Albay News

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List of Municipalities in the Albay Province within Region V in the Republic of The Philippines
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PSA-Bicol set for 2015 PopCen

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 31 (PNA) – After conducting the training for around- 6,000 newly-hired census area supervisors and enumerators, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Bicol regional office here on Friday said it is set for the 2015 Population Census (PopCen) in the region.

This year’s PopCen will be simultaneously conducted nationwide from Aug. 10 to Sept. 10 and PSA interim regional director Cynthia Perdiz said the training sessions were separately held in each of the six Bicol provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon.

The training sessions, done in three levels, aim to ensure the efficient conduct of the household survey that will gather complete household data and exact number of population of each of the region’s six provinces, seven cities, 107 municipalities and 3,471 barangays.

“We consider this survey, the biggest being conducted by the PSA every five years, as a big challenge to these newly-hired field workers, that is why each of them was encouraged to give the training extra importance so that they learn the right strategies in extracting the needed information from respondents,” Ferdiz said.

She said the data to be gathered during the survey will be of great importance to the government, from the barangay to the national levels, since it will provide government executives, policy and decision makers, and planners with especially updated population counts and other data of all barangays in the country on which to base their social and economic development plans, policies, and programs.

She said the PopCen data encompass all sectors and among its important uses, on the part of the government, are redistricting and apportionment of congressional seats; allocation of resources and revenues; creation/conversion of political and administrative units; formulation of policies concerning various segments of the population; and formulation of policies and programs relative to the delivery of basic services.

In business and industry, the PopCen data are useful in the identification of sites for establishing businesses; determination of consumer demands for various goods and services; and improvement of supply of labor for the production of goods and services.

It is also important to research and academic institutions in the conduct of researches on population and related disciplines; and study of population growth and geographic distribution as bases in preparing population projections at the national and sub-national levels, according to Ferdiz.

The 2015 PopCen, which is a complete enumeration of households in the country, is designed primarily to take an inventory of the population of the entire Philippines.

It also collects information about some characteristics of the population such as age, sex, marital status, and highest grade completed.

It will be the 14th census of population to be undertaken in the country since the first census in 1903.

Moreover, it will be the third population census to be conducted in -between two decennial censuses as previous to it, mid-decade censuses were carried out in 1995 and 2007.

“Hence, we appeal for cooperation from every Bicolano household by way of showing willingness to be interviewed by our enumerators when they knock at their doors,” the PSA regional chief said.

She explained that there are three types of questionnaires to be used in this census: the Household Questionnaire (CP Form 2), the Institutional Population Questionnaire (CP From 4) and the Barangay Schedule (CP Form 5).

The respondent for CP Form 2 shall be the head of the household or his/her spouse, or any responsible member of the household who can provide accurate answers to the questions or who can give correct information for the household and all its members.

For CP Form 4, the respondent shall be the manager, administrator or an individual member of the institution or institutional living quarter while the barangay chairperson or any incumbent barangay official, shall be the respondent for CP Form 5.

Census respondents, Ferdiz said, are obliged to provide truthful and complete answers to the census as mandated under Section 27 of Republic Act 10625 in order to make the gathering, consolidation and analysis of the data in the most truthful and credible manner.

“Any individual who refuses or fails to give truthful and complete answers to statistical inquiries could be penalized with one year imprisonment and a fine of Php100,000,” she warned.

She also assured that the information given to the census enumerator will not be used for other purposes as all personnel involved in POPCEN 2015 are required to keep in “strict confidence” any information obtained during the census that pertains to any particular household or person.

Section 26 of R.A. No. 10625, she said, stipulates that individual data furnished by a respondent to statistical inquiries, surveys, and censuses of the PSA shall be considered privileged information and as such shall be inadmissible as evidence in any proceeding.

The PSA releases data gathered from censuses only in the form of summaries or statistical tables, in which no reference to an individual, corporation, association, partnership, institution or business enterprise shall appear.

Likewise, Section 27 of RA No. 10625 states that a person, including parties within the PSA Board and the PSA, who breach the confidentiality of information, whether by carelessness, improper behavior, behavior with malicious intent, and use of confidential information for profit shall be liable to a fine of as much as Php10,000 and/or imprisonment of three months but not to exceed one year, subject to the degree of breach of information, she added.

Legazpi City health office leads bloodletting drive


LEGAZPI CITY, Juy 30 (PIA) -- The Legazpi City Health Office collected at least 201 bags of blood as part of the bloodletting drive held Wednesday at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation (ICR) in support to the country’s blood month celebration.

The whole day activity started with the Walk for Safe Blood led by CHO chief Dr. Fulbert Alec Gillego together with Mayor Noel E. Rosal and Vice Mayor Vitorrio Roces.

Almost 6,000 Legazpenos coming from different sectors of society joined the said activity along with officers and personnel of Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail and Penology (BJMP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Philippine Army (PA), Coast Guard, Philippine Red Cross, Tactical Operation Group (ATOG 5), Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Tau Gamma, AKRHO as well as villagers and students among others.

The two kilometer walk started in front of the new LCC Mall currently undergoing construction passing the stretch of the concrete road of Barangay Capantawan through Gaisano Mall and down to the ICR. It was followed by the Eucharistic Mass Officiated by Father Javvy Javines.

Rosal appealed to the participants of the event for constant support to the blood-letting program of the city administration urging them to continue promoting the voluntary blood donations in order to provide adequate supply of safe blood for transfusion.

He furthered that all the collected blood in this event would be used by patients in need of bloods for their medical services.

The mayor noted that the foremost agenda of the city administration is to rehabilitate the city health office and construct a Blood Bank Station with modern facilities and equipment to sustain efficient health services to the constituents and pave the way for clean and safe blood by needed by patients.

Furthermore Dr. Gillego said this mega blood-letting event would serve as an instrument in strengthening health services to every patient particularly those coming from poor families.

He said that his office will continue to conduct the same activities in different villages of this city to achieve the target blood bags for the year and to provide at least ten to 20 blood bags everyday to meet the needs of patients.

Gillego added that the collected blood bags will also be used for disaster preparedness especially during in times of calamities noting that the blood program of the city is an instrument in prolonging the lives of every people in the communit.

This program has been recognized by the Department of Health with Legazpi City as one of its blood collecting units.

Gillego said he is hoping that the city will also receive the SANDUGO award from the DOH this coming August or September.

The SANDUGO AWARD is the blood collection program in support to the implementation of the National Voluntary Blood Services program (NVBSP) of the DOH.

Disaster preparedness now a way of life in Albay

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- Disaster preparedness is now part of daily life routine among Albayanos, “just like taking a bath.” It is now part of their culture and way of life.

Commenting on the country’s state of disaster preparedness, particularly on the widely publicized likelihood of an earthquake in highly congested Metro Manila, Albay Governor Joey Salceda said government needs to level up on preparations and mitigation initiatives on climate change and disasters because “it is our response that will always shape up human conditions.”

The United Nations has declared Albay as its Global Model in climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR), and Salceda, a multi-awarded campaigner for CCA and DRR as its Senior Global Champion and spokesman on CCA-DRR. He also served as 2014-2915 Board chairman of the UN Green Climate Fund.

Interviewed after President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) early this week, Salceda said both the evacuation routes and evacuation centers should be safe, because in times of earthquakes, a large number of people have to be moved swiftly, to make sure they reach their destinations safely and fast enough or be trapped.

Disaster preparations are founded on capacity building for all elements of the community -- from its smallest unit, the family; to the state of mind of the entire community itself; the schools, most particularly, the emergency relief, food, health provisions and sanitation, to long term infrastructure planning and execution, he explained.

Authorities said a possible 7.2 magnitude quake may shake Metro Manila any time soon which could result in some 33,000 fatalities. Officials said evacuation camps have already been identified. Regular emergency drills are now being undertaken. A nationwide earthquake drill has also been set on July 30.

“I don’t see safe routes in Metro Manila. For one, if an earthquake strikes, where will you pass? And you must also build evacuation centers and not just put people in golf courses,” Salceda said.

Albay, one of the most disaster-prone areas in the country, has initiated pioneering programs in CCA-DRR, which have earned its awards and recognitions from both national and international institutions. Among such honors are three Gawad Kalasag Awards and a Hall of Fame niche from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council.

Albay has invested substantially in strengthening infrastructures to mitigate damage during calamities. Its multi-billion peso Albay GUICADALE (Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi) Economic Township program was initially a geostrategic intervention to move people from risky areas to safer grounds, but is now fast shaping up as an economic development platform to transform its 64,000-hectare area into a sprawling business boom center.

The Albay provincial government now conducts regular training on risk reduction in schools and local communities and has set in place early warning systems and emergency management equipment.

Legazpi City convention center construction to start soon


LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -- The construction of the Legazpi City Convention Center will start soon with a PHP50-million loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) Legazpi City Branch, Mayor Noel E. Rosal said Wednesday.

Rosal, city treasurer Carlita de Guzman and LBP Legazpi City Branch manager Marissa Rito recently signed the loan agreement at the office of the city chief executive.

According to engineer Noel B. Encinares, chief of the city’s construction division, the civil works of the project will be supervised by the City Engineering Office and will start any time next month.

Encinares said that based on the study of his office, the building has a total floor area of 2,165.55 square meters, with a total parking slots of 104 for vehicles.

It can also accommodate 1,000 sets of restaurant settings or 3,000 sets of theater settings.

The total cost of civil works of the project is PHP47.01 million and for the installation of sound system, tables and air-conditioning unit, the cost will be about PHP2.9 million.

The original design of the building was a multi-purpose hall that was built last year and funded by the city administration in the amounts of PHP7 million (Phase 1), which includes the sub-structure, and PHP18.8 million (Phase II) that involves the roofing works, beams, stage, electrical works, comfort rooms and dressing room.

Rosal said the new loan from the LBP will be used for improvements of the project while the original multi-purpose hall will be converted into a convention center.

He said this project is part of the preparation for a venue for a continuously increasing number of conventions, seminars and other similar big gatherings to be held in this city.

The city mayor said these events will be a big factor to achieve the target of the city administration to become one of the top five convention centers by year 2020.

Based on the data taken from the City Tourism Office, around 33 conventions and seminars were held in the city in 2014 and this year, the city has listed a total of 63 gatherings supposed to be held here from January to July and 52 events have already been conducted, mostly by big organizations from different parts of the country.

These events contributed to the improvement of indirect taxes of the city and increased the income of the transport sector, Rosal said.

The improvement of business activities in this city will continue to increase its share from the internal revenue allotment from the national government, he added.

PNP-Bicol in full alert status in entire region for PNoy's SONA

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 27 (PNA) -- Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona, Philippine National Police-Bicol regional director, has placed his men in the entire region in full alert status to ensure peace and security during the State of the Nation Address (SONA)of President Benigno S. Aquino III Monday.

Deona issued a directive to all provincial directors and city and chiefs of police to intensify their men's patrol and security operations in their respective areas of responsibility.

He also ordered his police officers to exercise maximum tolerance in rallies to be conducted during the SONA.

Deona said the rally participants can freely express their sentiments on the SONA of the Presidents as this is their constitutional right of freedom of expression.

He, however, asked the rallying militants to also respect the rights of others, like the motorists and their other fellowmen.

The top Bicol police official appealed to them not block the streets so that the motorists can pass through.

"Respect for each other is the rule," he said.

In this connection, Sr. Supt. Marlo Meneses, Albay provincial police director, said security measures are already in place in the province for the President's SONA and his men are in full alert status as ordered by Deona.

Based on his chief's order, Meneses said his men are exercising full maximum tolerance as about 1,000 people have started gathering at the Peñaranda Park at about 10:30 a.m. Monday.

He thanked the Albayanos for being peace-loving people and historically, there has been no record of trouble during the SONA of a President.

Albay solon readies measure seeking declaration of Ticao-Burias Pass as protected seascape

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

LIGAO CITY, July 26 (PNA) -- Albay 3rd district Rep. Fernando Gonzalez said here on Sunday he is readying a legislative measure seeking the declaration of the Ticao-Burias Pass as a Marine Protected Area (MPA).

Gonzalez explained that protected seascapes are among sites of national significance characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and ocean while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through the recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activities offered by these areas.

The congressman, whose representation in Congress covers Albay west coast which is along Burias Pass, said that once officially declared as MPA under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), the Ticao-Burias Pass will be placed under the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), a multi-sectoral body which will be created to be responsible for its administration and management.

The PAMB as provided under the NIPAS Act of 1992 shall be composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional executive director and representatives of local governments and barangays with jurisdictions over areas covered by the MPA, non-government organizations and from other government agencies involved in the protected area management.

The same law provides the legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas in the Philippines defined as the identified portions of land and/or water set aside by reason of their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against destructive human exploitation.

“There is indeed an urgent need for the Burias-Ticao Pass to be declared an MPA or a protected seascape to save and preserve its great marine diversity threatened by unabated illegal fishing activities and other abuses,” Gonzalez said.

These waters are home to whale sharks, manta rays, dugong and various species of sea turtles, exotic coral reefs and lately discovered to be a habitat of the globally rare megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios), he said.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Ocean Campaigner Vince Cinches, who expressed support to the proposed Gonzalez’s measure, said both water bodies are being overfished and devoid of more sustainable coastal resource management initiatives.

Greenpeace an independent global campaigning organization that, among other environmental activism, challenges wasteful and destructive fishing activities and creating a global network of marine reserves.

The idea carrying the Burias-Ticao Pass Protected Seascape (BTPPS) fathered by Gonzalez was first brought out during last month’s observance here of the World Oceans Day held along the Burias Pass shoreline in Barangay Cabarian that put together various marine ecology protection and conservation stakeholders in Bicol.

The event also marked the formation of a broad coalition among local stakeholders towards the conservation of the exotic ecological system of the two inland waters that separate Masbate province from the mainland of Bicol.

The coalition led by the city government here is composed, among others, of the regional offices for Bicol of the DENR, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Philippine National Police (PNP).

Others in its fold are the local command of the Philippine Army (PA); the municipal government of Pioduran, Albay; Greenpeace Philippines; Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD); barangay officials; and fisher folk.

The two other towns covering barangays along the Albay west coast--Libon and Oas -- have also signified intentions to be part of the coalition committed not only to put an end to illegal fishing and another abusive use of our marine resources but also to further revitalize the local coastal environment.

The primary concern of the coalition is the huge fishing ground covering Albay west coast’s municipal waters and their rich coastal resources threatened by human pressures, including over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as unsustainable aquaculture practices, marine pollution, habitat destruction, climate change and ocean acidification.

Good for this city because its water within Burias Pass -- which is approximately 126 square-kilometers in expanse and coastline of about 8.4 kilometers in expanse covering barangays Cabarian, Catburawan and Maonon -- is site of a marine ecology enhancement program reinforced with a “we-mean-business” anti-illegal fishing campaign being maintained by the local government.

But other Ticao-Burias areas, including those covered by municipalities of Masbate and Sorsogon, particularly need the protection that members of the coalition such as the DENR, BFAR, PNP, PA, LCCAD and Greenpeace want to extend.

Gonzalez said he is optimistic that the proposed legislative measure for the BTPPS will be given a warm welcome and wide support by Congress, given that Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate’s committee on environment and natural resources, and DENR Sec. Ramon Paje have already expressed their approval of it.

This initial approval was conveyed by Legarda and Paje following its presentation to the conference of the PAMB in Pasig City early this month.

LCCAD executive director Manuel Rangasa said the BTPPS will be a milestone policy for the first MPA in Bicol and fourth in the country which Gonzalez vows to pursue in the Lower House with the help of Legarda in Senate.

Villages start construction of 1,284 sub-projects under Kalahi-CIDSS


LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PNA) -- Marjorie Oshiro of Barangay San Roque, Sto. Domingo, Albay was delighted that the construction of the drainage canal that will benefit 224 households, including theirs, has started last July 16.

“Our house gets inundated during continuous downpour and we look forward to see that the canal will protect us from flooding once completed,” Oshiro said.

She is one of the villagers who take the lead role in the implementation of the 1,284 people-identified sub-projects in Bicol under the Kapit- Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) and who have already started the construction of these community projects this month.

“We aim to have these sub-projects completed before the year ends so that the poor villages can immediately use these facilities and services,” Arnel Garcia, Department of Social Welfare and Development Bicol regional director, said Friday.

Sub-projects refer to the community projects generated through the Kalahi-CIDSS planning process.

It is a set of development activities or interventions designed, implemented, maintained by a partner community in a barangay in order to respond to or address the needs or problems identified during the Participatory Situation Analysis held recently.

Garcia said the DSWD has already downloaded Php1.048 billion out of the Php2.3-billion grant for the 2014-2015 implementation of the Kalahi-CIDSS to the communities in 88 municipalities.

San Roque has already received the first tranche download of Php453,144.20 out of the total project cost of Php566,430.25.

The involved barangays have already opened separate bank accounts to get the Kalahi-CIDSS grants.

“The project-hired area coordinators of DSWD, barangay treasurers and the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee chairpersons are the bank signatories authorized to disburse the funds for the labor and materials and other administrative expenses incurred for the sub-projects,” Garcia said.

The DSWD requires the communities to submit documents to avail themselves of the funds, which are released in three tranches.

The DSWD will only download the first tranche of the funds when the communities completely submit documents such as project proposals, technical/engineering, financial, legal and procurement documents.

The rest of the funds are only transferred to their accounts when the communities reach the required target for the sub-project physical completion and fund utilization with corresponding liquidation of documents to DSWD for the succeeding two tranches.

“The residents who are elected as volunteers are trained on project management with the technical assistance from our DSWD-hired employees to ensure that there is people participation and transparency in all transactions done,” Garcia said.

Communities were selected based on the community’s population, number of poor households and damage-affected households by Typhoon “Glenda” and Super Typhoon “Yolanda”.

Historic Albay town bares enormous tourism growth

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

CAMALIG, Albay, July 24 (PNA) -– Rich in history, culture and natural wonders, this quaint municipality sitting close to the foot of majestic Mt. Mayon is pulling a dramatic local tourism industry lift.

In its report released Friday, the Municipal Tourism Office (MTO) said that for the inclusive period covering April to June this year alone, the municipality already received a total of 15,107 tourists, 447 of them foreigners.

This figure, according to Jed Villanueva, the municipal tourism officer, is exactly 228.05-percent higher than the 7,715 arrivals during the same period last year and even surpassed the 12,061 recorded for the whole of 2014.

The 2015 second quarter report of the MTO came following this year’s holding of the town’s Pinangat Festival, a colorful merry-making that runs for two weeks in June, bringing to fore the town’s culinary pride —pinangat, a concoction of ground shrimp or fish paste wrapped in gabi (taro) leaves and cooked into a stew with ginger, chili and coconut milk.

This culinary creation mastered by almost every kitchen hand here to capture the discriminating taste of fellow Bicolanos as well as tourists and visitors is considered as one of Bicol’s signature delicacies next to the mouth-burning Bikol Express.

Part of the celebration this year was the Heritage Walk that featured pinangat-making competitions and exhibitions and town’s century-old church and colonial houses that drew a total of 1,587 tourist arrivals, Villanueva said.

He attributed this remarkable local tourism industry achievement to the aggressive promotion initiated by the local government and the development of the various tourism wonders around the municipality.

Apart from its proximity to Mt. Mayon, which is famed as the world’s most perfect cone-shaped volcano, the municipality has several natural wonders that tourists and visitors coming for the year-round fun and adventure in the nearby Legazpi City also marvel at.

“While Bohol has its Chocolate Hills, Camalig has its Quitinday Green Hills, an exciting formation of over a dozen of mini-peaks located in Barangay Quitinday that has been emerging as one of the of Albay’s tourist attractions drawing local and foreign travelers,” Villanueva said.

Quituinan Hill, whose pinnacle is protruding over its adjoining rolling hills -- giving one an opportunity to get a vivid sight on all directions of the expansive downhill plains, is another natural wonder that the municipally boasts of.

This hill, which the Japanese occupied during World War II as their observation point, features an underground sanctuary used as hiding place of Japanese soldiers and site of the great battle that claimed many lives before the end of the war.

The place has been developed by the town government as a historical and scenic spot whose view extends up to the entire urban landscape of Legazpi City and Daraga, Albay.

It also offers a good view Mayon Volcano.

The municipality is also known for a series of caves that have become favorite destinations for spelunking enthusiasts.

Apart from Hoyop-hoyopan, these caves are the Calabidongan, which features an underground river and a population of bats; Moraleda, a cave with a hot-spring in its interior flowing to one of its outlets; and Quitinday, Solong,Taloto and Su-uman that are all located on hill tops belonging to the Quitinday Hill formation.

Classified as a first-class municipality based on income classification, this town also boasts of archaeological findings, showing that the place had been inhabited by people with developed social attributes of cultural, religious, social, political and economic relationships and organizations as early as the years 200 BC to 900 AD, the period referred to as the early Iron Age in the Philippines.

Attesting to these findings are human bones, pottery, bead work and artifacts believed to be 4,000 years old, which have been unearthed from Hoyop-hoyopan Caves.The municipality also takes pride of this historical church, considered as one of the most massive, strongest and beautiful in the region that had stood over the different periods of the country -- the Spanish, American and Japanese eras.

Owing to the town's richness in history, Camalig Mayor Carlos Erwin Baldo said his administration has been pushing for its declaration as a heritage site and installation of historical markers to identify cultural assets or properties located in the town center such as the St. John the Baptist Parish Church and the cluster of Spanish-American colonial houses.

“We have also included in the project the Quituinan Hills World War II Japanese Camp and the archaeological site Hoyop-hoyopan Cave,” Baldo said.

These cultural assets and sites, he added, are eligible for the National Historical Commission’s declaration based on structures dating of at least 50 years old and 70-percent authentic, among other qualifications, that reveal something meaningful about the town’s past.

Legazpi eco aides receive more than 400K livelihood grant from DOLE Bicol


LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) -- Eighty seven (87) eco-aide or waste collectors from across this city received a total of P435,950.94 livelihood assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol region office.

“Its about time that we focus our attention to these workers. They need the support of the government and we are providing them this livelihood grant already released on separate dates from last week of June up to July 16.,” DOLE Bicol regional director Nathaniel V. Lacambra said.

The grant, according to Lacambra, was in the form of tools and materials not cash which they can use in putting up ventures that can be their alternative sources of income.

Recipient of the livelihood grant were members of the Bayanihan Para Sa Kalikasan (BAKAS) and Samahan ng Bagong Pag Unlad (SBP), an association of eco-aides from 22 barangays in this city.

"They received assorted tools and materials such as an A-Riser, seeds, tetra pots, soil mix, bamboo slots and pressurized hand sprayer which they will need in maintain an urban garden or farm as a means of alternative livelihood. They will also be provided with corresponding trainings that will help them sustain their businessess," Lacambra said.

DOLE Bicol, in cooperation with the Solid Waste Management Association (SWAPP) and the Bicol Consortium for Development Initiatives (BCDI), has sponsored the project under the DOLE Kabuhayan Starter Kit (DKSK).

Nominations for 2015 Gawad Albay sa Edukasyon flood committee


LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PNA) -- Nominations for the 2015 Gawad Albay sa Edukasyon have kept on coming in, the Albay Council on Education and Search and Awards Committee (SAC) said Wednesday.

The Gawad Albay sa Edukasyon program is an awards system developed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, which aims to boost the educational system in the province by giving recognition and rewards to principals, teachers, students, and local government units (LGUs) that have made significant contributions to uplift the quality of education in Albay.

The Provincial Government of Albay gives cash, certificates, trophies, plaques and medals to achievers and high performers.

The SAC chairpersons for Student Excellence in Academic and Leadership (SEALl), Ten Outstanding Teachers of Albay (TOTAL), Three Outstanding Principals in the Countryside of Albay (TROPICAL), and Kadunong LGU with Best Practices in Education have submitted to the council the nominations in their respective programs.

For the SEAL category, there have been 44 nominations received already but this number may still increase as the deadline for nomination to be submitted to the Provincial Education Department (PED) is still on July 31.

The TOTAL category has so far received 57 nominations but four have been disqualified for not meeting the requirements, mostly, for not achieving the minimum 20 teaching hours per week.

Unfortunately, there will be no TROPICAL category this year as nominees fell below the minimum ten nominations with only eight nomination forms submitted.

The committee decided that the funds allocated for the program be used instead for the training of the school heads.

The chairperson for the Kadunong LGU with Best Practices in Education reported that no nomination has been delivered yet but these are expected to come in near the deadline for submission, which is on August 31.

The PED, headed by Nenita Villalon, is still accepting nominations and is encouraging students, teachers, and communities to band together to give recognition to deserving individuals who have shown excellence in their work and achievements in the field of education.

Reducing trash while making cash: How Legazpi City does it

By Tricia Aquino

ALBAY, Philippines - Legazpi City has reduced its waste while making it profitable for citizens to segregate their trash through its solid waste management program.

How did it do it? City environment and natural resources officer Salve Corral explained the practice to Manila-based reporters last month, in a trip sponsored by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to the sanitary landfill facility in Brgy. Banquerohan.

In 2009, Legazpi City received a grant of 1.7 million Euros from the Spanish government’s Agencia Espanola Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID) for the construction of a sanitary landfill facility and the establishment of materials recovery facilities in its barangays. It was envisioned to promote resource conservation and public participation in the city’s solid waste management program.

Since then, these practices have been diligently observed: reduction of waste at the level of households, offices, and business establishments; resource recovery, recycling, and reusing at the barangay level; collection, transfer, and transport of waste at the city level; and management of residual waste at the city level.

The waste reduction is remarkable: From 0.5 kilograms of solid waste generated per capita per day in 2009, the amount was reduced to the present 0.29 kilograms of solid waste generated per capita per day.

This is how its solid waste management program works:

In homes, commercial establishments, and offices, citizens segregate their waste into biodegradable, recyclable, and residual or special waste.

The city ensures that locals practice “segregation at source” by having random, quarterly monitoring of households, business establishments, and offices.

The citizens then turn the biodegradable waste into compost. As another option, barangay eco-aides and eco-waste managers collect this and bring it to the barangay materials recovery and drop-off center.

City collectors then transport the waste from the barangay materials recovery and drop-off center to the city’s transfer station and composting facility. Here, the biodegradable waste is turned into compost and used in farms and gardens.

Barangay eco-aides and eco-waste managers also collect the recyclable and special waste and bring these to the same barangay materials recovery and drop-off center.

The city collectors then bring the special waste to a common marketing facility, which hosts a livelihood and training center for waste reduction technologies; a drop-off center for plastic recovery, where locals can turn in five kilos of plastic for one kilo of rice in a “Plastic-for-Rice” program; and a storage area for special waste.

These are then transported to the city’s new sanitary landfill.

City collectors schedule pick-up of waste at the barangay materials recovery and drop-off centers. Biodegradables are taken every afternoon; recyclables, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday morning; and special waste ,on Saturday and Sunday, after the collection of the two other kinds of waste.

Since the new program was implemented in March 2010, 181 barangay eco-aides have been employed, as well as 49 barangay eco-waste managers. They use 120 "padyaks" and 76 pushcarts to collect the waste, as compared to the previous two open dump trucks and two compactors.

The city also has three new trucks to transport waste from the barangay materials recovery and drop-off centers.

Each barangay has at least one materials recovery and drop-off center, with 94 units of these already installed.

According to Corral, the plan was to have a “no segregation, no collection” in the long run, as the local authorities want segregation to be a way of life for Legazpeños.

She said the government wanted to reduce waste by at least 30 percent.

To make sure citizens could abide by the new rules, the government held seminars for business owners, academics, market vendors, eco-aides, and city collectors alike.

Flyers were also given to residents in an awareness campaign that was complemented by jingles, radio plugs, and billboards. Comics were also produced for Grade 1 to 6 students.

The “Legazpi City Earth Savers Program” was also adopted from Marikina City’s own practice to encourage students to bring recyclables to schools. Junk shops bought these, and every December the money was used to buy supplies for the kids.

Legazpi City also continued to implement its waste-to-cash program, which enables residents to sell their recyclables to junk shops every first Saturday of the month.

The government also allocates P3 million for livelihood programs that use waste, with barangays having proposed tetrapack waste recycling, eco-concrete hollow block-making, barangay-based composting, and charcoal briquetting as projects to be covered by these funds.

For residents to turn recyclables into bags and other products, 20 sewing machines were purchased by the government, as well.

Barangays with the best solid waste management practices are also given cash rewards annually, Corral said.

In 2009, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources authorized the city to close its old open dumpsite in 2009. With the city implementing a safe closure and preparation plan, the old dumpsite is now slowly flourishing with greenery.

In the process, however, authorities projected that 100 to 120 scavengers would lose their source of income, so a livelihood program was implemented, as well.

Today, 63 families benefit from livelihood opportunities from the City Agriculture Office, such as livestock and poultry raising, upland or lowland farming, commercial crops farming, mushroom culture and production, and coco-shell craft production.

In place of the old dumpsite, a new sanitary landfill was constructed in December 2009 in Brgy. Banquerohan.

Its first cell, 1.015 hectares large, is now being used.

Each layer of waste poured into it is compacted, then covered with a layer of soil.

With a lifespan of 1.91 years, its use should have ended in October 2011, but due to the city’s sound solid waste management practices, it remains safe to use Cell 1 today, Corral said.

There is another cell waiting to be used, with a size of 0.371. It has a lifespan of 0.21 years.

Corral gladly noted that it was easier to implement the city’s segregation practices because the barangay had a sense of ownership, and it shared the responsibility with the city. Various sectors and agencies were also collaborating now, as well.

Albay a model for basic education – DepEd

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin Luistro recently hailed Albay as a model for the country’s basic education, for ensuring the welfare of teachers and students, delivering quality education, and providing sound school facilities.

Luistro was in Albay early this week for the Grand Summit on Senior High School, DepEd’s campaign for the K+12 program held at the Albay Astrodome. Some 4,500 educators and education stakeholders from the province’s four schools divisions attended the summit.

“Whenever I visit schools in Albay, I feel a great sense of pride. I have yet to see a school in Albay that is not cared for,” Luistro said in his keynote speeh during the summit.

Albay schools are known for their cleanliness and are well maintained by school heads. Many of the buildings have toilets, kitchens and water facilities and also serve as evacuation centers during typhoons

Albay’s pioneering education program, a brainchild of Gov. Joey Salceda, is among the programs conceptualized to have a lasting impact on development. It is of Albay’s two entries to the Galing Pook Awards this year, along with Team Albay Humanitarian Missions.

The K-12 program is “an essential ingredient in the recipe for poverty reduction,” said Salceda.

This program will lead to a more equitable country where our students will become more employable, and on a global standard,” he added.

Albay has put a high premium on education and is the only province in the country with a fully institutionalized Provincial Education Division (PED) approved by the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Budget and Management. Created by a Provincial Board ordinance, it seeks to ensure program consistency and continuity.

Under PED, Salceda launched the Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme (AHECS), a scholarship assistance program that has sent to college some 77,137 students in the province since 2008. This is supported by a similar scholarship scheme for high school, the Education Quality for Albayanos (EQUAL) program. Further reforms enabled the province to vastly improve its performance in the National Achievement Test (NAT) where it rose from a poor 177th place in 2007 to 19th place in 2012.

Albay PED has an initial target of one college graduate for every Albayano family under AHECS, which has recently been upgraded to include another vocational graduate per family. Toward this end, Albay has forged a strong partnership with education movers that led to the creation of the Albay Council on Education, a multi-sectoral body composed of various stakeholders on education including the four DepEd division superintendents in the province.

Salceda said a strong education program is one of the formulas for Albay’s economic development and anti-poverty mission that includes programs in tourism, health, agriculture and business. He stressed that education, has an even higher investment recovery potential than road projects.

Albay has posted other outstanding gains in education: improved participation rate in NAT from 72 percent in 2007 to 98 percent in 2013 in elementary as per PIDS-UNESCO study; a vastly reduced school dropout rate of only 0.2 percent at present versus national average of 1.3 percent as per PIDS-UNESCO study; 76,137 scholars in tertiary education, the largest pool ever of 188,000 college graduates outside of national government, whether public or private programs.

Salceda assumes command of 33rd Air Force Group Reserve

By Rhaydz B. Barcia (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY, July 19 (PNA) -– Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda on Sunday morning assumed command of the 33rd Air Force Group Reserve (AFGR) after the Armed Forces of the Philippines installed him as the Bicol regional reservist commander.

The reservist group is a vital force multiplier of the government troops ready to respond in the events of natural disaster and in times of war.

Rear Admiral Aurelio A. Rabusa, AFP deputy chief of staff for reservist and retirees affairs, led the installation of Salceda as regional commander of AFP reservists in the Bicol Region in a ceremony held at the Albay Astrodome here.

Salceda, UN senior global champion for disaster risk reduction and Asia’s model for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, will be leading thousands of reservists currently on standby and ready as reserve force, Rabusa said.

Salceda is the first governor in Bicol who has been appointed to lead a reservist force and will be on call to lead humanitarian missions and respond in times of natural calamity to help in the government efforts in achieving its zero-casualty goal.

Rabusa said that at present, there are 350,000 reservists in the country on standby and ready to respond in times of emergency and serve as augmentation force to help in internal security.

Salceda’s installation coincided with the graduation of 350 AFP reservist recruits across the region.

“Every Filipino citizen is mandated under our Constitution to serve the country personally and voluntarily in protecting our territory. The reserve force is in charge of protecting the citizens against lawless elements, help the government in times of war and respond during natural calamities,” Rabusa said.

He assured that with the governor’s expertise in disaster management and mitigation measures the government’s goal to perfect disaster response and humanitarian missions will be even stronger and at its best.

Salceda’s installation was also attended by Brig. Gen. Raymundo Elefanfe, commander of Air Force Reserve Corps and AFP officials in Bicol region.

He accepted the appointment “with mixed feelings of joy and pressure.”

“Joy in the sense that it is my major accomplishment in the field of military service, especially in the reserve force, and pressure because of lots of things that need to be considered as the calling for the position of major responsibility starts,” Salceda explained.

He said the position requires full attention, same as he does in being the governor of the Province of Albay.

“I know pretty well that the strong number of reservist personnel of the 33rd AFGR have high hope and expectations in me, being their link to the higher headquarters and to other officers in the Air Force,” the Albay chief executive said.

He noted that the Reserve Officers Corps of the 3rd Air Force Wing Reserve also expects no less than competent group commander they could count on in the furtherance of the overall mission of the reserve force organization, especially during the events of calamities and disasters where he has been very much involved in.

“I am ready to face the challenges squarely as I begin the journey in this new chapter of my public service. I believe in the dictum that the oath of duty connotes personal commitment to public service,” Salceda said.

He said that when he became the governor of Albay through the electoral mandate of his constituents, he pledged that he would honestly serve the people at his best.

“I promised nothing other than faithful and dedicated service for public’s best interest. Now, I pledge the same commitment to work harder and do my share to contribute to the accomplishment of the command’s mission with the guidance of the military officers both in the regular and reserve forces and with all your support, especially my fellow reservists,” the Albay governor said.

Knowing the work ahead, he urged his fellow reservists to work together in addressing the issues, with him as their group commander.

“I believe that when we are joined together, we can do a lot more for the organization. Remember, cooperation and teamwork, coupled with dedication and commitment, are the key to the unit’s success,” the Albay govenor said.

Salceda thanked the commander of the Air Force Reserve Corps for the trust and confidence given to him to assume the position of a major responsibility and for him, he said, it is a great opportunity to serve the Air Force, in particular, and the Armed forces of the Philippines, in general.

P171-B South Rail Line promises 24% economic returns to countryside development – Salceda


LEGAZPI CITY, July 18 (PNA) -- The recently announced bidding for the Php 171-billion South Line of the country’s North-South Railways System has immensely elated Albay Gov. Joey Salceda who said the project will give a 24 percent economic returns to countryside development in Bicol and Southern Luzon.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has recently started the bidding process for the 653-kilometer rail line that will connect Manila and Albay’s capital, Legazpi City. Formerly known as the Bicol Express, the link is the oldest rail system in Southeast Asia.

Salceda said the South Rail Project, which he pushed hard in the past three years to become a reality, stands out presently as the biggest single project investment in countryside in Philippine history. It is seen to offer massive growth opportunities for Bicol, particularly Albay, the regional center and hub.

The South Rail Line is Salceda’s pet project, coursed through the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Luzon Regional Development Committee (RDCom), which he chairs for nine years and six years now, respectively. It was approved by the Cabinet last February 15, after many consultations with DOTC, the National Economic Development Authority, and the Public-Private Partnership Center.

Salceda is elated that the project now nears implementation stage “finally after three years of pushing hard by RDC V and Luzon RDCom. This is the biggest investment by the central government in countryside development!,” he noted.

“I am privileged as RDC and Luzon RDCom chair to have contributed to this game changer infrastructure for countryside development,” he said. The RDCom has endorsed the South Rail project during its recent meeting in Legazpi City, before the publication of the prequalification and bidding invitations.

A respected economist, Salceda said based on market soundings, Ayala, Metro Pacific and San Miguel Infrastructure have expressed strong intents to participate in the bidding. The project is also the government’s most monumental PPP project yet.

The South Rail project is expected to unlock the huge potentials of Bicol, particularly of Albay, the regional center and hub. It completes the multi-modal transport model -- air, sea, road and rails -- for Albay. At the proposed fare rate of P1,300 per passenger, it will provide reliable, comfortable and affordable transport system for commuters between Manila and Bicol, particularly students, workers, traders and vacationists.

Aside from travel convenience, Salceda said the project will also boost and expand attractions with the fascinating rural and green Bicol scenery starting from Sipocot town in Camarines Sur, and in Naga City where Mayon starts to become visible, down to Albay where the volcano’s majestic splendor grows even more enchanting, viewed from Polangui town up to Legazpi City.

It will also “expand trade and open more investment opportunities that will make both agricultural and processed products more competitive in the central markets of Divisoria, bringing in the needed inputs to our industries, and basic commodities to our households,” he added.

In economic parlance, Salceda said, “this massive transport investment will shift the supply curve to the right and would, therefore, provide contestability of the transport markets going to Bicol and the countryside.” The project is expected to cut the 10-12 hours travel time by half.

“It will provide an ideal transport system when rains are heavy, and an alternative to air flights or during flooding or traffic in the Bicol River Basin, aside from shortening travel time between Manila and Bicol,” he noted.

The DOTC explained that with seven train sets that would pass through 66 stations in 10 daily trips, the 653-kilometer railway system will ferry around 316,000 passengers per day on its opening year in 2020.

The Bicol International Airport, which Salceda also strongly and worked hard for through the RDC and the LADCC, is scheduled for completion in 2017. The governor chairs the Bicol RDC for nine years, and LADCC for three years now.

Albay Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr


LEGAZPI CITY, July 17 (PNA) -- Hundreds of Muslims from all over Albay gathered Friday at the Peñaranda Park in Old Albay District here to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan -- a month-long fasting they observed from sunrise to sunset.

Abdullah Emmanuel Borres, a Bicolano Muslim-convert and spokesperson of the Muslim community in Albay, said some 800 Muslims joined the Friday feast of Eid al-Fitr where they prayed and listened to the sermons made by their Imam, an Islamic religious leader preaching the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

Following the kick-off ceremonies at the Peñaranda Park, the group, clad in Muslim attire boarded their vehicles and motored around the city’s main streets and in neighboring town of Daraga, then proceeded to the Legazpi Multi-Purpose Convention Center at the Airport Road.

At the center, the hundreds of Muslim Filipinos celebrated, giving thanks to Allah for the blessings they had received.

Borres said the significance of the day is that “it is an occasion where our Muslim brothers are united in praying and feasting.”

During the Eid al-Fitr, according to the old practice, aside from offering special prayers to Allah, the Muslims also offer food known as “zakal al Fitr” as a form of charity and listen to special sermons on the occasion.

Statistics show that there are over 7,000 Muslims in Albay. The figure includes Albayanos who have converted into Muslims.

Majority of the Muslims in Albay came from Mindanao and belong to the Maranao tribe, doing business in the province.

A Muslim mosque has been constructed in Barangay Oro Site, a village at the central business district of the city.

Legazpi ready for hosting of APEC meetings

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

LEGAZPI CITY, July 16 (PNA) –- After making an assessment of the preparations being done for the city’s serving as among the venues of the Philippine-hosted 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, Mayor Noel Rosal sighed with relief on seeing that everything was doing well.

“I want to make sure that the visitors will be accorded with all the amenities, fun and comfort that a 'livable city' and 'city of fun and adventure' like ours could offer,” he said on Thursday.

The visitors he was referring to are delegates to the APEC’s Meeting/Workshop on Rebuilding Resilient Infrastructure to be held on July 23-24 and Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum on Sept. 14-15.

The city is expecting a total of around 1,000 official delegates to the two meetings and some 5,000 support staff, observers and media reporters.

The 2015 APEC leaders’ meeting is the biggest and most high profile annual gathering of world leaders from 21 member-economies in the Pacific Rim.

There have been 27 other meetings in this Philippine-hosted event set and distributed among venues also known as tourist favorites such as Manila, Makati, Cebu, Boracay, Tagaytay, Clark in Pampanga, Bagac in Bataan and Iloilo.

Both gatherings here will be held at the Oriental Hotel, a plush resort-hotel located on a hillside fronting, from a distance of some 15 kilometers, Mt. Mayon and overlooking the scenic cityscape and the picturesque Albay Gulf.

As one of the venues, this city has shown deep optimism that the APEC meetings will be a good opportunity to flaunt its popular tourist attractions, not only Mt. Mayon but also its newly-developed scenic boulevard along Albay Gulf, the longest outside Metro Manila and the famous ATV (all-terrain vehicle) adventure course over lava hills along the foot of the world’s most perfect coned volcano, among others.

This premier Bicol urban locality, known in the travel industry world as the “City of Fun and Adventure” shadowed by the beauty of the majestic Mt. Mayon, was named one of the three winners in the Livable Cities Design Challenge held last year.

Legazpi placed second to Iloilo in the ranking followed by Cebu which placed third.

The Livable City Challenge, sponsored by the United States Assistance for International Development, was organized by the National Competitive Commission, APEC 2015 National Organizing Committee, World Wildlife Fund, Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction and Asia Society and Urban Land Institute.

In the search, each competing city was required to come up with strategic vision and plan for a resilient and livable city and in developing an APEC meeting venue.

Rosal said the city came up with a strategic plan for a highly resilient and livable city featuring a safe and green environment aimed sustaining good public health, hence, the recognition.

The plan, themed “Healthy City, Happy City”, presents far-reaching innovations that inspire a more dynamic development of the city into a very safe and healthy locality for its people and visitors, as well.

In choosing this city as one of the venues of APEC meetings, the NOC evaluated its available facilities and infrastructure, including back-up sites, the stability of power and water services, cleanliness, peace and order, disaster preparedness plans, medical services, tourist services and the strength of the local government’s links with the national government and the private sector.

Another key criterion is the locality’s plans for carrying out its APEC programs well beyond the summit, particularly when it comes to infrastructure, taking into account that the government is looking to invest in infrastructure for the chosen sites not only for the event itself but also as part of the country’s long-term planning.

“At this point and time, we are already prepared to showcase our culture, heritage, art and creativity to APEC delegates and guests”, Rosal said.

“We are bent on making the visit memorable for each one of them as we believe that it’s not just about coming in, staying in a world-class hotel but having a great experience out of the taste of our cuisine, a look at our art and even listening to our music,” Rosal said.

Digging into the records of past APEC meetings abroad, Rosal said every host country did a good job of projecting their culture and “we’ve worked on it too for our hosting.”

Legazpi ready to be classified as highly-urbanized city


LEGAZPI City, July 15 (PNA) -- This key Bicol urban metropolis is getting ready to be classified as a highly-urbanized city (HUC).

“We are just waiting for the 2015 Population Census (POPCEN) to be conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Aug. 1-31 as its result will officially determine the latest human population figure of the city which will be among the basis of the reclassification,” City Mayor Noel Rosal on Wednesday said.

The city needs a population of not less than 200,000 to qualify, based on the provision of Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 involving the conversion of a component city into a HUC, he said.

As of the 2010 POPCEN, the population of the city was officially counted at 182,201, which the PSA has projected to reach more than 200,000 by this year based on an estimated average annual growth rate of 2.1 percent.

Another criterion needed to be satisfied is the local revenue which, according to RA 7160, a component city shall not be converted into a HUC unless its latest annual income is not less than Php500 million “based on 1991 constant prices, as certified by the city treasurer”.

The annual income, it said, shall include those accruing to the general fund -- exclusive of special funds, transfers, and non-recurring income.

City Budget Officer Obelia Baldano said the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) has for its record as of end of 2014 a gross collection of over Php700 million already, a rate of revenue that continues to increase owing to the remarkable growth being achieved by the local business sector and the CTO’s aggressive implementation of its tax collection campaign.

In fact, Baldano said, the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) recognizes the city government as number one among its counterparts in the Bicol Region in terms of local revenue collections.

In real property taxes alone, the target in 2014 was Php71.07 million but the CTO collected Php108.16 million, with an increase of 152.2 percent while in business taxes and other fees and charges, the collection for the same year was Php177.36 million, which was 111.5 percent over its target of Php159.06, Baldano said.

The city also received a total of Php403.5 million funds in Internal Revenue Allotment from the national government last year and realized a local revenue amounting Php270.4 million.

In his Ulat sa Bayan (Report to the People) last week, Rosal revealed that the city’s total revenue for 2014 was listed at over Php711 million, which showed significant increases from 2013’s Php658.5 million and 2012’s Php611 million.

The revenue figures show that since 2012, the city has already qualified to the HUC classification and “right now we are already prepared for the elevation of Legazpi from a component city of Albay to HUC, the first to be among Bicol’s seven cities,” he said.

HUCs that are considered elite cities in the Philippines are above in classification over independent component cities and component cities.

At present, the country has only 33 HUCs, 16 of them parts of Metro Manila.

“We are taking a more competitive and aggressive stance in pursuing our HUC campaign, which would be getting a more concrete position when the 2015 POPCEN is done and its officially results are released by the PSA, given that the population qualification is the only one that matters now,” Rosal said.

When this requirement is met, he said, the city government will follow the procedure under Rule II, Article 12 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7160 on “Conversion of Component City Into a Highly-Urbanized City” -- first of it is the passing of a resolution by the Sanggunian Panglunsod calling for the purpose.

This resolution, after approval and endorsement of the mayor, will be submitted to the Office of the President who, within 30 days from receipt, shall, after verifying that the income and population requirements have been met, declare the component city as a HUC.

Within 120 days from the declaration of the President, a plebiscite shall be conducted in the city by the Commission on Elections to be preceded by a comprehensive information campaign it must initiate with the assistance of national and local government officials, media, non-government organizations and other interested parties.

According to RA 7160, “the conversion of a component city into a highly-urbanized city shall make it independent of the province where it is geographically located”.

Rosal said his administration is dramatically aiming for this conversion that will accelerate further the development of the city into a top-class urban locality being sought by investors for their business investments, thus, opening more job opportunities for the local manpower and more revenue that the local government could use in maximizing the delivery of social services to its people.

It will serve as an additional attribute to the locality that is now officially recognized as one of the three most livable cities in the country, the City of Fun and Adventure for the world travel market and a convention capital; admired for its excellent in local governance and in disaster risk reduction and management; and a business-friendly city, among other inspiring traits, he added.

(Feature) Moves to declare Ticao-Burias Pass protected seascape gain ground

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

LIGAO CITY, July 14 (PNA) – All-out protection efforts are underway for the Ticao-Burias Pass as moves towards its declaration as a government protected seascape have been gaining ground.

The proposal to place these two adjoining inland seas separating the island- province of Masbate from Albay and Sorsogon was fathered by Albay Third District Rep. Fernando Gonzalez and the national attention it is getting now is an offshoot of the recent formation of a broad coalition among local stakeholders towards the conservation of its exotic ecological system.

Formed during the celebration of the World Oceans Day last June 6 along the coastline here, the coalition led by the city government is composed, among others, of the regional offices for Bicol of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Philippine National Police.

Others in the coalition are the local command of the Philippine Army (PA); the municipal government of Pioduran, Albay; Greenpeace Philippines; Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD); barangay officials; and fisher folk.

The two other towns covering barangays along the Albay west coast, Libon and Oas, have also signified intentions to be part of the coalition committed not only to put an end to illegal fishing and another abusive use of the area's marine resources but also to further revitalize the local coastal environment.

The Albay west coast is along Burias Pass and the primary concern of the coalition is this huge fishing ground covering its municipal waters and their rich coastal resources threatened by human pressures, including over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as unsustainable aquaculture practices, marine pollution, habitat destruction, climate change and ocean acidification, City Mayor Patricia-Gonzalez-Alsua said.

The city’s municipal water within Burias Pass is approximately 126 square kilometers in expanse with a coastline length of about 8.4 kilometers covering barangays Cabarian, Catburawan and Maonon where the local government is maintaining a marine ecology enhancement program reinforced with a “we-mean-business” anti-illegal fishing campaign.

According to Rep. Gonzalez, protected seascapes are among areas of national significance characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and ocean while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through the recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activities offered by these areas.

The congressman, who represents the district covering Albay west coast, said the place is best for eco-cultural tourism -- from the vast area along the new road network that links the Albay towns of Libon and Pioduran passing through several coastal barangays that all sit off the beaten track to the waters of Burias Pass.

The place is meaningfully exquisite as the sea is great for its serenity, cleanness and rich marine resources while the drama of the contrast of the landscape and seascape always catches first-comers speechless and groping for words to describe it, he said.

Its beaches alone can already tell of the unnoticed natural wealth of the Albay west coast, a multifaceted marvel waiting to be introduced as a world-class eco-cultural tourism destination, being blessed with rich biological diversity and eco-cultural assets, Gonzalez added.

He recently filed a bill that seeks the development of the area into a tourism haven in line with the government’s drive to create multi-faceted tourist destinations

Following the formation of the coalition, DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Service regional technical director Al Orolfo promised that his office will recommend to the national government the declaration of Burias Pass, along with its adjoining waters of Ticao Pass, as a marine protected area to preserve its great marine diversity.

Both waters are home to whale sharks, manta rays, dugong and various species of sea turtles, exotic coral reefs and lately discovered to be a habitat of the globally rare megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios), according to Orolfo.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Ocean Campaigner Vince Cinches agreed, saying Greenpeace supports such recommendation as a measure to save both water bodies from being overfished and give way to a to a more sustainable coastal resource management.

Greenpeace, an independent global campaigning organization that among other environmental activism, challenges wasteful and destructive fishing activities and creating a global network of marine reserves.

At the two-day national conference of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) which started last Monday in Pasig City, the proposal to jointly declare both waters as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) was presented and given imprimatur.

The presentation was made by Orolfo and the imprimatur came from DENR Sec. Ramon Paje and Sec. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, LCCAD executive director Manuel Rangasa, who was an attendee to the conference, told the Philippines News Agency in a message Tuesday.

Once officially declared as MPA under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), the Ticao-Burias Pass will be placed under the PAMB, a multi-sectoral body which will be created to be responsible for its administration and management.

The PAMB, as provided under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, shall be composed of the DENR regional executive director, and representatives of local governments and barangays with jurisdictions over the areas covered by the MPA, non-government organizations and from other government agencies involved in the protected area management.

The same law provides the legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas in the Philippines defined as the identified portions of land and/or water set aside by reason of their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity and protected against destructive human exploitation.

Journalists form biodiversity media center


LEGAZPI CITY, July 13 (PNA) -- National and local journalists, led by the Philippine Network for Environment Journalist (PNEJ), have joined hands to put up the Philippine Biodiversity Center for Journalists (PBCJ), a PNEJ official said.

Imelda Abano, PNEJ president and a environment on-line journalist of Enteraksyon, said the organization of the biodiversity center was a culminating event during the two-day media forum on Albay’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) practices.

Abano said the center will serve as a venue to bring forth biodiversity issues and heighten public awareness; a link with various information officers of government and non-government groups and other communicators in biodiversity protection cause; as a training hub for journalists; venue for exchange between journalist and scientists and other experts.

At the project briefing, journalists proposed a monthly media forum where journalists, scientists and other stakeholders exchange information about issues concerning biodiversity.

Both national and local journalists agreed that the center be based in Metro Manila and it will set up a website for information sharing.

In her lecture, Dr. Elena Pernia of the University of the Philippine Mass Communication Department, said “Philippine media reported on the possible effects of the unusually cold weather, on food supply, public health and even on tourism but the media failed to provide extensive reporting on the bigger picture, which is climate change.”

Pernia said the journalists report about discoveries of new wildlife species --- say, mountain cloud rat, but they overlook the issue of its importance to a forest ecosystem and the increasing number of vanishing species due to habitat loss.

The media report about the natural wonders of a meandering river and roaring waterfalls as an ecotourism site, but they overlook the issue of how the local community has gainfully participated in it.

She said media report about the trafficking of rare mynahs and black corals, but journalists rarely follow up on the cases of those involved in the crime.

Abano, in her article published in 2009, said the science of biodiversity has not been mainstreamed in the Philippines.

Along this line, she urged journalists to mainstream biodiversity events in their news, features and special reports.

Mainstreaming biodiversity stories is a difficult tasks for journalists due to the following factors: national priorities are biased towards more pressing concerns such as stories of disaster, conflicts and threats; journalists struggle for space in broadcast and print media; journalists do not have the right tools, resources and motivation to tackle climate change issues and there is pervasive lack of awareness on the impacts of climate change to sustainable development.

Based on the Haribon Foundation survey on biodiversity public awareness of 480 respondents -- 16-19 years old from Metro Manila and outside the provinces of Mindoro, Antique, Surigao del Sur and Cebu -- the finding showed that almost all were aware of specific environmental issues; only 17 percent claim to be aware of biodiversity but could not tell the true meaning of the term.

The awareness came from majority from television and the far second source are Metro Manila-based newspaper.The awareness level would depend on the journalistic field as editorial management practice dictates, not giving priority on content unless in times of disasters; broad beats assignments; and in the provinces --- territorial, much broader to cover the entire cities and provinces.Meanwhile, specialization and research-based coverage for diversity is sacrificed for general beat or story assignment.

Another factor that affects the gathering of biodiversity stories is the communication gap between journalists and scientists or the experts.Abano said the center has a gargantuan task ahead, including the protection of 440 endemic or restricted range species; 67 globally significant congregations of mangroves, seaweeds, seagrasses, corals, echinoderms, molluscs, elasmobranches, freshwater and reef species, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Albay’s lot prices climb 10 times

By Roderick T. dela Cruz

Lot prices in several parts of Albay, particularly in the new economic township called Guicadale, have climbed by nearly ten times since 2007, after the calamity-prone province unveiled a new redevelopment plan and implemented a disaster risk reduction strategy.

Undeveloped lots in parts of Guicadale which sold for P30 per square meter in 2007 now command prices of P300 or more per square meter. Guicadale refers to a new township in the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig and Daraga as well as the city of Legazpi.

Guicadale covers some 64,000 hectares of safe lands for development, which has been identified under the province’s disaster risk reduction strategy.

Housing subdivisions are currently being developed in the area, while commercial and recreational spaces are laid out with road networks linking up with several towns and cities and additional 87,000 hectares of upland areas, according to Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

Salceda said with disaster risks in the province now properly addressed, Albay’s DRR strategy is now geared towards economic expansion. Guicadale started with the build up of 40 resettlement communities for 10,076 people, followed by the construction of the P4.7 billion Bicol International Airport.

Salceda said one proof of redevelopment is a tiny village, called Barangay Anislag in Daraga town, which now teems with people almost equal to a town community where church, marketplace, commercial spaces and a hospital were established to serve the needs of its growing population.

BU celebrates NLE, MLE success

By Joan Marcia Navarra (

Legazpi City-This year’s Bicol University (BU) passers in the Nurse Licensure Examination (NLE) last May and Midwife Licensure Examination (MLE) last April gathered at The Concourse, Legazpi City in celebration of their success as the region’s newest registered midwives and nurses.

Three weeks after the NLE results came out, the nursing graduates of BU’s main campus, Polangui Campus, and Tabaco Campus shared a testimonial dinner last Thursday, July 9, which also served as a celebration of BU, ranking fifth in the top performing schools having a percentage rate of 96.23.

In his opening remarks, BU President Dr. Arnulfo Mascariñas emphasized that BU has always been at par with the top universities in the National Capital Region (NCR) and that it will only be a matter of time that BU will be able to overtake them.

Benedict Rey Serrano, being the NLE topnotcher with 86.40 percent mark, stood before his fellow nurses as he gave his inspirational speech.

Serrano, also the MLE topnotcher, said in an interview that the main point of his speech is having to prove that BU is an ‘established institution of excellence’.

“It (College of Nursing) has consistently produced topnotch graduates who were successful in all of their endeavors and up until now, it never failed to mold a new generation of globally competitive nurses that are ready to take on the professional world,” Serrano said.

The 20-year-old topnotcher from Rawis, Legazpi City takes pride of CN as it continues to be an ‘institution of quality nursing education’.

The event was attended by Professional Regulation Committee (PRC) Board of Nursing Member Gloria Arcos, CN dean Dr. Emerlinda Alcala, and faculty members of the three campuses.

Six BUeños made it to the top 10 of the NLE. There was a total of 9,707 passers out of the 17, 891 examinees.

Albay Archived News

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