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Talisaynons urged to join Earth Hour

(The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines – Talisay City Councilor Antonio D. Bacaltos Jr. is asking for the support of the Talisaynons to join the world in celebrating Earth Hour by doing a ceremonial switching off of lights on March 28 from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening.

In a proposed resolution No. 2015-10-14, Bacaltos, who is the chairman of the committee on environment, request all the 22 Barangay Captains to encourage all households, establishments and all other institutions in their respective barangays to fully and actively participate in the worldwide celebration of Earth Hour.

"This campaign is a worldwide initiative how individuals, communities, businesses and government can address the eminent threat of global warning. As a symbolic gesture to fight the threat of global warming every household, establishment and all institutions are requested to switch off their lights for one hour from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening," Bacaltos said.

"Aside from the symbolic switching off of the lights, all barangays of the City of Talisay can also be the climate champions by promoting renewed ways and practices of initiating change which can include simple environmental project like planting of trees, cleaning of the immediate environment and taking care of all our rivers and water sheds," he added.

The Earth Hour is an annual celebration and a global campaign to see hundreds of millions of people from different races, religion and culture on what can be done all over the world to combat climate change.

P4B project to rise in Lapu-Lapu City

By Jeandie O. Galolo

THE Filinvest Group continues to expand its presence in Cebu as its subsidiary, Filinvest Alabang Inc (FAI), recently marked its first regional expansion in Cebu with the launching of the P4-billion Serulyan Seascapes in Lapu-Lapu City.

The development, which will have six towers, will nestle in a two-hectare property near Crimson Resort and Spa, which is also a Filinvest project. FAI Serulyan Seascapes project head Don-Don Mari S. Ubaldo said the development is part of the Filinvest Premiere home brand category and will offer to the market 581 high-end condominium units.

The first tower, which will have 65 units, will be positioned as service apartments instead of purely residential ones and is targeted to investors. Ubaldo said Tower 1 will be managed by FilArchipelago Hospitality Inc, the same group behind Crimson.

“I’m very optimistic that Cebuanos will embrace this project,” Ubaldo said at the sidelines of the project’s launching, noting the vibrant tourism in Lapu-Lapu City.

FAI’s biggest project is Filinvest City, a 244-hectare development in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza said Filinvest’s additional investment in the city is a welcome development. She said Serulyan Seascapes will boost the upbeat tourism industry of Mactan Island.

The city’s income, the mayor said, increased by 15 percent in 2014. Although she did not cite figures, she said the income is primarily driven by the residential and tourism projects in the city.

Construction of the first tower in Serulyan Seascapes will start in the second quarter of this year, according to Ubaldo. It is scheduled to be completed and become operational in 2018.

Aside from Serulyan Seascapes, Ubaldo said FAI will be launching within the year a Filinvest exclusive collection brand within City de Mare in South Road Properties.

Travel industry group eyes ‘enchanted farm’ project in Cebu


CEBU CITY, March 1 (PNA) -- The Network of Independent Travel Agencies (NITAs) is eyeing a six-hectare property in Cebu as location for its planned enchanted farm project.

NITAs chairman Bobby Lim Joseph said his group is currently working with Gawad Kalinga to set up a total of 28 enchanted farm facilities across the country with Cebu as one of the priority locations.

Joseph said NITAs and Gawad Kalinga will be coordinating closely with the Cebu Provincial Government through Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale to pursue this project.

The province may either donate the land or enter into a partnership deal with Gawad Kalinga.

The establishment of an enchanted farm throughout the Philippines is expected to boost the promotion of social tourism, wherein a community will be trained to capitalize on tourism and becoming entrepreneurs.

Enchanted farms serve as incubation facility for farmers to create and market their own product, and eventually become part of social entrepreneurism.

Gawad Kalinga has already one such farm operating in Angat, Bulacan.

The GK Enchanted Farm is Gawad Kalinga’s platform to raise social entrepreneurs, help local farmers and create wealth in the countryside.

The farm accepts walk-in or stay-in visitors. While in the farm, visitors can have a walking tour, attend social enterprise demos and hands-on trial, or engage in farming activities.

The farm enchants visitors with stories not only of successful enterprise but also of concrete acts of caring and sharing.

Joseph and the rest of the membership of NITAs have decided to join hands with GK in establishing more enchanted farms and promote these to the international market.

Joseph’s other group, the SKAL International, will also help in promoting the enchanted farms.

Starting this year: Cebu province to give financial aid to seniors

By Michael Vencynth H. Braga / NSA (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu provincial government will start extending financial assistance to the elderly in its component cities and municipalities this year, the Provincial Senior Citizens’ Council announced yesterday.

Board Member Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba, chairman of the PB Committee on Senior Citizens Affairs, urged citizens aging 60 years and above to register at their local government units for the issuance of a senior citizen identification card in order to avail of the benefits from the province’s program for elderly, including cash assistance that will be given annually.

He stressed that those who turn 60 years old before the month of March ends can still register. The province will be finalizing the list of the senior citizens in the province by the end of March for budgeting.

“Katong wa pa marehistro, adto na sa munisipyo aron maka-avail sa benefits. Pwede ra pod sa atong mga barangay kay maka-issue na man sila og senior citizen cards,” Alcoseba said during the Provincial Information Office-organized Kapistorya forum.

He added that senior citizens who have yet to register would have to present their birth certificates upon application.

The application and any documents attached with will undergo verification process before the senior citizen’s card could be issued.

The province’s program to dole out financial assistance to senior citizens will be implemented through a counter-parting scheme with the municipalities and cities.

The Provincial Senior Citizen Council has initially set aside P5 million for 2015, half of which is intended for persons with disabilities.

Once the list of senior citizens is finalized, Alcoseba said the financial assistance will be sourced out from the 2015 allocation and supplemental budget.

Currently, the assistance given out by the province to the senior citizens is in-kind through the “Halad Alang Kang Lolo ug Lola” program.

Further, Alcoseba said should there be any concerns and problems during the registration process, such as disapproval of application, senior citizens are urged to report to the province’s Senior Citizen Council.

“Kung di sila (senior citizens) malista kay tungod politika ba ‘ron o kay wa ba miboto, ari diri sa province. Di sila angay mahadlok,” he said.

In a report of The FREEMAN last year, Alcoseba disclosed that there were some chief executives who refused to submit a list of senior citizens for fear that it would be used for political ends, which he denied.

Alcoseba authored the ordinance creating the Cebu Provincial Senior Citizens’ Council, which was passed last year.

The CPSCC ordinance goes after the welfare of the elderly and provides a comprehensive healthcare and rehabilitation system for disabled senior citizens to foster their capacity to attain a more meaningful and productive aging.

APEC Summit 2015 national organizing committee inspects 5 venues in Cebu


CEBU CITY, Feb. 27 (PNA) -- Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit 2015 national organizing committee (NOC) have inspected five venues for the ministerial meetings in Cebu to be held some six months from now.

These venues are the Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu in Cebu City, Cebu City Marriott Hotel, Grand Convention Center of Cebu in Cebu City, Shangri-la’s Mactan Island Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City and Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

Patrick Hilado, assistant to the deputy director general for conference management services of the APEC-NOC, said four ministerial meetings are set to be held in Cebu on finance, structural reform, energy and transportation.

At least 3,000 delegates are expected to come for the meetings, which will be held in August, September and October.

But before the ministerial meetings, a senior officials’ meeting (SOM) will be held from Aug. 24 to Sept. 6 in Cebu.

Hilado said the first SOM was held in Subic, Pampanga. The second SOM is set in Boracay Island, Aklan.

The local government units (LGUs) that will be mainly involved in the APEC Summit 2015 ministerial meetings’ preparation are the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue and the Province of Cebu.

“We are now busy. This is now the groundwork. Initially, we had some scoping. Now we are trying to scope the different areas, the possible areas where we will hold the meetings. More or less some of the ministerial meetings will surely be held in Cebu,” Hilado said.

Hilado thanked Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III and the LGUs for their support to the national organizing committee.

“Cebu already has some experience in hosting. Remember, we hosted the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit here. We are very confident that Cebu will have the capacity and also the beauty to showcase Visayas and the Philippines. That’s why I think that’s one of the reasons Cebu was chosen to host a big meeting, such as this because Cebu can do it,” he said.

Cebu gears up for APEC Summit

By Michael Vencynth H. Braga/NSA (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu and the organizing committee of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit are now “firming up” their preparations and arrangements for the province’s hosting of the series of APEC ministerial meetings to be held less than six months from now.

Patrick Hilado, assistant to the Deputy Director General for Conference management services of the APEC National Organizing Committee, said they are now reaching out to the different stakeholders in Cebu to ensure the successful hosting of APEC meetings.

“We are now busy. Talagang groundwork na siya kasi… More or less tuloy na tayo for Cebu. We need to coordinate with different sectors,” he told reporters during the APEC preparation meeting yesterday at the Capitol.

He said they have not encountered any major problems so far while doing the preparations and coordination with the involved local government units and other sectors.

“The hospitality that has been shown to our National Organizing Council here by private sector and the government has been excellent. We are confident that Cebu will do a great job. Cebu has lot of experience in hosting international conventions,” he added.

The organizing committee set August 24 to September 6 this year for the transportation, finance, energy, and structural reforms ministerial meetings in Cebu.

The series of meetings will be followed finally by the meeting of the heads of state towards the end of the year in Manila.

Philippines has been a member of APEC for the past 25 years. It first hosted the summit in 1996.

Provincial Tourism Officer Grace Paulino, in a separate interview, reported that the local and national organizing committees have identified the hotels where the delegates will be billeted and the venues of the ministerial meetings.

She added that Governor Hilario Davide III will have to call for a meeting for the members of the local committee, including the Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine National Police, and the involved city governments of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, and Cebu.

PB backs dropping terminal fees for OFWs

By Michael Vencynth H. Braga / JMD (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu Provincial Board is backing the call for Manila International Airport Authority to recall or "hold in abeyance" the memorandum circular that imposes a terminal fee of P550 on Overseas Filipino Workers.

The province's legislative body approved a resolution during its regular session on Monday expressing its support to the call made by the senators.

The Senate passed a resolution last week to recall Memorandum Circular No. 8 Series of 2014, which integrates the international passenger service charge (IPSC) into the airline tickets at the point of sale.

The memorandum was implemented starting February 1 this year.

In a resolution sponsored by board member Jude Sybico, the PB said the memorandum is not in adherence to Republic Act 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995), as amended by RA 10022, which exempts OFWs from paying the travel tax, airport terminal fee "upon proper showing of Overseas Employment Certificate issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

"All accolades and praises said in honor of our OFWs as modern heroes of our country would sound like a hollow and cunning slogan if we continue to burden them with a financial charge from which they are clearly and positively made exempt," part of the PB resolution read.

Copy of the resolution will be furnished to MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado.

Senators Cynthia Villar, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Nancy Binay and Senate majority leader Alan Cayetano initiated the resolution calling for the recall of the memorandum. The resolution was also signed by 16 more senators.

The senators, as quoted in the press statement posted on the Senate official website, suggested recalling the memorandum "until after the appropriate computer system that will automatically exempt OFWs as well as other locally-recognized exempt passengers from paying the IPSC or airport terminal fee" has been established.

MIAA had explained that the memorandum was made "to address the congestion in all Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals with the increasing volume of passengers."

But Villar contended "if the change would affect the rights of a vulnerable and valuable sector such as our OFWs or migrant workers, then we have to exhaust all efforts to further look into these and find ways on how to remedy it or improve the mechanism of its implementation so as not to unnecessarily inconvenience our OFWs."

The Senate also pointed out in its resolution that "the memorandum circular does not distinguish between exempt and non-exempt passengers when airline tickets are bought online or abroad, thereby requiring even exempt passengers, especially OFWs, to pay the IPSC."

In a hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services Subcommittee E presided by Villar, John Dennis Poyotas of Microsoft Philippines testified that it is possible to adopt a computer program that will allow recognition of the exemption of OFWs or the online verification of documents showing exemption of OFWs.

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, on the other hand, made an assurance during a public hearing last year that no terminal fee will be collected from OFWs.

The Mactan airport is also the country's main air gateway apart from NAIA.

180 hectares of mangroves, beach forest planted to Yolanda-battered north Cebu


CEBU CITY, Feb. 24 (PNA) -- Super typhoon Yolanda survivors have planted more than 180 hectares of mangroves and beach forest plantations in northern Cebu, less than two years after the strongest typhoon made landfall that hit central Philippines.

Dr. Isabelo Montejo, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 director, said the mangroves were planted by Yolanda survivors in northern Cebu through the agency’s “work for food” program.

Montejo said the department hired at least 400 affected individuals to put up nurseries for the mangroves while 14 people's organizations were identified to restore 180-hectare plantations.

Last year, over a million mangrove propagules were produced to cover the 85-hectare mangrove plantation and 50,000 seedlings to revitalize 100 hectares of beach forest in identified towns in northern Cebu.

The towns covered are Borbon, Carmen, Catmon, Daanbantayan, Medellin, San Remigio, Sogod, Tabogon, and the towns in Bantayan and Camotes Islands.

Yolanda survivors from Bogo City also participated in the “work for food” program.

Montejo said the DENR 7 initially allocated P10 million as relief assistance for Yolanda-affected communities including restoration and establishment of mangrove and beach forest plantations.

Montejo said that the work-for-food program will not only support families affected by Yolanda but it will also help in providing safer and better coastal communities against storm surges and coastal flooding.

CVIRAA delegates gear up for February 25 event

By May B. Miasco / ATO (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Delegates of the Central Visayas Regional Athle-tics Association (CVIRAA) 2015 have started to arrive in Cebu for the start of the event two days from now.

Department of Education-7 regional director Juliet Jeruta said the start of competition would be on February 25 while the day after would be its formal opening.

The regional meet, which gathers numerous delegates from the provin-ces of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor, is expected to end on March 2.

She said this year’s host is the province of Cebu, specifically the municipality of Balamban, while supporting hosts are the towns of Asturias and Toledo.

“This would be the venue to choose the most outstanding athletes for Central Visayas,” said Jeruta in a phone interview.

She explained that at least 19 divisions are set to join the event and the winners would then represent the region for the 2015 Palarong Pambansa in Tagum City, Davao del Norte in May.

“We are all in this (event) so that our efforts will be forged together to choose the best. Let us put our forces together, both our prayers and moral support for the athletes,” said Jeruta as a message to the delegates, which include athletes, coaches, trainers, supporters and also the local government units.

“For the athletes, we are giving you the opportunity to develop your innate characteristics and potentials and manifest the trainings for your cultivation, use this in the best way. May you take victory with humility and accept challenges and defeat graciously,” she added.

Over 700 delegates from Bohol province already arrived in Cebu last Saturday.

The delegates arrived on board two passenger shipping lines and gathered near Plaza Independencia where at least ten buses were waiting to transport them to Balamban.

The Bohol delegation would be staying at the Buanoy National High School in Buanoy, Balamban.

Out of the 700 delegates from Bohol, 407 are athletes from private and public schools from both elementary and secondary division.

One of the athletes is nine-year-old female taekwondo athlete Rashni Aguhar, who shared on her eagerness on her second time to participate in the CVIRAA. She admitted that she didn’t win the first time she joined the event.

Aguhar is a grade four student of Talibon Central Elementary School and one of the 12 taekwondo athletes for the elementary category.

Aguhar’s father, Romeo, who is travelling with her and is one of the taekwondo trainers for the team, stressed that winning is not important.

“Dili kinahanglan modaug, ang important nga naa silay makuha sa ilang pagduwa, mao ang self-discipline ug perseverance nga sa ilang mga giagian nga training nga dili jud sila mo-surrender.”

Cirilo Calatrava, head for Physical Education on School Sports from the Bohol delegation, said they started training on February 4.

“Though dili continuous among training, and considering dili enough among facilities but we see to it that we are able to gather them, maglisod man gud mi og tapok nila labi na kun lagyo kaayo ang uban,” he said.

“Though Cebu City (Niños) remains unbeaten, I am hoping that they (athletes) will do their best,” he added.

Capitol sets up investment center

By Mia A. Aznar

WITH a budget of P5 million from the Office of the Governor, the newly-created Cebu Province Investment and Incentive Center aims to create its own database and facilitate an investment process within the year to make the province more attractive to foreign and local investors.

Provincial Investment and Promotions Officer Benjamin Joseph Yap admitted that data gathering has been their biggest challenge, saying most of what is available is at the regional level and what they can gather is sometimes outdated.

He said they want to have an updated factbook on Cebu Province that they can use to when promoting areas as locations for investment. The data will be used in creating an investment and promotions website that caters specially to investors.

Yap and his team of three also want to establish a one-stop shop for foreign and domestic investors, who may be interested but unaware about the investment climate of Cebu.

Identifying sites

Currently, they are working on identifying the economic sites in the province and knowing the characteristics of these sites.

They are now working with government agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Board of Investments, other regulatory agencies and private organizations like the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry to complete their database and establish their one-stop shop.

He admitted that since staff from government agencies are limited, they might not be physically present at the one-stop shop. But having established connections with the concerned government agencies, Yap said the process could still be easier for investors, as they could help facilitate the necessary paperwork.

With a little over a year to establish these within Gov. Hilario Davide III’s term, a concern was raised about what happens to the center after elections. Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino assured that efforts will not be wasted, should another administration take over in 2016, as the center’s creation is covered by an ordinance passed in 2013, which means it has been institutionalized. He added that the creation of the office is “a necessary action” for Cebu Province, as it has been created in response to the request of the local business community, from sentiments of potential foreign investors.

While they are eyeing different sectors for Cebu, Yap said they are starting on tourism investments. He believes efforts to promote tourism in the countryside is not enough and that Cebu can get more out of the tourists who visit with what it has to offer.

“Cebu is mainly tourism. We are under-utilizing our tourism agencies. Compared to other places, we have a lot (to offer) but we are not marketing it correctly or not marketing it enough,” Yap said.

Tourism circuits

The Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development, a project funded by the Canadian Government and implemented in coordination with the DILG, intends to create three tourism circuits in Northern Cebu to spur economic development in areas badly affected by super typhoon Yolanda.

One circuit is for Bogo, Medellin and San Remigio while the second one is for Daanbantayan and Malapascua Island. The third is for the three towns comprising Bantayan Island. The project aims to create 200 new jobs by 2016, P223.6 million in hotel, resort, restaurant and infrastructure investments and an additional 178,385 annual tourist arrivals.

Yap said that if they are successful, they will replicate the program the southern part of Cebu and integrate it into their tourism plans for the province.

He said one only has to look at the town of Balamban to see how investors have made an impact on the local economy. He is hopeful they can do the same in other parts of the province.

Cebu water firm to implement P679M data system for efficient water distribution


CEBU CITY, Feb. 21 (PNA) -- The Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) is set to start implementing its P679-million Japanese government-funded Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (Scada) system to respond to consumer complaints faster, an official said.

MCWD General Manager Ernie Delco said the Scada system will be operational one year from now.

The system was introduced during a press conference Friday.

Through the Scada system, MCWD said it will be able to easily identify which areas have low water pressure and act on it promptly.

In a press statement, the MCWD said its Scada system project is funded by a P679-million grant (about 1.6 billion yen) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

Officials signed the contract with the winning bidder, Hitachi-Yokogawa Joint Venture, in Japan.

The project was developed after a twinning program of the MCWD with the Yokohama Water Corp. Ltd.

“Like a well-managed traffic system that ensures efficient traffic flow, MCWD will also get real-time data on water pressure and reservoir supply, as well as remotely switch on or off pumps and close or open valves,” the press statement read.

The Scada system will also help MCWD manage its “non-revenue water” because once a sudden drop in water pressure is observed, the district can right away send a team to check for leaks.

Delco said the system will be implemented at no additional cost to MCWD consumers.

“Scada is not intended to increase water production but to improve the distribution of water,” Delco said.

3.97M visited Region 7

By Katlene O. Cacho

TOURISM arrivals in Region 7 surged to almost four million in 2014, exceeding last year’s target of 3.6 million, the latest report from the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 shows.

The agency said it has exceeded its tourism arrivals target last year with 3.97 million, up by 13.91 percent compared to the arrivals in 2013.

Of the figures, 2.4 million were domestic arrivals in Central Visayas, up by 11.41 percent from 2013’s record of two million. Foreign arrivals, likewise, grew by 17.67 percent or 1.6 million last year, compared to 1.3 million in 2013.

Cebu, which is the region’s major tourism attraction, welcomed 84 percent of the arrivals. The report showed 2.97 million in total arrivals, of whom 1.3 million were foreign tourists.

Negros Oriental came second with total arrivals of 518,571 followed by Bohol with 438,908 and Siquijor with 40,485.

High tourism arrivals in these four provinces were driven by the domestic market, and came on the heels of the natural calamities in late 2013, which some industry players had feared would dampen tourism growth.

South Korea remained the region’s top source market and arrivals from that country grew by 10.97 percent, for a total of 594,985 arrivals. Japan, which came second, sent 243,565 visitors to the region, up by 19.23 percent from the figures in 2013. Arrivals from the United States also increased by 14.97 percent or 135,973 arrivals last year, while the tourist traffic from China market grew by 13.20 percent or 64,489 arrivals.

Fastest growth: UK arrivals

Completing the top five travel markets for the region is Australia with 51,975 arrivals, up by 21.16 percent.

Other significant markets include the United Kingdom. The number of arrivals from the UK grew fastest last year at 48.86 percent or 38,462 arrivals. This was followed by Germany, which grew by 17.12 percent or 31,765 arrivals. The region also welcomed some 29,319 Canadian tourists last year, with arrivals going up by 10.76 percent compared to the data from 2013.

France and Singapore also posted growths of 8.97 percent and 21.01 percent, respectively. France logged 23,569 arrivals last year while arrivals from Singapore stood at 20,961.

However, the DOT missed its target of welcoming six million foreign tourists by 2014, citing a number of factors, including the effects of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013, and Beijing’s advisory to its citizens not to travel to the Philippines. The latest available report shows that the DOT welcomed 4.83 million tourists in 2014, a 3.25-percent increase over the previous year’s 4.68 million arrivals.

Asia was the biggest market for the Philippines during the year, with 2.83 million visitors or 59 percent of the total. The Americas followed with 875,200 for a market share of 18 percent; Europe, 10 percent; Australia and the Pacific, six percent; and overseas Filipinos, four percent.

Mostly by air

During the year, air arrivals accounted for 98.75 percent of total inbound traffic or 4,773,185 arrivals. Sea arrivals, on the other hand, accounted for 1.25 percent or 60,183 visitors.

By air arrivals, Manila remained the primary port of entry with a share of 72.50 percent or 3,504,123 arrivals. Cebu ranked second with a total of 697,696 inbound visitors or 14.43 percent of the total traffic during the year.

The DOT said that in the last 12 years, visitor arrivals in Cebu grew by 308 percent from 170,982 visitors in 2002. From 2010 to 2014, visitors disembarking in Cebu recorded an annual growth of 10.12 percent.

The DOT also reported that tourism revenues reached P214.8 billion (US$4.84 billion) last year, higher by 10 percent against the previous year’s earnings of US$4.40 billion.

Visitors from Korea contributed the most, with P61.02 billion, accounting for 33 percent of all inbound receipts. USA followed with P41.43 billion (22 percent), followed by Australia (P13.94 billion) and Japan (P10.68 billion).

Canada with P8.48 billion outranked China, which recorded the fifth biggest revenue in 2013.

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

Arrivals from China declined by 7.37 percent from 426,352 in 2013 to 394,951 during the year. However, this did not dislodge China as the country’s fourth biggest source market.

43 LGUs in Cebu recognize for ‘good financial housekeeping’

By Flornisa M. Gitgano

FIVE cities and 38 towns in Cebu Province received the 2014 Seal of Good Local Governance: Good Financial Housekeeping (GFH) from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The Province is also a recipient of the same recognition in Central Visayas.

The GFH is one of three core assessments of the DILG for a local government unit (LGU) to receive the seal of good local governance, formerly known as the seal of good housekeeping.

Medellin Mayor Ricky Ramirez was the first to announce through the social networking site Facebook, that his town is one of the GFH recipients.

For an LGU to receive the seal of good local governance, it should pass all three core assessments—GFH, disaster preparedness and social protection.

The LGU should also pass one of these essential assessments—business friendliness and competitiveness, environmental protection, and law and order and public safety.

Last Feb. 13, the DILG posted on its official website the list of GFH recipients.


For the category of cities only Mandaue, Carcar, Danao, Lapu-Lapu and Naga passed the GFH assessment.

The cities of Cebu, Bogo, Talisay and Toledo did not make the cut.

DILG 7 Director Ananias Villacorta said that the department can issue a certification for to the LGUs so that they can easily avail of loans in banks.

In an interview, Ramirez said that Medellin instituted the necessary changes lacking before.

“It’s not easy. You really have to work on it. There are a lot of changes in the system,” he said.

The mayor believes that the town's efficient collection of business and real property taxes made the difference last year.

Villacorta said that the findings of the regional assessment team is submitted to the DILG Central Office in Manila for validation.

The other GFH recipients are Alegria, Argao, Asturias, Badian, Balamban, Bantayan, Barili, Boljoon, Borbon, Carmen, Catmon, Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Daanbantayan, Dalaguete, Dumanjug and Ginatilan.

Completing the list of recipients are Liloan, Madridejos, Malabuyoc, Minglanilla, Moalboal, Oslob, Pinamungajan, Poro, Ronda, Samboan, San Fernando, San Francisco, San Remigio, Santa Fe, Santander, Sibonga, Tabogon, Tabuelan and Tuburan.

Cebu Capitol to buy 22 more tourist buses


CEBU CITY, Feb. 18 (PNA) -- The Cebu provincial government will purchase 22 additional tourist buses for local government units (LGUs) in the province which are still without one, Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale said.

Magpale said the purchase of additional tourist buses has been approved by the Cebu Provincial Board's (PB).

She did not mention the cost of the 22 buses.

Magpale said the public bidding for the new buses will start next week and they hope these can be delivered within the year.

She said these will be distributed to the towns for the provincial government’s tourism program called “Suroy-Suroy Sugbo” (Visit Cebu).

The provincial government bought 26 tourist buses worth Php80 million from ConEquip Philippines in 2012.

The buses were given as a reward by former governor and now Rep. Gwen Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district) to the top performing LGUs in the province's environmental projects.

But the buses were paid only last year, a year after the 26 buses were delivered.

Free tests, services for heart diseases

By Linette Ramos Cantalejo

TO PREVENT deaths caused by heart diseases, the Department of Health (DOH) 7 urged those who are at risk of ailments to avail themselves of free medical tests and treatment in health centers.

Screening for blood sugar and cholesterol level, urine test, blood pressure and weight-taking, as well as management and treatment of hypertension and diabetes, are just among the free services in the barangay and rural health centers.

Dr. Jeanette Cortes, head of the non-communicable diseases section of DOH 7, said cardiovascular diseases, coronary artery disease, aeortic disease and stroke can be prevented if one adopts a healthy lifestyle and undergoes regular checkups.

Lifestyle change

Those with risk factors like high-fat diet, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, chronic stress, tobacco use and alcohol intake, or those with a family history of heart ailments, have higher chances of getting the disease and should undergo tests, she said.

“”Infectious diseases are no longer the epidemic. It’s the heart diseases that are the new epidemic in the new millennium,” Cortes said, noting that heart diseases have been affecting younger individuals in recent years.

She attributed this to the change in lifestyle.

“Those who suffer from heart ailments are getting younger because of the change of lifestyle brought about by modernization and urbanization, including environmental factors and technology,” she said during the Association of Government Information Officers forum yesterday.

For example, Cortes said, constant use of gadgets for social networking and online gaming has reduced the physical activities of a person, which contributes to poor health.

Some also prefer to eat junk food in fast-food restaurants due to their busy schedule, rather than prepare home-cooked vegetables and meals that are less fatty and salty.

“It’s easy to prevent heart diseases by exercising and having a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables… the bottom line is to have a change of lifestyle, a healthy lifestyle,” said Cortes.

The call for a healthy lifestyle came as DOH 7 reported an increase in the number of deaths due to diseases of the heart and circulatory system, from 5,092 in 2012 to 5,788 in 2013.

Health screening

More people were also reported to have suffered from hypertension in 2013, with 32,778 cases, compared to 30,656 cases in the previous year.

But Cortes said the number may be higher since not all those with heart diseases have gone to the health centers or hospitals for a checkup.

Malyn Fernandez, Health and Lifestyle Program coordinator of DOH 7, said those who suspect they may be suffering from any heart disease can go to their health center for an assessment, which involves taking of blood pressure, weight and body mass index and their family’s health history.

“If the physician sees that you have the risk factors, then you can be screened for blood sugar and cholesterol level, which is free of charge in the health centers. The government also provides free management and treatment of hypertension and diabetes,” she said.

Art festival for kids with disabilities set

By Flornisa M. Gitgano

THE Korean-Philippines Educational and Cultural Exchange Center (Kopec) in partnership with the Provincial Government will hold the Cebu Art Festival and Competition that will showcase the creativity and talents of children with disabilities.

The event is in line with the “9th Special Day for Children with Disabilities” initiated by Kopec.

At least 19 schools from different towns will participate.

The exhibit will be from Feb. 18 to March 5 at the second floor of the Capitol Legislative Building.

The art competition includes painting, cartooning, poem and essay writing and crafting art out of recycled materials.

A total of 160 pupils, teachers and parents are joining the event.

The schools that will participate are special education (SPED) centers from Lipata of Minglanilla, Balamban, Bantayan, Barili, San Francisco, Borbon, Carmen, Dumanjug, Liloan, Pinamungajan, San Fernando and Consolacion.

Other participants include Lipata National High School, Cordova Central School, Tuburan Central School, Badian Central School, Ginatilan Central School, Oslob Central School and Mandaue Integrated SPED School.

Provincial Information Officer Ethel Natera said the Provincial Government donated P100,000 to make this event possible.

Choi Hun Young, president of Kopec, said they want to show that handicapped children can improve their lives by being “inspired and developed to get their potential talent in music and art.”

Young said Korean and Filipino professors are coming to help the pupils.

Lee Chae In, chief-of-staff of Kopec, said that through the use of recycled items to be used in art, it can help protect the Earth.

“We want them that their dreams will come true and maybe also change their life,” she said.

DSWD-7 sets special validation for 4Ps in CV

By Jessa J. Agua / ATO (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - In order to include more families in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the agency’s Region 7 office will conduct a special validation through its Listahanan or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

“Since the start of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, we have been receiving requests from various stakeholders asking to be included in the said program. However, we need to validate them through a household assessment,” said DSWD-7 regional director Mercedita Jabagat.

Requests for the assessment were coursed through the Grievance Redress System (GRS) of the 4Ps.

“Through the GRS, we were able to institutionalize a process by which complaints and queries are captured and resolved,” Jabagat said.

The GRS provides various avenues for the filing of queries and complaints.

For one, grievances may be reported through the text hotline number 0918-9122813 or through a written report addressed to the nearest DSWD Field Office.

“After the assessment, the data gathered are subjected to a Proxy Means Test (PMT) before we could identify if the household is poor or non-poor,” Jabagat emphasized.

The PMT estimates the income of the households based on the proxy variables included in the family assessment form (FAF).

A total of 10,966 households will be assessed in Central Visayas with 6,238 from Bohol, 2,799 from Cebu and 1,929 from Negros Oriental.

DSWD-7 hired 12 area supervisors and 80 enumerators to conduct the special validation.

The hired field staff underwent a rigorous training on the conduct of the special validation which includes the filling-out of the FAF.

Mactan-Cebu airport upgraded with P49M navigational system


The country’s second busiest airport will be installed with a DVOR/DME equipment to aid pilots during bad weather and low visibility situations

MANILA, Philippines – The Mactan-Cebu International Airport will be installed with a new navigational guidance system that will help pilots locate and land on the runway during bad weather and low visibility situations.

The navigational system the airport has had dates to 1993 and is set to be replaced this year with the Doppler VHF Omni-Directional Radio Range and Distance Measuring Equipment (DVOR/DME), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director-General William K. Hotchkiss lll said.

DVOR/DME is a short-range radio navigation system for aircraft. With the receiver unit using radio frequencies in the very high frequency (VHF) band, the navigation system enables aircraft to determine its position and stay on course by receiving radio signals transmitted by a network of fixed ground radio beacons. DEAL SIGNED. CAAP's Director-General William K. Hotchkiss lll and Philcox (Phils) Inc./Indra Australia Pty. Ltd.'s (RET.) B/GEN Generoso Maligat sign the deal for the P49M installation of a new navigational system at Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Photo from CAAP

DEAL SIGNED. CAAP's Director-General William K. Hotchkiss lll and Philcox (Phils) Inc./Indra Australia Pty. Ltd.'s (RET.) B/GEN Generoso Maligat sign the deal for the P49M installation of a new navigational system at Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Photo from CAAP

The procurement contract was awarded through competitive public bidding to Indra Australia Property Limited, in a joint venture with Philcox Philippines Incorporated.

The contract amounting to P48,727,112.85 ($1,101,360.78) covers the supply, delivery, and commission with flight check of the DVOR/DME system.

Apart from this, the project involves the removal of existing DVOR/DME system, underground power, and data cables, as well as the installation of new underground power and fiber optic cables.

The project also includes miscellaneous grounding, electrical, and mechanical work, as detailed in the drawings, as well as the rehabilitation of existing Doppler VOR counterpoise and shelter system, among others.

In January, CAAP completed a P160-million ($3.62 million) project, upgrading the obsolete air traffic management system at the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The project that upgraded the Eurocat air traffic management system and put in place in 1996, would pave the way for the P13-billion next-generation, satellite-based Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) project. The project was undertaken in partnership with Thales Australia and Pacific Hemisphere Development.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) awarded the P17.5 billion ($395.52 million) expansion of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to the tandem of Filipino-owned Megawide Construction Corporation and Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure.

The project has been delayed due to the failure of the government to relocate the Philippine Air Force base.

Mandaue City village to hold 'Silhig Festival' on Feb. 15


MANDAUE CITY, Cebu, Feb. 12 (PNA) -- Barangay Paknaan in Mandaue City, the country’s center for making buri fiber brooms, will hold the third “Silhig (Broom) Festival” on Sunday, February 15.

Paknaan, Mandaue barangay captain Meloquias Soco said they are expecting more spectators this year, especially after choreographers have assured him more improvements in the dance showdown competition.

Unlike last year wherein only seven contingents joined the festival, there will be eight contingents vying for the top spot on Sunday.

The eighth contingent will be composed of residents from the 6.5-hectare relocation site in their barangay.

Soco said the barangay has allotted a P418,000 in budget for the festival.

The city government gave P200,000 to the barangay while it still awaits donation coming from the Cebu provincial government.

Prizes at stake for the dance showdown this year include P25,000 for the first prize, P20,000 for the second prize and P15,000 for the third prize.

Non-winning contingents will each receive P10,000.

The Silhig Festival is part of the fiesta celebration of the barangay which honors the blessed Sr. Sto. Niño. The barangay already celebrated their fiesta last Sunday.

The Silhig Festival was conceptualized three years ago in a bid to attract more investors and showcase the barangay's main source of livelihood, "silhig lanot" or broom made of buri fiber.

Soco said Barangay Paknaan is the biggest supplier of silhig lanot in the country.

The Paknaanon Multi-Purpose Cooperative buys all the brooms made by its constituents and distributes these nationwide.

14 Cebu brgys get new centers, playgrounds

By Elias O. Baquero

DAY care centers and playground facilities will be constructed in 14 barangays in four local government units in Cebu Province as part of efforts to make high-quality early childhood education and care accessible.

A memorandum of agreement (MOA) for this undertaking was signed yesterday between the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi) and the local government units (LGUs) of Talisay City and the municipalities of Aloguinsan, Argao and Asturias.

In the agreement, Rafi will build the centers to be able to implement its program on Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) through the Dolores S. Aboitiz Children’s Fund (DACF), which was represented by executive committee chairperson Maria Cristina C. Aboitiz.

Of the four LGUs, only Mayor Alan Adlawan of Asturias showed up to personally sign the MOA; the other three LGUs were represented by barangay captains.

The 14 barangays are Zaragosa, Punas, Saksak and Tampaan in Aloguinsan; Usmad, Talaga, Tulang and Bulasa in Argao; Tag-amakan, Owak, Lunas, Manguiao and San Isidro in Asturias; and Cansojong in Talisay City.


All 14 day care centers and 10 playground facilities will be constructed by Rafi, while the four remaining playground facilities will be financed by Renoir Consulting, a group of change management specialists present in 23 countries in the world and represented yesterday by Executive Director Veronica Angeles.

During the signing, all parties agreed that young children and their families in the barangays deserve access to high-quality early childhood education and care, and that they are working to improve early learning opportunities, which are crucial to the growth and development of young children, and to building better futures for citizens.

DACF Executive Director Maria Iris Andrino said investing in ECCD is “one way to end poverty and make our world a better place than it used to be.”

Study shows

Andrino also cited studies stating that investing in ECCD has a long-term effect and that intensive, high-quality ECCD has “direct and persistent effects on cognitive, social and emotional of an individual,” making them productive citizens.

“It is estimated that half of all intellectual development potential is established by age four. Because of the importance of the early years, interventions even in kindergarten might be too late to help develop young children’s capacities,” Andrino said.

Andrino said that this is why DACF decided to invest in young children, the human capital in the future.

“Our goal is to see younger children provided with quality care and education ensuring their holistic growth and development,” Andrino said.

“Our mission is to complement LGUs and non-government institutions in promoting quality early ECCD in the grassroots, hence, this affair,” Andrino said.

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