Thursday, April 30, 2015

Army probes death of coast guard
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, April 29 (PNA) -- The Philippine Army is investigating who among the 13 suspected Army soldiers was responsible in the shooting incident that killed a member of the Philippine Coast Guard early morning on April 12 in a bar named “Paraiso ”in Bulan town in Sorsogon province.

Col. Cesar Idio, commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade based in Sorsogon province, on Tuesday said there are 13 Army soldiers who are now detained in the camp in connection with the death of Coast Guard Vladimir Cabildo Eduarte, 27, a native of Bulan town.

Idio said a rumble happened outside the Paraiso bar between Army soldiers from the 31st Infantry Battalion under his administrative jurisdiction and the group of Eduarte.

He said initially there were only nine soldiers who were identified present in Paraiso bar that night when Eduarte was shot, but further investigation led them to another four soldiers who were also there when the rumble happened.

Idio said the 13 soldiers who are restricted inside the camp have to undergo paraffin test while ballistic test on five guns brought by their soldiers in Paraiso bar was ongoing Monday.

He said two of the guns were found not compatible with the one used in shooting Eduarte.

Idio said there are three more guns to be subjected to ballistic tests.

Bianca Cabildo Jackes, Fil-Aussie cousin of Eduarte, said in a phone interview on Tuesday that the biggest challenge for them to finally file a case in court against the killer/s is/are the witness(es) who can pinpoint the Army soldier who pulled the trigger.

Jackes narrated that the shooting incident happened at about 2 a.m. on April 12 outside the Paraiso bar.

While Army soldiers were on a fistfight with Eduarte and two companions, she said, a man ran at the back of her cousin and shot him once from behind.

The bullet pierced into his right lumbar area and exited through the abdomen.

Jackes said nobody helped her bleeding cousin who fell on the ground until his brother who rushed from their home arrived at Paraiso bar 45 minutes after the shooting.

Eduarte died on the way to the nearest hospital which, she said, is about an hour away from the crime scene.(PNA) FFC/FGS/JME/CBD

Masbate power distributor bares board election schedules
By Norman B. Tamar

MASBATE CITY, April 29 (PNA) – The Masbate Electric Cooperative Inc. (Maselco) on Wednesday announced the forthcoming elections of the cooperative’s six districts.

Mila Francisco, Maselco OIC-general manager, asked registered member-consumers of the electric cooperative who are qualified and willing to hold directorial position to join on May 16, the election of District 7 covering the towns of Balud, Mandaon and Milagros.

For District 6 -- covering Aroroy and Baleno town -- the election will be on May 30; District 5 -- Cawayan, Esperanza and Placer -- June 13;

The election in District 2, covering Mobo and Uson, has been set on June 27; District 4, covering Cataingan and PV Corpus town, July 11; and District 1, for Masbate City, July 25.

Francisco said the qualifications for candidates are: Must be a Filipino citizen between 21 and 70 years old on the date of election; Must be of good moral character, which may be established through submission of clearance or certificate from the barangay where the candidate resides, National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police or leader of the religious sector where the candidate is affiliated.

The candidate must also be a member of good standing that meets the following conditions as defined in IRR or RA 10531 for the last five years immediately preceding the election;he or she must have no unsettled or outstanding obligations to the cooperative three months prior to the time of his/her filing of the Certificate of Candidacy that include accountabilities of commercial or industrial connections of which he/she is the owner or co-owner.

Francisco defines an unsettled or outstanding obligation as an account that has not been paid within seven days after the due date.

She added that a candidate must have not been apprehended of electric pilferage or has not been removed for a cause as director or as employee from the cooperative.

He or she must be an actual resident and member-consumer of the district where he or she represents for at least two years immediately preceding the election.

Francisco said the candidate must have attended at least two annual general membership assemblies for the last five years immediately preceding the election or appointment.

She added that a qualified government employee must submit a permit from his department secretary/regional director/elective local official or his duly authorized representative, allowing him/her to run and/or sit as director at the time of his/her filing of certificate of candidacy, unless a law expressly provides otherwise.

A candidate shall not be allowed to stay in a hold-over capacity if he/she fails to meet all the qualifications or is deemed disqualified.

Such candidate or his spouse does not hold any public office and for the purpose of disqualification, a person holding an elective position or an appointive position with salary grade of sixteen (SG 16) or higher shall not be eligible to be elected as member of the Board of Directors or Officers of an EC.

A candidate or his spouse has not been a candidate in the last preceding local or national election and has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or terminated from public office/government employment or private employment for just cause as defined in Article 282 of the Labor Code.

For more details, interested parties may inquire for details at the Institutional Services Department of MASELCO at its headquarters in Barangay Pinamarbuhan, Mobo, Masbate.(PNA) CTB/FGS/NBT/CBD/

Albay PHO holds medical-dental missions
By Nicolle Jude T. Lloren and Judy Ann Peralta

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) -- The Albay Provincial Health Office (PHO) is preparing for medical missions in selected barangays in Albay to be conducted by its Team Albay Countryside Development Caravan (TACDEC).

The TACDEC was formed by Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda to speedily respond in times of medical necessities.

It is headed by Dr. Nathaniel Rempillo, assisted by Dr. Loreto Capellan, Dr. Antonio Ludovice Jr., Dra. Ma. Theresa Belarma, Dr. Richmund Nuyda, Dr. Glenn Thadeus Isip, Dr. Vicente Reyes, Jr. Dr. Aristotle Alim, and Dr. Randie Asuncion. A team of selected nurses and staff members will assist them.

The PHO and its TACDEC medical mission will give free consultations to those who cannot afford to go to a clinic or to those who are away from the town proper.

On April 17, the PHO-TACDEC conducted a medical mission in Barangay Salvacion, Pioduran, Albay, where the units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command -- Naval Forces Southern Luzon, Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group 5 and the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade and 2nd Infantry Battalion -- joined in as part of the TACDEC.

The team's services included medical, dental and feeding activities.

On May 5, the PHO will conduct a medical mission in Barangay Sinungtan, Guinobatan, Albay, and its four clustered barangays.

The team will be in Barangay Bautista, Jovellar, on June 3; in Barangay Tibabo, Pioduran, on June 15; Barangay Mapaco, Guinobatan, Aug. 11; Barangay Whitedeer, Jovellar, Sept. 9; and Barangay Cuyaoyao, Pioduran, Oct. 20. The TACDEC medical mission will end on Nov, 11 in Barangay Doña Mercedes, Guinobatan.

Rempillo said 40 barangays will benefit from the medical missions.

The TACDEC has had three successful medical and dental missions in Barangay San Vicente, Jovellar; Barangay Balite, Guinobatan; and Barangay Salvacion, Pioduran.

It plans to have seven more medical missions in the following months. (PNA) CTB/FGS/OJT/CBD/

Paper flowers give therapy, livelihood to hearing-impaired lady
By Kristine Joy M. Bueza

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) -- The Bridal Fair 2015 held at the Embarcadero de Legazpi showcases Albayanon wedding planners and events specialists, gowns and suits designers, reception venues and various booths for flower shops and decors. One of the eye-catching booths is the Paper Flowers by Regine.

Paper Flowers by Regine specializes in handmade and customized bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and decorations for weddings and other occasions fit to be celebrated with love and style.

It uses regulars, recycled, and premium papers like board, construction, specialty, crepe, and other imported types of paper.

All products are made to order.

The prices of the products range from Php250 to Php2,500, depending on the materials used and the quantity of the orders.

The shop also offers wedding packages.

Regine Pasano, 26, is the woman behind the beauty of the paper flowers.

With a hearing and speaking impairment, she was born premature at six months old because her mother was exposed to a patient with chicken pox.

She was a blue baby and was placed in an incubator for three months with strong antibiotics.

As a result of deafness, her speech development was affected.

Regine finished high school at the Bicol Christian Heritage School in Gogon here in 2008, when she was already 19 years old.

Her parents never enrolled her in a special education class.

They tried enrolling her for sign language tutorial but the teacher eventually discouraged them, saying her condition (being able to lip-read and respond with very slow and proper articulation from another person) is better and more adaptive than regressing to sign language.

After high school, Regine did not want to pursue college anymore, making her parents decide not to enroll her also because of their fear of abuse like being bullied.

Her sister, Abigail Pasano-Del Puerto, a graduate of BS Psychology in Ateneo de Naga University, thought of a better hobby for Regine that will serve as on outlet for recreation and development.

Searching the perfect pass time for her sister, Abigail ended up appreciating the Do-it-yourself (DIY) Paper flowers via YouTube.

Since their mother is a breast cancer patient and does not do heavy chores at home anymore, she also considered that making paper flowers would be great as a hobby for the two.

That was when Abigail requested Regine to study the art of making paper flowers.

By watching few tutorials on the Internet, Regine's talent was highly noticed by her family.

Her precision in cutting the materials and creativity in dealing with designs and colors showed her artistry.

Regine's first-ever project started as a gift for her sister's wedding in June 2013. She was given the honor to make every bouquet in the entourage.

Preparation of the paper flowers for the wedding took her around two months, beginning April up to May.

After the exquisite turn out of the first paper flowers produced, friends of families became interested and asked if they could order for themselves and for their own friends.

Regine's artistry is appreciated by her family; that is why, on every special occasion they have at home, instead of thinking what kind of gift they should give Regine, they will just order one centerpiece from her -- knowing that getting orders and making the products really makes Regine very happy.

As they accept orders as favors for their friends, mostly weddings, doors of opportunities opened for both Pasano sisters together with their mother and the rest of the family.

They officially started selling paper flowers in February.

A therapeutic hobby-turned-business is a blessing.

Considering the unexpected success of their business, Abigail, together with her husband, wanted to give back and share the blessings that they have received.

The idea is to be able to expand their business and create a little home gallery, employing workers who also have deficiencies like Regine.

In case of bulk orders, they will have more workers, and, at the same time, they are able to give these people a chance of grasping for opportunities.

They plan on making this hobby-turned-business into a livelihood program for those who feel somewhat neglected due to their incapability.

It is their first time to join a bridal fair and it seemed like a lot of customers were asking if they could already buy the displayed products. (PNA) LGI/FGS/OJT/CBD

Legazpeños say prayers, humble diplomacy worked for Veloso
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 29 (PNA) – "Prayers blended with humble diplomacy worked for Mary Jane Veloso," citizens here chorused as they erupted into jubilation on hearing Wednesday morning that the Indonesian government had given her a reprieve.

Early morning around the market place, transport terminals, public parks, street side eateries, government and private offices and practically everywhere here, people met each other with cheers as they celebrated the good news -- shaking hands, exchanging “high fives” and briefly hugging each others.

“Prayers indeed work in saving a falsely condemned soul. May God, after hearing those prayers, also bless those who prayed really hard for her,” Orly Gonzales, a man on the street, expressively uttered (in local dialect) as he relayed the good news to a peer.

The other man who begged off from mentioning his name said: “That’s true and we need to do a lot of prayers, too, for our country to be spared from more malaise, for us Filipinos to be on the right track towards righteousness and for our government leaders to abandon selfishness.”

“Ang pagkakaligtas kay Mary Jane Veloso mula sa kamatayan ay isang patunay na ang ating pagkakaisa at pagdarasal ay nagsilbing susi sa tagumpay (Mary Jane Veloso’s being spared from death is one proof that our unity and prayers served as key to success), a Legazpeño nitizen, who uses in her social network account the pseudo name Galyang Bikol, said in her post.

“Thank, God, Veloso got a reprieve. God is indeed good. He listened to our prayers for her,” City Budget Officer Obelia Baldano said.

Mayor Noel Rosal, unusually reporting to his office as early as 7:00 a.m., said he was out on the street at the crack of dawn with the throng of joggers at the Legazpi Boulevard and found out the warmth on everyone’s feeling as they cheered for Veloso, amid the cold wind gently blowing from the Albay Gulf.

He said he came as early as he could to the City Hall to meet all those who would be coming in after him with a delighted mood that the good news has brought about.

“What I found out was that some had been around earlier than I did with the same purpose. They outdid me,” the mayor quipped.

“I am convinced that the prayers made by Filipinos for her was answered by the Lord. I also believe that the request from President Benigno Aquino III was instrumental in Indonesia's decision to grant a reprieve,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, Aquino proposed to the Indonesian government that Veloso be turned into a witness to identify the criminal group that used her to transport illegal drugs.

The request came as Maria Kristina Sergio, the recruiter who allegedly tricked her into bringing a suitcase laden with 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia on April 2010, turned herself in to authorities on Tuesday.

Charges of illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa have been filed against Sergio.

Albay-based lawyer Oliver Olaybal, on the other hand, said “We are grateful reprieve was given to Mary Jane Veloso. Reprieve is temporary or short-lived. She could be executed anytime, nonetheless, at the discretion of the Indonesian authorities.”

The whole thing is unnecessary, had the Philippine government taken advantage of the window of opportunity that presented itself when the Indonesian president made his state visit in Manila last Feb. 8 that resulted in the signing of an agreement between the two countries on combating drug crime, Olaybal said.

“The Philippines should have insisted on the need to observe the principle of reciprocity. Not only that, the Philippines should have initiated discussions on the case of Veloso as specific example on the need to observe reciprocity,” he said.

This means that inasmuch as the Philippines does not execute convicts found guilty of capital offenses, so that Indonesian nationals convicted by Philippine courts are not to be executed, Philippine nationals convicted by Indonesian courts are not to be executed either, according to Olaybal.

Executive agreements of this nature are to be prepared long before actual signing of the document takes place.

A series of consultations is conducted between the governments involved and “it was the fault of the Philippine government therefore, in failing to insist on reciprocity”, he added.

Malacañang, meanwhile, has expressed gratitude towards the Indonesian government led by President Joko Widodo "for sparing Filipina Mary Jane Veloso from execution."

“The Philippine government thanks President Widodo and the Indonesian government for giving due consideration to President Aquino's appeal that Mary Jane Veloso be given a reprieve,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement reaching here.

Coloma added that the reprieve gives Veloso “an opportunity for the perpetuation of her testimony that could shed light on how a criminal syndicate duped her.”

The Palace official also thanked Filipinos for praying and keeping vigil for Veloso.

The 30-year-old Veloso was spared from execution by a firing squad early Wednesday, after President Benigno Aquino III made a last-minute appeal to turn the Filipina convicted on drug charges into a witness.

Aquino told the Indonesian foreign minister on Tuesday morning that Veloso’s testimony is necessary to catch the drug syndicate that supposedly duped her into smuggling heroin into Indonesia, and also following the surrender of her alleged recruiter.

Veloso, a mother of two, was arrested in 2010 at the Yogyakarta International Airport after 2.6 kilograms of heroin were found in her luggage. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Salceda unfazed by graft charges
By Manilyn Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY, April 28 (PNA) -- Known as the country’s leading primemover on climate change and disaster pre-emptive response that made Albay known worldwide, Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda admitted he was unfazed being slapped with technical malvertation charges on allegation that he misused calamity funds during the 2009 Mayon Volcano eruption.

And the funds involved, amounting to Php47 million, turned out to have been sourced from the controversial Malampaya Fund, based on documents from the Commission on Audit (COA).

Earlier, Salceda’s chief of staff, lawyer Carol Sabio, said the controversy floated about the Php47-million relief assistance for Mayon evacuees in 2009 being investigated by COA is but normal, saying COA was merely validating from the recipients the facts based on the reports submitted by the Provincial Social Welfare Development Office head Yolanda Guanzon.

Following the controversy, Guanzon left the country last January, fueling speculation that she fled to evade the case.

She, however, returned last week in time for the filing of the complaint initiated by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.

Sabio said the province did not know that the funds released were sourced from Malampaya since it was not mentioned in the release sent by Malacanang.

Nevertheless, she said, everything has been duly accounted for despite allegations of certain barangay executives in Legazpi, who allegedly wrote the COA that they did not receive the hundreds of bags of rice Guanzon mentioned in her report.

Salceda tagged as politically motivated the filing of malversation charge against him and Guanzon before the Office of the Ombudsman last week, his first case after more than 17 years of his political career and while serving his last term as Albay governor.

The complaint was filed not by the COA but by the VACC.

In his talk with selected members of the local media, Salceda admitted being hurt by the charges but said he was unfazed, adding that there was no such ghost relief supply during the 2009 Mayon Volcano eruption.

Salceda is said to be returning to Congress by running either in his 3rd district or at the second district where the ongoing Php4-billion Southern Luzon (Bicol) International Airport project he has sponsored is located at a village of Daraga town.

The Albay governor is considered as the political kingpin in the province who never experienced defeat during his 17 years in political career. (PNA) LGI/RCK/FGS/MU/CBD

Legazpi City to deploy 46 tourist tanods
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -– Owing to the continuous increasing number of tourist arrivals in the Vision Aligned Circle (VAC) of this city, the local government unit of Legazpi will deploy at least 46 well-trained tourist tanods (security officers) in its 14 frequented barangays, Mayor Noel E. Rosal said during the launch of Tourist Tanods after the flag-raising ceremony on Monday.

These 46 tanods were also part of supervising traffic management and tourist assistance during the recently conducted Masonic Annual Communication on April 23-25 at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.










Legazpi City smoke free ordinance nets 455 violators in first quarter of 2015
By Jerick Jay Arienda

LEGAZPI CITY, April 28 (PNA) -- Strictly enforcing its anti-smoking ordinance, this smoke-free city netted 923 violators in 2014 and 455 in the first quarter of 2015, raking in a total amount of Php500,000 in fines, according to the head of the implementing team.

Jaime B. Olarte, city smoke-free task force coordinator, noted that there is a tendency for the total number of persons caught smoking and buying or selling of tobacco to increase.

With this situation, he encouraged everyone to be part of the campaign to enforce the smoke-free ordinance of the city.

City Ordinance No. 0007-2009, known as "The Revised Smoke-Free Ordinance of Legazpi City," provides that it is a policy of the city to protect its populace from hazardous tobacco products and promote the right to health and instill health consciousness among them, Olarte said.

He added that the ordinance's main purpose is to regulate and promote a healthful environment and protect the citizens, especially the youth, from the hazards of tobacco and, at the same time, ensure that the interests of others are not adversely compromised.

To ensure that this policy is strictly enforced, Mayor Noel Rosal organized an enforcement team called the Legazpi City Smoke-Free Unit that will supervise and apprehend persons who will violate the policy within the city's jurisdiction.

The group is composed of various committees headed by the mayor himself with 459 deputized persons. {PNA) LAM/FGS/JJA/CBD/EBP

NPA rebels gun down suspected military informer in Masbate

LEGAZPI CITY, April 28 (PNA) -- A 33-year-old farmer was gunned down by New People's Army (NPA) rebels on suspicion of being a military-police informer at Sitio Maligaya, Barangay MacArthur, Monreal, Masbate, on Monday night.

A police report said victim William Briones Jr. was on his way home in Barangay Sto. Nino at about 7 p.m. when the suspects blocked his way and shot him dead.

The rebels casually walked away after their mission.

The report said the NPA had long suspected Briones of being a military-police asset, allegedly giving information on their activities in the area. (PNA) FFC/FGS/EMC/CBD/EBP

US geologist discovers 100-million-year old 'pillow lava' in Albay
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

STO. DOMINGO, Albay, April 28 (PNA) -- A world-renowned US geologist unearthed an ancient “pillow lava” in a remote village of this town.

This ancient pillow lava, which has a span of one-half kilometer, was ejected on earth during the Cretaceous period and now rests in the seashore of Mirisbiris beach at Salvacion village here, according to Dr. Christopher G. Newhall, known as the "walking encyclopedia on volcanology."

Newhall said that while the dinosaurs lived on the continents of the world, in Albay province, where the world’s perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano is located, an eruption under the sea occurred, creating the pillow lava uncovered in Mirisbiris beach some 65 million to 100 million years ago or during the Cretaceous period.

The Cretaceous period marked the end of the age of Dinosaurs with what is known as the Great Extinction era.

It began at the end of the Jurassic period approximately 144 million years ago and extended longer than any period to approximately 65 million years ago.

The period was the last and longest segment of the Mesozoic Era.

It lasted approximately 79 million years, from the minor extinction event that closed the Jurassic period about 145.5 million years ago to the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event dated at 65.5 million years ago, the Wikipedia said.

Newhall discovered the pillow lava in this town recently after they bought pieces of land in Salvacion.

He said the pillow lava was generated through a submarine volcano eruption or plate tectonic movement from depth ocean ridge and spreading ridge before the dinosaur extinction.

"We really don’t know the source if this pillow lava is beneath the sea but one thing sure is that this was shaped during the Cretaceous period or during the Jurassic age (dinosaur age) and the people of this town are unaware of the existence of ancient history that shaped this town,” he said.

Newhall explained that a pillow lava is a volcanic rock characterized by thick sequences of discontinuous pillow-shaped masses that formed a thousand kilometers ridge.

The volcanic action takes place an average of 8,500 feet underwater wherein deep beneath the sea surface there are an estimated one million volcanoes and when the submarine volcano erupts molten lavas are pushed up beneath the sea floor.

He said a pillow lava, once it enters the sea, quenches like a chocolate or due to plate tectonic from oceanic crust (ophiolites) -- a sequence of stone uplift in the ocean in spreading ridge that collided in another plate in the Philippines or it could be part of the Libog volcano in Sto. Domingo.

Another possibility is that a submarine volcano might be within the Albay Gulf area but, Newhall said, the island-town of Rapu-Rapu, where mineral resources like gold and silver are mined, was formed through oceanic crust uplift due to compression at the very base of the sequence from the mantle of the earth.

Therefore, Rapu-Rapu island in Albay has a submarine volcano, Newhall said. The scientist explained that melted rock is less dense than solid rock.

Once formed in the deep crust, basalt magma rises, and at the center of the mid-ocean ridge it oozes onto the seafloor, where it rapidly solidifies in the ice-cold water in the form of lava pillows.

Newhall, who greatly helped the Philippine government in untiringly working and sharing his expertise with Phivolcs scientists to develop new concepts to create the Web-linked worldwide network of volcano observatories, which he believes is greatly needed to improve the ability to predict the behavior of the volcanoes, considered as the ticking tectonic time bombs.

Married to Bicolana Glenda Tapel, a registered nurse by profession, Newhall gave up his lucrative job in Seattle, Washington, USA as well as his post at the the USGS and opted to stay in this town to help poor Albayanos.

Newhall, a member of the FUTUREVOLC scientific advisory board and former professor at the Earth Observatory of Singapore after quitting his post in USGS, became the co-creator of the Volcanic Explosivity Index and specializes in volcanic prediction.

He graduated from University of California for his bachelor's and master's degrees in Geology and completed his doctorate at Dartmouth College in 1980. He was an affiliate professor of earth science for 17 years at the University of Washington.

The world-renowned US volcanologist had also worked with the Earth Observatory of Singapore since 2008 before quitting his post completely to dedicate his life in the small village of this town.

He set foot in the Philippines in 1970 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Albay province, where he saw the Mayon Volcano, Bicolandia’s icon, for the first time.

He taught geology while he was volunteering in the Peace Corps at the Aquinas University in Legazpi City, an institution run by Dominican clergies and sister school of the University of Santo Tomas, before working with the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Team in Seattle as a volcanologist in 1980.

Newhall, whose vital subject for study is Mayon volcano, has also been sending Phivolcs scientists to study abroad to specialize on volcanic science inter-disciplinary.

The Newhalls are currently supporting the education of 11 college scholars from poor families here.

They built the Mirisbiris Garden and Nature Center to promote appreciation of the beauty and value of nature to ensure that the natural resources will still be preserved.

It also promotes eco- and agri-tourism in this town as there are mini farms above the road, including medicinal kitchen herbs, organic vegetables and fruits.

The Mirisbiris Garden and Nature Center was built three years ago exclusively for their friends, scholars and workers but the Newhalls opened it to public for field research and to support their scholars as well as scholarships of students elsewhere.

“Glen and I were volunteers together for 40 years ago and we decided to open Mirisbiris to the public to support scholarships for students from Salvacion and elsewhere. We have been doing this already and we are proud to have helped the students. But we can’t afford to do this alone. Former scholars are already helping new scholars and income from tourists will help greatly,” Glenda said.

“We are not trying to make a profit or even to recover what we’ve spent in building this. We will operate as a non-profit with 100 percent of our income going to scholarships and to operating expenses mainly salaries of local workers,” she added.

This nature center has four parts of garden but the uniqueness of the area is that the forest has been mostly left in its natural state with some tree planting mostly native, but there are now rare species such as yakal, sambulawan, katmon, mapilig, hamurawon (molave).

It has a nice pebble-covered beach with a coral reef offshore that, while damaged by silt, is still reasonably in good health and will be of great interest to those who have never really seen a coral reef and the fishes that live there.

“Sometimes people who live sa bulod (rural areas) don’t realize how wonderful it is and how many others in the world will pay to come experience a well-presented rural setting. We built Mirisbiris Garden and Nature Center to promote appreciation of the beauty of nature so in this way we can ensure that this beauty and resource of the earth and will still be here for our children, grandchildren and many generations to come,” Newhall said. (PNA) LGI/RCK/FGS/RBB/CBD

Albay mobile teacher nominated for CSC’s Dangal ng Lahi Award
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

TIWI, Albay, April 28 (PNA) -- For spending most of his life in public service through public school mentoring, the Civil Service Commission Bicol regional office has nominated a mobile teacher in Albay for the Dangal ng Lahi Award.

The CSC said Amar Canicula, a mobile teacher of the Department of Education (DepEd) working in this town, rightly deserves to get the award this year.

Canicula started to work as a mobile teacher of the DepEd's Alternative Learning System (ALS) seven years ago and was assigned in this town, about one hour's ride north of Legazpi City, claiming that he is so blessed working with impoverished communities.

“On my first day of service in the community as a public school teacher, I feel so blessed because this is what I want to do in my life: to serve the poorest of the poor, the neglected and underprivileged people in our society, specifically the indigenous communities in Tiwi, an under-served community, who live through hand-to-mouth existence,” he said.

The public school teacher said that through the ALS program, he wanted to be a part of these people's dreams.

A mobile teacher lives a simple life, reaching out to community, particularly in the far-flung and mountainous areas where the indigenous people dwell.

"As an ALS teacher, I have encountered a lot of struggles and difficulties in dealing with the barangay officials, the indigenous people, the community and the ALS learners,” Canicula said.

He narrated the challenges he encountered in the upland areas as a mobile teacher.

He said a mobile teacher is considered as elite in the community in which he works, as it is composed of out-of-school youths, non-readers, working people and even senior citizens wanting to read, learn and write and be at par with their educated children.

“Nevertheless, my passion to work with the community is even stronger despite of complexities. As a mobile teacher, I’m earning an honest penny money, but even so, part of my income goes to the community I am serving,” Canicula said.

He said he is not rich but then his goal is to help, to share his knowledge and educate them.

"So in this way, I can impart knowledge and walk the talk of the DepEd ALS program to open up their hearts and minds to value education, thus, use their precious time to learn even under the tree or in a room without a wall,” the volunteer teacher said, adding, “In times of intricacy, I hold on to my faith in God and His grace as my ultimate weapons and strength to stand up against all odds," he said.

Working with the less fortunate and uneducated indigenous people is challenging as, Canicula said, he has to widen his horizon, patience and tolerance.

The IP’s culture, beliefs and faith brings a big influence in their daily life, the reason why a lot of IPs have not finished their studies, even elementary or secondary, causing them to live in poverty and adopt a negative attitude, the mobile teacher said.

“But once you win their hearts and minds, thus, convince the learners to embrace education with their limited time, it is like 'bingo' for me as if I won the lottery for sending them back to school," he said. (PNA) FFC/FGS/RBB/CBD/EBP

(Feature) DSWD-Bicol strikes deal for employment of 4Ps beneficiaries
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) – The Aquino administration’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will eventually end and when such end comes, the government agency taking the lead role in its implementation is ensuring that its beneficiaries in Bicol will have already been nurtured into the culture of self-help, leading to a productive life on their own feet.

The 4Ps is a poverty-reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education, particularly of children aged 0-14.

These financial grants under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme of the program are a work in progress and do not attempt to solve poverty immediately, but instead aim to alleviate it by providing social protection tools through interventions such us empowerment, participation and economic opportunities to the poor.

It is under this broader role that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the program’s lead implementing agency, has been doing means to break inter-generational poverty cycle in the long run where long-term poverty alleviation comes into play.

In Donsol, Sorsogon, one of the key tourism icons of Bicol owing to its sanctuary of whale sharks that draws tens of thousands of tourist yearly but listed as one of the region’s municipalities with highest incidence of poverty among families, the DSWD has recently formalized a partnership with private business operators in favor of local 4Ps beneficiaries.

According to the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA), Donsol, the world whale shark capital and among the region’s leading tourism destinations, is with 44.1-percent poverty rate based on the latest survey.

DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia on Monday said here that in order to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to 4Ps beneficiaries in the municipality, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was recently signed among the agency, the local government and six Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited establishments.

The MOU was signed for the DSWD by Garcia; by Donsol Mayor Josephine Alcantara-Cruz in behalf of the local government; and by operators of tourism establishments -- Elysa, Vitton, Woodland, Dancalan, Amar Farm and AGM Beach Front Beach Resorts.

The areas of cooperation provided under such agreement include the employment of 4Ps beneficiaries; provision of areas for promotion or trade display of salable tourism items they produce; and market linkage of their harvested crops, according to Garcia.

The involvement of the local government unit (LGU) of Donsol in the partnership is to make sure that it is able to sustain the impacts of the 4Ps even after its eventual termination and help further improve the current socio-economic condition of the beneficiaries, he said.

“This is part of the plan formulated by the LGU to help sustain the poverty alleviation program’s interventions to ensure that there will be continuity in terms of support to the beneficiaries to prevent them from reverting to their previous miserable socio-economic status,” Garcia said.

As to the business sector involved in the partnership, he said, it is part of the DSWD’s efforts in pursuing more public-private partnership (PPP) in carrying out the government’s social protection program.

Besides, he said, the involvement of the private sector in the implementation of social protection programs is in line with the directive of President Benigno Aquino III that pushes PPP in fulfilling his platform of good governance and poverty reduction.

So far, he said, the DSWD-Bicol is currently in partnership with at least 24 private organizations and 12 licensed and registered Social Welfare Development Agencies (SWADAs) in line with the implementation of the 4Ps across the Bicol Region.

These private groups have also been participating in the 4Ps budget process as part of the government’s commitments to integrate citizen’s participation as a means of enhancing transparency and accountability in the allocation of public funds, according to Garcia.

The same groups are also provided with funds under the government’s Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) as allocations for social development projects they are initiating in favor of 4Ps beneficiaries such as livelihood interventions, health, education, community involvement and household empowerment, among others.

Formerly known as the Bottom-Up Budgeting, the GPBP being applied by the Aquino administration is a somewhat a modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high-level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations.

This scheme provides the opportunity for grantees to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period and gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.

Other government agencies are also helping the DSWD-Bicol in providing 4Ps beneficiaries social protection through training towards sustainable livelihood skills, Gacia said, citing the partnership it has forged with the Bicol University.

Under the partnership, the state-run university, through its College of Industrial Technology with campuses here, will provide starting on June this year short-term skills training courses to an initial of 300 beneficiaries.

These courses will be on troubleshooting and repair of household appliances, basic welding and home mechanics, defensive auto driving, gas engine servicing and overhauling, motorcycle servicing, basic and advance bread and pastry production, food processing, rough masonry, beauty care, silk screen printing, vinyl sticker cutting and practical electricity.

To ensure sustainability, Garcia said, each trainee will be provided by DSWD with a livelihood kit after the training to start up their own business or self-employment venture.

Post-training assistance will also be provided by the university to help trainees in further honing their skills.

“We want to provide a sustainable intervention to improve the well-being of 4Ps beneficiaries by empowering the disadvantaged individuals through skills training assistance and entrepreneurial activities towards gainful employment,” Garcia stressed.

Besides, 4Ps is also viewed from a broader perspective as the Aquino administration’s own strategic investment in the country’s human capital, so that the poorest of Filipinos are empowered to take control of their socio-economic conditions and become active contributors to the country’s growth, he added. (PNA)

Albay local officials, business firms all set to give Albayanos view of Pac-May fight

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -- Local government units as well as hotels, restaurants, cinemas and other business establishments in Albay are all set to provide the public with either free viewing or pay per view with other amenities like breakfast and lunch during the Manny Pacquaio-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight on Sunday.

Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said Monday that he will offer a free viewing of the PacMay fight, dubbed as the "Fight of the Century," at the Albay Astrodome which can accommodate close to 4,000 people.

He said the free viewing is sponsored by Alaxan.

Albay Rep. Edcel “Grex” Lagman said free viewing of the mega fight will be held in 14 venues in the First District: the municipal covered courts of Sto Domingo and Bacacay, Malilipot National High School covered court, BUTC Lagman Gym in Tabaco City, and other covered facilities in Malinao, Tiwi, and upland villages of Cabasan Island, San Roque, San Lorenzo, San Antonio, Vista San Miguel, Labnig, and Joroan.

Ligao City Mayor Patty Gonzalez-Alsua said the fight can be viewed for free at the Ligao City Gymnasium.

Bichara Silver Screen Cinema 1 offers the public a pay per view at Php500 per viewer.

Hotel St. Ellis will offer pay per view with either breakfast and lunch at Php599. La Venetia Hotel will have pay per view with lunch buffet at Php650 per head.

Other restaurants are interested to offer pay per views but were discouraged because of the high rate of rental they have to pay to the cable provider. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD

Party-list solon hails Bicol schools’ sweep of top 10 spots in midwifery board exam
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) – The 10 top spots in the recent midwifery board examination were captured by graduates of three state college and universities in Bicol—an unprecedented fate hailed by Rep. Christopher Co of the party-list Ako Bicol.

“This gives us more pride of becoming Bicolanos. I salute these successful examinees not only that they passed the test but they also swept all the 10 top slots. I also congratulate the schools from where they graduated for showing to the whole country that higher education is rather excellent in Bicol,” Co said in a statement received by the Philippines News Agency here Monday.

Among the successful examinees who garnered the 10 highest places in the April 2015 Midwife board exam are April Kay Vargas Calderon of Catanduanes State University (CSU) in Virac, Catanduanes, who scored 89.75 percent to land in the top place; Carlo Cervantes Vibar of Bicol University (BU) here who scored 88.95 percent to place second; and Jennifer Zuñiga Terrazola, also of CSU, with 88.70 percent, third place.

Also hailed mwere Lara Marez Oliva Cuba of Camarines Sur Polytechnic College (CSPC) of Nabua town, 88.40 percent, fourth place; Carla Mae Tubalinal Benavidez, Christine Joy Magtagñob Porte and Mary Farfance Lumabi Tiva -- all of CSU -- who garnered 88.30, 88.10 and 87.90 percents to get the fifth, sixth and seventh places, respectively.

Fatima Dacpano Cuadro of CSPC, with 87.85 percent, is eight placer; Elysha Hannah De Los Cabais, also of CSPC, and Gabrielle Castuera Carpio of BU tied in the ninth place with a uniform rate of 87.75 percent while Cyrill Joy Barja Uson of CSPC got 87.55 percent to settle for the 10th place.

Co said that with CSU capturing the number one spot and four others in the top 10 in the exam, it proves that indeed the less than three-year-old university was the top-performing school in Midwifery in the country.

With main campus located in Calatagan, Virac, the capital town of the island-province of Catanduanes, this institution of higher learning is categorized as a Level III-A state university.

It was established on June 19, 1971 by virtue of Republic Act 6341 which converted the Virac National Agricultural and Trade School into the Catanduanes State Colleges.

Elevated to university status in October 2012, CSU is also home to recent topnotchers in the field of Engineering, Nursing, and Education and was among the Philippine Association of State Colleges and Universities-Asian Institute of Management (PASUC-AIM) Philippines’ Top 19 State Universities and Colleges in the country with high business potential in land and equipment assets, human resources and technological capital.

The university was also the recipient of Center of Development in Teacher Education award.

Considered as a rural college catering to students from municipalities in the fifth district of Camarines Sur, CSPC was established in 1983 within the campus of the Nabua National High School.

It is mandated primarily to provide higher technological, professional and vocational instruction and training in fisheries, trade and technology, arts and sciences, as well as short-term technical and vocational courses.

BU, on the other hand, is the premier regional state university and the only International Organization for Standardization (ISO)- certified university in the region.

It is home to topnotchers in the field of Accountancy (ranked number one nationwide), Social Work (ranked number two nationwide), Engineering and Nursing.

These performances of state-run higher education institutions in Bicol in board examinations show that the presence of government insofar as education is concerned in the region is very high, Co said.

This is one reason why Bicolano students—rich or poor prefer enrolling in these schools apart from the prestige of studying in top-performing schools, the party-list representative who is also a graduate of BU added. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/

Mayon Volcano Natural Park in World Heritage Sites list for nomination
By April M. Meir

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -- The Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP) in Albay has been included in the World Heritage Sites List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommended for nomination in the final list.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda told the Philippines News Agency Monday that this is based on the list released in the UNESCO website in March.

Kurt Zepeda, local historian of the Provincial Tourism Cultural Affairs Office, said they are now preparing the needed documents for the nomination.

"We are working for the papers that would prove the efforts of the province in the conservation and protection of biological diversity," he said.

Zepeda said the documents include the history of the eruption of the volcano and specific details of each of the living animals.

Salceda said this would add to their efforts of promoting the tourism industry of Albay, especially with its natural resources.

"It's been a three-year labor of love for the province for both culture and arts as heritage, on one hand, and for environment as biosphere reserve, on the other hand," he said.

Imelda Baltazar, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office head, also said the MVNP is now in the list recommended for nomination for the World Heritage Site and will undergo evaluation.

"If it could pass with the criteria for selection, then it would be declared as the World Heritage Site," she said in a text message.

Among the ten criteria, MVNP must be justified through the Criterion (vii): Contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance and Criterion (x): Contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation -- as stated in the Unesco website.

Declared by Presidential Proclamation No. 413 as a protected area in June 2000, the MVNP is the home of threatened species, plants and other wildlife.

It is the nesting and feeding area 37 endemic birds such as Luzon Bleeding Heart, vulnerable Philippine Eagle-Owl and critically-endangered Philippine Cockatoo, reads the Philippines’ description of the mountain range on the Unesco World Heritage Site’s tentative list.

At least 10 endemic frog species with four listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list -- including the nearly-threatened Luzon Fanged Frog, Luzon Forest Ground Frog and Guenther’s Forest Frog and the vulnerable Banded Pigmy Tree Frog -- also live in the area.

It also houses one endemic butterfly, seven endemic stick-insects and nine endemic spiders in the registered insect and arachnid fauna.

Currently, the Philippine has six sites in the World Heritage List, including the Baroque Churches of the Philippines, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, Historic Town of Vigan, Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sites inscribed in the World Heritage List benefit from the implementation of a comprehensive management plan for preservation measures and monitoring mechanisms and from experts offer for technical training to the local site management team, the UNESCO said in its website.

Department of Tourism Bicol Regional Director Maria "Nini" Ravanilla, at this early, is expecting a massive influx of visitors that would boost the tourism industry of Bicol.

"A well-deserved title, just in case. It's a realization of every Albayano's dream. Mayon Volcano is our pride, our heritage. She is a living witness to our beautiful story, how we survived the challenges and molded us to what we are today -- resilient, brave, self-determined," she said.

Mayon Volcano, known for its perfect cone shape, is one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines which covers a total area of 5,775.70 hectares, straddling the six towns and three cities within the province and encompassing a large number of habitat types.

Situated in the southern part of the main island of Luzon, 500 kilometers south of Manila, it towers at a height of 2,462 meters above sea level.

Having erupted for over 51 times in the past four centuries, the most destructive of which was in 1814 when five towns in its periphery were destroyed.

Nevertheless, it has developed a culture of resiliency among the inhabitants in its vicinity, who always rebuilt their towns and cultivated their fields after each destructive eruption.

Mayon Volcano was believed by the pre-hispanic Bicolanos to be the abode of their ancestors and, thus, its confines were subjected to taboo, including violation of its natural resources and even climbing its peak.

It was also held as the sacred mountain of both the deities Mayong and Gugurang, the supreme god of Bicolano animist beliefs. (PNA) CTB/FGS/AMM/CBD/

Catapang extols Albay as haven of tourism, development
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -- Days have passed yet the good words heaped by the country’s top military official on Albay and the Albayanos during his stay here have remained embedded in their hearts and minds.

Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief, praised the Province of Albay for continuously remembering and honoring the heroism of Bicolano heroes like Camilo Jacob, Gen. Ignacio Paua and Gen. Simeon Ola as well as national heroes like Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini.

Catapang was the guest of honor and speaker during the 4th Annual Celebration of the Albay Heroes Day at the Bicol University ground late last week.

During the occasion, the AFP also declared Albay as a “Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development Province.”

The declaration was based on the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay Resolution Number 0086-2014 signed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, Vice Governor Harold Imperial and other members of the council.

The AFP chief also lauded the success and development being enjoyed by the province for the past 30 years.

"As I look back 30 years ago, when insurgency is at its prime, now that I am about to retire, we have seen the fruits of our labor. The Province of Albay is very progressive and developed,” Catapang said.

He said that every time he goes around the country’s provinces, he can not help telling to himself, “Tell me who your governor is and I will tell you what kind of province you have.”

He said that for the last three years of Salceda's term, the Albay governor has turned around the province.

“Before, it was a hotbed of insurgency; now, Albay is the haven of tourism and development,” the AFP chief noted.

He stressed that he would not wonder if in the future, Albay will be declared a super province in this part of Southern Luzon.

“You embraced peace; you are industrious, determined, willing to learn and do your duties,” Catapang said.

He extolled the Albayanos for being successful in their political and civil rights.

“Let’s continue fighting for our social, economic and cultural rights,” the top military official stressed.

He assured that the AFP is always ready to help towards the further development and growth of the tourism industry in Albay so that more tourists will come in this part of the country and that capitalists would come and invest in the province.

For his part, Salceda said the Albayanos had the biggest monetary contribution to the revolution during World War II, reaching about Php29 billion.

He said it is but fitting to honor the Albayano heroes' greatness in order to inculcate it in the minds of the next generation.

Second, the governor said, this greatness of the Albayano heroes should remain in the hearts of their provincemates, whether in times of war or in peace.

He said one’s greatness should shine not only in times of war but moreso, in the era of peace and order.

Salceda cited as an example the heroism of the Team Albay, which has been witnessed by the Filipino people in times of calamities.

“In fact, the team has conducted 11 missions already in places stricken by typhoons, floods and other calamities,” he said.

The Albay chief executive also mentioned Albay Team’s Countryside Development Caravan during the past three years. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/EBP

DENR-Bicol head thanks supporters of 4th Regional Biodiversity Challenge in Masbate
By Metchie Gay Arnaiz

MASBATE CITY, April 27 (PNA) – The head of the Department Environment and Natural Resources Bicol Regional Office on Monday thanked the participants and supporters of the 4th Regional Biodiversity Challenge held in Masbate City on Wednesday last week in celebration of the World’s Earth Day,

ENR Regional Director Gilbert C. Gonzales expressed his gratitude in a letter coursed through Tito Migo, Masbate Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office head.

Gonzales said the event was among the reports he made to DENR Secretary Ramon Paje in the agency's head office in Quezon City over the weekend.

He said the activity aims to spread awareness on environmental concerns and he hopes to have more daring and exciting biodiversity challenges next year and the years to come.

Gonzales also announced the following teams as winners in the challenge: Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology, first; Brotherhood Ticao Island Masbate, second; and Masbate Police Provincial Office Team MPPSC, third.

The winners received Php20,000 for the first prize; Php15,000, second; and Php10,000, third.

Non-winners received certificate of participation.

Other placers from fourth to 10th, respectively, were: Bureau of Fire Protection Team 1, Environmental Management Bureau V, Masbate Police Provincial Office Operation Team 1, PENRO Sorsogon, Masbate Police Provincial Office Operation Team 2, Masbate Police Provincial Office Operation Team 3, and PENRO Camarines Sur,

Eighteen other teams from the different parts of Bicol joined the biodiversity challenge and came out as finishers.

Preparations for the activities were done by the PENRO Masbate, CENRO San Jacinto and CENRO Mobo.

A major partner of the event was the Masbate Gold Project (MGP), which promotes the theme: “MininG resPonsibly.”

The challenge, which had for its theme “Think, Run, Execute and Enjoy (TREE),” had four components – Eco-Trail Extreme Challenge, Kite Flying Contest, Budol Payt (Fight) and the Enviro-rock Concert.

The Eco-trail Extreme Challenge followed the concept of a “timed race” and was held for one-half day with participation of 28 teams from all over the Bicol Region, with each team composed of two males and one female.

This involved physical and mental challenges in outdoor activities, thus, qualified participants must physically and mentally fit and must be at least 18 years old.

The Kite Flying Contest was held in partnership with the local government unit of Masbate City and was held at the Jesse M. Robredo Boulevard, Masbate City, simultaneous with the Budol Payt.

Its theme was “Burador para sa Malinis na Hangin.”

The Budol Payt was included to promote camaraderie and sportsmanship, Gonzales said.

It was held simultaneously with the Kite Flying Contest while the Enviro-rock Concert took place at the Magallanes Coliseum, Masbate City.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MGA/CBD

Girl, 7, drowns in Albay town resort pool

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -- A seven-year-old girl drowned in a swimming pool in Villa Acosta Resort in Barangay San Isidro, Sto. Domingo, Albay, on Sunday night. ,p>Senior Insp. Glaiza Marie Padua, Sto. Domingo Municipal Police Office chief, identified the floating dead body as that of Sherlyn Habla, a resident of Barangay Cabangan, Legazpi City.

Padua said Habla's body was found at about 7:00 p.m. in the six-foot deep swimming pool.

She said the mother of the girl did not notice the situation of the girl as they were busy preparing their food for dinner while the father was engrossed in drinking with male relatives.

When the parents looked for their daughter, they found her floating in the swimming pool, already lifeless.

It was learned that the resort has no life guard to look after the safety of the pool swimmers.

Earlier, Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona had warned resort and beach goers to be extra careful while swimming. (PNA) CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/

Monday, April 27, 2015

MGP donates diagnostic equipment to new diocesan hospital

MASBATE CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- The Masbate Gold Project (MGP) has donated Php 10-million worth of medical equipment to the Diocesan Hospital of San Antonio De Padua in Pulangbato, Barangay Kinamaligan, Masbate City.

Engineer Danilo "Bon" Latuga, resident manager, and Ramon "Mon" Velasco, Community Relations (ComRel) manager of Filminera Resources Corp. (FRC) turned over the diagnostic equipment to Masbate Bishop Jose S. Bantolo on Friday.

Representatives from the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (MGB) witnessed the turnover and acceptance ceremony.

Latuga said the equipment initially delivered were patient monitor, binocular microscope, hematology analyzer, ultrasound machine, digital X-ray machine (filmless), automatic external defibrillator, operating room light (LED), and anesthesia machine.

He added that other sensitive machines are to be delivered next week, to be brought personally by the supplier’s technicians to comply with their warranty because defects encountered during transportation and before installation are no longer covered by warranty without consent from their technicians.

During the turnover, Latuga said that upon Bantolo and his delegation’s visit at the Community Relations (ComRel’s) Office to seek assistance for the hospital, the company considered how they could address this request because funds for the Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) projects were intended only to the eight impact barangays of the MGp, including villages of the Aroroy town’s 41 barangays.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the MGP however, came up with the idea of giving a memorable project to the province that could benefit most of the Masbateños.

This made Bishop Bantolo’s wish come true.

"Through this project, not only 8 or 41 barangays could be benefited but also more than 550 barangays of the 20 municipalities an one city of the entire Province of Masbate," Latuga said.

After receiving MGP’s donation, Bantolo expressed happiness and gratefulness to all the people behind the project, preferably to the FRC headed by Latuga and the Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp. (PGPRC) headed by Ray Mead.

Bantolo also assured that these equipment will be utilized for the service of the common people of Masbate.

“We are very proud to tell anyone that these equipment are already here and no longer a commitment and or a paper.” Bantolo said.

He jested that the diocese would not only ask today but will also continue to ask for more.

“We asked those who can afford to give, we do not ask those who can’t. Not just that they can give but also has the power and heart to give. Thank you for making it into reality because if we alone, we could not show that face of mercy and compassion,” Bantolo said.

“This hospital should become the light of the poor people of Masbate and what kind of light this hospital will be when there are no equipment ,” he said.

These equipment, according to Bantolo, should become a glowing and a bright light to the people of Masbate.

He noted that people have to travel to Legazpi and Cebu for treatment of minor diseases at their own expense but because of these equipment, they need not go too far anymore for medical treatment.

Bantolo said that the entire hospital building of the diocesan hospital was funded by Swiss benefactors Leopold Bachman Sitftung and Una Terra Una Familia.

The MGP was the only donor in Masbate of Php10-million worth of diagnostic equipment.

He also acknowledged the help of the Board of Trustees for the realization of the hospital.

“The diocesan hospital is for the poor and must show the face of God who is merciful and compassionate,” the bishop said.

The diocesan hospital was dreamed of and initiated by Father Pierino Rogliardi and will soon operate as soon as the technicians have completely installed the equipment. (PNA) RMA/FGS/NBT/CBD/PJN

Roxas hails Albay execs for BUB performance

LEGAZPI CITY, April 24 (PNA) -- Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas hailed local chief executives in the province of Albay for their good performance in the implementation various projects under the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) program of the national government.

Roxas inspected a renovated market, a refurbished day care center, and a new water system in Legazpi City and in Camalig town on Friday during his official visit here.

The newly renovated Albay public market in Legazpi City, built with a Php 3-million budget from the Performance Challenge Fund (PCF), was completed this month based on the target time frame set by the city government of Legazpi.

Another completed project was the rehabilitation of a day care center in Albay funded with Php 3 million under the DILG’s BUB program.

Children-beneficiaries of the project, together with their families and other persons with disabilities attended the occasion.

The DILG chief also inspected an Php8-million water supply system in the municipality of Camalig to bring clean water direct to households in Barangay Baligang.

The provision of safe water supply is one of the priority services set by Camalig Mayor Carlos Baldo to prevent transmission of water-borne diseases and increase services to waterless population.

According to Roxas, 88 households stand to benefit from the project, also funded from the BUB—a core thrust of President Aquino’s “kayo ang boss” initiative, involving communities themselves in choosing projects they want prioritized and funded.

“Mayroon na silang maiinom na malinis na tubig at maiiwasan ang ibat-ibang sakit dulot ng pag-inom ng maruming tubig tulad ng pagtatae, lalung-lalo na sa mga bata (They now have clean water to drink and we can now avoid various diseases due to dirty water, especially among children,” Roxas said.(PNA) RMA/FGS/MDR/CBD/PJN

Legazpi City’s children with disabilities get Mar’s attention

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas led the blessing and inauguration of a rehabilitated two-storey building for the Early Intervention Program (EIP) located at the compound of the City Social Welfare and Development Office in Barangay Bitano, this city.

The EIP building is designed to address the rehabilitation need of children with moderate and severe disabilities, according to Ma. Marlene Manaya, the City Social Welfare and Development Office head.

The center, established in 2003, provides services such as physical check-up, supplemental feeding, aqua therapy and daily physical therapy session for children with cerebral palsy, autism, hydrocephalus and other orthopedic cases.

The facility also provides financial assistance for transportation and devices for those in need.

There are at present 60 children being served in the center.

Roxas lauded the social workers, government workers and other service providers who are working together to respond to the needs of children with disabilities.

“They are the children who need most our love, care and attention,” he said.

The repair and rehabilitation of the building is funded by the DSWD under the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) scheme of the Aquino administration.

Other projects funded by the BUB of the DSWD include the expansion of 28 day care center facilities in barangays Victory Village, Rizal, Capantawan, Homapon, Bonga, Mariawa.

The BUB fund allocated for these projects amounted to Php5 million.

BUB is an approach in preparing the budget proposals of agencies taking into considerations the development needs of the poor cities or municipalities as identified in their respected local poverty reduction action plans that shall be formulated with strong participation of the basic sector and other civil society organizations.(PNA) RMA/FGS/IAS/CBD/PJN

Purisima relinquishes top Mason post

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- Resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima has relinquished his post as head, or Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the Philippines.

He was replaced by retired police Chief Supt. Tomas Rentoy III who was elevated from being the Deputy Grand Master, a position to where Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, was also raised from his Senior Grand Warden post.

Both Rentoy and Gazmin, along with all other top Grand Lodge officers will serve a one-year term covering 2015-2016.

These leadership changes took place on Saturday, the last of the three-day 99th Annual Communication (AnCom) of the fraternity hosted here by the Masonic District for Bicol headed by Deputy District Grand Master and City Mayor Noel Rosal.

The relinquishment of the post, which Purisima held for a year since April 2014, was mandatory as, Rosal told the Philippines News Agency on Sunday, the term for a Grand Master was only one year and it had also been a tradition that the next in rank, which is the Deputy Grand Master, becames the successor.

Among the other new Grand Lodge officers are Abraham Tolentino, Senior Grand Warden; Romeo Momo, Junior Grand Warden; Rudyardo Bunda, Grand Treasurer; Danilo Angeles, Grand Secretary; Albert Tan, Assistant Grand Treasurer; Alexander Madamba, Assistant Grand Secretary; Raul Canon Jr, Grand Auditor; Romeo Masungi, Grand Chaplain; Fidel Posadas, Grand Orator and; Mario Rariza, Jr, Grand Marshall.

Freemasonry, Rosal said, is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world that uses the ancient tools and symbols of masons to teach timeless lessons about ethics and morality.

In the Philippines, it has around 50,000 living members representing the over 350 lodges that comprise more than 50 Masonic districts it covers nationwide.

Rosal said freemasons believe in the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the brotherhood of man.

"Freemasonry strives to teach a man the duty he owes to God, his country, his neighbor, his family and himself. Masonry does not say anything about politics or the God that individual Masons worship," he added.

Men from all religions are welcome and discussion of religion and politics are avoided in the Lodge, while study of literature by great writers and other material is encouraged but no specific works are sanctioned, he said.

By the very nature of Freemasonry, there is no such thing as a Masonic authority that has the power to dictate to Masons what to think or do.

“With the likes of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, former president Manuel L. Quezon, and well-renowned inventor Benjamin Franklin, Freemasonry has inspired Filipinos to live a life of service to his country and fellowmen as they are guided by the principles of charity, moral uprightness, and fraternal friendship,” Rosal said.

From their ranks come many of the nation’s patriots and distinguished citizens, established leaders not only in their fields but also in their communities and in the national arena, he added.

The 99th AnCom was held at the city government-owned Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here from April 23 to 25 as a showcase that the city government is indeed capable of handling huge gatherings as it vies for the “convention capital” of the country title.

Antonio Reyes, the City Tourism Office (CTO) chief, said Mayon Lodge No. 61 based here was able to convince the Grand Lodge in a bidding last year that the city is very much capable of hosting this big event based on the availability of standard and world-class accommodation facilities and venues for the various activities of the AnCom.

And since the AnCom does not go without a sports fest, fun games, gaiety and tours, Legazpi, which is now known in the world’s travel industry as the “City of Fun and Adventure,” came exactly as the best place for the gathering, he said.

“Our quest for preference as venue of big national and international gatherings is anchored on our being highly capable now of hosting and properly handling friendly visitors from any part of the world,” Rosal said.

He assured that the city has been making it to its best in handling big events as it considers them as inspiration for the local government and for every Legazpeño to strive more toward finally achieving the ‘convention capital of the Philippines’ recognition.

The AnCom was only one of dozens more of grand occasions taking place in the city during the remaining months of this year—among them the two meetings of the Philippine-hosted 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference which will be held at the Oriental Hotel on July 13-14 and on Sept. 9-11.(PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

Roxas keeps mum on SWS poll, to continue village projects instead

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas kept mum on his presidential plan and stayed silent over the result of the recent Social Weather Station (SWS) survey as he inspected on Friday Php16.7-million worth of infrastructure projects in this city and the neighboring Camalig town. When asked in an ambush interview if he intends to continue to run for President despite the ratings he got in the recent SWS poll, Roxas evaded the question and instead said he would continue to implement projects in the entire country.

“I am just a good performer, I can perform whatever role given to me, let us move forward and not rewind to the old system that runs counter to the administration's Daang Matuwid (right path)," he begged.

The DILG secretary said the projects he has been busy with involve the construction of water system that would provide reliable and potable water to households in remote villages of the country.

Roxas cited the town of Camalig in Albay as among the beneficiaries of these projects where, according to him, the town is among the 400 towns across the country that were installed with clean potable and reliable water system.

The construction of a water system in remote villages is the government's way of addressing the people’s basic need for clean and reliable water system to improve the well-being of the community, he said.

Roxas visited the Php8-million Level 3 Water Supply System "Salintubig" Facility in Barangay (village) Baligang in Camalig town, some 20 kilometers from this city.

In Legazpi, Roxas, accompanied by City Mayor Noel Rosal, inspected the Php3-million Albay Food Court, an adjacent edifice to the Albay District Public Market which was funded under the Performance C Fund (PCF).

At the Albay Food Court, he took his breakfast with city and village officials.

He then proceeded to the City Social Welfare and Development Office where he formally inaugurated the two-story Legazpi Daycare Center funded from a Php5.7-million BUB project.

The center is equipped with early intervention capacity that would cater to children with disabilities and regular children enrolled at the daycare center.

Roxas said at a dialogue with the parents that he intends to put up another 27 daycare centers in this city. (PNA) RMA/FGS/MSA/CBD/SSC

Sayaw Kan Tulong Bulod displays musical, other artistic talents of Albayanos
By Kristine Joy Bueza and Romulo Ray Balisnomo (OJT)

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- One of Albay's Daragang Magayon Festival 2015 highlights was the play Sayaw Kan Tulong Bulod (The Dance of The Three Mountains).

A play written by engineer Abdon Balde Jr. and directed-choreographed by Julio Mendoza, the Sayaw is still the talk of the town as of this moment, owing to musical, terpsichorean and other artistic prowess of displayed by its talents.

It tells of the legend of the three mountains found in the Province of Albay -- Mt. Masaraga, Mt. Malinao, and Mt. Mayon.

The play was written and presented in pure Bicol dialect, endearing it more not only to the Albayanos but also to other Bicolanos who have watched it.

"The artists' interpretations, choreography, music -- the entire production -- were superbly turned into a masterful work of art," said student Jessebel Miguela after coming out of the Albay Astrodome where the Sayaw was presented over the week.

Miguela just summarily echoed what other spectators said.

Music was composed by Idelfonso Maldo.

Adept and lively dancers from the Bicol University and the Bicol University Magayon Dance troupe trained by Carina Sales gave life to the story as they acted, sang, and danced to portray their roles and give justice to Balde's creation.

Acting like experienced broadway stage artists, Marjorie Pesino brilliantly played the part of Magayon (Mt. Mayon), Ashley Ann Himor splendidly interpreted the role of Malinao (Mt. Malinao), and Rochelle Ruivivar excellently gave life to Masaraga (Mt. Masaraga) -- the main characters of the play.

The members of the audience held the breath in awe, witnessing a stage performance at its finest.

The show started at 7:30 p.m. and lasted for an hour and a half in Albay Astrodome giving the audience full satisfaction as they left still talking of what they had just witnessed. (PNA) RMA/FGS/KJB/RRB/CBD/SSC

Army general puts armed NPA rebels in Bicol at 200
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- An Army general estimates that there are around 200 armed New People’s Army rebels operating all over Bicol and declared the insurgency situation “conflict manageable and ready for development."

Brigadier Gen. Yerson Depayso, commander of the 9th Infantry Division based in Pili, Camarines Sur, made the declaration after the Armed Forces of the Philippines signed another peace and development agreement with Albay province on Thursday.

Depayso said the activities of the NPA rebels have been declining consistently since 2011 because of the new tact of the Army to involve local government units (LGUs) in “winning peace” in former NPA-controlled/influence areas in Bicol.

He said the 9th ID already inked peace and development pact with the LGUs of Catanduanes and Camarines Norte last year and these two provinces are now declared “conflict manageable and ready for development.

Camarines Sur LGU will also sign similar agreement with the Armed Forces of the Philippines on May 24, the 9ID commander added.

He said that over the years, the AFP has improved its way of relating to civilians wherein, he said, before ordinary citizens would fear even visiting an Army camp.

Depayso credit the gains of the AFP to win the hearts of the people to civil-military operations (CMO) which allow the armed forces to directly work with the communities, LGUs, national government agencies and individuals.

Lt. Col. Joselito Pastrana, two-and-a-half years commander of the CMO of the 9th ID, said winning the communities’ trust requires painstaking work in community relations and lots of coordination with other government agencies.

Pastrana said the CMO for the past years has been able to launch projects with the help and cooperation of different institutions and government agencies that directly benefit individuals and their families in pilot areas in Bicol.

He cited the Kabuhayan Kit distribution which the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) funded as one successful convergence project involving the LGUs in the provinces while the Army helped select the beneficiaries.

Pastrana said the 9th ID was able to organize a regional youth organization that advocates for peaceful means of change by active participation and involvement in the local governance.

The CMO of the 9th ID, and the Army’s infantry division here was awarded best performer among all other CMOs in the Army nationwide last year, according to Depayso.

He said the 9th ID was also graded best in the evaluation for last year’s performance in connection with incentive bonus given to all government employees.

He said government units may also get good or better in the evaluation for incentive bonus with corresponding amounts -- the higher the grade the greater the entitlement for the incentive bonus. (PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/SSC

Daet mayor promotes new pineapple varieties

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -– Daet Mayor Tito Sarion has asked all farmers in the municiplaity to start planting the newly introduced varieties of pineapple aside from the Queen Pineapple, which is known for its very sweet fruit and sturdy leaves that are made into piña cloth.

Sarion expressed full support to the initiative of the Department of Agriculture in Bicol for introducing the new two types of varieties of pineapple whose adaptability and yield performance, according to DA experts, have been tested for more than two years.

"Aside from economic impact of pineapple production to local farmers, our target is to come up with new innovation to produced delicacies made from pineapple," he said.

The Daet chief executive also commended the DA-Bicol for conducting research in order to develop new pineapple varieties.

DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas, meanwhile, said the two pineapple varieties, namely, Ulam and MD-2 hybrid pineapple from Davao and Bukidnon, respectively, were tested under the soils and climatic conditions of Camarines Norte.

The test used different production methods that included medium density, low fertilizer planting techniques of farmers; the high density, medium fertilizer best practices for queen pineapple; and the high density, high fertilizer rate of Mindanao growers.

The Ulam variety has spiny leaves similar to the Queen pineapple and is claimed to produce very sweet fruit with edible core; while the MD-2 hybrid variety has similar plant stand with the spineless smooth cayenne or Hawaiian variety but is said to produce sweeter fruit with no aftertaste when eaten.

This variety is now being planted in Honduras and Mexico.

In 2003, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala introduced these new varieties of pineapple from Mindanao in response to the claims that the yield of the Camarines Norte’s Queen pineapple or Formosa is getting smaller as the farmers are planting only one variety.

The ULAM and MD-2 varieties can be grown under the soil and climatic condition of Camarines Norte using the local farmers practices or the best agricultural practices for the Queen pineapple.

Only the MD-2 variety is now ready for commercialization and distribution to farmers as the intellectual property rights of the Ulam variety is still under negotiations.

The Ulam variety was developed and registered by Dr. Juan C. Acosta of Bukidnon, whose pineapple plantation is located in Davao.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MDR/CBD/PJN

DSWD expects to identify more poor families in Bicol in ongoing survey

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- A new batch of poor families in Bicol, one of the country’s regions with highest incidence of poverty, is expected to be identified in the ongoing survey under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

Also called the Listahanan, the NHTS-PR being conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) nationwide, is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are.

The system makes available to national government agencies and other social protection stakeholders a database of poor families as basis in identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs and services.

“We are now on the data collection phase of Listahanan wherein home visits are conducted to collect socio-economic information and basic information of family members using the Family Assessment Form (FAF)--a four-page questionnaire with 46 variables,” DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia over the weekend here said.

Kicked off last April 14 in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, where 6,649 households are targeted to be reached and assessed by way of Proxy Means Test (PMT), a statistical model that estimates the income of families using the proxy variables indicated in the FAF, the job is being done by newly-hired and trained field workers.

An island-town rich in precious minerals like gold and silver mined by multi-national firms, Rapu-Rapu is listed by the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) as the province’s poorest town where more than half, or 50.3 percent of the total number of families, are living in poverty, based on the latest survey.

With 36.1 percent rate of poverty among families, Albay itself, according to PSA records, stands second to Masbate (44.2 percent) among the six Bicol provinces and fifth among Luzon’s 28 in poverty incidence.

Apart from Rapu-Rapu, four other Albay towns -- Jovellar, with 46.3 percent; Pio Duran, 45.1 percent; Manito, 39.0 percent and; Oas, 36.3 percent—are listed as highest in poverty incidence in the region.

The ongoing Listahanan is the second round after the first one conducted by the DSWD in 2009, which resulted in the identification as poor through the PMT of 461,242 families or 59.5 of the 775, 014 households assessed in Bicol.

The first Listahanan assessed in Masbate 160,257 households and 103,478 or 64.6 percent were identified as poor while of Albay’s 141,617 households, 88,242 or 62.3 percent were poor and Camarines Sur with 226,714 households had 136,208, equivalent to 60 percent listed as poor.

The same list shows Camarines Norte having 40,802 poor or 56.5 percent of its 72,227 households; Sorsogon, 75,769 poor or 53.6 percent of 141,388 households; and Catanduanes, 16,743 or 51 percent poor out of its 32,811 households.

That first round of listing has since then contributed to a good program design that ensures efficient and effective implementation, Garcia said, citing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) which would not be a success if it failed to target the real poor.

This ongoing second round assessment, Garcia said, applies new features in the conduct of identifying the poor to minimize, if not totally prevent, errors in the inclusion and exclusion process.

The new features include the application in the PMT of two sub-models -- one for the National Capital Region and one for all other regions -- that would make community variables as determinants of poverty status.

A second stage screener to avoid possible inclusion errors or non-poor being included in the list of poor will also be applied and with these enhancements and the combined inclusion and exclusion error rates would decline from 22-35 percent in the old model to 6-19 percent in the new model, he said.

“In this second enumeration, we will ensure that no one will be left behind. For Rapu-rapu only, the conduct of assessment is expected to finish in 45 days of tedious works to reach the targeted 6,649 households,” he said.

Across Bicol, Listahanan is targeting a total of 1.08 million households to be assessed and through this, a new batch of poor families will be identified and become candidate for government and non-government social protection programs as the official list is shared with data users to serve as their guide in selecting beneficiaries, according to Garcia.

This will also enable the DSWD to track changes or developments in the lives of poor households who were identified in the previous assessment as the finalization of the new list will involve the forming of a Local Validation Committee which would act on complaints and appeals, he said.

The official list of poor households is shared with data users to serve as their guide in selecting beneficiaries of their social protection programs, he added.(PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN

NPA rebels execute fisherman in front of village chapel

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- New People's Army (NPA) members peppered a fishermen with bullets before other village residents in front of their chapel in Barangay San Agustin, Aroroy, Masbate, Friday, a police report said Saturday.

The report said victim Dante Bulanon, 45 and married, was eating lunch with his family at about 11:30 a.m. when 10 armed young rebels suddenly barged in, tied him, brought him in front of the chapel where there were many other villagers and shot him dead.

The rebels then casually walked away and left Bulanon's dead body sprawled on the street.

Police said the rebels suspected the victim of giving information to the military and the police about their activities in the area.(PNA) RMA/FGS/EMC/CBD/PJN

DA-Bicol opens summer internship program for students

LEGAZPI CITY, April 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol regional office opens its internship program this summer for Bicolano students in support of the summer job program of the national government.

The one-month engagement distributes the interns, consisting of high school graduates and college students who will be enrolling for the coming school year, to the different organizational units of DA for them to be exposed to government operations, institutional tasks and services, and civil and public affairs.

Moreover, each of them will be given 100 percent of the government minimum wage amounting to PhP 9,000 monthly to financially help them with their school fees.

The orientation program was conducted recently by the DA Human Resource Management Office.

According to Bettina Belen, DA Information Office staff member, the objective of this program is not only to extend possible financial assistance but also to channel the youth’s energy into worthwhile activities.

DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas said that “agricultural growth must be greater than population growth.”

Thus, he encouraged the interns to be among the drivers that will push the improvement of the rural community for the betterment of the country.

This program is similar to the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) being implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) mandated under Republic Act No. 9547, otherwise known as "An Act To Help Poor But Deserving Students Pursue Their Education By Encouraging Their Employment During Summer and/or Christmas Vacations, Through Incentives Granted to Employers, Allowing Them to Pay Only Sixty Per Centum of Their Salaries or Wages and The Forty Per Centum Through Education Vouchers To Be Paid By the Government, Prohibiting and Penalizing The Filing of Fraudulent and Fictitious Claims, and For Other Purposes."

Under this law, the Secretary of Labor and Employment is designated program director of the SPES.(PNA) RMA/FGS/MDR/CBD/PJN

Catapang extols Albay as haven of tourism, development
By Nancy I. Mediavillo

LEGAZPI CITY, April 27 (PNA) -- Days have passed yet the good words heaped by the country’s top military official on Albay and the Albayanos during his stay here have remained embedded in their hearts and minds.

Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief, praised the Province of Albay for continuously remembering and honoring the heroism of Bicolano heroes like Camilo Jacob, Gen. Ignacio Paua and Gen. Simeon Ola as well as national heroes like Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini.

Catapang was the guest of honor and speaker during the 4th Annual Celebration of the Albay Heroes Day at the Bicol University ground late last week.

During the occasion, the AFP also declared Albay as a “Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development Province.”

The declaration was based on the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay Resolution Number 0086-2014 signed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, Vice Governor Harold Imperial and other members of the council.

The AFP chief also lauded the success and development being enjoyed by the province for the past 30 years.

"As I look back 30 years ago, when insurgency is at its prime, now that I am about to retire, we have seen the fruits of our labor. The Province of Albay is very progressive and developed,” Catapang said.

He said that every time he goes around the country’s provinces, he can not help telling to himself, “Tell me who your governor is and I will tell you what kind of province you have.”

He said that for the last three years of Salceda's term, the Albay governor has turned around the province.

“Before, it was a hotbed of insurgency; now, Albay is the haven of tourism and development,” the AFP chief noted.

He stressed that he would not wonder if in the future, Albay will be declared a super province in this part of Southern Luzon.

“You embraced peace; you are industrious, determined, willing to learn and do your duties,” Catapang said.

He extolled the Albayanos for being successful in their political and civil rights.

“Let’s continue fighting for our social, economic and cultural rights,” the top military official stressed.

He assured that the AFP is always ready to help towards the further development and growth of the tourism industry in Albay so that more tourists will come in this part of the country and that capitalists would come and invest in the province.

For his part, Salceda said the Albayanos had the biggest monetary contribution to the revolution during World War II, reaching about Php29 billion.

He said it is but fitting to honor the Albayano heroes' greatness in order to inculcate it in the minds of the next generation.

Second, the governor said, this greatness of the Albayano heroes should remain in the hearts of their provincemates, whether in times of war or in peace.

He said one’s greatness should shine not only in times of war but moreso, in the era of peace and order.

Salceda cited as an example the heroism of the Team Albay, which has been witnessed by the Filipino people in times of calamities.

“In fact, the team has conducted 11 missions already in places stricken by typhoons, floods and other calamities,” he said.

The Albay chief executive also mentioned Albay Team’s Countryside Development Caravan during the past three years. (PNA) CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/EBP

Thursday, April 23, 2015

6,000 Masons in Legazpi for 99th AnCom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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