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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Boracay visitor arrivals surpass half-million mark, generates P10 B tourism receipts

Kalibo, Aklan – Tourists arrivals in Boracay Island have surpassed the half-million mark a month before the year ends, records from the Provincial Tourism Office here show.

From January to November of this year, a total of 547,305 tourists, domestic and foreign, visited the island. Their arrival in the island generated a total of P10,062,326,737.00 in tourism receipts, with the foreign tourists contributing P6,535,377,089 and the locals adding P4,770,800,330.

Of the more than half a million arrivals in the island within the eleven month period, 189,005 were foreigners; 300,955 domestic and 57,345 were Overseas Filipinos.

Foreign tourists registered the highest arrival during the month of August numbering 19,023, while domestic tourists crowded the island during the month of April with 75,739. They also came in droves in the month of March with 35,330; May, 51,464 and June, 29,832.

With still a month to go before the year ends, more tourists, foreign and local, are still expected to visit Boracay especially during this holiday season.

Last year, total tourist arrivals in Boracay reached 558,084. Translated to tourism receipts, their arrival generated P10.2 Billion. By 2010, Aklan anticipates that arrivals will reach the one million mark.

Tourism is one of the anchor industries of the province of Aklan, along with agriculture. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan solon assures passage of Cheaper Medicines bill soon

Kalibo, Aklan – The Cheaper Medicines Bill is to be passed soon, because its passage is very important and will benefit Filipinos needing medicines.

This was the assurance given by Aklan Congressman Florencio Miraflores recently, conveyed to his constituents in a radio interview on the current activities of the Congress as far as passage of important bills are concerned.

Miraflores said the Cheaper Medicines Bill will be passed as soon as some amendments get cleared.

“Amendments to the bill being introduced by some congressmen must be studied and clarified so that objectives of the bill may not be circumvented,” Miraflores said.

The Aklan solon also said the bill has the full support of lawmakers from Western Visayas, singling out Congressman Ferj Biron who himself owns a chain of pharmacies in Iloilo.

Just this week, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo asked lawmakers to work on the passage of the proposed 2008 budget, the Cheaper Medicines Bill, and the amendment to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.

Aside from these priority bills, Congress leaders likewise assured the passage of six more bills in the last six session days and these are the establishment of a credit information bureau; amendments to the University of the Philippines charter, magna carta for small and medium enterprises, personal equity retirement fund, agriculture competitiveness enhancement fund, and civil aviation.

President Arroyo also reiterated her instructions to her Cabinet to ensure a steady supply of affordable rice and cheap medicines, especially during this Christmas season. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dengue claims 3 in Aklan, cases decreasing

Kalibo, Aklan -- Three young lives had been claimed by dengue in Aklan since its outbreak here, but health officials assure cases are now declining.

According to Dr. Maria Magpusao, Chief of the Technical Services Division of the Provincial Health Office here said based on their records, the month of August had the highest number of dengue cases with 198 while from September 1 to 22, there were 145 cases. In June, there were 23 cases of dengue in the province, while July registered 125 cases.

Dr. Magpusao said the figures have not gone beyong outbreak level compared with the past years’ record of the province, however, she advised that patients suspected of having dengue must seek medical attention right away.

“If laboratory findings reveal that the patient’s platelets have gone down, the patient must be admitted in a hospital. If after 6 hours of supportive management, the platelets keep on going down, the patient should be transported to Iloilo City for plasma transfusion,” Dr. Magpusao said.

Dr. Magpusao said a dengue patient could not be transfused with whole blood because he might experience a volume overload. Some patients who need plasma transfusions needed to be brought to Iloilo City because Aklan has no plasma freezer, nor has it the machine to separate plasma from other blood components.

Magpusao said patients who died of dengue in Aklan include a 10-year old boy child Altavas, a 17-year old student from Numancia and a baby from Malay. When inspected by provincial health officials, Dr. Magpusao said all areas where there were dengue deaths had the presence of the dengue mosquito vector, aedes aegypti. The households also stored water in uncovered containers which was used as breeding areas by the deadly mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes also breed in plants like bromeliads. We already advised households and schools to get rid of their bromeliads, because the pineapple-like plant stores rainwater in its center, which is used as breeding ground of mosquitoes,” Dr. Magpusao revealed.

Dr. Magpusao revealed that during her team’s visits to barangays, they discovered that whole bamboos used as post for fences of houses, when filled with rain water, are also used as breeding grounds of dengue mosquitoes. She advised house owners to fill the hollowed posts with soil or sand so mosquitoes could not breed there.

The Department of health (DOH) has issued a nationwide dengue fever alert and has asked hospitals to designate fast lanes for dengue patients. According to a DOH report, Region 6, where Aklan belongs, has the most number of dengue victims, followed by Region 7 and NCR. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Aklan town is region’s most outstanding municipality

Kalibo, Aklan – For implementing innovative projects and services in support of the nutrition programs of the government, the town of Nabas, located in the western part of Aklan was adjudged as Region 6’S Outstanding Municipality during the 18th Nutrition Congress held recently at the Grand Hotel in Iloilo City.

As the region’s most outstanding municipality for three consecutive years, Nabas town is a Consistent Regional Winner on Nutrition (CROWN) awardee and is to maintain this status for three years. If it maintains this status, Nabas will be awarded the National Honor Award, the highest award given to municipalities and provinces with outstanding performance in implementing nutrition programs. Kalibo, the province’ capital town, and Aklan itself, had been recipients of this awards already, according to Crescini Roxas, ND II of the Provincial Health Office here.

Roxas said Nabas edged out its rivals from other provinces in Region 6 because its nutrition program has the full support of the local leaders and it has instituted innovative projects for nutrition to improve the health of its constituents especially the children.

Roxas said Nabas is the only municipality in Aklan which has a salt iodizing machine to ensure that Nabasnons have ample supply of iodized salt to prevent iodine-deficiency among its constituents. It also produces insumix, a nutritious but affordable mix of food for young children. All barangays in Nabas have assigned midwives, with their salaries paid by the local government.

Roxas also said that residents of the municipalities are holders of green passports – another innovative program introduced by the Department of Interior and Local Government. Under the program, a green card is given to a family if it has met the health requirements stipulated in the program -the children are all fully-immunized; the household has a sanitary toilet, the family cooperates with government’s other programs, and maintains a backyard vegetable garden for their daily supply of fresh vegetables and at the same time to augment family income.

Practicing backyard gardening or farming is now being pushed by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture to support households’ daily needs in vegetables.

BPI Officer-In-Charge Joel Rudinas said 766,863 households in the country have tapped the Programnag Gulayan Para sa Masa, located in the 30 priority provinces that were assessed by the DA’s Hunger Mitigation Task Force.

Under the program, DA Regional Field Units are providing seeds, training and services to all interested households, he added.

In Region 6, only the province of Antique is included in this program, according to Aklan Provincial Agriculturist Delano T. Tefora.

“However, if local governments here opt to spend for the institutionalization or practice of backyard gardening to help mitigate hunger, it would be much better,” according to Tefora.

Tefora said backyard gardening in Aklan households will also help lower prices of vegetable in Aklan public markets now. Prices of some vegetables, based on OPA’s latest report, have gone up here.

Aklan leaders here hope the Nabas experience will be replicated in all municipalities here, especially the backyard gardening practice. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Friday, October 5, 2007

ATO needs trainees for air navigation, basic air traffic service courses

Kalibo, Aklan -- The Air Transportation Office (ATO) will be conducting a competitive examination to select trainees for the 13th Basic Air Traffic Service Course to be held in Manila Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC), Merville Road, Pasay City. Graduate of this course shall qualify for the position of Air Traffic Controller and/or Airways Communicator.

According to Engr. Percy Malonesio, Airport Manager of ATO at the Kalibo Airport here, qualified and selected Aklanon applicants who will pass the competitive examination, interview and medical/physical examination shall be trained by ATO at no cost; however, Maloneio emphasized that there will be no allowance or other form of compensation during the training period.

Examination is on October 27, 2007 in Manila, Mactan, Laoag, Puerto Prinsesa, Legaspi, Iloilo, Kalibo, Roxas, Tacloban, Zamboanga, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.

To qualify, applicants should not be more than 26 years old on the day of the examination, must be in good health, and a holder of a Baccalaureate degree and must be computer literate.

Application forms may be secured from the Personnel Section, ATO, MIA Road for Manila applicants. For Aklan applicants, forms could be obtained from ATO, Kalibo Airport, Pook.

Applicants must submit a copy of College Diploma/Transcript of Records, Birth Certificate, Police Clearance, Barangay Clearance, and NBI Clearance together with the duly-filled-up application form not later that 5:00 PM, October 24 to the Airport Manager, Kalibo Airport.

On the other hand, ATO also needs trainees for its 35th Air Navigation Systems Specialist Course. ATO will also hold a competitive examination to select trainees for this course to be held at the CATC.

According to Malonesio, graduates of this training course shall qualify for the position of Air Navigation Systems Specialist I. Just like the other training, qualified applicants will have no allowance for the duration of the training.

The examination date is November 14, 2007, with the tests to be held in Manila, Mactan, Laoag, Puerto Prinsesa, Legaspi, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Zamboanga Airports.

Applicants should be at least 21 years old but not more than 29 years old on the day of the examination, must be physically and mentally fit, must be single, natural born citizen of the Philippines and of good moral character; must be a graduate of any of the following course: Bachelor’s degree in Electrical, Electronics and Communications, Mechanical or Computer Engineering and must be a Career Service Professional or RA 1080.

Application forms can be secured from the Airport Manager, ATO. Applicants must submit a copy of College Diploma, Transcript of Records, NBI clearance, Police Clearance, and other required documents together with the application form to the Airport Manager for Aklan applicants not later than October 19, 2007.

Malonesio said the training for successful applicants could last for more or less six to eight months. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

New airport terminal at Kalibo airport rushed with more tourists brought by intl flights

Kalibo, Aklan – By 2008, there will be a new airport terminal at Kalibo Airport to accommodate arriving passengers in the province brought by international flights from Incheon, South Korea and China by plane companies like the Asian Spirit, Philippine Airlines, Pacific Pearl and very soon, China Eastern.

This is according to Engr. Percy Malonesio, Airport Manager of the Air Transportation Office here at Kalibo Airport.

Engr. Malonesio revealed that currently, Asian Spirit directly lands from Incheon, South Korea at the Kalibo Airport on a daily basis except Thursdays, bringing in some 150 Korean tourists each flight. Asian Spirit’s international flight from South Korea to Aklan started May 11 of this year.

The Phiippine Airlines, on the other hand, just started ferrying in tourists from Pudong, Shanghai, China last October 1 and 2. The first flight brought in 93 passengers while the second flight had 101 passengers. Malonesio also said that Pacific Pearl and China Eastern airlines will soon have their own flight landings at the Kalibo Airport.

The new airport terminal, according to Malonesio, has already a budget of P84 million, released as promised by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and announced here by Congressman Ignacio Arroyo and Presidential Management Staff Chief Cerge Remonde during their visits to the province.

“The bidding process for the new airport terminal building will be held November of this year, and hopefully, by next year, the building will be finished,” Malonesio revealed.

Malonesio also said the 100 meters expansion of the airport runway will also be underway, so domestic and international flights could land easily in the airport.

With the daily international flights coming in through Asian Spirit and with more brought in by other airlines in the days to come, Malonesio said the Air Transportation Office in Aklan is being extra-careful and vigilant in implementing anti-terroristic measures to protect leaving and arriving domestic and foreign passengers at the Kalibo Airport. He said ATO holds regular meetings with the PNP, the transport groups, the Aviation Security Group and other stakeholders to take up anti-terror preventive measures.

The international flights also caused the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, the Bureau of Customs, and the Quarantine to establish regular desks and staff in the airport. Quarantine has four divisions to take care of specific concerns: plants, fisheries, animals and people. The quarantine division is on alert here, according to Malonesio, with the threat of bird flu, and the problem affecting ornamental palms and coconuts here, which might be brought to mainland Aklan through entry at the Kalibo Airport. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

PCA, Aklan local officials join hands against Brontispa

Kalibo, Aklan -- The infestation of Brontispa on ornamental palms and coconut trees in the world-famous resort island of Boracay Island has made Aklan’s local government officials, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and other government agencies pool their resources and efforts together to eradicate this dreaded pest which has started its destruction spree in the island.

According to Plevy Raco, PCA-Aklan Provincial Head, 80% of ornamental palms and coconut trees in Barangay Balabag in Boracay Island is already affected while in Manoc-Manoc, another barangay, the infestation is at 50%. Along the beachfront, however, she said 100% of the coconut trees are already infested.

Barangay Yapak is not affected yet, but Raco said they are already implementing preventive measures to keep the Brostispa pest from infesting the coconut trees in the area.

Based on information materials furnished by the PCA, Brostispa feeds on young coconut leaves. Young leaves appear burned or scorched resulting from the feeding damage of the coconut leaf beetle. It is a new malady of coconut in the country, presumably brought here through importation of ornamental palms. It causes great damage to seedlings and mature coconut trees and ornamental palms thereby killing the young spears and eventually the whole tree.

One method the PCA is using now to eradicate the pest is by trunk injection, according to Raco, using Actara emulsifiable granules, which is done by boring holes in the coconut trunks.

“The provincial government through Governor Carlito Marquez extended assistance by shouldering the wages of laborers who are boring coconut trunks for injection. For his part, Malay Mayor Ciceron Cawaling has already issued an order banning ornamental palms from entering and exiting the island of Boracay. Barangay councils in the island also issued certifications so that PCA personnel can enter resort establishments to inspect ornamental palms and implement treatment, if the palms in the areas show signs of infestation, while the Bureau of Plant Industry is implementing strict quarantine measures to regulate entries of ornamental plants in the island,” Raco revealed.

Another method the PCA is employing to eradicate Brontispa is the propagation of earwigs, an insect that eats the larva of Brontispa. However, Raco said the PCA is short in number of this insect, and is planning to seek the assistance of Aklan State University (ASU) here to study the fast propagation or culture of these insects to counter Brontispa. The PCA is also planning to seek the assistance of the stakeholders in Boracay to help the agency in purchasing Actara so all palms and coconuts in the island will be injected.

Presently, Boracay Island has more or less 15,000 coconut trees, according to PCA records. The PCA, the provincial government and the local government in Malay and other agencies like the Department of Agriculture here are in a rush to prevent Brontispa from reaching mainland Aklan.

“The pest must not enter mainland Aklan, because once this happens, the great losers will be the small coconut farmers, who tend the trees for copra. Thre thriving virgin coconut oil industry will also be affected, including other coco-based business,” Raco said.

Aklan, according to Raco, is number one in coconut density in Western Visayas, and the biggest copra-producer in the region. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan governor says statistics important in eradication of poverty, hunger

Kalibo, Aklan -- Having Aklan’s accurate data on the province’ poverty threshold, employment and unemployment rate, population, agricultural produce and other information that involves the use of statistics is vital for poverty and hunger eradication in the province.

This is according to Aklan governor Carlito S. Marquez who recently led the initial meeting as part of the province’ celebration of National Statistics Month observed nationwide this month of October. The meeting was held at the Conference Room of the Provincial Guest House here.

The meeting was attended by heads and representatives of national government agencies and provincial offices who were invited by the provincial government to plan out activities for the month-long celebration.

Gov. Marquez said it is important to know the accurate number of the province’ poor families so the provincial government can formulate the right programs and services for these people to bring down incidence of poverty and hunger.

Theme of this year’s Statistics Month celebration is “Statistics and Actions: A Road to a Better Life Through the Millennium Development Goals”. Poverty and hunger eradication is one of the six MDG priority areas of concern.

Other MDG concerns include the achievement of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality, reduction of child mortality, improvement of women’s reproductive health, and combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases.

In the province, some activities that will be held for the 18th Statistics Month celebration include hanging of streamers, a Thanksgiving Mass, motorcade by all participating agencies around Kalibo, Statistical Exhibit, Progress Report Forum on the Millenium Development Goals, Statistical Quiz and radio and cable television guestings by representatives of participating agencies.

Most of the activities will be held October 16, while the closing activity, a Statistical Forum, will be held on October 25, according to Engr. Roger M. Esto, Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator who presided in the initial meeting together with Gov. Marquez.

For this year’s celebration of Statistics Month, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno is urging all local chief executives to conduct simple but meaningful activities, citing the importance and value of statistics in the development efforts of the national and local governments.

“In order to assess our progress and the effectiveness of our programs on poverty eradication in achieving this goal, we need hard data and statistics,” the DILG Chief explained.

The observance of National Statistics Month each year is aimed to promote, enhance and instill awareness and appreciation on the importance of statistics in the formulation of policies for growth and development as well as elicit the cooperation and support of the general public in upgrading the quality of standards of statistics in the country. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wanted: earwig catchers for Aklan’s battle with brontispa

Kalibo, Aklan – Aklan’s battle with Brontispa, a coconut leaf beetle now destroying ornamental palms and coconut trees in Boracay Island continues with the Philippine Coconut Authority here planning to fight the coconut pest with another insect – the earwig.

The earwig, according to the PCA, also known as “sipit-sipit” in the island, is a friendly insect which feeds on the larva of Brontispa. Great hope is pinned on this insect by concerned agencies like the PCA, the Department of Agriculture and the local government units here to totally eradicate Brontispa, which has destroyed 80% or ornamental palms in Barangay Balabag in Boracay; 50% of palms in Manoc-manoc, another Boracay barangay, and 100% of coconuts in the beach front.

These agencies are racing against time to prevent the dreaded pest from reaching mainland Aklan, because once this happens, the province’ copra industry and other coconut-based enterprises could be destroyed.

Propagation of the earwig in Aklan, however, according to PCA Provincial Head Plevy Raco, has a snag – the short supply of the insects here, which dwell in coconut trees which are seldom harvested or cleaned.

Raco said that in four months’ time, they hope to turn in earwigs to battle with Brontispa and stop the latter’s infestation of palms and coconuts in the island. However, the scarcity of the insects for propagation is a problem, so the PCA is contemplating to look for expert earwig catchers in the province.

To propagate the insects, PCA is now planning to seek the assistance and expertise of the Aklan State University here.

Currently, the PCA’s Brontispa-eradication methods include trunk injection, spraying of chemicals to kill the larva of brontispa, and pruning and burning of infested plant parts.

For her part, fearing that Brontispa could wipe out the P40-billion coconut industry of the country, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recently issued Executive Order No. 664 ordering the Department of Agriculture to “undertake emergency measures” to prevent the coconut leaf beetle from spreading in 68-coconut producing provinces.

In response to PGMA’s EO, DA Secretary Yap and other officials are having meetings with local chief executives and police officers to draw up the mechanics of enforcing emergency measures ordered by the President to contain the invasive coconut pest.

The DA has put under quarantine Metro Manila and 26 provinces infested with the coconut leaf beetle as part of these emergency steps to save the Philippine coconut industry.

Under Special Quarantine Order No. 1 issued by the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), the department has likewise banned imports of palm seed nuts and seedlings from over two dozen countries with known or reported Brontispa infestations.

The provinces placed under quarantine are Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Aurora, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Quezon, Rizal, Southern Palawan, Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Iloilo, Aklan, Guimaras, Bohol, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Zamboanga, Bukidnon and Davao.

Movement of palm seedlings, plants and germinated seed nuts from these provinces to non-infected areas is prohibited by the new BPI order, unless such planting materials are covered by a transport permit issued by the BPI attesting that these have gone through strict quarantine measures.

In the wake of the Brontispa infestation in Boracay Island, Malay mayor Ciceron Cawaling has ordered the no entry, no exit policy of ornamental palms to and from the island. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan governor to info officers: provide correct, true information to constituents

Kalibo, Aklan -- It is up for duly designated public information officers to provide correct and true information to constituencies.

This was Aklan governor Carlito Marquez’ challenge to officers and members of the Aklan Public Information Officers Association (APIOA) here he inducted recently at the Gov. Corazon Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center in his keynote message.

Governor Marquez said the felt need for an effective information dissemination program, especially in the government, takes greater significance today in the light of the very rapid advancements in information technology.

“The speed by which information is carried by different media into our very homes is also the speed by which misinformation, disinformation, and all forms of deception are fed to the credible,” Governor Marquez stressed to the information officers.

According to him, it has become an accepted fact that information dissemination is a most important, critical component of any undertaking, especially of a government which puts a high premium on the approval of the constituency it seeks to serve, which he referred to as “approval rating”.

Governor Marquez cited the one-entry, one exit policy in Boracay Island as a test on the effectivity of information dissemination. He said the policy was greeted with loud protests from certain sectors, but after the province’ effective information dissemination efforts, the protesters saw the light, saw the need for security to ensure the safety of tourists and saw the need for a beach clear of pump boats and their oil and other wastes so tourists can enjoy swimming.

“One act of terrorism, one small bomb exploding in the island and tourists will stop coming. And that will be the end of our tourism industry, the goose that lays the golden eggs. This illustrates how important information dissemination is, which in fact, is in line with our policy of transparency. The people must know so they will understand and thereby appreciate what we are doing and extend cooperation, even assistance, towards the successful implementation of government programs.

Gov. Marquez also commended the APIOA for conducting a forum on Good Governance on the very day of their induction.

“That’s the catchword of the day. Good governance - the yardstick by which our constitutencies measure the capabilities of local as well as national leaders. But good governance is not the sole responsibility of our leaders, whether elected, appointed, or designated. It is as much the responsibility of the rank and file, the bureaucracy, the so-called civil servants who operate the government machinery,” the Aklan governor said.

The forum on Good Governance was held prior to the induction program, which had Max Zurbito Jr., former APIOA President and currenty SP-Aklan Secretary Odon Bandiola and former Vice Governor Roquillo C. Tolentino as speakers.

Inducted APIOA Officers for 2007-2009 were Maribel S. Tolentino of Pag-IBIG-Aklan, President; Sally Villasis of Aklan State University, Vice President; Deana G. Ruiz of the Department of Trade and Industry, Secretary; Judith T. Tindog of National Food Authority, Treasurer; Ulysses V. Espartero, Prov’l Governor’s Office, Asst. Secretary-Treasurer; PO1 Nida L. Gregas, Aklan Police Provincial Office, Auditor; Ferdinand R. Macogue, Civil Service Commission, Business Manager; and Leopoldo C. Sanchez Jr. of LGU-Numancia, Press Relations Officer. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Don’t just produce, market your products too, DA Sec tells Aklan farmers

Numancia, Aklan – For Aklan farmers to earn more, they should not only focus on production. They must also use post harvest and storage facilities to preserve and protect their produce, and market these themselves – for the money is in the markets.

This was Department of Agriculture Sec. Arthur Yap’s message to Aklan farmers and fishermen in a dialogue facilitated by the Agricultural Training Institute during his recent visit to Aklan held at Numancia Agri-Aqua Techno-Demo Farm.

Sec. Yap said the government is now focusing more on preservation of farmers’ produce through the National Post Harvest Program so they could earn more.

“If your rice or corn is dried well, then it is of good quality and instead of earning just P7.00 per kilo, you could sell a kilo in the market for P11.00 or P12.00 pesos”, Yap told the farmers.

Yap also invited the farmers that if they would like to market their farm products in Manila, there are now 9 Bagsakan Centers open for their produce.

“If you have products in Aklan you wish to sell in Manila, tell us. We will give you a free space in our Bagsakan Centers. You bring your produce through the RORO, we will provide you food link stickers so your truck carrying your goods goes straight to the market,” Yap said.

“The way I see it however, you don’t have to market your products to Manila. Here in the Visayas alone, your produce will already be consumed. Boracay, for instance, gets its lettuce supply from Baguio. Green peppers come from other provinces. Why can’t you plant these in Aklan?” Yap challenged the farmers, urging them instead to supply the needs of their own region.

Yap also said that as Aklan has a small area for farming, farmers should focus more on high-value crops. He said there is money in cut flowers and vegetables if the right markets are found.

“Seafoods in Aklan are also of good quality. Your prawns and crabs are bigger, and you have special shells here not found in other provinces, and you can find markets for these in Bohol and Cebu,” Yap told the fisherfolks present.

“Let’s do business, not just production,” Yap emphasized.

Sec. Yap ended his dialogue by awarding Quick Turn-Around (QTA) seeds and drum seeder to the different farmers’ groups in the province, and personally handing the Certificate of Recognition Award to Nadya Patricia Sauza, an Aklanon student who made an exceptional investigatory project on the viability of producing biodiesel fuel from animal fats.

Aside from meeting Aklan farmers and fishermen, Sec. Yap visited Aklan to witness the unveiling of Cardinal Jaime L. Sin’s statue in new Washington, Aklan. Sec. Yap said Cardinal Sin was his Father Confessor during his school days at Xavier School. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Monday, September 3, 2007

AFP Inspector General inaugurates new army barracks in Aklan

Banga, Aklan- Three new buildings to be used as barracks of officers, women personnel and enlisted personnel of the 47th Infantry Battalion based at Camp Jizmundo, Libas, Banga here were recently inaugurated with BGen. Samuel D. Narcise, Inspector General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines cutting the ceremonial ribbon.

He was assisted by LTC Earl D. Baliao, Commanding Officer of the 47th IB, 3ID, Philippine Army.

The three buildings were built with a project cost of P480,000 obtained from troop hutment funds and savings of the 47th IB, said Captain Antonio Tumnog, Civil Military Officer of the infantry battalion in Libas.

Captain Tumnog said the army men themselves built the buildings, the reason why the cost of the three buildings was very minimal, labor being free.

The officers’ quarter has three rooms, the women’s quarter two, while the enlisted personnel’s quarter can accommodate 100 persons, according to Captain Tumnog.

In the same occasion, Maj. General Jovenal Narcise, Commanding General of 3ID Philippine Army was also present. He officiated the unveiling of the marker of the barracks, assisted by LTC Earl D. Baliao.

Rev. Fr. Roberto Sitjar, Parish Priest of Batan, Aklan, blessed the buildings.

The coming of Brigadier Gen. Narcise to Aklan to inaugurate the 47th IB barracks coincided with his annual general inspection of the camp and other units in Panay under the 3ID, according to Captain Tumnog.

Meanwhile, Captain Tumnog said that the 47th IB here is prepared at all times to protect the people or for any action directed agains them (army) by lawless elements.

This is in the wake of statements issued by the CPP-NPA in reaction to the apprehension by the Dutch government of Jose Maria Sison, threatening retaliation against the military and the PNP nationwide.

Captain Tumnog said the Philippine Army, besides being on red alert, is continuously conducting its routinary activities. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Green Philippines program expanded; Aklan launch slates planting thousands of trees

Kalibo, Aklan –Some 23,280 tree seedlings are set to be planted August 30 in the municipality of Tangalan in the western part of Aklan as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here, together with the local government unit of Tangalan, the Department of Education and the community launch the expanded Green Philippines program that targets to plant some 20 million seedlings nationwide.

According to Raul Lorilla, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, the launching sites in Tangalan are at Barangay Panayakan and at the Tangalan watershed. Seven groups will take part in the tree planting, composed of schools, fishery and agriculture councils, municipal officials and employees of Tangalan, multi-purpose cooperative, barangay officials and DENR employees. Each group will plant specific tree specie – for instance, the Tangalan National High School will plant Golden Shower tree seedlings numbering 1,000; Panayakan National High School, Acacia auri, 12,132; Tangalan FARMC, Mount Agoho, 3,000; Tangalan officials and employees, Bagras; Panayakan Lanipga MPC, Mahogany; barangay officials, Narra; and DENR employees, Narra and Molave; 328 seedlings.

The GPP launching in Tangalan, according to the DENR, is aiming to plant trees in some 20 hectares of land.

For this year, however, in sustaining and fully supporting the Green Philippines program, DENR, along with its partners in the province, aims to plant a total of 111,054 seedlings in some 73.86 hectares.

To realize this, PENRO Lorilla recently released a special order assigning DENR personnel as project focal persons/coordinators for thematic protected areas, critical watersheds and open lands.

For this year, DENR has set the planting of trees at protected areas, critical watersheds and open areas in the months of July and August; Agroforestry-Community-Based Forest Management Areas in September; Urban Parks, school campus, military camps and housing subdivisions in October; and mangrove and coastal areas in November.

This month of August, Lorillla said other GPP sites with mass planting include the Aklan River Watershed Forest Reserve at Brgy. Galicia, Madalag; Panakuyan River Watershed Project at Brgy. San Jose, Ibajay; Nabaoy River Watershed/Malay Refo. Project at Brgy. Nabaoy, Malay; and Open Forest Land Areas in Brgys. Castillo and Calangcang in Makato.

The Green Philippines Project is an offshoot of the Green Philippine Highways Project (GPHP) launched a year ago to green national highways that serves the route of the PGMA Strong Republic Nautical Highway. In Aklan this covers the national highway where buses using the RORO boats traversed – from Barangay Caticlan in Malay to Barangay Cabangila in Altavas, Aklan, the boundary of Aklan and Capiz.

With its expansion into GPP, the government hopes to arrest air pollution, flooding as well as water depletion and other environmental hazards. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

OFWs, family members to benefit from OWWA

Kalibo, Aklan – Are you a son or a daughter of an Overseas Filipino Worker? If so, you can be a scholar, courtesy of the government through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

According to Vivian Ruiz Solano, manager of the Provincial Employment Service Office (PESO) here, OWWA is currently opening its doors to OFWs through its various beneficial programs.

These programs, said Solano, include Education for Development Scholarship Programs, Congressional Migrant Workers Scholarship Program, and Search for “Model OFW Family of the Year Award” or MOFYA.

The scholarship programs target the children of OFWs, land-based or sea-based who are currently enrolled as 4th year high school students and belonging to the upper 20% of the graduating class for Academic Year 2007-2008.

Interested and qualified 4th year high school students have until October 31 of this year to file their application. Solano said they should coordinate with their principal or with the PESO for assistance with the requirements.

This year, OWWA is also conducting a search for the “Model OFW of the Year” award.

“This is an award given by the OWWA to OFWs and members of their families in recognition of their sacrifices and contribution in strengthening the country’s economy and their families in particular”, Solano explained.

Major winner of the award will be chosen based on his struggle to succeed in life – for instance, as an OFW, he was able to send his children to school- finishing college and landing jobs; he has established a thriving business through his earnings, he has savings, is respected in the community because he has no bad records, has a harmonious family life and has done other good deeds.

Big prizes await those who would win in the search for MOFYA like P200,000 cash, vacation trip packages, laptop units, P25,000 for regional winners, P20,000 G-cash and cellphones.

Aklanon OFWs who are interested to join the search could go to PESO-Aklan here for more information, according to Solano. They could also inquire directly from OWWA in Iloilo or Manila. Deadline set for the contest is on September 30 of this year. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

TESDA at 13: generating jobs, and caring for the environment too

Kalibo, Aklan – The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is turning 13 this month of August and in Aklan, besides zeroing in on job generation by giving various skills trainings, scholarships and conducting competency tests to Aklanons to give them better edge in job hunting, it has also set its sight on environment protection to highlight its anniversary celebration.

As part of its celebration this year, TESDA-Aklan aims to plant some 3,000 in two mangrove areas in Aklan; it will organize a fun run, and will also lead a clean up drive at mangrove and beach areas here.

Ely Arensol, Techical Education and Skills Development Specialist of TESDA-Aklan said in a radio interview here that TESDA, in coordination with the Association of TVET Schools in Aklan (ATSA), will be planting mangrove propagules at Isla Capispisan, Pinamuk-an, New Washington, Aklan on August 24 and at the Bakhawan Eco-Park on August 25.

Also on August 25, NSTP students of ATSA member schools will have a fun run from Magsaysay Park going to Bakhawan Eco-Park. After the mangrove propagules planting, students will join in a clean up drive within the area, which are TESDA’s and ATSA’s way of helping the environment, according to Arensol.

Years ago, TESDA-Aklan also spearheaded the planting of bamboos along riverbanks in the province to prevent soil erosion, and at the same time provide the residents in the area ready materials for furniture-making and other crafts. TESDA then also led the planting of amalipali, an important plant material used in bag and craftsmaking here.

Presently, TESDA continues to conduct competency assessments in various areas. This month, it has conducted a competency assessment for Food and Beverage Servicing NC II at Panay Technological College. Other scheduled assessment is on Personal Computer Operation NC II and others provided the required number of applicants is met, according to Arensol.

“Passing the competency test is very important. For would-be Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) especially those involved in household services, they must pass the assessment test given by TESDA before they could apply for domestic work abroad. This is to maintain international standards,” Arensol emphasized.

TESDA was created on August 25, 1994 through Republic Act 7796. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

OFWs, family members to benefit from OWWA

Kalibo, Aklan – Are you a son or a daughter of an Overseas Filipino Worker? If so, you can be a scholar, courtesy of the government through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

According to Vivian Ruiz Solano, manager of the Provincial Employment Service Office (PESO) here, OWWA is currently opening its doors to OFWs through its various beneficial programs.

These programs, said Solano, include Education for Development Scholarship Programs, Congressional Migrant Workers Scholarship Program, and Search for “Model OFW Family of the Year Award” or MOFYA.

The scholarship programs target the children of OFWs, land-based or sea-based who are currently enrolled as 4th year high school students and belonging to the upper 20% of the graduating class for Academic Year 2007-2008.

Interested and qualified 4th year high school students have until October 31 of this year to file their application. Solano said they should coordinate with their principal or with the PESO for assistance with the requirements.

This year, OWWA is also conducting a search for the “Model OFW of the Year” award.

“This is an award given by the OWWA to OFWs and members of their families in recognition of their sacrifices and contribution in strengthening the country’s economy and their families in particular”, Solano explained.

Major winner of the award will be chosen based on his struggle to succeed in life – for instance, as an OFW, he was able to send his children to school- finishing college and landing jobs; he has established a thriving business through his earnings, he has savings, is respected in the community because he has no bad records, has a harmonious family life and has done other good deeds.

Big prizes await those who would win in the search for MOFYA like P200,000 cash, vacation trip packages, laptop units, P25,000 for regional winners, P20,000 G-cash and cellphones.

Aklanon OFWs who are interested to join the search could go to PESO-Aklan here for more information, according to Solano. They could also inquire directly from OWWA in Iloilo or Manila. Deadline set for the contest is on September 30 of this year. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklanon broadcaster wins KBP award for newsfeature on guitars

Kalibo, Aklan – For co-producing a radio news feature titled “Cebu Guitars” at a seminar-workshop she attended in Cebu last year, Sally Villasis, radio program coordinator of radio station DYMT based at the Aklan State University (ASU) Banga Campus was adjudged first prize winner in the Radio News Feature Awards. She shared the award with her co-producer, Patty Tolentino of DZRH Manila Broadcasting Company.

The award was given to the winners during the Kapisanan ng Mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) General Membership meeting held August 16 at the Dusit Hotel in Makati City.

Villasis and Tolentino shared the cash prize of P25,000, part of a grant from Free Voice of the Netherlands.

“The award is given to encourage radio broadcasters to take a more conscious effort to help radio audience better understand what is happening in the community through feature stories that are informative and interesting”, KBP President Butch Canoy told Villasis in his letter to inform her of the award.

According to Villasis, the Radio News Feature Seminar Workshop she attended in Cebu together with Eleanor Defensor was held on September 2006, jointly sponsored by the KBP and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

The duo’s attendance to the Cebu seminar was recommended by Aklan KBP Chairman and IBC-DYRG Station Manager Augusto C. Tolentino, himself a recipient of various awards from the KBP.

DYMT is a community radio station which started operating in 1993. Dr. Ana Mae Relingo is its current station manager, with the full operation support of ASU President Dr. Benny Palma.

Villasis is an active member of the Aklan Public Information Officers Association (APIOA) and the associations’s incoming Vice President. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

OTOP corner, pasalubong center opening at Kalibo Airport set

Kalibo, Aklan –Aklan’s One Town, One Product (OTOP) corner and Pasalubong Center located at the Pre-Departure Area of the Kalibo Airport here is set to be opened on August 30 here.

The opening and blessing of the OTOP and Pasalubong Center is a joint activity of the Department of Trade and Industry and Aklan Food Processors Development Cooperative in coordination with the Air Transportation Office in Kalibo.

OTOP-Philippines is a priority program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, which aids in promoting entrepreneurship and creating new jobs thereby improving the quality of life of the people in the long term.

DTI-Aklan Provincial Director Ermelinda Pollentes said that at the Pasalubong/OTOP corner, some 32 Small and Medium Enterprises (OTOP and non-OTOP in the manufacturing sector) will showcase their quality products, like woven piƱa/abaca/raffia fabrics, tablewares, fashion accessories, clay-based items, abaca fibers and crafts, coco-based products, bariwcrafts, and processed foods.

“OTOP projects of other local government units under the service and tourism-related sectors will also be promoted through display and distribution of flyers/brochures and other promo collaterals to local and foreign tourists,” Pollentes said.

The opening is expected to be graced by Congressman Florencion T. Miraflores of the Lone District of Aklan, Governor Carlito Marquez, Vice Governor Gabrielle Calizo, DTI-Region 6 Dominic P. Abad, Kalibo Airport Manager Percy Malonesio and heads/representatives of partner agencies in Aklan.

The opening of the Pasalubong Center/OTOP Corner at the Pre-Departure Area of the Kalibo Airport here is seen to boost further the product sales of Aklan SMEs. The SMEs in the province has been acknowledged by local leaders here as major job providers for Aklanons, aiding the government in its goal to reduce unemployment and alleviate poverty. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Friday, August 17, 2007

BIR awards top Aklan taxpayers

Kalibo, Aklan –For topping the list of the highest taxpayers in the province, nine taxpayers in Aklan were cited recently by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The awarding of the top taxpayers of Aklan was one of the highlights of the bureau’s 103rd anniversary, observance of which was held recently at the regional office of the BIR in Iloilo City.

According to BIR-Aklan Revenue District Officer Lilivic Gatdula, Aklan’s top taxpayers were divided into three categories – corporation, individual and government.

In the corporation category, awarded top taxpayers were the Hennan Hotel Management Inc. which emerged no. 1; Seraph Management Group, 2nd, and Le Soleil de Boracay Resort, 3rd.

Top taxpayers in the individual category include Wilfredo M. Gelito, 1st; Orlando Sacay, 2nd, and Christopher Jude S. Lee, 3rd.

For government category, the Department of Education is the number 1 taxpayer in Aklan followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH, 2nd) and 3rd, Provincial Government of Aklan.

In the corporation and individual categories, all taxpayers operate in Boracay Island. According to the BIR here, Hennan Hotel Management operates Boracay Regency, while Gelito operates Willy’s Place; Sacay, Waling-Waling Resort; and Lee operates the Hey Jude establishment.

In recent interviews, Gatdula revealed that Boracay tax collections contribute much to BIR-Aklan’s revenue collections. During the celebration of BIR’s 103rd anniversary, BIR-Aklan RDO was cited for being the lone revenue district office in Western Visayas to exceed its collection goal for the 1st semester of this year.

Gatdula revealed that BIR-Aklan was able to collect a total of P226,234,189.46 from January to June of this year, while in 2006 for the same period, the collection was P205,116,741.45 - or an excess of P61,117,448.01.

According to the BIR here, other provinces in Western Visayas had also their sets of top taxpayers, who were also awarded during the bureau’s anniversary celebration.

Here in Aklan, BIR is also pushing for public support of its Premyo Sa Resibo promo. Under the Premyo Sa Resibo promo, everybody gets a chance to win one million pesos by just texting to the BIR his official receipts.

Gatdula said the PREMYO Sa Resibo aims to encourage people to demand receipts when purchasing items, in order for establishments to be able to report their correct income.

Gatdula said anybody can join the Premyo Sa Resibo promo.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has created task forces on revenue enhancement and anti-smuggling as she committed that the government would bounce back from its collection in the first half of the year.

The government has repeatedly assured that it will be sticking to its P63-billion budget deficit target for the year. The BIR’s target is to raise P370 billion while the BoC was given a P228 billion target this year to enable the government to achieve its P1.1 trillion revenue target. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

BIR-Aklan the only revenue district in WV to exceed 1st sem goal

Kalibo, Aklan—The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) here is the only revenue collection district in Western Visayas that exceeded its collection goal in the first semester of 2007.

This was revealed by Lilivic Gatdula, Revenue District Officer of BIR-Aklan here during a recent cable television program guesting here in Kalibo.

Gatdula said some factors that contributed to BIR-Aklan’s high tax collection in Aklan were the increase in voluntary compliance of taxation laws and the massive tax campaign of the people working in the revenue district as well as the full cooperation of the public in paying the right taxes.

Gatdula said that although BIR-Aklan exceeded its collection target for this year’s first semester, she said the collection target for the second semester is much higher.

Even then, Gatdula expressed optimism that they will also be able to make it and exceed the second semester goal, by taking a positive mental attitude regarding this.

She also called on her staff in Aklan to work harder and at the same time, appealed to the taxpaying public to pay correctly, as BIR-Aklan’s performance will decide the fate of the employees – whether they get demoted or transferred under the attrition law concerning the bureau.

“Let’s help each other, let’s report our correct income. Let’s help our government – let’s help our country, for there is no other place for us to go – for the good of the future generation”, Gatdula applealed to Aklan taxpayers.

Meanwhile, in a recent command conference at the Bureau of Internal Revenue, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed the BIR to prosecute big-time evaders under its Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program. President Arroyo wanted to see more high-profile cases to boost the government’s anti-tax evasion program.

In compliance with this directive and to help put the government back on track of its 2007 revenue goals, the BIR will run after large companies that owe close to P5 billion in back taxes and aims to collect these before the end of the year. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Boracay’s mid-year tourist arrivals reach 387,288

Kalibo, Aklan – Boracay Island has recorded a total of 387,288 tourist arrivals from January to July of this year. Based on records obtained from the Provincial Tourism Office here, the month with the highest number of tourist arrivals was April, with 93,615 arrivals.

Of the tourists who visited Boracay during the period, domestic arrivals outnumbered the foreigners. Domestic tourists numbered 217,837 while foreign tourists reached 117,518. Overseas Filipinos, on the other hand, numbered 51,933.

The biggest number of foreign tourists who flocked to Boracay was noted during the month of February, with l9,859, while they had the least number during the month of June with 11,054. Domestic tourists, on the other hand, peaked during the month of April with 75,739 and lowest during the month of February with 2,372. For Overseas Filipinos, their number was highest in the month of January with 21,051 and lowest in March with 2,038.

Converted into tourism receipts, the foreign arrivals generated P4,063,513,900.40 while the local tourism receipts generated P3,592,014,527.00 for a total of P7,119,670,219.20.

With five months left before yearend, it is seen that tourist arrivals for 2007 will surpass the number recorded in 2006. Last year, Governor Carlito Marquez reported in his State of the Province Address (SOPA) that tourist arrivals in Boracay reached 558,084, which, when translated into tourism receipts, reached P10.2 billion – P4.9 billion contributed by local tourists and P6.3 billion by foreigners.

The direct international flights from South Korea that started landing at the Kalibo Airport May of this year is also expected to boost foreign tourist arrivals in Boracay.

For the period May 11-June 27, the provincial government here has recorded a total of 30 flights. According to Roselle Ruiz, Provincial Tourism Officer, the total number of passengers, direct from South Korea, reached 1,823.

Aklan is optimistic that in 2010, it will achieve the targeted One Million in tourist arrivals with the opening of the Kalibo Airport for international flights.

Improvement and expansion of the Kalibo Airport is now also prioritized by the national government, with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announcing in her recent SONA the allocation of P80 million for the airport terminal. Earlier, funds were also released for the Instrument Landing System of the kalibo Airport, which is now in use. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Voters’ registration in Aklan yields 29,635 applicants for brgy polls; 25,872 for SK

Kalibo, Aklan -- The registration of voters here yielded a big number of applicants for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Aklan.

The special voters’ registration was held on July 15-22 of this year with extensions on July 24-31 for regular voters and July 28-29 and August 4-5 for SK voters.

OIC-Provincial Election Officer Lorena Tumbagahan, who sits concurrently as Election Registrar of Kalibo, revealed that a total of 29,635 were able to apply for registration for the barangay elections within the given period, while 25,872 registered for SK.

The number, however, Tumbagahan said, might change as the applications are still subject for approval or disapproval as the COMELEC is in the process of scrutinizing the applications.

The COMELEC is also waiting if some parties would file petitions for exclusions of applicants.

Most of the registrants, according to Tumbagahan were new, transferees within municipalities or from other municipalities, and applicants for reactivation in the case of those who failed to vote twice; and corrections/change of names (in the case of women who changed surnames after getting married).

“The Commission on Elections is prepared to hold the barangay and SK elections on October 29, with the absence of any law to postpone the elections,” Tumbagahan said.

Tumbagahan said the COMELEC has already its Calendar of Activities for the Barangay and SK elections.

Based on the Calendar of Activities, Tumbagahan revealed that the election period will start on September 29 with all prohibitions enforced during the May 2007 elections to be observed strictly too.

Filing period will be on Oct. 11-18 while the campaign period will be observed from October 19-27.

According to Tumbagahan, the barangay and SK polls will utilize the same number of voting precincts as in the previous elections or more, due to additional voters who registered recently.

Aklan has 327 barangays. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

PAG-IBIG urges Aklanons to avail of low-interest housing loans

Kalibo, Aklan – The Pag-IBIG office here is urging Aklanons to avail of low-interest housing loans after lowering further its interest rates on varied housing programs.

Maribel Tolentino, Officer-in-Charge of the Pag-IBIG Service Center here said in an interview over radio station DYRU here that members can now avail of low-interest housing loans through the Abot-Kamay Pabahay Housing and the Magaang Pabahay, Disenteng Buhay loan programs.

Tolentino said teachers and even security guards can now avail of housing programs, as interests have been lowered from 6, 7 and 10.5% depending on the amount of loans. For instance, she cited that if an employee avails of a P275,000 housing loan, under the lowered interest, he will only pay a monthly amortization for this loan of P1,500 for 25 years under the Abot-Kabay Pabahay Housing loan program.

Housing is one of the major programs now prioritized by the government in its legacy phase commitment to make Filipinos enjoy the benefits of of economic reforms.

For the Magaan Pabahay Disenteng Buhay Loan program, targeted are the foreclosed properties which are sold to the public and even non-Pag-IBIG members but prioritizes those who are the owners themselves.

Tolentino said the payment interests were lowered in consideration of government employees who have low net pays. The lowered interests in housing loans were already made effective June 25 of this year. Pag-IBIG stipulates that a member availing of the housing loan must have P3,000 net pay left after deductions of his loan amortization.

Pag-IBIG is also rewarding housing loan borrowers who pay on time. According to Tolentino, borrowers who pay on time are entitled to a maximum discount of two percent on the interest.

Tolentino said there are already many Pag-IBIG members in Aklan but she is urging those who are not yet members especially from the private sector to apply for membership. The additional members will make the Aklan office here an Extension office and not just a service center, Tolentino said. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Alay Lakad’s continuing legacy to Aklanon youth: productive life, bright future

Thirty-five (35) years of existence and making positive marks in the lives of the Aklanon youth – this is the Alay Lakad.

Created in 1972 through Presidential Proclamation 289, the Alay Lakad since then had been observed every first Sunday of September throughout the country, and in Aklan, through a dawn walk participated in by government and non-government offices, civic clubs, commercial establishments, the academe and the community.

Aimed to strengthen the capabilities of the youth and empower them for an improved quality of life, the annual walk for a cause is undertaken to generate funds to support the socio-economic projects of Out-of-School Youths. Aklan, however, in observing Alay Lakad to generate funds for the OSYs made a further extra step – it helped needy young Aklanons finish college by sending them to school, for a much brighter future and a productive life, not only for themselves but for their families as too, and maybe for their future children.

Evangeline Gallega, Youth Development Assistant of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) here, said many young Aklanons have already availed of educational assistance through Alay Lakad and have graduated already.

Beneficiaries, according to Gallega, are now better equipped to look for well-paying jobs with one found to be already gainfully employed in Manila.

In assisting the studies of poor but deserving Aklanons, the Provincial Executive Committee of the Alay Lakad prioritizes graduating students, to ensure that these students could really finish their studies.

The municipal government of Kalibo, which join the province in the dawn walk, on the other hand, assists students from the town from first year up to the time they graduate in college.

It was during the time of then Governor now Congressman Florencio T. Miraflores when the educational assistance/scholarship scheme was added as another way of helping Aklan’s disadvantaged young people.

That time, he justified the move by saying that the scholarship program for the youth has much-lasting benefits to the recipients.

Before this, however, the Aklan Alay Lakad Executive Committee has assisted the out-of-school youths of the province by providing trainings for livelihood skills and lending them a rolling capital for their chosen livelihood projects. Funds were also provided for leadership trainings.

Presently, under the term of Governor Carlito Marquez, in-school and out of school youths are both assisted by Alay Lakad funds.

Innovations and changes were also made in holding the yearly activity. From regularly holding the dawn walk every first Sunday of September, the Alay Lakad had been observed for two consecutive years on a Monday, to generate more participation, especially from schools in Kalibo.

Last year, the Alay Lakad was held on a Friday, and this year, it will be held on September 7, also a Friday. This is to further motivate more participants to join the walk, as they could have their two-day rest after Friday, and go back to work already energized on Monday.

To generate more funds for Aklan Alay Lakad too, and for participants to stay for the morning program after the walk at the Goding Ramos Park here, raffle tickets will be sold to the public, with very “attractive” prizes at stake.

According to Gallega, member of the Alay Lakad Secretariat, for buying a raffle ticket at P5.00 each, a person will have the chance to win one unit refrigerator as first prize; washing machine, second prize, stand fan, third prize; oven toaster, fourth prize; and rice cooker, fifth prize.

Consolation prizes consisting of five bags of groceries worth P300 each and five cell cards worth P300 each will also be raffled out.

This year’s Alay Lakad theme is “Lakad Bayan para Sa Kaunlaran.” Honorary Chairpersons of this year’s Alay Lakad are Governor Carlito Marquez for the province of Aklan and Mayor Raymar Rebaldo for the municipality of Kalibo.

Overall Chairperson of Alay Lakad 2007 is Hon. Gerick Templonuevo of Aklan Jaycees. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Aklan solon urges Boracay stakeholders to heed DENR moratorium on new dev’t

Kalibo, Aklan –Stakeholders in Boracay should fully cooperate with new DENR Secretary Lito Atienza’s imposed six-month moratorium on new construction in the world-famous island in the midst of concerns on overcrowding, flooding and other environmental problems, according to Aklan Congressman Florencio T. Miraflores.

Two days ago, Secretary Atienza ordered the moratorium in a meeting with resort owners in the island at the sidelines of the 18th Association of Southeast Asian Senior Officials on Environment (ASOEN). In the same occasion, he also told officials of the DENR to prepare an environment master plan in response to complaints of resort owners about the uncontrolled development of the island and migration.

Rep. Miraflores said in an interview over a radio station here that the moratorium is not a move against investors, rather, it would be advantageous to new players.

“This is to show that the government is sincere in fixing Boracay Island by giving the needed support to investors like infrastructure. They will be at the losing end if sewerage and drainage problems in the island could not be contained anymore. We ask the stakeholders to support Secretary Atienza’s recommendation. Anyway, it will be only for six months,” Miraflores said.

Rep. Miraflores also said it is about time to fix Boracay’s zoning. Guidelines, he said, should be fastracked to identify where to build villas and resorts in the island, noting that some residential houses are already built at no-build zones like cliffs and steep inclines.

The Aklanon solon appealed to the local government of Malay, where Boracay belongs, to respond positively to the call of Secretary Atienza by passing a council resolution for the moratorium.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in her recent SONA, called Boracay Island as the leading overall tourist destination and had provided improvements in the Kalibo Airport, the gateway to the island, by providing the fund for the Instrument Landing System which is already installed. She also said that P80 million will be provided for the development of a new terminal building in the airport.

In May of this year, the Kalibo Airport started receiving direct international flights from Incheon, South Korea. (PIA/Venus g. Villanueva)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Help save one million babies by breastfeeding your own -DOH

Kalibo, Aklan -- Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life helps to ensure child survival and the key to successful exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

This was stressed by Undersecretary of Health Ethelyn P. Nieto, in her memorandum to all centers of health development directors, regional medical centers and specialty hospital chiefs in connection with the 2007 National Breastfeeding Week celebration set August 1-7 of this year.

With the theme “Sa Unang Oras ng Buhay hanggang anim na Buwan, Gatas Ng Ina Lamang ang Ibigay,” the aim is to contribute to mobilize the world to the potential for saving One Million babies starting with one simple action – allowing the baby to initiate breastfeeding in the first hour of life.

USEC Nieto said that to make a very memorable celebration, everyone should participate in the celebration by holding activities on breastfeeding.

“Most importantly, all babies that will be born starting August 1, 2007 until July 31, 2008 who have initiated to breastfeeding within the first hour of birth must be documented and reported to the Information Management Service of the Department of Health,” Nieto said.

In her memo, USEC Nieto also related that in the country, only 16% of infants are exclusively breastfed at 4-5 months, while 54% were iniated to breastfeeding within one hour after birth as shown in the 2003 NDHS survey. The local adaptation of the theme will help draw out nationwide attention to the importance of the first hour. The objective is to document all babies born alive who were initiated to breastfeeding within the first hour of life and to encourage birth attendants to continuously practice this life-saving action, Nieto stressed in her memo.

In Aklan, mothers from all over the province will join in the Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide on August 8 in observance of the World Breastfeeding Week at designated areas at exactly 10:00 a.m. up to 10:01

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has declared August 1-7 as World Breastfeeding Week through Proclamation No. 1113 signed last year, in consonance with the worldwide observation by some 120 countries.

Dr. Maria Magpusao, Chief of the Technical Services Division here of the Provincial Health Office, said that breastfeeding makes babies avail of breastmilk that is easily digested. Breastmilk, according to her, contains antibodies that protect babies against diseases; is clean and always in the right temperature; has high content of lactose with natural milk sugar needed for brain development and has complete nutrients ideal for infant growth and immunity against diseases.

Dr. Magpusao said that colostrum, contained in breastmilk, is the first immunization against childhood illnesses. It also serves as a laxative and protects against infections.

Breastfeeding also benefits the mother, according to Dr. Magpusao. The mother-child activity helps stop the bleeding brought by childbirth, and develops close bonding between the mother and baby. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

PESO-Aklan warns would-be OFWs against illegal recruiters

Kalibo, Aklan – Avoid recruiters or agents who go house-to-house to recruit applicants for jobs abroad; the right way to apply is to go straight to the Provincial Employment Service Office (PESO) or in the municipal hall in your place, or just go directly to the recruitment agency.

This advice comes first in the list of warnings Vivian Ruiz-Solano, Provincial PESO Manager here issued to Aklanons who are interested to work outside the country, in the wake of complaints and reports that had bombarded her office for three consecutive weeks already from Aklanon OFWs in Dubai who were victimized by illegal recruiters.

“Their reports are sad tales of their experiences in the hands of recruiters who are from Manila and others, some even their fellow Aklanons,” Solano said.

When applying for a job abroad, Solano said a person should ensure that the recruitment agency is licensed, with Special Recruitment Authority (SRA), accreditation and job order from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) that has not expired.

“Never pay or give money just to anybody – payment should be transacted with a cashier of the recruitment agency; be sure you are holding a working visa and not a visit visa if you go to Dubai or to other nations where you are to work as an OFW, and never transact with an agent of a travel agency who promises to help you,” Solano stressed.

Solano also told prospective OFWs from Aklan to just transact with only one recruitment agency from the start until deployment, to get files of all original employment documents like biodata or resume, birth, baptismal and marriage certificates, transcript of records and diploma, certificate of employment, passport, NBI clearance, contract, visa and others.

“Have these photopied, leave a set for your family and keep one in your luggage, and if you are already in Dubai or in other countries – never, never surrender your passport and other important papers to your employer because those papers are yours – part of your personal belongings,” Solano emphasized.

Solano aired these warnings at local radio stations here, and sent copies to the print media as well.

“Never be convinced to apply for a job abroad with the recruiter’s assurance that you will never spend money at all, because this is not true. When you apply for work abroad, you have to spend money,” Solano said.

Just this week, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assured that ensuring the security and safety of the Filipino workers in the Middle East is still her top priority.

Alarmed by the reported smuggling of Filipino workers and violations of the deployment ban in Iraq, PGMA has extended the life of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC) to ensure the security and safety of Filipinos working in the Middle East.

The decision to extend the operation of the PMEPC up to Dec. 31 this year, contained in Executive Order No. 640, was also triggered by the continued tension, political instability and armed conflicts in some Middle East countries. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Aklan to participate in synchronized breastfeeding August 8

Kalibo, Aklan –Most Aklan towns will be participating in the Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide on August 8, 2007 at exactly 10:00 a.m.

The synchronized breastfeeding activity involves mothers in Aklan municipalities to gather together in a given locality and breastfeed their babies at exactly 10:00 a.m. up to 10:01, according to Evangelina Gallega of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office here.

As of this writing, 6 towns have signified their willingness to join in the synchronized breastfeeding, while others are still being awaited to confirm their participation.

Aklan has seventeen towns.

August 1-7 has been declared by President Gloria Macapacal Arroyo as World Breastfeeding Week through Proclamation No. 1113 she signed August 1 last year, in consonance with the celebration every year of WBW by 120 countries worldwide.

Proclamation No. 1113 emphasizes that latest scientific evidence have shown that breastfeeding provides protection against major illnesses in infants and children such as respiratory infections, diarrhea and malnutrition and reduces risk of degenerative diseases well into adulthood; and ensures maternal health by protecting against hemorrhages, uterine prolapse, anemia, certain cancers; osteoporosis, diabetes and other illnesses as well as by facilitating the recovery of mothers from the rigors of pregnancy and birthing, and by helping prevent closely-spaced pregnancy.

“Breastfeeding is the most far-reaching and least costly Poverty Alleviation Strategy of developing countries, especially in the Philippines where the breastfeeding culture is being diminished beyond all reason. It addresses the issue of national health aside from the issues of food security, economy, ecology, empowerment of women, bonding between mother and child, love and faith,” PGMA stressed in the proclamation.

For Aklan, support for Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide of Governor Carlito Marquez has been solicited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 6 headed by OIC Regional Director Teresita Rosales.

“This year’s event aims to provide measures on how the breastfeeding movement around the world is progressing every year. This movement further aims to achieve the number worldwide that make all nations cooperate in reviving the breastfeeding culture, and to establish simultaneous breastfeeding as a form of universal prayer for peace and thanksgiving for the gift of motherhood and breastfeeding,”Rosales said in her letter to Gov. Marquez.

For the synchronized breastfeeding activity on August 8, the guidelines stipulate that a province like Aklan must have at least ten (10) different venues, with a minimum of 25 participants per location.

Attendance of the participants will be recorded and confirmed in a logbook, while two independent witnesses will confirm the exact and final figure of total participants in their statements.

It is stipulated in Proclamation No. 1113 that the Department of Health is the lead agency in this activity, to be ably supported by the Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Interior and Local Government, local government units, the Philippine Information Agency and the Council for the Welfare of Children in order to sustain a high level of awareness and protection of breastfeeding. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Friday, August 3, 2007

NIA says rubber dam needed to solve Aklan’s irrigation problem

Kalibo, Aklan –Constructing a rubber dam across a river here in Aklan will permanently solve the water woes of the farmers every rice cropping season, according to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) office here.

Farmers in the western side of Aklan, where the Aklan-Panakuyan River Irrigation System (APRIS) is, planted late this cropping season due to the reduced volume of water discharged by the river, which could not be elevated to the intake gates of irrigation canals leading to rice farms, thus, the late planting.

The reduced volume of water, according to the NIA, is beyond its control. The absence of rain in the month of May reduced the water level way below the intake gates and there is no diversion dam contructed in the river system. The NIA office also observed that there was a substantial lowering of the river bed because of quarrying and sand and gravel aggregates extractions.

The above reasons were cited by NIA –Aklan when asked to justify to the NIA Administrator why the delivery of irrigation water of Aklan-Panakuyan River Irrigation system came late, which were given by Engr. Rizalo Concepcion, OIC of the Aklan-Panakuyan RIS and concurrently the Provincial Irrigation Officer of NIA-Aklan.

“Temporary remedial measures are continuously being done to rechannel the river and build a coffer dam to elevate and train water flow from the river to the intake, but constructing a rubber dam would be more effective to permanently solve the problem,” Concepcion stressed.

Despite the late delivery of irrigation water to farms, the farmers served by the Aklan-Panakuyan RIS, as of July, already had their farms planted 95%, according to NIA. The rice farms served by the RIS comprise 4,000 hectares. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Aklan prov’l government aids NIA in bringing water to farmers

Kalibo, Aklan -- The timely intervention by the provincial government here to deliver the much needed water supply to Aklan farmers bore a remarkable result by enabling 99% of irrigated rice lands here to be planted this cropping season.

According to Delano Tefora, Provincial Agriculturist, the long, dry spell that affected the province made the Aklan River shallow that prevented water from reaching the level irrigation canals, so rice fields remained dry, and farmers were not able to plant on time.

Recognizing the problem, the provincial government headed by Governor Carlito Marquez dispatched a back hoe for use of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA)-Aklan to rechannel the entry of water from the Aklan River to go into the irrigation system.

Though late, irrigated lands in Aklan, composed of some 16,000 hectares, are now 99% planted, while rainfed ricelands, composed of 10,700 hectares, are now 85% planted.

Tefora also said that a total of 137 hectares are now planted with hybrid rice, located in the towns of Kalibo, New Washington, Makato, Tangalan and Lezo. A hybrid rice demo farm was also put up in the town of Nabas.

The planting of hybrid rice here is being pushed and fully supported by the provincial government to increase rice production in the province and make Aklan rice-sufficient.

Tefora disclosed that in the past planting season, some hybrid rice farmers here managed to harvest 200 bags per hectare, but even harvesting from 80-100 bags per hectare is already a favorable harvest.

“This cropping season, we are positive that harvests from hybrid rice farms will be good, barring bad weather and other unforeseen conditions. The farmers who engaged in hybrid rice planting this season have learned enough already about hybrid technology and are very devoted farmers, so we are optimistic that results will be good,” Tefora said.

Despite the on-going dry spell, Tefora is confident the rice plants will endure in irrigated farms. He also mentioned that despite the hot temperature during day time in Aklan, rains come at night time, which would be good for rainfed areas.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, Department of Agriculture officials are still optimistic that Philippine Agriculture will manage to grow this year despite the drought.

The drough is now affecting certain regions in Luzon.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap noted that while the dry spell will have a negative impact on agricultural production in the rainfed areas in four affected regions, this climatic condition will have a positive effect and will further boost production in the non-affected regions, especially in the farms with adequate irrigation.

Yap assured palay farmers affected by the drought that the DA is ready to extend assistance to them by setting up small water impounding works in dry areas and offering alternative means of livelihood such as providing them with seeds for short-gestating crops like vegetables and employing them for the NIA’s program of repairing and rehabilitating 55,000 hectares of unserviceable irrigated lands.

Agriculture officials are now crafting the major intervention measures, like the massive distribution of seeds in quick-turnaround areas that regional DA offices will have to undertake to mitigate the impact of the drought on the affected farms and further boost harvests in the non-affected regions.

He said that the major palay producers that are expected to help offset the projected losses in the four affected regions are Panay Island, which is considered the rice granary of the Visayas and the Southwestern Mindanao (Region 11) and Central Mindanao (Region 12). (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Conserve water, KWD exec tells Aklan concessionaires

Kalibo, Aklan – Kalibo’s and nearby Aklan towns’ water supply is sufficient but everybody must conserve it, because this life-giving commodity is just utilized but not replenished.

This call came from Metro Kalibo Water District General Manager Renato Albar who assured that despite the increased demand for water connections due to a growing population, the water district’s source, which is the Aklan River, filtered through wells, is still adequate.

“We are fortunate here in Aklan because we have abundant water which is clean and of good quality. However, there is still a need to raise the awareness of Aklanons that water is very important for our existence, socially and economically, and that everyone must learn to conserve it” Albar said.

GM Albar revealed that currently, the Metro Kalibo District is also serving the water needs of residents of Kalibo’s adjoining municipalities like New Washington, Banga, Balete and the three barangays of Batan.

Talks are still on-going, according to Albar, for the MKWD’s extension of its services to other towns, although some have already established their own water systems.

Even as Kalibo and Aklan in general enjoy an adequate supply of water, Albar said the MKWD, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here, is currently developing a 150 hectare water shed area in the town of Madalag to ensure the steady and sustained supply of water in the years to come.

The community-based project is now being planted with narra, agoho, lanzones and other fruit trees by the residents themselves who are paid for their accomplishments by the MKWD. The DENR, for its part, provides the much-needed technical assistance.

Derlito Rico, Environment Management Specialist (EMS) of the DENR here, also revealed that talks are ongoing on the National Irrigation Administration’s possible development of another 150 hectares as an additional water shed area adjacent to the one developed by the MKWD and the DENR together with the community. NIA also sources its water supply for farmers from the Aklan River.

The call for water conservation was issued earlier by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, brought about by the lingering dry spell that hit parts of Luzon, destroying crops and rendering water reservoirs to drop their water levels.

The call was joined by Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, who said that the lack of rain has led to water levels going down “to critical levels in various water reservoirs, threatening to destroy crops if the rains do not come as expected.”

In Aklan, Rico said that the province is lucky to experience rains late afternoon or at night time, because the province has still sufficient vegetative and forest cover through the Panay Northwest Peninsula, the Campo Verde and the Panay Mountain Ranges Natural Park.

The vegetative cover, according to Rico, sequesters carbon dioxide, which it uses for food production, and the cycle contributes more rains and cool winds. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Ladderized education answer to unemployment woes – TESDA

Kalibo, Aklan -- The ladderized education program is the government’s answer to the country’s unemployment woes.

This is according to Ely Arensol, Technical Education and Skills Development Specialist of TESDA- Aklan provincial office here when asked on the relevance of ladderized education in today’s educational set-up.

According to Arensol, the ladderized education program, mandated under EO 358, enables a student to work after studying for two years if he has earned enough qualification and knowledge for a skill that he could use for the meantime that he is working so he could save in order to continue his studies and complete his four-year course in a school employing the ladderized education curriculum.

Arensol even said that a student who wishes to continue his studies in another place will have all his subjects credited provided that he enrolls in a school that also offers a ladderized education curriculum.

Here in Aklan, schools that employ the ladderized education curriculum are the Aklan Polytechnic College (APC) and the Panay Technological College (PTC).

APC offers ladderized maritime courses, while the PTC offers the ladderized Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) courses.

Arensol said students who have learned special skills and who wish to seek jobs in the country or abroad could submit themselves to TESDA for assessment tests, and if qualified, they would be issued Certificates of Competency, which they could use in applying for jobs. This way, Arensol explained, a student need not wait to finish his four-year course, as he could work and earn, therefore help diminish the number of unemployed persons in the country.

Assessment tests are now compulsory for people who want to work abroad as domestic helpers or seamen. According to Arensol, for would-be domestic helpers, one has to undergo assessment tests on household services and the only accredited Assessment Centers here in Region 6 are the St. Therese College in Iloilo City and at the New Lucena Polytechnic College in Iloilo province.

For Steward, Maritime, Deck and Engine rating, the assessment center is John B. Lacson College, also in Iloilo.

For caregivers, Arensol said the assessment centers are the Riverside College in Bacolod City and the New Lucena Polytechnic College.

With the ladderized education, it is seen that many Aklanons whose skills are more on tourism related jobs will find employment in Boracay Island and other tourist spots in the province and in the country which would help reduce Aklan’s unemployment rate.

A resort here in mainland Aklan, the Sampaguita Gardens, is also planning to put up its own training academy to train bartenders, housekeeping staff, food and beverages staff, etc.

Many Aklan schools are also applying to integrate the ladderized curriculum in their colleges, and have sought the assistance of TESDA-Aklan for this.

Provincial Director Edwin Villanueva heads TESDA-Aklan. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Boracay Island a potential source of more Pag-IBIG Fund members

Kalibo, Aklan -- Boracay island is a big source of potential members for Pag-IBIG Fund membership.

This was revealed by Maribel Tolentino, Officer-In-Charge of Pag-IBIG Service Center here, who said that currently, Aklan has more or less 8,000 Pag-IBIG members and still growing, owing to the regular visits she conducts in Boracay to convince owners and employers of resorts, hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related establishments to have their workers registered as Pag-IBIG members, which gained positive results.

Tolentino said Aklan needs at least 10,000 Pag-IBIG members in order to be considered or be qualified as an extension office.

Daily, Tolentino said the Pag-IBIG office caters to at least 30 members, who come to the office to apply for multi-purpose loans, housing and retirement.

For housing loans, the office caters to at least 2 applicants a month. Tolentino said that this year, the Pag-IBIG fund offers low interest rates for housing loans. For a loan of 100,000 to 300,000, the interest is pegged at 6%; for more than 300,000 to 750,000 – 7% while loans higher than 750,000 has 9% interest.

Housing is one of the major programs now prioritized by the government in its legacy phase commitment to make the Filipinos enjoy the benefits of economic reforms. The lowered interest rates on housing loans is to make a substantive difference in the lives of its millions of members and make housing affordable and accessible to ordinary workers. The latest cut in interest rates targets members in the middle income bracket or those earning P16,000 to P20,000 per month, and based on the National Statistics Office, they constituted 23 percent of the labor force.

Here in Aklan every month, the Pag-IBIG office accepts remittances of contributions and payments of loans of government and private offices , collecting more than P2 million within the two-day period excluding the payments made by establishments in Boracay Island which are directly deposited at the Land Bank branch in the island.

“Here in Kalibo, Pag-IBIG office is being assisted in accepting payments and remittances by two government banks, the Land Bank and the Development Bank of the Philippines,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino added that many government officials and private employers are happy that Pag-IBIG has a monthly schedule of accepting payments in Aklan, so they need not go to Iloilo to remit or pay anymore and spend an exhausting travel time, effort and money.

“We even cater to residents of nearby towns of Antique, as they say that it is nearer to transact here than to go to Iloilo. In the near future, Pag-IBIG is working out to include these nearby towns as part of Aklan’s service base”, said Tolentino.

Pag-IBIG, or Home Development Mutual Fund, is headed by Atty. Federico Romero Quimbo, its Chief Executive Officer, who was recently honored as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) representing the government sector.

On the other hand, Maribel Tolentino, who heads the Pag-IBIG Service Center here as OIC, was recently elected as Aklan Public Information Officers Association (APIOA) President. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklanons urged to have lands titled through DENR

Kalibo, Aklan –The Department of Environment and Natural Resources here is enjoining Aklanons whose lands are still untitled to avail the services of the office in having their lands titled.

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Raul Lorilla said that here in Aklan as well as in other parts of the country, people can have their lands titled through the DENR through three different categories – free patent, homestead and miscellaneous sales.

Lorilla said there are still many Aklanons whose lands are untitled, even as they had been staying on these lands for many years. Lorilla also appreciates the fact that here in Aklan, land is well distributed to the people, unlike in other provinces in Western Visayas where land ownership is only limited to a few well-off families.

“Almost all Aklanons here own land, no matter how small the area is. Land ownership and distribution are very apparent here in Aklan”, Lorilla said.

To have their lands titled, Lorilla said Aklanons can go straight to the DENR office here and assigned personnel will attend to their needs.

A person can have his land titled through free patent if he has been occupying the land for more than 30 years and has been religiously paying its property tax. He can only avail of a maximum of 12 hectares, and if the land he is applying for title is only 5 hectares and below, the PENRO can approved it; if more than 10 hectares, the DENR Regional Executive Director will be approving, but if it is more that 10 hectares, the DENR Secretary will be the approving official, according to Lorilla.

A homestead title on the other hand, could be granted to a person seeking to establish an abode and land cultivation. He could apply for a maximum of 5 hectares with a very minimal application fee. Under the miscellaneous sales application, meanwhile, the land applied for is for residential purposes only, with the person actually occupying the unencumbered land where he has already introduced improvements. Maximum area that could be applied for is less than 1,000 square meters. The land will be appraised by an appraisal committee depending on location, and the applicant could opt to pay for the land in cash or on a staggered basis.

Lorilla said this is the scheme applied to residents of Sooc River Bed here in Kalibo, and numerous residents had already availed of DENR’s titling program under this scheme.

“Residents who availed through the miscellaneous sales titling are even up to date in payment of their dues”, Lorilla revealed.

PENRO Lorilla assures that upon completion of requirements, processing of titling papers will be fast as there is an administrative division taking charge of the services at DENR-Aklan.

“The titling program through the DENR is continuing and affordable because this service is subsidized by the government,” Lorilla emphasized. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Aklan pre-school kids to benefit from government feeding program

Kalibo, Aklan – More than a thousand pre-schoolers enrolled at day care centers in three municipalities here in Aklan will benefit this school year from the government’s supplemental feeding program.

According to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office here, some 1,048 pre-schoolers from the towns of Lezo, Tangalan and Buruanga will be the beneficiaries of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Accelerated Hunger Mitigation program.

As supplemental feeding beneficiaries, these pre-sschoolers will enjoy free fresh milk, coco pandesal and vegetables-enriched noodles everyday, according to the PSWDO.

The three municipalities were selected as feeding base here, having been classified as 5th to 6th class municipalities.

For 160 days, the pre-schoolers will enjoy the feeding program. The feeding sessions will be supervised by the day care worker and assisted by mothers of the children who will prepare the food and do the marketing.

Every week, according to the PSWDO, each day care center is tasked to liquidate the expenses so the following week, it would be given the same amount for purchase of food for the period.

According to the PSWDO here, headed by Mrs. Elma Malbas, the President’s supplemental feeding program started yet on November 2005 but was sustained as there was a noted improvement in the nutritional status of the pre-schoolers and attendance of school kids in classes also improved.

This year, the supplemental feeding program, which is implemented nationwide, has a budget of P1 billion. Under the Food for School program, other agencies involved are the National Nutrition Council, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Depaprtment of Social Welfare and Development, National Economic Authority, the Department of Education and the National Food Authority.

In the same municipalities, Grade I pupils also avail of 1 kilo rice everyday from the National Food Authority here under the program to also improve their nutritional status and help their families as well as to encourage them to go to school everyday. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

DENR assures enough seedlings to green Aklan

Kalibo, Aklan – DENR-Aklan has enough seedlings to sustain the greening of Aklan.

This assurance was made by Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Raul Lorilla who said that currently, some 111,000 seedlings are available for tree planting activities of government and non-government offices here and other sectors.

The further greening of the province of Aklan, which has the biggest forest cover in Region 6, is in line with the Green Philippines program of the government.

Lorilla also said that the Green Philippines program of the government not only to beautify the country but also to address global warming, which is the most current environmental issue not only in the Philippines but in the whole world.

“I can say that the recent summer season was the hottest in the country. We enjoin everybody to participate in a massive tree planting, to restore the environment so our children will have cleaner air to breathe,” Lorilla said.

According to Lorilla, several Memorandums of Agreement have been signed by him and several parties which have conducted tree-planting activities in the province. The 47th Infantry Battalion is also set to have its tree-planting activity initially scheduled June 29 but was moved to a later date to better prepared for the activity.

The Philippine Army targets to plant some P10,000 trees in Panayakan, Tangalan Aklan.

Last year, the DENR here, in coordination with the DPWH and the different municipalities traversed by the national highway from Caticlan, Malay to Cabangila, Altavas joined in the Green Philippine Highways Project by planting at roadsides ornamental plants and trees to beautify and green the road network also utilized for the Strong Republic Nautical Highway program of the government. Now, Lorilla said the planting areas had been expanded to include vacant public lands for planting.

This year too, Lorilla said they are making sure that they plant in the right areas along the highway, as they have observed that due to repair and rehabilitation of some road sections, thriving plants which were planted last year under the greening program were destroyed.

Lorilla assured any group interested to hold tree planting activities that they can go to DENR-Aklan anytime and request for planting materials after signing a MOA with the office. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)

Great politics means great service, new Kalibo officials told

Kalibo, Aklan -- Great politics means great service to the people who have gifted you with leadership.

This was the message given by Presidential Management Staff Director-General Cerge Remonde to Kalibo’s newly-elected officials whom he inducted into office during the Oath-taking Ceremonies held at Magsaysay Park, Kalibo.

Remonde told Kalibo officials, led by reelected Mayor Raymar Rebaldo, Vice Mayor Nilda Tambong and the Sangguniang Bayan members of Aklan’s capital town.

“As the people has gifted you with leadership, cherish and value this gift, for you were elected to serve,” Remonde told the officials.

Remonde also reminded the officials and their constituents who witnessed the oath taking ceremonies that Kalibo is a town with great potentials.

In the same occasion, Remonde announced that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has realigned the amount of P50 million which will be released soon for the expansion of Kalibo Arport’s new passenger terminal.

The need for a bigger passenger terminal is due to more flights landing at the airport, and because of direct international flights from South Korea to Kalibo bringing to Aklan more plane passengers who are mostly going to Boracay Island.

In the same speech, Remonde instructed PMS-Iloilo to monitor the release of the notice of cash allocation at the Department of Transportation and Communication and the Department of Budget and Management so the passenger terminal building could be developed right away.

The Oath taking of Kalibo’s new officials was also witnessed by Cong. Florencio t. Miraflores, some Sangguniang Panlalawigan members and heads and representatives of national and provincial government agencies. (PIA/Venus G. Villanueva)