Where will a Tacloban
HUC get its water supply?
By CHITO DELA TORRE
again to Governor Jesus B. Redaja, yes, as governor. Indeed he is now
governor of Samar. It was late Friday afternoon this past week when I learned
from www.samarnews.com that the elected vice-governor of
Samar took his
oath of office as governor last Tuesday (November 11). According to
the portal’s banner story under the headline “Samar governor Mila Tan
suspended, Redaja assumed into office” penned by Myra Tambor of DyMS
radio in Catbalogan City, administering his oath of office was
regional director William Paler of the Department of Interior and
Local Government who himself served the Sandiganbayan order suspending
Tan for 90 days.
As now acting
governor, the workaholic elected vice-governor Jess Redaja may not
anymore find a need to look into the alleged causes of Tan’s
suspension because the suspended lady governor is anyway already
facing criminal charges. The Sandiganbayan is surely taking care of
those accusations which caused her suspension from office. Gov.
Redaja has perhaps already begun institutionalizing certain reforms
that he had in mind as early as when he ran for his first term as the
second most powerful official in the province of Samar. Perhaps, too,
he will manage to put to operational terms his vision for TAGASAPA,
particularly the alleviation of the flooding problem in the farming
areas of Tarangnan, Gandara, San Jorge and Pagsanghan which he had
been looking into very seriously beginning October, 2004. I am sure
those who had helped him and his Provincial Technical Working Group
(which his sangguniang panlalawigan created in May, 2005) are glad to
hear the news that he is now governor. When the flooding problem was
presented in various ways to Tan, the lady governor had not responded
accordingly. Now that Gov. Redaja is on top of the whole
administrative machinery of the province, it is most likely that the
TAGASAPA flooding problem can be re-examined and eventually accorded
with a blueprint of a plan that will restore the faith of the farmers
in those towns in their risky rice farming and other food production
Truly, I’m aching to
see Gov. Redaja personally to shake his hands in congratulations.
Other leaders in Basey,
Samar also wish to pay their courtesy call on him, particularly those
whom he has been helping since the second semester of year 2006, like
those from Basey National High School and barrio Old San Agustin (a
recipient of a concrete school building for the high school in the
barrio and a farm equipment, donated by Redaja).
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It’s comforting to
know that the two sides of the issue on whether or not Taclobanons
should vote in a plebiscite for the conversion of Tacloban into a
highly urbanized city. This enables Taclobanons to perpend the
advantages over the disadvantages of a Tacloban HUC. It was good
mayor Alfred Romualdez had encouraged an information campaign at which
the pros and cons are presented.
By how the campaign is
going, it looks like there is a need for the pro-HUC groups to
intensify their information drive and keep it more stronger. Those
against the HUC-inization raised valid arguments which should be
addressed with a much better and very convincing presentation and the
presentation should be done professionally, sans swearwords, devoid of
According to city
sangguniang member Rindo Lagonoy, when Tacloban shall have become a
HUC because Tacloban shall have voted “yes” to it in a forthcoming
balloting, the major issues that will immediately confront Taclobanons
and their pioneering HUC leaders will include where Tacloban HUC will
get its water needs.
At this point in time,
it is Leyte Metropolitan Water District (LMWD) that supplies water to
Taclobanons. Suppose on Day 1 immediately following the proclamation
by the Commission on Elections that the “yes” votes had it and
therefore Tacloban were now a highly urbanized city, and LMWD stops
supplying water to Tacloban, let’s say, because of an order from the
provincial government of Leyte, who in the HUC will provide the
answer? This grey area should be clarified as early as today that
the information campaign is on, and not when that big problem takes
shape and form on Day 1 of a Tacloban HUC. The clarification should
be supported by a blueprint of a HUC plan for that eventuality. That
plan should be implementable on the first second after the Comelec’s
proclamation of the “yes” stamp in the plebiscite. It should be a
plan that must be laid open to everyone in the city, to be scrutinized
carefully and meticulously, to ensure that it really will be there
when the need for it comes.
Of course, it is
unlikely that LMWD will stop its water service. It is in Tacloban
where it has the most number of water concessionaires. It is Tacloban
City that is the backbone of its very existence. Removing Tacloban
will be chopping off the limbs and body of the water provider. It
will result in very huge losses, right on Day 1.
Of course, a legal
transition may probably be invoked to forestall that eventuality. Or,
coordination at this early stage may already be worked out with the
provincial government and the LMWD manager and board directors.
But all that must
be in black and white, complete with every detail that would be needed
just in case the most intelligent among the Taclobanons will come out
to examine the blueprint. Right now, no barangay has seen that, but
some neutrals believe that the HUC proponents actually have one
already, except that they now need to reproduce so many copies of that
document so that all voting Taclobanons could study the alternative
A promising shrub
By CHITO DELA TORRE
November 9, 2008
Can Jatropha Curcas or
tuba-tuba make a millionaire among the Waray-Waray?
If a farmer becomes a
millionaire one day by diversifying or concentrating on Jatropha
Curcas would that decrease his food production capability?
These are only among
the many questions that still hover on those who have not gone into
the planting of tuba-tuba on a commercial scale. These persist
despite efforts of the Administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
to encourage Jatropha Production on a big scale particularly in light
of the Biofuels Act which she approved. Yes, there are hesitations
among non-starters, even if the government is spending so much money,
not to stop and neither to discourage, but to get that law fully
layman’s terms, simply means that the Philippines will already be
extracting oil from tuba-tuba and mixing it with some fuels so that
soon fuels costs can be reduced. Yes, that can be done with
tuba-tuba, because this shrub produces biodiesel.
around the world are already using tuba-tuba biodiesel to run the
engines of their vehicles. The demand for biodiesel from tuba-tuba
has given rise to a new industry, apart from providing an
agri-business option: various designs of machineries that could
process the shrub’s oil and refine it for various uses. In fact, in
the Philippines, long before then representative Juan Miguel Zubiri
crafted the Bio-Fuels Bill, some Filipinos have even been producing
portable tuba-tuba oil lamps. Yes, portable ones, because you can
bring them anywhere and cook with it without bothering
environmentalists who hate smoke from firewood. The Biofuels law
intends to reduce its oil importation by about one-tenth, and since
this effort begins in year 2009, massive tuba-tuba planting has been
continually encouraged by the government. It has been claimed in
India that three kilos of tuba-tuba seeds could produce one liter of
crude oil. On that basis, try imagining how many liters of Jatropha
oil will the Philippines be producing to be able to save one-tenth
from the crude oil that it buys from other countries
Only a few are
detractors. They don’t want tuba-tuba.
Farmers who have begun
planting (between 100, for a start, and by the thousands) have not
abandoned their agricultural crops. In fact, they have not sacrificed
their own lands that are devoted to the production of principal food
crops, like rice and corn. They have not also sacrificed their
The early starters
among farmers – particularly in Basey,
Samar – have started selling tuba-tuba planting materials: seeds,
seedlings, and branches. The buyers include those who want now to
increase their income even if they will only be using vacant or idle
portions of their lands. In Basey, an order for 20,000 kilos (20
tons) of Jatropha seeds reached the Baktas Kabub’wason Rural Workers
Association (a people’s organization that is into massive planting of
tuba-tuba) about two weeks ago. Baktas begged off as no seeds could
get out of the barrio that plants Jatropha. Planting materials
produced in the barrio have already found ready buyers from among the
people in that barrio. Villa Aurora, an interior barrio, is one among
the villages that has that experience. To those who are already
engaged in selling the planting materials, Jatropha has become an
economic boost. Today, what used to be cogonal, or barren, or
uncultivated lands are now starting to flash green with tuba-tuba
leaves. The planting drive is moving into the vast nearly
Samar settlement area of which more than 10,000 hectares of the
area said to be found in Basey.
That is why mayor
Wilfredo O. Estorninos came up with a convergence program idea. He
has created a technical working group that will facilitate the
development of at least 2,000 hectares of the settlement lands for
Jatropha and coconut production. The members of the TWG began last
Wednesday (November 5) its barangay consultations which included an
item on Jatropha production. The group is composed of representatives
from the Basey local government unit, and the departments of
agriculture, environment and natural resources, and agrarian reform.
Back to the first
question above: Can Jatropha Curcas or tuba-tuba make a millionaire
among the Waray-Waray? There is a possibility. It is also possible
that not only one but more could make a million peso earning. But
that can’t come about unless massive tuba-tuba planting takes off.
president of the Carica Livelihood and Entrepreneur Assistance
Program, has opened about 300 outlets around the Philippines for his
tuba-tuba oil based products, like the Jet, a Jatropha oil methyl
ester. A cover article, ‘The “Tuba-Tuba” Wave: How Long Will It
Last?’, carried by the AGRIBUSINESS DIGEST in its November, 2006 issue
and written by Ronald G. Mangubat, quoted the Carica boss as saying:
“On its fourth year, you can get around one to two kilos of seeds per
plant” and “One hectare of Jatropha plantation can produce one to one
and one and a half tons of oil. That’s our calculation.” The
government has estimated that one hectare could accommodate up to
2,500 shrubs planted. That will mean 2,500 tuba-tuba plants producing
1 to 1.5 tons Jatropha oil.
On the bishop's call
for a radical change in the Arroyo government
A Press Statement by
Senator Chiz Escudero
October 30, 2008
The bishops just
exercised their rights to freely express their opinion. Thus
threatening them with charges of sedition and challenging them to run
in the election from no less than the justice secretary is yet again a
show of arrogance from this administration.
I return the challenge
to Secretary Gonzales to automatically file proper charges against
these bishops if he finds their act illegal. Verbal threats are no act
of a self-respecting and thinking individual or agency.
This government has
time and again stuck to its true color of wantonly chasing individuals
it deems critical to them. Threats of charges and charges per se are
immediately filed left and right against their critics.
administration is easy to go after its perceived enemies, it takes its
sweet time to even lift its fingers against those people allied to
them, never mind if these people have brazenly committed malfeasance
and misfeasance to the country and the people.
Estrada, who is an Arroyo critic, had already been tried, convicted
and pardoned but we have yet to see them touch the cases of former
Justice Secretary Nani Perez and now the infamous Jocjoc Bolante.
This is a challenge
that Raul Gonzales and Ombudsman Merceditas Guitterez should take up
because they owe it to the Filipino people.
nilang dalawa, ipapaalala ko uli na ang simbolo ng hustisya ay babaeng
nakapiring, walang dapat kinikilalang sinuman.
Aguilar, 5526601 loc. 6540/09178294010
A muslim rebel’s
By CHITO DELA TORRE
It’s too bad the
country was made to hear the “ubusan ng lahi” remarks made by a rebel
muslim leader to an interviewing television reporter, as shown on TV
screen October 21 evening. The national TV branded the remarks as a
challenge. It was actually addressed to the government soldiers in
particular, and not to the whole Christendom, although that muslim
leader was claiming that Mindanao is entirely for the muslims, which,
in turn, meant, that second biggest island of the Philippine State
should exclude non-muslims.
If taken seriously by
the Philippine nation, those remarks could end up in a jihad, a
religious war, a war between non-muslims and muslims. Here the
government will do all things to prevent that.
But if that TV report
were true, then the follow-up broadcast that the government soldiers
did take the challenge seriously was also true. The news account
somewhat made it appear that the military only belittled that muslim
challenge but did bite the bullet when it swooped down on the rebels’
range in one faraway barrio, although with the usual unpleasant
outcome of innocent civilians being placed in a peril.
That muslim rebel’s
remark must be considered as much irrational and irresponsible as the
one who said that. The whole muslim community in the Philippines must
correct that. That imperils the whole muslim sector, and the whole
country – not only the muslims in the muslim war range and those whom
they consider as enemy targets. Muslim leaders should come out with
one unified stand and stop the all the nonsense that characterizes
In another sense, time
has come for the entire Philippine government to disarm all private
citizens who are not authorized to keep or carry firearms and to stop
all possible avenues through which illegal firearms pass. All these
years, the Philippine nation has been an unwilling witness to the
weakness of a government that cannot enforce the laws on firearms and
on firepower. Congress must re-examine the laws applicable to the
situation and do what it can do beyond that situation to prevent it
from worsening in the future.
development in the muslim region south of the country has sparked the
unwholesome speculation that unless curbed effectively within this
month, that might be harnessed to justify the unavoidable declaration
of a third martial law (the first was in President Elpidio Quirino’s
time and the second, by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos). The accompanying
speculation is that the next martial law will be a tool to clip the
constitutional mandate of holding the Presidential, senatorial,
congressional, and local elections in 2010.
On a positive note,
the Mindanao situation may hasten the adoption of a federal form of
And, talking of
federalism, some intellectuals in the
Eastern Visayas (Samar-Leyte-Biliran area, the area that suffered most
during the long period of moro piracy in Philippine history) may have
already banked on the idea of a totally Waray-Waray federal state, one
that will not exclude non-Waray-Waray but will instead welcome their
induction as “citizens of the
That may be a serious joke but Cebuano-speaking denizens of the
region, and all the rest who do not speak Waray-Waray but are now
residing in the Eastern Visayas may have to start considering their
position. Once they become part of the Waray-Waray State, there will
be State laws applicable only to those born in
Eastern Visayas, but there may be State laws that may give special
attention to non-Waray-Waray constituents. Such laws may be initiated
by those who will be directly affected by them.
This last scenario is
likely amidst earlier arguments versus federalism. Its possibility is
as real as what Taclobanons may now be perceiving, or speculating,
about their city becoming a highly urbanized one. For many years,
people in Tacloban did not even think that they will be
disenfranchising them of their right to participate in the election of
provincial elections. Certainly, a law may be forthcoming to that
effect, or if the applicable provisions of the Local Government Code
are in fact already operative, then they can only be seeing actual
implementation today in Tacloban and
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to Gladys, the cute and charming, intelligent elder daughter of Gay
and granddaughter of Bernard and Cosette Oliva. Gladys turned four
years old last October 23, with a birthday party at MacDo’s that was
enjoyed fully by all the children, and babies!, in attendance. Her
grandma Cosette celebrated her birthday on Oct. 24. More than two
months ago, on August 5, her grandpa Bernardo had his birthday party
at their residential home.
Road of Contention
By ELBERT B. CAINDAY
October 17, 2008
national road is ridden with controversy. In its holes lurk deceitful
political propagandas. Politicians’ careers, bumped, fell and were
buried inside its dark cavities.
Famous of its
casualties were Vicente Valley, Jose Tan Ramirez and the recently
bruised former congressman, Commissioner Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan.
From its political graveyard rose new leaders promising reforms and
program of actions to make the national road a path to economic
development. However, the antediluvian ghost haunts the reformer,
afraid that their failures in their lifetime and governance be
unearthed and exposed to the public.
This is an issue that
catapulted Congressman Teodulo “Doloy” Coquilla to power, this is his
dilemma. Aware that he won the mandate of the people because of
negligence on the part of his political opponents to keep our national
roads abreast with our national economic agenda, he fought hard in the
congress for the allocation of budget to fast track our road networks.
Less than a year in office, budgets were appropriated, contracts were
awarded and heavy equipments came rolling in to start work.
People cheered and
expressed sigh of relief. But their silent approval was met by
jealousy expressed in loud protest by the provincial government. Their
argument: road rehabilitation has been long past due, the people can
no longer wait. Their conclusion: It is high time for the provincial
government to take over the works of the Department of National
Highways in providing better roads. They call it initiative. We call
it brazen deceitfulness. They say: it is necessity. We say: it is
Why the sudden rush?
Why and what’s the buzz? A simple arithmetic will do: We had 108
months in office of former Congressman Libanan, 50 months in office of
Governor Ben Evardone and decades from their predecessors. Now,
compare this to more than a year in office of Cong. Coquilla, a period
which he fully dedicated to road projects and other basic
infrastructures like school buildings, irrigations, farm-to-market
roads; and yes, airports which was obscured by attention-grabbing
tarpaulins of our publicity-hungry Governor to deceive the people of
its real proponent. Clearly, the problem of our national roads did not
sprout and cannot be solve overnight. There’s the gap. There’s the
Plainly this is a
problem of identity, a case of insecurity – or it could be a prospect
of financial security. Like a wolf that can sniff its prey at great
distance, so a corrupt politician will act like a caged animal once it
sensed a financial opportunity. Everybody knows that there is money in
construction business, that DPWH is the richest and branded as the
most corrupt national agency. Could this explain the recent brouhaha
from the provincial government of Eastern Samar? There is only one
logical explanation: if they could not touch the money, the second
option is to have the glory. And it is worst than the former. For
glory, put in the wrong hands would bring nothing but lasting agony to
malfeasance, misfeasance and violation of contract cannot and should
not be blame on Congressman Coquilla. He has done his job, and done
it well, in appropriating funds thereof for our national road and
other projects. Bidding and awarding of contracts, if it involves
amount more than 20 million pesos which are the case of our national
road projects, is purely DPWH Regional or National offices’ concerns.
Let the DPWH and all stakeholders monitor these projects, it is our
collective responsibility. If our provincial government is truly
sincere, if it has its eyes set alert on these projects from the very
beginning, how is it that at the onset they did not discover that a
breach of project’s specification is being committed and sound the
alarm? Why wait for its completion? Evidently, it serves their
political agenda. Again, it is another politically-induced impasse to
test the patience of our people.
And patience is
wearing thin. It is this growing intolerance that pushes Cong. Doloy
to sail head on against the current of antagonism. And let his silence
not be taken as a sign of weakness or indecision – it is the stillness
of determination or calm before the storm.
Buy Pinoy! Buy Local!
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
There is a renewed
sense of urgency for the Buy Pinoy, Buy Local campaign, a crusade to
fight smuggling of cheap but substandard products, amid the scare
caused by the China milk products scandal and the global financial
The Buy Pinoy, Buy
Local is a relaunch of two campaigns that have been merged, the
Federation of Philippine Industries’ “Pinoy Identity, Buy Local”
campaign and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce
and Industry’s “Buy Pinoy.”
During the launching
in May of 2008, Mr. Jesus Arranza, the president of FPI said that the
main aim of the advocacy is to discourage the use of cheap,
substandard and smuggled supplies, many of which come from China. The
two federations said their combined campaign against smuggling would
“strike at the very heart of the motive force that abets smuggling and
causes it to endure and flourish despite relentless action by
anti-smuggling advocates and government agencies.” The campaign was
also aimed at protecting consumers from fake or imitation products,
which smuggled goods generally are, and to protect the economy against
the ill effects of smuggling.
Smuggling is generally
equated not only with loss of customs revenues, but it should realized
that the more serious damage it inflicts means loss of jobs, less food
on the table and empty pockets for the poor.
In support of the
campaign, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reissued Administrative
Order 227 directing all heads of departments, bureaus, offices and
agencies of the national government, including local government units,
government owned and controlled corporations, government financial
institutions, state colleges and universities, military and police
units to give preference in the procurement of materials and supplies
produced, made and manufactured in the Philippines.
The AO which compels
the government offices and encourages the private sector to follow it,
is a big boost to the local industry, preserve and increase local
employment and conserve the country’s dollar reserves.
With a spending budget
of over P1 trillion, the government is the biggest consumer around and
it can do wonders for certain faltering industries in the country.
What more if every Filipino takes up from the government’s lead?
What if private offices also buy Pinoy and buy local, from their
office uniforms, to their shoes, to furniture, to their basic products
When one buys local,
he or she does not just meet a personal or professional need. She
meets the country’s need as well because she makes an investment in
the Philippines or in the Pinoy who produces the product. Her
purchases provide the Pinoy seller or producer with the livelihood and
income to meet his own need. The Pinoy seller does the same, buying
stuff and using the money to fund the livelihood of other Pinoys.
Think of the multiplier effect one simple purchase of a Filipino
One could say that
imports, both legal and smuggled, have killed some of the country’s
industries, the shoe industry for one. The cheap ones from China,
Taiwan and Korea have sounded the death knell for the local shoe
industry. Shoe imports and the millions more of smuggled pairs have
led to hundreds of thousands of lost jobs for local shoemakers. Even
the big department stores and the known local brands in the country
would rather sell Chinese imports than buy from local shoemakers. In
fact, 80 percent of the market is dominated by the cheap shoes made in
China, while local shoemakers have to compete for the remaining 20
percent with the other imported brands. No wonder so many shoe
once the country’s shoe capital, have closed shop and so many local
shoemakers are jobless.
What about the cheap
imported milk products which many Filipinos prefer to buy over the
local milk products, until the
milk products scandal?
As the ‘Buy Pinoy,
Buy Local’ slogan says, “when the buying stops, the smuggling stops.”
One could say conversely, that once Filipinos start buying local
shoes, and other local products again, the resurgence begins. It’s a
small sacrifice to buy something more expensive but with higher
quality than the Chinese imports that you could buy at knockoff prices
in any tiangge – a small sacrifice that could help save the local
industry from extinction, and the country’s economy from suffering the
effects of the world financial crunch.
‘Sirena, Sireno -
siring nira ungod’
By CHITO DELA TORRE
You have taken
pictures in Guinbaloogan, an undeveloped, unknown-to-many three-layer
waterfalls in Baloog, an interior barrio in the old town of Basey in
Samar, Philippines, whose population is thinning except on election
In one picture, your
subject favorite friends and kin were all missing. In another,
somewhere in the back of your subject humans is a sirena, or,
sireno, a mermaid or merwoman, or, a merman. Another camera
was used, but it didn’t function at the waterfalls.
Few villagers dare go
to this site which they have concluded is enchanted. Village chief
Absalon A. Lirios has a plan to put up a reservoir there, to make the
place a source of drinking water in order to attract the people of
Baloog to return to their village from Magsaysay, a highway village of
Sta. Rita which very few conscientious people of Basey, because of
absence of a road from their own town, go and tread to reach Baloog.
Once, a road was proposed to be built to Baloog, from Basey, but as if
the legendary, mythical or fairytale creatures blocked that proposal.
The road that was begun had long vanished in grasses taller than the
tallest man in Basey.
Guinbaloogan has a
continuously flowing water that descends to two more lower grounds
before becoming a riverine water that is believed to form part of
Basey’s giant watershed area – said to be the second biggest in all of
the island of Samar. Very seldom do local picnickers take their best
time out in the waterfalls. Fear of something occurring on them
envelops daring hearts. It is not known, though, if local government
developers buy the enchanting idea, but some believe the reason why
the government does not look into the needs of Baloog and the
waterfalls could only be attributed to the freshwater-living-people.
Skeptics among locals
– who haven’t even been to Guinbaloogan – dismiss all of the
enchantment. They could be right: mermaid, mermen and merwomen (the
mature mermaids) – legendary or mythical creatures, whose head and
upper body are that of a human being but the lower part being that of
a fish, exist only in marine waters, the seas, and not in
freshwaters. But those who have seen the creatures describe what they
saw as, in the case of a mermaid, one very much like the “Dyesebel” in
the nightly (Monday thru Friday, between 8:45 and 9:30 p.m.) serial
movie whose title is of that name of the mermaid, on Philippine
television Channel 7 (GMA 7), which many Basaynon (people of Basey)
and Taclobanon (people of Tacloban City in the sister island of Leyte)
watch even before they could eat their supper. Their mermaid, or
sirena, could not be a nymph (a goddess in the woods and rivers in
old myths). At the time when this writer requested for a copy of any
of the pictures taken, none was readily available last August, 2008
and last month.
In the long and
winding shallow river in Basey called Salug ha Salug, a sireno
was said to have been seen between the late 1950s and before the
People’s EDSA Revolt in 1986. The waterway starts from north of
Baloog further ahead of Calsaguing river (which lies south of Madao
mountain and Madao river and southeast of Katagboan river near barrio
Union of Sta. Rita), skirts north of the next village of Manlilinab,
and meets other waterways east of Manlilinab before it joins the
Bugasan river (source of irrigation tapped by the Basey Irrigation
Project whose dam is now reportedly finished and for which funds are
awaited to enable the National Irrigation Administration to construct
the canals to the rice fields). The sireno, or freshwater
merman would just appear in sight on the river side and suddenly
disappear. We took pictures of part of Salug ha Salug last
June 9. The water depths varied between one and 3 feet. The river
bed was dominantly sandy and stony. Its bordering walls were muddy to
rocky earth rising to as high as 10 feet, mostly inhabited by vines
and soft-branched trees. There were very few cavities on the river
banks. We didn’t see any sireno.
Further ahead of Bagte,
a sitio of barrio Mabini, is a “danaw”, a lake sometimes called
“ipisan” because when rain water reaches its brim, the water flows
down to rivulets and rivers. Here, according to those who claimed to
have been to the place, several sirena and sireno
appeared in and disappeared from sight. Beneath the lake, as could be
seen through the crystal clear water, is a big living tree with green
leaves. In the water are salt and fresh water fishes like “damag,
balanak, kikiro”, and “haruan”. The whole place is also known as
“Mino-an” or “pakitaan” – a place where just anything appears in
sight, and then disappears. One was said to have not complied with an
old advice concerning obtaining a permit from the kingdom of “Mino-an”.
He fished, brought his catch to his barkada in a nearby
village, and got ill for days. No medicine or doctor could heal him.
He got well only when he was brought back to the “ipisan” and there
asked for forgiveness. When I asked foot soldiers and roving CAFGU
men between May and September this year, they said they had not seen
The Sohoton caves (not
the more beautiful
had much more tales to narrate. In fact, only Sohoton comes to one’s
mind when visiting non-Basaynon students and tourists press for talks
about spirits in the woods and rivers.
Some say those
creatures are real. “Siring nira ungod”.
document in Basey and in the provincial library of Basey makes mention
of them, but stories about them continue to live with our march to
progress. No official document also exists to establish the existence
of gold in Basey. To some in the barrios, gold or “bulawan” is
something that spirits guard because it belongs to them.
Sept. 27 – a memorable
tuba-tuba planting day in Basey
By CHITO DELA TORRE
Pastor Zenaida E.
Camiller, head of Christ is King Church, wore a face of enjoyment as
she finished planting her eighth seedling in the first tuba-tuba shrub
planting that her religious group engaged in mid-morning last Saturday
(September 27) on a pre-cleared hill that overlooks a large pool of
water and part of the national highway at Tingib, a barrio some 5
kilometers west of the poblacion of Basey, Samar.
Her last seedling went
down a hole made by Lt. Blas Alsiyao, head of a 62nd Infantry
Battalion unit based in sitio Rawis, Guirang of Basey. The young
military officer also enjoyed planting, also his first try at
tuba-tuba production. They were the last to leave the planting site –
owned by the Labitigan-Gandia family – and rejoin their companions –
mostly punong barangay and other barangay officials from 21 other
barrios of the town that participated in the activity.
The “tree planting”
was co-sponsored by Metro Manila Basaynon Katig-uban and Kapit Bisig
ng mga Maralita of Metro Manila, in coordination with Baktas
Kabub’wason Rural Workers Association, the 801st Infantry Brigade thru
brigade commander Colonel Francis B. Lanuza, 34th Infantry Battalion
under Lt. Col. Larry B. Mojica and 62IB under Lt. Col. Alberto C.
Desoyo. It first hit barrio Can-abay where a nursery for tuba-tuba
intercropped with vegetables was lying in wait for planting with 250
seedlings by the barangay officials. Can-abay agriculture committee
chair Lea C. Dela Cruz, a kagawad, said the barangay’s prepared
clearing, which is concealed on the west by a high hill behind the
barangay hall, could accommodate 700 seedlings even if spaced at 2
After Can-abay, the
tuba-tuba planters drove to the neighboring coastal barrio of San
Antonio, on board two big trucks – one from 801st IBde and one from
34IB – plodded through a muddy and watery rice field and climbed a
hill that rose to an altitude of half the height of Mount Danglay
which was visible from the second tuba-tuba planting site. Villager
Marlon Culibar – a professional marine engineer who has 1,000 shrubs
grown on the adjacent lower hill – guided through the vast slope that,
according to the first kagawad, a lady, the barangay officials and
constituents cleared and plowed with the aid of draft carabao, so that
the soil was still soft and made it easy for one’s hand to scoop out
earth for a hole for a seedling. This land belongs to punong barangay
Rowena Dacer who has earlier planted up to 300 shrubs near the
In San Antonio and
Tingib, M. H. Del Pilar punong barangay Teofilo Yangao Cabonce stood
out to have planted the most number of shrubs – 12 in all. He worked
fast. His fellow barangay officials also did theirs excitedly.
By 10:45 a.m., when
planting was over, the planters were conveyed back to Basey National
High School for the First Annual General Assembly of Baktas
Kabub’wason Rural Workers Association. School principal Rodolfo G.
Gad did the honor of welcoming the guests and participants in behalf
of the local government unit of Basey and of BNHS. By 1:30 p.m., he
was moderating the open forum which saw lengthy explanations to
serious questions raised from the floor. Erstwhile banker Wilbur
Orejola was a big help to the ironing out of wrinkles in the issues
even as he encouraged his fellow Basaynon to be more serious in
planting tuba-tuba so that they could meet the “quota” for their bid
to be a site of a refinery or processing plant, or to corner a big
buyer for their seeds production. He also explained at length the
directions of Kapit Bisig ng mga Maralita, of which he is its founder
Lunch break saw the
shrub planters and assembly participants eating with gusto a sumptuous
meal prepared for all well-wishers by the family of Lito Bajas,
vice-president of Basaynon Katig-uban who turned out to be celebrating
his birthday that sunny day in Basey – the ante vespera to the
September 29 town fiesta in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel,
patron saint of the Basaynon.
2Lt Jelyn Unabia, a
graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, who headed the 34IB
personnel sent in by LtCol. Mojica, assured them that the 34IB would
continue helping and closely working with the people of Basey, in ways
apart from confrontational or operational anti-insurgency efforts.
The smiling, pretty officer (still single) had also planted tuba-tuba
seedlings in San Antonio and Tingib. In the post-lunch friendly chat
at the 3-storey Bajas building in Palaypay, she agreed to a medical
mission proposed by the birthday celebrant, one that may even be
actively participated in by the latter’s medical doctor daughter.
Ah, yes, the planters
sang “Happy Birthday” as Lito welcomed them at his home.
The thankful birthday
celebrant, an intelligence chief in the Bureau of Customs, convivially
invited them in turn to return the following day for the vespera and
then on fiesta day.
After the “happy
birthday” wishes came the happy fiesta greetings, echoed even after
the annual general assembly adjourned at 4:20 p.m. at the BNHS.