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DENR retrieves equipment that detects aquatic life

By May B. Miasco / ATO (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - A year since it was installed, the reef monitoring equipment that was submerged in the aquatic sanctuary in Cordova town, Cebu was removed yesterday with the hope to find new species in marine biodiversity.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) led the retrieval of the Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) unit in Cordova on April 27.

DENR-7 director Isabelo Montejo said an organized DENR team dived off the waters in Cordova to retrieve one unit of ARMS for analysis, research and even for public viewing.

He said the reef structure samples were presented to the local community to give them idea about the marine life in their vicinity and to hopefully encourage the residents to help in the conservation and protection of the marine ecosystem.

Montejo said the ARMS will be deployed again for further studies.

The BMB, he added, is planning to increase the number of ARMS units in selected sites to provide additional data for research purposes.

Montejo said the equipment is also helpful in monitoring ecological impacts of climate change, particularly ocean warming and acidification.

To recall, the ARMS unit was lowered at a 15-deep marine protected area in Barangay Alegria in Cordova on May 30, 2014 with an aim to understand the coral reef biodiversity.

After the unit’s recovery, the reef structure samples were analyzed using molecular techniques and were displayed to the public for education and outreach purposes.

Vicente Calizar, technical staff of the Conservation and Development Division of DENR, said it is a potential method to monitor marine reef habitats and species, especially the alien species that are not usually seen.

Calizar was also the appointed person that led the retrieval of the ARMS in the town’s waters.

DENR-7 Information Officer Head Eddie Llamedo said the ARMS equipment, which was first used in Hawaii and Puerto Rico and paved the way for the discovery of some cryptic alien species, is one of the components of DENR’s Sustainable Coral Reef Ecosystem Management Program (SCREMP).

Aside from Mactan Island, the retrieval of ARMS unit deployed in the waters off Corregidor Island in Cavite, Snake Island in Palawan, and Camiguin in Misamis Oriental were done simultaneously.

The retrieval of ARMS is part of the celebration of the Ocean Month whose theme is “Stand Up, Save Our Reefs.”

Medical mission caters to folks in southern Cebu

By Chizle Villeno, CNU Intern/JMO (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - At least 20 residents of Carcar City and neighboring towns are benefitting daily from the ongoing medical, surgical and dental mission at the Cebu Provincial Hospital in the city.

The mission, carried out by at least 34 members of the Association of Philippine Physicians of the Florida Panhandle (APPFP) and local medical workers, started on May 25 and will end on May 29, Friday.

Among the procedures covered by the mission include adult and pediatric hernia surgery, removal of gall bladder stones, thyroid surgery, thyroglossal cyst, anorectal cases, and gynecological cases.

Dr. Jojo Mancao, head doctor of the medical mission, said this is the first time that CPHCC is catering to this number of surgical operations in a day.

The APPFP was invited by the Philippine College of Surgeons – Cebu Eastern Visayas Chapter for the joint mission. The mission is being held every two years.

Mancao said the provincial government is supporting the mission by providing the venue, as well as the food for the volunteers, and some medicines for the patients.

Aside from the province, other organizations are also giving support, including AmeriCares, Brother’s Brother Foundation, Map international and Sacred Heart Health System.

Cebu’s online job portal reports surge in hiring demand


CEBU CITY, May 26 (PNA) -- Cebu's largest online job portal registered a surge in hiring demand this year, with over 6,000 job vacancies for both local and overseas employment.

"Cebuanos don't have to leave the country to look for jobs. Fortune 500 companies in the world are even setting up their offices here. The job market in Cebu is much more alive now," said president and chief executive officer (CEO) Wesley Chiongbian.

Chiongbian's company, which holds an annual job fair every month of May, dubbed "Happy Jobs Fair," noted that there is a surge of employment demand this year, with actual growth of 20 percent, compared to last year.

Due to tight competition, he said local companies are learning to value their manpower pool by providing competitive and attractive pay offers to be able to retain them.

Chiongbian announced the holding of the one-day "Happy Jobs Fair 2015" this coming May 30 at SM City Cebu.

"Over 70 employers have already signed up and more are still expected to join, offering at least 6,300 job vacancies," said Chiongbian.

While Cebu has started to attract back-office-operation from big and Fortune 500 companies like UnitedHealth Group, JP Morgan & Chase Mercedes-Benz Group Services, skill requirement and professional background and line of expertise widened while these companies are not servicing mainly customer service support, ut other back-office jobs like accounting, human resource, claims (for insurance and financial companies) and other administrative works.

"The high-paying overseas jobs are coming to us. As long as you have the skills these companies need, you won’t have to go abroad to support the family," said Chiongbian.

Overseas demand on the other hand is more on vocational skilled workers like technicians, plumber, engineers, machine operators, construction workers, hotel staff.

Of the over 6,000 job vacancies, 3,800 are for overseas employers, and about 2,500 are for local placements specifically high-paying BPOs, Chiongbian said.

Cebu environment body wants entire province as birds, bats sanctuary


CEBU CITY, May 25 (PNA) -- The Cebu Provincial Development Council (PDC) environment committee is pushing for the declaration of the entire province as birds and bats sanctuary.

If this is done, the hunting and capturing of any species of birds and bats would be banned.

In an earlier PDC sectoral meeting, committee members agreed to craft a resolution asking the provincial government to legislate an ordinance for the said declaration.

The resolution would be endorsed to the PDC during its full council meeting on June 10 for approval.

Leonardo Moneva, PDC environment committee chairman, said there is a need for the declaration because of the indiscriminate hunting of birds and bats in the province.

He cited the importance of birds and bats in the forest regeneration through seed dispersal.

He said these animals should be protected regardless of species.

Many also hunt for the swiftlet birds’ nests, which are made from their saliva, as ingredient for exotic soup.

Bird species in the province are very vulnerable because there is no ordinance yet protecting them, Moneva said.

Cebu has one wildlife and bird sanctuary, the Olango Island where more than 90 bird species were recorded.

Approximately 40,000 migratory birds escaping from the cold winter in Siberia visit the island during peak migration which is November to February.

The island was declared as protected area by late President Corazon Aquino in 1992.

According to the Olango Wildlife Sanctuary’s website, bird species recorded in the island include Little Egret, Little Heron, Grey Plover, Kentish Plover, Greater Sand-Plover, Far Eastern Curlew, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Great Knot, Rufous-necked Stint, among others.

Vulnerable and near threatened species, such as the Chinese Egret and Asian Dowitcher, are also present in the island.

City assures that Grade 11, 12 students can be enrolled, even in private schools

By Rebelander S. Basilan

ONLY eight out of 23 public secondary schools in Mandaue City will open a senior high school next year.

But all incoming senior high students can find a school, an official of the Department of Education (DepEd) Mandaue City Division assured.

Jaime Ruelan, officer-in-charge of DepEd Mandaue City Division, said DepEd will help send students that cannot be accommodated in public schools to private schools that offer senior high school, or Grade 11 and Grade 12.

The eight public secondary schools that will open a senior high school were chosen because they have space for new buildings, said engineer Cielo Jamora, physical facilities coordinator of DepEd Mandaue City Division.

These schools include the Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School, Jagobiao National High School, Canduman National High School, Labogon National High School and Mandaue City School for the Arts.

“We are hoping to start the construction of the buildings for senior high school by June,” Jamora said in a recent press conference organized by the Mandaue City Public Information Office.


Each of the identified school will have a three-story, six-classroom school building, which will be funded by DepEd.

Ruelan said students who cannot be accommodated in public senior high schools can avail themselves of a DepEd program that helps public school students study in private schools.

Through a voucher system, DepEd enables a student to enroll in private educational institutions under a full or partial tuition subsidy.

Several private schools in Mandaue City offer senior high school.

“We enter into partnerships with private schools,” Ruelan said.


The senior high school, where students can take technical and vocational courses, will open in June next year.

Grade 10 will accept its first batch next month.

DepEd piloted the senior high school in the Subangdaku Technical Vocational High School last year. The school already produced 25 graduates of senior high, Jamora said.

6 Cebu schools produce LET topnotchers


SIX topnotchers in the March 2015 Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) are graduates of six different universities in Metro Cebu.

Two of the six topnotchers are from the elementary level, while the remaining four are secondary level examinees.

Below are the topnotchers in both elementary and secondary levels:


9th - Kim Roxan Onda Arong (University of Cebu in Lapu-Lapu & Mandaue, 86.6%) 10th - Chris Ian Cortes Gargar (Cebu Institute of Technology-University, 86.44%)


4th - Melody Ramos Ebuetada (Southwestern University, 89.8%) 8th - Stephen Paul Gayon Cajigas (University of the Philippines Cebu, 89%) 9th - Jocebon Languido Lastimosa (Cebu Doctors' University, 88.8%) 10th - Elmar Ugdoracion Lim (University of Cebu, 88.6%)

A total of 12,103 of the 44,144 examinees in the elementary level and 17,904 of the 56,596 examinees in the secondary level passed the exams given last March 29, 2015 in Singapore and in 17 testing centers across the country.

Mandaue City kids' choir wins int'l tilt in Germany


CEBU CITY, May 22 (PNA) -- The award-winning Mandaue Children’s Choir won the top prize of the Georg Friedrich Handel Internationales Kinderchor Festival in Halle, Germany.

The 23-member choir returned to Cebu Wednesday night.

The competition was part of their two-country tour in Europe from May 7 to 11.

Choir members, led by choir master Dennis Gregory Sugarol, performed inside the office of Mandaue City Vice Mayor Glenn Bercede during a courtesy call Thursday.

Sugarol said the choir shared the top prize with another group from Ukraine.

They bested five other groups from Ukraine, South Korea, Germany and Italy.

“It’s very overwhelming because the other groups were very good. I told the children to just give their best performance, and if we win, it’s just a bonus,” Sugarol said.

He said they performed five songs for 20 minutes.

The songs included Muslim, Latin and traditional Filipino folk songs.

“We prepared by learning the songs for a month, and learning the dances for another month,” said Sugarol.

The choir has 35 members, but only 23 could join their tour in Sweden and Germany.

In 2011, the group won the top prize of the Hong Kong International Children and Youth Choir Festival.

It also won top prizes in the World Choir Championship in South Korea in 2009 and Asian Choir Games in Indonesia in 2007.

The group started as a school-based choir in 2004. It then won the National Music Competition for Young Artists.

It later evolved to a community-based choir with most of the members residing or studying in Mandaue City.

Sugarol said they were preparing for a tour in the US next year.

They also plan to release their first Christmas album this year. It will be their fourth album.

MCIA targets 10 million arrivals in 2016

By Elias O. Baquero

THE Mactan-Cebu International Airport contributes largely to Cebu’s economy and allows the region to grow at a faster rate than the Philippines, an airport official said.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete noted that the Air Transport Action Group (Atag) of the International Civil Aviation Administration (ICAO) has concluded that air transport has the highest contribution to a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) around the world.

Villarete said that based on their studies, Cebu’s economy would not grow as fast without the Mactan airport. He added that the Department of Tourism (DOT), which is also a stakeholder of the airport, has a target of 10 million passenger arrivals for 2016.

“This is the reason why we are supporting GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) in fasttracking the construction of the world-class Terminal 2 (T2) so these 10 million passengers will not overcrowd the airport,” Villarete said.

GMCAC president Louie Ferrer said they can start the construction of T2 a few months from now. The site is not yet available, as the facilities of the Philippine Air force are still to be replicated.

Gerry Panga, chief of the DOT Market Development Group said that each tourist that comes to Cebu will contribute to Cebu’s GDP because he (tourist) will take the taxi, stay in hotel, eat Cebuano food and buy gift items to bring back home.

Panga said that the 10 million target mentioned by Villarete is the original DOT ideal visitor arrival target at the outset.

To entice international and domestic airlines to open new routes from the Mactan airport to any point of the world, MCIAA is offering incentives to them.

The MCIAA Charter provides that one of the management’s tasks is to “undertake the economical, efficient and effective control, management and supervision of Mactan airport and such other airports as may be established in Cebu province.”

In this connection, MCIAA is mandated to encourage, promote and develop international and domestic air traffic in the Central Visayas and Mindanao regions as a means of making the regions centers of international trade and tourism.

Cebu town to soon have its own state-of-the-art septage plant


CEBU CITY, May 20 (PNA) -- Cordova, a town adjacent to Lapu-Lapu city, will soon have a state-of-the-art septage plant to help address its problem on water contamination.

Cordova, Cebu Mayor Adelino Sitoy said water contamination is a big problem in his town because about one half of the town’s 12,000 households have no proper toilets.

The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) on Tuesday held a public hearing on its Septage Management Program Phase 1 for Lapu-Lapu and Cordova.

The attendees had no objection on the water firm’s proposed construction of a septage plant in Barangay San Miguel in Cordova.

Roberto Lastimoso, account manager of Envirokonsult Equipment and Services Inc., the company MCWD contracted to put up the septage facility, assured the residents the plant is environmentally-compliant.

Lastimoso said they will not operate without clearance from the local government unit, the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The clearances are still under process, he said.

Lastimoso added that they hope to be operational by September this year.

Sitoy said once the septage plant is in place, at least a hundred septage tanks will be put in place in the 13 barangays in the town.

MCWD general manager Ernesto Delco said that aside from providing water to its customers, they also have a mandate to ensure that water sources are free from contamination.

Manila-based Envirokonsult will put up the facility on MCWD’s lot in Barangay San Miguel, Cordova within 12 months from the date of the contract signing.

In a separate statement, MCWD said the cost for the desludging and treatment of wastes will be paid by MCWD consumers on installment basis and will be incorporated in the water bill.

Consumers will pay P2.20 for every cubic meter of water they consumed.

MCWD assistant manager for operations Lasaro Salvacion said once the project is successful, they will proceed with the Phase 2 which is from Compostela to Mandaue City and Phase 3 from Cebu City to Talisay City.

Cebu PB okays Php30-M for PhilHealth premium for poor constituents


CEBU CITY, May 19 (PNA) -- The Cebu Provincial Board (PB) has allocated Php 30 million in the provincial government’s second supplemental budget as partial payment for the previous administration’s arrears in PhilHealth premiums for indigent constituents.

Cebu PB Member Peter Calderon said the legislators passed on first, second and third reading the proposed supplemental budget because of a certificate of urgency from the office of the governor.

He told the PB that for 2012 and 2013, Capitol has Php99 million in unpaid PhilHealth premiums.

These transactions were done before Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III assumed office.

Cebu Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) President Celestino Martinez III said the barangay officials’ PhilHealth cards are no longer honored even if they are up-to-date in paying their PhilHealth premiums.

Martinez said 10 barangay officials have complained to his office since last Friday.

“We are held hostage by past debts,” said Martinez.

“PhilHealth’s release of medical assistance has been stopped even if we are up to date in paying our premiums,” Martinez said.

Calderon, chair of the health committee, told the PB their annual budget appropriated P140 million for PhilHealth, which is more than enough to pay for current premiums and previous arrears.

Mactan airport T2 to break ground in June


CEBU CITY, May 18 (PNA) -- The GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) has set the groundbreaking of the terminal 2 (T2) of Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) by June and targets completion by August of 2018, an official said.

GMCAC senior advisor Andrew Acquaah Harrison said the T2 is an integral component of the MCIA concession agreement between GMR Megawide, Department of Transportation and Communications and the MCIA Authority.

The 44-hectare Terminal 2, currently has 17 buildings and facilities owned and used by the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

"The additional capacity provided by Terminal 2 will take MCIA's total design capacity from 4.5 million to 12.5 million passengers per annum," Harrison said.

The multi-billion peso T2, he said, is urgently needed to support the growth in traffic occasioned by the new domestic and international routes that GMCAC is introducing to the airport.

Harrison said T2 will have 20 aircraft parking stands with aerobridges and 13 aircraft parking stands to be served by bus transfers.

This, he said, will minimize delays in embarkation.

Harrison said there will also be a dedicated domestic and international terminals connected by a link bridge for the convenience of passengers making connecting flights.

The resort-themed airport will have 149 check-in counters for international and domestic flights, from the current 44.

It will also have "unique" retail and food shops, airline lounges and an enhanced in-line automated baggage handling system.

The airport will also have a village-mall complex adjoining the terminal with retail and entertainment options.

GMCAC is investing some PHP17.5-billion for phase one of the project that includes renovations of the existing terminal and initial costs for T2, among others.

NMYL opens Cebu office

By Gregg M. Rubio/ JMO (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The National Movement of Young Legislators has opened its first provincial office in Cebu yesterday.

The office is located on the second floor of the Legislative Building at the Capitol Compound.

Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale and son, Provincial Board Member Miguel Antonio, as well as Catmon Councilor Earl Tidy Oyas led the blessing and inauguration of the office.

Other members of NMYL from other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao also attended the events including the delegation from Valenzuela City led by actress-councilor Charee Pineda.

Board Member Magpale is NMYL’s vice president for the Visayas while Oyas is the Cebu Chapter president.

“This office will serve the interest of young legislators in the Province of Cebu,” Oyas said, thanking Governor Hilario Davide for granting NMYL’s request for an office. He requested for Capitol employees to man the office on a daily basis. Freeman ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:

“Nalipay ta nisugot si Gov. Davide after one year in the making,” he said.

PB Member Magpale said the office would also serve their fellow young legislators in other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The provincial government has given P1.5 million to NMYL Cebu to finance the group’s activities such as a medical mission, a feeding program, and distribution of sports equipment, among others.

Vice Gov. Magpale said the provincial government is helping NMYL as an organization and not because of her son.

“Cebu is very supportive of NMYL,” she told the group.

NMYL is composed of vice governors, PB members, vice mayors and councilors including president of the Association of the Barangay Councils below 40 years old.

PHP2.5M allocated for timber, cacao plantation in south Cebu town


CEBU CITY, May 16 (PNA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has allocated some PHP2.5 million to establish another 200 hectares of timber and cacao plantation in Daanlungsod, Oslob town in southern Cebu under the National Greening Program (NGP).

Since 2011, the DENR 7 with its partner people’s organization (PO), the Tumalog Daanlungsod Cañang Upland Farmers Association (TUDALCUFA) Inc. has already established over 1,450 hectares plantation under NGP.

DENR 7 Regional Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo said TUDALCUFA has always been an active partner of the DENR since the start of NGP and showed very good performance and established successful plantations.

“Our Oslob plantations is one of the milestones of NGP in the region, thanks to the efforts of all our DENR personnel and TUDALCUFA members,” Montejo said.

Aside from providing an additional income opportunity to the PO members, through NGP, the PO was able to purchase a red Isuzu Elf worth PHP355,000 from the savings they earned from NGP.

Timoteo Miras, TUDALCUFA president, said they decided to purchase Isuzu Elf to lessen the burden of the members in carrying and transporting seedlings to their plantation sites during the conduct of tree planting and tree growing activities.

“We are thankful to the government for NGP, through this we were able to suffice our daily necessities. It also helped all our members to finance our children’s education. We wish to continue provide good accomplishments in increasing our forest cover here in Cebu up until the end of the NGP,” Miras said.

He also said the NGP was able to enhance their knowledge on their responsibilities in environmental protection and rehabilitation.

Fruits from agro-forestry plantations can also, in the coming years provide them food to eat, he said.

Cebu’s preparation for APEC hosting 80 percent complete, envoy says


CEBU CITY, May 15 (PNA) -- Cebu’s preparations for the hosting of several high-level meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit later this year are 80 percent complete, an official said.

Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., director general of APEC 2015 National Organizing Committee, said Cebu City hosts two venues, one at Marco Polo Hotel in Lahug and another Radisson Blu Hotel at the North Reclamation Area.

Paynor said Lapu-Lapu City hosts one, the Shangri-La Mactan Island Resort and Spa.

Paynor said some 3,200 senior economic delegates from 21 countries will be attending 35 to 40 meetings on August 24 - September 11, Octobrt 8-10 and October 12-13.

He said 19 of them are heads of state.

Among the meetings that will be held in Cebu are the Senior Officials Meeting, Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting, Senior Finance Official Meeting and Finance Minister’s Meeting.

The Transportation Ministerial Meeting will be held in Cebu on October 10, followed by the Energy Ministerial Meeting from Oct. 12 to 14.

But Paynor, who met for the first time Thursday with local APEC organizers led by Cebu Governor Hilario davide III, said the traffic congestion in Metro Cebu remains a major challenge to APEC summit organizers.

He said eight to 10 meetings will take place simultaneously in a day, so delegates will be moving from one venue to another.

He said one of the things discussed in the meeting with local organizers is how to ensure that the flow of traffic, especially during peak periods, be maintained so that delegates can go from one venue to another.

Dole 7 doles out Php6-M livelihood assistance to Cebu town


CEBU CITY, May 14 (PNA) -- The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) 7 has turned over Php6 million worth of livelihood assistance to 1,690 residents of Poro town in the Camotes Islands off northern Cebu.

Dole 7 Director Exequiel Sarcauga said the agency’s thrust is to take care of the three kinds of workers, namely, those in the formal sector, the overseas Filipino workers and those who belong to the informal and marginalized sector.

“Our thrust is public service and by that, we aim to extend our programs and services to those who need them most. We do this all in the name of supporting the president’s agenda on inclusive growth,” said Sarcauga in a statement.

Sarcauga said is hoping that the beneficiaries will value their assistance and patronize their own products as well.

Projects of the beneficiaries include catering services, cow fattening, tables and chairs rental, goat raising, native chicken raising, meat processing, cattle raising and purchasing of fishing equipment.

Under the Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery Program, the agency released Php2.2 million to 14 associations.

Under the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process, the Poro Federation of Farmers and Fishermen’s Association received Php3.8 million for pukot pamarungoy, pangdagko, pamo, fish pots, Sinagid floating cage, seaweed production, pumpboat, fish trading, seafood canteen, national Corn program, peanut-mongo-organic and inorganic fertilizer, corn planters, corn shellers, female carabaos, among others.

Poro Mayor Luciano Rama Jr. thanked the Dole 7 for making their town a priority recipient in its programs.

Rama said that during his term as mayor, Dole implemented the most number of programs in Poro.

Multi-sectoral agreement to solve flooding in Metro Cebu signed


CEBU CITY, May 13 (PNA) -- A multi-sectoral agreement to address the worsening flood and drainage problems in Metro Cebu was signed on Tuesday.

Among the signatories were officials of three urban cities, the Cebu provincial government, various government agencies, private sector and civil society groups.

The signing of the joint declaration of commitment and understanding was spearheaded by the Province of Cebu and the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Talisay.

Under the agreement, an ideal flood mitigating measures and an integrated drainage design should be made to address the social and economic maladies caused by flooding and inadequate drainage.

The signing was the offshoot of the agreement entered into by local chief executives and several sectors during the November 2014 Inter-City Drainage summit.

A multi-sectoral drainage task force would be created soon to solve the problem in Metro Cebu.

The task force will be composed of several stakeholders, including local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations and civic groups.

Based on the agreement, the task force would serve as enforcers of environmental laws, especially the three-meter easement zone law and is expected to coordinate with the local chief executives.

The task force would conduct surveys on the conditions of the rivers, drainage and other waterways, including the conditions of the inhabitants living nearby or along the tributaries.

It is also mandated to conduct educational drive on proper garbage disposal, recycling and sustainable livening throughout the affected LGUs.

Western Visayas lures foreign tourists


THE growing connectivity of Western Visayas with other destinations in the country and its own tourism attractions have enticed foreign tourists to come and make the region as their port of entry to the Philippines.

Department of Tourism Regional Director Helen J. Catalbas said that more nationalities made Western Visayas their port of entry to the Philippines because of its expanding connectivity.

Iloilo is an hour away from Manila, Cebu, and Davao via air, and an hour away from Bacolod via fast craft.

Records from the Bureau of Immigration show that residents from Northern Europe, Central Europe, Western Europe, Central America, South America, and South Africa make Western Visayas their gateway to the Philippines.

Western Visayas has an open market that caters visitors from across the globe, and its development is always anchored to the needs of visitors.

900 households in remote areas in CV get electricity

By May B. Miasco / NSA (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines- Around 900 households in the remote areas in Central Visayas are currently being provided with electricity under the Department of Energy’s Household Electrification Program (HEP).

These households, which are far from power lines, are availing of the Solar Home System, a stand-alone renewable energy which the DOE aims to provide to 3,000 more households in the region by the end of June.

Lourdes Arciaga, DOE – Visayas Field Office senior science research specialist on renewable energy, said the seven-year project is one of the presidential priority programs that started in 2010 to address poverty in the country.

“The HEP is a continuation of the Barangay Electrification Program that supports the government’s target of 90 percent household electrification by 2017,” she said.

From 70%, Arciaga said the program has provided electrification services to 82% or some 5,300 households in Visayas as of this year.

Arciaga said the target areas are those unreachable by power lines especially remote areas, including islets.

“It provides electricity for lighting, radio, MP3 player and phone charger to households in remote sitios including Solar Streetlights and Communal PV Systems to beneficiary households,” she said.

According to Arciaga, operating the program was “very challenging” considering the difficulties in penetrating the target sites or the distance of the areas from power generators or distributors. Another challenge, she added, was the beneficiaries themselves, who need to be trained on the system installed.

“Usually these remote areas make use of kerosene-operated equipment while we provide this renewable energy system, which is more safe and convenient, given to each household. However, they would organize themselves as they contribute on the maintenance of the system,” she added.

In Visayas, there are at least 13 sites for DOE’s household electrification program, including, in Central Visayas, Lapu-Lapu, Cebu and Bayawan and Sta. Catalina, both in Negros Oriental.

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