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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
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Cities in the province of Albay: Legazpi City (Capital) | City Of Ligao | City Of Tabaco

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DPWH to start widening of Yawa Bridge in Legazpi City

By Emmanuel P. Solis [(PNA), LAP/FGS/EPS/CBD/]

LEGAZPI CITY, July 31 (PNA) -– The city government will begin traffic re-routing of buses, trucks and delivery vans going to and from the First District of Albay on Monday to give way to the start of the Yawa Bridge widening project on August 6.

To be undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) Albay 2nd Engineering District, the project is expected to be completed in February next year.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal announced this on Wednesday during a committee hearing held at the Sangguniang Panlunsod.

The project has a total funding of Php 140 million, which is included in the General Appropriations Act of 2014.

An initial amount of Php50 million was recently released by the national government to the DPWH Bicol Regional Office.

The existing Yawa bridge has two lanes, which will be expanded to four lanes with a total length of 140 meters and width of 14.4 meters, with a 16.4-meter approach.

The bridge is within the territorial bounds of Barangay Rawis where the national government’s regional offices are located.

Rosal said the construction of an expanded Yawa Bridge is very timely, considering the fact that this bridge has suffered heavy damages during typhoons that brought about heavy flows of flood waters, especially during super typhoon “Reming” in 2006.

This condition has posed danger to motorists and commuters.

Upon completion of this project, the mayor said, “the bridge will bring multiplier effects to our constituents and the community, as tourists and investors will be more encouraged to come in, boosting the already-booming tourism industry and maintaining the city’s status as the best haven for investment in the region.”

The improvement of the structure of this bridge with the addition of two more lanes will decongest vehicular traffic and serve as an open gate to facilitate the transport of goods and services to and from the 1st District of Albay.

Rosal said the expanded bridge will serve as an instrument of uniting the people and open a new horizon for progress, peace, education, business and employment.

“This project is a testament to the vision of the present administration of President Aquino and the dedication of the engineers and personnel of the DPWH Bicol office,” the city executive said.

PNR allots P40M for Bicol Express safety assessment


MANILA, Philippines – State-run Philippine National Railways (PNR) is spending P40 million ($921,382*) to tap a consultant to inspect and assess the safety of the railway track and bridge network of the 478-kilometer Bicol Express service.

The company approved a P40-million budget for the procurement of consulting services for the technical inspection and safety assessment of PNR, PNR Bids and Awards Committee chairman Ruben Besmonte said.

“The project involves inspection and thorough safety assessment of the tracks from Tutuban in Manila to Legaspi City in Albay with route length of 478 km and the individual condition of 431 locations of bridges,” PNR said in the notice.

Interested consulting firms have until Wednesday, August 6, to submit their eligibility documents.

The winning bidder has 120 days to complete the project.

Bicol Express chugs back to life :

PNR is also looking at reviving the Bicol Express service by September after a successful trial run last month, PNR General Manager Engr. Joseph Allan Dilay previously said.

The operations of Bicol Express were stalled following a derailment incident in Sariaya, Quezon in October 2012 that injured 9 passengers. The flashfloods caused by typhoons damaged the rail tracks and bridges.

The revival of the service would hinge on the findings of the CPCS Transcom Ltd. of Canada, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya previously said.

DOTC has requested the services of the Canadian firm to certify that the train service is safe to resume operations.

“I am answerable to our people and anything that happens to the passengers of PNR is something that my conscience would carry. So I have requested the Canadians to likewise look and comment on areas that we should work on and to certify that the Bicol Express is safe,” Abaya previously said.

Prior to the halting of its operations, the Bicol Express service catered to some 2,000 to 3,000 passengers weekly. The highest ridership figures were recorded during the peak seasons of Holy Week, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and Christmas.

Meanwhile, Dilay said PNR would continue with the rehabilitation of its non-operational railway line to the north and the development of new railway routes within and outside of Luzon.

Also, the passage of Republic Act No. 10638 in June extended the corporate life of company by another 50 years to June 20, 2064.

“The extension will allow the company to implement new programs designed to improve both the railway’s cost efficiency and its operations,” Dilay said.

DSWD extends Php 30-M worth of emergency assistance to 'Glenda' victims in Bicol

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -– The Department of Social Welfare and Development Bicol regional office here has reported that it had provided about Php 30-million worth of emergency assistance to over two million Bicolanos affected by typhoon "Glenda."

Apart from this amount, local government units (LGUs) and the private sector also extended some Php 5.4 million and over P48,000 in relief goods, respectively, Arnel Garcia, DSWD regional director, on Tuesday said.

In his report to DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Garcia said the agency provided a total of Php 29.9 million in relief assistance with the biggest bulk amounting to Php 24.05 received by the province of Camarines Sur, followed by Albay which got Php 2.037 million and Sorsogon, Php 1.97 million.

The three other Bicol provinces of Masbate, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes also received assistance from the DSWD worth Php 654,080, Php 650,000 and Php 475,000, respectively, Garcia said.

LGUs in Masbate augmented the amount received from DSWD with some Php 1.7 million in relief goods; Albay, Php 1.6 million; and Camarines Sur, Php 1.08 million, he said.

Sorsogon LGUs, meanwhile, provided assistance to their respective constituents affected worth a total of about Php 976,171 while Catanduanes released P27,000 worth of relief goods.

The assistance given to typhoon victims were family food packs, each containing three kilos of rice, five packs of noodles, four cans sardines, two cans corn beef and eight sachets of 3-in-1 coffee -- each worth P269.30 good -- for a family of five members, Garcia said.

Reports from several barangays in Sorsogon, however, have it that most families who were affected by the typhoon received only ¾ kilo of rice each and nothing more.

Garcia said the LGUs made use of their calamity funds in providing assistance to their typhoon victims.

He also reported that 468,174 families, composed of 2,003,605 individuals, were affected by the typhoon across Bicol.

A total of 33,898 families were left homeless while 134,838 households have their houses partially damaged, Garcia added.

Camarines Sur reported 194,161 families of 742,878 individuals affected; Sorsogon, 121,796 families or 576,974 individuals; Albay, 110,527 families represented by 501,460 individuals.

There were 28,452 families or 116,504 persons affected in Camarines Norte; 9,170 families or 45,538 individuals in Masbate; and 4,068 families and 20,251 persons in Catanduanes.

Albayanos elated over President Aquino’s special mention of Gov. Salceda in SONA

By Connie B. Destura [(PNA), LAP/FGS/CBD/UTB]

LEGAZPI CITY, July 28 (PNA) -– Albayanos expressed elation when President Benigno Aquino III made special mention in his State of the Nation address of the zero-casualty experienced by the province of Albay when the super typhoon “Glenda” unleashed its fury on the night of July 15.

They joined President Aquino in crediting Albay Governor Joey Salceda for his early order for a preemptive evacuation, as he had always done in the past, starting that Monday afternoon as the storm continued to move toward Bicol.

“Congrats po, Gov. Joey! Ang galing n’yo!” said second year college student April Abarquez.

“Tama lang ma-mention ni P-Noy si Gov. Joey (It's but right for P-Noy to have mentioned Gov. Joey). He really deserves the citation,” Odette Ternate, a public elementary school teacher, commented.

Salceda, in turn, credited the Albayanos for the success of the zero-casualty policy of the province.

"I am grateful to the people of Albay for heeding our call always to go to safer grounds so that no single precious life will be lost due to disaster. This is our paramount policy. Foods are given to them before evacuation to ensure that their food is provided before the disaster strikes,” the governor said when sought for comment on Mr. Aquino’s special mention of him.

He also commended the President for the immediate assistance he has been giving to the province whether in times of calamity or not.

It can be recalled that although "Glenda" felled old trees and electric posts along the main roads, crippled businesses and uncovered, if not flattened, government and private buildings and residential houses along its path, it failed to break the solid zero-casualty policy of Albay.

This, observers attributed to the preemptive evacuation and counter-measures adopted by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headed by Salceda himself as chairman.

Based on the report of Salceda, as of 5:00 p.m. on July 15 when "Glenda" made landfall in Albay, the PDRRMC had evacuated a total of 65,082 families or 320,784 persons living in flood, lahar flow and wind/storm surge-threatened areas.

He designated 114 school classrooms as evacuation camps for thousands of people as he ordered since Monday afternoon the suspension of classes at all levels in both public and private schools across the province, after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration placed the province under Storm Signal No. 2 at about 10 a.m. Monday.

“We had 5,000 bags of NFA (National Food Authority) rice to be given to the evacuees to ensure that their lives are at safe condition,” Salceda said.

In its 11:00 a.m. bulletin, the PAGASA said it had placed all provinces in the Bicol Region, except Masbate, under Signal No. 2.

Salceda immediately warned all residents along river systems and steep slopes to go to pre-identified safer grounds and facilities for possible evacuation in case of flood and landslide for disaster avoidance.

He also ordered all Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils to be on heightened alert in their respective areas of responsibility to monitor the status of Glenda.

On his instruction, the Philippine Coast Guard prevented small fishing vessels and passenger sea craft from sailing.

Salceda also asked Albayanos to expect regular and periodic issuances of further emergency advisories through the Albay PDRRMC’s Smart infoboard and local broadcast stations.

Salceda seeks GCF rehab aid for Glenda's P9.1-B damage in Albay

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 27 (PNA) -- Albay takes pride and consolation from its zero casualty score against Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) even as it recoils from the massive devastation it suffered from the ferocious howler which also pummeled Vietnam after it exited from the Philippines.

Glenda left Albay with damages to infrastructure, agrcilture and homes worth over P9.1 billion. It rendered some 98,000 families in the province homeless, and another 28,000 coconut farming families lost their livelihood.

These facts form part of the gist of a letter Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has written to the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF) which he co-chairs as representative of Southeast Asia and the Developing Countries. He appealed to his GCF peers for assistance in rebuilding the lives of Glenda’s victims in his province.

The GCF is a UN agency tasked to fund global programs to combat climate change and its spawns, among them, strong typhoons and other weather disturbances.

Glenda mauled Albay for eight hours on July 16 with winds reaching 180 kilometres per hour. With its preemptive evacuation strategy, however, which Salceda pioneered and popularized, the province attained its ‘Zero Casualty’ goal.

The strategy had successfully saved lives, with close to 101,000 families tucked away to the safety of evacuation centers for two nights, which earned praises from many quarters, including President Aquino himself, but Salceda said the social and economic costs of Glenda were staggering.

Based on latest assessments, Albay’s vast coconut industry suffered from Glenda’s brunt with 9.4 million trees destroyed, equivalent to about 77% of the province’s entire plantation. The trees will not bear fruit for three years, putting at stake the livelihood of some 28,200 families.

“The climate bill is initially estimated at P9.1 billion, or roughly over 12% of our underlying GDP in terms of lost productive capacity and income streams. That's a lot of hungry and homeless people,” Salceda said in his letter to his GCF peers.

Immediately after the typhoon, Salceda urged his constituents to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives. The people energetically responded. “In two days, we cleared the streets of all debris, but we are still struggling to restore power. Right now, power has been restored in 40% of Albay,” he said.

The July 23 damaged report of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said there were 98,263 houses destroyed, equivalent to P2.9 billion; damage to infrastructure was about P3.7 billion; while damage to agriculture and fisheries stands at about P2.4 billion damage, the bulk of which is on coconut worth P1.3 billion.

“Wherever it may take us or whatever it amounts to, we will draw on our meager savings and realignments of our budget, away from the more growth-inducing investments,” Salceda said, adding that the damage has pushed backwards Albay’s development for two years. Now we really have to run just to remain in place,” he noted.

Ironically, Salceda said, his job “is ignominiously harder due to the global Weltanschauung where resources are induced by the sight of the dead and debris on the streets rather than those who invest in relocation, permanent evacuation centers and other risk reduction measures and adaptation.

Glenda’s death count elsewhere in the Philippines has already hit 100, and is expected to increase further, as casualty reports have been delayed by disrupted communications systems.

“I beg you and ask for your assistance with your home countries for any help to ease the pain so that the world community of nations will afford hope to our people,” he added in his letter to GCF.

In 2007 Typhoon Reming (international codenamed Durian) struck Albay and claimed 1,000 lives and 45% of the province’s underlying economy.

Since then, Salceda said, Albay invested 9-11% of its annual budget to keep people safe in the midst of the risks and make development resilient to disasters and to climate change.

“In six years, we increased our forest cover by 88% and our mangroves four times from 700 hectares to 2,100 hectares while achieving all Millennium Development Goal indicators much earlier in 2011,” he said.

PopCom to launch interactive youth portal in Bicol

By Ma. April M. Mier [(PNA), CTB/FGS/MAMM/CBD/RSM]

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- The Commission on Population (PopCom) will launch a teen resource portal on Aug. 29 to deliver critical information on sexual debut to Filipino teens in the Bicol Region.

The online portal or the U4U (You-for-You) is a dynamic and interactive website that allows teen users aged 10 - 19 to learn about self-identity, friendship and health advocacy to delay sexual debut and prevent sexually transmitted infections, Josephine Chua, PopCom Planning Officer IV, said.

With the 1.46-percent increase in population growth Bicol, there is need to start and reiterate awareness among youth, she explained.

"This would be of great help to youth, instead of browsing at any other sites, in here they can know themselves more through interactive portal and, thus, prevent early sexual debut," Chua stressed.

Study shows that due to exposure to technology, there is an increase in the rate of teenage pregnancy, she added.

“The sexual behavior of these people changes due to access to pornographic materials,” the PopCom official said.

The Youth Hub is also supported by UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Interested youth will just need to register in the site and fill out personal information wherein they can post their questions and seek for answers and counseling.

"Hopefully, we can help them learn to say "no" (in sex) because I believe being in a relationship at their young age can not be permanent," Chua added.

It can be done also through an Interactive Voice Response System through an automated mobile service that gives a recorded information to teens who will send a "U4U" text message to dedicated phone numbers -- Globe: 0915-523-8885, Smart: 0908-158-8885 and Sun: 0942-843-8885 -- and the texter will wait for a free call from the system where he/she can ask questions on teen health, sex and other concerns.

It is dubbed with a line "Para sa tanong na hindi matanung-tanong, ito ang sagot, Mag text... Magtanong... at Matuto."

The PopCom started the pre-test or pilot stage in November 2013 in other cities and officially launched it on Jan. 15 in Ligao City, Albay.

Albay pushes for speedy economic recovery amidst severe typhoon damage

By Sally Atento-Altea (MAL/SAA-PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PIA) – The province of Albay is pushing for speedy economic recovery and reconstruction despite the severe damage brought by typhoon Glenda which stayed almost stationary over the province for about seven hours with wind of 140-180 kph last July 14-15.

Right after declaring the province under state of calamity, Albay governor Joey Salceda ordered an executive order creating the Plan for Albay Glenda Early Recovery and Reconstruction (PAGERR) as the priority program of the province for immediate socio-economic recovery and reconstruction.

“The PAGERR is organized as the recovery and rehabilitation committee composed of several sectors to address speedy recovery and reconstruction and to meet the basic economic and subsistence need of the people affected by the typhoon,” Salceda said.

The governor included the economic cluster as one of the groups comprising the committee.

The group is chaired by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) director Digs Aguilar and co-chaired by Provincial Planning and Development officer Macario Pavia.

“The economic sectors group is tasked to ensure immediate restoration of lifeline facilities and critical resources on telecommunication damaged by typhoon Glenda and ensure livelihood oppurtunities to affected populace,” Salceda cited in the resolution.

Carrying out this task, the group adopted and endorsed resolutions to the Sangguniang Panlalwigan to facilitate the immediate recovery of the economic sector and meet the basic economic and subsistence need of affected Albayanos.

The resolutions seek the assistance of the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) as government financing institutions “to infuse more money in circulation to pump prime the local economy and bring back the economic momentum Albay has gained prior to the typhoon.”

Should the resolution be approved, eligible members of HDMF can be granted an incremental cash flow of P150, 000.00 for automatic approval as home improvement loan.

Should the resolutions be approved, SSS and GSIS member borrowers can be granted a one year loan installment deferral while SSS pensioners can have three months advance payment of their pensions.

Eligible members of HDMF can also be granted an incremental cash flow of P150, 000.00 for automatic approval as home improvement loan.

It also appeals to the Albay Power Energy Corporation (APEC) and telecommunication companies operating in the province to expedite the rehabilitation and restoration of their services in the entire province within two weeks after the typhoon struck last July 15.

APEC in particular is requested to increase its restoration team from existing 12 to 20 teams through outsourcing.

Other sectors represented by PAGERR cluster members are agriculture/agrifacilities and food security, health and health facilities, housing,settlements and livelihood; public infrastructure, education, DRR agencies, hazard review and update and environmental protection.

Cluster representatives tasked to assess need, identify beneficiaries and implement projects for recovery and rehabilitation of their respective sectors.

(SONA) DOT cites Bicol’s tourism growth as great contribution to achievement of development plan

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 24 (PNA) -– Halfway of the ongoing implementation of the six-year National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) of the Department of Tourism (DOT) under the Aquino administration, Bicol has already contributed greatly to the realization of its goal, according to the agency’s top regional official.

“As an strategy in the implementation of the 2011-2016 NDTP, we identified the institutional role and responsibilities of the DOT and the local government units (LGUs) in key areas of Bicol toward the strengthening of local tourism governance and policy formulation,” DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla on Thursday said here.

That way, she said, DOT was able to strengthen support for LGUs by establishing provincial tourism units that now function as tourism awareness and capability building arms of the agency, leading to the realization of the goal of NTDP, she said.

This goal, she explained, is to create “an environmentally and socially responsible tourism that delivers more widely distributed income and employment opportunities as indicated by 6.6 million international arrivals and 38.4 million domestic travelers -- generating Php1.8 billion in total expenditures, contributing 6.78 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 6.5 million people by 2016.”

So far, Ravanilla said, DOT and the LGUs in key areas of the region have been able to implement sustainable tourism development infrastructure program and develop diversified tourism products that engage local communities.

Public-Private Partnership (PPP)-based mandatory tourism enterprise accreditation system was also implemented along with the lowering the cost of business that enabled tourism investments, she said, adding that natural and cultural heritage and vulnerable groups were also safeguarded.

With all of these and many more activities related to the implementation of the NDTP in Bicol during the last three years, the region realized a remarkable growth of the local tourism industry as shown by increased arrivals of both foreign and domestic visitors and travelers in specific key areas like this city, according to Ravanilla.

Last year, she said, Legazpi emerged as the biggest gainer in tourism growth by posting a whopping increase of 32.27 percent from the previous year’s volume of arrivals.

As recorded by the DOT regional office, the total arrivals of both domestic and foreign tourists in the city for the whole year of 2013 reached 579,470, which was higher by 141,370 over the 2012’s 438,100 figure.

Following this development, City Mayor Noel Rosal has declared that the city has set a target of one million arrivals by 2016 with the LGUs continuing development of more tourism products and its emergence as one of the country’s convention capitals or favorite venues for grand international and national gatherings such as conventions and summits.

Since the last three years, the city has been playing host to about 20 big conventions, conferences and similar crowds, the latest of which were the triple meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations-United Nations World Tourism Organization (ASEAN-UNWTO) all held at the Oriental Hotel here and attended by 32 member-states represented by about 2,000 delegates.

Indeed, from nothing special but Mt. Mayon, Legazpi has grown into a world-class city now that plays host not only to thousands of tourists and visitors but also to an influx of investments and massive urban development that continuously attract travelers, Ravanilla said.

And since tourism growth enlivens trade and commerce, the local business climate has also been made pleasant as investment opportunities go broader and more fortified.

Among the latest and most significant additions to the city’s commercial and tourism landmarks are the Central Bus Terminal cum Metro Hub and Lifestyle Center, a P300-million Public-Private Partnership (PPP) investment that refurbished the city’s public transportation landscape into a first-rate facility for travelers.

This development is part of the local government’s public investment that now works on the “mega highway” project funded by the national government to connect the city’s urban district with the Southern Luzon International Airport now undergoing construction in the nearby Daraga town and expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.

According to Rosal, the mega highway, whose prime section is the now-famous Legazpi Boulevard, will traverse several upland villages of the city and “will be our new investment haven and another site for our tourism industry development.”

Now, with this city on the lead as Bicol’s most-visited tourism destination, the DOT regional office has set the region’s three-year tourist arrivals goal at 5 million.

“Hitting this target would make Bicol a truly livable region where the reaping of the benefits from the local tourism industry left not any of the region’s six provinces, seven cities and 105 municipalities,” Ravanilla said.

Ravanilla, who also chairs the Bicol Regional Tourism Council (BRTC), said the five-million tourist target was arrived at following the recent formation of the “3Cs,” the cluster of three Bicol provinces-- Catanduanes, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur-- into a local tourism industry development alliance.

These provinces form the second cluster of Tourism Development Area (TDA) in the region as identified in the 2011-2016 NTDP.

The first cluster formed last year by the BRTC in collaboration with the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) regional office is the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Alliance (AlMaSorTA).

Then the formation of the “3Cs” was formalized through a covenant entered into among the three provinces represented by Governors Araceli Wong of Catanduanes, Edgardo Tallado of Camarines Norte and Miguel Villafuerte of Camarines Sur.

The covenant provides for the adoption of an inter-provincial tourism alliance strategy for local development with tourism as the main driver for economic growth and social progress, with the aim of uplifting the living conditions in the region and the three provinces by tapping their respective natural tourism resources, Ravanilla explained.

There are two sub-TDAs under this new 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, according to Ravanilla.

AlMaSorTA, which was conceptualized as the tourism road map for Bicol, is designed to achieve development not only in the mainland provinces of Albay and Sorsogon but also in the island of Masbate.

It debuted its global exposure at the 2013 Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB)-Berlin as part of its integrated and comprehensive promotion strategy to market the potentials of the regional tourism industry, eyeing around 700,000 foreign tourist arrivals in the area annually within four years.

By featuring AlMaSor, which was tagged as the “Soul of the South” of Philippine tourism industry, ITB, the world's leading yearly travel trade held in Berlin, Germany on March 6-10 last year, notably helped increase arrivals of European visitors here and other parts of the cluster.

The cluster features Albay with its Mayon Volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins among the other tourism marvels of the province; Sorsogon offers its butanding (whale shark) interactions; while Masbate has its unspoiled world-class beaches.

Tour packages to these inviting destinations are offered to tourists, with this city taking the lead in view of its ethno-cultural logic and aggressive urban-rural development and making it known as the “City of Fun and Adventure” to the travel industry world.

UN chooses Albay as global model in DRR-CCA


LEGAZPI CITY, July 23 (PNA) -- The United Nations (UN) has chosen the province of Albay, which is often visited by typhoons, as its global model in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate-change adaptation (CCA).

Private sector leaders expressed no surprise because, they said, local government authorities, headed by Governor Joey Salceda, have already established measures ensuring the safety of people -- including those living and working in far-flung communities -- during floods and typhoons.

In fact, Salceda now sits as co-chairman of the UN Green Climate Fund, representing Southeast Asia and developing countries, they said.

Albayanos and non-Albayanos in and outside the province noted that Albay again posted a zero-casualty score during the destructive pounding of superhowler Typhoon “Glenda” which swept across the province Tuesday night, uprooting trees and damaging billions of pesos-worth of houses, buildings and other infrastructures.

Crediting the residents themselves for the zero casualty, the soft-spoken but hard-working Salceda was even quoted as telling print and broadcast journalists that “taking care of themselves has become ordinary, as taking a bath or eating.”

Various quarters, however, attributed the zero-casualty record to the provincial government’s “pre-emptive evacuation” of residents, which was carried out by members of “Team Albay,” headed by Salceda himself.

Team Albay is a home-front emergency group organized by the Albay governor to spearhead mercy missions in the different parts of the country during natural and man-made disasters and other national emergencies.

Hours before "Glenda" made a landfall in Albay, packing center winds reaching 180 kms per hour, the team had already evacuated more than 65,000 families from risk areas to the safety of evacuation centers in various parts of the province.

Salceda pioneered pre-emptive evacuation and the “zero casualty” goal, which are now bywords in disaster risk reduction and adopted by the national government and many local government units (LGUs) across the country.

And for the sake of the Filipino people and the country, which is visited by an average of 20 typhoons and storms every year, other LGUs would do well to adopt Salceda’s highly-successful “pre-emptive evacuation” strategy, even national leaders said.

“Ito ay kung gusto nating walang mamamatay tuwing may bagyo o baha sa ating lugar (That is if we want no casualty in times of typhoons or floods in our area),” they added.

Albay to celebrate Mabini’s 150th birth anniversary

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay will celebrate the sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary of the birth of Apolinario Mabini on Wednesday.

The event aims to honor Mabini, the “sublime paralytic,” who, being physically handicapped, was considered as the brains behind the Philippine Revolution.

It has for its theme “Mabini: Talino at Paninindigan.”

Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said Tuesday that he has always acclaimed Mabini, a profound thinker and political philosopher, as his personal model and national hero for disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation within the more overarching fight by the disadvantaged and disabled for social justice.

Apolinario Maranan Mabini was born on July 23, 1864 in what is now Barangay Talaga, Tanauan City in the Province of Batangas.

Mabini served as the prime minister and head of the Cabinet of the First Republic under the administration of Emilio Aguinaldo on January 2, 1899.

The event’s highlight will be the unveiling of his statue made by reknown scuptress Julie Lluch in the lobby of the Provincial Capitol of Albay at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday.

Abdon M. Balde Jr., Albay poet laureate and consultant for cultural affairs, will deliver a short biography of the hero while Albay Provincial Administrator Jesap Salceda will read the governor's annual Mabini speech.

Bridge widening in Legazpi gets Php 140-M allocation from Malacañang

By Danny O. Calleja [(PNA), FPV/DOC/MEC]

LEGAZPI CITY, July 21 (PNA) -– The funding for the urgent widening of a major bridge on the national highway that serves as main link between this booming city with various growth areas in the first district of Albay has been assured with funding from Malacañang, according to City Mayor Noel Rosal.

“Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III gave this assurance to me when he visited the city for the inauguration last May 19 of the newly completed Bicol University Health Sciences Building which will house the first state-run medical school in the Bicol region, the Bicol University College of Medicine,” Rosal told the PNA here Thursday.

In fact, the city mayor said, an initial amount of Php50 million had already been allocated for the project under the 2014 General Appropriation Act and released by the Department of Budget and Management to the Department of Public Works and Highways, which will implement it starting soon.

The project is the widening to four lanes of the Yawa Bridge, a 64-meter-long concrete structure whose two-lane make has grown too narrow for the burgeoning traffic between the city proper and its urban barangays on the northern side down to Tabaco City and five municipalities of the province’s first district.

The total cost of the project “which we consider a priority” was placed at Php140 million—an amount that was already approved by Pres. Aquino, Rosal said.

On apprehensions aired by some motorists that the construction will cause more traffic congestion along the route, the city mayor said “don’t worry, we are not going to knock down the bridge to give way to the construction. The additional two lanes will be constructed parallel with the two sides of the existing bridge so there is no need to close it and construct a detour structure.”

The bridge that crosses over Yawa River, a major waterway that emanates from the southern slope of Mt. Mayon facing the city, was constructed several decades ago and was repaired and reinforced in 2000 to withstand the avalanches of volcanic debris during flash floods.

Like most areas of Albay, this city is prone to flash floods due to its proximity to lahar gullies and waterways on the slopes of Mayon Volcano.

Lahar and water rampage during heavy rains while many of the city’s barangays are in low-lying areas.

“The city government, under its public safety program, has been enhancing its calamity resilience and with flood-resistant projects like Yawa Bridge, our place will soon be an all-weather city so that it becomes a very livable place more than ever,” Rosal said.

While the bridge serves that purpose and prevented the traffic cut-off during heavy rain and typhoon situations, the problem now, Rosal said, is the growing number of motorists to which the bridge would become the bottleneck of vehicles coming from both directions that are four-lane roads.

The improvement to four lanes of this bridge is also part of the local tourism-related infrastructure projects being helped by the administration of Pres. Aquino to maintain this city as the best haven for tourists and grand conventions or similar gatherings and business center for Bicol.

Recognized in the world’s travel market as the “City of Fun and Adventure,” the city’s tourism industry has been growing impressively with a whopping increase of 32.27 percent in tourist arrivals last year.

As recorded by the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Tourism based here, the total arrivals of both domestic and foreign tourists in the city for the whole year of 2013 reached 579, 470 which was higher by 141,370 over the 2012’s 438,100 figure.

“Our 2013 tourist arrival figure is good enough for the main time—surpassing even the 523,832 arrivals that the entire province of Albay posted in 2012. We hit the half-million mark last year and by 2016, our goal is to hit the one-million mark,” Rosal said.

Another local tourism-related infrastructure project that is supported by the Aquino administration is the P200-million “tourism mega highway” now ongoing construction to open a direct link between the city and the new Southern Luzon International Airport now being constructed in the nearby Daraga, Albay.

It will be a 10-kilometer concrete road whose prime section is the now-famous Legazpi Boulevard in Barangay Puro, a four-kilometer stretch of wide concrete road bordering the long beach of Albay Gulf and serving as an artistic milieu for physical fitness activities that is well-lighted at night, clean, easily accessible, secure and free from air pollution.

The “tourism mega highway” will traverse several upland villages along the southern sector of the city and become the new local investment haven and another site for tourism industry development, Rosal added.

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