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How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
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Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
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Molo Church, Iloilo City
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The Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City, Philippines held on the fourth Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog In Cebu and the Ati-Atihan in Aklan.
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Contents

8 Iloilo universities throw support to ‘Blood Olympics’

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Eight universities in Iloilo province accepted the challenge to donate blood as part of the second “Dinagyang Blood Olympics” organized by the Iloilo chapter of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

PRC-Iloilo service representative Joji Marmolejo, in an interview Friday, said December and January are crucial months because only few donate blood but the demand is huge.

“To fill in the gap, we opted that even in January, we will encourage our youth to donate so that in case of emergency, we can still cater to their needs,” Marmolejo said.

She expressed hope that they could raise 100 bags from each of the participating schools -- St. Therese-MTC, University of San Agustin, Central Philippine University, John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University - Molo and Arevalo campuses, University of Iloilo, Iloilo Science and Technology University, and West Visayas State University.

“There will be eight universities helping Red Cross to bridge the gap,” she said, adding that there will be a separate schedule for each school.

Last year’s “Blood Olympics” generated about 300 bags for PRC. Marmolejo said that they are trying to increase the collection as she urged other schools to also join the bloodletting.

Apart from the “Blood Olympics”, PRC has also institutionalized its medical mission and food aid program for public elementary schools in the city, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Metro Iloilo and the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc.

“On the ninth year of our Dinagyang food aid program, our goal is to reach all public schools. We choose them based on the recommendation of the Department of Education, as well as the Dinagyang Foundation,” she said.

This year, seven schools were chosen as recipients, including the elementary schools of Don Esteban – Calumpang, I. Arroyo, Bo. Obrero, MV Hechanova, Bito-on, and Balabago.

For the medical mission, they chose San Isidro in La Paz and San Isidro, Jaro.

“These are areas where Ilonggos are not well-privileged to have access to the medical services of the government,” she said.

Japanese tourists to show Ilonggos how to manage wastes

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Locals and other spectators will be on the lookout as to how the Japanese manage their wastes, as 400 tourists on board the crew ship M/V Pacific Venus of Japan will arrive in this city in time for the highlights of the 2019 Dinagyang Festival on January 26.

Neil Ravena of the city government’s General Services Office, who is in charge of the festival’s sanitation, said Friday the Japanese have shown the world how disciplined they were during the FIFA World Cup held in Russia.

Japanese fans, despite the defeat of their national football team, stayed behind to tidy the stadium.

“They will be staying at the grandstand, so we will see and compare with other stages what would be the outcome,” Ravena said during a press conference.

Nonetheless, he appealed to the spectators to help ensure the cleanliness of Iloilo City throughout the festival, whose highlights will run from January 25 to 27.

Ravena said they will deploy 90 street sweepers to the five judging areas, along with 10 supervisors and inspectors who will do the monitoring. Personnel carrying black bags are tasked to collect the garbage in every judging area.

There will also be portable toilets (portalets) to be positioned in every judging area.

He said that on January 28, a day after the highlights, they expect the wastes to be triple or even more than the regular garbage collected on regular days.

“We have prepared 220 sweepers to clean up the city in the morning. We will try that by 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., the city would be clean,” Ravena said, calling for the dismantling of kiosks as early as 3 a.m. of January 28 so that the areas could be cleaned.

Last year, they collected 40 tons to 50 tons of garbage, or the equivalent of 25 trucks, during the first round of collection. Most of those wastes were biodegradable materials.

Meanwhile, Ravena said they have been encouraging Ilonggos to observe “Zero Waste Month” this January.

He said their enforcement team has been doing focus group discussions since last month for waste management down to the barangay level.

“Since December (2018), we have conducted a series of meetings with our barangay captains so we can cascade the zero waste management down to the barangay,” he said.

However, they are expecting that not all of the guests could properly manage their wastes during this Dinagyang season.

Construction of additional lanes underway to widen Iloilo-Antique road

By Carlson B. Alelis (LTP/DPWH/CBA/PIA6)

ILOILO CITY (PIA) -- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) - Iloilo First District Engineering Office is currently widening some sections in the Iloilo-Antique road by turning two-lane sections to four lanes.

Based on the agency’s press release, a budget of P87.045 million was earmarked which will be used for the road widening with a total length of 2.549 kilometers.

The intermittent sections in the towns of Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagao and San Joaquin will be covered by the project.

Specifically, these areas are in Brgy. Trapiche in Oton, Brgy. Tupan in Tigbauan, Brgy. Nanga in Guimbal, Brgy. Kirayan in Miagao and Brgy. Tapikan in San Joaquin.

According to district engineer Nonie Viyar, travel time will be reduced significantly by about 30 minutes.

Further, she said products and commodities will be transported easier and faster from Iloilo City to Antique province and vice versa.

In addition, the project involves earthworks to include clearing and grubbing, removal of trees in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Also part of the project is the removal of obstruction/illegal structures, excavation, embankment and subgrade preparation; concreting of two more lanes (one lane at both sides of the existing two-lane, two-way road) with Portland Concrete Cement Pavement (PCCP); construction of drainage and slope protection.

Japanese cruise ship to visit Iloilo City for Dinagyang Festival

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

ILOILO CITY (PIA) -- Japanese cruise ship “MV Pacific Venus” will arrive in Iloilo City on January 26, 2019, in time for the world-renowned Dinagyang Festival.

In a media release, Department of Tourism (DOT)-6 Regional Director Helen Catalbas said that the agency and the local government unit here is 100 percent ready for the arrival of the Japanese cruise ship which will carry a total of 720 passengers including 180 crew members.

“The Department of Tourism Region 6 assures that the facilities and front liners are now ready for the arrival of this Japanese cruise ship,” she said.

MV Pacific Venus with 183 meters in length will dock at the Iloilo International Port, Loboc, Lapuz, Iloilo City in the morning of January 26 and will leave in the afternoon of the following day.

An estimated 400 Japanese passengers will witness the highlights of the Dinagyang Festival including the Kasadyahan Cultural Competition and the Dagyang Tribes Competition.

Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation Inc. recently announced that 400 seats are reserved in the newly constructed Iloilo City Dinagyang Grandstand for the visitors.

They will also have a tour in Iloilo City which includes a visit to Jaro Church and plaza, Molo Church and Mansion, Casa Mariquit and a running tour of the Jaro district here.

According to Catalbas, Iloilo City and Roxas City are now ready for the cruise tourism, as per assessment of the local cruise composite inspection team.

“We are continuously coordinating with other government agencies especially the Philippine Ports Authority to ensure the security and smooth arrival of the Japanese cruise ship, memorable Dinagyang Festival experience and Iloilo City tour of visitors up to the time they leave,” she said.

Arrangements for the arrival of the Japanese cruise ship MV Pacific Venus in Iloilo City started in January last year, when ship executives conducted an ocular inspection of Iloilo City.

The second ocular inspection was conducted on December 11 to 12, 2018.

Catalbas said the arrival of the Japanese cruise ship is a big break for the tourism industry of Iloilo City.

“Japan is known for its high standards, and Iloilo City being one of the destinations of MV Pacific Venus means a lot," she added.

City government gives livelihood aid to PWDs

(PR)

THE Iloilo City Government gave P5,000 livelihood assistance each to six persons with disabilities (PWDs) during the flag ceremony January 14.

“This is Iloilo City Government’s way of supporting PWDs. We hope it helps in some ways for their daily expenses,” Mayor Jose Espinosa III said.

The beneficiaries were Catherine Baloloy from Barangay Calumpang, Molo; Mary Grace Garche from Rizal Pala-pala, City Proper; Danilo Rodinas Jr., from Barangay Sinikway, Lapuz; Evelyn Sarsowa from Barangay Caingin, La Paz; and Rufina Tagudinay from Mandurriao district.

City Social Welfare and Development Office head Gene Garingalao said they monitor the livelihood of recipients to ensure that they properly use the assistance given to them.

“They can either use the assistance for charcoal vending, selling of food delicacies, fish vending or putting a sari-sari store,” Garingalao said.

DTI6 mulls ‘Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay’ in Iloilo

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

ILOILO CITY (PIA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-6 is planning to conduct its “Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay” project in Iloilo this year to boost and encourage more barangay-based business ventures.

DTI-6 Regional Director Rebecca Rascon said the initiative aims to intensify the promotion and dissemination of the agency’s programs and services to help start-ups and micro enterprises in the barangays.

“We can invite other government agencies for this activity,” she said.

Rascon said the agency targets to conduct this project in selected barangays in the highly-urbanized city of Iloilo.

She added that this initiative will not just be a “one-day activity” but the agency will ensure to do follow-ups for these small ventures to provide assistance and possibly to refer them to small business corporations.

Meanwhile, DTI-6 reported that a total of 108 Negosyo Centers (NCs) have been established in Western Visayas, as November 30 last year.

Rascon said that NCs have been established in all local government units (LGUs) of Aklan, Antique and Capiz.

She said that 70 percent of LGUs in Iloilo already have NCs, including the two that were recently launched in Tigbauan and Tubungan.

P45-M grandstand ready for Dinagyang fest

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The new freedom grandstand will be completed before the highlight of the Dinagyang Festival slated from January 25 to 27 this year.

This was the assurance made by Engineer Roberto Divinagracia on Monday, noting the PHP45-million structure is now 95 percent finished.

He said the façade will be completed by January 11 in time for the festival’s opening salvo. Currently, they are working on its finishing touches and variation orders.

“The grandstand will host the opening salvo,” he said.

The old freedom grandstand was once situated along J.M. Basa Street fronting Mapa Street. It was demolished to give way to the restoration of the Sunburst Park that was situated in between the old grandstand and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) building.

The new grandstand, a smaller version of Manila's Quirino Grandstand, is now located at the Muelle Loney area fronting the Iloilo River.

The new structure, he said, is bigger than the old one. It can accommodate 1,960 seats from the previous 1,000. It also has a bigger lounge for guests and wider comfort rooms.

Meanwhile, the Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) will implement a rerouting for the staging of the opening salvo.

PSTMO head Jeck Conlu said routes affected by the opening salvo will be closed to traffic starting 1 p.m.

Eight tribes joining the Dagyang Tribes Dance Competition will perform in carousel type in all five designated stages during the opening salvo.

Starting from the grandstand/Muelle Loney, the tribes will have to turn left to Aduana Street, turn right to J.M. Basa towards F. Caram Avenue/Arroyo Fountain, leading to Stage 2 at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol.

They will then proceed to Stage 3 situated at Quezon-Ledesma Streets by turning left to Gen. Luna Street, and turn left again to Delgado Street.

From Stage 3, the tribe will turn left to Ledesma Street, turn right to Iznart Street, and turn left to Aldeguer Street where Stage 4 is located.

The tribe will next proceed to Stage 5 by turning right to JM Basa Street towards Dela Rama/ Huervas St.

PSA enumerators undergo training, survey starts Jan. 9

By Lilibeth A. French (JBG/PSA/laf/PIA-Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY, Jan. 8 (PIA) -- Twenty-five statistical researchers and two team supervisors hired by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) – Guimaras gathered for a six-day training in line with the conduct of the 2018 Family Income and Expenditure Survey second visit (FIES V2) in the province starting January 9, 2019.

PSA-Guimaras provincial statistics officer Nelida Losare said the six-day 3rd level training which started on January 3 aims to equip the enumerators of the official concepts and definition of terms used in the survey questionnaires.

The 2018 FIES V2 intends to generate the income and expenditure data for the period July to December to complete the information for the year 2018. It was in July 2018 when the first visit data collection was conducted to cover the period of January to June 2018.

FIES is a nationwide survey of households undertaken every three years. It serves as the main source of data on family income and expenditures, to include the levels of consumption by item of expenditure as well as the sources of income in cash and in kind.

Losare said the information gathered will show the standards of living and disparities in income of families, spending patterns; supply standard information to update the weights used in the estimation of the Consumer Price Index (CPl); and will also give inputs in the estimation of the province’s poverty threshold and incidence.

“It is one of the most important surveys conducted by the PSA due to its uses,” said Losare.

FIES provide the basic source of information used in the estimation of the household account in the system of national accounts and balances; used in the measurement of the Human Development Index; supplies information for assessing the impact on living standards and existing or proposed social and economic programs of the government; used for formulating welfare-oriented policies; and generates data needed for statistical demand analysis leading to the estimation of income, price and cross elasticity of demand, among other things.

Enumerators will visit and interview the same sample households during the FIES visit 1 in 13 barangays of Buenavista, 8 barangays in Jordan, 11 in Nueva Valencia, 6 in San Lorenzo and 7 barangays in Sibunag.

Losare is encouraging sample households to support and be patient in giving truthful information to their trained enumerators for the successful conduct of 2018 FIES V2. Also, to ensure the provision of reliable data to stakeholders and policy makers.

DA 6 eyes improved personnel capability, facilities

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas is eyeing the improvement of the capability of its personnel and is investing on additional equipment as mandated in its five-year corporate plan starting this year.

DA 6 Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter, in a phone interview Monday, said the corporate plan that was launched December 17 last year was more on “internal”, as she cited the need to “develop the capability of our people and facilities”.

“Our facility also has to cope with the new trend such as improved laboratory, building, and other resources,” she said.

DA 6 has four existing laboratories to include the soils laboratory, seeds laboratory, animal diagnostics laboratory, and crop protection center.

Recoter said they would like to add more tests, particularly on the fertility of individual farms. Currently, the soil laboratory can only test nitrogen phosphorous potassium (NPK).

“We will add more equipment so our tests will not just be on basics but we will go into micro nutrient determination,” she said.

Moreover, since their new office building is expected to be completed by end of this year, the DA is also looking forward to seek an ISO accreditation to “improve management and procedure”.

The DA in Western Visayas will also kick off this year by cascading their corporate plan down to their subordinates.

“The corporate plan was prepared by the upper management so we need to trickle it down to our other personnel so they would know our plan for the next five years,” the regional executive director said.

In addition, there will be trainings to prepare, especially those who are next in line, in anticipation of the retirement of personnel this year.

“Our next in line has to go undergo training, more on technical discipline, so we also have something to offer to our clients,” she added.

Along with the corporate plan, DA also launched its new logo design and official hymn. The design was conceptualized by Faye Ann Gasapo of the DA-Philippine Rural Development Project Visayas, while the hymn titled “Kadalag-an sang Agrikultura” was composed by Dante Beriong from San Jose, Antique.

Both reflect the agriculture department’s vision of “Service excellence to ensure food security for all”, and mission that speaks of the commitment of DA of “providing innovative support services with its state-of–the-art facilities for sustainable, competitive and resilient agricultural industries”.

A copy of the corporate plan during the launching was delivered to Recoter using a drone to mark the technological advancement of DA in Region 6.

The regional office made use of drones for the conduct of geo-mapping and damage assessment.

2019 Iloilo Dinagyang run set on Jan. 20

By Adrian Stewart Co (/PN)

RUNNING enthusiasts from Iloilo City and nearly areas are encouraged to participate in the 2019 Iloilo Dinagyang Run slated on Jan. 20 at SM City South Point in Iloilo City.

Moises Salomon of Iloilo City Sports and Youth Development Office said that the race is divided into two categories – the 21k half marathon and 5k run, which is for the benefit of city’s cervical cancer free program.

The registration for the run is already ongoing at the Sports Office of Iloilo City Hall and FAFORMA Mary Mart mall. There will also be registration at SM City Iloilo starting next week. The registration fee is pegged at P750.

“We are inviting the Ilonggo running enthusiasts as well as runners from other parts of Region 6 and nearby regions to participate in this yearly run,” Salomon said. “They still have until January 19 to register.”

The one-day running event was one of the sporting events prepared by the Iloilo City government as part of the annual Dinagyang Festival, which is celebrated every third week of January.

For inquiries regarding the event, running enthusiasts can call 333-1111 loc. 503 or text or call at 09267244403.

DOLE to hire over a thousand students through SPES

By Lilibeth A. French (JBG/DOLE/laf/PIA6-Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY (PIA) - - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Iloilo Field Office targets to employ 1,091 students for the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) this year.

Some P7.2 million fund was allocated by DOLE –Iloilo for the implementation of the 2019 SPES which is an employment bridging program implemented during Summer or Christmas Vacation.

SPES aims to augment the family’s income of poor but deserving students, out-of-school youths (OSY) or dependents of displaced workers who intend to finish their education.

DOLE partners with employers, intermediaries and Local Government Units (LGUs) for pledges on their counterpart for the payment of the salaries of the beneficiaries under the program.

In a press report, DOLE 6 reported that a total of 70 partners from LGUs, schools and private companies participated in the 2019 SPES Pledging Session for Iloilo Province on November 16, 2018 at the Penthouse of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol building.

The active partners are the Iloilo City Public Employment Service Office (PESO), Iloilo Provincial Government; New Panay Agri-Ventures, Bancon, local government units of Miag-ao, Passi City, Oton, Leganes, Cabatuan, Maasin, Pavia, Concepcion, Barotac Viejo, and Batad,; and schools such as John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University, Central Philippine University, University of San Agustin, West Visayas State University, Iloilo Science and Technology University and the University of Iloilo PHINMA.

The amount of pledges submitted by the DOLE’s partners reached P13.98M during the activity, which represents 60 percent of the salary of the SPES beneficiaries.

On the part of DOLE, the budget of P7.2 million will be allocated to these partners proportionately, and will fund the remaining 40 percent of the salary the beneficiaries.

DAR distributes trucks to Iloilo ARB organizations

By Lilibeth A. French

ILOILO CITY, Jan. 4 (PIA) -- The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) – Iloilo Provincial Office distributed recently three units of six-wheeler trucks to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) in the province of Iloilo.

Recipients ARBOs are Southern Iloilo Area Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SIAMPC) in Oton, KAMTA Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative (KAMTA) in Janiuay and KASSAPI Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Passi City.

The distribution is part of the agency’s various support intervention being provided to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) to improve their quality of life.

On the other hand, DAR-Iloilo has also successfully installed 27 ARBs in Barangay Pasig, Sara, Iloilo on December 19, 2018.

The ARBs are now in possession of the property formerly owned by Ma. Elena Yusay with an area of more or less 66 hectares through a Writ of Installation issued on December 14, 2018 by Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer (PARPO) II Lucrecia S. Taberna.

Corazon Pama, one of the ARBs, said they are very thankful to DAR for the land they had dreamt of were already given to them.

DTI launches ‘FabLab’ in ISAT-U

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

ILOILO CITY, Jan. 3 (PIA) -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-6 recently launched the Iloilo Center for Design, Prototyping and Modeling or Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) at the Research Hub of the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U) Main Campus in La Paz district here.

DTI-6 Regional Director Rebecca M. Rascon and ISAT-U President Dr. Raul F. Muyong signed the Memorandum of Agreement and Usufruct Agreement between DTI-6 and ISAT-U during the turnover of the FabLab, which is one of the agency’s shared services facility (SSF) projects in the region.

“The purpose of the FabLab is to provide a facility that will enhance product design,” Rascon said.

Rascon said that DTI-6 provided the machineries and equipment for the FabLab which include laser cutter, plasma cutter, wood router, embroidery machine, thermal former, large scale tarpaulin printer and laptop.

She said that the total amount spent for the equipment and facility was P7 million.

Rascon also said that ISAT-U was selected as co-operator and partner institution due to its accessibility; the relevance of offered courses to the facility; and the support given by the management team led by Dr. Muyong.

“The FabLab will serve as workshop for students,” she said.

She said that the expected clients would be 70 percent from the academe and 30 percent from micro, small and medium enterprises.

She added that the establishment of FabLab is part of the agency’s digitalization project and a response to the growing start-up community here.

Iloilo City bags Nat’l ADAC Performance Award

(PR)

ILOILO City is a recipient of the National Anti-Drug Abuse Council (ADAC) Performance Award by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) following the 2017 ADAC Performance Audit-National Calibration.

“This is a manifestation that Iloilo City’s ADAC (Icadac) is functioning well and that we at the council are doing our best in order to sustain our drive against illegal drugs campaign in support to the campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte. Rest assured that our efforts in sustaining this drive will not stop after we are considered as one of the awardees, instead, this will continue as long as there is someone in our city who is engaged in illegal drug activities,” Mayor Jose Espinosa III, ICADAC chairperson, said.

Awarding ceremony was held on December 28 in Metro Manila.

Espinosa said the City Government is not letting-up in the campaign against illegal drugs.

As directed by the Icadac, all 180 barangays here or 100 percent already have duly constituted Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (Badac).

The City Police work in securing the people and ensuring maintenance of peace and order generated positive results through enhanced mobility with more vehicles and logistics, ably supported and funded by the City Government’s Peace and Order Fund.

A Treatment and Rehabilitation Program or the Crossroads: Community Change Center was also established by the City Government for those who use illegal drugs. It has produced a total of 705 graduates wherein 199 graduated from the first batch, 201 in second batch, 175 in the third batch, and 130 in the fourth batch.

Espinosa stressed the City is giving full support and cooperation to other anti-drug programs and advocacies of various national government agencies.

On September 14 of this year, the DILG issued the Memorandum Order 2018-159 for the implementation of the nationwide 2017 ADAC Performance Audit.

The audit criteria include:

1. the organization of local ADAC that consists of creation or reorganization and composition of members pursuant to DILG MC 98-227 and 2012-94;

2. conduct of quarterly meetings; allocation of funds for the implementation of anti-drug activities as indicated in the Peace and Order and Public Safety (POPS) plan;

3. implementation for ADAC plans and programs which include the actual utilization of budget vs. its target, actual physical accomplishment versus the target, drug-cleared barangays within the province, city or municipality, timeliness of implementation, and establishment of Special Drug Education Center or its equivalent facility (for provinces only);

4. support to the ADACs in component LGUs including formulation of community support, aftercare and reintegration (CSAR) Plan (for cities and municipalities); and innovation.

The Phase 1 of the Performance Audit, which includes Data Gathering Phase, started on September to October 2018. Phase II or Verification Phase was held on October 25 to November 28. Phase 3, which was the Finalization and Calibration Phase, was held from November 29 to December 11. Phase 4 or Presentation of Results of the list of 2018 High Functioning ADACs based on the validation of the National Audit Team was held on December 12.

The last phase which was posting the approved list was also held in December.

New Year revelry in W. Visayas 'peaceful'

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY – Western Visayas remained peaceful amid incidents of alleged stray bullet and indiscriminate firing that were recorded as the region welcomed the New Year, a Police Regional Office 6 (PRO6) official said Tuesday.

PRO6 spokesperson Supt. Joem Malong said the coverage of the New Year celebration was “very successful” as they only recorded 40 firecracker-related injuries (FWRIs) from Dec. 16, 2018 until Jan. 1, 2019.

“Guimaras and Antique have no reported firecracker-related injuries or casualties,” she cited.

Malong said the highest number at 18 of FWRIs came from Capiz.

She reported that Iloilo province has nine; Bacolod City, seven; Iloilo City, three; Negros Occidental, two; and Aklan with one incident.

On the other hand, the alleged stray bullet incidents were recorded in the towns of Maasin and Janiuay in Iloilo.

The first victim was identified as 59-year-old Magdalena Dulce from Aquino Nobleza West, Janiuay who was hit on her head while she was watching a fireworks display at around 12:40 a.m.

In Maasin, the victim was identified as 15-year-old Julius Julie Engada, who suffered wounds on his nape and the back of his body. The incident happened at Barangay Subog, Maasin at around 11:50 p.m. of Dec. 31, 2018.

“As of now, the alleged stray bullet incidents are still under investigation. We have no suspects yet,” Malong said.

Both victims were brought to nearest hospital while a deformed slug of unknown caliber was recovered at the place of the incident in Janiuay.

Meanwhile, the local police arrested 37-year-old Stewart Mirasol of Barangay Hibao-an Norte in Mandurriao district at 12:30 a.m. of January 1 for illegal discharge of firearm. The responding team recovered a 9-mm pistol from the suspect.

Malong said the suspect will face charges for alarm and scandal and illegal possession of firearm if he had no license.

PRO6 operatives also confiscated some PHP154,775 worth of illegal firecrackers.

“The successful security coverage is attributed to focused law enforcement operations, the implementation of the Oplan Ligtas Paskuhan 2018 and the support and cooperation of the community and other stakeholders,” she added.

ILOPRISAA rules Iloilo football festival 2018

By Adrian Stewart Co (PN)

ILOPRISAA booters claimed the championship in the U-12 category of the Football Festival: Mini World Cup 2018 after a 3-1 victory over Western Visayas State University on Sunday at the WVSU Football Field.

Vince Emmenuel Espinosa was hailed as the championship match’s best player after knocking down all of the ILOPRISAA three conversions against the defense of the WVSU.

On their way to the championship round, ILOPRISAA cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Mirasol Mandurriao, while WVSU edged out La Paz squad, 3-2.

La Paz, meanwhile, was able to salvage a victory as it walloped Mirasol Mandurriao in the battle for third place match.

In the U-10 category, WVSU A was hailed as the champions after defeating La Paz FC. West B squad, meanwhile, bagged the bronze medal.

The two-day football event, which was participated by 10 teams, was part of the grassroots program of the Iloilo City government with Regor Dadivas as tournament manager and Moises Salomon as tournament supervisor.

“Sports events like this showed that (Iloilo City) Mayor Joe (Espinosa) was committed in searching for young talents from the city especially in football,” said Salomon of Iloilo City Sports Division.

11 groups to wow audience during Dinagyang’s Kasadyahan fest

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Nine groups will compete while two others will serve as guest performers during the Kasadyahan regional cultural competition of the 2019 Iloilo Dinagyang Festival slated to be held on January 26, 2019.

The competing groups came from two festivals in Antique, four from Iloilo, and one each from Negros Occidental Capiz, and Guimaras.

They are the Hambaro Festival of San Remegio and Binirayan Festival from Antique; Pinta Flores of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; Sugilanon Festival of Roxas City in Capiz; and Hubon Guimarasnon of Manggahan Festival of Guimaras.

From Iloilo, the groups are the Tultugan Festival of Maasin, Kaing Festival of Leon, Manughabol sang Salakayan Festival of Miagao, and Hugyaw St. Therese MTC Colleges.

The Masskara Festival of Bacolod City and the Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT-U) Panganinaw Festival will perform as guest groups, Dr. Eden Deriada, chair of the Kasadyahan committee of the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival, said in a phone interview Tuesday.

She added that the Kasag Festival of Banate also expressed its interest to join but they were told that everything has already been set for the Kasadyahan.

“Maybe next year they will be joining us,” Deriada addd.

She said those who confirmed earlier already received one-half of their PHP500,000 committed subsidy from the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI). Non-competing groups will also receive PHP200,000 in financial assistance.

“We have already drawn lots for the takeoff area of their performance and we will be giving them their final billeting areas,” she added.

The regional cultural competition gathers the best of festivals from all over Western Visayas in one venue just as the Kasadyahan. The festivals usually depict thanksgiving and the way of life of the people where the festival comes from.

Meantime, the IDFI ticket committee announced that the selling of tickets for the four stages that are being managed by the foundation will start on December 27. The venue for the selling of the tickets will be at the third floor of the Iloilo City Hall.

‘Night at the Museum’ scenes for Iloilo City folks this season

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The historic Plaza Libertad, at first glance in the morning, looks just like any ordinary plaza with the statue of national Jose P. Rizal standing tall at the center.

But this Yuletide season, when the clock strikes 5 in the afternoon, the 1.5-hectare plaza transforms into a magical place full of sparkling Christmas lights and several animal figures reminiscent of the American comedy film “Night at the Museum”.

“This is the first time that we have introduced a theme and we chose the movie ‘Night at the Museum’,” Mayor Jose Espinosa, who thought of the concept, said Monday. The plaza’s transformation was first unveiled on December 10 and will continue to illuminate the night until the celebration of the “Dinagyang Festival” highlights on January 25 to 27 next year.

In the movie, animals and other figures of famous people on display come to life in the evening, the mayor added.

Hundreds of Christmas lights breathe life into different animal figures of elephants, monkeys, tigers and even dinosaurs. He said that it is meant to send a strong message, especially to children, about showing concern for the wildlife.

“This will be frequented by our young. We want to raise their awareness to show concern to our animals that are almost extinct,” he said.

“So, while they take photos, they should also be reminded of animals that are now on the verge of extinction,” Espinosa added.

Aside from the animals, visitors at the plaza, will be definitely unable to ignore the imposing 25-feet Christmas tree fronting the seven-story eye-catching city hall. At the rightmost part of the plaza, the idle remnant of the Steam Locomotive 888 train that used to transport sugar canes when the sugar industry was then one of the major industries in the region becomes magical with the shimmering Christmas lights while big boxes of colorfully wrapped gifts can be seen placed in front of the train.

The City Engineer’s Office (CEO) also showcased in its design that celebrating Christmas need not be expensive.

The CEO and the General Services Office (GSO) collaborated to gather as many recyclable materials to be used for the Christmas tableau at the plaza.

“GSO provided for free, from garbage pickers, around 20 sacks of recyclable plastic materials,” said CEO head, Engr. Bobby Divinagracia. The CEO also made use of empty drums painted with Christmas symbols, as place for the children to play hide and seek or simply just take photos and selfies.

“We want this to be interactive where children can play,” he said.

With a modest budget of PHP1.5 million, the plaza has become a place for family to gather and to bond, especially during nighttime.

“The plaza is where the people gather, it is where family gather, that is why it is always at the center of the community. This is part of my promise that the plaza should be open to all,” Espinosa said.

The mayor urged the public to “enjoy this Christmas season at the beautifully lighted plaza” while listening to the pipe-in Christmas songs playing 24 hours within the area.

The concept was first introduced at the Plaza Libertad but the city government is looking forward to also provide attractions in other plazas of the city. Each of the seven administrative districts of the city has a plaza.

“We want to make playground in all our plazas to add color to the Christmas celebration of our children,” the mayor said.

DepEd, IDFI institutionalize partnership for Dinagyang fest

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Education (DepEd), Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI), and the Iloilo city government have inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Friday afternoon, institutionalizing their partnership for the annual Dinagyang Festival.

“We are sharing the skills, the talents of our officials, students and even alumni coming from different schools. They are a rich source of our talents and skills in Iloilo City,” said Clarissa G. Zamora, assistant schools’ division superintendent and officer-in-charge at the office of the DepEd Iloilo City schools’ division superintendent.

She lauded the formalization of the partnership through the MOA where the responsibilities of the parties are detailed.

Under the agreement, the practice hours for students who are part of the tribes competing for the Dinagyang Ati Tribe competition will be held during dismissal time and off hours so as not to disrupt classes.

DepEd will also observe the “regularity of fees for trainers and artistic teams.”

“This will really promote the educational, as well as the cultural advancement of our schools,” she said.

IDFI president Ramon Cua Locsin added that one of the important points of the agreement is for the foundation to release in four tranches the subsidy to participating schools.

Each of the eight participating tribes will receive a total of PHP1.2 million in cash subsidy. To date, the IDFI has already released three tranches totaling PHP900,000 each.

The IDFI will also secure accident or injury insurance for the students and the performing teams.

“This may not be perfect yet, but as we go on, every year we will be adding what we see as lacking,” he said.

The highlights of the 2019 Dinagyang Festival will be held on January 25-27.

On January 27, eight tribes will compete in a carousel type in five judging areas. They are Tribu Panayanon, Salognon, Ilonganon, Dagatnon, Paghidaet, Hugpunganon, Pan-ay, and Barriohanon.

There will be two guests and non-competing tribes, such as the Tribu Miru composed of the Ati Indigenous Peoples from Nagpana, Barotac Viejo and the alumni of former grand slam winner Tribu Bola Bola.

The annual festival began as a religious event to honor Señor Santo Niño and was later on adopted by the local government to become a religious cultural event.

The 2019 Dinagyang anchors on the theme, “Devotion to Señor Santo Niño: Well-Spring of a Vibrant and Humble Service”. Its tagline is “Connecting Communities through Culture and Faith”.

8 tribes competing in 2019 Dinagyang

By Glenda Tayona (PN)

ILOILO City – Eight tribes are vying for top honors in the ati-ati competition of the 2019 Iloilo Dinagyang Festival on Jan. 27, 2019.

The tribes are Panayanon of Iloilo City National High School, Salognon of Jaro National High School, Ilonganon of Jalandoni National High School, Dagatnon of Ramon Avanceña National High School, Paghidaet of La Paz National High School, Hugponganon, Pan-ay of Fort San Pedro National High School, and Barriohanon.

Tribu Panayanon is the defending champion.

Tribe Committee chairperson Robert Alor of the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI) said two guest tribes would be performing – Tribu Miro and Tribu Bola-Bola.

IDFI chairperson Ramon Cua-Locsin said out of the P1.2-million subsidy for each tribe, the foundation already released P900 thousand to each.

The remaining P300 thousand for each tribe would be released on the first week of January.

“Connecting Communities thru Culture and Faith” is the theme of the 2019 Iloilo Dinagyang Festival.

Dinagyang started in 1967 when a replica of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought from Cebu to the San Jose de Placer Church here.

The replica, accompanied by devotees from Cebu, was enthusiastically received by the Ilonggos who danced on the streets of the city to the tune of rumbling drums.

In 1968, the festival was formally launched. It marked its 50th anniversary in January this year.

Dinagyang is the Hiligaynon word for revelry or merrymaking. The Dinagyang Festival is Iloilo City’s version of the Ati-atihan celebrations widely observed not only in Panay Island but also in other parts of the country. It may not be as ancient as the one in Kalibo, Aklan but it is known more for the participants’ impressive choreography and striking costumes that reflect the ingenuity, craftsmanship and artistry of the Ilonggos.

WV confident in hitting 2018 tourist arrivals target

(PNA)

WESTERN Visayas (Region 6) continues to attract tourists in 2018 despite the six-month closure of Boracay Island in Aklan.

In fact, the Department of Tourism (DOT)-6 regional office is optimistic in reaching its tourist arrivals target by end of 2018.

DOT-6 Regional Director Helen Catalbas said on Wednesday that although they have yet to consolidate the reports from the provinces, they are likely to reach at least 5.8 million arrivals this year.

Catalbas, who was in Bacolod City for the opening of the “Kaon Na ‘Ta” Food and Travel Festival, said despite the huge arrivals decline during the closure of Boracay in Aklan between April and October 2018, Western Visayas was able to “recover” through its other destinations.

“We have other attractive destinations in the region. They have all increasing tourist arrivals,” Catalbas said, adding that one of the major contributors is Negros Occidental.

The shutdown of Boracay gave way for the rehabilitation of the area, which President Rodrigo Duterte described as a “cesspool.”

The DOT-6 earlier noted that following the closure of Boracay Island, other provinces in Western Visayas needed to increase their tourist arrivals by at least 1.2 million this year to compensate for the economic losses.

In 2017, more or less 5.8 million tourists visited Region 6, higher than the 5.5-million target.

DOT-6 is eyeing to increase the figure to 6.1 million in 2019.

In Negros Occidental, including its capital Bacolod City, tourist arrivals surged to about 1.72 million last year, higher by seven percent than 1.61 million in 2016.

The final report of the Negros Occidental Tourism Division showed that the province catered to 1.609 million visitors in 2017, including 114,686 who are foreign tourists and 381 overseas Filipinos.

Iloilo City Hall to spend P8M for gift giving activity

By Emme Rose Santiagudo (TDG)

AROUND 25,000 senior citizens, indigents, and persons with disability (PWDs) will receive P8 million worth of gifts from the Iloilo City government starting today.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III said the City Budget Office allotted the funds for the traditional gift giving activity to the less fortunate.

The target beneficiaries will receive rice and canned goods.

“Mga P8 million ang na-allot sang City Budget Office and diri kita madistribute sa atubang sang City Hall,” Espinosa said.

According to City Administrator Hernando Galvez, presidents of their respective groups selected the beneficiaries.

“The selection is through the respective presidents sang aton mga senior citizens, indigents kag PWDs,” he said.

Galvez said that the beneficiaries must be present during the distribution process and emphasized that the distribution will follow a “one ticket, one gift.”

“One ticket one gift ang aton gina-recommend and it must be in person kay madamo kita reklamo sang nagligad nga wala nag alabot ang para sa ila,” he said.

The actual gift giving is expected to start 7 a.m. today after the registration which kicks off as early as 5 a.m., according to Galvez.

School launches P230-M maritime training ship

By Tara Yap

Iloilo City—The country’s only maritime university launched its P230-million training ship to enhance skills and capabilities of future Filipino seafarers.

John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU) has the distinction of owning the country’s first privately-owned training ship, the M/V John B. Lacson. The ship is named after the school’s founder.

Dr. Mary Lou Lacson-Arcelo, JBLFMU president emeritus, said the training ship is the realization of the vision of her father, Capt. Lacson, in providing quality maritime education.

Capt. Vicente Fedelicio, chairman of university affiliate JBL Maritime Vanguard Inc., said the ship is equipped with latest technology for hands-on training of maritime education students. It can also cater to hotel and restaurant management students for onboard training.

The former cargo ship was refurbished in Bataan before it sailed to Iloilo City, its home port and where the main campus of JBLFMU is located.

Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III said the training ship of JBLMFU boosts Iloilo’s standing as an educational center in the region, especially as training ground for skilled seafarers.

37 firms in Western Visayas get Bagwis award

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 6 (Western Visayas) has conferred the “Bagwis Award” to 37 establishments for practicing fair business and upholding the rights and welfare of consumers.

Rebecca Rascon, DTI-6 director, personally presented the seals of excellence to the establishments in an awarding ceremony held at The Venue, Smallville Complex here Wednesday.

Rascon said these establishments were recognized because they have strictly adhered to various consumer laws and established their Consumer Welfare Desks (CWDs) or an equivalent customer relations office that provides information to consumers and serves as a mechanism for the speedy resolution of consumer complaints.

“We hope that you will continue to do good practices to assure safe and quality products and service to your consumers and even level up,” she told the awardees.

“Bagwis” is a local term for feather or wing. The “Bagwis Award” has three categories -- gold, silver and bronze.

The two branches of the Supervalue, Inc. or the SM Supermarket in the districts of Mandurriao and City proper in this city were conferred with the gold seal, a repeat of their achievement last year.

Meanwhile, 21 establishments were silver awardees -- six outlets of Sanford Marketing in Negros Occidental; six outlets of Iloilo Supermart, Inc. in Iloilo; three branches of 7-Eleven in Negros Occidental; Toyota Aklan, Inc. (Aklan); LVS Commercial (Antique); Laxmi Automotive Services and Parts (Capiz); HLH Marketing, Inc. (Capiz); EDE Engineering Enterprise (Antique); and Prince Hypermart (Iloilo).

Under the bronze category, 14 establishments were awarded, the seven branches of 7-Eleven in Iloilo; Ace Hardware Philipppines (Aklan); UYPH Retal, Inc. (Aklan); Du Ek Sam Inc. (Antique); Oxord Computer Solutions (Capiz); Puregold Price Club, Inc. (Iloilo); Bluefields Trading Post Inc. (Iloilo); and Iloilo Supermart-Molo (Iloilo).

DTI here has partnered with some local government units through their Business Permits and Licensing Office (BLPO) and with other private sectors, such as Consumer Organization and Philippine Retailers Association-Iloilo to screen the nominees.

Establishments with the bronze seal have complied with Fair Trade Laws (FTLs), among them the Consumer Act, Price Act, Price Tag and effective customer relations services and efficient store management operations.

Establishments with the silver seal, on the other hand, have passed additional criteria, such as exemplification of social commitment and responsibility, for instance involvement in any regular corporate social responsibility programs.

Companies with the gold seal have passed additional criterion -- the establishment of quality orientation management.

Michelle Aguadera, operations manager of SM supermarket expressed gladness for another recognition given to them after they were reassessed by DTI two months ago.

“We really aim to maintain our gold seal because this is a benchmark for us to show the customers that we are really complying with the requirements of DTI. At the same time, we are providing 100 percent customer service,” she said.

Aguadera assured that they will continue to comply with the requirements of DTI and provide quality service and products to their consumers.

Iloilo City commits P5-M for national hero’s center

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government is providing PHP5-million fund to complete the center for Ilonggo national hero Graciano Lopez Jaena.

City Mayor Jose Espinosa III announced the commitment of the fund during Tuesday’s celebration of the 162nd birth anniversary of Lopez Jaena, who was the first editor of "La Solidaridad", the newspaper that fought for Philippine representation in Spain.

In a follow-up interview, Espinosa said they are targeting to immediately release the fund during the first quarter of next year to Dr. Graciano Lopez Jaena Foundation, Inc. (DGLJFI).

Initially, the mayor said the foundation has already started the center but financially struggling to complete it.

The center is located at Fajardo Street in Jaro district where Lopez Jaena was born.

“I told them that it would take long for them to complete that if they will only use their contributions,” he said.

The mayor hoped that the center would be finally completed by December 2019 in time for another celebration of the birth anniversary of Lopez Jaena.

Espinosa stressed that “it is always his desire” to give importance to the life of the Ilonggo national hero and showcase his works especially among the young people.

He said the center will feature his life on how he became a national hero.

It will also house some of his writings and other memorabilia, he added.

The mayor further said the seventh floor of the Iloilo City Hall was already named Graciano Lopez Jaena Hall in honor of the Ilonggo hero.

Espinosa said he is looking for the possibility of also naming after Lopez Jaena the new Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, which now nears completion.

Further, he is also planning to issue an executive order to all the public schools in the city to create a program or integrate in their teaching the life of Lopez Jaena.

Meantime, Mia Lopez Cruz, President of the Graciano Lopez Jaena Foundation, welcomed the commitment of the city government to complete the construction of the center.

“We hope that the construction will really be completed this year,” she said.

Hundreds of Ilonggos gathered at the statue of Dr. Graciano Lopez Jaena at Jaro Plaza this city on Tuesday to celebrate his birth anniversary, December 18, 1856.

One of the highlights of the program is the cultural presentation the life of Lopez Jaena by the Graciano Lopez Jaena Little Theater.

The Lopez Jaena Day has been declared a public holiday in the city and province of Iloilo.

Western Visayas museum opens textile gallery

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Western Visayas Regional Museum opened on Saturday a gallery featuring the weaving tradition of the region.

Dubbed “Habol Panay: The Woven Artistry Philippine Textiles”, the exhibit is the first ever gallery unveiled since the converted Old Iloilo Provincial Jail was opened as a regional museum last April in this city.

The gallery is a permanent exhibition that displays to the public the threads, textiles, looms and raw materials used in weaving in Panay. These displays are from the National Ethnographic Collection while some are donated and loaned by partners of the National Museum (NM).

The opening of the exhibit was graced by Angel Bautista, acting assistant Director of the NM and the chief of cultural properties regulation; Governor Arthur Defensor Sr.; former Antique governor Sally Perez; and Antonio Legarda, who represented her daughter, Senator Loren Legarda.

In a media interview, Bautista recognized the outstanding, unique and artistic works of the weavers in Western Visayas that should be showcased to the public and to the generations to come. “This is to showcase our rich intangible cultural heritage that we must be proud of,” he said.

Bautista said Filipinos have already been into the culture of weaving even before the Spanish colonization. “Not only here (in Western Visayas) but the entire country and this has been our common identity that we, Filipinos, are really involved in this culture of weaving,” he added.

He said they already showcased some of the textile heritage of the Philippines to other parts of the country and in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Spain and the United States of America.

Criselda Monreal, one of the weavers from Miag-ao,Iloilo, demonstrated the process of weaving using a “hablon” loom made of wood and bamboo after the inauguration of the exhibit.

Panay weavers are famous for their artistry using abaca, cotton, pineapple and silkworm, which are cultivated by the farmers in the region.

Meanwhile, Bautista said that they are now conceptualizing all the exhibits this last quarter of the year as they are planning to open them by 2019. The regional museum houses five galleries.

He said that they will prioritize the gallery that will house archaeology because they are bringing in the centerpiece of the exhibit, the “Oton Death Mask” from their vault in Manila.

The death mask is a pre-Hispanic gold mask found in a gravesite in Barangay San Antonio, Oton,Iloilo.

“The galleries for the natural history, plants, animals, especially endemic species found only in Panay will be showcased here,” he said.

Popcom’s advocacy on adolescent health goes digital

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Commission on Population 6 (Western Visayas) has launched a mobile application to strengthen the education campaign on adolescent health (AH).

Dubbed “AHlam Na!”, the mobile application aims to provide accurate knowledge on adolescent health and development, as well as adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Some 150 Grade 12 students from various schools in this city gathered during the launch at The Mansion Hotel here Thursday.

The term “AHlam Na!” was derived from young people’s lingo, “Alam na!”, which means something is already confirmed.

The mobile application is a strategy to promote and improve the well-being of the youth, Harold Marshall, director of Popcom-6, said. “There is a need to innovate strategies in meeting with the evolving needs of young people to address their sexual and reproductive health needs to information and services,” he said.

Popcom-6 here has partnered with the Save the Children, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, and the Iloilo State College of Fisheries to develop the mobile application, which is now downloadable using smartphones.

The mobile application has features like quiz (fact or bluff) on puberty, sexuality and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The results of the quiz could be shared on social media to encourage more young people to download and use the app.

Popcom-6 Assistant Director Rosemarie Hubag recognized that today’s young people are “digitally wired” and the most convenient way possible for them to acquire information that could answer their mind-blowing question, especially about adolescent health, is through the internet or their smartphones.

Hubag said low-level awareness on adolescent sexual and reproductive health-related information lead young people in the region into risky sexual and non-sexual activities, which put their future at risk.

“We cannot afford to see you people fail in life because of misguided truth and wrong information. We have to pull our efforts together,” she said.

With the mobile application, Hubag said they were able to connect with the young people by optimizing the new information technology.

Hubag expressed hope that the mobile app would improve the health-seeking behavior of adolescents in a manner close to their lifestyle.

Iloilo City youth leadership academy program gets green light

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The institutionalization of a leadership academy program for the youth in Iloilo City got the nod of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) during its last regular session for the year, which was held Wednesday afternoon.

Authored by Councilor Lady Julie Grace Baronda, the approved “Iloilo City Leadership Academy (ICLA) Ordinance” started as an advocacy platform for young leaders to excel in their chosen cause.

“We wanted to build a sustainable and impactful training program for the most promising leaders of our society—our youth,” Baronda said.

The program will have three strands: shaping leaders, youth congress and youth laboratory.

Baronda said under the shaping leaders strand, there will be training, programs and projects specializing in leadership, values and development.

There are four training programs composed of fellowship training, crash course, short course and collaboration programs.

The youth congress will focus on the development of barangay youth leaders to be handled by the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).

“Each batch of the congress shall have their youth congressman/woman who shall lead their batch for any activities they may engage to in the future,” she said.

The youth laboratory will serve as “a network that shall be composed of all registered youth organizations, school government presidents and the Sangguniang Kabataan”. It shall be known as the “Ilonggo Youth Lab”.

A commission, with the city mayor sitting as its director, will oversee the implementation of the ICLA and the Iloilo City Youth Development Division as its secretariat.

Way back in 2017, the final platform was approved by former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog with the vision of making it as the “mother program of all youth trainings in the City of Iloilo”.

Out of the more than 200 interested applicants seeking a slot for the fellowship program, only 40 were chosen. Of the participants, 14 completed the requirements and implemented their individual advocacy.

They underwent six months continuous training with the support of the administration of Mayor Jose Espinosa.

The 14 served as pioneer graduates of the ICLA and officially called as ICLA Fellows.

Baronda said that Iloilo City is the first local government unit to have this kind of program in the country and she envisioned that it will be replicated by other cities in the future.

Iloilo City approves P2.3-B budget for 2019

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) approved on Wednesday afternoon Iloilo City's 2019 Executive Budget amounting to PHP2,31 billion.

However, instead of approving a lump sum budget for offices at the City Hall, Councilor Plaridel Nava II, who is also chair of the SP committee on appropriations, recommended an itemized budget, detailing particular projects for every amount stated in the proposal.

“I want people to understand, I want my fellow councilors to understand where the budget will go, how it will be utilized,” he said.

Also, he made sure that only one half of the approved budget will be released during the first semester covering the January to June period and the remaining 50 percent during the second semester.

“We split it into two and we placed the bigger budget for July to December,” he said, adding that the Local Finance Committee has to abide by what is mandated by the ordinance.

He said the council, having the “power of the purse”, has the discretion where to use the money.

“That’s part of the check and balance,” he said, so the budget they passed is not subject to abuse.

Except for the disapproved PHP200,000 allocation for the Local Youth Development Office (LYDO), the budget was passed with only one objection out of 14 councilors, including Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation chairman and president of Association of Barangay Chairmen (ABC).

Nava said the LYDO has to settle its differences with the SK as the Federation chair complains of overlapping of functions.

Of the approved budget, PHP1,303,479,277 will be taken from local taxes; PHP1,005,714,415 from the Internal Revenue Allotment share and PHP10 million from the share in the economic zone.

The local council also approved the PHP77,172,543 budget of the Local Economic and Enterprise Office.

Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo, in registering his objection, said that there are allocations that were split such that one half will be used for the first six months and the remaining amount in the last six months.

“I’m very sure the mayor will veto the ordinance. Mayor has his own ways to solve the problems. Our rules in budget and government accounting allows the mayor to veto the ordinance,” he said.

Meanwhile, the SP may call for a special session next week to approve a supplemental budget containing the Performance Enhancement Incentive and the Collective Negotiations Agreement (CNA) of regular city hall employees.

Last Monday, Mayor Jose Espinosa III announced that he wanted each employee to have PHP25,000 for their CNA.

However, the guaranteed budget was only at PHP18,000 per employee on the said date.

He ordered the City Budget Office to look for other sources of funds to reach the PHP25,000 target.

The Local Finance Committee was not able to submit the documents in Wednesday’s last session day of the SP.

However, Nava assured that they will convene next week to act on the supplemental budget.

“We cannot afford to deprive our regular employees because they deserve that,” he said.

Iloilo City tourism rolls out ‘Joyride Ta’ program

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The City Tourism Office (CTO) of the city government here will roll out on December 17 its tourism awareness program to deepen the understanding of frontliners about Iloilo City and what it has to offer to visitors.

“We want to give our guests easy access to the city but before that we want to prepare our frontliners such that they are knowledgeable, and they know how to respond to basic questions about the city, stories behind destinations and developments,” said Junel Ann Divinagracia in an interview on Tuesday.

Dubbed “Joyride Ta”, at least 200 frontliners of tourism-oriented and related establishments such as hotels and restaurants will take part during its Monday’s free guided tour. The participants are expected to cascade to their colleagues back in their office what they learned during the trip.

“We have prepared an itinerary that will pass by all destinations in the city for them to be briefed about their significance,” she added.

The series of free guided tours will include barangay officials because sometimes tourists also ask information from them. Vendors and frontliners of national government agencies, among others will also be included.

Divinagracia cited the need to raise the awareness of frontliners about the city destinations as there has been an upward trend in terms of tourist arrival in Iloilo City. Last year, the city hit the one-million mark, she said.

“It’s on upward trend. Hopefully this year we can surpass the number,” she added.

She said while they are preparing the frontliners, they are also prepping up the establishments and destinations.

They have been coordinating with the Iloilo Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Association, Iloilo Business Club and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

To date, the city has almost 2,000 tourism establishments, she said.

“It is part of giving back to our tourism stakeholders because they are paying for tourism license. We will try to train and educate their staff, especially frontliners because we wanted to improve our customer service here in the city,” she added.

Likewise, the CTO is planning to acquire a vehicle similar to the tourism jeepney of Guimaras where passengers are seated facing the driver rather than the common jeepneys here where passengers are facing each other.

The tourism awareness program is held in partnership with the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas.

Iloilo City Council OKs franchise of new water service provider

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Cognizant of this city’s water issues, the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) during Tuesday’s regular session granted a non-exclusive franchise to another investor with interest to operate in Iloilo City.

With eight councilors expressing support, five abstentions and one objection, the 25-year non-exclusive franchise was granted to Primewater Infrastructure Corporation (Primewater) to construct, establish, commission, and maintain a water supply system to service the population of Iloilo City.

Councilor Plaridel C. Nava II, in a follow-up interview, said the ball is now in the hands of the city mayor on whether or not to sign or veto the ordinance.

“We are talking about water. I don’t think anyone will argue that they are enjoying much water in Iloilo,” he said when asked about its impact to city residents.

The franchise that was granted will cover the same area that is being covered by the existing Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD).

In a separate interview, Atty. Roy Villa, legal counsel of the MIWD, said they will be filing a case for the said move of the SP.

“We are still thinking of where to file the cases but definitely we will be filing. This time, it will include the Balibago case. We will now proceed with the criminal and administrative charges,” he said.

He opined that for criminal charges, it would be the usurpation of authority because the local government unit has no power to grant franchise.

For the administrative case, it would be the abuse of authority, grave misconduct and other charges that may have been committed by the elected officials.

Just last week MIWD and the Metro Pacific Water (MPW) signed a PHP12.35 billion 25-year joint venture project to rehabilitate, expand and improve the water distribution system and wastewater management facilities of the water utility.

Meanwhile, the city government also granted a franchise to Balibago Water Resources Inc. to operate in Jaro district.

Under the franchise granted to the Primewater, the investor will have to pay the city government PHP1 per cubic meter of water sold and paid for in the franchise area subject to appropriate increases proportional to tariff adjustments.

The phase I of the project that covers the first to third year will serve 25 barangays of La Paz district; 16 in Mandurriao; 17 in City Proper and nine in Lapuz.

The remaining years will cover the 113 unserved barangays of Iloilo City.

China’s Hainan province eyes agreement with Iloilo City

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Hainan Foreign Affairs of China is eyeing to establish a sisterhood agreement with Iloilo City, according to the head of the city’s Local Economic Investment and Promotion Office (LEIPO).

In an interview Tuesday, following her two-week intensive training on the Tropical Agriculture Advanced Study and Research Program, Ritchel Gavan said that Iloilo City was the only Philippine local government unit invited to the program because of that consideration.

The training gathered 20 participants from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Micronesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

“There are other areas for economic cooperation,” she said.

She added that Hainan is being positioned as a special economic zone in China. They are also working on making it as a free port zone. “There is a demand to learn English because they are opening up,” she said.

These are some reasons why they wanted to establish the agreement with the city, she added.

In education, Iloilo City is a “Center of Excellence”. This would mean employment for local teachers and business for schools because Hainan would be sending their students to learn English in Iloilo, Gavan said.

Also, it could boost tourism arrival in this highly-urbanized city because Hainan has the largest overseas Chinese.

“They would want to see other areas of cooperation apart from agribusiness,” she said, who was also asked to deliver a speech at the closing ceremony of the training.

She added that they will be waiting for the Hainan Foreign Affairs of China to send a letter stating their intention for a sisterhood agreement.

Iloilo City eyes to replicate Chinese mushroom technology

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government may consider adopting the farming technology available in Hainan, China following a two-week intensive training on agribusiness as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative from November 26 to December 7, 2018.

Ritchel Gavan, one of the two delegates sent by the city government upon the invitation of the Hainan Foreign Affairs of China, said one of the best farming technologies that can be replicated is the mushroom industry.

Gavan, head of the Local Economic Investment and Promotion Office (LEPIO), was joined by City Agriculturist Romulo Pangantihon during the duration of the Tropical Agriculture Advanced Study and Research Program.

“What we saw that can be replicated in this city, in an urban setting, is the mushroom industry,” she said on Tuesday.

They joined other delegates in touring among others the 20-square meter facility that produces tons of mushrooms every six hours.

Pangantihon said that “it’s the most practical technology that can be adopted.”

He added that an area was converted from being a rubber tree plantation into a sort of greenhouse to mushroom culture. Saw dusts were mixed with organic component and spawn of mushrooms. He added that growing the mushrooms is not tedious.

“The area of about 3x20 meters produces 15 kilos of mushrooms every six hours,” he said.

Pangantihon said that he will be coordinating with the mushroom production specialist of the Department of Agriculture (DA) here to acquire the technology.

“I am looking at incorporating it at the household level,” he said.

“There is a ready market. Chinese restaurants (in Iloilo) want fresh mushrooms from here. What they are using right now are canned mushrooms. This is a good opportunity for us,” Gavan said.

Since they have just arrived from China, Pangantihon said that they would be making the necessary recommendation to the city mayor.

Gavan said that there are high-value commodities that can be found both in Hainan and Iloilo.

“Hainan is at the southern part of China, which is a tropical province. Upon arrival, we saw that there were a lot of commonalities between Iloilo and Hainan,” she said.

The intensive training was attended by 20 delegates from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Micronesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

130 hired on-the-spot during Christmas job fair

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- A total of 130 applicants were hired on-the-spot (HOTS) during the Christmas job fair facilitated by the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in Iloilo province on December 7-8.

In an interview Monday, PESO manager Francisco Heler Jr. said these HOTS applicants were among the 2,346 jobseekers who came during the two-day job fair held at the Capitol.

He said most of them will be working in malls as service crew and cashiers, in drug stores as sales clerk and pharmacy assistant, supermarkets as bagger and cashiers, among others.

The job fair offered more than around 60,000 job vacancies, most of which are for overseas employment with 53,201. A total of 124 companies offered these jobs.

Four government agencies joined the event namely, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

“Our job fair was really successful, and we really appreciate the companies who joined as during the event,” Heler said.

However, this year’s figure of 2,346 jobseekers was lower than the 2,957 applicants during the Christmas job fair last year.

“But it is still a good number,” Heler said.

Heler further said there were also some seven persons with disabilities (PWDs), solo parents, graduates of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and a probationer who grabbed the opportunity for possible employment.

Special lanes were opened to give them priority.

There were also special lanes for beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), but they were still consolidating the data if there were those who were accommodated during the job fair.

Meanwhile, around 17 local government units participated in the “Libreng Sakay at Libreng Pamasahe,” which provided jobseekers free transportation from their town going to the provincial capitol and back.

The next job fair here may be conducted first week of June 2019.

‘Iloilo City is a safe place for media’

By Gail T. Momblan (TDG)

THE Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) assured that the city is a safe place for media practitioners.

Senior Superintendent Martin Defensor, ICPO chief, expressed 100 percent commitment to the safety of media practitioners while performing their duties without fear of harassment.

This was the ICPO’s response to the initiative of the Duterte administration to involve the whole system of bureaucracy in the fight against media killings.

“We consider you (media) as partners,” he said.

He said the Duterte administration’s move proves that the media is highly regarded by the government.

“Isa kayo (media) sa may mga big roles sa society naton. Pinakadako kayo na mag-influence sa mga tawo,” he said.

So far, the ICPO chief said he has not heard of media harassment cases, except the attempted break-in at Aksyon Radyo station on Nov 19, 2015. The suspects were led by slain suspected drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr.

The incident had to do with the radio station’s active campaign against illegal drugs in Iloilo City.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) identified the slain Odicta Sr. and his son Melvin Jr. and village councilor Jesus “Jing-Jing” Espinosa Jr. as among the intruders.

The Duterte administration formed the Presidential Task Force on Media Security to look into cases of media harassment.

The task force is composed of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Justice (DOJ), Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Presidential Human Rights Committee, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The task force primarily aims to ensure a safe environment for media workers.

The Operational Guidelines of Administrative Order No. 1, which established the lead coordinating body tasked to investigate media killings, were presented to the attendees on Dec 5, 2018 at the Iloilo Convention Center in Mandurriao district, Iloilo City.

DOH honors 231 partners, stakeholders in W. Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Health - Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) on Friday honored 231 individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions in ensuring the success of its various health programs in Western Visayas.

“Today, we praise and give recognition to our partners who have shown exemplary performances and outstanding contribution in achieving health program benchmarks,” Abdullah B. Dumama Jr., DOH Assistant Secretary for Field Implementation and Coordination Team for Visayas and Mindanao cluster, said in his keynote address.

Sharing his journey to being a doctor and now working with the DOH, Dumama said he “realized that he could not save or change the world by himself and he needs the help of others.”

“I am humbled and inspired to be in the company of men and women who have given public health service a good name,” he said, adding that he has witnessed how the common people “rise up to the challenge to be the everyday heroes of their community.”

The awardees covered performers under the non-communicable cluster with 62 awardees; health emergency with 19; infectious disease cluster, 61; family health and nutrition cluster, 41; regional epidemiology and surveillance unit, 8; and health and advocacy promotion, 27.

CHD 6 (Western Visayas) also recognized the Aleosan District Hospital, Capiz Doctors Hospital and the Dr. Ricardo Y. Ladrido Memorial Hospital under the Health Facilities and Technology Cluster. The hospitals were recipients of the DOH 30 Star Awards that were given in Manila last month.

They were able to meet the criteria set forth under the safety and infection control, service provision, customers’ and employees’ satisfaction, community-based projects, and quality improvement categories.

Seven local government units received the Western Visayas Local Health Systems Regional Awards -- the province of Capiz; Iloilo City; Bago City and Silay City in Negros Occidental; Dumalag, Capiz; Nueva Valencia, Guimaras; and Concepcion, Iloilo.

Special Awards on Governance were also extended to the province of Guimaras; Bago City of Negros Occidental; and Concepcion, Iloilo.

“All of us made tremendous effort in order to survive what were seemingly unreachable goals. Big work and dedication led us to where we are now,” Dumama added.

The awardees received a plaque of appreciation during the ceremony held at the Eon Centennial Resort in Jaro district, this city.

MIWD, MetroPac ink P12.35-B joint venture agreement

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) and the Metro Pacific Water (MPW) signed on Thursday the PHP12.35-billion joint venture project that would pave the way for a 25-year concession to rehabilitate, expand and improve water distribution and wastewater management in Iloilo province.

Signing the agreement were Dr. Teodoro Robles, chairman of MIWD’s board, and lawyer Laurence Rogero, president of MPW, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).

In his speech, MPIC President Jose Ma. Lim, described the signing of the agreement as a testament to their commitment to Iloilo.

“As the country’s leading infrastructure investment company, with interests across several infrastructure sectors, we bring with us expertise and innovations in infrastructure that will underpin growth of the city’s economy and impact the lives of millions of people,” he said.

Ramoncito Fernandez, MPW director, said they will start the works by upgrading the existing facilities of MIWD and build new infrastructure to improve the services of the local water utility.

First, Fernandez said, the joint venture project will work on expanding the service coverage utility.

“Not all homes and businesses across Iloilo city and seven municipalities of Iloilo are connected to the water district but through the various efficiency measures and investment in new pipes, we hope to bring 20 percent coverage closer to 100 percent by the end of the concession,” he said.

Fernandez also said that they will work with MIWD to address the non-revenue water levels in the system by installing new technology to detect leaks more accurately and improve response time in repairing leaks.

He added that they wanted to work with MIWD and the local government unit in addressing the growing industrial demand for water fueled by economic growth in the city and province of Iloilo.

“As we provide our communities with a safe, clean and continuous supply of water, we are equipping them with the potential to attract new businesses,” Fernandez said.

“At last, we have a solution,” said Senator Franklin Drilon as he welcomed the joint venture project in his keynote message while recalling the city’s dilemma of lack of water supply and other water problems that hindered the developments here.

Drilon said the insufficient supply and inefficient water delivery system had been a problem for more than 840,000 residents of Iloilo City and the surrounding municipalities of Maasin, Sta. Barbara, Pavia, San Miguel, Oton and Leganes, which are the franchise areas of MIWD.

“Only 30 percent of the 840,000 residents of these franchise areas are being served, that is why it is very critical to provide solutions to the problem,” he said.

However, Drilon expressed hope that the joint venture project would be the start of solving these problems, given projections that the city’s demand for water would rise to almost 94,000 cubic meters in four years.

“Hence, there is an urgent need to look for solutions. This is not for us, not for Metro Pacific but for the Ilonggos,” he said.

The signing of the joint venture agreement was held at the Grand Xing Imperial hotel in this city.

W. Visayas entries bag Gawad KALASAG award

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Entries from Western Visayas bagged three major awards during the national awarding of the 2018 Gawad Kalasag Search for Excellence in DRRM and Humanitarian Assistance held in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Tuesday.

Civil Defense 6 (Western Visayas) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Division head Alleth Nogra, in an interview Wednesday, said two of the national awardees came from Capiz and one from Bacolod City.

“DRRM is everybody’s responsibility. It’s not only of the government. In Capiz, they have already spread the DRRM even in the private sector and they are excellent in doing it,” Nogra said.

She said that probably, “they have lessons learned because of (super typhoon) Yolanda.”

The Capiz State University (CapSU) and St. Anthony Hospital, both from Roxas City in Capiz, won first place for the Best Higher Education Institution and Best Private Hospitals categories, respectively.

Bacolod City’s Amity Volunteer Fire Brigade won first place in the Best Volunteer Organization category. CapSU and Amity also bagged similar awards last year.

“As awardees, you are now one of the best in the Philippines. For you to win in your category, you have to possess what is ideal in disaster risk management,” she said.

St. Anthony’s College, Nogra said, is complete with amenities that they can “respond readily” to incidents that may happen within the city of Roxas.

The private hospital has an institutional DRRM plan, and a service continuity plan and advocates for a safe hospital both for their employees and patients. The facility likewise renders services for DRRM in the community where they belong.

On the other hand, CapSU also has the capacity to bring DRRM to their community.

The Amity Volunteer Fire Brigade, meanwhile, is an institutionalized volunteer group with its own budget and equipment.

Nogra said they look forward to winners cascading their best practices to other organizations.

She also cited the need for local government units to work on strengthening their councils because the region has no national winner for the best local DRRM council.

The winners each received a trophy and PHP300,000 cash prize that they can use to boost their DRRM capability.

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Western Visayas, chaired by Civil Defense Regional Director Roberto Nuñez, was also given a commendation.Example.jpg

Biggest 50-foot Santa Bear lights up in Iloilo City

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Once again, Ilonggos are reminded that Christmas is indeed for children with the country’s biggest Santa Bear now sitting prominently on top of the Iloilo Business Park Showroom in Mandurriao district.

Santa Bear is 50 feet tall, said Jennifer Palmares-Fong, vice president for sales and marketing of the Megaworld Iloilo Business Park.

“Christmas is for children. It will bring smile and joy every time they see the bear,” she said.

As it ushered the Yuletide Season with the presence of the iconic bear, perhaps one of the fortunate groups was the school children of the Feliciana Java Kelly Elementary School located in Barangay Calajunan, Mandurriao district, where the city’s dumpsite is located.

“Most of the kids are children of scavengers, those who are working in the dumpsite,” Ellen Grace Alelis, elementary school head, said in an interview Monday.

On verge of tears, Alelis said she was very glad “to see that the kids are very happy and fulfilled”, being their first time to receive gifts from Megaworld.

“We didn’t expect it to be like this. We thought it was only a simple gift-giving, but they gave the children the best experience of their lives,” she said.

Thirty pupils from Grades 1 to 4, belonging to the poorest of the poor, where chosen as recipients of the gift-giving activity held last Nov. 30.

Each child received a white bear and a gift toy courtesy of one fast-food chain.

Children were also entertained by the performances of the Kinaadman dancers, Claravall-Gonzales School of Classical Ballet, and Airdances prior the ceremonial lighting of the bear.

“It’s very rare for them to accept bears. With all those smiles I see in them and those beautiful, innocent expressions from them, I guess this will inspire them to become good children and be contented of what they have because there are a lot of people who cares for them,” she said.

Seven-year-old Jose Almarente, one of the beneficiaries, said he was happy with the gift.

Palmares-Fong said the giant bear will light up each night until end of December. It is visible across main thoroughfares in Mandurriao and nearby Jaro district.

“Christmas is very magical. We want to bring the feeling that every time they come here, they will feel like a child again, you will feel the holiday season,” she said.

The bear was shipped all the way from Manila and installed for a couple of days.

Meanwhile, for the whole month, series of activities have been lined up at the Iloilo Business Park. Every Sunday and Saturday, there will be a meet-and-greet with Santa Claus sessions at the Santa’s Corner at the Festive Walk Mall Atrium.

The skies will be lighted come Dec. 15, 23 and 30 as Grand Fireworks Display will take centerstage.

There will also be traditional Simbang Gabi from Dec. 15 to 24, while Christmas caroler and Christmas Ballet Special will entertain mall goers on Dec. 17 to 14 and Dec. 22, respectively.

NIA inaugurates P170-M river irrigation rehab project

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on Monday inaugurated the PHP170 million newly-completed and improved Sta. Barbara River Irrigation System (SBRIS) in Iloilo.

Funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the National Irrigation Sector Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (NISRIP) covered the towns of Sta. Barbara, Leganes and Pavia in Iloilo province and Jaro district here which is expected to benefit more than 1,200 farmers.

JICA Philippines senior representative Yo Ebisawa said the project will pave way for higher rice productivity and income of Filipino farmers “which remain to be one of the most pressing issues that Philippines agriculture is confronted with.”

“Filipino farmers, unfortunately, remain among the Philippines poorest sectors with poverty incidence as much as 34.3 percent. And with this project, we hope our farmer to improve and sustain their productivity and income,” Ebisawa said in his speech.

He assured that JICA would continue to support the agriculture sector of the Philippines.

NISRIP project manager Silvino Navarro said the project will improve average cropping intensity of farmers from 162 percent to 200 percent.

Navarro said it will also increase irrigated area from 2,239 hectares to 2,289 hectares during wet season, and from 1,465 hectares to 2,289 hectares during dry season.

The project will also increase paddy fields from 99 to 110 cavans per hectare for the wet season and 80 to 100 cavans per hectares for dry season, he added.

For his part, Administrator Ricardo Visaya of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said the project will translate into an efficient operations and maintenance that will optimize the benefits derived from the irrigation system.

He said the offices of the irrigators’ associations and its support facilities and farm machineries will ensure quality of rice produce thus, gaining higher price for the commodity and eventually increase the income of the farmers.

“NIA has already accomplished the rehabilitation and improvement of this river irrigation system and we will never stop giving you, our farmers, the best possible service that you deserve,” he added.

Visaya also urged beneficiaries to utilize the facilities with utmost care so it could serve them longer.

The inauguration of NISRIP was graced by Visaya, Ebisawa, and Makoto Iyori, minister of economic affairs of Embassy of Japan.

The rehabilitation works, which began in 2013 and completed this year, involved the diversion dam, main canal, laterals, drainage canal structures, drainage structures, on-farm structures and service roads, and construction of offices of irrigation associations with support facilities.

The newly inaugurated project is one of the 11 national irrigation systems covered by the NISRIP nationwide.

Iloilo City opens sidewalks to vendors this Yuletide season

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Some 300 vendors stand to benefit from the move of the city government, giving them space to sell their goods on the sidewalks until the end of this month.

In an interview after Monday’s regular flag-raising ceremony, Mayor Jose Espinosa III said vendors can use the sidewalks not just at the central business district (CBD) on J.M. Basa Street but also in Lapaz, Arevalo, Mandurriao, Jaro, Molo, and Lapuz districts.

“We want to give them chance to sell their goods to shoppers likewise allowing our indigent sector to earn,” the mayor said.

While the vendors are given the privilege to sell, the mayor urged them to sell their goods at reasonable prices.

Espinosa also encouraged the vendors to properly dispose of their garbage so as not to be eye sores.

“We really hope that they will comply with the requirements of the city government,” Espinosa added.

Meanwhile, Jeck Conlu, head of the Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO), said that while the sidewalks are now open, vendors still have to follow certain guidelines.

He said they should not occupy the entire sidewalk but leave a one-meter gap for pedestrians to pass. They should first secure a permit from the city government, Conlu said.

He said vendors are not allowed to sell firecrackers and wet goods, and are only allowed to sell ready-to-wear, fruits and gift items.

“The PSTMO through its Special Service Unit Division will regulate the vendors,” Conlu added.

The opening of the sidewalks to vendors was officially launched on Dec. 1

Apart from sidewalk vendors, the city government is also finalizing the target recipients for the annual gift-giving that will benefit more than 20,000 indigent city residents.

Espinosa said they target to distribute the gifts before December 25.

More than 60T vacancies at Iloilo provincial capitol job fair

By Ime Sornito (PN)

ILOILO City – Over 60,000 jobs are up for grabs in what could be the biggest job fair that the provincial government’s Public Employment Service Office will hold from Dec. 7 to 8 at the capitol grounds and Casa Real de Iloilo.

Of the 60,707 total vacancies, 53,201 are for overseas employment and 7,506 are for local employment.

Companies that confirmed participation reached 135 as of last Thursday, said Francisco Heler Jr., head of PESO-Iloilo. “We have 71 companies for Day 1 and 64 companies on Day 2.”

Most of the overseas job opportunities are for masons, carpenters, foremen, engineers, welders, waiters, cooks, receptionists, bellmen, nurses, X-ray technicians, laboratory technicians, and physicians.

Many of the participating local companies are in the business process outsourcing, tutorial, real estate, banking/microfinance, retail, and hotel and restaurant industries.

They are looking for English tutors, customer service representatives, marketing directors, client relations associates, account and property specialists, insurance advisers, credit officers, tellers, account officers, baggers, clerks, cashiers, receptionists, room attendants, admin officers, food checkers, dining crew, service crew, riders, sales assistants, store supervisors, clerks, merchandisers, and warehouse personnel.

Job seekers must take note that the participating companies were split into two groups, PESO said.

Present on Day 1 (Dec. 7) are overseas recruitment agencies; BPO, logistics and real estate companies; hospitals; and banks/microfinance organizations.

Government agencies will be around that day, too.

The Bureau of Fire Protection is looking for Fire Officers 1; Department of Budget and Management, administrative officer II; and Bureau of Internal Revenue, attorney II, administrative assistant III, statistician II, and legal assistant II.

The Professional Regulation Commission, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Department of Trade and Industry are joining the job fair as well.

All other local companies are all lumped on Day 2 (Dec. 8).

In addition, seven companies – four BPO companies, two banks, and a bakery – are hiring only PWD (persons with disabilities) workers.

“There is a designated area for PWDs where representatives of companies intending to hire them are posted. They need not queue,” Heler said, adding that such companies will be present on both days.

Moreover, PESO-Iloilo will set up a “help desk” for inquiries and transactions with select government agencies.

Making up the help desk are the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Social Security System, and the Professional Regulation Commission.

In addition, local governments of 17 towns are offering free transportation to their job-seeking residents headed to the job fair.

“Libreng Sakay” is available in Alimodian, Anilao, Badiangan, Barotac Viejo, Barotac Nuevo, Bingawan, Cabatuan, Dumangas, Igbaras, Janiuay, Lambunao, Leon, Maasin, Pavia, San Rafael, Tigbauan, and Zarraga.

Members of the Newtrals Phil Bikers Organization may also ferry job seekers, PESO said.

Heler urged job seekers to check at the PESO in the provincial capitol or their Municipal PESO the jobs where their skills suit.

During the PESO Job Expo just this June 1 there were 37,759 job vacancies offered by 109 local companies, 12 BPOs and 27 recruitment agencies.

PEMSEA member countries adopt ‘Iloilo Declaration’

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The 11 countries bordering the seas in East Asia adopted the Iloilo Declaration titled “East Asian Region Moving as One to Secure Healthy Oceans, People and Economies” on Thursday.

The signing of the declaration was the highlight of the 6th Ministerial Forum on the East Asian Seas Congress 2018, held in this city on November 27-30.

The 11 ministers, who adopted the declaration, represented Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, and the Philippines - all members of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).

In a press conference, Aimee Gonzales, executive director of PEMSEA, presented the declaration as a “key component of PEMSEA that provides policy direction and commitments for improving and strengthening the implementation of the SDS-SEA (Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia).”

The three-page declaration shows the commitment of the ministers to achieve the remaining targets under the “Da Nang Compact by 2021” and provide regular update of the State of the Oceans and Coasts Report (SOC).

In the “Da Nang Compact”, they targeted to achieve the 25-percent Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) coverage of the region’s coastlines and the adoption and implementation of ICM national laws and policies in all countries in the region.

They also vowed to provide voluntary country contributions to PEMSEA operations beyond 2019 and support transition to blue economy investments or the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and the health of the ecosystem, at the national and local level.

They also aim to reduce or prevent all kinds of marine pollution and implement policies and programs for the sustainable management of coastal tourism destinations.

The ministers, who stressed that “ourselves” is the “biggest threat”, have to shift to a mindset of responsible stewardship and take bold steps to protect, manage and restore our coasts, as well engage citizens in the East Asia and people in other regions to work together for healthy oceans, people and economy.

Meanwhile, Gonzales said the ministerial declaration was “not just an outcome of the Congress.”

“It is actually our marching orders to move forward and actually develop a work plan. So we will develop a work plan in the next three years and we already have a draft. We just need to refine it a bit so that we could focus on the seven priority areas that are actually also in our shared development strategy for us to fine tune it also,” she said.

They will be reporting the progress from the Iloilo Declaration during their next Congress in 2021, Gonzales added.

Antonio Laviña, chairman of the East Asian Seas Partnership Council, shared the same insights with Gonzales. He said the declaration is not just a call of action but a plan.

“It is actually commitments and a commitment to monitor and deliver and every three years, we actually review what we have done,” he said.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, in his message delivered by Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia, dubbed the signing of the Iloilo declaration a “victory.”

“We were able to rally our partner countries to coming together and agree to our vision for a sustainable future for our people,” he said. He then expressed his deepest gratitude to the 11 countries for affirming their commitments towards healthy oceans, people and economists.

The Congress ends on Friday with a one-day tour around Iloilo and the island-province of Guimaras.

DepEd, UNICEF promoting hygiene thru WASH in Schools initiatives

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Education (DepEd) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are moving towards strengthening the system of the DepEd WASH in Schools to promote hygiene in learning institutions at the same time contribute to the global agenda of the Social Development Goals.

Jon Michael Villasensor, Schools Officer of the UNICEF WASH section, said UNICEF is working with DepEd in crafting DepEd Order No. 10 or the National Washing School Policy. It also extended technical support for the formulation of the strategy known as the Three Star Approach.

“What is quite remarkable is the momentum that people are pushing and the enthusiasm to implement this now. There is national policy, there is a strategy to implement it, there is a recognition system for performance,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

“The mindset now is that school health is not something separate from the business of DepEd. Rather it is a precondition needed for DepEd to achieve the learning outcomes of children,” he added.

He said that WASH facilities provide safe and good learning environment for children.

Implementers of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools program are in this city for the three-day national learning exchange that runs until this November 14.

DepEd Western Visayas Regional Director Ma. Gemma M. Ledesma said the event provided an opportunity for all regions to “learn from each other”.

“Learning from each other is very important, especially that this activity is lodged on school-based management,” she said, adding that lots of initiatives were introduced in the implementation of the program.

In Western Visayas, she said the goal is clear, which is to provide water, sanitation and hygiene facilities that include health education and deworming.

WASH has already been implemented in the region’s 20 divisions although the stages vary as classified under the Three Star Approach. “Reaching the three stars means reaching the national standards,” she said.

“If we believe that our children need to be healthy to go to school, we should implement WASH. It is really proven that handwashing is a key to healthy body. It is through keeping hands clean that we can drive off infection, we can drive off diseases,” Ledesma said.

Also, Ledesma added that researches prove that there is a correlation between the implementation of WASH to the attendance and eventually the achievement in school.

The basic requirements include provision of safe drinking water, gender-segregated toilets, group hand-washing facilities with soap and water and access to menstrual pads.

Villasenor recalled that the first Wash in Schools international learning exchange was hosted by Iloilo in 2012.

“This is ground zero of international learning exchange. It happens that Region 6 has also been able to lead the implementation of Wash in Schools in the Philippines. It is providential that they are hosting it here,” he added.

Just like any program, WASH also encounters challenges, one of which is access to sustainable water supply that must be responded to by local government units.

During the three-day event, selected divisions of DepEd Western Visayas also showcase various initiatives that are implemented in schools within their jurisdiction.

DSWD’s feeding program serves 192K in West Visayas

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Some 192,927 children in Western Visayas have benefited from the 120-day Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) this year to improve the nutritional status of schoolchildren.

In an interview Friday, Diana Alcantara, DSWD’s focal person for SFP, said they have spent PHP254.6 million for children’s food under the Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP) for children aged two to four years old; and children enrolled in the Child Development Centers or Day Care Centers in the region, aged two to five years old.

This year, the province of Negros Occidental recorded the highest number of beneficiaries with 73,033 children amounting to PHP96.3 million. Iloilo followed with 61,317 children, PHP80.9 million; Antique with 21,687 children, PHP28.6 million; Capiz with 18,835 children, PHP24.8 million; Aklan with 13, 336 children, PHP17.6 million; and Guimaras with 4, 749 beneficiaries amounting to PHP6.2 million.

“It really helped a lot in solving the problem on malnutrition among the children, especially those who are poor and in far-flung areas,” Alcantara said.

She noted that some children usually do not have the appetite to eat but are encouraged when they are served food in schools, together with their fellow children. Likewise, parents who prepare the food for the children also benefit in terms of learning what nutritious food to serve, not only for the program but also in their homes.

The SFP, which provides food in addition to regular meals, is also part of the DSWD’s contribution to the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program.

The food supplement for the schoolchildren includes hot meals served during break time in the morning or in the afternoon. This year’s SFP coincided with the start of classes in June.

Alcantara expressed hope that many more children would benefit from next year’s SFP.

Iloilo’s X’mas job fair offers 29K vacancies

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Some 29,000 jobs will be made available during the Christmas Job Fair of the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in Iloilo province on December 7-8.

In an interview Friday, Francisco Heler Jr. of PESO said 111 companies have confirmed their participation in the annual activity, 21 of which are offering 23,823 jobs for overseas employment, and 87 offering 5,177 jobs for local employment.

Three government agencies have also signified their interest to join the job fair -- the Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Heler said the available jobs may increase as they target to gather 150 companies. “We are continuously accepting interested companies to join,” he said.

Heler said they have decided to conduct the job fair for two days to provide companies ample time to meet the jobseekers.

On Dec. 7, overseas recruitment agencies, business process outsourcing (BPOs), banks/microfinance, logistics, real estate and government agencies will open their jobs.

Meanwhile, work related to retail/wholesale, manufacturing, food service, car companies and hotels will be opened by companies on December 8.

So far, 155 applicants have already pre-registered at the PESO office.

Heler expressed hope that companies would be able to reach the target of 15 percent of the total applicants to be hired on the spot.

Assistance desks of various agencies will again be put up to assist the jobseekers regarding requirements and other concerns. These are the Department of Foreign Affairs, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Professional Regulation Commission, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Philippine Statistics Authority, and the Department of Labor and Employment.

Special lanes will be made available for persons with disability, Indigenous Peoples, single parents, and beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

A number of local government units in the province will also provide “Libreng Sakay”, “Libreng Angkas”, and “Libreng Pamasahe” to help ease the transport of applicants from their towns, especially from remote areas.

Russian envoy proposes film fest in Iloilo

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev is proposing to hold a Russian Film Festival in this city next month.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III, in an interview on Thursday, said he has been in discussions with the diplomat about developing trade, cultural and heritage exchanges during the Russian envoy's visit here for the Agri-Aqua Investment Forum of the Panay Organic Producers Association Inc. held at the Iloilo Convention Center, Nov 7-9, 2018.

The envoy also visited this city last January for the Dinagyang Festival.

“It’s more of exploratory talks but they are pushing this one in December about a film festival,” he said.

He added the ambassador would like to bring in films that focus on children.

He also would like to explore possible investment areas as he talked about possible trade missions, he added.

The mayor also urged the envoy to encourage Russian tourists to consider Iloilo City as among their destinations. “During January it’s very cold in Russia, so they may consider coming to Iloilo during Dinagyang,” the mayor said.

He was also informed that the department in-charge of the Russian Navy has approved to make Iloilo as its port call when it visits the Philippines next year.

65 public schools in W. Visayas to receive free computers

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- A total of 650 desktop computers will be given to 65 public secondary schools in Western Visayas under the largest computerization project for the basic education sector in the country.

Each school will receive 10 personal computers and printers under the Personal Computer for Public School-Phase 5 (PCPS-5) project, which is managed by the by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd).

The Phase 5 of the project has a budget of PHP196 million from the Government of Japan No-Project Grant Assistance (NPGA-CVF) for 380 public high schools in Mindanao and Visayas.

The computers are expected to be delivered to the recipient schools before the end of the year, David Israel Sinay, DTI regional information officer, said on Tuesday.

The fifth phase seeks to replace the “obsolete computer packages in schools affected by typhoon/earthquake”, he added.

Likewise it also aims to “upgrade computer laboratories to support the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum.”

In Western Visayas, the recipients include schools from six provinces such as Aklan with 28; Antique, eight; Iloilo, 25; and two each for Negros Occidental and Capiz.

The DTI Western Visayas gathered representatives of recipient schools and coordinators for an orientation held in this city.

“They were oriented about the purpose of the program and its implementation,” Sinay added.

Zenaida F. Pre, chief of the Resource Generation Coordination of the DTI, during the orientation said that since its first implementation in 2001 until 2014 covering Phases 1-4, the project has benefited 5,028 public schools and delivered 61, 554 computers.

The project has contributed to the reduction of computer backlog in public high schools from 76 percent in 2003 to just four percent in 2014.

Filipino inventors pilot rapid dengue test kit in W. Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Western Visayas is one of the three pilot sites for the Filipino-invented and more affordable rapid test kit to detect the deadly dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Biotek-M is now a “matured” technology, having been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adopted by the Department of Health (DOH), and now in the pilot implementation, said Dr. Raul V. Destura, scientist and molecular microbiologist, on Wednesday.

“We are the first who developed locally the technology intended to reach the marginalized sector. The purpose of the technology is to become the new standard in terms of cost for diagnostics,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the 3rd Western Visayas Health Research Conference held in this city.

The rapid test kit for dengue is 70 to 80 percent cheaper compared with existing test kits available in the market. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology costs between PHP4,000 to PHP7,000 per test.

The Biotek-M is 100 percent government-funded: 90 percent from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and 10 percent by the University of the Philippines.

In addition to Western Visayas, it is also being tested in Ilocos Region and Zamboanga Peninsula.

“Right now, our manufacturing targets are the demand of the Department of Health (DOH),” he added.

“The challenge now is not just developing the technology. It’s for our countrymen to trust Filipino scientists developing technology. The adaptation part is a major challenge for our technology developers,” he added.

He said that while it is still on its pilot implementation, the “super target is for it to reach the barangay implementation”.

“If it reaches there, then I know that my job is complete because that is really our target--the marginalized sector. Hopefully you guys will help me convince agencies to adopt Filipino-based technology to inspire our scientists to keep on working,” he said.

“If you want scientists to be inspired by doing more for health and science development, is for his countrymen to adopt what they’re doing. Personally, it’s very difficult to compete with foreign products in your home country,” he added.

He said that their technology was supposed to go full-swing five years ago but for now they have DOH, which is one-third of their target adopters. The others are supposed to be the private health institutions and the local government units.

“This is the first locally developed technology for dengue diagnostics that has reached this far,” he said.

He underscored that if adopters are not responsive to what they are doing, then they “fail” the government and the science community.

"The technology is owned by the people because it came from your pockets. The government is just the administrator of your money. So, basically it is owned by the country, it is rightful that we adopt it and be proud of what we are doing,” he urged.

The science and technology development costs about PHP14 million and the Technology Adaptation and Promotion Institute (FAPI) added PHP11 million for the field post marketing research.

The team that developed the Biotek-M is composed of seven inventors and four support staff.

“The government is spending millions and millions of pesos to spark development in the country. I’ve never seen this much funding opportunity provided since I came back from the US in 2005,” he said.

The action of the government he said is “very encouraging”.

The 3rd Western Visayas Health Research Conference with the theme “Improved Health Outcome through Health Research and Innovation” is organized by the Western Visayas Research and Development Consortium (WVRDC) in partnership with the DOST and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

DA eyes cassava, sweet potato, corn as alternative to rice

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Unit 6 is again calling on the public to patronize other alternative staple food rather than relying solely on rice as the country observes Rice Awareness Month this November.

In her message during the launching of the awareness month celebration held at SM City on Nov. 5, Agriculture Regional Executive Director Remelyn R. Recoter identified other staple foods such as cassava, sweet potato or camote, banana (saba variety) and even the white corn. Using these substitute foods can reduce the demand for rice.

“There is pressure in the rice industry to produce more. The country’s per capita consumption is 119 kilos per person,” she said.

She added that the 70-30 rice-corn mixture is found to be acceptable based on a study conducted among schoolchildren in Los Baños, Laguna. It has better nutritional values.

In addition, DA is also pushing for brown rice consumption, which is healthier compared with the well-milled rice.

Nonetheless, this Rice Awareness Month, Recoter encouraged the public to be “RICEponsible”. One of the objectives of the celebration is to instill the values of responsible rice consumption among consumers.

“What is important is we would be able to disseminate to our consuming public the importance of rice, being the staple food not only of Filipinos but half of the population of the globe. In the Philippines, rice is considered a political commodity,” she said.

The RICEponsible campaign also focuses on improving the competitiveness of farmers to produce quality rice.

“We are hoping that with the interventions of the government we would be able to uplift the lives of our farmers,” Recoter added.

This year’s celebration anchors on the theme “Quality Rice, Quality Life”.

“In the theme we are encouraging stakeholders to patronize local products, especially the produce of Filipino farmers, such as our rice variants to achieve safe and quality food for a long life,” said James Earl Ogatis, regional information officer.

Meantime, to entice the public to patronize brown rice, DA also offered a free tasting of cooked brown rice during the launching program.

It was followed by an agriculture exhibit and brown rice cooking challenge held in the afternoon.

A three-kilometer fun run will also be held on Nov. 24 dubbed “Run for Rice” to promote responsible consumption.

Iloilo airport can endure Intensity 9 earthquake

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Iloilo International Airport main building and tower in Cabatuan, Iloilo was built to withstand Intensity 9 earthquake, according to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Iloilo Terminal Supervisor Art Parreño.

Parreño, in an interview following series of earthquake incidences recorded in Panay and Guimaras by the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology on Monday, said the building was made using Japanese technology.

The airport consists of three buildings: the check-in area, the one where elevator going to the third floor is located, and the arrival area.

“Seemingly they look like one building. When there is shaking, then it is not the entire building,” he said.

Parreño was at the final X-ray at the third floor of the building when the first occurrence was felt at 7:45 a.m. Passengers were immediately instructed “not to panic and everything goes normal.”

During the third occurrence at around 10:54 a.m., he was informed that an almost half-a-kilo LED lamp fell from the ceiling of the building and hit one flight stewardess bound for General Santos City.

The victim, Flora Villaruz, 39, of Philippine Airlines suffered an abrasion. She was immediately given medical attention, he added.

Amid the incident, Parreño said that operations remained normal.

“After the earthquake, I immediately gathered my personnel for them to be aware of the procedure that it is our obligation to lead the evacuation,” Parreño said.

In case the aftershocks would persist, he said they will shut down the elevator and janitorial personnel will take the lead towards the evacuation area.

Parreño said the airport security committee convened at 2 p.m. to discuss the needed preparations in case there will be aftershocks.

“We have to stay cool, relax and follow instructions. Under our procedure, there will be an announcement and the janitorial service will be guiding towards the right path for the exit route to the evacuation area outside of the terminal building. If they panic then everything goes wrong,” he said.

The first quake has a 4.7 magnitude with an epicenter located in San Jose, Antique.

The second tremor has a magnitude 4 with an epicenter located in Sibunag, Guimaras at 7:46 a.m. while the third occurrence with a 4.8 magnitude was at 10:54 am with epicenter at Guimbal, Iloilo.

Thereafter, a series of five occurrences were further recorded with the epicenters located in Leon, Iloilo.

Alletha Nogra, chief of the Civil Defense Western Visayas Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Division, said since the tremors were tectonic in origin, then one of the triggering factors could be the active West Panay Fault.

The West Panay Fault passes through portions of Antique, Iloilo province, Iloilo City Capiz and Aklan.

Iloilo River dev’t project wins Galing Pook award

By Glenda Tayona (PN)

ILOILO City – The Iloilo-Batiano River Development Project won the coveted Galing Pook Award.

The city government’s entry to the 2018 Galing Pook Awards was the river rehabilitation project started in 2011.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III personally received the Galing Pook marker (award) and the prize – a check for P100,000.

“We have always included river development in our plans, tourism and environmental programs, business and trade projects, and similar initiatives. We love the Iloilo River. We want our young generation to enjoy its gift,” he said.

Espinosa cited the contributions of city government officials and employees to the project and stakeholders in the public and private sectors that included the academe.

The river development project (rehabilitation) started even years ago in collaboration with national government agencies, nongovernment organizations, academe, and civic society. Its immediate goal was to address siltation, water pollution, encroachment, illegal cutting of mangroves, and informal settlements along the Iloilo River.

“We want friends and visitors to marvel at its transformation and become a testament to the resiliency of Iloilo City,” said Espinosa.

The river development project benefitted – in terms of improved health, ecological sustainability, and sense of security and liveability – over 50,000 residents in 35 barangays living along the Iloilo River.

It was also successful in the relocation of informal settlers along the river banks as well as removal of fish pens which resulted in increased fish population, prevention of soil erosion, and preservation of Iloilo River mangroves’ high biodiversity index.

The river hosts several mangrove species endemic to the area.

The national government also helped fund a flood control project which paved way for the establishment of Iloilo Esplanade at the Iloilo River, the longest walkway in the country.

Now on its 25th year, the Galing Pook Awards selects the best local governance practices and shares information on these beneficial programs for replication.

Aside from Iloilo City, nine other local government untis out of 19 program finalists across the country received the Galing Pook Awards from Vice President Leni Robredo in fitting ceremonies at Novotel Manila, Araneta Center in Quezon City on Oct. 11.

The awards have cited some 319 programs from at least 200 local government units over the years, including this year’s winners, judging them on their positive results and impacts, their empowerment of the people, transferability and sustainability, innovation, and efficiency of their program service delivery.

Other awardees this year were Bindoy, Negros Occidental; Cagayan de Oro City; Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte; Loboc, Bohol; Naga City; Navotas City; San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte; Taguc City, Davao del Norte; and Valenzuela City.

DENR-6 wages war on plastic straws

(TDG, DENR-6)

THE WAR against beating plastic pollution is becoming widespread, awakening the consciousness of people around the world of its dangerous effects.

Many organizations have been campaigning on reducing the use of different kinds of plastics such as sando bags, styrofoam, plastic bottles, plastic utensils and more.

But undeniably, we may have given little attention in eliminating another kind of plastic, a little thing frequently unnoticed and provides a very minimal convenience for a few seconds/minutes. It is a single-use plastic that is quite nonessential – PLASTIC STRAWS.

We may ponder that a single straw isn’t a big issue to be dealt with but let’s do the math. If the current population of the country is 106,989,899 as of October 2018 and each person uses three straws per day, that’s more than 320 million straws every single day! It can nearly fill 82 school buses each day.

In order to raise awareness about our plastic pollution problem, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 has launched the “T.H.R.O.W. the Straw: An Environmental Campaign/Drive against plastic pollution” at the Casa Real, Iloilo City, just recently.

T.H.R.O.W. is an abbreviation used for Trim Halt Refuse Omit and Waive the use of Plastic Straw which aims to mitigate and eventually eliminate the use of this short-lived tool. This campaign may substantially bring good numbers in reducing plastic wastes which are the major threats to our drainage and river system which may result to flooding and other environmental issues.

DENR-6 initiated the campaign, in collaboration with the Regional River Basin Management Office and the Iloilo City Government through the City Environment and Natural Resources (ENRO) and municipality of Oton.

Present in the launching were River Basin Control Office (RBCO) Executive Director Antonio M. Daño, Mayor Carina V. Flores of Oton, Iloilo; DENR-6 Conservation and Development Division Chief Danilo L. Lorilla, PENRO-Iloilo chief Arturo Cangrejo, Mayor Jose Romi Marañon of Leganes, Iloilo; MENRO-Oton head Menchie G. Paniergo and Straw Wars Philippines Founder Nikko Paolo V. Calledo.

The activities during the launch are the Ceremonial Cutting of the Straw: Marking the obliteration of plastic straw in our daily use; and Unveiling of Official Poster and Commitment Signing by leaders and stakeholders who signified their support by affixing their signatures on the official poster.

“We may think that this is a small matter but the volume of straw is big thus this is a global concern. We have tapped the Local Government Unit to help us in the regulation plastic straws because they have the power to enact the ordinance,” said DENR-6 Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Livino B. Duran in his message.

“We are urging the public to take part in this campaign by using and owning alternative straws either made from bamboo, glass, metal or paper to reduce the large number of volume of plastics that clogged our waterways and rivers. Remember, it takes 200 years for this single-use plastic straw to decompose,” said DENR-6 Regional Executive Director Jim O Sampulna.

“Come to think of it. We literally use plastic straws once. Undeniably, straws have been a part of our daily activities. A little change in our usual habit of using plastic straws into alternatives or no straws at all is what we need to do to make a big difference in our fight against plastic pollution,” he added.

Some fast food chains, restaurants and coffee shops in Iloilo City took part in the campaign and have fully expressed their support by refraining from using of plastic straws unless requested by customers.

Iloilo City United Lions Club to Seal Partnership with DSWD

(TDG)

NEWLY-elected Lions President Marvin Espinosa has accepted the call to action of its Keynote Speaker, Social Welfare and Development Assitant Sec. Rhea Peñaflor to forge a sustainable partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Iloilo City United Lions Club.

Lion President Espinosa expressed the concurrence of the newly-elected officers to the call to action of ASec. Peñaflor during its Induction Ceremony and 27th Charter Anniversary held on Oct. 21, 2018 at the Sta. Barbara Heights Clubhouse.

Lions International’s mission is to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs and it envisions itself to be the global leader in community and humanitarian service.

DA-6 strengthens relationship with extension workers

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) 6 (Western Visayas) gathered some 500 provincial and municipal agriculturists and agricultural extension workers (AEWs) in the region for a three-day congress aimed at strengthening their good working relationships.

The congress, which ended on Wednesday, was anchored on the theme, “Agricultural Development Workers: Catalyst for Sustainable Agriculture and Fishery Community towards Competitiveness and Resiliency”.

In an interview, Manuel Olanday, DA-6 regional technical director, said AEWs play a vital role in ensuring that the department’s projects are implemented, the reason why they wanted to maintain a good relationship with them.

“DA is only at the regional level, so we want to get closer with them. Through them, the delivery of programs and projects of the government is going smooth,” he said.

Olanday said these AEWs are primary workers on the ground, serving farmers associations, disseminating information of various technologies, and providing other agricultural assistance.

They are also assigned to gather production data and provide updates to the regional agriculture office.

Each AEW covers three to four barangays or one is to 800 farmers, he said.

Meanwhile, Olanday noted that this is already the third time that they have initiated the congress and that there has always been fruitful discussions.

Among the results of the congress is the creation of the provincial federation of AEWs in the six provinces of Western Visayas – Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Iloilo, and Guimaras.

“We could now enjoy good relationship with them through the direct exchange of communication, especially on their concerns and initiatives on how to further improve their services,” Olanday said.

He also said they have discussed their continuing desire to push the Magna Carta for Agricultural Development Workers.

“We are fighting and initiating something in the Congress and Senate to push the Magna Carta for our agricultural workers, particularly for their protection and continuing professional development,” he said.

The congress was held at the Punta Villa Resort and Convention Center in Arevalo district in this city.

Iloilo town to beef up security for P11.2-B mega dam project

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The local government of Calinog, Iloilo is requesting for the deployment of police forces that will focus on providing security for the construction of PHP11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project (JRMP) II, especially that there are already some Korean contractors on-site.

Mayor Alex Centena is scheduled to meet with Chief Supt. John Bulalacao on Wednesday to discuss the security deployment in his town.

The request came after Centena received information about the alleged presence of members of New People’s Army (NPAs) in the area, particularly in the mountainous villages of Agcalaga, Cahigon and Alibunan.

“I want to ensure the safety of the contractors in the area because I myself could not be complacent of their situation,” he said in an interview.

More than 10 contractors of the Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd. are now building their barracks and motor pool at the 10-hectare land.

Centena also said there are heavy equipment deployed in the area like dump trucks, bulldozers and backhoes.

Centena recognized that the Philippine Army has also deployed personnel in their town, but he said that stay-in police forces would further beef-up the security.

He assumed that rebels are against the construction of the long-overdue multi-billion dam project, which groundbreaking ceremony has no fixed chedule up to this moment.

A contract was signed between the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd last month.

Meantime, Centena appealed to the public to help in pushing through with the project.

“If you want to work, you will be our priority,” he said, adding that NIA is continuously hiring workers for the construction of the project.

The construction is expected to generate jobs for around 17,000 workers composed of engineers, carpenters, welders, masons and drivers of heavy equipment.

Aside from the project, Centena said security also covers other investments coming in at their town.

“If we could not maintain peace in our area, we will have bad image among investors especially that there are foreign investors coming in,” he said.

The interested investors among others include banks, fast food chain and mall.

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

By CAROLYN JANE ABELLO

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 (csc.gov.ph),” 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 (www.prc.gov.ph) 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.

Iloilo City Archived News

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