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Masbate Province News January 2012

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Masbate Realty

Philippine News


Mystery bug destroys half of rice farms


A BUG that destroys half of rice fields pose potentially devastating consequences to the country’s staple food.

Crop protection scientists are bothered and bewildered over the as yet unknown bug that affects the rice panicles, from the flowering to the milking stage, resulting in unfilled or discolored grains that eventually reduce quality and yield.

The extent of the damage is not known but the infestation causes rice grains to crack during milling due to mold infestation on the affected grains. If not dried soon after harvest, the grains also taste bitter.

About 50 percent and even up to 70 percent of the rice crop was destroyed last year in 75 hectares in two barangays in Ragay, Camarines Sur, and 25 hectares in one barangay in Dimasalang, Masbate, Dr. Evangeline C. de la Trinidad, head of Regional Crop Protection Center in Bicol, told Malaya Business Insight.

"Once a rice field is infested by the grain bug, it is damaged and will not recover," she said. The tiny bug stabs a rice grain with its stylet then sucks dry the milk-like substance inside. "If it is near harvest, the grain turns whitish and unfilled," De la Trinidad observed. "If the rice is not at the milk stage, the grain turns black or discolored."

"It is a small and fast moving insect," she said. "It can easily move in the water and can spread through irrigation canals. And it can slide down the rice plant easily."

"And it seems to affect all rice varieties, although this observation is still being validated," De la Trinidad said during a meeting last week of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Regional Crop Protection Centers and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). "Affected farmers are alarmed."

"It’s not known whether other parts of the rice plant are affected," she said. "The rice looks healthy from afar, but at closer look, most grains are damaged and unfilled and are discolored. Some farmers have seen grain bugs inside the rice panicle, so maybe infestation have already started at this stage."

"Our concern is that it’s new and nobody knows what it is," said Dr. Jesus Binamira who heads the DA Integrated Pest Management program. "At the present level, the infestation is not alarming."

"We’re a bit concerned because it is something that is not normal," he added. "We don’t even know the scientific name."

Because not all farmers know of the bug, the infestation might be underreported at less than 300 hectares so far, he said in an interview.

"If infestation is more than 10 percent, then that is alarming," said Wilma Cuaterno, Chief of the BPI Crop Protection Division. "If it’s a rice pest we are always alarmed even how small the infestation, because rice is our staple. It might affect our rice self-sufficiency target."

"There is no cause for alarm, so far," she added. " We are concerned although we are not sure yet if this will become a big problem."

"What we know for certain is that it is a bug," said her colleague, senior agriculturist Remigio Tabil. "That’s because all bugs smell and has a triangle or scutellum on the back. We don’t know whether it is common here or it came from abroad."


The first grain bug specimens were collected on June 14 in the towns of Valencia, Dimiao, G. Hernandez and Batuan, all in Bohol. The bug was next sighted in Dimasalang (Masbate), Ragay (Camarines Sur), Bontoc, Sogod and Malitbog (Southern Leyte) and Kitcharao and Alegria (Agusan del Norte).

It has reportedly been sighted in Zamboanga del Sur last January 6. Still to be confirmed are sightings in Ligmanan, Camarines Sur.

"We really didn’t pay attention when it was first sighted in Masbate until in September when a lot of grain bug specimens were collected from Ragay, Camarines Sur," De la Trinidad recalled. Then we took a long close look at it, she said. By October, the first specimens were on their way to the BPI in Manila.

The specimens are now with a taxonomist at the International Rice Research Institute for scientific evaluation and identification, said Cuaterno.

It was temporarily identified by the Regional Crop Protection Center in Tacloban as Paromius longulus – "subject for verification and formal identification by experts."

Crop protection scientists called the pest the rice seed bug, dirt-colored seed bug and rice grain bug. In a meeting last week, they agreed to call it a grain bug.

Binamira said there is a similarity to the rice black bug which is not endemic but has spread mostly in Mindanao although Luzon is not largely affected. "We’re asking, which is more damaging the grain bug or the black bug?"

The crop protection scientists said it’s the grain bug.

That is not a welcome verdict. The black bug infestation became a political issue in Mindanao and Albay in the 1990s. It first appeared in the 1980s in Palawan. Its spread subsided then resurfaced in the 1990s in Mindanao where it is the biggest problem now, especially in rice farms that extensively use pesticides.

Like the biblical locusts, the black bugs fly in swarms especially during the full moon.

"They are so numerous during full moon and cling to clothes, disrupting social events like village dances," said de la Trinidad. "And the bugs smell."

Since then, a natural control has been developed. It uses fungus spores mixed with water then sprayed on rice plants. Interestingly, black bug infestation disappears when chemical pesticides are not applied extensively.

With the grain bug, crop protection scientists are now drawing up a protocol to study its biology before the rainy season in June.

"We have to fast track the biologic study in time for the coming planting season," Binamira said. "At the same time we have to look at how it spreads, did it come from somewhere, about its natural enemies and the ecological imbalance involved."

He said an imbalance is caused when, for example, too much pesticides use also kills natural predators, causing the grain bug to thrive and become a pest.

"You have to understand that with insects, not all are pests," he said. "We are investigating why the grain bug has become a pest when before it was not."

As example, he cited the coconut leaf beetle which attacks coconuts. It is not a pest in Indonesia where it originated because of natural enemies there. Here, it is damaging as it attacks mature coconuts. The Philippines is one of the last countries in Southeast Asia to be infested by the Indonesian coconut leaf beetle.

As for the rice grain bug, local governments have been alerted. "We really can’t recommend specific controls because we haven’t studied its biology yet," De la Trinidad said.

"The pest seems to transfer from one rice field to another as rice planting is not synchronous," she pointed out.

"We are puzzled why adjacent rice fields, provinces and even regions are not affected by the grain bug," said Cuaterno.

While the grain bug is present in Bicol, it is not in neighboring Southern Luzon, she pointed out. Even in Bicol, only Masbate and Camarines Sur are affected but not other adjacent provinces. Southern Leyte is affected, but Northern Leyte is not.

For the moment, the BPI is asking farmers to be vigilant and immediately report the presence of the grain bug to crop protection centers.

3 killed in Masbate ambush

by Aaron Recuenco

Armed men killed a barangay captain and two others in an ambush in Uson town in Masbate on Tuesday night, a police official said yesterday. Chief Inspector Romeo Lupangco, Jr., spokesman of the Masbate Police, said local investigators are looking into all angles to determine the motive and subsequently identify the killers of 45-year old Eddie Crisostomo, barangay captain of Barangay Isidro. Crisostomo died along with barangay treasurer Noel Rosal and a certain Jolec Rivera, who both died on the spot due to multiple bullet wounds they suffered during the attack that occurred at around 6 p.m. in the nearby Barangay Nabuhay. “They were on their way home when they were ambushed,” said Lupangco. Lupangco said all the victims were on board a motorcycle when the gunmen started shooting them in Barangay Nabuhay. The official said probers were banking on the testimony of a lone survivor, identified as Renante Selosa, who was able to duck and ran for his life during the incident.

2 barangay execs, pal gunned down in Masbate ambush

by Jonas Cabiles Soltes

Inquirer Southern Luzon

NAGA CITY, Philippines—Two barangay or municipal district officials and a companion traveling with them were shot dead while a fourth man on the same motorcycle escaped unscathed from the ambush early Tuesday evening in the town of Uson in Masbate, a police official said Wednesday. Senior Superintendent Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate police director, said Eddie Crisostomo, Barangay Nabuhay chairman was traveling on the motorcycle with barangay treasurer Noel Rosal and companion Jolec Rivera when they were attacked by heavily armed men at around 6 p.m. The three died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds, said Olitoquit. “A fourth co-passenger on the motorcycle, who was identified as Renante Selosa, managed to flee the ambush site,” added Olitoquit. The victims were headed toward Barangay San Isidro, another Uson district, when the gunmen fired on them. A hunt has been launched for the killers. Olitoquit said the police were eyeing politics as a possible motive for the killings. Uson town, one of the poorest towns in Masbate, is located 23 kilometers away from Masbate City, the provincial capital.

Placer dancers build on family, faith

by Correspondent Rhea Ruth Rosell

Out-of-town performers traveled 12 hours by ferry from Placer, Masbate province to Cebu City but it was worth the effort. Culturang Placereño with the Masbate dance company took the grand prize in the Sinulog-based category last Sunday. They portrayed a family’s story of faith in the Child Jesus in a stand out performance. A bright neon sun and blue clouds formed the back drop of a rural scene of brown carton shanties in a cornfield complete with a “carabao” and a wheel barrow. On stage a father, mother and a child carried a huge corncob with the image of the Sto. Niño inside. Gov. Rizalina Seachon Lanete swayed in a neon orange gown as other dancers with red and white giant fans closed the performance. It was a sweet victory for Masbate in its first time to compete in the Sinulog-based category followning the theme “Refuge to a Filipino Christian family, the story of faith”. Victor Cuenco, the choreographer, said that one of his biggest challenges was giving “rigid training” for the new dancers who were “very raw and beginners”. After three months of rehearsal, the cast of 100 dancers and 250 props men delivered. They’ll be back next year for the Sinulog to defend their title.

Limbs, lives risked for gold nuggets

Inquirer Southern Luzon

While many of their peers are winding down a day in school, five school-aged children in Barangay Ambolong of Aroroy town, 32 kilometers from Masbate City, have been panning for gold for hours, not even sure if they can extract the precious mineral from the rocks they have carried from a hill at least a kilometer away. The gold rush in Aroroy attracts children and even adults, who had tried their luck in other places, thinking they had left their hometown for good, but opted to return home instead. Noli Durano, 51, is among those who left Aroroy to look for a job in Metro Manila but was unsuccessful. Three months ago, he returned and sold most of his remaining land for about P150,000 to buy two ball mills that cost P26,000 each. A ball mill is a drum-like machine that grinds rock into a fine powder until it becomes a slimy, viscous mixture. It is hollow and filled with heavy rods inside and pulverizes rocks by being rotated by an engine, which causes the rods inside to move and pound the rocks in the process. Durano used the remaining sum for constructing the hut that houses the machine and the pond where panning for gold is done for hours. The hut is just under a canopy of coconuts, which sprawl along the rolling hills of the municipality. Child labor While Ambolong is just about a kilometer away from the town center/business area of Aroroy, it seems a world apart: teeming with gold panners. Village folk, including children, flock to the ball mills like that owned by Durano to process rocks chipped from tunnels dug out from the hills surrounding Aroroy. The tunnels are at least one kilometer to about five kilometers away from where the ball mills have been set up. “Children should not be doing this hard labor but it’s the parents themselves who send their sons into this kind of work,” says Durano. The task is not only hard and heavy but also dangerous. Each child has to walk at least a kilometer carrying 40 to 60 kilograms of rocks in sacks from tunnels that could collapse any time and trap chippers of possible gold ores inside. In fact, two minors were found dead in a mining tunnel in Barangay Panique in July last year. The two apparently died from suffocation, the police said. Durano says he is not employing children. But most of the time, small-scale miners who come to his ball mills to pan for gold are minors. Some of them are even school-aged. Gold panning happens for an entire week although miners have breaks on Sundays. In a day, hundreds of ball mills growl in Ambolong where most families subsist through small-scale mining. Hard life In this village, life is hard not only for the children and minors who engage in small-scale mining but also for small-scale operators of ball mills like Durano. Every week, he has to spend P10,000 for mercury, which is sold by traders in the town proper. He needs a kilogram of the toxic heavy metal per week. Mercury is used in panning for gold because it easily combines or amalgamates with gold from ores. Gold is extracted from the amalgam by heating. The high toxicity of mercury is the primary reason its use is banned in other countries and in some provinces in the country, including Kalinga. But authorities in Masbate, like in many provinces elsewhere, have only gone as far as “discourage” its use. Every day, gold panners “borrow” the mercury from him. One-fourth kilogram of mercury is consumed in a day. The exposure to mercury adds to the problems that face gold panners in Aroroy. Durano also needs six liters of diesel a day to run the ball mills for 12 hours so that the soaring pump price of petroleum drastically cuts into his daily income that he needs to sustain 10 children. Another cause for his dwindling income is the maintenance and fixing of the ball mills, which conk out usually once every five months. “Bad” day comes for him and the gold panners when the rocks yield no gold even after a day of toil. But even “lucky” days are not much different from the bad days. Hours of gold panning, on the average, produce only at most 3 grams of gold nugget. “It’s frustrating because of the expenses. It’s also frustrating for the panners because processing of the ores can be tiring to the arms and back,” says Durano. Every month, however, Durano gets a profit of at least P10,000 when trucks from large-scale mining firms come to get the tailings from the pond where gold panning is done. “Because they have better and more advanced equipment, they (big mining firms) are still able to extract gold from the leftovers of the gold panners,” he adds. Long haul Durano buys the gold extracted from ores by panners for P1,200 a gram. He, in turn, sells the gold nuggets to gold traders for P1,500 per gram. Not counting all the overhead expenses, his net income on a lucky day amounts to P1,000. It is a different story on those days when he is not lucky. He personally operates the ball mills so he knows every procedure of trying to find gold. First, is the chipping of rocks in the tunnels. Second, is the transporting of the possible ores to the ball mills. Third, is the grinding of the rocks inside the ball mills. Fourth, is the amalgamating of gold in mercury-filled basins. Last is the heating of the amalgams to release mercury and extract pure gold. Each procedure is equally laborious and dangerous with the heavy weight and possible exposure to mercury. But despite the odds, Durano sees his operation of the ball mills as a long-term source of income. “I just accept and accept rocks. I just count on the lucky days,” he says. Many other small-scale miners and small-scale operators in Aroroy confront similar situations. Aroroy is one of the areas in the Bicol region that is rich in gold deposits. The Masbate Gold Project, a joint Australian-Filipino mining venture, operates the country’s largest gold mine in Aroroy, the northernmost municipality in the main island of Masbate.

Quakes hit Samar, Masbate


MANILA, Philippines – Two mild earthquakes struck off the coast of Eastern Samar, while another one was recorded in Masbate on Wednesday morning, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

The first quake had a magnitude of 3.7 and occurred 49 kilometers (kms) northeast of Mercedes, Eastern Samar at 3:40 a.m. It struck at a depth of 18 kms.

At 9:14 a.m., a magnitude 3.2 quake with a depth of 35 kms occurred 26 kms southwest of Claveria, Masbate.

Another quake with a magnitude of 2.9 struck 21 kms northeast of Mercedes at 10:48 a.m. It had a depth 23 kms.

No casualty or damage was reported in the three earthquakes.

No aftershocks are expected from the quakes, which were all tectonic in origin.

Wednesday’s twin earthquakes in Eastern Samar come in the wake of a 5.9 magnitude quake that jolted the province Tuesday evening.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said as of Wednesday morning, there have been 26 aftershocks recorded so far from Tuesday’s earthquake.

Second placers swear "revenge" next Sinulog

by Jessica Ann R. Pareja/BRP

CEBU, Philippines - Grand slam title holder Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe of Tangub City vowed to return next year with a vengeance after they lost their crown to Culturang Placereño of Placer, Masbate, this year.

Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe trainer Emilio Pascual said there is no reason to cry over spilled milk as even before the grand parade when he witnessed the rehearsals of other contingents, he knew it was going to be a tough fight.

“I knew it was going to be a tough fight so what I prayed for is a perfect performance, which did not also happen. I cannot really blame them because most of the dancers are new,” Pascual said.

He said this year has also been a tough year for them because they had several problems including organizational problems.

“Nevertheless, we came prepared. Wala lang gyud mataypi sa judges,” Pascual said.

Tangub City’s entry this year features the history of Sinulog.

They opened with a scene at the old Aduana, thus, the Corregidor Ship that was owned by the Cebu Ports Authority. Pascual said the ship used to be the biggest luxury ship in Cebu.

“There is nothing complex about our concept, everything was historical. If they look closely, they will see that it was the old Aduana, then naabot ang pilgrims and naabot sila sa Magallanes,” he said.

Pascual said that Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe will come back next year as it is already a part of the year-round development of the youth in Tangub. Tangub City has been joining Sinulog for 11 years.

For his part, Barry Luche, choreographer of Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer, Masbate, said that they consider themselves as more than winners though they did not take home the crown in their third year in the Sinulog Free Interpretation category.

Tribu Himag-ulaw was the most applauded contingent last Sunday and even during their repeat performance at the awarding ceremony yesterday at the Cebu City Sports Center.

“Kontento nako sa reception sa mga tawo,” Luche said.

He also explained that whatever their concept is based on, it should not matter because they are competing in the Free Interpretation category.

“Ang ako gipagawas kay lahat ng nilalang, water, plants, animals, dili lang kita, worship Sto. Niño,” Luche said.

He said they will come back next year and that the public may expect a lot more.

The winners in all categories were awarded yesterday afternoon before double the number of spectators in the grand stand last Sunday. Winners receives trophies and cash prizes.

Judges advised the choreographers to focus on choreographing the dancers more than the attention they put on choreographing the props. Judges also advised choreographers to think of new moves because moves have become repetitive over the years. (FREEMAN)

Sinulog Champs: Placer (SB), Alang-Alang (FI) Masbate; Leyte win P1M prizes

by Jessica Ann R. Pareja and AJ De La Torre

CEBU, Philippines - Culturang Placereño of Placer, Masbate and Tribu Lingganay of Alang-alang, Leyte were declared grand champions of Sinulog 2012 for the Sinulog Based and Free Interpretation categories respectively.

Both also bagged the best in costume and best in musicality special awards in their respective categories.

Last year’s winners, the Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe of Tangub City, Misamis Occidental and Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer, Masbate both finished second this year.

Third to fifth place in the Sinulog Based category were City of Carcar; Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental; and Abellana National School.

Third to fifth in the Free Interpretation category went to Karatong Festival of Dulag, Leyte; Lumad Basakanon of Cebu City; and Toledo National High Vocational School.

The City of Carcar was also adjudged as champion in the street dancing category while the second and third placers were Tangub City and Culturang Placereño.

Mayor’s Dream

Mayor Joshur Lanete of Placer, Masbate dreamed that they should have two entries this year.

It turned out to be some sort of premonition.

Lanete said that they joined the Sinulog Based category this year apart from their Free Interpretation entry is because of a dream on the eve of the Sinulog Grand Parade last year where he saw himself overseeing the practice of their contingent for the Sinulog-based category which recurred for several times.

Dr. Larry Gabao, chairman of the board of judges for the SB category said, said it was a unanimous decision of the judges to proclaim Culturang Placereño the grand winner because the group showed the judges a fresh idea on how to venerate the Santo Niño.

“Also, they have a very consistent presentation from the beginning to the last point,” Gabao said.

Commenting on why Tangub City failed to defend the crown it has been holding on for eight years, Gabao said Tangub failed to establish the relevance of the big ship it made as a prop.

“We did not see the relevance of the ship. The prop is very huge but it just passed,” Gabao said.

Beginner’s Luck

Nestor Jardin, chairman of the board of judges for the Free Interpretation category, said that Tribu Lingganay’s performance was fresh and innovative, different from what they have witnessed with other contingents.

He said Tribu Ligganay of Alang-alang, Leyte stood out because of its costume and props that complement each other.

“It is something new. We like the fact that it is fast pace, exciting and very unpredictable,” Jardin said.

“We also like the production design. The colors of the props are very comprehensive, all are loud colors, yet somehow the whole production design worked well. The props are superbly handled,” he added.

Tribu Lingganay is one of first-time participants.

Jardin said Tribu Himag-ulaw of Placer, Masbate also had a commendable presentation, but the judges were not impressed by the concept which for them is not very much like a Filipino concept but an African production. “Because we don’t have giraffes here,” Jardin said.

Fresh Ideas

Ricky Ballesteros, Executive Director of the Sinulog Foundation Inc., said last year’s standard was surpassed anew by the contingents and many have come up with fresh ideas.

Ballesteros also noted a smoother flow of the presentation at the grandstand and in the streets which he attributed to the good weather and the discipline of the revelers.

Many also liked the grand finale because of its elegance.


The grand champions in both Sinulog-Based and Free Interpretation categories each will receive P1 million while the rest of the top five will receive P500,000 for the second place, P300,000 for the third place, P200,000 for the fourth place and P100,000 for the fifth place.

The awarding will be held this afternoon at the Cebu City Sports Center where winners will also do a repeat performance.

The choreographers of the top five winners would be receiving P50,000 for the champion, P30,000 for the second placer, P20,000 for the third placer, P15,000 for the fourth placer and P10,000 for the fifth placer.

The champion in the street dance category will also receive P1 million while the second and third placers will receive P500,000 and P300,000 respectively.

Grand Finale

A grand finale that showcased Cebu as a City of Culture ended the grand parade.

The grand production featured a 30-minute presentation that cost organizers around P2.5M.

Dancers from different schools represented various ASEAN countries and presented their national dances.

The new song entitled “Welcome to Cebu” composed by Cebuano Gani Villarojo was also featured.

Different industries were also well-represented like the furniture industry showing creations of world-renowned furniture artist Kenneth Cobonpue.

Creations of Cebuano fashion designers were also featured as well as the accessories industry and the graphic and visual arts industry.

Center for pop singers, Sinulog Idol winners, dancesport athletes and gymnasts were also part of the grand finale. —/NLQ THE FREEMAN

Napocor: VAT helps keep power plants on small islands running

by ELR, GMA News

Reimbursements for value added taxes (VAT) the National Power Corp. (NPC) paid—some P3.8 billion—have been earmarked to keep power plants running on some of the country’s islands that are outside the major power grids, including Catanduanes, Masbate, Mindoro and Palawan.

Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. president Emmanuel Ledesma said the P3.8 billion was VAT, which the Bureau of Internal Revenue assessed on the sale of the Magat and Pantabangan-Masiway power plants.

Ledesma explained, however, that the VAT reimbursements will be approved and released in yet to be determined installments and “will depend greatly on PSALM’s management of its cash position and Napocor’s requirement for the settlement of its outstanding obligations.”

Napocor president Froilan Tampinco said they are hoping an initial tranche of P2.2 billion to P2.7 billion will come from PSALM early this year.

“I think PSALM will come across with that within the quarter. Our obligations for fuel and (a loan) from Land Bank will cover that,” Tampinco revealed.

For 2012, Tampinco said the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) needs P15 billion to operate some 157 power plants on small islands in Southern Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Eastern Mindanao and Western Mindanao.

Napocor expects that budget to come from the VAT reimbursements, universal charge component of electricity bills, and Napocor revenues.

Explosives seized in Masbate raid

by Abigail Kwok,

MANILA, Philippines - Authorities seized various explosives and materials for improvised explosive devices in a raid in Masbate's Baleno town Wednesday, police said.

Chief Insp. Romeo Lupango Jr., chief of Masbate's police community relations unit, said authorities swooped down on a warehouse owned by a certain Cai Tsin Cong alias Ruben Chua at Sitio Panal, Bgy. Docol at around 2:30 a.m.

Armed with search warrants, police discovered explosive materials consisting of 11 bundles of red-orange cord with blasting caps, five bundles of pink-black cord with blasting caps, seven bundles of pink-blue cord with blasting caps, 10 bundles of orange-pink cord with blasting caps, a bundle of assorted colored cord with blasting caps, seven bundles of blasting caps, two bundles of black electrical wire, a bundle of blasting caps wire, one unit brown-colored igniter, 14 pieces of ammonium nitrate granules placed in an ice candy plastic cellophane more or less six inches long, 491 pieces yellow-colored of suspected explosives with “Nitro EM 1500 Emulsion Explosive” markings, and more or less two kilos of ammonium nitrate.

Placer, Masbate delegates join FI, Sinulog-based categories

by Jujemay G. Awit

SINULOG 2012 free interpretation champion Placer, Masbate returns to the competition not only to defend their title but to join the Sinulog-Based category as well.

Placer will be the first contingent to join both categories, said Sinulog Foundation Inc. executive director Ricky Ballesteros.

Ready for Sinulog 2012? Check here for updates.

It was after a dream that Mayor Joshur Lanete decided to join the Sinulog-based category, after winning back-to-back in the free interpretation category in the three years the fourth-class municipality of Masbate joined the competition.

Sun.Star Cebu chanced upon Lanete, who was overseeing Placer’s practice in the festival queen presentation yesterday.

Lanete shared that last year, on the eve of the Sinulog grand parade, he had a dream that he was polishing the blocking of his contingent for the Sinulog-based category.

He thought nothing of it until it became a recurring dream for a couple of months.

That was when he decided to join the Sinulog-based category as well.

Not an option

Backing out of the free interpretation category in favor of the Sinulog-based was not an option.

“It would have been cheaper, but it wasn’t an option,” said Lanete, who kept mum on the amount he spent to join the Sinulog, which is shouldered by the family and other relatives in honor of the Holy Child.

The Lanete family attributed to the Sto. Niño a miracle that saved the mayor from a fire when he was two years old.

Lanete’s dream last year was reminiscent of how he enlisted Placer to join the Sinulog competition.

In late 2008, the Sto. Niño made him realize that he has forgotten about his devotion to the Sinulog.

The Lanetes have a home in Sto. Niño Village in Barangay Banilad, where it is a tradition to hold a Sinulog a week after the grand parade in Cebu City.

Active participants

Lanete remembered that he and his entire family were active in participating in the village Sinulog, but when his dad died in 2006, the mayor said he stopped participating.

In 2008, the Sto. Niño reminded him of the devotion.

Another realization was in 2009 when the contingent first joined the competition.

Lanete said he was a mere spectator that time, and Placer did not take home any prize, which he took as a sign that the Sto. Niño wanted him to actively participate in the competition.

While other mayors and officials carry the banner of the contingent during the presentation, Lanete is just among the props men, making sure that all the props are in place and the right person is holding the right prop.

Lanete, who used to be Jonjit Primor’s star dancer in the Sinulog-based category from years back, is now using his background in dancing to help his contingents polish their steps.

This served as a motivation and inspiration for dancers to see their mayor doing the dirty work.

“I do it because of my devotion... We’re not in it for the win. We only want to offer the best that we can for the Niño. If we can perfect it then that’s my offering and I’ll try to do that,” said Lanete.

The dancers are 80 percent ready and will use the remaining days to achieve 100 percent.

TV broadcast

On Sunday, the entire Placer, Masbate will be glued to their television sets to watch the Sinulog.

“Everything stops in Masbate. It’s like a (Manny) Pacquiao fight where crime rate is zero,” Lanete said in jest.

Placer will also feature eight-year-old Louie Osable, their youngest dancer, who will play a monkey.

It will be the first time that Osable will dance on stage with thousands of spectators.

Placer shipped about 900 people to Cebu City for the Sinulog with two contingents.

Their participation may be expensive, but Lanete said the return of investment is in the form of tourism influx in Placer that trickles down to the entire Masbate because of their Sinulog-winning dance.

K9 dog sniffs out explosives


MANILA, Philippines — Transportation authorities intercepted a shipment of explosives inside a provincial bus aboard a roll-on roll-off boat from Bicol over the weekend.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) reported that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) seized a package consisting of 11 kilos of TNT, five-and-a-half kilos of C4/Prima powder, eight boxes of blasting cap, three rolls of D-Cord, and several prime boosters aboard an Elavil Bus, which was transported by the MV King Frederick from Albay.

A report dispatched by PCG Masbate disclosed that the drivers of Elavil Bus 4628 with plate number TYU264 were intercepted by a joint PNP/PCG security force, with the aid of a K9 dog. The report confirmed that the vehicle was carrying explosive materials.

The arrested drivers denied knowledge of the explosive, saying they were abandoned in their vehicle. The seized explosive paraphernalia had been turned over to Masbate crime lab, while the bus was impounded in PNP Masbate City’s headquarters.

The discovery and confiscation of the explosive materials were made at the height of terrorist threat in Metro Manila in time for the feast of the Black Nazarene, which traditionally invites millions of devotees nationwide to the procession in Manila.

“The operation of the PCG and PNP was in line with the DoTC’s mandate to secure all land and sea ports during and after the holiday season,” the DoTC said.

Bombs found on board bus bound for Masbate

by Paolo G. Montecillo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines–The Malacanang’s warning of a possible terror threat on the Black Nazarene procession may not have been unfounded after all. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) revealed on Monday that a “huge” package of explosives was confiscated on a bus travelling from Manila to Masbate last Sunday. About five and a half kilos of C4, eight boxes of blasting caps, three rolls of cord and six and three-fourth kilos of prime booster were found on Elavil Bus with plate number TYU 264. The bus was on board the MV King Frederick roll-on, roll-off from Albay. The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said the bus had come from Pasay and was en route to Masbate. “The operation was in line with the Department of Transportation and Communications’ mandate to secure all land and sea ports during and after the holiday season,” the DOTC said. The bus was intercepted by a joint security force aided by K9 dog bomb sniffers between the PCG and the Philippine National Police (PNP). The unidentified driver of the bus denied any knowledge that the explosives was on the bus. “The seized explosive paraphernalia had been turned over to Masbate Crime Lab, while the bus was impounded in PNP Masbate City’s headquarters for processing,” the DOTC said. Over the weekend, President Benigno Aquino warned of terrorist threat that might be launched in Metro Manila based on intelligence report that Mindanao-based local terrorists are in the metropolis, particularly during the Black Nazarene procession Monday.

Masbate gov forms management team for P-Noy’s peace-building projects

by (PNA)


NAGA CITY, Philippines—A 39-year-old porter in Masbate City died after being run over by a bus getting off a roll-on-roll-off ferry docked at the Port of Masbate on Wednesday morning, Masbate City police confirmed Friday. Senior Superintendent Heriberto Olitoquit, acting police chief of Masbate City, said the victim, Michael Duano, was run over accidentally by a Roro Transport Service Bus. Olitoquit said the bus driver identified as Sherwin Oquenso, 36, was maneuvering on the ramp of the lower deck of the M/V Sofia at around 8:30 a.m. when the accident occurred. Duano was rushed to the Masbate Doctors’ Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. A charge of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide was filed against Oquenso at the prosecutor’s office in Masbate City.MASBATE CITY, Jan. 5 (PNA) – Masbate provincial Governor Rizalina Lanete has tasked herself as head of the management team that would see to it that development projects in the province under the Aquino administration’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) are properly implemented.

The PAMANA Management Team which the governor created over the week through an executive order is composed among others of the provincial chiefs of the Departments of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

Other members are the provincial engineer, agriculturist, social welfare and development officer and the Church-based Caritas Foundation.

The team, Lanete said will closely supervise and monitor the implementation of the projects under PAMANA that was given an initial funding by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) amounting to P50 million.

PAMANA is a priority government program being undertaken by the OPAPP towards the attainment of economic progress in conflict affected areas (CAAs) in line with the Aquino administration’s peace agenda geared at ending internal armed conflicts.

Masbate is among the four provinces in Bicol that are placed under the implementation of PAMANA. The others are Camarines Norte where an amount of P140 million had been earlier appropriated by OPAPP for similar projects, Sorsogon which was given P39 million and Albay that is still awaiting the fund allocation.

Masbate is Bicol’s poorest province based on the assessment of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Camarines Norte is second poorest, Sorsogon is the most insurgency-troubled according to the military and Albay stands as the linking point of CAAs with progressive localities.

Lanete said the fund intended for Masbate will be used to construct roads that would connect remote communities with the growth areas of the municipalities of Mobo, Monreal and San Pascual.

Mobo with a total population of about 35,000 and Monreal with some 25,000 residents are fourth class towns at the Masbate mainland and the island of Ticao respectively while San Pascual with a population of nearly 45,000 is third class municipality at the Burias Island.

PAMANA operates under three pillars of program implementation wherein the province of Masbate qualifies best. The first pillar is building of foundation of peace, establishing resilient communities and addressing regional development and the second is focused on empowering households and promoting convergent delivery of goods and services to the community.

The province also qualified in the third pillar that addresses sub-regional challenges, including constraints to regional economic development, linking of poor areas with more prosperous areas and regional connectivity improvements, according to the governor.

The P50-million released to the province, according to OPAPP area manager for Bicol Paul Escober is just an initial funding as this year more funds will be poured into the area by OPAPP to widen the implementation of the PAMANA program so that the residents in CAAs are relieved of the agonies being suffered due to armed conflicts that beget extreme poverty.

Military records show that of the province’s 550 barangays, at least 217 that are poor and mostly isolated from town centers are affected by communist insurgency.

The Aquino administration is bent on restoring peace in these barangays one way through the PAMANA program and liberating its people from poverty under the government’s anti-poverty agenda that includes countryside development, Alcober stressed.

Lanete said her administration is grateful on the OPAPP’s initiatives towards peace and development in the province. “We are already tired of being called the poorest in Bicol that is why we are at our best in introducing developments in our place.”

The province really needs those infrastructures like roads, school buildings, water systems, irrigations and other economic uplift projects that the national government has been implementing now “making us feel no longer neglected as in the past”, she added.

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