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CH to buy more equipment to deal with disaster

By Rebelander S. Basilan

TO BE better prepared for typhoons, the Lapu-Lapu City Government intends to get more equipment and implement a more systematic way of evacuating residents.

Mayor Paz Radaza said the City needs more machinery like chainsaws, rubber boats, generator sets and communication gadgets. Needs improvement

Radaza said she will also ask barangay officials to set aside funds to get more equipment, as the City continues to take measures against disasters.

Disaster responders from City Hall and barangays recently received training from the Metro Manila Development Authority. More than 40 disaster responders learned search-and-rescue skills in water and collapsed buildings.

Radaza said barangay officials were able to handle the evacuation of residents well during typhoon Ruby, but she added a more efficient way of moving people to safer places can be done.

“The City will work with barangay officials and the Department of Education Lapu-Lapu City Division to develop mechanisms for evacuating residents in risky areas,” she said in a recent press conference.

No casualty

Radaza also pointed out the need to upgrade their communication facilities. When typhoon Ruby hit the country two weeks ago, personnel at the City’s command center had difficulty contacting officials in island barangays.

The City and barangays carried out massive evacuations during typhoon Ruby. About 14,000 people living near the shores were taken to elementary schools.

No casualties and major damages were reported in the city in the wake of the typhoon.

Mandaue to give 14th month pay

By Flor Z.Perolina / ATO (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Mandaue City Council is hoping to release an additional bonus for City Hall personnel as their performance enhancement incentives (PEI) although it would still find a way to finance the incentive.

The City Council, during its Wednesday’s session, approved in mass motion an ordinance granting the PEI to all regular employees of the Mandaue City Hall.

The approval though has no certain amount yet but the City Council tasked city treasurer Regal Oliva to check if the city has available funds to give at least P20,000 to each employee.

Around 700 regular employees will receive the additional benefit aside from their 14th month bonus which is now being processed.

The employees’ 14th month pay will be released before Christmas. Employees with a basic pay below P10,000 will receive a P10,000 bonus while those who have a basic salary of more than P10,00 will receive an amount equivalent to their monthly pay.

Oliva said that they also hope to release the PEI before Christmas. He said the city will need around P14 million to grant the additional P20,000.

Last December 2, the Department of Budget and Management issued a memorandum circular setting the guidelines in the granting of PEI.

Oliva also said that job order employees will not receive the PEI to avoid disallowances from the Commission on Audit.

But the city’s job order employees will get a calamity assistance of P5,000 each. Oliva said the payroll is already being prepared for the distribution of the cash assistance.

Oliva earlier defended that the giving of calamity assistance to the city’s job orders is just appropriate as they were the frontliners during the preparation of typhoon Ruby.

Group distributes medical kits to ‘trained’ LGUs

By Oscar C. Pineda

DIRECT Relief, an international non-government organization (NGO,) turned over 18 Emergency Medical Technician kits for first-aid treatments to Cebu LGUs.

This is just the initial first batch, as more trainings and distribution will follow.

“Kung layo og ospital ang atong mga lungsod, first aid pwede ni magamit, kung adunay bangga, adunay napusilan (If the towns are from the hospitals, first aid is useful, for vehicular accidents, or someone being shot),” said Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) information officer Jules Regner.

Each big backpack contains, among others, a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure, stethoscope, suction devise, tampon, cotton and gauze, medicines and even condoms.

Condoms, Regner explained, is to keep small items dry even in extreme wet conditions or when immersed in water.

Before the turn-over, Direct Relief personnel demonstrate the uses of items inside the kit.

These kits are used, Regner said, as first aid treatment to injuries sustained during natural calamities and other emergency situations said Regner.

Each kit is worth P37,000, Regner said.

Four representatives from Minglanilla, Barili, Liloan and Bantayan were present during the turn-over yesterday at the PDRRMO in Capitol compound.

Direct Relief first distributed Medical Kits to 18 LGUs that underwent PDRRMO ERT training said Regner.

“Dili ra ni siya anhi ra kutob, naa pay additional second batch ani (There will be a second batch),” said Regner.

Lapu-Lapu City opens another eco-tourism attraction


LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu, Dec. 17 (PNA) -- The Lapu-Lapu City government has opened another eco-tourism attraction in Olango Island off Mactan Island.

The Eco-Tourism Park in Sitio Asinan in Barangay Sabang will benefit at least 24 families.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza said the park does not only attract tourists since it also provides income to the residents in Asinan.

"Tourism is the backbone of our local economy. It is one of the prime movers of our city towards development," Radaza said.

Jimmy Gloma, office-in-charge of Lapu-Lapu City Cooperative and Livelihood Resource Center, said that women are trained to cook and prepare food for the guests while men are trained to tour tourists while riding on a boat.

Last year, the city government had launched its first tourist spot dubbed the "Olango My Getaway."

Gloma said families under the community-based eco-tourism program were educated about the importance of protecting the environment.

"We are closely coordinating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to make sure no environmental law is violated as we go on with the eco-tourism project," Gloma said.

The park has an entrance fee of P15, according to Gloma, while guests can avail of the tour of the mangrove area on board a boat for P30 for 30 minutes.

Gloma said that guests are encouraged to plant mangroves at the newly opened Eco-Tourism Park.

He added that if tourists decide to stay overnight at the park, they can rent a tent for P100 for eight hours.

"We are charging low rates because we want local and foreigners to visit the community and help the residents and environments," Gloma said.

The city has allocated P130,000 to set up souvenir shops where tourists can buy local products.

One of the features at the park is the bamboo bridge.

"Residents wade through the seawater during high tide to get to the main road," Gloma said.

Tourist arrivals in CV to hit past 200T – DOT

By Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - More local and foreign tourists are expected to visit Central Visayas provinces throughout the end of year as the peak Christmas season approaches, said the regional Department of Tourism.

According to DOT-7, it is expecting an average of 252,260 tourist arrivals in the region for the December period.

In a previous interview, DOT-7 Director Rowena Montecillo said the peak season has started since November. More tourists are also expected to visit Cebu early next year in time for the Sinulog Festival.

“We are monitoring the arrivals especially that I still would want to see the specific tourist arrivals in [the islands of] Bantayan and Malapascua,” Montecillo said, noting the two islands have continued to recover from the previous disasters.

The tourism agency said that from January to September, it already recorded 2,830,768 tourists which account for 77.31 percent of its total target of visitors this year. In the same period last year, the region had 2,675,957 tourists.

Its 2014 goal of tourist influx was raised to 3.6 million, up from the initial target of 3.3 million.

The director expressed optimism the agency would be able to achieve its target, considering that tourist places in the region have slowly regained the confidence among tourists after the major calamities.

She pointed out figures on tourist arrivals are very important as they show to the people how the local tourism sector has been performing amid the challenges that affect the industry.

The tourism department also needs the help of the private sector and various tourism offices of local government units in collating tourism data, she added.


During the 2014 January-September period, Cebu received 2,083,046 tourists, the biggest among the region’s four provinces. Bohol had 334,899 visitors; Negros Oriental recorded 381,204 arrivals; and Siquijor had 31,619 tourists.

During the said period, local tourists reached to 1,696,670 posting a 4.45 percent growth rate while foreign arrivals increased to 1,124,854 having a growth of 7.58 percent, data furnished to The FREEMAN further showed.

Visiting overseas Filipino workers also grew by 55.10 percent during the first nine months of this year to 9,244, up from 5,960 during the same period last year.

Top markets

Korea remains as Central Visayas’ top tourism market with 434,141 Koreans who visited the region during the nine-month period; it increased by 2.65 percent from 422,927 last year.

It is respectively followed by Japan, USA, China, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France and Singapore.

Of all these nations, only Canadian tourists dropped by -20.09 percent to 17,386 this year, lower than 21,758 in 2013.

The total number of tourists from the said markets grew by 8.91 percent to 964,830 during the nine-month period this year from 885,886 in 2013.

DSWD-7 set to give relief goods today

By Ria Mae Y. Booc/NSA (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development-7 will be sending out relief goods to Eastern Samar today.

Around 10,000 sacks of rice, at least 33,334 boxes of noodles, 12,000 boxes of canned meat, 10,000 boxes of coffee, and 12,000 boxes of sardines are currently stocked in two relief warehouses in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue, said the agency.

The goods will be transported through the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard-Cebu.

DSWD-7 disaster focal person Jenny Abastillas said they will also tap the assistance of commercial vessels in delivering the goods.

“Bisan asa nga point of entry like Palompon or Hilongos, duna mi kontakon nga maoy musugat didto informing them of the number of items being sent,” said Abastillas, saying the DSWD-7 will pay for the shipment through commercial vessels.

Following typhoon Ruby, which hit northern Cebu and Eastern Samar in Region 8, the national government released P300 million-budget for DSWD’s relief goods and operations.

The agency finished packing food packs yesterday. It has so far dispatched at least 50,000 food packs to Eastern Samar and around 36,000 to northern Cebu. The agency is yet to send some 10,600 food packs to the towns of Poro, Tudela, Sta. Fe, and Medellin in Cebu.

Some of the food packs for northern Cebu were distributed to the different municipalities while the rest were personally brought by the DSWD.

Tides opens in Lapu-Lapu; Maryland pianist-pedagogue mounts homecoming recital

By Jaime Picornell (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa held a grand opening of its new main outlet, Tides, with a record attendance by Cebu’s luminaries. Presiding the dressy event was the resort’s general manager Marco Vazzoler who welcomed the guest of honor, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza.

Jude Bacalso hosted the program, a highlight of which was a demonstration by sand artist Brian Crespo who invited Mayor Radaza to try her hand at it, literally.

The new Tides offers a comprehensive array of international cuisine with special focus on local specialties. The Cebu lechon is roasted right before your eyes. Mainstay at the dessert area is the chocolate fountain.

Seen at the event were Shangri-La Mactan’s director for sales and marketing Albert Lafuente, Charley Magubo and Luwela Griño also from the sales department. Communications executive Monica Tan, human resources manager Rowena Villasencio, food and beverage director Ben Matlew, executive chef Mark Mulder, and chef de cuisine Alvin Lee.

Radisson Blu

Shortly after this it was the turn for the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City to host a grand event to relaunch its Feria outlet, likewise attended by a record crowd. Doing the honors was general manager Nishan Silva who introduced the hotel’s five main chefs who henceforth have showcased their gastronomic prowess.

Executive chef Frederic Cyr is French-Canadian, born in Quebec, where at age 12 he learned how to cook with his famous father, Renaud Cyr, at the family restaurant.

Executive pastry chief Allan Barrios comes from a family of pastry chefs. His father and four brothers are into baking. He is responsible for the scrumptious desserts at Feria, featured on a ferris wheel. Try his famed croissant pudding.

Chef Peter Yeung is master of Cantonese cuisine. Born in Hong Kong, for 20 years he has churned out wonders from a stack of recipes that have been in his family for generations.

Indian chef Nira Tiwari has introduced his country’s culinary fare to Cebu. It is flavorful, colorful and definitely spicy though he has toned down some dishes, which means less hot and more edible.

Executive sous chef Randy Origenes learned to cook from observing as he washed dishes. His contribution to the Feria buffet ranges from delicious Filipino dishes to imaginative Italian fare.

Afternoon musicale

Cielito Obiña Elliott entertained friends at her well appointed apartment at Buenaventura Place in Guadalupe, Cebu City, in what turned out to be a delightful afternoon musicale. Present were Amelia La O, Tina Ebrada, Chinggay Utzurrum and Maida Veloso.

Celi was born in Cebu and learned how to play the piano from her sister Angeling O. Bernedo. She studied Music at University of Santo Tomas and later further studied in United States.

She embarked on a career as a concert pianist, and also as a teacher at an exclusive girls’ school in Baltimore, Maryland. She married Don Elliott who also taught at the same school.

During the 1970s and 1980s Celi frequently came to Cebu performing solo or in duo recitals with Reynaldo Reyes who was also based in Maryland. Those were unforgettable performances at the auditorium of Colegio de la Inmaculada Conception under the patronage of Esperanza Labucay Cabahug.

Celi retired some years ago and her visits to Cebu became more frequent, touching base with relatives and a legion of dear friends. She took up residence at Buenaventura Place and got herself a piano where she rehearses daily. It has a room all to itself.

At this exclusive gathering she told them she’d play compositions by Chopin, one of her favorite composers. She told them why.

“Chopin wrote mostly for piano,” she said. “Well, the piano is enough. It is everything!”

The first piece was Ballade No. 1. “There are actually four,” Celi explained, adding, “It evokes a tale, giving life to the knights at King Arthur’s round table.”

Then she played some “etudes,” written by Chopin for students. “Thy are that not easy at all, “noted Celi,” as a matter of fact they can be challengingly difficult.”

From Book I of the etudes she played No. 5, known as the Black Keys Etude; No. 12, the Revolutionary; and No. 3 which as Celi says, was named “No Other Love” by Hollywood. Celi said we could hum or sing along as she played.

From Book II she played the Butterfly Etude; one that was a favorite of her late husband Don; and the “Ocean Prelude,” considered as the hardest of all.

For an encore she obliged with a work written by her late sister who died quite young. ” I had to play a Cebuano air,” Celi said, and went into a relation of memories that stretched back to prewar days of her childhood.

“Tina, why don’t you play something?” Celi asked Tina Ebrada who protested that lack of practice prevent her fingers from playing classical works. But accomplished as she is, Tina sat at the piano, and tinkled away a score-perfect jazzy “It Had to be You.”

How does one say it in Cebuano? Some one asked. The answer: “Ikaw g’yud!”

Cash for Mandaue workers approved

By Flor Z. Perolina (NSA, The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Mandaue City Council has approved an ordinance granting yearend cash incentives in a form of calamity assistance amounting to P5,000 to all job order employees and traffic enforcers in the city and another P3,000 cash incentives to Clean and Green personnel and barangay health nutrition workers.

Section 2 of the ordinance states that job orders and traffic enforcers who have rendered at least a four months service preceding November 30, 2014 shall receive the full P5,000 amount while the P3,000 will be given to Clean and Green workers and BHNW who have rendered the same.

On the other hand, personnel who have rendered less than four months of service as of November 30, 2014 shall only be entitled to a pro-rated calamity assistance, wherein those who have a length of service of three months but less than four months will receive 50 percent of the calamity assistance; two months but less than three months will receive 40 percent ; one month but less than two months 40 percent ; and for those who have served the city for less than a month will receive 20 percent .

City Treasurer Regal Oliva, in a press conference yesterday, defended that the giving of the cash aid, saying it is just appropriate considering that these workers were the frontliners during the preparations for typhoon Ruby last week.

The typhoon did not cause any casualty and damage to the city.

Oliva clarified that the budget for the cash incentives will not be taken from the city's calamity fund but from the surplus of the Maintenance and Operating Expenses of the departments where they are assigned.

Pope to watch Sinulog dance

By Justin K. Vestil

SINCE Pope Francis will not be dropping by Cebu, a dance group hopes to bring a dash of Cebu to the pope when he visits the country next year.

The Sandiego Dance Company has been chosen to present a traditional Sinulog dance before Pope Francis in a mass at the Quirino Grandstand on January 18, the pope's last day in the country.

The performance will coincide with the feast of the Santo Niño in Cebu.

Valentino "Val" Sandiego, the founder of the multi-awarded dance troupe, said that he and his family, along with about 60 dancers will go to Manila.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma informed Sandiego about the performance two months ago.

"Since Cebu is not part of the pope's itinerary, we hope to bring Cebu to the pope," Sandiego said.

Sandiego said that the dance will be Sinulog-based and will be centered on how Filipinos value family.

"It's been my tradition to dance with my family. We are sending this message to everybody that the Filipinos are family-oriented,"said Sandiego.

The dance troupe will start practicing tomorrow.

Sandiego is still waiting for commitments from the dancers who usually dance in the Sinulog.

Most of his dancers are devotees of the Santo Nino.

Sandiego said that despite the papal visit, the dance company will still dance during the feast of the Santo Niño, which has become a tradition and a show of devotion to the child Jesus.

Sandiego explained that the dance troupe will present after the fluvial procession and then fly to Manila.

The fluvial procession happens on the eve of the feast day.

Pope Francis will visit the Philippines on January 15 to 18, his first since becoming pope in 2013.

LGUs ‘learned preparedness’

By Elias O. Baquero and Justin K. Vestil

THE Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB) praised Cebu’s local government units (LGUs) on their preparations for typhoon Ruby.

“They are more focused on what they need to do,” said Roberto Aboitiz, co-chairman of the MCDCB. He commended the mayors for putting their constituents at the top of their disaster preparedness plans and said the LGUs’ preparations were “a product of past lessons learned.”

For its part, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 called for more volunteers to report to the old Sacred Heart School for Boys campus on Gen. Maxilom Ave., Cebu City.

“We are running out of manpower to help us meet our target of 50,000 family food packs a day,” said Assistant Director Shalaine Maria Lucero.

As of yesterday afternoon, the DSWD has sent 13,848 family food packs to Region 8, using the military’s C-130 planes.

The national disaster council reported as of 8 last night that Ruby affected more than 2.7 persons in nine regions. Of that group, 1.41 million remained in evacuation centers.

It also reported P3.18 billion worth of crops and infrastructure damaged, and said that the typhoon had destroyed 8,192 houses and damaged 35,110 others. The assessments are still ongoing.


The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), of which Aboitiz is president, immediately sent assessment teams to areas in Cebu Province that were hit by the typhoon.

Assessment teams led by Dominica Chua, RAFI chief operating officer, are checking how Northern Cebu towns and Bogo City coped with the typhoon.

Initially, Chua observe, the mayors took control of the command centers and saw to it that all preparations were being carried out and all measures were observed, including stockpiling and distributing food and other items in evacuation centers.

Local officials have cited the preemptive evacuations by LGUs as one reason the casualty count remained low.

After seeing the positive effects of good preparation, Chua said, the next challenge is for disaster preparedness to be institutionalized not only by the LGUs, but by households also.

“A change of mindset is very important, to be prepared rather than complacent, knowing that this (the threat of stronger typhoons) is the new normal,” Chua said.

“We must make disaster preparedness and readiness part of our culture, because as you can see, it made the difference,” she added.

This year, RAFI, though the Eduardo Aboitiz Studies Center, hosted a series of discussions on “the new normal” especially on building disaster-resilient communities and infrastructure, assessing risks, and understanding vulnerability. Lessons One thing the DSWD learned was that private donors who want to send help to disaster-affected communities must coordinate with mayors and local officials.

“This will prevent over-serving and under-serving of those affected just like what happened in the aftermath of Yolanda, when those along the road got the big share of donations while those living in mountain barangays got nothing at all,” Lucero said.

After Ruby struck, Lucero said, the World Food Program has provided rice and high-energy biscuits. The International Office for Migration (IOM) has pledged to ship soon the hygiene kits and tents.

The DSWD, aside from receiving volunteers, also accepts donations like food.

“I am calling the media to help us invite people to help pack in the old Sacred Heart School. I am also inviting the media people to also pack after their duties,” Lucero said.

As of yesterday, the DSWD also sent 575 sacks of relief goods to Camotes Island, through four vessels provided by the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) of the Philippine Navy.


Typhoon survivors in Camotes, which is composed of the towns of San Francisco, Tudela, Poro and Pilar, failed to receive food assistance right away from the DSWD because regular trips to the island were cancelled, on account of the rough weather.

But as of yesterday, Navforcen spokesman Lt. James Reyes said that the 575 sacks, weighing some 92,000 kilos, were delivered to Camotes by four vessels, including one named Alberto Navarrete.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) also transported about 165,909 packs of DSWD relief goods to Eastern Samar, where Ruby first made landfall last Saturday night.

Major Glen Cabalquinto, spokesperson of the PAF 2nd Air Division, said their C-130 planes completed eight sorties or flights to transport relief goods to Eastern Samar through Catarman and Borongan.

For his part, Cebu Port Authority (CPA) General Manager Edmund Tan reported that the CPA Relief Operations Team headed by Port Management Department Manager Oscar Lopez is coordinating with other agencies.

“Our relief team is coordinating with DSWD, Marina (Maritime Industry Authority) and other agencies to facilitate cargo handling and sea transport of relief goods,” Tan said.


The Province, working with nongovernment and civil society organizations, is still assessing how Ruby affected communities in Cebu, especially those in the north who are still recovering from Yolanda.

But an official of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) maintained that Cebu had “zero casualty” during the tyhoon, despite reports of two deaths.

During the media briefing on Climate Change mitigation yesterday, PDRRMO head Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said that the two people who died during Ruby’s onslaught did not succumb to typhoon-related injuries.

Jimmy Cardente, a 14-year-old from Malabuyoc, was electrocuted after touching a power line, while a man from Bogo City died from hypothermia after he refused to evacuate.

(Cardente was also listed in the national disaster council’s list of deaths caused by Ruby, as of 8 last night.)

Olivia Luces, Office of Civil Defense 7 chief, said they will justify their report to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

But the Department of Health’s Health Emergency Management Staff, in their report, classified the two deaths in Bogo City and Malabuyoc as typhoon-related.

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council were still consolidating yesterday all of their reports regarding typhoon Ruby.

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