Iloilo City News May 2017

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146 overseas, local companies to join capitol job fair on June 2

By Cindy B. Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The job and tourism fair organized by the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) of the Iloilo provincial government and to be held this June 2 has gathered the participation of 146 local and overseas placement companies with around 4,000 jobs to be offered.

PESO head Francisco Heler Jr on Monday said that the number was so far the biggest they had gathered since they started to hold job fairs.

Of the participating companies, 119 are for local employment and 27 are for overseas. Heler said that 10 of the 119 local companies were business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, mostly based in this city.

PESO tied up with the Provincial Tourism Office, travels and tours, resorts, restaurants hotels and other recreational facilities that will be offering job opportunities during the fair. Available jobs include tourist guides, hotel and restaurant related works, among others.

Heler reiterated that "tourism is one of the major industries that generate employment" in the province, the reason why they were working with the tourism office.

Meanwhile, Heler said that special feature of this forthcoming job fair was the “pre-employment coaching” wherein jobseekers would be taught on how to prepare a resume, prepare themselves for the interview and other important topics that would prepare them for their employment. Some personnel of the PESO here will be assigned for coaching.

Also, help desks of some government agencies will be made available during the event to assist jobseekers short of needed documents. Heler said that they have invited Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), among others.

Special lanes will still be available for solo parents, persons with disabilities (PWDs), beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Heler is encouraging all jobseekers in Iloilo to grab the employment opportunities offered to them in the job fair on Friday. "Libreng Sakay" program will still continue, Heler said that local government units are encouraged to provide free transportation to applicants from their towns.

As of today, around 500 individuals have already pre-registered in the event.

The venue of the job fair on June 2 will still be at the lobby of the provincial Capitol and at Casa Real Iloilo or the old capitol.

Coconut farming helps send children to school

By Perla G. Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 29 -- Growing coconut trees is like raising children; like kids you have to take good care of them too.

This was how 56-year old coconut farmer Azucena S. Segador, this year’s Gawad Saka Outstanding Coconut Farmer of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas, ended up earning from her 1.16 hectares plantation that helped send her children to school.

On Monday, she was awarded by DA as the Outstanding Coconut Farmer in a ceremony held at the Casa Real in this city.

She shared that her husband, now 68 years old, Carlito, used to work as overseas contact worker. However, he retired just in time when their two children were already in college, thus she saw the need to persevere more.

Segador said that 20 coconut trees were already standing in the 1.16 farm lot when they acquired it way back in the 1990s. Instead of cutting down the trees, they utilized it as sources of vinegar and copra.

She planted additional 70 Malayan Red Dwarf, 30 Catigan Dwarf and Tacunan Dwarf. These varieties do not grow tall but they bear more fruits, she said.

With the help of their association, the Kasaganaan sa Niyugan, Kaunlaran ng Bayan (KAANIB), and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) she was able to learn technologies on how to make coco products like sugar, sap and jelly.

Her family also engaged in integrated farming where they planted coffee, cacao, banana, lowland vegetables, and other fruit trees provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and PCA in between coconut trees.

They also grow livestock such as chicken, carabao and goat and tilapia given to them by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The manure of livestock and poultry are converted into organic soil enhancers.

Before the farm only earned PHP30,000, to date, they earned around PHP143,000 annually.

“It might be small, but it has helped us a lot in sending our children to school,” she said. Two of her children have finished college while the youngest is on Grade 12 this June.

Segador encouraged her fellow farmers to also adopt their practices as she was often invited to speak in various fora to share her farming practices.

Iloilo City celebrates Santacruzan 2017

By Angelica G. Punsalan (WVSU intern, PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 28 (PNA) -- Showcasing the elegance and beauty of Ilonggas, the "Santacruzan Ciudad de Iloilo 2017" was held Saturday in line with the celebration of Flores de Mayo.

The event featured 40 Ilongga beauty queens with Merry Grace Tubelleja, Miss Iloilo Dinagyang 2017 as the "Maria Elena."

The procession took place from Casa Real going along the heritage sites in Calle Real to San Jose Parish Church in Plaza Libertad for the holy mass.

Twenty-two Ilonggo designers provided the gowns for the beauties who joined the procession.

The celebration aims to promote the city’s tourism through religious and cultural heritage.

Santacruzan is a religious celebration that conveys the story of the discovery of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena. The Santacruzan is also celebrated in honor of Reyna Elena and has become a Filipino tradition every month of May.

The event was sponsored by the Iloilo City government with the Iloilo City Tourism Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Iloilo and the Iloilo City Tourism Office.

DSWD-6 pilots 'Gulayan' program in 14 barangays in Iloilo City

By Cindy B. Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY (PNA) — Fourteen barangays in Molo district of this city proved successful the implementation of the "Gulayan Para sa Malusog na Pamayanan", also known as the Bio Intensive Gardening program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Molo district on Friday displayed their harvest during the launching of the program led by the DSWD-6.

DSWD-6 city link assigned in Molo district, Glenn Ross Alavata, pointed out that the program really helped communities in producing vegetables, fruits among others, which they could cook or sell for additional income.

Alavata said they were planning to integrate the "Gulayan" program with the ongoing rice subsidy program of DSWD so that the money that the Pantawid beneficiaries receive would be spent on the school needs of their children.

Under the rice subsidy program, each Pantawid family-beneficiary receives additional PHP600 monthly intended for rice.

"They will no longer spend money for their rice and viand because of the rice subsidy and the 'Gulayan" that DSWD provides," he said.

DSWD partners with the city agriculture office in the implementation of the program.

City Agriculturist Romulo Pangantihon said they have been providing the Pantawid beneficiaries with varieties of seeds for their gardens.

He added they also provided technical assistance to beneficiaries, particularly on how to grow and sustain their plantations.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, meanwhile, lauded all the DSWD and other stakeholders implementing the program for the Pantawid beneficiaries.

He urged the beneficiaries to continuously support the program that would benefit their whole family.

Six Pantawid beneficiaries were awarded as "Best Gulayan" implementers during the program launching.

Alavata said that the winners had sustained their gardens, planted good variety of seeds and had shown great commitment to the program.

First place went to Rosene Pahilga; second place, Maria Jona Bolvio; third place, Ma. Gina Gallarpe. Runners up were Melanie Peralta, Nora Abella and Juliet Jalandoni.

Each received cash prizes and a certificate of recognition from DSWD-6.

DSWD hoped that more barangays not only in this city but also in the whole region, would adapt the "Gulayan" program as they were currently strengthening their advocacy for the program.

UP Visayas hosts int'l talk on intangible heritage

By Ma. Leonora Estanque WVSU-OJT (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 26 — Scholars from the Philippines and 15 other countries gathered in this city for a two-day conference on intangible heritage that will culminate Friday.

Hosted by the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV), the event dubbed as “PAGTIB-ONG: The UP Visayas International Conference on Intangible Heritage Program” was aimed to establish a network of scholars in various fields of disciplines involved in preserving and promoting intangible heritage. to foster appreciation of intangible heritages as essential tool in strengthening cultural identities, sustaining traditions in diverse forms; to establish and bridge commodities among countries in the world through intangible heritage; and to promote peace and goodwill, collaborative work, and international participation in the field of research, publication, exhibition and performance.

Intangible cultural heritage means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skills- as well as instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith- the communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.

“We have to focus not (only) on our tangible cultural heritage and material culture but also on the immaterial, non-material culture like customary laws traditions and other things that speak about us and represent us as a people,” said Prof. Martin Genodepa, the conference director.

Prof. Genodepa added that it was important that the foreign participants also assert their own uniqueness as a people before they could integrate. Otherwise they will just be lost in the flow.

“In some extent it is related to ASEAN because it's important that we get to understand that if you want to integrate with ASEAN. We wanted to integrate to the world. We want to integrate with the global flow of things but we really need to identify who we are as a people first,” he said.

The conference also aims to foster appreciation of intangible heritages as essential tool in strengthening cultural identities, sustaining traditions in diverse forms, to establish and bridge commodities among countries in the world through intangible heritage; and to promote peace and goodwill, collaborative work, and international participation in the field of research, publication, exhibition and performance.

Iloilo launches 1st Developmental League

(PR)

FIFTEEN municipalities with more or less 5,000 volunteer sports officials are currently involved in the 1st Developmental League Program, which was launched by the Iloilo Provincial Government on Tuesday, May 23.

Dr. Raymundo Lapating, executive director of the Center for Sports and Physical Fitness, said that the program is focused on grassroot sports to cultivate excellence and discover new talents in athletics, badminton, basketball, chess, football, lawn tennis, table tennis, volleyball, softball, swimming, taekwondo and arnis.

The program starts with the creation of barangay or municipal sports league, formation of training teams by municipality, inter-training center competitions until it reaches the Provincial Summer Developmental League.

Lapating said that the program will give priority to the welfare of athletes, who can either be in school or out of school youth, and will strictly be based on the child’s growth and development.

“The basic philosophy and policy behind this is – athletes first, winning second. Coaches and key officials will be held responsible for the behavior and safety of the athletes,” he said.

He also added that they inverted the pyramid when they implemented a policy of giving 80 percent of the incentives to the athletes and only 20 percent goes to the officiating officials.

This is supported by the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine Sports Commission, and private corporations.

City traffic aides get new motorcycles

BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA (PN)

ILOILO City – For faster response to traffic-related concerns, the city government gave the Transportation Management and Traffic Regulation Office (TMTRO) eight new motorcycles.

“Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog planned to have these motorcycles last year yet to help traffic enforcers to respond immediately to traffic-related incidences,” said City Administrator Hernando Galvez.

The eight new motorcycles boosted to 20 the total number of TMTRO motorcycles.

“Dako mabulig sang sining walo ka motorcycles,” said Galvez.

As to the proposed clustering of traffic aides that will be assigned to certain areas to monitor the traffic situation, Galvez said they will wait for the creation of the Public Safety Department that will oversee offices with interrelated public safety functions.

These offices include the TMTRO, Task Force on Anti-illegal Structures (TF Asis) and Special Services Unit, among others.

Traffic aides were given a quota on the number of erring drivers to arrest. For this May alone, Mabilog wanted them to catch at least 50.

The quota for next month of June will depend on their performance this month, said Galvez.

He also assured the public that this system won’t be abused by the traffic aides.

“Ang maga-abusar aton disiplinahon,” said Galvez.

The Office of the City Mayor’s complaints center will receive complaints should there be any, he stressed.

The complainant should get the name of the concerned traffic aide and give details of the violation such as the time it was committed, among others.

PhilHealth strengthens PEERs

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

ILOILO CITY, May 23 (PIA6) -- The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) Regional Office 6 continues to strengthen its engagement and partnership with employers in the region, both from the private and government sectors.

This May, PhilHealth 6 rolled out a series of fora participated in by PhilHealth Employer Engagement Representatives (PEERS) in the region.

PEERs help employers ensure that the membership and contribution records of agency or a company, among others, are updated with PhilHeath.

Janet Monteverde, Chief, Field Operation Division of PhilHealth 6, said PEERs are the authorized contact persons or liason officers of agencies and companies when it comes to PhilHealth concerns such as registration, collection of remittances, updating of employees’ membership records and reporting using the Electronic Premium Reporting System (EPRS). They are usually from the Human Resource or the Accounting Department of a company.

To date, there are now around 16,000 employers in the region using the PhilHealth EPRS.

Monteverde said the fora which are part of the regular activities of PhilHealth with PEERs were conducted in Iloilo and Guimaras on May 16 to 17 and in Negros Occidental on May 17 to 19.

In the provinces of Capiz, Aklan and Antique and Boracay Island, the PEERs FORUM will be conducted on May 25 to 26.

The forum sought to update employers through their PEERs on the latest PhilHealth circulars, new policies and, issues and concerns related to collection, Accredited Collecting Agents and EPRS.

EPRS is a web-based application designed to allow access to employee information through PEERs. It also enables employers to remit their contributions to PhilHealth electronically.

Through the forum, Monteverde said they also hoped to gather feedbacks, concerns, suggestions and even recommendations in line with the programs and projects implemented by PhilHealth.

She said PEERs have helped a lot in ensuring on-time compliance of remittances and submission of reports of employers. They also helped ease the long queue in PhilHealth offices.

Chinese businessmen eye Iloilo’s BPO, tourism potentials

By Tara Yap

Iloilo City — Businessmen from Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, are eyeing possible investments in the city and province of Iloilo.

Rex Aguado, chairman of Philippine Association of Hong Kong (PAHK), said priorities are Iloilo’s potentials for business process outsourcing (BPO) and tourism sectors.

PAHK facilitated the Iloilo business mission for the Chinese group last May 17-20. It came a month after government and business leaders from the city and province of Iloilo presented investment portfolios in Hong Kong.

Aguado cited the strong proficiency of Iloilo’s human resources. He noted that the Chinese businessmen are planning to establish BPO companies that can offer English online tutors for Chinese students.

Vincent Hon of Hong Kong Hainan Commercial Association said they are looking into Iloilo for social enterprises.

Prof. Danny Chau, founding vice president of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Association, added that Iloilo can be a good hub for student exchange while Ilonggo businessmen can also explore trade ties in Hong Kong.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and Ritchel Gavan of the Iloilo City Promotions Office presented investment portfolio for services, manufacturing, agribusiness, arts and culture, research, and technology.

Velma Jane Cubing-Lao, chief of Iloilo Provincial Economic and Investment Promotion, noted the investment opportunities in the tourism sector.

The Chinese business group also met with Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr., Narzalina “Narz” Lim of Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc. (ILED) and Ramon Cua-Locsin of Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Panay Inc. (FFCCCPI).

DSWD spends PHP2.7-M for free medicines in W. Visayas

By Cindy B. Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has utilized PHP2.7 million of its PHP138 million fund to carry out "Libreng Gamot sa Masa (LinGap sa Masa)" program in Western Visayas.

DSWD-6 regional director Rebecca Geamala said that as of May 12, a total of 456 patients in the region were given free medicines.

Out of the total number of patients, 356 are family heads and other needy adults who availed a total of PHP2.1 million worth of medicines while 99 patients were senior citizens with PHP606,000 expenses for medicines and one person with disability who received PHP11,415 for the cost of medicines.

DSWD is implementing the program in the region in partnership with the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC).

Geamala urged the public, especially Ilonggos, to avail of the free medicines particularly the poor whether confined or outpatient at the WVMC as there were still “so much funds” available.

She said that they were targeting to pay not less than PHP25 million in medicines of patients per month.

She mentioned that per client category, women in especially difficult circumstances, children in need of special protection, youth in need of special protection were those who have yet to avail the free medicines.

The PHP138 million fund for the region is part of the PHP2 billion Presidential Social Fund for the LinGap sa Masa. Western Visayas is among the five regions in the country chosen to pilot the program.

Geamala stressed that the program can cover up to PHP75,000 worth of prescription medicines that a hospitalized patient needs, on top of what a patient can avail from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth).

Under the guidelines of the program, qualified as beneficiaries are families or individuals who are indigent, vulnerable or disadvantaged; those who are in crisis situations based on the assessment of social workers; those in the formal sector and poor based on the Listahanan of DSWD; government employees and contract of service workers and soldiers and police who were wounded in the line of duty.

Requirements to be qualified as beneficiary include doctor’s prescription and certificate of indigency and valid identification card. Geamala said that a social worker assigned in WVMC could issue certificate of indigency.

Eligible patients will be issued a DSWD LinGap sa Masa Guarantee Letter (GL) which includes the needed amount of patient for their medicines that will be presented to the pharmacy of the hospital so patient can get the medicines.

Over 129,200 kids in W.Visayas to benefit in DSWD feeding programs

By Cindy B. Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 19 -- Over 129,200 children in Western Visayas are set to benefit from the two feeding programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

DSWD-6 Nutritionist Girl Ley Arroyo, in a press conference Friday, disclosed that they have allotted PHP182.7 million for the Supplementary Feeding Program of some 101,509 children enrolled in the Child Development Centers or Day Care Centers in the region, aged two to five years old.

Arroyo said that 75 local government units in the region were identified to implement the program.

Iloilo has 50, 429 children beneficiaries; Antique, 20,066; Capiz, 17,829; Aklan, 8,770 and Guimaras with 4, 415.

Feeding program will be implemented as school classes will start this June.

Aside from the supplemental feeding program, DSWD here will also pilot the "Twice a Day Feeding Program" in provinces of Iloilo, Aklan and Antique composed of 26 LGUs.

The program aims to further address the under nutrition problem among two to five years old children in Child Development Centers and Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP).

Under the program, an alternative nutritious meal will be added to the regular hot meal served to every children. Unlike the supplemental feeding program with PHP15 budget per child per day for 120 days, twice a day feeding program provides PHP30 budget per child per day for 120 days.

Some 27,700 children in the region were identified to benefit from the program. DSWD-6 has allotted PHP99.7 million for the meals of children.

The province of Antique has the highest number of beneficiaries with 12,320 children followed by Iloilo with 11,013 and Aklan with 4, 367 beneficiaries.

Arroyo expressed optimism to further improve the nutrition status of children in the region through the feeding programs they were implementing this year.

Iloilo gov’t offers free sports training

By Cindy B. Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 18 -- A free training is now being made available by the Iloilo provincial government through its Iloilo Sports Development and Management Office (ISDMO) to children from 9 to 15 years old, interested in developing their skills in sports.

The training is an opportunity for beginners to engage in sports while they do not have classes yet and also for children already engaged in sports to further hone their skills and talents, said ISDMO head Janelyn Fundal on Thursday.

The ISDMO has hired three coaches to train children on volleyball, swimming and basketball.

The training for volleyball and swimming already started last May 15 with 18 and 12 children enrolled in each sport category, respectively.

Meanwhile, training for volleyball will start on May 24 with six children already enrolled.

The participants will undergo two weeks training at the Iloilo Sports Complex.

But Fundal said that the coaches would do follow-ups to the trained children after their training to see if they have improvements. “We will groom those who have potentials to become athletes of the province,” she said.

Fundal is urging children in the province, as well as in this city, to enroll in the free training.

She added that those who would be enrolling this week could already start their training next week.

CAD partners with Iloilo and Antique hospitals

(ROSELLE DELA UMBRIA)

After the productive activity in Capiz on April 6, the PCSO Charity Assistance Department (CAD) led by Manager Rubin Magno headed to Iloilo to once again conduct an orientation and dialogue on the implementation of PCSO Desk/ At Source Ang Processing (ASAP) – this time with the partner hospitals from Iloilo and Antique.

Held at La Villa Function Room, Days Hotel, General Luna Street, Iloilo City on April 7, the orientation group was assisted by the personnel of Iloilo Branch headed by OIC-Branch Manager Abegail Reformina.

Participants were representatives from the partner hospitals in the Provinces of Iloilo and Antique namely, Iloilo Mission Hospital, West Visayas State University Medical Center, St. Paul’s Hospital, Iloilo Doctors Hospital, St. Therese MTCC Hospital, Qualimed Hospital, Medicus Medical Center, The Medical City, Western Visayas Medical Center, Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital and Antique Medical Center.

CAD Institutional Charity Assistance Division Chief Jerusa Corpuz facilitated the orientation and dialogue with the representatives from the participating hospitals. Corpuz briefly discussed the objectives of the PCSO Desk/ ASAP, its policies, requirements and the critical roles and responsibilities in implementing the charity program. She and Magno gladly answered the questions raised during the open forum.

The PCSO Desk/ASAP is one of the charity programs of the Agency where it partners with both private and government hospitals willing to assist in the implementation of PCSO’s Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) by providing not only financial augmentation for hospital bills, but also medicines for chemotherapy, hemodialysis and post-operative treatments to patients at a discounted rate of 20-percent from the prevailing market retail price.

The ASAP program includes putting up of a PCSO Desk within the premises of partner hospitals for the immediate acceptance and evaluation requests for financial assistance of patients for faster public service delivery.

DTI offers ‘Balik Eskwela Diskwento’ caravan

By Ma. Leonora E. Estanque (WVSU-OJT, PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 16 -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is encouraging the public to take advantage of the discounts in school supplies to be sold during their “Balik Eskwela Diskwento” caravan this May 31 to June 2 at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol.

Balik Eskwela Diskwento Caravan is organized by DTI in partnership with several manufacturers and distributors to help the parents and students to have the best value of products for their money. The Philippine Retailers Association-Iloilo Chapter is one of its partners.

School supplies, uniforms, bags and other school necessities will be sold at a discounted price.

“We don't have the final list yet of those who will participate because the campaign is ongoing for those who are willing to participate in the project,” according to DTI OIC regional director Rebecca M. Rascon.

Ten to 30 percent discount can be enjoyed buying basic school needs like notebooks, ballpens, crayons, bags and uniforms.

Aside from discounts, there will also be freebies and giveaways given by the participating distributors.

“Consumers can save further if they will avail the products in premium packs. The packs sometimes include ballpen, paper, notebook which is cheaper compared to individual pricing,” according to Judith Degala, head of the Consumer Protection Division.

She also added that consumers would be assured of the quality of the product as participating establishments are compliant with standards.

There is no fixed prices for the products sold during the Balik Eskwela Caravan because the suggested retail prices (SRP) have yet to come out.

Iloilo City well poised for investment influx

By Amy R. Remo (Reporter, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Over the past three years, the City of Iloilo has consistently made the cut in the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index.

Based on this annual index by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), Iloilo City was part of the top 10 list of most competitive cities from 2014 to 2016. This meant that the city was one of the front-runners from among the more than 100 cities assessed based on their economic dynamism, efficiency, and infrastructure.

Numbers, too, attest to the growing dynamism in the local economy of Iloilo and the rest of the region. In 2015, Western Visayas reportedly posted its highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth “in the longest time” at 8.3 percent.

Last year, the region’s GDP also grew, although at a slower pace, at 6.1 percent, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

Sta. Lucia continues to enjoy brisk business in Iloilo.

Diversifying local economy

Lea Lara, executive director at the Iloilo Business Club, attested to the dynamism of Iloilo and its capital, which have started to see a more diversified economy in recent years, boosted not only by its traditional sectors such as agriculture and tourism, but now also by other industries.

“Before, the economy of Iloilo was driven mainly by agriculture. In Western Visayas, we have also been the regional center—we have the government offices, schools, banks, and trading companies here,” Lara said in an interview in Iloilo City.

“That was the main source of income, which was good because it created a strong middle class. In recent years, Iloilo saw a diversified economy with the entry of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies. We also have a strong overseas Filipino worker community as Iloilo produces a good number of seafarers and nurses given the many universities we have here,” Lara explained.

Today, Iloilo’s economy is being driven by a wider range of industries including agribusiness, tourism, BPOs, trading activities, and service driven firms, including banks, educational institutions, hospitals, among others.

And with the completion of the Iloilo Convention Center, the province expects to strengthen its position as a viable meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) destination in the country.

Perfect timing

“This is the perfect time to invest in Iloilo. We have a growing economy and a healthy, thriving business environment… We are a young, untapped destination. We have geographical advantage as we’re located at the center of Western Visayas, thus making it easier to reach the different markets in the region,” Lara said.

“Iloilo is also accessible with our local and international flights. We have the fourth busiest airport in the Philippines. We also have a fresh market for businesses wanting to expand,” she further added.

Iloilo City also boasts of a rich talent pool that can be readily tapped. Infrastructure spending is being ramped up in the province, paving the way for the construction and improvement of crucial road networks, while the growing demand for electricity, water supply and telecommunication networks, is being addressed.

“This makes Iloilo City conducive for young families. The quality of life is healthy; our city is not polluted; and our peace and order situation is good,” Lara said.

Real estate demand

The influx of investors, traders, students, and families in the thriving Iloilo City has also spurred the demand for new real estate developments —whether for residential, commercial or industrial needs.

“We are happy to see developers flocking here as they share the positive developments in the city… Our advantage is that we have a lot of space that can be developed. We’re like a raw canvass that can be planned and zoned when real estate developers come here,” she added.

One of the earliest real estate developers to take a chance in Iloilo was the Sta. Lucia Group, which entered the province back in 1995.

“We were one of the first national developers to enter Iloilo. But even then, we saw a good reception among Ilonggos who saw how Sta. Lucia was able to provide them subdivisions on strategic locations, with the road networks and adequate amenities,” said Jose Manuel T. Escalante, regional operations manager for Sta. Lucia Realty and Development Inc.

Escalante admitted that while Sta. Lucia saw a smooth entry in Iloilo, the demand was not as strong as they had preferred. But following the completion of its first project, the Metropolis Executive Village, Sta. Lucia was able to gain the trust of Ilonggos.

Brisk business

More than two decades after it set foot in Iloilo, Sta. Lucia continues to enjoy brisk business, having given the city and the province high quality and value for money projects.

Proof of that is the fact that land values at one of the Sta. Lucia projects in Iloilo had jumped to P6,600 per sqm, up from only P1,500 per sqm when the project was introduced.

This has prompted Sta. Lucia to put up more residential projects in the city. More recently, this trusted developer has also decided go into commercial projects as well.

In September last year, Sta. Lucia announced that it was working on more expansion projects in Iloilo to bring its total footprint in the province to 262 hectares.

Based on its disclosure to the local bourse, Sta. Lucia Land said these expansion projects were in Greenmeadows, Metropolis Executive Village, Nottingham Villas, and SotoGrande Iloilo in Jaro. A new 30-hectare development in Sta. Barbara was also underway.

“Ocean Month” underscores connection of human, marine life

By Elsa S. Subong (JCM/ESS/PIA-Iloilo)

ILOILO CITY (PIA) — Now on its 18th year, the observance of “Ocean Month” this 2017 brings on connectivity of human and marine life, with the theme, “People and the Ocean” (TaYo at ang Karagatan).

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-6 said that humans are heavily reliant on the bounty of healthy oceans and seas for food, livelihood, navigation, recreation, trade and for sustenance.

“We are then, responsible, in return, to protect, conserve, and exercise sustainable management of our coastal and marine resources,” DENR-6 Director Jim Sampulna said.

“Summer is an opportune time for us to raise awareness on the protection and conservation of these resources, as we enjoy swimming in our beaches,” Sampulna said.

He also said that people can start by being responsible with their garbage and not dumping them on the beach.

The DENR has lined up activities to celebrate the importance of the ocean and marine biodiversity and to increase understanding and participation of the public of programs on protection and conservation.

An activity proposed is the “Scubasurero” which aims to engage divers to join in collecting solid waste materials in the marine ecosystem.

A series of information and education campaigns are being conducted, in the form of lectures, video documentation, and capability-building activities.

The department also aims to get the participation of young people in preventing loss of marine resources.

Added to the activities are the exhibits mounted, highlighting the Ocean Month celebration and other programs of the DENR for the awareness of the public.

“Our survival depends on our actions. We are the culprits but we are also solution,” Sampulna said in a press release.

Iloilo City enjoys surge in tourists

(Iloilo City PIO/PN)

ILOILO City – The number of tourists in this southern city increased in the first quarter of 2017, data from the City Tourism and Development Office (CTDO) showed.

There were 279,616 tourists from January to March 2017 compared to the 260,533 tourists in the same period last year.

This January, there were 97,488 tourist arrivals; 86,946 in February; and 95,182 in March.

There were 90,921 tourist arrivals in January 2016; 81,944 in February 2016; and 87, 668 in March 2016.

“One of the reasons our tourist arrivals is higher during the first quarter of 2017 compared to last year’s was the holding of more conventions and seminars after we hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. We were able to cater several conventions,” said CTDO head Junel Ann Divinagracia.

Iloilo City hosted four APEC meetings in 2015, namely:

• Strengthening Capital Markets, Infrastructure and Financing from July 23 to 24

• Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) meeting from Sept. 21 to 25

• High-Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy from Sept. 28 to Oct. 6; and

• Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (SDMOF) on Sept. 22 to 23.

Aside from APEC, Iloilo City also hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in March 2017 and SSYEAP International General Assembly (SIGA) last month which were both held at the Iloilo Convention Center (ICon).

The increase of tourist arrivals in the city has big impacts to the economy of Iloilo City, said Divinagracia.

“This has domino effects. When we hosted these big events, we have to prepare for their (conventioneers) food, accommodation, souvenirs, transportation and we were able to expose Iloilo City to them,” she said.

In 2014, the City Tourism Office recorded 676, 287 tourist arrivals; 957, 090 in 2015; and 994, 923 in 2016.

Divinagracia said the Iloilo City government targets to increase by 15 percent the number of tourist arrivals in 2017 from that of 2016.

“We will double our efforts and we will exceed the expectations of our conventioneers in our future hosting of events. We will take care of them and we will ensure their security and safety because through the word of mouth and through spreading positive words about Iloilo City, we are sure that we will reach our 15 percent increase of tourist arrivals this year,” said Divinagracia.

She believes that Iloilo City has the potential of hosting more big events in the future.

“The city’s vision is to become a premiere Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions, Exhibitions or Events (MICE) destination and I think we are heading towards that already. Iloilo City has potential in hosting big conventions, and tourists who have visited Iloilo City wanted to go back here and hold their other events here again,” she said.

TESDA to construct, improve training centers in W. Visayas

By Cindy B. Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY (PNA)-- More training centers will be constructed in Western Visayas while existing training centers will undergo improvement this year, according to the Technical Education and Skills Training Authority (TESDA).

TESDA Secretary Guiling Mamondiong said that he wanted all provinces in the region to have a training center with a support facility or a dormitory where trainees from far-flung areas could stay.

Currently, the region has about 300 government-owned and private sector-supported training centers in the region, majority of them in the city and province of Iloilo.

He said that he wanted to reach out to more interested people in Western Visayas through the establishment of additional facilities. “As soon as we have completed our visitation in the entire region, we will have a big change,” he stressed during his visit here Wednesday.

For Iloilo, Mamondiong disclosed that they have allotted around PHP50 million for the construction and improvement of training centers and dormitories.

One of its priority projects in the province is the conversion of the municipal training center of Mina town to a district training center to accommodate more trainees from its nearby towns.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. has committed to support the project after the paid a courtesy call to the governor this morning, he said.

The secretary also planned to further improve the existing dormitory in the regional office of TESDA here which he visited.

When Mamondiong started to serve the department last year, a PHP2 million fund was allotted for the improvement of dormitory.

Now, the two-storey facility has around 100-bed capacity, providing free accommodation to trainees from distant areas in the region that are undergoing skills training at the regional training center.

To accommodate more trainees, Mamondiong said PHP15 million would be allotted to make the facility a three-story building with about 200-bed capacity. They will also shoulder the food expenses of the trainee staying in the dormitory.

Meanwhile, TESDA is currently conducting a nationwide audit of the about 4,200 training centers in the country to check if the centers are still existing or complying with the training regulations of the department, Mamondiong said.

He assured that concerns and problems on the training centers would be addressed once the audit was completed.

City Hall mulls pay hike for traffic aides, day care workers

(Iloilo City PIO PR)

ILOILO CITY, May 11 -- The Iloilo City Government plans to increase the salaries of traffic aides and auxiliaries, and day care workers.

City administrator Atty. Hernando Galvez said that Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog directed the Local Finance Committee to make a study for the possible salary increases of said workers.

“The plan of Mayor Mabilog followed after his talk with our traffic enforcers, auxiliaries and day care workers. They receive PHP7,500 monthly and it’s not enough for them,” said Galvez.

He also cited that the traffic enforcers and day care workers even work seven times a week and they usually render overtime.

The higher honoraria will also discourage corruption among employees.

City Hall plans to implement the honoraria hike effective July following approval.

“After the study of Local Finance Committee and if it’s positive, we will forward the request to the City Council in order to make an ordinance for this plan,” explained Galvez.

“This will be a big help for their families considering the expensive prices of commodities now,” he added.

Department heads are also encouraged to regularly talk with their personnel in order to know their concerns.

“The mayor wants to know the problems of our employees and he wants to address it,” said Galvez.

Iloilo City gets PHP3.4-M performance incentives

By Iloilo City PIO PR (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 10 -- Iloilo City Hall’s performance in terms of good governance has paid off and will result to more projects for its constituents.

After bagging the 2016 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the City Government through Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog received the PHP3.4-million Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) incentives.

City DILG Chief Atty. Ferdinand Panes turned over the PCF check to Mabilog during Wednesday Group meeting, attended by all department heads, divisions and task forces.

“The PCF is an incentive given by the national government through the DILG to Local Government Units (LGUs) that were SGLG 2016 awardees,” said Panes.

The SGLG is an award given to LGUs that were able to pass the three core areas including Financial Administration, Disaster Preparedness and Social Protection and at least one essential area on Business-Friendliness and Competitiveness, Peace and Order, and Environmental Protection.

“Absence of one core area means disqualification. For the part of Iloilo City, it passed all the core areas and almost all essential areas in the criteria,” added Panes.

Mabilog personally received the plaque during the awarding in Manila last year.

Panes explained the PCF can only be used in development projects of LGUs and proposed projects should be approved by DILG.

Panes said he is confident that Iloilo City has big chances of getting back-to-back recognition this year.

“We are now preparing for the 2017 SGLG regional evaluation on May 23. Given that Iloilo City passed the regional evaluation, there will be evaluators coming from DILG main office who will come here to confirm and validate again,” he added.

Panes noted the DILG has set different criteria for this year’s award.

“If before, the LGU needs to pass the three core areas and one essential area, this time, they need to pass four core areas and one essential area,” he said.

The core areas will now include Financial Administration, Disaster Preparedness, Social Protection, and Peace and Order.

The essential areas will cover Business-Friendliness and Competitiveness, Environmental Protection, and Tourism, Arts and Culture.

400 Iloilo farmers trained on rice grains classification

By Cindy B. Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 9 -- Four hundred farmers in Iloilo province have been trained on how to classify rice grains that would pass the standard of the National Food Authority (NFA).

Series of training workshops was conducted by NFA-6 in partnership with NFA-Iloilo field office this year to officials of farmer’s cooperatives and organizations in the province themed “Sa Kalidad may Oportunidad.”

NFA- 6 regional director Rex Estoperez on Tuesday said that the training equipped farmers on the process of NFA in classifying their rice grains. It also helped farmers determine the quality of rice grains that are acceptable to the NFA.

Estoperez said their buffer stocks last for about a year so they had to assure that rice stored in their warehouses were of good quality. Rice grains with quality issue are being rejected by the NFA.

He stressed that delivering good quality of rice grains would not only benefit them but it would provide farmers a better income because they command a higher price.

While the series of training was only conducted to farmers in Iloilo, Estoperez said they would replicate the training to other provinces with high rice production like Antique and Capiz.

He said they would conduct training in other provinces before harvest time in September this year.

Apart from rice grain classification, Estoperez said that they also planning to conduct series of training on entrepreneurship.

“We want to provide them entrepreneurial training so they will be trained on finding a better market with good sales opportunity for their rice. The farmers would really enjoy if they have a better market,” he added.

Iloilo football club helps youth avoid drugs

By Cindy B. Ferrer (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 7 (PNA) -- The Iloilo Football Association (IFA) is continuously encouraging the youth in Panay Island to engage in sports activities, specifically football, to keep them away from illegal drugs.

Dubbed as “Palaro laban sa Dangerous Drugs” or PDD, IFA has conducted a series of football tournaments participated already by about 5,000 youth athletes and “Tokhang” surrenderees in Panay. Registration for the Palaro is for free.

PDD was conceptualized by IFA president JR Robles, himself a football athlete, after he realized the magnitude of the drug problem in the country.

PDD was aimed at promoting a grassroots football program for the youth so they will not be lured into drugs.

“Most of the young citizens are getting involved in illegal drugs because they do not have an outlet but if they have sports activities to engage in and to make them busy, it would really help them avoid bad vices,” Robles stressed.

The program started October last year with around 1,300 footballers from 90 teams. They played at the Barotac Nuevo Football Field and PFF Football Training Center for the tournament.

Some 15 drug personalities who surrendered during the conduct of "Oplan Tokhang" from the town of Barotac Nuevo also participated in the event with their team named “Double Oplan Barrel.”

Robles said that the drug surrenderers who joined the tournament are sharing their experiences to encourage others to refrain from using illegal drugs.

To sustain the PDD program, a series of under-16 football tournaments, dubbed ‘Iloilo JR Robles U16 cup 2017’, are conducted to entice children below 16 years old to engage in football and keep them away from illegal drugs.

The tournaments started March this year and will run until May in various areas, including the Iloilo Sports Complex, Barotac Nuevo Training Center, Central Philippine University and Guimbal Football Field, among others.

According to his talks with some government agencies and the police sector, children who are 16 years and below are “vulnerable” to illegal drugs.

“That is why they are our priority right now because we really want to help them,” Robles said.

Robles disclosed that he allotted about PHP1 million from his personal savings to fund the tournaments.

With the PDD program, Robles received a lot of commendations from police authorities and other agencies for his initiatives in helping the youth and the government.

He expressed hopes to sustain the program and make it a yearly activity to further reach out to the youth and encourage them to engage in sports activities rather than become drug users.

DA 6 to focus on demand-driven, market-led commodities

(DA6-PR/PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit 6 (DA-6) is now conducting an inventory of all agricultural resources to maximize the wealth creation of farms in the region following the lower growth rate of the Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing (AHFF) sectors last year.

Farmer Director Ricardo P. Provido, Jr. of DA 6 said that there will be a shift to high value and specific commodities that have high demand and market-led to sustain productivity and production.

He said that the municipality of San Remegio, Antique is now producing strawberry, which can capture institutional markets in Boracay and Metro Iloilo.

“The demand for sugar from sugarcane is decreasing due to new sugar produce from other commodities such as corn which will also prompt sugarcane farmers to change their commodity preferences in the coming months,” said Director Provido.

The changes in the use of farmlands will eventually zero-in on the absolute advantage based on the present market demands and competitive advantage of the location.

Director Provido stressed that Western Visayas is within the specific belt of the globe where the best quality abaca thrives.

Farmers can also explore the potentials of pineapple fiber and silk to make the most for productivity of their respective farms.

The DA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 6 (DENR) 6 are also collaborating for the agroforestry reforestation projects where bald mountains will be planted with coffee and cacao. This will enhance raw materials for chocolates which no countries, religion and race banned of consuming.

With this shift on commodities and provision of right technology, farm mechanization and post-harvest facilities, Provido is optimistic that AHFF will surely be a contributor to the gross regional domestic product this 2017.

Iloilo City gears up for Brigada Eskwela

By Perla G. Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 5 -- The city government here through its Local Youth Development Council (LYDC) is now gearing for the annual Brigada Eskwela of the Department of Education (DepEd).

LYDC head Jason Gregorio said that 10 youth groups under their youth organization registration program have already signified to join the Brigada Eskwela that will run from May 15 to 19.

“This is an annual activity of DepEd in preparation for the opening of classes this June. This will ensure that classes will already start on the first day of school instead of doing cleanup activities,” he explained.

Apart from registered youth organizations, Gregorio also encouraged other interested individuals to join. They are advised to visit the LYDC office to fill up forms. They can select from among the dates when to join the Brigada.

LYDC will be at the Montes I Elementary School, which happens to be the venue of the launching activity, on May 15.

Other schools in the list are the Iloilo Central Elementary School, Lapaz National High School, Nabitasan Elementary School and Andres Bonifacio Elementary School.

Iloilo's mobile birth registration to start May 15

By Perla G. Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY -- The city government here through the city youth and development division will begin its mobile registration for youth with no birth registrations this May 15.

The mobile registration dedicated to youth ages 15-30 years old will be held in partnership with the Local Civil Registrar’s Office. It will initially cover six of Iloilo City’s seven districts.

Jason Gregorio, head of the city youth and development division, on Wednesday said that the kick off will be held in Lapuz district at the Don Esteban covered gym. In May 18 the activity will be in Lapaz district gym; May 22 in Mandurriao Sistrict at Brgy. Onate gym; May 25, Molo at the covered gym of Brgy. Katilingban; May 29 at the Jaro gym and June 1, Arevalo to be held at the Arevalo gym.

The registration for city proper district will also be in June but no date yet has been set.

He added that other concerns apart from the late registration would also be accommodated although the priority would be the birth registrants.

The late registration was initiated to address the concerns of those who for any reason have failed to register.

Those who intend to avail of the late registration are advised to bring their certificate of no record from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), two copies of proof of facts of birth where the birthdate is indicated and valid identification.

He added that the presence of the youth who would be registered was required. The registration will be from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Iloilo-based BPO companies sign voluntary code of conduct

By Perla G. Lena (PNA)

ILOILO CITY, May 1 -- Business process outsourcing (BPOs) companies based in Iloilo signed a “Voluntary Code of Conduct” Monday as their means to promote good relationship and respect within the industry.

“This code of conduct is voluntary; it doesn’t bind us to any laws but this is just to promote respect among us BPOs. We are in favor of the code of conduct so we have means of control among all of the BPOs,” said Vivienne Araneta, operations director-client delivery of Transcom.

The signing was part of the activities lined up in Monday's celebration of the Labor Day that was held at the Atria activity center in Mandurriao district here.

To date, there are about 45 registered BPOs in Iloilo and close to 30 are already members of the Iloilo Federation of Information Technology (I-FIT).

The BPO sector is also the top job generators during Monday’s job fair.

Araneta said that this month, they intend to hire an average of 300 to 500 workers.

Meanwhile, Nearsol, a company from Guatemala, which chose Iloilo as its debut location in the Philippines is looking forward to hire around 600 workers.

“It’s a very good area to invest. Upon doing our market research, we were able to determine, of course there is a lot of competition but also the culture here in the Philippines is very awesome and that we wanted to bring to our business as well,” said Eduardo Castillo from Nearsol-Guatemala who came over to this city for the job fair.

“We need up to 700; opportunities are very open. Nearsol’s first site in the Philippines is Iloilo and we are continuously looking for people to join us,” said Au Jardeleza of Nearsol Philippines.

On the other hand, Teletech hires 50 to 100 weekly, according to Cristy Marie Tabanao, talent acquisition marketing and communications specialist of the company.

Close to 20,000 vacancies, both local and abroad, were made available during the job fair.

Jundee Dalpatan, who was offered a job on the spot, said he was very happy that the government has this kind of activity as he was given an opportunity to find a greener pasture abroad.

Dalpatan used to work for the Vallacar Transit and was hired as electrical aircon installer for Qatar.

The Labor Day job fair was spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).