Paranas hinterlands welcome literacy classes
By NINFA B. QUIRANTE (PIA Samar)
March 28, 2006
– Some 35 adults will attend the Non-Formal Education Classes this summer in
remote Barangays Pagsang-an and Tapul, Paranas,
This was the information
gathered as the DepEd team organized by Samar Division deliberately
journeyed to the mountains of Barangay Tapul and Pagsang-an to inform the
people about the program and at the same time to recruit students. The 5
man-team was led by Jojit Casino a mobile teacher and regional awardee.
The program to be sponsored
by Samar Vice-Governor Jesus Redaja by way of paying the honorarium for the
volunteer teachers will start this April and end in May.
Barangay Pagsang-an is
nestled on a mountain top with gurgling streams upon descent on both sides.
It is reachable from Barangay Lawaan (carline) through a five-hour trek over
hills and wading the same stream for 12 times. The other way is from
Barangay Concepcion, another carline area, this time uphill climb of some
On the way to Pagsang-an, as
the team walked for two hours, a settlement came into view, Barangay Tapul,
Cecil the volunteer who hails from Pagsang-an identified the barangay. A
groove of wooden two-storey houses greeted the visitors and smiling faces,
'few travel by' they say. Kagawad (village councilor) Erlinda
Cabrillas offered refreshments and even lunch. As the other team members
refreshed themselves, Teacher Elma arranged her schedules with Kagawad.
Elma will be stationed in Tapul.
After a few more exchanges,
the team pushed for Pagsang-an. The distance was a good 2 hours beyond. One
passerby quipped, we don't measure distance by kilometers but by the hours.
In Barangay Pagsang-an,
Barangay Captain Noe Mabanan raised concerns about the education of his
people. Very few pursue more than the elementary level. Some even have to
stop after being able to write their names. For most, it is enough, it could
translate to easy money come election time, one grandfather jests. Of course
they are aware of the consequences said the Apoy (grandfather), "we
maybe unschooled but we are not stupid!" said he. There is a barangay
school, but there is only one teacher and she teaches a monograde – meaning,
grade one this year, grade two next year until the grade 4 level is
completed for the others who had unfortunately fell to other levels not
included in the year's curriculum, they either stop and wait or they venture
into the nearest barangay which offers multi grade levels. By nearest –
means a relatively far distance of two hours.
In the year 2000, in
compliance with GMAs mandate of providing Education for All, Sir Jojit
conducted literacy classes there. One such student, Grandmother Clarita
Obinguar enjoyed the numbers. Now she is proud to say she can compute.
In the meeting called by
Mabanan, one elderly complained about his failing eyesight, he said, he may
not learn to read even if taught. One kagawad offered to draft a
resolution to Governor Mila Tan for reading glasses. Another concern was the
lost man hours, "We cannot afford to leave our farms!" Sir Jojit solved this
by telling them they will just hold the "sessions" two or three days a week.
Their lessons will depend on
their grasp of the subject, said Cecil, Mabanan's eldest who dreams of
staying in the barangay and teaching her people unlike other teachers, whom
she said are always in a hurry to go home to the town, where they reside.
Mabanan expressed regret
that he was unable to attend the KALAHi orientation Mayor Elvira Babalcon
once called for. Now, he fears, his barangay won’t be included in the
project. He was hoping KALAHI could bring them road and electricity – what
they have dreamed for so long.
The road could be a means to
enhance the barangay's economic progress, it really will make a big
difference if an access road will be constructed. Kapitan (village
chief) can not convince his barrio mates to produce more than they can as
subsistence farmers, transporting goods is a heavy task both literally and
For now, Mabanan and his
Kagawad maintains a monthly pintakasi to clear the foot-trail
that connects Pagsang-an to the rest of the more educated barangays.
survivors asks for help
By PINOY GONZALES / PNS
In every activity such as
charitable activism, opportunism always follows. And that seems to be the
case with the victims and evacuees of the massive Guinsaugon mudslide in the
remote coastal town of
St. Bernard in
Three weeks ago after the
horrible natural tragedy that left 103 dead and 973 missing, the world
responded to help the 18 survivors and the nearly 300 Guinsaugon evacuees
who were either in the mountains working, in the town's schools for their
studies or were in the town proper some 4 kilometers from their village to
attend to some errands.
Help came in the form of
emergency response, then disaster relief activities followed by financial
contributions and pledges made from around the Philippines and the world.
But all these has yet to
make an impact to the lives of those left behind who has yet to feel a sense
of normalcy in their lives because of the slow flow of assistance given them
by so-called NGOs who were given the task to channel whatever help sent by
Filipino organizations aboard.
When the PNS visited 7 of
the 18 survivors together with the remaining members of their family in a
day care center, separated from the other evacuees who were billeted in the
Franciscan run school Rey Cristo, this writer found them lying in mats
spread over several plywoods with limited food mostly sardines and noodles
stock in a small sack.
Irenea Velasco who has the
most recognizable face because of her several exposure with the
international and national TV news media, started to tell her story with
tears in her eyes reliving what had happened during that fateful Friday
morning when she lost several family members and everything they had in a
rather unsuspecting normal day.
But her mourning face turned
a little lighter saying "our prayers that the media would return from Manila
were answered." We feel we are being used by others for their own gain. But
then we have yet to feel and received the several millions of pesos and
dollars benevolent donor countries and individual around the world sent to
groups promising to help us," she said in visayan dialect.
"We are not asking for
money, we know how to work, all we want is a bit of normalcy where we can
rest in our own homes, mourn our dead and reflect on what had happened and
move on. Right now our primary concern is our survival, we have no house to
go home too, no jobs to supports us, no farmlands to work in and no food in
our tables, please relay this message to the President Gloria Arroyo," she
When asked how much
financial assistance she has received so far and from whom, she answered,
"The Chinese Chamber of Commerce gave P1,000, boxer Manny Paquiao gave P300,
LTO gave P2,000 and the Filipino Disaster Relief of Texas gave P400. We
thank them all from the bottom of our hearts. I heard President Arroyo gave
P5,000 each for us but we the 18 survivors of the mudslide have not received
The PNS also went to the Rey
Cristo School to inquire on the well being on the remaining Guinsaugon
residents and their families. The same predicament faced the evacuees
"We saw stocks of Maling
meat loaf and Corned Beef but it was not given to us, all we eat are
sardines and noodles we don't know who took them," said an evacuee who does
not want to be identified.
"Lucio Tan sent P1000, P300
from Paquiao, P1000 from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce but not all
received their share only a few. Only Filipinos from Texas gave each one of
us our fair share," says another.
The PNS also noticed the
bloated list of non-Guinsaugon residents whose names appeared in the
village's evacuees manifest and when the Inquirer confronted the Village
Chief, he told us that "long ago residents" came home from as far from
Manila and Mindanao to stake a claim on whatever house and lot the
government would give the original and current residents. These "people"
also had their share of financial benefits from benevolent persons. The
Village Chief meanwhile gave the Inquirer the manifest of current residents
of his village to avoid confusion in the future.
"Please tell the media to
come back here so none of us would suffer from enterprising people using us
for their own reasons," requested an old woman.
Passing by the Day Care
Center where the 7 survivors were staying on the way back, Irenea had this
to say with a hopeful demeanor, "please let President Arroyo and the
press know about our situation, we are helpless here, we need their help".
Palparan: Rice-killer Black
Bug! – SAGUPA-SB
By SAGUPA- SB
February 11, 2006
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – It has been one year after
the installation of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan. Yet, the effects that his
reign had are still felt. Samahan han Gudti nga Parag- uma ha Sinirangan
Bisayas (SAGUPA- SB) likens the situation to being attacked by the rice
killer, the Black bug.
February 10, 2006 marks one
year since Palparan came here designated as commanding officer of the 8th
Infantry Battalion. Since then, he has been the subject of complaints over
numerous human rights violations. The impact of militarization in the region
as part of Palparan’s intensified counter insurgency campaign has resulted
to the economic displacement of many farmers. Massive evacuations were
everywhere as people were trying to escape the notorious “masked and armed
people” sowing fear especially at the dead of the night.
“With the disruption in the
lives of the farmers came the disruption to their everyday economic
activities”, said Lito Gacusana, Secretary General of SAGUPA- SB.
Gacusana disclosed that rice
production in militarized areas, like Paranas has declined. “In one baragay
in Paranas, from a total palay production of 2,314 sacks in 2004, it
decreased to 679 sacks in 2005”, said Gacusana.
“The local rice industry is
disintegrating since the primary local producers are prohibited to produce
and are even killed and denied of their rights to till and own the land”,
Gacusana stressed. Reengineered Special Operations Teams (RSOT) of the AFP
are implementing policies banning farmers from attending to their farms on
mere suspicion that the farmers would go to hills to support the NPAs. In
some areas, particularly in
Samar, curfew hours are set among farmers limiting the time they
devote to farm work. In Paranas, it is not common to find more than one sack
of rice because the soldiers would apprehend you if you would store more
than one sack of rice at home. In Basey and Palo, the 46th IB and the 19th
IB literally banned the exercise of economic activities like tiklos
As this developed, SAGUPA-
SB is set to launch a year- long campaign to address the hardships
experienced by the farmers because the organization believes that much
remains to be done in terms of providing solutions to the farmers’ demands
for economic relief.
“Demands for higher buying
prices for farm products, support services for production and genuine land
reform, among others, remain unanswered. Last year, another factor was added
to the numerous problems farmers face everyday and that was Palparan. A year
after Palparan, apart from dead kins and lost loved ones, farmers mourn over
hunger”, Gacusana expressed.
“Palparan’s arrival came as
a catastrophe that has thrown the region into rice shortages, food
insecurity and economic dislocation. We must demand justice not only for the
people he killed but for those who may be living but are slowing dying
because of hunger”, said Gacusana.
Child friendly approach
despite conflict with the law: UNICEF sponsors dialogue with re-orientation
on the pillars of juvenile justice
By SENTAY BELIZAR-QUITORIO
February 4, 2006
BORONGAN, Eastern Samar – The profile of Filipino Children in Conflict with the Law according to
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology; Male, 14-17 years old, elementary
school level, from a family of 4-6, whose parents are low earning workers or
unemployed, committed theft or robbery, committed crimes with peers to
relatives and drug user or liquor drinker.
According to the report
presented by Mrs. Estelita B. Afable, assistant chief of the Social Services
of the Province of Eastern Samar BJMP also confirmed that according to
surveys, studies and even statistics, crime against property are the ones
most commonly committed by children in conflict with the law.
In Eastern Samar according
to the report of the Social Services and BJMP there were 36 cases of minors
in conflict with the law as of 2005. Crimes against chastity ranks first
followed by crimes against property and last crime against persons, 34 are
males and 2 females.
Inevitably, talking about
minors committing crimes have become a source of debates among elders who
would want to live up to Jose Rizal’s expectations that the “YOUTH is the
HOPE of the FATHERLAND”. An open ended discussion on who to blame for the
delinquency of the youth will endlessly and senselessly point fingers at
parents, guardians, mass media, technology, poverty, peers and infinitely
UNICEF people for their part
neutralizes this debate by proposing programs to abate the problems on
juvenile delinquency. Last January 31, 2006, the UNICEF funded program of
the Provincial Social Welfare and Development, sponsored a dialogue on the
administration of Juvenile Justice. Invited were representatives of the 7
Pillars of Crime prevention and Treatment of Child in Conflict with the Law.
Each Pillar has a role-care
to offer in order for justice to prevail. From the Community to Police to
Prosecution to Court to Correction to Public Attorney’s office to Social
Work, all agreed to afford utmost care for the youth or the minor in
conflict with law.
The neither most remarkable
if not debatable concern disclosed was that of the community, represented by
a Barangay Chairman David Costuna of poblacion Barangay Balud in Borongan,.
He mentioned various variables of disciplining children, topped it with
having a family where the child is rooted with a discipline that becomes a
system in his character. This ignited the seemingly conservative frame of
mind of some members of the Pillar.
Vicente Catudio pointed out the manner to discipline the child in the home
seemed to be distorted if not clouded by the promotion of these Children’s
Rights, where slight physical punishment or shouting at a child when not
paying attention is viewed as abuse without consideration of parental
Branch 2 Presiding RTC Judge
Arnulfo Bugtas, likewise mentioned the importance of embedding in the
child’s consciousness the proper recognition of authority figures; parents,
teachers, elders in the community and others.
A Senior Jail Officer
Eduardo Badiola disclosed that in the entire province of Eastern Samar no
LGU has a jail space for minors, usually they join the adult and other
hardened criminals, he further suggested that Mayors consider providing
chamber for the minor offenders.
Mr. Gil Rebamontan chief of
the Provincial Social Services and other social workers from the other LGUs
confirmed some unfriendly attitudes towards children and minors. They
settled to include other agencies deemed important in the Child Friendly
campaign even when in conflict with the law.
Lady doctor sticks it out with San Jose de
By NINFA B. QUIRANTE, PIA-Samar
January 24, 2006
CATBALOGAN, Samar – Doctor
to the Barrios program ‘survivor’ Dr. Phoebe dela Cruz continues her
personal cause of delivering basic health services to San Jose de Buan
She is considered a survivor
because most of her peers have left the program for greener pastures while
she along with a few doctors more committed have stayed.
It is not easy to stay in a
place called San Jose de Buan, this writer realizes that and salutes the
pretty doctor for having the will to stay. For one, San Jose de Buan is in
the interior part of
from the highway by a 40-kilometer dirt road that turns muddy on rainy days.
Even farther still is Catbalogan, some 30 km more considered second home to
most of Buananons.
Trucks and buses plying the
Catbalogan-San Jose de Buan route gets only one trip each. Leaving San Jose
de Buan as early as twelve midnights the truck reaches Catbalogan at six or
seven in the morning. It returns to de Buan at ten in the morning and
reaches de Buan at two in the afternoon.
For Dr. Dela Cruz, who hails
from Matuginao, everyday is a constant challenge. She is dealing with
patients whose houses are far in between. When her medical team visits, they
would virtually turn any place, any field, any shade, and even a riverbank
to a clinic to accommodate ‘mobile’ patients. The farthest, Baranagay Gusa,
the pretty doctor said could be reached by an 8-12 hour trek. This is
specially done on immunization days when her staff is at its busiest. Why?
Despite the distance, they posted close to a hundred percent immunization
success in the most recent Ligtas Tigdas campaign. Meeting some obstinate
patients is also difficult for this UP educated lass. But when she reasons
out and explains the other side, she wins them. She said they are only
difficult when they have not talked to me, once they do, they become
Health and sanitation has
been too wanting in this frontier town the first time she came. With only
two midwives and one nurse to serve some 14 barangays, the staff works
doubly hard to cover all prospective patients. Dela Cruz said that they
would sometimes turn their health center into a mini hospital to save
patients who may not make it to Catbalogan, where the provincial hospital is
Life in this frontier town
would have been unbearable had it not been for the full support of Mayor
Ananias Rebato, she said who is very supportive of the health and sanitation
program she has mapped out with her staff. These include readily available
medicines, maternal and child health program, family planning, feeding
program. Lately, she said she proposed the purchase of weighing scales to
support her nutrition program, this, aside from fervently pushing the people
to set up a "Gulayan sa Barangay". This she said is a communal vegetable
garden where people join forces to plant and then to harvest its fruits
later. The lady doctor has to grapple up with a 30% malnutrition status,
though she did not discount the fact that unavailability of weighing scales
may have caused it. Rebato has pledged to provide the seeds for the Gulayan
project. She said she also proposed a purchase of sanitary latrines for
When this writer requested
her to write a journal for her many ‘adventures’, the young doctor could not
help recalling her ‘close encounter’ with the CPP/NPA raid in March 17,
2004. The town was raided then, and because the health center is just
opposite the municipal hall, they were all trembling with fear for their
lives. Fortunately, the PNP forces did not give up and continued the fight.
Rebels then were forced to retreat. Real work then started for the doctor
and her staff who had to attend to the wounded. With fear still lurking in
her heart, but reinforced by her Hippocratic Oath, she applied first aid to
the wounded before they were airlifted.
The experience though did
not waver her resolve to serve the Buananons, she feels, these are the
people who really need her and she should stay. She has been at home here
and has developed love and care for her rural ward.
Lito Obidos from Medoroma
confirms the doctor’s dedication when he said, "hiya it am simbolo hit
gobyerno nga nalingi ha amon." (She symbolizes the government who still
cares for us.) For him, only the health personnel and occasionally, DENR
visit their remote barangay. Of course, he added that government soldiers
also do. The doctor’s visit, he said is always a big event, they treat her
with native foods-and sometimes all-night dancing (sarayaw) their symbol of
Life for Dr. Dela Cruz is
not that drab though, she has a TV set and a cell phone, oh yes! There is a
cell site in the hinterlands. These have become her link to the bigger world
outside. She also periodically visits Tacloban for a taste of the city air.
But at the end of the day, she longs to return to San Jose de Buan and once
more feel the warmth of the Buananons!
Army sarge entertains folks with magic
By NINFA B. QUIRANTE, PIA
January 17, 2006
CATBALOGAN, Samar – Why are
the people cheering and jeering in a serious activity like the three-day
peace and development forum conducted by the 34th IB in remote San Jose de
Magic, just plain magic!
To ease the seriousness in
the peace and development forum, Sgt. Henry Noynay performs magic. His magic
spiels have always been a 'hit' as a front act in all the fora done.
Noynay entertains the crowd
while waiting for lecturers to arrive. He never ceases to mesmerize the
young and old alike. Aside from his magic, he also dances "Totoy Bibo' with
gusto and sings ala professional. He even has a puppet he said, ala 'Arn-Arn'
of the Unang Hirit fame. His favorite magic number is calling on an
unsuspecting volunteer from the audience who is almost shocked to see
him producing items out of nowhere. The latest ploy witnessed by PIA
involved a white hanky turn to an underwear to the delight of his adulating
In a short informal talk
with the 'magician' at a lull in remote San Jose de Buan, Henry bared that
his craft became his ticket in entering the military service. His father, he
beamed proudly was a magician while he was the assistant. After his father's
untimely demise, his passion for magic drove him to try new tricks. His
industry paid off. Like a true artist with a rare privilege he was admitted
to the army just for his performance merit.
He however, said that he
also underwent the usual military training attended by all soldiers. He is
trained for combat and won't hesitate to if the situation beckons. Just like
in the most recent ambuscade staged by the CPP/NPA, while his group returned
from San Jose de Buan. Four of his co-soldiers perished. He could not say
whether he survived because of magic.
Aside from his office stint
at the Civil Affairs Unit at Camp Lukban, Catbalogan, Noynay gets endless
invitation to perform. He could be invited to children's birthday parties,
where he dons his clown costume and wows them all. The fulfillment he gets
in knowing he has made people happy more than compensates the little bills
he gets from his sponsors.
Noynay may not have the
superstar stature of the "starstruck" survivors, but he has inadvertently
created a following, making him a celebrity in his own right.
SAGUPA condemns 46th IB
brutality in Basey, Samar
Press Release by
SAGUPA – SB
January 10, 2005
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte –
Basey countrysides are still in agony as military operation of the 46th IB
escalates evidenced of several command posts littered all over far-flung
areas of the said town, harboring fear and terror among the residents.
Reports disclosed that many
farmers have fled their homes to take refuge in nearby barangays. This is
currently happening in Sitio Roño, Barangay Old San Agustin, Basey, Samar.
In November 2005, some farmers experienced military abuses, which persuaded
them to air their complaints in radio stations to call for justice. The
latest violation committed by soldiers belonging to the 46th IB involved the
burning down of the house of a farmer on the mere suspicion of being a
sympathizer or member of the communist rebels.
Lito R. Gacusana, Secretary
General of Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB),
strongly condemns the spate of human rights violations against these
“Their right to life and
property are threatened due to this intensified militarization, including
their sole source of economic survival, which is farming. Several lives and
properties have been ruined into shambles brought about by military
operations”, said Gacusana.
Elisa, not her real name,
resident of Sitio Roño whose house was torched down by the members of the
46th IB, revealed that she is now under persistent surveillance as she has
voluntarily come out in the open to expose numerous human rights abuses and
terrorist acts committed by the military.
“Our movements and
activities are placed in restrictions and monitored on mere suspicion that
we are members of New People’s Army. Last November 25, 2005, some 20
military men in full battle gear and without nameplates forcibly entered our
residence insisting that we know the site of the NPA camp. As we took no for
an answer, they threatened to kill us. My father, 70 years old, was beaten
with their rifle butts as he was being interrogated”, recalled Elisa.
“Lately, our house was
burned down as we celebrated New Year in my sister’s residence in Brgy. Old
San Agustin. We just discovered the burnt house on the morning of the
January 1, 2006 when our neighbors relayed to us the news regarding the
incident. At least 12 men in civilian clothes but in combat shoes suspected
to be military men came upon our residence on the morning of December 31,
2005. Before midnight, they burned down the house including our personal
belongings, utensils, furniture and farm implements. Witnesses revealed that
the perpetrators belonged to the 46th Infantry Battalion with a certain Lt.
Balasi as the commanding officer of the military operation since they have
seen these men change into their fatigue uniforms in Sitio Sagne, Brgy. Del
Pilar after the incident. Witnesses have also recognized the faces of the
perpetrators, as they were the same troops who sowed unwanted intrusions to
privacy and security in our community. Before the incident happened, we have
received information that there are 15 houses, including ours, which will be
burned down by the military. It happened that our house was the first one to
reduce into ashes”, Elisa lamented.
“We convinced the
farmer-civilian-victims to submit their sworn statements regarding the
increased number of human rights violations in your area for legal purposes
and to further prosecute these perpetrators in uniform. We further call the
attention of the government to immediately take necessary and constitutional
steps and actions regarding this concern”, Gacusana said.
Meanwhile, Elisa and the
other victims of human rights violations and suppression of people’s rights
with impunity demand justice and the immediate removal of the 46th IB in