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List of Municipalities in the Albay Province within Region V in the Republic of The Philippines
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PNP-Bicol gets 49 new patrol motorcycles


LEGAZPI CITY, March 5 (PNA) -- At least 49 patrol motorcycles were delivered at the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) at Camp Gen. Simeon A. Ola here, Thursday.

Police Senior Insp. Malu Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the region is one of the beneficiaries out of the total of 806 units of motorcycle 125cc being distributed to Philippine National Police (PNP) offices in several regions.

Calubaquib said 14 of the motorcycles will be for the Albay Provincial Police Office, 6 for Camarines Norte PPO, 10 for Camarines Sur PPO, 3 for Catanduanes PPO, 9 for Masbate PPO, 3 for Sorsogon PPO and 4 for Naga City Police Office.

“This will augment the patrol vehicles to hasten police mobilization, especially for patrolling initiative,” she said.

Calubaquib said the move of the PNP has being done for the past years to assure peace and security in the community.

The PNP-Bicol spokesperson noted that some of their police officers are using their own vehicles, especially motorcycles, while on duty.

She admitted that in most cases, their personnel are spending their own money for the expenses of their transportation.

The schedule of the formal turnover to different police offices is yet to be scheduled.

NIA says Bicol ready to meet dry season with efficient irrigation systems

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

LEGAZPI CITY, March 4 (PNA) – The regional office for Bicol of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said most of the region’s rice farms are now ready to meet the coming dry season this year with the good number of working irrigation systems put in place over the past four years.

So far, around 318,000 hectares of rice fields in the region, which is a significant improvement from the 255,00 hectares in 2012 are already covered by irrigations, Eduardo Yu, the NIA regional spokesman based in Naga City, said in a statement reaching here Wednesday.

During the past two years alone, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, through the Department of Agriculture (Da) and NIA, poured in to Bicol over Php2 billion in funds for the establishment of new irrigation structures and restoration/rehabilitation of the old ones covering this bigger area of rice land, according to Yu.

Among the new big irrigation projects the NIA has recently established in the region are the Ibingan in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon, covering some 700 hectares of rice fields, and the Sibagat Reservoir in Minalabac, Camarines Sur, covering a total of 262 hectares within the Bicol River Basin, Yu said.

In Camarines Norte, he said, NIA is maintaining 10 irrigation systems and assisting 35 communal irrigation facilities being run by irrigators' associations—all covering over 7,000 hectares of paddies or 38 percent of the province’s total rice area.

All over Albay, especially its third congressional district which is considered as the province’s rice granary, Yu said, small and large irrigation facilities are in place and working well, owing to the efforts of Congressman Fernando Gonzalez who has been closely coordinating with NIA in the assignment of projects where they are needed most.

With the dry season expected weeks away, Yu said his agency is confident it has made the region more prepared insofar as rice production is concerned, given these irrigation facilities and the good farming practices that Bicol farmers have already embraced against the impacts of climate change.

“All the farmers should do is follow the planting calendar—sowing by the start of the year and aiming to harvest by March of April then start with the next cropping season during the exit of summer in June for them to harvest by September or October,” he said.

In case of a longer summer or a dry spell, these irrigation facilities would play the role of maintaining the water supply for paddies even as Bicol farmers already know how to be flexible with their cropping schedules like moving their May-June rice planting period to July-August, in time for the onset of the rainy season and harvest by November-December.

With this, the region is expected to sustain its rice self-sufficient (RSS) status first achieved in 2013 that saw a production growth rate of 5.96 percent over 2012 for a 102.19-percent RSS level based on the regional production of over one million metric tons (MT) as against the regional consumption of around 822,000 MT.

In 2014, almost the same level of RSS was achieved by the region notwithstanding the long summer and the coming of three typhoons successively between July and November, by harvesting about 1.3 million MT for an over 100-percent RSS, according to DA records.

Even with those irrigation systems already established, Yu said, putting up of more facilities in the region are in progress out of the Php535 million funds allocated to the NIA regional office by the DA this year.

This amount is for a total of 212 projects across the region’s six provinces like the construction of new systems, rehabilitation of existing but run-down facilities and restoration of non-operating ones, Yu said.

The total amount is divided among the region’s six provinces, with Camarines Sur getting the biggest share of Php166 million; followed by Albay, Php135 million; Sorsogon, Php110.7 million; Camarines Norte, Php57 million; Masbate, Php40.6 million; and Catanduanes, Php26 million.

Camarines Sur’s allocation is for the restoration and rehabilitation works to maximize the irrigation of a total of around 911 hectares and the construction of new structures to service an additional 62 hectares of irrigable rice fields.

The province has the biggest rice area with 158,348, hectares supplying 45 percent of the regional rice regional requirement, followed by Albay with 48,638 hectares; Masbate, 39,148; Sorsogon, 33,804; Camarines Norte, 20,671; and Catanduanes 12,993 hectares.

All in all, this new fund for Bicol, Yu said, covers the establishment of new irrigation structures for 378 hectares and restoration, repair and rehabilitation of paddy water services for 2,700 hectares.

He said the implementation of this year’s projects in Bicol are more focused on restoration and improvement of existing irrigation systems as they could be immediately done since they no longer need feasibility studies as required by the construction of new ones.

Although smaller than the previous years’ budget, he said, this new allocation for Bicol could already help maximize the region’s contribution to the vigorous pursuit of the Aquino administration of its Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) for the country.

Hollande impressed by Albay Green Economy program

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

LEGAZPI CITY, March 3 (PNA) -- French President Francois Hollande and his entourage have admitted being profoundly impressed by Albay’s Green Economy, a pioneering economic program on sustainable development and poverty alleviation hinged on environment protection.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda presented the program, along with his province’s much acclaimed climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies during a state dinner tendered by President Aquino in Malacanang last February 26 for Hollande and his delegation.

The French President was in the Philippines February 26 and 27, to drum up support for action on climate change ahead of his country’s hosting of the 21st Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP 21 in Paris in December this year.

Salceda summed up the gains of the green economy for Albay as: Zero casualty during disasters in 18 to 20 years, increased forest cover by 88% in seven years, increase in mangrove areas from 700 hectares to 2,400 hectares, increase in rice production — despite weather disturbances — from 147,291 metric tons in 2008 to 200,088 metric tons in 2013 through proper use of water resources, contributed 250 MW of geothermal, with 650 MW potential, investments in environment, enhanced ecotourism which hiked foreign tourists inflow from 8,700 in 2006 to 339,000 in 2013.

As Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) chair and applying the green economic principle, Salceda has transformed his region into a fastest growing region in 2013 at 9.4% growth rate as against the 7.4% national average growth.

Apart from Hollande’s compliments, Albay Green Economy has also earned praises from 2008 Oscar Best Actress Marion Cotillard, now a leading climate change adaptation campaigner, who was with the French President’s delegation.

The actress said she heard a moving speech delivered by Salceda during the state dinner, where the governor discussed his province’s economic program. “It was a very passionate, beautiful speech that inspired us to make a stand,” she said, adding the “green economy is a solution to climate change, that is not only possible but imperative.”

The governor was invited to the affair to “contribute to the ongoing discourse on the development of disaster preparedness measures among local and national governments,” since Albay is a “model for best practices in disaster risk management and prevention not only for local government units in the Philippines, but for the rest of the world,” the French Embassy invitation said. Hollande personally congratulated Salceda, primarily for his achievements as CCA and DRR champion, and for Albay’s outstanding ‘Zero Casualty’ records during disasters.

President Aquino introduced Salceda to Hollande, referring to Albay as “a highway for typhoons but which consistently achieves zero casualty.”

"President Hollande congratulated me,” Salceda said, and I told him I was elected Green Climate Fund (GCF) chair… in Paris in October 2013. And I thanked him for making climate change the focus of his state visit, and France for being the second largest contributor of USD 1 billion to the GCF, during my term”, Salceda said.

France had favorably supported the GCF since its inception and made the USD 1 billion contribution during Salceda’s one-year term, 2013 to 2014, as chairman for Southeast Asia and the Developing Countries.

Salceda was named by UN as its Global Champion for CCA and DRR, and Albay as the Global Model.

Albay to establish barangay forests

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

LEGAZPI CITY, March 2 (PNA) – The Provincial Government of Albay will start this month the establishment of barangay forests province- wide in support to the National Greening Program towards the implementation and attainment of the national government target of planting 1.5 billion seedlings nationwide.

Arnold Embestro, Provincial Environment Natural Resources Officer (ENRO) said the program aimed to establish sustainable trees in every barangays maintained by local residents.

“The livelihood component in this program is to allow local residents through their barangay officials to maintain and grow their trees and they will be paid depending on the number of trees grown.”

In the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior and Local Government joint Memorandum Circular there are 1.5 million hectares of public domain that will be established as barangay forests and portion of which will be utilized as nurseries to produce planting materials.

Embestro explained that aside from sustaining the environment, this (program) will help unemployed individuals to earn a living. He added that the development of the plantation should be guided by the NGP guidelines and commodity roadmap for calendar year 2013 to 2016 .

“The participating municipalities and barangays shall be responsible for the protection and maintenance of the areas they have developed,” Embestro said.

An agreement with the recipients will be entered into by both parties with the general provision: funds provided by the DENR under this Agreement shall be used by the Recipient Barangay exclusively for the conduct of said activities consistent with the work and financial plan.

Maintenance and protection of the developed areas under this Agreement shall be the conducted by the participating Barangay and funds thereof shall be provided by the participating Municipal and Barangay governments to ensure high survival of the established plantation.

Albayanos trek barefoot for Lenten atonement


LIGAO CITY: A month before the Lenten season, devout Filipino Catholics in Albay province made an atonement for their sins in various ways—some by flagellation, others by fasting and others by joining processions on foot as they trekked the “hill without a hilltop” over Kawa-Kawa hill. This Lenten season, the prelate, priests, nuns along with 6,000 youth and Rep. Fernando Gonzalez of Albay walked on barefoot under the heat of the sun for 6th Diocesan Way of the Cross held at 2:00 PM in Kawa-Kawa Hill this city. The trekking on foot was led by Bishop Joey “Bong” Baylon of the diocese of Legazpi.

Bicol U among 5 academic partners of French schools


LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 28 (PNA) -- The Bicol University (BU) will be one of the five universities in the Philippines that will benefit from partnership with French academic institutions.

BU president Fay Lea Lauraya said that aside from BU, the other beneficiaries are the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas and Visayas State University.

The BU top official made the announcement in time for the visit of French President Francois Hollande to the Philippines on Thursday.

With this academic partnership, Lauraya said, the five universities in the Philippines will forge an agreement with three French universities focusing on the areas of student exchange, faculty exchange and research collaboration.

"There will be sharing of knowledge, local practices, innovations for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and researches," she said.

"We did not apply for it, I think the Commission on Higher Education had recommended us and the French working team had decided, then we received a letter. Since French President Francois Hollande is also focusing on climate change, we have the edge because we are known for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction programs," the BU official, who is retiring this March, said.

Lauraya said finalization of the proposed agreement is yet to be scheduled.

"They were also interested since we are teaching French language at the College of Arts and Letters (BUCAL)," she said.

Among the 16 colleges/units of the premiere state university in Bicol, the BUCAL will be benefited by the program.

Lauraya said Journalism students will be sent to France for the special grant.

The BUCAL is offering five courses such as Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting, Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Bachelor of Arts in Audio Visual Communication and Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Theater Arts.

Ma. Julieta Borres, BUCAL dean, said French students will be welcomed and taught through the language center of the college.

"This will open new doors for our students and faculties who are willing to study especially French language and we also commit to teach English language to students from France," she said.

In November 2011, the Climate Change Academy built inside the BU campus here, was inaugurated.

It aims to empower and train local government units for disaster risk management, hazards and adaptation to combat climate change and its ill effects, particularly on the economy.

Meanwhile, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said he was congratulated by the French president for his being champion for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction not only in the locality but also globally.

He said President Benigno S. Aquino III told Hollande during the state dinner that the President hosted for the visiting top French official that "his province of Albay is like a highway of typhoons but consistently achieves zero casualty."

"President Hollande congratulated me. And I told him that I was elected as Green Climate Fund (GCF) chair for developing countries in Paris in October 2013. And I thanked him for the beauty of Paris, for making climate change the focus of his state visit and for being the second largest contributor of USD 1 billion to the GCF," Salceda said.

Road extension named after deceased village chief

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 27 (PNA) -- In recognition of the great contribution made by the late Jose “Oro” Lee, former barangay captain of Oro Site here, the former Ramon Santos Extension Road has been officially named Jose L. Lee Street.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal, Vice Mayor Vitorrio “Vitoy” Roces and other members of the Sangguniang Panlunsod led the renaming ceremonies on Thursday, which was attended by the Lee family led by Joseph Philip (JP) Lee, incumbent village chairman and ex-oficio member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay and other relatives and friends.

The activity started with a Holy Eucharist Mass officiated by Monsignor Ramon Tronqued, followed by the unveiling of marker and blessing of the one-half-kilometer concrete road.

Other present during the ceremonies were former city mayor Cesar Bordeos, former vice mayor Luis Adornado, members of the city’s Association of Barangay Captains, business leaders and village residents.

The renaming was contained in City Ordinance 0001-2015 authored by Councilor Rolly Rosal, which was enacted by the 13th Sangguniang Panlunsod during its regular session on Jan. 13 and approved by the city chief executive on Jan. 22.

Mayor Rosal, in his statement, said the renaming of the road is a clear manifestation of the good leadership during the term of Lee that benefited the residents of the village.

He revealed that under the term of the late former village leader, Barangay Oro Site recorded the highest number of city government awards as one of the top ten barangays which had implemented the greatest number of projects and programs from 1997 until June of 2000.

The city chief executive pointed out that Lee was the man behind the formation of the people’s organization called the Oro Site Women’s Organization.

He was also the brains behind the Barangay Scholarship Program for indigent high school students called “Abante Estudyante.”

Lee served as a three-term barangay captain from 1989 up to 2005 and was elected by the 70 village leaders as president of the Liga ng mga Barangay for three years from 2002 until 2005.

He had served as ex-officio member of the city council.

Chinese tourists pick Bicol as tourism haven in Philippines

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 26 (PNA) -- Despite the China-Philippines territorial sea dispute, Chinese visitors have considered Albay province as a tourism haven with its unique and wonderful eco-tourism spots, a Chinese tourism agency official said.

Terrence Fang of Yueqiho International Travel Agency said more than 200 Chinese tourists, mostly families, planed in directly from China via the Legazpi City National Airport and celebrated Chinese New Year here.

“This year, we’re looking for new and unique destinations in the Philippines. We preferred Bicol, specifically Legazpi City in Albay, as our tourism haven because of natural wonders that no other place can offer us with so many options and places to visit,” Fang said.

He said they have been to Cebu, Boracay, Davao and other parts of the Philippines but this time they have chosen Legazpi City as their new destination because of natural and beautiful eco-tourism sights like the incomparable Mayon Volcano, dolphins in Sto. Domingo, the Misibis Bay Resort and Casino in Cagraray Island, Bacacay, and whale sharks in Donsol, Sorsogon.

“When you set foot in Legazpi, this is the one-stop shop from where you can go anywhere you want, with its beautiful and friendly people,” Fang said.

When asked if they are not affected by the ongoing territorial dispute between the Philippine and Chinese governments, especially that the government of China has issued a travel advisory to the Philippines for their citizens, Fang said that they do not care about political disputes.

The big influx of Chinese tourists in Bicol, specifically in Albay province, began last year after the Department of Tourism (DOT) led by Bicol Regional Director Maria “Nini” Ong-Ravanilla, in partnership with Elizaldy “Zaldy” S. Co, chief executive officer of Sunwest Group of Companies which include Misibis Bay Resort and Casino and Embarcadero de Legazpi.

The ancestors of both officials came from Fujian Province in China.

The two, as well as the Provincial Government of Albay and Legazpi City, worked together for the setting up of direct flights from China to Legazpi City to enhance local economic and tourism growth.

The Chinese tourists stayed at the Misibis Bay for five days and four nights and left on Tuesday filled with fond memories of what they experienced in Albay.

Ravanilla said that after 14 years of working hard to sell the wonders of Bicol in partnership with the private sector, Albay province was chosen by foreign tourists as the new major destination in the country owing to natural and unique eco-tourism sites.

She said China is the largest market for tourists who would greatly help in the economic growth of Bicol, specifically Albay province.

“The Chinese New Year has brought a breakthrough and another milestone for economic and tourism development in the Bicol Region,” according her.

Last year, the Legazpi City National Airport was upgraded as Albay International Gateway for Chartered Flights wherein a direct flight from Xiamen, China, carrying 156 tourists landed on January 30 last year, on the eve of Chinese New Year.

The domestic airport here has been upgraded to serve as the new gateway for international chartered flights under Albay’s enhanced tourism program that also targets other major markets like Russia and Korea.

Co, a Bicolano business tycoon who has greatly helped transform the Bicol Region from second poorest region to 4th poorest region in the country, invested a lot here to develop the local economy and generate more jobs for the jobless after the occurrence of supertyphoon “Reming” on Nov. 30, 2006.

He said Chinese, Korean, European and American tourists are trooping to Albay as evidenced by hotel occupancy records.

Co owns several hotels in Legazpi City, the Midas Hotel in Manila and the Misibis Bay Resort and Casino in Cagraray Island in Bacacay town.

Ravanilla said they are targeting one million foreign tourists in Bicol as their contribution to President Benigno S. Aquino III’s 10 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2016.

She said that among the six provinces of Bicol, Albay ranked first in foreign tourist arrivals recorded for the last three years while Camarines Sur had the highest number of domestic tourists owing to the annual Penafrancia Festival.

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda said the opening of the Albay International Gateway for Chartered Flights is a great moment in Albay tourism as it will help speed up economic growth here.

The influx of international flights here came after the overdue construction of the Southern Luzon International Airport in Alobo, Daraga, Albay.

Salceda said the China tourism promotion is a people-to-people exchange and interaction with robust trade between Albay and China even before the Spanish era.

“Such people-to-people exchange should expand the space for understanding that could result in mutual benefits,” he added.

After the three-month series of direct flights from Xiamen to Legazpi City and vice-versa, today Chinese tourists from Guangzhou, the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in South China, have selected Legazpi City in Albay province as their new haven for natural wonders.

Guangzhou is the third largest Chinese city and the largest city in South Central China.

The DOT-Bicol is also eyeing Shanghai and Incheon City in Korea for direct flights in the coming months.

Salceda said they are targeting at least 150,000 tourists or so this year which means some Php6.5 billion resource injection into the local economy.

DOT to showcase Albay in 2015 Cannes Tourism Investment Fair

By Johnny C. Nunez [(PNA), FFC/JCN/SSC]

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 25 (PNA) -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) will showcase Albay in the 2015 Marche International Proffesionels d’Immobilier (MIPIM), an annual show participated in by influential property and tourism players worldwide, at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France on March 10-13 this year.

The Philippines will occupy a prominent display area in the MIPIM fair as a featured country, and DOT has invited Albay as the showcase province, being the country’s hottest tourist destination.

DOT Undersecretary Maria Victoria V. Jasmin in a letter to Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the invitation to join MIPIM is “part of the prizes of the winning chief executive” in the recent Tourism Star Philippines 2014 awards.

Salceda won the Tourism Star Philippines 2014 title for local government executives, in the awards’ maiden edition held at the Raffles and Fairmont Hotel in Makati last February 12.

The MIPIM fair is expected to further enhance Albay’s world potentials in tourism and tourism infrastructure build up. The province has been presented in various international and national promotions including the Berlin ITB 2012 in Germany, the London WTM 2013, the Shanghai TM 2013, DOT Hongkong 2014, and special events of the Philippine Asia Travel Association and the Philippine Travel Operators’ Association.

The Philippine representation to the MIPIM will be led by the DOT, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

MIPIM is an annual property show that brings together the most influential property players and offers unrivaled access to the greatest number of development projects in all asset classes and sources of capital worldwide, according to Jasmin.

MIPIM offers unhampered access from office real estate facilities to logistics assets, including hospitality projects, residential buildings and retail properties. Under its auspices, international players promote projects, enrich or diversify their portfolio, discover market trends and network with their peers and targeted clients.In 2014, Jasmin said MIPIM Cannes recorded about 21,000 participants and visitors, 2,200 exhibitor companies, 4,500 investors, 3,200 CEOs and chairmen, 430 journalists, and 370 key political leaders from around the globe.

Tagged as the hottest destination in the country, Albay has emerged from being a disaster-afflicted to a dynamic province with a phenomenal tourism growth, from 8,700 in 2007 at the start of Salceda’s term as governor, to 339,000 in 2013. The figure hit 300,000 in 2011 and has steadily increased since then.

Undersecretary Jasmin said the DOT is putting up a specially designed pavilion in a 65 square-meter space located strategically within the MIPIM Fair exhibition hall to accentuate Philippine visibility.

As a featured country in the MIPIM, the Philippines will also be given a chance to make a presentation and pitch investment opportunities in the country, she added.

Bicol seeks more PPP in government’s social protection program

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 24 (PNA) -- True to the agency’s official logo, the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here said it is pursuing more public-private partnerships (PPP) in carrying out the government’s social protection program.

The logo symbolizes this partnership as shown by the pair of hands protectively holding a heart—representing the poor and disadvantaged population—stand for the joint responsibility of government, on one hand, and the private sector, on the other hand, in alleviating poverty and uplifting the life of the sector’s beneficiaries.

“The whole figure represents nurturing and caring -- the essence of social welfare, which the DSWD is all about,” Regional Director Arnel Garcia on Tuesday explained.

Hence, he said, his office has been working on the establishment of formal partnership agreements with more prospective private entities, non-government organizations (NGOs) or people’s organizations (POs) and other stakeholders towards its delivery of services under its mandate.

Such mandate specifies that the DSWD should provide assistance to other national government agencies (NGAs), local government units (LGUs), NGOs, POs and members of civil society organizations in the implementation of programs, projects, and services that will alleviate poverty and empower disadvantaged individuals, families and communities to improve their quality of life.

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

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

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

Since 4Ps does not only provide financial assistance but interventions to improve the welfare of the poor such us empowerment, participation and economic opportunities towards social protection, these beneficiaries are being nurtured into the culture of self-help leading to a productive life on their own feet.

The civil organizations and agencies, on the other hand, have been participating in the 4Ps budget process as part of the government’s commitments to integrate citizen’s participation as a means of enhancing transparency and accountability in the allocation of public funds, according to Garcia.

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

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

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

As part of this year’s activities involving the budgeting process, Garcia said, around 20 of these civil organizations coming from different parts of the Bicol Region participated in the consultation workshop held here last week.

In the same activity, the participants were reoriented on the preparation of project proposals and updated on the process of annual budget preparation and submission based on the principle of transparency and accountability in the allocation of public funds, he added.

60 Chinese tourists enjoying beauty of Mayon

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 23 (PNA) – Sixty Chinese tourists from Guandong Province are now here enjoying the beauty of Mayon and other tourist spots in Albay, especially this city.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal said the Chinese tourists arrived on Friday at the city airport via Manila from Guandong and will stay up to Tuesday.

They were welcomed by Rosal, Department of Tourism (DOT)-Bicol Regional Director Maria Ong-Ravanilla and businessman Elizaldy Co, owner of the posh Misibis Bay Resort in the nearby town of Cagraray Island in Bacacay, Albay.

The group represents the first batch of a series of Chines tourist arrivals arranged by the City Government of Legazpi and the management of the Misibis Bay as part of the city’s tourism promotion program.

Guandong Province is located in South China and occupies a land area of 178,000 square kilometers.

It is rich in fish and rice.

Rosal said the Chinese visitors are very much attracted to the view of the perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano, the beauty of the Lignon Hill View Deck and the perfect ambiance of the city’s boulevard.

Based on the data recorded by the City Tourism Office, he said, the city has achieved a total of 579,470 tourist arrivals, both foreign and domestic, in 2014, which in turn resulted in the city’s ranking 14th place in the country’s best tourist destination.

The mayor pointed out that his administration is aggressively working for the effective tourism promotion and continuous hosting of more conventions as well as seminars and other similar big gatherings to help achieve the target of 700,000 tourist arrivals this year.

The city aims to be included in the list of the DOT’s top 10 best tourist destinations in the country.

The city chief executive revealed that the City Tourism Office has already recorded 23 conventions to be held in our city, two of which are the APEC-Meeting/Workshop on Rebuilding Resilient Infrastructure on July 23-24 and the APEC-Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum on Sept. 14-15.

“This number of big gatherings is expected to increase until the yearend because we are always encouraging and inviting different giant organizations from Metro Manila and other parts of the country to hold their occasions in Legazpi, he added.

In 2014, at least 1,000 Chinese tourists visited this locality via direct flights from Xiamen City of Fujan Province in China to Legazpi City Airport during the annual celebration of the Ibalong Festival.

In that same year, members of the Philippine Travel Exchange (Philtex) composed of foreign travelers from Russia, China, Malaysia, Australia and Taiwan joined in a tree-planting activity in the Legazpi City Boulevard in Barangay Puro.

Most of them were tour operators who conducted a city tour in Manila and business talks with the local sellers, which included hotel owners and other local tour operators.

Legazpi to offer incentives to new tourism investments in the city

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) -- An ordinance that would provide for incentives to new tourism industry investments in this city serving as Bicol’s tourism center is now being pushed for enactment by the local legislative council.

Among the salient provisions of the proposed ordinance is the grant of business tax payment exemption to newly registered tourism enterprises while its owners will also be free from paying basic realty taxes on property improvements, building and machineries -- both for the period of two years.

It shall also mandate the city’s Business Permits and Licensing Division (BPLD) to give assistance in identifying business locations and in securing local permits and licenses for investors who want to engage in business in this city.

“We are offering these to attract more investors that would help us further improve our existing tourist facilities and attractions,” City Mayor Noel Rosal on Sunday told the Philippine News Agency.

This strategy, he explained, is based on the city government’s vision that promotes inclusive economic growth and sustainable development through effective and efficient services strengthened by the active participation of all stakeholders within a safe business environment.

Having more investors coming in will in the long run help improve the city’s revenue collection, sustain its economic growth, increase the value of local products, promote a sustainable tourism industry and generate more jobs for the local workforce, Rosal said.

“We also welcome public-private partnership—a development scheme between the city government and these prospective investors that we are strengthening,” he said.

The proposed Tourism Investment Incentive Ordinance was drafted by members of the Vision Aligned Circle (VAC 7), a planning unit organized by Rosal under its Performance Governance System (PGS) that it has institutionalized as a participatory process in line with the principles and best practices of good governance and responsible citizenship.

“We have been working on PGS since January 2008 and the continuing activities that included the creation of the VAC and Office of Strategy Management (OSM) as well as the formation of the city’s Multi-Sectoral Governance Coalition (MSGC) that have been actively initiating collaborative moves, which brought us to the PGS Compliance Status last year,” he said.

Such status won for the city government the most coveted Silver Governance Trailblazer (SGT) award for excellence in local governance given by the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) and the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) during fitting ceremonies in Manila last Oct. 21.

The city government garnered a score higher than 8.5 in the public revalida or performance report in accomplishing the compliance stage in ISA’s program for institutionalizing its PGS-- thus, the SGT award that made it the only winner among the country’s local government units (LGUs) last year.

ISA is a non-government organization that develops and promotes the PGS as a management tool by way of requiring LGUs and national agencies, including government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) to implement a series of reforms that fundamentally would transform its policy-making process and bureaucratic structure to proficiency.

Such accomplishment, which over years generally raised the city’s inclusive growth and development through effective local governance, was focused, among others, on local tourism developments highlighted by the campaign to capture a slot in Luzon’s five top convention destinations by 2020.

In tourism, the city received a total of 579,470 domestic and foreign tourists, representing a whopping increase of 32.6 percent from the previous year’s 141,370 arrivals which placed this premier Bicol metropolis, now known in the international travel world as the “City of Fun and Adventure,” in the 14th slot among the country’s best tourist destinations.

Last year, as the city worked on improving its rank to the country’s 10 best tourist destinations, it achieved another milestone in tourism development by receiving over 700,000 tourists for a 24-percent growth rate over 2013 and bringing it closer to hitting the targeted one-million mark by 2016.

“After all these accomplishments, including the achievement of the PGS compliance stage, our goal this year is to advance to the Island of Good Governance (IGG), a status awarded to local government units (LGUs) as well as other government institutions that have shown exemplary performance in terms of governance practices and transformation.

Advancing to IGG may win for the city government the ISA-NCC Gold Standard Award representing a test or measure of comparison that is considered ultimate or ideal.

With sustained commitment, he said, the city is closing in on institutional transformation as it levels up to the next phase of PGS—proficiency.

“An LGU, which is considered as economic spark plug where inclusive growth strategy needs to be specific with good governance, providing the edge can only be eligible for IGG if it is at least PGS proficient,” Rosal stressed, adding that the city as of today is on the right track towards it.

To qualify, the LGU should show proof that it has put in place the essentials of a good governance program that has already yielded substantial results by way of transformative breakthroughs that include a strategy map, performance scorecard, a working multi-sectoral governance coalition, an office for strategy management and a series of actual breakthrough results.

The award of IGG compliance status this year in now being processed by the ISA which took off with its pre-audit last January, followed by the third party audit starting this month.

Arriving at this status, he added, “is easy for us now that we have in place our PGS measured by integrity—as our actions and decisions are guided by the highest ethical standards; common good -- as we selflessly uphold the general welfare of all; commitment-- because we fulfill our mandate with perseverance, compassion and flexibility; and competence-- since we continuously upgrade our knowledge and skills in order to provide excellence service.”

(News Features) Albay barangay gets potable water supply from DAR project

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

GUINOBATAN, Albay, Feb. 21 (PNA) -- The long wait for a potable water system of over 300 households in a remote farming village of this first class Albay town by the foot of Mt. Mayon has come to an end.

The low-cost technology that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is applying in Bicol’s agrarian reform communities (ARCs) is now working and keeping potable water flow into households in Barangay Sinungtan, a lowly upland village occupied by families of mostly agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).

At the same time, the project, called Community-managed Potable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (CPWASH) recently implemented in the barangay, is providing villagers a wastewater treatment system that produces biogas usable as a substitute to liquefied petroleum gas for cooking with the use of animal wastes as a source of gas via decomposition process.

The DAR regional office based in Legazpi City formally turned over to the barangay the facility primarily intended to provide safe drinking water, and promote proper hygiene -- especially in areas with high incidence of water-borne diseases.

A collaborative effort of DAR, Philippine Center for Water and Sanitation (PCWS) and the municipal government of Guinobatan, the project now eases the difficulties of barangay residents in fetching water from deep wells and other sources that were found out to be contaminated with disease carrying organisms.

DAR Regional Director Luis Bueno Jr. said the project that can be managed by the host community uses low-cost, culturally acceptable and appropriate technology, featuring the provision of iron removal filter, bio-sand filter, rainwater collector and bio-gas digester.

It was put up out with Php155,000 provided by DAR from its regular fund with counterpart of Php50,000 from the local government of Guinobatan.

The implementation and completion of the project, according to Bueno, is very timely for the approaching summer season that artesian and open wells in the village run low, forcing villagers, especially the poor, to get their drinking water from more risky sources.

The new water system is placed under the management of the Barangay Water System Association (BAWASA) whose members are active farmers who are at the same time members of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization (ARBO).

The BAWASA runs the project as a community-managed enterprise providing beneficiaries with clean water, better hygiene and improved sanitation brought about by the biogas reactor that helps not only solve the community problem over stinking animal messes but also provide fuel for cooking, he said.

CPWASH was conceptualized to address the problem on sources of potable water confronting rural villagers, particularly in agrarian reform communities (ARCs), Bueno said, citing data from 2008 which estimated that 17 percent of this population still had no access to improved sanitation, with 14 percent estimated to be practicing open defecation.

With much of the Philippine countryside devoted to agriculture, this is a serious concern, as pollution generated from poor sanitation can adversely affect the health of agrarian practitioners and pollute their fields.

However, since many of these farmers and their communities have very little cash at hand, any proposed sanitation solutions must be low-cost, low maintenance, and provide some quantitative benefits for their users in order for them to be accepted, he explained.

Recognizing this issue, the PCWS decided to implement CPWASH as a sanitation project aimed at rural farming communities under the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which is managed by DAR.

Under this project, villagers are hired as construction workers, giving them hands-on training which they could use in putting up similar projects in their village and nearby communities, thus, providing them employment and business opportunity.

So far, the DAR-Bicol, since 2013, has already implemented around 30 CPWASH projects coupled with biogas digesters, benefiting thousands of ARC households across the region, records show.

One encouraging fact concerning CPWASH is that the beneficiary community can do it by themselves now as they were given training on the adoption of the low-cost technology that makes water from elevated streams and springs pass through pipes into a concrete water tank equipped with iron removal and bio sand filters to ensure constant flow of clean water.

ARBs are also taught how to fabricate by themselves the biogas reactor using a digester septic tank where wastes of animals like pigs, dogs, cows and carabaos are dumped into and generate cooking gas to substitute for LPG and other fossil fuels to save on money and the environment, Bueno said.

This project, he said, serves as a mechanism to raise the awareness and appreciation among ARBs and the entire community on the relationship of water, health and poverty that are closely linked to each other.

It also provides capacity development, enterprise management of the water system, monitoring/evaluation and technical assistance to end-users, he said.

Local government units (LGUs) in Bicol, particularly in the rural areas, are being encouraged by DAR to replicate the project in barangays, particularly in ARCs confronted by potable water supply and sanitation problems.

Overall, he said, the purpose of CPWASH is to bring about low-cost, culturally acceptable and appropriate water supply and sanitation technologies in each targeted ARC that can be managed and sustained as rural enterprise by the community.

This has the objective of reducing health issues in the communities from poor wastewater management that is resulting in polluted groundwater by both reducing the groundwater pollution via improved sanitation and by treating the groundwater prior to consumption via water filters, Bueno added.

Filipino-Chinese, Albayano culture, traditions blend in Albay's Fiesta Tsinoy

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- For the first time, the Filipino-Chinese community and the Albayano culture and traditions blended during the Fiesta Tsinoy Chinese Lunar New Year celebration on Thursday here.

Maria Nini Ong-Ravanilla, Bicol regional director of the Department of Tourism whose ancestor came from Fujian province in China, infused the Pastores Bicol in this year's Fiesta Tsinoy New Year celebration held in this city.

The Pastores Bicol is the Bicolanos’ beautiful commemoration of Christmas. It is a musical re-enactment of the age-old nativity story introduced by the Spaniards here.

Pastores came from the Spanish word pastoras, which means shepherds, and applies to both male and female wearing colorful indigenous attire, singing and dancing the first Christmas carols honoring Baby Jesus as the opening salvo of the Fiesta Tsinoy celebration here this year.

After showing the Albayano culture and traditions, the Filipino-Chinese younger generation also showed its beautiful, colorful and unique way of life in entertaining the Filipino-Chinese community members and Albayano local officials here.

Ravanilla said the Fiesta Tsinoy is a celebration of life, a time of revisiting the past, a time of renewal and a show of Tsinoys and Albayanos love for their respective culture and traditions.

“For this simple gathering will not only strengthen the bond and camaraderie among the Chinese-Filipino community members in Albay but will also pave the way for the young Chinese people to continue appreciating who they are, what they are and where they truly belong,” Ravanilla said.

“I am proud of my heritage. And just like you, I was brought up by strict but caring parents in an environment of overzealous men yet so patient, great talents but are humble and strong-willed yet so gentle. These are the marks of the real Tsinoy we are proud of,” she added.

Antonio S. Tan, Fiesta Tsinoy celebration chair and president of the Liberty Commercial Center - the first and only Bicolano chain of malls operating in Bicol - said Fiesta Tsinoy is a celebration of the cultural traditions, values and ideals revered by each and every Chinese-Filipino.

“Love and respect for our parents, patience and hard work and also of our solidarity with our fellow Filipinos. That we are all brothers professing the same love for our country and of the same hope and aspiration that our world will be a better place to live someday,” Tan said.

“May our celebration serve not only as a vehicle to promote tourism and spur local development but also inculcate in our hearts and minds, especially to the young generation of Tsinoys, to be proud of our Chinese ancestry, our cultural heritage, our values and work ethics handed down to us by our forefathers and ancestors,” he said.

World Bank's Php644-M fund given to 3 Bicol provinces to benefit 13,228 households


LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 19 (PNA) -- The World Bank (WB) has funded at least six major projects worth over Php644 million in three Bicol provinces that are expected to directly benefit some 65,000 persons or 13,228 households working in agriculture-based commodities such as coconut, pili, abaca, blue crab, seaweeds, livestock, pineapple, cacao, "malunggay" and "gabi."

Carolina Figueroa-Geron, team leader of the World Bank programs in the Philippines, said the projects are in Camarines Sur, Albay and Camarines Norte.

The projects to be funded in Camarines Sur are the rehabilitation of San Isidro to Pag-Oring Nuevo road in Libmanan costing Php44.7 million; upgrading of Cuco-Bagong Silang farm-to-market road in Pasacao town costing Php50.674 million; and upgrading of Managle-Caima farm-to-market road worth Php131.27 million in Sipocot town.

In Albay, the projects are the Albay Coco Geonets manufacturing enterprise in Libon town, funded with Php7.68 million; and rehabilitation and improvement of the Pistola-Tablon road with three bridges worth Php197.44 million in Oas town, both in Albay.

Meanwhile, the concreting of Pinagwarasan-Lanot road in Basud town in Camarines Norte is also included.

Official figures show that these projects under the government's Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) will directly benefit farmers and agriculture workers in the respective locations in Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

Geron said the projects are being undertaken through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the concerned local government units that are also required to chip in at least 10 percent of the project cost as their equity.

Dr. Elena De los Santos, DA-Bicol regional technical director and PRDP-Bicol focal person, said a three-day mission visit was made in Bicol on February 2-4 to look into the pace and progress of the sub-projects and the problems and issues that may arise in the course of the project implementation.

PRDP is a six-year national project which started in 2013 and is designed to establish a modern inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-resilient agriculture and fisheries sector.

"PRDP aims to increase rural incomes and enhance farm and fishery productivity in the targeted areas by providing support to smallholders and fishers to sustainably increase their marketable surpluses and improving access to markets," De los Santos said.

She said that to achieve its objectives, PRDP is partnering with LGUs and the private sector in providing key infrastructure, facilities, technology and information that will raise incomes, productivity and competitiveness in the countryside.

DOTC pursues Legazpi rail project

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is pursuing a P288 billion North-South Commuter rail project connecting Manila all the way to Legazpi City in Albay.

In a press conference, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the Aquino administration is developing mass rail transit systems as well as bus rapid transit systems all over the country.

“For a mega city like Manila, it is clearly a consequence of a growing economy is the growing capacity of our people to own their own vehicles – clearly, with our traffic that is not the way to go. And the solution to that natural tendency is to develop mass transit systems. Thus government is investing in rails, in BRTs, likewise reforming the bus system,” Abaya said.

According to Abaya 80 percent of the total population in Manila take public transportation and the remaining 20 percent use private vehicles.

“However, we are all in smaller modes like jeeps, tricycles and UV Express. The direction is to migrate the smaller PUVs to mass transport systems and eventually migrate private owners into mass transit systems,” he said.

The DOTC chief said the project aims to revive the railway to provide improved transport and logistics services to currently underserved areas and encourage more productive activities.

The first phase of the North-South commuter rail project worth P117.13 billion covers the North line stretching 37 kilometers from Malolos to Tutuban. It would have 15 stations and would carry 340,000 passengers per day.

Abaya said the government expects to sign the loan agreement for the project in the third quarter of the year while the detailed engineering design is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of next year.

Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2017 and would be completed by the third quarter of 2020.

On the other hand, Phase 2 worth P170.7 billion of the project covers 653 kilometers including the 56-km stretch from Tutuban to Calamba (South Line) with 19 stations catering to 330,000 passengers per day as well as the 478-km stretch from Manila to Calamba; 58-km from Calamba to Batangas and 117-km from Legazpi to Matnog catering to 11,000 passengers per day.

Construction for Phase 2 is expected to commence in the first quarter of next year and would be completed in the last quarter of 2019. Once completed, travel time would be reduced to 53 minutes from 2.5 hours.

Aside from the North – South commuter rail project, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) approved the P35.4-billion Cavite – Laguna expressway (CALAX) paving the way for the rebidding at a floor price of P20.1 billion as well as the North Luzon expressway – South Luzon expressway (NLEX-SLEX) connector road originally proposed by Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).

The NLEX-SLEX connector road project involves the construction and operation and maintenance (O&M) of a 13.5 km. four-lane elevated expressway over the Philippine National Railway (PNR) right-of-way starting in Caloocan City and ends in Buendia, Makati City.

Meanwhile, the CALAx project will provide a critical link for the provinces of Cavite and Laguna connecting two major toll roads – the Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) and the SLEX.

Marine scientists study Burias Pass biodiversity

By Rhaydz B. Barcia [(PNA), FPV/FGS/RBB/CBD/EBP]

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 17 (PNA) -- Foreign and Filipino marine scientists are closely studying the importance of the biodiversity in the Burias Pass, home of rare and endangered species in the world.

The Burias Pass is located between Albay and Masbate provinces where a rare megamouth shark was trapped and fished out by fishermen from Marigondon, Pioduran town on Jan. 28.

Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, an Italian marine scientist and director of Large Marine Vertebrates Project in Philippines, said Monday they are studying the biodiversity of the Burias Pass as this area is a very important biodiversity in the country.

Ponzo, along with Dr. Aa Yaptinchay, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines director, flew in to Legazpi to lead the necropsy of the rare megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) found dead in Catandulan Point near Donsol, Sorsogon, where it accidentally got entangled in a net and believed to have died prior to being caught.

The necropsy of rare megamouth shark was also participated by Dr. Florencio Adonay, Albay provincial veterinarian officer-in-charge, and Dr. Evelyn Saberon of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The Manta Bowl is found in the Burias Pass, known for its plankton-rich water and constant current.

Such traits make the waters as an alley for other pelagic sea life like the whale shark, thresher shark, hammerhead shark and tiger shark.

The whale shark or butanding -- the world’s gentle giant fish in the world, dancing dolphin and mantra ray are sighted in the Burias Pass during the months of October to May.

Nonie P. Enolva, team leader of BFAR Bicol-Fisheries Regional Emergency Stranding Response team and chief of the Marine Fisheries Resource Management Section, said the Burias Pass is highly diverse -- meaning the Burias-Ticao Pass fishing ground is very important in the biological diversity of the region.

“The Burias-Ticao Pass is considered a very productive fishing ground and home to a rich assemblage of some important apex species like sharks, rays, dolphins and whales but ironically is heavily exploited and an identified area of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) -- not to mention the old practice of butchering and eating protected fish species by the local folk,” Dennis V. del Socorro, BFAR Bicol regional director, said.

According to Del Socorro, there is a need to enforce stricter fishery laws and regulations through regular sea patrolling, monitoring, control and surveillance to curb illegal fishing practices in the Bicol waters.

“Considering that we have these planktivorous megafauna -- along with the whale sharks and manta rays, especially in the Burias-Ticao Pass -- makes us conclude that the fishing ground is very important in the biological diversity of the region,” Enolva said.

The recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Oceans and Fisheries Working Group meeting highlighted how fisheries and sustainable aquaculture are critical in ensuring food security, sustainable livelihood and economic prosperity worldwide.

Fish are a critical source of protein for many, particularly in the APEC Region.

One way of achieving food security in the coastal and marine environment is to combat IUU fishing, improve biodiversity of all support-ecosystems, and create well-maintained ecosystems that provide more ecological goods and better ecological services.

Del Socorro, who also serves as chairperson of the sub-committee on Fishing and Marine Environment Protection of the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee along with other 20-member national government agencies, said they are determined to enhance their strategies to address massive unabated illegal fishing challenges.

The official said their office prioritizes stricter enforcement of the fishery laws by allocating funds for the logistics, procurement of patrol boats and other floating assets and by continuously implementing capability-building programs for fishery law enforcers in the entire country’.

The Samahan ng mga Mangingisda ng Rehiyon at Lokal, Inc., the regional alliance of fisherfolk organizations in Bicol region, will also be making steps on how the fisherfolk sector can help the government in this campaign.

Through strong government-private sector partnership, the government can hopefully help address the pressing fisheries issues in the region.

Legazpi City to attract tourism investments through incentives

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 16 (PNA) -- To sustain the robust tourist arrivals and improve investors’ confidence in the city, members of the Vision Aligned Circle (VAC 7) have drafted the Legazpi City Tourism Investment Incentive Ordinance.

The group, headed by chairperson Asuncion Calleja, coordinator of the City Permits and Licenses Division, has already forwarded the proposed ordinance to Mayor Noel E. Rosal for final review and suggestions.

It was earlier submitted to Councilor Alan Ranola, committee on trade, industry and investment chair, and Councilor Chito Baldo, committee on tourism chair, for committee hearing and fine-tuning.

The ordinance aims to help improve the city’s revenue collection and sustain its economic growth, Calleja said.

It further aims to generate more jobs for the city’s constituents, increase the value of local products and promote a sustainable tourism industry.

It will also strengthen the private-public partnership scheme between the Legazpi City administration and the private sector, she added.

Based on the draft ordinance, all newly registered enterprises will be exempted from business taxes for a period of two years while their owners will also be exempted from basic realty taxes on property improvements, buildings and machineries.

Calleja said the Business Permits and Licensing Division will also give assistance in identifying business locations and in securing local permits and licenses for investors who want to engage in business in this city.

“But if the investors will violate the provision of the proposed ordinance, it shall be a ground for cancellation or revocation of the business registration and the withdrawal of all incentives given to the business,” she stressed.

Legazpi joins pili tree growing on Valentine’s Day

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 15 (PNA) -– More and more Bicolanos are jumping into the pili production bandwagon.

On Saturday, the day of St. Valentine, the city government here initiated a massive tree-planting activity under its yearly “Lakad-Tanim Alay sa Puso (Walk-Plant for the Heart)” project which fixed over 4,000 pili trees on a barren site off the foot of the majestic Mayon Volcano.

The tree-planting project is now on its 9th year and Mayor Noel Rosal who led the activity said “we have initiated it more massively since 2011 as our share to the National Greening Program (NGP) of the national government which was launched by Pres. Benigno Aquino III in February of the same year as one of his administration’s flagship programs for the environment.”

The activity, which also marked the first formal observance of the declaration of Feb. 14 as Arbor Day for the city based on a resolution passed by the city legislative council and approved by Rosal in July last year was participated in by nearly 4,000 Legazpeños—city and national government officials and employees, students, policemen, soldiers, Bureau of Fire Protection firefighters and village folk, among others.

The planting materials were provided by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) headed in Bicol by Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales who was among those who joined the five-hour planting euphoria that started with a five-kilometer walk from the foot of Ligñon Hill to the site in Barangay Pawa, nine kilometers from the crater of the active volcano.

The activity was culminated by a rain shower which city agriculturist Jesus Kallos said was the nature’s contribution to the noble activity since it gives the newly planted trees a good chance to survive, grow to maturity and serve the purpose of not only revitalizing the local forest but also giving a boost to the growing popularity of Bicol’s pili industry.

Rosal said the site is being developed by the city as a public pili orchard which later would become an additional source of income for local residents who would benefit from the fruits and other by-products of the trees.

“While we in the local government are aggressively pursuing programs leading to the development of the city as a highly urbanized and livable metropolis, we are at the same time enhancing our countryside environment to maintain ecological balance not only to address the negative impacts of the changing climate but also provide livelihood opportunities to our poor,” he said.

Later on, the mayor said, the pili trees will be intercropped with other high-value crops such as cacao, malunggay (moringa), squash and eggplants, among other plants, that do not compete with pili over the soil’s nutrients.

Gonzales said the DENR-Bicol has been producing grafted pili planting materials for the NGP in the region to help the local pili nut industry satisfy the growing demand in both the domestic and international market while providing the barren forest with sturdy trees that could withstand strong typhoons and flashfloods.

On the commercial side of the industry, the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office based in Pili, Camarines Sur, has recently launched a project that intends to ensure the sustainability of pili production in the region by encouraging landowners to participate in establishing more plantations.

The project dubbed “PILIpinas” is now in operation in partnership with J. Emmanuel Pastries, the region’s biggest producer, supplier and exporter of pili nut products with factories in Canaman, also in Camarines Sur.

Under the project, Joseph and Lydia Lomibao, the husband and wife owners of the firm, have been linking up landowners in the region for a pili tree contract growing scheme that ensures stable market for pili nut harvested.

Under the scheme, J.Emmanuel Pastries will buy at fair farm gate prices as much as 80 percent of the harvested pili nuts, as well as 100 percent of the produce from the intercropped plants.

Under the same project, which was conceptualized as a Public-Private Scheme, the DA also provides crafted pili seedlings, technical assistance on the establishment of scion grove and nursery through training, farm lay-outing and provision of materials for intercropping and production of organic fertilizer for pili plantation.

DA-Bicol has initially allocated 10,000 grafted pili seedlings to the project under its High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP).

DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas, in an earlier statement reaching here, said he had also instructed the six Research Outreach Stations of the DA distributed among the six provinces of Bicol to include the massive production of pili seedlings and intercrops in their operations, in addition to their regular activities.

This, as he expressed optimism that the present share in the foreign market of Bicol’s pili nut will further increase, especially that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has already launched the “Bikol pili” geographical indication (GI).

GI refers to a certain product guaranteed with good quality, reputation or characteristics indigenous only to its geographical origin.

The Bikol Pili GI was launched by DTI in the recent Orgullo kan Bikol regional trade fair at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.

According to the Lomibao couple, the demand for pili increases daily in both in local and global markets and one way to cope with it is massive nut production through an aggressive expansion of production areas.

J, Emmanuel alone needs at least 200 kilograms of fresh pili kernel daily to support its five-day weekly operations, they said, adding that their supply is derived largely from Sorsogon province, the region’s top pili nut producer owing to its huge decades-old plantations.

Albay grandpas, grandmas celebrate Valentine's Day early

By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo [(PNA), FPV/FGS/NIM/CBD/EDS]

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 13 (PNA) -- Various colors and scents of roses dominate the romantic atmosphere in Albay Astrodome here Thursday as grandfathers and grandmothers in Albay province celebrated Valentine's Day early.

Love was all over the airconditioned structure as the elderly lovebirds enjoyed the early celebration of the day of the hearts hosted by the Provincial Government of Albay led by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, Vice Governor Harold Imperial and other officials of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay.

Co-sponsors of the romantic affair are the Population Commission, Provincial Health Office, Provincial Population Office, Government Service Insurance System and Albay Association of Senior Citizens (ASCA).

The occasion had for its theme "Mga lolo at lola gabay sa responsableng pagpapamilya (Grandfathers and grandmothers, guide to responsible parenthood)."

At least 250 senior couples from the 15 towns and three cities of the province attended the occasion, according to Nerio B. Barbacena, Association of Senior Citizens in Albay (ASCA) president.

Regional Director Magdalena Abellera of the Population Commission-Bicol said every agency of the national government is required by law to have a program for senior citizens.

Abellera underscored the important role of the grandparents in guiding their respective families whose members should be emotionally, psychologically, socially and financially prepared.

"This is responsible parenthood," she said.

Abellera said that through this, any abuses that may come from a member of the family could be avoided.

Dr. Nathaniel Rempillo, Albay provincial health officer, assured their continuous assistance for the health of the elderly through the different services of the provincial hospital and automatic membership of senior citizens in PhilHealth based on Republic Act 10645 or An Act Providing for the Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens.

Rempillo urged the senior citizens to maintain their health and avoid smoking and drinking liquor.

He urged them to practice a healthy lifestyle.

Board Member Ralph Andes, committee on senior citizens chair, said the Provincial Government of Albay has an extensive program for the implementation of the RA 10645 in cooperation with the officials and members of the ASCA in every town and city down to the barangay level with the Barangay ASCA.

"Just show your senior citizen's ID as proof of your being a senior citizen and you will enjoy the benefits for PhilHealth members," Andes advised.

He claimed that the feedbacks on the implementation of the 20-percent discount on medicines and groceries are positive.

He said the province has other activities for the senior citizens for the whole year.

After the Valentine's Day celebration, the official said, will be "Lolo at Lola sa Magayon" in April.

At yearend, he said, there will be a general assembly cum Christmas party of senior citizens.

Barbacena thanked the provincial government for the continuous support it gives to ASCA.

He vowed that the ASCA members will remain models to their respective families.

"The flame of love should always be burning between senior couples, fueled by respect, discipline, fidelity and love of God," the ASCA president added.

One observer said, "It's so nice to watch the improvements of Albay not only in saving historical infrastructures but also in remembering and reciprocating the love of our grandparents. I have a French nurse friend who came to visit the Philippines and said 'Filipinos are so friendly and always smiling'."

DTI installs ‘Timbangan ng Bayan’ in Region 5 public markets


LEGAZPI CITY (PNA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry has installed 196 "Timbangan ng Bayan" in all public markets in the cities and municipalities all over Region 5.

This project of DTI is in line with the agency’s mandate of safeguarding the welfare of the consumers by ensuring that they get their money’s worth.

Local government units, which are tasked to regulate and enforce practices relative to weights and measures, have expressed full support to this endeavor.

The DTI is encouraging consumers to validate or double check the accuracy of the weight of their purchased goods, like fish, meat, rice, and other goods, especially now that there is a Timbangan ng Bayan in all public markets.

"This is one way of deterring unscrupulous business owners in public markets from tampering their weighing scales," DTI Regional Director Joy Blanco said.

Consumers who will be having problems are advised to call DTI phone number 4805720 or visit its office at 3F Capitol Annex Bldg., Legazpi City.

Albay Agri Ethno Village seen to open next month

By Nancy Ibo Mediavillo [(PNA), CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD]

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 11 (PNA) -- Local government officials headed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda expect the opening to the public of a new tourist destination in the Province of Albay after the ocular inspection of the project they had with Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and other guests on Tuesday afternoon.

The project, located in Barangay Cabangan, Camalig town, is part of Salceda's flagship project in tourism and agriculture that is envisioned to provide interactive, fun and learning experience as a destination or one-stop shop.

The project occupies a seven-hectare land area and costs Php60 million, whose funding came from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), formerly the Philippine Tourism Authority under the Department of Tourism.

Phase One of the project is already complete at a cost of Php25 million.

It covers more than one hectare of land that will have the picnic area, parking and rest houses.

Phase Two of the project will be the next target to be constructed by the Provincial Engineering Office under Engr. Dante Baclao.

Salceda said this will house the one-town-one-product center of the province with a demo center.

The place will feature the traditional livelihood jobs of the Albayanos like honey bee/butterfly production, "kalamay" and coco sugar making, abaca stripping, pilinut making and tuba gathering.

It will also display the famous products of of each town and city of the province.

In Polangui town, it is kalamay and muscovado making; Oas, puto making; Manito, tiger grass broom making; Malilipot, abaca weaving; Camalig, pinangat making; Tabaco, cutlery; Tiwi, pottery; Pioduran, dried fish; Bacacay, karagumoy; Rapu-Rapu, fish products; Daraga, anahaw fan; Ligao City, sunflower and Legazpi City, tourism.

Albay Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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