Friday, March 28, 2014

Peace pact ushers in development in Mindanao, Sorsogon Muslim leaders say

SORSOGON CITY, Mar. 27 (PNA) -- Members of the Muslim community here are hopeful that peace will soon start to reign in Mindanao after the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro Thusday afternoon.

Annas Damiano, president of the Sorsogon Muslim Community Association, said they were happy that the government and the MILF have already reached an agreement which would pave the way for a better Mindanao.

“Hopefully, it will usher in a new era for our Muslim brothers and give them a taste of peace and progress,” Damiano said in Filipino.

He said Mindanao had suffered a lot and it was about time for peace to reign in the Moroland and progress and development start to change the lives of the Muslims.

Muslims, mostly Maranaws who came from Marawi City and Lanao del Norte, started to live here in the mid-80s.

Damiano said they were forced to abandon their lands in Mindanao for fear of the intense fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels at the time.

Abdul Wahid Labuan, the local imam, said the signing of the agreement would hopefully silence the guns in Mindanao and let the sounds of engines of development pervade.

Mindanao is so rich in natural resources and culture but has remained the poorest region because of the wars that have bathed its land with blood, he stressed.

The Muslim community here has grown to about 700 individuals now, and most of them are engaged in various kinds of business, especially in retail trade.

Damiano, however, said that despite the agreement they have no plan just yet to return to Lanao, saying they have found a new life here.

“My children were been born here and though they are Muslims they are not familiar with the life in Mindanao,” he explained.

All of the Muslims who were present during the interview agreed with Damiano, saying they are already contented with their lives here. (PNA) CTB/FGS/BQL/CBD/UTB

‘Pinukpok’ fabric provides Bicol families substantial income (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, March 27 (PNA) – Through nights and days, meek sounds of pounding could be heard all over row of houses at the resettlement village in Barangay Banquerohan here where hundreds of families relocated from the permanent danger zone of Mt. Mayon now reside.

They are into “pinukpok,” the manual pounding of abaca strands before hand-weaving it into fine, smooth and silky fabric that has evolved into a high-end material for the textile industry and providing a good source of income for these families.

The woven fiber fetches a high price of P1,000 per meter dictated by the difficult and time-consuming weaving process.

A fast weaver as what several women in the village who have undergone skills training provided by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFIDA) do, can come up with two meters a day for an average daily earning of P2,000.

Pinukpok fabric, which carries an air of class and exclusiveness, is being marketed exclusively for formal or high-end wear — giving way to its high price.

It is hand-woven as pure abaca fiber or blended with cotton, silk, polyester or piña and the fiber is proven to be three times stronger than cotton and silk to last for several years.

It was after the 1992 eruption of Mt. Mayon, wherein hundreds of families from several barangays near the foot of the volcano were economically displaced and had to be relocated permanently in Barangay Banquerohan, that “pinukpok" gained attention here.

Although they were provided with newly constructed houses in the new site, livelihood then turned out to be scare.

To address this problem, the city government identified the prevalent skills among the adult members of the resettled families and weaving came out.

Thus, the women in particular were further trained on the latest technologies for handloom weaving, dyeing and processing to upgrade their skills in the production of high-value exportable abaca textile products under the guidance of the DOST, FIDA and Bicol University (BU).

Through the help of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Bicol Small Business Institute Foundation Inc. (BSBI), the weavers were provided with 20 units of steel handloom, one mechanized steel fiber rotary press and a plastic press from the Philippines Textile and Research Institute (PTRI).

Other requirements for the commercial production of pinukpok were also provided.

Since then, pinukpok has evolved into a fine high-end fabric as it wove its way not into the textile industry but into the fashion scene.

Known Manila-based designers like Rene Salud and Ditas Sandico Ong have featured this fiber in their fashion shows while prominent personalities like Sen. Loren Legarda and Patis Tesoro frequently order this fabric.

Local designers like Dan Clint Arispe are doing their share in promoting this fabric by using them in their fashion creations.

Local chief executives and other officials led by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda also helped in the promotion of pinukpok fabric by showcasing in various occasions the elegance and grandeur of this commodity now called Bicol’s “Golden Fiber.”

In the nearby province of Camarines Sur, the production of pinukpok was introduced only in 1996 when the Tupa ng Baras Multipurpose Cooperative Inc. in Baras town was assisted by the DOST through its Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) in conducting a basic training on weaving patterns with a resource person from the PTRI.

In 1998, this group adopted acquired jack-type handlooms through the help of the DOST which was followed the next year by the training on scouring, bleaching and drying, and advanced weaving conducted by the PTRI.

Later, the weavers were trained on natural dye extraction and application on abaca textile.

Later and until now, this group became the sole provider of pinukpok fabrics to Sandico-Ong.

Although the abaca industry in Bicol is already well-established, PhilFIDA Bicol regional director Ramon Borromeo said “pinukpok” as a sub-industry is still considered a sunshine industry.

Its entry into the mainstream textile industry is painstakingly slow because of some problems like the lack of raw materials, the tedious weaving process and lack of machineries that hamper its total development.

A rotary press machine alone cost about P500,000, he said.

But for Agnes Santillan, a weaver at the Banquerohan resettlement site, “kahit mahirap, tama na sa amin itong manu-manong paggawa ng pinukpok. Habang mahirap gawin, maganda ang presyo (it may be difficult but this manual process of pinukpok making is enough for us. The harder it takes, the better the price).” (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Legazpi City winning fight vs smoking
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, March 23 (PNA) -– This city, which is becoming a convention hub and tourist destination, has one more thing to boast of: being a haven for those who hate smoking in public places.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal said his office may not have the impressive campaign against smoking but “we have the output,” adding that they have records of effecting the most number of arrests of violators who were even penalized.

In fact, Rosal said, his anti-smoking campaign even got awards from the Department of Health as a model LGU in the country during the years 2010 to 2013.

He added that everywhere in city establishments and open public places, warning signs against smoking abound.

The city mayor said that recently, at least 20 firms were given awards by the city for maintaining a 100-percent smoke-free record based on the report of the City Health Office, which regularly inspects establishments.

Rosal recalled an interesting incident when a Legazpi public safety officer onboard a passenger jeepney saw a fellow passenger smoking, which was being tolerated by the driver, starting from Daraga town.

He said that as soon as the vehicle entered the territory of Legazpi City and the smoking passenger was still doing it, the public safety officer accosted the violator of the city’s anti-smoking ordinance and informed him of his violation.

Fearing of being late in his appointment, the violator decided just to settle the case by paying the P500 cash penalty for the first offense.

Anti-smoking advocates, however, notice that in the Legazpi airport, where big billboards having the “warning against smoking” abound, some violators of the no-smoking signs enjoy their habit without being accosted.

Right in front of the city hall and the Provincial Capitol is a park where vendors occupy an area 60 meters from the city hall and sell barbecue and beer.

One Tuesday afternoon after office hours, this writer and a fellow journalist decided to enjoy a few bottles of beer and pieces of barbecue, when three males arrived and asked permission if they could join their table having no more table available.

The group ordered beer and barbecue, lighted cigarettes and freely enjoyed smoking.

At nearby tables, customers of another vendor were also having their drinks enjoying their smoking freely, unmindful of the provincial and city anti-smoking ordinances.

Environmentalist and former provincial board member Arnold Embestro, who was the former provincial committee on environment chair, said in a text message that elsewhere outside Legazpi, while the province boasts of an anti-smoking ordinance, it is “zero” in performance.

“It’s discouraging that the ordinance has not been supported by political will from local government units,” said Embestro.

Observers noted Tabaco City as among the LGUs with a very poor campaign against smoking, saying that right at the city market’s wet and dry sections, smoking among vendors seems to be tolerated and that there is even no warning sign against smoking posted.

A retired public school teacher said she went to the Tabaco City police to get clearance but was surprised when a front desk policeman on duty attending to complaints and recording these in the police blotter was smoking heavily even as his public clients had shown reactions against the smokes coming from his cigarette.

The provincial leadership, however, is not wanting in its fight against smoking.

In fact, to boost the campaign against smoking, following the signing of the province’s anti-smoking ordinance, Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda initiated last year the formation of the biggest “anti-smoking human logo” inside the sprawling Bicol University compound here with more than 11,000 people participating.

Salceda, who considers the anti-smoking human logo project as the biggest, even tossed it for recognition by the Guinness' World Records but failed.

He, however, claimed to have succeeded in quitting smoking three months before he signed the anti-smoking ordinance. (PNA) CTBFGS/MU/CBD/rsm

100-percent smoke-free firms cited in City of Sunflowers

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar 21 (PNA)-- Twenty smoke-free establishments received citations during the celebration of the 13th cityhood anniversary of Ligao City, known as the City of Sunflowers, on Wednesday, a lawmaker of the province of Albay said Thursday afternoon.

Albay Board Member Herbert Borja, chairman of the Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN), said the awarding was conducted during the Araw ng Parangal at the Ligao City Pavilion.

Given awards were Benzon Burger House, Graceland Baker’s Plaza, Jollibee, EverGood, Jebson, LC Travelodge, Garcia Memorial Hospital, Perpetual Help Clinic, St. Stephen Optical Clinic, Baylon Clinic, LBC, Morato Pili Nut, Sambitan Tourist Inn, Ligao Pension House, Josoc Inn, La Terraza Resto, 3DY General Merchandise, Shell Gasoline Station, Novo Jeans and Ligao National High School.

The SFAN, in partnership with ADD+VANTAGE Community Team Services and local government units of Albay, has been giving out non-monetary recognition to business sector members who comply with the Smoke-Free Albay ordinance.

This activity has been cultivating leadership among the cities and municipalities in smoke-free implementation and enforcement in Albay province.

In October 2013, the first non-monetary award was held in Daraga, Albay, where 15 top establishments were recognized.

In February this year, Legazpi City also conducted the same activity, thus, adding 20 establishments to a long list of 100-percent smoke-free indoors.

“Smoking has been identified to be the single most preventable cause of death of a person, thus, declaring a workplace or establishment as smoke-free will help lessen the mortality rate as a consequence of the vice,” Borja said.

A completely smoke-free workplace can have an even greater impact, helping both smokers and non-smokers, he added.

The Albay board member said employees, crew, staff of such workplaces and/or establishments who are bothered by smoke and even its smell will not be exposed to it anymore, thus, making them more comfortable while working.

“Of course, smokers who want to quit will have more of a reason to do so. Even the risk of fire within the workplace is lower, and most of all, a smoke-free environment creates a safer, healthier workplace,” Borja claimed, adding “Who wouldn’t want that?”

With all the negative effects of smoking, the Ligao City Health Inspection Team had conducted a couple of rounds of the establishments within the city since Feb. 6, checked compliance on the provisions of the Ligao City Smoke-Free Ordinance #2011-004 and was able to come up with the top 20 establishments which were recommended to the award-giving team for this recognition.

These establishments were carefully evaluated by the award-giving team and have complied with the criteria such as having visible “No Smoking” signages within their respective premises and not allowing smoking indoors, thus, making the environment 100-percent smoke-free.

Further, they actively help in the anti-smoking advocacy by continuously reminding customers to smoke in designated smoking area only.

Awarded business owners and operators received a specialized certificate bearing the inscripted text which says “Certified 100% Smoke-Free (non-smoking establishment)” conceptualized and produced by the ADD+VANTAGE Community Team Services with support from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The establishment owners expressed strong support to the implementation of 100-percent smoke-free indoors policy, thus, making the goal to establish best practices in target business sectors and venues for replication elsewhere on its way to success, Borja said.

Constant rounds of inspection, monitoring and information dissemination will be conducted by the City’s Smoke-Free Committee to sustain the implementation and enforcement.

Ligao City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua of Ligao City announced that the implementation of the ordinance will be stricter this year, especially now that they already have smoke-free model establishments.

Meanwhile, Councilor Ana Manlangit, the author of the Smoke-Free Ordinance of the city, added that the implementing rules and regulations of the ordinance are ready to be reviewed by the local chief executive.

Ligao is a city of beauty, thus, making it smoke-free will surely be an advantage, among others, and will add more to its attractiveness, Manlangit said.

SFAN will continue to work with other LGUs in Albay to localize the provincial smoke-free ordinance and urge its effective implementation and enforcement, Borja said.

“Having more and more model establishments within the province will be of big help toward making Albay a safer, healthier place to work and live in!” the SFAN chairman added. (PNA) PDS/FGS/AMM/cbd

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

DENR says Albay forest cover grows 86 percent in 7 years (Feature)
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, March 25 (PNA) – Albay’s forest cover has nearly doubled its density in seven years, a remarkable development that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office for Bicol based here is attributing to vigorous environmental advocacies and relentless reforestation activities.

The growth is measured by the DENR based on satellite imagery which indicates that the province’s forest cover increased by 86 percent between 2003 and 2010, Gilbert Gonzales, the agency’s regional executive director for Bicol, on Tuesday said.

This can only arise with the combined efforts of the entire Albay ecosystem with robust environmental advocacies and activities despite the massive destruction inflicted by typhoons, especially "Reming" and "Milenyo" that hit the province and the entire Bicol region successively in the last part of 2006, according to Gonzales.

Albay has a total land area of 256,677 hectares, of which around 80,000 hectares covering key mountains and protected areas like the Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP), Mt. Pocdol, Mt. Malinao, Mt. Masaraga and Mt. Manaet are considered forest land.

MVNP is a 5,776-hectare protected area sprawling down the slopes of the iconic Mt. Mayon, the 2,463-meter high volcano most popular for its beautifully symmetrical cone shape and also the most active in the country.

Mt. Pocdol, with its highest elevation at 1,102 meters, is a fumarolic group of volcanoes playing host to the 25,100-hectare Bacon-Manito geothermal reservation.

Mt. Malinao is a forested mountain standing 1,548-meter high on a 22.5-square-kilometer of lushly vegetated base and overlooking the vast Tiwi geothermal power field and Mt. Masaraga is a forested, sharp-topped mountain with an elevation of 1,328 meters adjacent and the closest to Mayon Volcano.

Tectonically, Masaraga is part of the Bicol Chain of Volcanoes and part of the Pacific ring of fire and described by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) as one of the country’s inactive volcanoes.

Mt. Manaet in Bacacay town on the other hand is a less known densely covered peak overlooking a rolling terrain at the eastern slope of Mt. Mayon and descending to the lowlands facing the Pacific Ocean.

In 2003, Gonzales said, Albay’s forest cover was measured at only 26, 298.71 hectares or 10.25 percent of the province’s entire land area.

Over the next seven years or until 2010, it grew to 44,891.16 hectares or 17.49 percent to post an increase of 18,792 hectares or an expansion by 41.42 percent over the total, he said, adding that the growth rate was 5.92 percent or 2,656.06 hectares per year.

“This is a very remarkable achievement for Albay, a province where about 73 percent of total land area is vulnerable to landslide and soil erosion, owing to its mountainous terrain,” Gonzales noted.

Strong typhoons and heavy rainfall in the province cause landslide in areas with steep slopes and clayey soils while soil erosion is rampant in less-vegetated areas exposed to strong winds and also caused by water runoff during high precipitation.

As recorded by the Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), about 12,000 families located within the high-risk area are threatened by landslide in 127 barangays of the province and are being evacuated to safer grounds during heavy downpour and typhoon situations.

APSEMO chief Cedric Daep notes that an estimated 12,190 hectares of the province’s land or 396 of its total of 720 barangays are continuously suffering from flood hazards during rainy season.

There are several built-up areas throughout Albay that are annually constrained by flood, most especially the coastal communities.

Mudflow is one of the most destructive effects of typhoon in areas near Mt. Mayon. During the onslaught of super typhoon Reming that left 604 people dead and 419 missing, destructions were caused in part by rampaging mudflows and lahar flows from its channels that end up over three cities and five municipalities nestled around the volcano.

The magnitude of devastation caused by that super typhoon resulted in mass permanent relocation to safer grounds of about 10,076 families living near the foot of Mayon.

“We have to remedy this nagging situation and some of the strategies that the Albay provincial government has been initiating as elements of its disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) program involve natural and engineering interventions that require an integrated management approach of the fragile and more stable ecosystems,” Daep said.

These strategies put in place extensive development efforts, investments and regulatory enforcements to improve the environment which is tantamount to developing the economic base on the ridges-to-reefs of the province.

Included as one of the interventions, Daep said, is the Integrated Ecosystems Enhancement, Rehabilitation cum Protection Needs where strict enforcement of laws protecting the ecosystem and rehabilitation measures are the focus, thus, the revitalization of the province’s forests that has resulted in the expansion of forest cover as noted by the DENR.

Gonzales said all sectors concerned with Albay’s ecosystems are rejoicing over this accomplishment, and “they will rejoice more when impacts of the National Greening Program (NGP) wherein the province and the whole of Bicol is taking the frontline in its implementation are felt."

So far, in Bicol, NGP, which is the environmental flagship program of Pres. Benigno Aquino III, has already grown about 29.3 million various species of seedling in 43,483.12 hectares, many of which have grown as trees, in all coverage areas in the region since its inception in 2011, official records show.

Over three million of this total have been planted in Albay so that when they become fully-grown trees, “perhaps we can already say that the province’s forest cover has been restored to its vibrancy seen over half a century ago,” the DENR regional chief said. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

City pins hope on sunflower to boost local tourism, economy

LIGAO CITY, Mar 25 (PNA)--This once-farming town is slowly transforming itself into one of Albay’s three urban centers, and is capitalizing on the sunflower to boost its local tourism and economy.

As its first step, it launched on Monday afternoon the first "Sunflower Festival" that highlighted the celebration of its 13th year as a city.

The "Sunflower Festival" will join the family of festivals being observed in Albay, including the "Daragang Magayon Festival" of the province of Albay, "Ibalong Festival" of Legazpi City and "Tabak Festival" of Tabaco City.

The "Sunflower Festival" is a week-long event that depicted the city’s religious, cultural and economic transformation from a second-class town to a component city, according to Mayor Patricia Gonzales Alsua.

The festival’s culminating rites were highlighted by what event organizers called the “Festival of Festivals” where participants from seven towns and cities joined and exhibited their local street dancing talents.

Among those that participated were the street dancers of the Guinobatan Longaniza Festival; Pinyasan of Daet, Camarines Norte; Rodeo Masbateño of Masbate City; Ibalong of Legazpi City; Peñafrancia Voyadores of Naga City; Tinagba of Iriga City and the Sunflower Dance Group of this city.

Clad in their colorful costumes, the parade participants danced their way through the three-kilometer stretch from Barangay Tuburan to the City Hall where they also exhibited their lively dance choreographed numbers.

Thousands of residents and guests, including foreigners, lined up the city streets here and were awed as they saw the seven contingents of street performers dance their routines in ethnic, jazz and modern rhythms.

Along some portions of the street, sunflower plants nurtured by residents in front of their residences also lined up.

To the surprise of the thousand of people witnessing the presentation, taking the center stage of the street dance exhibition was the first-timer contingent from this city wherein close to a hundred performers clad in colorful costumes performed the “Sunflower” choreography with precision and grace.

Alsua said the dance choreography was a portrayal of how the city has gone through an evolutionary process to become what it is now.

“From the legendary roots of the five ancient 'datus' that instituted this land, to the gift of the Spanish colonizers – the gift of faith -- and up to the present where we, Ligaoenos, take pride to be named the ‘Sunflower City’ of Bicol, ” the lady city executive explained.

“This city is proud of its rich cultural heritage and good social values and the making of this city is truly a great thing to happen,” Alsua said.

People were also amazed with the performance of the Rodeo Masbateño where the performers were attired in cowboy vest and did a barn dance exhibit.

The Daet “Pinyasan” displayed not only its dance performers but also a float adorned with the native fruit, the “pineapple,” while the Naga City contingent paraded a boat float along with the “voyadores” and the replica of the Virgin of Peñafrancia, the Patroness of Bicol.

Albay 3rd District Rep. Fernando Gonzales said in an interview that the sunflower idea was conceptualized when he was still the mayor a decade ago.

Gonzales said the concept came during a school dance presentation at the Barangay Amtic elementary school where pupils where dressed in sunflower costumes.

“This gave me the idea of the sunflower, which I later found out to be a viable industry that can be carried out in Ligao,” he said.

He said this city has been tagged as the Sunflower City in Bicol because of the abundance of the flowers planted in some 20 hectares here.

Gonzales said he is looking forward to the vast potential of the sunflower industry.

Quoting a research study, Gonzales said sunflowers produce oil seeds that are used for cooking oil, meals and confectionary products.

Its by-products, when processed, can be used as ingredients in livestock feed rations.

Compared to soybean, sunflower meal contains 50 percent oil and about 20 percent protein, the study said.

Demand for sunflower oil has increased as food processors search for sources of transfat-free vegetable oil.

Food manufacturers abroad have switched to sunflower oil, Gonzales claimed.

As for the health benefits, the study, he said, showed sunflower seed oil as one of the healthiest vegetable oils for cooking because it contains linoleic oil, high oleic and mid oleic.

Gonzales said some businessmen have already approached him and signified their interest to buy the sunflowers that the city has planted, but their demand for the product was so enormous that the planters here could not yet meet their supply requirements.

The average price of sunflower oil products in the foreign market ranges from US$ 24 to US$ 33 per kilograms depending on the demand and supply, he said.

The study also revealed that the countries of Canada, Spain and Turkey are the leading buyers of sunflower seeds and oil while the largest suppliers are Argentina and United states. (PNA) PDS/FGS/MSA/CBD

Pili oil now most sought raw material by top cosmetic firms
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, March 25 (PNA) -– Talk about beauty secrets and Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, the gorgeous Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Special Concerns, has one to reveal — pili oil lipstick.

DA Regional Executive Director for Bicol Abelardo Bragas based here on Tuesday told the PNA that during the recent two-day trade and jobs fair for women entrepreneurs in Naga City which Puyat graced, the Agriculture undersecretary said that in the past two years, she has been using pili oil- based lipstick that protects her lips from dryness and cracks.

In that affair, Bragas said, Puyat told members of the “Lakas ng Kababihan,” a women empowerment movement in Camarines Sur, of his finding that pili oil is now “a much- sought after raw material by largest cosmetic companies like Channel and Christian Dior because it contains high levels of carotenoids and Vitamin E.”

“Topically, pili oil has great effects in promoting younger skin and fighting ageing,” Bragas quoted Puyat as saying, as she then urged Camarines Sur 3rd congressional district Rep. Leni Robredo to shift to pili oil-based lipstick.

Robredo, who joined Puyat in gracing the affair held last week at Jesse M. Robredo Memorial Coliseum in Naga City in time for the celebration of the 2014 International Women’s Month, is the leader of the women’s organization which during the fair showcased various products and crafts of enterprises run by women in the province.

Puyat, who was personally invited by Robredo, lauded the creativity, resourcefulness and skills of the Bicolano women in developing various products and crafts using locally available resources, Bragas said.

As the chairperson of the DA’s Gender and Development Focal System, Puyat said the national government recognizes the vital role of women in development and change and the Philippines is the only country which mandates all government agencies and institutions to allocate five percent of their annual budget for GAD programs.

Puyat and Robredo are both widows with children, distinguished careers and reputable names and legacy which they are gracefully and honorably nurturing and carrying on.

Bragas said “these two women are true epitomes of strength, resilience and grace as they move on with their life, career and mission despite the personal tragedies (the untimely demise of their husbands) they have been through.”

Both are their own persons who have carved their own niches in their career and in the field of public service and these two Juanas truly inspire and empower other Filipino women, thus, they are worth emulating as “Ang Tatag nyo ay Tatag ng Bayan sa Pagbangon at Pagsulong,” Bragas said.

In the same occasion, Bragas said, the two famous, influential and beautiful women posed gamely for the cameras and made a public endorsement of pili oil–based lipstick, saying: “Bicol-made pili lipstick is organic, aesthetic, and domestically produced. So kiss your old lipsticks goodbye. Use pili oil-based lipstick.”

Locally made pili pulp oil is now becoming a popular and an inexpensive alternative to olive oil which was first developed after a few years of research by Bicolana entrepreneur Minda Yee of Sorsogon City who perfected the proper way of extracting pili pulp oil for culinary, pharmaceutical and cosmetic uses.

With the help of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources (PCARRD), the research and development arm of the Department of Science & Technology (DoST), Yee is now exporting her product for use by foreign cosmetic companies.

To boost Yee’s production capability, the DOST has also initiated the development of the technology as an alternative to the process introduced by the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at University of the Philippines in Los Baños, which uses enzymes in extraction and chemicals in refining pili pulp oil.

Pili (Canarium ovatum) is one of the 20 major fruit crops of the Philippines which deserve to be developed.

It is the crop which the country produces with greatest advantage and competitiveness on a global scale.

Historical accounts on this crop attest that the Philippines is the only country which produces and processes pili in commercial quantity such that the country has the monopoly of the foreign market.

With both pharmaceutical and industrial uses, it is an ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks.

Records indicated that for many years, the Philippines has been exporting pili resin popularly known as Manila elemi.

Pili is indigenous to the Philippines and produced mainly in Bicol and five other regions -- Eastern Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Caraga, Western Visayas and Southern Mindanao

In Bicol, pili plays a significant role in the economy as it provides additional income to some 14,000 farmers who own at least 10 trees and farm laborers hired as harvesters.

The pili processing industry also generates employment to scores of people such as the traders, processors, assemblers, factory workers, store keepers and others offering miscellaneous services related to the industry. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Police nab 7 suspects in massacre of 4 miners

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, Mar 25 (PNA) – Joint operatives of the Caramoan Municipal Police Office and the Camarines Sur Provincial Police Security Company on Monday arrested seven suspects in the massacre of four miners in Barangay Gota, Caramoan, Camarines Sur.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Philippine National Police Bicol regional director, identified the suspects as Angelo Refran, Servillano Espares Jr., Luis Palaganas Jr., Saetiel Pielago, Jonah Bolima, Florencio Vargas and group leader Francisco Tria III -- all members of Sagip Kalikasan.

They are suspects in the Sunday killing of Julio Lobiano, Rene Lobiano, Salem Virtuz and Jesse Brondia – all miners and residents ng Barangay Gota.

Deona said the suspects were arrested at about 4:00 p.m. Monday after the police received information that the men they were after were going to Gota Village, Barangay Ilawod, Caramoan.

One suspect named Joel Breso alias Bay was able to escape and now the object of a police manhunt.

Police brought the seven suspects to the CMPO and are readying charges against them.(PNA) PDS/FGS/EMC/CBD

Masbate town tops first-ever Festival of Festivals
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, March 25 (PNA) – Amid rains that drenched their props, costumes and bodies, the Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer, Masbate, won the first prize in the Festival of Festivals exhibited during a parade that culminated Monday afternoon at the Bicol University compound here.

For their dexterity, precise execution of dance presentation and colorful costumes, the group bagged P500,000, followed by the Pinyasan Festival of Daet, Camarines Norte, which won second and a cash prize of P300,000, and Sugok-sugok Festival of Bagamanoc, Catanduanes, third, with P200,000.

With great joy etched on his face, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said the Festival of Festivals was the culmination of a dream that he had long had -- where there would be a festival where all the other festivals in the Bicol Region would gather and celebrate together.

Earlier during the day, he said it would push through “rain or shine,” after it seemed that the torrential downpour drenching Albay the whole morning threatened to continue in the afternoon where the Festival of Festivals street showdown was scheduled to take place.

One of the much-anticipated events slated for the grand opening day of the Daragang Magayon Festival 2014, the Festival of Festivals showdown was the street presentation that represented the various festivals that are celebrated in different towns and cities in the six provinces included in the Bicol Region.

Starting from the center of the Municipality of Daraga and ending at the Bicol University Grandstand, 13 contingents with 8 competing, marched through the main thoroughfare lined with spectators amid loud cheering and clapping from people who flocked to the place from all over the region.

And yes, there was the occasional sprinkle of rain but it was not enough to dampen the mood.

“It was nature that dictated Albay to be the center of the Bicol Region, people, culture, and politics merely followed soon after; we have here in Albay the ultimate symbol of Bicol, the incomparable Mayon Volcano,” Salceda said.

He also said that in the period of Spanish occupation, Mayon Volcano stood as a marker for the division of the two provinces that composed the Bicol area, and today, Albay serves as the base for many of the regional offices of the different government agencies.

“I am saying all of this not to brag but to let everybody understand that we know where we stand and our situation and we welcome everybody with open arms and hearts to our beautiful province’” Salceda explained.

The celebration started with a Holy Mass at the Albay Astrodome.

Benito C. Bengzon Jr., assistant secretary for International Tourism Promotion of the Department of Tourism, was the guest of honor and speaker during the occasion.

After Salceda declared the opening of the festival, he cut the ribbon for the Trade Fair and Exhibit of the Department of Trade and Industry, which has 25 stalls.

There are also 30 food stalls around the Peñaranda Park and other stalls inside the Provincial Capitol for the Art and Photo Exhibit.

Salceda said the Daragang Magayon Festival came from the Myth of the Daragang Magayon.

The whole celebration is composed of 270 events.

Salceda said the occasion, which will showcase the talents and culture of the Albayanos, is the time for all Albayanos to come and enjoy together as a community as well as attract both local and foreign tourists.

He said the 2014 event is the 14th celebration of the festival, seven years of which have been under his administration as Albay governor.

The provincial chief executive said the tourism program of the provincial government of Albay is in the right track.

In fact, he said, the province posted the highest record of tourist arrivals based on the records of the DOT -- in 2012, it registered 49 percent and in 2013, 55 percent.

Dorothy Colle, Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs officer, said that aside from the grand opening on Monday, the festival will have “Parada ng mga Higantes” on Tuesday, Halia on Mar. 26, Albay Day on April 3, Daragang Magayon Pageant, Ultra Marathon or Mayon 360 degrees and nightly shows sponsored by the various local government units in the province.(PNA) LAM/FGS/NIM/CBD/

PhilHealth gives free medical services to 500 poor families

LEGAZPI CITY, March 25 (PNA) -- Around 500 identified indigent families of this city availed of free medical services from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) during the launch of the PhilHealth program “Alaga Ka para sa maayos na buhay” held at the Embarcadero activity center on Monday.

The patients were assisted by the doctors of the City Health Office headed Dr. Fulbert Gillego and volunteer doctors from the Association of the Municipal Health Officers and the Philippine Association of Family Physicians.

The medical service includes preventive and promotive health services like consultation, regular blood pressure measurement, breast feeding program education, periodic clinical breast examination, counseling for lifestyle modification and counseling for smoking cessation, among others.

The launch of the “Alaga Ka para sa maayos na buhay” program was spearheaded by PhilHealth Bicol Regional Office in partnership with the Department of Health Region 5, City Government of Legazpi, Department of Social Welfare and Development RO-5, Department of Interior and Local Government RO-5, Association of Municipal Health Officers and Philippine Association of Family Physicians with support from the Philippine Information Agency, Philippine National Police and Jaycees International Legazpi Dawani.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal said this PhilHealth program is very important to all the indigent persons to give them more opportunities to avail of free medical consultancies and services.

In Legazpi, the city chief executive stressed, 50 percent for the payment of the poor’s obligation to the PhilHealth is being shouldered by the city administration while the remaining 50 percent is from the share of the 70 barangays.

Rosal said that his administration is now in the process of preparing for the bidding of the initial phase of the city hospital.

The Department of Health assured to release the P50-million budget for the construction of the hospital by 2015.

David I. Escandor, officer-in-charge regional vice-president of PhilHealth for Bicol, said all indigent members of this PhilHealth-sponsored program will become more aware of their benefits.

Escandor said the DSWD will assist the persons wanting to enroll as indigent and on the part of the PhilHealth, his office will provide services for the members who need to have their member data records updated.

DOH Regional Director Gloria J. Balboa said this launch of the Alaga Ka Program is part of the primary care package to inform the sponsored PhilHealth patients about their benefits of this program, saying that this activity is for all the indigent families enrolled by PhilHealth using the fund of the DOH.

Balboa said that there are now 15 million million PhilHealth beneficiaries in the region.

She said that all the beneficiaries are now free to avail of the medical services from government hospitals with zero-expense payment as part of the no-balance billing program.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EPS/CBD

Friday, March 21, 2014

Catandunganon tops PNPA 2014 graduates; 13 other Bicolanos join him
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 21 (PNA) -- After Albayano Cadet First Class Jheorge M. Llona topped the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class “Siklab Diwa” 2014 as valedictorian, a Catandunganon will graduate on top of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Mandirigmang may Dangal at Isipan Laan para sa Bayan (MANDILAAB) Class of 2014.

Class valedictorian is Cadet First Class Glenn T. Santelices of Barangay Lictin, San Andres, Catanduanes, and son of PO3 Heide and Ma. Gracia Santelices.

The eldest in the brood of four, Santelices said his achievement is for his family who supported him in all the way.

Before entering the academy, Santelices attended Claret seminary in Quezon City and finished Philosophy as cum laude.

Of the top 10 PNPA 2014 graduates, three are from Bicol – Santelices, Cadet First Class Allan Benedict R. Rosete of Sorsogon, third place, and Jayson Rey S. Florin of Albay, eight place.

Other Bicolanos expected to graduate on Mar. 31 at Camp Gen. Mariano Castaneda in Silang, Cavite, are PCDT Ermelo G. Dichoso, Bacon District, Sorsogon City; PCDT Adrian James A. Albaytar, Washington Drive, Legazpi City; PCDT Mateo A. Maloon, Cataingan, Masbate; PCDT Neon Francis B. Alvarez, Camarines Norte; PCDT Mark Anthony D. Villamor, San Jacinto, Masbate; PCDT Mylene S. Villamor, Topas Proper, Nabua; PCDT Marben D. Cortes, Baleno, Masbate; PCDT Ryan Anthony P. Ocampo, Goa, Camarines Sur; PCDT Roneil A. Olinares, Milaor, Camarines Sur; PCDT John Patrick V. De los Santos, Iriga City, Camarines Sur; PCDT Errol Jordan Frejas, Piot, Sorsogon City; and PCDT Randolf Amor C. Macoy, San Jacinto, Masbate.

The Philippine National Police Academy was established under Section 19, Presidential Decree 1184 and became a primary component of the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) pursuant to Section 67 of Republic Act No. 6975.

It was created to provide preparatory education and training to the three uniformed bureaus of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, namely, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.(PNA) CTB/FGS/CBD

Salceda to charge PNR for use of special train not in Bicol route

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar. 20 (PNA) –- Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has announced here that he is filing charges against the Philippine National Railways (PNR) for using the “premium tourist train” not in the Bicol-Manila route where its acquisition was intended.

The charges would be for gross non-performance of the mandates of its franchise as embodied in its charter, which has resulted in depriving Bicolanos of vital economic services since 2006 and for diverting earmarked resources to another route which comprises constructive malversation.

It could also be a case of route-cutting which, Salceda said, he is filing with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

“I am asking PNR General-Ganager Junio Ragrario to be our principal witness,” he said.

The charges will emanate from the decision of the PNR to allow the premium tourist train to service the Tutuban-Laguna run instead of servicing the Bicol route where it is intended when acquired through a donation from the Japan National Railways which runs touristic routes in northern Japan, according to Salceda.

It was Ragrario who solicited the same trains from Japan, the governor said.

Salceda said he laments the decision made by the PNR that promised to service this city by as early as Nov. 2011.

“Those trains should bear the name 'Mayon Limited' not 'Premiere Train' or PNR-DOTC," Salceda said.

According to the governor, who is also chairman of the Regional Development Council for Bicol, PNR is an independent corporate entity and has its own legislative franchise that precedes even the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) “as we know it.”

Using the train in the Tutuban-Laguna route makes it an incredible abandonment of the people in Bicol and embodies the highest form of social injustice to the rural poor and a disservice to the development of the countryside, he stressed.<->Last February, Ragrario said, the rehabilitation of the south rail track was on its finishing touches, making the PNR confident that it could resume train trips between here and Manila soon.

Recent test run on the Naga-Legazpi route proved successful and, Ragrario said, construction crews are fast tracking the works so that southbound trips ending in this city are resumed the following month.

“We are doing all these pursuant to the government’s commitment for the total rehabilitation of the railways and provision of safe, cheaper and convenient alternative to the riding public,” he stressed.

Rehabilitation of PNR south facilities from Calamba, Laguna, to this city covering a distance of 483 kilometers, which was allotted an amount of P35.15 billion, started in 2005 and scheduled for completion by 2011.

The project, however, suffered a major setback when super typhoons "Milenyo" and "Reming" successively battered Bicol in 2006, rendering crippling damages on the railways between Naga City and here.

Plans then to restore the Legazpi trips were shelved even as the Naga City-Manila trips were maintained intermittently.

In 2011, the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III pushed for the resumption of the rehabilitation of the damaged Bicol section of the railways which was eventually completed up to Ligao City, Albay, a year after.

Manila-Ligao trips were restored in early December last year with Salceda expressing optimism during the inaugural run that rehabilitation works for the railway line would be completed at once so that trains would be once more seen traversing its original route deep into the central point of Albay.

Train trips famously called Bicol Express and Mayon Limited have been important component of the regional economy because of its contributions to trade, tourism and transportation, Salceda noted.

The governor said that with the imminent restoration of train trips to Legazpi, trade activities will greatly improve as products from Albay and manufacturers from Calabarzon and Manila will use the railways, thus, this would result in cheaper products, freight cost and fast travel time.

“Rail transport is the cheapest while exerting competitive pressure on the other forms of transportation by increasing supply,” Salceda said.

He also noted that the rail transport is government-subsidized up to 70 percent anywhere in the world in order to equalize opportunities for the rural countryside and promote tourism as well.

For tourism, Mayon Limited will offer a different and distinctive perspective of the countryside to tourists both domestic and foreign as it gives unrestricted view of Mayon Volcano surrounded by the greenery of Bicol farmlands, he said.

“With PNR trains, passengers have all travel options... rail, road or air options between Albay and Manila and the rest of Luzon,” Salceda added.

According to Ragrario, the resumption of the Legazpi trips will “close the loop” linking the North and South Rail project.

He said the refurbished coaches from Japan to be used by the PNR for the Bicol Express and Mayon Limited offer comfort to passengers with a line of first-class coaches, sleepers' coaches, economy coaches, restaurant, and cargo coaches.

The restoration of PNR trips between Bicol and Manila, Ragrario said, proves that trains remain an important component of the mass transportation system in the route for its being more economical, convenient and safe.

With these developments, the PNR, Ragrario added, expects its passenger base to increase from the previous 400,000 a month to 600,000.

“What happen to these promises of the PNR now that the train supposed to be for the Mayon Limited has been fielded in the Tutuban-Laguna route? I am pursuing my case for the Bicolanos to be able to get back that train,” Salceda said.

The special trains now called “premium trains,” according to the PNR, now give commuters an alternative transportation to avoid major traffic jams in certain areas in Metro Manila. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

Bicol PNP chief wishes this year’s PNPA top graduate assigned in Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar. 20 (PNA) –- If he is to be asked, Chief Supt. Victor Deona, Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol regional director, would want Police Cadet Glenn Tabo Santelices, who is graduating valedictorian from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) on Mar. 31, assigned in his home province of Catanduanes.

“Santelices could show a good example and help a lot in persuading his fellow Catandunganons to pursue a career in the police service so that the PNP is able to fill up the gap in the island province’s number of policemen,” Deona on Thursday here said.

The problem in Catanduanes is that many policemen in the province come from the Bicol mainland and they have been leaving for assignment in their home province, taking advantage of the PNP program that provides for the assignment of all police non-commissioned officers (PNCOs) to stations in localities where they reside, Deona said.

This program, he said, intends to allow the PNCOs to properly manage their finances by maintaining only one household.

Hence, Catanduanes is running short of police personnel, given the fact that not much number of qualified applicants comes from the province during recruitment -- even as the quota has been increased, according to Deona.

He cited as example the latest recruitment process that offered 60 slots for the province, wherein only 15 qualified for entry -- with the balance taken by recruits from the mainland who later would work on their assignments in their home provinces.

To remedy the situation, the Bicol police chief said, he has been pushing police chiefs in Catanduanes to come up with an aggressive campaign to recruit more Catandunganons into the local police force, noting its periodic depletion due to transfer of assignments to the mainland.

This case results in the reduction in the number of police personnel and firearms in the province, pointing out that firearms are issued permanently to police personnel, meaning, they take it wherever their place of assignments are.

Recently, Deona said, the Catanduanes police had been allocated 70 brand-new 9mm Glock 17 Generation 4 handguns for issuance to personnel holding the ranks between Police Officer 1-3 who were yet to be issued side arms.

However, only 53 have been issued due to the shortage in recipients, the police regional chief said, noting that he decided to withhold the rest -- pending the final rationalization of personnel assignment in the region’s six provincial commands.

The balance of the handgun release will be given to Catanduanes only after the personnel situation has stabilized, he said.

“We are now also working on the reassignment of policemen from the mainland. We are also momentarily denying requests for transfer to their home province of about two dozens who are currently assigned in the island pending the availability of replacements,” Deona said.

The replacement of those who are seeking transfer will come from new recruits now undergoing PNP Scout training at the Regional Training School in Barangay Villahermosa, Daraga, Albay.

“Also, I am not entertaining notes from politicians,” he said, adding that since he took over as Bicol PNP chief months ago, he has not acted on such letters requesting the reassignment of certain policemen as those without political connections suffer in silence and grumble in private.

All requests for reassignments and designations of officers now have to pass through the regional police board, Deona said.

Anyway, Deona said, the regional police office is maintaining a bigger recruitment quota, expecting that the province would be able to come up soon with more qualified applicants to follow the example of Santelices who strived hard to enter the PNPA and become the academy’s top graduate this year, to the pride of Catandunganons.

Catanduanes Gov. Araceli Wong has said she will be at the PNPA in Silang, Cavite to attend the graduation rites and personally congratulate Santelices and his parents.

Wong said she will also encourage Santelices who will enter the police service with the rank of Inspector (lieutenant in the military rank) after graduation to seek his first field assignment in the province.

This 25-year-old top graduate, who hails from San Andres, Catanduanes, followed the footsteps of his father in the police service, PO3 Heide Santelices, who is currently assigned in Quezon City, according to Wong.

The young Santelices, who will receive the Presidential Kampilan Award and Plaque of Merit, will lead the 201 other graduates of PNPA Mandilaab Class 2014 during their 35th commencement exercise on Mar. 31.

Mandilaab stands for Mandirigmang may Dangal at Isipan Laan para sa Bayan.

“I hope, however, that he doesn’t follow the footsteps of his father in seeking assignment outside of his home province so that he becomes a model and inspiration of our youth into entering the noble career in the police service,” the governor added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/UTB

DENR bares court conviction of illegal wood charcoal traders in Camarines Norte
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 20 (PNA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol on Thursday claimed that its campaign against illegal wood charcoal trade in the region has gained ground with the recent conviction of two illegal wood charcoal traders for violation of Section 77 of Presidential Decree No. 705 otherwise known as the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.

Gilbert Gonzales said in statement that Judge Roberto A. Escaro, presiding judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 38 of Daet, Camarines Norte, has found Allan Rada and his co-accused, Rosita Millares, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Sec. 77 of PD 705 by possessing forest products without legal documents required under existing forest laws.

Gonzales said Rada was apprehended by the police authorities at a checkpoint in Basud, Camarines Norte, transporting 12 sacks of wood charcoal and 40 pieces of uncut bamboos without legal document, which were procured by his co-accused Millares on January 17, 2013.

The two accused were meted with the indeterminate penalty of six months of arresto mayor as minimum to four years, two months and one day of pricion correccional as maximum.

“Though it took the conviction about a year of hearings, there is that glaring message to the public that the violators of forest laws will not go unpunished,” Gonzales said.

He reiterated his stern directive to DENR field officers to prosecute all those who would be violating environmental laws, “to show to the public that we have strong resolve in putting a halt to this unscrupulous illegal trade particularly, illegal logging and illegal wood charcoal making. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/

DENR turns over 2 rescued young grass owls to Albay Park and Wildlife

LEGAZPI CITY, March 20 (PNA) -– The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol regional office has turned over two young grass owls to the Albay Park and Wildlife here.

The two six-month-old grass owls (Tyto longimembris) were rescued by a certain Jimmy Lagaton in the mountainous part of Barangay Tumalaytay, Castilla, Sorsogon, on Wednesday morning.

Gilbert Gonzales, DENR regional executive director, said grass owl – usually called the Easter Grass Owl or the Australian Grass Owl -- is an endangered species of owl belonging to the Tytonidae family.

It is found in Australia, Bangladesh, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Gonzales said they were supposed to turn over three grass owls but the third one died, apparently due to hunger.

He commended Lagaton for his rescue of the grass owls and quoted him as saying, "we in the villages respect the right of the birds to also live."

Che Rebeta, Albay Park and Wildlife manager, said they will try to revive the young birds by giving them the right diet.

The grass owl is a nocturnal bird that looks for food at night and is carnivorous -- meaning, it eats meat of animals like rat, snake, worm and others.

“We will try to give them ground meat,” Rebeta said.

Aside from the grass owls, there are 10 similar birds that are being taken care of in the park, she said.

In this connection, Rebeta called on the public not to disturb animals in the forests.

"People should not catch them, especially the endangered ones, in order to maintain the wild habitat," she said. (PNA) FFC/FGS/AMM/CBD

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bicol RDC proposes better perks for performing gov’t execs
By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, March 19 (PNA) -– The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Bicol is pushing this year its proposal to amend the computation of monthly representation and transportation allowance (RATA) granted to government officials while in actual performance of their duties and responsibilities.

Under its Resolution No. 27 (S. 2013), the RDC proposed that the computation be based on the actual number of days worked, Luis Banua, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) V officer-in-charge, told the PNA Wednesday.

The proposed amendment has already been endorsed to Budget Secretary Forencio Abad, Banua said.

The RDC also endorsed to the travel rates committee chairman of the House of Representatives the proposed increase in per diem of government officials while in local official travel from P800 to P1,900, he added.

It also proposed that the period of entitlement for meals commences on the time of departure from official station and ends at the time of arrival at the official station.

The RDC-V is chaired by Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, also the co-chair of the South Korea-based Green Climate Fund for developing countries.

The NEDA-V acts as the council’s secretariat.

Banua said the RDC has also endorsed to Congress the appeal of local government units (LGUs) for exemption from personal services budget ceiling of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (LDRRMO) for third to sixth class LGUs.

During the regional summit on disaster risk reduction and management for chief executives late last year, the LGUs requested that the positions of personnel for the LDRRMOs be exempted from the policy on personal services ceiling to facilitate their institutionalization.

The LDRRMOs shall be responsible for setting the direction, development and implementation and coordination of disaster risk management programs within their territorial jurisdiction.(PNA) LAM/FGS/CBD/

Albayana, boyfriend bar passers want to help poor litigants

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar. 19 (PNA) — Helping poor litigants who need legal assistance has been the dream of bar passers Georgeanna Rainbow S. Rayco and boyfriend Jay M. Andes, hoping the realization of this dream is their first order of the day, now that they have both passed the 2013 bar examinations.

Georgeanna told the PNA in an interview Tuesday, after the results of the bar exams were announced by the Supreme Court shortly after 12 noon, that their respective families were full of joy when they learned that their four-year struggle to finish law at the Aquinas University of Legazpi College of Law here, from where they graduated in 2013, had yielded fruits.

Georgeanna, the third among the Rayco siblings, had been a consistent awardee during her high school years and finished BS Accountancy, cum laude, from the Aquinas University of Legazpi and magna cum laude, from the College of Law of the same university in 2013.

Even though she is already a certified public accountant, Georgeanna pursued law with the strong backing of her lawyer-father, Bart.

While studying, she attended to their canteen and made her family as her inspiration in her studies.

“Preparing for the bar exams was not easy as I needed to study hard; and when you are already very prepared, you will be confident. My father had no other advice during the exams but to be calm and he had always encouraged me so I was not pressured,” Georgeanna said.

At 27, she wants to work with the government as a lawyer.

On the other hand, Jay said his beautiful five-year relationship with Georgeanna had been his inspiration in his law studies and during the bar exams.

“Last night, I could not sleep – afraid I would not make it,” Jay said.

This writer failed to ask him whether the song “My Love Will See You Through” had something to do with their passing the bar exams.

It had been their agreement that if one of them would make it (passing the bar), one would help the other in another review for the next exams.

Jay had also been a consistent honor student and graduated high school valedictorian from the St. Gregory the Great Seminary.

He finished AB Philosophy at the Ateneo de Manila in 2004 and was a cum laude at the Aquinas University of Legazpi College of Law.

He was not full time in his studies, Jay said, and after a few hours of reading, he would also find time for other aspects of life.

The new lawyer plans to join the Prosecutor’s Office or the Public Attorney’s Office.“

It has always been my plan to join the government because I want to help people; to find an office where I can use my profession on legal affairs,” the 30-year-old lawyer stressed.

He said both he and Georgeanna were supported by their respective parents through their law studies, making them full-time students.

As of now, although both of them are already lawyers, they do not have plans yet to get married.

Aside from Jay and Georgeanna, other bar exams passers from the AUL College of Law are Manilyn R. Bautista, Emmanuel B. Gutierrez, Hadji Hrothgar O. Hidlao, Michael John T. Lavadia, Ryan Paul N. Olfindo, Mary B. Oreste, Glenda G. Oxales, Tina Marie C. Saribong, Markgregor Edward C. Sayson and Marianne T. Vergara.

Meanwhile, the Bicol College School of Law in nearby Daraga town also has successful bar examinees in the persons of Cyra M. Mabini and Ma. Carmen A. Cadag.

The 14 new lawyers are part of the 1,174 successful bar examinees from all over the country. (PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/

DND chief leads nationwide simultaneous earthquake drills in Albay
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, March 19 (PNA) -- Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin Wednesday lauded disaster authorities in Albay for a well-managed school-based earthquake and fire drill held at the Bicol University ground here, which marked the start of earthquake drills nationwide.

Gazmin said the drill was so impressive that it manifested how disaster authorities here had efficiently responded to early warning, preparedness, response and recovery plans and measures in times of an actual earthquake.

"With the proper orchestration of disaster authorities and support of the community, we could immediately respond to emergencies and prevent the loss of lives during disasters," he stressed.

Gazmin said that with a comprehensive disaster preparedness, mitigation and response measures and risk reduction and management plan, it would make a community disaster resilient and achieve the "zero" casualty goal that Albay province has been known for.

The school-based drill will gauge how we act on early warning during an earthquake, undertake preparedness, response and recovery plans and measure in case of a 6.7-magnitude earthquake when it occurs. At this time, we will assess the capacity level of the schools in the event of an earthquake or other disasters," he said.

The school-based drill here was handled by students, faculties and employees of the Bicol University; Team OCD Bicol; Philippine National Police; Health and Emergency Management Service from the Department of Health and Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital; Department of Public Works and Highways; Legazpi City DRRM Office; Philippine National Red Cross; Philippine Army; Philippine Navy; Philippine Coast Guard; Tactical Operations Group; and, Bureau of Fire Protection.

The earthquake and fire drill scenario was: Phivolcs issues an advisory on a 7.4-magnitude earthquake hitting Legazpi City where at the BU, students were holding regular classes at around 9 a.m. when these were suddenly disrupted by a loud bang followed by shaking of the grounds, building wobbling, ceiling starting to fall, cracks observed in floors and walls -- signs of an earthquake unfolding.

Disaster responders conducted response and rescue measures, followed by evacuation to safer areas, headcount of injured, trapped and missing persons; setting up of incident command post to plan out mitigating actions in response to the aftermath of the incident.

The conduct of psychosocial management procedures for victims and assessment of damages followed.

The earthquake and fire drill on Wednesday at the BU grounds served as the ceremonial site for this year’s nationwide drills that reeled off simultaneously in 16 regions.

Similar disaster drills were also held in schools in Bauang, La Union; Lallo, Cagayan; San Fernando, Pampanga; Barangay San Isidro, Antipolo City; Romblon; Bacolod City; Cebu City; Inonangan, Southern Leyte; Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga City; Cagayan de Oro City; Davao city; Gen. Santos City; Butuan City; Maguidanao; Baguio City and Quezon City.

The conduct of quarterly nationwide earthquake drills is pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 1012, stressing that preparedness and mitigation are key strategies in reducing disaster risks.

Gazmin, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and Defense undersecretary Eduardo del Rosario, Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense led some 700 disaster responders in holding a one-hour earthquake and fire drill on Wednesday that ended at 10 a.m.

Responding to the citation of Gazmin, Salceda said that Albay’s disaster operations would aim to be the number one in disaster risk reduction and management operation across the country.

“We are still committed to our vision to achieve and maintain the province’s ‘zero’ casualty goal,” he said.

In explaining his vision, the governor said, Albay would aim high and not go for just a runner-up in disaster operation.

“If this is a beauty contest, Albay would aim for a Ms. Universe title in disaster operations,” Salceda added.

Albay, with the support of the community, is united in “our purpose and visions,” he said. (PNA) CTB/FFC/FGS/MSA/CBD

Monday, March 17, 2014

‘Search for light and you will find knowledge,’ poor grade-school sisters show (Feature)
By Eduardo M. Casulla

LEGAZPI CITY, March 17 (PNA) – Absence of electricity, something to illuminate them at least in their studies, has not been a hindrance to Clarisse Rejano Bonaobra, 13, a Grade 5 pupil, and her younger sister, Jennilyn, 11, Grade 4 – both attending classes in Balza Elementary School in Malinao, a rice-producing town some 45-minute drive north of Legazpi City in Albay.

The sisters have been under the sole care and upbringing of their unemployed father, Erving, since their mother left them for another man.

The Bonaobra couple has ten children and the eight elderly siblings were given away by their mother for adoption due to their poverty even before she left their home.

Clarisse and Jennilyn decided to stay with their father.

With poverty haunting the Bonaobras, Clarisse and Jennilyn have become more determined to finish their studies to have a bright future.

There was, however, a dilemma that confronted the sisters -- their small hut lies in the middle of a ricefield where all they see around at night is darkness.

To other pupils, this would be a reason for not studying and sleep early, but to Clarisse and Jennilyn, it was just one of those challenges that they would have to face – and overcome -- at their tender ages.

Persistent to acquire education, they found the solution in the street light near the town hall of Malinao.

Every night that they need to read and study their lessons, Erving accompanies them to the town hall where they make use of the streetlight in their pursuit of knowledge even up to late hours of the night.

Senior Insp. Arthur Gomez, MMPO chief, said that even if it is raining, they can see the Bonaobra sisters studying under the light provided by the lamppost.

Their sacrifice was not left unnoticed as officers of the Malinao Municipal Police Office patrolling the area every night always see them studying.

As a result, the Philippine National Police Bicol regional office made them their guest inspirational speakers during the flag ceremony this Monday morning at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here.

Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, PNP Bicol regional director, decided to give them honors in recognition of their sacrifices in pursuit of their studies.

As a gift, the PNP Bicol regional office gave the Bonaobras a rechargeable lamp, pot, frying pan, blankets and other household utensils that the family can use daily instead of borrowing from neighbors just to be able to cook.

Deona gave Erving P20,000 for him to buy a “padyak” (foot-pedalled tricycle) for the family’s daily income.

Happiness on the faces of the Bonaobras was non-descript when they received the gifts of the police officials and officers of Region V and other private individuals who learned of their plight.

As a result also of what the sisters are doing, the MMPO launched the project “Ilaw Ko, Kinabukasan Mo” as part of their community relations services and to help other pupils like the Bonaobras who need light in order to study their lessons at night. (PNA) FPV/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Salceda presents recognition to 2014 PMA graduates from Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar 16 (PNA) --Governor Joey Sarte Salceda on Saturday personally handed copies of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay Resolution No. 0012-2014 recognizing the achievements of the eight Albayanos, led by Cadet First Class Jheorge M. Llona, who are among the 223 graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class “Siklab Diwa” 2014.

Llona of Barangay Maopi in neighboring Daraga topped the graduating class as valedictorian.

The other graduates from Albay are Cadets First Class Rolly Lopez of Ligao City, Jeanelyn Cabrido and Ranjan Palacio of Guinobatan, Juanito Siddayao of Legazpi City, Charlie Bernaldez and Angielyn Samaniego of Polangui and Julan Ocharan of Camalig.

Salceda told the cadets and their respective families that it is but natural and proper that the provincial government of Albay recognize the cadets for the honor they have given to the province and the entire country.

He stressed that the PMA is the premier military school in the Philippines and that he is proud to be an adopted member PMA Class 1980 as a reservist.

The Albay chief executive said he and the provincial council led by Vice Governor Harold Imperial were extending their congratulations to the successful Albayano cadets and their respective families.

After the simple ceremonies, Salceda had a long conversation with the graduates and their loved ones, who thanked him for this initiative of the provincial government.

LLona said he did not expect this event to happen, adding his dream for a good future to his family is simple.

He said poverty became his inspiration to reach what he has achieved now and what he would achieved in the future.

The PMA Class 2014 top honor graduate thanked the governor and the province of Albay for the support they have given to his family and to his fellow Albayano PMA graduates.

He stressed that Salceda is a true father of the Albayanos who recognizes and honors Albayano achievers.

As he spoke, his family led by his father, Nelson, and mother, Gloria, were almost in tears as they said they were very happy for the success of their son.

They also thanked Salceda and the provincial government of Albay for their support to them.

Salceda invited Llona and other Albayano cadets to be guest of honors in the celebration of the 440th Year of the Province of Albay on April 3 as part of the Daragang Magayon Festival 2014. (PNA) PDS/FGS/NANCY I. MEDIAVILLO/CBD/MEC

Friday, March 14, 2014

DENR prepares 3 villages in Albay town for Balik-Probinsya Program
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, March 13 (PNA) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol regional office is preparing an upland area in Oas, Albay, for its Balik-Probinsya Program.

DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said Thursday that the program is one of the priorities of the government anchored on the implementation of the National Greening Program and under the framework of National Convergence Initiative.

“It aims to pursue sustainable development on food security, poverty alleviation, livelihood, biodiversity conservation, resource protection, rehabilitation and environmental development,” Gonzales said.

The project is located in the villages of Nagas, Tapel and Cagmanaba in Oas town and covers a total area of 2,000 hectares.

A people’s organization, the Cagmanaba Coastal and Upland Farmers Association, Inc. (CCUFAI) -- headed by its president, Eliseo Rivera, has been awarded the site preparation and planting of various species in the area like narra, gmelina, mahogany, pili, cacao, coffee and other indigenous species.

The CCUFAI is also in charge of protection and maintenance of the area.

Gonzales said the Provincial Technical Working Group of the National Convergence Initiative has been conducting meetings focusing on site development, particularly the resettlement area.

He said the Department of Public Works and Highways has made the plan for a proposed access road and its cost estimates while the Department of Health has identified the source of water and conducted sanitary survey for potable drinking water. The DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau has already made a geo-hazard survey of the area.

The DENR official said that soon the area will be an ideal resettlement for Bicolanos now residing in Metro Manila who would like to avail of the Balik-Probinsya Program of the national government for a better life in their home region.

“This will especially be true to either informal settlers or those living in high-risk zones in Metro Manila to decongest the capital region by relocating families to safer areas where they can live a better life,” he added.(PNA) LAP/FGS/EPS/CBD/

Albay readies for dry spell that starts affecting 3 towns

LEGAZPI CITY, March 13 (PNA) -- Disaster officials in Albay are now preparing urgent counter-measures to cushion the negative impact of the dry spell on agriculture, health and sanitation, and power.

The dry spell is now starting to affect almost a thousand hectares of rice lands in the towns of Daraga, Camalig and Polangui, Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said Thursday.

The dry spell, according to Salceda, would trigger power outages, drop in agricultural production and rise in heat-related diseases.

He claimed that the dry spell would also bring power outages which would immensely affect business, triggering spikes in prices of basic commodities.

“Frequent power brownouts have a domino effect, as it would result in power rate hikes imposed by the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM),” the governor added.

He quoted a Provincial Agriculture Service (PAS) report that said the dry spell has already affected some 996 hectares of rain-fed rice land in Daraga, with 700 hectares; followed by Camalig, 196 hectares and Polangui, 100 hectares.

In 2010, dry spell destroyed 6,000 hectares of agricultural lands in the six towns and two cities of the province, forcing disaster authorities to place the entire province under a state of calamity.

The provincial executive said he convened on Monday the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Council (PDRRMC) to immediately prepare for any contingencies.

Ernesto Dela Torre, provincial agricultural officer, said in a phone interview that the production loss brought by the dry spell is placed at 2,490 metric tons equivalent to P23 million.

Dela Torre said the damage is only 3-5 percent of the agricultural output from the total of 25,400 hectares of rice land in the province.

Aside from dry spell, the province is also facing a water irrigation system problem after the Agos-Sta Cruz Dam in Polangui was rendered non-operational and needs repair, Cristina Mesias, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) provincial chief, said in a phone interview.

Mesias said the irrigation dam provides water to 160 hectares of irrigated rice land in Polangui.

She said it needs about P80 million to repair the dam, but the fund is not available this year.

As counter-measures, the PAS will provide seed assistance to affected farmers, propose to them alternative crops to be planted, repair and maintain shallow tube wells and provide fuel assistance to farmers with irrigation pumps.

As for health concerns, the PDRRMC advised residents here to be cautious about illnesses related to dry spell -- including asthma, dehydration, heat stroke, dengue, diarrhea, prickly heat, sore eyes, boils and skin rashes. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/

Thursday, March 13, 2014

DENR-Bicol plants 29.3 M seedlings 2013
By Floreño G. Solmirano

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar 13 (PNA)--The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol regional office had planted 29.3 million various species of seedlings covering an area of 43,510 hectares in the entire region as of 2013 yearend, a top official of the agency said Thursday.

Gilbert Gonzales, DENR Bicol regional executive director, said the Bicol Region has committed to contribute 92,648 hectares to the National Greening Program (NGP) of the Aquino administration.

Mandated under Executive Order No. 26 issued on February 24, 2011, the NGP is a priority thrust that harmonizes all greening efforts of the government.

It seeks to plant 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares from 2011 to 2016 nationwide in public domain.

Gonzales said the implementation of the NGP will address some of the priority programs of the government for poverty reduction, resource conservation and protection, productivity enhancement, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Working hard to make the target of the region possible are the six Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs) and 11 Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs) backed up by the DENR regional office executives and supported by NGP partners and stakeholders, he added.

The NGP is now on its third year of implementation and has generated jobs that have improved household incomes and general well-being of villages across the region.

People’s organizations, non-government organizations and other entities have generated incomes from the activities under seedling production, site preparation and planning, protection and maintenance of plantations that have employed 32,896 jobs, Gonzales claimed.

The operational funds for the NGP came from the Forest Management Service, totaling P327.1 million, and Ecosystem and Research Development Service, P28 million, he added.

The latter funding is for clonal nursery and production of quality planting materials.

The allocated budget is for survey and mapping, site planning/validation of CY 2014-2016 areas, seedling production, social mobilization including site preparation and planting, and protection and maintenance of existing plantation.

The Barangay Forest Program – which includes nursery establishment, seedling plantation and plantation establishment -- has a total budget of P34.4 million coming from the NGP, P22.1; Soil Conservation and Watershed Management, P4.8 million; and Bottom-Up Budgeting, P8.7 million.

The DENR Central Office has also downloaded an additional budget of P1.8 million for the purchase of 63 units of geo-tagging device for project documentation.(PNA) PDS/FGS/CBD

Farmer-father of 2014 PMA valedictorian wants son to fight corruption (Feature)

LEGAZPI CITY, March 13 (PNA) — Help fight corruption!

This is the number one advice of the father of Philippine Military Academy Cadet First Class Jheorge Llona, the valedictorian of the PMA “Siklab Diwa" Class of 2014.

Nelson Llona, a farmer in Barangay Maopi, Daraga, Albay, from where the 2014 PMA top honor graduate hailed, said he made the advice with the belief that his son would someday occupy a high position in the government, especially that Jheorge has chosen to join the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

“I am not a good swimmer so I chose the Air Force,” Nelson quoted Jheorge as saying when asked why he chose the PAF instead of the Navy and Army.

In an interview Wednesday at their residence in an upland farming village about 20 kilometers away from Legazpi City, Nelson could not help being emotional about the achievement of his son despite their struggling economic condition.

He and his wife Gloria work together at their half-hectare farm that gives them a yield of 20-30 sacks of palay per harvest.

The expression of happiness on the faces of the Llona couple was nondescript.

Jheorge’s father said that even while still young, his sixth son had already shown potentials of excelling in any activity, especially in his studies.

“Ever since, my son has been studious, kind and obedient,” Nelson recalled.

The Llona patriarch said that during Jheorge’s high school days at the Anislag National High School, he was being teased by his classmate as “malamya” or “mahinhin” (gentle).

Jheorge, he claimed, used to walk two kilometers just to attend his classes in the nearby Barangay Anislag.

After graduating from high school, Jheorge took up Accountancy course at the Bicol University and entered the PMA after two years, he said.

Nelson said Jheorge is profuse with expression of gratitude for their efforts to have him finish his studies through farming and selling food items.

Dr. Ramesis Lorino, dean of the Bicol University College of Business, Entrepreneurship and Management (BU-CBEM), also expressed joy over the achievement of Jheorge.

Lorino claimed that in two years of stay in BU-CBEM, Jheorge had displayed excellence in his studies, especially in Math where he got a rating of 95 percent.

He said the BU-CBEM plans to have a simple welcome program for its former student.

In August last year, the PMA administration already sent a message to the Llona family that their son would be among those who will graduate with academic honors.

The entire family is scheduled to leave for Baguio City Thursday to witness the fruit of Jheorge’s struggle as a PMA cadet for four years.

The Albayanos’ pride will march during the graduation rites on Sunday with the highest academic honors in the premiere military school in the country, said Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda, who was invited by the Llona family to attend the occasion.

“I am going to attend this event upon the request of the family,” Salceda said in a phone interview.

He said seven other Albayano classmates of Jheorge will join him at the graduation rites.

He identified the other successful Albayano cadets as Rolly Lopez of Ligao City, Jeanelyn Cabrido and Ranjan S. Palacio from Guinobatan town, Juanito A. Siddayao of Legazpi City, Charlie A. Bernaldez of Bacacay, Angielyn B. Samaniego of Polangui, and Julan M. Ocharan of Camalig.

The Albay governor said he has directed his office to plan out welcome honors for Llona and the other PMA graduates from Albay.

He also expressed his pride over this new feat for his province as he also directed the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to pass a resolution commending Llona for his academic achievement as well as the seven other PMA graduates.

He said he will also invite Llona to be the guest of honor during the Albay Day celebration on April 3. (PNA) SCS/FGS/AMM/CBD

PNP Albay office forms advisory council

LEGAZPI CITY, March 12 (PNA) -– The Albay Police Provincial Office (APPO) has formed a Provincial Advisory Council (PAC) that will serve as its advisory body by providing strategic direction in realizing its long-term objectives in its journey of transformation.

The APPO’s objectives towards transformation are encapsulated in the Integrated Transformation Program-Performance Governance System (PNP P.A.T.R.O.L. Plan 2030), the PNP’s blueprint of transformation being implemented nationwide.

The ten-member PAC is composed of men and women of known integrity in the community and proven excellent track record in their respective fields of endeavor, according to Supt. Victor B. Seriña Jr., APPO officer-in-charge and chief of Police Strategy Management Unit.

“It will help the Albay PPO by giving guidance and insights on key issues and concerns pertaining to the plans, programs and activities of Albay PPO which are all aimed at further improving police services in the province,” Seriña added.

Comprising the council are: Albay Vice Governor Harold O. Imperial, chairman; Dr. Juan V. Esteves, Jr., executive vice president, Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, vice-chairman; Ma. Gianelli Q. Besana, officer-in-charge, Office of the Regional Director, National Police Commission Regional Office V; lawyer Maria Teresa A. Mahiwo, Provincial Prosecution Office; Christian E. Rivero, Education Supervisor II, Commission on Higher Education;

Dr. Cedric D. Daep, head, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office and executive officer, Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council; Geraldine L. Romano, president, Albay Bankers Association and manager, Philippine Veterans Bank (Legazpi City); Rev. Fr. Salvador Nicolas R. Bilono III, parochial vicar, St. Gregory the Great Cathedral; Director Apron U. Lucero, Director II, Civil Service Commission Regional Office V; and Floreño G. Solmirano, Legazpi Bureau chief, Philippine News Agency.

Seriña extended his appreciation and gratitude to the members of the PAC for accepting the invitation to support and be part of Albay PPO’s firm commitment to pursue its reform agenda.

The Albay PPO staff officers and all chiefs of police of City/Municipal Police Offices have collectively vowed their support to the council’s initiatives to be introduced in Albay PPO. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD/UTB

Daet to host 2nd International Aerosports show

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar 12 (PNA)--The local government unit of Daet will host the 2nd International Aerosports during the Bagasbas Beach Festival on Mar. 27-30.

Mayor Tito S. Sarion said the 2nd Daet Aerosports will be participated in by local and international paragliders and pilots.

Sarion said that last year more than 100 local and international paragliders and pilots from the country, Asia and Europe participated in the 1st international paragliding and hand gliding towing competition and this year they expect more enthusiasts because of the back-to back-Bagasbas Beach events.

Daet has already sponsored three international kite boarding competitions in 2009, 2010, and 2011 while the paragragliding exhibition and clinic was launched in 2012.

Sarion said the show and the Bagasbas Beach Festival are part of the continuous events aimed at enhancing tourism and economic development of the town.

He said this year’s celebration theme is METRO Daet or “Moving Economy Towards Real Opportunities,” which seeks to promote not only the town but also the other municipalities of the province.

The celebration is a joint effort of the Bagasbas Beach Development Council, Philippine Paragliding and Hand-Gliding Association (PPHGA) and Mikes Kites, the Daet executive added.

On March 27 will be the opening day set-up and test flights of local and foreign pilots; motorcade to Bagasbas beach/airport; official welcome for show pilots, introduction and ultralight; exhibition flying for paragliders; and paragliding tandem winch.

On the second day, there will be a paramotor fly by winch towing by paragliders, round 2-3 accuracy landing competition, PG/PPG exhibition, and paragliding tandem towing.

The activities on March 29 will be the round 4-5 of accuracy landing competition, ultralight/paramotor fun flying, round 5 accuracy landing /exhibition flying for PG/PPG and Ultralight and awarding of winners in the 2nd Daet Paragliding Accuracy Competition.

On the last day, there will be an exhibition flying for PG/PPG and Ultralight tandem; winch towing and exhibition flying and closing rites.

Aside from the aerosports, guests will be treated to the events for the Bagasbas Beach Festival like surfing and kiteboarding clinic and competition, paraw regatta, bancathon, kayaking, aerobics at the beach, beach outdoor fun game, water safety training, search for Mr. and Ms. Bagasbas Beach Bodies and Bicol Ecological Camp on Outdoor Leadership (BeCool) ACTIVITIES.



Mother, daughter die, 4 other family members rescued when motorized boat sinks in Camarines Norte

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, March 12 (PNA) -– A mother and her seven-year-old daughter died while four other members of the family were rescued when the motorized boat they were riding sank in the sea off Barangay Bagasbas, Daet, Camarines Norte, at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

A report reaching Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Police Regional Office 5 director, here identified the victims as Naida Lazado and her seven-year-old daughter Rizza.

Rescued were family head Reynoso Lazado and his daughters Remelyn, 15, Vanessa, 10, and Marissa, three months old – all residents of Barangay Datag, Caramoran, Catanduanes.

The report said the Lazado family members were on their way to Polilio, Quezon, from Caramoran, Catanduanes, when big waves and strong winds hit them at the vicinity of Barangay Bagasbas, bringing in water that caused the boat to sink.

Naida and Rizza died while the rescued family members were brought to the Camarines Norte Provincial Hospital by responding fishermen.

The police report said the family would attend an occasion of a relative in Polilio when the sea tragedy happened. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

2 die, 7 injured in tricycle, pick-up vehicle collision in Catanduanes

CAMP GEN. SIMEON A. OLA, Legazpi City, March 12 (PNA) -– A student died on the spot and a tricycle driver did not reach the hospital alive when his vehicle collided with a Toyota Hi-lux pick-up in Barangay Timbaan, San Andres, Catanduanes, at about 7:15 a.m. Wednesday.

A police report identified the dead student as Ophalyn Pingol, 22, third year college student, and the tricycle driver as Arnel de Leon, 48, who did not reach the Eastern Bicol Medical Center alive.

Injured and brought to the same hospital were tricycle passengers Eden Aban, Jonathan Brequillo, Gloria Laurente, Janus Soneja and Edna Capistrano – all students and residents of San Andres town.

Toyota Hi-lux pick-up passenger Amilou Celso, a dentist of the Department of Education and resident of Virac, Catanduanes, and driver Sonny Vecina were also injured and taken to the same hospital.

The report said the tricycle was on its way to bring the students to the Catanduanes State University in Virac town when the pick-up vehicle bumped it, causing the three-wheeled vehicle to fall into a rice field along the street.

Nearby residents immediately came to help the victims and took them to the hospital.(PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD

Salceda invited in climate change meet in Germany

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar 12 (PNA)--Albay Governor Joey Salceda is among the nominated experts invited to attend the climate change adaptation conference in Bonn, Germany on April 1-4.

Convened by the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the gathering will be a joint meeting of the Adaptation Committee (AC) and the Nairobi Work Program (NWP) on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, AC chair Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe told Salceda in a recent letter.

The objective of the NWP is for all parties, developing countries in particular, including the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS) to improve their understanding and assessment of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and to make informed decision on practical actions and measures to respond to climate change.

Discussions on the meeting, Sangarwe said, will focus on, among others, good practices, trends and limitations of available tools, practices and approaches; and the documentation, evaluation and dissemination of relevant information on them.

This will be an important meeting that he will be attending in behalf of the Philippines and of the developing countries that he represents as co-chair of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) board, Salceda, who was earlier named by the United Nations as a global climate change adaptation champion, said here on Wednesday. (PNA) PDS/FGS/DOC/CBD

SSS 11-month collections in Bicol reach P1.15 B
By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Mar. 12 (PNA) -- The Social Security System (SSS) collected a total of P1.15 billion in contributions from half a million members and employers in the Bicol region from January to November last year, an SSS report said Wednesday.

The report showed that the total collection was ten percent higher than its P1.04 billion total for the same period in 2012.

Josie Magana, officer-in-charge of the SSS Luzon Operations Group, said the continuing growth in collection reflects the increasing number of workers in Bicol who realize the value of active SSS membership.

Magana added that over the same 11-month period last year, contributions from large Bicol-based accounts – or companies with 100 employees and more – reached P334.54 million.

She said contributions from branch accounts, inolving small and medium-sized companies with less than 100 employees, comprised 37 percent or P430.33 million of total collections in the region.

Meanwhile, contributions from self-employed and voluntary members in the area totaled P390.12 million.

“While employees still account for most of Bicol's total collections, we expect contributions from self-employed and voluntary members to grow as we increase our partnerships with organized workers' groups, particularly in the informal sector within the region,” Magana said.

A total of 54 Bicol-based groups and about 3,600 of their members have joined the AlkanSSSya Program, an SSS micro-saving scheme intended to help informal sector workers maintain active membership with the help of a secure cabinet-type “piggy-bank” that stores their daily SSS savings.

Last year, the SSS also accredited the Legazpi-based Simbag sa Pag-asenso, Inc. as a servicing partner agent to facilitate SSS transactions of nearly 32,500 self-employed workers in southern Bicol and northern Samar.

Magana noted that nearly 80 percent, or P899.23 million, of total contributions from Bicol were remitted over-the-counter at SSS branches.

Another P160.99 million was paid in SSS-accredited banks, and the rest remitted via other SSS payment facilities such as Bayad Centers, Auto Debit Arrangements and the web-based Electronic Data Interchange for employers.

“The SSS has enhanced its tellering facilities by providing all of our branch tellers with an online system that validates the paying member’s SSS number and name, thereby ensuring accurate payment information,” she said.

This enables the same-day posting of their SSS payments and eliminates the occurrence of 'unpostable' contributions, the SSS official added.

Magana, as well as other senior SSS officials led by President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr., were in Legazpi City on March 10-11 for the first SSS Regional Visit in 2014.

Activities during the visit included the “Kapihan sa SSS” with the local media, and fora with stakeholders and branch personnel to allow SSS management to gather direct feedback on SSS policies and programs.

The SSS Bicol Division, which has over 40,000 registered employers and nearly 663,000 members, holds office in Naga City.

It supervises nine branches located in the cities of Naga, Iriga, Masbate, Sorsogon, Tabaco, and Legazpi and the towns of Virac, Daet and Goa.

It also has a service office at the Ligao Municipal Hall, and eight representative offices in the towns of Jose Panganiban, Labo, Ocampo, Bulan, Irosin, Matnog, Pilar and Donsol. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Legazpi to receive P1.4-M farm machineries from DA
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, March 11 (PNA) -– As an additional incentive for winning last year’s Rice Achiever Awards of the Department of Agriculture (DA) both in the regional and national levels, the agency has chosen the city government here to be recipient of farm machinery to further boost its rice production program.

The machinery worth a total of P1.4 million and composed of a four-wheel drive tractor, a hand tractor with trailer and a palay thresher with blower will be given by the DA regional office for Bicol based in Pili, Camarines Sur, on a counterparting scheme wherein the city government will provide 15-percent equity to its total cost.

City Mayor Noel Rosal on Tuesday said the machines will help in maximizing not only local rice production but also the yields of vegetable and other high-value crops for food sufficiency and improvement of farmers’ income.

“We are grateful to the DA for these farm machineries that will be given pursuant to the on-going thrust of Agri-Pinoy Rice program of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III that is to alleviate poverty in the agricultural sectors and achieve food sufficiency as envisioned by Republic Act 8495 or the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1995,” Rosal said.

He said the machineries will be used by the City Agriculture Office in helping local farmers further improve their farm productivity -- especially in rice, with preferential focus on the brown grain variety that will provide them a wider opportunity to earn more.

The city government has tied up with the DA and the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology on this undertaking wherein the two agencies will provide the seeds, technical assistance and technology related to brown rice production.

This rice variety is a high-end farm product supported with an institutional market where it is widely patronized for its health and wellness values at the cost of about P70 per kilo, according to Rosal.

The DA is promoting the production and consumption of brown rice as it points out that in rice, white is no longer superior as what the colonial mentality left among Filipinos by the long era of Philippine colonization generally dictates.

It is the brown rice that Filipinos should be consuming now, given its wide collection of nutritional significance that cannot be obtained from white varieties, according to the DA.

The difference between the two is not just color as the food ranking system qualifies the darker colored as an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of the minerals selenium and magnesium, it added.

City agriculturist Jesus Kallos explained that a cup of brown rice provides 88 percent of the daily value for manganese, a trace mineral that helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates.

For people worried about colon cancer risk, brown rice packs a double punch by being a concentrated source of the fiber needed to minimize the amount of time cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells, and being a very good source of selenium, a trace mineral that has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Not only does selenium play a critical role in cancer prevention as a co-factor of glutathione peroxidase but it also works with vitamin E in numerous other vital antioxidant systems throughout the body.

These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful in the prevention not only of cancer but also of heart disease, and for decreasing the symptoms of asthma and the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.

The oil in brown rice also lowers cholesterol.

According to the SL Agritech Corporation, the country’s biggest hybrid rice seed producer, brown rice is anti-diabetic with its sugar slowly being released into the blood due to the grain’s color coatings.

In this case, Rosal said, all the local farmers’ need to be able to come up with substantial production of rice to sustain, if not increase, their production recorded last year that won for the city a top recognition in the DA’s National Agri-Pinoy Rice Achiever Awards that gives out P1 million in cash incentive.

The award was based on criteria set by the DA geared toward rice self sufficiency (RSS), increased farmers’ income and judicious use of Internal Revenue Allotment intended for local rice program.

DA records show that the city achieved last year a rice production of nearly 8,916 metric tons (MTs) posting a 10.61-percent increase over its 8,060 MTs in the previous year. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/