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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)