This page features some special news reports and documentaries

special report 19

more report...

Agrarian reform beneficiaries in Eastern Samar receive 10 coco twining machines

DYOG Calbayog celebrates its Silver Jubilee


Peasant women brave palengke challenge

Leyte NGO brings life back to disaster-stricken communities through empowerment

The voice as sweet as honey

Region 8’s Wonder Boy is only 7 years old

Sneak a Peak at the Ultimate Party Grounds – Balyuan Park

Guinsaugon mudslide survivors asks for help

A Tribute for our Heroes



Semana Santa in Basey

March 18, 2008

Basey is home to one of the world’s oldest religious activities.  Placed under the bishopric of Cebu in 1591 (then 65 years later under the Residencia in Dagami [since 1656]), its parish has since been observing the annual 8-day Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

17th century church of basey
The centuries-old Saint Michael the Archangel Parish Church of Basey with its belfry – site of most of the Holy Week activities that attract yearly tourists.

One of the oldest and earliest pueblos (towns) in the Philippine Islands, Basey is populated today by 43,809, most of whom are Roman Catholics who follow the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ and the practices of the Catholic Church.

For the entire Holy Week or Semana Santa, the religious of Basey focus on Church-led activities, with parish priest Fr. Niceas A. Abejuela at the helm, with the assistance of Fr. Dionesio Calderon, and the different religious organizations, mostly the cofradias, participating.

Palm Sunday

Palms mostly with lukay (young coconut leaf) shaped into a cross dominate the first two waking hours of the morning of Sunday.  In Basey, the Sunday palms are taken from pitogo, lukay, and olivo (olive).  Lukay crosses are most preponderant.  The people, mostly young and old women, bring the palms to the priests for blessing on the last Sunday into the Holy Week.  Last March 16, the Palm Sunday for this year (2008), the blessing of hundreds of palms, done by Fr. Abejuela and Fr. Calderon at the spacious municipal gym, was punctuated by the waving of the blessed palms in the ensuing procession from the gym to the Saint Michael the Archangel Parish church which overlooks the whole poblacion from atop a hill in barangay Mercado.  The procession revivified the famous Jesus’ walk to and arrival in Jerusalem where the multitude of His believers waved palms as He passed by.

The palms were repeatedly waved, several times, during the first Holy Mass that followed the procession.  At the second Mass, Fr. Abejuela and Fr. Calderon blessed additional palms that were brought in by other churchgoers.

The Church preserves its own lukay cross until Ash Wednesday of the following year.  The year-old lukay cross is burned and its ashes are used in imprinting the sign of the cross on foreheads of Catholics during Ash Wednesday.

Outside the Church, the lukay or palm is hung at a preferred placed in the home, as an added defense mechanism against evil and bad fortune.  In the barrio, it is sometimes used by herbs men (arbularyo) for the treatment of the sick, mostly for panluon (producing smoke from lukay that is ritually passed around the body of the person being healed, especially one with allergy or skin rash, or with pi-ang [broken or swollen limb] or gin-ugmad [with trauma or one afflicted with fear]).

Religious Activities

The days before Maundy Thursday are also considered “santo” or holy, hence, Monday during the Holy Week is called “Lunes Santo”, Tuesday – “Martes Santo”, and Wednesday – “Miyerkoles Santo”.  On these days, the Basaynon families go to the church to do the Stations of the Cross after the 6 a.m. Holy Mass.  The Stations of the Cross – symbolizing original “stations” of the last days of Jesus – used to be 14, ending with the Station on the graveyard of Jesus.  According to Eliacim Centino Cabuquit, a high school teacher in the Basey National High School (which occupies the erstwhile “Junior” island in brgy. Buscada) where his specialization is put to maximum use in Music, Arts, Physical Education (PE) and Health (or MAPEH), there are now 15 such stations as the “Resurrection” of Christ had been added about eight years ago.

Aside from the Stations of the Cross, there are also confessions for elementary pupils and high school students (inspired by the Lady of Charity who had been conducting catechism work in the past days) on Martes Santo, and, on Miyerkoles Santo, the Holy Communion is administered, plus a series of meditations by the Catholic families who visit the Church.

Huwebes Santo

Maunday Thursday, or Huwebes Santo (taken from the Spanish Jueves Santo, or Holy Thursday), begins with confessions in the morning for all the faithful.

By 3 p.m., during the Holy Mass, the priest (as Jesus) re-enacts the washing and kissing of the feet of the “Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ”, characterized by pre-selected men (sometimes middle aged, or the elderlies, or children – such as in the time of this writer and 11 other children, whose “Jesus” then was our parish priest, Msgr. Pedro Yrigan).  Afterwards, the Holy Eucharist is then conducted in procession inside the church, followed by Its enshrinement at the monument at the left side of the altar.

The Last Supper is re-enacted by them at the Convent, just behind the church, usually at 8 p.m.

Overnight, until 9 p.m. of Good Friday, families take turns in doing a one-hour vigil at the church.  The Cofradia also does its own vigil.

Biyernes Santo

The Siete Palabras (Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ) in Basey unwinds at 1 p.m. of Good Friday (Biyernes Santo, or Viernes Santo in Spanish) inside the Saint Michael the Archangel Parish Church.  This is assigned to the Adoracion Nocturna, an all-male group of adorers.

Replicas of Ten Commandments tablets in Basey
These are replicas of the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, found in the church yard of the Saint Michael the Archangel Parish Church in Basey, where once upon a time wrestling competitions were conducted as part of the sacrifices marking the Holy Week.

There is a Holy Mass but sans reading of the Epistles and the Gospel.  The Mass ends with the Consecration and the Holy Communion, followed by a procession of the Santo Entierro (the Dead Christ as taken off the Cross) around the town, and back to the church.  This starts at about 5:30 p.m.

By 7 p.m., Eliacim tenders supper for the Twelve Apostles, at his home in Sulod.  This hosting has been a yearly self-assumed responsibility continued by him from a worthy practice by his father, Juan Cabuquit, Samar’s only sculptor of wooden icons of saints until he joined his Creator.  The movers of the carrozas or carros (wooden floats) join the Twelve Apostles during this activity.

Two hours later, the Soledad (the icon of Virgin Mary) is led outside of the church, in a procession.  This is carefully managed so as not to chance upon the Santo Entierro that is already returning to the church from an earlier procession.  The procession of the Soledad symbolizes the solitary search by Saint Mary for her Son whose body vanished from His Tomb.

The Good Friday procession has the following sequence of the carros: San Juan (St. John the Baptist), San Pedro (St. Peter, the Apostle), First Station: Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (last year, the carro  for this was being prepared by Eliacim when chanced upon by this writer), Sixth Station: St. Veronica wiping the face of Jesus Christ, Siete Palabra (the Seventh Last Word): Jesus Christ hanging on the cross with Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist at the foot of His Cross, Tinanggal (the Pieta), Santo Entierro, and Dolorosa.

A taped music, a song sang by a choir of which Eliacim was then a member, is played behind the Siete Palabra carro.  The Samaracha band provides the band music behind the Tinanggal carro.

Sabado Santo

Black Saturday or Sabado Santo opens at 5 a.m. with the conduct of the Stations of the Cross by the general public.  Fifteen kalye (street) corners in the poblacion are designated one Station each.  At each stop, the religious say prayers.  A family or a cofradia is usually pre-designated to prepare the site for one Station of the Cross.  At brgy. Sulod, Eliacim, his younger sister Sarah (a public school teacher), and his nephews, as in the past years, will once again help put up the Sixth Station. The Station is a estampa (framed illustration of the Station described) on a decorated altar.

Carros (floats) are conducted in procession at this time are the following: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Nazarene (Jesus carrying a wooden cross on His shoulder), Dolorosa, Tinanggal (or the Pieta), and Santo Entierro.

By 9 p.m., church bells will peal. The Basaynon faithful gather at the church yard for the “Pagbabag-o han Kalayo” and then inside the church for the “Pagbabag-o han Tubig”.  These are symbolic rituals.  As for the first ritual, the parish priest will bless the tap-ong hin sungo (few firewood that is enkindled).  Inside the church, after that, he will bless the water that is placed inside the banga, one of the oldest porcelain wares owned by the church, that is known to the religious as the taberna.

This will be followed by the Litania Heneral, a long litany, led by Fr. Calderon, and a Holy Mass said by him, then by a procession for the Sugat, which re-enacts the moment when Virgin Mary finally found her Son.

The Virgin Mary icon, called the Sugat Virgen, is covered with a wide black veil.  The icon is conducted out of the church to the sugat (encounter) site, in front of the residence of the sugat hermano (borther or host for this event).  (This year’s hermano is a child of the late Liga ng mga Barangay president Esperato “Pepeng” Palomino and of Mrs. Agus Palomino, in Sulod.  The Palomino family owns the prestigious computer school in Basey.)

The icon of the Resurreccion (the Risen Christ in Resurrection) takes another route from the same church and heads for the sugat site.

Says Eliacim, the Virgin Mary and her Son should not meet until the Sugat moment.

At the Sugat, when the two icons finally meet – each standing high up on its own carro, and with the carros almost head-on to each other – an “angel” moves down from somewhere and takes off the black veil to show the brightened up face of Virgin Mary.  (For sometime in the past, the “angel” was a human being, a girl, dressed like an angel with wings, who would recite a himno [hymn] for the Sugat – as what happened with this writer’s younger sister, Ma. Nenita, in the Sugat at Buscada many decades ago.)

From the Sugat, the two carros go together in procession back to the church, led by the carro carrying the Resurreccion and followed by the Sugat Virgen.  At the church, the Resurrection goes to the altar.  It will be enshrined there by Mansueto Delovino, provincial environment and natural resources officer of Samar, to whose family the ownership icon of the Resurreccion passed from its original owner, the Tabunda family in brgy. Sulod, Basey, particularly through “Lola Merced”, whose house stands next to where Eliacim’s family lives.

Domingo Resurreccion

The Sunday after that is called in Basey the Domingo Resurreccion.  The day opens with a Holy Mass for Easter Sunday, followed by a regular mass and a hunt for Easter Eggs in the vicinity of the church.

* * * * * * * 

This depicts the Holy Week celebration in Basey, that is markedly of its own translation, continuing to attract tourists from various parts of the country and outside.





CKC tops Samar private schools’ nursing exam passing rate

March 15, 2008

CALBAYOG CITY, Samar  –  Christ the King College (CKC) has achieved the highest passing percentage of examinees among private nursing schools in Samar provinces in the December 2007 Nursing Licensure Examination conducted by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

Twenty-seven out of 54 first batch of examinees from CKC passed, giving the Catholic Franciscan educational institution a passing rate of 50 percent. The national passing percentage is forty-three percent.

Other private nursing schools in Samar like Colegio de San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila in Catarman, Northern Samar has 41 percent passing rate followed by Our Lady of Mercy College in Borongan City, Eastern Samar with 29 percent then Eastern Visayas Central College also in Catarman with 4 percent passing rate.

Only 26 board passers were presented to the media in the press conference held recently at the school’s audio-visual room.

The school’s nursing department dean Robelita Negradas-Varona said there are supposed to be 27 passers as published but there could be another one whose name was not just printed so she will formally communicate to the Board of Nursing to clarify this matter.

Those who successfully hurdled the exams are: Norman Balen, Blas Bartolome, Eustaquio Rente Biliran, Murphy Manlapaz, Roger Rostata, Elias Tomnob Jr., Marchelle Advincula, Lady Daryl Alandino, Ida Vanessa Bartolome, Mary Joy Kristine Bulan, Lovely Celada, Ruby May Copada, Liza Decenilla, Roxanne Guande, Lucille Icalina, Marilyn Omayon, Gale Orlansa, Roxanne Jane Perola, Cristina Jane Sandajan, Mia Suzette Sevallos, Glorimae Solano, Sharon Talahiban, Francia Mariz Tarrayo, Neloa Tarrayo, Joanna Kristine Torculas and Joy Thea Uyloan.

Nursing board passer Francia Mariz Tarrayo attributes the students’ success to the quality of education that their instructors have taught them apart from the lot of hard work and prayers.

“These batch here are very good students because with all the difficulties that we have they have done their best. First year, they have difficulty of the program like curriculum; second year, they don’t have dean and third year, they don’t have base hospital… kahirapan din ng buhay because college of nursing is more expensive than other colleges,” College President Fr. Prisco Cajes said.

Dean Varona pointed out that if only the curriculum was followed well, they will not only have a 50 percent passing percentage.

“When I came here, we had many problems especially on the curriculum. During their first two years, they really did not follow the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) standard curriculum,” she said adding that the subjects were disorganized. Some major subjects that were supposed to be offered in the third year were already being offered in the first year. However, it was already corrected and revised when the students were already in their third year of nursing.

The dean added that the preparation for the board examination actually did not start at the time when they are about to take it but when the students started their study as a first year nursing student in CKC. She said she really made it a point that all needed subject matters and topics were discussed so that once they will have the review it will not be a first view rather a review because they had already encountered it in the classroom.

The students had a three-month review in CKC before they went for a formal review in Iloilo. Fr. Cajes said the administration is hoping that CHED-8 will approve their application for the Our Lady of Porziuncola Hospital, Inc. (OLPHI), the only tertiary hospital in Calbayog to be the base hospital for their college of nursing so that the parents will not spend more in sending their children to Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo.

He added that they still have to improve the college of nursing as to its polices, curriculum, library and laboratory facilities as well as the faculty members. A dormitory for the fourth year students is set to be built aimed to help students concentrate on their study and review.

“My immediate concern here is that next year we were anticipating that our college of nursing first year will be like 200 students so we will need more room,” Fr. Cajes said.

He however said that they have to improve their admission process because they need not only students but good students who really focus on their study like the first batch.

Faculty member Elma Magoncia said it was not hard for CKC to attract enrollees in nursing because the community has been longing for the opening of its nursing department.

Asked if the target improvements will affect the tuition fee, the Father President said he has no plan to increase the tuition fee unless there is a mandatory increase of teachers and employees’ salary because the tuition is always connected with the salary.

Fr. Cajes also vowed to support the plan for those who did not pass the examination. The dean, who already met the non-passers said that some of them will go back to Iloilo for review while others who cannot financially afford are planning for a self-review which she will assist until they apply for the board examination in the PRC. She is proud that CKC hired a reviewer in nursing for the national board examination coming from their school.

“To be one step ahead of other schools, I think it needs a lot of effort on our part as instructors or as faculty members. In order for quality education to be achieved it is not only the faculty members’ responsibility but we also need the support of the administration especially in terms of the facilities,” Varona said.

CKC has been working to be a university and one of the qualifications is to have an accredited program. Fr. Cajes said they have applied for accreditation of College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business Education and College of Nursing. He stressed that they are working very hard because to be accredited means to upgrade everything not only the facilities but also the faculty.





Take the “swim along” with whale sharks challenge

By BONG PEDALINO (PIA Southern Leyte)
March 9, 2008

PINTUYAN, Southern Leyte  –  Move over, “sing-along”, because the “in” thing in this town is “swim along.”

Leisure and pleasure seekers, amateur or veteran adventurers, or the plain curious sight-seeing guests can have the challenge of a lifetime when they swim and get up-close with a menacing, giant whale shark in the seawaters of this municipality – exactly a swim along spectacle to behold.

Moncher Bardos, the Tourism Operations Officer of Pintuyan, described the world’s largest mammal which they called “Tiki-Tiki” as six to nine meters long, and the mouth opening is about one meter wide.

Its round body cartilage is about 18 inches thick, so strong barnacles have stuck for all their lives.

In an extremely lucky day, some eight “Tiki-Tki” will be frolicking with a determined swimmer, Bardos said.

Now, if that kind of a whale shark interaction is not adventure-challenge for you, might as well stay in the boat and enjoy the passing scene just the same.

A lone Tiki-Tiki, or a school of them can be seen in a distance of 50 meters away to the sea from the Pintuyan shoreline.

Bardos, who is also the President of the Southern Leyte Association of Tourism Officers (SLATO), disclosed that Greeg Bloom of “Lonely Planet”, an international travel magazine has been calling him twice already to relay his desire to come to shoot.

The swim-along whale shark interaction takes three hours, from 5:30 to 8:30 in the morning, with three tourists riding in one boat, plus the tour guide and operator.

Boat rental for one trip is P500 with a maximum of three persons as passengers, a spotter’s fee of P400, naturalist guide of P300, and a conservation fee of P250, which is to be charged per individual.

A homestay program on board and lodging for those who want to stay is being offered, in which P400.00 is the cost of the food consisting of three meals, two snacks and mineral water, and the accommodation for the night is P200, for a total of P600 per person per day.

This modest business operation is being managed by a People’s organization, the “KASAKA”, or the Kapunungang Sun-okanon alang sa Kalambuan, Bardos said.

Swim along with whale sharks is best undertaken during the months of November up to April for maximum exposure.

For two years in a row, this natural sight with sea creatures had attracted quite a number of foreign tourists, the number one visitors of which were from Germany. In 2006, some 215 German nationals had a swim along, but this decreased to 176 last year, 2007.

Next in number were the Chinese nationals, where there were only three visitors in 2006 but this shot up to 117 in 2007. The third largest group were the British citizens, numbering 38 in 2006, and 96 in 2007.

But domestic visitors, or Filipinos from various parts of the country going in the area, were not to be outdone: in 2006, some 308 Pinoys experienced swim along, and this number increased to 341 in 2007.

Those who are interested are advised to contact Bardos first at the Municipal Office, telephone number (053)587-2015.





Whale watching and diving boosts tourism in Southern Leyte

By ERNA S. GORNE (PIA Southern Leyte)
February 28, 2008

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte  –  One among the remotest  barangays in the province,  Barangay Son-ok in Pintuyan, has become the haven of the  biggest and friendly fish in the sea, the whale sharks, which draws hundreds of foreigners last year, Provincial Tourism Officer Nedgar Garvez disclosed in an interview with PIA Southern Leyte recently.

Whale sharks are known as harmless fish as they don't present a threat to either man or the fish that school around them. Whale sharks can weigh over nine tons and grow up to 12 meters in length. They can generally be found in the entire Indian Ocean in depths of up to 130 meters.

An non-government organization, KASAKA, based in the locality also facilitates for an enjoyable dive with the whale sharks aside from the packaged tour in whale watching since two years ago.  They also managed the marine sanctuary in the same barangay.

Tourism potentials in the locality generate job opportunities among the local residents.  In the whale watching or diving requires spotters, banca operators, food servers, and fees for the tour operators to manage the packaged tours. Accommodation in the barangay for those who would like to stay longer will be taken care of the local residents identified to extend home stay for the tourists.

With the pristine and crystal seas in the barangay as it sits on a coral bed, whale watching could glimpse clearly of the friendly mammals underwater. The pet sharks were usually spotted during the early hours in the morning and late afternoons, however, diving with the whale sharks could be best enjoyed anytime of the day.

While in diving, some people are intimidated by its size.  The whale shark is actually a gentle giant keen to avoid confrontations and generally trusting of humans. As for etiquette when diving with a whale shark, it is said that passive interaction is the best policy.

In fact, aggressive behavior can drive them away - so no touching, or swimming after them if you're hoping for one to hang around you. They can be quite friendly.

The tourists were advised to provide for their own paraphernalia should they opt for swimming with the whale sharks.

Tourism Officer Garvez reported that their office accounted whale watching and diving as top tourist drawers mostly attracting foreigners to the province. That last year, a dive shop based in Bohol province also visited the area, he further disclosed.





Pilgrim relic of St. Therese of the Child Jesus visits Naval town

February 26, 2008

NAVAL, Biliran  –  Over a thousand devotees from Naval, the capital town of Biliran province, and from other municipalities in the province welcome the Pilgrim Relic of St. Therese of the Child Jesus when it visited the town Saturday en route to the Diocesan Shrine built in her honor which is  located in Barangay Obispo in Calubian, of the 41 municipalities in the province of Leyte just across the island province of Biliran.

The pilgrim that came all the way from Lisieux, France arrived in Palo, Leyte on February 21 where a concelebrated mass was said and was attended by a huge crowd of devotees not only from Palo but also from the nearby Leyte municipalities.

The pilgrim visited the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban and other churches in the city.  Concelebrated masses were also said and a procession around the city joined in by devotees of St. Therese was conducted.

On February 23, the pilgrim left Tacloban at 8:30 in the morning and arrived Naval shortly before lunchtime.

Schoolchildren lined up the streets from Biliran town to Naval waving flaglets with blue and white color combination to welcome the Pilgrim Relic of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and her entourage.

Naval Mayor Susan Parilla, Vice Mayor Vicente Curso, Naval Institute of Technology (NIT) President Edita Genson, Msgr. Filomeno Bactol, Bishop of Naval and the clergy of the Diocese of Naval, the religious sisters, and  other local officials led the in welcoming the Pilgrim Relic of  St. Therese of the Child Jesus at the gate of the Cathedral Church of Naval.

The arrival ceremony was followed by a mass with Msgr. Bactol as the main celebrant together with the clergy of the Diocese of Naval.

In his homily, Bishop Bactol urged the devotees in the area to offer their pains to God through St. Therese because according to him this would bring happiness to everyone.  “Anything we do must be done with love”.

As Msgr. Bactol continued with his homily, he informed that St. Therese who is the Patroness of Priests and also the Saint of Flowers was a simple child before God who died at a very young age of 24. 

“She has high union with God, and even as she was sick, she offered everything to God”, he said.

“We are very grateful to St. Therese for coming over to the province of Biliran,” he added.

It was learned that in the year 2000, the first time the Pilgrim Relic of St. Therese of the Child Jesus came to visit the islands of Leyte and Biliran, a Diocesan Shrine was built in her honor in Barangay Obispo, Calubian, also one of the municipalities of Leyte.

Msgr. Bactol announced that Archbishop Jose Palma of the Archdiocese of Palo would have come to join the pilgrimage but since he was scheduled to fly to Manila yesterday en route to Italy to attend an international symposium, he sent a letter instead to the Diocese of Naval to greet the devotees for the occasion which was read after the mass.

The devotees were given a few minutes of veneration and to touch the Relic of St. Therese at the main altar of the church.  A land procession from the church going to the port of Naval immediately followed, afterwhich, a fluvial procession was held from the Naval port to Calubian town for a mass at the Calubian Catholic church with Msgr. Bactol also as the main celebrant.

The Relic of St. Therese stayed overnight in the Diocesan Shrine to give ample time for the devotees to make a vigil and offer prayers for their own personal intentions.

Today, the Pilgrim went back to Tacloban for its trip to Manila en route to France.

The welcome preparations to the Miraculous Pilgrim Relic of St. Therese of the Child Jesus was coordinated by NIT being the host college through its President Edita Genson in cooperation with the religious groups, other government agencies and the Dioceses of Naval.





Anything in excess…but

February 22, 2008

BORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar  –  Anything in excess, even rain is unpleasant and undesirable, but who are we to question the wisdom of the Lord?

As if to remind man’s unwise utilization of natural resources, heavy rainfall has befallen Eastern Samar rendering millions in agricultural damage, displaced families, helpless children in evacuation centers, diarrhea outbreak and food crisis among others.

Some folks recall of no similar sad occurrence at least in two decades despite similar volumes of rainfall.  The past week or so of continued pouring resulted in a number of landslides along the highways (Quinapondan, Giporlos, Taft, Borongan) submerged in water; McArthur bridge collapsed, school buildings with only the rooftop remaining afloat and sports centers became swimming pools.

“What wrong have we ever done as a province to be castigated with such unwanted waters?” an elderly barangay official anxiously asked himself.

In his report today at the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council Meeting (PDCC) Jesus Agda, the province’s Agriculturist said that some P30M damage in rice plantation had been accounted partially as a result of the unwanted rain. Add to this he said, the same destruction in high-valued fruits and crops estimated to be at P11M.

Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) Member Thelma Nicart, who has farmed in San Policarpo hectares of Mango trees for her sideline, could only sigh at her fruits which according to her, in a huddle at the PDCC were beginning to show in heavy bunches of young green fruits.

“February is the time when we spray insecticides to our Mangoes in preparation for summer harvest. Young fruits were already ready for the job, but because of the continued heavy rain, most if not all of them were destroyed,” Nicart who estimated about two million loss in Mango harvest said.

Questions may now play in each inquisitive mind; why did the rivers burst with heavy thick soils? Where did Borongan’s Loom River get its heavy loads of coconut fruits, an undetermined number of debris last Friday, February 15? Why is the flood happening simultaneously in several hinterlands of the province?

Because of the flood, Dolores Jicontol Valley of rice plantation looked like Pacific Ocean, Mayor Ewit Villacarillo reported.  While conducting relief operation this time in the mountains of Jicontol, her group was surprised to spot a boat which carried people from Maslog, when they were not supposed to pass by Dolores area.  She learned later that the boat got lost of its way.

Mayor Toytoy Germino of Can-avid has the same sad story, his farmers lost some 20 heads of carabao; Mayor Jojie Montallana’s (Jipapad) several infrastructures were damaged and Mercedes town representative feared of one barangay in their town to sink due to a big crack which quickly absorbs flood waters.

Governor Ben Evardone in a TV interview stressed however that there is no commercial logging at least to his knowledge in the area, from which denuded forests would have caused the cascading rushing waters that overflowed the rivers and highways.

What specific reason then could we point at, heavy rains setting aside?  Nobody talks about it either in the offices, in the streets, maybe for the moment when each scramble for the day’s survival.

Perhaps, the reason is simple which can be revealed in the furniture and wallings of some big beautiful houses in the entire province. We are not sure of our lumber dealers, because they are limited to log on specific volumes, the rest are imported in nearby forested provinces.

Whichever, the damage caused by either nature’s toll or man’s insensitivity to the greater needs of a much greater number of people, one thing is surer, everybody now gets the prize.  The recent natural calamity rendered five casualties and three missing persons.  There must not be more than this, or even a worse occurrence of this in the future…No…we cannot afford.  We just simply cannot.





Have you tried Pacman’s spinach?

February 15, 2008

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  Do you want to know one of the big secrets of Pinoy boxing champ Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao’s winning streak? Of course apart from the rigorous trainings and work outs, like most boxers and athletes, Pacman has a well-maintained diet. He has to keep that in order to be in tip-top shape and keep his ideal weight. And do you know what his favorite dish is? It’s tinolang manok. But Pacman’s tinola – usually prepared for him by boxing trainer Nonoy Neri – must be garnished with malunggay. For Pacman, if Popeye has his spinach, he has his malunggay.

Malunggay tree
The Malungay tree - it's like growing a multivitamins in your backyard.

For Pacman, malunggay loads him with the needed vitamins and minerals and amino acids needed for his bouts. According to Dr. Lydia M. Marero of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, malunggay is rich in vitamins A and B, and minerals such as calcium and iron.  It is likewise an excellent source of protein but contains very low fat and carbohydrates ideal for those who want to have a slimmer figure.  The leaves are a good source of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine, often the natural minerals we humans lack.

Often regarded as a miracle veggie, one hundred grams or 1 cup of cooked malunggay leaves contain 3.1 g. protein, 0.6 g. fiber, 96 mg calcium, 29 mg phosphorus, 1.7 mg iron, 2,820 mg ß-carotene, 0.07 mg thiamin, 0.14 mg riboflavin, 1.1 mg niacin, and 53 mg ascorbic acid or vitamin C.  The antioxidant activity of malunggay is about 71%, with µ-tocopherol (vitamin E) equivalent of 45.

While most companies claim that tuna, oatmeal or even coffee contain high antioxidants great to make those pesky wrinkles off your face to make you look younger than your age, somebody has yet to popularize research findings that malunggay is a very potent source of antioxidants. Due to its high content of vitamins A, C, and E, which are very potent antioxidants, malunggay is a very good quencher of unstable free radicals that can react with and damage molecules that cause aging.

While the world is now going back to the roots, so to speak, in promoting herbal medicines as cure for most of the world’s deadliest diseases, there is still much information campaign needed to disseminate the medicinal benefits one can derive from malunggay.

According to Dr. Marero, these awesome greens contain the phytochemical niaziminin, which is found to have molecular components that can prevent the development of cancer cells and correlated with inhibitory ability against super-oxide generation.  The first naturally-occuring thiocarbamates, novel hypotensive agents niazinin A, niazinin B, niazimicin and niaziminin A and B were isolated from malunggay. They also prevent the onset of various chronic diseases like arthritis, and heart and kidney diseases.

If you do not like the idea of regularly eating this green leafy veggie on a daily basis, try other alternatives. Have you heard of malunggay polvoron or malunggay cookies? They are these delectable goodness loaded with the abovementioned vitamins and minerals.

Here in Tacloban City , the Order of St. Benedictine sisters, particularly those from MAKAPAWA or Programa han Katilingban para han Maupay nga Panlawas, produces these malunggay cookies, as well as other goodies like squash cookies, or guava, squash and carrot polvoron.

Made from flour, baking powder, eggs, and malunggay, these cookies are useful in tricking especially younger children to eat their vegetables. They could have them as baons to school as healthful substitutes to junk foods. Even adults would love these cookies, too. They taste good and you’ll love them even more because you know you’re taking in a lot of goodness into your system. They are perfect partners of your favorite drink during snack time; they are also perfect as desserts.

According to Sr. Edith Eslopor, directress of MAKAPAWA, their cookies are seven times richer in vitamin C than oranges, four times richer in vitamin A than carrots, three times richer in iron than spinach, and contain nearly as much protein as eggs. Whatever will beat that?

MAKAPAWA have been producing these goodies for many years now. You can order them and they’ll deliver it to you fresh from the oven. What’s even better is that you also support other community-based health programs of the organization with every cookie you order because the proceeds of your purchase go to their services like trainings for community health workers, herbal medicine processing, and under fives clinic, among others.

So, do you want to try a malunggay cookie? Who knows you’ll be like Pacman someday.

See also: The lowly Malunggay takes center stage


◄◄home I next►►