Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda

Ro Sanga It Oliba
Ni Tita Linda Belayro

Ma-ilaon sa hampang pisikal ro mga Griyego. Nagapati sanda nga ro sukatan ko andang pagkatawo hay rong mata-eas nga kaisipan ag mayad nga pang-eawason. Agud mahasa rong pa ino-ino hay naga entra sanda sa mga hampang nga pisikal. Sa tiyempo nga nagahiwat it pahampang, ro mga diyos ag diyosa sa bukid it Olimpus hay may guina pili nga dapat padag-on. Kada isaea kanda hay may kandidato. Isaea eon si Minerva nga diyosa it kaaeam. Ro manoghampang hay naga adto sa templo ag maghaead it pangamuyo nga ubayan sanda ko andang diyosa.

Pag-abot sa katapusan it adlaw it pahampang, ro mga manoghampang hay naga deretso sa templo ni Minerva agud ihaead ro andang kadaeag-an. Parabil matapos rong hampang, nagpa ino-ino si Minerva kon ano ro anang iregalo sa mga nagdaea-og. Paglingot nana sa tu-o hay may hakita imaw nga sanga it oliba. Guin eangi nana ro sanga ag guin obra nga korona. Pag-abot ko oras it paghaead, guin ta-o nana ro korona it oliba ag guin butang sa oeo it nagdaug. Naghugyaw rong tanan. Malipayon guid ratong nagdaea-og tungod may regalo sanda halin sa diyosa. Umpisa kato, mataas eon rong pagkilaea ko mga tawo sa dahon it oliba. Rondaya rong simbolo it kadaeag-an.

Sa maisot nga syudad it Sicily, may isaeang ka bakero nga pobre apang mahugod magbantay ko mga karnero nga guina pabantayan kana. Handum man nana nga makabaton it koronang oliba. Guinhamas nana ro anang eawas. Kada agahon, kon naga panginaon ro mga karnero hay sige ro anang pagdaeagan pasaka ag pana-ug sa bukid. Umabot ro sang dag-on nga anang pagensayo. Nag-eaong imaw sa anang ama ag ina nga maentra sa dag-unan nga Olimpya. Sari-saring hampang rong naka ta-eana ogaling sa karera ro anang guin entrahan. Sa ka abu-abo nga nag-entra, imaw rong nagda-ug bilang pinakamadasig. Guindayaw imaw ag abo nga mga kababaihan ro naglamano kana.
Guinbaton nana rong koronang Oliba. Sa pagbutang kana kong korona sa oeo mingko hakita nana rong uyahon kong diyosa it ka-aeam nga nagahibayag kana. Malipayon imaw nga nag-uli nga guinpabugae rong koronang oliba sa anang guinikanan./MP

Albay Is Venue Of XTERRA Triathlon

Albay Is Venue Of 
XTERRA Triathlon

Albay province is chosen the venue of XTERRA for the next three years starting on February 8, 2015. Some 1,500 participants and about 2,500 guests are expected to join in this largest off-road triathlon in the Philippines.

The three-year Albay XTERRA Triathlon event is expected to further boost the province’s growing tourism — with more visitors coming to witness it, since triathlon is a popular world  sports widely covered by media.

The arrangements for the staging of the triathlon in Legazpi City was completed in a recent meeting at the Manila Peninsula Hotel between Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and Alaska Milk Corp. CEO Wilfred Uytengsu, Jr., XTERRA franchise holder for the Philippines. Himself a triathlete, Uytengsu also owns the multi-titled basketball team, Alaska Aces and was responsible for bringing to the country the Iron Man Challenge in 2010.

Triathlon includes a series of swimming, mountain biking and trail running competitions within a predetermined distance and time.The XTERRA race series is the best-known series of off-road triathlons, and considered as the de facto world championship of the sport.

 “The XTERRA event in Albay could be as big, or even bigger than the Ironman challenge in Cebu, with some 2,500 participants and guests. It  will kick off February 8, 2015, as one among the opening events of the month-long Cagsawa Festival in Daraga town, with the world-famous Cagsawa belfry and Mayon Volcano at the backdrop,” Salceda pointed out. 

“Albay’s sports tourism had a significant push during the Daragang Magayon Festival in April last year, with Mayon 360 50-mile Ultra Marathon, which brought about 1,200 sports enthusiasts and more guests to Albay,” Salceda added.

“We are thankful to the people behind XTERRA, most particularly its franchise owner, Wilfred, for considering Albay as venue for the world popular sports event. We are sure this will give the province one big push to maintain and cement its position as the fastest growing tourist destination in the country,” said Salceda.

Albay is the fastest growing tourist destination in the country. In 2013, it posted a whopping 66 percent growth rate. For this reason, the Department of Tourism has continuously promoted the province abroad, the latest of which was the September 2 - 5 Guangzhou Travel Mart. /MP

Agricultural Challenges And Right Direction

Agricultural Challenges 
And Right Direction
by Delano T. Tefora

Today, our nation’s food and agriculture system are being influenced by many forces. They shape the Philippine economy in the general-globalization of markets, advances in technology, changing global climate and modern science. Previous years in review, several tropical cyclones and earthquakes battered the country leaving P100 billion worth of damages to the agri-fishery sector counted in terms of harvest losses and infrastructure destructions. Billions of pesos went to the pork scams made by government officials and leaders.

The road to food security, improved productivity, sustained growth and modernization are facing different challenges and threats. We need to confront an integrated global economy, climate change, more volatile markets for food, and thieves in government.

To brace the country against the adverse effects of climate change, adaptation and mitigation measures must be undertaken by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in cooperation with the LGU’s. This would include soil and water conservation, farming techniques, organic-basic farming, watershed management, improved rice cultivation technique, development of drought and submergence-tolerant rice varieties, livestock manure management to reduce methane emission, and recycling and waste minimization. Intensive advocacy and information dissemination must be done to enable planners policy makers and the management to minimize negative effects of these adverse natural phenomenon. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has challenged agriculture and fisheries sector in global trading order. Tariffs of all products will be brought down from five to zero percent except for certain sensitive agriculture products such as rice, sugar, corn, and meats. In 2012, WTO special treatment on rice lapsed. This means the rice market will be liberalized. Thus, Rice Self-sufficiency Plan should be fully supported by providing the annual budgetary requirement of the plan to compete with rice producers abroad.

To date, pork scams came to reality. Lot of project targets were in the plan, national and local, but nowhere to be found. The local government annual budget for agri-fishery is only about 10 percent of the total budget as outlined in the approved annual budget.

President P-noy is very much vocal of his commitment “Sa Tuwid Na Landas” but under this globalized trading regime, the DA must be well-equiped to protect its borders against any calamity. Regulatory services must be strengthened not only in human capital but also in terms of facilities. DA needs to harmonize inter-government policies and product-standard; logical support to lower input and transaction cost; and optimize world market opportunities. A Rice Smuggler come in connivance with our government authorities, where no one could be pinpointed as mastermind.

To recall the farewell message of former DA secretary Arthur Yap delivered during the Philippine Association of Provincial and City Agriculturists, Inc. conference, he outlined the challenges for that year and beyond. Agriculture development and modernization are endeavors that must be continuously and vigorously pursued. Yap highly recommended to the next stewards of the DA at the time to support the following:

Implement a long term national food security strategy, food security that requires forward analysis and planning, decision on national priorities on the use of scarce natural resources from both domestic and foreign. Food security must be done in coordination with other agencies and harmonize policies and priorities;

Development of United and Enterprise Geospatial Information System to enhance the capability of DA in planning and implementation of programs and projects in Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones.

Hasten the organization and implementation of the DA National Information Network in response to the urgent needs of the various agri-fishery stakeholders by providing technical assistance and market linkages on real time. 

Strengthen Regulatory Capabilities by the continuous development of science based mechanism that will protect both the producer and consumer against unfair trade practices. This will need modern equipment and continuous training of personnel, including the professionalization and the development of a regulatory and quarantine training curriculum within the DA in cooperation with State Universities and Colleges.

Push for the implementation of the Rationalization Plan as well as filing up the vacant positions of operating units which are depleted of manpower to ensure a more effective and efficient use of human and financial resources.

Develop greater and strong DA-LGU Partnership and Collaboration to fuel the creation and enhancement of more responsive development plans, improved and more effective extension programs, and increased funding through counter-parting.

Strengthen Farmers Organizations and Cooperative for Rural-Based Value-Adding Enterprises as this activity will help create stable jobs, attract much needed investments and reduce poverty and hunger. 

Strengthen and Accelerate Human Resource Development Programs in the Agriculture and fisheries to nurture self-reliant farmers, those with management and decision-making skills to adapt with the changing production environments and market opportunities.

Accelerate Farm Mechanization to provide essential material basis for agri-fishery modernization. The application of farm machineries allows faster land preparation, fast harvesting and reduce post harvest losses.

Accelerate Implementation of Programs to Mitigate Impact of Climate Change-including the establishment of a buffer stock of quality seeds, conduct of research in rainwater harvesting, organic farming, balanced fertilization, and revival of degraded soils and promotion of science-based technologies to protect plants and animals against pest and diseases-including the enhancement of the agricultural insurance program by introducing weather index-based crop insurance and aquaculture/fisheries insurance to cover more farmer/fisher-beneficiaries aimed to ensure sustained food production throughout the agricultural system.

Continue the success of the National Organic Agriculture program so as to reduce the farmers’ dependent on inorganic fertilizer and ensure healthy and all natural produce.

Former DA Secretary Yap said: “While no generation, in the past several decades has never  face such immense challenges as we do today, no other generation has ever been so worthy and prepared to seize opportunities and prevail as ours.” 

Is our country really poor as they always reason out of no funds available but of billions pesos lost in the coffers? /MP

Vice Ganda And Sex Values

Vice Ganda And Sex Values
By Alex P. Vidal

Alex P. Vidal
“Love between man and man is impossible because there must not be sexual intercourse and friendship between man and woman is impossible because there must be sexual intercourse.” JAMES JOYCE

The rape joke last year contrived by TV comedian Vice Ganda on respected journalist Jessica Soho was utterly malicious and done in bad taste. It showed that the gay host was bereft of sex values and orientation that weighed down his qualification to handle sensitive issues in public in pretext of fun and entertainment.

We are trying to correct and educate Vice Ganda here not because he is gay, but because of his cheap obloquy and disrespect for victims of rape, not to mention being tactless and his propensity to pander on highly sensitive matters for public gawking. 

Vice Ganda’s portrayal of Soho as a gang rape victim and her taking potshots at Soho’s weight was a brutal calumny and direct insult to women with weight issues and victims of rape in general. 

Some twenty years ago the word “homosexual” conjured up images of sad, neurotic deviants. Vice Ganda should be thankful to the open spirit of the last decades which helped improve our knowledge, and a clear picture of homosexuals today would show a great many men and women who live by their own values and whose emotional expressions are not limited by traditional sex roles. Far from being sick, gays like Vice Ganda often function better than nongays.

Mark Freedman, founder of the Association of Gay Psychologists and a former staff psychologist at the Northeast Community Mental Health Center in San Francisco, California, said: “traditionally, psychiatrists have based their view of homosexuality either on armchair speculation or on the analysis of homosexuals who enter therapy--a highly unrepresentative sample.” 

It wasn’t until 1957, in fact, that psychologist Evelyn Hooker of UCLA published the first really sound research on the personal adjustment of gay men. Hooker compared homosexuals and heterosexuals who were not in therapy after dividing them up into pairs of comparable age, intelligence and schooling and then giving them a battery of personality tests. Experienced clincial psychologists then rated each person’s test results without knowing the man’s sexual orientation.

Hooker drew several tentative conclusions from her study. First, the clinical entity of “disease” called homosexuality does not exist. The forms of homosexual experience are as varied as the forms of heterosexual experience. Second, homosexuality may well be a deviation that is within the normal range of human behavior. And third, particular forms of sexual desires and expression may play a less important role in personality structure than many psychiatrists assume. 
Vice Ganda, whatever his educational attainment and training and whether he is into showbiz or business of gossip, should learn about sexuality education, which is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values about identity, relationships, and intimacy.

Sexuality education is more than teaching people about anatomy and the physiology of reproduction. It includes an understanding of sexuality in the broadest context--sexual development, reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, affection and intimacy, body image, and sex and gender roles.

Parents are the primary sexuality educators of their children. Infants and toddlers receive this education when parents talk to them, dress them, show affection, play with them, and teach them the names of the parts of their bodies. As children grow, they continue to receive messages about appropriate behaviors and values as they develop relationships within their family and the social environment.

Children learn about sexuality through their observations and relationships with parents, friends, teachers, and neighbors; television, music, books, advertisements, and toys teach them about sexual issues.

It is important, however, that the process of sexual learning within the family be supplemented by planned learning opportunities in churches and synagogues, community and youth agencies, and schools.

Vice Ganda may not be the only person who needs sexual values. As with most human values, sexual values have passed through periods of crests (times of liberalization) and troughs (times of conservatism or extreme reaction). According to experts David L. Bender and Bruno Leone, sexual values underwent significant change throughout most of the Western world in the sixties and seventies.

“Rigid sexual standards of the 1950s were replaced by what many viewed as unbridled permissiveness. As recently as forty years ago, certain values were given: sex should be confined to marriage, prostitution was unquestionably a crime, pornography is a moral blight and homosexuality, a depravity,” they wrote. “However, studies revealed that during the sixties and seventies many people were defecting from these traditional values.”/MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer by Ambrosio R. Villorente

The New Effective MKWD 

Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino texted me thus: “Before, fairy tales started with ‘Once upon a time…’ now fairy tales start with : Once I get elected…”

However, not in the Metro Kalibo Water District (MKWD) for it has improved much its services to its clients which 10 years ago when MKWD was sudden with graft coupled with sub-standard service to its clients.

Thanks to the mass media in Aklan for its constructive criticism and discussion concerning what were happening in MKWD that time. A poor performing general manager was uprooted from his bench and the chairman of the Board of Directors was dislodged from his chair: A new chairman was elected and a new general manager was appointed. 

Today, MKWD is housed in its new impeccable three levels building constructed at a cost of P41 million located in barangay Andagao, Kalibo.

The former MKWD building in C. Laserna St., Poblacion, Kalibo is available for rent. The new building is equipped with modern facilities being manned by honest, competent and dignified personnel and officers under the leadership of General Manager Edgar Isada, a certified public accountant in active practice.

In his watch, MKWD has now 22,160 active connections distributed among five (5) municipalities of Kalibo which has 14,384, New Washington – 4,055, Banga – 2,172, Balete – 1,090, and Batan – 451. 

MKWD employs 164 employees, 93 of whom are permanent and 71 non permanent.

MKWD management follows the best management practices. Its offices open at 7:00 o’clock in the morning and close only after all the customers are served their needs in the afternoon.

The customers service, MKWD provides a wide area for customers that accommodates eight (8) tellers. It has installed automated Queue Management system for faster servicing to customers like senior citizens, pregnant women and PWD’s. 

The Board of Directors (BOD) is chaired by Atty. Edmund R. Peralta, former mayor of New Washinton, Aklan. He served as mayor for nine (9) years in three consecutive terms. The BOD formulates policies which the management implements.

Last year (2013), the MKWD served effectively its 24,858 households, offices and business firms. It produced 6.62 million cubic meters of water. Of this quantity, 5.63 million cubic meters were accounted and billed, while .07 thousand cubic meters were unaccounted or 1.07 percent. Non revenue water was one (1) million cubic meters or 15 percent. Of this water produced, MKWD attained a 96.74 percent collection efficiency.

This high collection efficiency has enabled MKWD to religiously pay its loan obligation. It paid P19.3 million to its creditors, P8.8 million of which was applied to the principal. Hence, MKWD posted a net income of P38 million in 2013, slightly lower than the P38.4 million net income obtained in 2012. 

This year, MKWD will construct a water tank capable to store 100,000 cubic meters of water. This water tank will be situated at the back of the new MKWD office building in Andagao, Kalibo, Aklan.

MKWD GM Edgar Isada was the guest speaker during the meeting of the Rotary Club of Kalibo held at Clubhouse, Andagao, Kalibo, August 26, 2014. In his discussion, he revealed all the best practices followed by the MKWD. For example, to  best serve its clients, he adjsuted the working hour  by advancing the start from 8:00 o’clock in the morning to 7:00 o’clock and the office will only close after all the customers are served in the afternoon.

According to Isada, this is done to accomodate government and private sectors employees to allow  them to transact business with MKWD before 8:00 o’clock in the morning so that they can report to their respective offices on time.

For one thing, Isada has put up suggestion box where suggestions or any complaint can be written and placed in it. All the contents are taken out from the suggestion box regularly, studied, analyzed, and considered. Any reasonable suggestions and complaints  accepted is recommended to the  BOD for implementation.

Example of suggestions accepted and implemented are the adjustment of office hours at 7:00 o’clock in the morning and the procedure in the method of payment of water bills.  /MP 


Rationalizing Road Widening 
And Tree Planting Projects
by Ernesto T. Solidum

Some 1,050 trees along the 42 kilometers highway in Pangasinan were cut down by DPWH or its contractor from November 2013 to February 2014. Strong objections were raised by Ms. Patricia Gwen Borcena, founding President of Green Research on the ground that the environment be preserved because felled trees are centuries old and considered natural heritage. Not contented, the target for next demolition is another 1,829 trees, the environmental activists Borcena claimed.

DENR Sec. Ramon Paje promptly issued a freeze order earlier this August on tree cutting permit relative to road widening projects. He asked the DPWH to conduct in-depth review such as realignment of road design to save valuable trees. The scheme could cause unwanted delays forcing contractors to revise the contract cost at the disadvantage of taxpayers.

There are always 3 sides of the problem. The NGO’s stand represented by Mrs. Borcena may be credible. The DPWH’s version is convincing. Not bad. However, an independent opinion could be that actually Green Research’s viewpoint is emotional while DPWH’s is practical. Here’s why:

DPWH has unequivocal mandate to design and implement national roads and bridges that meet international standards. The optimum width is 20 to 30 meters for 4 lanes. The current infra program uses concrete or asphalt, box culverts, guard rails, signages, concrete or steel bridges and street lights on strategic points. These are to ensure that road safety and ease of travel are provided to motorists and the riding public. There must be no compromise on structural integrity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) findings show that the annual death toll from road accidents is 1.2 million. The technical Working Group that evaluated the Asean Strategic Transport Plan (2011-2015) lists 75,000 deaths, 4.7 million injuries and $15 billion damages to property among Asean countries every year. The objective of the Philippine Road Safety Management is to reduce fatalities from 4.2 to 2.0 percent or savie 3,400 lives annually.

It is emphasized that we have trees for its economic and aesthetic values but thoughtful consideration must be observed as when they limit progress and undermine traffic safety. The trees in question have outlived their usefulness because they sometimes incur heavy maintenance expense from DPWH and Electric Cooperatives’ road clearing operation. During typhoons, trees flatten power lines, kill or maim lives and obstruct traffic flow causing serious inconvenience.

Felled trees could be sawn into lumber and benefit homeless victims of typhoons, repair schoolhouses and provide desks of grade schoolers. Given these insights, trees as a policy must never be planted along highways or provincial roads but in 8.0 million hectares of denuded forests land of the country. Other sites could be community parks and recreational areas.

It is unfortunate that civic societies openly voice their objections to legitimate government projects when they should divert their energies to illegal logging activities rampant in national forest and watersheds like in Aurora, Mt. Apo, Davao, Palawan, Lanao del Sur, and Cagayan. No less than 210, 000 hectares of forest land are lost every year, UNFAO reported. Here, the NGO’s can prove its sincerity and love in the advocacy they wish to exemplify.

In sum, let the DPWH continue its desirable and good work. To the DENR, keep your hands off from someone’s business. NGO’s must take positive action as watch dogs over proper implementation of project, secure feedback and assist in information dissemination about benefits to the people. This is where to redeem your tarnished image./MP

DA 6 Trains Youth And Women On Meat Processing

DA 6 Trains Youth And 
Women On Meat Processing
By: James Earl E. Ogatis

Meat Processing. Gareth Bayate (center) of DA livestock and poultry sector shows the proper way to inject pumping pickle or brine solution on pork ham, one of the menu during the conduct of meat processing training-workshop among youth and women. (DA-6 Photo)
To provide every Filipino family access to adequate, safe and nutritious meat products, 50 participants composed of 4-H club members, rural improvement club members, out-of-school youth and small scale meat processors were trained on meat processing technologies on August 11 and 12, 2014.

Director Larry P. Nacionales, DA 6 Regional Executive Director said that providing appropriate skills and knowledge to the participants will enable them to become agri-entrepreneur in their respective areas.

“West Visayas, being number one in goat, number three in swine, number four in poultry and number five in cattle production nationwide has sufficient livestock and poultry raw materials to process,” Nacionales claimed.

“We must empower this segment of our community for them to maximize the available resources in our region and contribute livelihood activities in order to reduce poverty incidence.” Nacionales added.

The participants were trained on making tocino, tapang taal, skinless longganisa, siomai, quick cured ham, pork-veggie dumplings, jack burger, fresh native sausage, embutido and corned beef.
Marie Karen Dumangas of Animal Products Development Center of the Bureau of Animal Industry (APDC-BAI) said that these technologies are easy to prepare and are most demanded in everyday living.

“The value adding on meat products will preserve the shelf-life and improve its value through proper processing and packaging,” she added.
The activity was spearheaded by the livestock and poultry sector in cooperation with the gender and development program of DA 6.  /MP



Common Names: Flowering maple, Parlor maple, Chinese bellflower.
Description: Once among the most fashionable houseplants of the Victorian era, this member of the Hollyhock family has regained its popular status in recent years. The bushy plant features maple-shaped leaves and plenty of striking flowers resembling small hollyhocks.
Temperature: 70 degrees days; 60 degrees nights.
Light: Partial sun.
Water: During summer months, keep soil evenly moist. 
Humidity: Normal level.
Pinching and Pruning: Groom often. Prune tips of branches.
Fertilizer: Once a month.
Soil Contents: Common indoor all-purpose mix.
Propagation: by Seeds.
Pests and Diseases: Mealy bugs, Scale, Spider Mites and White Flies.
Common Name: Begonia.
Description: This is an extremely large and diverse group of plants. Some Begonias are enjoyed for their beautiful foliage, while others are loved for their vibrant flower.
Temperature: 65 degrees.
Light: Bright light.
Water: Allow top of the soil to dry out between watering. 
Humidity: High level.
Pinching and Pruning: Pinch back new plants to prevent leggy growth.
Fertilizer: Every two weeks throughout the year.
Soil Contents: African violet mix.
Propagation: Seeds, stems, cuttings and division.
Pests and Diseases: Botrytis Grey Mold.
Common Name: Bromeliad.
Description: An exotic beautiful group of plants whose thousands of species include the pineapple.
Temperature: 70 to 75 degrees.
Light: Partial sun or bright light.
Water: Allow the top of the soil to dry out between watering. Keep the cups of the epiphytics filled with water and change the water once a month.
Humidity: High level.
Pinching and Pruning: Remove yellow and brown leaves.
Fertilizer: Once a month. 
Soil Contents: Epiphytic soil mix or one part clean, washed sand, one part fir bark, and one part sphagnum moss.
Propagation: Plant the “pups” or offset in light soil.
Pests and Diseases: Mealy bugs, Scale, and Root Rot.
Common Name: Norse fire plant.
Description: A trailing plant with shiny, green purple leaves. Beautiful tubular flowers bloom in red, yellow, and orange colors.
Temperature: 70 degrees.
Light: Bright light.
Water: Keep soil moist.
Humidity: High level.
Pinching and Pruning: Prune branches and stems to encourage flowering.
Fertilizer: Fertilize every two weeks.
Soil Contents: African violet mix.
Propagation: Seeds and stem cuttings.
Pests and Diseases: Aphids and Leaf Miners.
Common Names: Shooting star, Alpine violet.
Description: Marked by  heart-shaped leaves and plenty of red, lavender, white and pink flowers.
Temperature: 60 degrees.
Light: Bright light.
Water: Keep soil very moist and mist the leaves often.
Humidity: Low level.
Pinching and Pruning: None needed.
Fertilizer: Every two weeks when blooming.
Soil Contents: African violet mix.
Propagation: Seeds and tubers. For tubers, wait until blooming period ends and place tuber in a cool location and let soil stay dry. During summer, replant it in a small container in a warmer location. Resume normal care when plant begins to grow.
Pests and Diseases: Rarely bothered.
Common Names: Amaryllis, Barbados lily.
Description: Known for their lovely, lily-like flowers which appear in shades of pink, salmon, scarlet and white among others. Strap-like leaves emerge after the flowers have blossomed.
Temperature: 70 degrees; 60 degrees when flowering begins.
Light: Shade; Partial sun when blooming.
Water: Very little water until bulb appears then keep soil moist.
Humidity: Normal level.
Pinching and Pruning: Do not pinch or prune until bulb reseeds.
Fertilizer: Every two weeks while blooming.
Soil Contents: Common indoor all-purpose mix.
Propagation: Remove and plant offset bulbs after flowering period is over. Try to divide the plant during this period.
Pests and Diseases: Rarely bothered.
Common Name: Geranium.
Description: Easy to care for, year round houseplants which bloom in colors ranging throughout the reds, pinks, whites, and purples.
Temperature: 70 degrees days; 60 degrees nights.
Light: Direct sun.
Water: Allow the top of the soil to dry out between very thorough watering/drenchings.
Humidity: Low humidity level.
Pinching and Pruning: Pinch and prune when needed to keep the plants bushy. Always remove dead flowers and leaves immediately.
Fertilizer: Every two weeks with a fertilizer low in nitrogen content.
Soil Contents: Common indoor all-purpose mix.
Propagation: Seeds, stem cuttings can be rooted in vermiculite.
Pests and Diseases: Mealy bugs, Scale, Spider Mites and Powdery Mildew.
Common Name: African violet.
Description: The most popular flowering houseplant of modern times, the African violet is a stemless plant with velvety leaves and violet flowers.
Temperature: 75 degrees days; 65 degrees nights.
Light: Bright light in summer.
Water: Keep soil evenly moist and only water with lukewarm water. Never allow water to touch the leaves.
Humidity: High level.
Pinching and Pruning: Prune side shoots and always remove dead flowers and leaves immediately.
Fertilizer: Once a month.
Soil Contents: African violet mix.
Propagation: Leaf and stem cuttings, seeds.
Pests and Diseases: Crown Rot, Botrytis Grey Mold, Aphids, Scale.
Common Names: Peace lily, White flag, Spathe flower.
Description: Long, oval leaves and usually just one or two pure, white sheaths covering flower stalks.
Temperature: 65 to 70 degrees.
Light: Filtered light or Shade.
Water: Keep the soil moist in summer. Allow the top of the soil to dry out in between watering.
Humidity: High level.
Pinching and Pruning: None needed.
Fertilizer: Once a month during growth period.
Soil Contents: Common indoor all-purpose mix.
Propagation: Division.
Pests and Diseases: Scale, Spider Mites. /MP

Mushroom Production Among Yolanda Survivors

Mushroom Production Among 
Yolanda Survivors 
By: James Earl E. Ogatis
Mushroom Production: Yolanda survivors from San Enrique, Iloilo pose in front of mushroom fruiting bags which will serve as startup material for their community-based mushroom production. (DA-Rice Program photo)

The Department of Agriculture (DA) 6 has intensified the conduct of training on community-based mushroom production among 200 typhoon Yolanda survivors in Western Visayas.

 Community-based mushroom production is one of the immediate assistance of the DA to provide income generating project to rice farming communities affected by the typhoon.
 Dir. Larry P. Nacionales of DA 6 said that the project will be the source of nutritious food to households knowing that mushroom contains very high Vitamin D, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Selenium. It is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin C, Folate,
Iron, Zinc and Manganese.
 “This food is low in Saturated Fat and Sodium, and very low in Cholesterol”, Nacionales stressed.

 “This project addresses the problem on burning of rice straws in the fields because this is the primary raw material needed for making mushroom fruiting bags.” Nacionales explained.

The potential of mushroom culture in typhoon affected areas is viable and doable because of the availability of raw materials, small area requirement and less capital needed for investment.

Elmer Cabusas, focal person on mushroom production said that production cost for one fruiting bag weighing 700 kilograms is Php12.00. This can produce 300 grams to 900 grams of fruits which can be sold at Php160.00/kilo.

Cabusas added that the farmer organization can also directly sell its fruiting bags at Php25.00/bag which will immediately provide them with Php13.00 profit per bag.

He stressed that the Morales Farmers Association of Balete, Aklan is now selling their fruiting bags to the neighboring local government units and private individuals. They hired full-time farmer to take care of the mass production of mushroom fruiting bags just to cater to the demand.

Other farmers organization trained on mushroom production are Camp Eupre Farmers Association of Barbaza, Antique; BALMAT Irrigators Association of Sigma, Capiz; Brgy. Masgarua, Jamindan, Capiz; Agusipan Farmers Association of Badiangan, Iloilo and Bayuyan Farmers Association of Estancia, Iloilo.  /MP



Northwestern Visayan Colleges – The Forum Publication in cooperation with the Youth Advocates, conducts 2014 Campus Journalism Seminar Workshop held at NVC CSQ Gymnasium last August 21, 2014, Thursday with the theme “To Write Is Already To Choose.”

That was a one day activity where more than 40 participants composed of third year AB Mass Communication and AB English Students participated. After the opening program, Dr. Ambrosio R. Villorente, Technical Adviser of the Forum, in his short message congratulated the participants for joining the seminar. He encouraged them to learn more while they are young and be prepared to assume leadership in the future. He urged them to study and improve their journalistic skills. 

After Dr. Villorente, the topic on News Writing was discussed by Mr. Jun Ariolo N. Aguirre. He discussed the basic information on News Writing. He then continued to talk on Photo Journalism. According to Aguirre, it is not the picture alone, but the message. It is important  what is being portrayed. Aguirre let the students select a topic on current news in school and within the country. He also allowed the participants to go out to take photos.

Feature Writing was discussed by Ms. Rebecca T. Barrios, former school publication writer of the Philippine Normal University (PNU). She brought and distributed a copy of her work that served as material for her talk. Another graduate from PNU lectured on Editorial Writing. His discussion was accompanied with illustrations and samples.

Atty. Allen S. Quimpo – NVC President, in his short message quoted that “The Forum Publication is By the Student, Of the Student, and For the student… Sa inyo mismo ito manggagaling.”/MP

US Banks Shut Down Remittance Programs Due To RISING FEES

US Banks Shut Down 
Remittance Programs Due To RISING FEES

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has expressed “deep concern” over the recent moves of United States banks to restrict the use of their facilities for international money transfers in response to regulatory pressure from the US government.

“In particular, a plan to increase remittance fees would adversely impact on the millions of Filipinos in the United States who regularly send money to their families in the Philippines,” Binay said in a letter to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr.
He is the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns.
Binay is optimistic as the BSP will look for solutions to mitigate the impact of the recent developments.

According to the New York Times, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Citigroup have scrapped programs that allowed migrant workers to send money back to their families at a reduced cost, in response to increased regulation.

The increased regulation is part of the US government’s efforts to curb money laundering activities after a series of money-laundering scandals.

In 2012, HSBC was accused of failing to monitor more than $670 billion in wire transfers and more than $9.4 billion in purchases of US currency from HSBC Mexico.
HSBC admitted to laundering money for drug cartels and agreed to pay a $1.9 billion settlement to avoid lawsuit.

The US has been the biggest source of OFW remittances in recent years, with almost $10 billion remitted to the country in 2013 alone.


Those advising the President to pursue a course that will lead to a frontal confrontation with the Supreme Court are bringing our country to the brink of a political and constitutional crisis. They are also putting peril in the President’s chance to leave a positive legacy to the people. In doing so, they invoke the name of public interest. To blur the delineation between their selfish interest and public interest is dangerous and despotic.

Checks and balances are the foundations of democracy. When the Supreme Court declared the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, it was in exercise of its power and duty as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution ratified during the time of President Cory Aquino.

 The Constitution is quite explicit when it reposed on the judiciary not only the power but also the duty “to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government.”   This is included precisely to prevent a situation where the judiciary bends to the wills of one branch, or of one man as was the case during martial law.

 As one of those who fought for freedom and democracy during martial law, I appreciate the powers vested in the Supreme Court by the 1987 Constitution. It enshrines the hopes of the millions of Filipinos who made the 1986 Edsa Revolution possible for a strong judicial institution as the best safeguard against dictatorship in whatever form.

Binay firmly believes, a democracy obligates the three co-equal branches - executive, judiciary and legislature - to respect each one’s independence and recognize each one’s powers, duties and limitations set by the Constitution. A healthy democracy will benefit the people.

He prays for sober reflection to restrain abrupt political initiatives. We must never allow purely partisan considerations to erode the institutions that guarantee our freedoms. /MP

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sugilanon Ni Tita Linda

Saeaming Nga Bukid
Ni Tita Linda Belayro

May guinasugid nga may saeaming nga bukid nga nagapakita kon putli ro imong tagipuso-on. Rondaya rong taeamdon ko mga tawo nga puti suno sa andang hinimuan nga kamaeayran. Owa it nakasueod sa rondayang bukid bangod owa it puertahan. Ogaling mabuksan eamang it isaeang ka onga nga pinili. Abo nga mga guinikanan ro naga handum nga kunta ro anang onga rong mangin pinili.

Samtang nagahampang ko anang titiris si Betty, may nagpaeapit kana nga isaeang ka babaye nga nakasuksok it puting eambong. Guinsampit ko babaye imaw kon bo-ot nana nga magsueod sa bukid nga saeaming. Nagpamalibad imaw bangod owa nakasayod ro anang ina. Golpeng naduea rong babaye. Anang guinsugid sa anang ina rong natabo. Halin kato, guinbawaean imaw nga magadto sa eati.

Ko isaeang agahon ngaron, golpeng nagkasangag ro mga tawo. Naduea kuno ro andang mga onga. Suno sa nakakita, guindaea sanda it babayeng nakaputi. Nagpakita sa mga tawo rong saeaming nga bukid. 

Idto nagsueod ro mga onga nga nagahilinampang. Bugana sanda sa pagkaon ogaling pag-abot it gabi-i hay nagatilinangis sanda tungod sa kahidlaw sa andang mga guinikanan. Guinsamitan nga buksan rong bukid ogaling owa it puertahan.

May nagpakita nga nakaputing babaye ag naghambae nga isaeang ka onga nga puti rong makabukas sa puertahan. Kinahangean nga isakripisyo nana ro anang tudlo bilang yabe agud mabuksan ro puertahan. Guin hambae pa it babaye nga si Betty rong yabe para mabuksan rong puertahan. 

Nag adto ro mga tawo sa baeay nanday Betty. Ro iba nagta-o it kwarta, ag ro iba hay mga alahas ogaling nagpamalibad ro ina ni Betty. Ko ulihe, nagsugot ra nanay. Guinhaead nana ro anang  onga agod isakripisyo ro todlo ni Betty bangod sa kaeo-uy sa mga tawo. Nakaguwa ro mga unga nga kaabuan hay pasaway, owa naga eskwela, naga ligoy sa klase, nagapanakaw ag ro iba hay mga matamad.

Bangod eang sa tudlo ni Betty, nagpasaeamat ro mga guinikanan. Nagta-o man it leksyon rato sa mga onga. Makaron, palangga guid nana si Betty ag imaw hay nangin huwaran ko mga kabataan una sa andang lugar. /MP


*Statement of the Philippine Chamber Of Commerce and Industry.

The serious concern about power supply shortfall in Luzon in 2015-2016, a potential shortfall in the Visayas and the ongoing shortage in Mindanao are definitely deafening sound for action, a deliberate one that does not need to raise the panic button among the public.

This challenge we face now does not come as a surprise.  Over the last four to five years, the power supply and demand situation has been extensively presented and discussed in several consumers, business and government fora both, separately and jointly.

With the supply shortfall escalating into brownouts in Luzon and finally putting everyone on the same page, we are calling for all stakeholders to act in unison in addressing the issue on hand.
From the combined economic, industry, investment and even political views, there appear to be two (2) basic distinct critical periods or challenges to address - the 2015-16 period and post-2016 and beyond. 

The first has to be confronted with basic “stop-gap” or “band-aiding” measure.  This situation is like a golf ball lying 6 inches from the hole.  It is a “give” situation and there is no need to tap it in, meaning any steps taken to cure, to bridge or aid the gap would be acceptable to all.  There is no need to declare a national emergency.

The second is different because it must be addressed by way of a well-laid out plan that is shared with all stakeholders and which government could smoothly and competently implement through the grant of emergency powers to the President, if the plan would warrant the declaration of a state of emergency.  Without such a well-laid plan behind it, declaring a state of emergency would be dangerous and could eventually be counter-productive as we have experienced before.

The private sector has submitted several proposals to entice investments and improve generation adequacy including aggregating the demand of distribution utilities, opening the generation market to competitive bidding and streamlining the business permitting and licensing system. 

We urge the National Government to earnestly consider these proposals and develop them into a roadmap consistent with the goals of adequate and reliable power supply and competitive power rate.

The situation can be solved without need for amending the EPIRA, which would create unnecessary restlessness and uncertainties and slow down the present market and investment momentum.  The same situation may be expected should a national emergency that is not founded on any solid plan is declared.

With the exercise of strong and reasonable political leadership and will, both issues can be effectively overcome and thereby provide assurance of better power supply and price competitiveness ahead. /MP

Drilon Warns Gov’t. Underspending

Drilon Warns Gov’t. Underspending

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon aired concerns about the drop in government spending in 2014 which, if not addressed, could further be aggravated by the “chilling effect” of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) on the government spending plan.

The Senate leader pointed to signs of looming underspending of the government during the Senate’s hearing on the proposed P2.606 trillion 2015 national budget.

“For the first quarter of 2014, the growth domestic product is only 5.7 percent, which is lower than the 7.7percent growth rate achieved in the same period in 2013,” said Drilon.

“The underspending is also visible in the decline in the government consumption for the first quarter of 2014 which only reached 2 ptercent, way below the 10 percent level during the same period last year,” he added.

 Drilon thus issued a challenge to the country’s economic managers: “the challenge now is how to accelerate spending in the remaining months of the year while still complying with the Supreme Court decision on the DAP.”

“The members of the bureaucracy now have apprehension against taking initiatives, because they might face charges stemming from the DAP decision. Whether you like it or not, the SC decision on the DAP had a chilling effect on the government expenditure program,” Drilon pointed out.

 He said the Office of the President and the Department of Budget and Management should closely monitor the line agencies to ensure they would implement their programs in a timely manner.
Drilon also committed that the Senate will continue to exercise its oversight functions to make sure proper and prompt government spending is given priority. /MP

Multi-commodity Solar Tunnel Dryer For Guimaras

Multi-commodity Solar Tunnel 
Dryer For Guimaras

The Department of Agriculture 6 through the high value crops development program provides the first multi-commodity solar tunnel dryer costing Php. 240,000.00 to Ms. Rebecca Tubungbanua of barangay San Isidro, Buenavista, Guimaras. Tubungbanua is an awardee of Gawad Saka and Magsasakang Siyentista of Guimaras. She is proprietor of McNester Food Products. The project is used to dry mango, sweet potato, cassava and mulunggay leaves. (James Earl Ogatis photo) /MP

NWNCHS Wins As Best Brigada Eskwela Implementer 2014

NWNCHS Wins As Best 
Brigada Eskwela Implementer 2014
by Annie B. Malacas

The New Washington National Comprehensive High School (NWNCHS), Poblacion, New Washington, Aklan is awarded the 2014 Best Brigada Eskwela Implementer, Secondary Big School Category in the Division of Aklan. It is Aklan’s entry in the Regional level, Secondary division.

Mrs. Mary Ann S. Lopez, Education Program Supervisor I in MSEP/MAPEH, Division Adopt-a- School/Brigada Eskwela Coordinator, and one of the evaluators announced the Division Level result of the yearly search on July 25, 2014 during the school’s Opening Program of the “Paligsahan ng Lakas 2014” at the NWNCHS Grounds.

The DepEd has mandated all the private and public schools nationwide to conduct the Brigada Eskwela every year in the month of May in preparation for the opening of classes in June through the DepEd Order No. 24, Series 2008.

The NWNCHS with all other schools all over the country held the Brigada Eskwela or the National Schools Maintenance Week on May 19-24, 2014.

The collaborative efforts of the teachers and employees headed by their Principal, Mrs. Santia A. Arboleda and their Head Teacher I, Mrs. Rosalita A. Antaran; the school’s Brigada Eskwela Coordinator, Mr. Marvin R. Parman; the municipal officials led by Mayor Edgar R. Peralta, the Rural Health Unit with its Municipal Health Officer V, Dr. Emmanuel M. Peralta; the Bureau of Fire Protection headed by the Acting Municipal Marshal SF02 Germeniano U. Fernandez, the New Washington PNP led by the Chief of Police, PSI Al Loren P. Bigay, Punong Barangay Kristian V. Peralta with his Barangay Council, PTA Officers headed by the President PO2 Fraim S. Prado; 4P’s recipients, alumni and other stakeholders contributed much in winning the award.

The winners in the Regional level in the Elementary and Secondary divisions will be the Western Visayas’ entries in the National Search for 2014 Brigada Eskwela Best Implementer. /MP

Promoting Safe And Enjoyable Land Travel

Promoting Safe And 
Enjoyable Land Travel
By Ernesto T. Solidum

Ernesto T. Solidum
“Traffic Rules and Regulations” is topic discussed in the weekly Kapihan on August 16, 2014 held at NVC Carmen Hotel. The guests are Chief Insp. Pedro M. Enriquez, Kalibo PNP, Valtimor D. Conanan, Head LTO and Reynaldo A. Agcawili, Pres., Kalibo Pobl. Tricycle Optrs and Drivers Credit Coop. (Kapotodcco).

The rational for road traffic safety focuses on World Health Organization findings that the annual death toll due to road accidents is 1.2 million. The Asean Strategic Transport Plan lists 75,000 deaths, 4.7 million injuries and $15 billion damage to property among Asean countries every year.
In Metro Manila, the UP National Center for Transportation Studies reported that in 2003, the leading cause of injuries was vehicular accidents involving 9,000 road crash fatalities. On this basis, the objective of Road Safety Management is to reduce fatalities from 4.2 to 2.0 percent or save 3,400 lives annually.

According to Mr. Conanan, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is implementing DOTC Joint Adm. Order No. 2014-001. It imposes drastic fines for violation of traffic rules and regulations. Where before minimum penalty was only P1,000. Today the penalties are for colorum buses - P1 million; passenger van - P200,000; tricycle - P6,000; non-wearing of PS helmet - P1,000; reckless driving - P2,000; smoke belching vehicles on road inspection - P3,000; and non-wearing of seatbelt - P1,000. Other sanctions are revocation of driver’s license, franchise, impoundment of vehicle and imprisonment.

Road users or drivers must be educated on traffic signs such as regulatory, warning, guide or info, special instruction and roadwork posted conspicuously along or above the road as in bridge overpass. The presence of undisciplined drivers and stakeholders is due to the dearth of knowledge on road traffic education. We need to start this among school children like program on “Walk this Way” and Defensive Driving averred Conanan.

The police has the mandate to enforce all traffic rules and regulation like the parking/no parking areas, no loading/unloading zones, no vehicle entry, one way streets. Ironically, the international road signs like the no parking, no entry are now posted in bold letters yet many motorists disobey or just ignore them. Pedestrians must use the pedestrian lane or cross on street corners and walk against incoming traffic to the left. Passengers must board in bus or van terminals and expect to be dropped in unloading zone. How many of our riding public and drivers care about personal safety and comfort during travel? An educated guess could be only half, laments Chief Insp. Enriquez.

Mr. Agcawili revealed that Kapotodcco is reorganized in August 2012 and registered with CDA on March 3, 2013. It has 120 regular members and 1,600 associate members. The membership fee is P100 while subscribed capital is P4,000 payable in 4 yearly installments.

All transport services must abide with the existing traffic rules and regulations as well as transport policy of LGU Kalibo which include ban on tricycle outsiders from operating inside Poblacion Kalibo, tricycle rerouting scheme, use of proper uniform (vest, jacket, long pants, and rubber shoes) and phasing out of outmoded or decrepit tricycle units.

To get rid of surplus number of tricycles is to decongest Kalibo streets. We encourage our members to bond together, replace their units with brand new multicabs. Kalibo is a tourist hub and gateway to Boracay. Franchise service routes could initially be suburban Kalibo and later the Pook Jetty Port and Kalibo Circumferential road. However, the plan will materialize if an enabling law is passed to this effect, Agcawili suggested.

LTO has rescinded the drug testing requirement prior to acquiring new driver’s license or its renewal. The mandatory smoke emission testing must also be abolished. Mr. Conanan deflects this issue to the Task Force composed of DTI, DOH, DOST, and DENR that approve license of private contractors. National data on smoke emission tests show less than 1 percent only of all vehicles tested are disapproved. Since the Clean Air Act of 1997, operators of vehicles pay to LTO exorbitant fees ranging from P300 to P450 per unit irrespective of year model as long as it runs on the road. This made highways, roads and avenues in the Philippines filled with smog and increased the number of people with chronic respiratory diseases, asthma and cardiovascular diseases.

Pound for pound, a motorcycle spews more carbon gasses into the atmosphere than a car because the latter is equipped with catalytic converter to trap harmful residue as a result of combustion. In view of this, it is logical that 2 stroke motorcycles especially utilized for sidecar must be banned. If we need a pollution-free environment, we must strongly adopt 4 stroke gasoline engines. The 2 stroke MC’s may be deployed or relegated to secondary or tertiary roads. (2 stroke MC is banned in China 15 years ago. Therefore, the Philippines serves as dumping ground for rejected motorcycles.)  

Unauthorized vehicle modification must be strictly implemented by law enforcers. Multicab operators have the nasty habit of increasing body length and transmission shaft without making proper adjustment of bearings size, tires and engine unit of vehicle. This practice jeopardizes safety of riding public and road stakeholders. Data show that one third of road fatalities are pedestrians and bystanders.

The same is true of single motorcycle used as “habal-habal” found in all provinces and cities of the country. They are oftentimes called daredevils for handily negotiating cross country roads, off tracks carrying 3 to 4 back passengers plus 1 in front of driver racing at speeds of 20 to 30 kilometers per hour. Other cumbersome loads are sacks of palay, corn, copra, vegetables and fruits. Virtually all safety precautions are ignored here: no protective gear like helmets, jackets, shoes, and hand gloves. Worst for some drivers are minors who don’t possess driver’s license. (Even deaf mute is allowed to drive in Aklan.) Under the circumstances, prospective passengers, other vehicles and pedestrians must confront imminent dangers as loss of life or limb. Indeed life is harsh for those living in remote barangays connected with rails and narrow gravel road.

The fundamental solution to safe and efficient transportation lies in 3 strategies namely: a) proper road engineering design and construction of roads and bridges by DPWH and PEO, b) education on road safety by LTO and NGO and c) law enforcement by PNP and LTO. These are complementary and explicitly provided for under the mission/goals of concerned government agencies.

We decry loss of lives during typhoons, floods, and earthquake but road carnage cases each year are mounting and more numerous because authorities and stakeholders tend to ignore basic road safety management. /MP

Women Make A Difference In Peace Process

Women Make A Difference
 In Peace Process
by Megs S. Lunn

Megs S. Lunn
Sarah Cleto Rial, USA/South Sudan, is excited to meet up with Rotary Peace Fellow to the Rotary Peace Fellows’ field study to the Philippines. She is likewise excited to meet with the courageous women who served on the government’s negotiating team, chaired by Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and negotiated a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). 

The stories of the women are covered in the magazine, Kababaihan at Kapayapaan, Issue No. 1, March 2014.  The diverse representation of the women, their personal experience, and technical expertise made them even stronger.  From lawyers to administrators and peacebuilding activists on the ground, they represented their country and their people well.  It is really important to include the voices of the people who are on the ground because they are the ones who suffer the consequences of wars and who yearn for peace. They will eventually implement the peace agreement.  Without including their inputs, any efforts to bring peace from the top down will not succeed.

In a conference that she helped organized in May 2014, Washington – DC, a US businessman and political adviser said, “Women bring order to things much faster than men with AK-47s… The more women we can get involved everywhere, the better off we seem to be.”  This is what the Filipinas proved right.  According to a male interviewed for the Philippine magazine, the women’s work ethnic, competence and their ‘women touch’ contribute significantly to the success of the peace process.  More important, they offered better worded texts!  I hope we can learn from their experience.

 “My country, South Sudan, has suffered a long history of war and, after gaining independence in July 2011, the people hope to enjoy peace.  Yet, violence started again in December 2013 and current peace negotiations seem stalled.  Perhaps we would have made progress by now if women were to lead or included on both sides.  Inclusion must come from the beginning.  We must act now before it is too late.  The Global Peace Index puts South Sudan on the category of least peaceful countries and one of the indicators for structures that sustain peaceful societies is ‘gender equality’. Think about it,” Sarah Cleto Rial stressed.

Though the South Sudan constitution guarantees 25 percent women’s involvement at all levels of government, this is not reflected on the negotiating teams.  The opposition group had three women in the first round of talks but, to my understanding, reduced to only one.  When asked why there are no women on their team, the government representative, the acting chair, said, “What is important is not the gender representation but what is important is the achievement of the objective.  The objective is irrespective if they are represented or not.”

The marginalization of women is a global problem that varies from one nation to another.  The response of the representative above is just one example of how we are still suppressed in our community, our concerns are taken for granted, and our needs largely disregarded.  Leaders must realize that the push for representation the women call for and the issues that they want included in the agreements are the foundation of a stable society.  If these issues are not provided for, they become the reasons for conflicts – started by men! /MP

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Resilient Tourism: Foreign 
Visitors Surge In Albay

Mr. Johnny C. Nunez reported that Albay’s resilient tourism program has speedily and effectively put the province back on track shortly after Typhoon Glenda’s recent devastations. Foreign tourists are flocking back in droves to the country’s fastest growing destination, Albay.

Less than a month after Glenda pummeled the province, the newly opened Albay International Gateway (AIG) rolled out the red carpet last August 8 to welcome 154 Chinese tourists who flew direct from Xiamen on board a Cebu Pacific Airlines’ flight, wrote Nunez.

The batch kicks off Cebu Pacific’s initial 18-cycle, three-month running contract flights from August 8 to October 10 this year.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the province’s strong disaster resilient program made the project possible. The entire machinery of the Albay local government focussed on getting back on track immediately after the disaster, particularly in tourism.

Glenda mauled Albay for over seven hours last July 16. Salceda personally led the provincial government machinery immediately. They  cleared the debris evening of the same day so that residents woke up the next morning with almost all the roads already passable.

Water and power supplies were heavily derailed, but the local government resorted to alternative sources particularly in critical areas. Team Albay’s Water and Sanitation unit provided continuous supply of potable water while commercial and industrial outfits made available their power generators.

The telecommunication systems heavily damaged were back in service in five days, while public offices have reopened immediately the following day. Airplane flights were also restored the following day using back up facilities, he added.

The first batch of about 300 Chinese tourists flew in Albay early this 2014 on board the Philippine Airlines flights, also from Xiamen, in time to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Albay.

Salceda said the AIG was established under Executive Order No. 29, designating Legazpi City as an international gateway for direct flights from foreign tourism markets. It marks a local government breakthrough in tourism, one that opens doors to and from various parts of the world via the non-traditional routes, the links to which were worked out. China, Korea and Taiwan are initial targets.
The Bicol International Airport in Daraga town is now under construction. It is set to open in 2016 but Salceda said tourists “don’t have to wait that long to enjoy Albay’s wondrous experience.”
The Department of Tourism has declared Albay as the fastest growing tourism destination in the Philippines with a 66 percent growth rate in 2013. With the AIG, Salceda hopes to make that record consistent.

“We put in place our CIQS or customs, immigration, quarantine and security systems. We made necessary adjustments to standards of international airports and institutionalized the operating mechanisms under our Albay International Gateway Committee (AIGC) which now supervises the international flights,” said Salceda, who chairs the AIGC.

A noted economist, Salceda said the new Albay gateway could bring in about P6.5 billion in revenues to Albay a year, five times its annual budget. A Chinese tourist can spend around $1,000 a day during his 5-day stay in Albay. This will also help create jobs for Albayanos at a rate of one job opportunity per tourist. 

Salceda expects “many more direct flights to Albay to follow and bring to the heart of Bicolandia thousands of tourists and holiday-seekers who will help boost the Albay BOOM economic battle cry,” Salceda enthused.

The governor said the gateway also opens up Albay for global engagements, particularly the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in 2015, which kicks off in December this year. /MP


Sluggish Agricultural Growth Alarms Drilon

The maxim “two heads are better than one” may not be applicable for the country’s agriculture sector, said Senate President Franklin M. Drilon who reiterated last week his disappointment over the continued decline in the performance of the agriculture sector over the past months.
“I am very alarmed by the dismal figures presented to us by the economic managers insofar as the growth of agriculture sector is concerned,” said Drilon.

“The agriculture sector only grew 0.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, as compared to the 3.2 percent growth registered in the same quarter last 2013, which is still below target,” Drilon pointed out.

“Is the apparent inability of the Department of Agriculture to increase agricultural productivity due to lack of funding or a case of bureaucratic impasse?” asked Drilon.

The Senate leader said, however, that funds for agriculture sector have continuously increased throughout the Aquino administration in an effort to ramp up agricultural productivity.

For 2015, Drilon said, the DA will receive P88.8 billion, 11.1 percent higher than its current level of P80 billion, which shows an increase of 93 percent from its 2010 level of P47.6 billion.

The bulk of the budget, according to Drilon, will be used to build up the country’s agriculture infrastructure.

“For 2015, the government has allotted P25 billion for various irrigation activities, P14.5 billion for the construction of several farm-to-market roads, and P2.2 billion for the promotion of high value crops, P7.0 billion and P2.3 billion for the development of rice and corn industries, respectively,” pointed out Drilon.

“It appears to me that the consistent prioritization given by the administration to the agriculture sector failed to yield good results for our agriculture sector,” said Drilon.

“The dismal performance of the agriculture sector is a valid concern, considering that 11 percent of the economy is contributed by agriculture sector and nearly one-third of the nation’s labor force belongs to the agricultural sector,” he stressed.

“There is a clear downward trend in the agricultural sector, and it further went down to only one percent this year due to the effects of the past calamities,” said Drilon.

The Senate chief also lamented the poor living condition of farmers and fisher folks who remain the poorest sector of the society: “Two-thirds of the poorest sector in the society belongs to agriculture sector which should not be the case now given the huge support continuously by government to agriculture,”

He thus said there is a need to strengthen and address the various issues confronting the agriculture sector.

Earlier, Drilon suggested that the current structure of agriculture department be reviewed.
“I think we really need to have a clear point man and streamline the DA’s bureaucratic system. They have split the agencies into agricultural departments which should be reviewed,” Drilon strongly suggested. 


In order to revive the agricultural sector and improve the lives of farmers, there is a need to develop reforms on a national scale and to mount ground level initiatives that benefit the poor, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said Friday night.

“I will not profess expertise in the management of the agriculture sector, but common sense and my 20-year experience as a local executive and the last four years as the second highest official of the land tell me this: while we need to develop and start structural reforms that will benefit agriculture on a national scale, we need to mount ground level initiatives that benefit the poor of our country,” the Vice President said during the awarding ceremony of the Landbank of the Philippines’ 24th Gawad Para Sa Pinakatanging Kooperatiba (PITAK).

Binay said the lackluster performance of the agriculture sector was a “tragedy,” considering the vast scope of the sector, its contribution to the national economy, and the millions of Filipinos depending on agriculture for their livelihood.

“Consider these statistics: in terms of land area, agricultural farms occupy 32 percent of the total land area of the country.  From 2004 to 2010, the agricultural sector contributed an average of more than 18 percent to Gross Domestic Product or GDP.  Over the same period, exports from the sector rose from $2.5 billion to $4.1 billion,” Binay added.

“In terms of employment, the sector accounts for almost 35 percent of the total workforce. If the whole agriculture value chain were considered, the contribution to GDP and total employment would reach 35 percent and 50 percent, respectively,” he further said.

Binay lamented that despite the agriculture sector’s importance in the economy, “its performance leaves much to be desired.”

“A decade ago, we were a net agricultural exporter. Now, we are a net importer. Before, we were self-sufficient in rice and corn, now we import substantial quantities of these grains,” he said.
“With the fragmentation of our rural lands due to agrarian reform and the failure to provide the necessary support services previously given by landowners, the sector now is dominated by small farmers and fisherfolks.  Private investment in agriculture has come in trickles and productivity is very low compared to our ASEAN neighbors,” he said. /MP