Albay News

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List of Municipalities in the Albay Province within Region V in the Republic of The Philippines
Bacacay | Camalig | Daraga (Locsin) | Guinobatan | Jovellar | Libon | Malilipot | Malinao | Manito | Oas | Pio Duran | Polangui | Rapu-Rapu | Santo Domingo (Libog) | Tiwi
Cities in the province of Albay: Legazpi City (Capital) | City Of Ligao | City Of Tabaco

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Provincial Capitol Building of Albay, in Legazpi City
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Albay marks Ola Day, inaugurates hero's museum


GUINOBATAN, Albay, Sept. 2 (PNA) -- The local government of Guinobatan, Albay, inaugurated on Tuesday the "Museo de Guinobatan" on the occasion of the 149th birthday of the last Filipino general to surrender to American forces during the Philippine-American War.

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared Sept. 2 as Ola Day and is a non-working holiday in Albay in honor of Gen. Simeon Arboleda Ola.

The activity started with a mass at 7:30 a.m., followed by a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony at the Ola monument, blessing of the museum and military parade.

Guinobatan Mayor Ann Gemma Ongjoco said that in honor of the military exploits and heroism of Ola during the American war, they will open the museum to the public where people can see the records and memorabilia on his life and history.

The local government allocated Php 7.8 million for the Museo de Guinobatan located near Ola's statue.

"We will collect all the memorabilia of Ola from his relatives to display it in the museum. By this, we can show him that we are proud to be Guinobateṅos. This is our pride. We can be like him, we can be a hero -- not by death but by doing good deeds to other people," Ongjoco said.

Based on Philippine history, Ola was born in the town of Guinobatan on September 2, 1865 to Vicente Ola and Apolonia Arboleda.

Ola's first dream was to be a servant of God and so he enrolled in the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary in Naga City but he continued his studies in Philosophy at the University of Nueva Caceres, also in Naga City.

He, however, didn't finish the course as he later joined the local unit of the Katipunan in the neighboring Camalig town.

Ola was later promoted to the rank of captain by General Vito Belarmino, the zone commander of the Revolutionary Forces in the Bicol Region.

He was again promoted to the rank of major after an ambush mission that led to the capture of three Americans -- one Dubose, Fred Hunter and a certain Russel -- on January 23, 1900.

The Albayano katipunero continued to fight against the Americans in Arimbay, Legazpi City in February until August 1902 and led the attacks in the town of Oas and an American detachment at Macabugos, Ligao -- both in Albay.

Due to his continuous attacks in the province, the Americans decided to end Ola’s activities and sent emissaries -- Ramon Santos and Major Jesse S. Garwood of the Constabulary -- to negotiate for his surrender, but Ola refused.

He launched subsequent attacks in the towns of Oas, Ligao and Jovellar in Albay.

After realizing that he could never win the war, he immediately set an agreement with Colonel Harry H. Bandholtz, the assistant commander of the Constabulary in Lucena, Tayabas (now Quezon), on the condition that his comrades would be granted amnesty, justice and fair treatment.

Ola was put on trial, proven guilty of sedition and sentenced to 30 years in prison on September 25, 1903 but was granted executive clemency on October 8, 1904.

When he returned to Guinobatan, the revolutionary official later entered politics and won as town mayor in 1910 to 1919.

He died on February 14, 1952 and was interred at the Roman Catholic Cemetery of Guinobatan.

To recognize his greatness, the former American Regan Barracks was later named after him and now known as the Camp General Simeon A. Ola, the present regional police office, in Legazpi City.

Ola has a statue on horse back at the town proper of Guinobatan and another in the regional police office, which was built during the time of former Bicol police regional director, Chief Supt. Marcelo Navarro.

Albay province celebrating Gen. Simeon Ola’s 149th birth anniv


MANILA, Sept. 1 (PNA) -- Classes in all levels in Albay province will be suspended Tuesday in celebration of General Simeon Ola’s 149th birth anniversary.

Hailing from Guinobatan, Albay, General Ola led the Bicolanos in their fight for freedom. He is the last revolutionary general to surrender at the end of the Philippine-American War.

To commemorate his heroism, the government, through Proclamation No. 865, has declared September 2 as a special non-working day in the province.


By Niño N. Luces (Luzon Newsbits for August 31, 2014 #3)

Legazpi City, Albay — The Land Transportation Office (LTO) Bicol conducted a meeting with manufacturers, assemblers, importers, rebuilders and dealers of motor vehicles last Thursday here to clarify the new policies regarding motor vehicle registration and the distribution of new plates. Attorney Noreen Bernadette San Luis-Lutey, regional director said registration of new vehicles must be done at the regional office, where releasing of the new plate number is done. She said the releasing is fast with the shortened procedure being implemented.

(Feature) Going to Bicol’s poor a tough, challenging job for DSWD validation staff

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 30 (PNA) -- They sailed rough seas, traveled through barrios on colorum public utility vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers, crossed flood-prone rivers, walked on muddy paths over rugged terrains and rolling hills and scared by some close encounters with armed anti-government forces in guerrilla zones.

That was how difficult and tedious the works recently completed by career workers fielded by the regional office for Bicol here of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) were to reach out to the poor in the 3, 471 barangays within 107 municipalities and seven cities of the region’s six provinces.

Their tasks were to find the 10,643 senior citizens listed as beneficiaries of the government’s Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens program as well as the 472 families covered by the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer Program for Families in Need of Special Protection (MCCT-FNSP) and validate their life status and social condition.

Both programs fall under the poverty alleviation thrust of the administration of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III being carried out by the DSWD.

“We have to locate these beneficiaries to determine through first-hand information their status. Our more than 300 field workers specially hired for this job were sent out to interview them right where they reside, wherever these are, and notwithstanding the distance and terrain,” DSWD Regional director Arnel Garcia on Saturday said.

“This special validation process involved hundreds of enumerators hired by the DSWD who were fielded in all barangays—up to the farthest-- of the region where the beneficiaries reside and it took us three months to complete it with the delay caused by the distance and unstable weather conditions,” Joy Belen III, the validation regional field coordinator, said.

Some areas took one whole day for validation teams to reach and another day to conduct the interview on target beneficiaries who were scattered in barangays and had to be reached by way of trekking rolling hills and muddy paths, she explained.

The purpose of this special validation is to verify the poverty status of the pensioners who are not registered in the database and once verified according to the requirements of the social pension program, they will continue receiving their monthly pensions.

The social pension program is under Republic Act 9994, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, which provides additional government assistance in the amount of Php 500 monthly stipend to augment the daily subsistence and other medical needs of an indigent senior citizen.

As defined in Section 3 of the same Act, indigent senior citizens refer to any elderly who is frail, sickly or with disability; without pension; and no permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from relatives to support his/her basic needs.

The MCCT-FNSP, on the other hand, is composed of beneficiaries who are temporarily enrolled in the Conditional Cash Transfer subsidy scheme and being processed to advance to the regular CCT under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Those who will qualify based on the same test would be guaranteed advancement to the regular CCT subsidy under the 4Ps, she added.

The 4Ps now covers nearly 400,000 households in Bicol who identified using the 2009 National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

Bicol’s poverty rate, according to the latest report of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), is at 36 percent. 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.

Garcia said the 10,643 social pensioners and 472 MCCY-FNSP beneficiaries validated are now being subjected to Proxy Means Test (PMT) run to finally confirm their social classifications under the NHTS-PR.

PMT is a statistical model which determines whether the individuals and households validated through interviews are poor or not, while NHTS-PR -- also called the Listahanan -- is the country’s database of poor households serving as an information system that identifies who and where the poor are.

Earlier, a World Bank (WB) study showed that about 90 percent of the beneficiaries of the 4Ps nationwide indeed came from the bottom 40 percent of the population.

However, according to the WB, Philippines has a history of well-meaning but poorly-targeted programs to assist the poor, resulting in huge sums of government resources channeled to the non-poor.

To address this WB perception, Garcia said, the DSWD, apart from this recently completed validation process and the ongoing PMT run, is also conducting before the end of this year the second round of the NHTS-PR that will be less in error in the inclusion and exclusion process.

In so doing, DSWD will apply new features in the conduct of identifying the poor under the implementation to minimize, if not totally prevent, errors in the process.

The new features will include the application in the PMT of two sub-models -- one for the National Capital Region and one for all other regions -- that will make community variables the determinants of poverty status.

“We are using a total of 46 variables in identifying poor families in this second round of household assessment as against the 34 variables used during the first round in 2009,” Garcia said.

A second stage screener to flag possible inclusion errors or non-poor being included in the list of poor will also be applied, he added.

With these enhancements, Garcia said, the combined inclusion and exclusion error rates would decline from 22-35 percent in the old model to 6-19 percent in the new model.

“We are now in the process of recruiting workers for this new round of Listahanan who surely will hit the field to encounter the same experiences that our validation staff went through. Those, anyway, are the challenges of going to the barrios and seeing and serving the poor,” Garcia added.

National language is key to unity, understanding and freedom -- Salceda

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 29 (PNA) -- "The Filipino language, our national language, is our key to unity, understanding and freedom, according to Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda.

In a speech in Filipino read for him by Vice Governor Harold Imperial on the celebration of the National Language Month held at the People’s Hall of the Albay Capitol on Thursday afternoon, Salceda said the national language aims to make the Filipino understand and express what is in his mind, heart, spirit and soul.

He said the “tuwid na daan” (right path) of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino was expressed in the Filipino language, like his recent State-of-the-Nation Address.

The provincial chief executive said the “Linggo ng Wika” became “Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa” and is being celebrated every Aug. 1-31 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1041 on July 15, 1987 of former president Fidel V. Ramos.

Former president Manuel L. Quezon is the “Ama ng Wikang Pambansa” or the Father of the National Language, he said.

On March 26, 1946, then president Sergio Osmeña issued Proclamation No. 25 “Designating the Period from March 27 to April 2 of Each Year as ‘National Language Week’.”

Proclamation No. 25 designated March 27 to April 2 every year “Linggo ng Wika” in line with Commonwealth Act No. 570 mandating the government to implement necessary measures towards the development of a national language.

The National Language Week is a way to stress the significance, advance and develop the national language.

The proclamation wanted the entire machinery of the government and the people to actively participate in making the objectives of the 1935 Constitution and Commnonwealth Act No. 570 succeed.

The culmination of the celebration of National Language Week was made to coincide with the birthday of Francisco Balagtas Baltazar and the government asked all public and private schools – up to colleges and universities -- to conduct the necessary activities during the week, aside from implementing effective measures to promote the national language of the Filipinos.

The celebration of the National Language Week was moved to March 29-April 4 by Proclamation No. 12 of former president Ramon Magsaysay on March 26, 1954.

The proclamation was written in Filipino.

But Magsaysay again transferred the celebration to Aug. 13-19 of every year for the reason that the previous period of celebration was outside the schoolyear.

The present period of celebration is inside the schoolyear and, therefore, more will be able to participate in the celebration, Salceda said.

Raffy Banzuela, a journalist and professor who was the guest speaker, said the national language is the key to freedom and nationalism of an Albayano, Bikolnon and Filipino.

Banzuela stressed that the ability of Filipinos to speak well in English shows their being world-class.

Abdon Balde Jr., National Language commissioner, said the Flipino language was established during the National Convention on Aug. 16, 1934.

Balde advised veteran writers or budding writers to write in the dialect or language they have grown with for easy expression or development of ideas.

He said 70 percent of Nobel Prize-winning articles are written in the native dialect or language.

Senior Board Member Glenda Ong-Bonggao said the national language is the tool to give the public certain information on economic development and expresses the feeling and thinking of a person.

Board Member Richard Benjamin (RB) C. Imperial said the national language represents the culture, history and the personality of the Filipinos.

He said the Filipinos excel because they are multilingual.

Mayon, Misibis Bay captivate NBA superstar


LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 28 (PNA) -- Mount Mayon’s mesmerizing beauty, the rich green scenery along the way and the powdery white beach of Misibis Bay in Cagraray Island captured NBA superstar Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks during his first visit to Albay province.

Marion, a four-time NBA All-Star player, flew in Albay on Wednesday along with rapper-singer Julius “Doc” Evans of BluPrint Entertainment and elder brother of Tyreke Evans, former NBA Rookie of the Year.

Tyreke is currently under contract with the New Orleans Pelicans to spearhead a goodwill mission in the country, specifically in typhoon-hit areas of Albay province and in Tacloban City.

Doc represented his younger brother who could not come here due to an injury.

Marion and company arrived here along with AKO Bicol Representatives Christopher Co and Rodel Batocabe for a humanitarian mission.

He taught and played basketball with the students from various schools of Legazpi at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation on Wednesday afternoon, jampacked with fans -- mostly high school and college students.

Marion spent about two hours with the children as he held basketball clinics for the students before proceeding to Misibis Bay Resort and Casino via a boat for him to see the coastline of Albay Gulf, with the imposing Mt. Mayon at the background.

As he toured Legazpi and the island of Cagraray, Marion was profuse with admiration for the unmatched loveliness of Mount Mayon, the icon of Bicol, as well as the panoramic view of the Albay Gulf down to Misibis Bay Resort and Casino, where the NBA delegation will be temporarily housed while in Albay.

In the resort, they were treated to sea foods and the region’s delicacies.

The Misibis Bay Resort and Casino is a private tropical hideaway built on a pristine stretch of beach along the southern tip of Cagraray island in Bacacay, Albay, which is considered a luxury island playground in the Philippines which the famous and rich frequently visit.

“Legazpi City and Misibis Bay are fantastic places in the world with mouth-watering food. I love it here, very beautiful!” Marion said in an interview with the PNA.

Rapper-singer Doc Evans said he will come out with a composition to promote the wonders of Cagraray Island, specifically the Misibis Bay, and the beauty of Manila.

“I will compose a song citing Misibis Bay and Manila as these places are very beautiful, specifically Mayon volcano -- without equal!” Evans said.

Marion and his company will be toured by local officials to different tourist attractions in Albay before heading back to Manila, then to Tacloban City to bring with them the fully built, pre-fabricated houses for the typhoon "Yolanda" victims from the Hoops Care Village in the United States.

Operation Hoops Care is a US-based, non-profit organization which will extend help to the victims of Yolanda and share their own experience with Hurricane “Katarina,” which caused destruction in New Orleans in 2005.

Legazpi City nutrition program 1st runner-up in NNC tilt


LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 27 (PNA) -- The Legazpi City Nutrition Office was named by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) as 1st runner-up in the City Level Category in the search for 2013 Outstanding City of the Region during the Regional Nutrition awarding ceremony Wednesday at the La Piazza Hotel Convention Center.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal, City Administrator Wilfredo “Pecos” Intia, City Health Officer Dr. Fulbert Gillego, City Nutrition Officer Natividad Cardel and the members of the City Nutrition Committee received the award from Department of Health (DOH) Bicol Regional Director Gloria Balboa and Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator Arlene R. Reario.

The cities of Iriga and Tabaco were named by the NCC as the Green Banner Awardee and 2nd runner-up, respectively.

Naga City got the merit award for sustained, efficient and effective implementation of 2013 Nutrition Program.

In Barangay Category, Napoleon Cardel, barangay captain of Binanuahan East of this city and his 10 other members of the Barangay Nutrition Committee also received an award from the NNC as one of the 2013 top performing barangays in the Bicol Region.

Merly B. Lopez of the same village also received cash award as one of the Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholars (OBNS).

The recognition was based on the study conducted by the Regional Nutrition Evaluation Team on the implementation of the city’s nutrition program such as Sagip Kalusugan, Promotion of Healthy Lifestyle, and Good Nutrition where Legazpi City Nutrition Office got an average rating of 90.15 percent -- the highest average of this city since 2006.

The activity aims to recognize outstanding local nutrition committees of the province, cities, municipalities, barangays and outstanding barangay nutrition scholars, who continue to effectively and efficiently manage their nutrition programs at their own respective localities.

Natividad Cardel said that based on her record, in 2011, Legazpi City posted 2,190 or 8.41 percent identified malnourished children in 2012,

It improved the record down to 1,975 or 7.71 percent and in 2013, the identified malnourished children were reduced to only 1,754 or 6.93 percent.

This satisfactory rating was the result of the aggressive implementation of the city’s Sagip Kalusugan Program, creation of the breast feeding support group and intensification of mothers class in the 70 villages of this city.

The 6.93-percent malnourished prevalence record of the City’s Nutrition Office is lower than the 19.2 percent recorded malnourished prevalence rate by the National Nutrition Survey.

Cardel explained that her office through Sagip Kalusugan program has regularly conducted medical and dental check-up to all the children in the entire city, laboratory examinations, chest X-rays, de-worming and vitamins supplementation.

In the implementation of the breast-feeding support, the city nutrition officer said her office has encouraged all the mothers to exclusively breast feed the infants and children from zero to six months.

Under the Intensify Mothers Class, Cardel revealed that her office has conducted a regular nutrition education program among all the mothers in the 70 villages of this city as part of the promotion of the nutrition guidelines by way of informing and educating them on how to apply the proper way of breast feeding, responsible parenthood, and maternal and child health care.

She disclosed that she regularly holds “Operation Timbang” among pre-school children to monitor their weights.

DOST- Bicol trains 10 jail officers, 30 inmates in vinegar, nata de coco making

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) -- Ten regional and provincial officers of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and 30 resident inmates are now ready to make vinegar and nata de coco either for their families' use or for business purposes.

This, after they learned the processes of making the products in a recent Skills Training on Vinegar and Nata de Coco Making jointly sponsored by the BJMP and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Bicol region office.

The training was conducted by Cristopher G. Millena, science research specialist II, and product specialists Vanessa SM. Caluza and Aubrey Rosebud R. Balonzo, who discussed the formulations and procedures in vinegar and nata de coco making.

The three lecturers also stressed the use of other indigenous sources as well as food safety and good manufacturing processes that will result in quality products.

BJMP Regional Director Ignacio S. Panti said the conduct of this activity is in line with BJMP’s therapeutic community services.

Meanwhile, in support of the programs and services of the Cathedral Parish Credit Cooperative (CPCC), one of the top performing credit cooperatives in the region, the DOST Bicol also conducted earlier a training on food processing and preservation for 20 senior citizens and retirees in the CPCC office at the Albay Cathedral Compound, Legazpi City.

The activity also formed part of the Nutrition Month Celebration in the region.

Fae B. Bajamundi, DOST science research specialist II, lectured and demonstrated on the following technologies: 1) tomato processing (jam and preserve), 2) squash processing (puree and catsup) and 3) onion preserve.

CPCC has Aurora V. N. Lucena as board chair and Nerisa Dolot as coop manager.

Dolot said they envision more members to engage themselves in productive endeavors through technology adoption/enterprise development.

Moreover, CPCC also encourages that loan applications be intended for the establishment/expansion of micro and small enterprises of cooperative members in the City of Legazpi and Province of Albay.

DOST V Director Tomas B. Briñas said their agency is committed to deliver S&T services that will benefit and improve the lives of Bicolanos -- especially the poor, displaced and low-income group -- to attain regional development.

OCD-5, MGB-5 hold training on geo-hazard awareness, disaster preparedness


LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 25 (PNA) -- The Office of Civil Defense Regional Office 5 (OCD-5) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office 5 (MGB-5) have formed a partnership for the holding of one-day training on geo-hazard awareness and disaster preparedness for 11 local government units (LGUs) in the provinces of Masbate and Camarines Sur.

OCD-5 Director Bernardo R. Alejandro IV said the training aims at further enhancing people’s awareness on the urgency of disaster preparedness and reducing disaster risks by providing science-based knowledge on the different geo-hazards existing in these LGUs.

The training has already been conducted for the LGUs of Placer, Cawayan and Balud in the province of Masbate on August 19, 20 and 22, respectively.

It will be conducted at the LGUs of Balatan, Del Gallego, Ragay, Lupi, Sipocot, Pasacao, Pamplona in the province of Camarines Sur on September 1-9 and at the LGU of Jovellar, also in Albay, on September 11.

Participants in the training are punong barangay (village chieftains), members of the barangay council and members of the different municipal disaster risk reduction and management councils.

MGB-5 OIC-regional director Theodore Rommel E. Pestaño said the training is highlighted by distribution of geo-hazard maps with orientation on geo-hazard map reading and presentation of the duties and functions of local disaster risk reduction and management councils/committees.

This, he said, is meant to ensure that every barangay is disaster prepared towards the implementation of the Regional DRRMC5 policy on “zero casualty.”

XTERRA triathlon picks Albay as venue for next 3 years

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug 24 (PNA) -- The sponsor of the upcoming largest off-road triathlon in the Philippines, XTERRA, has chosen Albay as venue of the event for the next three years, starting February 8 next year, with some 1,500 participants and about 2,500 guests.

The three-year Albay XTERRA Triathlon event is expected to further boost the province’s growing tourism — with more visitors coming to witness it, since triathlon is a popular world sports that is widely covered by media.

The arrangements for the staging of the triathlon here was completed in a recent meeting at the Manila Peninsula Hotel between Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and Alaska Milk Corp. CEO Wilfed Uytengsu, Jr., XTERRA franchise holder for the Philippines. Himself a triathlete, Uytengsu also owns the multi-titled basketball team, Alaska Aces and was responsible for bringing to the country the Iron Man Challenge in 2010.

Triathlon includes a series of swimming, mountain biking and trail running competitions within a predetermined distance and time.The XTERRA race series is the best-known series of off-road triathlons, and is considered as the de facto world championship of the sport.

Salceda said the XTERRA event in Albay could be as big, or even bigger than the Ironman challenge in Cebu, with some 2,500 participants and guests. It will kick off February 8, 2015, as one among the opening events of the month-long Cagsawa Festival in Daraga town, with the world-famous Cagsawa belfry and Mayon Volcano at the backdrop.

The governor said Albay’s sports tourism had a significant push during the Daragang Magayon Festival in April last year, with Mayon 360 50-mile Ultra Marathon, which brought about 1,200 sports enthusiasts and more guests to the province.

“We are thankful to the people behind XTERRA, most particularly its franchise owner, Wilfred,for considering Albay as venue for the world popular sports event. We are sure this will give the province one big push to maintain and cement its position as the fastest growing tourist destination in the country,” said Salceda.

Albay is the fastest growing tourist destination in the country. In 2013, it posted a whopping 66% growth rate. For this reason, the Department of Tourism has continuously promoted the province abroad, the latest of which was the September 2 to 5 Guangzhou Travel Mart.

The Albay Triathlon XTERRA will be the largest off-road triathlon event of the Philippines, and will certainly bring more tourists than expected, both because of the sports and the province’s world class tourism sites, Salceda predicts.

The races will mostly use routes which are tourist favorites, and guests will be treated to the thrill of the sports and the breath-taking views of Albay, he concluded.

Blind since 3, Albayana about to see the light of becoming teacher to other sight-deprived provincemates (Feature)


LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 23 (PNA) -- Life was not good to Eleanor Junio even just before her birth.

His father abandoned her mother before she was born and when she was about one year old, her mother abandoned her, too -- making her believe that she was her grandmother’s daughter.

This was the kind of life Eleanor was brought into; but even though her life was like that, she had sight.

"Sight is one of the most important senses in our body and we use it every day and we may never be able to live without our sense of sight," she said, adding “We need it in almost everything we do. Imagine being born to a world of light and beauty, and lose your sight just when you already saw what you would be missing without it?"

This is exactly what happened to Eleanor -- at the age of three, she got sick of measles.

Her grandmother brought her to an “albularyo” or quack doctor, who instructed her grandmother to heat “buyo” leaves, pulverize it, and squeeze the juice into the little girl’s eyes.

Her grandmother did what she was told -- and this caused Eleanor her total blindness.

She has been blind from that moment on without being able to open her eyes anymore.

Losing her sense of sight, her sense of hearing improved and because of this, she would always turn on the radio.

Eleanor loves listening to music on the radio.

In the year 2005, when she was about 21 years old, she heard a broadcast about a free Shiatzu Massage training for the blind sponsored by the Bicol Small Business Institute Foundation, Inc. (BSBI).

Believing that this was her passport to a better life, she immediately informed her grandmother about it and begged for her to be sent to the training.

Her grandmother refused – and Eleanor felt devastated.

She didn’t want to keep on making abaca braids to supply handicraft makers for the rest of her life.

Seeing that there was no hope for her in this life, she got a rope, put it around her neck, and went to their roof.

Eleanor threatened her grandmother that if she would not permit her to go to the training, she would jump and commit suicide.

Her grandmother, seeing that there was no other way to talk her out of it, agreed and gave her permission to go.

This signaled the great change in Eleanor’s life -- and for her, this was the start of her better life.

When she applied for the training, she found out that BSBI was sponsoring not only the training but also the food, and transportation for the blind participants and their guides.

She was accommodated in the training through the help of the couple, Chris and Glenda Newhall.

The couple became her sponsor.

While still in training, however, her grandmother fell and hit her head on a big rock, causing her instantaneous death.

This devastated Eleanor and she wanted to quit the massage training but her dream of a better life made her decide that continuing the massage training was the right thing to do.

Right after her grandmother’s funeral, she went back to BSBI to continue her training.

She practically got adopted by Dr. Ofelia S. Vega, president of the BSBI.

Eleanor begged Vega to send her to school because, although she would be able to make her living through being a masseuse, she wanted to be able to finish an education.

The BSBI Foundation head agreed to send her to school.

At age 23, she started Grade 1.

Eleanor learned to read and write using the Braille system and because of this, she was able to read a lot of different books, mostly textbooks, translated to braille.

Reading became her favorite past time and because of being a wide reader, she got accelerated to Grade 4.

When she took her yearly exams, she again got accelerated to Grade 6.

It only took her three years to finish elementary, unlike many students -- who have all of their senses -- who finish elementary in the normal pace of six years, sometimes even longer.

After her graduation from elementary, she entered high school at the age of 26.

She was told her performance was so great that she would be accelerated to Fourth Year.

The blind achiever, however, begged not to be accelerated because she wanted to experience the high school activities like the junior and senior promenade and ultimately, high school graduation.

She spent four years in high school only because she wanted to.

After her high school graduation, she again begged to be sent to college. He promised to sponsor a portion of Eleanor’s yearly tuition in Divine Word College of Legazpi.

Owing to the efforts of Slade, Vega and BSBI, Eleanor was able to go to college and also became a Commission of Higher Education (CHED) scholar, so her expenses were subsidized by the government.

Eleanor is now 32, and is in her Second Year in college taking up Education.

Her greatest ambition, even as a child, was to be a teacher.

Now, she is only a few steps from reaching her dream and she now dreams to be a teacher, but a teacher to other blind people like her.

Looking back, Eleanor said she can’t believe how wonderful her life turned out to be.

For her, everything fell into the right place -- her love for radio music led her to the most life-changing moment.

She has no regrets and she is happy.

People who know Eleanor get inspiration from her hard work as she has proved that being blind is not a hindrance unless you choose to let blindness stop you.

But for her, she took advantage of her disability and has gone past it.

Everyone can do the same.

DA embarks on enhancing pili production in Bicol


LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 22 (PNA) –- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol regional office is embarking on the enhancement of production of pili nut, the region’s source of prime and indigenous delicacy that has been winning a competitive niche in the world market.

“We have been distributing thousands of pili seedlings for free to farmers all over the region as we embark on the expansion of local pili nut production, which has a great potential for development as a major export crop,” DA Regional Director Abelardo Bragas said in a statement reaching the PNA here Friday.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala would even participate in the distribution process every time he holds sorties in the region—the latest of which were for the “Bicol Rehabilitation Assistance for Glenda—Agriculture Sector,” DA’s quick response to provide immediate assistance to farmers and fisherfolk in provinces hardly hit by the typhoon last July 15, Bragas said.

For Camarines Sur alone, the recent distribution spearheaded by Alcala involved 18,500 pieces of pili seedlings given to farmers affected by the typhoon.

Almost the same number has also been distributed earlier to each of Sorsogon and Albay, also in occasions attended by the DA secretary, he said.

Apart from pili seedlings millions of pesos worth of farming inputs, implements, farm animals and facilities have also been distributed under this rehabilitation response, Bragas said.

There have been over 80,400 farmers across the region affected by typhoon "Glenda" that left around Php 3.9 billion-worth of damages to crops in Bicol.

“We in the DA Regional Field Unit (RFU) want these farmers and all the rest, including landowners in the region, to plant and grow more pili trees as another source of good income and Sec. Alcala have been doing his share in promoting it by way of talking with them as well as local pili nut processors on how to improve the industry,” Bragas said.

Apart from the attractiveness of pili nut’s products to the world market, he said, pili is another tree of life in Bicol -- next to coconut -- with all its parts being useful.

The resin (elemi), which is extracted from its bark, is a known export product of the country for many years.

It has both pharmaceutical and industrial uses -- being ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks.

DA records shows that for many years, the Philippines has been exporting resin or Brea (Manila elimi) to the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Cuba, China, Hongkong and Japan.

The kernel, when roasted and ground, is used as ingredients here and abroad for ice cream, salads, puddings, toppings for cakes, bread, pastries, confectioneries and other delicacies like marzipan, fruit-cereal bar and fruit and nut mixed chocolate.

Rich in micronutrients -- such as magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, thiamine and niacin -- it can be eaten raw or processed as roasted, fixated or sugar-coated and is served in the same way as cashew or almond, or peanuts.

Scientific studies conducted by the country’s top institutions dedicated to pili research, and replicated by studies abroad, according to Bragas, have confirmed the nut’s impressive nutritional content, being high in thiamin, magnesium and phosphorus.

As Bicol’s top product next to coconut, the pili nut has rightfully became a luxury food item -- one of the finest gifts of the Philippine tropics to the world.

It is a versatile gourmet treat, lending a distinct flavor and taste to many culinary fares.

At present, Sorsogon is the largest pili producer in Bicol, followed by Albay and Camarines Sur.

“We want all the other three provinces of the region—Catanduanes, Masbate and Camarines Norte -- to get involved in this enhancement program,” Bragas stressed.

Albay launches web portal for youth to help teenagers confront problems

By Nancy I. Mediavillo [(PNA), CTB/FGS/NIM/CBD/UTB]

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 21 (PNA) – The Provincial Government of Albay and the Commission on Population-Bicol on Wednesday launched the U4U project, a web portal for the youth, at Albay Astrodome, highlightIng the closing of the National Nutrition Month, Disaster Consciousness Month and World Population Day.

The activity was scheduled last month but due to typhoon “Glenda” it was moved for the month of August.

Popcom-Bicol Planning Officer IV Jocelyn Chua thanked the Provincial Government of Albay headed by Governor Joey Sarte Salceda for its positive response to the launch of the project.

Chua said the province is the first local government unit to launch the U4U.

The regional launch will be done on Aug. 29.

Chua said the U4U, a youth hub initiative, is an interactive website for the youth aged 15-24 years old and has for its website

She explained that a participating teenager will answer questions online and after the Q&A, the website will give its assessment of the subject based on his or her answers.

Chua said their office will also coordinate with schools down to the barangay level for a massive awareness campaign through the assistance of the provincial government.

She stressed that the web portal will answer problems confronting the youth.

The Popcom official expressed alarm over rising cases of premarital sex, early pregnancy, smoking, drinking liquor and illegal drugs among the youth.

Chua said the Bicol region registered an 8.8-percent teenage pregnancy last year based on the Young Adult Fertility Survey or YAFS, meaning, she said, nine out of 100 teenagers were pregnant during the survey period.

The region, however, has the lowest record in the entire nation, she clarified.

Meanwhile, 86.6 percent of the youth in the region did not use any protective measure in their sexual experience or premarital sex.

Aside from this, 38 percent read pornographic reading materials and 52.7 percent view X-rated films.

Chua said the results of the YAFS are alarming.

She said the youth must learn to say “no.”

The PopCom executive said their office’s campaign is “Toga Bago Traje de Doda,” meaning the youth should strive to have a college degree first before marriage.

Dr Arnulfo Carandang of the Department of Health-Bicol advised the youth to concentrate first on their studies and be busy on productive endeavors.

Carandang stressed the need to finish one’s studies first.

Dr. Ma. Theresa Belarma, officer-in-charge Albay provincial health officer, shared the experience of the province in strengthening its program of healthy lifestyle with the cooperation of its different departments and more than 1,000 employees.

Eden Gonzales, Albay population officer IV, informed the public that the healthy lifestyle program of the province is called 3G or “Gumalaw, Gumanda at Gumuwapo.”

Gonzales said the officials and employees of the province will do the “hataw” or exercise three times a week, at 4:30 p.m. every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The hataw will be led by the 3G team of the provincial capitol.

Aside from this, there will be a diet counseling and nutritional assessment for the participants, according to Bliss Bermas, provincial nutritionist.

Albay Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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