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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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DOE, NPC to lead power caravan in Albay


LEGAZPI CITY, May 21 (PNA) -- Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jericho I. Petilla and National Power Corp. (NPC) president and Chief Executive Officer Gladys C. Sta. Rita will lead the Power Caravan at the Albay Astrodome on May 27.

The Power Caravan is a nationwide advocacy campaign of the DOE and NPC.

It started in Pangasinan then in Laguna, with Albay hosting the third leg with help of the Provincial Government of Albay headed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda.

It aims to inform the public on the protection and conservation of the environment that includes watershed management and conservation, dam protection and preservation, and energy conservation.

Petilla said the Power Caravan involves giving emphasis on current local and national issues relating to energy and the implementation of projects and programs on energy management and conservation, which should be a part of the daily activities of every individual and family.

He cited the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation initiative that started in Albay.

On the occasion, Salceda will give the opening remarks while Sta. Rita will touch on the functions and mandate of the NPC.

Petilla will discuss Energy Conservation ER-94.

The public will be given a chance to clarify issues on energy management and conservation.

During the event, the DOE and the NPC will launch the Batang Kalikasan.

The Batang Kalikasan leader will give the Declaration of Commitment and his message.

Salceda said at least 1,000 persons from local government units, youth sector and host communities will attend the activity.

The results of the activity will be submitted to the NPC for recommendation of the DOE to President Aquino.

DA says local livestock industry should take advantage of PHL’s FMD-free category

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

LEGAZPI CITY, May 20 (PNA) – The Philippines is officially recognized as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)-free country—an attribute that the local livestock industry should take advantage of by aiming for the world market for its products, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

This encouragement was given emphasis during the recently concluded 1st Bicol Small Ruminant Raisers Assembly held in this city under the auspices of the Albay Small Ruminant Raisers Association (ASRRA) in collaboration with DA-Bicol and its Regional Agriculture and Fishery Council (RAFC), DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas said in a statement on Wednesday.

The assembly was attended by around 400 goat and sheep raisers, dairy product processors, local government representatives from all over the region, veterinary students, rural youth and supporters from government agencies led by the DA regional office based in Pili, Camarines Sur.

It was Dr. Rubina Cresencio, director of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), who encouraged the ASRRA and other Bicolano livestock industry stakeholders to take advantage of the FMD-free classification of the country, which enables them to export their products much easier.

FMD is a highly contagious transboundary animal disease, which poses serious threats to the livestock production, food security, and livelihoods of farmers globally.

The presence of the disease in endemic countries reduces productivity and restricts market access as a country’s FMD-free status is an international trade requirement.

In the Philippines, the latest FMD outbreak was reported in 1996 wherein 98,000 animals had been affected.

Through a massive eradication program initiated by the DA, the epidemic was wiped out in 2010, leading the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), the world body tasked to monitor global animal health, to declare the country FMD-free without vaccination in May 2011.

With this, meat processors and traders are required only to secure a certificate of meat inspection from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) when they intend to transport meat and meat products.

The OIE certification also boosted the country’s livestock and meat industries as it made the local products marketable to foreign markets.

The DA, according to Cresencio, has been talking to buyers from Malaysia and Singapore to import meat products from the Philippines.

With China and Southeast Asia emerging as new global growth hubs, there is a growing recognition of the huge potentials of the region’s livestock and poultry sector and the significant role it will play in the region’s progress, she said.

But while the Philippines has maintained an FMD-free status—without vaccination since 2011—through progressive zoning approach, it has not become complacent and instead continued to work with other countries, through the OIE, for FMD control, Cresencio stressed .

“We remain on strict watch against the disease’s possible return as FMD has yet been totally eradicated in neighboring China and the majority of Southeast Asian countries,” she said.

In the past or under the FMD epidemic situation, hog and cattle farmers and processors were not allowed to transport their products, even within the country as some areas were not FMD-free.

Only animal products that have ready buyers were allowed to be shipped, but under certain quarantine restrictions and with clearance from law enforcement authorities.

The restrictions were placed to eradicate the disease in the Philippines.

Following the FMD-free declaration issued by the OIE, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala issued an executive order lifting all FMD-related transport restrictions for swine, cattle, carabao, sheep, goats, and other cloven-footed animals, including their meat, meat products, and other by-products nationwide.

Under the new regulations, farmers and traders wanting to transport live animals only need to secure a written authority or permit from the director of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) or his duly authorized representative.

The BAI also issues a veterinary health certificate to attest that the animals are healthy and come from areas free of any outbreak or disease.

In the Bicol Small Ruminant Raisers Assembly, Bragas said, DA Undersecretary for Livestock Jose Reaño cited the present challenge as how to mainstream goat meat into the local market which is proliferated by popular meat types such as chicken and pork.

He also stressed on the need to empower and legitimize goat raisers as entrepreneurs, citing that in France, goat milk is five times more expensive than cow’s milk while there is also big demand for goat meat in Muslim countries.

Reaño also discussed Multiplier Farms as DA’s support to local government units under the AgriPinoy Livestock Program which has four components -- goats, native pig, chicken and bee farming or apiculture, Bragas said.

The assembly also tackled the DA genetic program on livestock that focuses on entrepreneurial system, nutrition, animal health and value adding such as processing of meat and milk and production of leather materials, the DA regional chief added.

Oas town's 1st Puto Festival a success

By Cyndi Jocelle E. Orolfo (OJT) [(PNA), CTB/FGS/OJT/CBD]

OAS, Albay, May 19 (PNA) --The Local Government Unit of Oas successfully celebrated its First Oas Puto Festival which ended last week.

This was the assessment of Don Mape, Office of the Mayor spokesman, as he said the festival will now become a regular annual event of the town in accordance with the "One Town, One Product" initiative of the municipality.

It is along this line that the municipal government conceived the Puto Festival in parallel with Guinobatan town’s Longganisa Festival and Camalig town’s Pinangat Festival.

The Karangahan Festival, which was first celebrated in the town in 1965, gave way to the new festival, which would further enhance the association of the town with its puto as specialty product.

Mape said LGU sponsored a training, especially on packaging, during the festival.

He said they have also plans to put up a Pasalubong Center where all the goods and finished products of the town and the province can be featured.

The duration of the festival also saw the presence of agri-fishery booths where the goods of the eight coastal barangays of Oas were highlighted.

PWDs now assured of better treatment from tourism frontliners

By Ana Marie Abril (OJT) [(PNA), FPV/FGS/AMB/CBD/EBP]

LEGAZPI CITY, May 18 (PNA) -- Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are now assured of better treatment by frontliners in the tourism or business sector after representatives of this sector underwent training on how to deal with and handle customers with disabilities.

The frontliners include the front desk officers or personnel in hotels and restaurants and similar establishments, transport operators and other public conveyance utilities and tour guides.

The National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday held a \"Seminar on How to Handle Person with Disability in the Tourism Industry\" at the Oriental Hotel, Taysan Hill, Sto. Nino Village here.

The seminar tackled about the rights of a PWD based on Republic Act No. 7277 (Magna Carta For Person With Disability) and The Batas Pambansa 344 (Accessibility Law) and its implementing Rules and Regulations.

Republic Act No. 7277 is an act providing for rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of PWDs and their integration into the mainstream of society and for other purposes.

NCDA acting executive director Carmen R. Zubiaga said the seminar aimed to teach these tourism and business industry front-liners enough knowledge and information about the rights of PWDs and how other concerned agencies approach them.

DENR-Bicol ready to implement approved Bicol river basin development plan

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

LEGAZPI CITY, May 17 (PNA) –- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is now ready to implement the Integrated Bicol River Basin Management and Development Master Plan after it was formally approved by the Regional Development Council for Bicol, a top DENR-Bicol official said.

DENR-Bicol Regional Director Gilbert C. Gonzales, also the Bicol River Basin Management Council chair, said the master plan also has the concurrence of the stakeholders and institutions pushing for development of the Bicol River Basin (BRB) composed of farmers groups, Agta indigenous people, water districts, concerned government agencies, non-government organizations, local government units and private enterprises present during the RDC meeting on March 6.

For its implementation, Gonzales said, the plan has been divided into three components with the following objectives: first, to prepare the ecosystem and the community to the impact of climate change, including forest protection and mangrove rehabilitation; second, to attract investment in production areas through the construction of new irrigation systems, sanitary landfill and other facilities; and third, strengthening the management of the BRB like the formation of Sub-Basin Management Council, information and education campaign, capability enhancement, training and others.

The implementation of the Bicol river Basin Management and Development Master Plan has a budget of Php31 million.

The DENR and various national government agencies will share in fund allocation during the plan’s 15 years of implementation.

Gonzales said that in 2012, the Bicol River Basin Program Coordinating Office was established through a special order to give technical and administrative support to the BRBMC under the RDC and its technical working group based on EO 816-2009 and EO 510-2006 that created a River Basin Control Office under the DENR.

The Bicol River Basin is the eighth biggest in the entire country with a total area of 317,103 hectares that covers the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarine Norte.

It faces challenges from flooding that affects agricultural and settlement areas, loss of forest cover inside the BRB, being within the typhoon belt and so strong typhoons pass by every year, poor fish production due to illegal fishing, conversion of mangrove areas, pollution and other threats.

Back to the boondocks

Shining the spotlight anew on the PH’s beautiful peaks

Summer getaways usually mean the sun, sand and sea for most.

Many Filipinos save up to visit the luxury spot that is El Nido, Palawan. The young ones dream of joining the endless parties at “Laboracay” or the Labor Day weekend festivities at the world-famous Boracay Island in Aklan. The adventurous choose to ride the waves of Sabang Beach in Baler, Aurora and give the cool watersport of surfing a try.

These are just a few of the many Philippine beaches listed as among the perfect summer destinations year in and year out, so much so that so many other beautiful sights and exciting activities across the nation are often overlooked in the months of March, April and May.

Today, while there are still several weeks of the scorching weather left, The Sunday Times Magazine seeks to convince readers that summer is not just about the beach but actually a very ideal time to explore the Philippines’ peaks, as it revisits the perfect cone that is the Mayon Volcano and the historic Mt. Pinatubo.

Albay’s treasure: The majestic Mayon

In his three terms as governor of Albay, Joey Sarte Salceda has tirelessly worked to push the province to the frontier of Philippine tourism.

In April, Salceda invited a media contingent from Metro Manila to cover the 2015 edition of the annual Daragang Magayon Festival with the help of the Department of Tourism.

In a group interview, he proudly related that since assuming office in 2007, Albay’s previous foreign tourist arrivals of some 8,000 grew to a highly impressive total of 339,000 in 2013.

Combined with the influx of local tourists, the province posted tourist arrivals in the 874,458 mark, which has been pegged at an overall increase of 67 percent. And almost halfway into 2015, Salceda is confident these numbers will hit the one-million mark by the end of the year.

Asked how his government achieved such progress, the governor proudly credited his fellow Albayanons. He expressed, “I always tell my people, ‘No tourist no food, no arts no life.’ Na-inculcate na sa values ng mga Bikolano.

“That is why everybody participates [in this effort]. Tourism is the most horizontal industry because for every tourist, five jobs are already created—the moment they arrive at the airport, upon entry to hotel, and whenever they tour or eat,” Salceda added.

The center of tourism Besides Salceda’s effective administration and the people’s active participation in the province’s tourism goals, there remains a more impressive reason why visitors from here and abroad continue to flock to Albay. It is called the Mayon Volcano

Considered one of the world’s most beautiful volcanoes, the magnificent peak sits at the center of Albay’s three cities and 15 municipalities. It is measured to be approximately 8,000 feet above sea level and covers over 5,000 hectares of land.

Fittingly, Salceda nominated the Mayon Volcano Natural Park to be part of the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) on April 20. The perfect cone and its surrounding area easily made it to Unesco’s tentative list, having been declared an important protected area through the Presidential Proclamation 413 in June 2000.

The website further cited two particular reasons why Mayon should be considered a World Herigate Site: First, because the volcano “contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance”; and second, because it “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.”

Ultimate adventure

Upon understanding the significance of Mayon Volcano to the environment, one is left with the desire to be more intimate with the natural treasure. Fortunately in Albay, local and foreign visitors can choose from different tours to experience the beautiful Mt. Mayon.

At the top of the list is via the Mayon Adventure ATV ride to the volcano itself. Starting off in the town of Daraga, the tour operator takes adventure-seekers on the longest and highest possible trail of Mayon.

Called the Green Lava Trail, the bumpy and dusty ATV ride goes all the way up to 3,000 feet, and passes by all kinds of terrains from rocky streams to bushy lands, which are all sceneries to behold.

Take note that it is also best to leave the base camp at 5 p.m. for a 360-degree view of the sunset, the Albay Gulf, Daraga and nearby towns, the Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon, and of course, the majestic Mayon in full glory.

Laidback experience For those the not-so-adventurous, there are easier but nevertheless satisfying ways to experience Mt. Mayon. Also in Daraga is the famous Cagsawa Ruins, one of the few visible reminders of the old town that Mt. Mayon buried during its most destructive 18th century eruption.

Most prominent among the ruins is a submerged bell, and with the volcano for a backdrop, this image has long been the icon in representing the entire Bicol region.

Besides the Cagsawa Ruin, tourists can also visit the town of Camalig where the Sumlang Lake quietly lies. There, they can take a relaxing balsa (bamboo raft) ride while enjoying the view of the volcano.

Tarlac’s pride: The once dormant Pinatubo

At the crater of Mt. Pinatubo lies a beautiful caldera lake

At the crater of Mt. Pinatubo lies a beautiful caldera lake

For 500 years it stood dormant, sleeping under such thick vegetation that hardly anyone knew it was a volcano.

But came that fateful day in June 1991, when the people of Tarlac and nearby provinces in Central Luzon experienced Mt. Pinatubo as an active—and even deadly—volcano.

Thankfully, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) predicted the eruption early enough to allow evacuations that saved thousands upon thousands of Filipinos living in the region.

Nevertheless, that very first eruption was recorded in history as one of the most destructive volcanic activities in modern 20th century, which spewed huge amounts of lahar—combination of lave and volcanic ash—coupled with a horrendous typhoon. The eruption further emitted millions of tons of sulfur dioxide, thus contributing to the depletion of ozone layer.

Two decades later, the communities surrounding Mt. Pinatubo have fully recovered and more importantly, they continue to benefit from the only positive outcome of the natural disaster—a bustling eco-tourism.

Go on 4×4

With many beautiful peaks scattered all over the Philippines, Mt. Pinatubo is considered as one of the most accessible destinations for local and foreign tourists alike.

Located at the Cabulisan Mountain Range that snakes the provinces of Tarlac, Zambales, and Pampanga, Mt. Pinatubo is only a three-hour drive from Metro Manila.

Start off points to see the famed volcano are found in four towns in Tarlac, namely Capas, San Jose, Bamban and Mayantoc. Among these, Barangay Sta. Juiliana in Capas is the most popular because it is where the Satellite Municipal Tourism Office is located, and where all tourists are required to register to go to Mt. Pinatubo.

After registration, visitors will then embark on a 20-kilometer 4×4 vehicle ride to Mt. Pinatubo’s lake. Lasting for about an hour, the sceneries along this drive include expansive landscapes of lahar, which now serve as an industrial quarry for construction materials.

Despite this, herds of cows are scattered in the surrounding areas of what has further been named the “Crow Valley Canyon,” basically a combination of green valleys and grey canyons.

With all this, plus more rocky rivers and terrains, the ride going up to Mt. Pinatubo is indeed one exciting adventure.

Climb to the top

Following the ride is another five-kilometer trek by foot to finally reach the crater. Although quite long, the trail is considered friendly because it doesn’t require climbing high steeps. For the most part, the trek is made up by even dried soil and rubble, as well solid lahar.

Along the way, be sure to greet the children of the Aetas—an indigenous tribe that still thrive within Pinatubo, while appreciating just how powerful the 1991 eruption was with former mountain peaks transformed into walls upon walls of dried lava.

The sign that the crater is closer is when the trail becomes smaller and more vegetated. A man-made staircase takes visitors all the way up there, in what is truly a breathtaking view.

At the peak of Mt. Pinatubo is a caldera lake that is 2.7 kilometers wide. It was formed during the infamous eruption when the volcano collapsed forming a cauldron shape in the middle.

As the submerged piece of land started to collect water, it eventually turned into a lake. Swimming here, however, is prohibited because of the mineral deposits of the volcano no matter how clear or cool the water is.

Eco-tourism hub Besides the Mt. Pinatubo Lake, do take note that the province of Tarlac is promoting other tourist destinations that make up an eco-tourism hub.

Also in Brgy. Sta. Juiliana is Mt. Telakawa, an alternative mountain destination for visitors who are up for a more extreme hiking challenge.

Meanwhile, scenic bodies of water like the Duglo Falls in San Jose, the Siwako River in Bamban, and the Nambalan River in Mayantoc are also waiting to be enjoyed.

100 more K-12 classrooms due for construction in Albay's 3rd district this year

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

LEGAZPI CITY, May 15 (PNA) -– Apart from the 48 earlier announced, a total of 100 more classrooms are due for construction in the third district of Albay this year as part of the preparations for next year’s start of the senior high school (SHS) program.

“In line with the implementation of SHS under the K-12 Basic Education Program by the Aquino Administration, the school buildings shall soon rise in the municipalities of Polangui, Pioduran, Oas and Jovellar, all within Albay’s third congressional district,” Rep. Fernando Gonzalez on Friday told the Philippines News Agency here.

For Polangui, the first tranche of the project are for a two-storey, four-classroom building assigned to the Barangay Itaran National High School-Maysua Extension; two classrooms in La Medalla High School; two classrooms in Magpananbo National High School; two-storey, six-classroom building at Matacon National High School; and two-storey, eight-classroom building for the Polangui General Comprehensive High School.

Its second tranche would be for a two-storey, four-classroom in Itaran National High School and another two-storey of six classrooms in Lanigay High School, Gonzalez said.

For Pioduran, the first tranche of the project is for two classrooms each at the Alabangpuro and Malapay High Schools; a two-storey, six-classroom building for the Malidong National High School; and a two-storey, four-classroom building at Marigondon National High School.

Oas town gets a total of 42 classrooms—four each for the Maramba and Cagmanaba National High Schools; six each on a two-storey building each at the Oas Polytechnic School, San Juan High School and Saban National High School; four each on a two-storey building each at San Miguel and Tabog High Schools; six on a two-storey building at Balogo High School; and two at the Sabino Rebagay Memorial High School.

For Jovellar, a two-storey, six-classroom building has been assigned at the Jovellar National High School; four classrooms on a two-storey building at the Mamlad National High School; and two classrooms on a single-storey building in San Isidro National High School.

Earlier, Gonzalez also announced that 48 classrooms are up for construction at various government secondary schools in Guinobatan, another town covered by the district under his representation.

Apart from these five towns, the district also includes the City of Ligao and the municipality of Libon where, Gonzalez said, more classrooms will also be constructed by the Department of Public Works and Highway and the Department of Education for the scheduled opening of the SHS curricula in school-year 2016-2017.

“My office is monitoring these projects as part of the responsibilities of a congressman in representing his people to the national government,” he said.

DepEd Regional Director for Bicol Ramon Abcede explained that SHS is two years of specialized upper secondary education where students may choose a specialization based on aptitude, interests, and school capacity.

The choice of career track will define the content of the subjects that fall under either the Core Curriculum or specific tracks a student will take in Grades 11 and 12.

There are seven learning areas under the Core Curriculum -- Languages, Literature, Communication, Mathematics, Philosophy, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences -- while the current content from some general Education subjects are embedded in this curriculum.

Each student in SHS, according to Abcede, can choose among three tracks -- Academic; Technical-Vocational-Livelihood; and Sports and Arts.

The Academic track includes three strands -- Business, Accountancy, Management; Humanities, Education, Social Sciences; and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.

Students undergo immersion, which may include earn-while-you-learn opportunities, to provide them relevant exposure and actual experience in their chosen track, the DepEd regional chief said, adding that preparations for the SHS implementation next year in Bicol are this time in full swing.

As part of the continuous preparations for the full implementation of the K + 12 program, the DepEd Central Office has recently released online the initial list of public and private schools, including higher education and technical-vocational institutions and state universities and colleges nationwide that would offer SHS classes starting next year.

DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said “the 2014 and 2015 budgets already have allocations for 30,000 classrooms for SHS.”

He also mentioned that the initial target for the proposed 2016 budget, which is subject for approval, is over 20,000 classrooms for SHS and the government shall further allocate investments for SHS.

The partial list shows 3,839 public schools that were submitted to the Department of Budget and Management for funding and to the DPWH for bidding and construction of new facilities.

Also included is the initial list of the 1,866 non-DepEd (private) schools that have been cleared to offer SHS come June 2016 and there are still applications being processed.

“We in this district are deeply grateful to Pres. Benigno Aquino III for these incoming classrooms that certainly will help a lot in providing our children access to basic education under the K-12 curricula,” Gonzalez said.

Albay posts highest collection of business tax among Bicol provinces

By Nancy Ibo Meciavillo [(PNA), LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/]

LEGAZPI CITY, May 14 (PNA) -- The Province of Albay once again proved its excellence in various fields of endeavor after it ranked first in the collection of business tax among the six provinces of the Bicol Region.

It received the awards for best treasurer and assessor in the entire region from the Bureau of Local Government Finance.

Based on the letter of BLGF Bicol officer-in-charge Florencio Dino to Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, the province was able to collect Php175.8 million compared to the Php136-million target.

Albay posted a 129-percent collection efficiency last year, clinching the number one spot on this aspect of governance in the entire region.

Dino commended the excellent performances of Provincial Treasurer Pedro Ibasco and Provincial Assessor Lilibeth Ocampo and asked them to continue their sterling performance of their job so that they could further contribute to the increase in the level of financial capabilities of the local government units.

He urged others to follow the example of the Province of Albay, which registered the biggest collection in the same year of Php490.1 million or 26 percent of the entire Bicol collection of Php1.9 billion from the six Bicol provinces.

In this connection, the province received an award from the BLGF-Bicol as the Best Performing Local Government, Treasurer and Assessor during the 2nd Quarter Regional Conference of Treasurers and Assessors in Bicol held here on May 7-8.

EDUCO recognizes Bicol schools that carry out literacy projects

By Johnny C. Nunez [(PNA), FFC/RCK/FGS/CBD]

LEGAZPI CITY, May 13 (PNA) -– The EDUCO, formerly Intervida Philippines Foundation, has given recognition to 11 schools in the Bicol Region with good reading practices and select partner-districts which went beyond the implementation of reading programs.

The foundation is carrying out the reading program among the 223 EDUCO partner-schools in the Bicol Region from school year 2012-2013 to school year 2014-2015 with a total beneficiaries of 85,838 pupils and 2,448 teachers in four partner DepEd Divisions of Albay, Camarines Sur, Ligao City and Sorsogon.

These beneficiaries are roughly 10 percent of the total pupil-and-teacher population in the Bicol Region.

The EDUCO on Wednesday said in a statement reaching the Philippines News Agency that it had observed very remarkable good reading practices in the 11 awardee schools for these years’s good reading practices.

“They developed a reading program together with their community members through an in-depth analysis of the context and the varying factors which hinder pupils from acquiring mastery in reading,” the foundation noted.

It observed a very strong community engagement in the San Jose Elementary School, one of the awardee schools.

The school is non-central and is located in a very remote area in Donsol, Sorsogon.

Its community members, notwithstanding budgetary constraints, wholeheartedly embraced the school’s program and made themselves available and willing resource for the implementation of the reading sessions.

They become story readers and tellers’ community librarians and tutors, the EDUCO said.

Among their good reading practices, the outreach reading activities, it noted, are the most inspiring owing to the heartfelt commitment of the school personnel and pupil leaders to conduct home visitation for teaching reading.

This year’s good reading practices underscore fundamental components for a successful reading program and among them, the appreciation, willingness and commitment of the teachers and the community are still the most basic and important.

For three years, EDUCO has implemented a reading program composed of remedial reading, story read-aloud and Project Drop Everything and Read (DEAR).

After three years, the partner schools’ level of implementation has improved tremendously, with almost 75 percent or majority of the 223 partner-schools reflecting mature to ideal level of implementation.

This means that the schools have attained 4 to 5 scores (highest scores) in each of the following criteria: 1) institution of the reading program within the daily supervised study period, 2) availability of developmentally rich library or reading center, 3) establishment library hour, 4) completeness of records such as attendance sheets, borrower logs, session guides and reading progress charts, 5) strong community engagement in the reading program, and 6) conduct of monitoring and evaluation on pupil’s reading proficiency.

This level of implementation implies high sustainability and transference of the project in the future, the EDUCO said.

The result of the program on the reading proficiency of pupils among the awardee schools is also remarkable, it added.

Based on Phil-IRI English oral reading test, of the 4,165 enrolment, the 19-percent non-readers decreased to 2 percent and the 10-percent independent readers increased to 38 percent by the end of SY 2014-2015.

In 2014, the EDUCO started to recognize schools with exemplary performance in implementing a reading program based on the engagement of the community, result on the reading proficiency of pupils, and added creativity and innovation in designing meaningful reading experiences for children, thereby increasing their motivation and love for reading.

Bicol International Airport to be operational in July 2017

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

DARAGA, Albay, May 12 (PNA) -- The P4.7 billion Bicol International Airport (BIA) here is now 47% complete. It will be fully operational in July 2017 to provide a safe, economical and fast travel to local and international destinations and spur the long awaited economic growth in this part of the country.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) chairman, said the BIA will fully open Bicol to international tourism and benefit airline operators and passengers, cargo brokers and forwarders, travel agencies, construction suppliers and the local populace.

Salceda presented the BIA status during a recent RDC full council meeting, attended by government and private sectors at the National Economic Development Authority regional office in Legazpi City.

BIA is the centerpiece of the Guicadale (Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi) Economic Township, the country's first, largest and most ambitious government-initiated geostatic intervention, a disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategy of moving people and firms out of harm’s way into safer grounds where they can prosper.

A brainchild of Salceda, the GUICADALE Economic Township includes road networks that link some 40 resettlement communities within the combined geographic areas of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga and Legazpi City which surround the BIA.

Salceda first conceived the idea of an international standard airport when he was still a member of Congress representing the 3rd district of Albay. The plan pushed through when he became governor and assumed the chairmanship of the Bicol RDC for nine years. It was started in 2008.

Salceda will seek a second congressional seat of the province to push for the completion of the airport and the Guicadale township, and ensure the completion of other monumental development programs, including the South Railways Project and the extension of South Luzon Expressway to Matnog, Sorsogon, among others.

He said the BIA, when opened, will have a huge impact and contribution to the development of Bicol and the country as a whole. Aside from boosting tourism, it will open up to more international business ventures and enhance the import and export industry.

Bicol, a potential economic zone, had long needed a safe international standard airport that can accommodate bigger aircrafts and service the growing volume of passengers in the region, Salceda said.

While the Legazpi Airport gives a ringside view of Albay’s natural wonders, particularly the majestic Mayon volcano, it is also close to identified disaster risk areas of the province which had deterred investors through the years.

Salceda said BIA’s site acquisition has been 94% completed. Phases I and II of the airstrip construction were also finished, while Phase III, which includes the construction of the runway, taxiway, apron and perimeter fence, is now 59.08% complete.

BIA’s deadline has been stretched out to 2017 due to certain constraints, most of which have already been addressed. Frequent wet weather had earlier rendered the project site unworkable, and clearings of electric post in most areas have hindered construction.

The BIA has a two-story passenger terminal with a floor are of 13,320 square meters, a cargo building -- 271 square meters, an administration building --1,012 square meters, and an 8,049 square meter vehicle parking area, among others.

DepEd set to offer SHS in over 5,800 public schools in 2016; at least 11 cited in Albay

By Judy Ann Peralta (OJT) [(PNA), FPV/FGS/JAP/CBD/RCG]

LEGAZPI CITY, May 11 (PNA) -– The Department of Education has singled out two municipalities In Albay as among the schools all over the country that will be having senior high schools (SHS).

DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, in a statement issued through the DepEd Bicol regional office here, identified the two towns as Tiwi and Albay.

Tiwi has three DepEd schools that will offer SHS while Daraga has eight.

Five private schools will possibly offer SHS in the province, Luistro said.

This 2015, the DepEd is getting ready for the implementation of SHS in SY 2016-2017.

After five years of planning and consultation with education stakeholders, the DepEd has identified and mapped out more than 5,800 public schools set to offer SHS in 2016 nationwide as part of its continued preparations for the full implementation of the K to 12 program.

“We are on the fifth year of the implementation of the K to 12 program. Our last mile is the Senior High School. All 220 divisions of the Department of Education have finished planning and have figures on enrolment a year in advance,” Luistro said.

These plans were reviewed by a separate team and finalized upon consultation with other stakeholders, he said.

Luistro said one of the key objectives during the SHS planning at the local levels is each and every one who completes Junior High School (Grade 10) must have access to SeniorHigh School.

“No municipality, though how small it is, will be left without a senior high school,” Luistro stressed.

The education chief said the SHS implementation has been mapped all the way to the program offerings until the maximum number of students that can be accommodated─not only in the DepEd schools but also in the private schools, higher education institutions, and state and universities.

There are 1,456 private schools with permits to operate SHS and over a thousand more applications are being processed.

DENR closely monitoring Balik-Probinsya Program

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

LEGAZPI CITY, May 10 (PNA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Bicol Regional Office has been closely monitoring the implementation of one of its major programs, the Balik-Probinsya Program (BPP).

The BPP is a national convergence initiative involving various national government agencies like the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of interior and Local Governnment, among others.

DENR Bicol Regional Director Gilbert C. Gonzales said the the program aims to encourage urban settlers, especially those living in slum areas and high-hazard risk areas in Metro Manila, to return to the province and help them have means of livelihood through management of 2,000 hectares of forest land that would be converted into agri-silvi farming.

The BPP areas are found in Barangay Cagmanaba, 556 ha; Tapel, 444 ha; Nagas, 500 ha; and Bogtong, 500 ha; -- all in Oas town in Albay.

This initiative is part of the National Greening Program and the oversight unit of the National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD) composed of the DA, DAR, DENR, DILG and other government agencies.

On the part of the DENR, it already produced 1,077,387 seedlings of forest, fuel wood and fruit trees in 2,000 hectares of land in Nagas, Cagmanaba and Tapel in 2013 alone.

In the second year of BPP’s implementation, 500 ha were added in Barangay Bogtong in Albay and 250,000 fruit tree seedlings were planted under te NGP.

The DENR has continuously rehabilitated forests near the resettlement site in Barangay Cagmanaba in Oas, Albay, by planting trees, especially fruit-bearing ones whose products can easily give benefits in the nearest future.

Families coming from the province but are now presently staying in disadvantaged areas in Metro Manila and who would want to return to Albay have the priority to settle in the site with a total area of 19.38 hectares.

About 200 residential units will be constructed by the National Housing Authority and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

At present, the Cagmanaba Coastal and Upland Farmers Association (CCUFA) handles the protection and maintenance of the established plantation activities.

The CCUFA is a legitimate people’s organization that is pushing not only for the establishment of tree plantations but also their maintenance.

Albay in state of critical monitoring


LEGAZPI CITY, May 9 (PNA) -- Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office chief Cedric Daep said the Province of Albay is in the state of critical monitoring on the path of Typhoon "Dodong" based on the advisory of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

In this connection, Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, has constantly been reminding the public and local officials on what to do in every stage of development of the weather disturbance.

Daep said his office is watching for two things: first, the nearest distance of the typhoon to Albay and second, when it will happen.

He stressed that these are the basis of the critical analysis being undertaken by his office and the moves it would do or their counter-measures in any eventuality.

Daep said that with the two parameters that his office is critically monitoring, they can identify the type of danger that the typhoon would bring to Albay like strong winds, floods, storm surges, lahar flows and landslides.

He asked local officials in the province to put on stream their general preparedness action plans on the forthcoming typhoon.

Salceda had earlier alerted all local officials and authorities as public storm waring signal no. 1 remains hoisted in Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte, while Catanduanes is now under signal no. 2.

DOT targets 6M tourist arrivals in Bicol with development of ‘Gems of the Pacific’ in 2016

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

LEGAZPI CITY, May 8 (PNA) –- The Triple C (3C) cluster of tourism areas in Bicol wearing the moniker “Gems of the Pacific” is on its way to development that is seen to contribute significantly to the hitting of the six-million-tourist-arrival target in the region next year.

“We have already put to work the Triple C Development Framework under the commitment of ensuring complimenting roles earlier drawn from the three provinces involved in the alliance,” Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla on Friday here said.

Members, she said, recently convened to put the alliance’s mission into a clearer and more achievable perspective.

The 3C is the alliance of three provinces—Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Camarines, including all their cities and municipalities -- into a Tourism Development Area (TDA) which the DOT has placed under its 2015-2020 National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).

Ravanilla said the NTDP recognizes every part of Bicol as a tourist attraction, hence, the clustering that provides strategic directions and programs that would make local tourism products more competitive are formulated.

It was formally formed by the DOT and the Bicol Regional Tourism Council (BRTC) late last year through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among the governors of the three provinces which ensures the commitment towards working with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector into the pouring in of more tourism development investments.

Improvement of market access, connectivity, destination infrastructure; and enhancement of tourism institutional, governance and industry manpower capabilities, Ravanilla said, are the primary strategies that the BRTC is instituting toward this end.

A Technical Working Group (TWG) -- composed of the regional offices for Bicol of the DOT, as lead agency, and National Economic Development Authority, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior and Local Government as among the members -- works on these strategies.

These agencies form the panel of permanent members of the TWG while governors Luis Miguel Villafuerte, Edgardo Tallado and Araceli Wong of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes, respectively, as well as the mayors of Naga and Iriga Cities and all the 56 municipalities covered by the three provinces are current members, according to Ravanilla.

In the recent meeting, the TWG validated results of the latest rounds made at the cluster’s key tourism areas which checked on the hospitality facilities, transportation and communication, cuisines, security and safety, existing homegrown products and specialties, rest room areas and other basic concerns that would affect the impression of domestic and local tourists, she said.

These key tourism areas include nine potential sites in Catanduanes, 12 in Camarines Norte and 13 in Camarines Sur, according to Ravanilla.

Camarines Sur is a priority area for product and destination development where a visitor center worth Php4.3 million is being eyed for construction in the municipality of Buhi while Camarines Norte was chosen as a perfect site for the development of sports-adventure and establishment of an eco-tourism park.

“The 3C is formed to complement the existing tourism blueprint and with a 15-percent increase in tourist’s arrivals every year, we can say that it is possible that we can attract six million visitors to Bicol in 2016. Hence, the development of this cluster is very much necessary,” Ravanilla said.

The target, she said, is not difficult to realize since this city , which is now emerging as a favorite venue of big national and international gatherings like conventions and summits, is contributing tremendously to the number of arrivals in a year-round basis owing to its being known today in the world travel industry as the City of Fun and Adventure.

The city alone, which received around 700,000 tourists last year after surpassing the half-million mark in 2013, is expected to make it 800,000 this year as it aims for a million arrivals by 2016.

The 2016 goal insofar as Legazpi is concerned, Ravanilla said, is very much workable as City Mayor Noel Rosal relentlessly pursues a tourism master plan featuring a massive promotion campaign that highlights the city’s irresistible tourism products, ranging from its natural wonders to world-class facilities.

“Tourists now visit Legazpi not only for the breathtaking view of Mt. Mayon, one of the world’s most active volcanoes made famous by its magically-configured perfect cone form, but also for its sparkling metropolis loaded with heavy tourism-related activities and exciting places to relax, play and enjoy a healthful living,” she said.

Bicol-wide, DOT data show that arrivals in 2014 was up by 14.85 percent for a total of 3,724, 073 tourists, 16.63 percent or 2,970,744 of whom are domestic and 8.35 percent or 753,329, foreigners.

These figures were realized without the 3C—now called “Gems of the Pacific” for its geographical location along the rim of the Pacific Ocean -- working as a cluster and Ravanilla said “how much more when it is already in place by next year.”

There are two sub-TDAs under this cluster--the Caramoan-Catanduanes Tourism Link (CCTL) covering the tourism town of Caramoan, Camarines Sur and the entire Catanduanes area; and the Camarines Tourism Circuit (CTC) to cover the rest of Camarines Sur and the whole of Camarines Norte.

For the CCTL, Caramoan, which lies at the northeastern tip of Camarines Sur separated by Maqueda Channel from the island-province of Catanduanes, covers Caramoan Peninsula where a group of exotic islets serving as a major ecotourism destination sits.

Catanduanes, on the other hand, is a pearly island in the Pacific that is virtually untouched, unspoiled and unexplored.

It is a promising travel destination owing to its ecotourism wonders, dive sites and sea surfing venues along its long string of palm-fringed beaches backed by jungle-covered mountains and crowned with jewel-like islets.

For the CTC, Camarines Sur has been a long-time tourist destination with its Camarines Watersports Complex and Peñafrancia Festival of Naga City while Camarines Norte is famous for its Bagasbas Beach and Calaguas Islands known for pristine beaches of a long stretch of powdery white sand.

Other tourist attractions in Camarines Norte are the Mananap Falls, Mercedes Group of Island, Calalanay Beach, Mt. Bagacay, San Pascual Water Falls, San Jose Beach, Mampurog River, Black Nazarene of Capalonga and Pulang Daga Beach.

According to Agnes Espinas, the NEDA regional director and BRTC vice-chair, the 3C complements the Albay-Masbate- Sorsogon (AlMaSor) tourism alliance which was formed two years ago, also under the NTDP.

Like AlMaSor, she said, it is expected from the 3C that the collaborative efforts of the three provinces would propel the influx of tourists to in the region by leaps and bounds, with continued drive and exposure making the potential for growth unbounded.

PPA allots P624M for ports upgrade

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - State-run Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has earmarked P624 million for the rehabilitation and expansion of seaports in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Legazpi City in Albay, and Culasi in Roxas City.

PPA is inviting interested companies to submit bids for the P316.94-million project to expand the Port of Puerto Princesa.

The agency is also spending P157.82 million for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the damaged wharf at the Legazpi base port in Albay.

Interested investors have until May 28 to submit their bids for both projects.

Likewise, PPA allocated another P149.16 million for the widening of the reinforced concrete wharf and the relocation of the roll-on/roll-off (Roro) ramp at the Port of Culasi in Roxas City.

The agency gave investors until May 29 to submit their bids.

The PPA will conduct an open competitive bidding using the non-discretionary pass or fail criteria specified under the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Philippine cargo volume went up 4.6 percent to 211.2 million metric tons last year from 201.9 million metric tons in 2013 despite the congestion at the Manila International Container Terminal of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and Manila South Harbor of Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI).

Data showed that cargo shipped out of the Philippines grew 7.4 percent to 133.29 million metric tons last year from 124.05 million metric tons in 2013 as imports increased 11.3 percent to 67.56 million metric tons while exports inched up 3.77 percent to 65.73 million metric tons.

Cargo shipped within the Philippines was almost flat at 77.91 million metric tons last year from 77.86 million metric tons in 2013 while container volume went up by four percent to 5.43 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from 5.23 million TEUs.

DOLE gives fund to Albay village for emergency employment

(PNA) rck/FGS/Queeny Duran and Albert Cantoria (OJT)/CBD

LEGAZPI CITY, May 6 (PNA) -- The Department of Labor and Employment Bicol regional office gave PHP37,500 to Barangay Ilaor Sur, Oas, Albay, under its Tulong Panghanap-buhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program.

The amount will be used for the de-clogging of line canals in the village's Purok 3, 4 and 5.

The TUPAD program is an emergency employment scheme wherein DOLE selects and gives chance to 10 beneficiaries in a certain barangay for temporary employment, at least 15 days but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, of labor with prescribed safety measures.

The target beneficiaries should be unemployed/underemployed or were affected by natural disaster and calamity.

Each employed worker will receive a wage of PHP260 per day.

Legazpi mayor guided by Masonic teachings in practice of good local governance


LEGAZPI CITY, May 5 (PNA) -- Masonic teachings have something to do with the admirable local governance practices instituted by the city mayor of this key Bicol metropolis officially recognized as one of the three most livable cities in the country today.

Newly elevated from his post as Deputy District Grand Master for Bicol to Junior Steward of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the Philippines, Mayor Noel Rosal’s accomplishments in running the governmental affairs of the city is far more admired for his dedication and unwavering political will blended with ceaseless modesty.

“I am guided by the wisdom of freemasonry that allows me to be strong in overcoming the challenges of this public office and in working so hard on instituting good local governance and sticking at it all the time, Rosal, who is now on his 11th year as city mayor here, said.

Freemasonry 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 as it believes in the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the brotherhood of man.

It strives to teach a man the duty he owes to God, his country, his neighbor, his family and himself without saying anything about politics or the God that an individual Mason worships, he said.

By adhering to these, Rosal said, he has had no problem dealing with anyone—be he or she a family member, a neighbor, a workmate, a superior, a subordinate, a man on the street or even a political nemesis “because I respect and appreciate all of them as my fellow human beings.”

“Rosal is somebody who has an effective control of his temper under intense situations that is why his decision-making is always a product of good composure. He is somebody who never entertains anger,” said Andronico Geraldino, chieftain of one of the city’s 70 barangays who follows closely the mayor’s public undertakings.

And what these desirable traits that the mayor has acquired, among others, from his adherence to the teachings of Freemasonry are the extraordinary trademark of governance that distinguishes this city from its typical counterparts.

Geraldino said Rosal is a tested leader who, amid devastating scenarios of past natural calamities, has led in promptly regaining the badly shaken spirit of the city and making the herculean character his administration has developed for the local government and instilled among those that it governs, swiftly rousing back to work.

Now, less than a decade after those tragic episodes, life in the city does not only continue to bloom, but it has also been getting livelier each day as the local administration continues to nourish its booming economy and explore more opportunities to stand up high, the village chieftain said.

“We cannot fight nature, but Rosal leads in conquering the agonies arising from its abnormal temper through great love for the city and its people that tucked hard work and decisiveness within their moral fiber,” Geraldino added.

Besides, the city is one of the few places in the country where its mayor, without bodyguards in tow, moves around to attend to the needs of his constituents even in the wee hours of the night when his chief of police is already in deep slumber.

It is also among the handful local government units run by a mayor who personally supervises public works, directs traffic, helps in clean-up drives, runs for physical fitness with people from all walks of life and visits barangays to consult with villagers and community leaders on their pressing needs.

This management style, which has realized incomparable impacts in favor of the local economy described by the influx of investments, tourist arrivals, infrastructure developments and agricultural productivity, among others, did not only make the city one of the most livable in the country today but also among the most awarded for its excellence in local governance.

Among its latest awards were the 2013 Seal of Good Housekeeping—the second awarded by the DILG since this kind of recognition for excellence in the field of good governance measured by administrative, social, economic, environmental and other forms of achievement that benefited both the community and its constituents was introduced in 2011.

It was followed by an award given by the National Disaster risk Reduction Council (NDRRMC) that honored the city government as the 2013 national champion in the Gawad Kalasag Awards—a title it retained it 2014 with the award given last March.

Last October, the city government won three more national championship accolades that came in a row within a week's time—the Most Livable City Award, Galing Pook Award and Silver Governance Trailblazer (SGT) Award for excellence in the implementation of Public Governance System (PGS).

These are only a few of the precious citations garnered by the city government in its being over a decade under the Rosal administration and he said, “We are not stopping from our good practices in local governance after those recognitions. Instead we are pursuing more works to sustain all those that we have already gained.”

Rosal entered Freemasonry through the fraternity’s Mayon Lodge No. 61 based here in 2008 and judging from the seven years that have elapsed with him inside, he is still new to it but his remarkable leadership quality got him elected at its head or Worshipful Master in 2014, then Deputy District Grand Master early this year.

During the installation of the new set of officers of the Grand Lodge held here last April 25, retired police director Tomas Rentoy, the newly installed Grand Master named Rosal into his current post as Junior Warden of the Grand Lodge.

The installation was done at the closing day of the 99th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge jointly hosted by the city and the Mayon Lodge No. 61 and attended by over 6,000 delegates from all the over 350 lodges that comprise more than 50 Masonic districts it covers nationwide and some foreign dignitaries.

“With the likes of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, and former president Manuel L. Quezon, Freemasonry has inspired me to live a life of public service guided by the principles of charity, moral uprightness and fraternal friendship,” Rosal said.

From the Masonic 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.

Councilor dies of heart attack after 1st round of MayPac

By Karen Canon (ABS-CBN News Bicol), Bryan Realgo (ABS-CBN News Ilocos) [(]

Two other senior citizens die during fight

MANILA – A town councilor in Sorsogon province and two elderly men in Albay and Ilocos Sur all died of heart attack while watching the heavily anticipated boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

In Barcelona, Sorsogon, councilor Jesus Datur, 62, suffered a heart attack after seeing the first round of the bout.

The flag at the municipal hall of Barcelona is at half-staff to mourn the untimely death of the councilor.

In Tabaco City, Albay, 60-year-old Adolfo Benoya Sr., also suffered a heart attack while watching the bout's second round.

Nung nanonood kami, wala namang kakaiba sa mukha niya. Nandun pa nga yung pinsan niya, nag-kwentuhan kami, tapos bigla na lang siya lumabas at nagsabing 'hindi ko na kaya, said Alden Benoya, Adolfo's son.

The Pacquiao-Mayweather bout also proved too much to handle for Sta. Catalina, Ilocos Sur resident Bonifacio Rabara, who suffered a heart attack while watching the two boxers duke it out in the ring.

Rabara's relatives said the elderly man even managed to cook food before heading to a screening event.

The Rabara family is asking that former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Chavit Singson, who is a close friend of Pacquiao, to visit the wake of Rabara.

Another Tabaco City, Albay resident, 60-year-old Cesar Borabo, was rushed to the hospital after he fainted while watching the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

Borabo has since been brought out of the hospital and is now in good condition.

Albayana artist engraves Pac-Man's image on 'pakwan'

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

LEGAZPI CITY, May 3 (PNA) -- There have been so many ways fans of Filipino boxing icon Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao have shown their admiration for him.

In Bicol, specifically in Albay province, a life-size miniature of Pac-Man was put up at the Penaranda Park by the provincial government, beside which people of all ages and from all walks of life pose for a photo opportunity with the Filipino legendary boxing icon, with a replica of a giant chili at the background.

Albayana chef Jan Rhea “Jang” Grageda, 28, of Camalig town, who is currently exhibiting her special cuisine at the Ibalong Festival culinary fest, has her own way -- by embossing the image of Pac-Man on a "pakwan" (water melon).

Pac-Man's image on a piece of pakwan has been a big hit among tourists and locals as they drop by the Rose G Cuisine to see their idol uniquely engraved on the water melon.

Jang is a local celebrity chef in Albay, known for cooking classic delectable concoctions and dishes with distinct Bicolano twists.

She is a graduate of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the Mariners Polytechnic College here.

She often crafts images of famous personalities like Pope Francis and Pacman.

As early as 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, Albay’s main thoroughfares were empty of vehicles as well as market-goers.

With Pacman’s legendary and megafight with undefeated American champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas, Nevada, the entire province of Albay was like a ghost town.

As this developed, the local government units sponsored pay-per-view public viewing for the boxing fanatics across the province of Albay.

For well-to-do families, theater houses also offered pay-per-view shows, to the tune of Php650 to Php700.

Albay rising

By Joey Pavia

DARAGA, ALBAY—Gov. Joey Salceda and his people saw it coming. There would be more tourists in their province due to the province’s world-class natural and man-made wonders and captivating scenic spots.

Albay is home to Mount Mayon, the world’s most active perfect-cone volcano.

“Albay is a complete destination for those who wish to take a respite from the rigors of everyday life. With all that our beautiful province can offer to our guests and visitors, we make tourism one of our priority programs,” Salceda said in a statement.

He cited some of best places to see and experience in Albay: Cagsawa Ruins, Misibis Beach Resort and Casino, Lignon Hills, Vera Falls, Kawa-Kawa Hill, Embarcadero de Legazpi, Joroan Church, Danao Lake, Japanese Tunnels, Mayon Skyline and Cagraray Eco Park.

Salceda is leading the culminating events of the monthlong Daragang Magayon Festival 2015, which kicked off on April 5. It ends on May 5.

The festival highlighted the products of Albay, including pili nuts, Daraga abaca handicrafts, Bacacay banig and the famous “Bicol Express” dish.

“I want it. Albay it,” said Salceda, quoting the “Colors of Albay” tour circuit brochure handed over to new guests.

Recently, Albay and its famous volcano hugged local and international limelight when the Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP) was among the nominees for World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

The three-term governor said Unesco had chosen the MVNP because of the local government’s efforts to ensure that Mount Mayon’s biodiversity remained intact and protected even as it is being promoted as a premier tourism site.

Salceda will do everything, including partnering with private firms such as Smart Communications Inc., to keep more tourists coming to their province.

He stressed the importance of tourism to boost the province’s economy as they aimed to further increase the number of foreign and local visitors.

“No tourist. No food,” Salceda said at the end of his speech during last month’s launch of the digital tourism here in partnership with Smart and InnoPub Media. He was quoting what Indonesians in Bali say to point out the importance of tourists to the economy of the island-province.

Salceda said there was at least a 3,795-percent increase in the number of foreign tourists annually since 2007, when he first became governor.

In 2007 there were 8,700 foreign tourists in Albay and the number jumped to 339,000 in 2014, Salceda said. He added there were 125,000 tourists in 2007 and the number increased to 600,000 last year.

Salceda said the new technology which uses the Albay Guide will increase the tourists by at least 5,000 yearly.

“But the number of tourists will be decreased by 5,000 annually if we won’t have the mobile app,” he added. With Albay’s 7.1-percent share in foreign tourists and expanding number of domestic visitors, Smart’s Digital Tourism program will further fortify the province’s position in a highly competitive tourism industry.

“Albay is one of the most beautiful provinces in the Philippines. It has been cited by international tour organizations as the best destination in Southeast Asia,” he said.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to bring our digital tourism program to Albay in collaboration with our partners. The province has been a longtime partner for various initiatives like disaster preparedness. Aside from enriching people’s travel experiences, digital tourism also opens up opportunities for local communities and businesses,” Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head, said in a statement. He was represented by Jose “Wo” Rosete, senior manager of Smart external relations, during the launch.

The Albay Guide is a comprehensive travel app that can be downloaded on iOS, Android and Windows phones and other mobile devices.

The app lists such Albay destinations as the Cagsawa Ruins, Lidong National Park, Mayon Skyline and Mayon Resthouse, Misibis Bay Resort, Lignon Hill Nature Park, Vera Falls, Kawa-Kawa Hill, Embarcadero de Legazpi and Danao Lake. It provides information useful to visitors, such as detailed instructions on getting to the sites and the many activities they can do when they arrive.

“Whether it is just to know the best spots to view or take a photo of Mayon or get up close and personal through an ATV Ride along the volcano’s lava trail, the Albay Guide is your best bet for information,” said a statement from Smart.

Albay’s beauty, Salceda said, is not limited to its natural assets. He said the province is also rich in arts and cultural heritage, citing its man-made citadels and monuments, showcasing the best in food and thrilling innovations in fine dining, and beautiful women winning beauty pageants around the world.

The free Albay Guide app and digital markers on top destinations will lead to greater customer satisfaction through easily accessible tourism information and result in more repeat visitors, he added.

“Digital Tourism will boost our product positioning and brand franchising of unique iconic features like Mayon Volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins and such unforgettable engagements as the Mayon ATV. It will also fortify our positioning as ecotourism, cultural and culinary destinations,” Salceda said.

Also provided in the mobile app are details on travel to Abay’s ancient churches and other heritage monuments, the best places to sample local fares like Bicol Express, pinangat and sili ice cream, the best pasalubong and where to buy them, hotels and accommodations, as well the top things to do in the province.

“It is a unique launching place: It is on top of Santa Maria Hill, in front of the centuries-old Baroque church, overlooking the center of Albay, and under the shadows of the majestic Mayon Volcano. How nice it would be to unveil a technological wonder so close to the clouds yet firmly grounded on the natural wonders of Albay,” Salceda said.

“Mobile plays a key role in travel. A study by Google and Ipsos MediaCT showed phones are used throughout the travel process—from getting travel inspiration to planning, booking, experiencing and even post traveling—with 67 percent of leisure travelers and 78 percent of business travelers using smartphones,” InnoPub cofounder Marlen Limpag said. “Our phones do not just keep us connected during our trips. They are our cameras, boarding passes, portable media players and in our Digital Tourism program, travel guides.”

Interactive markers will also be deployed on special sites like churches, plazas, and monuments to provide visitors more information on Albay’s rich historical heritage.

The markers contain quick response, or QR, codes and near-field communications, or NFC, stickers that, when scanned or tapped with a compatible device, trigger the download of more information about a site or structure.

Smart’s Digital Tourism program is a nationwide initiative that harnesses technology to deliver tourism, cultural and historical information. Through the collaboration with InnoPub Media, the project has been rolled out in Cebu, Iloilo and Baguio City. It was given an Anvil Award of Merit in February 2014.

Albay to stage Palaro 2016 as a sports-tourism event

By Johnny C. Nunez [(PNA), RMA/JCN/RSM]

LEGAZPI CITY, May 1 (PNA) -- Albay will host the 2016 Palarong Pambansa with a most welcome twist -- a touristic adventure for participants and guests in the different venues of the week-long games, scattered around the most scenic places in the province.

Sports facilities for the Palaro are presently being constructed in various strategic sites of Albay’s three districts, all with a panoramic vista of the near perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano, which is now included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites tentative list. The facilities have an outlay of Php 850 million, Php 700 million of it from the national government approved by President Aquino early this year. Albay shells out the Php 150 million as counterpart.

The games’ main venue is the Albay Sports complex, in Guinobatan town, which will have an international standard oval track and a grandstand that could accommodate thousands of spectators.

Palaro 2016 also opens door to a titillating and mouth-watering culinary adventure for visitors. Albay’s cuisine now occupies a big role in the province’s tourism program, attracting huge crowds. They received overwhelming raves at the recent Madrid Fusion Manila, a global food fair held at the Mall of Asia.

Governor Joey Salceda said while the Palarong Pambansa is primarily a sports event under the Department of Education, it is also an opportunity for Albay—a leading tourism destination in the country—to showcase its hospitality and its global standard tourism sites to the sportsfest’s participants and guests.

Some 15,000 delegates from the country’s 17 regions are expected to join 21 Palaro events, apart from friends, families and visitors. “My guidance to Team Albay, the 2016 Palaro technical working group, is to design a “multi-venue” layout, that shall distribute participants in different sports sites around the province; so they can enjoy our global standard tourism areas while competing,” said Salceda. The 2016 Palaro is Albay’s second time to host the games in 63 years.

With sports tourism still toeing the strict standards of the games, Salceda said Albay plans to distribute the 21 events around the province so participants and visitors also get the opportunity to explore Albay’s best tourism destinations and specialties. Albay’s hosting the games along the line of sports tourism event may go down as first in the history of Palarong Pambansa.

Salceda is the first recipient of the Tourism Star Philippines Award given early this year by the Department of Tourism in recognition of his “exemplary contribution to the Philippine Tourism Industry.”

As the Philippines’ leading province in travel and tourism, Albay was featured at the March 10-13, 2015 Marche International Proffesionels d’Immobilier at the Palais de Festivals in Cannes, France and was featured in many national and international travel marketing sorties like the Berlin ITB 2012, London WTM 2013, Shanghai ITM 2013, and the Department of Tourism promotions in Hong Kong in 2014.

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