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special report 43
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Ormoc SOCA gets positive feedbacks

DA, EDC partnership allots initial P92-M to develop ‘salad bowl’ in Leyte

Detained artist is finalist in international art award

SMC Educational Fund invests on Samar Youth

Myrna Lardizabal de Vera: There’s a new mayor in Hercules, California

Month three in jail: artists, art events echo demand to end poet’s detention

Rock Oyster Processors’ Association inaugurates pilot processing center in Samar

Ban on black sand mining pressed in Region 8

Biliran Mayor prioritizes the “intangibles”

The Honors Project (THP) awards Villahanons with exemplary performances







Amputees to benefit from latest technology at Davao facility

Davao Jubilee Foundation's new workshop
Davao Jubilee Foundation's new workshop is fully equipped to produce durable and affordable prosthetic devices made of polypropylene. DJF received ICRC support to build the workshop designed to use the new polypropylene technology. (photo by ICRC/ Hardy Ladaw)

March 30, 2012

MANILA  –  Amputees can now walk proudly with durable and affordable prostheses made possible by the use of the latest technology at Davao Jubilee Foundation (DJF).

With support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), DJF opened its newly constructed workshop today as it shifts to state-of-the-art technology. The workshop is now fully equipped to produce lightweight artificial legs and braces made of polypropylene, instead of heavier fibreglass.

"Polypropylene is relatively cheap and easy to process. It is versatile and recyclable, and has a long shelf life. It also requires few other materials in the manufacturing process," said Jean-François Gallay, the ICRC's regional physical rehabilitation project manager. "The technology that we use makes it possible to adapt assistive devices more precisely to the needs of each individual patient, which makes the devices more comfortable to use."

"This new technology will be of significant help to patients as they regain their independence and dignity," added Mr Gallay.

He said that production time using the new technology will be considerably shorter and that DJF will therefore be able to accommodate more patients.

The ICRC has been providing DJF with support enabling it to enhance its prosthetic services, which are one of the main needs of people physically disabled by injuries resulting from armed conflict. Last year, the ICRC built a gait training area where patients could practise using their new prostheses.

DJF is a non-profit organization that provides physical rehabilitation services to amputees and other people with disabilities. It mainly helps people from Mindanao, a region affected by conflict and insecurity. The ICRC has been sending war-wounded patients to the foundation since 2000.

"It’s about time we made the shift to polypropylene technology. It provides better quality devices and serves the needs of patients at reduced cost," said Glorycel Lasquite, a prosthetist-orthotist, one of two DJF staff sponsored by the ICRC for specialized training in Cambodia.

In addition to the assistance it is giving to DJF and its staff, the ICRC is providing financial help for the physical rehabilitation of two minors whose legs were amputated after a bomb blast in 2010. One of them, a six-year-old boy who previously used fibreglass prostheses to walk and run about, has benefited from new and lighter artificial limbs.

The ICRC is a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization that assists and protects victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. In the Philippines, it visits detainees and assists people displaced by decades of internal armed conflict.

The ICRC provides medicines and surgical items to 22 hospitals throughout Mindanao, and helps cover the equipment needs of key hospitals. In addition, it finances the treatment of individual patients in vulnerable cases.

The ICRC also works with jail authorities to help improve health-care infrastructure in places of detention, and with civilian and military health staff to perfect their skills in areas such as war surgery and burns management.





Greenpeace: PH may lose tuna markets

Report shows global markets demanding sustainable tuna

March 27, 2012

GUAM  –  Greenpeace warned that the Philippines stands to lose lucrative tuna markets, unless it fully embraces sustainable fishing practices immediately.  The environment group made the call as governments, including the Philippines, gather in Guam this week for the meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), of which the Philippines is a member.  Greenpeace wants the country to crack down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and abandon its environmentally harmful call to lift the ban on fishing using fish aggregating devices (FADs) in the Pacific High Seas.

The Greenpeace statement follows the release of a report from Canadian rankings of the industry showing that global fisheries are steadily moving towards fulfilling markets’ growing demands for responsibly-sourced tuna, as a response to the rapid decline of global tuna stocks.

“Many of the major global markets for tuna, such as the UK and Canada, are now demanding fish caught using sustainable means.  They fully realize that the current rate of fishing cannot continue,” said Mark Dia, Greenpeace Southeast Asia oceans campaigner.  “The Philippines has to ensure that it is recognized as a certified source, otherwise the country risks losing out to other players.”

The WCPFC is an intergovernmental body whose meetings are crucial in deciding the future of Pacific tuna.  Decisions taken by the body this week will have repercussions on tuna populations for generations to come.  Greenpeace is demanding that the WCPFC listen to consumer and industry demand for sustainable tuna and end all fishing in the Pacific Commons, continue the ban on wasteful FAD in purse seine fisheries and cut the bigeye tuna catch in half.

The current call of the Philippines to lift the ban is detrimental to the preservation of tuna stocks for future generations.  Certain areas in the Pacific have been closed to FAD fishing for the past three years as a result of conservation measures taken by the WCPFC in response to the decline in bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks.  The Philippines, however, has been lobbying to reverse these conservation measures.

“It is time that the Philippines realize that their efforts to open the High Seas Pockets to FAD fishing will be detrimental in the longer term.  We need to take conservation measures now both domestically and internationally in order to ensure fish for the future” Dia added.

The Philippines is the second largest canned tuna producer in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) following Thailand, and is the third biggest supplier of canned tuna. The WCPO is the world’s largest tuna fishery, where roughly 60% of the world’s tuna supplies come from.  Valuable bigeye tuna is now overfished and yellowfin, skipjack and albacore tunas are all in decline.  Destructive fishing methods, such as purse seine fishing using FADs, are largely to blame, and because the WCPFC has failed to follow its own scientific advice of reducing tuna catches.

Greenpeace has also just released two Pacific tuna reports: one outlining progress taken by tuna companies to save Pacific tuna in recent years and another, detailing illegal fishing activities, documented by Greenpeace during its 2011 “Defending our Pacific” ship tour.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health. Around the world, Greenpeace is working with retailers and tuna brands across Europe, Australia and the Americas to increase the market share of sustainably-sourced tuna.





Catbalogan honored City Scholars

catbalogan scholars
Mayor Coefredo “Tekwa” Uy with City Councilor Stephany Uy-Tan awards a scholar on the occasion of the Catbalogan City ISKOLAR Day. (photo by BLENDS TUAZON)

March 17, 2012

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  Over 240 graduating high-school students and 500 secondary education students residing in the City of Catbalogan gathered today for the launched of ISKOLARs day dubbed as Mayor Tekwa Cares “ha imo edukasyon, an pag asenso han pamilya ikaw an paglaum.”

The occasion came in before the summer vacation of the students where the City government of Catbalogan allocated a modest amount for various school expenses.  Ms. Nida Redaja-Aroza in an exclusive interview said, the students which were identified by her office belong to the low-income families residing in the City.

The 240 graduating high school student’s primarily received an educational assistance fund from the city since they started high school education 4 years back, according to Mayor Coefredo “Tekwa” Uy. And every year thereto received a meager amount to sustain their secondary education. “Ine nga mga estudyante na eskwela ha iba iba nga mga eskwelahan didhe ha Catbalogan.  Sagdon ko la ha ira nga tapuson an ira edukasyon kay hira an paglaum han pag asenso han ira pamilya”.

Ms. Maricar Luna, a scholar studying at Guinsorongan Integrated School (GIS) who grew up at Barangay Guinsorongan without a father and with only a mother working in between laundries to support their daily family subsistence, shared how the scholarship program has helped her continue with her studies and how she wishes that more youth benefit from program.  Mr. Jason Magbutay studying at Catbalogan National Comprehensive High School (CNCHS) expressed his most sincere thanks to Mayor Tekwa Uy not only for the educational assistance, which he benefitted much but most especially for bringing great change and progress to Catbalogan.

Apart from the warm and sincere stories shared by selected graduating scholars, Mayor Tekwa as assisted by Councilor Step Uy-Tan and SK Federation President Dexter Uy, gave out certificates and special tokens to the 19 scholars who graduated with academic distinctions specifically with more than 90% Average Grade and majority are graduating as Valedictorians and with Honorable Mentions. In turn, the scholars gave Mayor Tekwa a framed poster signed by all the beneficiaries expressing their most genuine appreciation.

An amount of P3,500 each year is allocated by the City Government for a certain iskolar, this according to Sangguniang Panglungsod Chairman on Family Stephany Uy-Tan sustains the secondary education of the iskolars.  She adds that based on her consultations with the low-income families of the City, the parents can hardly sustain even the free secondary education of their children, especially those with bigger family size yet low income parents.  “They can hardly sustain school expenses such as PTA and other so called voluntary school contributions, projects, school supplies and daily subsistence such as fare from home to the school”, according to SP member Stephany Uy-Tan.  With the educational assistance fund, these students goes to school without the worrying if they can pay for the school fees, projects and even their baon’s, she adds.

It was known that the release of the fund goes automatically to the schools where the students are enrolled, the City Social Welfare Office takes care of the school supplies and the remaining amount is released to the students on a monthly basis.

The scholarship program of Mayor Tekwa Uy was his personal commitment to the young Catbaloganons whom he believes to be the society’s foundation.  To cover more beneficiaries of the program, Mayor Tekwa Uy has expressed to increase the number of scholars this year to aide more deserving students, helping families’ one scholar at a time.  (with reports of Ador Hortado)






Catbalogan City International Women's Day Celebration

March 12, 2012

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  On March 8, 2012 in joint celebration with the global event International Women’s Day, Catbalogan City celebrated the said event with three (3) major activities spearheaded by the City Government of Catbalogan.

Partners, stakeholders and other organizations joined the Fellowship Walk dubbed as “Baraktasay GAD Kita!” along the major streets of the city on the afternoon of March 8. An estimated of nearly 2,000 supporters joined the said walk represented by Barangay Officials and 4Ps beneficiaries of the 57 Barangays of the city; City Employees; National Agencies; the Philippine National Police; the 8th Infantry Division Philippine Army; from the Academe represented by different schools and colleges and from the Samar Division, Department of Education; various religious sector representatives, other women organizations; and different youth organizations, fraternities and other socio-civic groups walked along the streets of Catbalogan as a sign of solidarity to women empowerment.

After the walk, all the participants flocked at the City Plaza to witness the Official Program of the 2012 International Women’s Day Celebration. Women from different sectors gave powerful and inspiring messages of support to the celebration and to the advocacy. In behalf of the government sector, the Provincial Caretaker of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-Samar) Engr. Meilou C. Macabare discussed on the important role of women not only in weathering climate change as the theme imply but in the society as a whole.

Ms. Marife Zosa, the representative from the Business Sector gave a lengthy discussion on incorporating a spiritual and moral service not only in doing business but in life in general, while Pastor Lovelle Lapura of the New Life Christian Church discussed on the role of women on a spiritual aspect in our society. As the last speaker, representing the academe, newly-appointed Schools Division Superintendent of the Samar Division, Department of Education (DepEd) Dr. Thelma C. Quitalig gave a message of support to all the women not only in the academe but in the society as a whole.

Ending the official program was a message in behalf of the City Government of Catbalogan, City Councilor and Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee Chair on Women, Children and Family Hon. Stephany Uy-Tan spoke with much conviction and admiration towards all the women who are continuously shaping the society and the world. She expressed her strong dedication towards the empowerment of women, combating climate change, and in creating a more responsive Catbalogan City.

The official program ended with the signing of commitment on the Commitment Pledge Wall of all the sectoral representatives during the event. The program continued on with the second part through the Cultural and Variety Show organized by Waray-Waray Youth Advocates (WARAYA) that catered to the younger population offering various song and dance numbers that elated interests of not only fellow young people but those young at hearts as well.

WARAYA sitting as one of the members of the Local Council on Women, opted to give a fresher and creative take on the advocacy incorporating messages along with music and dance numbers that most interests young people.

At the end of the night, the celebration of the International Women’s Day in Catbalogan City did not only sparked interests but supported a global call towards women empowerment and in celebrating the major role women play not only in child rearing but in nation-building most importantly. Catering a vast portion of the population, the event was indeed a celebration of women and young girls in the global society.

An Kababayin-an an Kusog han aton Kabubuwason!

The Women are the Strength of our Future!





DOST lauds EVCIERD for more relevant R&D products

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 11, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Research studies in Eastern Visayas have become and will continue to be more relevant to the public in the next five years.

This was observed by Department of Science and Technology Region 8 Director Edgardo Esperancilla during the Research and Development Exhibit held recently at the Robinson’s Place in line with the 11th Anniversary of the Eastern Visayas Consortium for Industry and Energy Research and Development or EVCIERD for short.

The R&D products pursue the EVCIERD Strategic Plan for 2012 to 2016 which was launched last year by no less than DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, Director Esperancilla said.

The plan revealed that, for the next five years, the DoST shall develop and enhance the region’s R&D capabilities in industry and energy, address issues and concerns of the industry and energy sectors, fund resource and generation of the EVCIERD’s operations, adopt and use technologies, and provide information to clients through publication of technologies generated.

Researchers will have to refer to these priority programs in planning their research activities to enjoy DoST support for their studies, Director Esperancilla informed.

Among the research products displayed was the Solar Cellphone Charging Station of the Eastern Samar State University students which is very relevant as the province is beset with constant power outage due to ongoing improvement of power lines in the area.

Another product of R&D implementation in ESSU is the utilization of Coir Fiber as a component material in concrete floor tiles and the profiling of Eco-Tourism Sites using Geographic Information System.

On food technology, ESSU produced the Moringa Olicera Fortified Seaweed Sandwich Spread.

Speaking of food technology, the Northwestern Samar State University’s Palawan Torta, made out of Palawan rootcrop flour, was a big hit during the R&D Exhibit. Another big hit was the Pili Hopia which tasted like pecan pie, one of the selected micro-enterprise supported by the University of Eastern Philippines.

The Northwestern Samar State University has developed and is now implementing the University Information System and a Surveillance System. It has made a comparative study of Yema made from different kinds of rootcrops; researched on the performance of the different cassava cultivars grown under the Calbayog Upland condition; and studied the utilization of Nani Juice for golden kuhol control.

The University of Eastern Philippines piloted the commercial viability of charcoal briquettes production and developed two portable R&D products, namely, Pili Cracker which is indeed relevant as Pili is abundant in Northern Samar; and the Portable Electric Vulcanizer.

One of the important achievements of UEP is the establishment of the alternative Renewable Energy Center, the Development arm of the Department of Energy focusing on energy development through solar energy utilization in remote unserved areas.

The Naval State University in Biliran researched on the processing and production of Gelatin Desserts from Gelidilla Acerosa (Gulaman), a common service facility; enhancement of commercial production of rice based delicacies like the Balintawak of Biliran.

Another NSU R&D product is the Recovery Machine as innovation of all types of refrigeration and airconditioning units; and the efficiency of improvised shredder machine for solid waste resource recovery.

The Samar State University has developed an accounting system¸ an automation project; Early Flood Warning Device; tracking device using RFID Technology; fabrication of plastic pelleting machine; Improvised Optical Level; home and appliance protector and Rock Mounds as Oyster Bed.

The Palompon Institute of Technology presented an impressive R&D product line: the fabrication of an improvised propeller shaft housing; Eco-Electro Charcoal stove; fabrication of five-one-hydraulic bench press; innovative mock-up four stroke cycle engine; an energy audit for lighting system of PIT Research Office as a model for lighting system of the Institute and an Innovative Pitching Machine.

One important R&D project is the study on the effective way to reduce the risk of flooding; and the development of industrial motor controller.

The Eastern Visayas State University has many R&D products to brag about: the improvised touch remote switch for electrical overloads; portable reclogging device; development of power saver with uninterrupted power supply and high/low voltage protector; Solar power system for the Indigenous People of Tacloban City and the fabrication of a mechanical pili nut cracker and one-ton mobile flatbed dryer.; and coconut dehusker, among many others.





Attaining elusive peace in Samar Island thru P50M focused projects under P-Noy’s PAMANA program

The PAMANA meeting between DILG-8 and OPAPP with RD Noval, ARD Agabe and OPAPP Director Aileen Jose in photo.

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 6, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The National Government has earmarked about P50 million for projects that would benefit the conflict-afflicted areas in Samar Island, in a bid to address the root causes of insurgency.

Department of Interior and Local Government Region 8 Director Pedro A. Noval, Jr., recently disclosed that with its three provinces considered among most vulnerable to the CPP/NPA, Samar island is one of the seven zones in the country to be covered by the “Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan” program or PAMANA of the Aquino Administration which is being implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“PAMANA operates in seven different geographical areas,” Director Noval said. These are the Cordillera Area; the Quezon, Mindoro, Bicol Area; Negros Area; Samar Island Area; ZamBaSulTa; Central Mindanao and ARMM; and Compostela Valley, Carraga Corridor.

Each PAMANA area will receive development programs according to the needs of the people residing in that region. With these areas, PAMANA emphasizes its efforts to address what a specific community needs to be developing and working on.

Director Noval said that together with ARD Arnel Agabe, the DILG provincial directors and the planning officers of the three provinces in the Island of Samar, he met last February 28 with OPAPP Visayas-Luzon Unit Director Aileen Jose in order to discuss the “Mainstreaming Peace and Development in Local Governance Program (MPDLG)” component of PAMANA program.

It was learned that PAMANA started in Northern Samar and Samar in 2011 but it has now been expanded to include Eastern Samar in 2012.

Provincial-level planning and road-mapping workshops separately done for Samar and Northern Samar underscored the importance of importance of road networks that would connect the three provinces of Samar Island not just for economic growth but also in improving the security situation in the island. These vital road networks have been endorsed by the RDC to DPWH, and the peace and development agenda of PAMANA further lobbied for this infrastructure development.

PAMANA is the national government’s peace and development program framework that seeks to build peaceful and resilient communities, by improving their lives by ensuring that the people benefit from better delivery of basic services.

Under its guiding principles, government will implement a converged peace-building program focusing on the development of conflict-affected areas to address its root causes.

Director Noval said that there are three (3) ongoing projects with support from the 2011 PAMANA fund. These projects include the construction of a section of the San Jose-Silvino Lobos road in Northern Samar; a 50-meter span bridge in Silvino Lobos, and rehabilitation of the Gandara-Matuguinao road.

Moreover, there are peace and development funds being implemented through the DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS processes at San Jose de Buan, Samar and Las Navas, Northern Samar, Director Noval added.

The projects agreed upon by the provinces’ respective development councils as well as peace and order councils, with participation of civil society organizations would be submitted to DILG in the form of Project Proposals for evaluation.

Projects shall be governed through the provincial project implementing teams set up for the purpose. Recipient provinces may also opt to sign a memorandum of agreement with the local army engineering battalions to implement the same, Director Noval said.

Meanwhile, DILG-8 Assistant Director Arnel M. Agabe detailed the steps undertaken by DILG to ensure that funds are spent for their intended purpose. The office would set up a Regional Project Monitoring Team; likewise those LGUs which have been granted the Seal of Good Housekeeping would be given priority. The PAMANA program has an overall budget of 900 Million pesos nationwide. (with DILG-8)





Stakeholders move to make Leyte Salad Bowl of Eastern Visayas

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
March 2, 2012

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Intent to make the province of Leyte as the Salad Bowl of Eastern Visayas, the Department of Agriculture - Regional Field Unit 8 recently gathered the key stakeholders for a two-day orientation and project proposal writeshop at the Leyte Park Hotel.

All key players were convened to familiarize or orient them on certain standards required in the packaging of research and development (R&D) activities as set forth by research institutions or funding agencies like the Bureau of Agricultural Research or BAR, Mr. Francis Rosaroso, DA-8 Information Chief said.

DA-8 Regional Executive Director Antonio G. Gerundio exhorted the key players to put together in writing their strategies to transform the 20,000-hectare area in Ormoc-Kananga, Leyte upland range into a major grower of semi-temperate vegetables and high value crops.

“Initial activities have already been started, some logistic supports were already in place, but to ensure sustainability of our programs and services and to systematize everything we need to translate all this into viable and doable proposals,” RED Gerundio said.

On hand to explain the specific or practical details of research guidelines and other R&D protocols was Dr. Elvira C. Torres, DA’s Research and Development Division Chief who presented and discussed  additional insights, especially on the how’s and what sort of project proposals to develop for possible fund allocation and approval of concerned sponsoring agencies.

It may be recalled that the OK upland range project is being implemented under public-private partnership arrangement where the DA links with the Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

Both the DA and the EDC have pledged P92 million within five years to develop suitable areas surrounding EDC’s Leyte Geothermal Production Field (LGPF) and to provide livelihood for more or less 5,600 farmers.

The area basically covers a total of 107,625 hectares along the Tongonan mountain range which spans across 16 barangays of Ormoc City and the Municipality of Kananga. Subsistence farmers around LGPF grow assorted vegetables and fruits like cabbage, green onion, tomato, eggplant, raddish, chayote, cucumber (pipino), and pineapple. About five tons are harvested weekly and sold at public markets in Ormoc City and Kananga.

Under the five-year project, farmers will be encouraged to plant other fruit crops like durian, rambutan and jackfruit, including coffee and abaca.

The DA Region 8 and the National Agribusiness Corporation (NabCor) will assist farmers in the land preparation, cultivation, harvesting, processing, and marketing of vegetables and other high value commercial crops.

In December last year, no less than DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala came over to Tacloban City to oversee and lead the signing of the MOA with partner agencies such as EDC, NabCor, Visayas State University (VSU) and the Partners Multi-Purpose Cooperative.  Alcala said he hopes that the project would encourage farmers to be entrepreneurial.

Purportedly, of the P92-million initial funding, the DA-NabCor will share P29 million to build a consolidation center and pilot packinghouse, and provide marketing support. Moreover, based on the program document released prior to Secretary Alcala’s visit last year, another P13 million is earmarked for research and development.

Participants in the two-day activity include some technical experts from the Visayas State University (VSU) and EDC namely: Dr. Jun Acedo; Prof. Pasky Quirol, Dr. Lito Bestil, Dr. Tony Abamo, Dr.Tony Quimio, Mr. Mario Sumabat, Mr. Jojo Paredes, among others.  Also present were Mr. Rufino B. Ayaso III, Mr. Raul T. Repulda, Dr. Carlos de la Cruz and Dr. Veronica J. Berenguer, all of DA-RFU 8.  (with DA-8 report)

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