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List of Municipalities in the Albay Province within Region V(Bicol) in the Republic of The Philippines
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How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
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Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
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80K Albayanos evacuate; classes suspended ahead of TD 'Amang'

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) has ordered mandatory evacuation of a total of 80,234 residents in flood and landslide-prone areas as Tropical Depression Amang is expected to bring heavy torrential rains Sunday night.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara has likewise suspended tomorrow's classes in all levels in public and private schools as a disaster preemptive measure.

Cedric Daep, Albay Public Safety and Emergency Office (APSEMO) chief, told the Philippine News Agency in a telephone interview that the mandatory evacuation order signed by Bichara took effect at 9 a.m.

He said the PDRRMO advisory directed all 18 town and city disaster councils to be on alert and execute mandatory evacuation of residents in villages threatened by flooding and landslides.

APSEMO data indicate that areas always hit by flooding and landslide are the cities of Legazpi, Tabaco and Ligao, and towns of Tiwi, Malinao, Bacacay Polangui, Libon, and Manito.

Moreover, 242 villages are flood-prone areas while 99 villages are landslide areas.

The mandatory evacuation affected 58,614 families in flood-endangered villages and 21,620 in landslide-threatened villages.

Daep said heavy torrential rains are expected to hit the province until Monday.

Asked about the threats of lahar flow, Daep said the dangers would depend on the rainfall threshold which is 40mm per hour.

“Once the threshold has reached 40mm, evacuation would be declared,” he said.

Daep cited that on Saturday in Guinobatan town, the MDRRMO enforced mandatory evacuation to hundreds of families living near river channels along the slopes of Mayon Volcano.

Batocabe widow replaces slain husband in mayoral race

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

DARAGA, Albay -- Gertie Batocabe, the wife of the late Ako Bicol Party List Rep. Rodel Batocabe, has been named the official replacement of her slain husband in the upcoming mayoral race here, Dennis Batocabe, the solon’s older brother, said.

Batocabe, in an interview on Thursday, said their family decided to field Gertie as the official candidate to take the place of her husband, who was gunned down during a gift-giving event in Barangay Burgos in a remote village here last December 22.

“We will officially declare her (Gertie) as the replacement soon after she arrives home in time for the 40th day after the death of her husband,” he said.

Batocabe, when asked how the replacement process would affect the upcoming local election, said, “A vote for Rodel or Batocabe will be a vote for Gertie. Anybody who votes in the name of Rodel would be counted”.

He said they would coordinate with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for further guidance on what election-related policies and measures should be followed.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has placed this town under its control, considering its unstable peace and order situation due to intense political rivalries that could affect the conduct of the May 13 national and local elections.

The move is to ensure public safety during the balloting, the poll body said.

Romeo Serrano, Comelec Assistant Director and Albay Provincial Election Supervisor, on Wednesday said the Comelec en banc issued Resolution 10479 on January 15 after taking into account the recommendation of Comelec-Bicol to place the town under its control.

Daraga town, Cotabato City now under Comelec control

By Ferdinand Patinio (PNA)

MANILA -- The municipality of Daraga, Albay and Cotabato City have been placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“Comelec control has been declared over the municipality of Daraga, Albay and the City of Cotabato,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement Tuesday.

He noted that this was stated in a poll en banc resolution which takes effect immediately.

“In both cases, Comelec control shall be effective immediately upon publication of the Resolution, and shall last until the end of the election period,” Jimenez added.

The election period for the May 13 midterm elections started on January 13 and will run until June 12.

Under the law, the Comelec may place any political subdivision under its immediate and direct control and supervision if, among other things, there is a history of - or current - intense political rivalry among contending parties, as such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent acts.

Once an area is placed under Comelec control, the poll body will immediately take control over all national and local officials in the affected place.

The poll body will also exercise full control and supervision over all national and local law enforcement agencies, as well as military personnel assigned or deployed in that area.

DOLE allots P10-M for emergency employment of 'Usman' victims

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 5 (Bicol) has allocated PHP10 million for the emergency employment of workers displaced by Tropical Depression Usman, which caused massive landslides in several parts of the region last December 29-30.

“The amount is intended to provide around 3,000 affected and displaced workers and their families with immediate short-term income support under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD),” DOLE-5 director, Alvin Villamor, said Tuesday.

Under the TUPAD program, the beneficiaries will be provided emergency employment in the form of community work with a minimum salary of PHP305 a day for 15 days.

DOLE-5 has been conducting a rapid profiling of displaced workers in the affected provinces, with Sagñay in Camarines Sur and Tiwi in Albay as priority areas because these were hit by landslides and floods caused by "Usman".

“These affected workers are mostly farmers and farm workers who reside near the slopes of the mountainous areas of Sagñay, Camarines Sur and Tiwi, Albay, which really need immediate assistance, by giving them temporary employment while still coping with the devastation brought by TD Usman,” Villamor added.

He also said they are looking into the possibility of providing regular livelihood to the families of displaced workers through the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) to help them recover from the damages caused by the typhoon.

“We are ready to augment assistance through emergency employment from the regular TUPAD fund to those families affected by the calamity that may fall short from the list of priority worker-victims,” Villamor said.

In addition, the families of active OFWs affected by the calamity will be provided with PHP3,000 worth of assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) while PHP1,500 will be given to the families of inactive OFWs.

“DOLE is here to aid the affected families, but we cannot do it alone. We have to do this through convergence with the local government units, government agencies, private sectors and cooperation of the people,” he said.

Hands on! Albay Gov. Bichara leads relief ops, medical mission in Usman-hit Tiwi town

(Politiko Bicol)

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara personally led the relief operations in Tiwi town, one of the hardest hit areas by tropical depression Usman.

The Provincial Government of Albay hold yesterday a simultaneous relief and medical mission in three venues in the Municipality of Tiwi.

The first of the three venues visited was the Naga National High School, which xurrently houses approximately 200 families.

“Governor Bichara ordered the immediate mobilization of a team to construct temporary relocation houses for the affected families so that students in the evacuation center will not be further disrupted,” the provincial government said.

The next venue visited by Bichara was the Barangay Sogod.

The Governor said that they are now looking for permanent relocation sites for residents of the areas where the landslides occurred.

“We have found out that there are deep cracks in the mountains already, it is not safe for you to live there anymore, we will find land and build houses for you, your safety is our priority,” Bichara was quoted as saying.

The third venue visited was the Barangay Joroan at the famous Joroan Church where the operations were held at the church grounds.

“Hundreds of residents from surrounding barangays flocked to the venue to avail of the services being offered for free,” said the provincial government.

“Governor Bichara proceeded to make ocular inspections of areas damaged by the landslides and flooding along the highway and at Barangay Joroan, and also at Barangay Putsan were the proposed relocation site is located,” it dded.

The PGA Team was composed of a good number of medical and dental staff, social workers, members of Youth Organizations, and workers from various other departments.

NGCP sends relief packs to TD Usman affected families in Tiwi

By Jam Madrid (JRM-PIA5/Camarines Sur)

TIWI, Albay, Jan. 10 (PIA) – As a response to communities affected by Tropical Depression (TD) Usman, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) turned-over 350 relief packs to the affected families of this town, Tuesday, Jan. 8.

“This is a simple gesture of giving back to communities hosting our transmission facilities. Sana po makatulong ang NGCP sa immediate needs ng mga evacuee,” NGCP Regional Communications and Public Affairs Officer Nilda E. Somera said.

The municipality of Tiwi, one of the hardest hit by TD ‘Usman’ is host to NGCP’s Tiwi Substation, Naga-Tiwi 280 KV line to Plant A, and Naga-Tiwi 230 KV line to Plant C.

Somera, together with NGCP’s Transmission Line Chief Engineer Virgilio Rojo and NGCP Substation Head Charles Bilangel personally turned-over the relief packs to Tiwi Mayor Jaime Villanueva at the town’s municipal hall.

TD Usman left the town with 15 casualties, 18 injured and 6 missing due to flashfloods, affecting 4,835 households with 248 families or 951 individuals in evacuation centers located at Naga National High School.

“This is the first time that we encountered casualties. During the typhoons Reming and Nina which were considered category 5 typhoons with Tiwi as its center, we were zero casualty,” Villanueva narrated.

“I want to thank NGCP for this big help to my constituents. The relief packs will be of great help especially for those evacuees who have to stay here longer due to the fissures in their locality,” the Mayor added.

The relief pack consists of 3 kilos of rice, 3 corned tuna, choco powder drinks, 3 bottled water, a blanket, slipper, T-shirt, underwear, sanitary napkin, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, disposable cup, first aid kit, flash light with batteries and a safety tip IEC material inside the plastic pack.

Earlier, NGCP also distributed same relief packs to two (2) barangays in Buhi town which were affected by massive flooding.

Albay upgrades landslide warning criteria

By Niño Luces

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – The Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) has upgraded warning criteria for landslides following the massive landslide brought by Tropical Depression “Usman” in Tiwi town that killed 18 people and injured 18.

APSEMO chief, Dr. Cedric Daep, told Manila Bulletin they have lowered the threshold of the landslide warning based on the latest experience when the tail-end of a cold front (TECF) battered Bicol last December.

Daep said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) recorded the rainfall on Dec. 28 at 221.8 millimeters, and 215.15 mm on Dec. 29, that caused landslide in Tiwi.

“So for two days, a total of 437.2 mm rainfall recorded and that is equivalent 84 percent of monthly rainfall. The average is 520.2-mm for one month,” he said.

From now on, once Pagasa records 130 mm to 150 mm rainfall, residents in high-risk areas to landslide will be evacuated, Daep said. The previous evacuation threshold was 180 mm to 240 mm.

“Pinagaralan to based on physical characteristics and soil water saturation sa nangyari noong bago mag-Bagong Taon,” Daep said.

PIA confab calls for energy efficiency, conservation in Albay

(PIA-5, Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – At least 200 energy consumers from various sectors in Albay participated in the E-Power Mo learning session on energy efficiency and conservation conducted by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) at the Ayala Malls Activity Center here.

The learning session was one of the highlights of the International Year of the Reef celebration spearheaded by the Albay Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Sally A. Altea, PIA manager for Albay, said the learning session sought to promote awareness on saving and avoiding cost on electricity and its impact to the environment especially to the coral ecosystem.

“Efficient management and conservation of our energy consumption is one of the most practical ways not only in helping the environment, particularly our coral ecosystem, but saving on our electric bills as well,” Altea said.

She also considered the learning session as an opportunity to gather and strengthen participant’s support to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) goal of empowering energy partners and consumers in efficiently managing and handling their energy supply and resources.

Timothy Cañete, DOE E-Power Mo’s focal person for the Bicol region, discussed the effect of energy production and consumption on the environment, stressing on the importance of coral reefs to both marine and terrestrial environments.

“Aside from aiding in the diversification of marine life in the reefs, corals also suppress the effects of natural disasters such as tsunamis to the terrestrial environments. Thus, it is crucial to exhaust effort in order to protect the coral reefs and that includes efficient management of our energy supplies to avoid hazards in our coral ecosystems,” he said.

Altea, also one of the learning session speakers, zeroed in on how to efficiently manage and conserve energy consumption as one of the most practical ways not only in helping the environment but saving on electric bills as well.

“By lowering the consumption of energy, there will be a significant reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. It is of big help not only to the environment, but also saves us sums of money by reducing our electric bills,” she said.

The learning session was part of the E-Power Mo partnership campaign of the PIA and DOE meant for developing and utilizing energy resources for Filipinos and undertake safety and saving measures through energy efficiency.

The campaign also sought to secure the delivery of quality, reliable and affordable energy services and empower consumers through a wide range of options in utilizing conventional, renewable and alternative energy sources.

Lion’s share of infra funds from DPWH goes to Albay

By Maricel Cruz

Among the Bicol provinces, Albay got the lion’s share of infrastructure funds from the Department of Public Works and Highways, contrary to a lawmaker’s claim.

Albay had the highest allocation at P11.2 billion, official documents from the DPWH showed.

Sorsogon only came in second at P10.5 billion, closely followed by Camarines Sur at P10.2 billion, Masbate at P4.5 billion, Camarines Norte at P3.3 billion, and Catanduanes at P2.5 billion.

Documents also showed that other areas got bigger infrastructure funding than Casiguran, indicating that the municipality was not given any special treatment.

Earlier, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. questioned the P325.11-million­ allocation for flood management programs in Casiguran alone as well as the P10-billion infrastructure funding for Sorsogon.

Andaya claimed the municipality cornered the funding through the clout of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. Casiguran Mayor Edwin Hamor and Vice Gov. Ester Hamor are the parents-in-law of Diokno’s daughter. Maricel V. Cruz

The amount in question for Casiguran actually covers five projects, namely the construction and rehabilitation of the Himaoyan flood control (P75 million), the Lungib seawall and embankment (P80.11 million), the Somal-ot seawall and embankment (P100 million), the Cagpagol river control (P45 million), and the Suji river control (P25 million).

In Andaya’s own hometown, the 1st district of Camarines Sur, P771.82 million was allocated for road widening projects for five primary roads and one tertiary road.

In the second district of Camarines Sur, for flood management projects similar to those in Casiguran, the area was allocated P858 million for the construction and rehabilitation of various flood mitigation structures.

Albay’s second district also had a funding allocation of P768 million while its special support program that covers projects aimed at promoting tourism destinations and economic zones got P665.48 million.

Road widening projects in Masbate’s third district, on the other hand, was allocated P481.7 million while flood management projects in Camarines Norte’s second district received P488.65 million.

Earlier, Malacanang took up the cudgels for Diokno amid the incessant attacks from Andaya and other lawmakers.

Declare landslide-hit Albay roads as no-build zones– expert

By Mavic Conde (

Temporarily declaring the roads as no-build zones would keep residents from rebuilding their homes near the area, and pave the way for interventions to stabilize and protect the mountain slope

ALBAY, Philippines – A retired engineer and resident of one of the towns hit hard by Tropical Depression Usman called on local officials to temporarily declare roads hit by landslides as no-build zones.

“Until the mountain sides have been stabilized, slopes and roads carriageway have been protected, bridges have been rebuilt and water lines have been restored, the road sections of Barangay Sogod in Tiwi town to Barangay Patitinan in Sagñay, Camarines Sur, must be declared a no-build zone,” said former engineer Abdon Balde Jr.

Balde said this will prevent residents from rebuilding their homes in the same areas, and also prevent further disturbances of the mountainside in relation to the road widening program of Department of Philippine Works and Highway (DPWH) to make the road compatible with the Asian Highway Network (AH26).

“When the two-lane roads were widened to 4 lanes, the mountainside was disturbed, some even mined for gravel base course to be used as foundation for the additional two lanes. What was lacking was the stabilization program for the newly exposed mountainside,” he said.

“The no-build zone may be lifted after the mountain slope protection and stabilization have been completed,” he added.

Balde has experience in managing major projects, including the construction of an international airport in Nepal, the rehabilitation of the Mactan International Airport runway and te construction of 100 kilometers of roads and 18 bridges from General Santos to Malisbog in Mindanao, among others.

“Other countries apply soil nailing where bores are drilled into the sides and with high-pressure injection, fast-curing and high-strength concrete pushed into the subsurface until the buried rocks are interconnected by concrete,” he said.

"Unfortunately, the DPWH may still not have the technology,” Balde added.

Tiwi Mayor Jaime Villanueva agreed that the no-build zone is a must for affected areas, but noted a primary consideration in assessing the proposal. “I agree, although we have to factor in that it is the only National Road to Patitinan in Camarines, Sur,” he said.

Road widening, man-made factors

Retired geologist Chris Newhall, who is very familiar with the nature of the affected location, believed that road-widening contributed to some of the landslides that happened near the project.

“Those that occurred right along highways, especially where there were deep road cuts, had the added factor of road construction,” he said.

Newhall added, however, that “landslides that occurred far away from roads cannot be blamed on road widening."

For him, there’s no single culprit in landslides so one should not oversimplify.

“If you look at pictures of the recent slides in Tiwi and Sagñay, and think about their timing, clearly the two biggest factors – both natural– are heavy rainfall and naturally steep slopes,” he said.

He explained further that there can be 6 factors in landslides of this type:

  1. Steep slopes. In the case of Tiwi-Sagñay, volcanic mountains are being undercut (over a period of a century or longer) at the base by wave erosion along the coast, and by stream erosion that makes the deep valleys and slopes facing inward toward the streams.
  2. Any human activity that make slopes steeper, such as road widening. There are some engineering measures that can help stabilize slopes, but aren’t always effective and add cost.
  3. The nature of rock and soil cover. At least some of the rocks in Tiwi-Sagñay area were formed from lava that got fractured as the old :lava flows came to a halt. The nice "flat stones" of the area – popular for landscaping – were formed in this way.
  4. Heavy rainfall. It soaks the ground and adds weight to the mass of soil and rock, and also lubricates any potential slip planes.
  5. Any other activity that decreases the strength of the soil and rock such as deforestation.
  6. Strong earthquake. There was no earthquake in this recent case – just rain.

Newhall recommended that every province should have a geologist since not every small town can afford to have one.

He said the provincial covernment would be a bridge between local government units and geologists and engineers from national agencies such as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the Department of Public Workds and Highways, "and would in concept already have the ear of mayors and governors.”

“I’ve seen this work well in other countries, translating information from general overviews to site specific advice. It’s far better to have this kind of advice right when any home or road construction is being considered, rather than having this kind of advice after a disaster and probably forgotten before the next one occurs," Newhall added.

Long-term solution

The Tiwi municipal government saw relocation as long-term solution.

“We are eyeing the former National Power Corporation housing in Barangay Putsan for the relocation site. It has already a road network and can accommodate 700 households” Villanueva said.

Of the 1500 to 1800 households that must be relocated, those from barangays Maynonong and Dapdap are the most at risk.

“We have to [immediately] relocate 90% of the residents in Maynonong because there is a crack in the slop,e” said Villanueva.

Currently, affected families from the uplands are in Naga National High School for evacuation.

“The LGU will request to Power Sector and Liabilities Management the owner of the property, to donate it to Tiwi,” he added.

Villanueva said he planned to present this plan to President Rodrigo Duterte, who was scheduled to visit Sagñay town in Camarines Sur. The town suffered the highest death toll in Bicol region due to Tropical Depression Usman.

DENR exec lectures Albay governor on existence of geohazard map of province

By Jonathan Vicente (/jpv)

MANILA, Philippines–An official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday criticized Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara for his ignorance on the existence of geohazard maps given by the department to the Albay provincial government regarding landslide-prone areas.

“As far as DENR is concerned, we have issued geohazard maps to Albay as early as 2017, addressed to the Albay Public Safety office,” Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, DENR spokesperson, said.

This development came after Bichara put the blame on DENR regarding the landslide-prone areas in Albay, saying the department did not inform the public about the condition of soil in certain areas that were devastated recently by landslides brought about by tropical depression “Usman.”

“Don’t blame us, the DENR should remind communities about tolerance of soil to absorb water,” Bichara said in a television interview.

The Albay governor claimed that residents in Albay did not have appropriate information on how certain soil are prone to landslides.

The DENR, however, belied Bichara’s claims saying the department has updated its geohazad mapping in the region and, in fact, furnished the Albay provincial government with a copy of such geohazard map as early as April of 2017.

Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, DENR spokesperson, said that on April 20, 2017, the DENR regional office in Albay furnished the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office with a detailed map of the river system in Albay province and enclosed with it a CD containing a digital copy of the “1:10,000 scale flood hazard map of Albay province with rivers, roads and barangay locations.”

Antiporda said it is very unfair for Bichara to point the accusing finger on the DENR regarding the recent calamity that hit the Bicol region.

“Maybe it’s about time for the honorable provincial governor to review their coordination system in the provincial capitol rather than pointing their finger at the national government,” Antiporda said in an interview with

Antiporda advised all the provincial governments and local government units to seriously consider the importance of the geohazard maps the DENR is issuing because this type of data could help them plan ahead and save the lives of their constituents.

DA allots P3.4-B aid for calamity-hit farmers in 2019

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LIBON, Albay -- Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on Thursday that the agency has earmarked PHP3.4 billion this year in financial assistance to be given to farmers affected by calamities.

He said thousands of farmers, whose agricultural crops were destroyed by flooding and landslides spawned by heavy rains brought by Tropical Depression Usman, would be given financial assistance by the agency.

Piñol said some 28,714 farmers tilling 12,000 hectares of agricultural land that were totally destroyed by the floods and landslide that hit Bicol would benefit from the PHP25,000 soft loan assistance and the PHP5,000 aid under the Survival and Recovery Assistance Program (SURE) of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Aside from this financial assistance, rice farmers would be given free seeds to replace their agriculture produce destroyed by floods and landslides.

Piñol held a farmers’ forum dubbed "Biyaheng Bukid Tapatan: Gobierno at Mamamayan” at the Libon town Gymnasium where he turned over PHP3.2 million worth of farm materials and agriculture machinery to 1,000 members of organized farmers group in said town.

Emilia Bordado, DA Bicol spokesperson, said the initial losses to agriculture due to Usman was placed at PHP596.3 million.

Bordado said Usman triggered floods and landslide, which affected 31,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Bicol. Of this figure 12,000 hectares were totally destroyed and 19,000 hectares partially destroyed with a chance of recovery.

The report said the rice sector incurred the biggest losses with PHP514 million or 16,331 metric tons of palay, followed by corn with PHP27.5 million, high-value crops with PHP40 million, livestock with PHP12.7 million and fisheries with PHP871,050.

Albay, Camarines Sur schools closed until January 4

By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines — Classes in Naga City and the provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur are suspended until Friday in light of the devastation brought by Tropical Depression Usman.

Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said the suspension will allow the cleaning and preparation of classrooms that were affected by the floods that hit the province.

This is also in consideration of the teachers and students affected by the heavy downpour last week, he said.

Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte said the province-wide suspension of classes would give families more time to recover.

The province is currently under state of calamity.

Meanwhile, Naga City Mayor John Bongat said there are barangays still flooded due to “abnormally” high water levels in Bicol and Naga rivers.

“Reports have also reached this office of the massive flooding and damage caused by Typhoon Usman to neighboring municipalities which will make it difficult for students residing in those communities to attend classes in schools located in Naga City,” he added.

The school division of Sorsogon said school heads in affected areas may suspend classes after prior consultation with and concurrence of local officials.

School personnel, including both teaching and non-teaching staff, are required to report for work today.

Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the resumption of classes will push through unless suspension was declared by local officials.

“Respective school division offices that are directly affected by Usman have the discretion to suspend classes if needed. They need to closely coordinate with local disaster units and respective DepEd regional offices,” she said.

SK official, residents of Usman-hit Albay towns seek aid

By Mavic Conde (

ALBAY, Philippines – A Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) official of Tiwi town in this province on Tuesday, January 1, requested help for her village – one of those severely affected in Usman-hit Bicol region.

“The recent calamity has hit our barangay and caused destruction of properties and loss of lives due to landslides and unexpected floodings,” said Bariis SK Chairman Judy Ann Coderis.

Coderis said she is seeking help on behalf of affected residents for help in meeting basic needs, including clean and potable water, food, clothing, medicine. and hygiene kits.

“Many have lost their houses, properties, and even loved ones. Most of the houses were flooded and left with massive amount of mud. As of the moment, there are still 3 persons missing,” she added.

According to carangay captain Jaime Convencido, at least 5 families from 16 washed-out households are staying at the barangay’s multi-purpose hall.

Among them is John Onday, who tried to save some of their belongings but was unsuccessful.

“I stayed home to secure our things while my parents and siblings took refuge in a safer place. But everything was ruined,” John said.

Some found refuge in their relatives’ homes in Bariis.

Thankful for any help

The affected residents received their first relief goods Monday night, January 1, when the road was cleared.

According to Shiela Magat-Basbas, a personality-and-skills-development teacher to some of the affected residents, the people are grateful for any help provided, especially food.

“At least daw may pandagdag sila sa pagkain ngayon (At least they have additional food for today.),” she relayed.

The search and retrieval operations for 3 missing persons started at 12 pm today, or 3 days since they went missing.

Two days earlier, netizens called the attention of the Tiwi government for the lack of rescue teams in Bariis, where missing persons had beenreported.

Elementary school teacher Joem Periña, a Bariis resident, took to Facebook to air his observations on the events.

Periña wrote: “Wara pang nakakalaog na rescuers sa Bariis and Maynonong areas kun sain may reported na mga missing. Wara pang ayuda na nag aabot.... Habang naghahaloy, nagsasadit an pag-asa kan mga pamilya kaini na makua pang buhay an mga nawawara.”

(There are still no rescuers in Bariis and Maynonong where there have been reported missing. There are no help [of any kind yet.] The longer the family of missing persons wait, the slimmer their chance of finding them alive.)

Tiwi Vice Mayor David Beato said the delay was due to the road blockage. “The road beyond barangay Sugod was unpassable at the time, he said.

Netizens suggested ways to get to the isolated villages. Periña suggested a boat ride.

When Beato was asked about this, he said: “We have a Coast Guard stationed near a coastal area, waiting for direction. It’s up to the person in charge.”

Coderis confirmed this. “We saw Coast Guards stationed somewhere near Sugod on our way to the town proper. But why they didn’t come to our barangay amidst our report for missing persons is also our question,” she said.

Diverting the flood flow

Meanwhile, in nearby Barangay Joroan, a known Albay pilgrim site, affected residents appealed to help to divert the flow of the flood away from their residential street.

“Nagmeeting na ang aming barangay officials at kailangan namin ng magpapahiram ng machineries to do this (Our barangay officials have conducted a meeting, and they said we need the help of those with heavy equipment to do this),” according to a resident whose house was affected by the flood.

“Puwede sana pansamantala sa palayan padaaanin kaysa dito sa residential area kaya lang ayaw ng may-ari (This flood could be diverted to that rice field but the owner won't allow it),” said another resident, Levi Camacho.

Bicol disaster execs blame climate change for deadly landslides

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The head of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol is blaming climate change for the disaster that recently struck the region, where 57 people died in landslides and flooding spawned by the low-pressure area (LPA) that has caused heavy rains here in the past two days.

“Zero-casualty is our constant goal, but there are situations beyond our control -- the unusually heavy rains caused by climate change,” OCD Regional Director Claudio Yucot said in a phone interview on Monday.

Yucot said there are disaster protocols being followed, such as warning, evacuation, and relief, but in the case of an LPA, aside from warning, there are no other disaster protocols to be carried out.

He said that after the local weather bureau downgraded the storm warning signal 1 to an "LPA accompanied by the tail end of the cold front (TECF)," people were not expecting that this would bring heavy rains that would trigger landslides and floods.

“We have disaster protocol when it comes to typhoons, storms; but there are none for LPA and TECF,” he said.

He even dismissed the report that members of various local disaster councils were on vacation mode and villagers were stubborn and refused to be evacuated because of the declaration that the tropical cyclone has been downgraded into an LPA.

Along with this, Yucot said he would propose to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Council to prepare disaster protocols for weather disturbances, such as LPA and TECF.

Meanwhile, Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Office, said areas hit by landslides in two villages in the town, where at least 12 people died, were not considered landslide-prone areas by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

He said the villages of Sugod and Lourdes in Tiwi have no history of landslides, except for Barangay Sugod, which is a flood-prone village.

In an interview, Daep said the high-risk areas for landslide are the barangays of Dapdap and Misibis in Tiwi.

Asked what possible factors that could contribute in failing to meet the province's “Zero Casualty Goal” policy, Daep said one is the complacent attitude of people in heeding the call to evacuate for reasons that it was only an LPA and TECF; second is because of the recent barangay elections, where newly designated barangay disaster officials were not yet trained to handle disaster operations.

Daep said the real culprit was the 437.1 mm rains that poured in Bicol in the past two days (Dec. 28 and 29). The rains breached by 84 percent the 520.2 mm of rainfall for the month of December, aside from the scattered rainfall on December 26 and 27.

He said heavy rainfall spawned by the LPA followed by the TECF have saturated the soil, causing floods and landslide in several towns and cities of the province.

Daep said rain and landslide gauges would not suffice to serve as an early warning, as the rainfall threshold for the month was exceeded in the past two days.

He dismissed reports that the province failed to warn residents, saying local officials had issued an advisory to local disaster councils, warning them of the possible occurrence of floods and landslide caused by heavy rainfall from the low-pressure area and the tail end of the cold front.

Latest casualty count indicates that the death toll due to landslide and floods continues to rise, as 57 villagers have died, 11 injured, and 11 still missing in Bicol, the OCD report said.

Camarines Sur has 23 dead, and one missing; followed by Albay with 15 dead, five injured and seven missing; Camarines Norte with six dead, one missing; Sorsogon with six dead, six injured and two missing; and Masbate with seven casualties.

DOH-5 to step up in condom use campaign vs HIV

By Casandra Balala (PIA-5)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA)—As it seeks to stop the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5) plans to do more in the promotion of use and distribution of condom.

“We can control HIV. The implementation of condom use program was the strategy of Thailand to prevent and lessen HIV cases,” Dr. Ernie Vera, DOH regional director for Bicol, said.

Vera said Thailand had an HIV epidemic before, but the Philippines’ neighboring country addressed the problem through the implementation of a condom use promotion strategy.

DOH data showed that from last January to September, Bicol reported 229 cases of HIV, a virus that infects cells of the immune system, making the patient vulnerable to infections, a condition called acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus can be detected 11 days after a person had a contact with a person with HIV.

Vera said condoms are free at rural health units. He appealed to local government units to enact an ordinance that supports the condom use program under RA 8504 or the Philippine HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act.

Condom use is intended not only for family planning, but also for disease prevention, he said. “Sadly, there is a low utilization of condom in the Philippines.”

Vera said DOH-5’s ABCDE campaign will give emphasis to condom distribution and use to reverse this underutilization. ABCDE stands for Abstinence; Be Mutually Faithful; Consistent use of Condom; Do not Abuse Alcohol or share needle; and Education—the safe sex practices espoused by DOH.

DOH statitics also reveal that the Philippines has 32 new HIV infections each day. The mounting number of new infections has been acute among men who have sex with men.

“Right now, DOH Bicol is engaging the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community to become part of the advocacy to prevent HIV,” Vera said.

Through several conventions, DOH welcomed the LGBT as its partners and advocates who could encourage their peers to undergo HIV tests, he added.

Mayon Volcano displays restiveness anew

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Mount Mayon in Albay spewed ash twice on Thursday morning, signifying that the volcano remains unstable, a Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) report said.

The blasts, which were of phreatic kind, were recorded at 8:17 a.m. followed by 8:25 a.m. Thursday.

Renato Solidum, Phivolcs director, said the explosions were triggered by a steam pressure that developed underneath the volcano’s vent.

He explained that when steam mixes with lava, it produces pressure that results in a phreatic eruption.

Solidum also noted Phivolcs instrument observed significant bulging around the mid-section of the volcano’s edifice.

He said, however, that the phreatic episode does not warrant the raising of Mayon’s alert status, thus, Alert Level 2 remains hoisted.

Solidum reiterated Phivolcs’ warning to the public to keep out of the six-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone.

Duterte to visit Batocabe’s wake

By Azer Parrocha (PNA)

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte is expected to visit the wake of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe in Daraga, Albay, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this confirmation in a text message to reporters, saying the President will be visiting Batocabe’s wake at 3 p.m.

“In my schedule, yes at 3:30 p.m. but that is always subject to change, but more likely than not, it's a go,” Panelo said.

Batocabe was shot by a still unidentified suspect around 3 p.m. on Dec. 22 while attending a gift-giving event for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Barangay Burgos in Daraga, Albay.

Batocabe was supposed to run for mayor of Daraga in next year’s mid-term elections.

Earlier, Palace assured that authorities are investigating Batocabe’s murder and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Philippine National Police has already created special investigation task group to probe the incident.

Army's 9ID in Bicol has new commander

  • Source:
  • Tuesday, December 25, 2018
By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Maj. Gen. Fernando Trinidad on Wednesday took over the reign of the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division (9ID), replacing Maj. Gen. Jesus Mananquil, who is retiring this month.

Capt. Joash Pramis, 9ID public affairs chief, said Thursday that Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto, Army commanding general, officiated the formal turnover rites at the 9ID headquarters in Pili, Camarines Sur.

Trinidad, before his new command assignment, was the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and considered as among the top military intelligence strategists.

Pramis, in a phone interview, said Trinidad is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Batch 1986, and his tour of duty includes being chief of the Army Civil-Military Office (CMO), commander of the 31st Army Battalion in Sipocot, Camarines Norte, and 903rd Army Brigade commander in Castilla, Sorsogon.

Trinidad said he would further intensify the government's campaign against insurgency and closely coordinate with various stakeholders in Bicol.

The 9ID with headquarters in Pili, Camarines Sur, has under its command three brigades operating in the provines of Albay, Camarines Norte, and Sorsogon.

Albay forum takes stock of benefits of SSS membership: ’Sulit!'

By Sally Atento-Altea (PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – For a monthly contribution of only P110, a Social Security System (SSS) member can get at least P20,000 lump sum cash benefit. On top of it, SSS pensions do not end with just one generation but often continue to their spouse and children.

“This is the concept of “sulit” that we want to emphasize in our membership campaigns,” Antonio Casimiro, acting branch manager of SSS in Legazpi, told participants in the Sulit Provincial Forum jointly organized by the branch and the Philippine Information Agency in Albay.

“Every peso contributed to SSS by members is made “sulit” by the over ten-fold worth of benefits that they get in return,” Casimiro said.

“We want our members to feel a deeper appreciation for the value of SSS membership. We need to show them the extensive impact of SSS membership and benefit programs on their lives and their beneficiaries,” he said.

He cited the long term benefits of the state-run pension fund such as pensions in which for 120 months or ten years of contributions, members and beneficiaries are guaranteed financial safety net for the rest of their lives.

The pension fund’s short-term benefits can provide subsidy for expenses in times of sickness, childbirth, or funerals.

Furthermore, as compared with standard private insurance, SSS membership has wider contingency coverage, lifetime coverage even in case of lapsation or failure to continue the contribution and with guaranteed fund reserve from the government.

“In SSS, there’s forever,” said Joyce M. Cabais, administrative section head of SSS in Tabaco City, who discussed one of the topics during the event.

She cited the funeral grant that can be availed of by members who have paid at least one-month contribution.

“A (SSS) member who has paid at least one monthly contribution can get up to 291 times in return for his death benefits and funeral grant. Members with at least one-time payment of the minimum P110 contribution can be qualified to avail themselves of up to P32,000 cash assistance,”

SSS members can pay contribution from P110 to P1, 760 depending on the declared range of compensation or monthly salary credit.

SSS contribution rate is pegged at 11 percent of the monthly salary credit ranging from P1,000 to P16,000. For employed members, 7.37 percent is shouldered by the employers and 3.63 percent, by the employee.

Self-employed, voluntary and OFW members shall pay at the total 11 percent depending on the declared salary credit. SSS contribution ranges from P 110 to P1,760.

Casimiro also called for public support to the passage of the SSS reform bill to address the pension inequity between SSS and GSIS and to give power to the SSS to adjust benefits and contributions based on actual studies.

Such steps would provide members with better financial standing upon retirement, he said.

“This is the direction that we would like SSS to go – to provide a comfortable retirement for private sector workers in the future. But we can only attain that if members save more with SSS – now, at the present,” he said.

Bicolano cage player gets drafted into PBA

(Bicol Standard)

LEGAZPI CITY (Bicol Standard) – A Bicolano is among those who got drafted into the Philippine Basketball Association earlier this week.

Jorey Napoles of Daraga, Albay, is also the first player from the Technological Institute of the Philippines to get drafted into the PBA.

He will play for Phoenix Fuel Masters, the PBA confirmed.

Called a “surprise pick”by local sports analysts, Napoles is said to be unlike the players from the UAAP and NCCA who are used to getting national attention.

Napoles is noted for his rebound and defense.

The other picks, meanwhile, include:

CJ Perez (Columbian Dyip)
Bobby Ray Parks (Blackwater Elite)
Robert Bolick Jr. (NorthPort Batang Pier)
Paul Desiderio (NLEX Road Warriors)
Trevis Jackson (Meralco Bolts)
Jayvee Mocon (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
Abu Tratter (NLEX Road Warriors)
Jayjay Alejandro (Rain or Shine Elasto Painters)
Jesper Ayaay (Alaska Aces)
Michael Calisaan (Magnolia Hotshots)
JP Calvo (Columbian Dyip)

Senate may hold parallel 'parking pork' probe

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY – Senator Cynthia Villar said on Monday the Senate could also hold a parallel probe on the “parking pork” scam issue, which involved billions of alleged funds insertion in the proposed 2019 budget.

Villar stressed, however, that the Senate would not want to preempt the outcome of the investigation being initiated by the Lower House. “We still don’t know and we are not part in the investigation so the Senate will have to wait for the House probe result,” she said.

The Senate probe could come later, Villar noted. “Let the House investigate on this, on how huge amount of funds were inserted allegedly by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).”

She said on the cue of Senator Panfilo Lacson, the Senate could conduct a similar investigation as soon as it receives the result of the investigation by the Lower House.

A probe by the upper chamber may be possibly set in January, Villar added.

The senator was guest during the Awarding Ceremony for the Outstanding Communal Vegetable Garden and Cleanest and Greenest Municipality at the Albay Astrodome here.

She said in an ambush interview, “We don’t want to comment about this issue, we leave this to the House of Congress for them to dig out how this practice happened and who is involved.”

Lacson recently exposed the “parking pork” to media, a new kickback scheme by lawmakers, where big amounts of funds are "parked" in a legislative district by well-connected congressmen.

He said the Senate, once it holds a probe, would scrutinize the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and ask officials to explain the alleged questionable budget insertions.

Albay town plans to build life-sized statue for Catriona Gray

By Rey Anthony Ostria (Correspondent) With reports from Mar S. Arguelles and Michael Jaucian (Inquirer Southern Luzon /ac)

OAS, Albay – In recognition and appreciation for bagging the country’s fourth crown in the Miss Universe pageant, the local government of Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray’s hometown Oas is planning to erect a life-sized statue of her in their People’s Park.

Gray, whose mother Normita Ragas Magnayon hails from this town, was announced the 67th Miss Universe, besting 93 other contestants Monday at the IMPACT Arena, Bangkok, Thailand.

On Monday, Albay residents’ eyes were glued to their television sets in all-out support for Gray as she made her way through the catwalk with her iconic “lava walk” and slow-mo twirl.

Local government units, particularly in Oas, has set up viewing centers with big screens in their respective multi-purpose halls and basketball covered courts to allow hundreds of residents to view the international beauty tilt.

At around 11 a.m., when Miss Universe host Steve Harvey announced Miss Philippines as this year’s Miss Universe, shouts of joy and applause suddenly reverberated in every home, restaurant, school and public places in Albay.

Mayor Domingo Escoto Jr. told Inquirer that they want the statue to let the future generations know that “here, we had a Miss Universe,” who represented Oas and the country.

Escoto said that if the plan materializes, the statue will be the same size as Gray.

“This is just a plan. We will still ask for consent and we will consult (people) if this can be done,” Escoto said.

Escoto said that they would also consult the people of Oas regarding the project and that they would prefer a local Bicol artist to design the statue.

“This is one of the ways we are thinking of honoring Ms. Gray for the honor that she brought to us,” he said.

Escoto said that they see nothing preventing them from building a statue for her.

Lava gown

Multi-awarded author Abdon Balde, Jr., also an Oas native, also supported the plan to erect a statue for Gray, suggesting that the sculptor should incorporate the lava-inspired gown that Gray wore during the pageant’s evening gown competition.

“They could commission a good sculptor to do an image of [Gray] with the now famous lava flow gown [while] holding the Miss Universe trophy and make it a cultural icon. They could choose a good public place to set it up, maybe inside the newly renovated garden park,” he said.

“Truly an Albayana, she was the most prepared candidate ever – if you prepare to fight calamities, the more you are prepared for victory,” Albay Representative Joey Salceda who hails from the neighboring town of Polangui, said in a statement after Gray was crowned.

Salceda said Gray is as regal as Mayon Volcano is majestic.

“She is beautiful, truly Daragang Magayon (beautiful lady),” he said.

He said the entire province is happy and proud of her achievement as proud she is of her roots.

“I worked with Catriona in her previous quests and she was excited about her role as tourism champion for Albay,” he added.

Hero’s welcome

Escoto also said that they understand that Gray’s schedule would be busy from now on.

But he said that if “people can help us invite her for a homecoming,” they will give her a hero’s welcome and a motorcade around Albay, and if possible, up to Camarines Sur province.

Escoto, who said he also watches beauty pageants, praised Gray’s Miss Universe stint.

“Her lava walk, no one else can do that except her. In my personal assessment, I think only she can do that, especially the slow-motion walk. Even her answer. It was as if the Miss Universe crown was really destined for her,” Escoto said.

Ragas family

Some of the Ragases, Gray’s family from her mother’s side, were present at the live viewing in this town’s tennis court, just in front of the municipal hall, for those who could not watch from their own houses or those who wanted to watch with their fellow Oas residents.

Salve Ragay-Dineros, Gray’s grand aunt, said that they were ecstatic about her win. Dineros also said that they are happy about the plan of erecting a statue of Gray in Oas.

“We have been in contact with her mother before they went to Thailand.

They were ecstatic about it. You know how hard it is win if you are one of the 94, but she answered [the question] coming from the heart.

She was just natural. She was very good in answering. Throw any question at her, her answers are really well thought of,” Elmer Ragas, Gray’s grand uncle who is based in Legazpi City.

First tourism e-Kiosk launched in Legazpi City

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The city government here has put up an electronic information machine for use of foreign and local visitors who may want to know about the different tourism attractions and activities in the city, Mayor Noel E. Rosal said in an interview on Thursday.

Rosal and Benjamin Santiago, director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Bicol regional office, led the launching of the tourism information electronic kiosk or e-Kiosk last December 17 at the lobby of the city hall building.

Rosal said Legazpi City is the first locality in the entire Bicol to put up an electronic information machine that would be helpful to tourists vacationing here.

He said the city government will also put an e-Kiosk at the airport and at the city’s grand transport terminal for use by those who need to know about hotels, transportation rates, boarding houses, as well as ordinances and resolutions and other tourism-related activities.

The mayor said his administration will also put additional e-Kiosk machines in different malls and other establishments operating in this city.

Based on record from the city tourism office, the tourist arrivals recorded in 2016 was at 1,199,291, which increased to 1,275,710 in 2017.

Rosal said the steady increase in tourists’ arrivals in this city the past few years was the result of the promotion and holding of different tourism activities that include the yearly Ibalong Festival and sporting events such as the Mayon Triathlon and Le Tour de Filipinas.

Aside from these, he said conventions, seminars and other similar gatherings were conducted in the city, the main factor for the declaration by the Department of Tourism (DOT) of Legazpi City as among the top five Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) venues in the country.

In 2017, the city tourism office recorded 140 MICE conducted here. As of November 20 this year, Legazpi had already recorded 213 MICE.

Santiago, on the other hand, said the e-Kiosk is the cheapest and fastest way of promoting the tourism industry of Legazpi.

He commended Rosal for the innovations done by the city administration that would surely help tourists and visitors have a more enjoyable vacation in Legazpi.

Solon describes Gray as ‘regal’ as ‘majestic’ Mayon

By Filane Mikee Cervantes (PNA)

MANILA -- Lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Monday hailed Catriona Gray for winning the country's fourth Miss Universe crown during the coronation night in Bangkok, Thailand.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said Gray's beauty is the embodiment of "Daragang Magayon", the beautiful maiden in the legend of Mt. Mayon.

Salceda described Gray, who wore a fiery red dress, as "regal" as the "majestic" Mayon.

"Truly an Albayana, she was the most prepared candidate ever -- if you prepare to fight calamities, the more you are prepared for victory," Salceda said.

"The entire Albay is happy and proud of her achievement as proud she is of her roots. I worked with Catriona in her previous quests and she was excited about her role as tourism champion for Albay," he added.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers said Gray's victory is an inspiration to all Filipinos amid the challenging times.

"Her sacrifices and triumph inspire Filipinos to continue fighting on amidst the challenges and difficulties. Her victory is our victory. This is such an amazing Christmas gift to the country,” Barbers said.

“Gray embodies the Filipino spirit of resiliency and determination and is indeed an inspiration to the youth and the millions of Filipinos,” he added.

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman said the new Miss Universe would make a great ambassador for “peace, love, and compassion” in the international community.

“Congratulations to Ms. Philippines, now new Miss Universe Catriona Gray who has brought immense pride and honor to the Filipinos all over the world not only with her beauty but also with her intelligence, integrity, and her heart for the poor,” Roman said.

Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, chair of the House committee on women and gender equality, lauded Gray for advocating the rights and welfare of children.

“Nadagdagan tayo ng matibay, maganda, at maimpluwensiyang kapanalig sa mga karapatan at kapakanan ng mga kabataan ng bagong henerasyon (We have another strong, beautiful and influential ally [to advocate] for children’s rights and welfare in the new generation),” Herrera-Dy said.

1-Ang Edukasyon party-list Rep. Salvador Belaro said Gray represented each Filipino with “great honor, grace, brains, and beauty”, noting that the new Miss Universe showed how the Filipino is the “best asset” of the Philippines.

Albayanos rejoice over provincemate's Miss Universe victory

By Mar Serrano

LEGAZPI CITY -- Ms. Philippines Catriona Gray's victory in the Ms. Universe beauty and brains pageant sent city and townsfolk of Albay into a frenzy, with loud squeals of joy reverberating in households all throughout the province.

Before Gray was proclaimed winner and crowned after the pageant's final round held in Bangkok, Thailand, traffic was noticeably smooth here on an otherwise usually busy Monday morning as Albayanos from all walks of life were glued to their television sets.

Nearly everyone closely watched as their provincemate trotted on stage, displaying her unique "lava walk" at the Miss Universe competition. The "lava walk" is a reference to the famous and majestic Mayon Volcano in Albay, where Gray traces her roots. Normita Ragas Magnayon, her mother, is from the province's Oas town.

As the competition was being held, “there was no traffic problem and only a few people were on the streets,” said Rolly Esguerra, Legazpi City Public Safety Office chief.

At around 11 a.m. when Miss Universe pageant host Steve Harvey announced Miss Philippines as this year's winner, euphoric shouts filled every home, restaurant, school, and public place.

In preparation for the competition, local government units in Albay set up viewing centers with big screens in their respective multi-purpose halls and basketball covered courts to allow hundreds of residents to watch the international beauty tilt.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda, who hails from the town of Polangui, in a statement said, “Truly an Albayana, she (Gray) was the most prepared candidate ever – if you prepare to fight calamities, the more you are prepared for victory.”

Salceda said this year's Ms. Universe crown holder is regal as Mayon is majestic. “She is beautiful, truly Daragang Magayon,” he said.

Salceda said the entire Albay is happy and proud of Gray's achievement. “I worked with Catriona in her previous quests and she was excited about her role as tourism champion for Albay,” the congressman added. (PNA)

Albay prepares grand homecoming for Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray

By Rhaydz B. Barcia (

The province of Albay plans to roll out the red carpet to welcome Miss Universe Catriona Gray, whose mother is a native of Oas town

LEGAZPI CITY – The province of Albay is preparing a grand welcome for newly-crowned Miss Universe Catriona Gray, whose mother is a native of Oas town, Danny Garcia spokesman of the provincial government told Rappler.

"Governor Al Francis Bichara congratulates Catriona Gray from Oas for giving Albay and the Philippines the honor once again," Bichara said.

Garcia said the provincial government will invite Gray to return home during her reign.

Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Sarte Salceda, a staunch supporter of Gray since her previous Miss World competition, said that the Filipina was the most prepared candidate during the Miss Universe competition Monday, December 17.

"Truly an Albayana. She was the most prepared candidate ever. If you prepare to fight calamities, the more you are prepared for victory. She is regal as Mayon is majestic. She is beautiful, truly Daragang Magayon," Salceda told Rappler.

"The entire Albay is happy and proud of her achievement, as proud she is of her roots. I worked with Catriona in her previous quests and she was excited about her role as tourism champion for Albay," Salceda said.

Salceda is also preparing for grand homecoming welcome festivity for Bicolana beauty queen.

During Salceda's term as governor of Albay, he hosted a grand homecoming for Catriona when she landed top 5 during the Miss World 2016 competition.

Catriona is the third Bicolana who represented the country in the Miss Universe in recent history. Miriam Quiambao of Cagraray Island, Bacacay, Albay was first runnerup in 1999. Maria Venus Raj of Camarines Sur was 4th runner up in Miss Universe 2010.

Mayor Domingo Escoto, mayor of Oas town in Albay, said that the crowning of Catriona puts her tiny town in the world map.

In Albay, protecting the sea leads to bountiful tanigue

By Rhaydz Barcia (

Catburawan villagers benefit from the public and private sectors' joint efforts to stop big-time illegal fishers in Burias Pass

ALBAY, Philippines – Due to efforts to protect the sea, local fishermen in Albay's west coast have been able to catch huge volumes of tanigue, an expensive and high-grade fish, in the waters of Catburawan village for over a year now.

"We are happy as our fishermen generating good income from fishing because of healthy corals and after concerted efforts have been done by the city government of Ligao, (Albay 3rd District) Representative Fernando Gonzalez, law enforcers, local officials, and the people for joining hands together to eradicate illegal fishing," said Catburawan village chieftain Jude Bellen.

Local fisherfolk and their families now benefit from the cooperation between the private and public sectors to weed out illegal fishers in Lagunoy Gulf in the Burias-Ticao Pass, which is rich with plankton, shrimp, krill, and jellyfish.

Gonzalez, an anti-illegal fishing advocate, said the tanigue catch is a big help to the people of Catburawan.

"With our strict anti-illegal fishing campaign initiated several years, this is now the spillover of our concerted efforts to bring back the healthy seas by eradicating big-time illegal fishers in Burias Pass," Gonzalez said.

The congressman and the city government of Ligao have established several fish sanctuaries in the west coast area to propagate marine resources.

Gonzalez also developed a 62-hectare mangrove plantation in Sitio Tambak in Cabarian, where some 400,000 mangrove propagules have been planted since 2008.

Legazpi City awards smoke-free compliant establishments

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The City Health Office (CHO) here has awarded 72 establishments, including barangays and schools, with trophies for winning the search for 100-percent smoke-free establishments in a ceremony held at the AVP function hall restaurant on Tuesday.

The Legazpi City’s smoke-free program started with the implementation of Ordinance No. 0007-2009 or the revised smoke-free law, authored by former councilor and now Board Member Roly Rosal.

The ordinance was enacted by the Sangguniang Panlungsod and approved by former Mayor Geraldine Rosal in 2009.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal, in his statement during the ceremony, said the implementation of the city’s smoke-free ordinance is a shared responsibility of the city health office, as the leading implementing office, and the religious organizations, non-government organizations, schools and universities, business sector, the academe, and the law enforcers.

"We are not banning the smoking in Legazpi, but we are only regulating it in this city," he said.

Rosal has encouraged all the awardees, particularly the business establishments with air-conditioning, to put up smoking areas as the place for the smokers.

He commended all the awardees and the members of the smoke-free enforcement team for their full support to the implementation of the city’s smoke-free program.

"We have already more billboards signages and videos in different public places, conveyances, and other crowded areas as part of promoting Legazpi as the smoke-free territory," Rosal said.

The awarding ceremony was divided into four categories: The Hall of Famer, Red, Pink, and White.

The Hall of Famers are those with a rating of 100 percent for three consecutive years, while the red category were those establishments with a rating of 100 percent for first and second years. The Pink were those establishments with a rating of 91-99 percent, and the White category is for those with ratings of 85-90-percent smoke-free.

The Hall of Famers were the Legazpi Adventist Elementary School, Alibar Food Land, and Kim’s Bowl Food Garden.

In the Red category are government offices Social Security System (SSS), Government Services Insurance System (GSIS), and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig)

In the barangay level were the villages of Rizal Street Ilawod and Dap-dap.

The awarded schools were the Legazpi Port Elementary School, Southern Luzon Technology, Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation, Forbes Colleges Main Campus, Legazpi City Science High School, Albay Central School, Cat College, Gogon Elementary School, Legazpi Adventist School, and University of Santo Tomas Legazpi.

The Ago General Hospital was recognized as well.

Under the Restaurants category were the Layag Resto Grill, Family Kitchenette, Legazpi Restaurant, Fiesta Ballroom, Koron Native Cuisine, Chef Lee Café, and Legazpi Airport Buffet.

The feted hotels were the Vista Al Mayon, Emerald Hotel, Rex Hotel, and Legazpi Tourist Inn.

In the Pink category were government offices Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office, Civil Service Commission (CSC) regional office, National Telecommunication Company (NTC), and Legazpi City Police Station main office.

In the Barangay level were the villages of Sagpon, Pigcale, Binanuahan East, and Capantawan.

In the School level was the Computer Communication Development Institute (CCDI).

In the Hotels were the Embarcadero de Legazpi and Tyche Boutique Hotel.

In the White category, government offices Population Commission (POPCOM), City Police Assistance Center # (CPAC) 3, and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) were awarded.

In the barangay level were the villages of Cabangan 20, Puro, Ilawod, Banadero, and Pinaric.

The schools were Bicol University (BU), Cabangan High School, St. Peter and Paul Early childhood Center, Saint Agnes Academy, AMA computer College, Ibalon Central School, Washington International School, Divine Word College of Legazpi High School Tanchuling College, Divine Word College Department, Bagumbayan Elementary School, and Forbes Colleges main campus.

The hospitals were the Tanchuling hospital, Legazpi City Hospital, and Albay Doctors Hospital.

In Restaurants were the Legazpi Four Seasons, Isihiaya de Legazpi, Bob Marlin Restaurant, Small Tallk and Sambalas Grill and Banquet Hall.

The hotels were the Legazpi Airport Hotel, Hotel Liatres, and Kimchi Hotel.

For three consecutive years from 2010 to 2013, the city government of Legazpi has been a recipient of the Red Orchid award and cited in the hall of fame by the Department of Health (DOH) for its effective implementation of its anti-cigarette smoking campaign.

SSS to trumpet new services, programs in Albay forum

By Sally Atento-Altea (PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – The Social Security System (SSS) has teamed up with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) to stage the “Sulit Multi-Sectoral Provincial Forum” in Albay on Friday, December 14.

In this forum, the SSS branch in Legazpi will provide fresh presentation on SSS benefits, programs and services.

“This activity aims to provide fresh presentation on how SSS benefits provide a great deal of help to members and their beneficiaries,” SSS Acting Branch Head Antonio A. Casimiro said.

Standing strong for 61 years, the SSS seeks to further strengthen its position in providing reliable social security protection for the Filipinos.

Pointers and tips on how to make “SSS Kontribusyon Sulit na Sulit” or maximize SSS contributions, benefits and programs will also be presented.

The forum will start at 7:30 a.m. at The Theater, Hotel St. Ellis, Legazpi City.

At least 150 persons, including members, prospective members, self-employed individuals, employers and program partners in Albay are expected to take part in the forum.

The SSS partners are composed of employers, government workers, media practitioners and representatives of barangays and other local government units. Members of cooperatives and associations such as transport and market will also be coming.

SSS President and Chief Executive Emmanuel Dooc will speak to welcome the participants and partners.

This forum is part of the “Kontribusyon Sulit na Sulit” partnership campaign of the SSS and PIA aimed at disseminating SSS programs and services and strengthening its partnership with stakeholders in the regional and provincial levels.

Legazpi villages, schools get Sandugo awards

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Six villages and schools in this city have received awards and cash incentives for their active participation in the city’s blood-letting activities regularly conducted by the City Health Office.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal and City Health Officer Dr. Fulbert Gillego handed over a plaque of appreciation to each of the awardees during ceremonies held at the AVP Restaurant here on Tuesday.

Rosal urged all the barangay leaders and organizations to support the city’s blood services program and encourage the people in their respective areas to always participate in the continuous blood-letting activities of the CHO as part of promoting voluntary blood donation in order to maintain an adequate supply of safe blood for transfusion.

The synergy of all the stakeholders in working for the blood services program is a clear manifestation that the people of Legazpi are always united and dedicated to help patients in need, he noted.

Rosal said the bags of blood collected by the CHO have already been endorsed to the Department of Health (DOH)-Bicol for proper storage and preservation.

He commended the CHO as well as the village leaders, the Tau Gamma fraternity, Alpha Kappa Rho, Guardians, the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Army, schools and other stakeholders who have supported the blood-letting program of the city.

The three villages that received awards under the Big Barangay category were Cabangan West, Bitano and Gogon, while under the Small Barangays category, awarded were Padang, Maoyod and Dap-dap.

Under the Schools category, awarded were the Mariners Polytechnic College Foundation, University of Santo Tomas-Legazpi and the Ago Medical Education College, which all received a plaque of commendation from the city government.

First Bamboo Christmas village inaugurated in Albay

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

A 60-foot illuminated tree is the centerpiece of the bamboo Christmas Village in Ligao City

ALBAY, Philippines – A towering and shining 60-foot Christmas tree made of bamboo is the centerpiece of the Yuletide theme of the Bambusetum plantation which was opened at the Kawakawa Natural Park in Barangay Tubaran, Ligao City.

Some 108,400 bulbs of different colors illuminated the tree made of bamboo as it it stood beside a life-sized Belen.

Albay 3rd District Representative Fernando Gonzalez and Ligao City Mayor Patty Gonzalez Alsua inaugurated the Bamboo Christmas Village inside the 2.5-hectare Bambusetum.

Bamboo lamps and lanterns were also all over the Christmas village.

Alex Batoon, the designer of Bamboo Christmas village, said that construction of the bamboo village took two months. Aside from the Christmas tree, lanterns, and lamps, there is also a hanging bridge and other decorations.

Gonzalez said, the nightly fireworks atop the Kawakawa hills could be seen from nearby towns Oas, Polangui, Libon and parts of Guinobatan.

Aside from the Bambosetum, Ligao City also boasts of another grand Christmas display, with the Disney-themed Ligao City Park.

The Bambusetum plantation at Kawakawa Hill houses at least 15 species of bamboo. Gonzalez, however, said they were adding more in a bid to complete the collection of all 30 species of bamboo in the area.

He said that his office and the city government partnered with the Land Management Agroforestry and Upland Farming Technology Research Center (LAUFTeRC) to complete the collection species of bamboo here.

Under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the LAUFTeRC office established the City Bambusetum and “Kawayang Tinik” plantation on October 9, 2014 here in partnership with the local government.

Mayor Alsua said the bamboo, considered by scientist as a “miracle plant,” is a natural deterrent against the ill effects of climate change.

Citing scientific studies, Alsua also said that bamboo - which releases more oxygen than trees - will also help stabilize riverbanks, regulate watersheds, and protect soil erosion. –

Legazpi bags regional Sandugo award

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The City Health Office (CHO) has been named by the Department of Health (DOH)-Bicol as the best implementer of the agency's blood services program in the entire region.

City Health Officer Dr. Fulbert Gillego, in an interview on Monday, relayed receiving the Regional Sandugo Award from DOH Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Director Ernie Vega last December 7 at the Legazpi City Convention Center.

The recognition was based on the blood-letting activities conducted by the CHO with the participation of barangays as well as fraternities and other stakeholders who donated blood as one way of promoting voluntary blood donation and to help ensure adequate supply of safe blood for transfusion.

The Sandugo award is part of the commitment of the city administration including all the barangay officials toward the successful implementation of DOH's National Voluntary Blood Services Program (NVBSP) that aims to ensure an adequate, sustainable supply of safe blood for blood transfusion purposes.

Gillego noted that his office collected 2,366 bags of blood from January to November 2017 which is higher than DOH's requirement of at least one percent of the total population. Legazpi's population is about 202,902, one percent of which is 2,029, he added.

Gillego thanked the donors as well as the academe, fraternities, barangay leaders, the youth and other stakeholders who supported the implementation of the blood-letting program of Legazpi.

Those patients who want to avail of safe blood should simply present to the CHO a letter from a doctor in order to know what type of blood they need, he said.

Meanwhile, on that same awarding ceremony, the DOH also chose Legazpi City as third placer for the regional Purple Ribbon award.

The Purple Ribbon is one of the most coveted recognitions being given to the national, regional, provincial as well as local government units including civil society organizations and individuals for their exemplary practices, accomplishments and innovations in response to the implementation of Reproductive Health Law and Family Planning Program and compasses all the services that should be given for women to be safe in their entire lifetime.

Gillego said the award is a clear manifestation of efficient and effective implementation of the city’s Family Planning Program as one way of educating all the mothers regarding proper birth spacing in order for them to give their children good health and quality education as part of reducing the rate of poverty incidence in the community.

He said he will continue to conduct a series of educational campaign, nutrition counseling, maternal health care and other related medical services to make sure both the health of mothers and babies are always in good condition.

Senior citizens in Albay gather for year-end general assembly

(Politiko Bicol)

Senior Citizens in Albay gathered at the Albay Astrodome for their year-end general assembly organized by the Capitol.

The Provincial Government through the Provincial Social Welfare Development Office spearheaded the assembly last December 8.

Present during the event were all the senior citizens and senior citizens elected barangay officials of Albay.

“A numerous performances was presented by the senior citizens including dance and singing numbers and role plays coming from the different municipalities,” said the provincial government.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said the Capitol prioritizes the the senior citizens as he encouraged them to “never stop learning.”

The Governor said that they can spend their time at the farm school, Albay Farmer’s Bounty Village located in Cabangan, Camalig.

Bichara also bared his plans to buy an air-conditioned bus for the senior citizens to give them free trips.

Governor Bichara wished them a longer life as he assured that the Provincial Government will address their needs.

“The Provincial Government of Albay gave 18 units of desktop with printers to the LGU offices of senior citizens. An awarding of certificate of recognition to senior citizens elected barangay officials was also held,” said the province.

Albay Gov. Bichara leads 25th Provincial Christmas Jamborette

(Politiko Bicol)

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara spearheaded the 25th Provincial Christmas Jamborette of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Bicol Region Mayon (Albay) Council.

Thousands of scouts from different municipalities gathered at the Jamboree Campsite, Basag, Ligao City.

This year’s Provincial Christmas Jamborette carried the theme: “Commitment to Excellence”, Governor Bichara said he plans to develop the place to an even more functional permanent campsite and put up facilities such as swimming pools, multi-purpose buildings, concrete road, shower rooms and toilets for scouts and scouters to be convenient.

“We can even host a regional jamboree here. This place can be utilize by youths, teachers, barangay officials… this can also be a permanent evacuation center instead of evacuating in schools,” the Governor said.

Meanwhile, Ligao City Mayor, Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua said that the opening ceremony was a “momentous event” as “it teaches us the real essence of Christmas which is giving.”

According to the provincial government, the event ended with the ceremonial tree planting.

PNR South railway project to kick off next year: Salceda

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said he is optimistic that the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Rail Project covering Manila to Matnog town in Sorsogon will be partially operational by 2022.

Salceda said the project update was issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) during a committee hearing on Tuesday. The DOTr also said the project would start by next year.

He said that once the project is completed, travel time from Manila to Sorsogon would only take six hours.

Salceda, in a statement, said a loan-signing agreement between the DOTr and China Export-Import Bank would take place this month.

He said the project cost was initially placed at PHP175 billion.

On Nov. 17 this year, the DOTr Project Management Consulting Service awarded the south railway project to the China Railway Design Corp. and Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Corp. of the Republic of China.

The project would be under the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), where the People Republic of China (PRC) would be tasked to pursue the PNR commuter and “long haul” rail project covering 639 kilometers of rail tracks from Manila to Sorsogon.

Salceda said the south railway system will start from Manila and pass through Batangas, Lucena, Naga, Legazpi, Sorsogon, and end at Matnog.

Under the agreement, the PRC would construct and develop the following: civil works, electro-mechanical system, rolling stock and consulting services while the government would take charge of land acquisition and resettlement of thousands of informal settlers affected by the project.

The DOTr reported that 85,000 families would be affected and have to be relocated once the project starts, Salceda said.

The DOTr is closely coordinating with the National Housing Authority (NHA) to look for relocation sites for the affected families.

Legazpi City eyes new service provider to address water woes

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- City Mayor Noel Rosal said on Thursday he will tap another water service provider to address the water demand of thousands of households and business establishments here.

The move is in response to many complaints from residents about the lack of sufficient water from current provider Phil Hydro, a company contracted by the Legazpi City Water District (LCWD).

Rosal, in a phone interview, said he is now firming up negotiations with at least three water service providers: Manila Waters, Prime Waters and Mactan Waters.

Complaints mounted against the LCWD and Phil Hydro for lack of water in upland villages especially during peak hours, prompting the city mayor to negotiate with other companies that could assure abundant supply of water.

A consumer group and business establishment also said that aside from low supply, water flowing from the faucets was at times murky and foul-smelling.

“We are ready to spend a billion just to get clean and sufficient water from other sources,” Rosal said.

He noted that the Phil Hydro, which is owned by Maynilad, under the contract is supposed to supply 600,000 cubic meters of potable water monthly to the LCWD which in turn will deliver the same to 25,000 households in this city. 

Phil Hydro was bought by Maynilad and is under contract with LCWD to operate a Bulk Water Supply Facility here.

Go bats for reforms in health, agriculture sectors

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go has vowed to push for legislative reforms in health, agriculture, education, and housing sectors if he gets elected in next year's polls.

Go was the guest of honor at the launching of the Kusog Bicolandia where he was named as an honorary member last Sunday.

In his message, Go underscored the need for further improvement in the government's delivery of health services to the public.

He cited that his pet program, the "Malasakit Center", is one-stop-shop health hub now established in 17 regions across the country.

Go, in an ambush interview, also told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that he would fully support the clamor for a bridge that would make Bicol a gateway to the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

The Kusog Bicolandia is a newly accredited regional political party that aims to promote the welfare of Bicolanos through development, empowerment, and good governance.

It was founded and chaired by Noel de Luna, who is into the construction business and public relations.

De Luna, in an interview, said the party has over 100,000 members spread over the six provinces of Bicol.

The Kusog Bicolandia chairman, at the party’s launching ceremony, endorsed Go for senator in the May 2019 elections.

DOT drafts crisis management strategy in Bicol

By Casandra Balala (PIA/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA)—The Department of Tourism in Bicol (DOT-5) is bracing the tourism industry for potential disruptions in the region.

The DOT-5 has crafted a crisis management strategy to cope with the disasters that might befall the region.

“Its purpose is to have contingency and resiliency in tourism industry. And having this idea can only happen if there is a management system,” Henry Teodoro Hernia, security and business continuity manager of FLOUR Philippines, told the Philippine Information Agency.

With the help of different local government units (LGUs), tour operators, and resort owners and managers, DOT-5 identified social disturbances, transport risks, and environmental hazards as probable disruptions in the region’s tourism industry.

“So, we are focusing on the region’s specific or on our tourism hub specifics so that solutions to these concerns should be address specifically,” Hernia said.

A group of tour guides and tour operators suggested that there should be strict regulations on the transportation services to be provided for the tourists such as accreditation of transport providers.

In terms of communication, it was proposed in the plan to allow every tour guide to have VHF radio aside from cellphones to ensure constant communication from their field. Tour guides should also have all the emergency contact information.

“We’ll never know when these crises or risks will strike, so we should have come up with the plan as soon as possible,” Hernia said.

In order to provide the medical needs of the tourists, tour guides will also be given first-aid kits and will undergo first-aid and basic life support training.

Hernia admitted that having a plan was not enough unless there was a good implementation and evaluation.

There should also be a matrix on the implementation subject for improvement, he added.

“We have to be proactive. Know what you have learned from previous accidents and what you should do to prevent upcoming incidents that might happen. Get rid of the negative and enhance the positive thing,” Hernia said.

The tourism crisis management plan is designed to be a cycle approach where everyone should participate for the development of the region specifically its tourism industry.

NGCP set for Albay transmission line upgrade

By Casandra Balala (PIA/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA)—In order to prevent power interruptions, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) will construct the 18-kilometer single circuit 69 kilovolt (kV) lines in Albay province in 2019.

The Eastern Albay 69kV Project is one of the measures of NGCP to ensure enough distribution of energy especially when there is an increasing number of population and establishments in the province.

“We make sure that the energy we provided for the public is with quality,” said lawyer Cynthia P. Alabanza, NGCP assistant vice president and head of corporate communications and public affairs department. “This project is a way to prevent the congestion or traffic on energy supply.”

NGCP widens the transmission lines to provide the distribution utilities such as the Albay Power and Energy Corporation (APEC) enough energy they needed to supply the households and other establishments.

“Though we will enhance the energy supply to distribution utilities and cooperatives, APEC should also improve their system to prevent power interruptions,” Albanza said.

The construction is expected to start early next year once NGCP achieved its project promotions to different local government units (LGUs) of Albay and private sector to gain support for the project.

NGCP also advised the Albayanos that they will set a 15-meter prohibited zone for residents near the construction of transmission line towers to prevent any accidents.

Any property that will be affected by the construction of the line towers will be given payments based on the assessed materials used in the property and labor cost.

“We are expecting support from the public for this project since we really aim for the improvement of our services. NGCP seeks to support the progress in our economy by providing the public good quality energy supply,” Albanza said.

Advocates sport orange as message of hope vs violence against women

By Casandra Balala (PIA/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA)—Women’s rights advocates wore orange shirts and gathered at the seaside boulevard here on November 26 in support of the global campaign to end violence against women.

“This year, we hold the campaign at Legazpi Boulevard because it offers stunning views of Mount Mayon, which is the main icon of Bicol Region,” Angela Jesalva, gender and development focal person of the Department of Tourism in Bicol (DOT-5), said during the kickoff ceremonies of the “Orange Your Icon” (OYI) campaign, which her office led .

“The campaign starts within us, but the advocacy should go beyond us,” said DOT-5 Regional Director Benjamin F. Santiago.

The launching was DOT’s contribution to the ongoing observance of 18-day Campaign to End Violence against Women (VAW) which runs from November 25 to December 12, 2018.

OYI aims to strengthen the anti-VAW advocacy by spreading awareness and promoting national and local tourism sites alongside the campaign of fostering VAW-free communities.

Through this, major landmarks or icons nationwide are colored orange—a bright and optimistic color representing hope that attracts public’s curiosity, thereby providing opportunities for VAW-free advocates.

Different sectors have also expressed their commitment to brace the advocacy of achieving VAW-free communities in the region.

On the side of women, it is a must that they know their rights and be knowledgeable of the existing laws protecting them against abuses and violence.

Meanwhile, it is also necessary from the perspective of a man to respect, protect, cherish, and love women.

Government agencies, local government units and the academe also gave their commitment to take part in addressing and preventing VAW cases by establishing a Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI).

CODI will be responsible in conducting meetings and activities to increase the understanding on VAW and will look into the alleged VAW cases.

On the other hand, the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey of Philippine Statistics Authority states that one of four married women aged 15 to 49 have experienced spousal violence.

Bicol contributes 24 percent of the total number of spousal violence in the country in 2017.

Lani Mercado backs newly-organized LGBTQ in Bicol

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla on Saturday challenged members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) to organize and make it as a forceful group in shaping society.

Mercado, in addressing members of the LGBTQ in Bicol, said she fully supported the group because of their “God-given” talents, creativity, and resourcefulness in the field of business, fashion, arts, movies, music, and culture.

Mercado cited famous personalities in the fashion, movie, and music industry such as Ricky Reyes, Fanny Serrano, and Vice Ganda .

She describes the specific sector of the society as “masarap at masaya (sweet and happy people), creative and hardworking”, saying “it’s about time that we give them support and developed their full potentials rather than discriminate, neglect them.”

She said that in addressing LGBTQ issues and concerns, she and his son Jolo Revilla have passed two significant local ordinances in protecting the rights of LGBTQ in Cavite.

The ordinances give members of the LGBTQ protection against discrimination, abuse, neglect as well as providing them with free and fast access to health and consultations services.

The first Bicol LGBTQ congress was organized by Kusog Bicolandia a regional political party in cooperation of the Philippine Press Institute(PPI) who ask to serve as facilitator.

The event was attended by over 300 LGBTQ members in the six provinces of Bicol.

Vice Ganda, a popular TV host in his live stream message told the participant “my heart is with you,” assuring all-out support for the newly organized group in Bicol.

As this developed Noel de Luna, chairman and founder of Kusog Bicolandia (KB). said he has organized the event to eliminate the social stigma being felt by members of the LGBTQ.

De Luna quoting social research studies said: “the LGBTQ has been tagged as the most discriminated and neglected sector of society.”

“LGBTQ’s are not bacteria, or a virus, that destroys a society or a community,” de Luna said.

He even cited a City Councilor in Bicol, who was strongly criticized for submitting a proposed ordinance recognizing and giving protection to members of the LGBTQ.

That local legislator was even called by his bashers as “Ding Ba siya,” he said.

Addressing the issues on discrimination and rights of LBGTQ, de Luna said he decided to organize a congress that would serve as a venue for addressing the challenges confronted by the LGBTQ.

De Luna claimed that an organized LGBTQ would be considered as a strong political block that would build a strong and dynamic group in creating a viable economic agenda for the region.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal said there are clamors to create a law that would grant protection to LGBTQs, he cited that in other countries, LGBTQs are recognized.

“This is the right time to come out in the open to ask for equal rights and opportunities given to all,” Rosal said.

Other resource topics taken up were: “Know Your Rights Under the Law,” by Kate Aventajado of the Department of Justice.

Maricel Banzuela of the Department of Health (DOH) spoke on Know Your Health Benefits, while Maria Elena Catajan, Senior Reported and Desk Editor of Sun Star Baguio talked on “Portrayal of LGBTQ in Media.”

Outreach program benefits thousands of Albay townsfolk

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

CAMALIG, Albay -- Thousands of residents of this town benefited from a two-day outreach program by a humanitarian group led by popular singer Gary Valenciano, who traces his roots in this town.

Valenciano, together with the Shining Light Foundation (SLF), partnered with Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines (OBFP) and conducted on Wednesday and Thursday an outreach mission where medical, dental and optical services were given to some 500 villagers for free.

Also held were wheelchair donation, a school feeding program, school supplies distribution, and Superbook film showing at the Camalig North Central School here.

OBFP provided the free medical, dental and optical consultations to villagers. Meanwhile, at least 34 wheelchairs were donated to as many persons with disabilities (PWDs).

"This town has a special place in His heart – the Lord loves Bicol,” Valenciano said.

While the outreach program was taking place, the dancer-singer mingled with villagers and school children at the Camalig North Central School, according to John Tan, chief operations officer of Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN Asia), producer of The 700 Club TV program.

Valenciano also gave a mini-concert at the school's covered court where he entertained hundreds of pupils by singing at least five songs from his new album, “Awit at Laro”.

Valenciano will also hold a concert at 6 p.m. Friday at a mall in the Legazpi City business district.

Tan added while conducting the medical mission, another group distributed school supplies to 700 elementary pupils’ courtesy of the Shining Light Foundation.

The school feeding program, on the other hand, benefited some 900 pupils.

Legazpi’s seawall-boulevard, joggers’ lane done by yearend

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The construction of the seawall as well as roads and joggers' lane in coastal areas of the northern portion of this city is now in the final stage and expected to be completed before the yearend.

Lucy Castañeda, public information officer of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Bicol regional office, said in an interview over the weekend that the projects are part of the construction of the seawall-boulevard of Legazpi being supervised by the agency in cooperation with the city engineering office.

The seawall is designed to protect the lives and properties of the villagers from the impact of storm surge especially during typhoons and other forms of natural calamities.

The seawall-boulevard project is considered as a mega tourism infrastructure traversing the coastal villages of Sabang, Baybay, and San Roque going to Rawis, Castañeda said.

She also noted that the DPWH Bicol regional office has requested a PHP150-million augmentation fund from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the construction of the road gaps of the boulevard.

Mayor Noel E. Rosal, on the other hand, said the project would serve as an alternative route of motorists going to the first district of Albay and portions of Camarines Sur.

“This road project would also serve as primary solution to the traffic congestion at the major thoroughfare in front of the regional government center in Barangay Rawis,” he said.

The mayor noted that the coastal areas in the northern section of this city would be the next haven for investment anticipated to boost economic activities by bringing more employment opportunities to the people in the villages.

The seawall-boulevard project materialized through the master plan prepared by the Legazpi City Planning Office and submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) in Bicol for inclusion in the investment program in Region 5.

Bicol police creates Task Force SAFE for 2019 polls

By Jorge Hallare (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) has created its Regional Task Force on Safe and Fair Election (SAFE) for the mid-term election next year.

In an interview Friday, Chief Inspector Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the regional police office created Task force SAFEto be headed by PRO5 Director, Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal.

The task force was created after a meeting was held among all the six police provincial directors of Bicol and director of the Naga City Police Office last month.

Calubaquib said aside from Task Force SAFE, another one would be created next year for the province of Masbate.

Task Force SAFE, according to her, is divided into six sub-task groups, each to be headed by a ranking police officer.

"We will have sub task groups that will focus on police operation, legal offensive, logistics and finance, human resource and inter-agency coordinating information," she said.

Calubaquib said they are presently identifying candidates with very high security threat level, tendency and potential to employ private armed groups and gun for hire, those involved in illegal drugs or who are members of criminal syndicates, and politicians supported by communist and drug groups.

"Our police officers in the field are on the process of assessing and validating places and areas which will be declared as election hotspots or areas of concern. Hopefully, in January, we can identify all the election hotspots and areas of concern," she said.

Task Force SAFE 2019 is also reviewing the best practices and lessons learned in the last elections to enhance future election security operations.

BSP-Legazpi urges public to be vigilant against fake money

By Casandra Balala and Timothy Cañete (PIAV)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA)—The Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)-Legazpi is urging the public to remain vigilant of counterfeit banknotes as it released the New Generation Currency (NGC) series coins.

“We just have to study these coins in order to get the hang of distinguishing one from another,” said Maja Gratia Malic, deputy director of BSP Currency Issue and Integrity Office.

To improve security and design, the coins have been reduced in size and weight with uniform color of silver and nickel-plating that corrodes less compared to that of the old series.

The P10 and P1 coin have ridges on the sides while the other value coins such as P5, 25 cents and 1 cent have plain sides.

In terms of banknotes, the colors and the people illustrated were retained to promote smooth transition from old to new.

Moreover, the Clean Note Policy of BSP aims to remove unfit and mutilated money from circulation. Unfit refers to those soiled, corroded, or discolored cash while mutilated includes severely disfigured, cut or shredded money.

However, mutilated banknotes can be recovered if at least 60 percent of the original surface area has been retained, and they still contain portion of any facsimile signatures, as well as the security thread remains embedded.

Cash holders must simply present their banknotes or coins to their depository banks or BSP for replacement.

Paulette Menguilla, BSP-Legazpi senior research specialist, also reminded the public through the Philippine Information Agency-5’s ‘Ugnayan sa Bicol’ radio program to use their cents instead of storing them in a jar.

She explained that cents or coins were important on the circulation of the national currency and should not be stored for a long time.

Albay graduate tops Midwife Licensure Exam

(LMY/SunStar Philippines)

THE Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced Wednesday, November 7, that 1,175 out of 2,478 examinees passed the Midwife Licensure Examination given in November this year.

Topping the list of passers is a graduate of Immaculate Conception College in Albay province who got a passing rate of 90.75 percent.

Here's the list of the top 10 passers:

1. Excelsia Rebeka Maree Lobete Basco of Immaculate Conception College-Albay -- 90.75 percent

2. Darlene Villanueva Mendoza of Brokenshire College Soccsksargen Inc. -- 90.30 percent

3. Gellian Labagis Alaurin of Calayan Educational Foundation Inc. -- 89.85 percent

4. Jean Melody Velasco Gempis of University of the Philippines School of Health and Sciences-Leyte -- 89.80 percent

5. Ana Blesilda Cachola Atendido of University of Northern Philippines-Vigan -- 89.20 percent

6. Shanice del Rosario Susana of Cavite State University -- 89 percent

7. Mary Jane Miniano Buslay of University of Baguio -- 88.70 percent

8. Norhaya Karim Latip of Notre Dame Hospital and School of Midwifery -- 88.55 percent

9. Amira Baldin Dup-et of Batangas State University-Arasof-Nasugbu -- 88.35 percent

Karmdeep Tulalian Singh Dhaliwal of Speed Computer College Magsaysay, Sorsogon City -- 88.35 percent

10. Jeanylyn Padernal Ad-ad of Southern Baptist College -- 88.30 percent

Below is the complete list of passers:

The PRC said there is no date and venue yet for the oathtaking ceremony of the successful examinees, but assured that details will be announced later.

It advised passers to register online for the issuance of professional ID and Certificate of Registration from November 14 to 15.

"Please go to and follow instructions for initial registration. Those who will register are required to bring the following: downloaded duly accomplished Oath Form or Panunumpa ng Propesyonal, notice of admission (for identification only), two pieces passport sized pictures (colored with white background and complete name tag), two sets of documentary stamps and one piece short brown envelope," PRC said in its webbsite.

Successful examinees should personally register and sign in the Roster of Registered Professionals, it added.

The Midwife Licensure Examination was given by the Board of Midwifery in the cities of Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legazpi, Lucena, Pagadian, Tacloban, Tuguegarao and Zamboanga this November.

Legazpi City now Seal of Good Local Governance Hall of Famer

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Fresh from being cited by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as a Hall of Famer in the prestigious Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) award, the city government here has vowed to implement more programs and projects for the continued development and progress of Legazpi.

For three consecutive years or from 2016 to 2018, the city administration has been a recipient of the yearly SGLG award.

Interior department Officer-in-Charge, Secretary Eduardo Año, handed over the plaque of appreciation and a cheque amounting to PHP5.1 million to Legazpi Mayor Noel E. Rosal at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday.

Rosal said his administration received the award after the city passed the criteria given by the DILG in the areas of financial administration, social protection, and peace and order, as well as for its implementation of programs on disaster preparedness, tourism promotion, and culture and the arts.

He assured that his administration will continue its good governance for the benefit of the Legazpeños.

"This prestigious award would give us more encouragement, dedication and drive to carry out investment-friendly projects that would continue to boost the economic standing of our city as this recognition would give the business community a feeling of confidence to invest and put up more business establishments in this city while financial institutions would offer financial grant to sustain economic development projects that the city administration is pushing for," Rosal said.

He added that the SGLG award received by Legazpi is a luminous proof of the city's good governance that has resulted in continuous progress and development of the locality, and also improved investor confidence as shown by the increase in the number of establishments operating in the city.

Rosal said the performance challenge fund of PHP5.1 million received by Legazpi could be used to purchase at least five vehicles, two of which can be designated to the City Health office to improve health care services to people in the barangays.

The two others could be deployed to the General Services Office while the remaining vehicle can be used in monitoring important projects in the villages, he added.

The SGLG award is the highest recognition given by the DILG to an LGU for having shown good governance and effective delivery of social services, as well as for practicing transparency, accountability and responsiveness in management.

NFA-Bicol orders public markets, retailers to lower rice prices

By Jorge Hallare (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The National Food Authority (NFA) regional office here has lowered the price of its rice sold in public markets and accredited retailers.

Henry Tristeza, NFA regional director, in an interview on Tuesday, said the move was in compliance with Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol’s directive to lower the price of NFA rice in all public markets from PHP32 to PHP27 per kilo.

"The decision to lower down the prices of NFA rice is to cushion the effect of the high inflation rate in Bicol and the increasing prices of prime commodities in the country,"Tristeza said.

“Tulong ito ng gobyerno sa lahat ng mamamayan lalo na ang mga nasa poverty line ng bansa (It’s the government's way to help the people, especially those who belong to the poverty line),” he added.

According to Tristeza, their accredited retailers who bought rice at higher price from NFA warehouses region-wide will not be affected by the decision because most of them are almost running out of stocks and they are about to buy another round of stocks.

Tristeza also warned retailers not to take advantage of the lower price of NFA rice by labeling their stocks as commercial rice.

"We have a 'One strike policy' and whoever violates would be meted out penalties and fine," he said.

The official also said that on Friday, NFA-Bicol will implement the SRP, or suggested retail price, on all commercial rice in the region.

They will require all the commercial rice traders to put SRPs beginning Friday.

"We are just waiting on the guidelines regarding the SRP program from our central office in Manila, we will convene the inter-agency to discuss about the implementation," Tristeza said.

Meanwhile, the regional director said that based from their latest monitoring, prices of commercial rice sold in public markets are now PHP2 to PHP3 lower per kilogram.

The NFA expects traders and retailers to gradually lower prices of commercial rice as more NFA rice imports are expected the flood the markets soon. At the same time, the agency continues to buy palay from farmers.

Tristeza said they have been given the go-signal to procure palay from farmers at a higher price.

They are buying palay from farmers at PHP20.70 per kilo or an additional of PHP3 per kilo as buffer stock incentive and additional of 30 centavos per 30 kilometers as delivery incentive from the origin to NFA warehouse.

102,853 poor families in Bicol to get cash aid from DSWD

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -– The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office here has started to distribute cash subsidy to poor households identified thru the "Listahanan" scheme as recipients of the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program in all local government units (LGUs) in Bicol.

DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia, in an interview Tuesday, said a total of 102,853 indigent families are set to receive the cash aid of PHP2,400 each.

He said the assistance is a measure to help cushion the effects of the rising prices of commodities on the poor.

“The program provides one-time unconditional cash grant of PHP2,400 equivalent to 200 per month this year and this will increase to PHP3,600 or PHP300 per month in the succeeding two years (2019-2020),” he added.

Garcia advised the beneficiaries to submit one photocopy of a valid government-issued ID as a requirement for the release of their subsidies.

Authorized representatives are also required to bring documents to establish their relationships (e.g. marriage and/or birth certificates) together with the authorization letter issued by the beneficiary.

The payouts are being coordinated with the local government units (LGUs) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

LGUs are responsible for disseminating information on payout schedule to the beneficiaries thru the barangay officials and provision of venue and other logistics for the payout, while the LBP is responsible for the distribution of cash grants to the beneficiaries.

Formerly known as the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), "Listahanan" is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are in the country. It serves as the baseline for the identification of potential beneficiaries of the government's social protection programs.

Albay begins deliberations for 2019 proposed budget

(Politiko Bicol)

The Albay provincial government has started its deliberations for its 2019 proposed expenditure program.

The annual budget hearing for 2019 was held last November 5 at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Albay Session Hall.

Present during the deliberations were provincial board members and Department Heads to present their proposed budget and additional program for next year.

“Head and OICs of PHO, District Hospitals, PIO, CIAO, PSWDO, PED, and Albay District Jail presented their accomplishment report and expenditures program for this year,” the provincial government said.

Board members raised questions and gave their suggestions during the deliberation.

“This budget hearing is an instrument for economic growth and expand public services not only in Albay but also to far-flung areas,” said the province.

“This is also to lay strong foundations for the benefit of Albayanos,” it

P175-B South Railway project to start Q2 2019

(Manila Standard)

LEGAZPI CITY—Construction of the P175-billion Philippine National Railways South Railways project, a 639-kilometer standard gauge railway line from Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon, and a component of the PNR Luzon System program, will finally push through next year.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said the PNR Luzon System is among big-ticket infrastructure projects to be funded under an Official Development Assistance (ODA) agreement to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is set to visit Manila this month.

“Finally, the PNR South Railways project which we have tediously designed as a key that will unlock the economic potentials of the vast Southern Tagalog and Bicol areas, is now finally coming to realization, said Salceda, the project’s original proponent.

The PNR South Railway segment cuts Manila-Legazpi travel down to less than five hours. It runs from Manila to Matnog in Sorsogon with nine major stations—Manila, Los Baños, Batangas City, Lucena, Gumaca, Naga City, Legazpi City, Sorsogon City, and Matnog.

Salceda said the modern railways project will be a major backbone of economic development in Southern Tagalog and Bicol with spillover benefits to other regions of the country. Its construction is set to start in the second quarter of 2019 and will be partially operational by the second quarter of 2022.

Originally proposed years ago by Salceda, the PNR South Railways project now forms part of the massive “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of the Duterte administration. Relocation of affected families for ‘right of way,’ and procurement of project management consultant services which cost about P14.8 billion, are presently on-going.

When finished, Salceda said, the project will enhance the connectivity of major airports and seaports in Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions, and provide a fast and reliable alternative transport system for untapped areas along its route.

The PNR Luzon System includes the following component sections: PNR North 1 (Manila - Malolos) worth P10. 3 billion; PNR North 2 (Malolos-Clark), P211.4 billion; PNR South Railway Commuter (Manila-Los Baños), P124 billion; and the PNR South Railways Long-haul (Manila-Sorsogon), P175 billion.

The National Economic Development Authority said the ODA contract will be signed during President Xi’s November visit. High-level economic talks on the project between Chinese and Philippine economic and infrastructure managers were held in Beijing earlier this year.

Salceda said the PNR Luzon System’s South Railways is now “a priority investment project of the government” and is a vitally urgent infrastructure for Southern Luzon. It was approved and strongly recommended by the Bicol Regional Development Council in 2015, during Salceda’s term as chairman.

When completed, it will vastly improve connectivity and efficiency among Southern Luzon’s urban centers and regional growth hubs, and thus enhance productivity in the industry, services and agriculture sectors.

It is seen to further boost Bicol’s tourism industry by as much as 30%, which forms part of the predicted 24% economic returns it will bring to the countryside when fully operational, Salceda added.

From Manila, its new railway tracks will traverse Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay provinces before it reaches Matnog in Sorsogon. The Department of Transportation and the PNR, along with government housing agencies, have already signed last year a memorandum of agreement for a P54-billion relocation project for some 100,000 informal settler families who will be affected by the project.

The PNR Luzon system completes Albay’s multi-modal transport model — air, sea, road, and rails — and reaffirms the province’s role as Bicol’s regional hub and economic radiation center.

White lady ‘reigns’ in Albay’s ground zero


LEGAZPI CITY: Twelve years ago, Barangay Padang was a thriving community in the southern portion of this city. It became a ghost village after Super Typhoon ‘Reming’ battered the area on Nov. 30, 2006.

Motorists believe that a white lady reigns over the national highway that passes the village. According to those who have encountered her, the “ghost” appears between midnight and dawn.

The white lady was reported to have emerged from the destroyed village’s ground zero.

Motorist Glen Banzuela told The Manila Times that he and some of his friends have come face to face with the white lady.

“I was driving from Legazpi to Bacacay town where my parents live. Just before midnight, the white lady hovered before my eyes,” he narrated.

Albay solon says corruption in BOC does not constitute ‘lawless violence’

By Ellson Quismorio

Opposition congressman, Albay 1st district Rep. Edcel Lagman argued on Wednesday that the current situation at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) does not equate to “lawless violence” as per the claim of Malacañang.

“Serious and endemic corruption does not amount to ‘lawless violence’ but to odious criminality, the suppression of which is not the function of the military,” said Lagman, a member of the “Magnificent Seven” bloc at the House of Representatives.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently ordered a military takeover of the BOC amid persisting reports that it is unable to stop the entry of large shipments of illegal drugs–particularly “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride)–into the country via its ports.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo later tried to justify the deployment of the military at the agency by calling the corruption problem at the BOC as a form of lawless violence.

But Lagman, a seasoned lawmaker and human rights lawyer, does not agree with him.

“The ‘calling out power’ of the President under Section 18 of Article VII of the Constitution is for the sole purpose of having the Armed Forces the Philippines (AFP) ‘prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion’ which endanger public security or safety.

“This power cannot be exercised to solve corruption in a government agency like the Bureau of Customs where public safety or security is not at stake,” explained the gray-haired solon.

Lagman further said that the 1987 Constitution does not provide for Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) members’ takeover of positions in a civilian agency like the BOC.

“Since officers and personnel of the BOC have been ordered by the President to be in floating status, members of the armed forces will unconstitutionally take over their civilian functions.

“No amount of deodorizing by Malacañang apologists will cure the fatal constitutional infirmity of the elements of the Armed Forces taking over positions in the BOC,” the Bicolano underscored.

Lagman went on to cite Section 4 of Article XVI of the Charter, which says that the eradication of corruption cannot be assigned to the military since it a civilian function.

“No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government including Government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries,” he quoted the section as saying.

PRO5 validating candidates to ensure clean and peaceful elections

By Jorge Hallare (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) has started its full assessment on candidates and politicians who have private armed groups (PAGs), a tendency to employ hired guns, are involved in illegal drug trades or pose a possible threat to clean and peaceful election.

Chief Inspector Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said in an interview on Friday that they started their assessment after Camp Crame ordered them to conduct validation, so they could implement early their security plans for the mid-term election on May 13, 2019.

"The Bicol police is now in the process of validating reports that some politicians and candidates reported to be members of syndicates involved on illegal drug trade and have connections with the New People's Army, private armed groups or gun for hire suspects to influence the votes of electorates,” she said.

Calubaquib added they are assessing all data gathered during the May 2018 Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay elections and the present situation in every province, city and municipality in the region after the recent filing of the certificates of candidacy.

“We are tracing all the possibilities to make pro-active security preparations to ensure clean, honest and peaceful election. These include the plan for the distribution and augmentation of police officers per area in the region,” she said.

Calubaquib also said lawyer Alberto T. Cañares, Commission on Elections provincial officer in Masbate, has requested PRO5 to organize the "Task Force Masbate" to ensure safe and clean mid-term election in the province and that they will act on the request after the assessment and validation.

The Philippine National Police is also considering the threat posed by the New People's Army on the security of the electoral process after the recent ambush in Barangay Napolidan, Lupi town in Camarines Sur that killed three policemen and wounded three others.

"Nowadays, we are also in the process of validating some areas of concerns and possible hotspots for the security preparations," the PRO5 spokesperson said.

Albay youth urged to focus on social development programs

By Mike Dela Rama (PNA)

POLANGUI, Albay -- Mayor Cherilie Sampal urged the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials to take their mandate seriously as representatives of the youth and focus their programs on social development rather than sports or recreation activities.

In a seminar here on Monday entitled "Call for youth involvement and participation" organized by The Forum for Family Planning and Development, the mayor said the SK annual investment plan must be anchored on the local government unit's (LGU) social development program particularly on health.

Sampal said the SK is an essential partner of the LGU in reducing the increasing number of teen pregnancy incidence in the municipality. “We need to focus and prioritize our program beneficial to young people. It is important that SK programs contribute to the development of our constituents,” she pointed out.

The lady mayor said health is on top priority of the municipal government and that their goals include reduction of malnutrition among children and adolescents, prevention of sexually transmitted infection including HIV, elimination of maternal deaths, intervention on mental health and provisions of commodities for family planning.

“So far, we support single parents, inclusion of financial assistance to indigents, elders and persons with disabilities,” she said.

Sampal added the SK must be in the front line in the delivery of social services. “You have been given the opportunity to serve your constituents, you need to give better services for them," she said.

“I also urge you to become time-conscious. We are in the public service therefore, you must act according to your mandate as a public servant,” the mayor said.

She also instructed the municipal social welfare and development and youth federation president to come up with a comprehensive municipal youth program.

The whole-day seminar aimed to increase awareness on the current issues and concerns affecting the youth and assist SK in identifying adolescent and youth-appropriate programs.

NCCA promotes tribe culture, heritage

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) regional office here, opened a photo exhibit on the indigenous peoples (IPs) and ethnic groups in Luzon to promote the culture and heritage of tribesmen.

Rosalita Manlangit, focal person, PIA-NCCA Luzon cultural promotions, in her message said the activity at the Ayala Mall here on Monday aims to encourage a continuing and balanced development of IPs, and one way of conserving and promoting the country's local heritage.

“We have to ensure the widest dissemination of the culture and heritage, use of the artistic and cultural products and preserve the heritage and traditional culture and various creative expressions as a dynamic part of national culture,” she said.

Manlangit added the photo exhibit will help promote the culture, arts and heritage of IP communities in Luzon.

“The public will have an opportunity to appreciate the culture, beliefs, festivals and attitudes of our Indigenous People and connect them to the regency of Luzon,” she said.

Benilda Recibido, OIC regional director of PIA-Bicol, in an interview said the photo exhibit highlights the importance and richness of the indigenous culture and promotes deeper awareness and appreciation of the intangible cultural heritage while empowering communities.

“The photo exhibit launching is a simultaneous event conducted in the seven regions of Luzon (Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol and Cordillera Administrative Region) as part of the Indigenous People's Month celebration,“ she noted.

Rolando Cea, Chief Administrator of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Bicol, thanked the PIA and NCCA for mounting the photo exhibit.

“We encourage everyone to continue to promote our IP community and give the attention that they deserve,” he said.

The photo exhibit at the 3rd floor of Ayala Mall-Legazpi is open to the public with no entrance fee and will run until November 3, 2018.

DOH-Bicol on 'code white' for 'Undas'

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of Health (DOH) regional office in Bicol placed all government hospitals in the region under “code white alert” or “on-call” mode during the traditional celebration of All Saints' and All Souls' Days, also known as "Undas".

“The alert will be effective from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2," DOH Regional Director Napoleon Arevalo said in a press conference on Monday evening.

“During this period, hospital personnel will be ready to respond in any emergency situation,” he said.

Arevalo said the health department will continuously monitor health-related events during the period and closely coordinate with other agencies, such as the Philippine National Police and local government units.

DOH also came out with information materials entitled “Paalala at Gabay Para sa Ligtas na Undas” for distribution to the public, particularly those who will visit their departed loved ones in cemeteries, for safer and healthier celebration of Undas.

"Avoid bringing too much food that would easily spoil and bring water, so they could rehydrate if ever they will be exposed under the heat of the sun,” Arevalo said.

He noted that food-borne illnesses are usually caused by mass-produced foods, which have not been cooked, stored or handled properly.

The regional health official also advised people going to the cemeteries to bring medicines, especially those who have maintenance medication for hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Parents were likewise encouraged to leave their babies and toddlers at home as very young children are vulnerable to diseases due to their low resistance to infection, heat and congestion. (PNA)

Legazpi, first Bicol LGU to adopt e-Payment System

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The city government has started using an online payment mode using payers' credit cards in a bid to lessen the inconvenience of residents transacting with city hall.

Mayor Noel Rosal, in an interview during his Monday press conference, said the online payment project is part of the implementation of Republic Act 8792, the "Electronic Commerce Act of 2000", which promotes the universal use of electronic transactions in government.

“Using electronic payment and collection systems will bring more efficient and effective payment and collection services for government transactions and will provide the transacting clients additional payment options,” Rosal said.

Legazpi is the first local government unit in the Bicol region to implement the e-Payment System to establish the principles of good governance, transparency and operational efficiency, he added.

“The electronic payment system is an alternative way of paying taxes by our taxpayers to give them a less time-consuming process of transacting business in the government,” Rosal said.

DPWH-Bicol to implement 'Lakbay Alalay' this Undas

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Bicol will activate a composite team that will assist motorists during the observance of All Saints’ and All Souls' Days next week.

DPWH Regional Director Virgilio Eduarte has ordered district engineers to deploy personnel, who will man Motorists’ Assistance Centers in strategic locations of the national highway in the region, DPWH-Bicol spokesperson, Lucy Castañeda, said in an interview on Friday.

"Each District Engineering Office in the region will have an organized team ready to give free roadside emergency repair assistance to motorists during the long holidays. These teams are composed of engineers, car mechanics, equipment operators and other service crews," she noted.

Castañeda said the program, dubbed “Lakbay Alalay”, will start at 7 a.m. on Oct. 31 and will run until 12 noon on November 4.

"The director wants to make sure that all motorists who need help will be immediately given assistance and all measures should be vigorously undertaken," she added.

"Lakbay Alalay" will be implemented in coordination with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government unit (LGU) officials.

Under the program, 29 centers will be installed at the following locations:

Albay province: portions of Daang Maharlika in Barangay Lidong in Sto. Domingo; in Barangay Salugan in Camalig; and Barangay Paulog, Ligao City;

Camarines Norte: Barangay Tabugon in Sta. Elena;

Camarines Sur: portion of Daang Maharlika in Barangay Tambo, Pamplona; Barangay Concepcion Grande in Naga City; along Pili-Tigaon-Albay Boundary Road; Barangay Lourdes Young in Nabua; Bato Resthouse in Agos; and along Andaya Highway and Lupi-Sipocot-Libamanan Boundary Road.

Catanduanes: Barangay Sipi, Bato (Catanduanes Circumferential Road); Barangay Divino Rustro, San Andres; and Sto. Domingo, Virac;

Masbate: Batuan Section of San Fernando South Road; San Fernando North Road; San Jacinto Section of San Fernando Road; Monreal Section of San Fernando; San Pascual-Claveri Road; Claveria Side of San-Pascual-Claveri Road; Barangay Nursery in Masbate City; Crossing-Malinta; Masbate North to South Roving Unit; Junction-Buenavista; Barangay Balocawe, Dimasalang; and Junction-Cataingan.

Sorsogon: Pepita Park, Bulabog Sorsogon City and San Pedro Multi-Purpose Barangay Hall, Irosin.

In Rawis, Legazpi City, a skeletal workforce from the DPWH Maintenance Division will man the office to receive reports from field offices and to render emergency services that may be required during the holidays.

DOH holds reunion of 'Saved Babies'

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Health's (DOH) regional office here conducted a "Reunion of Saved Babies" on Friday to show parents and the public living proof that Newborn Screening (NBS) can save lives.

Hundreds of mothers, babies and other stakeholders gathered at the RC Daguinsin Hall of the DOH office to celebrate and hear testimonies about babies saved from different disorders through early detection using NBS.

“This aims to showcase and encourage them to continuously comply with the treatment regimen for children with disorders, and to show support to our saved babies,” said Dr. Monrey Isaiah Mancilla of the DOH-Family Health Cluster.

He added that with this kind of activity, they would be able to encourage more mothers to submit their babies to NBS after birth, especially during the first 24 hours.

“These babies are saved because of early detection of their disorder through NBS. Sayang ang isang buhay (One life is precious),” Mancilla said.

He noted that the most common detected disorder among babies is glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) in which case there are some food and medicine that are prohibited to be taken, otherwise, the infant would suffer from anemia.

“We monitor, conduct lectures and provide medicines for these babies so that they will be saved and have a better future,“ he said.

Mancilla said in the past, they monitored a baby with congenital hypothyroidism (CH) that was detected through NBS and now, that child is an engineering student.

Mary Ann Gabion from Gubat, Sorsogon, who has a three-year-old son with disorder, said in an interview, “Maganda po ang programa na ito ng DOH. Dahil sa NBS, nalaman namin agad ang kalagayan ni baby at nabigyan agad ng gamot na kailangan niya. Tinatawagan nila ako para sa monitoring ni baby at ok naman po ang anak ko (This program of DOH is good. Because of NBS, we immediately learned about the condition of my son. He was able to get the right medicine. DOH continues to monitor my son and, so far, he is doing good)."

Newborn screening is the practice of testing every newborn for certain harmful or potentially fatal disorder that is otherwise not apparent at birth.

Bicol police to deploy 6K cops for 'Undas'

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- All police units in the Bicol region will go on full alert starting midnight of Oct. 30 until Nov. 3 for the traditional observance of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day on Nov. 1 and 2.

Bicol police spokesperson, Chief Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, said they will field 6,000 policemen in strategic areas of the region to augment local police units in cities and municipalities and ensure peace and order, especially around cemeteries.

"Hundreds of policemen will be deployed to beef up the existing police force to maintain peace and order on Nov. 1 and 2," she said in an interview on Thursday.

Calubaquib said regional police director, Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal, tasked the provincial and city directors and city and municipal police stations to maximize their personnel in providing maximum security to all cemeteries in their respective areas of responsibility.

She noted they will check individuals bringing in any kind of liquor, firearms, and bladed weapons inside cemeteries.

Police will also provide traffic, security and medical assistance to commuters coming from other provinces who will take their vacations, she added.

Calubaquib further reminded Philippine National Police (PNP) units to stay on alert, be vigilant and take precautionary measures against domestic threat groups and other lawless elements that may take advantage of the events.

“Preparations are underway to see to it that no untoward incident happens that would endanger the lives of the people from elements who would like to sow terror during this religious event,” she said.

"No leave (of absence) is allowed at this time for all the PNP personnel and for those who already filed their leaves, they will be recalled for them to render duties for safeguarding the community. Only maternity, paternity and sick leave will be entertained by this time" she added.

Calubaquib said advisories were issued to the public containing the standard operating procedures or the "dos and don'ts" with regards to the observance of All Saints' Day.

The PNP also advised the public that safety precautions should not only be observed in cemeteries, but also in their homes especially when taking vacation.

"Remember that crimes happen everywhere. No one knows when will the perpetrator attack, personal security must always be observed, let us always be safe," she said.

PCSO posts P48-B revenues in 3rd quarter of 2018

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY-- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported a total revenue of PHP48 billion from January to September this year, up PHP9.7 billion, or 25 percent from PHP38.2 billion in the same period of 2017.

The amount represents the combined earnings of PCSO from all its products: Lotto, Keno, Sweepstakes, and Small-Town Lottery (STL).

PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan reported Thursday the office’s accomplishments to Bicol stakeholders in a “Sama-samang Talakayan at the La Piazza Convention Center, this city.

Balutan urged the media to help disseminate projects, efforts, program of the government - the PCSO.

“We are here today to give transparency to the people.” Balutan said.

Balutan added the increase in revenue shows the government’s intensified effort to get rid of illegal gambling.

He also assured that as PSCO generates more revenues, it would be able to serve more beneficiaries.

Meanwhile Nelly Loyola, PCSO Albay manager in an interview said PCSO has extended PHP86.3 million worth of medical assistance to 6,562 patients in the first 9 months in 2018.

“For our individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP), we already extended for Albay PHP74.1-million for 4,645 patients; for Catanduanes PHP4.9-million for 598 patients and for Masbate, PHP7.3-million for 1,319 patients.” Loyola added.

Loyola added the nature of requests include confinement, dialysis and chemotherapy.

Albay nurse claims second half of Ultra Lotto jackpot prize


More than a week after winning the Ultra Lotto 6/58 jackpot, a male nurse from Albay province has finally claimed the other half of the P1.18-billion prize.

"Kumpleto na 'yung nag-claim dun sa Ultra Lotto Jackpot prize na P1.18-billion. Kahapon nag-claim na yung huli, yun pangalawa na from Legaspi City, Albay," Florante Solmerin, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) deputy spokesman, told GMA News Online on Tuesday.

Solmerin said the 33-year-old jackpot winner claimed over P470 million in check. He added the winner did not say why he claimed the prize only on Monday.

"That's his decision. Puwede siya pumunta anytime. Kung gusto niyang i-delay or whatever," Solmerin said.

"Basta ang importante sa PCSO ay maipakita niya ang ticket. Napakita naman niya ang winning ticket," he added.

The winner claimed his prize at the PCSO Main Office in Mandaluyong accompanied by two relatives, Solmerin said.

Last week, the other winner, who is from Borlongan, Samar, claimed his half of the jackpot prize.

Winners have at least a year from winning to claim their prize. Once that window time expires, unclaimed prizes will go to the charity fund of the PCSO.

2-storey building turned over to Legazpi City school

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY — The SM Prime Holdings, through SM Foundation, turned over a two-storey, four-classroom building to Bitano Elementary School (BES) in Barangay Bitano here on Monday.

BES Principal Leonila Ante, in an interview, said the donation has resolved their problem on the ‘shifting’ of Kindergarten and Grade 3 pupils due to lack of classrooms.

“The students in the morning shift have to wake up very early while those in the afternoon shift have to go home late in the afternoon, after 6 p.m.,” she said.

Ante thanked SM Foundation for the school building that is equipped with comfort rooms, proper lighting system and ceiling fans.

“This building is a great gift to our learners. We lacked classrooms for the longest time," she said.

Christian Wesley Vilanueva, regional manager of SM Supermalls, cited the sincerity of the Sy family, the owner of SM Prime Holdings, to give back to the community through various donations that greatly benefit the people such as school buildings.

Mayor Noel Rosal, who was also present during the turnover, thanked the SM Supermalls and hoped for more projects to come from the company, which has recently opened a branch in this city.

Nelson Morales Jr., Department of Education Schools Division Superintendent, said students "will enjoy learning and this building will be their intellectual sanctuary for the next years to come”.

He encouraged the principal, faculty members and other stakeholders to protect and maintain the school building for the next generations of learners.

Morales said the project of SM is not just part of their Corporate Social Responsibility but their Corporate Social Opportunity.

The new school building is also persons with disability (PWD)-friendly, being equipped with 20 armchairs designed for left-handed students, a ramp and special comfort room.

To help in disaster management, SM also provided the school with staircase emergency light, a fire alarm bell and emergency exit stairs and fire extinguishers.

DSWD to promote accountability, transparency in village leadership

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office here will strengthen its community participation program for village leaders through its "Makilahok" project that aims to promote accountability and transparency in the barangay.

Under the project -- to be undertaken through the "Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services" or Kalahi-CIDSS program -- DSWD will conduct trainings in 15 local government units in Bicol.

In an interview on Monday, DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia said after the trainings that are set to start next month, each participating village is expected to come up with a Barangay Development Plan with activities, techniques and other implementation arrangements that can be adopted in their planning and budgeting process.

“This initiative will significantly help in heightening our support towards community empowerment and participation through the institutionalization of local development process,” he noted.

The training will cover four areas: Participatory Situation Analysis (PSA); Community Finance; Community Procurement following the Philippine financial and procurement procedures under Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act); and Community Monitoring.

The pilot municipalities that will take part in Makilahok are Manito and Jovellar in Albay; Jose Panganiban and San Vicente in Camarines Norte; Cabusao, Minalabac, Gainza, Canaman and Ocampo in Camarines Sur; Baras and Gigmoto of Catanduanes; Mobo and Palanas in Masbate; and Irosin and Gubat in Sorsogon.

"These municipalities were identified based on their implementation performance of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS, completion of community projects and LGUs' readiness to undergo capacity training for all barangays," Garcia said.

The Makilahok project will be implemented with a total budget of PHP7.52 million.

DOH launches Mental Health Fair, Congress

(NSAU, Bicol Standard)

LEGAZPI CITY--The Department of Health in Bicol strengthened its response to mental health by tying up the launch of the 2nd Mental Health Fair and the 6th Mental Health Congress with the theme “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World” at the Embacardero De Legazpi Convention Hall last October 11.

A total of more than 700 participants comprised of students, health workers, non-government organization, senior citizens, and other stakeholders attended the event which tackled the topics regarding mental health, particularly in adolescents, and the prevalence of substance abuse in youth.

According to Dr. Melissa Paulito Mariano, from the Department of Psychiatry, in general, problematic pattern of use of the Internet / computer can be considered as internet addiction disorder. Mariano stated that poor real-life social or peer dynamics prompts teenagers’ excessive use of the internet. She also noted that people who develop addiction have higher risk to development mental disorders.

Adult, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Dr. Elham Mae Bocalbos also shared that 50% of teenagers consider lack of understanding from family or peers as the main factor contributing to their depression. But on top of that, she mentioned that there is an emerging depression caused by using social media and dubbed it as “Facebook Depression” wherein users feel the lack of acceptance from online peers.

Bocalbos added that if depression is not left in check, it may add difficulties in learning, impair relationships, or even lead to suicide. She discussed the symptoms of depression of an individual comes in the form of constantly feeling fatigue, lack of concentration, having trouble sleeping, sudden loss or gain of weight due to unusual appetite, anhedonia or the inability to feel pleasure, and surging feelings of guilt or worthlessness.

Bocalbos urged the participants to take note of these symptoms or red flags to prevent matters from escalating. She suggested that they talk to an individual if they notice a symptom of a depressive behaviour. People can also encourage them to seek professional help when necessary.

A public consultation on the implementing rules and regulations of the National Mental Health Act was also conducted under the supervision of Frances Prescilla Cuevas, National Program Manager of DOH.

To end, OIC Regional Director of DOH CHD Bicol, Dr. Napoleon Arevalo reiterated the importance of talking and not hesitating to seek help. He also assured that the DOH would strengthen its campaign and advocacy to destroy the stigma on mental health. Arevalo also added that despite DOH CHD Bicol being the model of mental health care in the Philippines, it would continue to look for ways to upgrade its services.

PCCI names Legazpi as PH's 'Most Business-Friendly City'

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY --- Another feather was added to this city's cap as it earned recognition for being the Most Business-Friendly City in the country from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), under the Component City Category.

President Rodrigo Duterte handed the award to city Mayor Noel Rosal during the 44th Philippine Business Conference on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Manila Hotel.

The award highlighted the outstanding efforts of local government units (LGUs) in implementing good governance reforms to promote trade and investments, employment, transparency, accountability and efficiency in delivering business services to fuel inclusive growth in their localities.

Rosal, in an interview on Friday, said the business sector is one of the accelerators of economic growth that hugely contributed to the city’s coffers and gave more employment opportunities to the locals.

“It’s really an honor for us to receive the most business friendly city award because this kind of recognition symbolizes Legazpi as the new investment hub in the country today that will surely continue to improve the investor’s confidence to put up more business establishments in the city,” he said.

The city mayor said his administration is aggressively implementing the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 to expedite government transactions through the formulation of the Citizen’s Charter.

The city also participated in the Enhanced Government Performance Management System (LGPMS) for more informed decision-making that allows greater participation of stakeholders in tracking performance, he said.

Rosal further said the city’s Business Permit and Licensing Office has established a public assistance and complaint desk as well as one-stop-shop and courtesy lanes for pregnant women, senior citizens and persons with disabilities in order to speed up the application and renewal of business permits.

"The members of the city council have already enacted an Investment and Incentive code in order to promote economic growth and sustainable development through the effective and efficient services strengthened by the active participation of all the stakeholders within a safe environment," he also said.

The main objective of the code is to harmonize the national and local investment policies as well as to establish organizational structures to guide the efficient and effective implementation of this code and also to set the guidelines, procedures and standards for identifying priority investment areas, he explained.

It also promotes the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), he added.

Rosal said for the past 10 years, almost PHP30 billion has been invested in Legazpi by different giant business firms including the SM Super Malls and Ayala Group of Companies.

1.1K PWDs in Albay get P1.5-M educ assistance

By Mike Dela Rama (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- A total of 1,188 elementary, high school, and college students with disabilities have received PHP1.5 million in educational financial assistance from Albay’s provincial social welfare office.

Acting Albay Social Welfare Officer Eva Grageda said in an interview on Thursday that for 2018, the provincial government has allocated PHP2 million in educational aid for persons with disabilities (PWDs) from the elementary to the tertiary levels.

“For elementary pupils, we are giving PHP1,000 each, PHP1,500 each for high school students, and PHP3,000 for college students,“ Grageda said.

She said the educational assistance to PWDs is in keeping with Republic Act No. 10754, or the Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability, which states that for them to pursue primary, secondary, tertiary, post-tertiary, as well as vocational or technical education in both public and private schools, qualified PWDs will be provided with scholarships, grants, financial aids, subsidies and other incentives, including support for books, learning materials, and uniform allowance, to the extent feasible.

Qualified PWDs need to meet the minimum admission requirements set by the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education Department, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and other entities that grant scholarships and financial assistance for the education of persons with disability.

To qualify for the educational aid, each PWD applicant needs to submit a certificate of indigence, his or her report card, an endorsement from the concerned municipal social welfare officer, and identification card, Grageda said.

“For purposes of monitoring, our office is conducting regular physical inspection and list of enrollees are being submitted to the municipal social welfare office,” she added.

Grageda further assured that PWDs in Albay are given equal opportunities in employment, apprenticeship, incentives, vocational rehabilitation through training courses, livelihood and other services beneficial to them. The provincial social welfare office also provides assistive devices and medical financial assistance.

DOH-5 bares finalists in 'Purple Ribbon' awards

By Sally Atento-Altea (PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – Cash prizes of P300,000 – P500,000 await the top winners in the Purple Ribbon Award for Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH).

The Purple Ribbon Award for RPRH is given every three years by the Department of Health (DOH) to recognize local government units and civil society organizations with exemplary practices, accomplishments and innovation in the implementation of RPRH and family planning programs.

“The award will be given to top LGUs and CSOs that have performed well based on the specified criteria. For this year’s award, achievements will be based on 2016-2017 performance,” DOH Bicol Family Health Cluster Head Dr. Rita Mae Ang-Bon said.

Top three implementers will win P300,000, P400,000 and P500,000 respectively in provincial, city and municipal categories while one best implementer will receive P500,000 for Civil Society category.

The members of the inter-agency regional screening committee have evaluated and selected the finalists from the nominees.

The finalists for the provincial category are Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes while for the city category are Naga, Legazpi Masbate and Iriga.

The municipalities of San Fernando, Camarines Sur; Guinobatan, Albay; and Baao, Camarines Sur are the chosen finalists among seven nominees.

The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines-Camarines Sur Chapter is the only nominee for the CSO category.

Governance, health service delivery, health regulation and health financing are among the factors considered in choosing the finalists.

The winners will be announced on October 26, 2018 after onsite validation and final meeting of the regional screening committee.

UltraLotto 6/58 multi-millionaires are from Albay and Eastern Samar

(CNN Philippines)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The two lucky persons that will split the ₱1.180 billion Ultra Lotto 6/58 jackpot placed their bets in Albay and Eastern Samar.

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Monday announced the winning bets were placed at an SM branch in Legazpi City, Albay and in Borongan, Eastern Samar. They self-picked the winning numbers.

They have to claim their prize at the PCSO Head Office in Mandaluyong City, bringing two valid IDs.

The two winners, who both chose the winning combination of 40-50-37-25-01-45, will split the jackpot prize of ₱1,180,622,508 — the highest in Philippine history.

The Ultralotto 6/58 was drawn on Sunday.

The jackpot broke the billion-peso mark in October, beating the previous highest prize of ₱741 million won by a lone bettor in 2010.

The Ultralotto is drawn three days a week — Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday — and offers the biggest initial jackpot of ₱50 million. Each bet costs ₱24.

There are also payouts depending on the number of winning numbers placed by a bettor. If he or she gets three out of six winning numbers, a bettor wins ₱20.

Payouts are also given to bettors who get four or five numbers out of the six-number winning combination, and the amounts are based on a pari-mutuel system.

The PCSO explains the prize payouts are "determined based on the total sales generated and the number of winners on the particular draw. Second and third prizes may vary and may be lower than the published prize amount."

DA-Bicol fetes farmers, rural women achievers

By Melissa Basmayor (PNA)

NAGA CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) 5 (Bicol) honored the recipients of the Gawad Saka and Rural Women Achievers 2018 awards here on Wednesday afternoon.

The ceremony -- held at the Convention Center of Avenue Plaza Hotel -- is an annual activity that recognizes the efforts of groups and individuals in agricultural development, food security, and sustainability in the region.

Undersecretary for High-Value Crops and Rural Credit Evelyn G. Laviña, who also chairs the DA Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point System, said the region is doing well in terms of agriculture.

In fact, she noted that many local farmers are reaping awards at the national level in the field of agriculture.

“Our goal is to continue the programs and projects that will develop the agricultural products of the Bicol region, such as the pili and the sili,” Laviña said.

She also expressed her gratitude to the local officials who attended the event for their unceasing support for the DA’s programs.

“Our common goal is healthy food for the future,” she added.

The Rural Women Achievers 2018 were Josephine G. Artiaga of Lupi, Camarines Sur – Regional Winner; Maricel G. Base of Polangui, Albay – 1st Runner-up; Fe B. Carranza of Panicuason, Naga City – 2nd Runner-up; and Remedios P. Ardenete of Irosin, Sorsogon – 3rd Runner-up.

The Gawad Saka Achievers, on the other hand, were Genaro A. Tamon of Magarao, Camarines Sur – Outstanding Rice Farmer; Angelita A. Cerillo of Tigaon, Camarines Sur – Outstanding Corn Farmer; Pepito M. Amaranto of Daraga, Albay – Outstanding High-Value Crop Farmer; Elmer S. Salazar of Tigaon, Camarines Sur – Outstanding Organic Agriculture Farmer; Josephine G. Artiaga of Lupi, Camarines Sur – Outstanding Small Animal Raiser;

Napo Rural Improvement Club (RIC) of Polangui, Albay – Outstanding RIC; Municipal Agricultural and Fishery Council (MAFC) of Malilipot, Albay – Outstanding MAFC; Provincial Agricultural and Fishery Council (PAFC) of Daet, Camarines Norte – Outstanding PAFC; and Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (MFARMC) of Tiwi, Albay – Outstanding MFARMC.

Meanwhile, products of local farmers, such as food items, handicrafts, and accessories, were also showcased in an exhibit.

DepEd-Albay launches 'K-PO' project to strengthen values teaching

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Education’s (DepEd) in Albay, together with the provincial government, launched on Monday the “K-PO” project that aims to reiterate and strengthen the good values students learn in the classroom and make sure these are applied in their daily life.

In his speech, Bebiano Sentillas, Albay schools division superintendent, said the “K-PO” project wants to instill in the youth the teachings of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal -- who believed that the youth is the hope of the fatherland -- and aims to make the same alive and lingering in the hearts of Albayanos.

“In the K to 12 journey, we serve our kindergarten pupils and once it produces graduates in Grade 12, we are not just teaching them the knowledge and skills but we want, more importantly, to instill the values that we need to see," he said.

Sentillas added that the project will assist the mentors in utilizing a more creative and integrative way of teaching values.

DepEd-Albay decided to come up with the “K-PO” project after realizing the need to reinforce the teaching of values to the youth, who are mostly engrossed in using social media, where they tend to acquire bad habits or teachings.

Under the project, each school in the division will be known as a “Character School”.

The office of the school head is expected to feature the DepEd’s core values -- Maka-Diyos, Makatao, Makakalikasan, Makabansa -- in any creative way. Class sections can also be named after values, preferably in Filipino.

To create awareness among schools on value focus for a certain month, a short program shall be held after the flag ceremony. For every month, a color-coded value banner will be hung in an accessible area in the school.

Each school or class is also encouraged to have a “Tree of Goodness”, where students or even personnel can hang a symbol, card, item or note of the good thing they have done during the year. Schools shall also put up bulletin boards showing snapshots of good deeds by anybody in the school.

As part of the advocacy program, character icon “Yhanokz and Mayhana” were introduced, representing positive values to the youth.

"Yhanokz" is a millennial nickname derived from “Albayano” for anyone who is young and with a good heart. "Mayhana" comes from the combined name “Maria Albayana”, representing the image of a young and simple female Albay resident.

Yhanokz and Mayhana represent the DepEd-Albay mantra to serve, excel, care and connect.

Every month, Yhanokz and Mayhana will visit a particular municipality, interact with the learners from elementary to the secondary level, and give rewards to learners who have been spotted demonstrating Mayhanokz qualities.

“We want to expand the curriculum in the Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (values education). We do not end, stop teaching values inside the schools. We want it applied in (the) home, in community, saan man pumunta ang ating mga mag-aaral na Albayano, andon ang paghuhubog sa kanila ng (wherever our Albayano students go, they should be given) values education,” Sentillas said.

Albay Governor Al Frances Bichara, in an interview, said the project is very timely as the youth of today need to relearn good values.

“This is all about the good manners and right conduct that every learner should never forget,” he said.)

Bamboo industry becoming a fast-growing economic engine in Albay

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LIGAO CITY -- The bamboo industry in Albay is fast growing as a major economic engine that would spur development in the field of environment and local economy, as well as tourism, an Albay solon said.

Albay 3rd District Representative Fernando Gonzalez said during the launching of the project, dubbed as “City Bambusetum”, that the industry has vast potentials for the environment, livelihood, employment generation, food, energy, and tourism.

“Our major concern here is the environment since our forest lands, mountains are now denuded while our efforts to restore these areas would take some time, we thought of planting bamboos in between the planted trees,” he said during the event on Saturday here.

He said the process involves intercropping. While waiting for the trees to grow, the planted bamboo in two years’ time gets mature and ready for harvest.

The project is designed to plant about 16 to 30 varieties of bamboo on some six hectares of denuded and idle lands in the city.

Currently, there are 15,000 seedlings stored at the nursery.

The Albay lawmaker said the project started in 2014 when various species of bamboo were planted on the two-hectare land beside the Kawa-kawa Natural Park in Barangay Tuburan, four kilometers away from the city proper.

Gonzalez said as a pilot project in Albay, the city government would start buying idle or non-productive lands as an investment to meet the target of building a 100-hectare bamboo plantation in the coming years.

Ligao City Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua said the bamboo, considered by scientist as a “miracle plant,” is a natural deterrent against the ill effects of climate change.

She said bamboo plants contribute at least 30 percent of the needed oxygen requirements since it converts carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles and machinery into clean air.

Alsua, citing scientific studies, also reveal that bamboo - which releases more oxygen than trees - will also help stabilize riverbanks, regulate watersheds, and protect soil erosion.

Bamboo products would boost the local economy as these can contribute to housing and furniture industry, manufacturing of foods, beverages, wine and beer, clothing materials, insect repellants, toiletries and deodorants and charcoal bricks from bamboo materials.

“Over the years there are products from bamboo materials that would come out in the market, actually there are now products displayed in both local and foreign markets,” Alsua said.

Alsua said, “while it significantly contributes in the various business enterprise, the end in view is how it helps in generating employment.”

The project has already trained volunteers who were given materials. “We are encouraging more people to join us,” she said.

Alsua said the city government has formed an association to engage in bamboo production and this is made up of volunteers from Barangay Oma-oma, an upland village of the city.

Alsua said as they implement the “kawayan sa tinik plantation” under the City Bambusetum, a livelihood center would also be built to address the production and marketing aspect of the project.

Gonzalez said the two-hectare bamboo plantation would be converted into a top provincial Christmas destination, by installing lights on it. Christmas characters made of bamboo materials would also be on display.

Bamboo products such as furniture, houses, clothing materials. food and beverages, charcoal bricks products would also be sold.

Scenic Mayon captivates SM City Legazpi shoppers

By Amy R. Remo (Reporter, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The most scenic food hall in the Philippines finds a home at SM City Legazpi.

It’s the latest lifestyle destination that pays homage to the majestic Mayon Volcano.

At the heart of Albay is the newly-opened SM City Legazpi, which brings to Bicolanos an array of new retail, dining and entertainment options. More than just a lifestyle hub for families and friends, Bicol’s largest mall offers guests an incomparable backdrop: a glimpse of the stunning Mt. Mayon as they shop and dine.

As SM Prime Holdings Inc., one of Southeast Asia’s leading integrated property companies, opened its latest mall here on September 14 – SM City Legazpi goes beyond being a tourist destination. This also allows the SM Group to provide fresh jobs for the city’s constituents and contribute to the sustained progress not only of Albay, but of the Bicol region.

Here are at least three reasons why you should put a pin on SM City Legazpi the next time you’re in Albay.


The 2,463-meter Mayon Volcano, awe-inspiring with its beautiful symmetry of a near perfect cone, continues to attract tourists by the droves. The majestic view can be enjoyed while you’re at SM City Legazpi.

Unique to this mall is its vast glass wall at the SM Food Hall that affords mallgoers a panoramic view of Mt. Mayon, thus elevating the concept of “malling” to an even richer, more compelling experience for all. The world-heritage site can also be enjoyed by SM Prestige members from The SM Store Prestige Lounge. The rest of the mall’s

architecture and the brand’s signature green features further complements awesome views.

The expansion of SM Super-malls delights more Filipinos a unique family fun shopping experience with SM City Legazpi, which brings to Bicol a new shopping flavor for all to enjoy.

Dining at SM City Legazpi’s Food Hall treats mallgoers with a vision of Mayon’s splendor.


Located across Legazpi Grand Central Terminal, this latest destination is poised to become the point of convergence in Bicol that offers shoppers an interesting line up spread across 42,603 sqm of leasable space.

SM City Legazpi has three levels that house a curated mix of shopping, dining and entertainment outlets to transform the Bicolanos’ mallgoing experience. There’s access to SM’s flagship stores, first-in-Bicol global and national brands and local products and services. Anchor stores include The SM Store, SM Supermarket, SM Appliance Store, Ace Hardware, Our Home, Watsons, Surplus Shop, Sports Central, Miniso, SM Food Hall and the SM Cyberzone.

Guests get to enjoy convenience, too, with the mall’s spacious car park, customer service hub, PWD-accessible facilities and breastfeeding station, among others.


The province of Albay became an even more fun destination for locals and tourists with the opening of SM City Legazpi, SM’s 71st mall.

After ticking off your bucket list of tourist spots to visit and things to do in Albay, you can cap off an exhilarating day with a visit to SM City Legazpi, where you can relax while looking back at the day’s exciting highlights. Indulge in local delicacies, get a relaxing massage, and buy your pasalubongs here for your loved ones.

Come visit SM City Legazpi, open from Monday to Saturday at 10AM to 10PM. For more information, visit or follow SM’s official social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Barangay execs need to be resilient, dynamic

By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY --- Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday urged village officials to be resilient in carrying out their mandated task and not to rely much on the help of their political leaders.

Robredo believes that for a country to prosper and be resilient it needs strong leaders that should come from the barangays that could face challenges to improve the well-being of their constituents.

She lamented that barangay officials have been subservient to the mayors, governors, congressmen because of the sheer lack of funds to pursue socio-economic development projects in their respective communities.

Robredo in her keynote speech at the Albay Sangguniang Barangay Legislative Empowerment Training participated in by hundreds of newly elected barangay officials said she feels that among the reasons these officials become subservient and dependent to their benefactors is the lack of training in crafting projects.

The practice is that barangay officials spent much of their time in preparing resolutions, proposals and visiting their political leaders, lobbying for funds to implement projects, she stressed.

Robredo said, “We know for a fact that barangays have no sufficient funds so the propensity is to go to their political leaders and fall prey to their [leaders’] wishes.”

Robredo said when she was still a member of 16th Congress, she was pushing for the passage of the Barangay Reform Bill which she co-authored.

According to Robredo, among the salient features of the proposed bill include the extension of the term of office of barangay officials, the professionalization of barangay volunteers and workers, and holding of capacity building programs, especially in implementing the Bottoms up Budgeting (BUB) process.

On the aspect of extending the term of barangay officials, she explained that the current 3-year term is quite a short period for officials to implement projects.

“When the term of office is short the propensity of being dependent to politicians is always there, extend it these leaders would become subservient to the constituents,” she said.

Robredo told the participants that she believes that by extending the term limits to a longer period would be more productive since these officials could plan out and implement projects that their constituents wanted them to undertake.

As for the professionalization of barangay volunteers, the bill would require the national government to set aside funds for salaries of barangay workers such as Barangay Health, Social and Nutrition workers.

Currently, the Internal Revenue Allocation (IRA) given to barangays are spent for paying honoraria to workers rather than in implementing development project for the community, Robredo said.

For the BUB the program is designed to teach barangay officials the process of identifying and implementing projects in consultation with their constituents.

According to Robredo, the process would eliminate the dependency of the barangay officials to political interventions.

“I believe for a public official to be effective and trustworthy dapat sila ay maging malakas, matibay, matino para maiangat, at itaas ang antas ng pamumuno,” she said.

Legazpi to build housing units for city's poorest families

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Local officials here are fine-tuning all documents for the construction of a housing project for the city's poorest families, Mayor Noel E. Rosal said Wednesday.

In an interview, he said his administration will construct another 40 houses at the resettlement site in Barangay Taysan, located in the southern portion of this city, after Mandaluyong City Mayor Carmelita Abalos earlier handed over a PHP2-million support fund for the project.

Abalos noted that the amount came from the Ciera Marie Foundation named after her daughter Ciera, who died in 2008.

The foundation is a charity organization focused on giving medical and educational assistance to indigent children. It also holds annual fundraising events, such as golf tournaments and horse races.

Rosal said the donated amount was originally planned to be used for the construction of a permanent evacuation center but he decided to use it instead for the construction of the housing project that would benefit the poorest of the poor in the city.

The mayor said the fund for the construction of a permanent evacuation center will come from Senators JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Juan Edgardo Angara, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Joel Villanueva, who had pledged to give PHP10 million each for a total of PHP60 million for the project.

The facility would serve as temporary shelter for residents from the four villages, which are covered by the 8-km. extended danger zone at the foot of Mt. Mayon during the volcano's eruptive episodes, he said.

Rosal also said he is just waiting for the approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) for the PHP100,000 financial support to the local government units in areas in northern Luzon that suffered from the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong over the weekend.

DSWD-Bicol ready to extend aid to ‘Ompong’ victims in CAR

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 5 (Bicol) is ready to extend help to victims of Typhoon Ompong in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), an official of the agency said Tuesday.

“We are ready to provide aid as soon as we receive directives from the central office or letter request from the said affected region,” said Arnel Garcia, DSWD-5 director, in an interview on the sidelines of the Albay Media Forum held here Tuesday.

“Kung sila ay tumutulong sa atin, bakit hindi natin tulungan sila (If they are helping us, why can’t we help them) with a PHP3.2-million available standby fund ready to be used anytime," Garcia said.

He said as of Sept. 13, the warehouse of DSWD-5 contained 11,360 family food packs, each with 6 kg. of rice, four cans of corned beef, four cans of sardines, and six packs of energy drink or coffee sufficient for five members of a household and good for two days of consumption.

For the non-food stocks, she added, there were 2,297 hygiene kits, 623 dignity kits, 9,066 sleeping kits, 327 laminated sacks, 376 tents, 115,296 malong, 1,998 family kits, and 46,350 blankets.

Garcia said he is willing to offer funds, as well as volunteer workers and even equipment technology, if needed.

“I already instructed them (volunteer workers) to be on standby mode,” he noted.

Itogon town in Benguet province suffered numerous casualties in a major landslide in Barangay Ucab as Typhoon Ompong barreled through northern Luzon.

Bichara leads inauguration of Albay engineering office’s new facilities

(Politiko Bicol)

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara has led the inauguration of new facilities of Provincial Engineer’s Office in Salugan, Camalig last September 17.

The new facilities include covered court, ready-line-bay, PGA DRR Central Warehouse, and Heavy/Light Equipment as well as vehicles for the PEO.

Bichara was joined by Provincial Engineer Dante Baclao in ribbon cutting, while Rev. Fr. Renato Robrigado, Parish Priest of Camalig, blessed the said facilities and equipment.

Bichara reminisced the first time he visited the Provincial Engineer’s Office upon returning to office as a Governor.

“When I first visited your engineering compound, it wasn’t in a very feasible condition; daeng atop, dae kamo equipments, so I started scraping the bottom of the barrel to source for funds.” he said.

The Governor also said that there are still lots of improvements that needs to be done as he vowed to continue to support the PEO.

“We try to be the best, have the best motorpool. And I hope I can have the best team here in the engineering office.” Governor Bichara added.

BM Dante Arandia, AKO BICOL Reps. Rodel Batocabe and Christopher Co, and Maguindanao 2nd District, Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu were also present during the inauguration.

Hundreds of public servant hopefuls join Albay CSC fair

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Hundreds of jobseekers on Tuesday flocked to the "Government Job Fair" being conducted here by the Bicol Civil Service Commission (CSC) until Wednesday (September 19).

Lynbee Navio, regional information officer of CSC-Bicol, told the Philippine News Agency in an interview that the two-day job fair offers hundreds of vacant positions from the 10 participating regional line agencies.

According to her, most of the vacant positions are plantilla or permanent positions and the remaining are contract of service and job order positions.

Held at the newly-opened SM City Legazpi, the job fair is among the highlights of the 118th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary with the theme “Lingkod Bayani: Maka-Dios, Makatao, Makabayan”.

“This is a strategy to market highly qualified civil service eligible to government agencies, make accessible, transparent and open vacancies in the government for the public and place talented graduates and jobseekers in the government,” Navio said.

The job fair also aims to increase the absorption rate of workers who are Career Service eligible in the government service.

Among the participating agencies in the event are the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Professional Regulation Commission, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Legazpi City PESO office, Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine National Police, Department of Education, Land Transportation Office, and CSC thru its Human Resource Division.

Aside from the job fair, the CSC is also holding the “Government Express Goes to the Mall” program, which aims to bring government services closer to the people by making available front-line services.

The participating agencies in the Government Express are the Philippine Statistics Authority, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health, Philippine Postal Office, Government Service Insurance System, National Police Commission, and Social Security System, among others.

15K persons return home as weather turns fine in Bicol

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- At least 4,022 families or 15,205 persons, who sought shelter in various government evacuation centers, were allowed to return home on Sunday as the weather normalizes in Bicol, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) here said on Monday.

In a report to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), OCD Regional Director Claudio Yucot said the decampment began on Sunday after consultation with the six PDRRMCs.

Yucot said Typhoon Ompong has dumped moderate rainfall in the six Bicol provinces, prompting disaster authorities to carry out preemptive evacuation to villagers vulnerable to floods, lahar and mudflows and landslide.

The OCD report said preemptive evacuation was reported in Catanduanes 1,140 families or 4,861 persons -- Albay, 2,126 families or 7,275 persons; Sorsogon, 83 families or 423 persons; Masbate, 247 families or 936 persons; Camarines Sur, 200 families or 853 persons and Camarines Norte, 226 families or 857 persons.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) allowed some 1,370 passengers stranded in major ports in Bicol to sail on Saturday after storm signals in the region were lifted.

Rainfall spawned by Typhoon Ompong has caused various river channels to swell and overflow it also triggered power outages in the Camarines provinces, the OCD report said.

Job fair for civil service eligibles set in Bicol

By Sally Atento-Altea (PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – A job fair offering employment opportunities to civil service eligibles will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 18 and 19, at the SM City Legazpi in celebration of the 118th Civil Service Anniversary.

The event will connect jobseekers with government agencies that are currently hiring.

“The government job fair is a strategy to market highly qualified civil service eligibles to government agencies, make accessible, transparent and open vacancies in the government for the public and place talented graduates and job seekers in government service,” said Lynbee Niebla-Navio, information officer of the regional office of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in Bicol.

Navio told the ‘Ugnayan sa Bikol’ radio program of the Philippine Information Agency that participating government agencies will designate their human resource personnel to accept and process applications.

“The participating agencies shall task its Human Resource Merit Promotion and Selection Board to conduct on-site interviews and assessment of the applicants,” Navio said.

Free orientation will also be conducted by the agencies to showcase their services.

Notwithstanding the job fair, the participating agencies are enjoined to publish and post their vacant positions in keeping with CSC rules and regulations.

“The participating agencies shall ensure that all positions offered by them are published and posted in accordance with CSC rules and regulations before the conduct of the interview,” Navio added.

The job fair is one of the main activities in Bicol to mark the 118th anniversary of the Philippine Civil Service with the theme “Lingkod Bayani: Maka-Diyos, Makatao, Makabayan.”

Albay’s information office conducts seminar on news gathering, writing for Capitol employees

(Politiko Bicol)

For better and efficient dissemination of information, the Albay Provincial Information Office held a seminar on news writing for Capitol employees.

Provincial Information Officer Mr. Leonardo Flores spearheaded the seminar on newsgathering, news writing, and fair gender language seminar and workshop at the Albay provincial Capitol Red Conference Room last Friday.

The said seminar was pursuant to the order of Governor Al Francis Bichara to ensure that programs of the Capitol are properly disseminated to the public.

“As a mandate by Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara to ensure the expeditious dissemination of data to the public, the seminar gathered representatives from the various departments and district hospitals of the PGA to develop their skills in producing clear and concise information for the Albayanos,” the provincial government said.

“The aim was to consolidate the efforts of the various departments and combine their different channels, such as social media, so that information can be delivered instantaneously on a wider scope,” it added.

The province said that the department and hospital representatives present during the seminar will act as the focal persons for their offices so that easy collaboration can be established.

New SM City Legazpi seen to generate thousands of jobs for Albayanos

(Politiko Bicol)

Local government officials of Legazpi City attended the formal opening of SM City Legazpi yesterday.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara and Rep. Joey Salceda were among the local officials to grace the opening.

Mayor Rosal took pride of the newest investment to open in his city, saying that it will generate thousands of jobs for Bicolanos.

“Our People Takes Pride in welcoming the biggest shopping CONGLOMERATE in the Country…It opened more than 6k Jobs and business opportunities for our local people,” the Mayor said.

Mayor Rosal described the opening as “historic,” as he thanked Hans Sy for bringing SM Malls in Legazpi.

“SEE for yourself a higher level shopping mall as compared to other SM malls in the country side according to Mr.Hans SY….YOU WILL SURELY BE PROUD and AMAZED that IT HAS BEEN DONE HERE IN OUR HOMETOWN…WE MADE THEM BELIEVED IN OUR CITY,” an ecstatic Rosal said.

Actress Kim Chiu graced the opening yesterday

Meanwhile, Governor Bichara went around SM City to personally cut the ribbon of some establishments for the symbolic opening ceremony.

In an earlier statement, Bichara has said that he is happy with the establishment of new developments as these will greatly aid in the progress of Albay and provide income opportunities for many Albayanos.

Bicol DSWD ready for Typhoon 'Ompong'

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office here has readied relief augmentation to local government units (LGUs) that will be affected by Typhoon "Ompong."

“We are ready to provide additional aid to the affected LGUs as soon as we receive their disaster report and letter request,” with PHP3.2-million standby fund that can be used anytime, DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia told the Philippine News Agency on Friday.

Garcia said the warehouse stock of DSWD contains 11,360 family food packs (FFPs), 376 tents, 9,066 sleeping kits, 623 dignity kits, 1,998 family kits, 2,297 hygiene kits, 115,296 malong, 327 laminated sacks and 46,350 blankets.

A DSWD family food pack contains six kilos of rice, four tin cans of corned beef, four tin cans of sardines and six packs of energy drink or coffee, which is sufficient for a family of five for two days.

The LGUs also provide relief supplies to affected families but the packaging and content may vary.

The DSWD provided a total of 21,837 FFPs and 32,600 malong, which were prepositioned in all provinces in Bicol except for Masbate.

DSWD activated its Emergency Management Team (EMT) in each province that will coordinate and monitor the humanitarian relief assistance to affected areas.

The teams are closely working with LGUs, through the Provincial or Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (P/MDRRMO) to gather disaster reports and updates.

The EMT at the Regional Office has started its duty to consolidate disaster reports coming from LGUs that will serve as basis if the affected LGU needs an augmentation from DSWD.

Garcia also reminded the public that they do not tolerate the selling and buying of the Department’s relief goods. "Kindly report to our DSWD staff deployed at the city or municipal hall if they encountered this,” Garcia said.

Those who commit any of the prohibited acts face a fine ranging from PHP50,000 – PHP500,000, or imprisonment of six years up to 12 years . Meanwhile classes in all levels were suspended in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Catanduanes.

Provincial Capitol officially launches Albay Trading Center

(Politiko Bicol)

The Provincial Government of Albay has officially launched the Albay Trading Center, a project initiated by Governor Al Francis Bichara, last September 7.

Farmers, buyers, traders, visitors and guests graced the opening at the Albay Farmer’s Bounty Village, Cabangan in Camalig.

Various products and produce from different municipalities and cities in Albay were displayed at the trading center.

Aside from the launching of the said trading center, a whole day training on organic agriculture and urban gardening was likewise conducted at the Farmer’s Auditorium.

“A thanksgiving mass was held in the morning followed by the registration of participants. Ms. Hilda Lopez, the Assistant Provincial Agriculturist, acknowledged all the participants present at the venue,” the province said

“This was followed by an overview of the whole day training by AFBFPP, focal person Ms. Maria Lydia Pepaño and a welcome message by Provincial Agriculturist, Ms. Cheryll Rebeta,” it added.

There was also a training and demo on Plant Based Cooking “Pinoy Style” by Kuya “Veggie” of Bicol Vegetarian Circle. He was assisted by his daughter, Meg Galura and environmentalist, Roseville Nidea.

“They demonstrated how to cook Veggie Express without using any meat and only organic ingredients such as patani, sigarilyas, and shitake mushroom,” the the province.

Moreover, a lecture and demonstration on Urban Gardening and Organic Concoction was also presented by AVB Vill, Farm Manager, Mr. Francisco Obiña.

Economic intervention needed to cushion Bicol inflation: Salceda

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Tuesday called for an immediate economic intervention to mitigate the effects of soaring inflation in the Bicol region.

Salceda said the 9-percent inflation rate that hit Bicol is already a cause for alarm since it is the highest in the country, especially considering that Bicol is the fourth poorest region in the Philippines. “Inflation at 9 percent is an existential threat to development since it would increase the number of poor people and worsen hunger, thus higher malnutrition, which in turn results in higher stunting rate, which deprives our youth of their physical and mental potential,” he said.

In a press statement, Salceda said price spikes were most notable in vegetables (27 percent), fish (20 percent), corn (17.7 percent), and rice (12.5 percent).

The Albay solon earlier expressed disagreement with the National Economic and Development Authority's (NEDA) assessment that inflation in Bicol is not yet alarming because there is ample supply of food at prices lower than those in other regions available in the market.

Salceda, an economist himself, has recommended measures to address the supply-side causes rising inflation, on top of which is the release of more low-cost imported rice by the National Food Authority (NFA). He, however, said that once harvest season begins in October, NFA's focus should shift to buying rice from local farmers. He explained that rice has been among the top drivers of inflation in the region.

The lawmaker also called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to issue fuel vouchers to small fishermen to subsidize their livelihood and increase fish output.

Salceda also asked the Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), to distribute free seeds, especially those of short gestation vegetables. He said the government should encourage small-scale vegetable farming in backyards, schools, and other vacant areas to enhance production at a time when inflation in vegetables has reached a multi-year high.

Bicol nominees to National Outstanding Volunteers bared

By Sally Atento-Altea (PIA5/Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY (PIA) – An Alternative Learning System (ALS) teacher, a farmer-leader, and a renewable energy producer are the Bicol region’s contenders for this year’s search for unsung heroes by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA).

“The Search for Outstanding Volunteers aims to highlight the exemplary performance and dedication to service of Filipino volunteers in helping people and communities and recognize the role of volunteerism in development and nation-building,” said Cynthia S. Berces, assistant regional director of the National Economic Development Authority.

“The nominees are Santiago Cervantes from Pili, Camarines Sur and Windel V. Alvarez from Caramoan, Camarines Sur for the individual category and the Energy Development Corporation-Bacon-Manito Geothermal Project (EDC-BMGP) for the organization category,” Berces said.

The 63-year-old Cervantes has been engaged in volunteer service since 1991. He is currently involved in the promotion and practice of organic and dairy farming through conduct of training and hands-on practicum in his organic learning farm.

Under his leadership as chair of the Bicol Federation of Dairy Cooperative (BFDC), the dairy based Integrated and Diversified organic farming System was promoted and implemented. BFDC was also linked with a Belgian-based development NGO which provides support to its over-all program focusing on organizational capacity and strengthening of dairy-farmer cooperatives.

Windel V. Alvarez, 34, has been engaged in volunteer service since he started as Alternative Learning System teacher in Camarines Sur, going from one island to another to bring education to far-flung villages.

Among the most significant accomplishments in his volunteer work were the ALS Bangkarunungan Project and ALS Trike of Hope learning centers which used motorized banca and tricycle loaded with instructional materials and equipment.

He has also initiated projects to help provide bags to poor children, safe and potable water to waterless communities, and power supply to coastal barangays through solar lamps.

The EDC-BMGP is the sole nominee for the organization – corporate category. EDC is a Filipino-owned corporation with volunteerism activities focused on the grassroots.

Among the highlights of its volunteer services are construction of classrooms and provision of school supplies, equipment and school fees subsidy to students from their partner schools in Sorsogon and Manito, Albay.

College scholarship program is also ongoing, some graduates of which are currently employed at EDC.

The awarding of winners will be on December 2018 in Metro Manila.

The members of the Bicol Regional Search Committee are the Civil Service Commission, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Diocese of Legazpi - Social Action Center, and Philippine Information Agency.

UNESCO names Legazpi mayor as PH's most outstanding

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY--- For carrying out efficient programs on environment, education, and tourism, this city's chief executive, Noel E. Rosal, was named the country's most outstanding mayor in local governance by the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Professor Shahbaz Khan, regional director of the Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific and UNESCO Representative for Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste, handed the award to Legazpi City's Mayor Rosal during the 2018 International Assembly of Youth for UNESCO held at the Icon Hotel in Quezon City over the weekend.

UNESCO is a specialized agency of the United Nations which aims to contribute to the building of peace as well as poverty eradication, sustainable development and intellectual dialogue through education, science, culture, communication and information.

Yugi Suzuki, director general of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan, expressed elation for the continuous progress and development of Legazpi that has made the city one of the best areas for investment in the country.

In an interview, he told the Philippine News Agency that the recognition was based on the programs and projects implemented by the city administration including its Solid Waste Management Program as well as the infrastructure development, Risk Reduction Management Program, improvement in tourism industry, culture, bio-diversity and education system of Legazpi.

The effective implementation of the “No Segregation, No Collection" policy on waste management has made Legazpi a model for being environmental-friendly.

Rosal, in his message after receiving the UNESCO award last Saturday, said it's an honor for him to be chosen as the Most Outstanding Mayor for good local governance.

He said the prestigious award was the result of the synergy of the members of the city council as well as the department heads, all the work force of the city administration, including the cooperation of all the stakeholders and people of Legazpi, which put the city in the map in terms of development and progress.

He added that the award would be converted into an investment opportunity that will surely help improve the economic rating of the city and result in more jobs for his constituents.

Smart boosts communication, preparedness efforts in Legazpi

(Manila Standard)

RESIDENTS of Legazpi City, Albay, can now benefit from Smart Infocast, a text message broadcast solution developed by PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications.

Smart Infocast is a web-based platform that can send out several short message service to a specific group of people as defined by an organization.

In the case of the governing body of Legaspi City, the facility can readily send out news broadcasts, weather bulletins, and other critical information to residents via text message, making it an effective emergency communications solution for the LGU. Smart Infocast also allows registered subscribers to send reports or feedback to the system administrator.

Gracing the launch of Smart Infocast are representatives of Smart and the city and provincial governments, led by Mayor Noel Rosal, Gov. Al Francis Bichara, and PLDT-Smart chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn and consumer business for customer development regional head John Palanca.

“Smart Infocast will enable the Legazpi local government unit to communicate with the constituents in times of calamities and help in information dissemination, using our cell phones. It will make connecting with all the 70 barangays here in Legazpi so much easier,” said Rosal.

Bicol minimum wage earners to get P20-P30 pay hike

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Labor And Employment (DOLE) together with the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) announced on Friday the approved new minimum wage rate for private sector workers in the Bicol region.

In a press briefing at Casa Blanca Hotel here, RTWPB chairman and DOLE Regional Director Alvin Villamor said the minimum wage earners in Bicol will receive an increase ranging from PHP20 TO PHP30 in their daily salary.

"The increase will be given in two tranches: PHP15 for all establishments regardless of the number of workers upon effectivity 15 days after September 6 (September 21), following publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the Bicol which will be on September 21, and the second tranch increase of PHP5 for those employing 10 workers and above and PHP15 for those employing 1 to 9 workers on May 1, 2019," Villamor said.

This would bring the minimum wage rate from PHP290 to PHP310 for establishments employing 10 workers and above and from PHP280 to PHP310 for establishments employing one to nine workers.

Villamor explained that in determining the amount of the wage increase, the board considered the interest of the workers, the general capacity of the business establishments to pay, and the prevailing socio-economic conditions of the region.

The board, he added, also agreed to adjust the minimum wage rate in Bicol to help workers cope with the rising cost of living without impairing the viability of business.

“The adjustment of the minimum wage rate is one of the measures of the government to provide workers with immediate relief from high prices of basic goods and services," Villamor said.

He added that the increase in the minimum wage was the result of a series of consultations and public hearing conducted by the board and consensus between and among the labor and management representatives.

Under the new wage order, the wage rate per day shall apply to all minimum wage earners in the private sector regardless of their position, designation or status of employment and irrespective of the method by which they are paid.

The order, however, will not take effect on "kasambahays" or domestic workers covered by the Batas Kasambahay, persons in the personal service of another and workers of duly registered Barangay Micro-Business Enterprises (BMBEs).

Villamor encouraged establishments in the wholesale and retail trade and construction industry to come up with the productivity-based pay schemes that will allow higher performance/productivity of the enterprise and income among workers.

Enjoy the show! Gov. Bichara issues safety reminders for Albay’s anti-drug free concert

(Politiko Bicol)

Governor Al Francis Bichara has issued few reminders for the safety and security of the participants of “Albay Says No To Drugs” free concert tonight.

The Governor said that they want to make sure that everyone will enjoy the show in a “safe and secure” venue.

The Office of the Governor reminds the participants the following safety precautions:

Doors typically open 3 hours before showtime or earlier (please check posters). Participants are required to present tickets at the door. No tickets, No entry policy will be enforced.

If driving, car passes are required to present. Cars without one will not be granted entry.

Meanwhile, the prohibited items are:

Glass Bottles
Thermoses & Coolers
Alcoholic beverages
Outside food or drink
Backpacks & Large bags
Noise makers
Illegal substances
Laser pointers
Aerosol cans
Pets (except service animals)
Pepper spray
Knives, guns, or weapons of any kind
Prohibited Activities:
Crowd surfing
Public indecency

“SMOKING is strictly prohibited Any item deemed by management to be dangerous or inappropriate will not be allowed entry inside Albay Astrodome,” Bichara said.

“Please be patient, we will do our best to get everyone through the lines as quickly as possible, but be prepared for enhanced security measures and inspection,” he added.

'Gulayan sa Barangay' now leading distributor of veggies in Albay town

By Mike Dela Rama (PNA)

GUINOBATAN, Albay – A community-based organization is now the leading distributor of different types of vegetables in this municipality, resulting in low vegetable prices, sufficient supplies, reduction of malnutrition among children and improved economic condition of local residents.

Steve Luces, Barangay Maipon chairman, in an interview on Wednesday, said the “Gulayan sa Barangay” otherwise known as Maipon Agricultural Integrated Producers Organization for Nature Inc., was established in 2013 by the village council to help improve the livelihood of the residents, promote good nutrition, sustain vegetable supply and lower the cost of agricultural products.

“Produced vegetables like eggplant, sili (chili), lettuce, carrots, potatoes, cucumber, radish, green bean and many more are being sold to 1,609 households in this barangay, and the rest are being sold in the organic trading post in Legazpi City, to drop buyers, and vegetable retailers in Guinobatan public market,” Luces said.

The organization alone is composed of 116 members and officers managing a total of 4,200 square meters of vegetable land.

“The success of the project was achieved due to collaboration between the barangay officials and community with support from the government agencies like provincial and municipal agriculture offices,” Luces said.

The Gulayan project, he said, is an effective approach in making sure there is food on every table.

“This is how we counter poverty in our locality and encourage community participation in order to eliminate dependency attitude,” he added.

“As of now, we cannot provide the exact figure or volume of vegetable products per harvest, but what we are sure of is that we have enough supply that can be utilized by our own village mates and other neighboring towns or city,” Luces said.

The village chief added that the council is also pushing for active participation of youth leaders in the expansion of the project in their barangay.

“This time, through Gulayan, we can also promote reduction of malnutrition among youth and adolescents,” he said.

Who was Simeon Ola?

(LGU Guinobatan, Bicol Standard)

Simeon Arboleda Ola was the man who has the record in the history as the last general to surrender in the American Forces. He was born in Guinobatan, Albay on September 2, 1865. He was the son of Vicente Ola and Apolonia Arboleda. And because he was the man with critical and imaginative mind, he studied Philosophy at University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City. But on 1896, he stopped his studies and joined the local branch of the Katipunan in his hometown, the province of Albay and later became a leader. With the help of a parish priest, Father Carlos Cabido, Ola was able to acquire arms to support his men.

Simeon Ola is a bright leader; he knows how to make things possible and real. With his strong personality, he recruited men to join his force. Some of the prisoners soon joined his army after he connived with the jail warden in his town, Sergeant Loame.

On April 1898, he fought in the battle of Camalig, Albay and was promoted to the rank of a Captain by General Vito Belarmino, the zone commander of the Revolution Forces in the Bicol Region. On January 23, 1900, he was again promoted Major after a daring ambush mission that led to the capture of the three Americans, Dubose, Fred Hunter and Russel.

In February 1900, his cousin Jose Arboleda died on the bloody battle against the Americans in Arimbay Legazpi, City, but this sorrowful happening did not make his heart weak and dampen his soul, instead he continued to fight and more men had joined his force. He fought in the battle of Binogsacan in Guinobatan with the army of Colonel Engracio Orence.

For over a month of July in 1901, his army rested for a while and on August in that same year he continued his attacked in the town of Oas, Albay and also the American detachment at Macabugos, Ligao. This caused the Americans to feel disgusted on Ola’s revolutionary army. The Americans took him seriously because of his subsequent valiant attacks on Albay towns. So they set up recommendation to stop Ola’s activities and sent emissaries to negotiate for his surrender which he politely refuses.

Ola continued for some attacks, and on July 15, 1903, he ambushed the 31st Philippine Scout Garrison under the command of Sergeant Nicolas Napoli in Jovellar, Albay. The persistent effort of the peace panel and his battle weary men made Ola realized that he could never win the war. So he became open to the agreement set by Colonel Harry H. Bandholtz, the Assistant Commander of the Constabulary in Lucena, Tayabas for his surrender. On September 25, 1903 the negotiating panel composed of Ramon Santos, Eligio Arboleda, Epifanio Orosco, Frank L. Pyle, John Paegelow, J.B. Allison and Joseph Rogers went in his camp in Malangaton, Mapaco, Guinobatan. Eventually, on that day Ola had finally surrendered to Governor Bette and Colonel Bandholtz. Charge with sedition, he was put on trial and Judges Adam Carson and James Blount presided over his case.

200 cyclists join launch of PRO-5's 'SIKAD Riders' anti-drug drive

By Jorge Hallare (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- At least 200 cyclists, some of them from the Philippine National Police (PNP), government agencies and non-government organizations participated in the launching of Police Regional Office 5's (PRO-5) newest program dubbed "SIKAD Riders" at Camp General Simeon Ola here Monday morning.

SIKAD means "Sama-samang I-angat ang Kabikolan na Ayaw sa Droga".

Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, who was guest speaker in the event, urged every Bicolano to join the fight against drugs and criminality.

"Everybody can be superhero fighting against crime and corruption. We need not wear capes, nor wield magical wands or possess super powers. All we have to do is to stand stronger,” he said. "I firmly believe that it is high time that we do our own part."

PRO-5 director, Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal, in his speech, said "SIKAD", which means "padyak" (kick) in Tagalog, is a group of cyclists from different organizations and the general public in Bicol - especially in Albay province, who pledged to support the program of PNP, which aims to solve the problem on criminality and proliferation of illegal drugs in Region 5.

Escobal thanked all the members of SIKAD Riders and others who participated in Monday's activity.

He said the program is part of PRO-5's campaign to resolve the drug problem by rebuilding police-community partnership and to keep the communities safe.

"It also aims to encourage, inspire and motivate PNP personnel to improve their mental and physical strength through cycling and exercise," he added.

Escobal urged SIKAD members to join him in the regular biking activity every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, starting from Camp Gen. Simeon Ola to different points of Legazpi City and even to nearby municipalities of the province of Albay.

Before the launching of the program, cyclists and members of SIKAD led by Escobal went on an almost 20-kilometer bicycle ride from the compound of Camp Gen. Simeon Ola to Embarcadero de Legazpi in Barangay Victory Village and vice versa. This was followed by Zumba dancing at the parade ground of the camp.

The program coincided with the celebration of the 24th National Crime Prevention Week from September 1-7 based on Proclamation No. 461, issued on August 31, 1994.

Legazpi’s living legend

By Bernard S. Taysanhill (The Philippine Star)

Every nation around the world, including the Philippines, has an epic or legend it can take pride in as a reflection of the cultural identity of its people. These age-old stories are often immortalized in books and handed down from one generation to the next.

MANILA, Philippines — In Legazpi City situated at the foot of the iconic Mayon Volcano in the Bicol region, its epic does not remain in books, but has been living in the streets for the past 27 years through an annual extravaganza called the Ibalong Festival.

The region’s biggest non-religious festivity, it is based on folklore and is perhaps the country’s only cultural event which relives an epic rescued from the dustbin of history.

The Ibalong is a contemporary recreation of fragments of a mid-19th century 60-stanza epic poem penned by Franciscan friar Bernardino de Melendreras inspired by Bicol’s rich precolonial heritage.

Written in the mold of ancient mythologies, Ibalong begins with an old man named Kadunung, a wandering minstrel in prehistoric Bicolandia who narrated the epic to the young children. Its main characters are superhuman heroes – Baltog, Handyong and Bantong – who rid the land of fearsome beasts and helped it attain its golden era.

Arriving at various ages in history, these mythical warriors from a faraway land vanquished the dreaded creatures which sowed terror among the populace – the giant wild boar Tandayag and half-man, half beast Rabot.

Another prominent character is the villain-turned-heroine Oryol, a beautiful half woman-half serpent, who had a change of heart as she fell in love with Handyong and joined him in defeating the monsters.

The three legendary heroes cultivated the land and established systems in agriculture, government and navigation, a syllabary, which was followed by an age of discovery and invention which helped the civilization flourish.

After recounting their exploits, Kadunung suddenly stopped his narration and promised to resume telling the story at another time. Many history scholars believe that the epic was designed to be an unfinished story, to make it a living legend where the readers can freely continue the saga with their own interpretations through modern-day versions and acts of heroism.

Ibalong got into mass exposure in 1895 when editor Wenceslao Retana compiled and annotated its fragments in the book Archivo del Bibliofilo Filipino. While the original Spanish manuscripts were lost, what exists is the portion copied by Fray Jose Castaño and included in the Bibliofilo of Retana published in Spain.

The title was given by prominent essayist and propagandist Jose Ma. Panganiban of Camarines Norte in reference to Tierra de Ibalon, the moniker given by the Spaniards to the region.

Most of the places mentioned in the narrative trace their roots to the present-day province of Camarines Sur, but it was the city government of Legazpi through the late mayor Imelda Roces who inaugurated the festival in 1992 to pluck it from oblivion and make it a source of pride for all Bicolanos.

It was later adapted in 2013 as a dance musical by Tanghalang Pilipino and playwright Rody Vera at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

According to Mayor Noel Rosal, the Ibalong Festival brings to the fore Bicol’s rich heritage and resilient character amidst adversities and calamities, such as frequent typhoons and eruptions of Mayon Volcano, the most recent of which was in February this year.

He said that in transforming a forgotten legend into a colorful pageantry, the city has put a visual touch to make the epic better understood by the people. The focus of the two-week street festivity which reenacts the important scenes of the epic is a theater parade along Legazpi’s main road.

This year, Ligao National High School of Ligao City, Albay romped off with the overall championship in the contest and top honors in the exhibition, costume and props and warrior princess contest categories.

In addition to the usual street dancing, the epic is also taught in schools, produced as popular literature and reinterpreted in theater plays and shows for the duration of the festival.

Rosal concludes that the annual Ibalong Festival is a unique opportunity to showcase the city’s strides in tourism, economic development and governance, especially with its recent award as the country’s overall most competitive component city in the 2019 Cities and Municipalities Competitive Index of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Japanese apparel store to open 1st branch in Legazpi City

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- To expand its presence in Bicol, Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo will open its second branch in the region and the first in Legazpi City next month.

The store, which will occupy more than 800 square meters of space at the ground floor of the SM City Legazpi, is set to formally open to the public on Sept. 14.

"The potential of the whole Bicol region is being recognized by Uniqlo and the opening of the new store reflects Uniqlo's unparalleled commitment to the residents of Albay," Camille Pacio of the apparel company's marketing department, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Masayoshi Nakamura, chief operations officer of Uniqlo Philippines, extended his message to Albayanos in a statement.

“Having just celebrated our sixth year in the country, we are optimistic about the success of our first store in Legazpi City given the strong support we continue to receive from Filipinos. We look forward to serving our customers here in Legazpi City by making Uniqlo’s innovative and high-quality life wear apparel available to every member of the local community,” he said.

Legazpeño shoppers can get a chance to own a limited edition Uniqlo lunch bag for every PHP2,000 single-receipt purchase from September 14-16 and enjoy exclusive opening offers on select items from September 14 to 20.

The Japanese brand's product line includes shirts, pants, dresses and other products.

More imported Thailand rice arrives in Bicol

By Mar Serrano (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Some 8,200 metric tons or 164,000 bags of imported rice from Thailand arrived in Bicol over the weekend, the National Food Authority (NFA) in the region said on Tuesday.

The shipment is awaiting clearance from customs and health authorities for it to be unloaded at the Tabaco City port, Nelsie Alcantara, NFA Bicol spokesperson, told Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

The shipment loaded at MV Bravo cargo vessel from Thailand arrived Saturday and was still docked at sea some hundred meters away from the port of Tabaco City, Alcantara said.

Alcantara said the rice shipment from Thailand would still undergo the normal quarantine inspections, as well as customs and health procedures.

Alcantara added the new shipment, which is part of the second tranche of the 800,000 bags of imported rice to be shipped to the region, would be unloaded soon after the 174,000 bags of Thailand rice, which underwent fumigation, are unloaded on Wednesday.

Earlier, the cargo shipment of 174,000 bags of imported Thailand rice was quarantined on Aug. 17 after NFA inspectorS discovered that the cargo was infested with rice bugs called “Red rust beetle.”

After undergoing almost 12 days of fumigation and aeration procedure, the cargo was then cleared for unloading starting on Wednesday, Alcantara said.

As for the Thailand rice cargo, Alcantara said that as soon as clearance is secured from customs and quarantine authorities, the shipper of the Thailand rice would be allowed to unload the cargo at the Tabaco Port.

The 164,000 bags of imported Thailand rice will be distributed to the six Bicol provinces, with Camarines Sur getting the biggest rice allocation of 40,000 bags, followed by Albay with 34,000 bags, Sorsogon with 17,000, Camarines Norte with 12,000, and 10,000 each for Catanduanes and Masbate.

Meanwhile, 41,000 bags would be allocated as a regional buffer stock to be used in times of calamities, Alcantara said.

When asked to describe the rice importation procedure, she said the Vietnam importation is a government to government (G2G) deal, while the Thailand importation bidding was a government to private negotiation (G2P).

Under the Thailand importation agreement, the Asia Golden Rice Company LTD of Thailand, a private company, won the bid contract to supply the Philippine government with 164,000 bags of rice.

Alcantara said another shipment of imported rice is expected to arrive to complete the 800,000 bags of imported rice intended to arrive in Bicol by the end of the year.

Mayor thanks Legazpeños for successful opening of Ibalong Festival

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY – Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal on Monday expressed gratitude to the city residents for their support that resulted in the huge turnout of participants during the opening of the 27th Ibalong Festival last Friday, saying it was the biggest attendance so far in the history of the celebration.

Rosal, during his regular press conference, said the huge volume of attendees in the opening ceremony was a clear manifestation that the people of Legazpi are united and very supportive of the city’s festival.

"Some 40,000 locals, who came from all sectors of the society from students, professionals, youth, parents, vendors , city officials, city government employees, barangay leaders, officers and personnel of Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Navy (PN), government agencies, non-government organizations, business group, media practitioners, and even local tourists from neighboring towns joined and participated in the opening," the mayor noted.

The participants wore putong and colorful costumes as they walked and danced during the six-kilometer float parade on Friday that started in front of the city hall building and passed through main thoroughfare Rizal Street going to the city’s central business district and Embarcadero de Legazpi. IT ended at the boulevard in Barangay Dapdap, where the formal opening program of Ibalong Festival was held.

Rosal said Ibalong is the longest running tourism promotion festival in the entire Bicol region that expresses warmth and goodwill to all people.

"We are using Ibalong Festival as an instrument in promoting sports tourism in our city to make our local tourism sector a dynamic and competitive industry to pave the way for answering the needs and the desires of our visitors in order to give them more satisfaction as well as enjoyment and safety during every celebration of our festival," the mayor said.

Meanwhile, he invited city residents who are seeking employment to the job fair being held at Ibalong Centrum as part of the festivities.

Ibalong Festival is a yearly non-religious, folklore-based celebration depicting Bicol’s early beginnings, based on the epic written by the late Professor Merito Espinas that tells of mythical super heroes, villains, monsters and wild animals in the ancient times.

It is perhaps the only cultural event in the country that relives an epic, according to Mayor Rosal.

Locals consume 25,000 longganisa in Albay fest

By Michael Jaucian (/jpv, Inquirer Southern Luzon)

GUINOBATAN, Albay—Upon hearing the sound of a siren, thousands of residents started eating 25,000 pieces of fried crispy longganisa (sausages) that were put on banana leaves on a boodle fight meal along the streets in this town’s center on Friday.

The boodle fight, which is now on its second year, serves as one highlight of the Longganisa Festival celebrated here every August, said Guinobatan Mayor Ann Ongjoco.

Aside from thousands of longganisa, residents also consumed 2,500 pieces of scrambled eggs, 1,500 sliced tomatoes, 1,000 pieces of fresh cucumber, and bowls of steamed rice that stretched for about 300 meters.

“This is our way of promoting our local product, which is highly patronized by Albayanos and even by local and foreign tourists,” Ongjoco said.

She explained further that by staging the boodle fight event, they are helping the local businessmen generate more income.

Big brother is watching! Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal installs more CCTVs

(Politiko Bicol)

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal knows if you’ve been bad or good— at least in many public places in the city.

Rosal has increased to 92 the number of closed-circuit TV cameras in his city, and more will be installed, he said.

The measure is meant to deter crime and catch wrongdoers.

At the same, the mayor said he is preparing to implement the 911 quick response program in order to attend to emergencies quickly.

All these are intended to ensure the safety and security of people in Legazpi, which is a top priority for him.

So if we were you, better be good for goodness’ sake.

“Inspection and briefing from our command center…… upgraded and increased to 92 our cctv cameras in the city…..preparation for our implementation of 911 quick response program….still a lot of things to do…mga kababayan safety and security will always be our concern….more cctv cameras to come..,” Rosal posted.

New P120-M hospital now ready to serve Albay, neighboring provinces

By Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- After three years of construction, the new Legazpi City Hospital - built at the cost of PHP120 million - is now ready to serve the public.

The hospital was formally opened last Wednesday after a Holy Mass and blessing officiated by Bishop Joel “Bong” Baylon. Present were Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal and members of the city council, department heads, city government employees, media practitioners and other visitors.

Rosal said the hospital would help decongest the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) that presently caters to the medical needs of patients from entire Albay and other neighboring provinces like Sorsogon and Catanduanes.

The city chief executive described the Legazpi City Hospital as a state-of-the-art public health facility and one of the most modern hospitals in the entire Bicol Region. It is manned by professional doctors, nurses, midwives, dentist, med-tech and other medical personnel ready to render health care services to city residents, especially the indigent patients.

At present, only Phase One of the two-story hospital has been completed, with a capacity of 25 to 60 beds.

The city government hopes to soon be able to construct a third floor with additional rooms to accommodate a total of 200 beds.

Rosal said his administration will shoulder the yearly operational expenses of the hospital estimated at PHP80 to PHP100 million - to cover the salaries and wages of all the medical practitioners, electric and water bills, gasoline and other similar expenses.

The health facility will be equipped with various medical machinery and offer simple surgical procedures and emergency treatment.

The laboratory as well as the operating and labor rooms, X-ray section, intensive care unit, emergency and recovery rooms as well as dental clinic and pharmacy are all located on the ground floor of the building. The male and female wards including the pediatric rooms and office of doctors and other personnel are located on the second floor.

The hospital also has a fire protection pump and medical waste holding room, material recovery facility and a placenta pit.

The Legazpi City Hospital is located on a 3,000-square meter lot owned by the city government, which is at the central business center in Barangay Bitano.

Yum yum yum! Albay hosts 2nd Regional Food and Travel Expo

(Politiko Bicol)

The Province of Albay has hosted the 2-Day Regional Food and Travel Expo (ReFTEx) with the theme “Embracing the Dynamics and Diversities of Food Service and Travel Industries.

The event kicked-off yesterday at the Albay Astrodome with a total of 28 schools around Region V participating expo.

Dorothy F. Colle, Head of the Provincial Tourism, Culture, and Arts Office, delivered opening remark.

Governor Al Francis Bichara was represented by Public Administrator Engr. Vida Prollamante.

“The PGA is now pushing for agriculture tourism”, she said.

Prollamante mentioned the ongoing construction of Albay Bounty Farmers Village located at Cabangan, Camalig wherein “there are now available training centers for farmers. She also added that the participants are lucky enough to have such an event because it is a first in the region.”

The event featured several speakers from various fields.

Alvin D. Gonzales, Sales and Marketing Manager of Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (MIHCA), discussed the Cruise Line Industry in the International Perspective.

He shared his experience and gave advice to the participants should they choose to work on the cruise industry.

Meanwhile, a culinary demonstration was done by Celebrity Chef Boy Logro and followed by a Food Photography Contest.

7,867 Bicolanos to take eligibility exam Sunday

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Some 7,867 Bicolanos from the six provinces of the region are expected to take the Career Service Examination Paper-and-Pencil Test (CSE-PPT) scheduled on Sunday, August 12, a Civil Service Commission (CSC) regional official said.

Lynbee Navio, CSC regional information officer, in an interview Thursday, said there are three testing centers designated by their office for Bicol Region.

"Those from Masbate, Sorsogon and Albay, the testing venue will be in Legazpi City, while those from Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, it will be in Naga City, and examinees from Catanduanes will take their exam in Virac, Catanduanes," she noted.

Meanwhile, the CSC released "10 Things to Know if You’re an Examinee" to help prospective public servants prepare for the test:

• Know your room number and school assignment at least one week before the examination through CSC-Bicol's Room Assignment Inquiry System.

• Visit the assigned school/testing venue at least one day before the examination, to be familiarized.

• Be at the assigned school early. All testing venues shall be open to examinees at 6 a.m.

• Wear proper attire on examination day. Sleeveless shirt/blouse, short pants and slippers are not allowed.

• Bring the following: (1) ID Card, (2) Original Philippine Statistics Authority-issued birth certificate, (3) Application Receipt with CSC official receipt (if available), (4) black ballpen/s and (5) water or preferred beverage placed in clear/transparent bottle.

• Use of any aid (calculators, cellular phones, smart watches, tablets, etc) is strictly prohibited.

• Bringing of cellular/mobile phones, smart watches and other gadgets is not allowed. If brought, these shall be surrendered to the Room Examiner for safekeeping.

• Failure to take the examination shall mean forfeiture of examination fee and slot. Re-scheduling of examination date is not allowed.

• Gates of testing venues shall be closed to examinees at exactly 7:30 a.m. on examination day. Examinees who will arrive later than this time shall not be admitted.

• Access and read the Examinee's Guide in Taking Civil service Examination Pen and Paper Test which can be downloaded through the CSC website.

The CSE-PPT is a general ability test designed to measure an individual’s preparedness to enter government service.

Passers who get a score of 80 percent and higher are conferred a Career Service Eligibility -- a basic requirement to obtain permanent appointment in government.

DOE brings ‘E-Power Mo’ forum to Albay

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Energy (DOE) conducted its “E-Power Mo” campaign forum in Albay to inform consumers about employing technology to save energy under the current administration’s energy policy.

About 200 senior citizens, government employees, academe, youth sector and market vendors gathered on Tuesday at the Casablanca Hotel's Function Hall in this city for the forum in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

“The E-Power Mo” multi-sectoral forum aims to empower individual consumers by giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility when it comes to their supply needs,” said Bennie Recebido, PIA regional officer in-charge said in an interview.

“Participants are expected to serve as campaign partners in influencing other energy consumers to be more informed and involved in managing and handling their energy supplies,” Recebido added.

“E-Power Mo” also aims to raise awareness on energy roadmap and policies designed to empower the consumers.

DOE discussed the energy situation in the country in general, and in Albay in particular.

Meanwhile, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) tackled its role in the industry, as well as the projects it implemented in Luzon and their impact in Albay while the Albay Power and Energy Corp. (APEC) presented the Magna Carta for residential electricity consumers, with discussions on getting to know power bills and electricity consumption.

DOE also aims to consolidate public support to the DOE’s goal of expanding energy supply options for energy consumers and to increase the number of energy consumers, who will shift to different sources of energy.

Preparations in full swing for Legazpi’s 27th Ibalong Festival

By Connie Calipay and Emmanuel Solis (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- Preparations are now in full swing with a fiesta atmosphere prevailing in the city as locals anticipate the opening of this year’s Ibalong Festival.

The celebration, which is now on its 27th year, is set to kick off on August 10 and culminate on the 19th.

On the opening day is the most awaited street dancing and float parade that would showcase the epic of Ibalong.

Mayor Noel Rosal, in a press conference on Tuesday, said Ibalong symbolizes not only resiliency in times of calamities but also showcases the best talents of Bicolanos.

“We want to take advantage of this of promoting the city not only in regional level but national and international level. We have maintained all the activities especially those with an impact on our tourism,” he said.

Some of the highlights of this year's festival are the Asian Paratriathlon championship and the Mount Mayon Triathlon.

Some 33 persons with disabilities (PWD) from seven countries including the Philippines are expected to join the Paratriathlon while 600 triathletes from different parts of the world are expected to arrive for the Mount Mayon Triathlon.

On August 10, the Paratriathlon race will start with a 75-meter swim at the Albay Gulf in front of the city boulevard. It will be followed by a 20-kilometer, four-loop bike along the Embarcadero de Legazpi and boulevard and a two-loop, five kilometer run on the boulevard.

On August 12, the Mount Mayon Triathlon Asian Cup race will start with a 1.5-kilometer swim at the Albay Gulf, to be followed by a 40-kilometer bike race going to the northern area of this city and parts of the Municipalities of Sto. Domingo and Bacacay, and a 10-kilometer run back to the Legazpi landmark at the city boulevard.

These events are clear manifestations that Legazpi City is considered as one of the safest and beautiful places for any kind of sporting event, contributing to the increasing number of tourist arrivals, Rosal said.

The Paratriathlon is a variant of the triathlon for athletes with physical disabilities. This sport is governed by the International Triathlon Union (ITU), and was first held as Paralympic event at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

On August 13, there will be a medical and dental mission for all the registered senior citizens as well as lecture series regarding Epikong Bikolnon to be held at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation (ICR).

The Mutya ng Ibalong is slated on the same day at the Pacific Mall. Coronation night will be at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation on August 17.

Meanwhile, there will be a fashion show on August 14 at the Ayala Malls.

On August 16, the Epikong Ibalong Cultural Night, another highlight of the festival, will be held at the Legazpi City Convention Center.

The Ibalong Street Dance competition, the major event of the celebration, will be on August 18, starting at 2:30 p.m. in front of the city hall building.

Ibalong festival is a yearly non-religious fiesta depicting Bicol’s early beginnings based on the Ibalong Epic written by the late Professor Merito Espinas. It tells of mythical super heroes, villains, monsters and wild animals in the ancient times.

Rosal said Ibalong is the longest running tourism promotion-related festival in the entire Bicol region that expresses warmth and goodwill to all people.

He invited everyone to come to Legazpi to celebrate and witness all the festivities.

How Legazpi City fights drugs through its health office

By Mavic Conde (

The city government holds the community-based rehabilitation program in an air-conditioned venue and provides food for participants to show them that they matter

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Talent performances, food, testimonials and cheers – there’s no mistaking the event’s celebratory mood, which is typical for a moving up ceremony.

The nature of the event was not typical, however. On Sunday, August 5, around 150 drug-cleared surrenderers from all over this city received their official certification from the local government at the 9th community-based rehabilitation (CBR) graduation ceremony at AVP Catering in Tahao Road here.

The graduates, considered as "mild" drug users, completed the 4-day program facilitated by the Legazpi health office under Dr Fulbert Alec Gillego.

Judith Ante, one of the CBR participants, considered her certification from city hall a personal achievement. “Hindi man ako naka-graduate sa school, at least dito grumaduate ako (I may not have graduated from school but at least I graduated here).”

She urged her fellow participants to move on and lead a drug-free life.

Before the certificates were awarded, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal thanked the program participants for completing the CBR as mandated by the national government for drug users who voluntarily surrendered.

Rosal gently reminded everyone of the ill effects of drugs, especially on one's self-control, which had put their lives at risk. He then gave the participants a quick reality check, saying those who return to drug use "will be put to the watchlist, subject for PNP operation.”

He said he gave the reminder not to frighten anyone but to share the status quo on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

Rosal also relayed the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to local government officials, “Do your job or resign.”

He said barangay chiefs, in particular, have to identify drug pushers and users in their areas. If not, they will be tagged as protectors and included in the watchlist.

Program, aftercare

The CBR program begins with rapid screening and assessment where the surrenderer will be interviewed on details of their drug use. This will determine the person’s category of drug use: low-risk, mild, moderate and severe.

One-time drug users are categorized as "low risk" and are recommended to undergo a two-day general intervention program involving spiritual, physical, emotional and health lectures and activities and means for social reintegration. The mild drug users will be subject to CBR, a more thorough version of GI.

The moderate drug users will have intensive outpatient care, while those in the "severe" category will have to enter a rehabilitation facility for treatment. A local rehabilitation center in Malinao, Albay, in close coordination with the with health office handle these two categories.

During the Sunday event, the city health chief shared there was a time he wanted to resign, especially when Rosal asked him about the progress of the program.

“I could have faked the results for all I care, right?” There were also those who lied during assessment. However, these people need help and it takes genuine care to address their need," Gillego said.

The city government holds the CBR in an air-conditioned venue and provides food to show the participants that they matter.

Local offices and groups have committed to support the city program, among them, the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD), the Legazpi City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC), the Philippine National Police, and faith-based organizations, Gillego said.

After the ceremony, the CSWD will oversee aftercare for the participants. Social Welfare Officer III Nancy Perez said this will help the city government monitor the latter over a 6-month period.

"The unemployed will be referred to agencies for skills training, should they qualify and express their interest," Perez said.

After the ceremony, 3 young participants approached Perez to avail of training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. She told them to just go to her office.

“Walang kung anu-anong (No need for all sorts of) requirement. Just say 'aftercare' and someone will assist you, including me," Perez told them.

The city government hopes to finish the CBR program by the end of August since 1,400 out of more than 2,000 surrenderers have completed it. Unfortunately, 3 out of the 157 participants from the recent batch yielded positive from drug test.

Meanwhile, CADAC head Ric Fontanilla said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has declared 5 barangays in Legazpi as "drug-cleared" –Barangays Baybay, Cruzada, Bigaa, Sagpon, and Imperial.

500 mothers simultaneously breastfeed babies in Albay event

By Michael Jaucian (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

Around 500 mothers breastfed their baby’s simultaneously in an event by the Department of Health Bicol in Legazpi City. the event “Hakab 2018” sought to further spread awareness on the importance and benefits of breastfeeding. Photo by Michael Jaucian / Inquirer Southern Luzon

LEGAZPI CITY – More than 500 mothers from different towns in Albay province joined the simultaneous breastfeeding event at Ibalon Centrum for Recreation in this city on Saturday.

The activity called “Hakab 2018” bore the theme “Sabay-sabay na pagpapasuso para sa malusog na mundo” (Simultaneous breastfeeding for a healthy world), was sponsored by the Department of Health (DOH) Bicol.

Dr. Rita Mae Ang Bon, family cluster head DOH Bicol, said the activity would educate the mothers on the importance of breastfeeding.

“This is the best venue for open forum where we explain to the mothers the benefits that a child can get if she/he [is] exclusively doing breastfeeding,” she said.

If breastfeeding is done from birth up to two years old, this would strengthen the baby’s immune system, she said.

Ella Briones, 23, who came with her infant son, said she is in favor of breastfeeding.

“It is cheap, always available, and best part of it (is the) mother and child bonding,” she said.

DSWD-Bicol steps up human trafficking awareness thru youth summit

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) office in the Bicol region has intensified its campaign against human trafficking by holding the "Albay Youth Summit on Human Trafficking" earlier this week.

The activity, held on Tuesday as part of the celebration of World Day Against Trafficking in Person (TIP), was participated in by some 200 college and university students in Albay.

The summit speakers -- Winston John Casio of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, Police Senior Insp. Maty Grace Tagtag of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk of Region 5 (Bicol), Assistant Regional Prosecutor Joyce Guerrero, and SPO4 Liza Altezo – spoke to the youth regarding security, rights and national laws concerning human trafficking.

The activity carried the theme, "Better Lives through Safer Migration, Stop Human Trafficking!" It was conducted in partnership with the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and its member agencies.

In a press briefing also on Tuesday, DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia said Bicol recognizes human trafficking as a serious crime and a complete violation of human rights.

The region has recorded 23 human trafficking cases from January to July this year, and 51 cases in 2017.

“Aiming to curtail the numbers of this crime, this activity was prioritized and proposed for the sake of the youth who are believed to be the hope of the fatherland and future duty bearers in securing an abuse-free community,” Garcia said.

Based on the record presented, Camarines Norte had nine cases; Albay, two; Catanduanes, five; Camarines Sur, four; Masbate and Sorsogon, one each; and one case from referrals to/from other regions.

Of the 23 cases, 17 were cases of illegal recruitment; child trafficking, four; mail-to-order bride, one; and forced labor, one.

The latest case was documented on July 25, when seven victim-survivors of illegal recruitment from Oas town in Albay were rescued by Field Office 1 in Pangasinan.

“They were recruited to work in a fishpond with the promise of PHP5,000 per month with free food and accommodation. However, when they arrived at the place, they stayed in a congested room and were only allowed to eat when they were done working,” Garcia narrated.

Last July 25, the victim-survivors were discharged by the Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP) social workers while aftercare assistance from DSWD-5 was processed and endorsed to their respective families.

"The fight to end human trafficking is an action that must be taken by everybody," Garcia said, adding that "we need the policy makers, inter-agencies, the people, law enforcement that should be mobilized to address the concerns”.

The RRPTP is a comprehensive program of DSWD that ensures adequate recovery and reintegration services for those who have been victims of human trafficking. It includes case management, where the problems and needs of the victims are analyzed, to implement appropriate interventions.

Garcia added that the services provided by the DSWD for trafficked persons under the program include livelihood, educational, medical and auxiliary assistance, aside from temporary shelter.

DOLE distributes P3-M business kits in Albay town

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY --– At least PHP3-million worth of business kits were distributed by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) regional office, through its Albay Provincial Field Office, to 180 target beneficiaries in two villages of Polangui town on Tuesday.

Rovelinda A. Dela Rosa, OIC regional director, said in an interview that this is one of DOLE’s contributions to the government agenda of inclusive growth through massive job generation throughout the country.

"The tools provided to the beneficiaries are expected to bring livelihood enhancement. Farm productivity will be improved and will eventually translate into higher family income and enabling them to become more productive citizens of their community," she said.

The Napo Barangay Council received PHP1.9-million worth of kitchen materials and other tools for 102 micro-entrepreneurs composed of 27 food vendors, 25 farmers, 21 hog raisers, 7 dressmakers, 6 carpenters, 5 beauticians, 3 masons and one rice trader, vegetable and rice retailers/wholesaler, upholsterer, barber, manicurist, house painter and automotive and electrical technician.

On the other hand, Mendez Barangay Council, which has 60 micro-entrepreneurs, received PHP1.1-million worth of business kits as livelihood grant to the beneficiaries.

Vivian Gonzales of Barangay Napo, one of the beneficiaries of the said assistance, said her wish to acquire kitchen tools for her food vending business has been granted.

“We are thankful for these kitchen wares to DOLE, because out the 102 beneficiaries, I’m lucky to be among them who received these materials,” Gonzales shared during the awarding of the livelihood assistance in their village.

“This livelihood grant is helpful to us for most of the women here in our village are not gainfully employed. Now, we have our own source of income to support my children and family in financial aspect,” Nancy Losantas, 46, one of the beneficiaries in Barangay Mendez, said.

“We will do our best for this business to flourish so we may be given a second batch of assistance,” she added.

The Kabuhayan Program, under which the business kits were distributed, is a component of the DOLE Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program which gives grants to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized workers. The program includes capacity building in collaboration with government agencies like the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

DOST-Bicol urges students to apply for 'Pisay' scholarship

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) office in Region 5 (Bicol) is encouraging promising students to avail of scholarships being offered at the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) - Bicol Campus, which attained a 100-percent passing rate in the recently held University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT).

DOST regional information officer Dr. Pelita Lucena, in an interview on Monday, said that based on records, among the campuses of PSHS in the country, only two got a 100-percent passing rate in the recent UPCAT and these are in Bicol and Central Luzon.

"We are very happy. It was an achievement for us. That’s why we (DOST) continue to encourage students to avail of scholarships and be part of 'Pisay'," Lucena said.

Interested students must take the National Competitive Examination (NCE), a scholastic aptitude test designed to measure scientific and quantitive abilities, abstract reasoning, and verbal aptitude. It will be administered on October 20.

Application for the 2018 DOST-PSHS National Competitive examination is now open for Grade 6 pupils and application forms can be downloaded from the PSHS website and are available at the DOST regional office and nearest Provincial Science and Technology Center.

Lucena explained that interested graduating elementary pupils must have a final grade of 85 percent or higher in Science and Mathematics, as evidenced in their report card; Filipino citizens with no pending or approved application as immigrant to any foreign country; born on or after Aug. 1, 2004; at least satisfactory rating (or equivalent) for character rating in the report card; not taken the PSHS NCE previously and preferably, in good health and fit to undergo rigorous academic program.

“Applicants with complete requirement will receive the examination permit through mail direct to them or to the school principal for distribution to the applicants,” she said.

Lucena said the deadline for the submission of application forms will be on August 31.

Successful examinees who are accepted as PSHS students are entitled to scholarship privileges, including free tuition; textbooks; monthly stipend; uniform; transportation and living allowances for low-income groups; and dormitory accommodation (if applicable).

Meanwhile, the DOST also offers Science and Technology (S&T) Undergraduate scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

College S&T student-scholars can enjoy scholarship privileges; tuition and school fees (PHP40,000/academic year); book allowance (PHP10,000/year); MS/PE uniform, first semester of first year only (PHP1,000); group insurance (premium); monthly allowance (PHP7,000/month); summer allowance if required with tuition and other school fee (PHP1,500), book allowance (PHP500/to submit OR), monthly allowance (two months), and graduation clothing allowance (PHP1,000).

“We encourage qualified Senior High School students to apply for S&T scholarship, pursue S&T careers and be part of the future competent human resource in the country," Lucena said.

S&T Week celebration seen to give opportunities to Bicolanos

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is set to give all enthusiasts an opportunity to meet and interact with Science and Technology (S&T)/Research and Development (R&D) officials and experts regarding available technologies, intervention programs, and livelihood and scholarship opportunities next week.

The activity will be held during the 2018 Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) regional celebration, with DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña opening the event on August 8, said DOST regional information officer Dr. Pelita Lucena, in an interview on Monday.

Among the activities lined-up for the RSTW celebration are the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) awarding, Ceremonila project turnover, exhibits, displays of DOST-Bicol programs and services, film showing featuring "Inobasyon at Inbensiyon sa Robotiks", orientation on "Balik Scientist program", Food Safety Summit and launching of "ManFabLab".

Lucena said this year’s S&T Week regional celebration will be held from August 8-10 at the Bicol University Gymnasium, East Campus with the theme "Science for the People 2018- Innovation for Collective Prosperity".

"For the last day, August 10, that would be 'Scholar's Day' -- a day of competition between schools or what we call 'Tagisan ng Galing at Talino ng mga Iskolar'," she added.

Lucena recalled that during the National Science and Technology Week celebration attended by DOST-Bicol representatives last July 17-20 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Secretary Dela Peña said in his message that Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) transformed the lives of those in the lower, if not in the lowest strata of society, and gave them better socio-economic conditions with the livelihood opportunities made available to them through S&T interventions and assistance program.

"The event is open to all interested individuals such as S&T enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, students, researchers, inventors, innovators, professionals and the general public," Lucena said.

PTFoMS council soon to operate in provinces: Egco

By Connie Calipay (PNA)

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said a PTFoMS council will soon be operational in every province of the country to serve as a tool in giving media practitioners a sense of security because they know that there is a body they can go to and report problems, threat or any kind of danger they may encounter in their line of work.

PTFoMS Executive Director and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, in an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday, said the PTFoMS was already effective and it will be soon have a presence in various areas of the country.

"Yon (Provincial PTFoMS Council) ang pinaka mahalaga, kasi kaya namin ginawa yon, na magkaroon non, we know for a fact yung gulo sa ibaba, alam namin meron hindi naman rivalry, friction among media organizations, media people doon sa mga probinsiya (That (Provincial PTFoMS Council) is crucial, that is why we created it, because we know for a fact that there is danger in the grassroots, it may not be rivalry but friction among media organizations, media people in the provinces)," he said.

Egco pointed out that based on their studies, friction among media practitioners and media organizations is just one of the many factors that could lead to killings of journalists.

He expressed belief that the operation of provincial PTFoMS council will greatly help to lessen crimes committed against members of the media.

"Tingin ko mas mababawasan kasi mas magiging magkakalapit kasi magkakaroon ng bind (I think it will be lessened since there will be closeness and bind among newsmen)," Egco said.

The provincial PTFoMS council will be headed by the provincial prosecutor and Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial director, together with members of the media in every province.

The council will determine which areas in a certain province have journalists receiving threat on their lives.

"Kasi sa kwentuhan malalaman mo yan eh, oh si ganto... may ganyan... ilista mo na yon, isusubmit yon ng council sa amin, for proper guidance ngayon mina-mapping, threat, assessment and mapping (In group chats, you will know who gets threats, list it down then the council will submit it to use for proper guidance and mapping, threat assessment and mapping)," Egco continued.

He said the guidelines on establishing PTFoMS council will immediately be downloaded to Bicol.

Egco also said there is a PTFoMS protocol handbook that serves as "Dos and Don’ts" guide to journalists on what to do when they receive a threat, or are physically harmed, subjected to surveillance, or when one of them is killed.

"At least 10,000 copies of the said handbook will be distributed in different regions in the country," he noted.

Egco said the PTFoMS is now going to the grassroots, holding seminars to let the media in the regions know that there is a task force ready to help them.

He added with the PTFoMS informed of threats against the lives of newsmen, they could be provided with an armed escort or with an intelligence cover acting appropriately for their protection.

Egco also explained that "vulnerable" has been chosen as an appropriate term in reporting about media killings. “Vulnerability brings images of hope, proactivity, positivity and eventual victory by addressing their vulnerability,” he said.

The official said based on records, Mindanao tops the list of media killings in the country because of the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre where 32 media practitioners were killed in one incident.

"Meanwhile, since Bicol has already 9 cases, I think it is also among the top regions," he said.

Egco was in Albay on Wednesday to look into the killing of broadcaster Joey Llana.

He assured local newsmen that the PTFoMS is committed in helping solve the crime and bringing justice to the victim's family.

"Delay is okay but failure is not an option," Egco said.

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