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 mourns passing of Bicolano ex-senator Joker Arroyo

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 8 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government and the people of Albay grieve the demise of their beloved Bicolano senator, congressman, human rights activist and former executive secretary Joker Arroyo of Baao, Camarines Sur.

In his Facebook account, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda expressed his sympathy in behalf of the Albayanos on the passing of Arroyo.

To honor his historic contribution to the nation and to the region, Salceda said he hereby asks all flags in public offices to remain in half-mast until Arroyo is buried.

Arroyo, 88, became the representative of the first district of Makati City for nine years and served as senator from 2001 to 2013.

He did not use his PHP200-million annual Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel allocation.

Arroyo was born in Naga City in Camarines Sur on January 5, 1927.

DSWD-Bicol launches YDS in Albay

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

ANISLAG, Daraga, Albay, Oct. 7 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) launched the Youth Development Sessions (YDS) as a parallel intervention to the Family Development Sessions (FDS) of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) at Anislag National High School (ANHS) here.

Almost half of the total population of 2,212 students of the ANHS consist of children of beneficiaries of 4Ps.

Commissioner Percival Cendena, National Youth Commissioner for Luzon, said the YDS is a modular session to motivate the adolescents in attending and finishing their education.

It aims to help the youth be equipped with appropriate knowledge, attitude and skills to face developmental challenges, see available opportunities and overcome possible risks to aid in achieving optimal and holistic development.

"It aims to develop responsible decision, meaning, what they decide now will have a big impact on their future," Cendena said.

Modular sessions for discussion in grades 7, 8 9 and 10 of the ANHS will be on Changing Body, Teenage Pregnancy and Substance Abuse.

The sessions will be conducted once a month and will be used as a conditionality for the 4Ps program.

Aside from the required attendance in the monthly YDS, students must also maintain a grade and have at least 85 percent of the annual class attendance.

"We want that all children of 4Ps members must be engaged in YDS. We are recruiting youth volunteer that will devote their one-and-a-half hours every month to be a development facilitator," Cendena added.

The YDS will be conducted in a school-based setting during weekdays within class hours.

As of June, there are 377,252 beneficiaries of 4Ps in the Bicol Region.

Albay has 78,276 beneficiaries; Sorsogon, 61,182; Masbate, 75,872; Catanduanes, 15,620; Camarines Sur, 113, 296 and Camarines Norte, 33,006.

PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum to be held in Legazpi, Albay next month

By Azer N. Parrocha [(PNA),CTB/ANP]

MANILA, Oct 6 (PNA) -- Legazpi, Albay will host the New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2015 of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the biggest travel organization in the world, from Nov 25 to 27.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) said in a statement that Albay is a fitting host city since it is a United Nations Global Model for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation.

Albay is ranked among the 1st Class Provinces in the country and among the fastest growing tourist destinations in 2013. Legazpi also recently hosted the UNWTO-ASEAN International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change.

Aside from being home to the perfectly cone-shaped Mayon Volcano, Legazpi City is also known as the “City of Fun and Adventure.”

The forum will be led by DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr., Secretary who will deliver the opening address and speak on the “Successful Destination Marketing Campaign Trend” at the Oriental Hotel in Legazpi, Albay.

Jimenez described the forum as “timely” and “relevant” as the department stepped up its marketing efforts for its destination-based campaign and its launch of Visit the Philippines Again (VPA) 2016 next year.

“Destination marketing is a daunting task as it involves selling an experience, both tangible and intangible. The Philippines prides itself of having a unique biodiversity, rich natural resources, and wide variety of product offerings for tourists,” Jimenez said in a statement.

“But most of all, we have the Filipino people—the country’s most important asset—to thank for, who serve as the PDOT’s partners in building our brand and fulfilling the promise of a more fun Philippines,” he added.

PATA CEO Mario Hardy for his part expressed delight in the DOT chief granting his presence to open the event.

“We are extremely delighted to have Secretary Jimenez open the event, as his experience and expertise on how to market a destination is something all industry stakeholders should learn from, especially when trying to market a new emerging destination,” Hardy said.

“In addition to Secretary Jimenez, we have a very broad and dynamic range of speakers confirmed for the event, and delegates can be assured of coming away with practical skills and knowledge to take back and apply to their organization,” he added.

Tourism star awardee and Albay Governor Joey Salceda will meanwhile close the event tackling the theme of this year’s forum: “Ecotourism –Transcending Climate Change.”

Salceda has gained a well-deserved reputation for his commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation.

"Albay is globally recognized by United Nations as the model for adapting to the impacts of climate change,” Salceda said.

“As host of PATA 2015, Albay shares this unique experience giving hope and guidance in transcending the inevitable effects of climate change," he added.

Albay observes World Teachers Day

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 5 (PNA) -- Educators in Albay celebrate the World Teachers Day Monday at the Provincial Sports Complex in Travesia in the town of Guinobatan.

Dr. Bibiano Sentillas, Department of Education Albay Division schools superintendent, said more than 7,000 public and private school teachers joined the occasion with the theme "Empowering Teachers, Building Sustainable Societies".

Aside from teachers, non-teaching personnel of the schools in the entire province also joined in the event which started with a Mass.

A parade, program, sports, contests and recognition of teachers completed the activities.

The occasion was attended by Dr. Helen Llenaresas who was guest of honor and speaker.

Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, whose parents were both mentors, paid tribute to all teachers in the world, whom he called the real heroes for giving almost their whole life in the molding of not only the students but also the entire family, the community and the country.

Sentillas thanked Salceda for his full support to DepEd-Albay. He said the continuous support of the provincial government of Albay and other local government units in the province would be their inspiration to improve their tasks.

Greater cooperation needed to achieve inclusive development in Asia Pacific region -- Paje

By Irene A. Solmirano [(PNA), CTB/FGS/IAS/CBD/SSC]

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 4 (PNA) -- Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje on Sunday called for greater cooperation among 21 member-economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to unlock the full potential of the so-called "blue economy" and achieve inclusive growth in the region.

"We envision a regional cooperation to narrow the gap in economic development of our economies while sustaining growth with equity," Paje said in an emailed press statement to the Philippines News Agency, quoting his opening remarks during the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy at the Iloilo International Convention Center in Iloilo City.

The forum, scheduled Oct. 4-5, is co-hosted by the DENR and the Department of Agriculture.

Paje, a Bicolano from Guinobatan, Albay, underscored the need to narrow the economic gap among APEC nations, noting that the region currently "comprise economies at varying levels in the development spectrum."

"There is a need for us to cooperate and address this wide economic gap," the DENR head stressed.

Paje said the two-day forum provides "an opportunity to discuss concrete and feasible actions to advance sustainable management and conservation of our coastal and marine ecosystems and habitats, and improved biodiversity to support higher fisheries productivity and provide better ecological services."

He said the focus of the meeting is anchored on one of the four priority themes of the Philippines, the host country of this year's APEC meetings, which is "Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities."

This specific theme, the environment chief said, contributes toward the three other themes, namely: the enhancing of regional economic agenda, fostering the participation of small and medium enterprises in regional and global markets, and supporting and investing in human resources.

"We firmly believe that these initiatives will expand our efforts in making the theme of the host economy APEC Philippines 2015 'Building inclusive economies, building a better world’ a reality," Paje said.

He added that harnessing the blue economy is most important in the Asia-Pacific considering that the region's marine resources account for two-thirds of the world's capture fishery production and 80 percent of the world's aquaculture production, making them vital in achieving food security.

The Albayano cabinet member said an important way of sustaining and even improving the productivity of the country's oceans is "improving the biodiversity of coastal and marine ecosystems" as healthy ecosystems "support higher fisheries production and provides better ecological services such as their important contribution to regulate climate and to disaster risk reduction."

"If we have healthy marine and coastal ecosystems, we can develop our brand of 'Blue Economy' defined as an approach to advance sustainable management and conservation of ocean and coastal resources and ecosystems and sustainable development, in order to foster economic growth," Paje stressed.

The APEC dialogue aims to produce a plan of action that would keep the coastal and marine ecosystems resiliency and ensure sustainable food supply chains.

The action plan tackles three priority areas: resilient oceans and coastal resources; fish loss production; and agri-business development.

"The plan of action has undergone several revisions from the important and valuable comments and suggestions from different member economies," Paje said.

He expressed hope and confidence that the proposed Plan of Action of the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy will be adopted at the end of this meeting.

New DPWH Bicol RD to assume post

By Manny T. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY — The Bicol regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways will have a new regional director to replace Engr. Melvin Navarro who is due for re-assignment to the National Capital Region, sources at the DPWH said.

Reportedly not comfortable with his new assignment, Engr. Reynaldo Tagudando has to accept his Bicol assignment by virtue of a special order dated Sept. 28 duly signed by DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson.

Tagudando, whose previous assignment was as regional director in Region IV-B, is expected to assume his Bicol post this Friday, Oct. 2, with Navarro taking over his new post at NCR on the same day.

It is said that many of the senior engineers of the DPWH have been avoiding duty assignment in Bicol like a plague. This is allegedly due to heavy pressures being forced on them by corrupt politicians and contractors, like those involved in the implementation of the P700M calamity fund earmarked for Bicol, particularly in Albay, among others.

It is said that DPWH Bicol, through the years, has made multi-millionaires out of corrupt regional directors and district engineers, enterprising lady contractors, and even DPWH employees themselves who moonlight as contractors.

Those in the know would also not forget the mysterious killings of top DPWH Bicol officials. These include the shooting to death of then Regional Director Nestor Tria while waiting for his flight at the Naga Airport in Pili, Camarines Sur and Asst. District Engineer Floriano Sarmiento inside his office in Caanaman, Camarines Sur. Engr. Pedro Celebrado who was in charge of right-of-way claims during the construction of the Andaya Highway in Camarines Sur was also killed inside his home.

Another former regional director, Engr. DaniloManalang, while on retirement, was murdered in Pampanga by unknown assailants.

Classes suspended in Albay, Camarines Sur


LEGAZPI CITY: The provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur in the Bicol region ordered the suspension of classes in all levels on Thursday morning as the low pressure area intensified into tropical depression Kabayan.

“For public safety, public welfare and public health, we are suspending classes at all levels in all areas, public and private schools after consulting Albay Pdrrmc executive officers,” Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said in his directive.

Salceda, chairman of the provincial disaster risk reduction management council, said moderate rainfall can trigger floods and landslides.

Similarly, Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte and Naga City Mayor John Bongat issued suspension of classes in all levels.

“The low pressure area seen in the Visayas has intensified into a tropical depression and was named Kabayan,” the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said on Thursday.

As of 4 p.m. on Thursday, Kabayan was estimated at 105 kilometers North-Northeast of Daet, Camarines Norte with maximum winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center and is forecast to move Northwest at 20 kph.

Public Storm Signal No. 1 is raised in 19 provinces: Southern Isabela, Ifugao, Mt. Province, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Benguet, Nueva Viscaya, Nueva Ecija, Quirino, Pangasinan, Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Aurora and Northern Quezon including Polillo Island.

The tropical depression is predicted to make landfall in Aurora province by early Friday morning and will cut across Luzon. Kabayan is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Sunday morning.

Albay El Niño preparedness caravan starts

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 1 (PNA) -- The Day One of the countdown in connection with the birthday of Governor Joey Sarte Salceda on Oct. 26 formally started with the grand opening of the 9th Annual Governor's Cup at the Albay Astrodome on Wednesday.

The Day 2 of the countdown on Thursday rolled off with an El Niño Preparedness Caravan spearheaded by the Provincial Government of Albay (PGA) at Camalig town for the whole day.

The caravan will cover other towns and cities of the province, based on the schedule prepared by the Task Force El Niño for the whole month of October.

The activity aims to cushion the negative impacts of the dry spell phenomenon on the agriculture sector, farmers' lives and the entire economy of the province.

The caravan will be a joint undertaking of the Department of Agriculture and other national government agencies, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office headed by Dr. Cedric Daep and PGA departments like the Provincial Agriculture Service Office led Cheryll Rebeta, Provincial Health Office headed by Dr. Natz Rempillo, Provincial Veterinary Office, Provincial Engineering Office with its chief engineer Dante Baclao and others.

Rebeta said the caravan will highlight the strong advocacy and massive information drive of the departments and agencies participating in the caravan to give the public sufficient knowledge on the bad effects of El Niño.

The caravan will also distribute vegetable seeds and palay variety with high resistance to heat or drought resilient variety.

Rempillo said his office is preparing for a worst-case scenario.

He laid down the plans of the PHO like IEC on common diseases when extreme heat comes like sore eyes, boils, skin diseases, colds, cough and fever.

The PHO chief said there might be a rise in dengue cases since many residents will store water.

He said the public should know what to do to avoid these diseases.

"Always make the surrounding and yourself clean," Rempillo said.

He also asked the public to protect water source in the village.

This should be about 25 meters from structures like septic tanks.

The PHO, Rempillo said, is ready with preemptive health care like medical services for those who have asthma, colds, lung disease and others.

The health office is also ready to give medicines for these illnesses, he said, adding that all hospitals in the province are prepared to render services, including the eight devolved medical facilities.

Albay to increase public awareness on newborn screening program

By Jean Rose Geronga (CNN Philippines) 5:25 am

Legazpi City (CNN Philippines) — The Provincial Health Office of Albay and the Department of Health Bicol will spearhead a fun run to increase awareness on the Newborn Screening (NBS) program.

The activity, dubbed “Save Babies through Newborn Screening,” is set for October 17.

On Tuesday (September 29), stakeholders finalized the details of the upcoming event, which will be held simultaneously with Albay, Masbate, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur.

In Albay, the 5-kilometer fun run will start 5 a.m.

Once participants finish the fun run, a talk and presentation about the importance of newborn screening will be conducted.

Dr. Nathaniel Rempillo, provincial health officer, said the event is highly significant as public awareness of the importance of NBS will help the early identification of infants affected by certain genetic or metabolic infectious conditions, thus enabling timely intervention.

Robinsons eyes establishment of giant mall in Legazpi

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 29 (PNA) -- The race towards locating in this prime Bicol city is on among the country’s giant business empires.

Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. of the Gokongwei Group of Companies, is setting its eyes on the establishment of a giant commercial complex across the street within the heart of the city’s business district where Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings is constructing its huge SM City mall.

A stone's throw from the site sits the Pacific Mall Legazpi being run within a sprawling business complex by the Gaisano Grand Group of Companies of the Cebu-based Gaisano family.

The mall, located at a prime location within an over two-hectare property, opened in 2001 as the centerpiece of the Landco Business Park, a master-planned central business district in the heart of the city.

One block away from this establishment is the ongoing construction of the Php1-billion four-level mall building within a 1.5-hectare land that will house the City Center Mall of Ayala Corp. (AC) being established in partnership with Liberty Commercial Center, Inc. (LCCI), a local retail business giant that runs the multi-branched Liberty Commercial Center (LCC).

The plan is for the establishment of a four-level world-class shopping and lifestyle hub to be called Robinson’s Place Legazpi, which will also house the Summit Hotel, Go Hotel, a business process outsourcing (BPO) center and a multi-level parking area.

Eyed to become the biggest among Robinsons retail outfits outside Metro Manila, the proposed mall is expected to carry a more prestigious name “Robinsons Galleria Legazpi” patterned after the Robinsons Galleria Cebu.

It will rise within an expansive vacant land separated by Imelda C. Roces Avenue from the 10-hectare site adjoining the Legazpi City Grand Terminal to be occupied by SM City Legazpi’s four-level building for the SM Department Store, SM Supermarket, SM Cyberzone, SM Appliance Center, a five-level car park, four digital cinemas and other luxurious lifestyle amenities.

Acquisition of the property from its private owner by the Gokongwei company is almost done and preparations of the site for construction activities are ongoing.

City Mayor Noel Rosal, who has been vigorously promoting Legazpi as Bicol’s center of investment, on Tuesday said the Gokongwei group has long been looking for a bigger space here for this kind of establishment.

He said Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. is no longer a stranger in the city as it has been running for almost three years now its supermarket at a prime location near the city hall and the Albay provincial Capitol as part of one of the largest and most successful chains of malls in the country today.

The Gokongwei group also runs the Legazpi Savings Bank, which is touted as the biggest thrift bank in Bicol based here, after acquiring it in 2012 from its former owner, Albay 2nd district Congressman Al Francis Bichara, who also acquired it from its previous owner while he was serving as the province’s governor between years 1995-2004.

Ahead of the planned Robinsons Galleria Legazpi, the Gokongwei group is opening the Robinsons Bank and Robinsons Appliances Center at the three-story Gregorian Mall and Activity Center whose construction within a prime site at the city’s Albay District is nearing completion.

Gregorian Mall’s location is adjoining the site of the newly opened branch of Henry Sy’s Banco de Oro (BDO), the fourth in the city.

The construction of the SM City Legazpi building will start immediately after a groundbreaking ceremony set this October and its opening is scheduled in December 2016, while AC’s City Center Mall is set to open in December this year.

Several other less known business groups have also been locating in the city as seen from the ongoing massive construction activities taking place all around the commercial district.

Rosal said “these companies are very keen on establishing here to take advantage of the favorable local business climate owing to the massive tourism and private investment promotions we have been relentlessly doing as Legazpi heads towards becoming a highly urbanized city.”

Big investors, he said, were now racing with each other to locate here, especially that the city had been named as the second most livable urban locality in the country next to Iloilo as determined by the Most Livable City Challenge conducted last year under the auspices of the United States Assistance for International Development (USAID).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DA names leading Bicol crops for farmers’ agri-entrepreneurship

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) — Each of the six Bicol provinces has its own signature crops that homegrown farmers can exploit in their agricultural entrepreneurship ventures, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

For Albay, DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas suggested cacao and coconut; pineapple for Camarines Norte; papaya, tomato and high-value fruits and vegetables for Camarines Sur; abaca and mushroom for Catanduanes; cassava for Masbate; and pili for Sorsogon.

Bragas made the suggestion during the recent Entrepreneurship/Salesmanship and Pricing Seminar conducted here by the agency’s regional Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) for farmers, barangay food terminal operators, food processors, officers and members of Rural Improvement Clubs and agricultural extension workers.

He said Albay is Bicol’s leading coconut producer as 95,794 hectares of its 158,262-hectare agricultural land are planted to this crop that should not be good only for copra but also for other processed or manufactured commodities such as industrial coir, virgin oil and natural vinegar.

Coconut coir or geonet, which is manufactured from coconut husk, has an existing total market value of PhP 5 billion and a market potential of PhP 12 billion per year — an earning opportunity that the province’s agricultural sector should take advantage of.

There are now several manufacturing firms, farmers’ organizations and households in the province engaged in this venture that has been turning out very profitable and all that is needed to nurture this industry are more hands that are determined to earn more by trying their luck in entrepreneurship, Bragas said.

Virgin coconut oil, which is processed from pure coconut milk, and natural coconut vinegar or “sukang niyog” that is made from coconut water or from sap or “tuba” through a fermentation process are both products that could be produced at home of community-based processing plants and supplied to its fast-growing market, he said.

On cacao, the DA recently launched a commercial production in the 3rd district of Albay under its “Seeds-to-Shelf” program, a strategy that involves interventions starting from making seeds available to farmers up to the process foods go through before hitting the market.

All around the province is a tropical weather and volcanic soil that is suitable for cacao farming but, unfortunately, this important high-value commercial corps have not been given due importance by farmers in the past, Bragas said.

“For now, we are focusing on cacao in its implementation which was recently rolled out in Jovellar, Albay in partnership with the town government and Rep. Fernando Gonzalez of the province’s third congressional district,” Bragas said.

Gonzalez himself has been pushing local farmers into agri-entrepreneurship as a way to alleviate them from poverty by increasing their earning capabilities.

“Entrepreneurship is one effective way for our farmers to improve their purchasing power, leading to a more progressive economic life for their families. We want to reverse the situation wherein farm folk, the most dominant in number in every rural community are counted as among the poorest sector of the present local society,” he said.

Camarines Norte is among the country’s top producers of Queen or Formosa pineapple, touted as the world’s sweetest variety, which the province produces from its 2,400 hectares of farmland distributed among its 12 municipalities from where an average of 40,000 metric tons of fruits are harvested per cropping cycle of 12 months.

But it is not only the fruit that makes the province’s pineapple famous but also for its leaves, once considered as farm waste but now being processed into fiber that is manufactured into high-end fabrics called “piña cloth.”

With the demand in foreign markets for good piña cloth that can meet the preference of high end consumers, more Camarines Norte farmers are needed to engage in this form of entrepreneurship to satisfy the demand by both the domestic and international markets.

Catanduanes, an island province sitting off the northeastern side of the Bicol Peninsula, has a total of 23,676 hectares of abaca plantations cultivated by 15,454 farmers that produce an average of 19,000 metric tons of fiber yearly representing 33.2 percent of the total national production.

While Catanduanes grows a lot of abaca, Bragas said, the province also needs to make use of its idle farm land in the wide-scale production of mushroom that enjoys a high market demand and high price.

Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), called locally as kamoteng kahoy or balinghoy, is an important crop not only for its value as a substitute staple to rice but also as principal raw material for the manufacture of livestock feeds and industrial uses such as an alternative source of raw material for producing liquor as well as medical and industrial alcohol.

In production, compared to other crops, cassava does not need rigid cultural management and favors the very hot temperature of summer, especially at harvest and drying time -- that is why it is best suited to Masbate, according to Bragas.

He said his office is encouraging the province’s farmers to increase areas planted to cassava while the DA is helping them with the provision of high-yielding varieties, farm mechanization, capability building and market matching.

Camarines Sur, the largest Bicol province in terms of population and land area, on the other hand, has an expansive farm area which can be utilized into the commercial production of high-value vegetables and fruits which local farmers can make use in their entrepreneurship ventures, Bragas said.

Pili nut is the region’s most popular processed food product whose leading source is Sorsogon where pili trees, known as another “tree of life” next to coconut, are grown intensively in farms, plantations and backyard orchards.

Sorsogon pili is known not only for its nuts but the tree is also a source of resin and pili pulp oil, among other byproducts, which farmers can make use of in putting up small enterprises, Bragas said.

“We are providing Bicol farmers with different entrepreneurial skills, such as assessing the demand; sizing up the market; estimating the cost and setting the price; business management; good communication and listening skills; time management; practicing business ethics; and mobilizing financial, human and material resources,” he added.

Albay shows how caring for the environment can be profitable

By Chris Schnabel (

The Albay Green Economy has catapulted the province into the center of the Philippine tourism boom says it governor

MANILA, Philippines – Adopting a culture of going green is crucial to sustainable development and is also a very effective path to economic development, according to Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

“The mindset of adapting to nature is part of the culture of sustainable development. Before it was a whole-of-government approach to it, then it became a whole-of-society approach, then a whole-of-economy and engaging the private sector. Now its a whole-of-environment approach,” Salceda said at the sidelines of the 2015 Innovation +SocialGood summit held in Pasay City on Saturday, September 26.

The most tangible effect of this new approach is the province’s transformation into an environmental and tourism powerhouse through the “The Albay Green Economy” program.

The initiative has proven so successful that the United Nations has nominated the whole of the Albay biosphere for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It centers on charting a path to resilient development that focuses on nurturing a low-emission, inclusive, and empowering environment around the province.

The plan came about as a way to lift Albay’s residents up by creating jobs and opportunities through tourism, Salceda explained.

“I couldn’t rely on the national government to spur income growth, and so I looked around and realized that tourism presented the best way to develop horizontal growth. Tourists in the country are drawn to green destinations, so we really put our hearts and minds into developing our green credentials,” he said.

Going Green

In line with the green part of the initiative, Albay has already achieved one of the major goals of the program: increasing its forest cover by 88% in 7 years, from an initial 26,000 hectares of forest land to 44,000 hectares today.

The province also has seen a substantial increase in its mangroves, from 700 hectares of mangrove forests when the program was launched to 2,400 hectares today.

Salceda shared that the local government has identified an additional 700 hectares, which it plans to develop along the coast to create beach forests.

The additional natural resources have also helped improve the province's agriculture, enabling Albay to be self sufficient despite two severe typhoons, Reming and Milenyo, that both hit the area in 2006.

Despite these weather disturbances Albay has increased its rice production from 147,291 metric tons (MT) in 2008 to 228,042 MT in 2014 through proper use of water resources, the governor shared.

This has boosted its self-sufficiency ratio, the difference between total production and consumption, to 104% last year from the 74% recorded in 2008.

It also boasts 4 major watersheds managed actively in a joint-venture with the Department of the environment and Natural Resources (DENR) along with a coalition of environmental organizations.

The province is also a hotbed of renewable energy, which it draws on for all of its energy needs while exporting the surplus. Albay contributes 300 megawatts (MW) of geothermal energy to the national grid with a potential of 350 MW more.

The recent UNESCO nomination also bodes well for Albay’s natural environment as it comes with a set of environmental requirements that the province has committed to following, Salceda said.

Drawing nature and adventure lovers

All these have been felt by Albayanos, primarily with the huge influx in tourism, with nearly 1 million people visiting last year alone.

“Albay has risen to be at the center of the Philippines tourism boom, with... foreign arrivals now at 324,332, of which 300,000 were added from 2010-2014,” Salceda shared.

In 2006, the province attracted just 8,700 foreign tourists.

This is coupled with the 634,559 domestic tourists who visited the province, famous for Mayon Volcano, last year.

The green initiatives, the governor pointed out, has also created new activities for the new arrivals.

“More water from our aquifers feeding our rivers is allowing river rafting and sustaining our waterfalls, while more breeding ground for food fish has attracted 150 dolphins for the past 6 months [as well as] more butandings (whale sharks),” he shared.

Ingrained into the culture

Albay’s transformation and its effective stewardship of the environment has not gone unnoticed, with the province winning numerous national awards in recent years.

Some of the recognitions garnered include being named the best Province of the Philippines in Good Governance from 2010-2013 by the DILG, and Galing Pook awards for Disaster Risk Reduction (2009), Health Strategy Towards the Millenum Development Goals (2011), and Humanitarian Resistance (2015).

Salceda attributed Albay’s transformation to the strong sense of community that has developed in Albay and that has taken caring for the environment to its heart.

The governor shared that Lorenzo Tan, Vice chair of advisory board of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), recently observed that stepping into Albay from other provinces was like entering a different world where the environment and laws protecting it are held in the highest regard.

“To my mind, that shows that the attitude of adapting to the environment has really been ingrained here in Albay,” Salceda said.

PNR starts train runs from Naga to Legazpi

By Mar S. Arguelles (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

LEGAZPI CITY—Traveling to this capital from Naga City in Camarines Sur province? Take the train.

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) opened its commuter train service between the two premier cities of Bicol on Friday in a ceremony at its Naga station, with Camarines Sur Rep. Leni G.

Robredo as guest of honor.

For a P100 fare, a commuter can ride in the train, which will leave Naga at 5 a.m. for Legazpi and return at 5 p.m. The initial single round trip is daily, from Monday to Friday.

Travel time is about two and a half hours, with regular stops at PNR stations in Iriga City in Camarines Sur and in Polangui, Ligao City, Guinobatan and Daraga in Albay.

The train’s two newly refurbished air-conditioned coaches can accommodate up to 300 passengers per trip, said Jose M. Florece, PNR division manager. He said the agency would still assess the number of riders before scheduling more trips.

Florece said the train service would primarily benefit those from Naga and nearby areas who want to transact business in Legazpi, the hub of regional government offices.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, chair of the Regional Development Council, said he had been closely working with the Department of Transportation and Communications for the resumption of train trips in Bicol. The service was suspended in late 2006 after

Supertyphoon “Reming” (international name: Durian) brought severe damage to several sections of the railway.

Salceda said the return of train service would boost trade, tourism and even travel as commuters would have another option for a trip apart from a bus or van.

Moreover, a train ride offers a different and distinctive perspective of the countryside as passengers would enjoy viewing Mayon Volcano surrounded by the greenery of farmlands, he said.

The inaugural train run started around 1 p.m. at the Naga station.

DSWD completes Listahanan household assessment in Bicol


LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PIA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol has announced the completion of the second round of household assessment for the Listahanan or National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) program.

According to DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia a total of 1,056,722 households was assessed out of the 1,087, 720 target for Bicol region.

Some244, 245 households were assessed in Albay, 107, 549 in Camarines Norte, 339,860 Camarines Sur, 47,682 Catanduanes, 166,790 Masbate and 150,596 in Sorsogon.

“This does not include households visited, which have no qualified respondents, no respondent, or vacant at the time of visit” Garcia added.

Meanwhile, households not assessed during the regular enumeration will be given a chance to appeal and be assessed during the validation.

This will be scheduled from October to November before the finalization of the database.

It is in validation phase where the initial list of poor is posted in strategic places in the barangays. This is to let the community validate the list since they are more familiar with their neighbors.

“The validation is our mechanism to minimize the inclusion and exclusion error of the Proxy Means Test (PMT) that is why we need the involvement of the community because this phase is very crucial “said Garcia.

A Local Verification Committee (LVC) will be organized to resolve complaints and appeal received during the validation period.

The members of the LVC will include the Local Chief Executive, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer, Municipal Planning & Development Officer, Civil Society Organization representative and the Listahanan Area Supervisor.

Queries, appeals and complaints will be entertained 5 days after posting of the initial list of poor and will last for 15 days while resolving of complaints will be conducted in 20 days.

The agency encourages everyone to participate in the upcoming validation of poor households before they finalize the list.

Proxy Means Test is a statistical model that approximates family income based on the observable and verifiable non-income indicators of the family’s income.

It has been found to be a good way of targeting the in large informal sectors where actual incomes are difficult to be verified.

It has been proven to be an effective targeting mechanism in countries like Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico where the informal labor market is large.

Moreover, inclusion error refers to the error when a non-poor family was classified as poor whereas exclusion error happens when a true poor household was classified as non-poor using the PMT.

Implemented region wide, Listahanan is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are. It aims to establish a database of poor households that will become beneficiaries of social protection programs.

US-based disaster education advocacy outfit mulls network expansion in PHL

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

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 24 (PNA) –- Impressed by the performance of its extension program in Bicol, the disaster education network of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is exploring the possibility of expanding its coverage all across the Philippines.

The first-ever and so far the only official member of the USDA Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) in the country was launched here in 2010 and made operational by the Bicol University (BU) under its Extension Service Center.

EDEN, which links various disciplines in extending research-based information and learning opportunities -- from food safety to field safety, from physical to psychological safety, from government to community development through disaster messaging and information, was introduced to BU by Dr. Caroline Crocoll, a professor from the USDA.

It happened during Crocoll’s visit in April 2010 when she came as BU’s resource speaker on Disaster Education and Messaging.

EDEN-Bicol was then conceptualized and was formally launched in July 29, 2010 to pull together almost all government and non-government agencies, hoping to reduce the impact of disaster in the communities since the region located in the southernmost part of Luzon is often visited by typhoons and heavy monsoons, among other form of natural calamities.

Since then, Bicol-EDEN has been US EDEN’s network in working collaboratively with the region towards having an institutional approach, giving rise to a national network that is now mutually beneficial to both US and Philippines through sharing of education resources and researches aimed at reducing the impact of natural and man-made disasters.

Owing to its commendable performance in accomplishing the task as member, EDEN voted in October 2012 to extend a three-year full membership to BU.

In choosing BU as a member outside US and voting for its membership extension, the Network recognized the university as “a public institution in Legazpi City which includes disaster education in its extension program”.

BU, with main campuses in this city recognized as Bicol’s center of education, is the premier higher education institution in the region.

It is the oldest state-owned higher education institution in the region which has been on the lead in producing globally competitive graduates imbued with the highly held values of scholarship, leadership, character and service toward generating and disseminating new knowledge and technologies beneficial to all stakeholders and to improve the well-being of the community.

Historically, EDEN membership has been available only to those institutions in the US and its territories that provide outreach through extension, offering non-formal education at the local level to reduce through education the impact of disasters.

According to BU president Arnulfo Macariñas, the university’s extension is similar to the EDEN extension service in the US.

The US EDEN, he added, is a collaboration of the various extension services to improve the nation’s ability to mitigate, prepare, prevent, respond, and recover from disasters by providing disaster education resources delivered through the Land Grant University System and is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

In an earlier statement, its chair, Rick Atterberry, said that “with this international membership, EDEN remains faithful to its roots while expanding its reach and expertise. Offering a three-year membership to Bicol University Extension gives us an opportunity to check the realities of international membership.”

Atterberry, who is a marketing and communications specialist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also noted that the advantages of extending membership to qualifying international institutions run in both directions.

“Traditional and international members gain access to additional research, new perspectives on understanding disaster, and contact with university-based and field-based experts from other countries, expanded reach, and potential new funding opportunities,” he added.

And as the three-year membership extension given to BU nears its end this October, EDEN representatives from US, along with Department of Agriculture (DA) officials in Manila, came to BU over the week as part of an evaluation towards the possibility of expanding EDEN-Bicol to EDEN-Philippines.

As a start, the team had a meeting with the BU officials and city mayor Noel Rosal about the project and to provide technical assistance in developing its framework and shared their best practices and experiences to be able to craft strategies on how to better improve the network and make it more efficient in serving the needs of the communities, according to Macariñas.

Beverly Samuel, the national program leader of the USDA who was in the team, explained that the mission of EDEN is to share educational resources to reduce the impact of natural and man-made disasters carried out through interdisciplinary and multi-state research and education programs addressing disaster mitigation, preparation, response and recovery.

It also provides linkages with state and local agencies and organizations, anticipates future disaster education needs and facilitate timely and prompt communications for the delivery of credible and reliable information that meets audience needs, Samuel said.

She revealed that the ongoing collaborative work of EDEN’s Disaster Issues Community of Practice provides the best of extension's research-based, interdisciplinary, educational resources to help people prepare for or recover from natural or man-made disasters affecting their communities, families, farms or businesses.

Its focus area, on the other hand, is agro-security wherein the community of interest includes producers of agricultural commodities, the animal health care industry, food and commodity processors, suppliers and distributors, consumers and the agencies that have responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of the country's food industry from farm to table, according to Samuel.

Another focus area is floods, wherein individuals, communities, elected leaders, agencies concerned and those that provide assistance to affected communities can access valuable information on all phases of flooding -- from preparedness, mitigation, response or recovery, she added.

Tourism, HRM studes learning visit in Albay's best practices, success on tourism industry


LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 22 (PIA) -- Some 250 students taking up Tourism and Hotel and Restaurant Management courses from Arellano University in Manila were in this city to learn on the programs and initiatives, much as best practices and sucess on the tourism industry of the province of Albay.

Albay Provincial Tourism Officer Dorothy Colle welcomed the students in time for the opening of the one-day seminar also expressing her gratitude to them for choosing Albay as their primary destination in honing their craft.

Their two-day learning visit in Albay comprised of a one-day seminar held at the Oriental Hotel Legazpi and another allotted for sorties in various tourist destinations in the province as well as treat of the delicious culinary fares that Albay is well-known for.

“We at the provincial government are very proud of what we have achieved in the past years in terms of our tourism industry, with the leadership of our beloved Governor Joey Salceda, the influx of tourists in Albay has grown tremendously, more foreign and local tourists are now choosing Albay as their primary destination, and for a myriad of good reasons too,” Colle said.

Albay has achieved such feat, according to Colle, by way of sheer passion, passion ignited by our governor in his most sincere dedication to uplift Albay in its every aspect, our collective passion has spawned multiple programs tailor made to highlight the numerous assets the province has to offer, from our ecological wonders, to our sumptuous local delicacies, and to the very soul of our culture and being, the Albayano themselves.

The series of learning visits to tourism showcase of Albay from different groups and organizations from other parts of the country and abroad manifest a testament to the achievements of the provincial government of Albay, through the leadership and innovations of Salceda, that has brought the province in the forefront of tourism not only in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world.

Touted as a phenomenal success by the Department of Tourism, the astonishing rise in the tourism sector of the Albay has made a remarkable impression in the industry which has garnered much praises from the different regions in the country, and eliciting such educational and visiting tours to learn the formula that the provincial government has implemented.

It can be recalled that Salceda was conferred last December by the DOT the very first Tourism Star Philippines Award for Local Chief Executive in recognition for his efforts in elevating the tourism industry in Albay.

Albay unveils first tourism marker


LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 21 (PNA) -- Governor Joey Sarte Salceda led Sunday the unveiling of the first tourism marker received by the provincial government of Albay from the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The marker, located at the Capitol lobby, symbolizes the DOT's recognition of remarkable contribution of the provincial government to the tourism industry in the entire country.

It is the ninth marker that the provincial government has received in different fields of endeavor like the Gawad Kalasag with four markers as Hall of Famer, Filariasis-Free Marker, Seal of Good Housekeeping and two Galing Pook awards.

The 10th marker that is expected to be placed is the 3rd Galing Pook Award that the province received recently.

Guests during the event were DOT Bicol Regional Director Maria "Nini" Ravanilla, members of the provincial council led by Vice Governor Harold Imperial and provincial department heads and employees, national government agencies and media.

Dorothy Colle, provincial tourism officer, said the marker reminds the public of the success of Albay in the field of tourism under Salceda, who is the only governor who received the first Tourism Star Award from DOT Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr.

It was a difficult process that had to be undergone before the governor was able to receive the award, Colle said.

Tourism Star Awards giving body of the DOT underwent a long and tedious process of evaluation of the nominees for the award, she said.

The award has served as an inspiration to tourism stakeholders in the region to be more prepared and enhanced their campaign to strengthen the tourism projects and programs in their respective areas.

"This also a way to have a healthy competition among tourism players and moreover, to inculcate among the Filipinos, especially the youth, the culture of tourism,' Colle said.

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