Myrna de Vera and John
Delgado were elected as Council members and assumed office in December
2010. After Mayor Ed Balico resigned in January 2011 and Vice-Mayor
Joanne Ward took over the vacant position, de Vera was appointed as
the city’s new vice-mayor. The June 7, 2011 Special Elections resulted
in a successful recall of Mayor Ward and Council member Donald Kuehne.
Three members of the grassroots recall movement were sworn into office
as the newest council members on June 21: Dan Romero, William Wilkins,
and Gerard Boulanger. After the ceremony, Myrna de Vera was appointed
as Mayor and John Delgado as Vice-Mayor.
It has been less than
a month since a new council has been in place, all freshmen council
members, with Mayor Myrna de Vera as the oldest “rookie.” De Vera
seems to take everything in stride. According to Mayor Myrna, good
governance practices are critical to the city’s success in its
Tom Lochner of Contra
Costa Times best explained in his article, “Hercules Councilman-Elect,
despite resume padding, plans to accept seat,” dated June 11, 2011,
how the recall drive started.
“The recall occurred
at a time of public anger over the city’s financial crisis and over
its business relationship with a company that Nelson Oliva founded and
that he said he transferred to two daughters shortly before he became
city manager in April 2007; that company, NEO Consulting
Inc./Affordable Housing Solutions Group, had $3 million in city
contracts over a three-year period, approved by the City Council. But
the pivotal event that triggered the recall drive was the council’s
firing in December of interim City Manager Charlie Long, who had
publicly disclosed the gravity of the financial crisis, and its
reinstatement of Oliva from medical leave, if only temporarily. Oliva
resigned in January under an agreement that gave him a year’s salary
Mayor Myrna de Vera,
during her first address at the City Council meeting, immediately
assessed the developments of the first half of 2011 and articulated
the direction of her administration for the remainder of the calendar
“The past six months
have been filled with tough decisions and painful cuts. Projects
shelved, contracts cancelled, and the most sobering of all, the laying
off of 40 percent of our city staff. City morale is at its all time
But many recent
changes have been positive. We started engaging the community through
citizen ad hoc committees, achieved transparency through a more open
city hall culture. We also laid the groundwork for the next stages of
We have a long way to
go. The council’s priorities are to restore the people’s trust in our
city government, build strong city leadership, put our finances in
order, and develop new sources of revenue.”
After de Vera stated
the kind of workload that was expected of the city council and staff,
“During my oath-taking
speech last December, I talked about the journey we are embarking
along a steep and rough terrain. Today, we are continuing on this road
to recovery, driving our car balanced with the four wheels of
community, family, finances, and faith.
What is our
destination? We are driving toward achieving our vision of the City of
Hercules, free of corruption and fiscally-sound, a city with a
transparent council, responsive to the will of the people. Together,
we are heading to our vision of a Hercules that – once again – shines,
a city we can be once again proud of.”
Myrna de Vera is
originally from Cebu City, Philippines. She was selected as “Woman of
the Year” by the Hercules City Council, and given a Special
Recognition Award by the Hercules Chamber of Commerce in 2010. Myrna
de Vera was awarded as one of 2009’s 100 Most Influential Filipina
Women in the U.S. under the “Policymakers and Visionaries” category by
the Filipina Women’s Network.
De Vera owns and
manages an insurance agency in
San Francisco. Her husband, Manuel, and she have been residing in
Hercules with their three sons, Mark, Christian, and Emmanuel since
For the Asian American
community in Hercules, Mayor Myrna de Vera symbolizes the relevance of
diversity, reflecting the city’s population, in political empowerment.
She is the sixth American of Filipino ancestry to sit in office.
Vice-Mayor John Delgado is also one-quarter Filipino. The former
Filipino American mayors were Goni Solidum, Andy Paras, Ed Manuel,
Frank Batara, and Ed Balico. Myrna de Vera is also the first Filipina
woman mayor of Hercules,
For more information about the City of Hercules, go to http://www.ci.hercules.ca.us/.
You can reach Mayor de Vera by email at email@example.com.
Samar climbers help
set new world record
By RICKY J. BAUTISTA
BORONGAN CITY – Out
of 8,000 climbers in the country who signed up for the trek, around
6,700 of them have successfully scaled 70 mountains marking the
country’s 113th Independence Day celebration on June 12, 2011, records
of the organizers revealed.
And among the 6,700
mountaineers, around 99 of them came from the three provinces of Samar
Island who likewise conquered the highness (with 470 meters above sea
level) of Mount Kapudlusan in Brgy. Del Pilar, Maydolong, Eastern
Acidre, president of the organizing Alliance of Filipino Mountaineers
Incorporated (FIMOInc.), said though they are still waiting for the
official pronouncement coming from the Guinness World Record (GWR)
Adjudicators in the Philippines, “we believe the record of 600
climbers set by
and Ireland has been replaced by our new records.”
Dubbed as the “Freedom
Climb 2011”, the third of its kind in the Philippines is an attempt to
break a Guinness World Record (Most people in an Ascent on Multiple
Mountains) and to set a new Guinness World Record Criterion on Most
people to Summit Multiple Mountains nationwide.
According to Benjie
Panaguiton, Area Coordinator for
said the 99 people who scaled Mt. Kapudlusan traversed the mountain
and river trails for at least 4-8 long hours of trekking from the
jump-off point to the base camp and to the summit peak.
The 23-man team of the
Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) led by Project Manager Manolito Ragub,
who also joined the record attempt, reported sightings of the rare
Philippine Eagle during their 3-day camping in the Borongan-Llorente
Closed Canopy Forest – the official “trek route” of the event.
The SINP along with
the Maydolong LGU and other officials of the province partly shared
resources to make the event successful.
Meanwhile, Rommel L.
Rutor of Centro Outdoors based in Catbalogan City who earlier endorsed
Mt. Huraw in San Jose de Buan as one of the venue facilitated the
gathering of other climbers from Catbalogan, Calbayog in Samar and
Catarman and Laoang in Northern Samar including the Tribu Hibatang,
Baktasi, Laoang Spelunkers, SFC in Catbalogan and other walk-in
Centro Outdoors is
noted in organizing similar events such as cave congresses, tour
packages and tourism promotions of
“What we actually want in joining the event is to help unite
mountaineers in the island and place Samar in the global maps,
enjoying the scenery is just a bonus, Rutor said.
Prior to the June 12
assault, the Centro Outdoors has been helping the BANOG in Eastern
Samar gather a wide numbers of participants for the
climb. They set up a group page wherein tips for the beginners, trash
management during climbs, “what-to-do” and the “what-to-bring” tips
can be accessed.
Upon arrival of
participants at the Eastern Samar Development Foundation (ESADEF)
office in Borongan, Panaguiton gave lectures on the Basic
Mountaineering Course (BMC) which reminds each participant their
duties and responsibilities during the trek.
“First time climbers
will have to make sure their bodies are conditioned for this kind of
activity,” Panaguiton said. Aside from physical preparations, the
mountaineers also had to have the right tools – backpacks, tents,
Important rules in
mountaineering are: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but
footprints and kill nothing but time”; no wearing of any kinds of
military gears and clothes, and observe trail and camping ethics.
Panaguiton, mountaineers are not allowed to use soap when mountain
climbing because soap has chemicals that may pollute the water sources
in the areas they visit. “Definitely, this is a soap-less climb,” he
mountaineers should also bring their own camping stoves with extra
butane or gas, cook set and eating utensils to make sure of their
Every climber should
also be physically fit and ensure good stamina and must prepare
first-aid kit medicines.
At exactly 8 o’clock
in the morning of June 11, participants with big backpacks, on board
private and public vehicles slowly appearing in front of the town’s
municipal building. They were given freebies such as their yellow
commemorative t-shirts, PVC and event ID’s, and final briefing.
After a short
inspirational message by the Maydolong mayor, the climbers on-board
two 6x6 trucks were transported to Brgy Del Pilar, Maydolong, the jump
off site, via snake bumpy roads crossing a river with a land travel
time of almost one and a half hour.
“Events like this
generate employment among locals. This also draws them nearer to the
environment and makes them understand the reason why we have to
protect it,” Floyd Ramos, president of BANOG said.
“In fact, we have
hired several guides and porters and paid them huge amount for 4 days.
The SINP also plans to organize them into a People’s Organization and
will train them in the coming weeks”, Ramos added.
On Independence Day,
June 12, 2011, the climbers hoisted the Philippine Flag, and at 9:00
AM sang the Philippine National Anthem simultaneous to other mountains
in the country sides.
After few briefing and
photo documentation, one by one, the climbers reached the summit of
Mt. Kapudlusan, measured to 470 meters above sea level.
Each climber who
reached the summit signed in the official master lists, submitted
their issued PVC ID for verification and was awarded a baller whose
print read, “Freedom Climber 2011 – GWR ID No. 339189 FIMOinc.”
From among the 99
climbers who trek long hours of hard and muddy terrain, a young boy
climber aged 3 or 4 also joined his father in scaling the summit. The
boy was considered a “guest” climber since organizers does not
encourage participant at his age to join the hike.
The boy was only known
as certain “Yama” whose father, a government employee and a
mountaineer, also one of the registered participants.
Everybody who sees the
boy “amazed, surprised and impressed with the boy’s stamina,” says
Roxy Joy Azura, the Tourism officer of Maydolong.
He even overtakes
other climbers during the hard and exhausting ascent to the summit.
The boy and his father, after descending from the summit did not took
even a short rest in the base camp as his father will report to office
the next morning, says Ms. Azura.
Mt. Kapudlusan’s peak
offers everyone a virgin canopy rain forest. It has also two
designated camping sites in between trails. Huge Lawaan and Balete
trees were also present in the area which is often covered in fog.
At the base camp,
one may take a side trip to the Nagkakalatun Natural Bridge or Canal,
Gold Panning Area (main livelihood of the farmers living in the area),
Waterfalls, Rapids, Old Growth Forests, all inside the SINP Core Zone.
Mayor Uy’s death
continues to unite Samar for reforms
By EMY C. BONIFACIO,
CATBALOGAN CITY – A
show of force of not less than 15 thousand supporters of the late Calbayog City Mayor, Dr Reynaldo S. Uy paraded on the city streets of
Catbalogan on June 9, 2011. This day marks the 40th day since the
treacherous killing of Mayor Uy last April 30 while he was attending
the vesper night activities of the Hinabangan town fiesta.
In an earlier
invitation, anybody who would be joining the commemoration was
required to wear yellow t-shirts and bring anything that must be
yellow, representing the party color of the Liberals.
In effect, the yellow
color dominated the festive mood of the city streets as yellow ribbons
were hang on every corner. Moreover, wrist bands, fans, arm bands,
posters, stickers and banners with yellow backgrounds and designs were
seen to have signified an all-out support to the public calls for
change and reforms in the governance of Samar.
“Pagbabag-o han Samar”
(Reforms in Samar) was the theme of the day’s activity.
The peaceful gathering
started with a community prayer led by Fr. Joe Calderon. The host
Mayor, Hon. Coefredo “Tekwa” Uy, welcomed the crowd. He calls on every
Samarnon to hold on. “Walang bibitiw para sa pagbabago ng
Samar”, he adds.
The delegations from
the twenty four (24) municipalities and two (2) cities represented by
its mayors and Sangguniang Bayan representatives were duly recognized
by Board Member Charlito Coñejos who emceed the entire proceedings.
Only six (6) Municipal Mayors out of the 26 were not around.
Coñejos informed that
they have to limit the participants to just ten (10) from each
barangay because of the transportation limitations. Thus, he expressed
his apologies to those who were not able to make it to Catbalogan.
However, he informed that the activity would be widely covered by
local radio and television stations.
The messages were
delivered by Hon. Janssen Abaratigue, SK Provincial Chairman; Hon.
Rogelio Casurao, PCL President; Hon. Renato “Boy” Latorre, LMP Samar
Chapter President; Congressman Mel Senen Sarmiento, 1st District of
Samar Representative; Atty Wilfredo “Didi” Estorninos, LP Chairman,
2nd District of Samar and Board Members Prudencio Dy, Noel Sermense ,
Jasper Sumagang and Renato Uy.
As responses to the
earlier speeches, Board Member Eunice Babalcon reminded the group
regarding Mayor Ining Uy’s noble vision of uniting
Samar through a better leadership that would free the Samarnons
from the bondage of poverty and deprivation from its basic social
On the other hand, Ms.
Jessica Rosa “Aika” Uy-Delgado, Uy’s eldest daughter delivered a fiery
message lambasting the people behind the treacherous assassination of
his father. Jessica challenged the crowd to decide for the future of
Samar by considering better alternatives in the coming recall
“An amon kasubo
nabalyuan san kalipay san pagkita namon sine nga grupo nga nasuporta
san akon daddy. Usa siya nga maupay nga amay san iya mga anak ngan
amay san Samar. Kasering
nira nga mapupuypoy na nira an hingyap san akon amay para matalwas an
kakurian san mga Samareno? Dida sira nagsasala, kay an iya kinabuhi,
ginhalad niya para san mga tawo ngan an iya gintikangan, aton
igpapadayon,” (Our grief for his loss was overturned by joy by simply
seeing the numerous supporters gathered today. He was a good father to
us and your presence means that he was a good father and leader to all
of you. They must have thought that his death would stop us from
dreaming for a better Samar, from delivering the Samarnons out from a
lingering corrupt administration and massive poverty. They are wrong,
because my father offered his life for us and we will not be stopped
from pursuing what he had started) was the younger Uy’s emotional
pronouncements as she proudly informed on the increasing percentage of
Samarnons who have already accepted their challenge and decided to
take a stand against the Tan’s administration.
“Are you ready for a
change in Samar? Now is the time to get united!” was Aika’s final
Aika was persuaded by
the public not to stop from completely delivering her message despite
the rains that started and ended pouring in the entire duration of her
speech. She was quoted as saying, “Pati an langit nakikiduyog san aton
katitirok kay deri liwat Siya naruruyag san ira ginbuhat
daddy” (Even the weather sympathized with us in our grief because He
has not approved of what they have done to my father). In the same
manner, the people remained undisturbed by the rains as they listened
to the most awaited speech on the occasion.
Both Delgado and
Babalcon were unofficially introduced as the next governor and vice
governor of the province of Samar which received an uproar of approval
from the audience.
On the other hand,
Congressman Mel Senen Sarmineto, the Acting LP Chairman, administered
the mass oath taking of the Barangay Council of Leaders for the
Liberal Party in Samar on the same occasion.
culminated with the launch of the Piso-piso Para Han Pagbabag-o Han
Samar. This was initiated by Aika Uy-Delgado who is the Chairperson of
the Dr. Ining Uy Foundation. The foundation aims to continue the
medical missions, scholarships and other related programs that would
somehow contribute in bringing a change to Samar.
In a related story,
the National Chairperson of the Liberal Party, Deputy Speaker Lorenzo
“Erin” Tañada presided an organizational meeting for the Liberal Party
(provincial) at the Flaming Hat Restaurant. It resulted to the
election and the oath-taking of Congressman Mel Senen Sarmiento as the
Party Chair; Ms. Jessica Rosa Uy-Delgado - Vice chairman; Atty. Eunice
Babalcon - Secretary; Mayor Coefredo T. Uy - Treasurer; Mayor Reynato
Latorre - District Chair and Atty Wilfredo Estorninos as the official
Tañada assured the
Uy’s camp for an all-out support from the Liberal Party. When asked
about the Tans affiliation to the Liberty Party, Tañada replied that
the Tans are with the Atienza wing and that the Uy’s group is the duly
recognized by the Roxas’s group.
A barangay folk
observed the commemoration to be similar to that of Ninoy Aquino where
people were gathered on a unified vision. Just like Ninoy, Ining’s
death have ignited the passion of every Samarnon to bring back its
dignity as a people.
“Baga gud man an
kamatayon ni Ining an kan Ninoy nga asya an nagduso han mga tawo para
magkaurusa. Deri na kami naghuhuna-huna han pagal. An amon na la tuyo
an makapagpakita han amon puwersa ngada han ngatanan nga sobra na an
gin bubuhat han mga Tan nga pagtamay han mga Samarnon. Dapat gud bag-uhon
na an pamunuan han Samar”, (Ining’s death is comparable to that of
Ninoy’s. It drove us to get united. We don’t care about being
physically exhausted. Our main purpose is to show them our united
stand in expressing our disappointments over the Tan’s administration.
We really need a change of leaders in
COA probe drags House
Justice Committee chair over ‘missing’ seedlings, farm inputs
Senior Reporter, Philippine News Service (PNS)
June 9, 2011
Philippines – Representative Niel Tupas Jr. (Fifth District, Iloilo)
is among the numerous high-ranking government officials now subject of
ongoing “government-wide special audit” by the country’s Senior State
Conducted by a team
from the Special Audits Office of the Commission on Audit (COA), focus
is on the involvement of Tupas Jr. with a Government Owned and
Controlled Corporation (GOCC) as conduit of his pork barrel.
Main evidence in COA’s
hands are submitted “List of Beneficiaries” duly signed by the Ilonggo
solon and stamped “Certified True Copy” from his office.
He is incidentally the
current chair of the powerful House Committee on Justice.
Marked “Project of
Cong. Niel “Junjun” C. Tupas Jr. for the 5th District of Iloilo under
NABCOR,” stated were the supposed recipient-Local Government Units (LGUs).
NABCOR is the National
Agribusiness Corporation, corporate arm of the DA and conduit of pork
barrel funds to NGOs and POs.
Service (PNS) obtained copies of two lists with specifics on farm
inputs and grafted seedlings reported to have been delivered.
In the main column of
“Barangays,” the list had a breakdown not of the barangay-beneficiary
but of all 11 northern Iloilo towns in Tupas Jr.’s district.
Total figure on the
two list alone reported of 3 water pumps for Ajuy and 2 hand tractors
along with 296 pieces of grafted mango seedlings, 291 pieces of
grafted calamansi seedlings, 242 pieces of grafted rambutan seedlings
and 241 pieces of grafted jackfruit seedlings.
Balasan for its part
have 3 water pumps, 2 hand tractors and the same number of grafted
Barotac Viejo, the
solon’s hometown, has 4 water pumps, 2 hand tractors and just about
the same number of grafted seedlings. Similar report for other Fifth
District towns of Batad, Carles, Concepcion, Estancia, Lemery, San
Dionisio, San Rafael and Sara, Iloilo.
COA’s Susan Garcia,
Director IV sent an official query to all mayors concerned, a copy of
the letter sent to Ajuy was secured by PNS. The letter was dated May
18, 2011 with an enclosed self-stamped envelope for convenient reply
of the LGUs reached.
“A team from the
Special Audits Office, this Commission…..is presently conducting a
government-wide special performance audit on priority development
programs and projects of the government implemented during Calendar
Years 2007-2008. These programs were, in most cases, implemented by
non-government organizations (NGOs) / people’s organizations (POs),”
the letter began. “Records showed that the Municipality is one of the
recipients of the water pumps, hand tractors and planting materials
distributed between the period of July to August 2008 by Kabuhayan at
Kalusugang Alay ng Masa Foundation Inc. one of the NGOs implementing
priority programs of Cong. Niel Tupas Jr. The team however, noted
that the submitted list did not indicate the persons who received the
COA then went ahead
with its checklist of the recorded “NABCOR goods” supposedly awarded
Independent check made
by PNS with two of the mayors concerned said no such deliveries were
made. Same scenario, the two shared, when verified with other mayors
in the district though PNS has yet to officially confirm the
With the special
audit, NABCOR is once again back in the limelight as questions hang on
the over P1.6 billion in unliquidated NABCOR funds uncovered by COA
back in 2007.
In fact, Senator Loren
Legarda then led the move for a Senate investigation in aid of
legislation to uncover the surrounding circumstances regarding the DA
and NABCOR as per COA’s adverse findings.
As in the case of
Tupas Jr., common denominator of the NABCOR releases was the lack of
master list of fund recipients. It was also decried how post-audit
showed lack of audit trail including scant information on the
backgrounds of conduit NGOs.
Forests: Nature at
By PURIFICACION S. DALOOS
TACLOBAN CITY –
“Life without forests is simply unimaginable,” declares Regional
Executive Director Primitivo C. Galinato, Jr. of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources in Region 8.
His statement comes in
the heels of this year’s global celebration of World Environment Day
on June 5 and the Philippine Environment Month in June. The twin
celebration focuses on forests and is anchored on the theme, “Forests:
Nature at Your Service”. This reinforces the declaration of 2011 as
the International Year of Forests by the United Nations.
Forests are an issue
with essential links to livelihoods, addressing climate change and
other present environmental challenges. “In fact, the present National
Greening Program (NGP) being implemented by the DENR is a government
priority program to reduce poverty, promote food security,
environmental stability and biodiversity conservation, and enhance
climate change mitigation and adaptation,” RED Galinato says. The NGP
specifically seeks to plant 1.5 billion seedlings in 1.5 million
hectares of public lands nationwide in six years, from 2011 to 2016.
To create public
awareness on the significance of celebrating World Environment Day and
Philippine Environment Month, the DENR has lined up several activities
which involves the participation of a cross sector of society.
Together with representatives of other national government agencies
and some industries, DENR employees shall have a parade around the
major thoroughfares of Tacloban City on June 6, capped with an
environmental program and opening of exhibits at the DENR grounds.
The exhibits shall feature sale and display of products of some DENR
partners to include an LGU, some industries and a people’s
“We would like to
invite the public to visit the DENR regional office, to view the
exhibits and product displays which shall run from June 6 to 10,” says
RED Galinato. “Video presentations on environmental concerns shall
likewise be featured on that day,” he adds.
In celebration of its
anniversary, the DENR shall have a Health and Wellness Day on June 10
which shall feature lectures on Health Care and other wellness
concerns, and free medical examinations for its employees.
On Arbor Day which is
celebrated on June 24 every year, DENR employees shall plant trees
together with some members of the community in Babatngon,
“As we focus our
celebration of World Environment Day and Philippine Environment Month
on the forests, we enjoin public support and participation especially
in planting trees on Arbor Day,” RED Galinato appeals to the public.
“We may be indirect participants in the deforestation and degradation
of our forests, but certainly, we all can do our share in bringing
back our forests to life,” he says.