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List of Municipalities in the Albay Province within Region V in the Republic of The Philippines
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Save 100/100 Project on after geothermal firm, others paid tribute to 105-year-old balete tree in Albay

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

TIWI, Albay, July 5 (PNA) -- In the heart of Sitio Capantagan, Barangay Cale here sturdily stands a 21-meter-high, 398-centimeter in diameter and multi-stem balete tree.

This 105-year-old balete tree has withstood three unforgettable super typhoons that hit the country – “Trix”, “Sening” and “Reming” – yet it has remained unyielding, a strong monument to the Albayanos' steadfastness amid calamities and other challenges.

Recognizing the century-old tree, Asia’s oldest geothermal company -- the Philippine Geothermal Production Co. Inc., the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Bicol Regional Executives and Directors Associations, Inc. (Rediras) decided to preserve and protect it and other century-old trees under the Save 100/100 Project, which the partners launched on June 26 and is now in full swing.

Napoleon C. Saporsantos, PGPCI vice president for asset management, said the launch of Save 100/100 Project is anchored on PGPCI’s corporate social responsibility of protecting people and the environment.

“Launching this region-wide initiative within an organic community with the support of different institutions should serve as a model to other local governments and communities in the entire Bicol Region. PGPCI has been operating for more than 40 years now and we’re committed to protect the environment,” he said.

This town in Albay province, which is rich in renewable energy, is the DENR’s model for saving forest cover and biodiversity in Bicol Region.

DENR Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales, also Rediras president, said the department is accounting for century-old trees as these are the country’s heritage that have withstood extreme forces of nature, thus, have witnessed land-water-biodiversity and people relationship.

“After typhoon Glenda, we were so disappointed because the centennial acacia tree at the Bicol University was uprooted. So, one of our thrusts today is to identify and locate the remaining century-old trees across the region so it can be taken care of,” Gonzales said.

“There are one billion trees in single planet. We encourage LGUs to do what the LGU-Tiwi has done to manage and protect the trees. I hope everybody will support us,” he added.

Tiwi Vice Mayor David Beato said all stakeholders should work together to protect the country’s forests to mitigate the impact of climate change.

“Tiwi was hit thrice by Category 5 super typhoons -- Trix in 1951, Sening in 1972 and Reming in 2006. But our forest cover is still dense, owing to the strong stakeholder partnership like the PGPCI and the public,” Beato said.

He said he remembered that during Marcos' time, they could not graduate in Grade 6 if they did not plant 20 seedlings with 100-percent survival rate as their passport to graduation.

“This is a mandatory requirement to all students throughout the nation, that’s why we in the Sangguniang Bayan passed a resolution supporting the Save 100/100 Project to protect centennial trees in our town to preserve the ecology and secure them as a legacy for future generations,” Beato added.

Lawyer Marylou Duka-Castillo, Securities and Exchange Commission Bicol regional director, said the Save 100/100 Project is a timely one, being relevant to what’s happening to the world today.

“Our environment suffers great destruction with forest denuded, air and oceans polluted -- all due to evil acts of the modern man. The Bicol Region still boasts of virgin forests, clean beaches rivers and lakes that’s why tourists flock to our region. But how long can we sustain this? What have we done to preserve Mother Earth? The Save 100/100 is a big step to help preserve the environment. Let us save trees and help save lives,” she said.

The Save 100/100 aims to preserve and protect century-old trees in the Bicol Region.

The initiative was launched in Tiwi town as the birthplace of geothermal renewable energy development in the country.

Tiwi has the Mt. Malinao protected area and is also known for its environmental advocacies.

The PGPCI’s predecessor, the Philippine Geothermal Inc. (PGI), pioneered in geothermal energy development in the country in 1971.

The US firm CGPHL, then a subsidiary of Union Oil Co. of California, was the forerunner of the PGI, and then, the Unocal Philippines, Inc.

It entered into a service contract with the National Power Corp. for a pioneering venture that transformed the government’s 2.5kW experiment in the steam fields in Albay province into the first commercial geothermal power project in Southeast Asia with the discovery of the Naglagbong-1 well in Tiwi in 1972.

Tiwi’s commercial geothermal operations began in 1979, ushering the birth of the Philippine geothermal industry.

Commercial operations in the steam fields of Mak-Bak, named after the two majestic mountains called Makiling and Banahaw, located in the provinces of Batangas and Laguna, also began in 1979.

The PGPCI is committed to building on the complementary strengths of its shareholders and to continue its legacy of providing a clean, stable, reliable and renewable source of energy to meet the country’s growing power requirements.

Albay offers many pleasures aside from Mount Mayon

By Estrella Torres

TRAVELING to Albay’s capital, Legazpi City, invokes a strong yearning among tourists to view the vaunted perfect cone of Mayon Volcano, the province’s strongest tourist draw.

Townsfolk say the active volcano is like a charming young lady who is not at ease to meet strangers. Thus, the town’s annual festival is named after her—Daragang Magayon, a beautiful but reticent young lady.

The province’s annual summer festival highlights new travel destinations, a culinary feast and fun activities in the whole province of Albay.

Albay Gov. Joey S. Salceda said government infrastructure projects are under way to give access to locals and tourists to new travel destinations not only in Albay but to the nearby provinces of Masbate and Sorsogon. The three provinces comprise the Bicol region.

He said a world-class international airport in Naga will soon open to give foreign tourists direct access to the unique and exotic travel destinations in the province.

Salceda said the province is urging private investors to establish hotel and resort businesses in Albay to cater to the fast-growing number of tourist arrivals in the province.

Every year there are new tourist attractions in Albay that are being introduced to boost the province’s tourism industry to create jobs and livelihood to the local population.

In the capital town of Legazpi, a weeklong festivity is being held every April. The activities include colorful street dance, beauty pageant and a food festival featuring the most popular dishes in the Bicol region: Laing or taro leaves cooked in coconut milk, Bicol Express or pork slices spiced with hot and small red peppers, and pinangat or fish chunks cooked with taro leaves, hot chili peppers and coconut milk.

Scale the heights

regions02b-070515CHINESE revolutionary leader Mao Zedong said in a poem that “Nothing is difficult in this world if we dare to scale the height.” The only way to get a full view of the majestic volcano is through an exhilarating ride on an all-terrain vehicle that will take you to its summit.

The summit of Mount Mayon is 2,461 feet above sea level. Getting to it requires courage, as riders traverse through rugged terrain, rivers and lava wall.

Visitors are always tempted to stop to take photos or simply marvel at the magical scenery on the way to the summit, as Mount Mayon is home to many endemic bird species.

A lake like no other

A NEW tourist attraction in Albay is the Sumlang Lake in Camalig town, which can be reached through bus or jeepney from Legazpi.

The serenity of Sumlang Lake is ideal for picnics or any fun activities such as kite flying.

Tourists can also take a ride on a balsa or bamboo raft to get around the lake with the majestic Mount Mayon as the backdrop.

The local government of Camalig manages the tourist activities in Sumlang Lake. It also maintains the cleanliness and safety of the lake.

The picture-perfect Sumlang Lake is an ideal place for artists to compose a new song, write a poem or paint his next masterpiece.

Corangon Shoal: A hidden gem in Tiwi

THE Corangon (meaning corals) Shoal in the town of Tiwi is another hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Nestled in the middle of a marine sanctuary, the Corangon Shoal is ideal for sun worshippers and those who want to frolic in its crystal-blue waters.

Standing in the middle of the shoal gives a visitor a 360-degree view of the three mountains—known in Bicolano legend as the three sisters—Mount Mayon, Mount Masaraga and Mount Malinao. Like Mount Mayon, Masaraga and Malinao are ideal hiking destinations.

The Corangon Shoal can be reached through a 30-minute boat ride from the town proper of Tiwi.

World-class ceramics

TIWI is also host to a world-class decorative ceramics center run by the Philippine Ceramics Arts and Crafts Center. The intricately designed ceramics are made of terra-cotta, red clay and employ glazing technology.

Tourists can buy souvenirs for their friends, such as small mugs and pots for plants, since the items are reasonably priced and not another tourist trap.

Visitors also come here to buy pots and other ceramics products in bulk for their houses, as well as resort and hotel businesses.

The ceramics industry is a big employer in the area since it continues to attract both tourists and businessmen.

Bicol is about mouthwatering dishes

GIVING in to eating is a traveler’s weakness. Bicol’s most popular meals are laing and pinangat.

Dad’s Restaurant in Camalig town serves the best pinangat. Visitors can choose between regular and spicy pinangat at an affordable price of P40 per serving. For some daring tourists, a must try is its spicy pinangat since the chili peppers are thinly chopped and served generously.

For desserts, tasting DJC halo-halo in Tiwi and Legazpi City is a must.

Its unique ingredients such as sweetened corn, banana, gelatin and ube (purple yam) plus the generous grated cheese cover on top makes DJC halo-halo incomparable.

Visitors have also been trying out Italian dishes, such as pizza and pasta, with Bicolano twist. Taro leaves are used as basil replacement for white-pasta sauce and pizza.

Salceda said the local government is taking tourism as a serious business since it is a proven source of jobs and revenues. He said that for every tourist visiting Albay, two jobs are created.

SMC, Ayala, Metro Pacific want in on PNR rehab


LEGAZPI CITY: Conglomerates San Miguel Corp. (SMC), Ayala Corp., and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. are interested in the P177-billion rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) as a public-private partnership project, Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said.

The PNR modernization program covers the rehabilitation of the 653-kilometer railway from Tutuban in Manila to Legazpi, and on to Sorsogon.

The governor said Ayala is eyeing to partner with Metro Pacific on the project, and that he personally discussed the matter with SMC President and COO Ramon S. Ang. Salceda, who chairs the Regional Development Council, wants the PNR rehabilitation to push through and resurrect the Bicol Express, noting that the Department of Transportation and Communication is ready to auction off the project.

The southbound PNR to Legazpi has been damaged since Typhoon Reming barreled through the region in November 2006.

But leaders from the region want to block the DOTC initiative, saying it would only be a waste of taxpayers’ money in its present form.

In a recent Senate hearing, civic leader Melvin SJ del Puerto of Naga City told the Sub-committee D of the Senate committee on public services, chaired by Senator JV Ejercito, the PNR modernization plan has to be revised.

Del Puerto said the rehabilitation plant would not bring significant long-term benefits, as the money will be used merely to repair and refurbish the outdated and slow-moving trains that run on narrow gauge railroad tracks.

Instead, the money should be used to really modernize the PNR by acquiring high-speed trains that run on standard gauge railways, according to the civic leader who was invited by the Senate sub-committee as a resource person.

The modernization and rehabilitation of the PNR must be repurposed to provide shorter travel time and durable and reliable train coaches.

The travel time from Manila to Naga City is at least 12 hours, and 15 to 17 hours to Legazpi City.

In another interview with the Naga City-based Bicol Mail, Del Puerto said the shift towards the standard gauge on the latest trains could cut the travel time by 50 percent.

Of the narrow gauge trains now being used by the PNR, only four units are deemed repairable to service the Manila-to-Bicol route, he said, noting that the constant repairs alone would cost the government so much money.

Such a situation practically renders the narrow gauge trains unfit and unreliable to service the 653-kilometer route.

Del Puerto said the DOTC and the National Economic Development Authority should refrain from bidding the P177-billion modernization plan until his recommendations have been considered and included in the program.

Farmers nominate Legazpi CAFC for Gawad Saka achievers award

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 2 (PNA) -- After winning the Regional Gawad Saka Award in April, the Legazpi City Agricultural and Fishery Council (CAFC) has been nominated by the city’s High Value Commercial Crop Farmers Association Inc. for the Gawad Saka National Achievers Award, City Agriculturist Jesus Kallos said in an interview on Thursday.

Gawad Saka is an annual recognition of the Department of Agriculture for the best practices of farmers and fishermen in their own respective areas.

Kallos said his office has already received the communication from the DA regional office regarding the evaluation of the performance and accomplishments of the CAFC to be conducted by the DA this coming Aug. 4-7 for the final national judging.

For the past two years, CAFC has performed a remarkable accomplishment that involves maintaining of nurseries of fruit-bearing and other trees.

It has also made resolutions and recommendations as part of paving the way for the issues and concerns to go directly to government agencies or other institutions for necessary action.

It further links with private sector and works as a volunteer for the development and progress of the city’s agricultural and fishing sector, Kallos said.

He said the CAFC serves as the monitoring arm of the city administration and the DA to make sure that all the services and other assistance from the national government in the agricultural sector are well implemented.

Legazpi City has been awarded by the DA and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and one of the recipients of the 2014 Gawad ng Pagrerehistro ng mga Mangingisda and Fishing Landing Award by ranking number 38 among the top municipalities and cities with most number of registered fisher folk in the national program.

The registration aims to put the fishermen in the right perspective and to identify the people in the community who are involved in the fishing industry.

Ethnic Philippine music, dance group to perform in Albay


LEGAZPI CITY, July 1 (PNA) – The orchestra “Kontemporaryong Gamelan Pilipino” (Kontra-GaPi) Ethnic Music and Dance Ensemble will bring to Albay and to local music enthusiasts awareness and skills training in music that is native to the Philippines.

An orchestra with 20 members from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, Kontra-GaPi specializes in the use of traditional (pre-Hispanic) Filipino instruments, especially the “gamelan.”

The gamelan consists of gongs and drums; wood and metal xylophones; flutes and whistles; assorted bamboo, wooden and metal percussion and voices.

More than a musical event, the activity will start with a main concert at the Albay Astrodome on July 25,

At the concert, Kontra-GaPi artists will sing, dance, mime and play as many as ten instruments each for about 90 minutes.

The Marcial O. Rañola Rondalla will be the front act.

According to Dr. Sabas C. Loriaga, president of the board of trustees of the Simon of Cyrene Foundation Inc. (SCFI), the event will help create awareness and appreciation of the Filipino culture as well as advancement of community-based and culture-based tourism in Albay.

“It will promote our advocacy for inclusion. The hearing-impaired persons with disabilities (PWDs) can watch the show. The visually impaired who can hear the music and all other persons with disability will enjoy the concert,” Loriaga said.

After the concert, he said, a series of workshops will be conducted for teachers and students from selected high schools and colleges, who would like to develop a repertoire on traditional instruments.

The workshops will run until July 31.

“All the proceeds of this project will benefit the children and PWDs in their quest for education, dignity, inclusion, autonomy and livelihood,” he said.

Kontra-GaPi has been made possible with SCFI’s collaboration with the Provincial Government of Albay, Dios Mabalos Po Foundation, Inc., TAYO, JCI Daraga and partners in the church.

Albay responds to Pope Francis' exhortation on climate change

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

LEGAZPI CITY, June 30 (PNA) -- Albay pushes further its popular climate change drive in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si,” by adding five other numbers -- to be sang and recited -- during flag-raising ceremonies, to enhance public awareness on the urgency of global action on the climate change phenomenon.

Laudato Si or Praise Be to You is Pope Francis’ second encyclical. It is subtitled “On the care for our common home” which critiques consumerism and irresponsible development. It also exhorts the world against “environmental degradation and anthropogenic climate change”. Dated May 24, 2015, it was published by the Vatican on June 18 this year.

Following the encyclical’s publication, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda issued on June 22 a memorandum which recommends the inclusion of five new items in the program during flag-raising ceremonies in various government offices and schools in the province, to raise public consciousness on these concerns.

The United Nations has declared Albay as its global model in climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR), and Salceda as its spokesman and Senior Global Champion.

Salceda’s memo was addressed to heads of offices of the Albay provincial government, local government units, schools divisions, national government agencies and the uniformed services in the province.

It recommends the praying the now popular Oratio Imperata before raising the national colors, followed by the “Albay Forever Hymn,” the National Anthem and Pledge of Loyalty, the “I am an Albayano” oath, the reading of the “Climate Change Adaptation Pledge of Commitment” and the “Ten Commandments for Sustainable Development.”

Salceda said the items, as part of the flag-raising program, will help make people aware on the “urgency of global action on climate change and environmental protection and the need for raising the consciousness of our people, based on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical, and in the critical climate negotiations in November in Paris.”

The Paris negotiations demand a vigorous response from countries to ensure and curtail temperature increase below two degrees Centegrade (2oC).

The prayer Oratio Imperata, was written in 2008 by Albay Bishop Lucilo Quiambao at the behest of the Albay provincial government, when it launched its pioneering program on Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

The prayer’s original text has with its a handwritten note by Bishop Quiambao for Gov. Salceda. Oratio Imperata is now a popular invocation around the country, believed to be a powerful prayer to ward off typhoons and disasters. It is aired by radio and television stations in its English or Pilipino versions, especially when there are weather disturbances.

Singing the Albay Forever Hymn and reciting I am an Albayano are both mandated by ordinances passed by the Albay provincial board. Both contain nuggets of wisdom about love for the environment and the need for its protection.

The CCA Pledge of Commitment and the Ten Commandments for Sustainable Development -- adapted from the Earthsavers’ version -- were both crafted by Albay in Action on Climate Change (A2C2) in 2008.

Salceda’s memorandum also suggests inviting speakers during flag raising rites who will deliver short messages focused on love of country and community and the rule of law, CCA-DRR, and environmental protection, education and social protection.

A handbook on these concerns will shortly be prepared and distributed by the Albay Provincial Education Department for the guidance of institutions in the province. It will include English versions of Oratio Imperata, Albay Forever, "Albayano Ako" and "I am an Albayano.

Albay’s pioneering CCA and DRR programs have earned awards from both national and international institutions including three Gawad Kalasag Awards and a Hall of Fame niche for DRR/CCA from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council.

Albay reaps fruits of economic strategy ­— Salceda

(MST Business)

Governor Joey Salceda said Albay was now reaping the initial fruits from the game plan, after having completed two of its three-phase strategy, and was now well on the third stage towards the 2016 deadline.

Salceda compared Albay’s winning development strategy with his favorite NBA team-- the Golden State Warriors whose head coach, Steve Kerr, executed a plan centered on the “main thing” concept or “play small” strategy, which sealed the team’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The game plan, according to Salceda, is “equivalent to what AIM [Asian Institute of Management] professors taught me – Una Cosa or the single most important factor or key driving force to an organization or an event.”

Albay’s three-growth stages represent Salceda’s three consecutive terms as Albay governor.

From 2007-2010, with the province being regularly mauled by calamities, Salceda’s administration bannered the Albay Mabuhay program focused on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as its “main thing,” with significant results.

For his second term, 2010-2013, under the “Albay Rising” theme, Salceda sealed the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals in education and health. In the current 2014-2016 term with “Albay Boom” as theme, the “main thing” focus is tourism plus high value crops and small and medium size enterprises, especially in value-added processing.

Salceda already set the stage for the “Albay Rocks” phase beyond his three terms, with a triumvirate of infrastructures-- the Southern Luzon International Airport in Daraga town, the Southline Railways and the Southern Luzon Expressway Extension from Lucena to Legazpi City.

Also lined up are the Megabridges from Cagraray to Batan islands and Batan to Rapurapu mainland town. The governor will run for congressman of Albay’s 2nd district in 2016, where he will pursue the cityhood of Daraga and Polangui towns.

Albay’s successes in Albay Mabuhay, Albay Rising and Albay Boom produced three Gawad Kalasag awards and a Hall of Fame niche for DRR/CCA from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council; two Galing Pook awards, and a Gawad Pamana ng Lahi award as best province for three consecutive years from the Department of Interior and Local Government.

The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction declared Albay as its DRR/CCA Global Model and Salceda as its senior global champion.

Mayor expects Legazpi to be flood-free

By Nino Luces

Legazpi City, Albay — With the P2.1-billion flood control project in this city nearing its completion, Mayor Noel Rosal is optimistic that flooding will no longer be a problem this rainy season.

“The big part of the city proper is below sea level, meaning if high tide and heavy rains come at the same time, flood will occur for sure,” Rosal said.

Over the past three years, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) regional office has been constructing three pumping stations in the city and 70 percent of the entire project is, so far, completed, he said.

“Since we are below sea level, the ultimate solution seen by our hired private consultants is to construct these pumping stations,” said the mayor.

The total amount of the project – based on the study made by Vergel Consult, joint venture of Schema United Technologies and Pert Consult – is P2.1 billion, and now the Tibo Pumping Station located in Barangay San Roque is now almost 90 percent completed, while the two others located in Barangays Baybay and Victory Village are both 50-60 percent done.

Even without a typhoon, the city’s main business center – especially Barangays San Roque, Baybay, Pigcale, Sabang, Bitano, Oro Site, Victory Village, Imperial Court Subdivision, Kapantawan, and Lapu Lapu – are always threatened by flooding during the rains.

“I am confident that flooding can be controlled now as long as these projects will be completed,” Rosal said.

Bicol University grad tops 2 board exams

By Rhaydz B. Barcia (

Benedict Rey Serrano has reason to be skeptical when told he topped the nursing licensure exams. What are the odds he would top another board exam in two years?

ALBAY, Philippines – On the night the results of the May 2015 nursing board licensure examination was released, Benedict Rey Montas Serrano, 20, got a call from his girlfriend Shiena Mae Atienza. She passed.

She was more excited over another thing that Tuesday night, June 23: Benedict topped the board exams. He didn’t believe her.

“Bawal mag-joke (Don’t kid me),” he told her. The girlfriend hung up on him.

Benedict Serrano only realized it was true when the coordinator of the nursing review center in Legazpi City also called him, and “numerous congratulatory text messages and calls” started pouring in.

“That’s the only time I took the messages seriously,” he said.

He got a score of 86.40%, the highest among 17,981 total examinees, 9,707 of whom passed.

Serrano had reason to be a bit skeptical at first. What are the odds he would top another licensure exam? In 2013, he topped the midwifery examination.

A consistent honors student since grade school, Serrano is now in medical school, also at the Bicol University, where he also graduated from the nursing school cum laude this year.

Serrano is the oldest of 3 children of Dennis and Teodora, both 47 and mathematics teachers at the Pagasa National High School in Legazpi City. His sister Cathy Rose is studying accountancy at the Bicol University, and his brother Lawrence Rex is a Grade IV pupil at Tamauyan Elementary School.

Serrano prepared even before and beyond the six-month review course for the nursing board exams. “Early preparation and advance study greatly helped me out. I aimed at being number one, but the exam was quite difficult, I just prayed to pass it,” he said.

Six other graduates of Bicol University made it to the top 10:

• Marinell Ala Atos - Bicol University Legazpi, 3rd
• Kristine Marie Manlapas Basas - Bicol University Daraga, 6th
• Dayanara Galpo Dimatulac - Bicol University Legazpi, 9th
• Michelle Ann Hamor Hilis - Bicol University Legazpi, 9th
• Ma Jella Mirabel Turallo - Bicol University Legazpi, 9th
• Mabelle Blancada Consulta - Bicol University Legazpi, 10th

The Bicol University College of Nursing was the 5th top performing school nationwide in the recently administered licensure exams, with a passing rate of 96.23%. launches nationwide college, scholarship portal for HS students


LEGAZPI CITY, June 26 (PIA) -- Henry Motte Muñoz, a Filipino-French, has established an online portal called where incoming college students can find courses, schools, and scholarships on one site for free.

In an email to PIA Bicol Newsdesk, chief executive officer Linartes Viloria has solicited support from information outlets to make known the new education portal to bring out sources of information on academic opportunities in the Philippines.

“Limited career orientation, expensive tuition fees, and lack of knowledge on where to search for educational opportunities are some of the key problems that high school students and individuals seeking to expand their education and professional development are encountering in choosing the right course and university. Students need help in finding the educational opportunity that will fit their interests, budget, and desired location,” Viloria said.

On the accounts of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), according to her, there are a total of 7.2 million high school students and only 3.6 million of them are pursuing college, as of 2014.

“We want to make it easier for students to find the different educational options available for them in the Philippines. Through our online portal, students can now explore all the college and technical-vocational courses offered in our country,” Viloria added.

Currently on beta, the website boasts of more than 3,000 schools, 30,000 courses, and 2,000 scholarships which are offered all over the Philippines.

“There are so many opportunities for education out there that a lot of our students are unaware of. And these include scholarships they can avail of in the different universities. We want to share this information to help more students get the education that they deserve,” stressed Viloria.

Students can easily find schools and scholarships that match their interests and needs just by logging on at and registering to get a listing of Philippine universities and courses, as well as scholarship updates.

“We are thrilled to share with students of Bicol Region educational possibilities offered across the country. By giving students a complete picture of what is available for them, we believe that we are able to help them find the education that can get the jobs that they dream of. We want to give them opportunities, empower them with choices, and help them achieve success for the careers they aspire for,” said Viloria.

Albay to present best practices in 2015 International Confab on Family Planning

By Mike de la Rama [(PNA) RMA/FGS/MDR/CBD]

LEGAZPI CITY (PNA) – The Provincial government of Albay, for the first time, will present its best practices in the 2015 International Conference on Family Planning to be held in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, on Nov. 9-12 to highlight its interventions with children and women during emergency or calamities.

Of more than 2000 abstracts submitted to the conference committee, Albay is one of the successful candidates accepted to present both oral and poster the best practice entitled Integrating Minimum Initial Service Package in DRRM Plan of Local Government submitted by the Albay AIDS Council.

The abstract demonstrates the intervention of the provincial government of Albay in responding the needs of vulnerable groups like children, lactating/ pregnant women, elders and persons with disabilities during emergency, especially at the evacuation camps.

This approach is called the Minimum Initial Services Package wherein immediate needs of sectors are properly addressed. Included also in the services is the assurance of zero gender-based violence against children, women or any individual while at the evacuation camps.

Provisions of hygiene kits, breastfeeding room, psychosocial activities for children, availability of family planning commodities for current users and 24/7 health staff at the evacuation centers.

The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) has brought together the family planning community to share best practices, celebrate successes, and chart a course forward. The first conference was held in Kampala, Uganda, in 2009 and convened more than 1,300 participants around the topic of family planning for the first time in 20 years, sparking positive change for family planning policies in Uganda.

With more than 2,200 participants, the second conference was held in 2011 in Dakar, Senegal, and highlighted family planning issues in Francophone, Africa.

The 2013 ICFP drew more than 3,500 attendees to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The 2015 ICFP will be held in Indonesia, a country that has successfully proved its leadership in innovative family planning programming.

Indonesia’s national family planning initiatives doubled the contraceptive prevalence rate to nearly 60 percent between 1976 and 2002 and decreased the fertility rate by half.

The Indonesian government is now committed to revitalizing the country’s national family planning program to improve on the progress that has slowed since 2002.

The country has quadrupled its budget allocation for family planning, from USD 65.9 million in 2006 to USD 263.7 million in 2014, which will enable better health worker training and the provision of free family planning services through the country’s new universal health care system.

The 2015 ICFP will be co-hosted by the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BkkbN) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

This year’s conference is expected to draw the largest number of attendants yet, and the ICFP will help shape and influence the role and contributions of family planning in attaining the new sustainable development goals.

The ICFP is more than a conference, as it is a movement and a platform for strategic inflection points in the family planning agenda.

The theme for 2015 is Global Commitments, Local Actions.

Each day of the conference will feature a plenary session focused on a different track theme.

The tracks will feature issue-oriented themes, such as: addressing youth needs and involvement; rights and quality of care: true improvements or lip service; the demographic dividend: how south-to-south exchanges can help its realization; implementation best practices (IBP); advancing FP through faith organizations; FP2020 progress and challenges; innovations in financing (GFF, Universal Health Care); and accountability and advocacy.

Since the first international conference on family planning in 2009, the issue has gained a lot of momentum.

The London Summit on Family Planning took place on July 11, 2012, and 69 countries made commitments to family planning.

Many countries have held their own family planning symposia to develop strategies to achieve commitments made during the London Summit.

The ICFP provides a platform to highlight successes that have been achieved in family planning around the world as well as hurdles that still need to be addressed.

Compensation sought for damaged Albay coral reef

By Cet Dematera (The Philippine Star)

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Albay Gov. Joey Salceda yesterday reiterated his call for compensation for a marine sanctuary in Albay Gulf destroyed last week by a Vietnamese vessel.

The cargo ship M/V Ocean 03 destroyed some 2,000 square meters of the five-hectare coral reef in Albay Gulf on June 15.

Salceda said he would ask the officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Bicol to impound and auction the ship should its owner fail to pay damages.

The city agriculture office said they sent a demand letter to the owner and captain of the ship, asking P1 million in actual damages and P3 million for the rehabilitation of the marine sanctuary.

Albay Gulf is a favorite diving site due to its abundant corals that serve as a breeding area and sanctuary of marine species.

Nonie Inolva, spokesperson for the Bicol-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said a team has been formed to investigate the incident.

Inolva said the ship ran aground in the shallow portion of the gulf, causing damage to the reef.

The ship with 20 crewmembers is currently anchored in this city and will remain under the custody of the Philippine Coast Guard until the government’s claim for damages is settled.

EDUCO recognizes Bicol schools that carry out literacy projects

By Connie B. Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (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 Tuesday 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 year’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 enrollment, 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. (PNA) LAP/FGS/CBD

Albayanos prefer Salceda's brother as his successor in capitol

ByBy Manilyn Ugalde [(PNA) CTB/FGS/MU/CBD/]

LEGAZPI CITY, June 22 (PNA) – Media practitioners in Albay claimed that many Albayanos prefer Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda’s brother as his successor in the Capitol.

Earlier, Salceda, who is the Liberal Party provincial chair, declared his open support to Rep. Al Francis Bichara (Albay, 2nd District) as his successor while the provincial board endorsed Vice Governor Harold Imperial for governorship.

The governor had earlier announced his intention to run for the third district as early last year and attended barangay assemblies, reassuring his constituents of his return in the 2016 election.

To the surprise of Albayanos, however, he suddenly switched his registration as voter last May from his hometown Polangui (3rd District) to Daraga town (2nd District) where he has a residence and announced that he is running for the second congressional district.

Salceda said Bichara, who is on his last term as congressman of the 2nd District and former governor, is his personal choice to succeed him -- a declaration Salceda made through his Facebook account an hour after filing his voter's registration in Daraga town.

Bichara is the provincial chair of the Nacionalista Party.

He has openly declared his intention to return to the Capitol when his term expires in 2016.

But, according to media practitioners here, many Albayanos they have interviewed prepare Jessaf Salceda, the governor’s younger brother who run but lost in the third district in the 2007 elections.

Despite his absence in politics, many Albayanos said they prefer Jessaf because they see in him the work of a true public servant, emulating the practice of his brother-governor.

Jessaf is currently the provincial administrator.

Salceda will step down from the Capitol in 2016 after his three-term that is credited with a very impressive performance, citing his advance advocacy in climate change and disaster risk reduction management that made Albay province known in the world map and have the province catapulted as among the tourists' sought-after destinations.

In 2017, Albay is expected to finally open the Php4-billion Southern Luzon International Airport in Barangay Alobo, Daraga town, a project of the governor which President Aquino wants to be completed as soon as possible.

With Salceda, Albay also won as among the venues of the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit ministerial meeting held at the Misibis Resort in Bacacay town last December 2014.

Media practitioners said that under Salceda, the province has created the Provincial Education Department that launched a scholarship program aimed to produce a college graduate in every Albayano family.

“It should be continued after the program is successfully implemented,” said Marcial Tuanqui, former president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

SM City Legazpi to rise next year

By Danny Calleja (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY—Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings, the largest mall operator and among the country’s highest shopping management firms, has its eyes glued on this city for one of its next SM City malls.

This will be in furtherance of business operations in the city of SM, which now runs its huge Save More grocery store at the Legazpi Central Terminal complex and two local branches of Banco de Oro, City Planning and Development Office chief Engr. Joseph Esplana said over the weekend.

As a first choice, the proposed new SM City will locate next year at the about-a-hectare vacant lot along the Legazpi Boulevard and within the site of the new urban development hub the city government is aggressively developing as an expansion of its fast-congesting old business district, according to Esplana.

The other option is the sprawling Legazpi Domestic Airport ground owned by the Air Transportation Office which will be vacated and eyed for privatization as soon as the New Legazpi Airport, also named Southern Luzon International Airport, now ongoing construction in the nearby Daraga town comes into operations by 2017, he said.

SM representatives, Esplana said, have been arranging the SM City coming to the locality and they are very keen on establishing soon to take advantage of the fast-growing investment climate taking place locally.

“Pinagkukumpulan na tayo ng mga malalaking negosyo (We are already being swarmed by big businesses),” he said, explaining that it is an offshoot of the massive urban development and investment promotion that the city government under Mayor Noel Rosal is undertaking.

He said Ayala Corp., one of the country’s business giants, is already around with its partnership with Liberty Commercial Center Inc. (LCCI) in the ongoing establishment of the City Center Mall within a 1.5-hectare land owned by the city government at the heart of the city’s central business district.

The property has been leased by the city to LCCI of the Tans, a Filipino-Chinese family from Tabaco City, Albay which pioneered the putting up of malls here and most parts of Bicol starting way back in the late 1970s.

Also in the bandwagon of big investments in the city are the Robinsons Group of the Gokongwei family and the Gaisano Grand Group of Companies of the Cebu-based Gaisano family which now runs the Pacific Mall Legazpi, the first full-sized integrated shopping center in the Bicol region. The mall located at a prime location within an over-two-hectare property opened in 2001 as the centerpiece of the Landco Business Park, a master planned central business district in the heart of the city.

Robinsons, on the other hand, has its supermarket at a prime location near the city hall and the Albay provincial Capitol as part of one of the largest and most successful chains of malls in the country today.

The Gokongwei group also acquired in 2012 from Albay congressman Al Francis Bichara the Legazpi Savings Bank, the biggest thrift bank in Bicol based here.

With all these multi-billion-peso investments and the coming of SM City, Rosal said, the city that has been emerging as the new shopping and investment haven in Bicol, given its strategic location as the regional government center and center of transportation, health services and education.

The city boasts of an expansive market that extends from the entire province of Albay to the adjoining provinces of Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon, down to Samar areas.

Shadowed by the majestic Mt. Mayon and recognized as the “City of Fun and Adventure” by the world’s travel industry, Legazpi is also the heart of Bicol’s tourism.

“We are impressed by this response of the country’s leading investors to our call for investments after the Department of Trade and Industry cited the Legazpi as the most business-friendly city in Bicol for its prompt compliance with the government’s simplified Business Permit and Licensing System,” Rosal said.

The Department of Interior and Local government (DILG) has also named Legazpi as Bicol’s “most business-friendly local government unit,” citing its effectiveness and efficiency in paving the way for the place to become haven of investments.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has recognized the city as the most business-friendly for the whole of South Luzon.

The Asian Institute of Management called Legazpi as one of the most competitive cities in the Philippines.

Apart from all these, the city is also one of the best places of business process outsourcing outside Metro Manila when it advanced in 2011 to the 10 next wave cities in the country’s industry list of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines.

Early last year, the city government won its second Seal of Good Housekeeping from the DILG for its excellence in the field of good governance measured by administrative, social, economic, environmental and other forms achievements that benefited both the community and its constituents.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Department of National Defense have also awarded in the last two consecutive years the city government with the Gawad Kalasag Awards as national champion in disaster risk reduction and management in the City Category of the contest.

Late last year, the city government also won the Most Livable City Award, Galing Pook Award and Silver Governance Trailblazer Award -- all for excellence in local governance -- and early this year, it has been nominated for the 2016 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize by the Embassy to the Philippines of the Republic of Singapore.

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