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Negros Oriental News April 2012

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Contents

Motorcycle helmet law info drive set in Dumaguete

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Department of Trade and Industry will hold an information drive on the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 or Republic Act 10054 in Dumaguete City – the city that has earned its moniker as the Motorcycle Capital in the country due to its large number of motorcycles.

The information drive will be held on May 3, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. at the Multipurpose Room of Instructional Media and Technology Center in Silliman University, this city.

The multi-sectoral forum is held by DTI in cooperation with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in partnership with Silliman University and Consumer Advocates, Inc.

Speakers during the activity include representatives from the Bureau of Product Standards, DTI, and Land Transportation Office (LTO) regional office.

The information campaign aims to clarify issues involving the helmet law and its Implementing Rules and Regulations earlier issued jointly by DOTC and DTI on RA 10054.

Said law calls for the mandatory wearing of helmet by motorcycle riders. It also defines the responsibilities of the riders, DOTC, and DTI in ensuring the safety of motorists, particularly on the wearing of the standard and safe motorcycle helmets and visors.

Expected to attend the forum are owners of motorcycle shops in the city, mayors from the 25 towns and cities in Negros Oriental, representatives from government-line agencies and non-government organizations, consumer groups, among others.

The helmet law was met with strong opposition from some sectors in the city, with local legislators in Dumaguete initiating a signature campaign early this month to put an end in the mandatory wearing of helmet law.

Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova, one of the local officials who led the campaign, said they were able to gather at least 1,000 signatures from motorists in the city.

Negros Oriental sports confederation formed

DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental- To advance and develop the sports culture in Negros Oriental, various sports associations in the province have come together to form the Negros Oriental Sports Confederation (NORSPORTS).

NORSPORTS is composed of leaders of different sports groups encompassing varied sports disciplines, such as basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball, running, swimming, karatedo and taekwondo, among others.

The confederation’s newly-elected first set of officials recently took their oath of office before governor Roel Degamo.

NORSPORTS aims to expand the province’s sports program dubbed Negros Oriental Sports Development Program (NOSDEP) by conducting more sports activities that will develop the skills of local athletes.

The confederation was formed upon the recommendation of Engr. Dominador Dumalag, Jr. who was earlier tasked by the governor to craft a more comprehensive action plan for NOSDEP.

NORSPORT’s first sports activity, the Governor’s Cup, is set on May 5 and open to athletes from all towns and cities here.

The first Governor’s Cup is seen to hone and prepare the local athletic talents who will participate in the upcoming Philippine National Games (PNG).

Said activity will also serve as a venue where sports leaders can pick potential athletes who will form the province’s core team to compete during the PNG.

7,551 job applicants needed for DSWD’s GIP

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 7 is in need of 7,551 summer job applicants for its expanded Government Internship Program (GIP).

"Interested students and college and vocational courses graduates who are unemployed may apply for available summer jobs this year," said DSWD Information Officer Jaybee Binghay.

Applicants from Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor, aged 18 to 30 years old, can submit their application letter and resume with photocopy of their birth certificates to the DSWD, Field Office-7 in Cebu City.

The workers will receive a minimum regional wage rate per day for 52 days.

Qualified applicants will be assigned in the DSWD Field Office, centers and institutions, and communities covered by this welfare agency all over the region.

The applicants will not only perform office works but also assist in the implementation of the numerous programs and projects of the agency.

Binghay said some of them will be assigned to do direct service through field work in communities where the projects are being implemented in partnership with the local government units.

This expanded GIP is part of the Aquino Administration’s efforts to strengthen youth participation in nation building, expose them to government service, train them on life skills and contribute to their economic well-being.

Labor group seeks minimum pay increase

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Unions Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) in Negros Oriental is seeking a P90 daily minimum wage increase.

The petition was prompted by the wave of price increases of basic commodities and petroleum products in the country, said Felizardo Calimpong of ALU-TUCP here.

Calimpong said they already filed their petition for wage increase at the Regional Wage Board.

He said they were forced to submit a pay increase petition despite the one-year ban mandated by Republic Act 6727 due to the increase in prices of basic commodities and petroleum products.

RA 6727's Wage Order Year Rule states that no petition for wage increase may be entertained by the Wage Board within the one-year period from the last time a wage order has been implemented, provided that there are supervening conditions.

The last wage increase here, which was at P20 per day, took effect in September 2011.

Calimpong said the supervening conditions they cited in their petition are the increase of prices of petroleum products and prime commodities.

“I hope that the employers would consider our grounds for the petition which is based on the current situation of the workers, considering the increase of petroleum products and basic commodities,” said Calimpong in a recent Kapihan gathering held by the Philippine Information Agency here.

Local businessman Don Ramas-Uypitching, who sits in the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC) representing the management sector, said the petition for wage increase should not be a problem for companies who can afford to do so.

“If they can afford to, why not? I know there are a lot of companies here who do not wait for the government to enforce what should be the minimum wage,” he said.

He, however, warned that if the pay increase is granted, this might affect smaller businesses who are not doing well financially, forcing them to either lay-off workers or shut down.

The Regional Tripartite Wage Board in Region 7 is expected to issue a decision in May this year.

More employers invited to join Labor Day job fair in Dumaguete

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Public Employment Services Office (PESO) in Dumaguete City is inviting more employers and recruitment agencies to join the May 1 Labor Day Job Fair in the city.

As of this writing, 18 employers have confirmed participation in the job hiring activity.

Of the total, 10 are for overseas employment and eight are for local jobs.

PESO Manager Socorro Mira, in a Kapihan forum held Wednesday, revealed that the available jobs include nurses, dental assistances, care givers, foremen, factory workers, receptionists, engineers, accountants, wielders, drivers, hotel crew.

Based on job fairs held in previous years, Mira said they are expecting around 2,000 applicants to show up during the one-day activity.

This year’s job fair is spearheaded by the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC) in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here.

National writers workshop to start April 30 in Silliman

DUMAGUETE CITY- The 51st edition of the Silliman University (SU) National Writers Workshop starts on April 30 at the Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village in Camp Look-out, Valencia, Negros Oriental.

According to creative writer Ian Casocot of Silliman University, 11 writers from all over the Philippines were accepted as fellows for the workshop in various categories.

For poetry accepted were CD Borden (University of San Carlos) and Deborah Rosalind Nieto (University of Santo Tomas).

For Fiction fellows include Michael Aaron Gomez (Silliman University); Thomas David Chavez (Philippine Normal University); Michelle Abigail Tiu Tan (Ateneo de Manila University); Christian Tablazon (University of the Philippines–Diliman); Timothy James Dimacali (University of the Philippines-Diliman); and Ma. Vida Frances Cruz (Ateneo de Manila University).

Under the creative non-fiction, Hazel Meghan Hamile (University of the Philippines–Mindanao) and Zendy Victoria Sue Valencia (University of Santo Tomas) were accepted.

For drama, only Karlo Antonio David of Ateneo De Davao University was accepted as fellows.

The panel of writers for this year includes Director-in-Residence Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas; Dumaguete-based writers Bobby Flores Villasis; Myrna Peña-Reyes; and César Ruìz Aquino.

Guest panelists include Susan Lara, DM Reyes, Anthony Tan, Alfred Yuson, and Gémino Abad, said Casocot.

The workshop, which traditionally lasts for three weeks, is the oldest creative writing workshop of its kind in Asia. It was founded in 1962 by Ediberto K. Tiempo and National Artist Edith L. Tiempo.

It celebrated its golden anniversary in 2011, a year which also marked the passing of Dr. Edith Tiempo.

The workshop is co-sponsored by the Embassy of the United States of America in Manila. Guests from the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy include Regional English Language Officer Maria Carina Dungao, Public Affairs Officer Robin Diallo, Cultural Affairs Officer Alan Holst, and Cultural Affairs Specialist Tony Perez.

Diallo is expected to give a presentation on “Classroom Teaching” at the American Studies and Research Center of the Robert and Metta Silliman Library on May 3.

Dungao on the other hand will also give a presentation on “Classroom Dynamics” on the same date. While, Holst, will give a lecture on “Literature and Film” on May 16, also at the Silliman Library.

Volunteerism transforms community

AROUND 2,000 volunteers braved the heat and worked tirelessly for five days during the recent Bayani Challenge 2012 in Amlan town, Negros Oriental.

They built houses, beautified schools and showed how communities could be transformed through selflessness and sacrifice.

Smart Communications Inc. helped spread their inspiring stories by providing broadband services during the event.

Aside from the Internet connection for the downloading and uploading needs of organizers, Smart also provided free Wi-Fi services for volunteers at the town plaza.

This year’s Bayani Challenge was done simultaneously in five provinces, mobilizing 10,000 volunteers.

“More than the physical accomplishment, there is that feeling, that sense of solidarity you get from working together with others for the community,” said Gawad Kalinga (GK) executive director Luis Oquiñena, who helped dig a septic tank.

Aside from Amlan, the Bayani Challenge 2012 was also done in Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Masbate and Mindoro Occidental.

This is also the first time that event organizers undertook extensive media coverage of the event, said Bryan Gapasin, event head for Negros Oriental.

Gapasin said they assigned a team to document the daily work of volunteers in Amlan and their photos, videos and stories were uploaded to the GK website and shared with news outlets.

DOLE releases P1.5M for quake victims in NegOr

DUMAGUET CITY- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) released P1.5 million recently for victims of the 6.9-earthquake that hit Negros Oriental on February this year.

The cash assistance is through DOLE’s Tulong-Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program under the Comprehensive Emergency Employment program for rural workers in the municipalities of Ayungon, La Libertad, Jimalalud, Tayasan and the city of Guihulngan in the first district.

The employment of the victims would be in a form of public infrastructure reconstruction of damaged facilities in the area.

DOLE officer-in-charge Vivencio Lagahid said the employment of the victims may transform their current situations, rebuild their devastated houses, regain their lost properties, and start alternative livelihood with their families in a short span of time.

Of the amount, the five local government units will have P300,000 and 100 workers each for the daily minimum wage of P200 per worker in 15 days.

DOLE regional director Ma. Gloria Tango turned over the checks to the respective mayors and local treasurers witnessed by the first district Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong.

TUPAD is an emergency employment program seeking to help displaced workers cope and recover from emergencies or destructive earthquake.

Under the program, displaced workers are given short-term wage employment as immediate source of income for their day-to-day living.

Farmers, fishermen receive over P15-M agri resources

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) granted farmers and fisherfolk of the third district of Negros Oriental over P15 million worth of agricultural resources last Friday.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala said the grants will help the farmers and fisherfolk improve their farm fields and fisheries.

Some of the municipalities and cities in the province were also given special aids from the agency. Bayawan City received one unit of four-wheeled drive tractor worth P1.2 million and a 24-footer patrol boat.

The municipality of Dauin hoarded one unit of four-wheel drive tractor and a P2-million cash grant for a farm-to-market road construction.

The town of Zamboanguita, meanwhile, got 40 heads of draft animals worth P1 million.

The DA also distributed to more than 180 farmers and fisherfolk sacks of corn seeds and organic fertilizers, fish foods, and other agriculture-related materials.

There was also a raffle draw of three carabaos and two motored pump boats.

Jovanne Macaligiw, a farmer from Valencia, won one carabao.

The third district of Negros Oriental is composed of the municipalities of Valencia, Dauin, Bacong, Siaton, Zamboaguita, Santa Catalina and Basay and the city of Bayawan.

Power outage hits Dumaguete City

DUMAGUETE CITY- An unannounced power interruption hit Dumaguete City and its neighboring municipalities for almost an hour last Wednesday.

The unplanned power interruption affected electric consumers of Negros Oriental II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (NORECO II) starting 5:13 pm until 6:05 pm.

Consequently, daily operation of electric consumers in the city as well as in the province were disrupted.

According to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Visayas Corp Communication Officer Elmer Cruz, the outage was due to a bamboo pole that hit the conductors at Bolocboloc, Sibulan, Negros Oriental.

Normal operations resumed after the NGCP restored power transmission services in parts of Negros Oriental following the re-energizing of the Amlan-Bacong-Siaton 69kV transmission line.

NGCP continues to strengthen the transmission network with its regular maintenance ac-tivities done in close coordination with NORECO II.

Both utilities are working together to improve services to power consumers, said Cruz.

Dumaguete health office warns public of heat stroke and dehydration

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Dumaguete City Health Office has warned the public to take extra protection against heat stroke and dehydration due to extreme exposure to the heat of the sun this summer.

According to City Health Officer, Dr. Maria Sarah Talla, people are suffering from high temperature especially during summer season that may lead to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

Heat stroke occurs when the body overheats due to the hot and humid weather and too much direct exposure to the sun which can be fatal.

Talla also warned the residents of having prickly heat or rashes because of hot weather and the clogging of sweat glands.

Too much heat exposure may also suffer dehydration that creates nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache and fatigue and sometimes increased respiratory rate, rapid pulse and strange behavior, said Talla.

To avoid summer heat illnesses, Talla advised the public to bring umbrellas or hats to cover their bodies and heads when outside their homes and offices.

Drink a lot of water to replenish what has been lost through their sweat and avoid physical activity for long exposure under the heat of sun, wear loose clothing with light color materials to circulate air in the body, she added.

Usually the elderly, infants, workers and athletes who are excessively exposed under the sun are at risk of heat stroke, the health official said.

DOST turns over P250,000 to coco farmers group for VCO prod'n

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) here turned over a check worth P250,000 to Barangay Liptong Small Coconut Farmers Association (BLISCOFA) recently at DOST office, this city.

BLISCOFA board of director chair Saturnino Santos, Jr. received the check assistance from DOST Provincial Director Gilbert Arbon for the technological upgrading of the firm’s Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) production.

BLISCOFA has been using a traditional method of coconut milk extraction that is not so efficient, using manually-operated mechanical press, prompting the organization to seek the assistance of DOST through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP).

The SETUP allows the VCO producers to acquire a motorized screw-type press coconut milk extractor to improve the processing technique of producing the oil.

The equipment is obtained through a three-year lease-to-own agreement with zero interest.

BLISCOFA was founded in 2005 as a registered community-based rural organization and is formed for the purpose of improving the socio-economic situation of coconut farmers in the town of Valencia, Negros Oriental.

It is composed of about 130 members, including more than 80 small farm holders.

The association first ventured into VCO production with substantial support from various entities, including the local government unit of Valencia, the US Peace Corps, Philippine Coconut Authority, and Department of Agrarian Reform, among others.

Later on, the organization diversified into the manufacturing of fashion accessories derived from coconut shells, vinegar and virgin coconut oil production.

According to DOST Information Officer Roslyn Tambago, the DOST-SETUP enables firms, associations and/or organizations to address their technical problems.

“This is through technology transfer and technological interventions to improve productivity through better product quality, human resources development, cost minimization and waste management, and other operation related activities,” Tambago said.

The DOST is encouraging organizations who wish to avail of their program for funding assistance to visit and contact DOST Negros Oriental Provincial S & T Center located in Daro, Dumaguete City with tel. nos. 225-4551/422-2300.

Silliman to host regional forum on disaster recovery

DUMAGUETE CITY- Silliman University will host a two-day forum that will gather psychologists from Visayas and Mindanao this month to tackle ways on how to help victims of disaster recover from trauma.

The 10th Psychology Regional Forum on April 20-21, 2012 will discuss psycho-social processing and stress debriefing for survivors of calamities.

Silliman University Office of Information and Publications (SU-OIP) Director Mark Raygan Garcia said the activity will offer simulation exercise.

“This will test the participants’ ability to deal with patients under different disaster scenarios,” said Garcia.

The forum is organized for Silliman by its Psychology Department.

The forum’s first day will be highlighted by a seminar on “Mental Health Management” and “Trauma Healing and Recovery” with Ateneo de Davao University professor Dr. Gail Tan-Ilagan as the facilitator.

Dr. Tan-Ilagan is also the author of the book “War Wounded: Combat Stress Sequelae of the 101D Soldiers” which focuses on combatting stress among active duty troops of the Philippine Army.

Interactive sessions on “Leveling-Off Usual Practices: A Stimulation” and “Debriefing the Debriefers” will mark the second day, with Dr. Joey Marie F. Jegonia of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City as speaker.

Both Mindanao and Visayas were recently hit by at least two calamities, namely: Typhoon Sendong in December last year and the 6.9-magnitude earthquake in February this year.

Victims of the two natural disasters continue to heal and rebuild their lives and communities after losing family members and properties.

Dumaguete boosts disaster preparedness

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Dumaguete City government conducted a series of fire drill trainings for emergency awareness and preparedness in the barangay, business establishments, and schools in the city.

Dubbed “Drill and Activity,” the Dumaguete City Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO) started the fire and earthquake drills with city hall employees last month.

DRRMO head Jose Chiu said the rescue team Thursday started the training at the Central Bank located at Daro Highway.

Chiu said Negros Oriental right now is not safe because of the global warming and climate change.

"The province has experienced two calamities recently, namely tropical storm Sendong and 6.9 magnitude earthquake, thus, the public must prepare for every emergency," said Chiu.

The DRRMO will undergo planning sessions beginning this year to respond to any emergency.

In the months of May and June, a series of trainings are scheduled to be held for the 30 barangays in Dumaguete which include the barangay captains and local leaders that will target 300 participants in the training, Chiu said.

According to him, the trainees will be divided by three groups with about 100 participants.

"A drill and equipment review will also be conducted twice a year,” he added.

He said his office have already requested the barangays to prepare emergency facilities like ropes and flash light and everything that will be needed during emergencies.

Meanwhile, Dumaguete City Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria lauded the initiatives of the office of the City Disaster Council for scheduling activities at the barangay levels and other establishments in the city, as part of the city’s continuing awareness program on disaster.

Negros Oriental to host national games

GOVERNOR Roel Degamo confirmed Friday that the province will host the Philippine National Games on May 26 to June 3.

Degamo acknowledged the efforts of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for holding the event in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and allotted P25 million.

The province owns several sports facilities like Olympic-size swimming pool and jumping board, sports complex for basketball games.

The province also bid to host the Palarong Pambansa next year, Degamo said, adding that Batang Pinoy Games was also held in Negros Oriental last year.

In a meeting with local officials recently, PSC Commissioner Jolly Gomez said the sporting event will have 25 different games with over 5,000 national athletes, officials and coaches participating.

Gomez said the host city and province will have minimal expenses by providing police personnel in the games' venues for security of the participants; health or medical services; and some janitorial services in the different play venues.

Some 2,000 student volunteers, however, will be hired to assist the working committees during the event, he said.

Gomez is optimistic that economic activities will increase during the eight-day sports event.

For his part, Dumaguete City Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria said the city is closely working with the province to discuss the needed preparations for the event; and with the Philippine National Police for the safety and security of the participants and guests.

149 health workers under RN Heals deployed to Negros Oriental

DUMAGUETE CITY- A total of 149 healthcare workers were recently deployed to hospitals and other health facilities in the local government units in Negros Oriental under the Registered Nurses for Health Empowerment (RN Heals) program of the Department of Health (DOH).

Of the total, 107 are nurses and 42 are midwives, according to data provided by DOH-Cebu.

RN Heals and local service is implemented by DOH to address the shortage of skilled and experienced nurses in the country. This is the third batch of midwives and nurses that were deployed in the province under said program.

Dispatched to the province earlier were 48 nurses and 59 midwives under Batch 2, and 102 nurses under Batch 1.

Prior to their deployment, the nurses and midwives attended an orientation conducted by DOH in coordination with PhilHealth in Cebu City.

A statement from PhilHealth said the two-day pre-deployment orientation also familiarized the health workers on PhilHealth-related concerns that they are likely to encounter in their assigned areas.

“As part of the broad objectives of Universal Health Care, RN Heals nurses and midwives are expected to take note and report on patients’ PhilHealth membership status,” said the PhilHealth statement in Cebu.

DOH is also partnering with the Department of Social Welfare and Development in organizing the deployment of the RN Heals midwives and nurses to ensure the delivery social services to all Filipinos.

Tanjay City gears up for 2nd phase of boulevard construction

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Tanjay City government here is now gearing up for the second phase of the construction of a boulevard patterned after that of the cities of Dumaguete and Bayawan.

Half of the total 1.4-kilometer stretch of the boulevard is now completed, said Tanjay City Mayor Lawrence Teves in a recent forum.

The first phase of the construction amounted to P40 million.

The city government is now working on the required paperwork to start the second phase of the construction this year.

“We are now crafting the program of work to determine how much money will be needed to construct the second phase of the boulevard,” said Teves.

The mayor added in the same forum that the city government earlier submitted a proposal to the Regional Development Council for the boulevard’s expansion from the city port up to Brgy. Polo.

“This part will entail a large amount of money and we already passed our proposal to RDC for this,” he said.

Tanjay City is a fourth-class city located 30 kilometers north of Negros Oriental’s capital, Dumaguete City.

Infrastructure Projects

DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental— The provincial government here is set to construct infrastructure and development projects worth P11 million in Guihulngan City’s barangays. This was disclosed by Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo during his recent visit to the city to meet with the village chiefs there.

Provincial government-funded projects will include roads construction and installation of water systems, classrooms, multi-purpose pavements and electricity. The projects were set for construction early this year but postponed when a 6.9-magnitude tremor hit the province in February.

RDC-7 endorses P2.7B worth of infra, irrigation projects in NegOr

The Regional Development Council (RDC-7) in Central Visayas recently approved the endorsements of various roads, drainage, seawalls, and irrigation projects of Negros Oriental worth over P2.704.2 billion for DPWH and NIA funding.

Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo said the various road projects will serve as support infrastructure facilities to the agricultural and economic development of the province as well as upgrading infra networks and service standards in far-flung areas.

“These infra projects will create job opportunities and increase access to quality facilities and services at the community level,” the governor added.

Specifically, the Negros Oriental Provincial Development Council (PDC) endorsed five road projects worth P575 million. These projects include the expansion of the NegOr Trans-Central highway; improvement of Nagbagang-Tamlang road in Sta. Catalina; and concreting of Sta. Catalina-Pamplona road costing P100 million each project.

The rehabilitation of the Ayungon-Kabankalan road via Carol-an, Ayungon is worth P75 million while the concrete paving of roads leading to declared tourism hubs and spokes, province-wide is worth another P200 million.

DPWH-7 assistant regional director Juvy Cordon presented another set of infrastructure projects consisting of various drainage and seawall construction and development that is estimated to cost over P484.2 million.

Cordon endorsed to the RDC-7 the construction of Port Breakwater Project in Sibulan; South Coastal Road and Seawall Shoreline Protection, Dumaguete City; and the construction of 2,300 lineal meters of Seawall in Sta. Catalina costing about P78.2 million, P71 million, and P50 million respectively.

Cordon also presented for RDC approval the extension of Piapi-Bantayan Coastal Road and Seawall Shoreline Protection, Dumaguete City that is worth P200 million and the development of Tanjay City Infrastructure Drainage System worth P85 million.

These projects were identified as priority because they serve as mitigating infrastructure measures to identified highly flood-prone and vulnerable areas in Negros Oriental, Cordon added.

Lastly, ARD Cordon presented eight various irrigation projects for NegOr worth over P1.645 billion for inclusion in the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) funding for 2013.

Cordon endorsed for RDC-7 approval the Communal Irrigation Projects of Silab-Jugno and Tambojahangin in Amlan; Amlan Communal irrigation; Hibaiyo, Guihulngan City; and Tamlang Valley, Sta Catalina.

According to Cordon the above communal irrigation projects will cost about P700 million while the Naga-Mantuyop Small Reservoir Irrigation project in Siaton and the Kinalan Small Reservoir Irrigation project in Mabinay will cost P75 million and P195 million million, respectively.

“The Masulog Communal Irrigation System and Extension Project in Canlaon City will cost P75 million,” Cordon added.

Cordon noted that these proposed irrigation projects for Negros Oriental can contribute greatly to spur agricultural production and self-sufficiency in cereal and food security in the province.

According to Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo, these infrastructure and irrigation projects were included in its 2011-2016 provincial development and investment plan.

DTI to promote food-oriented treaties in NegOr

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) here is spearheading an information campaign to publicize the new free trade agreements (FTAs) benefitting the food industry in the country.

DTI is launching the campaign here together with the Trade Commission and in partnership with Silliman University’s (SU) Nutrition and Dietetics Department.

Kicking off the campaign dubbed “Doing Business in Free Trade Areas” is a presentation on April 18 at SU’s Instructional Media and Technological Center.

The discussion will center on food-related opportunities and include notes on market opportunities and products with zero or reduced tariffs while attempting to give a larger picture of the impact of the FTAs on local trade and commerce.

It will also highlight the 2011-2013 Philippine Export Development Plan.

The following day, a session with owners of local establishments and other professionals will take place to explain the FTAs to them more comprehensively.

There are currently seven newly implemented FTAs: Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA), Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area (AFTA), and five ASEAN Regional FTAs with China, Japan, Korea, Australia-New Zealand and India.

Countries like the Philippines enter into FTAs with other countries as a means to promote trade and investment flows, penetrate international markets while offering enormous trade opportunities for exporters of various goods and services.

DTI noted last year the low level of awareness among exporters of trade opportunities under the country’s various FTAs.

“Understanding emerging and new markets and its instruments such as FTAs will help exporters address new challenges in the global business environment,” Trade and Industry Sec. Gregorio Domingo said in an earlier report that appeared in Manila Bulletin.

He also noted in the same report that export companies have not fully utilized the FTAs ‘because businessmen are not properly informed of the business opportunities that the country has gained from our FTA.”

Girl, 7, helps storm, quake victims by collecting toys

If a seven-year-old girl can make a huge difference in the lives of others, all of us can, too.

Bronte Henfling, an Australian who visited the Philippines with her parents last month, took a phone video of herself asking for 1,000 toys for children who were affected by tropical storm Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.

“Please send us your toys and plushies, even old ones that you don’t want anymore. The kids here need them,” she said in the two-minute video, which was played in classrooms in Australia.

A lot of Australians responded to her plea.

Although her father worked in the production of Hollywood movie “The Bourne Legacy,” Henfling did not use big media for her cause.

Meg, her mother, uploaded her short clip on YouTube to reach more people. Within days, over 5,000 toys were collected.

And when an earthquake hit Negros Oriental in February, the little girl again distributed toys to children in Guihulnan, where a sitio had been destroyed and very little aid had been getting through.

Companies here in the Philippines gave their support to Henfling’s cause. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Manila helped collect the toys, LBC sent hundreds of boxes to Cagayan and Iligan, while Cebu Pacific provided air transportation.

Government agencies pitched in, too. The Philippine Coast Guard and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for instance, lent vehicles and other resources.

It is still uncanny as to how a little girl could set this mission in motion. How did Henfling get the companies, government agencies and non-government organizations to cooperate?

For once, emergency and relief took on a human face. It was when Henfling said: “It isn’t right for children to lose their toys, and suffer these floods and earthquakes.”

If you don’t believe in angels, you may just have to meet this girl.

Negrense receives award for environment conservation

DUMAGUETE CITY- An environmentalist Negrense received a cash prize of P440,000 to build a dream of endemic tree nursery in Central Visayas.

Rene “Tatay Ete” Vendiola of Bacong, Negros Oriental has been rewarded for his effort in biodiversity conservation and forestation with the Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual during the 5th Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) Triennial Awards in March this year at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Vendiola is a high school dropout and former kaingin farmer from Bacong but managed to set up a Liptong Woodland that preserves local fauna and species of plants and native trees.

Vendiola was also proud to accept a trophy being the least with educational attainment among the awardees for preserving the environment. It is his passion and love for nature that earned him the judges' respect.

For Vendiola, he was not competing with the other four finalists—two priests, a peace promoter in Mindanao, and a former Boy Scout master.

“Ang RAFI nangita og tukog sa lukay nga hugpungon aron mahimong silhig. Gihimo mi sa RAFI og silhig. Sa among pagkasilhig, kami ang mogamit sa among nahibaw-an aron makatabang sa atong komunidad (RAFI is looking for ribs out of coconut leaves so that when grouped together, they form a broom. We the finalists are formed by RAFI into a ‘broom’ so that together, we can use our knowledge and help our community),” he said.

Vendiola shared over Pagtuki radio program last week that when he was declared awardee of the RAFI Triennial Awards for the individual category, he felt like crying because it was his first time to get an award.

On the other hand, the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) bagged the recognition as the Eduardo Aboitiz Awardee for Outstanding Institution for its efforts to uplift the lives of many women.

NWTF, an organization that provides capital to poor women to start in small-scale business, has been providing livelihood opportunities through its program called “Project Dungganon” (dungganon is Hilagaynon for honorable).

Its executive director, Cecilia del Castillo, was sent to India to learn the Grameen Credit system, on which the program is based.

“We did not publicize our work. We just did our jobs. The people we helped are those who have little opportunities in life. They are the ones who really need our help,” said Manuel Margate, NWTF client service department manager.

He said NWTF will use the P440T cash prize to expand and improve Project Dungganon so that the organization can uplift the lives of more poor people.

The RAFI Triennial Awards was launched in Dec. 6, 1996 during the 39th anniversary of the foundation to commemorate the philanthropic, humanitarian, and holistic ideals of RAFI founders Don Ramon Aboitiz and his son Don Eduardo Aboitiz.

The awards program is now on its 15th year this year, which is also RAFI's 45th year.

It is one of the awards capabilities of RAFI, recognizing individuals and institutions that go the extra mile in bringing about positive change and in uplifting the quality of life of communities.

No Merrymaking

DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental— Tanjay, Negros Oriental will trim down its fiesta celebration this year in deference to Holy Week. Tanjay City’s 11th Charter Day this year falls during Holy Week. Charter day celebration chairman, city councilor Uldarico Ramirez, said the the fiesta has been toned down because of Holy Week.

“We decided to set aside the usual revelries and focus only on the needed, traditional programs,” said Ramirez. The fiesta kicked off last April 1 with a Thanksgiving Mass followed by Tanjay City Mayor Lawrence Teves’ State of the City Address (SOCA) and a civic parade around the city.

Negrense renamed youth ambassador in Australia

NEGROS ORIENTAL- For the second time, a proud Negrense and an alumnus of Silliman University was re-appointed recently as Brisbane International Student Ambassador this year.

Xavier Tilos Villagonzalo, 27, was appointed as Ambassador along with 27 other international students from 23 countries one year after he was first chosen by former Lord Mayor, now Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman.

The Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who announced the new representatives this year at an official ceremony, said that Brisbane’s international student ambassador program is part of a wider strategy outlined in his Economic Development Plan 2012 – 2031, to deliver a first rate experience for international students and empower them to become strong advocates of the city and promote Brisbane to the world.

This year’s program includes students age between 22 and 42, from some of Brisbane’s largest source markets, including China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Croatia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam.

They are studying a range of courses including business, nursing, engineering, journalism and medicine at educational institutions across Brisbane.

Quirk said “International education is our largest export industry and these keen, enthusiastic students are ideally placed to promote Brisbane as a leading international student destination in their home countries.”

“Many will return to their home cities where they may become leaders in industry and government in the future, creating strong, long-term global connections for Brisbane. They also enrich our cultural diversity and play a vital role in demonstrating how vibrant and multicultural Brisbane is,” said Quirk.

Villagonzalo, who was one of only five continuing ambassadors from the 2011 program, said in his first appointment last year, “It’s never a good excuse to mess up your life because you come from a broken family or you’re parents have passed away. All the more reasons that you need to twist the fate of your life to your advantage.”

Orphaned at an early age in Dumaguete, he struggled in life as his mother died in an accident involving a passenger jeepney which fell off the cliff of Bondo, Siaton in 1994, when he was at the age of 9, and his father died in diabetes complications.

A former youth volunteer of the Diocese of Dumaguete (Commission on Youth), Villagonzalo finished his Bachelor of Mass Communication degree in 2006 at Silliman with a YMCA Outstanding Student Award of Negros Oriental in the same year.

He also served as chairperson of the Silliman University Corps of Campus Ambassadors for two consecutive years 2004-2006.

As part of his role, he will be using a variety of tools to communicate his real life experiences, such as Facebook, Twitter, and regular blogs on their ambassador profiles at www.studybrisbane.com.

Some of the formal activities will include media interviews, official visiting delegations to Brisbane and hosting media familiarization tours.

At the same time, he is expected to graduate his Bachelor of Information Technology degree this year at Queensland University of Technology.

Deiter Dizon, an alumnus of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños joined Villagonzalo in the ambassadorial role last year but only the Negrense got the appointment this year.

The Chamber of Commerce & Industry Australia-Philippines supported the student ambassadors’ initiative, through the Filipino Students in Brisbane (an organization founded by Villagonzalo and Dizon), to help the victims of both Typhoon Sendong and the earthquake that hit the province of Negros Oriental.

Rev. Msgr. Julius Heruela sent Villagonzalo a message through Facebook saying, “We received the box with clothes and foot wears. Thank you so much for your concern and generosity to the victims of floods and earthquake. This will go a long way. May the Good Lord bless you and the Filipino students in Australia.”

LGUs to craft agricultural development roadmap

DUMAGUETE CITY- The provincial government and each of the municipalities in Negros Oriental will soon have its own roadmap for agricultural development following a recent workshop held by the Department of Agriculture in Region 7 for agricultural technologists (ATs).

The workshop taught the technologists coming from the towns' local government units (LGUs) here how to craft an agricultural roadmap that will identify the rice, corn, and high-value crops, livestock and other agricultural data such as production yield in their areas.

“The rationale behind this municipal road map is to consolidate all agricultural development plan initiatives of the municipalities into our provincial commodity program road map,” said Nittz Bangay, information officer of the Provincial Agricultural Office here.

The activity will likewise enhance the AT’s knowledge on the agricultural data of their respective areas.

Bangay said the road map will also show an area’s commodity self-sufficiency, profitability and productive in the agricultural sector.

“It will also provide an opportunity for the LGU to implement interventions, strategies and funding mechanisms to attain their production goals,” she added.

DAR to ink ARC connectivity agreement with state university

DUMAGUETE CITY- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) here is set to ink a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU) in Dumaguete City to roll out a program that will improve production yield among agrarian reform beneficiaries.

The MOA signing for the implementation of the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) will be led by DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Jeffrey Pacturan and NORSU President Dr. Henry Sojor on April 2, 2012 at 1:30 p.m at the university main campus here.

ARCCESS is DAR’s project that aims to transform agrarian reform beneficiaries in a community into viable entrepreneurs by providing them the support services needed to increase their net income and farming capabilities, said Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer II Stephen Leonidas in a statement.

Under the inter-sectoral partnership, NORSU will deliver the agricultural and agribusiness instruction, research and extension activities to the beneficiaries in the province.

DAR, on the other hand, will provide the shared common facilities such as farm implements and other production and processing equipment and machineries to the organized agri-enterprise groups.

Local DAR Information Officer Aileen Alaban-Villaseca quoted DAR Secretary delos Reyes as saying that through ARCCESS, the agrarian department will teach agricultural technology and business development to farmer organizations nationwide.

This will also help reduce inefficient agri-production.

DAR Information Officer Aileen Alaban said the program is being implemented nationwide in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

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