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Albay News

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List of Municipalities in the Albay Province within Region V in the Republic of The Philippines
Bacacay | Camalig | Daraga (Locsin) | Guinobatan | Jovellar | Libon | Malilipot | Malinao | Manito | Oas | Pio Duran | Polangui | Rapu-Rapu | Santo Domingo (Libog) | Tiwi
Cities in the province of Albay: Legazpi City (Capital) | City Of Ligao | City Of Tabaco

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Province of Albay - Archived News

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Albay launches web portal for youth to help teenagers confront problems

By Nancy I. Mediavillo [(PNA), CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/UTB]

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 21 (PNA) – The Provincial Government of Albay and the Commission on Population-Bicol on Wednesday launched the U4U project, a web portal for the youth, at Albay Astrodome, highlightIng the closing of the National Nutrition Month, Disaster Consciousness Month and World Population Day.

The activity was scheduled last month but due to typhoon “Glenda” it was moved for the month of August.

Popcom-Bicol Planning Officer IV Jocelyn Chua thanked the Provincial Government of Albay headed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda for its positive response to the launch of the project.

Chua said the province is the first local government unit to launch the U4U.

The regional launch will be done on Aug. 29.

Chua said the U4U, a youth hub initiative, is an interactive website for the youth aged 15-24 years old and has for its website

She explained that a participating teenager will answer questions online and after the Q&A, the website will give its assessment of the subject based on his or her answers.

Chua said their office will also coordinate with schools down to the barangay level for a massive awareness campaign through the assistance of the provincial government.

She stressed that the web portal will answer problems confronting the youth.

The Popcom official expressed alarm over rising cases of premarital sex, early pregnancy, smoking, drinking liquor and illegal drugs among the youth.

Chua said the Bicol region registered an 8.8-percent teenage pregnancy last year based on the Young Adult Fertility Survey or YAFS, meaning, she said, nine out of 100 teenagers were pregnant during the survey period.

The region, however, has the lowest record in the entire nation, she clarified.

Meanwhile, 86.6 percent of the youth in the region did not use any protective measure in their sexual experience or premarital sex.

Aside from this, 38 percent read pornographic reading materials and 52.7 percent view X-rated films.

Chua said the results of the YAFS are alarming.

She said the youth must learn to say “no.”

The PopCom executive said their office’s campaign is “Toga Bago Traje de Doda,” meaning the youth should strive to have a college degree first before marriage.

Dr Arnulfo Carandang of the Department of Health-Bicol advised the youth to concentrate first on their studies and be busy on productive endeavors.

Carandang stressed the need to finish one’s studies first.

Dr. Ma. Theresa Belarma, officer-in-charge Albay provincial health officer, shared the experience of the province in strengthening its program of healthy lifestyle with the cooperation of its different departments and more than 1,000 employees.

Eden Gonzales, Albay population officer IV, informed the public that the healthy lifestyle program of the province is called 3G or “Gumalaw, Gumanda at Gumuwapo.”

Gonzales said the officials and employees of the province will do the “hataw” or exercise three times a week, at 4:30 p.m. every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The hataw will be led by the 3G team of the provincial capitol.

Aside from this, there will be a diet counseling and nutritional assessment for the participants, according to Bliss Bermas, provincial nutritionist.

DOST sets Aug. 22 deadline of applications for undergraduate scholarships

By Danny O. Calleja [(PNA), CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/]

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 20 (PNA) -- Graduating high school students who would like to avail of scholarships for priority science and technology (S&T) courses have until Friday, Aug. 22, to submit their applications for the 2015 Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute’s (DOST-SEI) Undergraduate Scholarships Examination.

This was announced Wednesday by the regional office for Bicol here of the DOST which said the nationwide examination shall be held on Sept. 21 with results to be announced in March 2015.

Tomas Briñas, the DOST regional director, said priority S&T courses for the scholarship grants include agriculture, agricultural biotechnology, biochemistry, computer science, environmental science, fisheries, food technology, forestry, geology, information technology, science/mathematics teaching, statistics, and engineering courses.

Interested parties may download the application form at or

Application forms are also available at the Science Education Institute office at the DOST Compound in Taguig City and in all DOST regional offices, Provincial Science and Technology Centers, and offices of congressmen and senators, Briñas said.

Scholarship qualifiers may enroll in any of the state universities, colleges, and tertiary institutions identified as Centers of Excellence or Centers of Development by the Commission on Higher Education and in DOST-SEI identified network institutions all over the country.

Among these are the University of the Philippines, University of the East, Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Davao, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, Mapua Institute of Technology, Don Bosco Technical College, Siliman University, Mariano Marcos State University and St. Louis University.

Meanwhile, the DOST-SEI, citing excellence and overall contribution in nation-building, has paid tribute to its honor scholar-graduates and current scholars in two different occasions, a statement reaching here Wednesday from the DOST’s S&T Media Service said.

A total of 253 scholars who graduated with honors and 525 who finished graduate degrees for the school year 2013-2014 were awarded during the “In Touch with Excellence” ceremonies held as part of the 2014 National Science and Technology Week celebration, it said.

Around 400 scholar-graduates and ongoing scholars were also honored in a gathering dubbed as “Scholars’ Night.”

Overall, the statement said there were 12 summa cum laude, 55 magna cum laude, 187 cum laude, seven honorable mention, one with academic merit, and one with academic distinction scholar-graduates who were awarded both in the undergraduate and graduate levels during the ceremony.

Four scholar-graduates were also given incentives for completing their degrees earlier than the prescribed period of studies.

The S&T Media Service said 64 honor graduates under the DOST-SEI Merit Scholarship—the agency’s pioneer scholarship program for undergraduates—were recognized which listed seven summa cum laude, 21 magna cum laude, 34 cum laude and two honorable mention graduates.

On the other hand, Republic Act 7687 or the Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994 produced 189 scholar graduates with honors headlined by five summa cum laude, 31 magna cum laude, 145 cum laude, one with academic distinction, one with academic merit, five honorable mention and three early graduates.

As for the graduate scholarships, a total of 351 MS and 36 PhD students graduated under the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP).

It produced three magna cum laude and eight cum laude graduates.

The program is a unified and innovative human resource development strategy aimed at hastening the production of highly trained scientists by awarding MS and PhD scholarship grants to eligible individuals who will fill in the gaps of identified areas of science and technology.

Under the program, nine scholars finished cum laude, and one as an academic excellence awardee.

On the other hand, the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) program—a graduate scholarship program in priority engineering courses and related field—recorded 136 MS and two PhD graduates.

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo has congratulated the scholar-graduates for maximizing the opportunity of being entrusted as “science scholars of the people.”

We are proud that you put in the hard work to not only finish you studies, but pursue excellence in the S&T fields you choose to be in,” Montejo said in his statement.

He said DOST is further intensifying its scholarship program as he believes in the capacity of science scholars as change-makers in the future.

Albay board OKs ordinance limiting use of ambulances


LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay approved Monday an ordinance aimed at curbing blatant and frequent misuse of government ambulances, intended to be utilized for sick constituents.

Entitled “Regulating the Use of All Government Ambulances in the Province of Albay, and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof,” the ordinance is authored by 3rd District Board Member Rhederick N. Riva from Oas, and co-authored by 3rd District Board Member Herbert S. Borja from Polangui.

It aims to make government ambulances readily available to transport the seriously sick and injured patients requiring immediate medical treatment to or from a facility to another that is sufficiently equipped to handle the matter and save lives.

The legislation states that it has been observed that in many instances, government ambulances have been gravely misused, to the detriment of the public, whereas said vehicles have been seen in recreational areas where they have no business being there.

"There were cases where fees have been collected for their use, defeating the very purpose they were purchased for," Riva said.

According to the ordinance, it is unlawful for public officials or employees to use government ambulances for personal use or as an office service vehicle and it shall also be unlawful to use these vehicles for transporting patients deemed not in a medical emergency situation.

Whether with fees or not, government ambulances cannot be used for private purposes but government officials or employees shall not refuse the use of any government ambulance by patients who cannot pay fees, nor should there be any deprivation of use to any individual due to their gender, religious beliefs, economic status, or political affiliations; and government ambulances cannot be used to transport cadavers.

"There are exceptions though given to the use of government ambulances in non-emergency situations and these include the use of the vehicles in official and authorized medical outreach missions and other hospital services and operations related to medical missions, delivery of medicines and other medical supplies," Riva explained.

Public officials or employees caught violating this ordinance shall be penalized, after due process, with a P1,000 fine, and or imprisonment of one month for the first offense.

Second offense entails a fine of P2,500 and or six months of imprisonment; and being caught for a third time will result in a fine of P5,000 and or imprisonment of one year, without any prejudice to the filing of appropriate administrative charges.

Albay reconstruction gets P37M from DepEd for school repairs


LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) -- Albay gets an added boost for its energized reconstruction and economic rehabilitation initiatives with the recent release by the Department of Education (DepEd) of P37 million for the repair of 98 schools devastated by Typhoon "Glenda" last month. DepEd comes as the second government agency so far to have subscribed to the reconstruction program of the province.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, FSC, readily responded to their call for rehabilitation assistance under their Plan for Albay Glenda Early Recovery and Reconstruction (PAGERR), which was formulated immediately following the July 16 devastation.

Salceda said PAGERR has started to get vital support because it has a clear and defined plan and direction. Albay is the United Nation’s global model in disaster risk reduction and management.

“We thank Secretary Luistro for his speedy response, as the second biggest contributor to PAGERR less than a month after Glenda,” Salceda said.

Albay posted a Zero Casualty score against Glenda’s onslaught, which was widely praised, but it sustained more than P9.3 billion in damages, particularly in agriculture, housing, educational facilities and other infrastructures. The howler claimed over a hundred elsewhere in the country.

PAGERR is a well defined reconstruction plan with standing requests to various government agencies and non-government institutions for assistance. Salceda noted that having no casualty — even if it’s a great achievement — tends to get lesser appeal to donors unless there is a clear rehabilitation plan.

The Department of Agriculture was the first state agency to respond to PAGERR’s call for assistance with a P6- million commitment under its quick response scheme designated as Bicol Rehabilitation Assistance for Glenda – Agricultural Sector. It was aimed at propping up the badly hit areas of the region.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala personally delivered the contribution to Albay along with 1,000 bags of certified rice seeds, five units of hand tractors, 9,000 packets of assorted vegetable seeds, 9,000 pieces of pili seedlings, 185 bags of hybrid corn seeds, 15 bags of open-pollenated variety corn seeds, 54 sets of garden tools and 1,000 pieces of laminated sacks or canvass pieces.

Salceda organized PAGERR immediately after Albay was placed under a state of calamity. Its assigned taskes include assessment of needs, identification of intervention options in specific sites and their beneficiaries, implementation of responsive projects, and submission of formative and summative reports to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Salceda orders inventory of evacuation shelters as Mt. Mayon’s restiveness intensifies

By Rhaydz B. Barcia [(PNA), CTB/FGS/RBB/CBD/RSM]

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 17 (PNA) -- As the restiveness of Mt. Mayon continues to intensify due to magma buildup, Albay Governor Joey Salceda has ordered an inventory of school classrooms that could be used as evacuation camps of tens of thousands of Albayanos should the volcano explode.

Salceda's directive to local government units came two days after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert warning status of Mt. Mayon from Level 1 to Level 2 due to the abnormal activities of the volcano.

The governor wants local officials across the province to assess the classrooms, water, toilet facilities -- including solid and liquid waste disposal system, communal kitchen, medical station with provision for normal spontaneous delivery, breast-feeding corner and recreational space to ensure the comfortable condition of the evacuees in times of natural calamity.

He also reactivated the health emergency teams (HETs) to be dispatched to the different local government units to be affected by the Mayon volcano eruption.

The HETs are composed of rapid health assessment team, medical team, SPEED team, mental health and psychosocialteam, nutrition team, and health promotion team and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) team.

He also alerted the ALbay HEMS emergency officers on duty at the Albay Operation Center at this early so that all disaster responders will be in place before the possible hazardous explosion of Mayon volcano.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, reported increasing volcanic gas emissions and slight but persistent swelling due to the intrusion of magma beneath the volcano while sulfur dioxide emission posts an average of 850 tons per day, higher than the normal 500 tons per day, for the past two months now.

Albay promotes healthy lifestyle for employees

By Connie B. Destura [(PNA), CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/RSM]

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay -- in partnership with the Department of Health-Commission on Population Regional Office 5, National Nutrition Council-Region 5, and Team Albay/OCD 5 -- has developed a series of activities which will promote the general welfare of its employees and several other concerned stakeholders in Albay.

The move is in line with the celebration of the National Nutrition Month, National Disaster Consciousness Month and World Population Day.

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, in a memorandum, enjoined all officials and employees of the PGA to support and participate in one of the culminating activities lined up in the calendar of events scheduled for the celebration, the Healthy Lifestyle Promotion or HATAW, to be led by the Provincial Health Office HATAW team.

The activity is on Aug. 20 at the Peñaranda Park in Legazpi City starting at 7:00 am.

HATAW, a popular short physical program launched by the DOH in 1994, is a mix of exercise and dance which can be done almost anywhere and anytime.

Its popularity stems from the enjoyable physical training which involves fast body movements that result in the production of several progressive health benefits.

Due to the reduced physical activity that many office workers experience on a daily basis, PGA employees or any other office worker subjected to limited bodily movement are exposed to dangers that produce grave consequences to their health.

Studies have shown that the lack of adequate physical activity has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and obesity.

It also increases the risks of colon and breast cancer, high blood pressure, lipid disorder, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety.

With healthy employees and officers, the PGA and all other offices will be able to provide more than adequate service to their clients and their constituents.

‘Move heaven and earth’ to fast track power restoration in Albay, priests ask Salceda

By Danny O. Calleja [(PNA),CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/]

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 15 (PNA) – Local parish priests have asked Albay Governor Joey Salceda, considered as among the authors of the privatization of Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) into the hands of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), to “move heaven and earth” to hasten the restoration of power in the province.

“We appeal to Governor Salceda, considered among the authors and avid supporters of privatization, to do more than what he is presently doing and move heaven and earth to hasten power restoration in Albay for the sake of our suffering people,” the priests said in an open letter circulated in the province over the week.

The letter was signed by 45 Albay-based priests headed by Msgr. Ramon Tronqued, St. Raphael de Archangel Parish priest and vicar general of the Diocese of Legazpi.

Apart from Salceda, the letter was also addressed to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jericho Petilla, the management of Albay Power and Energy Corp. (APEC) and to “the Big Bosses of San Miguel Corp. (SMC).”

APEC is a fully-owned and -controlled subsidiary of SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., created to run the affairs of the cooperative after the giant firm took control of the business and operations of Aleco early this year.

“We, the undersigned Priests of the different cities and municipalities of the Province of Albay make this urgent appeal for the immediate restoration of electric power in the whole province, and by immediate, we do not mean a period of one month or so,” the letter said.

Power supply in the entire province was cut off at the height of the devastation wrought by typhoon "Glenda" last July 15.

After Glenda, the people of Albay thought that APEC could have power at the soonest time possible only to be told that it would take a month or so for power in the province to normalize. APEC, being backed by a blue chip corporation—SMC -- could easily restore power if it wants, the priests said in the letter.

“We are sure that before APEC/SMC signed the privatization contract, its corporate geniuses must have factored in the pact that Albay is always ravaged by typhoons; why the seeming inefficiency? The old Aleco, even with its inefficiency, did not take long to reenergize the province after typhoon Reming which was even more destructive than Glenda,” they said.

Reming struck Albay in November 2006 and by Christmas time that same year, power was restored in almost all parts of Albay, the priests recalled in the letter.

As of Friday, reports gathered by PNA have it that only about 30 percent of the province has been reenergized -- mostly town centers and city propers.

Here, Mayor Noel Rosal said power has been restored in about 80 percent of the city with only those outskirt barangays whose distribution lines suffered heavy damages left, but already being attended to.

DENR-EMB Bicol to put up MRFs in selected towns, cities

By Samuel M. Toledo [(PNA), CTB/FGS/SMT/CBD]

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 14 (PNA) – The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) has identified four municipalities in the region to be the beneficiaries of the materials recovery facility (MRF) this year in order to increase the waste diversion rate and strengthen the local government units' (LGUs) practice of waste management.

The Environmental Management Bureau V of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-EMB V) through its Solid Waste Management Section (SWMS), conducted a dialogue with concerned local officials last Aug. 8 in Legazpi City to discuss the putting up of MRF.

“Despite the passage of Republic Act 9003, otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, solid waste and its proper management remain one of the major environmental problems of the country,” EMB Bicol Director Roberto Sheen, said.

Sheen explained that less than half of the LGUs in the country have completed and implemented ecological solid waste management programs even as the amount of solid waste to be managed increases each year as growing population and economic growth becomes highly imminent.

The MRF is an area where collected waste materials are stored until they are sold to recyclers or processed for composting.

“Based on Section 32 of RA 9003, every barangay or cluster of barangays should establish a MRF that will receive household-generated wastes to segregate and recyclable materials from residual waste,” Sheen said.

The MRF recipients are Bacacay town and Tabaco City in Albay; San Pascual in Masbate; San Vicente in Camarines Norte; and Milaor in Camarines Sur.

The LGUs will be the one to determine which barangays in the recipient towns and city would be serviced by the MRFs, and where these will be installed.

The EMB V, through the Ecological Solid Waste Management Commission (ESWMC), will be the agency to monitor the MRFs.

“This is one of the measures we are conducting so that LGUs will be further encouraged to practice proper waste segregation and increase their awareness and compliance to RA 9003. We are looking forward for the positive effects of this project,” Sheen added.

The beneficiaries were identified through the following criteria: willingness of the LGU to support the program, cluster of at least three barangays or a minimum total waste volume of one ton a day.

The LGU should also have existing practice of segregation at source and segregated collection, available area for MRF, area is big enough for the two MRF components (composting and segregated storage), availability of Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS) data, ability to divert at least 50 percent from the total waste volume, can tie-up with buyers/recyclers and percentage of waste diversion rate, Sheen said.

Resilient Tourism: Foreign tourists surge anew in Albay

By Johnny C. Nunez [(PNA), CTB/JCN/UTB]

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) -- Albay’s resilient tourism program has speedily and effectively put the province back on track shortly after Typhoon Glenda’s recent devastations, with foreign tourists flocking back in droves to the country’s fastest growing destination.

Less than a month after Glenda pummeled the province, the newly opened Albay International Gateway (AIG) rolled out the red carpet last August 8 to welcome 154 Chinese tourists who flew direct from Xiamen on board a Cebu Pacific Airlines’ flight.

The batch kicks off Cebu Pacific’s initial 18-cycle, three-month running contract flights from August 8 to October 10 this year.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the province’s strong disaster resilient program made the project possible, with the entire machinery of the local government focussed on getting back on track immediately after the disaster, particularly in tourism.

Glenda mauled Albay for over seven hours last July 16. Personally led by Salceda, the provincial government machinery immediately started clearing the debris evening of the same day so that residents woke up the next morning with almost all the roads already passable.

Salceda said water and power supplies were heavily derailed, but the local government resorted to alternative sources particularly in critical areas. Team Albay’s Water and Sanitation unit provided continuous supply of potable water while commercial and industrial outfits made available their power generators.

Telecommunication systems were likewise heavily damaged but were back in service in five days, while public offices have reopened immediately the following day. Airplane flights were also restored the following day using back up facilities, he added.

The first batch of about 300 Chinese tourists flew in here early this year on board the Philippine Airlines flights, also from Xiamen, in time to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Albay.

Salceda said the AIG was established under Executive Order 29, designating Legazpi City as an international gateway for direct flights from foreign tourism markets. It marks a local government breakthrough in tourism, one that opens doors to and from various parts of the world through non-traditional routes, the links to which were worked out. China, Korea and Taiwan are initial targets.

The Bicol International Airport in Daraga town, which is now under construction, is set to open in 2016 but Salceda said tourists “don’t have to wait that long to enjoy Albay’s wondrous experience.”

The Department of Tourism has declared Albay as the fastest growing tourism destination in the Philippines with a 66% growth rate in 2013. With the AIG, Salceda said they hope to make that record consistent.

“We put in place our CIQS or customs, immigration, quarantine and security systems. We made necessary adjustments to standards of international airports and institutionalized the operating mechanisms under our Albay International Gateway Committee (AIGC) which now supervises the international flights,” said Salceda, who chairs the AIGC.

A noted economist, Salceda said the new Albay gateway could bring in about P6.5 billion in revenues to Albay a year, five times its annual budget. A Chinese tourist can spend around US$ 1,000 per day during his 5-day stay in the province. This will also help create jobs for Albayanos at a rate of one job opportunity per tourist.

“Many more direct flights to Albay are expected to follow and bring to the heart of Bicolandia thousands of tourists and holiday-seekers who will help boost our Albay BOOM economic battlecry,” Salceda enthused.

The governor said the gateway also opens up Albay for global engagements, particularly the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in 2015, which kicks off in December this year.

Chinese tourists swarm Legazpi as Ibalong Festival takes off

By Danny O. Calleja (PNA), FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 12 (PNA) – A throng of Chinese tourists arrived at the airport here Monday afternoon via a chartered Cebu Pacific flight that flew them in directly from Xiamen City of Fujian province in China as the city celebrates this month the Ibalong Festival.

They were welcomed to the city by Mayor Noel Rosal, Department of Tourism Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla and Elizalde Co, owner of the Misibis Bay Resort in the nearby Sto. Domingo town where all of them will be billeted during their four days and three nights stay.

Misibis Bay is a posh resort hotel considered as a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach serving as a luxury island playground along Cagraray Island where Albay’s hospitality abounds.

This group, composed of 154 individuals, represents the first batch of a series of arrivals arranged by Misibis Bay management and the city government as part of the direct international flight tourism program, which opened early this year the Legazpi airport as the country’s newest gateway.

Interviewed by local newsmen at the airport while waiting for the arrival, Rosal said this series of chartered flights from Xiamen will go on until October this year with four flights a week but “we are working on an arrangement with Cebu Pacific and the China International Travel Service to extend it up to the end of this year.”

The coming of the initial batches is timed with the city’s holding this month of Ibalong Festival whose events will be an added entertainment to the Chinese tourists who are very much attracted to Mt. Mayon and going around lava fronts around its foot on board all-terrain vehicles, Rosal said.

“During their stay, these Chinese tourists will enjoy the overflowing of celebrations in this prime tourist destination known in the whole travel industry world as the City of Fun and Adventure,” he said.

Ibalong Festival is a yearly non-religious fiesta here depicting Bicol’s early beginnings based on the Ibalong Epic written by the late Prof. Merito Espinas that tells of mythical super heroes, villains, monsters and wild animals in the ancient times.

This is the longest running tourism promotion-related festival in the Bicol Region that expresses warmth and goodwill to all people and encourages visitors and tourists to celebrate with the Legazpeños.

“And hopefully, next year and onward, we would be able to arrange a year-round direct flights program with the Legazpi Domestic Airport as the gateway while we are awaiting for the completion of the Southern Luzon International Airport now ongoing construction in the nearby Daraga town,” Rosal added.

This new airport, which has been placed by the Department of Transportation and Communications as a priority project intended to boost Bicol’s booming tourism industry, is scheduled to be completed and put into operations before the end of the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2016.

The opening of the Legazpi Airport as gateway for direct international flights came last January with the coming in of the maiden chartered flight of Philippine Airlines with 156 Chinese tourists on board from Xiamen.

Xiamen and the surrounding southern Fujian countryside are the ancestral home to large communities of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia.

The city is one of the four original Special Economic Zones opened to foreign investment and trade when China began economic reforms in the early 1980s.

The direct flight program was first arranged with local and China-based travel agencies as an undertaking in line with the Aquino administration’s policy to achieve inclusive growth through tourism that will have direct impact on the community.

Rosal said having Legazpi as the newest direct destination for the Chinese travel market means getting them into a yearly cycle wherein they will be coming via chartered flights in a frequency of at least twice a week.

Each of these tourists spends between USD 500 and USD 1,000 a day and with the coming of 230 weekly would mean as much as USD 230,000 weekly tourism receipts for the city and some parts of Albay where they would be buying souvenir items and food, among other expenditures, he said.

Tourism will definitely take a crucial role in the city, the province of Albay, the Bicol Region and the country’s pursuit for inclusive and horizontal growth that will benefit not only big investors such as hotel operators but also the people in the countryside, where most of the tourist destinations are located, by providing more opportunities for employment and business ventures, the city mayor said.

“The opening of the city as gateway for direct international flights takes advantage of the foreign market trend showing that international tourists do not tend to stick to one local destination as they follow a cycle leading them from one place to another,” he said.

Parallel with these developments, what the city government is doing is to improve its capacity to accommodate more tourists, taking into consideration that the city is also fast emerging as one of the country’s convention capitals.

“We are now hosting an average of 20 big conventions and similar occasions yearly, bringing in to the city around 60,000 visitors each year. So far, we only have 2,009 hotel rooms that can accommodate in one occasion some 5,000 people,” Rosal said.

More accommodation facilities are needed, that is why the city government has been encouraging and attracting more investors to venture into this endeavor and the response is very encouraging, he added.

Albay to nominate Mayon Volcano as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

By Connie B. Destura (PNA), LAM/FGS/CBD/

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 11 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay will nominate Mayon Volcano as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Governor Joey Sarte Salceda disclosed Monday.

In a letter to Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Bicol, Salceda said the Philippines National Commission for UNESCO has provided the province with information for its guidance on the nomination of Mayon Volcano as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

A Biosphere Reserve, he said, is an internationally designated protected area meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature, hence, promoting values such as sustainable development.

“The status is conferred by UNESCO, particularly by its Man and the Biosphere Program and currently, there are only two UNESCO biosphere reserves in the Philippines – namely, Palawan and Puerto Galera,” Salceda said.

He invited Gonzales to join a meeting on the nomination of Mayon Volcano as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on Aug. 13 at the UNESCO office in Pasay City.

He also invited Edelberto Matusalem, Protected Area supervisor for the Province of Albay, to join the meeting.

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