Iloilo City News June 2018

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The hotel of choice for the richest Iloilo experience

By JT Nisay

IN many respects, Iloilo feels like the quintessential Filipino home.

Timeworn structures, streets lined up with rows of old trees—it’s a place that seems to be stuck in time, like a heritage house, where the clock ticks slow and the heart rests easy. To boot, the province also keeps some of the country’s memories (Jaro Evangelical Church, the Philippines’s first baptist church; and Baluarte Elementary School, the first elementary public school, to name a few), to go with food rich in flavor and familiarity (La Paz Batchoy and Pancit Molo from its municipal namesakes).

Ironic, therefore, that in this homey place, a temporary shelter of quality was once scarce.

“Iloilo used to be a destination where businessmen traveled to for day trips—and for day trips only,” said Natalie Lim, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo resident manager. “I gathered that the short stay was because most could not find accommodations that are similar to the ones they would find in Manila or other Asian countries; a hotel with complete amenities, service that is on a par with international standards, and yet still maintains and respects Ilonggo culture.”

It was around that idea—of having a quality accommodation option rooted in the culture of the market it serves—that Richmonde Hotel Iloilo was developed. In July 2015 the property officially opened its doors, becoming the first hotel to be introduced by Megaworld outside of Metro Manila and the pioneering first-class hotel in Iloilo City.

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo has a total of 149 rooms that measures to be among the most spacious in Western Visayas. Its starting room category, the Deluxe Room, comes in an airy 36 square meter, bigger than the largest room of most hotels in the area at 32 sq m. Meanwhile, its high-end room option, the One-Bedroom Suite, measures in at 72 sq m.

“That’s a special feature of our hotel: It’s bright, it’s airy and it’s big,” Lim said.

As for aesthetics, the hotel has the 2015 Philippines Property Awards “Best Hotel Interior Design” trophy to show for. Internationally renowned design company Getty’s is the group behind the hotel’s design, which mixes global interior design trends with nods to the distinct Ilonggo culture and the jovial character of its people. But aside from the titles and trophies, Lim said that the aim of the hotel is to become more than a place to spend the night in.

“When we first came to Iloilo, we realized that, yes, there are many places to visit, but ultimately, we would like to make the hotel as a destination in itself,” she said.

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo takes pride in the sunset view at its Pool Bar and its hulking, cheesy ensamaydas, two offerings that practically anchor the property’s living and dining experience.

One can enjoy the panoramic view of Iloilo’s bustling urbanity and quaint mountain ranges and vast fields while enjoying a cocktail in the breezy al fresco setting of the Pool Bar in the hotel’s seventh floor. Other amenities include a well-equipped Fitness Center open 24/7, an outdoor swimming pool and banquet facilities that can accommodate a maximum of 100 guests for social functions and business events. It’s a relatively small space for such functions because, as Lim pointed out, beside the hotel is the state-of-the-art Iloilo Convention Center, which the hotel is meant to compliment.

And then there’s the ensaymada. It’s an oversized take of the original with heaping amounts of grated cheese over pillow-soft bread and a layer of buttercream. Lim said it sells like hotcakes to Ilonggos and the hotel sometimes run out of supply. (It’s worth noting that the famous Richmonde ensaymada is also available at their Ortigas and Eastwood properties.)

Much like in the City of Love itself, the food and beverage options at Richmonde Hotel Iloilo is hardly one-dimensional. The Granary is the main restaurant of the hotel that serves international cuisine to go with the finest Ilonggo delicacies, which support local produce from nearby towns. The restaurant is home to breakfast buffet daily and dinner buffets every weekend. For some drinks and music wind-down with a touch of exclusivity, the BizBar hosts musical performances by resident talents every weekend.

Everything the hotel has to offer is delivered with true Ilongo hospitality at its finest, according to Lim. She pointed out that for one, they accommodate the requests of guests for food outside their menu.

“We have a lot of Middle Eastern guests, but we don’t offer halal food. But if they request for it, the chef will cook it for them,” she said. “I think we’re one of only a few establishments here that, if we don’t have what you want on the menu, but we have the ingredients, we’ll cook it for you.”

It’s that signature hospitality that makes the service of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo truly unique. She said all of the staff are from Iloilo, except her, originally from Manila. But in her three years in the City of Love, she admitted to have already been “Ilonggated.”

And it’s not only with herself that Lim has seen change. She said Iloilo has grown tremendously over the years she’s been there, that the landscape has visibly changed.

It’s an observation that supports the recent National Economic and Development Authority forecast, which shows that the average growth rate in Iloilo and the Visayas region will be higher than the government’s targeted national growth. The Visayas is seen to boast a 7.7-percent to 8.3-percent gross domestic product growth rate, outpacing the national average of 6 percent to 7 percent until 2022.

The bright outlook explains why Megaworld, the developer of the 72-hectare Iloilo Business Park where Richmonde Hotel Iloilo is situated, continues to focus on the region.

“Iloilo has been growing during the past three to five years,” said Jennifer Palmares-Fong, Iloilo Business Park VP for Sales and Marketing. “We saw the big potential of the city in terms of tourism and business. With the entry of Megaworld, we are building the new central business district of Iloilo.”

The integrated urban township is the site of the old Iloilo airport in Mandurriao district and is primed to be the biggest business and tourism hub in Western Visayas.

It will feature an integrated lifestyle mall complex called Festive Walk Iloilo with three segments: a three-level, 90,000-sq m gross floor area Festive Walk Mall, a 1.1-kilometer Festive Walk Parade distinct for its Parisian design and the Festive Walk Annex. In March, the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art, or Ilomoca, opened at the township. It is the first art institution outside Luzon exclusively dedicated to local modern and contemporary art.

The Iloilo Business Park will also house five condominiums with seven residential towers. Palmares-Fong said that the first tower, One Madison Place, sold out its units in a month. There will also be offices in the township, featuring a cyberpark that’s to become the largest in the Western Visayas region with an estimated 100,000 sq m of office space that will create 40,000 jobs in the IT-BPO sector.

These developments are seen to benefit Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, one of Megaworld’s homegrown hotel brands along with Savoy and Belmont, which Palmares-Fong said the company is growing as part of its long-term business strategy.

“Given that tourism is one of the Philippines’s strongest industries, we want to tap every opportunity in this sector,” she said. “In the next three years, the company will be opening new hotels in Tagaytay, Manila, Cebu, Boracay and Bacolod—mostly key growth centers in the country that have also developed their respective tourism industries.”

3rd Malasakit Center in Visayas opens

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- As promised, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go inaugurated the third Malasakit Center in Visayas here Wednesday evening.

The center will serve as a “one-stop-shop intended to integrate the different assistance programs of various government agencies.”

Housed at the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao district, the center according to Secretary Go, aims to assist indigent patients by fast-tracking the delivery of services relevant to health care primarily, but not limited to financial assistance.

It will also assist indigent patients with the balance of their bill after their Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) support has been deducted.

Patients will get help on how to avail of the assistance, Go explained.

Meanwhile, Jane Javellana, Presidential Consultant for Western Visayas, said the center’s services will be available for outpatients and confined patients of the WVMC, although patients from other hospitals could also avail of assistance provided by other government agencies.

“Government agencies still offer the same services for those who are not OPD (outpatient department) and confined patients of WVMC,” she said.

WVMC hospital chief Dr. Joseph Nicolo said the center will start on Thursday its trial run on how to operate to see how they will manage the facility and to determine how many clients could be accommodated.

Initially, the center will open from 8 a.m. until noontime and will resume at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. However, if needed, they will also determine if they have to make it operational 24/7.

The center is located at the left side of the WVMC entrance.

Go said they are still looking at other hospitals that could host the center.

To date, the program is available at the Philippine General Hospital, Davao, Cebu, and Tacloban, with Iloilo as the latest addition. The center will also be available in Bacolod City.

The initiative, from February up to May this year, has assisted 16,506 patients through its centers in Cebu and Tacloban. The assistance extended has already amounted to PHP63.16 million.

Go, who turned over a PHP15-million check as a start-up fund for the newly-established Malasakit Center, was joined by Presidential Assistant for Visayas Michael Diño during the inauguration.

Also present were Acting Philhealth Chief Executive Officer Roy Ferrer; regional directors Marlyn Convocar and Rebecca Geamala of the departments of health and social welfare, respectively; PCSO-Iloilo officer–in-charge/manager Jeannette Lloyd; WVMC chief Dr. Nicolo; and Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III.

DAR turns over infra projects to agri reform communities

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Five municipalities and selected agrarian reform communities in Panay received infrastructure projects and other common service facilities from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, assisted by Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., led the turnover of some PHP225.76 million worth of farm-to-market roads (FMRs) to five Iloilo municipalities - under the Portland cement concreting project - during the pre-arrival program for the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte, held at the Cabatuan gymnasium on Wednesday.

The project, funded by the Asian Development Bank with a 50-percent equity from provincial and municipal local government units, will make it easier for agrarian reform beneficiaries to bring their products to the market and help facilitate the transport of farm inputs to their farms.

The recipient towns were Barotac Viejo with the concreting of the Sitio Nagpana-Sitio Proper, Liapata-San Geronimo FMR, amounting to PHP34.12 million; Dumangas, with the concreting of the Pulao to Sitio Bulod to Sulangan FMR worth PHP25.825 million; Lambunao, with the concreting of the junction national road to Agsirab to Bagongbong to Sitio Agdalusan FMR worth PHP57.63 million; San Rafael, with the concreting of the San Andres-San Florentino FMR worth PHP56 million; and Bingawan, with the concreting of the Agbao-Tapacon-Inamyungan-Guinhulacan FMR worth PHP51.93 million.

Moreover, DAR turned over four tractors and one combined harvester to selected beneficiaries under the Climate Resilient Farm Productivity Support Project in Iloilo and Capiz. These support facilities are expected to enhance sugarcane production in areas covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Two dump trucks were also awarded to sugar block farms in Pontevedra, Capiz and Patnongon, Antique. Block farming consolidates the management of small farmers with less than five hectares into a bigger farm of at least 30 hectares for farm productivity improvement.

Bridge projects were also awarded to the towns of Badiangan, Mina and New Lucena under the Tulay ng Pangulo para sa Kaunlarang Pang-Agraryo.

Meanwhile, 117 newly-promoted personnel of DAR from its provincial and regional offices in Western Visayas took their oath of office before Castriciones.

In his message, the agrarian reform chief underscored the need to also recognize DAR employees for them to continue with their advocacy of serving the farmers.

PSA in Region 6 mulls re-engineering to boost service delivery

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) eyes the re-engineering of its processes to boost the delivery of services to its clients.

PSA Regional Director Fred Sollesta said on Monday they have been continuously enhancing their services but were overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of clients this year, especially in the previous months, making an impression that they lack a system.

“Any system would break down with the huge number of transactions,” he said.

He said their future direction would make a difference in their transactions.

“Soon we will be opening in provinces where we have no outlets,” he said, citing that they now have offices in Kalibo, Bacolod, and Iloilo.

PSA also hopes to sign more agreements with other local government units so clients can just request their needed forms at the town’s local civil registrar, which in turn, will process the documents at the regional office.

Sollesta said these strategies can help decongest transactions at their regional office, though this is just gradual and not immediate. However, he said that processing is different now compared during their NSO (National Statistics Office) days.

“It goes in the entire bureaucracy of the government. If people observe there are already changes because of technology and enabling law such as the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 that enables agencies to be aware, to be customer-focused,” he said.

Sollesta said the increase this year was unprecedented because of enrolment, especially there are new college entrants who graduated from the senior high school and renewal of documents by the military.

Another factor, he said, is more of “cultural” for Filipinos who will not move until the last minute they need the document.

The PSA's busy months happened from January to May but the peak period was in May where personnel processed more than 4,000 documents daily and around 2,000 people were accommodated.

He advised the public to apply for their needed document earlier and not wait for the time that they already need it.

“PSA does not set expiration; it is the end-user that demands,” he said as in the case of birth certificates.

He said the information in the said documents does not change.

Iloilo City eyes inter-LGU collaboration to clean up Jaro River

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here is looking at collaborating with other local government units (LGUs) within the Tigum-Aganan Watershed in pushing for the successful cleanup of the Jaro River.

Engineer Noel Hechanova, head of the city environment and natural resource office (CENRO) of Iloilo City, said Jaro River is located downstream or at the mouth of the watershed. Iloilo City is not the only one generating solid wastes but some of the garbage are from the upstream that is covered by other LGUs.

“The Jaro River is part of the bigger river system, the Tigum-Aganan Watershed, with around 15 LGUs,” he said Monday.

He added that he has coordinated with Atty. Arturo Cangrejo, head of the Iloilo Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), so that they could collaborate and come up with a plan on how to address the problem on solid waste.

The Jaro River traverses 23 barangays of this city, stretching to more or less seven to eight kilometers.

“Where the confluence (of Tigum and Aganan River) is the start of the Jaro River,” he said. The intersection starts at Barangay Pagsanga-an in Pavia, Iloilo.

Hechanova said that initially, they will not touch other issues such as water pollution. Instead, they will focus first on solid waste cleanup.

He revealed that they performed a week of cleanup in areas near the Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) in La Paz district and they generated some five trucks, which is probably equivalent to three to five tons of solid wastes.

He added that once their plans with other LGUs will harmonize, then that’s the time that they start with the cleanup. He revealed though, that some initiatives were already undertaken by the city such as putting up of a boom along the river to catch the garbage being thrown into the river.

They are just to find an area that is accessible to garbage truck, he said.

In the meantime, he said that the plan is just to identify pilot barangays and not the 23 barangays along the river.

He expressed hope that the initiatives at the Jaro River can take off in the next five years such as what happened with the efforts for the Iloilo River.

Hechanova said more than PHP2 billion worth of projects have been invested in Iloilo City that were triggered by the cleanup initiatives at the Iloilo River.

“Everyone was inspired with what we started. So I said maybe it’s high time that we start with the Jaro River cleanup because it has been neglected for many years,” he said.

He also looked forward to the creation of a council that will oversee the cleanup initiatives similar to that of the Iloilo River.

Task force strengthens anti-smoking campaign

(PR)

INITIATIVES and activities on information, education and communication campaign (IEC) have been strengthened by the Iloilo City’s Anti-Smoking Task Force (Icast) in the observance of “National No Smoking Month” this June.

The ordinance focuses more on awareness of students related to the opening of classes and the election of new officials of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) or youth council.

The ordinance prohibits vaping and selling of cigarettes with a radius of 100 meters away from schools, hospitals, public plazas, government buildings and clinics, and laboratories.

Sari-sari stores are not allowed to put up posters and drop boxes about cigarette companies’ promos.

Any establishment caught violating the ordinance will be fined P2,000 on first offense; P3,000 on second offense and one-week suspension or cancellation of permit, and P5,000 on third offense and revocation of permit.

From January to May 2018, there were 3,103 apprehensions, 2,672 or majority are civilians; 244 students; 163 public utility drivers; and 24 minors. The youngest was 16 years old.

The Iloilo City Health Office and Icast operate smoking cessation clinic at second floor of City Hall from Monday to Friday at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WV has 381 new school buildings

(LTP/DPWH-6/CBA/PIA6)

ILOILO CITY (PIA6) – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-6 has provided 381 additional school buildings in Western Visayas for the Academic Year 2018-2019.

Assistant Director Jose Al Fruto said DPWH-6 hastened the completion of the new buildings in time for the opening of classes this year, according to a press release from the said agency.

The buildings are for elementary and secondary schools, while senior high schools are provided with workshop and laboratory buildings as well.

DPWH's construction of the new buildings is in convergence with the Department of Education (DepEd) and it aims to address the growing student population of various schools in the region, including that in the far-flung areas.

The completed school building projects include a total of 851 classrooms constructed from the PhP1.19 billion funding under the DPWH and DepEd's 2017 Basic Education and Facilities Fund, the release further said.

DPWH is committed in supporting the education program of the government by providing enough classrooms to cushion its shortage in elementary schools and technical-vocational buildings for the senior high school program.

Fruto said DPWH is hopeful that they can build more classrooms this year and better learning facilities for students.

City’s solo parents may soon enjoy more privileges

By Glenda Tayona

ILOILO City – “In a fast-paced society, time is an important commodity that a single or solo parent cannot afford.”

With this explanation, Councilor Lyndon Acap filed a proposed ordinance giving privileges to single or solo parents in this city on top of what’s provided by Republic Act 8972 or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act.

Under the proposed “Single-Parent Ordinance of the City of Iloilo”, solo parents would have the following privileges:

• use of express / priority / special lane

• use of priority parking space

• use of special / priority seats in all kinds of public convenience

Introduced during the Monday’s regular session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the proposed ordinance was approved on first reading and was referred to the committee on women and family relations headed by Councilor Liezl Joy Zulueta Salazar.

A single parent has to present an identification card issued by the city government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to avail himself/herself of the additional privileges, said Acap.

To discuss other possible privileges for solo parents, Acap said he would be meeting resource persons from the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development and other concerned government agencies.

The proposed ordinance carries a penalty of P3,000 or imprisonment or both at the discretion of the court and cancellation of permits of establishments or public convenience found violating the local measure.

“Any single parent aggrieved shall file his or her complaint to the Business and Licensing Division of the Iloilo City Government for proper notice of investigation,” read part of the proposed ordinance.

Citing a decade-old data, Acap said there were nearly 14 million single parents out of 94 million Filipinos in 2007, with a 30.5 percent growth rate.

Under Republic Act 8972, a solo parent can avail himself/herself of government help and privileges that include flexible work schedule, non-discrimination at work, and parental leave of not more than seven days annually./PN

Seniors, PWDS get aid

By Thessalonia Ordales (Iloilo City PIO)

A total of 5,000 senior citizens and 2,000 Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) received P500 each under the Local Social Pension program.

The PWD recipients included 485 from Lapuz and La Paz, 318 from Jaro, 313 from City Proper, 312 each from Arevalo and Molo, and 260 from Mandurriao district given last week.

Senior citizen beneficiaries from City Proper numbered to 1,250 while 1,050 are from Lapuz and La Paz; 700 from Molo; 500 from Mandurriao; 350 from Arevalo given since last week; and 1,150 from Jaro on May 30.

The Iloilo City Government through City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) coordinated with Persons with Disabilities’ Affairs Office (PDAO) and with Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP)-Iloilo City Chapter during the two-week distribution.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III said PWDs and senior citizens are among those who need most the support and privileges in the society.

“Our PWDs and senior citizens deserve a comfortable and easy way of living. Since they are the ones suffering from medical conditions very often, it’s our role as public servants to help them meet their needs and make sure that they have access to programs and services of the city,” Espinosa added.

“Most senior citizens no longer have sources of income. They can’t afford to buy medicines for themselves. That’s why we are very thankful that the City Government provided us with this assistance,” said OSCA head Elpidio Azuelo.

Nemia Bañes, 64, of Boulevard, Molo said the money will be used for her medication.

“As a mother, I need to keep myself healthy for I have children to take care of. I will buy medicine,” Bañes said.

“This is an extra help for my maintenance. I am now experiencing some health problems so I am required to buy medicine. Thank you, Mayor, for showing your concern to us,” said 78-year-old Erdelinda Gecaraya from Calumpang, Molo.

PDAO head Blesilda Mabilog also thanked the City Government for giving special attention to PWDs.

“On behalf of PWD community, we want to thank the Mayor for showing the willingness to help us all the time. I hope that the City Government will continue to implement more programs for us,” Mabilog added.

Jorlie Tayco, 59, from Bitoon, Jaro, and afflicted with cerebral palsy, thanked the City Government for the assistance.

“I may not express myself clearly, but deep inside, I feel happy. Thank you, Mayor, for showing how you sincerely care for us, PWDs. The amount given to us will be a big help,” Tayco said.

Ma. Lora Tuazon from Balantang, Jaro, diagnosed with lupus, also said she appreciated the effort of the City Government.

“As a PWD, sometimes, it’s hard to have a permanent source of income for we have limited physical ability. It’s good that our Mayor always looks for ways to improve the services for PWDs,” Tuazon added.

Iloilo City council approves ‘anti-discrimination’ ordinance

By Perla Lena (With Caihra Santillan and Rosilfa Andrea Mallada, OJT/PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- Any deed of discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, ethnic origin, and religious beliefs is deemed unlawful in Iloilo City and anyone caught doing so will be penalized.

On Monday, the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) unanimously approved the “Anti-Discrimination” ordinance that carries a punishment of admonition and a penalty of PHP1,000 for the first offense; PHP2,000 for the second offense and imprisonment of not more than 10 days at the discretion of the court; and PHP3,000 and 15 days imprisonment on the third offense.

The ordinance defines that an act of discrimination is committed if the person is refused employment, refused admission in schools, refused entry in places open to general public, deprivation of abode or quarters, deprivation of the provision of goods and services, subjecting one to ridicule or insult, and doing acts that demeans the dignity and self-respect or a person because of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, ethnic origin, and religious beliefs.

It also mandates the creation of the anti-discrimination mediation and conciliation board to be chaired by the mayor. The board shall initiate the filing of cases against violators.

“This ordinance would help citizens to value differences including discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation,” said Councilor Liezl Joy Zulueta-Salar, author of the ordinance and chair of the SP Committee on Women and Family Relations.

She said the ordinance is not just for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community but also for other sectors such as religious groups.

“When we came to the Muslim community, they pointed out to us that they are really having hard time, especially when they came from Marawi after the war. There are some of them who came here and wanted to rent houses, the owners said 'yes', but when they found out that they came from another religious community, they would refuse (to rent out the house),” Salazar said.

Anti-discrimination advocate Justin Francis Bionat of the LGBT Iloilo Pride Team said that their community “has always been pushed to the side but they always stand up and stand taller”.

“LGBT advocates have always been determined to fight for our rights. This is the time that we show the whole world and the whole country that Iloilo City is the City of Love,” said Bionat, who openly declared his homosexuality.

Iloilo City has joined several major cities in the country in adopting the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, the most recent was Mandaluyong City.

Cebu, Quezon City, Davao and Baguio also have their anti-discrimination ordinance based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sexual characteristics.

The Iloilo City Legal Office is given 60 days from approval to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations while the Public Information Office shall conduct an information drive 30 days from the approval.

The ordinance takes effect 10 days after its publication in local newspaper.

PSA gears up for 2018 survey on family income expenditure

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in Western Visayas is calling on the support of household respondents as it now gears up for the 2018 Family Income Expenditure Survey (FIES).

“This is a nationwide survey held every three years. The result of the Family Income Expenditure Survey will be the basis in estimating the poverty incidence,” PSA Regional Director Fred Sollesta said in an interview Monday.

The result will also be used to gather information on the disparities in the income of Filipino families and spending patterns; provide benchmark information to update the weights used in the estimation of Consumer Price Index (CPI); and provide inputs in the estimation of the country’s poverty threshold and incidence.

A total of 11,520 households in Western Visayas have been identified as respondents of the survey, considered as the “mother of all surveys”.

Sollesta added that they have increased their sample households to “have reliable estimates at the provincial level.” Before, the design was only for national and regional estimates.

He urged respondents to cooperate and provide accurate data in response to queries of field interviewers.

“This is very important. We bank on the cooperation of our respondents. This will reflect on how effective the poverty alleviation projects of the government are,” he said.

He added that the survey “cuts across all government agencies as far as their role on poverty alleviation is concerned”.

The FIES is composed of about 70-page questionnaire, and the interview might last four hours. Questions may be relative depending on the status of the household respondent. Those who belong to the well-off families may have to answer lengthy questionnaire, he said.

The enumeration will be conducted twice -- first in July with January to June 2018 as the reference period and in January 2019 for the July to December 2018 as reference period.

The result of the 2018 FIES will be available in 2019, he said.

A task force training will be held June 18 to 23 while the training for field interviewers will be on the first week of July.

Iloilo eyes hatchery for blue swimming crabs

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The establishment of a hatchery for blue swimming crabs at the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC) campus in Concepcion, Iloilo is expected to increase production, a provincial government official said Monday

Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso Toledo said it will be the first hatchery for the particular marine species and is expected to produce one million crablets in a cycle.

Blue swimming crab, Toledo said, is one of the species of crab, which is previously abundant in the province - especially in northern Iloilo.

He said that the population of this crab species has declined through the years.

At the moment, Toledo said fishermen could only get less than five kilos of crablets per day, lower than the 20-kilo production during the 1980s and the 1990s.

“In fact, the picking and processing plants, which exported crab meat have also decreased in number,” he said.

Toledo recounted that in 2000, there are about 11 picking and processing plants in northern Iloilo. But today, only two remained - one in Concepcion and another in Carles.

During the same period, Toledo said these plants processed 20 tons of crabs a day.

“Now, they even strive to get one ton a day,” he said,

“That is a remarkable decrease in the population of blue swimming crab, that is why the governor (Arthur Defensor Sr.) feels the urgency to address the problem to bring back the resources from our seas in the province of Iloilo,” he added.

During the out of town session of the members of Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) last June 8, the body approved the request of Provincial Administrator Raul Banias to authorize the Iloilo provincial government to sign a memorandum of understanding with NIPSC for the establishment of facility.

Toledo said they have allotted PHP5 million for the construction of the hatchery. Some PHP3.3 million of the budget will be to its building while the remaining amount will go to equipment for the start-up of the operation.

Aside from being a hatchery, it will also be used as a research facility available to students enrolled in fishery and marine biology courses in NIPSC.

Toledo said the hatchery is expected to be completed within 120 days.

Iloilo eyes evacuation center in every district

By Ime Sornito (PN)

ILOILO City – The Iloilo provincial government plans to build an evacuation center in every legislative district.

Each evacuation center will cost an estimated P10 million to P12 million, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Jerry Bionat told Panay News.

The provincial government plans to begin construction this year, Bionat said.

Capitol considers putting up the structures within elementary and high school campuses.

Standalone evacuation centers, according to Bionat, tend to just wear away when not in use.

Building the centers within school campuses would allow the schools’ administrations to use them and help in their maintenance, he said.

Iloilo has 42 municipalities and a component city, Passi, grouped into five legislative districts.

Currently three towns have their respective local government-run evacuation centers – Estancia, Balasan and Zarraga – Bionat said.

Bionat wants his own design applied to the evacuation centers to ensure the structures are suited for the districts where they will be built.

“Ang design naton base sa concept ko – kon ano ang nagakabagay nga evacuation centers. Kay iban nga designs, indi ako kumporme,” he said.

Each of the evacuation centers must have a stage, a comfort room, a stock room, and an office for social workers who will man them during calamities, said Bionat.

When not occupied by evacuees, the centers may be used by the host schools for indoor activities.

“Ang aton evacuation centers ya, at the same time, magamit sang eskwelahan sa P.E. (Physical Education), sa mga indoor activities nila,” said Bionat.

“Indi kita mag-ilog sa iban nga, later on, ma-inspection ko, damo na guba, napabay-an kay wala sang naga-occupy,” he said.

Monorail proponent to present study

By Merianne Grace Ereñeta (Iloilo City PIO, TDG)

THE Iloilo City government is banking on a proposed Skyrail project to solve heavy traffic in the metropolis.

To date, Chinese carmaker Build Your Dreams (BYD) Company Ltd. has proposed the establishment of a monorail and it even invited Mayor Jose Espinosa III and members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to the launching of the Multi-Layered Electrified Transportation Solution Event at Le Pavilion in Pasay City recently.

BYD and the City Government had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in August 2017 for the conduct of a pre-feasibility study on the project.

Officials of the Chinese firms are set to present the result of feasibility study third week of June.

If realized, Iloilo City will be the first in the country to host the BYD monorail.

“With BYD’s monorail in our lovely city, we will not only enhance the city’s traffic management scheme, but it will also promote our campaign for green technology,” Espinosa said.

“I aim to further make Iloilo City’s local economy sustainable, inclusive and resilient by supporting President Rodrigo Duterte’s Build, Build, Build campaign,” he added.

“They chose Iloilo City because it goes to show that they are impressed with us, they have seen our capabilities and that we are almost there, the only thing we lack is the monorail,” Local Economic and Investment Promotions Office (LEIPO) head Ritchel Gavan said.

She was referring to the potentials in terms of Services, Manufacturing and agri-business, Arts and culture, Research and technology, and Tourism (SMART) City of Excellence.

“There’s a chance for the establishment of the monorail. Our residents would benefit from this project in a way that they will be given with options in terms of transportation,” Gavan said.

“At the same time, no one among the transportation sector will be displaced because as a background, based on the result of their pre-feasibility study, there will be three lines within the city which are very strategic,” she added.

Gavan noted they have identified the entrance and exits to and outside the city including terminals in Mohon, Arevalo; and Ungka and Tagbak in Jaro.

Gavan also foresees that the monorail will boost the economy and provide job employment for Ilonggos.

300 village health workers trained on immunization

(PR)

THE Iloilo City Government through City Health Office conducted series of training for Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) at City Hall recently to improve involvement of the community in the implementation of Reaching Every Purok (REP) strategy under Expanded Immunization Program (EPI).

Some 300 BHWs from Jaro 1 and 2, City Proper 1 and 2, Mandurriao, Molo, Arevalo, Lapuz, and La Paz comprised the four batches.

“This program will give chance to our future generation to be disease-free. Vaccination will keep them safe from any illness. As BHWs, you are tasked to make sure that every infant in your barangay can avail of free immunization,” Mayor Jose Espinosa III said.

National Immunization Program coordinator Marites Tan said the training focused on the orientation of REP strategy and the benefits of immunization in reducing diseases in infants.

“Our participants serve as front liners since they are the ones visiting every household. REP will be different from the regular Wednesday immunization routine. BHWs will visit every purok, make a master list of infants aging 0-15 months, then they’ll give the data to the staff of the nearest health center. They need to make sure that these infants have fully completed the recommended immunization,” Tan added.

Vaccines to be given are BCG and Hepatitis 24 hours after birth; three doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV), Diphtheria Pertussis, Pneumonia, Hepatitis B, Meningitis (DPT HepB-HIB) and Pneumonia, Meningitis, Bacteremia, Middle Ear infection, Sinusitis (PCV) from 1 ½- 3 ½ months; and two doses of Measles Mumps and German Measles (MCV) when the infant reaches 9 and 12 months.

Ilonggo kids add flair to New York’s PH Independence Day parade

By Elton Lugay (INQUIRER.net US Bureau)

NEW YORK—When Alexa Jules Javines learned that 12 of her schoolmates didn’t pass the visa interview for their trip to New York, she was devastated but remained hopeful.

“I prayed hard for all of us to be granted with a visa,” Javines, a 17-year-old high school student of the University of Iloilo told INQUIRER.net in an interview after their performance at the 120th Philippine Independence celebration in New York. “I don’t think our trip would be this memorable if half of us didn’t make it.”

Javines was among the 55 Ilonggo high school students and a few alumni who flew in from Western Visayas to participate in the annual Filipino pride parade last Sunday, June 3 on Madison Avenue.

Twenty six were dancers for the popular “Dinagyang Festival” of Iloilo City and 29 from the “Manggahan Festival” of the island province of Guimaras—two of the cultural performances featured by the Philippine Independence Day Council (PIDCI), the umbrella organization of Filipino American organizations in the tri-state area that has produced the event for 28 years now.

Joji Jalandoni, former PIDCI president and a proud Ilonggo nurse who has been bringing the kids to New York since 2011, revealed that some members of the group had to reapply for their visas as their street performance requires a good number of participants.

Local gov’ts’ support

It’s a huge number of people to transport, house and feed but the local governments of Iloilo City and Guimaras province were able to get enough support so that the Dinagyang “warriors” and Manggahan cultural dancers could experience FilAm hospitality.

“I can’t thank the organizers enough for taking good care of all of us,” said Javines, who had never been outside of the Philippines. “From the food to accommodations… we were treated like VIPs, they made us feel so welcome.”

Beaming with pride, Jalandoni told INQUIRER.net that she would never get tired of helping the community preserve the Filipino culture.

“I am just so lucky that my family is very understanding of my advocacy,” she said. “Half of my time was devoted to these kids in Iloilo the past few months and I am just so proud that all of them, despite hiccups and hurdles along the way, made it to New York.”

Keeping heritage alive

Jalandoni explained that her kids inspire such efforts. “I want to show my kids that we need to keep our heritage alive so that the future generation will have something to look back to and appreciate. Without our roots, we would be nothing. That’s why we need this annual celebration of Philippine independence, and what better source of pride than engaging our Filipino youth in the Philippines,” she said.

Consul Arman Talbo of the Philippine Consulate General in New York couldn’t agree more. “It is always a source of pride and inspiration seeing thousands of our kababayans marching, dancing, chanting and waiving the Philippine flag down Madison Avenue. This is an Independence Day Parade like no other where we don’t only showcase the beauty of our culture and richness of our cuisine but highlight our unity as a community as well,” he told INQUIRER.net.

Incoming N.Y. Consul General Claro Cristobal said the pride of Fil-Ams in their Filipino roots is a source of inspiration, and thanked the community for its unfailing dedication. “The Philippines deeply values their contributions as they support their families back home and share in our noble task of nation-building,” he said.

“I wish to convey the greetings of [Foreign Affairs] Secretary Cayetano and convey his congratulations to our kababayans in New York for organizing and participating in this annual event, which not only highlights our culture and identity as a nation but serves as a shining manifestation of our unity and creativity as a people,” he added in his event message.

Mario de Leon, former N.Y. consul general and this year’s honorary parade grand marshal, was delighted to see many FilAms from all over northeastern U.S. come in droves last June 3 for the 2018 Philippine Independence Day Parade.

“[It] is a clear manifestation that despite some challenges and differences, Filipinos are patriotic, proud and one in raising their flag on their national day and uplifting their profile in the heart of mainstream America—New York City,” he said in a statement sent to INQUIRER.net.

Dignitaries

The parade was attended by Filipino dignitaries, community leaders and organizations, and Duterte loyalists. A street fair was set up at Madison Square Park where the cultural show was also staged. Performers included local and visiting talents from Manila and other states. Filipino indigenous products like native hats, fans and clothing were popular items at the street fair, but the longest lines were for the Pinoy barbecue.

Among the political figures who graced the Sunday event were Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from New York’s 12th congressional district, Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Babe Romualdez, Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Teddy Boy Locsin Jr., Guimaras Gov. Samuel Gumarin, Iloilo City Mayor Espinosa, and other local government officials from Iloilo City and Guimaras province.

Message from ambassador

“Our kababayans in the U.S. Northeast, let us continue to unite and work together in pushing forward genuine reforms and sustainable development for the Philippines in support of the programs of the Philippine government. The more than 350,000 strong Filipino American community in your area is a vital force as we join hands in forging a brighter and more progressive future for our country,” Romualdez said.

It was some sort of vindication for PIDCI president Ner Martinez, whose leadership has been challenged since taking office last year. Just days before the event, the Supreme Court of the State of New York dismissed a case against PIDCI that would have prevented the staging of the community celebration.

“I am so happy with the outcome of Sunday’s festivities,” Martinez told INQUIRER.net. “It started off with an inspiring flag raising, then a spiritually uplifting mass, then a spectacular parade and jampacked street festival and capped by a cultural festival that was a showcase of top-class talent. Our invited guests Dinagyang from Iloilo, Manggahan from Guimaras, Leo Martinez and Geneva Cruz certainly added zest and flavor to the festivities. I am so blessed with the support and dedication of the PIDCI officers, directors, sponsors and volunteers.”

PSTMO to conduct traffic education in schools

By CAROLYN JANE ABELLO (SunStar Philippines)

THE Iloilo City Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) will conduct a 30-minute traffic education in schools to create new generations of drivers and commuters who will respect the traffic ordinances and road laws of the city.

PSTMO head Jeck Conlu said they will educate the students about the traffic ordinances and safety rules and guidelines, including the identification of loading and unloading areas and proper use of pedestrian lanes.

He said the program will be conducted whole year round and will start in June.

He said the PSTMO will seek the help of the Department of Education (DepEd) and Land Transportation Office to finalize the program.

In the meantime, they will conduct a short discussion or “initial input” after the flag ceremonies in different schools, Conlu added.

He said the problem will be fully implemented after DepEd's approval. It will cover the universities, colleges and high schools.

“The students should be educated so that after they graduated, they will know the dos and don’ts of the traffic,” Conlu said.

DPWH 6 completes 851 classrooms in time for school opening

By Perla Lena (with Caihra Santillan and Rosilfa Mallada WVSU-OJT/PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has completed the construction of 381 school buildings equivalent to 851 classrooms, as classes opened on Monday.

The classrooms were funded under the 2017 Basic Education Facilities Fund (BEEF) of the DPWH together with the Department of Education (DepEd) amounting to PHP 1.189 billion.

Engr. Al Fruto, DPWH Assistant Regional Director for Western Visayas, said the projects were fast tracked to be completed in time for the opening of classes.

“With these additional school buildings, our government will be able to address the need for more classrooms, considering the increasing number of enrollees both in elementary and secondary as well as the senior high schools students,” he stated.

The projects are intended for elementary and secondary schools, as well as workshop/laboratory buildings for senior high schools.

“This will help our students especially those in the far-flung areas. They will have comfortable and spacious classrooms with better ambiance for studying. DPWH will continue to support the program of our government to address the shortage of educational facilities,” said DPWH 6 information officer, Vivian Tan.

Meanwhile, DPWH data revealed that 503 of the 618 school building projects funded under the 2016 BEEF are already completed, 105 are still ongoing, while eight are yet to be started.

The 2016 BEEF has a total budget of PHP7.445 billion.

1.8-M learners troop to W. Visayas public schools

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Education (DepEd) in Western Visayas on Monday welcomed some 1,810, 946 learners, who trooped to various public schools in the region as classes officially kicked off.

Last school year, DepEd recorded 1,789, 818 enrollees from Kindergarten up to Senior High School.

Dr. Lea Belleza, DepEd 6 information officer, said schools may still accept enrollees until the end of June, even as regular classes have started.

Meanwhile, City Health Officer Dr. Bernard Caspe advised students to always bring their provisions, especially for possible rains.

Exposure to this climate may cause respiratory illnesses such as flu, cough and fever, among others.

He asked them to sleep early at night so they can wake up early the next day to have their morning meal, even if it is just a light breakfast.

Caspe also directed his sanitary inspectors to inspect all school canteens and make sure that vendors selling outside the school have hair caps on and sanitary permits.

“We have an ongoing inspection for them,” he said.

Philhealth, Medical City inks partnership for heart bypass package

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation in Western Visayas (Philhealth-6) and The Medical City Iloilo (TMCI) on Friday afternoon inked a partnership agreement for the Z-Benefit package for coronary bypass graft surgery.

The memorandum of agreement was signed by Philhealth-6 Vice President Lourdes Diocson; Dr. Bernadette Reynes, PhilHealth-6 chief for Health Care Delivery Management Division; Dr. Louie S. Tirador, head of the Cardiovascular Program of TMCI and Dr. Jared Billena, Chair of the Department of Pathology of TMCI.

In her speech, Diocson said that the alarming rise in death rate attributed to cardiovascular disease has prompted Philhealth to partner with TMCI to provide a package for heart bypass.

Under the Z-Benefit package for heart bypass, Diocson said that each patient-beneficiary is entitled to a package of PHP550,000 for the entire course of treatment.

Covered by the package are drugs and medicines, operating room and professional fees, including mandatory and other services under Philhealth’s Z-Benefit or those illnesses perceived to be financially and medically catastrophic.

Patient-members will also be provided with services such as pre-operative laboratory tests, medications, blood support, open heart surgery, continuing post-operative care, among others.

The said benefit package is the second highest benefit package being paid for by Philhealth.

In order to avail of the package, Diocson said that the patient should be a member of Philhealth who have three months contribution within the last six months.

But Diocson said that come October, they will be implementing the requirement of nine months contribution within the last 12 months in order to be eligible for the package.

Eligible patients will undergo screening procedure and will have documentation requirements to comply with before they could avail of the package, she said.

Meantime, Tirador added that the attending physician will then assess if the patient is “good candidate for bypass procedure” and other arrangements with the TMCI and Philhealth and necessary preparations will follow.

Prior to the partnership with Philhealth for the heart bypass surgery, Tirador said that they have been doing the procedure for the last seven years and he noted improvement in the results of their procedure.

“This institution is prepared, machines wise and team of doctors, surgeons, cardiologists and intensives,” he said.

103 hired on-the-spot in PESO job expo

By Cindy Ferrer

ILOILO CITY -- A total of 103 applicants were hired on-the-spot during the job expo of the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in Iloilo province on Friday.

In an interview Saturday, PESO manager Francisco Heler Jr., said a total of 2,144 jobseekers were “nearly hired” for local employment and 944 for overseas employment.

He said these jobseekers need to submit additional requirements.

The one-day job expo here offered more than 37,000 job vacancies.

Of the 160 companies that confirmed their participation to the job expo, 148 showed up. Heler said the event drew 4,762 jobseekers, 700 more than the 4,007 job hunters during the job fair conducted in June last year.

He attributed the bigger number this year to the closure of Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan where thousands of workers have been displaced, as well as graduates of the K-to-12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd) who took the opportunity to apply for work.

Heler said that some persons with disabilities (PWDs), solo parents, Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) were also able to apply for jobs through the special lanes prepared for them.

Some 94 beneficiaries of the SLP, nine PWDs and nine solo parents were accommodated.

They were also able to cater to 44 graduates of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

A total of 16 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.

Jobs offered were call center agents, teachers, sales agent, nurses, physical therapist, medical technologists, doctors, pharmacists, carpenters, welders, engineers (mechanical, civil or electrical), drivers, technicians (electrical, mechanical or aircon), information technology technicians and computer operators maintenance, among others. (With reports from Jessa Mae Padilla and Marvin Mongao/PNA)

Proposed monorail a boost to Iloilo City economy

By Perla Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The realization of the monorail project system proposed by the BYD (Build Your Dreams) Auto Industry Co Ltd. in Iloilo city is expected to further boost the economy of the metropolis.

BYD, an auto industry company based in China, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and non-disclosure agreement for the conduct of a pre-feasibility study for its proposed monorail project with the local government unit here in August last year.

Last January, the result of the pre-feasibility study showed that this city is capable of hosting the project.

Anytime this June, the firm is expected to present the result of their feasibility study, said Ritchel Gavan, head of the Local Economic and Investment and Promotion Office (LEIPO) in an interview Thursday afternoon.

The study will cover the financial modality, exact stations, and other details of the project, which will be an “added boost to the local economy” and will provide employment for the locals.

“From the start, we have said that this is a private investment so we will be generating revenues from this,” Gavan said.

Initially, the company was also advised to source its workers during the construction phase at the locality, ensuring employment for Ilonggos.

The transport system will also provide ease and convenience to commuters because the pre-feasibility study result showed that the travel time from its point of origin to the city hall will just be 15 minutes.

Gavan said that the first of the project’s three phases will cover three Iloilo City routes -- Iloilo City Hall to Ungka in Jaro district for Line 1; Jaro to the city center for Line 2; and Mohon, Areval to City Proper for Line 3.

The proposed monorail was highlighted during the BYD launch of its Multi-Layered Electrified Transportation Solution in the Philippines at the Le Pavilion in Pasay City last Wednesday.

Gavan said Iloilo City is the first local government unit outside China that the BYD has begun working with.

“It only goes to show that they are impressed with the city. They have seen the capabilities of Iloilo City. They see that we are almost there being a smart city,” she added.

Gavan said that while the project will push through, it will first be subjected to a Swiss challenge because it is an unsolicited proposal.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jose Espinosa in his message during the launch said that the presence of BYD in Iloilo City will make this highly-urbanized city a “pioneer in terms of innovation.”

“With BYD’s monorail in our lovely city, we will not only enhance the city’s traffic management scheme but will also promote our campaign for green technology,” Espinosa said.

Wednesday’s event also showcased the various electric transportation facilities being offered by the BYD.