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Lenten promotions

By Katlene O. Cacho

CITY hotels are now offering discounted “stay-cation” packages, as they expect low occupancy during the Holy Week.

Resorts, meanwhile, are bracing for the influx of local and foreign guests who will stay at their facilities for the long holiday.

“As usual Holy Week is low season for the city hotels, that’s why we do promos during this time,” said Cenelyn Manguilimotan, general manager of Cebu Parklane International Hotel.

Local tourists are expected to head to the countryside or travel abroad during the long break. Holy Week starts on March 29 (Palm Sunday) and ends on April (Easter Sunday).

But amid the projected low occupancy next week, city hotels are anticipating some pick-up.

“We are still on 40 percent during the Holy Week based on forecast and we are still optimistic to get some pick-up to increase occupancy,” said Manguilimotan.

To lure locals, city hotels are offering room discounts coupled with activities for adults and children during the Holy Week.


Aside from the usual Easter egg hunt,, Parklane will have a “A Trip Down Memory Lane at the Parklane on Holy Week” at P10,300 for three days and two nights with breakfast for two, airport transfers, tour of Cebu’s historical landmarks, Visita Iglesia night tour and free entrance to the Easter egg hunting activity, said Manguilimotan.

Five-star city hotel, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu, which currently has 60 percent occupancy, is also anticipating some pick-up as the Holy Week approaches.

The hotel, according to Manna Alcaraz, the hotel’s assistant communication manager is offering about “10 percent off its best available room rate.”

“Our room offers start at P5,500 net for a deluxe mountain view room,” the hotel said in its press release.

Guided tours

From April 2 to 5, Marco Polo will be mounting the Piccolo Kids Club Activity Zone, where kids can experience balloon twisters, film showing, kite making and other arts and crafts activities. There will also be game booths, popcorn booths and other surprises. On Easter Sunday, the hotel will have an Easter egg hunt and face painting.

In observance of Holy Week, the hotel will offer guided tour with shuttle service. On April 2, hotel guests can join the Visita Iglesia to seven churches in Cebu while on April 3, guests can participate in the Way of The Cross at Celestial Gardens. On Easter Sunday, the hotel will hold an Easter mass. Although, they expect a less busy week, Cebu City Marriott Hotel is offering food and beverage promotions. The hotel, media communications manager Charlene Go said, is extending its local weekend promotion of P5,299 net from April 2 to 5.

For the locals

Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu is also offering a stay-cation package for its superior rooms with buffet breakfast at P4,800 for local guests. Princes Anderle, the hotel’s director of marketing and communications, said the hotel will also feature activities for kids like Easter egg hunting and cupcake decorating. The hotel is also offering food and beverage promotions.

Quest Hotel and Conference Center, on the other hand, is expecting an average 70 percent occupancy.

But like other city hotels, the hotel hopes to reach 85 percent occupancy closer to the holiday dates with their ongoing deluxe room rate promo of P2,900 with breakfast starting today until April 5, said Mia Sy, the hotel’s public relations and marketing and communications manager.

Peak season

While the Holy Week is considered a low season for city hotels, resorts, on the other hand, enjoy high to full occupancy during the long break.

“Holy Week is always peak (period) for resorts,” said Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort general manager Rhyz Buac. He expects the resort’s occupancy to reach at least 85 percent, mostly for foreign guests.

Sy, who is also the public relations and marketing and communications manager for Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan said the resort should have an average of 80 percent and higher by the weekend.

“We have different activities at the beach for families, adults and children, including fun races, Easter crafts, egg hunt, picnics and nightly outdoor buffets,” she said.

Summer crowd

Average occupancy of Plantation Bay Resorts and Spa starting April 1 until April 5 is expected to be around 90 percent. Johanna Patalinjug-Lood, the resort’s marketing and communications officer, said they expect the occupancy to increase as the weekend approaches.

“We are expecting an increase, not only because it’s Holy Week but because summer has just started and lots of Filipinos check-in for summer,” said Lood.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 earlier said they are expecting an empty city during the Holy Week, as most will head to the provinces for the long break.

In Cebu, DOT 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said they expect locals to head to the southern part of Cebu because of the rich cultural heritage such as old churches and natural attractions like caves, waterfalls and beaches.

Others, on the other hand, will head to Bantayan Island, which has been called the Lenten Capital of the Visayas.

Cebu’s fastest to be honored in SAC awards

(Pooled report)

CEBU's fastest athletes who made waves in the international and local scenes will be honored for their achievements in the 2014 Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC)-San Miguel Brewery (SMB) Sports Awards on March 31 at the Ayala Activity Center.

Leading the prolific cast is the current fastest female marathoner in the country, Mary Joy Tabal. The pride of Talamban, Cebu had a remarkable running year, raking in numerous medals from here and abroad. Tabal, a two-time national Milo Marathon champion, made the country proud after finishing 17th out of thousands of runners in the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris in Paris, France.

She then made a killing in the 2014 Seoul Race in South Korea when she not only clinched the women’s title but also improved her personal best time in the half marathon, beforetopping the Kyoho No Oka Marathon in Japan.

Local races were also part of Tabal's decorated year, which includes the 2014 National Milo Marathon Finals, where she was heralded as the Milo queen for the second straight year.


Triathletes had a fair share of international exposures as well. Cebu-based off road triathlete Joseph Miller made history after becoming the only Filipino to compete in the pro class of Xterra. Miller, 35, had an inaugural pro race in Xterra Asia-Pacific Champioship in Australia, and led the Filipino racers in the 2014 Xterra World Championships in Maui, Hawaii. His best finish as a pro was seventh place in the Xterra Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

Triathletes John Philip Dueñas, the 2nd placer of Filipino elite class in the 2014 Ironman 70.3 Philippines; Kristiane Lim, the 2014 Ironman 70.3 Philippines Filipino elite 3rd placer; Justian Liam Chiogbian, national team member for triathlon and a participant to the Youth Olympic Games qualifier in Kazakhstan; and Lorhiz Echavez-Lopez, champion in the women's Filipino elite division in the Safeguard 5150 Triathlon in Bohol, all shone in this sport.

In cycling, Niño Surban tops the list of awardees after having clinched a slot to the UCI World XCM Championships in Italy, after making it to 11th place in the qualifier, the UCI MTB Marathon Series in Langkawi, Malaysia. The 28-year-old MTB elite rider also nabbed the gold medal in the Philippine National Games (PNG) and placed second in the men's elite class of the 2014 Asean MTB, won in the Tampines Mountainbike Cross-Country Race in Singapore.Joining Surban is national team rider John Mier, who won a silver medal in the PNG, and champion in the 2014 Asean MTB open division.

Young guns

Youngsters showed that the future of triathlon, cycling and athletics are in good hands. Leading the awardees are Yuan Chiongbian, 14, of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC), who powered the Cebu City Niños with four gold medals and a silver in the Batang Pinoy finals. Sacred Heart Schoo-Hijas de Jesus' Aaliyah Ricci Mataragnon, 15, will also be awarded along with Ana Patricia Maximo.

In athletics, Mike Lopez of Abellana National School will be awarded for being the Batang Pinoy Finals’ fastest man.

Niñolito Justiniane of Beatriz Durano Memorial High School and Ivan Miguel Santos of University of San Carlos Basic Education will also be awarded for the performances in the 2014 Milo Little Olympic Finals.

Noel Tillor, Marites Bitbit, and Brian Guillen, will also be awarded.

In extreme games, elite long board rider Dandoy Tongco, rock climbers Joshua and Jan Joseph Suson; Stand Up Paddle expert Buzzy Budlong; wakeboarder Rafael Trinidad, will also receive citations for their impressive 2014 in ther respective sports.

CPPO preps for Holy Week events in Bantayan Island

By Ma. Fatima R. Secuya / ATO (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines- Due to the influx of local and foreign tourists in Bantayan Island, the Cebu Provincial Police Office will deploy at least 120 police personnel in the area during the Holy week.

Senior Superintendent Noel Gillamac, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, said they want to ensure the security of Bantayan Island because of the number of tourists there during Holy week.

Gillamac also said they are also bracing for traffic problems, especially during the Lenten season when many workers in the city go home to their provinces.

He said that they already raised the concern to the Minglanilla Police Station and asked police to resolve the heavy traffic congestion in the area.

Gillamac explained that traffic concerns are also brought about by some other towns having activities along the highway during the Holy Week.

“We discourage activities that are done along the highway kay makapasamot sa traffic,” said Gillamac.

He assured that there will only be solemn religious activities in Bantayan for the Lenten season as bikini shows are no longer allowed.

“Sports activities, maybe. But if sayaw-sayaw, wala,” said Gillamac.

“Last year, we had a peaceful Lenten season. Hopefully, this year, peaceful pud,” he added.

SMEs paired with potential buyers in DTI’s speed matching event

By Katlene O. Cacho

NINE small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from food and non-food sectors were recently matched with EchoStore Cebu through the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) speed matching activity.

On top of helping small entrepreneurs improve their products, Elias Tecson, chief trade and industry specialist for business development of the DTI Cebu Provincial Office, said the agency is aggressively looking for potential markets to help SMEs here expand their customer base.

“We in DTI never stop looking for markets for our SMEs. We see to it that we don’t just depend on one buyer to ensure continued purchase order,” said Tecson.

“The speed matching activity we conducted was a way to help them link or network and pitch their products to new retail establishments here that supports local entrepreneurship.”

In the speed matching event, suppliers and buyers are introduced to each other to establish a connection or business relationship. The event aims to upgrade the supply chain of both the supplier and the buyer.

Cebu SMEs were linked with Manila-based EchoStore, which recently opened a branch in Cebu in Paseo Saturnino, Ma. Luisa Road. The store also features the EchoCafe and EchoMarket.

Positioned as “market connectors”, innovators and co-producers, the Echo- Store serves as a home to Filipino products that represent ideals of heath, fair trade and care for the environment. It highlights community products that support local cultural traditions, artistry and ingenuity of Filipinos.

Among the SMEs linked were suppliers of fashion accessories, organic fertilizers, organic rice and honey, dried boneless danggit, tableya and sukarap, turmeric powder, farm products, and bottled seafood.

Tecson also pledged to link DTI’s Shared Service Facility (SSF) program beneficiaries with EchoStore. He said that aside from the foreign markets, there is also a big domestic market to consider and that SMEs here shouldn’t just focus alone in global opportunities.

“Although we are increasing our participation in the global trade, we should not forget that we also have an expanding middle class with young consumers who have high purchasing power willing to spend for the products we produce,” Tecson stressed.

To address supply chain gaps and improve productivity and competitiveness, the DTI continues to encourage SMEs to innovate, diversify, and upgrade through advancements in technology, skills, and research and development.

Organizers launch Cebu Business Month

(Sun.Star Cebu)

TO MAKE sure the activities of this year’s Cebu Business Month in June are well-attended, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry is engaging in an intensive information campaign. Officially launched last Friday, overall chairperson Francis Dy said the activities they have lined up are expected to benefit Cebu’s economy and most businesses and not just those of their members.

He thought of the theme “Glocalized Cebu” with the small and medium enterprises in mind, saying he hopes to encourage this sector to take advantage of opportunities presented to them by the Asean Economic Community.

Best practices

Dy said being glocal means taking the best practices worldwide to address local opportunities, or thinking global and acting local.

Their activities, he said, mean to integrate the best of what the world has to offer with the local talent. He said that as CCCI’s aim is to become the engine of Cebu’s growth towards global competitiveness, the organization is proposing a glocalization strategy.

He said businesses today need to network with Asean neighbors and create alliances and joint ventures. “The world is now characterized by open borders. We need to focus on making a competitive advantage as a city and as a region for long-term sustainability.”

CCCI president Ma. Teresa Chan said she is confident that Cebu businesses will succeed in establishing local and global linkages within the Asean region and those beyond its borders through the CBM. “It is one of the most successful business activities in Cebu, being an institutionalized, month-long celebration,” she said during Friday’s launch.

Dy said preparations began as early as September last year. During the launch, he introduced the different members of the organizing committee and gave a preview of the list of activities for the whole month, all of which are aimed at promoting four major thrusts--information and communications technology and business process management (ICt-BPM), tourism, entreprneurship and creative industries.


Some of the highlights include the ICT and BPM Conference and Expo, the launching of the Cebu International Film Festival and International Documentary Film Festival, Entrepreneurship Conference, Technology and Innovation Expo, Cebu International Travel Fiesta, Glocalized Tourism Forum, the Southeast Asian Creative Cities Network Forum, Visayan Pop Song Writing Competition, Cebu Blogging Summit, New Media Awards and the Technotour Amazing Adventure Challenge.

Tourism chairperson Cenelyn Manguilimotan said the Technotour Amazing Adventure Challenge is one of the “most aggressive” activities they came up with. It combines the reality TV show The Amazing Race with the Suroy-Suroy Sugbo. Manguilimotan explained that the activity makes tourists experience Cebu’s countryside through technology. If this first activity succeeds, they hope to make it an annual event.

For her part, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Cebu Provincial Director Nelia Navarro, who is the also the chairperson for creative industries, said the Creative Council of Cebu is taking the lead in this year’s Southeast Asian Creative Cities Network (SEACCN) Forum.

Cebu represents the Philippines in the network, along with other secondary cities of Chiang Mai; Penang, Malaysia; and Bandung, Indonesia.


“I want us to be excited and proud to be part of this community,” Navarro said, adding that this year’s theme is an appropriate platform for the exchange of knowledge and best practices among Southeast Asian countries.

As for the ICT-BPM activities, vice chair Anthony Noel said they are expecting top speakers from the field to be present during their two-day conference. Aside from top companies, they will also be tackling home-based outsourcing operations, the rise of e-commerce and digital security.

Dy hopes that they are able to offer an avenue for local, national and global players to promote trade and tourism products, services and technology and a platform to establish networks of local interactions and global connections.

DOLE allocates P76M for summer job program

By Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment 7 has allocated about P76 million for its Special Program for Employment of Students this year, urging students to take advantage of the program this summer.

In Central Visayas, DOLE has around 25,000 target beneficiaries who are identified mostly as poor but deserving people.

DOLE-7 Director Exequiel Sarcauga advised potential beneficiaries to go to their respective public employment service offices (PESO), which handle the agency’s placement of its program.

He said PESOs are the ones that receive the credentials from applicants and deploy them to potential employers.

“This is for deserving students who want to work especially this summer,” Sarcauga told The FREEMAN at the sidelines of the full council meeting of the Regional Development Council 7 yesterday, attended by department directors, government officials and representatives from the private sector in Region 7.

The labor agency works with local governments, academe and the private sector in providing decent job opportunities for the working students who can work for 20 to maximum of 52 working days. And they earn a minimum wage.

Sarcauga explained the budget will be used to subsidize 40% of the workers’ minimum wage including insurance coverage which is shouldered by DOLE. The remaining 60% is financed by the employer.

He explained the students can actually work any time of the year but they are normally encouraged to enroll during summer.

The labor official also noted that he has signed several applications for job fairs this summer and that he urged fresh graduates and those looking for jobs to take advantage of these opportunities.

DTI: Cebu to get over P19M for 18 shared service facilities

By Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu is getting over P19 million this year for 18 shared service facilities from the trade agency to be given to poor communities in the province to drive up the productivity of small entrepreneurs.

Seven of the proposed SSFs have already been approved amounting to P4.4 million while the other 11 are still up for approval, Department of Trade and Industry Cebu said. The proposals for approval could amount to P14.7 million.

DTI Cebu business development chief Elias Tecson said these facilities will start to be implemented by third quarter as they are yet in the procurement process, bidding, among others.

Tecson claimed the government process is relatively long.

Data from the department also suggested that some of these proposed SSFs still need business plan from the proponents, revision of proposals and are up for endorsement.

"For the 11 proposals [for approval], they are for further deliberation in the regional and national level. Others especially those projects reaching P5 million will be approved at the national level," he told The FREEMAN in an interview.

He said the agency is yet to formally launch six SSF projects funded by the 2014 budget this year but explained these machines have already been given to the project partners -- mostly cooperatives of small producers.

Yesterday, DTI Cebu turned over a P498,000-worth of SSF to the 200-member Mag-uumang Nagkahiusa sa Sam-ang ug Magdugo in Toledo City for technology upgrading of the agri-based products of its farmer members.

The farmer association is involved in the production of coconut products.

The SSF which started in 2013 is a big part of micro, small and medium enterprise development program of the trade department to provide small players with machinery and knowledge under a shared system.

VECO to put up energy conservation infographics

By Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon / FPL (The Freeman) | Updated March 1

CEBU, Philippines - The country’s second largest power distributor, Visayan Electric Company, will be tapping shopping malls and companies to put up infographics on how to save electricity.

VECO spokesperson Theresa Sederiosa said that the infographics will be posted in strategic areas at the mall especially on empty walls.

Sederiosa, who is also the company’s reputation management manager, said that these infographics will also contain data on appliances wattage and the equivalent amount.

“For example, among ibutang sa infographics kung pila ka wattage ang magamit sa kani nga appliance ug pila ang mabayran,” Sederiosa explained.

Aside from letting the public know how to conserve electricity, they should also be educated on how much electricity they are wasting.

“Dapat the public should know also how much electricity they are wasting which we will also put in our infographics,” Sederiosa added.

Sederiosa said electricity consumption is expected to rise this summer.

“Electricity rate is expected to increase by P0.30 to P0.35 per kilowatt hour by May and it will be reflected in the June billing cycle,” Sederiosa said.

She said even if electricity rate will increase by that month, power consumers still have an option to conserve energy and eliminate, if not minimize, its wastage.

“Bisan pa mosaka ang presyo sa kuryente, kung gamay ra ang imong kunsumo, gamay ra gihapon ang imong bayranan,” she said.

DOT 7 exec says opening of Korean consulate in Cebu to boost tourism


CEBU CITY, March 18 (PNA) -– An official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 said the opening of the Korean Consulate in Cebu on Tuesday will further strengthen the tourism exchange between Cebu and Korea.

DOT 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said she believes the Korean consulate’s presence in Cebu signifies serious commitment in terms of boosting trade and tourism relationship between two countries.

Korea is the country’s and Cebu’s top source tourism market.

Last year, it kept its position as leading source market with 1.17 million visitors, up by 0.83 percent from its arrivals of 1.16 million in 2013.

In Region 7, Korea logged 600,904 arrivals, which is 12.08 percent higher than 536,155 arrivals in 2013.

Tourism arrivals in Central Visayas reached four million up by 15.51 percent from 3.49 million in 2013.

There are more than 30,000 Koreans residing in Cebu.

The consular office of Korea will cover the entire Visayas, including tourism areas of Cebu, Iloilo, Bohol and Boracay.

The consular office in Cebu will also be issuing visas for Korea, so those from the Visayas and Mindanao need not go to Manila to get a visa.

DSWD 7 allots PHP9M for skills training of 450 4Ps beneficiaries


CEBU CITY, March 17 (PNA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 has allocated PHP9 million for the skills training of an initial 450 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), an official said.

DSWD 7 Director Mercedita Jabagat said the agency has forged a partnership with the Global Powerskills Development and Assessment Center Inc. (GPS) for the program.

The skills training falls under the agency;s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), she said.

The 450 4Ps beneficiaries from the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu and Cordova town will undergo skills training on housekeeping, bar-tending and food and beverage services at the GPS in Mandaue City.

The training costs PHP20,000 each or PHP9 million for the 450 individuals.

It covers the amount equivalent to the training cost per program per beneficiary, including training kits, basic employment requirements and allowances on food, uniform and transportation during the duration of the training.

The GPS has started conducting briefing and orientation for the first batch of 50 enrollees and other capability building activities.

Training would last up to two months.

Cebu Capitol gives farmers plastic drums to prepare for El Nino


CEBU CITY, March 16 (PNA) -- The Cebu Provincial Government is giving farmers plastic drums and encouraging them to install their own water catchment as the El Niño phenomenon starts.

Cebu Provincial Agriculturist Roldan Saragena said the plastic drums were distributed through the local government units (LGU) under the department’s “Go Organic” program to store water.

Among the recipients are the City of Naga, Moalboal, Consolacion and Moalboal.

Saragena advised farmers to have a water catchment pond especially those in the mountain barangays so that whenever it rains, water will be stored and will be used later in case the drought will worsen.

Earlier, Engr. Oscar Tabada of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in Mactan said the province is now experiencing a weak or mild El Niño.

Saragena said the farmers in the province are used to the summer heat.

He said the Cebu Capitol’s Farmer Scientist Training Program taught farmers “climate resilient trials” by introducing crop varieties, aside from corn, that they can plant during the dry season, including sweet potato, peanuts and monggo.

“If corn will be affected by El Niño, at least, there are other crops that farmers can harvest,” Saragena said.

He also said the Cebu Capitol allocated P10 million for the premium insurance for crop damage, including accident insurance for the farmers and fishermen under the province’s Agri-Fisheries Insurance Program.

The Capitol tapped the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. for the insurance program.

At least 31,000 farmers and fishermen are insured under the program as of Dec. 22 last year.

Carcar to loan P600M to build city center

(Sun.Star Cebu)

THE Carcar City Government wants to borrow P600 million from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to build the Carcar City Center’s phase one in Barangay Poblacion III.

A new city hall, public transport terminal and public market will rise at the site once the construction of the first phase is done.

City Ordinance 4-15, which confirms the loan application of Carcar City, is pending at the Provincial Board (PB) for review.

PB Member Grecilda Sanchez, chair of committee on budget and appropriations, said they will determine if the City has the capacity to pay for the loan before approving the ordinance for loan application.

Sanchez told Sun.Star Cebu that they will have to check what the City pledged as collateral.


Section 56 of the Local Government Code of the Philippines states that “three days after approval, the secretary to the Sanggunian Panlungsod or Sangguniang bayan shall forward to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for review, copies of approved ordinances and the resolutions approving the local development plans and public investment programs formulated by the local development councils.”

According to the ordinance, which is scheduled for the PB regular session today, Carcar can loan P600 million, or depending on the “borrowing capacity per Bureau of Local Government Finance certification or winning bid price, whichever is lower and for the purpose of ratifying the loan agreement” entered into by the City, from the DBP.

In an interview, Carcar Mayor Nicepuro Apura explained that Carcar can apply for a loan from DBP of up to P600 million.

But if ever the winning bidder offers a lower amount for the project, then that would be the amount released by the bank.

The loan is payable in 15 years with a three-year grace period.


Apura said building the city hall will cost P350 million, while the terminal and market will be P90 million and P160 million, respectively.

“The City has acquired 8 to 10 has. land in Poblacion III to start the City Center’s first phase in the amount of P50 million,” Apura said in Cebuano.

He said the ideal lot for the City Center is 30 hectares.

During his state of the city address on July 7, 2014, Apura said he and his fellow city officials had a groundbreaking for a New City Hall inside the proposed City Center a day before his speech.

The City Center, which will cost around P2 billion, will also have a sports complex, livestock auction market and spaces for commercial establishments.

Apura said after the PB reviews the ordinance, the signing of the loan agreement will follow.

Disaster text blast system

By Rolando C. Balondo Jr. (NSU AB Comm Intern)

THE Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) 7 partnered with a telecommunications firm to improve the spread of information during disasters.

OCD 7 and Smart Communications Inc. launched the Smart Infoboard as an “advanced and efficient way” of exchanging information for disaster risk reduction and management.

Smart describes the Infoboard as “a web-based solution that offers various short messaging service facilities with different functions and capabilities catering to the needs of a particular community.”

It is essentially a text blast system that OCD 7 may use in relaying weather updates, earthquake bulletins, precautionary measures and other disaster-related messages to local disaster councils and other registered Smart clients.

OCD 7 Director Olivia Luces said that the Infoboard is also useful in circulating the office's programs, services and advocacy on disaster preparedness.

"With the Smart Infoboard, we will be able to give reliable information at the right time, right place and to the right community because a well-informed community is a safer community," said Luces.

She said that teaming up with Smart is in line with Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.


Disaster management has become a priority in the country following the Nov. 8, 2013 super typhoon Yolanda, where more than 7,000 people perished and at least a million homes were lost.

Central Visayas, particularly the provinces of Cebu and Bohol also experienced a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15 of the same year.

The text blast system was launched last March 3 at the OCD 7 in Paradela Building, N. Bacalso Ave., Cebu City with Luces and Smart senior manager for community partnerships Nova Concepcion.

The Infoboard was originally used to announce the suspension of classes with Smart's partners in the academe.

OCD 7 decided to partner with the communications firm to address disaster threats in the region.

The agency's name will appear as sender of a text message to guarantee authenticity.

This is a special feature of the Infoboard, which registers names of partner offices and agencies.

OCD 7 encourages local disaster councils and the public to interact through the Infoboard by providing updates in the community level in cases of calamity. Smart, Talk 'N Text and Sun Cellular subscribers may register to get updates from the Infoboard.

OCD 7 pays Smart P10,000 a month for the Infoboard system.

Smart turned over the same service to the Cebu Archdiocese last year as the latter prepares for the International Eucharistic Congress next year.

South Korea visa applications accepted in Cebu starting March 18

By Joel Locsin / LBG (GMA News)

Starting next Wednesday, March 18, Cebuanos who want to go to Korea need not go to Manila to obtain a visa.

Consul General Lee Ki Seog said this as South Korea established a consulate in Cebu, GMA Cebu's Alan Domingo reported.

The new facility will provide consular services to people in the Visayas, the report said.

Lee also said the consulate will attend to the needs of Korean nationals in the Visayas, noting many of them visit Cebu.

"You have good (resorts) in Mactan area, Bohol and Boracay and you have very good natural resources," he said.

Over 21,000 jobs up for grabs in Cebu Capitol job fair on March 15


CEBU CITY, March 12 (PNA) -- A total of 21,653 jobs are up for grabs in the Cebu provincial government’s job fair on Sunday, at the Cebu Capitol social hall.

The job fair was initiated by the Cebu Capitol’s Public Employment Service Office (Peso) to help graduating students land a job.

The job fair will be held in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) 7 and the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) 7.

Julius Chua, Labor and Employment Officer III of Peso, said 28 licensed agencies are joining the job fair.

Chua said overseas hiring includes household service workers, skilled and technical manpower, hoteliers, construction workers, service crew, maintenance technicians, information technology (I.T.) personnel, nurses and medical and hospital staffs.

He said the countries in need of workers are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (K.S.A,), Taiwan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Burma, Bahrain, United Kingdom (UK), Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australia, Singapore, Brunei, China, Japan, Congo, Macau, Mozambique, Suriname, Maldives and Oman.

Chua said they now have over 700 registered applicants since their opening in January this year.

“As of now, the unemployment rate here in Cebu has already minimized compared to last year’s,” says Chua.

He said they continuously disseminate information through advertisements and through their official social media accounts such as Facebook.

Tech-voc on the upswing in Cebu


MANILA, March 11 (PNA) -- In a city regarded as the country's alternate metropolis with a continuously booming economy, Cebu's youth could be sitting in a sweet spot.

Industries are growing and tourism is up, which could translate to job and entrepreneurial opportunities, according to Director General Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

There is a missing element though for the youth to have a crack at employment — skills.

A series of activities in Cebu City and the nearby Mandaue City that included skills demonstration, fun run and link-up with the private sector showed that TESDA was going full blast in making technical vocational (tech-voc) education accessible and available to the future workforce, Villanueva said.

"For 2015, Cebu gets a funding of Php75.78 million for the education of 7,375 scholars. This represents 51 percent of the total budget of Php149.12 million for the entire region targeting close to 15,000 scholars," Villanueva said.

The scholarships are lodged in four programs of TESDA — Training for Work Scholarship Program, Private Education Student Financial Assistance, the Bottom-up Budgeting, ​and Special Training for Employment Program, ​he said.

"Education underpins all economic development. It's the tool of the most ambitious governments in these technological times," Villanueva added.

The TESDA chief noted the feat achieved by two Cebuanos — Ingrid Ponce and Myrna Pitaluna — after they graduated from their respective courses.

For lack of money, Ponce could not go to college and thus, enrolled in a tech-voc course that few women engage in - shielded metal arc welding and gas metal arc welding. Finding her niche in this trade, Ponce landed in a job in Japan, which changed the life of her family.

Pitaluna of Toledo City also finished shielded metal arc welding and added heavy equipment operation to her skills. She took additional training to be a certified assessor and trainer. She was awarded as Idol ng TESDA in 2013.

The March 5 event in Cebu was carried out through the Training Trabaho Program, which intensified its tech-voc education campaign to bring in more people to avail of the programs of TESDA.

The event kicked off with a series of media guesting by Villanueva, who explained the various programs of TESDA and how the public can access them.

This was followed by the showcase of the skills of the trainees in cookery, food and beverage servicing, household services and barista. Villanueva, a holder of National Certificate, also joined the skills showdown with his skills in coffee making.

The TESDA chief shared the boodle fight lunch with the trainees.

TESDA also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Metro Wear Inc. for the training of its workers and with ABS-CBN to help promote tech-voc through various media activities.

On March 7 at the Cebu Business Park, Villanueva joined the fun run organized by the Cebu Association of Private Technical-Vocational Institution aimed to raise funds for the transportation and food allowance of scholars.

Villanueva said that TESDA would continue being active in organizing tech-voc-related events in the city with the help of the local government unit and the private sector.

The Skills Demonstration activity was organized with the assistance of the University of Cebu led by the its president, lawyer Augusto Go, its chancellor, Candice Gotianuy, and administrators of technical vocational institutions (TVIs) and TESDA technology institutes (TTIs) who took part in the demo.

The Fun Run was organized by the TVIs and TTIs and various national government agencies — Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Customs, Philippine National Police-Regional Training Center VII, Naval Forces and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources office.

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