PALO, Leyte – There
is no doubt about it: Eastern Visayas is one of the regions in the
country most prone to disasters. This year alone, three major natural
disasters struck the region: the massive landslide in Guinsaugon that
killed an estimated 1,113 people and typhoons “Caloy” and “Milenyo”
that affected 4,133 families. Equally devastating but less publicized
were the man-made disasters – land dispute and armed conflict – that
caused six massive evacuations of around 906 families from February to
November this year.
Among the communities
in Eastern Visayas, it is the farmers who are indubitably the most
vulnerable to disasters. Poverty impedes their ability to cope with
and recover from their adverse impact. According to an independent
research think-tank IBON, the daily wage of farmers in the region is
only P126.14, which is far below the daily income of P497.30 that a
family of six living in agriculture-dependent rural areas needs to
live decently. Furthermore, compounding their vulnerability is the
lack of food security and poor access to government social services
such as health care and economic support.
Despite the grim
situation, life continues to spring in peasant communities as
structures of empowerment, aimed at decreasing their vulnerability to
disasters, are being set up by development-oriented organizations.
Among these is the local disaster response agency – the
for Development, Inc. (LCDE).
The LCDE is a
non-government organization assisting both natural and man-made
disaster-stricken communities in Eastern Visayas. Established in 1986,
the LCDE is hardly recognized in the region but it is incontestably
one of the most active partners of the Department of Social Welfare
and Development (DSWD) and the Regional Disaster Coordinating
Committee (RDCC) in disaster response work. The agency presently holds
office in Palo in Leyte.
What sets LCDE apart
from other disaster response centers is that it does not follow the
present disaster response system in the country which is reactive,
according to Jazmin Jerusalem, LCDE Executive Director.
“The Philippines has
the reputation of being the fourth most disaster-prone in the world,
yet, our country’s disaster response system has remained
relief-centered or more focused on emergency response. The disaster
victims are treated as passive recipients of relief aid and are not
encouraged to get involved in disaster management,” Jerusalem said.
She pointed out that this kind of disaster response only addresses the
immediate needs of the victims but not their vulnerability which is
important to reduce the impact of disasters.
Jerusalem added that
they have long been using an alternative approach to disaster
management which seeks to decrease the level of people’s disaster
vulnerability – the community-based disaster management (CBDM).
The CBDM is an
approach that involves building and strengthening the people’s
economic and organizational capacity to prepare against, cope with and
recover immediately from disasters, according to Jerusalem.
strengthening this capacity entails not only having a set of programs
that covers all aspects of disaster response work, including relief
assistance, disaster preparedness and mitigation, and rehabilitation.
It also entails the involvement and participation of the affected
communities themselves,” she emphasized. She added, “This means that
it is the community and not the disaster response agency who should
take the lead in disaster management.”
Jerusalem said that
this can be done through the formation of disaster response committees
or organizations in the affected communities “whose members have a
certain level of awareness on disaster and are well-trained on
participation, which is absent in the prevailing disaster response
system, is one way of empowering them,” she pointed out.
LCDE has helped
increase the economic capacities of its beneficiaries through its
rehabilitation projects which include cooperative formation,
installation of water pumps, seed dispersal, provision of housing
materials, farm animals and implements, and financial assistance. It
has also implemented disaster mitigation projects such as the
propagation of disaster-resistant crops, organic farming,
diversification of crops according to different planting season and
A good case showing
how the agency’s rehabilitation program helps its beneficiaries uplift
their condition was the setting up of a cooperative store in a peasant
community in Baybay, Leyte. The cooperative store, which is being
managed by the LCDE-formed organization, has not only supplied the
community with cheaper basic goods since it started operation; it also
succeeded in breaking the economic power of the usurers in the
Meanwhile, LCDE has
already formed 73 full-blown disaster response machineries in its
recipient communities. It has also conducted more than 400 trainings
on disaster preparedness and management, counter-disaster planning,
organizing or disaster response group formation, advocacy and
campaign, resource generation, and many others.
LCDE believes that
economic realities account for people’s vulnerability to disasters.
Thus, poverty serves as its guide in the selection of areas for its
programs. Its primary beneficiaries are remote peasant communities
with highest poverty incidence and where government services are nil.
Free health care
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte
– Children recruited by the New People’s Army to become combatants,
who either surrendered or captured by the military in Region 8 are
well taken cared of. This is the assurance given by DSWD Director
Letecia Corillo during the Panindugan TV program of PIA, recently.
Levi Malabanan, an NPA
member, was 14 years old when rescued by the military on December 6,
2000. For more than three years, Levi stayed under the custody of the
military chaplain but with regular and close monitoring of the Social
Welfare Office in Samar.
On May 15, 2004, Levi,
after undergoing psycho-social, medical and dental, legal, financial
and spiritual services, was discharged to be under the care of an
elder brother in Sta. Margarita, Samar. Levi will soon graduate in the
elementary level of education in March of 2007. Levi has been
declared by DSWD as fully reintegrated to the family and community.
Still at the Home for
Girls is Evelyn Opo, 16 years of age who surrendered to the military
on March 10, 2006. Evelyn finished her second year high school
education and became an NPA member. She stayed under the custody of
the military for 18 days until she was turned over to the DSWD on
March 28, 2006.
Evelyn has been
provided psycho-social, legal, medical/dental, spiritual enhancement
and renewal, educational livelihood assistance, financial assistance,
home-life services, exposure to purposive activities and value
Evelyn is prepared for
eventual return to capable relatives. However, the DSWD and SWO are
still in the process of assessment and exploration of capable and
willing relatives to accommodate the minor. Evelyn has gained
occupational skills which she can readily use upon discharge from the
center. She has also acquired positive values and attitude and has
improved in terms of social adequacy. She has improves physically and
can now relate well with the staff and co-wards.
Jerwin Llena was
eleven years old when he was rescued by the military on March 13,
2005. An NPA recruit, he finished only grade IV. He stayed with the
military for only four days before he was discharged to his aunt on
March 17, 2005. The DSWD has provided psycho-social, educational
assistance, financial assistance and medical assistance. He is still
under the care and custody of his paternal aunt and continues to go to
school. He was turned over to CSWD for support services.
Another NPA child
combatant is Shirley Caliwan who was only 14 years old when she was
rescued by the military on
March 13, 2005. She was held under the custody of the military for
four days before she was turned over to her biological mother’s
March 17, 2005. Shirley is now doing well as a second year high school
student. She has been referred to CSWD and World Vision for support
Arnold Daculan, an NPA
recruit, was 17 years old when he was captured by the military on
August 27, 2004. He was immediately turned over to Calbayog and
subsequently to the DSWD. He is still with the RRCY where he received
various DSWD services. He is ready for return with identified
relatives who have been assessed capable and willing to take him under
their custody. He is ready for discharge from RRCY by the last quarter
Nestor Caliwan is one
of the youngest recruit of the NPA who was captured by the military on
March 13, 2005. He stayed with the military for four days before he
was returned to his biological mother. He is now in Grade V. He,
together with his sister Shirley have been referred to CSWDO and World
Vision for support services.
Hipolito Abolo Jr. was
16 years old when he surrendered to the military in December 2004. He
finished only the third grade in elementary education. He remains with
his biological family and has been provided with psycho-social and
financial assistance by DSWD.
The government under
the Arroyo Administration will continue to defend the rights of
children. Moreover, the President calls on the people to help restore
peace for the development of Samar and Region 8.
Electric Cooperatives can
learn a lot from the Leyeco II experience
By Philippine Information
Agency (PIA 8)
October 6, 2006
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte –
Electric Cooperatives can learn a lot from the Leyte II Electric
Cooperative (LEYECO II) experience – from being one of the worst
electric cooperatives in 1994 to being number one today.
Incorporated and registered
with the National Electrification Administration on October 26, 1975,
LEYECO II made a dramatic turnaround, from a beleaguered to a top
notch electric cooperative (EC), starting with its localization on
July 18, 1994, Atty. Jerry Gwen Conde, the general manager of LEYECO
In nearly twenty years of existence, the electric cooperative’s
performance was neither here nor there despite the numerous built-in
viability factors and potentials for growth that it possesses like
compact size of area coverage; generally flat and hospitable terrain
with the necessary distribution system already in place; with only two
municipalities and one city to serve; substantial number of
residential, commercial and industrial users; and proximity to an
abundant natural source of power.
In 1994, LEYECO II had 31.21
% systems loss; two unions always at odds with each other, resulting
to inefficiency of service; accumulated net loss of nearly P25 M; 12
quarters arrears in payment of NEA loan amortization and with
categorization of D.
In 1994, with the
Localization Program of NEA the first local general manager in the
person of Mrs. Juliet Pretencio was installed. The first problem that
was tackled was how to handle the labor problem and the inefficiency
of the staff.
The conduct of employees’
meetings was implemented in order to acquaint them of the goals that
need to be accomplished. The employees’ receptiveness and positive
response were considered as the most critical at that point because
without which nothing could ever be achieved.
LEYECO II management saw the
importance of establishing sound human resources development program
through a regular weekly meeting of the staff and divisions to present
the respective workplans and to review accomplishments. Aside from
that, monthly employees and coop officers dialogue were conducted.
The Cooperative also went into the program of professionalizing the
services of coop employees by upgrading their technical skills through
trainings and re-aligning work functions vis-à-vis their talents and
fields of specialization; inculcation of the values of honesty, hard
work, and discipline; team-building and value formation seminars.
To instill discipline among
the ranks, Atty. Conde said that the management strictly imposed the
attendance during the Monday morning flag ceremony, the wearing of the
proper office uniforms and strictly prohibited smoking in restricted
areas. Regular masses were offered every first Wednesday and Friday of
the month and the conduct of birthday bashes, annual sportsfest, the
LEYECO II Chorale, etc. was institutionalized to provide venues for
employee interaction, thus helping to build stronger teams and foster
closer ties between them.
To keep the member consumers
and the staff abreast with what is going on in the cooperative, the
publication of the HR Insider. Also, in order to be able to serve the
customers better, LEYECO II paved way for the installation of 24-hour
customers’ service counter and the key field personnel and crew were
equipped with handheld radios so that they can be reached anytime
their services are needed.
The LEYECO II management
also enhanced the existing information vehicles to effectively reach a
larger number of concessionaires. This was done through weekly pre
membership and orientation seminars, barangay consultative meetings,
public address system, press conferences in coordination with the
local PIA and the tri-media, a bi-monthly radio program, publication
of the quarterly newsletter Kalamragan.
The Customer Service
Standards was raised using information tools to get customer feedback:
Survey/questionnaire; Suggestion box; SMS or text messaging; Quarterly
District Electrification Committee meetings; and Annual General
Financial Development was
achieved through enhancement of collection efficiency; undertaking
continuous analysis of historical consumption of delinquent consumers;
setting up of workable, effective but less costly collection programs
like Special Banking Arrangement (SBA) and the setting up of
Collection centers in Babatngon & Palo.
Technical Development and
Information Technology upgrading were also implemented which resulted
to the reduction of non-power cost; line installation projects to
serve sitios in keeping with the expansion program, line
rehabilitation and upgrading.
Since 1995, receiving an
award has become a habit for LEYECO II: Most Improved EC in the
Philippines in 1995; Exemplary Payor Award from1996-2002; Special
Citation for 100% Bgy. Energization; Top Performing EC Award from
1977-1999, 2001; Leadership Award for EC General Managers; 2000, 2002,
2003 Outstanding EC in the Philippines Award; 2005 Special Award for
Category A+ ECs for commendable operational performance given in
Cagayan de Oro City last May 10, 2006.
Today, the LEYECO II is with
the second local GM with the battle cry of Maximum Efficiency in an
environment of absolute honesty and total solidarity.
WOWOWEE storms Vegas
By JOHNNY M. PECAYO / PNS
September 14, 2006
LAS VEGAS, NV
– The UNLV Thomas & Mack Center, known to people the world over as the venue
of the historic rematch January 21, 2006, between pugilists Manny "Pacman"
Pacquiao and Erik Morales, is the same venue used by ABS-CBN September
3, when WOWOWEE stormed Las Vegas with a big bang, preceded the day
before by a press conference, covered by the MANILA-U.S. TIMES and the
As announced, doors
were supposed to open at
4 P.M. on September 3, but Filipino Americans started to arrive as
early as 1:30 P.M. for the
7 P.M. show, and by
3:30 P.M., no one would find an empty parking space near or around the
By 6 p.m., Thomas &
Mack Center's 18,000-seat arena was almost filled to capacity, a first
time in the history that the huge place was filled by Filipinos alone.
It was also filled to capacity last January 21, but with people of
various nationalities, with varied ethnic backgrounds.
By 7 P.M., WOWOWEE's
fans were anxious to see WOWOWEE's most popular TV host, Willie
Revillame, along with cohosts Janelle Jamer and Mariel Rodriguez, and
it did not happen. But did it dampen their enthusiasm? No. It
heightened their excitement. It gave some people the opportunity to
leave their seats to buy their favorite sodas and sandwiches upstairs,
about 150 feet away from the ringside, where we were seated, just
infront of Janelle and Mariel and the dancers in skimpy attire.
At exactly 8 P.M., the
lights went out, but not the cellphones, that looked like little stars
in the sky, moving from left to right as the holders swayed their
hands in unison.
Dramatic Appearance of
Ten meters away from
where we were seated, a riser began to move up, complete with gift
wrappers for a suspenseful, yet dramatic appearance of No. 1 Filipino
TV host in the world, Willie Revillame. And the sound of music to the
tune of WOWOWEE reverberated throughout the huge hall with deafening ooohs
and aaahs, coupled with thunderous applause from a huge crowd, as
Willie tried to untangle himself from the gift wrappers to step out of
the riser, running literally straight onto the stage. And the people
roared with the clapping of their hands and the stomping of their feet
as the show officially begun.
A few seconds after
the applause died down, Willie was seen onstage weeping, and his voice
trembling as he could hardly contain the happiness inside of him,
seeing so many kababayans surrounding the centerstage, with all eyes
focused on him. A professional entertainer, with a very pleasant
personality, Willie regained his composure in no time, and the show
went on fluidly from then on.
But, wait, it did not
happen as simple as that. There were many people behind WOWOWEE's
show. Before the show began, the lightings, seating arrangements, and
sound systems, were installed, checked and re-checked by technical
people and sound engineers. Even Sid Protasio, one of the producers,
was seen doing the checking.
Other than Willie,
there was another guy most visible onstage, Owen Ercia, also known as
"Jimmy Santol," the floor director. With youthful looks and a huge
body, wearing colorful shirts dominated by yellow, with highlighted
hair, Owen has his own bunch of followers already established, even in
the regular WOWOWEE shows at ABS-CBN in
Manila. And his role in
Las Vegas was really
felt by the audience.
The man and woman
behind the scene were Johnny Manahan, Program director; and Cynthia
Jordan, Production manager.
Seen occupying the
front row, on the ring side, were ABS-CBN bigwigs -- Charo Santos,
Executive Vice President; and Raffy Lopez, President of ABS-CBN
Global, and Chairman of the Board, ABS-CBN Foundation U.S.A. -- along
with Immigration lawyer Michael Gurfinkel and Millie Santa Ana of the
Gurfinkel Law Offices, one of the major sponsors of the show, and Mr.
Lim (I forgot his first name) of Asiatic Properties, donor of the
house and lot.
The dance exhibition
performed by Janelle Jamer, Mariel Rodriguez, Luningning, Milagring,
donning colorful attire, and the local dancers, done ala 'Broadway'
style, added a touch of class and a breather to the audience,
especially when they criss-crossed their hands around their waists and
behind them and continued dancing, kicking up their left and right
legs alternately, with precision, drawing raves and big rounds of
applause from the highly-charged audience.
The WOWOWEE show in
Vegas was identical to WOWOWEE show in
Manila, save in cash prizes -- $200 for each winner in the "Bigat
10" and $6,000 and a Sinski or Rich-O tricycle for the overall winner
in the "Pasalog."
One of the
participants in Las Vegas, a maid, has an emotional story to
share. She had been out of the Philippines for 22 years. "When I left
Manila, I had five children. Now only three are left. Two of them died
without me seeing them. I wanted to go home, but I could not. At this
juncture, Willie intervened and said, "there is a person in the
audience who can help you with your problem." But the lady, on the
verge of crying, quickly added she already got married, and tried to
locate her husband seated at the topmost seat who was hardly visible
from the stage.
Then Willie led the
lady closer to a TV screen where a pre-recorded interview, showing her
daughters, had a special message for her. The daughters have messages
of encouragement -- for her to take care of herself, and to win in the
WOWOWEE. When Willie and the lady participant went back closer to the
mike for the resumption of the contest, it was interrupted for a long
while, as a beautiful lady went up onstage and donated $100, courtesy
of her American husband immigration lawyer, and hundreds of people
followed suit, increasing the "donations" to a bagful. More and more
people were seen coming down from their elevated seats to give cash,
but they were not allowed anymore. Owen was seen signalling the
security people to block them from coming up onstage. But it was the
outpouring of support that was seen and felt by Willie and the lady
participant, and the thousands of guests were amazed at how Filipinos
help a fellow Filipino in distress. The scene was truly hair-raising
Grand Prize Winner
Brenda, a divorcee
originally from Masinloc, Zambales, who wanted to donate $5,000 for
the construction of a church in her hometown, was the grand prize
winner in the "Pera o Bayong" contest. After almost instantly being
eliminated in the final rounds against the bemoustached police officer
of the Department of Defense (DOD), based in San Francisco,
California, who chose the correct answer on the "Green" side, she was
given a chance by Willie Revillame when he offered $1,000 who would
transfer (lipat) to "Yellow" from "Green" (the correct answer: 'Planet
Biyo'), which the police officer grabbed instantly. Then Willie
offered $500 for another transfer -- this time from "Red" to "Green"
-- and Brenda moved from Red to Green, making her the grand prize
Ordinarily, only one
choice is given to a contestant who reached this stage of the
program. For the first time, WOWOWEE put the contents of two "bayongs"
(bags or baskets) up for grabs, and Willie, with the usual assistance
from Janelle and Mariel, started to offer Brenda $1,000, and then
upped the offer finally to $10,000, giving Brenda the choice. She
chose 'bayong' and won One Million Pesos on the first bag. The second
bag contained a house and lot picture, and won the house and lot,
making Brenda the grand prize winner of P1M and a house and lot, for
the first time in WOWOWEE's program history. She could not control her
emotions, and she started to jump up and down, then started to
cry. But the ever alert Willie, asked Brenda: "What can you say?" and
Brenda responded instantly: "I would like to thank the Lord, ABS-CBN,
the staff of WOWOWEE and, of course, Kuya Willie," and before she
could finish her brief speech, she was instantly joined by her son,
and later on swarmed by her relatives onstage.
An intermission of the
show was spent in the presentation by Art Commissioner Ben Torres from
the Office of the Las Vegas City Mayor of two commendations -- one
from Governor Kenny Green of the State of Nevada -- for Humanity --
and the other one, a Proclamation, from Las Vegas City Mayor Oscar B.
Goodman, declaring September 3 as Willie Revillame Day in Las Vegas,
Lito Camo, singer,
composer, guitarist, and ABS-CBN's mainstay, was officially introduced
by Willie. Together, Willie and Lito rendered a Christmas carol, and
the generous audience instantaneously approached them onstage and gave
them cash. Pinoy-Pinay Restaurant donated $3,000 to WOWOWEE in a
sealed envelope. They only stopped giving when Willie said: "Sabi ko
na ba't huwag nating kantahin ang kantang 'to, baka akalain nilang
namamasko tayo sa kanila." And Willie thanked those generous donors.
Known for changing
attire twice or thrice in one show, Willie surprised the audience when
he came from the top of the bleachers, donning an Elvis Presley attire
-- white jacket, complete with the usual borloloys, with the word
WOWOWEE embroidered in gold on the inside part of the white cap. He
also wore white pants, and large dark glasses, asking some in the
audience along the stairways, "Gusto mong maglaro sa "Bigat 10?" Then
he rendered a Tagalog song, to the tune of a rock and roll, and sang
to the Elvis Presley style. That floored many in the audience.
Janelle Jamer also
showcased her beautiful voice, inviting a gentleman from the audience
to come up onstage that left the other men in the audience
jealous. This talented young lady should sing regularly in the WOWOWEE
to keep the audience and the contestants entertained.
Almost exhausted, but
still grinning ear-to-ear, was Willie Revillame who managed to thank
the audience: "Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat ... ang programang ito
ay para sa inyo." He acknowledged the presence of ABS-CBN key
personages, led by beauteous Charo Santos and Raffy Lopez. Also
acknowledged were Michael and Millie Gurfinkel, Mr. Lim, and the
people behind RALP Productions -- Sid Protasio and Tony Lim, and Ruby
Arcilla, as well as his personal friends -- Dr. Jun Berberabe, Evelyn
Bengzon and Tita Carol. The highly successful show wound up at almost
12 midnight on Sunday, September 3, and was televised,
internationally, on Saturday, September 9.
The press conference,
organized by Golin Harris, the company that handles ABS-CBN PR and
media functions in the U.S., and coordinated by Kevin A. Schader, was
held Saturday, September 2, also at the Thomas & Mack Center. In the
presidential table were: Willie Revillame, Janelle Jamer, Mariel
Rodriguez and Cynthia Jordan, WOWOWEE Production Manager.
Members of the press
present were: Johnny Pecayo, Romeo Balboa, Thelma Calabio and
Josephine Balboa of the MANILA-U.S. TIMES; and Bobby Macabagdal and
Ferdie Villar of Asian Journal.
A series of questions
fielded by this writer drew responses from Willie, Janelle, Mariel and
Cynthia. It was learned that, as relayed by Willie, it was Charo
Santos, Executive Vice President of ABS-CBN, and Gabby Lopez, the top
honcho, who conceptualized the WOWOWEE TV Show, patterned after
Winfrey Ophra's popular TV show, but directed at the poor, the
homeless, students, housewives, laborers, fishermen, and people from
all walks of life, including showbiz personalities on Saturdays, with
huge prizes to boot.
Willie admitted his
ups and downs in show business. He even went to U.S. and tried to look
for a greener pasture other than TV programs. But Dr. Jun Berberabe,
Evelyn Bengzon and Tita Carol of
Las Vegas encouraged Willie to go back to his "first love" -- the TV
show. "Bumalik ka na at mag-host ka uli ng isang TV Show," cajoled
Jun, Evelyn and Carol, who noticed Willie missing the work on the
tube. And WOWOWEE was born.
In no time, ABS-CBN's
rating steadily rose until the station and this Filipino program
became No. 1 not only in the Philippines, but in the whole world. To
which Willie said: "Rating plays a big factor. People working for it
feel good and happy. More advertisers and supporters come to the fore,
even without solicitation."
On competition, Willie
said they are not competing with any program in any TV station in the
Philippines. In fact, "every TV station must have a game show so that
our poor people would have more chances winning prizes that could help
change their lives for the better."
"We are very flattered
with your encouraging remarks, and we will work harder to give you the
best we could," chorused Janelle and Mariel, when MANILA-U.S. TIMES'
Managing Editor Thelma Calabio praised them publicly.
But Willie Revillame
went on to say that his role is to make people happy. He cited one
call from Washington, D.C. whose mother was dying in a hospital. The
other one was at ICU at the PGH on Taft Avenue. And many more confined
in various hospitals. All they were asking of me was to pay them a
visit if I could and sing for them, and they will feel good, even for
a few precious moments. "Whenever my schedule permits, I would spend
Saturdays and Sundays visiting some hospitals just to uplift the
morale of the poor, sick people," revealed Willie.
"I consider my role
not as work or job, but fun and entertainment," says Cynthia Jordan,
the program's production manager.
"This show (WOWOWEE)
will continue to be fun, entertaining, heartwarming, and will make
people happy every day, but will not compete with any other program,"
reassured Revillame. "I would love to see the daily show with an
ambience of a fiesta celebration, where everybody is happy and
joyful. Expect the best tomorrow," he concluded.