Iloilo City News October 2018

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Operation Smile caps second mission in Iloilo

By Gail T. Momblan (TDG)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iloilo City celebrates Halloween promoting responsible pet ownership

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DTI culminates ‘Consumer Welfare Month’ in W. Visayas

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

Non-winners also received PHP3,000 each.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iloilo is Nat’l PESO award grand slam winner

By Cindy Ferrer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ilonggo MSMEs avail of packaging, labeling assistance from DOST

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IPs in Western Visayas showcase culture through mud painting

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iloilo City adopts Taiwan’s integrated risk assessment platform

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iloilo youth learn the value of int’l relations

By Louine Hope Conserva

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belmont Hotel will soon rise in Iloilo Business Park

[TDG, Zedrick Señeres (Page Maker)]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belmont Hotel Iloilo is scheduled to open in 2023.

500 Swiss nationals enjoy ‘positive’ living in Iloilo

By Cindy Ferrer (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOST-SEI to hold patriotism program in Iloilo

By CAROLYN JANE ABELLO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iloilo City eyes post-harvest facilities for food security

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iloilo City bags Galing Pook Award for cleaning Iloilo River

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iloilo City frontliners train on basic sign language

By Perla Lena (PNA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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