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Contents

DA’s advisory body approves Php1.5-B agri support infra projects for 3 Bicol provinces

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

LEGAZPI CITY, April 17 (PNA) –The Regional Project Advisory Board (RPAB) for Bicol of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) has approved various sub-projects worth a total of Php1.5 billion for funding and implementation in the region’s provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur this year.

Approved by the RPAB during a recent meeting held here are 13 sub-projects for the three provinces under the Intensified Building Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD) component of the project.

Among these sub-projects are the Php618.6 million construction of Tablon-Cagmanaba Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) with five bridges in Oas, Albay and the concreting of FMRs in the municipalities of Paracale, Basud and Sta. Elena -- all of Camarines Norte -- amounting to Php413.8 million.

Apart from these, the RPAB also endorsed for funding this year seven I-BUILD sub-projects worth a total of Php452 million for the municipalities of Pamplona, Del Gallego, Pasacao, Libmanan, Sipocot and Ragay—all in Camarines Sur.

The RPAB is the body that provides guidance, reviews and approves undertakings for funding under PRDP, a six-year rural development project worth over Php27.5 billion funded through a loan from World Bank amounting to Php20.56 billion and a Php7-billion counterpart from the Philippine government and local government units (LGUs).

In six years—2013-2019, PRDP aims to raise annual real farm incomes of household beneficiaries by five percent, increase the value of annual marketed output by seven percent and ensure that 20 percent more farmers and fishers benefit from DA services.

In a statement reaching here Thursday, Elena de los Santos, the DA’s Regional Technical Director for Operations and Extension and PRDP focal person said the newly-approved sub-projects are the first batch of proposals submitted by the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Units (PPMIUs) in Bicol for 2015.

De los Santos pointed out that the RPAB’s knowledge about the PRDP process and its advantages to the farmers and fisherfolk contributed to the approval of the proposed I-BUILD sub-projects.

The board is composed of DA Regional Executive Director for Bicol Abelardo Bragas as chairman and a representative of the League of Provinces in the region as vice-chair.

Among its members are regional directors of line agencies like the Departments of Agrarian Reform, Social Welfare and Development, Budget and Management, Environment and Natural Resources, Public Works and Highways, Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, Interior and Local Government and a representative of the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The approved sub-projects, according to De los Santos, will be endorsed to the Project Support Office for South Luzon of PRDP for issuance of No Objection Letter 1.

She said Bicol, which boasts of the largest agricultural area among the country’s 17 regions, was awarded last year the largest share of farm support infrastructure projects under the PRDP’s I-BUILD component worth over Php600 million.

“We hope that this year’s RPAB-approved sub-projects will get favorable action from the PRDP’s national governing body,” she added.

Included in last year’s projects are the Php131.28-million concreting of Manangle-Caima FMR in the municipality of Sipocot; Php50.67-million upgrading of Cuco-Bagong Silang FMR in Pasacao town; and the Php44.80-million rehabilitation of San Isidro to Pag-oring Nuevo Road in Libmanan -- all in the province of Camarines Sur.

These FMRs, according to Bragas, are intended to complement the Coconut Sap Sugar Processing as well as the Coco Water Processing Technology Pilot-Testing and Business Incubation Project that are both upcoming ventures introduced by the province into the Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity (I-REAP)-- another component of the PDRP.

Two other Bicol provinces—Albay and Camarines Norte -- have also been included as PRDP I-BUILD sites, with the former initially getting some Php197 million for the rehabilitation and improvement of FMRs with three concrete bridges in Oas town and the latter, Php212 million for the concreting of the Pinagwarasan -Lanot Road in the municipalities of Basud and Mercedes.

Oas, which belongs to the third congressional district of Albay, is the largest agricultural town of the province while Basud and Mercedes are Camarines Norte’s key pineapple production area and main source of fishery products, respectively.

The DA-PRDP I-BUILD sub-project portfolio has secured a Php11.382-billion in nationwide funding to finance production, marketing and logistics support for farmers and fishers in the countryside.

The Philippine Government and the World Bank signed PRDP’s Php27.5 billion loan-and-grant agreement on September 8, 2014 and was declared effective and ready for loan drawdowns in early December 2014.

Use hybrid seeds, DA urges Bicol farmers

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY — The regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based in Pili, Camarines Sur is urging rice farmers in the region to use hybrid seeds and abide by the regular planting calendar to maximize harvest in the next cropping season.

Hybrid rice is one of the reasons for high incremental rice yield and production in the region and throughout the country, that is why “we are encouraging farmers to continue using it while following the regular planting calendar,” DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas on Tuesday said.

Even if palay price fell to the P14 per kilo level from the previous high of P19-P21 per kilo, farmers planting hybrid seeds remain to earn around P80,000 per hectare, which is still significantly higher than the P40,000-P60,000 earned from inbred rice.

Hybrid varieties of seeds like the SL-8H developed by SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC) and Green Super Rice (GSR) lines could yield as much as 5.30 metric tons (MT) of palay per hectare as against the inbred varieties that could produce only a maximum of four MT, he said.

The SL-8H has been tested in Central Luzon and registered last year in Nueva Ecija alone a higher average yield of 6.07 MT per hectare while the GSR varieties are the silent players in the impressive performance of Bicol in rice production during the past two years.

GSR is a recently developed environment-friendly variety bred from a mix of more than 250 rice collections to perform well in the toughest conditions such as biotic and abiotic stresses where the poorest farmers grow the staple grain.

“Green” because it is environment-friendly, and “super” as the variety produces more grains, resists drought, pests, floods, salty water, and insects; increases yield; and does not need high fertilizer inputs.

It is designed to flourish under the toughest growing conditions.

GSR was developed after 12 years of rigorous breeding by a team of Filipino and international rice scientists which introduced the resulting variety in the Philippines in early 2012 by way of initially providing seeds in Bicol under the project “Assessments of Climate Change Impacts and Mapping of Vulnerability to Food Insecurity under Climate Change to Strengthen Household Food Security with Livelihoods’ Adaptation Approaches (AMICAF). “

The project, launched by the DA on the same year, is a five-year undertaking under the joint auspices of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) and Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery, and Forestry.

It was started in October 2011 and ended in March, this year.

AMICAF is a comprehensive framework designed to address climate change impacts and adaptation planning aimed at improving the food security of vulnerable household groups.

Under this project, field trials of GSR lines were incorporated in Environment Farmer Field Schools (FFS) conducted by the DA with its regional Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and were reproduced at the Bicol Experiment Station in Camarines Sur following successful tests done in areas with three agrosystem conditions – flooding, drought, and saline intrusion.

Bicol was chosen as pilot site for the AMICAF project because of its high vulnerability to typhoons, floods, and drought that all take a great toll on agriculture, given that 40 percent of the region’s rice area is affected by these climate-related stresses.

Under such conditions, alternative agricultural options were introduced and promoted to ensure food security and generate additional income for the farmer based on the AgrikulturangPinoy (Agri-Pinoy) Rice Program directed towards the vigorous pursuit of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III of its Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP) for the country.

One of these options is the use of GSR under climate change-related stresses wherein drought-tolerant varieties were tested in both rain-fed lowland and upland environments and results of the adaptability trails in hazard specific areas showed that GSR12a, GSR11, GSR8 and GSR5 are top performing lines in upland areas with up to 62.5 percent advantage over check varieties.

Furthermore, GSR varieties have been seen to grow rapidly to compete strongly with weeds and since they establish themselves much faster than the weeds, herbicide—a luxury for poor farmers—becomes unnecessary.

Following these trials, seed multiplication was undertaken for wide-scale GSR adaptation that since 2013 saw Bicol enjoying bountiful rice harvest for regional self-sufficiency and even coming up with a yearly surplus.

While Bragas attributes these achievements largely to wide-ranged and timely government interventions before and after climate-triggered calamities, the good farming practices that Bicolano farmers have embraced, like following the planting calendar, remain the key factor.

In the next cropping period, he said, farmers are advised to start planting for the dry season during the third week of December to the month of January so that their plants are shielded from a cold spell in December to early February during rice pollination.

Cold spell blocks pollination, causing low yield, the DA regional chief explained.

Mediaman arrested for libel

By Eduardo M. Casulla [(PNA), CTB/FGS/EMC/CBD/]

LEGAZPI CITY, April 15 (PNA) -- Members of the Daraga Municipal Police Office arrested a local mediaman while he was about to leave his residence in Barangay Poctol, Daraga, Albay, at about 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Arrested was Elmer James Bandol, 59, married and a contributor to various local newspapers in Bicol.

Senior Supt. Marlo S. Meneses, Albay provincial police director, said Bandol's arrest was based on a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Honesto Villamor of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44, Masbate City, dated July 15, 2012, for a case of libel docketed as C.C. No. 15337 with a recommended bail of Php10,000 for his temporary liberty.

The case was filed by Masbate Electric Cooperative (Maselco) official Dr. Eduardo Margallo and stemmed from the story of Bandol that the cooperative incurred losses of Php 314 million, which Bandol wrote on Dec 14 , 2011 in the online medium Bicol Today.Com.

Bandol is now under the custody of the Daraga Municipal Police Office and is scheduled to be brought to Masbate province to face the court for his case.

Aside from this case, Bandol has been slapped several libel cases, all of which have been dismissed by the courts.

DSWD security guard returns Php1.2-M check, cash; commended for honesty

(PNA), LAP/FGS/EMC/CBD/

LEGAZPI CITY, April 14 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol on Monday commended an honest security guard who returned Php1.188 million worth of cash and a check left by an employee of the local government unit of Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon, a DSWD official said Tuesday.

Arnel Garcia, DSWD Bicol regional director, in a simple commendation program, gave a certificate of commendation to Noel Lorilla, 40, married and a native of Barangay Sipi, Daraga, Albay, for his honesty and good performance in discharging his task.

Lorilla works as a security guard of the DSWD.

In a radio interview, he narrated that while on roaming inspection at about 6:00 p.m. on March 20, he found a white plastic envelope left by an agency client on top of a office desk at the hall way.

Lorilla said that when he inspected the content of the envelope for possible owner's identification, he recovered Php858,000 in cash and a government check amounting to Php330,000 issued by the local government unit of Prieto Diaz.

Garcia said that after Lorilla inspected the contents of the envelope, he then recorded the incident in the office log book and informed an official and later turned over the envelope to the agency.

After an examination of the documents, the DSWD confirmed that the envelope contained cash, checks and other documents that belonged to the local government of Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon.

Garcia said the envelope was left by an employee who, at that time, was following up fund release and submitting fund liquidation reports.

When asked where the Php858,000 cash was intended for, Garcia said it was intended as cash assistance to beneficiaries of the social pensions of indigent senior sitizens of the town.

Lorilla, the only bread winner of the family, is married to Meriam Anonuevo, 36, and has two children -- Hersey, 10, and Shenna, 9, both Grade 5 pupils at the Daraga North Central School in Daraga town, some 5 kilometers from this city.

Lorilla is a graduate of Criminology in 2001 at the Bicol Colleges in Daraga town.

He has worked at the Urduja Security Services Inc. since 2006 and has been assigned at the DSWD regional office for over a year.

DOST gives gold medals to Bicol students who excel in science

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

LEGAZPI CITY, April 13 (PNA) -– The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has conferred 13 schoolchildren in Bicol with gold medals for being this year’s Youth Excellence in Science (YES) awardees.

The awards highlight the dramatic achievements of these elementary and secondary school children in international science competitions last year, DOST Bicol Regional Director Tomas Briñas said Monday.

The YES Award, he said, is a DOST institutional recognition for exemplary achievements of the youth in the fields of science and mathematics.

Called the Secretary’s Medal, the gold accolade is conferred on winners of international science and math competitions that have been duly registered with Science Education Institute (SEI) of the DOST by its national organizers.

Last year’s competitions include King of Mathematics, Pan Pacific Mathematics Olympiad, 2014 Hongkong Search for Star of Math Olympics, 2014 “Chong Hua Cup” Creative Mathematics Competition, all in Hongkong; International Mathematics Olympiad and 2014 Malaysia Invitational Mathematics Olympiad, both in Malaysia; and International Mathematics Competition (IMC) in Singapore.

In these competitions, 13 Bicolano elementary pupils and high school students -- five of them from this city and the rest from various parts of Albay and Camarines Sur provinces -- excelled to become this year’s YES awardees.

Briñas identified some of them as Ralph Joseph Lacuna, Robi Nicholas Yu, Gabrielle Jackie Candano, Lizette Aurellano and Razell Jigs Caraig -- all of the Aquinas University Science High School (AULSHS) here.

Lacuna and Nicolas are silver medalists in the 2014 “Chong Hua Cup” Creative Mathematics Competition in Hongkong; Candano won bronze in the King of Mathematics, also in Hongkong; Aurellano got another bronze in the IMC-Singapore and Caraig also got bronze in the king of Mathematics-Hongkong, Briñas said.

The others are David Kyle Picart, a pupil of Sunshine International School in Daraga, Albay, who won gold in the 2014 Malaysia International Mathematics Olympiad; Roxanne Aimee Picart of the same school, who was bronze medalist in the IMC-Singapore and; John Angelo Oringo of the Guinobatan West Central elementary School, Guinobatan, Albay, who got silver medal also in the IMC-Singapore.

Aeron Dann Peñaflorida of Goa Central Elementary School, Goa, Camarines Sur, got gold in the 2014 “Chong Hua Cup” Creative Mathematics Competition in Hongkong; Jean Lorenz Capin of the University of Nueva Caceres High School (UNCHS) won silver in the 2014 Hongkong Search for Star of the Math Olympics while; Rania Maxine Savilla of the Blessed Lights International Christian School in Naga City won silver and bronze in the Hongkong Search for Star of the Math Olympics and “Chong Hua Cup” Creative Mathematics Competition-Hongkong, respectively.

Claire Amythess Moraña of the Holy Child Educational Center of Iriga City, Camarines Sur, on the other hand, won bronze medals both in the Hongkong Search for Star of the Mathematics and the “Chong Hua Cup” and Rafael Gabriel Basbacio of the Philippine Science High School Bicol Region Campus in Goa, Camarines Sur, brought home a bronze medal from the Pan Pacific Mathematics Olympiad in Hongkong.

The secretary’s gold medals were recently awarded to these Bicolano schoolchildren who demonstrated their excellence in the fields of science and mathematics in the international competitions by Briñas at the DOST regional office in Barangay Rawis here in behalf of Secretary Mario Montejo.

“We are so proud of these 13 young schoolchildren as they brought honors and recognition to the country and to the Bicol Region from the field of international competitions,” Briñas said.

South rail line to boost Albay economy

(MST Business)

LEGAZPI CITY—Albay, together with the whole Bicol region, has welcomed Ayala Corp.’s interest in the P170.7-billion Philippine Railways South Line project, which will cut travel time from Manila to this city by five to six hours and pave the way for more investments into the area.

The proposed 653-kilometer South Railways project was approved by the National Economic Development Authority board chaired by President Aquino on Feb. 16 this year under the public-private partnership scheme.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who chairs the Bicol Regional Development Council, said the South rail line was among the most monumental development projects of the Aquino administration and was seen to unlock the huge potential of Bicol, particularly that of Albay, the regional center and hub.

Ayala Corp.’s infrastructure unit recently said it intended to bid for the P170.7-billion ($3.8 billion) government railway project and had started talks with potential partners.

A report said AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. has not identified its potential partners and the government has yet to set a specific date for the tender, which it said would likely be within the year.

Salceda, who also chairs the Luzon Area Development Coordinating Council, has been “working relentlessly with the PPP Center, Department of Transportation and Communication, Neda and Philippine National Railways to ensure the South Railway Project will be prioritized.”

The South Railways line will complement the Bicol International Airport in Daraga town, which is targeted to be completed and operationalized in two years. The BIA and South Railways transport is a package that should attract a deluge of private investment into Albay, and the whole of the Bicol Region, said Salceda.

“By this, our ‘Albay Boom’ economic battle cry will surely now be realized,” he said.

The South Railways line is a component of the North-South Railway master plan, which includes the North-South Commuter Railway project, estimated at P117.3 billion and the P170-billion North-South Railway Project.

“To us, it is the most interesting one out of those big ticket projects. If and when that is bidded out, it is something that we would like to take a serious look at,” said AC Infrastructure president John Eric Francia said earlier.

The project involves rehabilitating the old railway line between Manila and Albay and adding new additional lines.

Albay tourism goes digital

(PNA), JBP/FGS/NIM/CBD/PJN

DARAGA, Albay, April 11 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Albay and Smart Telecommunications Inc. (Smart) once again joined hands -- this time, in the launch of digital tourism for Albay on Friday afternoon at the historic church of Nuestra Señora de Porteria, which lies atop the St. Maria Hill in this town, with the majestic Mayon Volcano at the background.

The partnership made Albay the first province in the Philippines to have digital tourism.

The occasion was led by Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda; Jose FL. Rosete, Smart external relations manager for Luzon; representatives from the National Historical Commission and the Catholic church; Albay provincial and Daraga and Camalig municipal officials; tourism officers; media and other sectoral group representatives.

Salceda said digital tourism is the third collaborative project of the province with Smart: first is the Info Board with 15,000 subscribers and the second is Pindot.

He said the first two mobile applications are both part of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Program of Albay.

The DRRM expert called the Albay Guide free mobile application a magical tourism technology of Smart in the province of Albay.

"This is a concrete proof of the continuously rising level of the tourism industry in the province," he claimed.

Salceda said that as a free mobile application, one can see in just one press at his Android cellphone the needed information about tourism in Albay, thus, serving a handy tourism guide to the province.

He said the free apps Albay Guide will further enhance the level of the state of the tourism industry in Albay by making people in and outside the country more aware of the tourist destinations and amenities in the province.

This, the Albay provincial chief executive said, will further enhance the quality of service of the local tourism industry players and the level of customer satisfaction.

"We expect greater customer satisfaction through greater information and, thus, more repeat customers, while broadening our access to tourism markets," Salceda added.

For his part, Rosete disclosed that Albay is the first province in the country to have digital tourism while among cities only Baguio, Cebu and IloIlo have.

He said Smart and Albay have long been partners in progress and in this project, which, he said, is part of Smart's corporate social responsibility, the company has allotted a lot of money, which he did not mention.

The Smart official claimed that any network provider can download the Albay Guide free mobile application -- however, only through an Android cellphone unit.

EDC finishes repairs at Bacman geothermal unit

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

A UNIT of Energy Development Corp. (EDC) has completed repair work on the 20-megawatt (MW) unit of the Bacon-Manito (Bacman) geothermal power plant in Bicol.

The Lopez-controlled parent said in a disclosure on Friday said Bac-Man Geothermal Inc. was “already operating Unit 3 at 20 MW gross as of April 8, 2015, following the completion of repair works.”

The power plant unit auto-tripped last March 5 due to a minor lubrication oil leak, forcing repairs in order to return the plant to service in time for the dry months.

BGI also took the opportunity to initiate planned upgrades.

The Bacman power facility -- which straddles Bacon, Sorsogon and Manito, Albay -- originally consisted of two 55-MW plants and a third 20-MW unit.

Last February, BGI completed the installation of new equipment to the first 55-MW unit of the plant, which upgraded its electricity output to 60 MW.

The second 55-MW unit also increased its output to 60 MW in December, allowing the entire facility to have the capability to generate a total of 140 MW.

The two larger units of the Bacman plant were shut down in March 2013 to vibration issues that damaged the second unit of the plant.

EDC then decided to also shut down the first unit “out of prudence”.

EDC submitted the highest bid of $28.25 million for the Bacman power facility in an auction in May 2010 conducted by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.

When Bacman was acquired, the facility generated just 3% of its full capacity. The company started rehabilitation of the plants in December 2010.

EDC is the largest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines. It operates 12 power facilities in five geothermal service contract areas.

Albay very proactive, engaged and good partner of UNFPA, says agency country representative

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

LEGAZPI CITY, April 9 (PNA) -- "Albay is a very proactive, engaged and good partner of the UNFPA. In fact it has a lot of very good ideas and policies," Klaus Bleck, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative in the Philippines, said Wednesday at the Albay Astrodome where he is the guest speaker during the Albay Adolescent Congress on Wednesday and Thursday.

In fact, Bleck said, only four out of the 80 provinces in the Philippines have collaboration with the UNFPA -- Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato; Saranggani, Surigao Del Sur and Albay.

He said that when the collaboration between the UNFPA and the Provincial Government of Albay (PGA) under Governor Joey Sarte Salceda through the Provincial Health Office and Albay AIDS Council headed by Mike Dela Rama was firmed up, the province has made significant steps towards the welfare of the youth, which, he said, is the hope of the country.

The UNFPA official noted that more than 30 percent of the population is composed of the youth.

Bleck said the most common issues confronting the youth today are teenage pregnancy, difficulty in finding job, and increasing cases of HIV/AIDS.

He stressed that those getting pregnant and suffering from HIV/AIDS are getting younger and younger.

Bleck said these can be best addressed by the combined forces of the national and local governments, private sector and UNFPA.

He called for the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law and strengthening of the policies of the local governments on issues confronting the youth.

Board Member Herbert Borja, chair of the committee on health of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay, said health programs are in the priority agenda of the PGA under Salceda.

In fact, the province has established Teen Health Centers in the cities of Ligao and Tabaco and the towns of Guinobatan and Daraga.

The PGA plans to put up similar center in every city and town of the province.

Borja said the primary purpose of the Teen Health Centers is to provide right place and services to the youth that would not make them hesitate to bring out their problems because those who will run the centers are also young individuals.

Aside from these centers, the province has also put up U4U Center at the Ligao National High School and soon it will set up similar establishments in other big public schools like the Tabaco National High School, Daraga National High School, Pag-asa National High School, Libon Central School and Polangui Comprehensive National High School.

Anti-volcano climbing act pushed

By Rosette Adel (philstar.com)

MANILA, Philippines - Since summer activities such as mountain climbing and other related activities are expected to peak again, lawmakers were urged to propose a law prohibiting such unauthorized activities on active volcanoes.

“Mountain climbing and other activities may only be permitted upon authorization of the government and a clearance from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS),” AKO Bicol Party-list lawmakers said.

The authors of House Bill 733 “prohibiting mountaineering and other activities on active volcanoes” or the proposed “Anti-Volcano Climbing Act” are Representatives Christopher S. Co and Rodel M. Batocabe.

Co and Batocabe take in to consideration an incident on May 7, 2013, when five people died while trying to climb Mount Mayon, an active volcano in Legaspi, Albay (Bicol). These included four German tourists and their Filipino tour guide. During their climbing attempt, Mayon volcano exploded and discharged ash. Seven others were injured, including four Thai citizens.

Although PHIVOLCS affirmed that Mayon was in no danger of erupting according to the authors, they reminded the public not to venture into a 6-kilometer permanent danger zone. The agency said steam or phreatic eruption is normal for active volcanoes like Mayon. Phreatic eruption is an explosion caused by ground water coming into contact with ascending magma (as in a volcano).

“However, it is evident that mountain climbers are not mindful of the dangers, choosing to hike near the crater even if the danger of a volcano expulsion of ashes is just lurking around the corner,” the lawmakers stressed out.

The authors also cited that several companies and organizations have been founded to organize travel tours which include mountain climbing activities to different locations in the Philippines due to the rising tourism industry.

“The proliferation of these companies and the rapid development of the industry itself have made it more difficult for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to monitor the traffic to our tourist destinations and to maintain minimal impact on the ecological footprint. It is necessary to protect and maintain these areas for the benefit of more tourists and the people,” they said. The lawmakers added that the primary concern of government should be the safety of its citizens and tourists.

“The potential fatalities and injuries that may result from allowing leisure and recreational climbers surpass the demand for a tourism industry to boom in areas where there are active volcanoes,” they elaborated.

Violators of the proposed Anti-Volcano climbing act will be charged a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P50,000 if they conduct mountaineering activities on active volcanoes within a ten-kilometer radius from the crates, with exemption of activities supervised by DENR and authorized by PHIVOLCS, and only for educational, academic, and research purposes.

In the event that a violator is a firm, partnership, corporation, association or any other organization, the officer and/or organizers of the activity who know or should have known the commission of the offense will then be liable.

PHIVOLCS will require submission of documents showing the purpose for which the climb is to be undertaken, the list of the members of the team who will make the climb which shall not be less than four 94) members, a list of the officers and/or organizers of the climb, if different from the team members, and payment of required fees before they can issue authorization letter.

Under Anti-Volcano Climbing Act, the team shall report to the nearest DENR office or ranger station before and after the climb.

House Bill 733 is currently pending with the Committee on Natural Resources chaired by Rep. Francisco T. Matugas (1st District, Surigao del Norte).

Parade of Giants featured in Daragang Magayon Festival's Tuesday activity

By Mar S. Arguelles [(PNA), CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS]

LEGAZPI CITY, April 7 (PNA) -- The Higantes (giants) Parade of at least 100 colorful huge creatures representing Albay’s mythological characters will highlight Daragang Magayon Festival's Tuesday activities.

Thousands of city residents are expected to line up along both sides of the three-kilometer J. P. Rizal St. to witness with awe the "giants" made of colorful papier mache towering at over 10 feet tall.

The parade will start from the Trilon Monument at the Legazpi Port District to Penaranda Park at the Albay District, the venue of the annual month-long festival that is now on its 16th year.

The usually four-hour parade held in the afternoon is again expected to cause a major traffic jam at the Rizal St., the main thoroughfare of this city and the neighboring Daraga town, and strand hundreds of cars, passenger jeeps, buses and trucks.

Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said the parade of giant effigies will portray all Albay mythological characters that symbolize the ancient Bicol.

“The parade of mythical creatures was a hit and a crowd-drawing event that took the center stage in last year’s Daragang Magayon Festival,” he said.

Among the unique mythical creatures in papier mâché prepared by local artists are the “Gugurang,” meaning an able, strong, virile and brave Bikolano; Mayon, a beautiful woman and the youngest sister of Masaraga and Malinao -- beautiful, intelligent and proud, hard-headed and moody.

Also included are Ibalong Epic characters “Baltog,” “Handiong,” “Bantong,” “Oryol” and “Rabot,”.

Tambaluslus, a creature with wide protruding lips that cover its face when it laughs and loose-bagged testicles which dangles to the ground, was a big hit among the crowd but drew a wide range of negative comments from church.

Abdon Balde, provincial tourism consultant, said the characters of the parade of giants were lifted from the book “The Brief Account of Beliefs, Legends, Superstitions and Religion of the Ancient Indios of Bicol” by Fray Jose Castano, published in 1885 in Madrid, Spain.

Dorothy Colle, provincial tourism chief, said the festival will include over a hundred events but six events are center-stage presentation and these are: Parade of Higantes, Hale’A fire dance ritual, Mayon 360 degrees Ultra Marathon, Pantomina street dancing, Albay Fiesta Culinaria: Parade of Chef’s cooking demo feat, Sayaw kan Tulong Bulod dance and musical presentation, Sayaw kan Tulong Bulod street dancing competition and Search for Daragang Magayon Pageant Night.

Best in Albayano showcased in Daragang Magayon Festival 2015

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

LEGAZPI CITY, April 6 (PNA) – The Daragang Magayon Festival 2015 opened Monday morning at the Albay Astrodome here with Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda warmly welcoming guests, provincial and other local government unit officials, festival participants and residents.

This year’s festival is on its 16th year.

“And what a timely opening it is for each and every one of us: We have just had a whole Lenten season of self-examination and of driving away our demons until Christ redeemed us from our sins and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday to celebrate our rebirth to a new life,” Salceda said.

Today, he said, the Albayanos celebrate life through this festival that showcases the best in every Albayano.

“It is a festival that is based on our heritage—our history, our culture and our arts. It is a festival that looks back to our origins, that sifts through our collective memories, picks up the beautiful, the sweet and the happy moments, and showcases the models that would give meaning, direction and fulfillment to our lives,” the provincial chief executive said.

Thus, he said, the overall motif of this year’s Daragang Magayon Festival is MAGANDA, MASARAP AT MASAYA SA ALBAY!

He recalled that in the past celebrations, the province looked back to the old traditions of the Albayanos.

“For example, in year 2013, we paid tribute to our aboriginal past by unearthing our natural resources and native arts and tradition,” Salceda said.

That was why the costumes the parade participants wore then shone brightly like gold kissed by the glow of the sun.

“This year, we return to our illustrious, colonial past—the 329 years of Spanish influence from 1569 to 1898. As the mist of the ages begins to dissipate, it is now becoming clear in the annals of history that Albay has never been under the shackles of Spanish colonization,” the governor said.

During that period, he said, the province did not suffer abusive power, harsh forced labor or severe racial discrimination.

This was because of the Albayanos’ relatively affluent lives resulting from an economic boom that rode on the success of the abaca and coconut industry, Salceda claimed.

In fact, during the Spanish regime, Albay was one of the richest areas in the country -- next only to Manila and Cebu, he added.

The top Albay official boasted of the good relations between the Albayanos and the Spaniards which, he said, resulted in the absence of intense and bloody revolution in Albay against Spain.

“What Albay experienced was a beautiful and rich rendezvous with European culture;” Salceda said.

The Christianization brought by the Spaniards started from Camalig in 1578.

In 1591, Fray Esteban Solis scaled the summit of Mayon Volcano and in the same year, San Pedro de Bautista founded the parish of Cagsawa; then in 1656, Fray Aspallargas taught the Abayanos to extract fiber from abaca.

By 1667, the largest galleons that sailed the Manila-Acapulco Trade route were built in Pantao, Libon, Albay.

In 1754 Fray Marcos de Lisboa, the first parish priest of Oas, published the “Vocabolario de la Lengua Bicol.”

Then from 1854, Jose Ma. Penaranda started the massive infrastructure development of Albay.

By 1860, the Sarzuelan Hugo de la Torre was performing the musicals “Los Miserables” and “El Barbero de Sevilla” in Cine Colon, Legazpi.

“The list of Spanish heritage is long and it goes on and on. Of course, we do not turn our backs on our long-remembered origins. Thus, we continue to showcase the best of our myths and legends. But this year we move on to our Hispanic past. Our costumes and dances and songs are uniquely Albayano with touches of that Iberian heritage,” Salceda said.

That’s why, he said, this year’s costumes for the festival are colorful.

The celebration features the province’s delicious foods through the Culinaria Albayana, dance and song competitions, and lots of fun and enjoyment.

Within the month-long festival period, the Albayanos will continue to remember and honor their historic past.

Inevitably, April 3, the anniversary of the founding of the province, which Albayanos used to celebrate with parades and programs, fell on Good Friday, so the festival committee included the parade and celebration within Monday’s opening-day activities.

On April 7, the heir of General Simeon Ola, one of Albayanos’ illustrious heroes will turn over his memorabilia during a symbolic program in Penaranda Park, to be formalized later in the Museo Guinobatan a few days later.

On April 23, there will be a grand parade and program to honor the province’s Heroes for National Liberation.

Bicol police reports decline in crime incidents

By Ed Rodulfo

Virac, Catanduanes – The stringent implementation of the Philippine National Police –Regional Office No. 5 (PRO5) performance target output policy on its crime prevention campaign led to a remarkable reduction in crime volume for year 2014 as compared to 2013 and that of the first quarter of this year as compared to last year.

This was shown by the PRO5 at the RPOC full council meeting held here on Thursday, March 26, 2015.

Statistics provided by the police showed that Albay recorded the most number of index crime in the region last year with 2,442 cases (1,769 of whom from theft); followed by Camarines Sur with 2,299 cases (1,712 theft); Masbate with 996 (653 theft); Camarines Norte with 923 (587 theft); Catanduanes with 366 (225 theft); and Sorsogon with 184 cases (92 theft). Naga City recorded the most index crime among the cities in the region with 1,829 cases (1,487 theft).

Comparing this year’s campaign against illegal drugs as to last year, Albay registered the most with 36 cases this year as compared to 18 last year; Catanduanes came in second with 22 cases this year as compared to 7 last year; while Masbate came in third with 22 cases as compared to 12 last year.

Camarines Sur netted the most on the campaign against illegal gambling with 70 cases (down from 99 cases last year; followed by Albay with 54 cases (down from 87 cases last year); and Sorsogon with 44 cases (up compared to 32 last year).

Masbate topped in the campaign against illegal fishing with 27 cases (up compared to 21 last year); followed by Camarines Sur with 33 cases (down compared to 53 last year); and Sorsogon with 17 cases (down from 30 last year).

Meanwhile, Camarines Sur was first in the campaign against illegal logging registering 33 cases as against 53 last year; Masbate was 2nd with 27 cases from 21 cases last year; and Albay came in 3rd with 23 cases from 71 last year.

Camarines Sur arrested most of wanted persons with 197 arrest compared to 185 last year; Albay came in 2nd with 132 arrests as compared to 103 last year; and Camarines Norte followed with 116 arrests compared to 73 last year.

On the campaign against illegal drugs Catanduanes registered the most remarkable performance with 105 cases in 2014 (up by 583% compared to 18 in 2013); followed by Camarines Sur with 265 in 2014 (up by 401% from 66 cases in 2013); and Albay with 141 cases last year (up by 223% from 63 cases in 2013).

Sea travel in areas under Signal 1 canceled – Philippine Coast Guard

By Joel Locsin / DVM (GMA News)

Sea travel in seven areas under Storm Signal No. 1 because of Typhoon Chedeng have been canceled, the Philippine Coast Guard's acting spokesperson Cmdr. William Arquero told dzBB radio Friday night.

Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Isabela, Aurora, Quirino, and Quezon including Polilio Island were under Signal 1, weather service PAGASA had said earlier.

Arquero added that each Coast Guard district in Chedeng-affected areas has its own rescue team.

The Coast Guard had earlier canceled sea travel in the ports of Virac, San Andres and Pandan in Catanduanes; and Pasacao, Sabang, Guijalo, Balatan Tamban, Nato, and Camaligan in Camarines Sur.

The PCG had also reported that 16 vessels and 27 motor bancas had taken shelter in Albay and Camarines Sur due to heavy seas caused by Chedeng.

Meanwhile, Quezon's Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council had also barred sea travel from the province, radio dzBB reported.

DTI reminds village small businesses to renew application

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

LEGAZPI CITY, April 2 (PNA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Bicol regional office has reminded barangay micro business enterprises (BMBE) with expired application from Jan. 13 to the present to renew their certificates of authority.

DTI Regional Director Joy LB. Blanco said provincial offices are now accepting applications for the renewal of the certificate.

Blanco said the DTI will issue a provisional BMBE certificate of authority as an interim measure, which shall be granted until June 30, while awaiting for the new guidelines to be issued by the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council pursuant to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10644, otherwise known as the Go Negosyo Act.

The Go Negosyo Act, which was enacted into law on July 15, 2014, is aimed at supporting the development of micro, small and medium enterprise throughout the country.

Business enterprises that have BMBE-related concerns are encouraged to visit the nearest DTI provincial office or feel free to call at telephone number 480-5720 local 109 or 125.

(Feature) Albay Agta lass to graduate from college as first DepEd ALS learner

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

TIWI, Albay, March 25 (PNA) -- For the first time, an Agta lass here is set to graduate in college on March 27 under the special education system of the Department of Education -- the Alternative Learning System.

Marilyn “Lyn” Competente, 20, of the Agta-Tabangnon tribe, will be receiving her diploma after successfully completing all the requirements needed for the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.

Lyn is the fourth children of couple Luis and Anesia Competente, whose residence is located at the foothill of Barangay Joroan in this town.

She is the first member of the family among nine siblings who will receive a diploma from the Tiwi Community College through the ALS program of the DepEd.

Lyn was able to go to college through the assistance of Amar Canicula, a DepEd mobile teacher assigned in this town.

She was a freshman high school dropout at the Naga High School and was encouraged by Canicula to pursue her education through the ALS program.

Before entering college, the young Agta woman worked in Manila as a house helper but went home in Joroan upon the instruction of her parents to attend the tribal gathering held in the Joroan tribal hall.

The tribal gathering then was organized by Canicula to inform and introduce to the indigenous communities the government’s vital program on free education under the Alternative Learning System being offered by the DepEd for the poorest of the poor and indigenous people.

At first, Lyn was reluctant to pursue her schooling due to poverty but Canicula, whose wife is also a public school teacher in the secondary level (formal school), offered to Competente’s family his help for Lyn to pursue her education.

Lyn was a consistent honor pupil in elementary but opted to stop schooling to help her parents find finances to feed the family though she wished much to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher.

Her dream came true after the Canicula family adopted her.

Lyn stayed at the Caniculas' home where she could study freely and go to school without budgetary constraints.

She took and passed the Accreditation and Equivalency (A and E) test, a ticket for her to be admitted in college.

Lyn said she was totally grateful to the Caniculas for making her dream possible.

“Thanks to my boss (Amar Canicula) and his family as they changed my life from nobody to somebody. Because of ALS, I was able to go to college for free. I am now an empowered Agta and as a person, my shyness is gone. Today, I can face anybody,” Lyn gladly said.

She said she could not thank the Canicula family enough "but my heart is chanting for joy, for profound gratitude. Soon I’ll be a teacher where I could walk the talk on the ALS program of DepEd like Sir Amar, the mobile teacher, the hero teacher of the poorest of the poor -- particularly our tribe Agta-Tabangnon,” Lyn said.

Rosie P. Lladoc, DepEd Alternative Learning Center Education Program supervisor, said the ALS program started in 2004 under the helm of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Lladoc explained that the ALS is a ladderized, modular non-formal education program in the country for dropouts in elementary and secondary schools, out-of-school youths, non-readers, working Filipinos and even senior citizens.

“Marilyn is the first IP that will graduate under ALS program. We’re very happy because through ALS, despite limited budget, we’re able to fly and provide light and hope to poorest of the poor family in the countryside like Marilyn through the help of our mobile teacher, Amar Canicula,” she said.

Lladoc explained that the ALS is a channel for the informal and poorest of the poor communities to achieve elementary and high school education without the need of attending classroom instructions on a daily basis, just like the formal education system.

The age level, economic and personal circumstances are among the determinants in availing oneself of the program.

The ALS program follows a uniform lesson module for all academic subjects covering science, mathematics, English, Filipino, social studies and current events, among others.

If a student has never reached the first grade, the student will be admitted in the Grade 1 level with the corresponding module of instruction given.

The student has to finish all the modules for the first grade level and pass assessment test before proceeding to the next level.

After successfully finishing all the modules, the student is given the comprehensive examinations prior to admission in the secondary level.

The procedure for the secondary level is the same as the elementary level.

Once the student graduates in the secondary level, he or she may enroll in the tertiary level without the need for attending the formal classroom system.

The ALS aims to provide the underprivileged an opportunity to finish their formal schooling under a regular curriculum.

Beneficiaries are given A and E modules, which will be used during the length of the program.

The program has two different schematics for conducting instruction; school-based and community-based.

In the school-based program, instructions are conducted in school campuses while in the community-based program, formal instructions are held in community halls, under the trees or on private places provided by the community.

“ALS is like a plane or like a candle, giving light in the dark," Lladoc said.

Albay Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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