (SRP) implemented by the DTI.

"The prices of school supplies, however, may vary depending on the brand of the commodity," he said.

Pardo has urged consumers to canvass the prices before buying them. (PNA,MDR,cbd)

PGMA condoles with the families of slain soldiers, gives P1.4-M cash assistance
By Mar Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, May 31 (PNA) --- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Monday condoled with the family members of the soldiers who were killed or wounded in an communist rebel ambush in Presentacion town, Camarines Sur.

Arroyo made a surprise visit at the Philippine Army 9th Infantry division and gave the families of the slain soldiers and the wounded cash assistance amounting to P1.450 million.

Five soldiers were killed while four others wounded in a series of skirmishes with the NPA (New People's Army) terrorist rebels in Presentacion town on over the weekend.

The soldiers were deployed in the area to secure President Arroyo's flagship project in the region. The road project links Presentacion to the tourist-magnet town of Caramoan.

Several family members came to witness the awarding ceremony held in the 9ID chapel and inside the camp’s hospital.

Among the fatalities that received medal of valor for gallantry and cash assistance from President Arroyo were the families of First Lt. Miguel Logronio Jr., a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2009, Corporal Arturo Hernandez, Pfc Albert Jamera, and Pfc Edwin Britannico. All suffered multiple gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

The family of 1st Lt. Logronio was not yet around but his girlfriend was there at the ceremony at the 9th Infantry Division .

Edwin Britannico Sr, father of slain soldier Pfc Edwin Britannico Jr., has mixed emotions about the P250,000 cash assistance that he received from the President.

He is one of the five direct dependents of the fallen soldiers who benefited from the government’s cash assistance.

“I am very thankful that our beloved President has not forgotten the plight of her soldiers’ family members. I may be in deep sorrow but her presence has made me smile for this moment,” said Edwin Sr.

Four other soldiers who were wounded in action (WIA), received P50,000 each from the President.

One of them, Private First Class Jerry Magdasoc, was very happy for the fund support that he personally received from the President.

“I can use this amount to start a sari-sari store that will be attended by my wife. I proudly salute the President for this financial help,” Magdasoc said.

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, the 9ID Commander, assisted the President during the awarding ceremonies.

The soldiers also received the award of Military Merit Medals for heroism in combat as well as the award of the Wounded Personnel Medal.

The soldiers were cited for their heroic actions during the one-hour firefight after being ambushed by a superior enemy force in an upland village of Presentacion town.

Though outnumbered and being bombarded with landmines and Molotov bombs, the soldiers held their positions to engage the NPA terrorists until they run out of ammunition after the intense hour-long firefight.

Presently, about 300 soldiers have joined the massive manhunt operations supported by helicopter gunships and artillery units to locate the perpetrators of the bloody ambush.

Meanwhile, security patrols for the construction company that implements the road project have been resumed immediately.

“We will continuously support this important infrastructure project of the government. This will surely alleviate the hardships of the people in this part of CamSur,” said Lt. Col. Ernesto Cruz, Commander of the 42nd Infantry Battalion. (PNA,MSA,cbd)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Disease-free abaca, stripping machines improve Bicol’s fiber yield
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) -– The Bicol region is fast regaining its top abaca producer title lost to typhoons and plant diseases several years ago with the recent introduction of disease-free plantlets and mechanized fiber stripping machines, the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) said here over the weekend.

In Catanduanes alone, which is considered the country’s top abaca producer among provinces, fiber production of 8,646 metric tons in January to May 2009 was up to an estimated 14,140 metric tons during the same period this year, the FIDA regional office said.

It was owing to these genetically engineered plantlets that are resistant to bunchy-top, mosaic and bract mosaic viruses and the stripping machine that maximized fiber recovery.

The propagation of disease-free plantlets is an ongoing project started last year and would be completed in 2011. It is spearheaded by the FIDA, Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Biotechnology Program Implementation Unit (BPIU) of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

At the start of the project in 2009, FIDA tapped the expertise of Dr. Vermando Aquino of the UP Diliman (UPD) National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) and Dr. Evalour Aspuria of the UP Los Banos (UPLB) Department of Horticulture.

FIDA regional director for Bicol, Edith Lomerio, said, the two UP scientists have been studying the abaca bunchy- top virus since 1997 and are working on isolating genes from the pathogens and inserting them directly into the abaca’s DNA. Once the genes are “expressed” by the abaca, the plant will likely resist infection.

Another method of producing disease-free abaca plantlets is through tissue culture techniques or the growing and propagation of plant cells, tissues, and organs on an artificial medium under sterile and controlled environment.

At least 124,500 virus-free abaca plantlets are produced from 500 suckers. Tissue-cultured plantlets are sold at P4.50 each while plantlets from conventional breeding method sell at P8 to P10 apiece, Lomerio said.

With the spread of two main viruses, abaca mosaic and abaca bunchy top that inhibit growth, weaken the fibers and result in profit loss among small abaca farmers, NARC thought of applying tissue culture techniques to produce thousands of identical and virus-free abaca plantlets in less than a year from a small tissue of healthy plant, she said.

It was in Catanduanes that disease-free abaca plantlets have been introduced more than three years ago to replace bunchy-top and mosaic infected plants.

It was also in that province that part of the P30-million fund assistance from the Spanish government for the revitalization of the Philippines’ abaca industry was appropriated for the acquisition of portable stripping machines distributed among eight abaca producing municipalities.

The equipment that serve as post-harvest production technology developed by the National Abaca Research Center (NARC) that includes a 3.5 horsepower gasoline engine, had the capacity of processing 114 kilograms of dried fiber daily which is about 20 times greater than the conventional manual stripping.

Abaca is indigenous to the Philippines and is known worldwide as Manila hemp. Figures from FIDA show that the country supplies 84 percent of the world demand for raw fiber.

The crop provides direct and indirect employment to 1.5 million Filipinos, mostly in Bicol, Eastern Visayas and some parts of Mindanao.

Around 127,000 hectares are planted to abaca, but in 2002, around 8,000 hectares lost the crop to the bunchy-top and mosaic virus which, Lomerio said, is the most devastating viral disease of the plant.

The virus, transmitted persistently by aphids causes rosette arrangement of the leaves and stunting. Controlling the disease has relied on eradication of infected plants and killing the aphids.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), one of the five sectoral councils under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), realizing the importance of the abaca industry to the country, has allotted last year a P142-million research funds for its rehabilitation project.

The project would spin total fiber production from 78,000 metric tons (MT) to 104,900 MT thereby raising abaca farmers’ income by P8,530.00 per hectare and increasing exports from 19.7 thousand MT to 21.7 thousand MT. Thus, maintaining its prominence in the international market, according to PCARRD executive director Patricio Faylon.

PCARRD noted that “abaca fiber is the premier traditional rope fiber of the world and one of the Philippines’ long-standing export commodities. It is also a basic material for coarse and stiff clothing and footwear.

Lately, however, its light, strong and durable fibers have found usefulness in many non-traditional uses. These include non-woven, disposable and fiber composites for the automotive industry.”

In the pulp and paper industries, abaca fibers are used for tea bags, meat and sausage casings, cigarette papers, filter papers, currency notes and stencil papers.

Hence, “the unfolding of the fiber’s various uses and the growing preference for natural raw materials provide limitless opportunities for the abaca industry,” Faylon said.

The current status of the industry, he said, is that “the Philippines is the abaca capital of the world.”

“The abaca industry is of particular importance as it supports the livelihood of around 140,000 abaca farm workers and strippers, as well as 78,000 small farmers with approximately more than 430,000 dependents and 143,429 strippers.

The fiber craft industry, which produces bags, rugs, placemats, hats, hot pads, coasters, yarns, and hand-woven fabrics, provides livelihood to rural women and out-of-school youths.”

PCARRD added that “the advent of synthetic fibers considerably brought down the world demand for abaca in the last four decades. Nonetheless, abaca remains popular worldwide for its use in cordage and fiber craft.

“And with the resurging interest and preference for natural products and the expanding applications of abaca fiber, the Philippines can expect increased demand in the future,” it said.

As to the area planted to abaca, it grew at a rate of 2.1% annually during the period 1995-2004 with fiber production growing at a slower rate of 1.5% annually.

A major challenge though is the industry’s declining productivity brought about by poor technology adoption of farmers, low input production practice, prevalence of diseases and lack of clean, high-yielding planting materials that have adversely affected production. The low income associated with these problems has forced many farmers to shift to other crops.

To ensure the industry’s continued stronghold in both the domestic and international markets, PCARRD supports a two-pronged approach and the first is raise productivity and profitability of abaca growing for small farmers particularly in Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and parts of Mindanao.

The second, it said, is diversify uses and export destinations of abaca fibers and manufacturers to maintain the country’s competitiveness in the world fiber trade.

Likewise, PCARRD promotes science and technology interventions that will strengthen a science-based commercial abaca farming/ management system. The judicious use of inputs and farm mechanization will be encouraged.

PCARRD also expects that “disease-resistant varieties can be produced in 2012. With the development of clean and high-yielding planting materials, growers will be encouraged to plant abaca and expand their farms to respond to the expected increase in demand.

This will contribute to the rehabilitation of 82,000 hectares of infected farms and expand the abaca production areas by 32,000 hectares, specifically found in Palawan, Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao. Small farms will be clustered so that mechanized stripping can be practiced, it said. (PNA,DOC,cbd)

Double your money through carrot farming
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 27 (PNA) – Carrot is considered minor crop in the Philippines but the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) is encouraging farmers to engage in the production of the commodity that offers more than 100 percent net income.

Based on a study conducted by the PCARRD, a farmer spend P48,400 for labor and P104,501 for materials if he plants carrots in one hectare farm. Not included are expenses like land rental and depreciation costs of farm equipments like knapsack sprayer, scythe, hoe, shovel, and plastic drum that could total P11, 853. All in all, his total expenses would be P116, 254.

On the other hand, gross income for one hectare during regular season at P10 per kilogram with yield of 30 tons per hectare and off-season at P20 per kilogram with 15 tons per hectare yield is P300, 000. So whether regular or off-season, a farmer will have a net income of P183,746 per hectare, the PCARRD said.

In the Philippines, most of the carrots supplied to the domestic market are grown in Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, Cebu, Davao del Sur, Negros Oriental, and Bukidnon. In 2006, a total of 3,486 hectares throughout the country were planted to the crop, which produced about 35,694 tons with bulk coming from Benguet and Cebu.

This volume of production, according to the PCARRD has not been improving, making the supply relatively scarce as the commodity is fast becoming popular among Filipino consumers that primarily utilize it as vegetable or cut into cubes and mixed with pickles.

Carrot is usually cooked with other vegetables for chopsuey and other dishes. It is also eaten raw with lettuce and pepper. Raw carrots sticks and curls are attractive garnishes and appetizers.

Baby carrots or mini-carrots--those that have been peeled and cut into uniform cylinders have also been a popular ready-to-eat snack food available in many supermarkets in the United States since the 1980s.

Carrot juice is also widely marketed in the United States, especially as a health drink, either stand-alone or blended with fruits and other vegetables.

Some people believe that carrot is a native of the United States. But the wild ancestors of carrot are likely to have come from Afghanistan, which remains the center of diversity of the wild carrot. Selective breeding over the centuries has produced the familiar edible vegetable.

In the beginning, carrots were grown mainly for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not for their roots. Some relatives of the carrot are still grown for these, such as parsley, fennel, dill, and cumin. The modern carrot appears to have been introduced to Europe in the 8th to 10th centuries.

According to nutritionists, carrot contains appreciable quantities of thiamine, riboflavin, and sugar. It is also rich in carotene, a forerunner of vitamin A. In addition, carrot is a good source of calcium, iron, and phosphorus.

Growing carrot is easy. It is best adapted to cool temperature. In the Philippines, it thrives best when planted at higher elevations at least 1,000 meters above sea level.

Carrot does best when planted on deep, well-cultivated sandy loam soil. Heavy soils may be improved by the addition of sandy material and on such soils the shorter-rooted types are grown. The soil pH should range from 5.5 to 6.8.

Carrots are seeded directly on the field. One hectare needs five to 10 kilograms of seeds. Because of the small size and slow germination of seed, it is difficult to get an adequate stand of plants without excellent seedbed preparation. Great care is therefore taken to make sure that the soil is fine and free of both clods and surface crust.

The land must be thoroughly prepared by plowing and harrowing two to three times. Raised beds 20 centimeters high, 0.7-0.8 meter wide, and 0.3 meter apart are set up.

The soil should be pulverized well while incorporating it with fully decomposed chicken manure of three tons to five tons per hectare and three to five bags per hectare of complete fertilizer one week before planting.

Planting is usually done early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The seeds can be planted either by drill or broadcast method. After sowing the seeds in furrows, these are covered with a thin layer of soil, which is pressed down so that the seeds will immediately have contact with the soil. In this manner, germination is faster.

As soon as the seedlings grow, shallow cultivation around the plants can be started. Weeding can also be done simultaneously. Since carrot seeds are rather slow to germinate, weeds must be controlled at this stage.

Thinning is also done to provide enough space to the growing roots. Thinning is started 30 days after sowing, at a spacing of 10 centimeters between plants. Hilling up is immediately done after thinning to cover the growing roots, control weeds. and cover the side-dressed fertilizer. Second weeding and hilling up is done 45 days after the first weeding.

The growing plants should also be watered regularly up to harvest time to hasten their growth and to enable the production of tender roots. Carrots need a lot of moisture during the first 30 days of growth as irregular watering would lead to cracking and forking.

Like most crops, carrots need fertilizer. The general recommendation is 126-71-175 kilograms of NPK, respectively, per hectare. However, fertilization should be based on soil analysis.

In addition, organic fertilizers such as well-decomposed manure or compost of three to five tons per hectare are applied before planting. The remaining nutrient requirements can be applied at 30 days from sowing, just after weeding and thinning. The fertilizer is covered with soil during hilling up. Tea manure and fermented plant juice may also be used to improve soil fertility.

Carrots may be harvested when the roots have attained a considerable size. Another sign that the crop is ready for harvest is when the leaves turn yellow.

Harvesting may be done about two to three months after planting. Yields are usually 20 tons to 30 tons per hectare under favorable conditions and good management.

Carrots are pulled by hand and then graded. Split roots, however, should be eliminated. The roots are washed and dried before they are placed in packing bags or containers.

Unknowingly, carrot has been listed by some experts as a medicinal plant. They say that it has a beneficial influence on the kidneys and prevents the brick-dust sediment sometimes found in the urine. As an antiseptic, carrot prevents putrescent changes within the body.

In Mexico, reports said, carrots are boiled with milk to cure coughs and affections of the chest. In Europe, a decoction of the carrot root is a popular remedy for jaundice.

Everyone knows carrot improves vision as it provides the highest vitamin A content of all vegetables. There was this urban legend about British gunners in World War II who were able to shoot down German planes in the dark because of their superior eyesight as a result of consuming carrots.

But actually, the legend arose during the Battle of Britain and was an attempt to cover up the discovery and use of radar technologies.

According to a brochure disseminated by PCARRD, bright orange carrots contain two important phytochemicals: carotenoids and flavonoids, which are natural bioactive ingredients.

“These phytochemicals work with nutrients and dietary fiber to protect people against diseases,” the PCARRD brochure explains. “Beta-carotene, a member of the carotenoids family, protects the body by decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, and certain types of cancers.

The carrot gets its characteristic orange color from beta-carotene, which on consumption by people is metabolized into vitamin A. The deeper the orange color in carrots, the more beta-carotene content.

However, some experts warn that massive over consumption of carrot can cause hypercarotenemia, a condition in which the skin turns orange although this is superior to overdose effects of vitamin A, which can cause liver damage.

Carrots are also rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. “The nutritional value of carrots actually increases with cooking,” the PCARRD publication states.

“The tough cellular wall on raw carrots does not break down very easily. Thus, cooking carrots until just tender makes their nutrients, including beta-carotene content more beneficial. Cooking also brings out their natural sweetness,” PCARRD said.(PNA,DOC,cbd)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Solon hails Spain for aid to RP’s abaca industry
By Danny O. Calleja

VIRAC, Catanduanes, May 26 (PNA)-– Outgoing Rep. Joseph Santiago of the lone district of this abaca-rich island province has cited the Spanish government for its P30 million grant for the building up of the Philippines’ abaca industry that he said remains an enormous potential driver of economic growth in the countryside.

Abaca (Musa textilis Nee) or Manila hemp, a fiber crop indigenous to the Philippines, as a main source of strong natural fibers for domestic and international markets, brings an annual US$ .6 million to the country.

The fund assistance released late last year to the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) by the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para Desarollo (AECID), was used for the acquisition of mechanized abaca-stripping machines as part of the aggressive abaca development program being undertaken by the government.

The amount covers this province, noted as the “abaca capital of the Philippines,” and Caraga, also a promising abaca producing region in Mindanao.

Out of the grant, nine of Catanduanes’ abaca-producing municipalities initially receive one unit each of the machine, Santiago said.

"The mechanized stripping of abaca allows us to increase daily fiber output 10 to 20 times compared to what we produce from manual peeling," Santiago who would vacate his congressional seat on June 30 after completing a nine-year term said.

He ran for governor of the province but lost to incumbent Gov. Joseph Cua.

To fully develop the abaca industry, Santiago stressed the need to exploit all possible commercial uses of the plant's fiber, and enlarge its domestic as well as export markets.

Some 136,000 hectares nationwide are planted to abaca. Over 82,000 farmers directly subsist on abaca production. Annually, they produce some 70,000 metric tons of fiber, of which about 25 percent is shipped abroad, according to the FIDA.

Catanduanes is the country's largest producer of abaca, accounting for 20 percent of national output. Abaca provides livelihood to some 23,500 farmers in the province, where around 23,600 hectares are devoted to growing the plant.

FIDA said the production, however, dwindled to only 8,646 metric tons in January to May 2009 because of the series of typhoons that hit the province and the effects of plant diseases.

With the spread of two main viruses, abaca mosaic and abaca bunchy top, that inhibit growth, weaken the fibers, and result in profit loss among small abaca farmers.

The FIDA however in coordination with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Biotechnology Program Implementation Unit (BPIU), all attached agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been making use of the expertise of abaca experts in genetically engineering an abaca plant that are resistant to these diseases.

Former Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has approved a budget for this project before he left the Department to run for congressman unchallenged in Bohol.

Dr. Vermando Aquino of the UP-Diliman (UPD) National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) and Dr. Evalour Aspuria of the UP- Los Banos (UPLB) Department of Horticulture are into the project that was started in January this year and would be completed by 2011.

According to Aquino, who has been studying the abaca bunchy-top virus (ABTV) since 1997, he and Dr. Aspuria are working on isolating genes from the pathogens and inserting them directly into the abaca’s DNA.

Once the genes are “expressed” by the abaca, the abaca will likely resist infection.

Even with the reduced production, however, Catanduanes remains the country’s top abaca-producing province, the FIDA said.

After Catanduanes, the other top producers are Southern Leyte, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Northern Samar, Davao del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Samar, Sulu, and Sorsogon.

Abaca is a species of banana native to the Philippines and cultivated in 26 provinces in Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao.

The abaca plant grows 20 feet tall and is harvested mainly for its large leaves and stems that produce natural fiber.

Used to make twines, ropes and carpets, abaca fiber also has multiple applications as raw material for various functional and decorative products.

The fiber is used in clothing material and handicraft like bags and baskets. The pulp is processed into tea bags, coffee filter, vacuum cleaner bags, currency notes and other specialty paper.

Abaca-based furniture and fixtures -- from settees to lounge chairs, from dividers to coffee tables, and from sofas to love seats -- are also widely recognized for their elegance in Europe and North America.

Studies have likewise identified abaca enzymes for use in high-value cosmetic and dietary products. (PNA,DOC,cbd)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kakawate leaves as pesticide, bio-organic fertilizer
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 25 (PNA) -– Other than as pig dewormer, termite and bed bug neutralizer, anti-fungus and bio-organic fertilizer among others, researchers have discovered leaves of Mexican Lilac (Glinicidia sepium) that is locally known as kakawate or madre de cacao an effective pesticide, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Marilyn Sta. Catalina, the regional executive director of the DA Regional Field Unit (RFU) for Bicol based here on Tuesday said the discovery was recently confirmed by Dr. Alfredo Rabena, head of the Research and Development Office of the University of Northern Philippines (UNP) who found out that kakawate leaves contain coumarins, an effective botanopesticide.

Field demonstrations conducted in several parts of the Ilocos region, Sta. Catalina said proved Rabena’s discovery that the kakawate leaves’ botanopesticide effectively eliminated rice weevils, rice bugs and worms in ricefields.

The botanopesticide solution is prepared by way of chopping the kakawate leaves and soaked in water overnight to extract coumarins and using a strainer, the leaves are separated from the solution.

The resulting solution is sprayed to the ricefield and the best time to do it is from eight o’clock to nine o’clock in the morning and from five o’clock to six o’clock in the afternoon. These times, worms and pests are coming out from the leaves making the solution more effective.

If applied earlier or later, its effectiveness would not be maximized as pests are still hibernating. Applying the solution under extreme sunlight will also reduce its effectiveness as the pests hide from the heat of the sun.

Since kakawate is a legume, Sta. Catalina quoted Rabena as saying, “its leaves are rich in nitrogen, an important soil nutrient. Hence, the discarded leaves can be applied to the field as an organic fertilizer.”

It is also recommended that farmers put several leafy branches of kakawate tree in between rice plants two days after planting to prevent pests from attacking the crop, she said.

Coumarins in kakawate leaves are also effective termites and bed bugs neutralizer and Rabena presented this finding through his paper “The Isolation, Characterization and Identification of Active Botano Chemicals of Kakawate Leaves Against Termites” that he presented during the 5th International Congress of Plant Molecular Biology in Singapore in 1997.

His study was also included in the book “The International Society for Plant Molecular Biology” published by the National University of Singapore and Institute of Molecular Agrobiology.

Kakawate leaves are also effective anti-fungus. It can cure Trichophyton Metagrophytes that causes skin diseases like eczema. Crumple several leaves and apply to affected area of the skin for a salicylic acid-like effect.

Rabena, along with Dr. Nelia Aman and Engr. Franklin Amistad also both of UNP, Sta. Catalina said have also discovered lately that the ash of kakawate can be a good concrete mixture for ceramics. Its charcoal is a good moisture and odor absorbent, too.

Kakawate leaves can be used also to deworm pigs. Just have the swine eat ample leaves and the parasites would not live long.

When these uses are not enough, the Bicol DA chief said it should be remembered that kakawate’s flowers can be made into salad or into dinengdeng, a delicious Ilokano veggie dish.

She encouraged farmers to plant more kakawate trees as its adaptability to any type of soil makes it an ideal tree for those who want to cultivate a plantation of it.

It’s perhaps one of the easiest growing plants one could find. It is a leguminous tropical tree that grows mostly in forests and could grow from five to 10 meters tall.

Kakawate defoliates during dry season and flowers at the same time making it odd-looking but beautiful leafless trees with nothing but branches and flowers.

The flowers are pea-like with petals that are usually lavender, pink or white. It also bears fruits that look like a leathery pod and seeded.

Kakawate is very easy to propagate and inexpensive. The tree could re-sprout very quickly after pruning. Many farmers plant them mainly to shade other perennial crops like cacao, coffee and tea.

Aside from this, kakawate could provide a lot of uses to the farmers from its roots to its leaves. Its multipurpose use makes it a good plant crop in agroforestry.

Since kakawate is a legume, it is useful for fixing nitrogen in the soil, thus improving soil quality and increasing crop yields.

Kakawate has strong roots. It stabilizes sloping lands and reduces soil erosion. Its wood could be used as firewood, hedges, and fencing field. The leaves are rich in nitrogen and other nutrients suitable for green manure and fodder to farm animals.

This legume is also popular to the rural folks as a ripening agent for their harvested banana. Most farmers are not aware that this plant can be utilized as fertilizer to lessen their farm inputs.

Application of organic materials is a good agricultural practice to maintain soil nutrient level and ameliorate the properties of soil to sustain crop production. Many organic materials contain secondary nutrients and micronutrients in addition to organic matter, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Nonilon Badayos of the Department of Soil Science and Dr. Gina Pangga of Farming Systems and Soil Resources Institute, both of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños tested the potential of kakawate as bio-organic fertilizer in an earlier study for eggplant production in Laguna.

The experiment sought to evaluate the effect of kakawate on the growth performance and yield of eggplants and on the soils physical and chemical properties.

Observations revealed that the eggplants fertilized with 50 percent inorganic fertilizer plus 50 percent kakawate were the most vigorous – growth rate was faster and the fruits were heavier than the other treatments.

Sta. Catalina said more scientific results on kakawate’s effect on the crops performance and yield as well as its beneficial effect on the soil physical and chemical properties should be studied further.

Similarly, she added, the economic benefits of applying organic materials as soil amendment and its potential as an alternative to inorganic fertilizers should also be evaluated so that its benefits to the agriculture sector are emphasized. (PNA,DOC,mdr)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Barangay execs urged to help eliminate dog rabies in Albay
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) – The Provincial Health Office (PHO) in Albay has urged barangay officials to help enforce the rabies control ordinance strictly to free the province from rabies, particularly those inflicted by stray dogs.

Ms. Francis Daisy Ardales, Albay provincial nurse coordinator said that the role of barangay official is very important not only in monitoring but to make their respective areas free from rabies.

The provincial health office reiterated its call for a responsible dog owner.

Ardales said despite vaccination, the province have recorded three cases of human rabies (human death) from January to April this year and 1,269 dog bites.

In 2009, PHO recorded four human fatalities and 3,711 dog bites. According to Ardales, these number is very high.

Aside from dog vaccination, the PHO is set to conduct training for “Tandok-Tambal” healers.

Ardales said that they (Tambal-Tandok healers) will be trained on how to give first aid to victims of dog bite. “However, immediately after providing first aid the patient should be referred to health facility for proper treatment.”

She said that strict implementation of vaccination and responsible pet owner are the best way to eliminate rabies in the province rather than castration.

Albay veterinarian Dr. Jose Losa was pushing for castration of dogs. “This is to control dog population.”

Losa said the provincial veterinary office (PVO) would conduct mass castration of dogs in every barangay to reduce the dog population and stray dogs in the province.

Losa also shared the same views with Ms. Ardales, saying that responsible pet owner is still a big factor to stop cases of rabies. However, Losa was amenable that castration did not eliminate cases of rabies. (PNA,MDR,cbd)

FNRI cites vegetables as potent medicines
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (NPA) –- You see, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has used in its official logo the image of “malunggay” to insist that common vegetables have been proven to be very rich in life-saving nutrients and vitamins.

“Nature has provided potent medicines in the form of vegetables and among the most popular ones are the malunggay (Moringa oleifera), ampalaya or bitter gourd (Momordica charantia), carrot and winged bean.

"These vegetables guarantee to keep your doctors away,” FNRI nutritionist Dr. Lydia Marero said in a statement here over the week.

Nutritionists aver that 100 grams of malunggay leaves yield 75 calories of energy, 5.9 grams protein, 12.8 grams carbohydrate, 353 milligrams calcium and 3.7 milligrams niacin. For thiamin, phosphorus, and ascorbic acid, malunggay is at the top of the list, Marero said.

“Because it is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, which are very potent antioxidants, malunggay is a very good quencher of unstable free radicals that can react with and damage molecules that cause aging,” she said.

Antioxidants reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and prevent the onset of various chronic diseases like arthritis, cancer and heart and kidney diseases.

Dr. Marero also reports that malunggay contains the phytochemical niaziminin, which is found to have molecular components that can prevent the development of cancer cells and correlated with inhibitory ability against superoxide generation.

“The first naturally-occurring thiocarbamates, novel hypotensive agents niazinin A, niazinin B, niazimicin, and niaziminin A and B were isolated from malunggay,” she explained.

Marero said, tender malunggay leaves reduce phlegm and are administered internally for scurvy and catarrhal conditions, while the flowers are used to heal inflammation of the tendons and abscesses.

Unripe pods of malunggay can prevent intestinal worms, while the fruit also prevents eye disorders.

On the other hand, traditional medicine attributes many medicinal properties to ampalaya. Reportedly, the extract from the leaves or roots shrinks hemorrhoids.

The leaf juice is supposedly a good antitussive (it stops cough), antipyretic (for fever), purgative and anthelmintic (against roundworms).

Ampalaya is also used to treat sterility in women and is believed to alleviate liver problems. Likewise, studies claim that ampalaya has some antimicrobial capability and can help infected wounds.

Ampalaya has been considered as nature’s answer to diabetes. Today, almost 100 studies have demonstrated the blood sugar lowering effect of this bitter fruit as found out by Dr. A. Raman and Dr. C. Lau, who reviewed over 150 pre-clinical and clinical studies on ampalaya’s anti-diabetes properties and phytochemistry, according to a publication of the AgribusinessWeek.

The two doctors concluded that “oral administration of fruit juice or seed powder of bitter gourd causes a reduction in fasting blood glucose and improves glucose tolerance.”

Ampalaya is traditionally regarded by Asians, as well as Panamanians and Colombians, as useful for preventing and treating malaria.

Laboratory studies have confirmed that various species of the bitter fruit have anti-malarial activity, though human studies have not yet been published.

Meanwhile, carrots are credited with many medicinal properties; they are said to cleanse the intestines and to be diuretic, remineralizing, antidiarrheal and overall tonic and antianemic. Carrot is rich in alkaline elements which purify and revitalize the blood.

They nourish the entire system and help in the maintenance of acid-alkaline balance in the body. The carrot also has a reputation as a vegetable that helps to maintain good eyesight.

It is a rich source of carotenoids, chemicals found in plants which are now being studied for their cancer-fighting activity.

One carotenoid abundant in carrots, alpha carotene, has been shown to suppress the growth of cancerous tumors in animals. Another carotenoid found in carrots, beta carotene, may reduce the risk of both cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Carrots are a member of the umbelliferae family along with celery and parsnips, which are being investigated by the National Cancer Institute for potential health benefits.

Numerous studies worldwide confirm that people who eat diets high in carrots and other foods rich in carotene are less likely to develop certain forms of cancer than those who do not.

In fact, studies show that even people who are exposed to specific carcinogens, such as tobacco and ultraviolet light, could reduce their risk of cancer by eating more carotene. Carrots contain calcium pectate, a type of soluble fiber shown to reduce blood-cholesterol levels.

Two carrots a day may reduce cholesterol levels by as much as 20 percent in people with high cholesterol. It has been recommended that the daily allowance for carotenoids is 5,000 IU, but cancer researchers suggest that in order to dramatically decrease cancer risk, one should consume about 12,500 IU per day.

This isn`t too difficult, considering that one grated, raw carrot daily provides about 13,500 units of carotene. Carotenoids are also excellent for the eyes.

Beta carotene permits the formation of visual purple in the eyes, which helps counteract night blindness and weak vision. Carrots are also a good treatment for diarrhea, and can relieve gas and heartburn.

Raw grated carrot can be applied as a compress to burns for a soothing effect. Its highly energizing juice has a particularly beneficial effect on the liver. Consumed in excessive quantities, carrots can cause the skin to turn yellow. This is called carotenemia, and it is caused by the carotene contained in carrots. It is frequently seen in young children but it is not at all dangerous.

Chewing a carrot immediately after food kills all the harmful germs in the mouth. It cleans the teeth, removes the food particles lodged in the crevices and prevents bleeding of the gums and tooth decay. Eating carrots is also good for allergies, anemia and rheumatism, and is also a good tonic for the nervous system.

Everyone knows it improves vision, but it does not stop there the delicious carrot is good for diarrhea, constipation being very high in fiber, intestinal inflammation, cleansing the blood or a liver tonic and an immune system tonic.

Carrot is traditionally recommended to weak, sickly or rickety children, and to convalescents or pregnant women. Its anti-anemic properties have been famous for a long time.

“It’s a veritable backyard supermarket,” said Dr. Noel Vietmeyer of winged beans, more popularly known in the country as “sigarilyas”.

The tender pods, which are the most widely eaten part of the plant, can be harvested in two to three months of planting. The long pods, which can reach up to 50 centimeters in length, are rich sources of proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamin A. The pods may be eaten raw or used in salads, soups, stews, and curries.

The immature pods can also be used as peas, while the matured pods can be stewed, boiled, fried, roasted, or made into milk. The seeds mimic soybean in composition and nutritive value. The seeds contain up to 39 percent protein, 18 percent fat and 42 percent carbohydrate.

The winged bean does more than just fill stomachs. Indonesians traditionally use extracts to treat eye and ear infections and cure dyspepsia. Malaysians claim a lotion concocted from the plant helps soothe smallpox.

Sean Adams, information chief of the United States Department of Agriculture, reported that winged bean has high levels of proteins called lectins, which are used as diagnostic tools in medical research because they bind to certain blood cells.

“Winged beans,” he added, “also contain erucic acid (an antitumor medication) and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can be used to treat acne and eczema.” (PNA,DOC,cbd)

ICRISAT develops measures toward climate change adaptation
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) –- The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has developed measures including climate-ready crops that would cushion developing countries like the Philippines from the adverse effects of climate change.

In a two-part report entitled Adapting To Climate Change: Policy Recommendations For The Developing World, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine News Agency here over the week, the ICRISAT said it serves the poor of the semi-arid tropics in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

It recognizes that vulnerable rural communities need to adapt to climate change, beginning with enhancing their ability to cope better with rainfall variability associated with current climates, the report said.

In fact, ICRISAT said it already has on hand crops that are adapted to high soil and air temperatures; knowledge and understanding of flowering maturities; information on genetic variation for water use efficiency; short duration varieties that escape terminal drought and high yielding and disease-resistant varieties.

“For instance, we have developed short-duration chickpea cultivars ICCV 2 (Shweta), ICCC 37 (Kranti) and KAK 2 and short-duration groundnut cultivar ICGV 91114 that escapes terminal drought, it said.

“We recently developed a super-early pigeon-pea line that flowers in 32 days and matures in about 65-70 days. We have integrated shrubs and trees into traditional annual cropping systems to help reduce the impacts of winds and to protect soils from erosion, it added.

ICRISAT has developed crop varieties that resist pests and pathogens such as downy mildew-resistant pearl millet hybrid HHB 67-Improved in India; wilt-resistant high-yielding pigeon-pea ICEAP 00040 in Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique and rosette-resistant groundnuts in Uganda, to name a few, the report said.

“Since ICRISAT’s mandate crops are already more adapted to heat and high soil temperatures, our breeding strategy factors these harsh and dry conditions while developing improved varieties. What we need to better understand is the physiological mechanism underlying heat tolerance; identify wider gene pools to develop crops with wider adaptability; and develop more effective screening techniques of germplasm for desired traits,” it said.

The institute’s genebank holds more than 119,000 accessions from 144 countries that will help safeguard and exploit genetic diversity in order to enhance adaptation, the report said.

ICRISAT is also responding to the challenges by exploiting the potential of "pro-poor" opportunities for biofuel production.

Its BioPower initiative encourages more investments in bioenergy crops and systems to provide a major impetus for sustainable development; empowering the dryland poor to benefit rather than be marginalized, so that farmers can better cope with stresses, climate change or otherwise, it said.

The current activities include developing higher-yielding sweet sorghum varieties for food, fuel, feed and fodder; pilot-scaling pro-poor commercial startup company partnerships in sweet sorghum bioethanol production and research-to-development alliances for pro-poor Jatropha plantation development for biodiesel.

“To summarize, if developing countries are to contribute meaningfully to efforts toward adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts, they will need the strengthened capacity that comes with development,” it stressed.

A conducive and comprehensive policy environment that enhances opportunities for smallholders given the climate change scenario, needs to encompass all levels – farm, basin, regional, national and global, the report said.

It must include adaptation and mitigation strategies, more investment in agricultural research and extension, rural infrastructure, and access to markets for small farmers, among other things. The bottom line is to ensure that they develop resilient ecosystems, resilient crops, resilient livestock and resilient communities, the report added.

It explained that economic diversification to increase the economic resilience of and to reduce reliance on vulnerable sectors is crucial. “Reducing dependence on climate-sensitive resources is an important adaptation strategy that must be promoted. Improved food security through crop diversification. developing local food banks for people and livestock, and improving local food preservation need to be encouraged.”

Given the diversity of agro-ecological zones and their inherent problems, the report continued it is also essential to assemble, document and disseminate a comprehensive and action-oriented database of adaptation options of different farming and livelihood systems and agro-ecological zones.

While underscoring the vulnerability of poor women to climate change, policies that cater to the rural poor and recognize the important role of women in agricultural production should be acknowledged.

By virtue of the valuable knowledge in water, forest and biodiversity management that women have acquired over the years and their important role in supporting households and communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change, their contribution to the identification of appropriate adaptation and disaster mitigation processes could be very useful.

Women’s environmental resources, knowledge and practices can be key elements in climate change processes, it added.

The report said, ICRISAT has developed and continues to develop tools and technologies enabling the resource poor to improve livelihoods.

It uses sophisticated techniques of predicting and forecasting the monsoons in the context of climate change; enables collective action and rural institutions for agriculture and natural resource management; upscales and outscales its community watershed management model; rehabilitates degraded lands and diversifies livelihood systems for landless and vulnerable groups and initiates government support for water saving options, it said.

Almost 95 percent, it said of the developing countries’ water withdrawals are used to irrigate farmlands. Therefore water policy that involves understanding water flows and water quality, improved rainwater harvesting and water storage and diversification of irrigation techniques to make more efficient use of water for agriculture is crucial.

Such considerations will need to be framed in the context of rapidly expanding populations that are predicted to exacerbate inter-sectoral competition for abstracted water supplies. Robust irrigation infrastructure may be necessary to cope with climate change risks in the short to medium term. Maintenance of existing infrastructure, too, deserves early attention.

Climate change being a threat multiplier, adaptation and mitigation strategies need to be urgently integrated into national and regional development programs. Developing countries need to participate in a globally integrated approach to this problem, the report said.

Policies on adaptation include changes in land use and timing of farming operations, adaptive plant breeding and crop husbandry technologies, irrigation infrastructure, water storage and water management.

Mitigation measures may include better forecasting tools and early warning systems, improved crop and livestock management practices including improved input use efficiencies (such as ICRISAT’s microdosing), crop systems diversification and improved water management, it said.

Likewise, policies that enhance the effectiveness of rural institutions at the local, national and international levels will be a central concern as they seek to speed up the pace of agricultural adaptation.

Unless steps are taken to initiate and strengthen cooperation among academic and research institutions, regional and international organizations and non-government organizations to provide opportunities for strengthening institutions. dealing with climate chance impacts may be cumbersome, the report warned.

Involving local communities, education on climate change and raising public awareness are keys to combating climate change.

The role of weather and climate services and products in developing adaptation solutions is crucial.

Stock-taking of available climate information in developing countries to ascertain where the systematic observation needs are most pressing, collaboration between national and international providers of climate information and users in all sectors and generating awareness among different user communities of the usefulness of such information are essential.

Climate change assessment tools are needed that are more geographically precise, that are more useful for agricultural policy and program review and scenario assessment, and that more explicitly incorporate the biophysical constraints that affect agricultural productivity.

Packaging this data for its effective use and rescuing historical meteorological data are equally important. In this respect, the National Meteorological Services in the developing world must be encouraged and enabled to become fully integrated into research and development initiatives.

Land-use policies to encourage diversification and natural resource management, including protection of biodiversity are equally critical.

Erosion control and soil conservation measures, agroforestry and forestry techniques, forest fire management and better town planning are some steps that can be initiated to blunt the impacts of climate change.

Reducing and sequestering terrestrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are possible by enriching soil carbon, farming with perennials, climate-friendly livestock production, protecting natural habitat and restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands.

Considering the role of agriculture in the social and economic progress of developing countries, and the vulnerability of agricultural systems to the impacts of climate change, a renewed agenda for agricultural research, more aggressive investments in and better management of agricultural research and knowledge can make significant improvements in food security goals.

A progressive policy environment should also include more investment in infrastructure and education and research that improves understanding and predictions of the interactions between climate change and agriculture, the ICRISAT report said.

All these, it said boil down to the intention that while economic growth and development are priorities in all countries, the needs in developing and least developed countries are on a different scale altogether than those in the developed world.

Developing countries are constrained by their particular vulnerability to the impacts of climate variability. The poor in these countries are also at higher risks to both current and future climate change impacts, given their high dependence on agriculture, strong reliance on ecosystem services, rapid growth and concentration of human and livestock populations and relatively poor health services, the ICRISAT stressed.

In fact, about 99 percent of the casualties due to the vagaries of climate take place in the developing world.

As a result of global warming, the type, frequency and intensity of extreme events, such as tropical cyclones, floods, droughts and heavy precipitation events are expected to rise even with relatively small average temperature increases.

New climate studies show that extreme heat waves are very likely to become common in the tropics and subtropics by century’s end. Add to this gloomy scenario insufficient capacity to adapt to future climate change impacts, inadequate infrastructure, meager household income and savings and the limited supporting public services and you have a veritable time bomb in the offing.

Climate change is already inevitable, but in the absence of robust adaptation strategies will almost certainly exacerbate food insecurity.

Millions of people in countries that already have food security problems will have to give up traditional crops and agricultural methods as they experience changes in the nature of the seasons, for which, over time, they have developed coping strategies that have enabled them to survive.

Given the fact that two billion people already live in the driest parts of the globe, where climate change is projected to reduce yields even further, the challenge of putting enough food in nine billion mouths by 2050 is daunting, the ICRISAT said.

“And what does it imply for about 1.5 billion people, nearly 60 percent of developing nations’ workforce, who are engaged in agriculture? Since agriculture constitutes a much larger fraction of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in developing countries, even a small percentage of loss in agricultural productivity could snowball into a larger proportionate income loss in a developing country than in an industrial one,” it explained.

Climate change also threatens poverty reduction efforts because poor people depend directly on already fragile ecosystems for their well-being.

They also lack the resources to adequately defend themselves or to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances, and more importantly, their voices are not sufficiently heard in international discussions, particularly in climate change negotiations.

Environmental effects such as desertification and rising sea levels triggered by climate change can lead to increased conflict for resources, which in turn can displace people. The World Bank estimates that sea level rising by a single meter would displace 56 million people in 84 developing countries.

Unhindered climate change has the potential to negatively impact developing countries’ prospects for sustainable development. As the rural poor across the developing world feel the pressure of climate change, high food prices and environmental and energy crises, it is now clear that new knowledge and technical and policy solutions have never been more critical, it added. (PNA,DOC,cbd)

More Lakas-Kampi mayors win in Catanduanes
By Danny O. Calleja

VIRAC, Catanduanes, May 21 (PNA) – Administration’s Lakas-Kampi candidates for top local seats in Catanduanes held their ground in the May 10 polls to retain the gubernatorial post, capture the congressional seat and sweep seven of the 11 slots for mayor.

Gov. Joseph Cua, the administration’s top gun in the island province bucked a well-oiled campaign machinery of his former ally, incumbent Rep. Joseph Santiago to win a second term at the provincial Capitol with a resounding 27,000-vote margin. Santiago is completing a nine-year term by June 30.

In the congressional race, former Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Assistant Sec. Cesar Sarmiento who ran under the Laks-Kampi ticket reportedly routed his opponent, wealthy businesswoman Araceli Wong with over 700 votes to seal the province’s lone congressional seat.

Bagamanoc Mayor Odilon Pascua, another Lakas-Kampi stalwart won his third term by defeating two challengers while his partymate in Caramoran town, Mayor Agnes Popa also beat two challengers to get into her second term.

In Gigmoto, the province’s smallest town of only nine barangays and over 8,000, Mayor Edgar Tayam repeated his 100-vote win in 2007 over former Mayor Armando Guerrero while in the coal-rich Pandan town, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo’s confidant, Restituto de Quiroz convincingly trashed incumbent Mayor Josefina Santelices.

San Andres, the second biggest municipality next to the capital town of Virac, Antonio Romano, a veteran member of the Lakas-NUCD and joined the Lakas-Kampi merger and a physician by profession proved he was more than a match for two lawyers by defeating incumbent Mayor Leo Mendoza and Atty. Francisco Samonte.

In San Miguel, Mayor Edna Bernal completed her victory over incumbent provincial board member Francisco Camano, Jr. and in Viga town, reelectionist Mayor Abelardo Abundo, Sr. ruled the crowded field, pushing aside former mayor Jose Torres and three other challengers.

Other mayoral winners were incumbent Baras town vice-mayor Chito Chi, reelectionist Eulogio Rodriguez of Bato town, Robert Fernandez of Panganiban and Jose Alberto II of Virac. All were non-Lakas-Kampi bets.

Chi is to succeed Mayor Jose Tevez Sr. who won the vice-gubernatorial seat in tandem with Chua; Rodriguez soundly trashed as lone challenger while Fernandez learned from his 2007 defeat by managing a slim vote margin over two-termer Mayor Gregorio Angeles.

Alberto II meanwhile, relived his clan’s political supremacy over the capital town by staging a come-back and running over incumbent Mayor Santos Zafe and another aspirant, architect Angeles Tablizo, Jr.

Given however the dominance of the Lakas-Kampi local bets in the province, the presidential and vice-presidential contests showed contrasting results with Joseph Estrada dominating the derby with his 62,276 votes over Noynoy Aquino’s 32,894 and Jejomar Binay garnering 58,876 votes against Mar Roxas’ 29,721.

Lakas-Kampi’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates Gilbert Teodoro and Edu Manzano fared poorly. (PNA,DOC,cbd)

DOH, BFP intensifies inspection on boarding houses, dorms and schools
By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY , May 21 (PNA) – The Department of Health (DOH) will intensify its inspection in all educational institution throughout Bicol region starting 2nd week of June to ensure health school environment.

The DoH sanitary inspectors will also conduct strict inspection to canteens and even ambulant vendors.

The department is also ready to launch the “Bregada Eskwela” starting June 1 to ensure the cleanliness of all schools.

Albay provincial health officer Dr. Luis Mendoza on the other hand, said that health personnel will be conducting consultation with ambulant vendors and school canteens to make sure that they well serve or sell nutritious and clean foods.

He also urged school and barangay officials to make their respective institution free from mosquito to avoid possible dengue outbreak specially this school year and rainy season.

On the other hand, the Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP) provincial offices in Bicol region will conduct simultaneous inspections in all dormitories and boarding houses in preparation for the upcoming school opening in June.

The inspection intends to ensure the safety of the students and abate fire hazards and other related emergencies.

BFP has also requested the support and cooperation of barangay officials in the implementation of the Fire Code of the Philippines, also appealing to the owners to secure business permits before they operate their own businesses. (PNA,MDR,cbd)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Start up activities marking the 300-year devotion to Ina begin
By Jason B. Neola

NAGA CITY, May 19 (PNA) -- Placing the cape of Nuestra Señora De Peñafrancia inside a sick person’s pillowcase who wishes to gain comfort and recovery will become more popular among the Bicolanos as the Catholic Church reels off a five-day exhibit on Ina’s miraculous manto recently.

The public viewing of the miraculous mantos was the first done here as the city prepares for the 300th year celebration of the Bicolanos’ devotion to the miraculous Lady.

The exhibit was formally opened at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, over the weekend in SM City here.

While watching the exhibit, many viewers learn more about Ina’s divine intercessions as told by several devotees and church leaders, including the personal account of the family of 53-year-old Matt Lamit who surprisingly gained strength several days after his triple bypass.

Monsignor Romulo Vergara, Basilica Minore rector explained the exhibit forms part of the celebration of the Bicolanos’ tercentenary devotion to the patroness of Bicolandia.

Six capes were placed on view, including the manto, which the Nuestra Sra De Peñafrancia had donned during her crowning as Bicolandia’s patroness in 1924.

Ina’s areolas and crowns in glass boxes have attracted many as well as those devotees coming from other places.

In media interviews, Vergara said that the healing obtained by the devotees thru the manto was Ina’s expression of her love for her devotees and those who seek her help.

Other than the start-up activities for the tercentenary celebration in September, the Catholic Church here is pursuing other traditional events for the May festival.

On May 25 at 3 P.M., a healing mass will be held in Basilica Minore with Fr. Joey Saller as celebrant. Registration is open at 2 o’clock PM and healing sessions will be at 5 P.M. It will be followed by the holding of the Summer Peñafrancia Pilgrimage.

On May 28, at 4 P.M., a traslacion procession from Basilica Minore to Naga Metropolitan Cathedral will be held. “Along the way, children will shower Ina with flowers,” Vergara said.

On the 29th, a voyadores congress will be held in the Holy Rosary Minor Rosary with 2,000 participants. This will be followed by the fluvial procession from Cathedral to Basilica Minore.

A holy mass will be held at 6:30 PM at the Basilica Minore to be followed by “Konsiyerto sa Salog”, which will be held at Doongan. (PNA,JBN,cbd)

MGB and mining firms slate info drive on mining industry
By Mike Dela Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, May 10 (PNA) - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Bicol and the three large scale mining firms operating in the region recently agreed to stage a joint information campaign on the state mining industry in Bicol.

MGB regional director Reynulfo A. Juan said the campaign will basically focus on the programs, projects, and related activities of the government mining regulatory office, on the other hand, of the three big mining firms to ensure environmental law compliance and sustainable development of the mining industry.

The information drive, according to Juan, will commence in June and end in December, this year, to utilize all forms of media in order to completely reach out to the target audience."The Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project in Rapu-rapu, Ibalong Resources and Development Corporation/Goodfound Cement Corporation in Camalig, both in Albay province, and the Filminera Resources Corporation in Aroroy, Masbate will be joining EMB in these worthwhile endeavor addressing several pressing issues in order to protect the environment," he said.

"The campaign is specifically targeting pre-selected audiences or covered communities in order for them to better know what our office and these three mining companies are doing," Juan further said.

He pointed out that the joint information campaign will also focus on the importance, benefits and contributions of mining in the local communities and to the country's economy; roles of MGB in regulating the mining industry and of enforcing mining laws against erring mining companies; responsible mining; mining and geosciences; the Social Development and Management Program; protection of the environment in every stage of mining operation; equitable sharing or economic benefits derived from mining among various units of the government as well as the affected communities - taxes paid; and nature and operations of mining project.

Juan also explained that this effort is carried out in lieu of the Philippine Mining Law of 1995 and its implementing rules and regulations which requires mining companies to inform the public about its operations and benefits through information and activity centers; information dissemination, consultation and media; research, scholarships and trainings; and other activities approved by the MGB chief. (PNA,MDR,cbd)

DA, NFA released rice grant assistance to 'Bagsakan' centers
By: Mike Dela Rama

DAET, Camarines Norte, May 19 (PNA) -- The National Food Authority (NFA) provincial office and Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) released Tuesday some 120 bags of rice to the three barangay food terminals or "bagsakan" centers in three towns of the province.

Dr.Helen Abordo, Camarines Norte provincial agriculturist, said that each barangay terminal has received as grant 40 bags of rice amounting to P50,000 funded by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Abordo said that identified food terminals in the province include Barangays Canapawan, Labo; Batobalani, Paracale and Pambuhan, Mercedes.

She said that respective barangay councils will manage and sell the allotment of 40 bags of rice and the sales will become their capital for the next purchases of rice.

According to her, the "bagsakan" center serves as venue for selling of agricultural, marine products and other local produce.

It can be recalled that the bagsakan centers were provided recently each with a freezer, weighing scale, grinder and crates as their equipments for the selling of their products.

PAO, on the other hand, is tasked to monitor the operations of the center, has urged local producers and suppliers to trade their yields or products at the centers. (PNA,MDR,cbd)