Friday, November 30, 2012

Catanduanes State University grads rank 6th, 7th and 9th in this year's Civil Engineering board exam
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 29 (PNA) -- The Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) released Wednesday the results of the 2012 Civil Engineering Board Examination showing that Catanduanes State University (CSU) grabbed the 6th, 7th and 9th top positions.

Ranking 6th place is John Michael Tuazon Bernal who graduated Magna Cum Laude with 94.65 percent passing rate; 7th place is Yuri Ibatuan Soria of Bato with 94.60 percent passing rate and 9th place is John Aldren Caneta Molina, Cum Laude, from Virac, with 94.25 percent passing rate.

Rep. Cesar Sarmiento said indeed, it is now becoming a good habit for CSU to be landing in the Top 10 of the board exams.

He congratulated the topnotchers and passers and most especially their proud parents.

CSU got the top three ranking in last year’s results of the Civil Engineering Board exams.

Recently, CSU graduate Carlito Tudoc Gelito placed 10th in the Licensure Exams for Teachers. (PNA) LAP/CBD/

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2,500 child laborers in Masbate withdrawn by 2013

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 28 (PNA) -– The Department of Labor (DOLE) field office in Masbate, in collaboration with local government units (LGU) and concerned government agencies, have assured the withdrawal of 2,500 child laborers in the province by 2013.

The “hook or by crook” approach in achieving the target involved peaceful "win-win" negotiation and mediation and calculated rescue operations by DOLE’s Sagip Batang Manggagawa Quick Action Teams (SBMQAT).

Cyre Cabredo, DOLE Bicol coordinator on child labor said the International Labor Organization’s International Program on the Eradication of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC) which funded the three-year withdrawal and prevention of 2,500 child laborers in Masbat.

LGUs and concerned agencies in the province did not at once believe the number set by ILO-IPEC but in a baseline survey in 2009 prior to the succeeding year start of the program, it was discovered Masbate was in reality having not less than 5,000 child laborers.

The remaining 2,500 after 2013 shall become new target of collaborative withdrawal and prevention efforts.(PNA) GHG/ALV/MMG/UTB

PDEA-Bicol to hire additional personnel

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 27 (PNA) -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is set to hire at least nine more employees for assignment at its regional office in Camp Gen. Simeon Ola in this city before the year ends.

Wanted are licensed professionals for the position of Attorney II, a certified public accountant (CPA) for Administrative Officer IV, two chemists and two dangerous drugs regulation officers or agents.

Non-professionals needed are two prison guards without age limit and one laboratory technician with sub-professional civil service eligibility.

PDEA-Bicol human resource officials said applicants have to pass written examinations and neuro and agility tests and must comply with documentary requirements. The vacant positions are to be filled up by January 2013.

PDEA Bicol Director Archie Grande has expressed optimism the additional personnel will boost the agency’s anti-narcotics performance.

For the first half of this year, PDEA-Bicol has been ranked second best performing regional unit in the country. (PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/EBP

It’s now official: Albay is a ‘smoke-free’ province
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov 27 (PNA) –- The ordinance prohibiting cigarette smoking in Albay’s public places and conveyances is now officially in effect making the entire province smoke-free.

“Officially, Albay now is a smoke-free province in manifestation of our intensified campaign to ensure healthy lifestyle and protect our environment,” Governor Joey Salceda told the PNA on Tuesday.

The province’s smoke-free ordinance took effect on Nov. 19, 90 days after its publication in a local newspaper of general circulation.

The ordinance authored by provincial board member Herbert Borja,chairman of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s Committee on Health, and Herbert Borja, chairman of Social Services, was approved last September.

Salceda said the enforcement of the ordinance will apply to all persons, whether natural or juridical, whether resident of the province or not and all places found in the three cities and 15 municipalities of Albay.

This is to protect and promote the right to health of the people specially non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke.

Classified by the International Agency for Cancer Research as a carcinogen, second-hand smoke has been the cause of death of more than 600,000 people each year worldwide, of which 168,000 or 28 percent are children.

According to the World Health Organization(WHO), exposure to second-hand smoke in the Western Pacific including the Philippines, is generally high.

“We are also promoting healthy lifestyle as tobacco smoking kills at least 10 Filipinos every hour and threatens one-third of the Philippine population that are at risk of dying from debilitating diseases due to tobacco use. Cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are considered as the top four tobacco-related diseases,” Salceda said.

The World Health Organization (WHO),on the other hand,estimates that tobacco-use will kill nearly six million people this year. More than five million of them will be users and ex-users of smoked and smokeless tobacco, while more than 600,000 will be non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke.

Albay’s smoke-free ordinance also prohibits the purchase and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors. It also imposes restrictions on advertising, promotion, and sponsorship activities of tobacco companies.

Its penal provisions state that “any person found violating this ordinance will be fined P500 for the first offense; P 1,000 for the second offense; and P 3,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.”

In case the violator has no money to pay the fine, he or she may be required to render community services such tree planting or cleaning the parks, canals, esteros, public markets and other public places.

Tasked to enforce the ordinance are all local law enforcement agencies while the Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN) has been assigned to monitor its implementation while continuously conducting of anti-smoking advocacy drives all over the province.(PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Bicol placed on heightened alert for Korean space shuttle launch

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 27 (PNA) -- The Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) on Tuesday heightened its alert status in view of the 3rd launching of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV1) on Thursday, a ranking official of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said Tuesday.

Raffy Alejandro, OCD regional director and RDRRMC chairperson, activated the Operation Center and advised all local disaster councils to be on Blue Alert (on stand-by) on Wednesday and on Red Alert (24 hour operations) on Thursday.

The OCD has also reactivated and placed on stand-by two Quick Response Teams in case rocket debris fall on Bicol waters.

Alejandro said he has advised the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to enforce the No Sail, No Fly Zones and No fishing policies in the eastern seaboard of Bicol.

Provinces along the eastern seaboard are Catanduanes, Albay and Camarines Norte.

Alejandro, however, said that commercial plane flights from Manila to various airports in Bicol and vice versa will not be suspended on Thursday since Bicol airways are not included in the flight path of the rocket launch.

Still, Alejandro expressed optimism that rocket debris would not fall in the region as the Korean Rocket booster is expected to fall on the Pacific Ocean some 600 nautical miles East of Luzon.(PNA) LAP/MSA/CBD

Mount Mayon is back to normal: PHIVOLCS

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 27 (PNA) --- The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs)lowered on Tuesday from Alert Level 1 (abnormal) to normal level the condition of Mayon Volcano.

Ed Laguerta Phivolcs resident volcanologist said the agency decided to declare the state of the volcano to normal after Mayon volcano ceased to exhibit abnormal seismicity such as crater glow, ground deformation, volcanic quakes and sulphur dioxide emission.

The volcano’s normal status means that no explosive eruption is foreseen in the immediate future.

Laguerta in an interview said Mayon’s Alert Level 1 status had been raised for two years since March 2010 because of the sustained abnormalities it manifested.

Recently Mayon Volcano exhibited a general decline of monitoring parameters to normal value, indicating a return to normalcy.

Phivolcs seismic instruments have not recorded for the past weeks occurrences of earthquakes and volcanic tremors associated with magmatic activity.

Ground deformation monitoring using Precise Leveling (PL) surveys on the northern and eastern flanks, combined with recently emerging patterns in ground tilt monitoring, indicate that minimal ground deformation recorded in Mayon may not be associated with new magmatic intrusion.

Gas emission from the crater was way below the 500 tonnes a day normal level, while steaming is often weak and occasionally wispy, Laguerta said.

Crater glow has also ceased since March 2012, indicating diminished superheated gas from shallow magma at the vent.

Laguerta said despite the normalcy of Mount Mayon, he warned the public not to enter the 6-km Permanent Danger Zone or PDZ due to perennial hazards of rockfalls, avalanche, ash puffs and steam-driven explosions at the summit area.

Furthermore, people living in valleys and active river channels are cautioned to remain vigilant against sediment-laden stream flows and lahars in the event of prolonged and heavy rain falls.

Mayon Volcano exhibited seismic abnormalities on July 2009 and had its full blown eruption on December 16, 2009, where it displaced some 10,032 families or 47,563 people, said Maria Cristina Ador, Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) statistician.

She said the eruption affected the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, and Sto Domingo including the cities of Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco.

Damages wrought by the volcanic eruption was placed at P16.6 million in agriculture and infrastructures.(PNA) GHG/MSA/CBD/

Friday, November 23, 2012

9 AIDS cases alarm Masbate authorities

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) --- Nine cases of the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) were reported in Masbate which local authorities consider as "alarming."

Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuason said on Friday that he had already alerted the City Health Office (CHO) into coordinating with the City AIDs Council (CAC) in addressing the matter towards the prevention of the deadly sexually transmitted virus’ spread.

According to reports gathered from the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH), Tuason said nine of the 92 persons afflicted with HIV/AIDS and being attended to the local health authorities and the AIDS Councils are residing in Masbate.

“We have already called operators of entertainment houses employing guest relation officers (GROs) in the city to a conference where their cooperation in addressing the situation has been emphasized as crucial to the campaign,” Tuason said.

Leaders of the bars and night spot operators have committed their cooperation, he said.

The Masbate CHO and CAC, he said, had also been drawn into a joint information campaign that disseminates to the public, especially among vulnerable sectors, the proper measures toward preventing the spread of the deadly virus.

The best way to prevent the spread of AIDS in a particular locality, the mayor said, is to educate the public on the preventive measures.

“We are saddened and alarmed by the report that the island province of Masbate is contributing at least nine cases to the national figure on AIDS that is keeping the DOH more alarmed,” the mayor said.

Halfway through 2012, according to the DOH, the number of new HIV/AIDS cases in the country for the year had already reached 1,600 which was already more than half of the 2,349 cases reported for the whole year of 2011.

According to DOH regional director Nestor Santiago based in Daraga, Albay, what alarms the DOH more is the number of injecting drug users (IDUs) who contracted the HIV/AIDS infection.

DOH statistics show that from 1984 to 2008, there were only eight IDU-related HIV cases in the Philippines. But in 2009, the DOH had started recording cases in Cebu City and it has not stopped since.

In 2007, the DOH noticed a rising trend in the sector of men-having-sex-with-men (MSM).

The registry showed that the 295 new cases in June this year were 66 percent higher than the 178 cases during the same period in 2011.

While needle sharing among IDUs was the mode of transmission for 20 cases, the rest got infected through sexual contact. MSM was the “predominant type of sexual transmission” for 88 percent of the cases. There was one death in June involving a 35-year-old man.

Metro Manila accounted for 58 percent of the 295 cases; followed by Calabarzon with 12 percent; Davao with 11 percent; Central Visayas with nine percent and Central Luzon with six percent. The age group 20-29 years old accounted for 56 percent of the cases, Santiago said. (PNA) LAM/DOC/cbd/

Korean investors to build US$ 70-M pro-environment energy plant near Mt. Isarog
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) -- The Naga City government has converted a five-hectare public land near the foot of Mt. Isarog into an industrial site where a Korean firm will establish the “first of its kind in the Philippines” waste-to-energy plant costing US$ 70 million.

Technically dubbed “Waste to Synthesis Gas Project,” the facility will convert the city’s solid waste to electric energy through melting-gasification, the first to be introduced in the Philippines.

To be put up by the Korean-owned CJ Global Company, the waste-to-energy project, inspired by a German technology-based process which is environment-friendly is expected to generate at least 10 megawatts of electricity to be supplied to local electric cooperatives and other existing power distribution utilities in the locality.

The power generation plant will make use of the approximately 200 tons of solid waste and biomass generated daily by the city’s 27 barangays to produce low-priced electricity using the process of gasification.

In a statement Friday, Naga City Mayor John Bongat said “this is green energy, sourced purely from waste”.

Unlike ordinary incineration, Bongat said gasification is zero-waste and there will be no toxic-fume emission or effluent that will go to the grounds or run to any body of water.

Apart from electricity, the process can also produce asphalt and methanol as by-products which can be used for road construction and fuel for motor vehicles, respectively, the mayor said.

The project is anchored on the contract for the establishment and operation of a waste-to-energy facility which was executed by and between the City Government of Naga and the Korean-based CJ Global Company on May 20, 2010 and a supplemental contract approved by virtue of Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) Resolution No. 2010-281 which was signed August 24, 2010 to ratify the contracts.

It will be implemented through a public-private partnership (PPP) or build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme that would expire after 20 years.

Bongat said the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the energy plant to be located within a five-hectare property near the foot of Mt. Isarog in Barangay San Isidro, Naga City was held last Thursday.

It was graced by CJ Global chairman Yeon-Joo Choi and attended by representatives of various stakeholders, city government officials and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Bongat said construction works start soon after the groundbreaking rites and its completion and commencement of operation are expected by the first quarter of 2014.

“We are studying some propositions for the inclusion in the project of the 14 neighboring municipalities comprising the Metro Naga towns which have been collaborating with each other under a “big brother, small brother” development alliance,” according to Bongat.

Metro Naga mayors who attended the groundbreaking rites have signified interest in disposing their waste to the facility, he said.

The selection of the CJ Global as partner in the establishment of the facility was endorsed to the SP by the then City Mayor Jesse Robredo.

Robredo died in a plane accident last August 18 while serving as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In his June 29, 2010 letter to the SP, Robredo explained that CJ Global’s proposed agreement was “found by the City Legal Officer to be more beneficial to the city” as it offers higher share in economic gains, preference to local labor and contractors, and commitment to provide cheaper power rate for Naga.

Robredo also mentioned other factors in favor of CJ Global such as projected creation of secondary industries that will be created from by-products of the gasification process like methanol for LPG supply for Naga and for household, commercial and transportation needs and the provision to ensure full compliance with environmental laws and commitment to ensure the safety of the public.

In the contract signed between the city government and CJ Global, it is stipulated, according to Bongat that the latter would “remit to the city the amount equivalent to 1.5 percent of its gross profits, if higher than 5 percent of net profits before income tax, generated from its operation of the facility.”

“The venture will be mutually beneficial to the interest of both parties, which include the constituents of the city,” the mayor added. (PNA) LAP/DOC/cbd/

Unabated mining pits in three mining towns in Camarines Norte could collapse, says DENR

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) -- The unabated digging of cris-crossing tunnels by miners seeking for gold ore in the towns of Paracale, Labo and Jose Panganiban in the province of Camarines Norte is inviting a major disaster during an extreme weather event, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Friday.

Lydia Burburan, DENR Ecosystem Research and Development Services Regional Technical Director (RTD), said a number of cris-crossing tunnels and abandoned tunnels were discovered during a recent assessment of small-scale mining operation in the three mining towns.

Burburan said the presence of this type of tunnels is a major issue that needs to be addressed by the agency and the provincial local executive.

Burburan said miners have dug up cris-crossing tunnels ranging from 25 to 100 meters in vertical and horizontal mining shaft.

According to Burburan, small scale mining operations in the three towns are producing 50 tons of gold yearly.

Gilbert Gonzales, DENR regional executive director, said that if subjected to extreme weather condition like heavy rainfall and earthquakes, the possibility of a disaster is not remote in the three areas.

Gonzales said the agency is still in the process of making an actual count of cris-crossing tunnels including abandoned ones made by small scale mining operation.

He said the data would provide an in-depth study on the dangers posed by the mining operation in the three towns.

In Paracale, the DENR confirmed the report that a mining pit tunnel collapsed and two of its miners were buried alive on Tuesday in Sitio Balaay, Barangay (village) Palanas.

The DENR PENRO in Camarines Norte admitted that no mining permit was issued to Augusto Jordan the financier of the small scale mining operation in Barangay Palanas.

Gonzales said that small scale mining operation in coastal villages in Paracale were suspended following the No Mining Order issued by the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to local government units in the area. (PNA) LAM/MSA/cbd/

Albay Green Christmas bash takes off Sunday
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 23 (PNA) -- The province of Albay will start on November 25 its month-long Christmas celebration that will stress on its environmental protection, healthy living and disaster preparedness goals.

Dubbed as the Karangahan sa Pasko (Merrymaking in Christmas): Albay Green Christmas 2012 Edition, the celebrations will highlight the province’s “plastic-free, smoke-free and zero casualty” advocacy.

It will feature fanfares including the Albay Pageant Academy, Albay Green Fashion Police and Release of Sky Lanterns and lighting of the 20-meter high Christmas tree that will officially open the festivity on Sunday night.

The Christmas tree was assembled from about 4,000 pili tree seedlings showcasing the province’s solid waste management drive through a “No Plastic, Less Garbage” celebration that is devoid of extravagance.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda has issued a memorandum to provincial government heads, employees and barangay officials for the strict compliance with the standing ban on firecrackers. The memorandum also encourages the use of organic and indigenous materials for Christmas decorations at home and offices and food serving instead of plastics.

Salceda said the Green Christmas celebration adheres to the campaign for zero casualty from firecrackers which at the same time promotes the low-carbon celebration mode and proper solid waste management by doing away with plastic materials.

The ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree that stands at the Peñaranda Park in front of the Capitol will be led by Salceda with Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar and former Senator Miguel Zubiri as guests. GMA-7 actress LJ Reyes will stage an entertainment show on the same night.

There will be a Doxology of the Albay provincial Government Chorale, followed by the opening salvo of Bicol University (BU) Magayon Dancers.

Karangahan that starts on November 25 of each year and culminates on Christmas Day, is the last of the province’s long roll of year-round festivities but considered the most interesting given its no firecracker or “Iwas Paputok” campaign for a zero-casualty celebration.

Karangahan comes from the Bicol term, “ranga” which refers to a higher level of joy and contentment. For Bicolanos, it is also a term of endearment. (PNA) LAP/CBD/

DA adopts measures to manage rice consumption in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Nov. 22 (PNA) –- Apart from producing more rice to meet domestic requirements by 2013, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Bicol is also adopting measures to manage consumptions of the staple.

Part of the rice consumption management, the DA regional office here is instituting the adoption of alternative food crops that are also considered as among the primary fares among Bicolanos.

“We are taking moves for Bicolanos to adopt alternatives to reduce the demand for rice as staple food in the region and one of these is through the adoption and consumption of alternative staple foods,” Jose Dayao, the DA regional executive director based here on Thursday said.

Providing alternatives, Dayao said is a key component of rice consumption management being pushed by the DA under its Agri-Pinoy Rice Program that targets rice self-sufficiency for the country by next year.

Dayao said while the DA is confident on hitting the target with increased farmers’ productivity and competitiveness facilitated by government support in irrigation, new technologies, farm mechanization, fertilizer and seeds assistance, pest control and technical help, among others, “we still need to manage consumption and provide alternatives”.

Bicolano farmers grow root crops like camote, cassava and gabi (taro) among several other varieties of food crops that are already acceptable as alternative to rice and Dayao said “while we produce more rice, we also produce more of these alternative crops that are nutritious, easy to grow and less expensive to maintain”.

To achieve these goals, Dayao said his office recently conducted in Naga City the Regional Rice Congress that was participated in by over 300 farmers, agriculture technicians, municipal agriculturists, provincial agriculturists, irrigators association officers and other stakeholders.

The congress was anchored on the theme "Maunlad na palay-sakahan sapat na bigas para sa bayan".

The gathering tackled issues and concerns in the implementation of the various programs and projects in the Agri-Pinoy rice, updates on the technologies and appropriate interventions to increase productivity of rice and alternatives to reduce the demand for rice as staple food in the region.

According to Santiago Obien, the Agri-Pinoy rice program senior technical adviser, the Aquino administration envisions to attain rice self-sufficiency and the DA is bent on providing interventions to ensure that rice production will increase.

That is why 69 percent of the agency’s budget goes to irrigation and farm mechanization, he said.

Obien who is former director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) also emphasized the importance of using certified seeds like the PSB RC240 and PSB RC238 which are the latests from PhilRice that show good yields.

Another measure the DA is undertaking in Bicol under the Agri-Pinoy rice program, Dayao said is the Usapang Palay, a massive information dissemination on the program including technology updates to farmers.

Usapang Palay is a barangay to barangay campaign being initiated by the DA through municipal agricultural offices across the region to keep farmers and other farm stakeholders abreast of latest developments in the field and to enhance their enthusiasm to learn the best farming practices.

Among the subject matters Usapang Palay is dealing with farmers are the rice Program Roadmap of the government, the Palay Check farming system, rice pest and disease control and availment of post harvest equipment, Dayao added. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

DTI’s OTOP Cariton a head turner in Bicol
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has came out with a head turner among street shoppers in Bicol—the OTOP (One-Town, One-Product) Cariton (cart).

It is an innovative marketing strategy to professionalize vending in the locality and showcase the potentials of using carts other than the traditional ways of marketing, DTI regional director Jocelyn Blanco here said.

Aside from boosting OTOP sales, Cariton also creatively communicate and deliver the products to consumers.

“These colorful, fancy, and eye-catching carts attract tourists, buyers and shoppers, giving consumers a shopping option. Buying from carts will not be too much of a hassle. Approach is more personalized and the transaction is queue-free,” Blanco said.

The aim of mobile businesses such as vending carts, caterers and vehicle- mounted food services is to reach potential and loyal clients wherever they may be and cater to their needs fast and efficiently.

Many may say that it's the new thing in business, but the cart, kiosk and the counter-top business have been around since the 1980s.

Carts have already undergone several evolutions, most of them started as newsstand-style setups, then turned into mobile cart types. A cart is defined as an open two-wheeled carriage usually pushed by hand. No wonder early cart businesses in the country had wheels even if they were rendered immobile in mall corridors.

Blanco said carts of this colorful design have been awarded by the DTI Bicol regional office to OTOP producers and associations in the six provinces of the region.

Recipients were chosen on the bases of organizational track record, capability to implement and sustain the operation of the project, and willingness to participate in all OTOP related activities.

The DTI had also extended entrepreneurial trainings such as effective negotiation techniques and customer relations to ensure the readiness of the recipients.

OTOP Cariton, launched this year, has opened its doors to clienteles of different persuasions and varied interests -- from institutional buyers to traditional product connoisseurs, from tourists to balikbayans, and from housewives to everyday budget seekers.

The initiative was conceived as another innovative marketing strategy that aims to professionalize vending in the locality and showcase to micro, small and medium enterprises the potentials of using carts other than the traditional ways of marketing.

Project Cariton was also conceptualized to boost the sales of OTOP products and creatively communicate and deliver the products to consumers. “These colorful, fancy, and eye-catching carts will serve as tourist come-ons and will take buyers and shoppers by storm, giving consumers a shopping alternative,” Blanco said.

OTOP Caritons roaming the avenues and alleys of cities in Bicol draw customers perhaps out of curiosity at the onset, but are now a familiar and welcome sight to buyers.

“Imagine the products sold at your doorstep. The project foresees an increase in sales because of the cariton's wider reach,” she said.

Through the Caritons, products that are unique and produced only in Bicol provinces have became magnets for those who are looking for pasalubongs and unique products. The good sales generated by OTOP Cariton inspired the installation of more carts particularly in the provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Masbate, and Sorsogon.

In Catanduanes, it is stationed in Virac airport peddling food "pasalubong" items which had already generated a total sales of P174,000 since it opened last February.

Of the foodstuffs on display in the cariton, the crispy pili and latik are the top sellers.

Crispy pili are pili nuts cooked in sugar or honey while latik is a native delicacy of glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaf and served with coconut cream. Now fortified with malunggay extract, its healthy add-on and striking packaging have also attracted health conscious buyers.

In Camarines Sur, the OTOP Cariton was awarded to the OTOP Key Players Association in Buhi town and now used to showcase hinabol, the colorful and intricately woven products only found in that municipality and much sought after by both local and foreign tourists.

The association brings along with them the cart every time it joins trade fairs from one place to another. The booth is indeed a head turner with its striking and vibrant design. It's just like enticing everyone to come to the booth and buy some stuff.

In Masbate, the Cariton wheels forward the island province’s best OTOP products like beef tapa, dried pusit, carmelado and pickled seaweeds among others that are produced only in the locality.

In Sorsogon, the Cariton is munchers' for its processed native food like pili nut sweets, bags, fashion accessories and souvenir items.

Cariton reinvented, according to Blanco serves as the modern day marketing outlet for the products under the OTOP Program. It assists new and budding business enterprises to introduce and promote their products.

“There is actually no magic there, just creativeness,” she added. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

12 small scale miners trapped in Paracale, Camarines Norte

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) --- At least 12 miners are feared dead as rescuers found difficulty in penetrating the 300-meter deep mining pit that cave in on Tuesday afternoon in Sitio Bulaay, Barangay Palanas in Paracale, a mining town in Camarines Norte.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday that search and retrieval operation had been going on since Tuesday, but rescuers said they could not enter the small opening of the mining pit because of the debris that buried alive the small scale miners, Police Supt. Renato Bataller said.

Bataller, in an interview, said the incident happened at about 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday when the mining pit suddenly collapsed after miners used dynamites in their operations.

The blasts triggered the collapsed of soil surrounding the mine pit while sea waters also flowed inside the pit due to the high tide prevailing at that time, Bataller said.

Authorities have identified at least three miners that were among those that were buried in the pit. They are Carlo Salin, 37; Luis Sayson 33; both natives of Barangay Tawig, Paracale; and one JR.

According to Bataller, the small scale mining operation that collapsed was reportedly financed by Augusto Jordan.

Paracale police said the small scale mining operation had no permit to operate issued by the local government.

Paracale is a 3rd class mining town with 42,453 residents, located some 200 kilometers away from this city. (PNA) LAM/MSA/CBD/

PNP gives ultimatum to gun holders in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- Law enforcers in Masbate have heightened their campaign against loose firearms as they are hopeful to recover 2,000 undocumented firearms by the end of the year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol said.

In his report, Police Sr. Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate police chief, said the campaign is gaining grounds as preparations are being firmed up for May 2013 elections.

Olitoquit said Masbate had been included in the list of 15 election hot spots across the country by the PNP and the Commission on Election (Comelec).

Masbate had been consistently been tag as election hot spot in previous elections because of the intense political rivalries among clans here, including election related violence that claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

Police data presented during the Masbate Provincial Law Enforcement Coordinating Council meeting recently showed that there are 2,178 firearms licenses that were not renewed by the PNP last year. Of this figure, 188 gun holders submitted their firearms for licensing.

In its campaign in every town of the province, the PNP said gun owners have only until Dec. 16 this year to renew their firearms permits.

The PNP also warned gun holders that would not heed their call will be the subject of the campaign against loose firearms. (PNA) FFC/MSA/CBD

Bicol’s civil society group pushes people’s initiative to pass anti-political dynasty bill
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov 22 (PNA) – Civil society groups in Bicol are binding themselves together to push people’s initiative as a mechanism for the adoption of an anti-political dynasty measure.

“We agree with Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. in saying that the only way for the country to have an anti-political dynasty law is through people’s initiative because it is clear that legislators have no intention to support and enact such kind of measure,” Prof. Rex Bernardo of Mabini Colleges in Daet, Camarines Norte in a statement received here Thursday, said.

Bernardo who represents the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PCCRV) in the province said his group is now in the process of consolidating other civil society groups in Bicol to start pushing for a people’s initiative.

Several groups in the region have already manifested their intentions toward the pooling of resources to start the ball rolling in the fight for good governance where ethics should prevail in the social contract of the citizen with their political leaders who should not make politics as a family livelihood but public service.

In her Senate Bill 2649 filed on April 2011, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago defined political dynasty as “when a person, who is the spouse of an incumbent elective official or relative within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of an incumbent elective official, holds or runs for an elective office simultaneously with the incumbent elective official within the same province or occupies the same office immediately after the term of office of the incumbent elective official.”

“It shall also be deemed to exist where two or more persons who are spouses or are related within the second civil degree of consanguinity or affinity run simultaneously for elective public office within the same province, even if neither is so related to an incumbent elective official,” the bill said.

"The playing field of the political arena should be levelled and opened to persons who are equally qualified to aspire on even terms with those from ruling politically dominant families," Santiago said in her exploratory note in the Bill.

Article II Section 26 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that: "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law."

Since the ratification of the Charter, however, Congress has yet to enact a law defining political dynasties.

But how can Congress do that when its members are the ultimate beneficiaries of political dynasty which is the equivalent of an oligarchy in political science, according to Bernardo.

In Camarines Sur for example, incumbent Congressman Luis Villafuerte is running for governor opposite his grandson while his wife and son Luis Raymund Villafuerte, the incumbent governor are running for separate congressional seats in the same province.

In Sorsogon, the political clan of the Escuderos has fielded several candidates for various local posts apart from Sen Francis Escudero who is up for reelection. His mother, the widow of former Cong. Salvador Escudero III is running to replace his late husband while his uncle is vying for reelection for vice governor and two cousins for separate local positions.

This present characteristic of Philippine politics leaves to few influential clans the control of a particular province or municipality and Bernardo said it should be ended now because it is where corruption in government resides.

Bernardo said that since people’s initiative which is a means by which a petition signed by certain minimum number of registered voters can force a plebiscite as the only visible alternative left for the anti-dynasty measure, his group and several other groups in Bicol is now preparing to start with a signature campaign at once. (PNA) CTB/DOC/CBD

Thursday, November 22, 2012

First PhilHealth Express outlet opens in Albay

DARAGA, Albay, Nov. 22 (PNA) -- The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) regional office in Bicol opened this week its first PhilHealth Express outlet for Albay province at the Liberty Commercial Center in this prime urban town.

PhilHealth Express is a satellite office where people could transact business without going to the agency’s provincial or regional offices, said Paulette Santiago, its information officer.

Thousands of PhilHealth members here are expected to benefit from the opening the Express outlet, she said.

It offers services like registration of new members, amendment in member’s data; issuance of data records, member’s ID and hard copy report of monthly remittance; verification of premium payments; and inquiries on claim status.

Not all services of PhilHealth, however, are available in the Express as filing of claims, acceptance of payments and filing of remittance reports remain a responsibility only of the provincial and regional offices, Santiago said.

The PhilHealth Express is open to the public from Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is under the supervision of the Local Health Insurance Office of Albay.

Another PhilHealth Express for Bicol will be opened in Iriga City on Nov. 28, Santiago said. (PNA) FFC/CBD

Albay to recognize barangays’ best achievements in education

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 21 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay will choose three from a total of 720 barangays as winners in its search for top achievers in educational initiatives.

The contest dubbed Search for Barangay Kasangga sa Edukasyon (Bakas) was launched here this week, marking the start of provincial government’s effort to recognize barangays with exemplary projects in education.

Bakas is part of the Gawad Albay sa Edukasyon award system being pursued by Albay Governor Joey Salceda under his zero illiteracy program.

Nomination for the three categories of the search-- barangays with elementary and secondary schools, barangays with elementary schools only and barangays without schools is set until December 13. One winner which will receive cash prize of P100,000 will be chosen for each category.

Nominees must submit accomplished entry form with complete documents such as a copy of the barangay legislation on the creation of Bakas as sub-committee within the education committee of the barangay council and the list of education initiatives implemented by the barangay.

At the close of the nomination period, the Provincial Education Department (PED) will be choosing the Top 50 entries in the initial screening.

The first level screening is set December 19-21 during the Karangahan sa Albay Festival 2012. Review of documents, visit on sites and informal interview with stakeholders will be conducted.

Set on February 11-15 is the 2nd and final screening in which oral presentation will be done by each of the barangay chairman of the 50 finalists at the Bicol University Graduate School (BUGS) here.

The search is being initiated in partnership with the BUGS through its Dean Dr. Norma Licup and in cooperation with the provincial legislative board through its committee on education chaired by board member Arnold Embestro and the provincial federation of the Association of Barangay Chairman (ABC) headed by its president and board member Joseph Philip Lee. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

JICA vows completion of 3 evacuation centers in Albay before 2013

OAS, Albay, Nov 20 (PNA) -– Consultants from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have assured the completion of at least three permanent evacuation centers worth P100 million each in this town and the nearby Albay municipalities of Polangui and Guinobatan before the year ends.

Oas Town Mayor Greg Ricarte said Japanese engineers hired as consultants have been personally supervising the construction works aiming to complete the facility on time.

Without a Japanese engineer around, construction work is suspended. The consultants have been strictly monitoring project implementation to the smallest detail such as the mixture of cement and aggregates, dimensions of posts and beams and sizes of steel bars.

The consultants work according to their own schedule. Concrete slabs are allowed to dry and harden for a certain period before succeeding woks over them ensue.

Aside from safety and comfort of evacuees, another impact of the project is the assurance that classes on public school will not be affected by preemptive evacuation and continuing presence of evacuees in the aftermath of every disaster.

It has been a practice to convert facilities of public schools nearest from disaster-prone areas into temporary evacuation centers. During resumption of classes, some classrooms remain occupied with evacuees particularly those who lost their abodes totally.

During episodes of preemptive evacuations, local governments’ task is to transport persons from disaster-prone areas to the JICA permanent evacuation center and could remain in the facility if needed, and our schools will be spared from sheltering evacuees, Ricarte said.

Similar observations on project implementation were revealed by Guinobatan Mayor Juan Garcia and shared the same gratitude to JICA with Ricarte.

Aside from the present three permanent evacuation centers under construction, JICA has awarded the same facility to Ligao City, the municipality of Daraga and other towns in Albay. (PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG /UTB

DOLE to hold "Run Against Child Labor"

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) --- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will hold the “Run Against Child Labor” during the celebration of Bicol's 79th Foundation anniversary on December 8.

It would be a five-kilometer run to be participated by members of the DOLE Regional Employees Cooperative (Dolevecco), DOLE-Bicol Employees Union (DOLEV EU) and DOLE Regional Coordinating Committee as collaborator.

The run aims to promote awareness and call for action among the various sectors and the general public on the campaign against incidence of children engaged in hazardous work.

Dolevecco chairman and DOLEV EU president Raymond Escalante said the "Run Against Child Labor" is the organizations' way of showing their support to the anti-child labor agenda of the department.

A survey by the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that some 300,000 children in Bicol were engaged in hazardous work.

The NSO, along with the International Labor Organization (ILO) last year listed Bicol as second in the rank of child labor cases in the country, next to Central Luzon. Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Central Visayas came in third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

There are about 5.4 million children with ages ranging between seven and 17 years old engaged in child labor nationwide.(PNA) GHG/DOC/CBD/

Albayano scribe wins National Book Award

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) --- The book “100 Kislap” authored by a noted writer from Oas, Albay was recently chosen Best Book of Fiction in the National Book Awards of the National Book Development Board (NBDB).

Abdon Balde Jr. was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for Best Book of Fiction by the NBDB and the Manila Critics Circle during its 31st National Book Awards ceremonies held last Nov. 17 at the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila, the Albay Cultural Affairs Office (ACAO) here said on Tuesday.

Balde hails from Barangay Busac, Oas, a small 3rd class municipality in Albay’s third congressional district.

He is Albay’s Poet Laureate and a provincial government consultant for Cultural Affairs. Balde is also the current chairman of the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas and also a board member of the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society. The award is Balde’s fourth since 2003.

The ACAO said that Balde’s winning entry "100 Kislap" is a collection of 100 short fiction, each story not more than 150 words.

These are stories of love and passion, betrayal and revenge, crime and retribution, myths and legends, realism, absurdity, fantasy, and many more.

The NBDB citation given to the writer reads: “After writing novels and lengthy stories, Balde has shown remarkable discipline in writing a hundred stories each of which does not exceed 150 words”.

“By doing so, he reluctantly promoted the writing of ‘dagli’ in the Philippines, a tradition at the turn of the 20th century that was restrained and suppressed by critics who were supporting the short story genre of the Americans”, according to the citation.

In 100 Kislap, Balde heightened the effect of the “dagli” with his exemplary use of humor and irony. “His example is proof that literary works need not be long and boring,” the ACAO said.(PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Korean firm finances construction of common eco-waste landfill

OAS, Albay, Nov. 20 (PNA) -– A Korean firm poured in P280million for the construction of a common eco-waste landfill in Albay which will cover five towns and a city.

The Geogreen Zero Waste (GZW) will financed the construction of a state-of-the-art common eco-waste landfill in barangay Bagsa.

Oas Mayor Greg Ricarte said it took almost two years of extensive planning and collaborative fund sourcing for the Albay Area Development III to realize the construction of the common dump site.

In a recent signing of the memorandum of agreement between the local chief executives of this town, the municipalities of Polangui, Guinobatan, Jovellar, Pio Duran and Libon and Ligao City and GZW representatives, it was agreed the site preparation and construction of facilities will start by next month.

The firm assures installation and operation of recycling and bio remediation facilities, full implementation of pollution mitigation efforts and to gradually convert the common dumpsite into an eco-industrial park .(PNA) GHG/ALV/MMG/UTB

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Masbate police undergo psych tests

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) --- A team from the Bicol’s police Regional Health Service (RHS) recently surprised the Masbate provincial unit of the Philippine National Police (PNP) with a visit and summoned some of its policemen into a random neuro-psychiatric test.

Five police officials and 28 non-commissioned officers belonging to the rank and file coming from different PNP municipal stations in the province were randomly called infor the examinations.

Bicol PNP regional director Chief Supt. Jose Arne de los Santos on Tuesday explained the psychiatric tests were part of the organization’s initiative to ensure that all its uniformed personnel are in stable mental and physical condition while performing their tasks as law enforcers, public servants and community protector.

“It is not only guns that we are arming our policemen with, in their performance of their duties but sound mind and stable physical condition to be able to succeed in our campaign against criminality and disorderliness,” De los Santos stressed.

It is not also in Masbate that the RHS is making surprise visits and random physical and neuro-psychiatric tests but in all local police units in the six provinces of Bicol, he said.

Of the 33 officers and men in Masbate who underwent the latest tests, the regional police chief said no one plunked based on the initial report submitted by the RHS following the tests. (PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD

President Aquino approves conversion of Bicol school to become PHL’s 1st in applied S&T

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) -- President Benigno Aquino III has recently approved the conversion of Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges (CSPC) campus in Naga City into the Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology (BISCAST) to become the country’s pioneer in applied sciences and technology (S&T) education.

The President signed Republic Act 10231 earlier passed by Congress which formalized the conversion and mandates the school to strengthen the four pillars of state collegial system such as its programs on instruction, research, production and extension.

Dr. Freddie Bernal, the regional director for Bicol of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Tuesday said the law gives BISCAST autonomy from the state-run CSPC with main campus in Nabua, Camarines Sur.

This development entails advantages now that BISCAST is officially separated from its mother unit given that it acquired academic freedom to pursue higher levels of endeavor pursuant to its mission, Bernal said.

With this conversion, he said BISCAST takes the pioneering effort to pursue research and production activities while taking aggressive steps to acquire and build equipment, tools and other paraphernalia in order to accelerate socio-economic development in our region, he stressed.

BISCAST is taking the challenge of translating and transferring pure science into practical application through the various courses and curriculum that they are going to pursue starting in the opening of school year 2013-2014 in June next year.

It could also pursue exchange programs for both the students and the faculty members to give them an opportunity to visit other Southeast Asian institutions and learn from their best practices while continuing to offer extension services to the rural communities to ensure transfer of technology.

BISCAST will use rural technology to achieve total rural transformation, according to Bernal.

Its newly-appointed officer-in-charge Dr. Richard Cordial will take the lead in ensuring that all these endeavors are achieved by coming up with a strategic plan initially for the next five years, the CHED regional head said.

For a start, the state college is currently embarking on the construction of a three-storey library which will serve as a repository of statistics and data necessary for extensive research in enhancing science and technology in the region. The project costs P25 million.

Created through Republic Act 512 approved on June 10, 1983 CSPC is a school put up in Nabua town to primarily provide higher technological, professional and vocational instruction in fisheries, trades and technology, arts and sciences, as well as short-term technical and vocational courses that promote researches in the exploration and conservation of natural resources in the province in Camarines Sur.

Its creation as a polytechnic college was based on the premise that very crucial to the overall development scheme is the rationalization of the technical and vocational education with an updated curricular and linkage programs to match the needs of industries and entrepreneurs for skilled and dedicated manpower.

CSPC’s immediate targets then were the graduates of barangay high schools, private and public high schools, out-of-school youths and drop-outs in Camarines Sur’s Rinconada Area comprised of the municipalities of Baao, Buhi, Bato, Balatan, Nabua and Iriga City.

It later expanded to form the Naga City campus which is now the newly declared BISCAST. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

DTI-Bicol steps up campaign vs substandard Christmas lights

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) --- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has stepped up its campaign in Bicol against substandard Christmas lights which are hazardous.

“We have been going around the six provinces and seven cities of the region inspecting stores selling Christmas decors especially decorative lights and looking for items that may be considered substandard,” said DTI regional director Jocelyn Blanco here on Tuesday.

The DTI which is mandated to safeguard the consumers from substandard will not tolerate any wrongdoing of business establishment in Bicol, she stressed.

Blanco said this campaign is in line with the implementation of the Consumer’s Welfare Act that prohibits the sale of commodities considered hazardous and may cause loss of lives and properties.

It is also part of the government’s campaign to ensure that celebrations of the upcoming Yuletide season are peaceful and safe. Low quality Christmas lights may trigger fire and it has been proven in the past given several cases of blaze in several parts of the country, she said.

The DTI had also been appealing to the public to be very careful in choosing the items they are buying taking as cue the price. “The public must not gamble on cheap Christmas lights particularly those that are sold at the sidewalks and by street peddlers,” Blanco said.(PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Monday, November 19, 2012

Salceda opposes call on imposing tax to text messages

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) --- Albay Gov. Joey Salceda branded as domestic economic intervention the International Monetary Fund(IMF) proposal to increase taxes on mobile phone text messages to boost government funds.

Salceda strongly contradicted the statement of IMF chief Cristine Lagarde who urged the government to impose higher taxes on text messages on mobile phone users.

"Being tag as the text capital in the world is not a reason why text users should suffer the brunt of higher taxes," he stressed.

He explained that given a base of 100m cellular subscribers, a tax on text is unlikely to be progressive and could prove to be regressive since it could disrupt the initially low pricing points.

Taking note of how the government can improve tax collection, Salceda said the government should rather pass the fiscal incentives rationalization that would broaden the tax base and reduce exemptions.

He cited that increasing the excise tax on mining and other products would improve government fund sourcing, rather than to increase taxes on text.

Salceda added “I fully and consistently advocate for higher taxes on sin products to reduce their consumption and to pay for its negative impacts.(PNA) GHG/MSA/CBD/

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bicolana teacher processes malunggay into wellness food supplement
By Danny O. Calleja

TABACO CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) –- A public school teacher from this city is applying her science background in processing malunggay (Moringa oleifera) leaves into nutritious food supplements that are now making a big hit in the local market.

Ms. Tomasa Camu who teaches science at the Tabaco National High School (TNHS) here started discovering years back malunggay’s rich nutritional values through experiments in her science classes as output for research projects.

“Our experiments were inspired by the big problem on malnutrition confronting school children particularly in the pre-school and elementary levels in the city, other parts of Albay and most provinces of Bicol as per data gathered then from the local office of the National Nutrition Council (NNC),” Camu told the Philippines News Agency over the week.

Together with her students, Camu tested and analyzed several locally available vegetable varieties and found out malunggay to have the most potential to address malnutrition and other health concerns.

And for the result of the experiment not to be left only as a school project output, Camu in 2008 put up a small entrepreneurship venture named Moringa Health Products and Pastries in her residence at Barangay Bangkilingan here where she processed malunggay leaves into powder, tea, capsules, polvoron, and coffee creamer.

In less than a year, her products became known and popular. It came to a point in 2009 that production was no longer enough to meet the local market demand.

Camu sought help from the regional office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Legazpi City which under its Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP) provided her assistance in the project entitled, “Scaling Up the Production, Packaging and Marketing of Malunggay Powder and By-Products”.

SET-UP is a program of the DOST that provides local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) assistance through a comprehensive package of science and technology (S&T) service and facilities to improve competitiveness and productivity.

This assistance comes in the modes of technology acquisition, product testing and standards, packaging and labeling, consultancy and advisory services, database and information management system and linkaging and networking.

The SET-UP covers food processing, among others as priority sector which qualified Camu’s project to funding support and provision of equipment such as roasting machine, grinding machine, digital weighing scale and stainless working table. Appropriate packaging and labeling materials and nutrition facts analyses were also provided.

According to DOST regional director Tomas Briñas, Ms. Camu, as a high school science teacher, inculcates S&T through learning experiences and its application in daily life.

“She has scientifically demonstrated as example, that malunggay leaf can be transformed in powder form and be best as health products but retaining its natural flavor, color and nutritive value, thus she was provided assistance by the DOST,” Briñas said.

Camu’s first intention in malunggay processing into food nutrient enhancer was to address malnutrition and improve student and children wellness.

The positive result of her experiment came from a study of TNHS students showing symptoms of iron deficiency anemia and Vitamin C deficiency, according to Briñas.

Camu said the first year of her business operation was devoted to compliance with government requirements such as registration with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFD) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), among others.

Then, she initiated intensive promotional activities to introduce her products and be able to penetrate the market despite the presence of competing health products. She actively participated in regional trade fairs and new product exhibitions mostly organized by the DTI.

Now, with the help from the DOST’s SET-UP program, Camu said her business has expanded as more orders have been coming from people who have came to appreciate malunggay’s health benefits.

In addition to local outlets and walk-in customers, Camu said she aims to increase her captive market share by way of a marketing network not only locally but worldwide. Her products have already been reaching overseas through balikbayans and tourists who would buy it for take–home or "pasalubong".

Last year, Ms. Camu’s “Commercial Production of Malungay Moringa Oleifira Powder and By-Products Using Scientific and Technical Advances” was Bicol’s entry to the Search for 2nd Filipinnovation Award for Start-Up Companies.

Although it failed to get the national award, Camu said she was so elated by the developments that unfolded involving her malunggay project. “There is still a lot of hard work to do as improvement is a continuing process. True enough, the reward of experience is still the best teacher,” she added.

Briñas said the greatest fulfillment in this type of business is the promotion of science for good health and livelihood opportunities to improve the quality of life of Bicolanos especially small entrepreneurs as well as the farmers who produce the raw materials. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

NSO calls on Bicol households participation in ongoing tourism survey

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -- The regional office for Bicol of the National Statistics Office (NSO) is calling on all Bicolano households in sample areas to fully cooperate in the ongoing 2012 Household Survey on Domestic Visitors (HSDV).

The survey being conducted nationwide in collaboration with the Department of Tourism (DOT) started last Nov. 8 and will go on until the end of the month.

NSO regional director Cynthia Perdiz on Thursday said the survey only covers barangays and municipalities in Bicol identified as tourist frequented sites. It will involve only about a thousand households distributed among the six provinces of the region.

The survey will provide baseline data on the volume of domestic and international tourism; updates on the profile and travel characteristics of domestic and outbound visitors; identify the travel patterns of the Filipino households; and estimate the extent and economic contribution of domestic and international tourism in the country, according to Perdiz.

From the over three million foreign tourist arrivals in 2011, the DOT in Bicol is targeting to increase arrivals to six million by 2016. The statistical data that will be gathered for the 2012 HSDV will be essential for the achievement of such goal, she said.

Tourism is a major economic driver in the regional economy, largely relying on the region’s historical appeal and natural wonders like Mayon Volcano, the whale sharks of Donsol, Sorsogon, beautiful beaches and world-class resorts and watersports venues and eco-tourism sites combined with an urban lifestyle offered by big shopping malls and commercial districts.

Over the last decade, a foreign tourist in Bicol spent mostly on accommodation while balikbayans (visiting overseas Filipinos) splurged mainly on shopping.

Tourism is one of the priority sectors in the Philippine Development Plan, which says the domestic economy must grow at a rate of seven to eight percent per year in the medium term between 2010 and 2016 to curb poverty.

Perdiz said the NSO is calling on the public to support the country’s statistical system, as an accurate and efficient data will greatly help government planners and policy makers in making appropriate and reliable programs and policies. (PNA) LAM/DOC/CBD/

GK’s ‘enchanted farm’ project in Cam Norte gets P2M from Pangilinan

PILI, Camarines Norte, Nov 15 (PNA) -- Senator Francisco Pangilinan has recently provided P2 million from his Priority Development Fund (PDF) for the establishment of a Gawad Kalinga (GK) "Enchanted Farm" in Daet, Camarines Norte, said the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office here on Thursday.

The project which was launched in Daet, Camarines Norte over the week would be the second GK "Enchanted Farm" in the country next to the recently established in Angat, Bulacan aimed at creating agri-entrepreneurship and social enterprises venue for relocated marginalized families in the locality.

The new one will be located at the GK Pinyasan Village in Barangay Bibirao and GK Daet-San Lorenzo Friendship Communities and to benefit hundreds of families including those in two other GK housing sites in the nearby Barangays Alawihao and Dogongan of the same town, Dayao said.

He said the project has a funding requirement of P4 million wherein the P2 million was provided by Pangilinan while the other P2 million will be shouldered by the local government or any other source that may be generated.

The Daet municipal government according to Dayao will provide the equipment needed to start the project and its full implementation will be next year. Its completion is expected by October 2014.

Projects identified for the enchanted farm include the establishment of a three-hectare pineapple farm and orchard, swine farming, cut flower propagation, peanut production, pineapple soap making, meat processing, handicraft making using available indigenous materials, holey stove and briquette making, farm mechanization and irrigation to aid vegetable production. (PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

Salceda leads Bicol climate stalwarts in judging Miss Earth 2012
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov 15 (PNA) -- International climate change adaptation (CCA) champion Albay Gov. Joey Salceda will lead several other Bicol stalwarts in environmental preservation in selecting winners from 30 world beauties who will be here Friday and Saturday for the evening gown and resort wear competitions.

To join Salceda in the panel of judges are lawyer Leni Robredo, the widow of former Department Interior and Local government (DILG) Sec. Jesse Robredo; Mayor Geraldine Rosal of this city; Mayor Herbie Aguas of Sto. Domingo; Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Luistro; Albay Party List Rep. Cristopher Co and former Albay vice-governor Brando Sael.

Former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara of Aurora Province will complete the panel of judges.

The members of the panel of judges are known for their commitment to environmental protection, climate change mitigation and sustainable development, Manuel Rangasa, the president and chairman of the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD) Inc. which is among the sponsors of the staging of the Miss Earth 2012 competitions here.

Recognized as a global champion in climate change adaptation and a member of the Philippine Delegation to the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC since 2006 up to the present, Salceda is recognized as the first United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Senior Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change.

Sitting as representative of the Asia Pacific Region the influential Green Climate Fund (GCF) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Salceda is also a member of the Regional Development Committee of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and of the Council of Advisers of League of Provinces of the Philippines.

Rosal, Aguas and Luistro are known CCA advocates of leading implementers of disaster risk reduction and management programs in their respective local government units (LGUs).

Co is part of the Legazpi City-based Sunwest Group of Companies involved in eco-tourism and renewable energy development while Robredo, who is running for a seat in Congress representing the third district of Camarines Sur, is a staunch supporter of CCA and mitigation.

The 30 international beauties belonging to the Group 3 of the international pageant tied into an “earth-saving” cause will also be here to help promote the National Climate Change Consciousness Week that immediately follows the beauty pageant and the Clean Air Month which is the whole month of November.

With international beauty queens indorsing the promotion of a just, clean, healthy, progressive and sustainable environment, Rangasa said, there is a great possibility that CCA will be sustained locally, nationally and globally.

Part of the hectic two-day activities here and in the province of Albay of the Miss Earth candidates are tours of the eco-cultural tourism community and the Dawitan River which is considered as the city’s show window of the rich biodiversity and mangrove plantation.

The contestants will also be ushered to the Ecological Solid Waste Management site, another environmental project of the city government funded by the Spanish government.

They will also be at the Mt. Mayon Eco-Park in Sto. Domingo town where they will be joined by mayors Rosal and Aguas in a massive tree planting activity to be participated in by members of the Global Legal Action on Climate Change (GLACC), Bicol Chapter and students from the Bicol Colleges, Bicol University and community adaptation practitioners from various sectors in the province.

Rosal said this will be the third time that Miss Earth comes to the city and this time, they will not just compete for the crown but promote and advocate progressive sustainable environment and CCA as their contribution to the forthcoming "Conference of Parties 18" of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Doha, Qatar on Nov. 26 to Dec. 7.

UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) where signatory governments committed to a voluntary "non-binding aim" to reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases with the goal of "preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth's climate system."

Albay has been chosen the venue for the Miss Earth’s CCA advocacy as it is the province in the Philippines that is championing the cause of climate impact mitigation due to necessity as the province has been reeling from natural disasters for the past few years. (PNA) FPV/DOC/CBD

Bicol University is PHL representative to World Business Capability Congress

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -- Bicol University (BU) will represent the Philippines in the World Business Capability Congress this on December 5-7 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Congress will showcase the world’s best business speakers and scholars with over 150 presentations of organization improvement, 14 keynote speeches, three panel discussions and over 30 best practice exhibitions.

The Philippines will be represented by Dr. Fay Lea Patria Lauraya, the BU president and the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) regional chapter president.

She will be joined by Gilbert Mirandilla Llovit, the school’s technical adviser for ISO 9001: 2008 and faculty member of the University of the Philippines (UP).

Lauraya and Llovit’s paper entitled, “Academe’s Journey to Total Quality Management: Bicol University’s ISO 9001 Experience” will chronicle the university’s thrust and programs incorporated in its system.

The paper shows how quality of service in higher education has been anchored in the university’s mandates for teaching, research and extension and partakes to inspire other institutions to emulate its best practices.

BU has been conferred in January 2011 as the first state university in the Philippines to be certified to ISO 9001: 2008 for its quality management system.

President Benigno Aquino III who personally conferred the certification has acknowledged BU as an institution that implements quality management program.

In a span of almost four decades, BU has gradually transformed to become what it is now – a multidisciplinary and multi-campus university.

To date, it has been identified by the Philippines’ Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as one of the leading State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) for its Disbursement Acceleration Plan based on Quality and Excellence.

In the World Congress, Lauraya and Llovit will be joined by speakers from Canada, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Russia, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Denmark, Iran, India, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, among others.

The Congress is organized by the Centre for Organizational Excellence Research (COER), New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation, and the New Zealand Organization for Quality (NZOQ).

The Congress includes the 27th NZOQ Conference, 7th International Benchmarking Conference (the annual conference of the Global Benchmarking Network) and the 2012 New Zealand Business Excellence Awards. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

Thursday, November 15, 2012

CamNorte farmers benefit from DA’s animal dispersal program

PILI, Camarines Sur, Nov. 15 (PNA) –- Thirty farm households in Camarines Norte chosen through a raffle recently received goats and sheep from the regional office of the Department of Agriculture in Bicol through the agency's animal dispersal program.

The beneficiaries were chosen through a raffle conducted during the agriculture stakeholders’ forum in the province last May.

Three of the beneficiaries were given four heads of sheep- a male and three female - while the rest received the same number of goats each which DA Regional Executive Director Jose Dayao said will serve as starting heads for the livestock raising ventures of the recipients.

Dayao said before the distribution of the animals, the recipients were first required to undergo training on goat and sheep production held last week in Daet, Camarines Norte.

Goat-and sheep-raising is a profitable venture for Bicolano farmers given the wide market for its meat which had steady demand from both the domestic and foreign consumers particularly those who are not beef or pork eaters, Dayao said.

Dayao said goat production is economically valuable for the Philippines with value rising from P3.3 billion in 2000 to P5.113 billion in 2005.

At the increased price of P4,000 per head, the 3.3 million-head inventory is now valued at P13.2 billion. Chevon, the goat meat, is considered a specialty meat served as a delicacy in important occasions. (PNA) PDS/DOC/CBD/

NSO calls on Bicol households participation in ongoing tourism survey

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -- The regional office for Bicol of the National Statistics Office (NSO) is calling on all Bicolano households in sample areas to fully cooperate in the ongoing 2012 Household Survey on Domestic Visitors (HSDV).

The survey being conducted nationwide in collaboration with the Department of Tourism (DOT) started last Nov. 8 and will go on until the end of the month.

NSO regional director Cynthia Perdiz on Thursday said the survey only covers barangays and municipalities in Bicol identified as tourist frequented sites. It will involve only about a thousand households distributed among the six provinces of the region.

The survey will provide baseline data on the volume of domestic and international tourism; updates on the profile and travel characteristics of domestic and outbound visitors; identify the travel patterns of the Filipino households; and estimate the extent and economic contribution of domestic and international tourism in the country, according to Perdiz.

From the over three million foreign tourist arrivals in 2011, the DOT in Bicol is targeting to increase arrivals to six million by 2016. The statistical data that will be gathered for the 2012 HSDV will be essential for the achievement of such goal, she said.

Tourism is a major economic driver in the regional economy, largely relying on the region’s historical appeal and natural wonders like Mayon Volcano, the whale sharks of Donsol, Sorsogon, beautiful beaches and world-class resorts and watersports venues and eco-tourism sites combined with an urban lifestyle offered by big shopping malls and commercial districts.

Over the last decade, a foreign tourist in Bicol spent mostly on accommodation while balikbayans (visiting overseas Filipinos) splurged mainly on shopping.

Tourism is one of the priority sectors in the Philippine Development Plan, which says the domestic economy must grow at a rate of seven to eight percent per year in the medium term between 2010 and 2016 to curb poverty.

Perdiz said the NSO is calling on the public to support the country’s statistical system, as an accurate and efficient data will greatly help government planners and policy makers in making appropriate and reliable programs and policies. (PNA) LAM/DOC/CBD/

Catanduanes student to represent Bicol in national engineering quiz

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -- A civil engineering standout from the newly-created Catanduanes State University (CSU) in Virac, Catanduanes will represent Bicol in the 31st National Civil Engineering Student Quiz to be held at the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City on Nov. 22. Roilan Magdaraog, a fifth year CSU Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (BSCE) student, was chosen to represent the region in the national quiz sponsored by the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) after emerging as champion in the annual Regional Civil Engineering Students Quiz recently held at the Camarines Norte State College in Daet, Camarines Norte.

He bested over dozen other contestants from various colleges and universities in the region by garnering 12 points to capture first place. He was followed by the contestants from Camarines Norte State College, 2nd place; and University of Saint Anthony in Iriga City, 3rd place.

The competition was three rounds covering four areas – Mathematics, Surveying and Transportation Engineering, Hydraulics and Geotechnical, Design and Construction.

Magdaraog told the PNA here on Thursday he was an underdog during the first two rounds of the quiz but not until the difficult round came in. In the final heat, he overtook his opponents to occupy the top spot.

Magdaraog gave Catanduanes State University its impressive fifth championship title. Last September, he also placed 3rd in the Luzon-wide PaCEKatan 2012 Civil Engineering Quiz held in Pampanga.

CSU has been a PICE quiz Regional Champion for three consecutive years since 2010 and this latest feat is the school’s 5th since 2004 while it was still the Catanduanes State College (CSC).

CSC, the premier state-owned higher education institution in the island province of Catanduanes established in 1972 was elevated by President Benigno S. Aquino III to its present university status only last October 25. (PNA) LAM/CBD/

DOST, Albay gov’t and Add+Vantage intensify anti-smoking drive

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 14 (PNA) -- The Albay provincial government, the Department of Science and Technology’s Nutricomnet and Bicol Communication Network (Bicolnet) forged an agreement with Add+Vantage to intensify the anti-smoking drive campaign and heighten public awareness to promote healthy environment.

The Nutricomnet and Bicol Communication Network (Bicolnet) in partnership with Add+Vantage will spearhead an orientation seminar on Smoke Free and Media Forum at People’s Hall, Albay Capitol Building on Thursday with the aim to enhance people’s awareness and understanding of government guidelines and anti-smoking drive.

The provincial government of Albay through Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN) enact and enforced ordinances that would institutionalize the anti-smoking drive across the province.

Rose Olarte-Orbita, head of Add+Vantage, a non-government organization advocating for anti-smoking campaign lauded governor Joey Salceda’s program to make Albay as smoke-free province.

Herbert Borja, chairman committee on health who also heads SFAN said the government through its Revised Smoke-Free Ordinance enacted in 2009 is now strictly enforced in all public places of the city including government offices, public conveyances, malls, parks and schools.

Borja said the campaign is in line with the Department of Health (DOH) goal for a smoke free environment. (PNA) GHG/RBB/MMG/UTB

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Agri authorities to rehabilitate abaca industry with 2.5-M hybrid plantlets by 2015
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 13 (PNA) – Bicol’s abaca industry is expecting more vigor from a new rehabilitation program that puts together various government agencies in collective works toward a wide-scale propagation of hybrid planting materials targeting some 2.5 million plantlets by 2015.

The program which was launched recently by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) also involves the commercial production of antisera for abaca bunchy top virus (ABTV).

PCAARRD, the program leader, is one of the sectoral councils of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) tasked to help national research and development (R&D) efforts in the country’s agriculture, forestry and natural resources.

The PCAARRD presented the concept of the program and the accomplishments of its ongoing projects to the International Conference on Climate-Smart Management for the Uplands hosted by the city government and the Bicol University (BU) here over the week.

One of the projects is the DOST-funded “Rehabilitation of Abaca Plantation through Adoption of High-Yielding and Virus-Resistant Abaca Hybrids” being undertaken by the Crop Science Cluster of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños (CSC-UPLB).

The project includes training of cooperating agencies on standardized protocol for tissue culture to be led by UPLB. The training aims to address production issues on abaca.

It mainly involves the use of multi-location sites to showcase science-based abaca production and management system models on fertilization, irrigation and plant density. Model farms are set to be established for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

For Luzon, the Bicol provinces of Catanduanes and Sorsogon were chosen as project sites while Samar, Western Samar, Leyte and Southern Leyte are designated for Visayas and Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, Surigao del Sur for Mindanao areas.

These provinces are identified as the 10 leading abaca producers in the country with Catanduanes as production leader with its over 20,000 metric tons of fiber production yearly representing about 35 percent of the country’s total output, records of the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) show.

The country posted an amount of US$ 120 million in abaca export earnings last year owing to the increased demand for abaca pulp and cordage from the Philippines’ major markets, the FIDA said.

In terms of volume, the Philippines shipped out over 40,000 MTs of abaca fiber, abaca pulp and cordage last year with Bicol as the source of about 22, 000 MTs to maintain its reputation as the country’s top producer of the product.

The country’s major markets for abaca products are the United States, Japan and Germany. China, one of the biggest tea-drinking countries in the world, has been continuously expanding its imports of abaca pulp from the Philippines for the manufacture of tea bags.

Aside from tea bags, abaca pulp is used to manufacture specialty paper products for coffee filters, meat and sausage casings, currency papers, cigarette papers, filters, hi-tech capacitor papers and other non-wovens and disposables.

Cordage, ropes and twines are used for oil well and gas drilling, for binding, tying and lassoing, building construction, fishing and shopping.

Led by UPLB, among the new abaca rehabilitation project’s cooperating agencies from the educational sector are BU, the region’s premier educational institution with main campuses in this city and the Catanduanes State University based in Virac, Catanduanes.

Both state-owned universities are involved in training and extension works for agricultural and natural resources development.

Outside Bicol, the Visayas State University (VSU) and Caraga State University (CSU); University of Southern Mindanao (USM), University of South Eastern Philippines (USEP) and Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) were the cooperating agencies for Visayas and Mindanao islands respectively.

Under this project, participating agencies are using their respective tissue culture laboratories and nurseries in the production of at least 2.5 million hybrid plantlets by 2015.

In Bicol, the Department of Agriculture (DA), through its FIDA regional office based here had already been involved since about two years ago in abaca planting materials production to support the planting material requirements of farmers for the expansion and rehabilitation of plantations in the region.

FIDA maintains tissue culture production and distribution sites of high-yielding, disease-free abaca cultivars at its laboratories here, in Sorsogon City and Virac, Catanduanes.

Another project under the PCAARRD program is the “Shelf-life Study and Commercial Production of Polyclonal Antibody for ABTV” assigned to the VSU.

Funded by PCAARRD, this project aims to complement the first project by using the diagnostic kits in testing the presence or absence of ABTV in the ten identified location sites.

It is aimed at containing abaca mosaic, bract mosaic and bunchy top, the three viral diseases which affect the abaca plantations not only in Bicol but also Eastern Visayas. It also aims to prevent and control the spread of the diseases in the healthy adjacent plantations.

Dr. Calixto Protacio, the PCAARRD Cluster for Industrial Crops leader and CSC-UPLB director during the presentation said the two new projects under the new abaca rehabilitation program are aimed at further improving the production of abaca fiber production in the country.

The program, Protacio said had 19 project collaborators and coordinators from PCAARRD, state universities and colleges (SUCs) and government line agencies that are pooling their resources into collectively working on improving the country’s abaca production to maintain its industry leadership in the world.

For Bicol, FIDA regional director Edith Lomerio said these new projects will certainly add more vigor to the region’s abaca industry that is now gradually regaining its strength lost to the debilitating effects of typhoons and ABTV infestations in the past years. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

Malunggay enhances lactation of cattle
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 13 (PNA) – Malunggay(Moringa oleifera), known to provide almost all of the essential nutrients that human body needs was also scientifically-proven to improve the lactation of dairy cattle.

The Bicol regional office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has recommended to Bicolano dairy cow handlers to use malunggay as feed supplement for more milk production and animal health.

Touted by scientists as a “miracle vegetable,” malunggay has been promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the past 20 years as a low-cost health enhancer in poor countries around the globe.

Scientific research confirms that these humble leaves that are available in almost every Bicolano backyard are a powerhouse of nutritional value for human body.

Gram for gram, malunggay leaves contain seven times the vitamin C in oranges, four times the calcium in milk, four times the vitamin A in carrots, two times the protein in milk and three times the potassium in bananas.

Banking on the “miracles” of this vegetable, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) funded a Science and Technology-based Farm (STBF) Project to demonstrate the value of malunggay foliage as feed supplement to increase milk production on dairy cows and its production as a livelihood option to rural farmers.

According to DOST regional director Tomas Briñas, the STBF project compared the best practices of the Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) and the prescribed science and technology (S&T) interventions on feeding milking cows with concentrates and the forage available in the farm.

Initially, he said average milk production in MS was higher at 10.6 kgs compared with S&T that yielded only 10 kgs. However, early lactation was higher in S&T with 15.8 kgs compared with MS practice with only 11.3 kgs.

During middle lactation, Briñas said cows fed with malunggay still yielded more with 9.4 kgs average milk production while the MS practice only yielded lower at 8.2 kgs.

A lower rate of decrease of six percent was also observed during the middle lactation in the S&T practice compared to the MS practice, which had a decrease rate of 22.6 percent.

This showed that supplementing malunggay foliage to dairy cows increases milk production considerably during the animal’s first to 100th day of early lactation period and lower the rate of decrease in milk yield during middle lactation that comes on the second 100 days.

Thus, Briñas said, supplementing malunggay foliage to milking cows gave an increased income equivalent to milk production per cow per day of 4.3 kg, 2.75 kg and 1.74 kg at early, middle and late lactation periods, respectively.

This means an additional income of P93.81 per cow per day during early lactation, P60.50 for middle and P38.41 for late lactation, he said adding that computing the P93.81 net income change per day for 100 days would mean additional profit of P9,381 per cow. Also, the additional P60.50 per cow per day for 200 days would mean a net income change per cow of P12,100.(PNA) GHG/DOC/CBD/

Friday, November 9, 2012

Philhealth remind Bicol employers, members on use of PEN, PIN

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 09 (PNA) -- The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Friday reminded Bicol employers and members on the use of their corresponding identification numbers when transacting business with the agency.

“We are now strictly implementing the use of PhilHealth Identification Number (PIN) for members regardless of category and PhilHealth Employer Number (PEN) for employers, in all transactions with any of our offices regionwide,” PhilHealth regional director for Bicol Orlando Iñigo Jr. here said.

The strict implementation of the policy requiring PIN and PEN was a result of issuance of the corporation underscoring the need for a unique number to be assigned to each of PhilHealth's registered members and employers.

The use of this identification number is necessary to speed up database-dependent transactions with the corporation, Inigo explained.

“In this connection, we would like to remind all our registered members and employers that they must have an assigned PIN and PEN if they are to transact with the office,” he added.

The PIN and PEN is the main key of reference for document request, update of member/ employer data, payments/collections, posting and or uploading of contributions and benefits claims. (PNA) PDS/CBD/

Albay may grow dark a day after Christmas due to unpaid power bills

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 9 (PNA) -- Albay province may be plunged into darkness a day after Christmas if the Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco)will fail to settle its P1 billion unpaid power supply bills.

Aleco barely has a month- and -half to pay what it owes to the Philippine Energy Marketing Corporation (PEMC).

Aleco's financial obligations as of October this year have accumulated to P4 billion.

Aleco loses not less than 7 million kilowatt-hours a month to technical systems loss and pilferage. The average systems loss as of October has been placed at 26 percent, way above the maximum tolerable limit of 13 percent that power utilities are allowed to pass on to consumers.

Of the P4 billion debt, P3 billion are combined payables to the National Power Corporation (Napocor), National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) while the remaining P1 billion is from PEMC.

PEMC has been pressing for payment since last year which often comes with threats to cut power distribution. In the past, Aleco was able to make partial payments and gain debt re-considerations and restructuring from PEMC until the recent demand and threat of December 26 power cut.

Aside from the P4 billion, Aleco management has to settle current obligations to PEMC, NGCP, NEA and independent power producers that include among others, San Miguel Energy Corporation and Aboitiz.(PNA) PDS/ALV/MMG/EBP

Bicol eyes tilapia production for export market
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, Nov. 8 (PNA) -- Bicol is taking the challenge of producing tilapia for both the domestic and export markets.

Local fishery authorities say there is a big area for growth in the production in Bicol of both the small-sized tilapia which is a hit in the local market and the big-sized that is consistently gaining popularity abroad.

The region had vast freshwater resources that are highly suitable for large-scale production. Among these are the Bato and Buhi Lakes in Camarines Sur, Danao Lake in Polangui, Albay, Bulusan Lake in Sorsogon and several other smaller sites sporadically distributed among the six provinces of the region.

All in all, the region’s inland water resources capable of tilapia production are measured at 246,063 hectares of swamplands, 253,854 hectares of brackish water fishponds, 200,000 hectares of lakes, 31,000 hectares of rivers and 19,000 hectares of reservoir, according to data obtained from the Bureau of fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office here.

For the domestic market, stepping up production of the presently popular small-sized tilapia (scientific name: Tilapia nituka) varieties called “tilanggit” is necessary and BFAR regional director Dennis del Socorro over the week said they are encouraging local stakeholders to raise more preferably through aquaculture.

The industry for the domestic market is fast expanding as tilapia is now officially considered the Filipino poor man’s fish replacing “galunggong” (roundscad).

To step up tilapia production for the domestic market, Del Socorro said they making available more quality tilapia fingerlings for distribution to aquaculture pond operators in the region. These fingerlings are produced by the BFAR at its Regional Freshwater Fisheries Center (RFFC) in Bula, Camarines Sur.

This facility that sits on a 34-hectare property in Barangay Fabrica, Bula is responsible for the production of 30 million quality tilapia fingerlings in 2010 which were distributed to fishermen, pond operators and local government units under a dispersal program of the 2KR- National Agriculture and Fishery Council (NAFC)-assisted special project of the government.

RFFC, Del Socorro said also functions as the Center for verifying, adopting and techno-demonstration of different freshwater aquaculture technologies developed in national center.

It is equipped, among others with a SCV-Artificial Fish Egg Incubator for intensive tilapia hatchery apart from the refinement of induced spawning of African Catfish and breeding of Giant Freshwater Prawn.

“We can produce millions more of fingerlings in this facility for a stepped up tilapia production in Bicol,” Del Socorro said.

The beauty of tilapia fingerling production is the way the tilapia eggs are fertilized which involved certain behavior unique to this freshwater species of fish.

Del Socorro said copulation of tilapia starts with the male breeder ramming its head on the belly of the female breeder until the orange eggs are spurted from the orifice at the bottom pectoral fin.

Then, the female breeder gathers its own eggs in its mouth, and then the male breeder flips and positions its orifice and releases its eggs near the mouth of the female breeder which takes them in into its mouth to fertilize with their own eggs earlier stored near the gills.

After eight to 10 days, the fertilized eggs are regurgitated and the process to maturity from fry to fingerling begins.

This process of life creation intended to bring food for the table goes over and over again in the RFFC where male and female breeders are selectively and periodically mated for the production of millions of fingerlings for dispersal all over the region.

Another unique trait in tilapia is that it can easily switch sexes from male to female and vice versa through hormonal manipulation, depending on the ratio of male and female breeders in the ponds.

Del Socorro said that when the male and female ratio of tilapia raised in RFFC becomes greater for the male population they manipulate them to become female breeders by giving them feeds that increase their female hormones.

On the other hand, for the export market which is keener on big-sized tilapia with enough flesh for fillet processing, Del Socorro said they are adopting the genetically improved Nile tilapia strains to innovate on existing nursery and grow-out culture systems to suit the requirements for large-sized fish and intensive production.

Recent reports from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-funded program “Innovative approaches to Nile tilapia culture” are pointing out some head start.

Under the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAANRD)-coordinated National Tilapia Research and Development Program (NTRDP), researchers are enhancing local capacity to compete in the world market.

Latest report of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association said that in the United States (US), tilapia has shown the biggest gains in popularity among seafood.

This trend is expected to continue as consumption increased from 1.5 million tons in 2003 to 2.5 million tons in 2010.

Del Socorro said Americans and Europeans have the passion – and taste – for tilapia since they consider it as “white meat,” a health food low in cholesterol and fat. Also, European chefs have a preference for its firm meat.

And because of its large demand in the world market, tilapia commands a high price as in the US.

The DOST-funded program has produced probiotics from fermented leaves of red creole onions and shallots, locally known as “sibuyas Tagalog” which when added to feeds of tilapia, improved the growth of tilapia over the 30-day feeding trial.

It has also established the effect of sex reversal using alpha-methyl testosterone, a steroid on improving fish growth.

The research is also looking at plant-based substances from the pine pollen as alternative growth stimulant and agent for sex inversion for tilapia.

Del Socorro said Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is the appropriate variety to produce in Bicol for the world market. It is a species of high economic value and is widely introduced outside its natural range. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/

8 Bicol caves in PH protected list

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov 08 (PNA) -- Eight caves in the Bicol Region are in the country’s list of 158 that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has classified for protection, conservation and management.

DENR Bicol Regional Executive Director Gilbert C. Gonzales said six of these caves are categorized as Class 3, that is, generally safe to inexperienced visitors and have no known threatened species and archeological, geological, natural history, cultural and historical values.

The caves are the Luyang Cave in Barangay Lictin San Andres, Catanduanes; Versales Cave, Barangay Linao , Placer, Masbate; Lingaw Cave, Barangay Linao, Libon in Albay; San Ramon Cave, Barangay San Ramon, Libon, Albay; Rawis Cave, Barangay Rawis, Libon, Albay; and Pighulugan Cave, Barangay Misibis, Bacacay, also in Albay.

These caves may also be utilized for economic purposes such as guano extraction and edible birds and collection, he said.

Two caves are classified under Class 2 or those with areas or portions which have hazardous conditions and contain sensitive geological, archeological, cultural, historical and biological values or high quality ecosystem, Gonzales added.

Open to experienced cavers or guided educational tours/visits, these caves are: the Mataas Cave, Barangay Mataas, Bacacay, Albay, and the Calabidongan Cave, Barangay Calabidongan, Camalig, Albay.

“It may be necessary to close sections of these caves seasonally or permanently,” Gonzales said.

He claimed that he found this cave classification useful in rationalizing any plans to use them for economic purposes.

He said DENR Secretary Ramon Paje has signed a memorandum circular that provides for continuous classification of caves in the country until all of them have been classified.

“This has the end view of protecting our caves, including their natural, historical and cultural attributes,” Gonzales said.(PNA) PDS/MSA/CBD/

CamNorte water firm moves to protect Mampurog River

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 8 (PNA) -- The Camarines Norte Water District (CNWD) has taken steps to protect Mampurog River in San Lorenzo Ruiz town, the local water firm’s newly developed surface water source, according to the regional office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here.

Eva Ocfemia, EMB regional director for Bicol, on Thursday said part of the CNWD moves for the protection of the river was the recent holding of the “Walk for Mampurog River: A Step towards Water Adequacy in Camarines Norte”.

Ocfemia said the activity, participated in by hundreds of Camarines Norte residents and environmental protection advocates, was intended to create community awareness on the importance of maintaining the quality and quantity of water in the river.

Ocfemia said Mampurog River is the first surface water source developed by the CNWD from where it started drawing safe, potable water for thousands of households in the province in April last year.

The river supplies the CNWD distribution facilities 12,000 cubic meters of water daily, the EMB regional chief said.

The Walk for Mampurog also gave participants the opportunity to visit the water firm’s facilities like the storage tank, pumping station and the Boro-Boro Spring, all in Labo town.

CNWD is also conducting regular symposia for high school students twice a year where water shed protection and other environmental issues are discussed.

Apart from Mampuro, the water firm also derives its water supply for its concessioners in the municipalities of Labo, Daet, Mercedes, Talisay, San Vicente, Basud and Vinzons from five springs and five wells within the province’s water shed areas, Ocfemia said.

The EMB regional office, she added is encouraging all the other local water districts in Bicol towns and cities to replicate the initiative of CNWD toward environmental management and protection. (PNA) LAP/DOC/CBD/