Iloilo City News

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Operation Smile caps second mission in Iloilo

By Gail T. Momblan (TDG)

THE most wonderful gift arrived just in time for a young girl’s eleventh birthday, Oct. 24, 2018.

Princess Mariel Bantillo of Dumangas, Iloilo is one of around 120 beneficiaries of the Operation Smile, the world’s largest children’s charity dedicated to providing free cleft surgery.

“Excited to siya pero ako daw ginanerbyos gamay. Daw naanad naman siya nga ginasunlog bangud sa iya cleft palate pero nalipay guid kami nga sa wakas maoperahan na si Princess,” Princess’ mother Maricel Bantillo shared while waiting outside the Operating Room.

Princess’ birthday was celebrated with colorful birthday banners and cheerful atmosphere at the Play Room, a waiting area for the patients before operation.

The Operation Smile had once again lifted the hopes of indigent Ilonggo children with cleft lip and cleft palate deformities in an international surgical Mission sponsored by Watsons Personal Care Store Philippines.

It was held from Oct. 21-26, 2018 at QualiMed Hospital in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

“Most of the cleft cases are born to poor families who cannot afford the cost of commercial surgery,” said Angel Mojica, Operation Smile Philippines executive director.

“Left untreated, they will be bullied, lose their self-esteem, and grow uneducated with hardly any chance of finding gainful employment later in adulthood,” she added.

Operation Smile gathered together 52 volunteer cleft care professionals from Australia, Canada, Finland, Honduras, Italy, Philippines, Poland, Russia, and the United States.

The volunteers consisted of plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatric intensivist, pediatricians, dentists, clinical coordinator, and speech pathologists, among others.

The Operation Smile in Iloilo City was the second mission in the country, following the first one in Dumaguete City on Sept. The team will gather on the third surgical mission set in Tacloban City on November.

350,000 cleft children and young adults in 80 countries around the world including the Philippines had benefited from this mission over the past 35 years.

“We’ve totally embraced Operation Smile because its work manifests our “Look Good, Feel Great” philosophy,” said Watsons Philippines Managing Director Robert Sun.

Watsons Philippines has been supporting Operation Smile since 2013. It has sponsored the surgery of over a thousand Filipino children with facial cleft deformities in 12 missions in Bacolod, Cavite, Cebu, Davao, Manila and San Fernando, Pampanga.

“The partnership between Operation Smile and Watsons is a perfect fit as both share the same aspirations of making people not only look good but feel good, inside and out,” said Operation Smile’s Country Director of Development Bobby Manzano.

Iloilo City celebrates Halloween promoting responsible pet ownership

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – Close to a thousand children of City Hall employees and guests on Monday paid no attention to the drizzle to join this year’s “Iloilo City Halo-ween: KERnival in the City” that was facilitated by the city government through its Gender and Development (GAD) team and the City Population Office.

The activity was integrated with a dog fashion show dubbed “Alindog 2018” to highlight the observance of Animal Welfare Month this October.

“Our pre-Halloween event is a family bonding time. As we all know, pets are considered extended family members and dogs are man’s best friend, and a loyal friend. To raise the consciousness of the public on the rights and welfare of animals, we have chosen pets,” said Anne Ramos, head of the City Population Office.

She said the activity probably made this highly urbanized city as one of the first local governments in the country to introduce the concept of integrating Halloween with the advocacy on responsible pet ownership.

“We would like to see Iloilo City as a pet-friendly city. Hopefully, little by little, the problem on homeless animals will be addressed,” Ramos added.

Dr. Tomas Forteza Jr., city veterinarian and one of the event organizers, said they would like to show that Iloilo City is pet-friendly and that the local government and residents are “one in efforts towards being rabies-free”.

“We just want to show to the children that dogs are (their) best friends. They can mingle without the threat of rabies or risk of being bitten,” he added.

Aside from joining the Halloween activity, one of their innovations this year is the spay and neuter program.

"We urged responsible (owners) to have their pets neutered, spayed and castrated. We do that every week, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday,” Forteza revealed. The program is available at the city veterinarian’s office every Wednesday and in selected barangays during Fridays and Saturdays.

He said that they targeted 2,000 dogs this year for the five-year program to have an impact.

To date, some 85 percent of the estimated 40,000 dog population in the city has been vaccinated.

Ramos noted that for several years, they have been veering away from the usual spooky concept of observing Halloween.

City Hall has been celebrating Halloween for seven years now. Children wore spooky costumes during the first three years but many of them were not comfortable with the concept, Ramos said.

“We decided to build something positive, to bring positive vibes to our children,” she said.

In 2014, the Pinoy and International superheroes theme was introduced and this year, it was carnival.

Nearly 1,000 children aged three to eight years old were treated Monday to free candies, toys, ice pops, marshmallows, wafers and biscuits, chocolates and popcorn.

Also, each floor of the city hall prepared a fantasy booth with mascots, roulette games, magic show, clowns, photo booth, face painting, balloon booth, and a puppet show.

Prior to the trick or treat, 70 children also competed in a costume contest where the top three winners received cash prizes of PHP3,000, PHP2,000 and PHP1,500 for the first, second and third placers, respectively.

The winners in the dog fashion show also received the same cash prizes and freebies.

The half-day event was also held in partnership with the Philippine Dog Welfare Association, Inc, the Philippine Veterinary Medical Association, and the Yasa Pet Shop.

DTI culminates ‘Consumer Welfare Month’ in W. Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) culminated the celebration of the Consumer Welfare Month by holding a regional quiz bee in this city on Monday.

“This is one way to disseminate consumer welfare information and educate our students about fair trade laws,” DTI regional information officer David Israel Sinay said in an interview.

The first placer from the Regional Science High School for Region 6 in Aklan bagged the PHP10,000 cash prize with a trophy and a medal. The school was represented by the three-member team of Princess Keith Malolos, Tsaress Leigh Garzon, and Janna Paula Marie Libuna.

The second placer from the Iloilo National High School, Iloilo, represented by the group of Yancy Aubrey Panugon, Marie Rheann Lasaga and Deryn Dominiue Ventilacion, won PHP8,000 plus trophy and a medal.

The San Pedro National High School from Antique, represented by the team of Ivan William Magbanua, Marjorie Altejos and Genevee Blancia, was awarded the PHP6,000 cash prize plus trophy and medal for winning the third place.

Non-winners also received PHP3,000 each.

Sinay said the quiz bee gathered one participant from each of the six provinces of Western Visayas.

It focused on general information and other pertinent laws related to the celebration, he said.

Proclamation No. 1098 signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos on September 26, 1997 declared October of every year as Consumer Welfare Month.

Sinay said the celebration started with a fun run last Saturday of September.

The DTI, through its provincial offices, hosted product showcase and exhibits highlighting mandatory products.

In Antique, he said the department destroyed uncertified mandatory products worth PHP45,787 that were confiscated from major establishments in San Jose, Antique.

The products included television set, DVD players, monoblock chairs, electric iron, compact fluorescent lamps, and electric socket, among others.

This year’s celebration anchored on the theme “Making Digital Marketplaces Fairer”.

Iloilo is Nat’l PESO award grand slam winner

By Cindy Ferrer

ILOILO CITY -- For the first time, Iloilo province has been declared as the grand slam winner of the best Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in the country under the first-class provincial category.

Iloilo landed first place together with PESO-Tarlac but after bagging the award for three consecutive years, it was declared “grand slam winner”, PESO-Iloilo chief, Francisco Heller, said after receiving the recognition at the SMX convention center in Davao City Friday night.

The awarding for the 2017 Search for best PESO was among the highlights of the three-day national PESO Congress from October 25 to 27. The success of PESO-Iloilo this year is a repeat of the 2015 and 2016 national search. The province received a plaque of recognition and a total of PHP250,000 in cash incentive.

“This was all because of the support of our governor (Arthur Defensor Sr.), our local chief executives and the cooperation of our private sector and business sector, as well as the academe,” Heller said in describing their success.

Iloilo province excelled in its core services and functions, such as in registration, referral and placement, guidance coaching, and local market information.

Special programs have also been initiated by PESO-Iloilo, among them the special recruitment activities, job fairs, and the electronic manpower skills registry system.

Last year, PESO-Iloilo was able to provide employment to 5,557 jobseekers who are now working here and abroad. It also assisted some 30,000 high school students in the province for guidance career and coaching.

During the conduct of the various job fairs, PESO-Iloilo provided special lanes for persons with disability, solo parents, Indigenous Peoples, and beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Although they are no longer allowed to join the national search next year, Heller said they are targeting to receive an excellence award in 2019 for maintaining their outstanding performance.

He added that they will work harder and lay down initiatives to further improve their services in terms of facilitating employment. (PNA)

Ilonggo MSMEs avail of packaging, labeling assistance from DOST

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – A total of 14 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from Iloilo province have received packaging and labeling assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The product labels were turned over to recipient-beneficiaries by Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña during a short ceremony held at the Iloilo City Hall here Thursday afternoon.

In his message prior to the turnover, dela Peña said one of the major strategies they introduced in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s desire to reduce the gaps or inequalities among regions and provinces, is to increase entrepreneurial activities and make MSMEs competitive.

“We do not really think much about the big companies because they have their resources, their own way to improve their productivity. But the smaller ones need assistance,” he said.

In Iloilo, the top MSMEs are into food processing, metal works, equipment fabrication, and furniture-making.

“Packaging is not only to make it appear beautiful. It has a function. It has to hold the product as much as possible to protect the product and to prolong shelf life,” dela Peña added.

DOST 6 (Western Visayas) Director Rowen Gelonga said the provision of assistance is an ongoing program of their office, in partnership with the city and provincial governments of Iloilo.

“We design their product labels. We give them technical assistance on appropriate packaging materials based on their products,” Gelonga said, adding that with good product packaging, they could easily penetrate the mainstream market.

“Aside from product packaging, we will also provide training on food safety and product development,” he added.

Antonette Zabala, owner of Antonia’z Yema business, is one of the local entrepreneurs who received a product label from DOST.

Zabala recalled that before she availed of the assistance, she only placed her yema products inside a sealed plastic. She produces 50 to 100 boxes per week, intended for reselling mostly in their village at Hibao-an.

“With the new packaging, at least we can engage bigger communities. I am really intending to expand the market only in the region but hopefully nationwide, God willing,” she said.

She also said she is planning to add polvoron and other sweets to her array of products.

DOST to launch Diwata-2 micro satellite on Oct. 29

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Philippines will launch its micro second satellite named Diwata-2 to the International Space Station (ISS) this October 29.

This was announced by Dr. Fortunato de la Peña, Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), when he delivered his keynote address during the first Philippine Mussel Congress held in this city on Thursday.

In an interview, de la Peña said the second micro satellite was developed by Filipino young engineers under the mentorship of experts at the Tohoku University in Japan.

He will be joined by Senator Bam Aquino who chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology during the launching of the 50-kilogram satellite in Japan.

“Diwata 2 is carrying improved camera capabilities and it can also be used as a communication facility, particularly in times of emergencies,” he said.

For the duration of the six-year period from 2017 to 2022, de la Peña said there has to be no single moment that there is no Philippine satellite that is making an orbit.

“We are programming already that most likely there is already the third Diwata so that there will always be a Philippine satellite orbiting,” he added.

Meanwhile, de la Peña said they were expecting Diwata-1 to “disintegrate already but it is still orbiting”. The Diwata-1, which was brought to the ISS in 2016, has cameras that can take images. But Diwata-2 has better cameras.

IPs in Western Visayas showcase culture through mud painting

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- About 50 mud paintings by Indigenous People (IPs) students and hearing impaired pupils from two Iloilo municipalities are being showcased at the Casa Gamboa Jaro Museum in Jaro district here until October 30.

Dubbed “Dagaya Mud Painting Exhibit 2018”, the paintings made use of mud as an alternative material in lieu of expensive painting items.

Dr. Jesus Insilada, principal of the Caninguan National High School (CNHS) of Caninguan, Lambunao, in an interview Tuesday, said with the help of artist John Michael Catigan from Dumangas, they introduced mud, with different coloring qualities, as the medium.

“Dagaya” is a Hiligaynon/Kinaray-a word, which means abundant or rich, in reference to the mud that is available everywhere -- as well as the rich talent of children deprived of opportunities to show their unlimited potential, Insilada said.

The materials came from the towns of Dumangas and Lambunao in Iloilo and Jordan, Guimaras. The colors range from blackish, reddish to yellowish and are combined to create a sepia effect.

The mud painting workshop was first introduced in summer this year for interested children as young as five years old and students of the CNHS, as well as children from the neighboring Calinog town, particularly from the Calinog Central School-SPED, for them to have a worthwhile activity.

Before the opening of the exhibit on Oct. 22, another workshop was held on Oct. 8 to 9, and 11 with more than 100 students of the CNHS as participants.

Insilada said that they chose the paintings appropriate for the IPs and Museum Months celebrations for the exhibit.

The paintings depict the culture of the IPs, their environment and what they see in their daily lives.

“This is very significant because for the first time, their works or art are showcased that could help build their self-confidence, that they are talented and that there are opportunities that they can be showcased. We are very thankful of the opportunity given by people who care for heritage and culture, especially of our IPs,” Insilada said.

IPs from the mountainous central area of Panay, including the Lambunao IPs, are known as Panay Bukidnon.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Cherry Ganancial, executive director of the Tinukib Foundation, Inc. of the Taytay Sa Kauswagan Inc. (TSKI), which manages the Casa Gamboa Jaro Museum, said that it has been their advocacy to support IPs. Aside from the CNHS, they also support the Ati from Nagpana, Barotac Viejo.

Casa Gamboa is located at the corner of Commission Civil and Jayme Streets in Barangay Benedicto and opened only in March this year. It used to be the residence of Ilongga heroine Patrocinio Gamboa, known for her role during the inauguration of the revolutionary government in the Visayas during the Spanish period.

Ganancial said some of the paintings on display are already sold. Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to the student-artists while the rest will be for the CNHS Indigenous Students Club for the construction of Kurob-Kultura, a school- based mini-museum for history, culture and the arts.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The entrance fee is PHP35 for students and PHP75 for adults.

Meantime, Insilada said they have also lined up several school-based activities to mark the IP Month.

These are cultural contest, workshop on “Panubok” or embroidery, which is a treasured craft of the Panay Bukidnon and “Hangkat sa Kaiwat” to showcase alternative vegetables cooked by IP elders in the past, which are no longer familiar to the younger generation.

Based on the record of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, there are 200,000 IPs in Western Visayas.

Iloilo City adopts Taiwan’s integrated risk assessment platform

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here is in need of a command center that will serve as its “nerve center” when it comes to disaster operation as it gears to adopt the integrated risk assessment platform of Taipei, Taiwan.

The center will also serve as counterpart of the city government in the integrated risk assessment platform that will be established in Iloilo City, in partnership with the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction (NCDR) of Taiwan, Manila Observatory and the National Resilience Council (NRC).

In an interview Monday, Donna Magno, head of the Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) which was assigned as the focal point for the engagement, said a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) was signed by the implementing partners, making it as another milestone for Iloilo City.

“It is very significant because we have science-based institutions that will help the city in its risk assessment,” she said. Before, the city used to rely only on regional data but with the support of the private partners, it can now generate local data.

The MOC will pave the way for the sharing of best practices and mechanisms of emergency preparedness in Taiwan, develop tools for capacity-building based on scenario simulation and establish system for emergency preparedness that will include information analysis, vulnerability-risk assessment and suggestion for policymakers.

“DRR workers will have the knowledge and the skills on how to monitor equipment, interpret data for making informed decisions, especially when there are weather disturbances,” Magno said.

At present, the CDRRMO has an operation center situated at the Iloilo City Motorpool that operates 24/7.

She said that temporarily they are eyeing the penthouse at the city hall as the command center, otherwise the project with Taiwan will be affected.

“The idea behind the operation center is that during worst case scenario that building is still standing and functioning to provide direction to all operations,” she added.

Following the MOC signing, there will be field visit of this city’s project focal person to Taiwan. Also, their experts will visit Iloilo City for an inspection and take a look at its flooding hot spots where the automatic weather stations (AWS) will be installed.

The NRDC will be providing 20 automatic weather stations (AWS) in Iloilo City.

Through the National Resilience Council (NRC), Iloilo City was chosen to be the pilot of the NCDR, an agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan.

With the NCDR, they generate data down to the barangay level. “All over Taiwan they have 16,000 AWS to generate information,” Magno said.

“This is the first time that they will replicate their system. And the only LGU that was chosen is Iloilo City,” she said.

She added that NRC chose Iloilo City among its eight pilot LGUs because they believed that there is a big chance that it will succeed based on their scorecard and the commitment of DRR players.

Also, Taiwan and Iloilo City have similar hazards such as typhoon, flooding and earthquake.

The Manila Observatory is also joining the initiative so there will be scientific researches coming in.

“It’s very apt because we are a highly urbanized city so we also level up our risk assessment,” said Magno.

The signatories to the MOC included Dr. Hongey Chen, director of NCDR Taiwan, Maria Antonia Loyzaga of the NRC and Mayor Jose Espinosa III for Iloilo City.

Iloilo youth learn the value of int’l relations

By Louine Hope Conserva

AROUND 100 to 150 students from different universities in Iloilo City learned the importance of multilateralism (international relations) from Belgian Ambassador Michel Goffin.

Goffin was in Iloilo City on Oct 12 to 13, 2018 to lead the delegation of the European Union of the Philippines for hosting of the film festival “Cine Europa.”

As a sidelight, the Embassy coordinated with PHINMA University of Iloilo for the conduct of a short forum that will highlight the imminent role of Belgium as a member of the United Nations Security Council from 2019 to 2020.

In an interview with The Daily Guardian, Goffin said they value the role of the youth as the driver for change.

“The youth have the power of time. And they are the ones who will change the world really. They are the future,” he said.

The Ambassador discussed about rule-based policies and systems; the relationship between Belgium and the Philippines; and the aspects of trade, security, and human rights as a universal law.

Being part of the UN Security Council for two years, Belgium has committed to ensure that international cooperation is working and producing some result. Thus, they are disseminating the message to universities around the world.

Goffin said he was impressed by the responses of the Ilonggo students during the open forum.

“They are very good. And I am very happy with the questions and the quality of the debate,” he said.

Gian Bermudo, Phinma UI Center for Student Development and Leadership director, said the forum complements the university’s mission which is to promote holistic education by molding students to become proactive citizens and nation builders.

“It is important for the youth to understand that we cannot separate ourselves from the international community. What happens in our country have an impact in the bigger context,” she told The Daily Guardian.

The university has invited Atty. Elijo Herrera-Billones, professor at the University of San Agustin Iloilo who specializes in international law, as speaker. Billones also works as a legal counsel of PHINMA’s Trans-Asia Renewable Energy Corporation (TAREC).

Meanwhile, Ambassador Goffin said he is impressed with Iloilo City being “very modern, very sustainable, and very clean.”

He also learned that the Iloilo-Batiano River Development Project was one of the top ten recipients of the Galing Pook Awards 2018.

“We visited the river and it is very clean. Iloilo should spread the word to other cities,” he said.

Cine Europa also held screenings in other Visayas areas like in Cebu and Tacloban.

DOH-6 launches house-to-house immunization in Iloilo City

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – Parents are urged to support and cooperate in the supplemental activity on measles rubella and oral polio vaccine (MR-OPV) with the first phase roll out in 25 areas in Western Visayas, particularly in this city on Monday.

During the launching, Dr. Renilyn Reyes, Family, Health and Nutrition Cluster head of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development 6 (DOH-CHD 6), said Western Visayas has 119 measles cases as of October 6 this year.

Reports showed Negros Occidental has 33 cases, Bacolod City has 29, Iloilo province has 21; Antique has 16, Iloilo City has 10, Capiz has six, Aklan has three, while Guimaras has one. Last year, Western Visayas has not recorded a single measles case.

Around 50 percent of the cases are children below five years old. Also, 61 percent of those who acquired measles were not immunized, Reyes said.

She said measles is a simple disease. However, its complications may cause the hospitalization of the child due to pneumonia and diarrhea.

It may cause convulsion due to infection in the central nervous system. Worst, it can lead to death and blindness if there are complications.

“The best thing is that it can be prevented through vaccination,” she said.

The “ToDOH Ligtas sa Polio at Tigdas” program covers six-month to five-year-old children regardless of their immunization status.

“This is the first rolling phase of the mass immunization program in the entire Philippines,” she said.

City Health Office head, Dr. Bernard Caspe, said their health workers will go house-to-house from October 22 until November 22 to administer the measles rubella and oral polio vaccine (OPV).

If needed, they would extend the drive up to December just to make sure that their target age group is 100 percent covered, Caspe said.

If parents would refuse, he said they will try to explain and convince them that the measles rubella and OPV immunizations are different from the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.

“This is proven safe and effective,” he said.

Meanwhile, Reyes said Iloilo City is included in the first phase of the activity which covers places with confirmed cases. The target is to cover a total of 339,183 children.

The second phase, which will be administered during the first and second quarter of 2019 will cover 258,443 children in 42 areas or those that are considered as bordering areas or with highest number of "missed"children.

Belmont Hotel will soon rise in Iloilo Business Park

[TDG, Zedrick Señeres (Page Maker)]

PROPERTY giant Megaworld held a press conference on Oct 16, 2018 to announce the construction of Belmont Hotel inside its 72-hectare Iloilo Business Park (IBP) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

Leading the event were Charmaine Carpio, IBP Information and Communication supervisor; Jennifer Fong, Megaworld Iloilo Sales and Marketing vice president; Nate Dacua, Megaworld Media Relations supervisor; Alden Celo, Megaworld Creative director; Harold Geronimo, Megaworld senior assistant vice president and PR and Media Affairs head; and Tere Isla, Megaworld Public Relations manager.

Belmont Hotel Iloilo will have 405 suites in five types – Twin Suites, Queen Suites, Junior Suites, Executive Suites, and Specially-Abled Suites for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

The 12-storey hotel, which is the third in the entire township, will be located along the 1.1-kilometer Festive Walk Parade, just a walking distance from the iconic Iloilo Convention Center and the Festive Walk Mall.

It will have its own swimming pool with in-pool lounge, landscaped deck with pool bar and outdoor lounge, fitness center with sauna, function room, and an all-day dining restaurant.

“We have seen the huge potential of Iloilo as a tourism destination. With the Iloilo Convention Center as a main facility for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE), there is no doubt that Iloilo City needs another world-class hotel. And we are bringing another Megaworld homegrown hotel brand, which has gained popularity among business travelers since Belmont Hotel Manila opened in 2015,” says Jennifer Palmares-Fong, vice president for sales and marketing, Megaworld Iloilo.

Belmont Hotel Manila, Megaworld’s first Belmont Hotel that opened in Newport City, was awarded this year’s Best Airport Hotel in the 2018 Travel and Hospitality Awards. The second Belmont Hotel is set to open in Boracay Newcoast next year, while the third one will be at The Mactan Newtown, the company’s 30-hectare township in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

In IBP, Megaworld opened its third Richmonde Hotel in 2014, and its sister company Travelers International Hotels Group, Inc., owner and operator of Resorts World Manila, opened the Courtyard by Marriott early this year.

According to the Iloilo City Tourism Office, tourist arrivals in the city have remarkably increased during the past five years. In 2017, around 1.08 million local and foreign tourists visited Iloilo City. Most foreign visitors came from South Korea, US, Canada, Mexico and Australia.

Tourism receipts, on the other hand, reached P19.8-billion in 2017 as registration for tourism-related establishments such as hotels rose by 55% to 1,605 last year compared to those posted in 2013.

“Megaworld’s Iloilo Business Park itself is a tourist destination. Visitors come to the township to visit the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA), shop and dine in Festive Walk Mall, chill in Festive Walk Parade, attend events in the Iloilo Convention Center, or stay in our world-class hotels. We expect more tourists to come to our township as more establishments and attractions open in the coming months,” explains Palmares-Fong.

Belmont Hotel Iloilo is scheduled to open in 2023.

500 Swiss nationals enjoy ‘positive’ living in Iloilo

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The ambassador of Switzerland to the Philippines gathered 500 of her countrymen, scattered in different parts of the province, during her two-day visit here which started on Thursday.

After meeting with the Swiss community here, Ambassador Andrea Reichlin reported that her fellow citizens are on a “positive mood” living in Iloilo.

Most of the Swiss nationals have been living here for over 20 years already and a number of them are married to Filipinos. Others came back after living sometime in Switzerland to retire here.

“They like it here because obviously, the air is clean, the transportation is easy, city offers a lot of possibilities in terms of services, and also recreation I guess,” she said in an interview on Friday after her courtesy call on Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. at the Capitol.

Nature is the first attraction as “it is possible to go up the mountains and there are also seas here,” she added.

“It is quite a fantastic place from nature to infrastructure-wise. We are positive and surprised about the state of infrastructure from the airports to the roads,” said the envoy in her first time visit to the city.

“The city also looks vibrant, modern, and there are a lot of developments so, we are pleased and positively impressed,” she added.

Reichlin and Defensor discussed the priorities of the provincial government. She said the next step would probably be providing investment opportunities for the province.

“For the time being only a courtesy call but we are certainly looking to possibilities or know if Swiss companies are already here present and what they are doing and if they want to expand their activities here in the province,” she said.

DOST-SEI to hold patriotism program in Iloilo


THE Department of Science and Technology–Science and Education Institute (DOST-SEI) will hold a 2-day program to instill patriotic values among its scholars.

DOST-SEI director Dr. Josette Biyo said the program aims to instill the core values of “professional excellence, social responsibility and servant leadership” among its scholars. It will be held on November 23 and 24 in Iloilo City.

Around 6,000 undergraduate and graduate level of scholars who specialize in the fields of science math, science education and engineering are being supported by DOST-SEI.

Entitled as “The Filipino Patriot Scholars Project,” it comprises of various activities that will allow the scholars to interact with the different sectors or community and identify problems and provide solutions.

“Part of the two days formation program, they will be educated of the Problem Tree Analysis so that there will be critical thinking. What are the root cause of this problem that exists in the specific barangay (village) or community,” Biyo said.

Apart from identifying such problems, the scholars will also identify what agencies to tap that can assist in solving the problem.

“Most especially, how can they be part of the solution kasi sila ang sa community so gina train naton ang mga scholars naton with that kind of thinking so that they will see that in the future when they become professionals,” Biyo added.

Biyo, with her team of professionals, are eyeing to check the places of Lanit, Jaro district; Barangay Rima, City Proper; Iloilo Central Market; City Social Welfare Development orphanage, Molo district; Balay Dalayunan, Lapuz district; Balay Tilipunan, City Proper and Sooc, Arevalo district to be the prospect subject of their program.

The 2-day workshop will have a series of lectures of several lessons per module. There will be resource speakers for the specific activities and lessons.

“We will be also promoting local heroes of Iloilo. We have a lot and then we will be inviting also mga scholars naton (our) from the Iloilo who have really made contributions not only in the Philippines but in the world,” Biyo said.

The team

With the huge step to take, Biyo convinced young professionals to join her for the effective implementation of the program.

One of them is Ma. Nerissa Nicolas, a robotics champion who has represented the Philippines in world competitions.

Her journey started after she achieved recognitions when she was still a student. The first time she engaged with robotics competition, her team won the Philippine Robotics Olympian in 2018. Their victory qualified them to join the international level in Korea and won as 9th placer.

Nicolas pursued to coach grade school student while on her college days, and her team placed second and fourth place in Indonesia.

As she goes on challenging herself, Nicolas met Biyo who convinced her to work with her in the program.

Nicolas was awarded as one of the ten outstanding students of the Philipppines of 2015.

Two other members of Biyo’s team were Susana Esquivel and Robby Reyes. Esquivel had been working with the DOST-SEI for 24 years already.

Reyes, a fresh graduate of the University of Philippines-Diliman was convinced to be part of the team because of the project’s vision.

“Kasi it proves na DOST-SEI do not just capacitate students financially but holistically. Nabubuo niya ngayon yung values formation na dapat meron talaga pag scholar,” he said.

(He is able to form certain values that scholars should have)

“Nakikita mo ‘yung pagbabago sa perspective ng students not just scholars. Now, they’re citizens of the country na may care and willing to do something to the country na hindi mo usually nakikita,” he added.

(You will see the change in the perspective of the students. Now, they’re citizens of the country who have care and willing to do something for the country, which you don’t usually find nowadays)

Iloilo City eyes post-harvest facilities for food security

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – Admitting that Iloilo City no longer has space to grow its own produce to feed its people, the local government unit here plans to establish post-harvest facilities to accommodate surplus produce coming from the rural areas.

“With our case, we no longer have a production area in terms of commercial production. Rice producing areas have continued support to sustain their production but eventually these production areas will vanish,” City agriculturist Romulo Pangantihon said in an interview Monday.

He said only 16 percent of the land areas in the city are utilized for rice production.

Pangantihon added that they are looking into post-harvest, trading and marketing facilities.

He cited there are products that stay in warehouses of local traders and are almost spoiled upon reaching the market.

"The post-harvest was not given much attention, where one way or the other can help a lot in ensuring the availability of food,” he said.

The target is to establish the facility at the Iloilo Fishing Port Complex or adopt the food terminal concept in Manila.

“Eventually all produce from the rural areas find their way in the city because customers are here,” he said.

With the strategy, Pangantihon is optimistic that residents will be secured in terms of food requirement.

He added that in terms of lowland vegetables, the local government is sufficient because they also produce almost all varieties.

“We refocus our production on the family itself, which is at the household level. We go into vegetable production,” he said.

However, the local produce, which is only for residents, could not support the entire population, especially that Iloilo City hosts a convergence of population, he noted.

Iloilo City bags Galing Pook Award for cleaning Iloilo River

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Iloilo City, for the second time, has been conferred the Galing Pook Award, which recognizes best local government practices in the country worthy of replication by other local government units (LGUs).

Its entry, the Iloilo Batiano River Development Project, joined the rest of nine other LGU awardees conferred in a ceremony held in Quezon City, Thursday evening, coinciding with the 25th Year of the Galing Pook Awards.

Engr. Noel Hechanova, head of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and at the same time the Executive of the Iloilo Batiano River Development Council (IBRDC), said on Saturday that the city government “has been a model” in terms of bringing together private and public sectors for holistic intervention.

“We demonstrated that the complex process of coordination needs an LGU (local government unit). Because of that we are a model,” he said.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, during his visit to this city in May 2017, said that the river can serve as a model for other LGUs.

He cited that the initiative brought together 18 major river basins in the country for a summit last year to see the river for themselves.

Hechanova said that the Iloilo River showcased a “holistic approach touching on the economic, environment and human transformation.”

Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa, in his presentation before a panel prior to the awarding ceremony held October 10, described the project as a “joint collaboration among national agencies, non-government organizations, academe and civil society to address siltation, water pollution, encroachment, illegal cutting of mangroves, and informal settlements along the Iloilo River.”

“It benefited more than 50,000 residents from 35 barangays living along the Iloilo River in terms of improved health, ecological sustainability, and sense of security and livability,” he said.

The initiative led to the relocation of informal settlers along the river banks, removal of fish pens, prevention of soil erosion and preservation of the mangrove’s high biodiversity index, he added. The IBRDC started as Iloilo River Council (IRDC) that was organized way back in 2006 to look into the rehabilitation activities of Iloilo River spanning some 13.5 kilometers. Various activities went full swing in 2010.

Hechanova said investments coming from various government agencies reached almost PHP1.7 billion while the private sector contributed around PHP500 million for various projects.

It 2012, the IRDC was expanded to become Iloilo-Batiano River Development Council (IBRDC) to include the contiguous Batiano River, which is within the jurisdiction of the adjacent municipality of Oton.

Hechanova said that more has yet to be done for the river, including addressing water pollution and make the river as an eco-tourism destination.

Espinosa, now head of the IBRDC, led the Iloilo delegation in receiving the plaque together with the PHP100,000 cash award.

In 2012, Iloilo City got its first Galing Pook Award through its Dinagyang Festival serving as a venue to promote good governance and human capital.

Other Galing Pook Awardees this year are the Ridge to Reef (R2R) program of Bindoy, Negros Oriental; “No Vote, Ibot” No More: Ending the Political Bondage in Resettlement Areas by Providing Security of Tenure of Cagayan de Oro City; Siargao It Up! Mangrove Management and Social Tourism Program of Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte; Reviving the Musical Tradition and Heritage by Empowering People through the Loboc Music Program of Loboc, Bohol; Barangay eSkwela and Barangay Literacy Worker Program of Naga City; ACHIEVE: Accessible, Holistic and Inclusive Education of Navotas City; The Importance of Cultural Heritage Conservation and the Role of the Education Sector by San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte; Tagumpay Works Program of Tagum, Davao del Norte and Tayo na Mapayapang Valenzuela: Tuloy-tuloy ang Asenso! The Valenzuela City Comprehensive Safety and Security Plan of Valenzuela City.

“The awards have cited some 319 programs from at least 200 LGUs over the years, including this year’s winners, judging them on their positive results and impact, their empowerment of the people, transferability and sustainability, innovation and efficiency of their program service delivery,” a Galing Pook press statement stated.

Meantime, the “Champion Farmers Program” of the town of Lambunao in Iloilo was among the 21 programs that were presented during the Galing Pook Governance Fair Youth in Innovative Governance.

It is holistic capacity building program for mostly poor farmers of the town. It was meant to uplift the economic status of farmers by way of providing value formation coupled with technical skills training.

Iloilo City frontliners train on basic sign language

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – Around 70 front line personnel at the Iloilo City Hall have been equipped with knowledge on the basic sign language “to communicate effectively with their clients who have special needs.”

In an interview Saturday, Leo Elevencione, head of the city government’s Human Resource Management Office, said they have completed two batches already with around 35 participants per batch. The second batch was held October 11-12.

“This is part of the requirements of the CSC (Civil Service Commission) in Prime HRM (Human Resource Management) where supposedly we provide equal opportunity to our clients with special needs,” he said.

He added that participants enjoyed learning the basic sign language and they felt that two days were not enough and some even proposed for the training to run for five days.

The two batches will be the last for this year and they hoped to offer two to three batches next year to “enhance the skills of participants”.

Included in the training are basic sign language for the alphabet, basic greetings and how to entertain deaf-mute clients.

SPED-Integrated School for Exceptional Children (ISEC) prepared the module and also handled the training, together with teachers who are well-versed in sign language.

They also brought in deaf-mute students from SPED-ISEC for the actual training.

Elevencione said that to make sure participants will not forget their learning, there was a suggestion that they meet every two weeks to interact using the sign language.

Among those trained were personnel from the Business Process Licensing Office, City Tourism and Development Office, City Mayor’s Office and City Treasurer’s Office, among others.

Group donates 2 firetrucks to Iloilo City

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Iloilo City received two firefighting pump cars from the Africa Asia Development Relief Foundation (ADRF), a non-governmental organization that implements various projects to support local communities in selected countries.

The Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) on Tuesday authorized Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III to sign a deed of donation on behalf of the city government with the ADRF represented by its chairman, Kwon Yi Jong.

Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo, whose committee reviewed the documents for the proposed donation, said the firetrucks are intended to enhance the capabilities of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in times of disasters and calamities.

“The donation of firetrucks will not only help in the safety of our school children but the whole of Iloilo City,” he added.

Just several months ago, Iloilo City was also a recipient of a firetruck under BFP's modernization plan.

Meanwhile, the city government on Monday turned over to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) two patrol cars to boost its personnel's mobility.

The donations were just two of the 11 units that were committed by the city government to augment the local police's anti-criminality campaign, particularly against illegal drugs.

Senior Supt. Martin Defensor Jr., ICPO director, received the police cars after the flag-raising ceremony held at the Iloilo City Hall.

Iloilo City eyes P2.3-B budget in 2019

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here is eyeing a PHP2.319-billion budget in 2019, a slight increase than its PHP2.212-billion budget this year.

The proposed budget is now at the office of Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo, chair of the committee on appropriations of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council), for perusal and has yet to be submitted to the council for deliberation.

“We have just received it two days ago. I think we will start (deliberation) on Oct. 8,” Peñaredondo said.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III, in his transmittal message, said more than 56.2 percent of the fund will be sourced from the local taxes, equivalent to PHP1.303 billion; and 43.4 percent from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), worth PHP1.005 billion. Some PHP10 million or 4 percent was attributed to the city government’s share in the economic zone.

Under his administration, Espinosa said general services were given the chunk of the budget with 51.3 percent; social services, 32.2 percent; and economic services, 16.5 percent. Of the total budget, personnel services got 34.5 percent, equivalent to PHP799.332 million; Miscellaneous and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), 29.4 percent or PHP683.10 million; special purpose appropriation, PHP812.133 million; and capital outlay with only PHP24 million.

On the other hand, the Local Economic Enterprise Office is targeting a PHP77.172 million, 2.7 percent higher than this year’s PHP75.138 million.

“There is only so much we can do for our community in a year but what is important is that our people will be able (to see) tangible changes in our government,” Espinosa said.

Meanwhile, Peñaredondo assured that the budget deliberations would not be affected by the political affiliations of the members of the local council.

“There is no question to the budget,” he assured.

Western Visayas aims to welcome 300K Chinese tourists in 2019

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Western Visayas is hoping to get a chunk of the around 1.5 million Chinese tourists expected to visit the Philippines next year.

Lawyer Helen J. Catalbas, in an interview Monday, said Western Visayas has natural attractions, seafood and branded shopping places to entice Chinese tourists.

The target, according to her, is around 300,000 Chinese tourists from the current 100,000 visitors.

As part of preparations, Catalbas said they have embarked on a Chinese Mandarin language training for tour guides in Aklan and Boracay.

“They have the most number of Chinese tourists. It will be followed by Iloilo and Bacolod,” she said.

Western Visayas currently has 35 accredited tour guides.

Catalbas also confirmed that there were talks of opening direct flights from China to Western Visayas.

“We have already been talking to several charterers, wholesale tour operators to charter flights from Guangzhou and Xiamen because these are nearer the Philippines,” she revealed.

With the closure of Boracay Island for six months, the Department of Tourism is eyeing to have 5.2 million tourist arrivals by the end of the year, a bit lower when compared with the 5.8 million in 2017.

She clarified that the region is “sticking to its original target” because last year, it exceeded its 5.1 million target arrivals.

From January to June this year, Catalbas said around 3 million tourists have already set foot in Western Visayas.

166K indigent elderly in West Visayas get one-time cash grant

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The national government’s one-time cash grant has already benefited some 166, 520 indigent senior citizens in Western Visayas, data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here showed.

The department has spent PHP399.6 million so far for the cash grant to the beneficiaries, Judith Tanate, focal person for Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons of DSWD 6 (Western Visayas), said in an interview Friday.

DSWD-6 began distributing the cash grants to its beneficiaries last July 25.

The grant is a tax subsidy provided under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law to help the poor cope with the rising prices of commodities.

Each qualified beneficiary is entitled to receive PHP2,400 a year or PHP200 per month. The national government is targeting to implement the unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program until 2020.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the PHP399.6 million went to 75,339 beneficiaries in Iloilo province, which amounted to PHP180.8 million.

Aklan province has PHP57.2 million for 23,839 beneficiaries; Capiz, PHP50.2 million for 20,957 beneficiaries; Antique, PHP48.8 million for 20,335 beneficiaries; Negros Occidental, PHP45.8 million for 19,093 beneficiaries; and Guimaras, PHP16.9 million for 6,957 beneficiaries.

Tanate said the 166,520 beneficiaries who received their cash grant were part of the 189,904 qualified senior citizens in the region.

She said that they are still waiting for their central office to release the remaining cash grants of more than 23,000 beneficiaries from 24 cities and towns in the different parts of the region.

Some 7,944 senior citizens in Iloilo City and 1,547 senior citizens in Bacolod City have yet to receive their cash grant.

“We are hoping that by the end of September, we will be able to release their cash grants,” she said. Tanate said the program has been a big help to indigent senior citizens in the region, especially in buying their medicines and basic needs.

“After they receive their money, most of them immediately go to the drugstore and grocery store to buy their needs,” she said. Related Stories

DTI consults Ilonggos on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ IRR

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its Competitiveness Bureau, on Friday gathered stakeholders here for a day of consultation on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act.

Iloilo was the last stop for the series of consultations in the Visayas that began in Leyte last Sept. 19 and followed by Cebu on Sept. 20, said DTI Regional Director Rebeca Rascon.

“We would like to consult the public sector with licensing functions,” Rascon said, adding that the law seeks to “streamline the procedures as we continue to deliver front-line services to our public clients.”

“What is good with the consultation is that there are points that need to be improved. It is just a draft and all inputs that they gather will be incorporated in the draft IRR,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mary Lou A. Gesilva, Assistant Director of the Competitiveness Bureau, said “the law strictly talks about re-engineering of systems so that we can make all these businesses easier and faster and hassle-free for all transacting public.”

“If we do that, of course that would mean improved business opportunities, business climate, more employment opportunities,” she added.

The new law “involves business-related and non-business-related transaction and not limited to permits (of mayors) but also include other frontline services.”

“The law provides for provisions that would improve ease of doing business in the country and improve the way we do things in government,” she said.

In line with this, she mentioned the need for government agencies to revisit their Citizens Charter that was crafted under the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.

She reminded that President Rodrigo Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address (SONA), mandated all government agencies to start “re-engineering”, which means “the shorter, the simpler the process, the better for business.”

She said the law has been in effect since June 17. As such, the transacting public can now file complaints before the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), care of the Competitiveness Bureau. The ARTA office is still being setup.

The law provides a two-strike policy, where the first proven violation would result in a six-month suspension and the second offense means imprisonment, a fine of PHP500,000 to PHP2 million, forfeiture of benefits, and perpetual disqualification from public service of persons involved.

Rascon said transactions in government under the law have been classified into simple, complex and highly-technical.

For simple transactions, the concerned government agency has three days to release the documents; seven days for complex transactions; and a maximum of 20 days for highly technical transactions.

Highly-technical transactions are those that need consultants or have to go through the procurement process as required, while complex transactions refer to those that require an applicant to secure licenses from other government offices prior to the issuance of their document.

Gesilva said during the consultations, there would be questions on the possible transition period for agencies to comply with the law.

“It is not yet cast in stone but there are suggestions to have at least six months to one year for them to review their processes,” she said.

The IRR is expected to be finalized by October 22.

‘Tumandok’ showcases Iloilo's attractions, products and culture

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Various attractions, products and the culture of the province of Iloilo are on display at the four-day travel and product fair organized by the provincial government here through its tourism office.

Now on its 14th year, “Tumandok”, Hiligaynon for “native”, is an annual event and is part of the celebration of the tourism month held every September, Gilbert “Bombet” Marin, head of the Provincial Culture, Arts, History and Tourism Office, said in an interview Friday.

The event kicked off on Wednesday through a cultural performance of the West Visayas State University (WVSU) College of PESCAR (Physical Education, Sports, Culture, Arts and Recreation).

A total of 19 booths representing the participating towns of the province were set up. Each booth showcases the products and tourist destinations of the participating local government units.

The participating towns and city are Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, Igbaras, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, Leon, Pavia, Leganes, Sta. Barbara, Cabatuan, Badiangan, Calinog, Duenas, Passi City, San Enrique, Concepcion, Estancia, and Carles.

As much as they want to invite all of the 42 towns and one component city of the province, Marin said the venue cannot accommodate them all.

On exhibit are delicacies, hand-made products, organic fruits and vegetables, dried fish and other seafood, and tourist spots found in their area.

There are also cultural presentations and performances of local festivals scheduled until the last day of the event on September 23.

Marin said their celebration is different from among other areas in the country because they are utilizing students to promote different attractions and destinations in Iloilo province.

This year, students of the Hotel and Restaurant Technology Department of the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U), La Paz Campus, Iloilo City joined the event.

“We really want the students to become front-liners in promoting our local destinations,” he said, adding that they are from universities in the city area and most of the time.

The students are grouped and given a municipality to adopt so they experience what normal tourism officers do when they go out on field, he said.

Since the start of the fair back in 2004, Marin said almost all public and private universities in this city have taken part.

Garin said the annual event really helped the locals in the province.

“We receive a lot of inquiries about local attractions on how to get there and through marketing and featuring their products. Locals who have backyard industries were given the opportunity to be recognized by some hotels because some of them are now ordering their products, like fruit juices and fresh vegetables,” he said.

Marin said he hopes they would be able to accommodate all towns and city of the province in their future fairs so they would have the opportunity to showcase their attractions, culture and products.

125 college students get scholarship from Iloilo prov’l gov’t

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- A total of 125 college students are the new recipients of “Iskolar sang Iloilo” (Iloilo scholars) program of the provincial government.

They are the latest batch of scholars of the province since the implementation of the K to 12 program, said Alma Ravena, head of the Human Resource Management and Development Office.

Ravena presented the new scholars to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. in a courtesy call at the Capitol on Thursday.

Each of the five districts of the province was allotted 25 scholars. They are enrolled in the various state colleges and universities in Iloilo City and in the province taking various courses related to education, computer, engineering and agriculture, among others.

Despite the free college education implemented by the national government, which provides free tuition for students, Ravena said they have decided to continue the program to provide the recipients financial assistance for their other needs.

From the previous PHP2,800 monthly stipend, scholars are now entitled to PHP3,500.

“This was also deliberated exhaustively by the scholarship board and this is based on the current economic situation,” she said in an interview.

Each scholar will also receive PHP2,000 book allowance per semester and PHP1,000 for their uniform per school year.

Ravena said the scholars just need to maintain general weight average of 2.5 and no grade lower than 3.0 to maintain their scholarship.

“Based on our track record, they can maintain higher than that,” she said.

The “Iskolar sang Iloilo” started last 1995 with only five scholars from each district of the province.

Since then, the number of the recipients continues to increase, with some getting academic honors.

Just this latest end of school year, one of the 97 scholars who graduated earned the highest honor or summa cum laude. There are also six magna cum laude and 18 cum laude graduates.

One of the scholars, Melissa Suganob of Cabatuan,Iloilo, ranked 4th in the September 2018 Forester Licensure Examination. She graduated magna cum laude in her degree of Bachelor of Science in Forestry at West Visayas State University-College of Agriculture and Forestry in Lambunao,Iloilo.

Some of the graduate scholars are currently employed with the provincial government.

One of the recipients of the scholarship is Carmela Francesca Adelantar of Janiuay, Iloilo, a freshman at West Visayas State University-Main Campus taking up Bachelor of Special Needs Education.

“I expect to maintain my grades and serve in the province of Iloilo as a teacher after four years,” she said.

BFAR inaugurates P5-M building, awards post-harvest facilities

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) inaugurated its PHP5-million provincial office building and released post-harvest facilities to target farmer’s associations to kick off the regional celebration of the Fish Conservation Week, Tuesday.

The two-storey building was built inside the compound of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) complex in Barangay Tanza, this city.

In an interview, BFAR Regional Director Remia A. Aparri said that the provincial fishery office will house their technical staff for Iloilo.

“This is significant because there will be a venue where Ilonggo fisherfolks can coordinate and discuss matters related to fisheries,” she said.

She assured that the regional office of the BFAR “is still there that will support the provincial level, especially at the local government units”.

Following the inauguration, BFAR also released post-harvest kits to fisherfolk associations in the coastal towns of Ajuy, Banate, Barotac Nuevo, Carles, San Dionisio, San Joaquin and Tigbauan.

Each of the recipient fisherfolk association received five units of 70-liter capacity insulated box; five units of 10-kilogram capacity weighing scale and 15 units of 75-liter capacity, molded plastic round banyera.

Iloilo City was also a recipient of 10 units of fish stalls.

Proclamation No. 316 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 declared September of every year as Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month and likewise transferred the observance of the Fish Conservation Week from the third week of October to the third week of September.

Support available to LGUs on management of municipal waters: BFAR

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is ready to support local government units (LGUs) located in coastal areas with technical assistance and capacity building for them to deliver what are expected of them.

In an interview Monday, BFAR Regional Director Remia Aparri said LGUs are faced with the challenge of “managing the municipal waters that is within their jurisdiction”.

She lauded the responses of LGUs in terms of protecting their jurisdiction, attributing this to BFAR’s flagship advocacy program “Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan”.

“It is an award as offshoot for managing their municipal waters,” she said.

Winners at the national level receive an incentive of PHP30 million worth of fishery projects; PHP18 million for the second placers and PHP12 million for the third placers.

Meanwhile, in the regional level, the first placer receives PHP2 million; second placer, PHP1 million and the third placer gets PHP500,000 worth of fishery projects.

Aparri said coastal LGUs also need to improve post-harvest component, support facilities, sustainable management, and law enforcement activities.

One prominent support that is being extended by the BFAR is the community fish landing center (CFLC) which the agency managed to put up in Western Visayas.

The CFLC serves as “landing center for the catch of municipal fishers so we can consolidate, account and monitor the status of the fishery,” Aparri said.

She added that CFLC also ensures the quality of fish through post-harvest, processing and practices that are being introduced to participants; develops value adding to fishery products; and serves as training hub for any activity of the LGU and the fisherfolk.

Aparri said the observance of the 55th Fishery Conservation Week this September 17-21 is a call on LGUs on the proper management of their waters.

“This is more on the management, protection of municipal waters, which will support the fishing industry of our country,” she said.

This year’s celebration anchors on the theme “Kapag Karagatan ng Munisipal ay Inaalagaan, Sasagana ang Yamang-Dagat ng Buong Sambayanan”.

One of the highlights of the week-long celebration is the inauguration of the Iloilo provincial office of BFAR at the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) compound, seafood trade fair and exhibit, mangrove planting and recognition of BFAR partners, among others.

Iloilo City creates 24/7 quick response team

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here is ready to respond to complaints and other concerns of the residents through its quick response team that will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

On Monday, Mayor Jose Espinosa said he will soon sign the executive order creating the quick response team. After the flag-raising ceremony held at the Plaza Libertad, city hall employees witnessed the blessing of two quick response patrol vehicles to be utilized for the program.

Espinosa said when the other city hall departments are no longer operational after office hours, the quick response team will be there to respond to such cases as traffic violations.

Also, if there are immediate concerns that city residents would like to bring to the attention of the city government, the team will be there, he added.

Initially, Jeck Conlu of the Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) and Roberto Domanil of the Task Force Anti-Squatting and Illegal Structure (ASIS) will head the composite team.

There will also be representatives from the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), City Health Office (CHO) and the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).

“Probably, we will be the first local government unit to have this 24-hour quick response team to show to everyone that the city government operates 24/7,” Espinosa said.

DOT eyes Iloilo City as cruise ship hub

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Some 600 Japanese tourists and crew on board a cruise ship will arrive in this city in January next year to witness Iloilo’s annual Dinagyang Festival.

“It will be a start. We are looking at Iloilo City as another cruise ship hub,” lawyer Helen J. Catalbas, director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) 6 (Western Visayas), said on Friday.

They will be on board M/V Pacific Venus from Japan, Catalbas said, adding that she has requested to reserve some 400 tickets at the Freedom Grandstand.

The visit, she said, is very important, considering that the standard of Japanese tourists is very high.

“We have met that standard already,” she said, noting that they came to inspect the facilities in Iloilo City, such as banks, hospitals, hotels and shopping centers.

“They were impressed. That’s why they decided to push through with the cruise ship arrival in January. And I hope after that, it’s not only during Dinagyang,” Catalbas added.

The 2019 Iloilo Dinagyang Festival will be held on January 25-27. It is held annually in honor of Sto. Niño, as it traces the history of Filipinos’ devotion to the Holy Child Jesus.

As part of preparations for next year’s festival, the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI) initiated a two-part conference on the Iloilo Dinagyang Rhythm and Vibes.

The first part of the conference that tackled Dinagyang music and choreography was held last Sept. 9-12, while the second part that will focus on costume and props design, visual production and resource management will be held on September 26.

DENR launches ‘Tayo ang Kalikasan’ advocacy program in Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has appealed for the participation of people’s organizations (POs) to become stewards of th eenvironment and not just leave the burden to the government.

Cimatu made the call in his message delivered by Undersecretary Rodolfo C. Garcia during the launch of the Visayas cluster of “Tayo Ang Kalikasan”, a program for restoration, rehabilitation and development (PRRDP), in this city on Thursday.

“We cannot and should not place the burden on the government alone, considering the government’s limited resources. Communities -- given the means -- are in the best position to act immediately and respond to local needs,” he said.

He said the “Tayo Ang Kalikasan” is the “product of the faith in our people.”

“I personally believe that our people are capable of change for the better, if not the best. I believe that from being part of the problem, our people can become the solution. I believe too that people care for clean air, clean water, healthy habitat and a productive environment,” he added.

He cited the impact of the more than 21 million population of the three regions of Visayas should they “move together with unity of mission and vision.”

During the ceremony, officers of various POs made their pledge of commitment to support the program. Participants also affixed their signatures to the Commitment Wall.

“We bank on our POs because they are our strength,” said Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Livino B. Duran, in an interview.

The first to heed the call was the PO from Guimaras whose officers took their oath of office during the program. Youth representatives were also presented with seedlings as part of the ceremony.

“The seedling distribution was part of the TAK launch, which encourages youth participation to help protect, conserve and rehabilitate the environment,” Duran said.

The advocacy program he said covers several areas and their actions will depend on the area where they are located. Among their steps are to embark on information and education campaign, implement eco-friendly programs and projects, among others.

DENR eyes coffee as livelihood for POs in W. Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas is looking at making coffee as a primary livelihood commodity for peoples' organizations (PO) in the region.

DENR Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Livino B. Duran, in an interview here on Thursday, said their discussion was “more aligned on how to improve production, post-harvest, processing and marketing.”

They will be identifying areas to increase production and talk to companies to assist in the processing of products.

“We will look into how to access investments to help our people’s organizations in terms of their development,” he said as he graced the Visayas-wide Peoples' Organization Summit.

He said a company is interested to assist in the processing should Panay Island can have at least 20,000 hectares of coffee plantations.

“We would like to bring Nestle to Panay. So if there is an available 20,000 hectares, then we are assured of market,” he said.

Aside from coffee, other products are fuel wood, fire wood and timber.

The POs are organizations that are “directly involved” in the implementation of DENR programs such as community-based forest management program (CBFMP, national greening program (NGP), forest management program (FMP) and coastal resource management areas, among others.

The summit also served as venue for POs to learn lessons while in the process of implementing programs and share best practices from various projects throughout Western Visayas, he said.

The event gathered around 700 participants from Central, Western and Eastern Visayas regions.

The summit has for its theme "Peoples' Organization: Environmental Synergy Amidst Project Diversity; Linking People to Market Opportunities".

During the occasion, the DENR also awarded environmental citations to Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., the Katilingban sang Pumuluyo na naga Atipan sa Watershed (KAPAWA-Maasin), and the Tangalan Indigenous Peoples’ Organization and Province of Guimaras for their initiatives in support to DENR programs.

West Visayas bizmen bullish in Q4

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Business expectation in Western Visayas is bullish for the last quarter of the year, a lift from the less positive outlook this third quarter of 2018.

Marriel M. Remulla, Deputy Director of the Department of Economic Statistics of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said the less positive outlook was attributed to the decrease in demand, higher operational expenses, presence of new competitors, and increase in minimum wage that took effect in July.

The bullish outlook was the result of the business expectation survey (BES) being held quarterly among 1,466 companies, taken from the top 7,000 corporations listed in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2010 and top 1,000 corporations of the Business World in 2016.

The result was presented to stakeholders during the 2018 Awards and Appreciation Ceremony for stakeholders held in this city on Tuesday.

“Business sentiment across all regions (Western, Central and Eastern) in the Visayas remains positive (for the Q4, although) a bit lower in Q3 2018,” she said in her presentation of the development indicators in Visayas.

On the other hand, the employment outlook index for the last quarter of the year “remains favorable” in Western Visayas.

“This indicates that more firms will hire more employees in the remaining of the year likewise expansion plans remains positive across all regions,” she added.

In terms of expectations on exchange, inflation and interest rates, Western Visayas expects the inflation and interest rates to go up for the third and last quarters, while peso rate depreciated in the third quarter and is forecast to appreciate in the fourth quarter.

“Increasing financial resources support sustained economic growth in Visayas from 2018 but efforts focused on job creation, provision of more loans could help accelerate economic growth and improve the living conditions of the jobless and small businesses,” she added.

P400K grand prize awaits champion of Iloilo mural competition

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The provincial government is now accepting entries from Ilonggo artists who want to join the first ever mural competition in Iloilo.

A grand prize of PHP400,000 will be given to the champion, Provincial Board Member Demy Sonza, co-chairman of the committee for the mural design competition, said in an interview Tuesday.

Themed “Ilonggo Culture and Heritage”, the mural design competition aims to boost tourism through the field of arts as it will serve as the centerpiece of the Capitol grounds, which is currently undergoing improvements.

It is open to all Ilonggo artists of any age, either individual or a group, Sonza said.

He added, however, that all elected officials and heads of offices, including their relatives up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity, are prohibited from participating in the competition.

“The rich heritage and culture of Iloilo should be depicted on the mural design. We will accept entries until Sept. 28,” Sonza said.

Interested participants must submit a colored presentation of their mural design using a full size illustration board to the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at the Capitol.

All submitted designs will undergo preliminary screening by a distinguished panel of judges.

Judging will be based on concept, originality, creativity and visual execution.

Five entries will be shortlisted and one will be declared as champion. The four other finalists will receive consolation prizes worth PHP25,000 each.

The champion will execute the winning design on a 2-meter by 15-meter wall at the Capitol grounds.

BSP honors 15 stakeholders in Western Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) honored 15 partners in Western Visayas during its 2018 awards and appreciation ceremony held in this city on Tuesday.

“Through your contributions of comprehensive information and advocacies, the BSP is able to formulate monetary and financial policies to fulfill its mandates of helping and maintaining price stability, promote financial stability and maintaining a safe and efficient payment, checks and balances,” said Monetary Board Member Antonio S. Abacan, Jr, in his keynote address.

The 15 awardees were part of the 164 partners recognized by the BSP this year.

Of the 15 awardees, three were from the information category and 12 for the advocacy support category, specifically eight for the various currency programs of the BSP; three for implementing BSP advocacy on the conduct of public information campaign and one for the Knowledge Resource Network (KRN).

The awardees for the information support were Waffle Time Inc., as outstanding respondent among large and medium firms; Navstar Gasoline Station (Total), outstanding respondent for small firms; and the Department of Tourism (DOT), outstanding partner for report on regional economic developments in the Philippines.

For the currency programs, the outstanding regional partners for the clean note policy were Iloilo Supermart and Banco de Oro Unibank Inc. Cash Hub Center; outstanding regional partner for coin recirculation were Cabugao Norte Elementary School in Pavia, Iloilo, Happyville Academy in Capiz and Eagle Scouts of the Philippines –Bacolod City Council of Boy Scouts of the Philippines; and outstanding regional partner for demonetization of the New Design Series were Robinsons Place Iloilo, Robinsons Place Roxas and City Sectoral Office –Office of the Mayor, Bacolod City.

For implementing the BSP advocacy on the conduct of public information campaign, the awardees were the West Visayas State University-College of Business and Management, Hercor College High School Department and the Department of Social Welfare and Development –Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Bacolod City.

The Central Philippine University Library was awarded as outstanding regional partner for KRN.

The awardees received the “Dynamic Balance, Philippine Eagle Trophy”.

Meantime, the West Visayas State University-College of Business and Management received an additional “Soaring to Greater Heights” trophy as a Hall of Fame Awardee for winning the same category for three straight years.

This year’s ceremony has for its theme “Reinforcing Partnerships, Defining New Challenges”.

Deputy Governor for Financial Supervision Sector Chuchi G. Fonacier said that the “invaluable information and support that you provide the BSP enables us to formulate timely and appropriate policies to address monetary and financial imbalance.”

Meanwhile, Regional Director Helen Catalbas said that the award is a confirmation of what they have been doing at the DOT.

“We hope our colleagues in the Department of Tourism and private sector stakeholder will be inspired by this and local government units that we are working with all throughout the year will look up to this award as not only for DOT but symbol of cooperation by industry partners,” she said.

She said their statistics are “useful to banks, financial institutions, project proponents and those who would like to request for loans from the commercial and government banks”.

“They use our statistics to justify, to give substance to their feasibility studies. Without the statistics their ventures, shall I say, are not based on solid ground,” she said.

Iloilo City bags literacy award

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- This city was recognized as the country’s third best in the 2018 National Literacy Conference and Awards for local government units (LGU) highly urbanized category held in Baguio City last week.

In an interview after the regular Monday flag raising ceremony, Mayor Jose Espinosa III said it was the first time for Iloilo City to vie for the award given by the Department of Education (DeEd) and it was able to grab the third spot.

He expressed gratefulness to teachers who were behind the city’s success in garnering the award. “We owe this to our teachers,” he said.

Based on data provided by the Iloilo City public information office, this highly urbanized city had a 98.2 percent literacy rate during the last literacy mapping.

In its 2013-2019 Comprehensive Development Plan under the Social Development Sector, it outlined to “promote access to quality education for all”.

Among its major programs are the Iloilo City Alternative System (ALS), Technical Institute of Iloilo City (TIIC), Iloilo City Community College (ICC) and the KAhublagan sa BArangay para sa LApnagon nga Kahandaan (KABALAKA), which translates to Movement for Community-Based Disaster Preparedness. Kabalaka means “to care.”

The ALS program has recorded 12,100 enrolled elementary and secondary students since 2014, posting the highest performance rating in Western Visayas.

Based on data from the Division of Iloilo City, there were 680 passers of ALS Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test in 2016; 688 passers in 2015; and 383 passers in 2014.

In January this year, the ALS at the Iloilo City District Jail- Male Dorm (ICDJ-MD) of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) produced 71 graduates.

On the other hand, the TIIC Molo campus has produced 1,141 technical-vocational graduates from 2014 to March 2018.

The TIIC Bo. Obrero Campus in Lapuz District has produced 4,663 graduates from 2011 to 2017 in various fields such as baking, cooking, wine mixing, beauty care, food processing, massage, housekeeping, and computer literacy, among others.

The Iloilo City Community College has produced 1,480 graduates of Bachelor of Science in Travel Management, and Bachelor of Science in Office Administration since it started in 2012, to date.

KABALAKA, the program of the city government in terms of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) that aims to introduce DRRM literacy to the grassroots, was able to reach out to 23 public elementary schools, one private elementary school, five universities, and 33 barangays.

Its gallery containing information and exhibit center boasts of 17 education materials developed by local artists. It also holds advocacy brochures, flyers and interactive exhibits on environment and disaster preparedness.

Over 400 job seekers flock at gov't job fair in Iloilo City

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY - - More than 400 jobseekers flocked to the first ever ‘Government Job Fair’ conducted by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in Western Visayas.

The two-day job fair, which opened Friday afternoon, offers around 200-300 vacant positions from the 16 participating regional line agencies according to Leo Jamorin, Chief Human Resource Specialist CSC 6’s Public Assistance and Liaison Division in n interview Saturday.

Ninety-five percent of the vacant positions are plantilla or permanent positions and the remaining are contract of service and job order positions, Jamorin said.

Held at SM City Iloilo, the job fair was among the highlights of the 118th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary here.

“We want to provide transparent and open job vacancies from the government agencies because most people are not aware of the job posting of the government,” he said,

“This is another way of providing opportunity to those who are interested to become public servants because last year we already started to publish vacant positions in the various government agencies through our website (,” he added.

Jobseekers are only given until today to apply for the vacant positions. The more than 400 jobseekers recorded is as of 2:00 p.m.

“Government agencies will accept applications until the closing time of the mall which is 9:00 p.m,” Jamorin said.

Among the participating agencies in the two-day job fair are the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Department of Education , the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Labor and Employment , and the National Commission for Indigenous People, among others.

Jamorin said that more than 100 vacant positions are under the DepEd and most of these are positions for teachers.

Since the government is following a procedure in the hiring of personnel, Jamorin said that applicants should expect that no one will be hired-on-the spot and follow-up interviews will be conducted after the job fair.

“The job fair is more on accepting the applications of the jobseekers and evaluating them,” he said. Jamorin noted that the job fair has “very positive” response so far from the jobseekers.

"We hoped that we will be able to conduct another government job fair to give chance to more jobseekers,” he said. Meantime, Jamorin also noted the successful conduct of the “Government Express at the Mall” last September 3-6.

He said that about 21 agencies joined the event, “bringing the frontline service closer to the public.”

Western Visayas gov’t employees get CSC awards

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – Two individuals and one team of government employees from Western Visayas are recipients of national awards presented by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) under its Honor Awards Program (HAP).

Senior Insp. Marie Charyll Jamolo, Chief of the Health Service Unit of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) 6 (Western Visayas); Annabelle Alipo-on, Principal II of the Payao Elementary School in Negros Occidental; and the team of the Botanical Dewormer of the Capiz State University - Dumarao Satellite College, represented by its leader Bebe Ozaraga and member Ma. Sylvia Ozaraga, will receive their awards in Malacañang Palace on September 19.

The national winners were among the outstanding employees chosen by CSC-Western Visayas as regional winners, particularly under the CSC Pagasa category held in this city Thursday afternoon.

CSC Commissioner Leopoldo Roberto Valderosa Jr., who led the awarding of the regional winners, said the recognition given to some government employees is “not the end of everything.”

“It is a challenge for them to do good, just like what the President is saying that the value of compassion should always be there. The President wants us to have a compassionate society that the government should provide public service that the people need,” he said.

Other regional winners of the HAP are Renante Decena, Provincial Veterinarian of Negros Occidental; and Riggi Lachica, Principal 3 of the Vista Alegre-Granada Relocation Elementary School in Bacolod City (Presidential Lingkod Bayan category);

Eleanore Dagala, Principal 3 of Bugasong Central School in Antique; Iñigo Garingalao, Community Affairs Officer 2I of the Iloilo City government; Erick John de Lemos, Police Officer 2 of the Kalibo Police Station; and Mary Catherine Demontaño, Police Officer 3 of the Regional Strategy Management Unit of Police Regional Office 6 (Dangal ng Bayan);

Lynette Aggabao, Head Teacher 1 of Cabangan Primary School in Capiz; Ronnel Tumonong, Head Teacher 3 of Yubo Elementary School in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental; Imee Lopera, Inspector of the Iloilo City District Jail-Female Dorm; and Rita Magbiray, team leader of the Some Free Ibajay group in Aklan (Pagasa category).

In an interview, Jamolo, one of the national winners, emotionally said that it has always been her desire to become a public servant to help those who are in need.

“I hope I will be an inspiration to my fellow public servants,” Jamolo said.

One of Jamolo’s programs, called “ACHIEVERS”, provides female inmates with regular medical exams and checking of their health record.

She said they are also active in their TV program, which campaigns against smoking, especially among the youth, and organizes a fun-run for the benefit of female inmates.

“I am doing all of that, not because of the award but because it (award) is already here, I am very thankful,” she said.

WV hosts Philippine Travel Exchange tour

By Leonard T. Pineda I (JBG/DOT6/LTP/PIA-Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY (PIA) – The Department of Tourism (DOT)-6 welcomed 41 international buyers for the Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) Post Tour.

PHITEX is a government-organized travel trade event in the country, which hosts international buyers to participate in tabletop business appointments with accredited Philippine tourism suppliers.

DOT-6 regional director Helen Catalbas said the PHITEX Post Tour, which kicked off August 31 until September 4, 2018, was conducted by the Tourism Promotions Board and DOT-6 in partnership with the local government units of Iloilo, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental.

“It's always a pleasure for DOT Region VI to showcase to these international buyers the tourist destinations of Region VI, but having a positive feedback from them is so overwhelming,” she said.

Catalbas said the tour of these international buyers included numerous attractions and destinations in Iloilo including the Garin Farm in San Joaquin, the historic Miag-ao Church, and the grand Hispanic mansions and old ancestral houses in Iloilo City.

In Negros Occidental, the participants’ itinerary comprised of visits to “The Ruins”, Locsin Ancestral House, Balay ni Tana Dicang and San Diego Cathedral.

The DOT official also said that the participants also visited the island-province of Guimaras, the home of the sweetest mangoes.

She added that the PHITEX Post Tour for international buyers is a mechanism to gain investments for the tourism industry in Region 6.

DENR, LGU to launch ‘Throw your Straw’ campaign

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is partnering with the city government here for its “Throw your Straw” campaign to be launched next month.

“This is being authored by the DENR,” said Engr. Noel Hechanova, head of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

The campaign seeks to raise public awareness on the danger of plastic straw to the environment and promote the use of alternative types of drinking straw.

Hechanova said Iloilo City has an ordinance banning the use of non-biodegradable plastic but the straw was not included. The ordinance, he said, was only against packaging.

However, when you collect the straws, they might reach up to tons. This has huge impact in terms of garbage, clogging up of drainage and they also end up in the landfill, he said.

“We promote the use of glass, why use straw. If they have personal drinking straw, that is supposed to be promoted,” Hechanova said.

Among those that are being eyed as alternative are bamboo straw, paper straw, glass straw, metal straw and or no straw at all.

The campaign targets restaurant goers and restaurant owners, he added.

“We have so much to learn before enacting the law,” he said as the city’s Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP/city council) is planning to enact an ordinance that regulates the use of plastic straw and stirrers.

The grand launching is proposed to be held at the Casa Real in this city next month.

Iloilo City eyes business one-stop-shop for permit applications

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- This highly urbanized city is now working on the physical setup of its business one-stop-shop (BOSS) to become compliant with Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

In an interview Tuesday, Business Process Licensing Office (BPLO) head Norman Tabud said the law mandates local government units (LGUs) to establish a BOSS for applicants of building permit, certificate of occupancy and business permit.

It also prescribes the number of steps and days that should be complied with for the documents to be released.

“Otherwise the office will be held liable under the law,” Tabud added.

Tabud said LGUs are given three years to comply since the law took effect July this year.

He clarified that the city government has no problem when it comes to the registration stage because the business permit can be issued in 30 to 45 minutes once the documents are complete.

The problem occurs during the pre-registration stage where the client has to apply for registration, either at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), fire safety inspection certificate from the Bureau of Fire Protection and building and occupancy permits from the City Engineers Office.

“What we are working on is the pre-registration stage. This is where we plan to have a one-stop-shop,” he said.

Republic Act 11032 mandates that documents for simple transactions must be released in three days and seven days for complex transactions. For those that need highly-technical decisions, the period required is not more than 20 days.

The law, he said, observes as two-strike policy. On the first offense, the person liable shall be meted with a 60-day suspension while the second offense carries a penalty of dismissal from office, perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of benefits, and imprisonment of one to six years with a fine of not less than PHP500,000 but not more than PHP2 million.

“It shall pass through the Civil Service (Commission). Therefore, if there is a complaint against a front liner, it has to be proven that indeed a violation was committed,” he said.

The city government targets to have the BOSS established at the third floor of the Iloilo City Hall before the end of the year.

It will house the offices of the building official, zoning, assessor, treasurer, BPLO and Bureau of Fire Protection.

Comelec-6 to conduct special registration for PWDs, elderly

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Commission on Elections in Western Visayas (Comelec-6) is ready to implement the special voters' registration for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens on Wednesday.

In an interview Tuesday, Tomas Valera, Assistant Regional Director of Comelec-6, said that they have already advised all city and municipal offices to conduct the special registration in an area that is accessible to the elderly and PWDs.

“They should make an arrangement. If their office is at the second floor or third floor of the building, they should provide a table at the ground floor where these senior citizens and PWDs could easily go to,” he said.

Valera asked the cooperation and understanding of regular registrants by solely giving the day for senior citizens and PWDs to transact with Comelec offices since it is just a one-day activity.

He assured that PWDs and senior citizens will still be prioritized after this special registration.

The resumption of voter’s registration for the 2019 midterm elections started last July 2 and will end on September 29.

Aside from new registration, Valera said they are also accepting transfer/transfer with reactivation, reactivation, change/correction of entry and inclusion/reinstatement of records in the list of voters.

However, Valera said he cannot disclose yet the number of new registrants in each province in the region.

He called on the public not to wait for the deadline.

Western Visayas registered 4.4 million voters in the region during the recent barangay elections and 1.5 million voters for the Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

‘Gov’t. Express at the Mall’ opens Sept. 3

By Lilibeth A. French

ILOILO CITY, Sept. 3 (PIA6) - - The Civil Service Commission 6 will hold a four-day one-stop-shop showcasing frontline and basic services of participating government agencies in celebration of the 118th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary this September.

“Government Express at the Mall” will be held at the North Wing of SM City Iloilo in Mandurriao district starting September 3 and will be opened during mall hour

CSC 6 Director IV lawyer Rodolfo Encajonado said the “Government Express at the Mall” is one of the activities lined up for this year’s PCSA celebration in Western Visayas wherein participating agencies are bringing public services to a more popular arena.

"The activity aims to increase the visibility of government services and to impress upon the public the idea that government is capable of express service," Encajonado said in his invitation letter to heads of government agencies here.

As of August 30, a total of 22 government agencies have already signified their intention to take part in the event to include the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG PhilHealth, Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, Professional Regulation Commission, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Statistics Authority, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Land Transportation Commission, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Tourism , Department of Health, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Office of the Civil Defense, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Iloilo City government and CSC.

“Government Express at the Mall” will culminate on September 6, the date CSC 6 will also recognize winners in the region for the 2018 Honor Awards Program to be held in the same venue.

A two-day Government Job Fair will follow on September 7 to 8, which is still part of the PCS anniversary celebration in the region with the theme “Lingkod Bayani: Maka-Diyos, Makatao, Makabayan.” (JBG/laf/PIA6-Iloilo)

Iloilo City to regulate use of plastic straws, stirrers

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here is eyeing an ordinance that will regulate the use of plastic drinking straws and stirrers in all business establishments and stalls to promote environment-friendly practices and alternatives.

City Councilor R Leone N. Gerochi on Friday said his office will be calling for a committee hearing on September 5, as chair of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP/ City Council) committee on public services, environment protection and ecology, where the proposed ordinance was referred for appropriate action.

“The city recognizes the damaging effects of the indiscriminate use of plastic straws and its disposal by certain establishments within the area and jurisdiction of the city,” said Councilor Lady Julie Grace Baronda, author of the proposed ordinance.

The proposed “Plastic Straw and Plastic Stirrers Ordinance of Iloilo City” shall cover “plastic drinking straws that are not properly disposed of and cannot be reused and recycled."

Once passed, among the prohibited acts and practices are the use of plastic drinking straws and stirrers in beverages sold in all business establishments, its indiscriminate throwing and selling.

As proposed, ordinance violators will be meted with PHP500, PHP800 and PHP1,000 on first, second and third offense, respectively.

Meanwhile, the business establishment shall be fined PHP1,500; PHP3,000 and PHP5,000 during the first, second and third offenses, respectively. The second violation would also cause the suspension of the business permit and cancellation of permit on the third offense, all at the discretion of the court.

The City Environment and Natural Resources Office and the Liga ng mga Barangay shall be the lead implementer while the monitoring of business establishments will be the task of the Business Process Licensing Office.

In July last year, this city's Regulation Ordinance 2013-403 that prohibits the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags was fully implemented.

PH Marines extends mobile recruitment in Iloilo until Sept. 9

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – The Philippine Marines Corps (PMC) has extended until Sept. 9 its mobile recruitment in Iloilo to allow ample time for applicants to submit their documentary requirements.

The recruitment targets 400 recruits from Western Visayas. To date only 260 have submitted applications.

“This is to give ample time to interested individuals to grab the opportunity,” said Capt. Jieve Ajijul, officer-in-charge of the PMC’s mobile recruitment team, in an interview Friday.

“We believe that there are still those who are really interested to apply but they are still waiting for the release of their requirements,” he said.

PMC started accepting applications last August 21 until Sept. 4 only. The recruitment processes were conducted in Molo and Arevalo campuses of the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University.

He said they already wrote letters to local chief executives in some towns in the province of Iloilo so they could bring the mobile recruitment to their areas.

“We know that there are interested applicants in the towns so we will be the one to get their applications,” he said.

The PMC’s recruitment is open to natural born Filipino, from 18 up to 25 years old and six months, not a day older during application.

For high school graduates of the four-year curriculum, they need to submit authenticated birth certificate, diploma, form 137 and NC-2 certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

For high school graduates under the K to 12 curriculum, they must submit a diploma and form 137; and those who earned at least 72 units in college, they need to submit their high school diploma, form 137 and transcript of records.

Qualified applicants will undergo six months training, Ajijul said.

During the training period, each candidate soldier could earn PHP18,587 monthly, excluding their allowance, food, billeting and full compliments of uniform.

After completing the training, private marine soldiers will be earning a minimum income of PHP29,668, or a gross monthly pay of PHP40,000 including allowances.

Ajijul recalled that it was 14 years ago when the last recruitment was conducted in Iloilo where 300 candidates were recruited.

The Philippine Marines is a military branch of service that is into combat and amphibious operations.

ASEAN anti-smoking campaign to highlight Iloilo City practices

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Iloilo City’s best anti-smoking practices will be highlighted in the health communication campaign of the Vital Strategies, formerly World Lung Foundation, a non-governmental organization helping the city government here in its anti-smoking initiatives.

“The challenge is to come up with a seven-minute video highlighting the city and its stand on anti-smoking preferably geared towards the youth,” said Iñigo Garingalao, executive director of the Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Task Force, in an interview on Wednesday.

The best practices will be produced in three phases; the last production will be during the “Iloilo City Anti-Smoking ASEAN Reach Out” on Aug. 22 under the "They Lie We Die" campaign that started in Singapore.

It will be joined by some 1,000 students from eight big schools in this city. It will also be participated in by call center agents, Regional Tobacco Network, Philippine National Police, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, a Red Orchid Awardee for the government offices category.

The Department of Health’s Red Orchid Award is an annual search for the 100 percent Tobacco-Free Environment covering government workplaces, hospitals, and local government units.

Bearing anti-smoking placards, participants will parade from the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) towards the monument of Gen. Martin Delgado at the Festive Walk. Upon reaching the monument, they will be doing a "They Lie We Die" flash mob in front of the giant tarpaulin wall.

The flash mob video will be integrated with two other videos -- the first is an interview with the mayor while the second is about the situation before and the intervention that was done by the local government.

“Vital Strategies, formerly the World Lung Foundation, will use it in their stint in Southeast Asian countries. That is why we call it Southeast Asian reach out,” he said.

The flash mob will also be done in the cities of Baguio and General Santos.

City hall services now more accessible thru ‘Pag-ulikid’

(Panay News)

ILOILO City – Not everybody has the wherewithal to go to the city hall in the City Proper to avail themselves of city government services, especially those in far-flung barangays. The Pag-ulikid sang Syudad, Pag-ulikid ni Mayor program addresses this concern.

For two consecutive days (Aug. 10 and 11), this community outreach program designed by Mayor Jose Espinosa III served over 24,000 residents in the districts of Jaro and Arevalo.

In Jaro’s Barangay Lanit on Aug. 10, villagers benefited from free medical checkup, tooth extraction and circumcision.

This was the first time in the city’s history that city hall services were directly brought to the people, according to City Administrator Hernando Galvez.

Those from the neighboring villages of Tagbak, Camalig and Buntatala also partook of these city government services and more – anti-rabies vaccination of pets such as dogs, free processing of identification cards for senior citizens, and processing of birth certificates and/or correction of erroneous entries in the birth certificates.

On the other hand, persons with disabilities were given wheelchairs while the youth received sports equipment.

One of those grateful beneficiaries was a Barangay Lanit mother of three children, one of whom was suffering from cerebral palsy.

The mother wanted to work so she could augment the family’s daily income (her husband was a tricycle driver) but she had no one to entrust her third child who had cerebral palsy.

The free wheelchair given her would be of great help, said the mother. She would not have to carry her child in her arms all the time, she explained, thereby giving her the opportunity to do other tasks.

Over 3,500 persons from the four Jaro barangays availed themselves of free city government services.

Because Jaro was such a wide district, a separate wave of Pag-ulikid was conducted that same day in the village of Bitoon.

Those from the neighboring village of Balabago also came over for free city government services.

Overall, more than 4,500 residents of barangays Bitoon and Balabago were served.

Mayor Espinosa said “Pag-ulikid” is basically letting the people feel that the government is working for them.

From Jaro, the city government’s Pag-ulikid team proceeded on Barangay Santo Nino Sur, Arevalo district on Aug. 10, serving over 7,000 more Ilonggos.

Those from the neighboring villages of Sto. Domingo, Mohon, Sta. Cruz, and Bonifacio also flocked to Barangay Santo Niño Sur to avail themselves of free city government services.

The following day, Aug. 11, the Pag-ulikid team returned to Arevalo, but this time serving the residents of Calaparan, Calumpang, Yulo Drive, Santo Niño Norte, Dulonan, Santa Felomina, and San Jose.

Espinosa thought of this program after an encounter with a senior citizen who, because of old age, could not personally go to city hall to secure an identification card.

Iloilo City mulls sister city ties with Italian City

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- This highly-urbanized city is again considering to forge a sister city agreement with a city in Italy.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III bared this plan in an interview on Friday, saying the ambassador of Italy to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino will visit Iloilo City in the first week of September.

“Maybe we can forge some agreement or ties with one Italian city,” Espinosa said.

The mayor said Italy is doing well in terms of “cultural aspect and the preservation of monuments.”

Last July 30, the city government also signed a letter of intent with Fujian province’s Quanzhou City in the People’s Republic of China for the establishment of friendly ties.

Espinosa recalled that the signing of the document was anchored on the economic aspect, since many Ilonggo Chinese families in this city trace their roots to Fujian.

Meanwhile, the city government will gather its Sister Cities in the Philippines and abroad on Aug. 25 as one of the highlights of the 81st Charter Day anniversary.

As of Friday, the cities of Tacurong and San Juan have confirmed attendance to the Sister Cities night.

Iloilo City has more than 20 sister cities in the Philippines and abroad.

CPU Pharmacy graduate Top 5 in board exam

By Ian Paul Cordero (PN)

ILOILO City – A graduate of Central Philippine University ranked No. 5 in the recent licensure examination for pharmacists administered by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

The 21-year-old Apryl Joyce Campañera Catalan got a rating of 91.22 percent.

“Faith in God, His grace and guidance,” she said, were her keys to passing the exam.

PRC conducted the licensure examinations in key cities – Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Zamboanga – on Aug. 4 and 5. The results were released on Wednesday.

Catalan, a resident of Barangay San Roque, Jaro district, said she wasn’t initially sure she passed the exam.

“Pag-release sang results nag-brownout,” she told Panay News.

With no way of confirming the results, she thought those who congratulated her may have been joking.

Apryl Joyce is the eldest of two children of couple Armin, a government employee, and Daisy Joy, a teacher at CPU.

She said she got a big hug from her happy father after he learned of her feat.

According to the new pharmacist, she would like to proceed to Medicine “if the opportunity arises.”

She may take the National Medical Admission Test this October. A total of 2,927 examinees passed the licensure exam for pharmacists out of 4,230 takers, PRC data showed.

“Do your best…pray and surrender everything to God,” was Catalan’s sisterly advice to students.

Belgian-Filipina Louise Tan Theunis of the Cebu Doctor’s University ranked No. 1 in this year’s exam with a score of 91.55 percent.

According to the PRC, the registration for the issuance of the Professional Identification Card (ID) and Certificate of Registration will be done online ( from Aug. 13 to Aug. 20, 2018.

Mom and Baby expo showcases benefit of breastfeeding

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The City Health Office (CHO) is now gearing for the fifth year of its Mom and Baby Expo that aims to showcase healthy breastfed babies.

On Friday, mothers and their babies gathered at the third floor of the City Hall for the pre-selection pageant in preparation for the final selection this August 23.

“This aims to showcase that breastfeeding babies can led to healthy babies. One of the criteria is breastfeeding and complete immunization,” said Dr. Jennifer T. Anceno of the CHO.

She said that it is difficult to convince mothers to go into an exclusive breastfeeding, “especially in culture where mothers are working”.

Anceno hoped that with the kind of activity, they would be able to encourage more mothers to go into exclusive breastfeeding, especially during the first six months of the baby.

She added that the first 1,000 days of babies, although it was extended up to five years old, will reflect if the mother was healthy while she was carrying the baby inside her womb.

“A healthy child is a happy child,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Mom and Baby Expo has two categories: Star Baby and Mother and Child.

For the Star Baby, their growth and development will comprise 50 percent of the criteria and the other 50 percent is for personality and charm.

On the other hand, for the Mother and Child, 70 percent will be for the personality of the mother and child and 30 percent for charm.

The expo is also part of the activities in celebration of the 81st Charter Day anniversary of Iloilo City.

Iloilo City slates citywide cleanup on Aug. 18

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- For the first time, the city government here will mobilize all its 180 barangays for the citywide clean-up slated on August 18.

On Thursday, Engr. Noel Hechanova, head of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), said that the cleanup drive is in connection with the 81st celebration of the Iloilo City Charter Day on August 25.

“We have agreed with the city mayor that we will have a citywide cleanup. Perhaps this would be the first time that all barangays would get involved in this clean-up,” he said.

Hechanova said he also invited schools, national government agencies and even the city hall to the activity.

He explained that barangay officials will have to identify the area that they are going to clean and the pickup point so it would be easier for garbage collectors to retrieve the wastes.

Hechanova said they expect tons of garbage although they have no idea as to the actual volume.

Earlier the General Services Office (GSO) revealed that the city generates around 300 tons of wastes daily.

The cleanup, however, will focus on garbage left behind on the streets.

“Barangays have their own regular cleanup drive. But this is just awareness raising,” Hechanova said, adding that there are waste issues in other parts of the city.

He identified for instance the need to clean the Jaro River, which is now covered by a special program that will soon be launched along with other local government units within the Tigum-Aganan Watershed.

Hechanova added that it is also part of sustaining the cleanup efforts of the city government.

Iloilo City mulls accreditation of ‘barkers’

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- "Barkers” may soon be partnering with the city government here in ensuring the smooth flow of traffic, adherence to parking rules, and orderly and organized passenger loading.

Jeck Conlu, head of the Iloilo City Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO), on Tuesday met with barkers operating at the City Proper District for a consultation as he plans to submit a recommendation to the Sangguniang Panlungsod to amend the “Anti-Barker Ordinance of the City of Iloilo”.

The ordinance defines a barker as “an individual or person who calls for, facilitates, induces or convinces commuters to board a particular or preferred public utility vehicle for the purpose of extracting an amount from the driver”.

Under the same ordinance, those caught performing as a barker shall be held criminally liable and shall be immediately apprehended and detained. If found guilty, the barker shall suffer imprisonment of not less than three months but not more than six months at the discretion of the court.

Conlu said that it would be better to amend the ordinance and give them accreditation as one way of helping them. They could help the city if given proper training so they can respond during traffic congestion in their area.

Among their supposed tasks would be to facilitate proper parking and to assist for an orderly and organized queue of passengers at the loading area.

Conlu said they intend to conduct an experiment at the capitol area.

“In one way or another, this can help them,” he said. He added that authorities also seek help from barkers should they need information if a crime or illegal activities happen in their area.

“We will help them because they can help the city,” he added.

However, he emphasized that not all can be given accreditation. They have to be recommended by a transport group.

Conlu said that in 2014, in an effort to help the barkers, the city government provided them with cash assistance. He said he will check whatever happened to the assistance.

Conlu said he will be submitting his recommendation to the city council this month as he hoped to execute the plan within the year.

Meantime, while the ordinance is not yet amended, Conlu said that the city government will have it strictly implemented.

Iloilo City to launch new anti-drug drive in schools, villages

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government will launch a new anti-drug campaign as a commitment of Mayor Jose Espinosa III to President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The mayor on Monday said the program, dubbed “Utos ni Presidente, Utos ni Mayor: Just Say No to Drugs”, will ensure relentless and sustained anti-drug campaign in the metropolis.

“We will be going to schools and barangays (villages) to showcase that anti-drug program,” he said.

He revealed that while drug cases in the city have dropped according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the local government should not be complacent.

As part of the anti-drug campaign, the city government on Sunday also launched its Palarong Panlungsod to focus on sports.

“That is a program where we reach out to our children to encourage them to go into sports instead of drugs,” he said.

Meanwhile, to ensure the success of the initiative as well as other youth and sports programs, Espinosa appointed Marie Antoinette Gallos as Executive Assistant for Youth and Sports to work hand-in-hand with the Youth and Development Office of Jason Gregorio.

Gallos resigned from her post as Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairperson of Brgy. Ingore, La Paz. She vied for the SK Federation president post but lost to Leila Luntao.

“She’s a very active individual, has a good rapport with her fellow youth and she has good leadership,” he said.

Espinosa said it will not overlap with the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) because the main function of the SK is on governance aspect.

The SK chair, who sits as member of the council, works on legislation, he noted.

“We will be coordinating with the SK. So if there is a need for legislation needing the help of the SK representative, then we will be working with them,” he said.

Firm offers one-stop shop application center in iloilo City

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- A private company has expressed interest to establish a one-stop shop application center (OSAC) that will house the processing and issuance of police clearance, health certificate and work permit in Iloilo City.

The unsolicited proposal for the development and installation of the “end-to-end system” by the Eastland Printink Inc. was subjected to a public consultation by the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s committee on police matters on Monday.

Committee chair lawyer Joshua Alim said resource persons during the consultation gave a positive response to the proposal but it has yet to be subjected to a public bidding or Swiss challenge because it is an unsolicited proposal.

“This is an offer of service. When somebody offers for services, it must be subjected to a bidding or Swiss challenge,” he said.

Alim said applying through their proposal is not expensive because it will spare the public the hassle of visiting three offices to process their transactions. The proponent also assured that it has placed security features to ensure that clients' documents will not be tampered with.

“Our aim is to automate the processes and introduce online mechanisms to hopefully enhance the security, productivity and efficiency of the system,” Robert Bunagan, vice president for finance of the Eastland Printink Inc., said.

With their system, they will be “linking all stations that they are servicing.” They will then be sharing the database of derogatory records of individuals.

"This strengthens the vetting of the applicants and this gives assurance that an applicant with a derogatory record will not be given a police clearance in another locality," Bunagan said.

He also emphasized that their company will be shouldering the expenses.

“We will be supplying the consumables, the hardware equipment, and maintenance of the system as well and we can also provide complement of employees to operate the system or we could train employees of the city to undertake the processing of the various documents,” he said.

The company has been servicing selected cities and municipalities in the National Capital Region, Batangas, Rizal, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Cebu.

Bunagan said Eastland is a security printer accredited by the National Printing Office.

Iloilo City vies for 4 national awards

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – Validators of four award giving bodies are expected in this metropolis this August and September following the inclusion of Iloilo City as finalist to the national award this year.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III said that for the first time, this city is joining the search for the National Literacy Award (NLA) of the Department of Education (DepEd) for the local government unit (LGU) highly-urbanized city subcategory.

“We have been judged as one of the five finalists. This look into our projects in education, including alternative learning (system), as long as it provides education,” he said during his regular press conference on Monday.

Among the city’s major literacy and education program initiatives are the alternative learning system, vocational-technical training through the Technical Institute of Iloilo City (TIIC), Iloilo City Community College that provides affordable and quality education to indigent students, and the KAhublagan sa BArangay para sa LApnagon nga KAhandaan (KABALAKA) that serves as a banner project of the city government on disaster risk reduction management (DRRM).

The Iloilo River project initiative is also a finalist to the Galing Pook Awards 2018. The award giving body recognizes innovative practices of LGUs.

City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) head, Engr. Noel Hechanova, in one of his interviews, said that the cleanup initiatives at the Iloilo River have stirred up more than PHP2 billion worth of projects to be invested in Iloilo City.

Espinosa said Iloilo City was also “short-listed as one of the potential passers” of the 2018 Seal of Good Local Governance Award (SGLG) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The validation for the NLA will be on August 7; August 8 for the SGLG and August 13-14 for the Galing Pook Award.

The last award giving body is the Most Child-friendly city for highly urbanized city, of which the validation is slated September 23-24.

“We are really (thankful) to our partners because we could not have attained this without the partnership of our private sector, the public, media and government. This is just an additional feather on our cap because we are all doing this to improve the services,” he said.

369 breastfeeding moms in Iloilo City join ‘Global Big Latch On’

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Some 369 mothers in Iloilo City joined a simultaneous breastfeeding activity to support and educate women on its health benefits and show that nursing in public place is normal.

Dubbed “Hakab Na 2018! The Global Big Latch On”, the Saturday event was organized by the online support group “Breastfeeding Ilonggas” and supported by the city government. It was held at the Festive Walk Mall in Mandurriao district.

In an interview, Adhara Sebuado, co-founder and main organizer of the campaign, said the event is conducted in a public place to show that breastfeeding of babies in public is normal.

“The more people see women breastfeeding, the more normal it will become,” she said.

She said the event will encourage nursing mothers to follow the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) to exclusively breastfeed their babies from birth up to three to six months.

“Only few complied because of the poor implementation of the laws,” she said.

Sebuado is referring to Executive Order 51 or the Milk Code, which ensures the protection of breastfeeding.

She said among the participating women and babies in the event, a four and a half years old child was recognized for being the “longest latching baby” while the “youngest lactating baby” honor went to a 15-day old infant. An 18-year-old was recognized as the youngest breastfeeding mom.

She encouraged mothers to prioritize breastfeeding and extend the duration of their breastfeeding as recommended by the WHO.

“The longer a mother breastfeeds, the higher immune protection and benefits t(to the baby), not only nutrition wise but also psycho-emotionally to the child,” she said.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III, who graced the event stressed the importance of the activity because it has provided attention to the babies.

“The nutrition that the babies could get from the natural milk of their moms is really different compared to the artificial milk,” he said.

“This event will encourage more breastfeeding moms in our city and will promote closeness between the mother and the child,” he added.

Espinosa said he already directed the City Health Office to identify more assistance that the city government could extend to promote breastfeeding, as well as to improve the nutrition of all other children in this city.

The event started in this city last 2014 with only 52 breastfeeding moms taking part.

Sebuado said the number grew to 100 participating breastfeeding moms in 2015; 169 in 2016; 182 in 2017; and this year with 369.

The event is in line with the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and International Breastfeeding Week this August.

‘Clean Rider’ campaign launched in Western Visayas

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Police Regional Office in Western Visayas (PRO-6) on Wednesday launched the "Clean Rider" campaign.

In an interview, Supt. Joem Malong, spokesperson of PRO-6, said the campaign will help prevent the “increasing number of cases perpetrated by motorcycle-riding suspects.”

“This will also ensure the safety of the riders and to avoid the long process of screening of riders during conduct of checkpoints,” she added.

Malong said riders should present to the police proper documents like vehicle certificate of registration, driver’s license and any government-issued identification card so they will be issued with “clean rider” stickers to be placed in front of their motorcycle.

The sticker has security features and serialized to ascertain which police station the motorcycle was registered in, she said.

Stating the data from the Land Transportation Office 6 (LTO-6), Malong said they will be accounting more than 230,000 motorcycles in the entire region.

Initially they will distribute 5,000 stickers.

She appealed to the riders to have their motorcycles registered at their respective police stations so they will be issued stickers.

Malong said that the campaign is expected to prevent the use of motorcycles in doing illegal activities because they already have the data of these vehicles.

“If they will use it in any crime, they will be easily tracked because we have a centralized data system in the region and the national headquarters,” she said.

The launching of the campaign was held at the car park of Robinson's in Pavia town.

Japanese teachers learn from city gov’t best DRR practices

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Fifteen teachers from various schools in Tohoku, Japan arrived in this city to learn about the best practices of the metropolis in disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) on Wednesday.

The visit was in line with the Overseas Teacher’s Study Program of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“This year, the teachers from Tohoku area came to the Philippines to study disaster good management and different risk management issues because Tohoku was hit by an earthquake in 2011. They want to exchange experience with Iloilo City because Iloilo City is very prone to flooding,” said Yoshio Wada, JICA Philippines’ chief representative.

Wada said Iloilo City has many community-based programs for the disaster management that teachers from Yohoku could learn.

“If there is a particular use for them, maybe they will use it in Tohoku,” he added.

“We want to have many, many exchange between the teachers, the regions, how to share the experience. To promote such information sharing, experience sharing is our role in JICA,” he added.

One of the delegates Yuriko Sambommatsu from the special support education school of the Kakuda School for Special Needs Education said that Iloilo City and the Tohoku area, where they came from, have many similarities when it comes to disaster challenges.

“We hope to learn not only international understanding but also how Iloilo City adapts disaster risk (and) management,” she said.

Franco Agudo of the Iloilo City Planning and Development office briefed the delegates about the profile of the city.

His presentation showed that Iloilo City is prone to six hazards: flooding, storm surge, earthquake, water scarcity, fire, and soil liquefaction.

He said 25 coastal barangays are prone to storm surge, 27 barangays are affected by water scarcity, 150 are prone to fire, and 179 of the city’s 180 barangays are prone to liquefaction.

Officer-in-charge of the Office of Iloilo City Schools Division Superintendent Clarisa Zamora, meanwhile, explained the role of the Department of Education in times of disaster when schools are used as evacuation centers.

In Iloilo City, schools regularly conduct earthquake drills. All schools also have DRRM coordinators.

Iloilo’s maritime university gets NCCA aid on museum enhancement

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The enhancement of the maritime museum of the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU) here is a recipient of a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts worth PHP350,000.

Dr. Ronald Raymund Sebastian, chief executive officer of JBLFMU, in an interview on Tuesday said he has already approved the plan for the expansion of the storage area, where all other artifacts and documents will be stored.

“The museum has specific requirements about the storage and where to put it,” she said.

The museum is located on the second floor of the JBLFMU-Molo campus. It holds a collection of valuable artifacts found in a sunken galleon dating back to the Ming and Sung dynasties, equipment and navigational tools used by the university prior to the advent of technology, the Lacson genealogy and the development of the university starting from being just a maritime academy.

The artifacts -- porcelains, jars -- were authenticated by the National Museum and registered in the National Library.

The museum started as an archive back in the 1990s.

“It blossomed into a library, we call it Library of Cultural Heritage,” said Mary Lou Arcelo, president emeritus and chairman of the Board of JBLFMU.

She added it was inspired by the book she wrote “Less than Noble Intention,” a history of the Lacson family and how Capt. (Juan) Lacson founded the Maritime School.

“Since he was a master mariner, so we put in a lot of maritime artifacts,” she added. So the collection already included the first instrument, equipment that we had, books (some are even used as reference materials of their students) and sunken treasures because Galleon trade was part of maritime,” she added.

With the suggestion of Dr. Angel Alcala, a Filipino scientist, the museum also added shells, fishes and corals for it to become “holistic” because maritime is not only about shipping but also about the sea.

In 2015, they decided to convert it into a maritime museum. Dr. Melchor Magramo, JBLFMU research director, asked the help of the National Historical Museum on how to organize it and make it look like a museum.

“Basically it’s the same collections, items since the very beginning only that it was organized. We started with the legacy of the Lacson, development of different school sites, equipment,” he said.

Museum curator Dr. Wilfredo P. Ramos said they can already start with the enhancement anytime because the plan has already been approved.

“It will be incorporated in the existing museum,” he said.

Annually the NCCA calls for project proposals for culture and arts projects and activities.

Early this month, Niño Selibio, NCCA Project Development Officer for the Arts Section said the commission has approved PHP2.375 million worth of project proposals from Iloilo for 2018. Included in the approved grants was the proposal for JBLFMU for their museum project.

Sebastian said that the museum is very significant because the JBLFMU is the oldest maritime school in Iloilo. It became the country’s first maritime university in 2007.

The museum is the sole maritime museum in the Visayas open for public viewing. They just have to advise the university about the visit, especially when in group, so they could make the necessary preparations, Sebastian said.

Iloilo City hosts int’l forum on sharing of DRRM best practices

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- More than 50 delegates from member countries of the CITYNET will gather in this city on August 2-4 for the 11th Disaster Cluster seminar that will serve as venue for the gathering of best practices on disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).

“It’s really a sharing of the best practices among cities on the best disaster risk reduction and resilience,” said Donna Magno, head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), in an interview on Tuesday.

CITYNET is a network of cities from various countries in Asia and the Pacific, with Iloilo as an active member.

Magno said that in the case of Iloilo City, among those that will be shared are “experiences on managing risks in the context of being a coastal city, how we engage the private sector in when it comes to DRR and efforts to introduce intergenerational transfer of knowledge when it comes to risk reduction.”

“Other cities will share their best practices when it comes to ensuring resilience of their structures and enhancement of the knowledge of their residents when it comes to DRR,” she added.

The international gathering has confirmed guests from Taipei, Sri Lanka, Colombo, Thailand, Bangladesh and Japan and CITYNET member cities from the Philippines. They came from local government units, the academe, business sector and other stakeholders.

Aside from Iloilo, there are 11 other CITYNET member cities in the country and these are Marikina, Muntinlupa, San Fernando City in La Union, Naga, Tarlac, Mandaue, Makati, Iriga, Legazpi, Balanga and Baguio, said Paulo Mora, CITYNET Project Coordinator in the Philippines.

The topics to be discussed during the three-day event include Evolving Perspectives on Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction; Understanding Risks and Enhancing Risk Governance: Innovations in Disaster Risk Management in Local Contexts; Risk Reduction for Resilience with Private Sector; Investing in Resilient Structures at Local and National Levels; Inter-generational Transfer of Knowledge in Disaster Prevention; and CTYNET Disaster Cluster Strategic Planning 2018.

Magno said Iloilo City could benefit from the hosting because most of the local participants are members of the local council.

“This is part of strengthening our competencies. So being around they will learn about the efforts, initiatives of member cities, which maybe applicable here,” she said.

Among the best practices it intends to share is the KABALAKA (Kahublagan sa Barangay para sa Lapnagon nga Kahandaan sa Kalamidad) campaign.

It contains package of programs that aim to “create a new generation of children who shows concern during disasters, concern for environment and concern for elderly and persons with disabilities, among others.”

The programs are being integrated in the KABALAKA gallery, where children learn disaster preparedness through games.

“In this program we emphasized self-help and mutual help,” she said.

Iloilo City is a recipient of Community Based Adaptation and Resiliency Against Disasters (CBARAD) facilitated by CITYNET.

CBARAD aims to develop a community-level adaptation and resiliency schemes in the metropolis and increase the resident’s awareness of self-sustaining community during disaster, especially during flood.

Iloilo, Quanzhou cities eye closer friendly, economic ties

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Iloilo City and the Quanzhou City in the Fujian province of the People’s Republic of China are eyeing a closer tie following the signing of the letter of intent to establish a friendly relationship, Monday.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III, in welcoming the delegation and sign on behalf of the city, emphasized that the relationship of the two cities is “founded not only on economics but also family and bloodline”.

He noted that based on history, most of the Ilonggo-Chinese in Iloilo trace their roots in Fujian province.

“Today the signing of our intention for friendly cities is not only to rekindle our bloodlines but also our economic ties,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wang Ruiqiang, who led the delegation from Quanzhou and signed on behalf of his city, cited trade, cultural exchanges, education and closer relation of port authorities as areas where the two cities could work together in the future.

“There is huge possibilities and inexhaustible potentials for our cities to work together,” he said through a translator.

He cited that their city is active in the Belt and Road initiative, particularly in the 21st century Maritime Silk Road project.

He said Iloilo is one of the major cities of the Philippines, which is among the major countries that lie along the 21st Maritime Silk Road.

“The city is endowed with fine environment with its inherent geographic advantages,” he added.

In terms of trade, he said they hope to mutually promote economic development and even invited entrepreneurs and business groups to join their annual Maritime Silk Road expo, which is a gathering of famous international brands, every April 18.

“Our city organizes international art festival once every two years. We will invite countries along the Maritime Silk Road to send delegations. We sincerely welcome cultural and art societies in Iloilo to join in the art festival,” he said about the cultural exchanges.

He also hoped to “promote the establishment of friendly relationship between the schools in Quanzhou and Iloilo”.

“Under this arrangement, we may organize teachers and students to conduct friendly visits and exchanges,” he said.

He said he looks forward to port authorities of both cities to “establish mechanism to ensure closer and friendly exchanges” as he mentioned that Quanzhou and Iloilo are both port cities.

“We hope both cities would establish deeper and closer friendly exchanges and cooperation, promote interaction between the peoples of two cities to produce tangible results. Quanzhou is a beautiful and livable city bounded at one side with rolling hills and on the other side the deep blue seas. It is endowed with fine climate suitable for living, for short term vacation and tour,” he said.

The letter of intent, meanwhile, states that both parties, in signing the document, agree to “promote friendly contacts between the two cities and develop exchanges and cooperation on fields: economic and trade, science and technology, culture, education, public health an arts among others”.

They will also establish a sister city relationship in the future.

The signing of the letter of intent was witnessed by Fang Jiangsheng of Quanzhou and Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon of Iloilo City.

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