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The Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City, Philippines held on the fourth Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog In Cebu and the Ati-Atihan in Aklan.


Dinagyang lands on pages of New York Times


ILOILO CITY, January 26 (PIA) --- Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival proves to be a world-class event as it landed on the pages of The New York Times for its Jan. 22 edition.

In a media release, City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the NY Times feature showcased Iloilo City to the rest of the world.

He hoped the promotion will attract more tourists and investors to the metropolis.

The Dinagyang feature written by Matt Beardmore was titled “Costumes Are in the Mix at Philippine Festival”.

Beardmore wrote that the Dinagyang Festival draws an estimated crowd of a million people to the streets of Iloilo City in the Philippines each year, and organizers say they hope the addition of the Philippine Festival Costume Expo will bring even more attention to the event.

The article featured an interview with city tourism officer Benito Jimena who wrote in an email.

In the feature, Jimena said the festival has evolved from an ordinary religious celebration in honor of the Child Jesus to something that is now enjoyed by the locals and visitors because of its spectacle and magnificent dance choreography.

Dinagyang events began in November and continue through mid-February, with the main event taking place the fourth weekend of January.

The feature said that the public was able to view costumes from at least 17 major festivals from across the Philippines in the lobby of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol.

Jimena said the project is an exhibition of the facets of the festival costume, showcasing tradition and the local way of life.

“Attire defines not only the history of the place but also the preferences of people – what they like to do, what they believe in, what they want to eat, what they enjoy, and what makes them happy and proud!”, said Jimena.

Capitol food fest showcases Ilonggo culinary products

(JSC/LTP-PIA6 Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY, Jan. 25 (PIA6) --- The Iloilo Capitol Food Fest showcased the best culinary products from the different towns in the province this year.

The food festival which opened Thursday has become one of the highlights of the annual Dinagyang Festival for the past 12 years.

In a media interview, Provincial Tourism Officer Gilbert Marin said around 59 food stalls were put up at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol car park to serve the best culinary products in the province.

“The food stalls are selling pantat or catfish from Zarraga, crabs from Banate, tinuom or chicken cooked in coconut milk from Cabatuan, and other seafood delicacies from Northern Iloilo,” he said.

He said that the hosting of the food fest has been the contribution of the province to the city during the Dinagyang Festival.

He said that it has been a tradition of the province to provide an opportunity for Dinagyang revelers to taste the best of Ilonggo cuisine through the food festival.

“The food fest is a crowded event yet the area is secured as the security guards are roving the site 24 hours,” he said.

The Iloilo Provincial Capitol also served as venue for Judging Area No.2 for the Kasadyahan Regional Cultural Competition held on Jan. 24 and the Dinagyang Ati-Ati Tribe competition on Jan. 25.

Capitol food fest showcases Ilonggo culinary products

(JSC/LTP-PIA6 Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY, Jan. 25 (PIA6) --- The Iloilo Capitol Food Fest showcased the best culinary products from the different towns in the province this year.

The food festival which opened Thursday has become one of the highlights of the annual Dinagyang Festival for the past 12 years.

In a media interview, Provincial Tourism Officer Gilbert Marin said around 59 food stalls were put up at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol car park to serve the best culinary products in the province.

“The food stalls are selling pantat or catfish from Zarraga, crabs from Banate, tinuom or chicken cooked in coconut milk from Cabatuan, and other seafood delicacies from Northern Iloilo,” he said.

He said that the hosting of the food fest has been the contribution of the province to the city during the Dinagyang Festival.

He said that it has been a tradition of the province to provide an opportunity for Dinagyang revelers to taste the best of Ilonggo cuisine through the food festival.

“The food fest is a crowded event yet the area is secured as the security guards are roving the site 24 hours,” he said.

The Iloilo Provincial Capitol also served as venue for Judging Area No.2 for the Kasadyahan Regional Cultural Competition held on Jan. 24 and the Dinagyang Ati-Ati Tribe competition on Jan. 25.

1,000 sacks rice seeds for farmers

By Jezza A. Nepomoceno (Capitol News/PN)

ILOILO – One thousand sacks of certified rice seeds will be distributed to farmers here before the first planting season this year.

The release will continue after Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. approved the purchase of P1.36-million certified rice seeds from the Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center in Barangay Hamungaya, Jaro, Iloilo City.

The governor also agreed to purchase 20 sacks of registered rice seeds worth 34,000 which will be used as community seed bank, a method used to provide seed security and conserve agro-biodiversity.

According to Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso Toledo, a sack of certified rice seeds is good for one hectare.

“A farmer will get one sack for one hectare. If he has more than a hectare, he will most likely be prioritized,” he said.

Toledo revealed that these certified rice seeds should have been bought last year but due the El Nińo forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, it was postponed.

In a related development, the Provincial Agriculture’s Office reported that they are close to finishing the distribution of 14,768 sacks of certified rice seeds from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) this month.

IFAD aims to help farmers recover from super typhoon “Yolanda” and it is implemented through the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas.

The Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY), also under DA, has provided the province with 17,229 bags of fertilizers for rice, corn, high value crops and certified rice seeds.

The program also helped bought 926 sets of farm tools, seven wheel tractors and funded the Cash for Work for 379 farmers in Northern Iloilo.

DOT-6 launches new tourism promo campaign


ILOILO CITY, Jan. 23 (PNA) -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 6 tourism radio program “Tourism Academy On Air” will celebrate its first anniversary on February 2.

The radio program was established to communicate and provide information to local audiences/listeners in order to develop public awareness about tourism and its impact on Western Visayas community.

In line with its anniversary and to further intensify the “Experience Western Visayas First” tourism campaign, DOT-6, through its radio program, is launching its newest tourism promotion “Experience Western Visayas First Rehiyon ko, Ipabugal ko! (Experience Western Visayas First, My Region, I will take pride!)”. The said promotion aims to encourage and inspire Western Visayans to get involved in DOT’s campaign by having a self-portrait or group photograph (selfie or groupie) in tourism destinations in Western Visayas.

“Those who want to join the contest may have their photos taken while experiencing the various activities, products and services of the different provinces and two cities of Region 6. This competition is a way to make the locals and their visitors’ active participants in promoting Western Visayas. Through their photos, both local and international tourists can immediately see the reason why it is a must to experience Western Visayas first”, DOT-6 Regional Director Atty. Helen J. Catalbas said.

Photos taken through “selfies” and “groupies” shall be sent through private message to DOT-6 Facebook account: DOT Region VI for proper screening. Those photos which will pass the screening will be posted on the “EWVF Rehiyon ko Ipabugal Ko!” album. Entries with most number of likes will receive special tokens or exclusive items from DOT-6. Five (5) winners will be announced monthly starting February 1.

“We encourage everyone to join in this fun-filled competition. We believe that there are no better promoters of Western Visayas than its own residents and their satisfied visitors,” Director Catalbas said.

Megaworld to hold grand fireworks display at Iloilo Business Park


ILOILO City – Megaworld, the country’s leading real estate developer, will hold a grand fireworks display dubbed as “Luces in the Sky” at the Iloilo Business Park on Jan. 23.

The fireworks display is one of the main highlights of the Dinagyang Festival. It will be graced by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, Vice Mayor Jose Espinosa III, and 13 city councilors.

“Starting Jan. 22, we already have many exciting offerings in celebration of the Dinagyang Festival. Jan. 23 is the main highlight at the Iloilo Business Park where we will holda one-hour grand fireworks showdown,” said Jennifer Ann Palmares-Fong, marketing head for Iloilo Business Park, Megaworld.

Ilonggos will feast their eyes on the non-stop fireworks display for one hour starting at 7:30p.m., headed by Lyndon Acap as chairman of the event and participated by national teams from Bulacan, Visayas and Mindanao such as DSS Fireworks, Wahing Fireworks, Sanicom Trading, Digispec Enterprises, EB and A Fireworks Industry, LF Fireworks, and Avila Pyrotechnic Firecrackers Manufacturer.

The event will also have an all-night street party with live bands located along Megaworld Boulevard.

Food strips and other play hubs will be installed for the locals and tourists alike to enjoy the night. This is in partnership with Coca-Cola, Emperador, McDonalds, Startek, Reed Elsevier, and the Iloilo City government.

“This grand event is part ofMegaworld’s contribution to support the Iloilo City government to celebrate Dinagyang Festival, which it helps bring recognition to Ilonggos not only here in the country but even abroad,” said Fong.

The Dinagyang Festival is one of the most spectacular religious and cultural festivals in the Philippines. It is a thanksgiving celebration of Ilonggos in honor of the Santo Niño, the Child Jesus.

Dubbed as the biggest business and tourism hub in Western Visayas, the 72-hectare Iloilo Business Park will bring the same “live-work-play-learn” lifestyle township concept in Iloilo like its predecessors in Metro Manila such as Eastwood City, McKinley Hill, and Newport City, home of the Resorts World Manila.

Soon, it will have high-end office towers, state-of-the-art commercial strips, high-end residential condominiums, a 1.1-kilometer Festive Walk, a Lifestyle Mall, first-class hotels, and the world-class Iloilo Convention Center located all in one self-sustainable community.

Dinagyang 2015 promises more fun, religiosity

By Lydia C. Pendon

THIS year’s 47th edition of Iloilo Dinagyang Festival promises more fun, color, pageantry, culture, religion and a taste of history as the city unfolds its premier tourist attraction for three days this weekend.

More than a million revelers are expected to troop down city streets to dance and have fun as drum beats reverberate through the air by enticing everyone to shout “Viva Señor Sto. Nino” in veneration of the festival’s patron saint.

Ramon Cua Locsin, chairman of the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation Inc. acknowledged that the local festival is a perfect example of a successful public and private partnership that recognizes the city a perfect place for partnership.

Locsin said the festival climax will be on Sunday, January 25 as the celebration reels on its Ati-atihan competition with side events such as the awarding of Dinagyang Warrior Award to the mayors of Tacurong and Koronadal, Cotabato who have Ilonggo roots.

A total of 21 local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines will showcase its festival costumes here the First Philippine Festival Costume Expo showcasing the costumes and traditions of the areas.

A showcase of at least a dozen sports disciplines will be held here while fireworks dance at the evening skies.

An image of Sto. Niño de Cebu is making the rounds of Iloilo churches and schools by reminding all Ilonggos of their Catholic faith.

Locsin said being in the Dinagyang Festival is a memorable experience for anyone as all roads to the city lead to the Dinagyang festivities. These and many more assure all of pure fun and religiosity.

Over 7T avail DOLE’s livelihood, emergency programs


ILOILO CITY, Jan. 20 (PIA6) - - The Department of Labor and Employment 6 has released a total of P39,565,286.75 to 7,362 beneficiaries from the different provinces of Western Visayas through the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Programs (DILEEP) as of December 2014.

DILEEP aims to contribute to poverty reduction and reduce vulnerability to risks of the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized workers through enhance access to emergency employment and livelihood.

The program has two components the Kabuhayan or livelihood program and the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) or emergency employment program.

Data obtained from DOLE 6 showed that of the total amount, P28,586,066.75 was released for DILEEP Kabuhayan while the remaining P10,979,220.00 for DILEEP TUPAD.

The P28,586,066.75 as indicated in the DOLE 6 data was released to finance the 43 livelihood projects of 5,015 beneficiaries where almost half or around 2,359 are from Negros Occidental.

Some 59 projects coming from the provinces of Iloilo and Antique were approved under the DILEEP TUPAD, as of December 2014, benefiting 2,347, mostly from Iloilo.

To ensure the viability and sustainability of the DILEEP projects this year, Director Ponciano Ligutom has recently directed DOLE 6 staff to look into the quality of project proposals. This is also to further strengthen inter-unit coordination to improve the flow of information which affects the evaluation and processing of documents, according to DOLE 6.

DA-6 opens search on organic agri achievers


ILOILO CITY, Jan. 19 (PNA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Office 6 had officially opened this year’s Regional Organic Agriculture Achievers Award search with seven categories including individual farmer, farmer group, organic farm family, municipality with the highest production area converted to organic agriculture, municipality with the highest number of practitioners, municipality with the highest volume of produce, and outstanding organic province.

According to Dr. Joyce S. Wendam, regional focal person on organic agriculture, the annual search, which is now on its second year, aims to strengthen the promotion and advocacy of organic agriculture by recognizing the outstanding performances of the farmers, municipalities and farmers associations in the production and marketing of organic crops, livestock, poultry, and fisheries.

Interested applicants who are into growing cereals, fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs, livestock, poultry and fisheries should have complied all the policies indicated in the Philippine National Standards on organic agriculture production and marketing systems.

Applicants should submit their documentary requirements to the regional search committee on or before February 13.

The province and the municipality should have established their Local Technical Committees, roadmap on organic agriculture, and the Organic Agriculture Program is included in their Annual Investment Plan with corresponding budget allocation.

Municipalities vying for outstanding municipality award with the highest number of practitioners should have attained at least 3 percent of their farming areas converted to organic agriculture as of December 31 last year.

As to the municipality with the highest volume of production, the town should give data based on its actual production of rice, corn, high value commercial crops, and livestock.

On the other hand, for the individual farmer, farmers' group and farm family categories, the screening should be based on the farmer/farmer organization, farm, and its social impact to the community.

USALT’s ‘imagine/a\nation’ bids for TAYO national plum


SUPER typhoon “Yolanda” struck the northern part of Panay Island on Nov. 8, 2013. It left a trail of destruction, including deaths and damaged homes. The challenge was for the survivors to get by with what little food and clothing they had left.

This harsh reality inspired the University of San Agustin’s Little Theater (USALT) to compile typhoon-related stories and come up with an interesting play to help lessen the emotional and psychological burdens experienced by the survivors. Thus, “imagine|a|nation” was born.

The compilation of stories, aside from bringing comic relief to residents of a village in Lemery, Iloilo that was badly hit by the typhoon, also inspired the audience to dust off the debris. It carried the general theme: Yolanda ka lang, Pilipino kami.

This successful project of using theater as a means to help “Yolanda” survivors made it to the national finals of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) which happens in the coming weeks. At stake is P50,000, a trophy and the right to join the pantheon of past winners.

“imagine|a|nation” showed the people what happened during and after typhoon “Yolanda.” It made them ask: Can there still be a nation after that strongest typhoon to hit the country?” said Eric Divinagracia, USALT’s artistic director. “We collected stories of hope, stories of frustration and death, of corruption as well. So we captured a lot of realties after the typhoon in ‘imagine|a|nation.’”

The play was the group’s creative response after the typhoon. They started with their experiences before the typhoon passed in the story titled Balay. With prayer as its central theme, Balay narrated the events that transpired while people waited for the typhoon.

The next stories were titled Atop, Lubid and Poster, all named after parts of a house.

These showed hope by portraying the rebuilding process from scattered pieces – making the house again after it was blown down by the typhoon.

“It was also very risky on our part – to go there and perform where the typhoon had just passed,” said Ron Matthews Espinosa. “Also, our parents would not allow us, but we pursued because we really wanted to help. What is most touching is seeing the smiles of the children after our performances. That’s what defined the success of ‘imagine|a|nation.’”

He added that despite the limitations of the venues where they performed their play, the group still gave their best.

“We performed in a covered gym that was destroyed by the typhoon. We even performed in a chapel with no roof, and it was drizzling that time. But the people stayed and watched us. That was how I appreciated theater more. It is not just about performing but performing to help others,” said Espinosa.

On the other hand, Divinagracia, a long-time theater advocate, said he is happy that his art has become a tool for discussions among people.

“We used theater to let people see what happened during and after the typhoon. And the audience responded positively,” he said.

As the USALT now prepares for the TAYO national finals, Espinosa said, “It is a little stressful, but as what Sir Eric tells me: Just tell your story so you will not feel the pressure.”

DOT targets more Malaysian tourists to visit WV

(JSC/LTP-PIA6 Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY, Jan. 17 (PIA6) --- The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas is targeting more Malaysian tourists to visit the region this year with the recorded increase in their tourist arrivals here last year.

In a media release, DOT-6 Regional Director Helen Catalbas said that there is a need to study how the region can cater to more Malaysian visitors.

According to DOT-6 data, a 233.17 percent increase in Malaysian tourist arrivals was registered, from 5,970 tourist arrivals in 2013 to 19,890 tourist arrivals as of January 7, 2015.

Aklan is the top destination for Malaysians with 5,477 in 2013 to a flourishing 19,600 in 2014; followed by Bacolod City with 107 Malaysian arrivals and Negros Occidental with 70 tourist arrivals.

The DOT said that the numbers are expected to increase significantly after final reports from the six provinces and two highly urbanized cities are received by the agency.

Catalbas said that it is necessary to look into their interests and incorporate it to the region’s marketing strategy.

“We are confident that more Malaysian tourists will be interested to visit Western Visayas once they are convinced this region has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions, facilities and services”, she said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia recorded the highest growth rate in the tourist arrivals to the Philippines for the first nine months of 2014 at 22.84 percent.

Malaysia is also the current 9th largest source of tourist arrivals for the same period.

According to the Embassy Charge d’Affaires Medardo Macaraig during the annual Philippine Tourism Appreciation Night in Kuala Lumpur on November 28, 2014, the Philippines has been considered by Malaysia as an attractive tourist destination with the relative distance and increasing number of connections between the two countries.

National Cooperative Convention set in Iloilo on Jan. 20-22


ILOILO CITY, Jan. 16 (PNA) – The National Cooperative Development Council Convention will be held for the first time in Iloilo City on Jan. 20-22.

Atty. Arturo Cangrejo, Iloilo Provincial Cooperative Development Officer, said the convention will be participated in by around 500 cooperative key leaders from around the country.

They will discuss the important role of cooperatives to development and then hold an election of officers.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will be the keynote speaker during the opening program on Jan. 20.

Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. and Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog have also been invited to the event.

National Cooperative Development Council chairperson Sylvia O. Paraguya and regional chair Samie Billanes will play host to the convention.

BFAR to seed Iloilo River with fingerlings


ILOILO CITY, January 15 (PIA) --- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Western Visayas will seed the Iloilo River with bangus fingerlings and tilapia fry this year as part of the ongoing river rehabilitation efforts.

In a media release, BFAR-6 fisheries officer Edna Janeo said that the plan to disperse 40,000 high saline tilapia frys and 20,000 bangus fingerlings in the Iloilo and Batiano Rivers is part of the interventions that BFAR will extend to make the rivers more economically viable for fishermen.

The agency will disperse 5,000 tilapia and 10,000 bangus fingerlings every quarter, according to Janeo during the recent Iloilo-Batiano River Development Council meeting.

She said that they will also undertake the regulation of the area where species are to be dispersed to ensure protection.

The BFAR official, however, cautioned fishermen to use only hook and line and never the fine mesh nets in order to allow the fishes to mature and reproduce.

She said tilapia and bangus mature in four months after dispersal and can be taken out with the use of hook and line.

On one hand, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog urged BFAR-6 to conduct patrol operations on the Iloilo-Batiano River at least once a week.

He said this will boost protection efforts initiated by the Iloilo-Batiano River Development Council.

Pope's "Mercy and Compassion" featured in artworks


ILOILO CITY, January 14 (PIA) --- Artworks that show the compassion of Pope Francis to the poor and the youth are being featured in an exhibit dubbed as “Mercy and Compassion” at Museo Iloilo here.

In a PIA interview, Fr. Rafael Luis Clavel, Jaro Archdiocesan Youth Commission Director, said that the exhibit aims to spread the good news to the people of Western Visayas that the pope is coming to the Philippines.

“Though he will not be going to Iloilo, the exhibit is one way to arouse the spirituality of the people here with the coming of the pope in our country,” he said.

The pope will arrive in Manila tomorrow, January 15 for a five-day visit to the Philippines, that includes a trip to typhoon-ravaged Leyte.

He said the activity also intends for people to reflect on the meaning of “mercy and compassion” through creative presentations such as paintings.

“A number of these paintings depict how Pope Francis cares for the young, the poor and the needy,” he said.

The exhibit features 49 works from professional artists here and nine winning entries from the “on-the-spot painting contest” spearheaded recently by the Jaro Archdiocesan Youth Commission.

Clavel said that the artworks are also available for sale with the proceeds going directly to rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda-affected municipalities in northern Iloilo.

He said that he is also bringing two artworks with him on his trip to Manila during the Papal Visit for possible signing of the paintings by Pope Francis himself.

The exhibit is organized by the Archdiocese of Jaro, Jaro Archdiocesan Youth Commission, and the Iloilo Cultural Research Foundation, Inc., and in partnership with Museo Iloilo and Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Company.

It was launched on January 9 and will run until January 30.

DA-6 cites WV outstanding Agri Rice Achievers for 2014

(JSC/LTP-PIA6 Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY, Jan. 13 (PIA6) --- The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas selected 58 outstanding agricultural extension workers (AEWs), five local farmer technicians (LFT), and one local government unit (LGU) who contributed to the increased production and in achieving rice self-sufficiency in Region 6 for 2014.

In a media release, DA-6 Regional Director Larry Nacionales said that the Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers Awards give due credit to the front liners in Rice Self Sufficiency Program (RSSP) and to encourage the full participation of the LGUs), AEWs and LFTs involved in rice production.

“This is one of the many interventions and incentives to AEWs, LFTs, and LGUs in order to encourage commitment and ensure excellent delivery of agricultural services, technology transfer and adoption to the rice farmers,” he said.

For the AEWs, these comprised nine awardees from Passi City, Iloilo; five from Cabatuan and Dingle, Iloilo, four from Calinog and Tubungan, Iloilo, three from Badiangan, Bingawan, Pavia, Iloilo and Banga, Aklan; Two from Banate, Janiuay, Oton, Sta. Barbara, Tigbauan, Iloilo and Dumalag, Capiz; and one from Batad, Miag-ao, New Lucena, Pototan, San Enrique, San Rafael, Iloilo and Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

For the LFT awardees, two are from the municipality of Sta. Barbara and Passi City, Iloilo and one from Pavia, Iloilo while the winner for the LGU category is the municipality of San Enrique, Iloilo. The municipalities of Dingle, Iloilo and Dumalag, Capiz will be given special citation award as outstanding municipalities.

Meanwhile, Rene B. Famoso, Agri-Pinoy rice program action officer, said that the awardees were evaluated based on their production data 2013 versus 2014, yield increment and production, trainings conducted and attended, internal revenue allotment allotted to the agriculture program, allocation of personnel to the rice program, use of quality seeds, road map, number of farmers and clusters assisted and submission of reports.

“We have to intensify our evaluation process and see to it that every page of the submitted document were given proper points in order to determine the best among the best in the three categories”, he said.

He said that a number of AEWs and LFTs vied for the awards this year and this is a clear manifestation that these frontline agricultural service providers were inspired and truly committed to deliver agri-technologies and interventions to the rice farmers.

More tourists visited Iloilo in 2014


ILOILO CITY, January 12 (PIA) --- More tourists visited Iloilo province in 2014 registering a 15 percent increase as compared in the previous year.

In a media interview, Provincial Tourism Officer Gilbert Marin said that the province recorded 112,500 tourist arrivals as of December 2014 and the figure is expected to increase when all data from local government units will be consolidated.

“Deadline for submission of the 2014 tourist arrivals is still on February but given the figure now, it is expected to reach total arrivals of 122,000 or 125,000 or about 15 percent higher compared to 2013,” he said.

In 2013, Iloilo recorded 117,800 or 45 percent higher against 2012.

Marin said that about 80 percent of the tourists are locals and 20 percent are foreigners with Koreans as the top foreign visitors.

He urged municipalities to come up with promotional events to encourage more visitors from abroad and neighboring provinces to visit the tourist spots here.

He also said that northern Iloilo has already recovered from the impact of typhoon Yolanda with a number of resorts destroyed during the onslaught in November 2013.

Med students empower poor with health skills


ILOILO City – In North Baluarte village, Molo district here, one barangay health worker (BHW) has the daunting task of providing health-related services to 30,000 residents.

“In an ideal setup, the ratio should be 1:20, or one BHW for 20 residents. Recognizing that huge disparity and seeing the need to ensure that people, especially from the grassroots, should have access to basic health-related services, our organization produced ‘Order in Action: Videos for Health Skills (OVDHS),’” said Grand Lady Asclepian Angeli Nicole Portigo.

Produced by the Order of Asclepius of the West Visayas State University’s (WVSU) College of Medicine, OVDHS is a two-part audio-video package that provides instructions and demonstrations on basic health skills that include taking vital signs – blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, pulse rate and respiratory rate – the usual things that are monitored in hospitals.

“The next part is basic first aid – management of animal bites, handling fractures and wound care for minor cuts. Aside from the procedures, brief rationales of each step are also presented,” said Portigo.

Later this month, the Order of Asclepius’ OVDHS project will compete in the national finals of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations, an annual search under the National Youth Commission that recognizes organizations with practical, feasible and sustainable projects for the community.

The OVDHS has been shown to four barangays in the city – North Baluarte, Mabolo-Delgado, Tanza Esperanza and Malipayon. These villages are among the adopted communities of the WVSU College of Medicine.

After the video presentation, the residents are given the opportunity to try their new skills by testing them on one another.

“Another reason why we initiated this project is the prevailing reality in barangay health centers. For example, each center can only accommodate as many as 50 patients a day. And these patients’ requests vary from having their blood pressures taken to requiring a more serious medical assistance. But once the number of patients has reached 50, other patients may no longer be entertained,” said Portigo.

They were concerned that more serious cases might not be attended to.

“It is a challenging project, but it becomes easier for us to manage because of the support from our senior members. Our finances are limited since we are a school-based and non-profit. But our senior members provide us funds, and we work with our resources. We conduct income-generating projects like selling T-shirts, foodstuff, mugs and other merchandize to augment our funds,” said Portigo.

From there, they were able to produce their videos, reproduce them and distribute them to the four barangays. They provided DVD players, which they entrusted to the care of the barangay captains. They also provided kits that contained a sphygmomanometer and other basic necessities in healthcare.

“But what is more impressive is the response from the beneficiary communities,” Portigo noted. “One community initiated to have a record of their vital signs which they constantly monitor. If you think about it, we have empowered the people to put their health in their own hands.”

Founded in 1976, the Order of Asclepius is bound by the mantra of frater, medica and servia or brotherhood, medicine and service. It was originally established to look after the interest of the students.

Today, the school-based, non-profit organization provides opportunities for the academic and social development of the Medicine students of WVSU, and continues to stay dedicated to the service of the poor by promoting community health, prevention of illness, and humanitarian services.

After their successful OVDHS project, the Order plans to visit and distribute more copies to more barangay health centers within the city and nearby rural communities. They are also going to make more videos on health skills, such as basic life support and glucose monitoring.

“By year 2016, we hope and pray that our communities will have established a solid knowledge on vital signs taking, first aid, and other basic health skills that will enhance health care at the grassroots level,” Portigo said.

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