Tuesday, February 27, 2007

AMA, two others share lead in National Inter-Collegiate

IBAJAY, Aklan - AMA Computer University relied on its fluid offensive pattern to blunt St. Vincent de Paul College’s speed en route to en emphatic 99-79 win to share the lead with two other teams before a jampacked early morning crowd Monday at the Ibajay Multipurpose Hall here.
It was the second win in a row for the AMACU Titans, who also won their opening match against host team Aklan Polytechnic Institute, 92-76, on Sunday.
Central Luzon’s Angeles University Foundation and Cordillera Administrative Region’s University of Baguio likewise posted two wins apiece for a three-way logjam for the lead in the week-long event organized by the Basketball Association of the Philippines in cooperation with the municipal government of Ibajay, Aklan, headed by Mayor Robert Garcia. The tournament is also supported by Bur-lington, Healthy Options and Baker’s Fair.
The AUF Great Danes had an easy time against the Phoenix of Immaculate Conception Archdiocesan School from Zamboanga City, cruising to a 88-67 win, also its second in a row.
AUF, however, got a big scare in its opening game against St. Vincent de Paul, which could either tie the game or win the game outright had Roly Bebat made the two free throws awarded him with only .04 seconds to go and the Surigao-based dribblers trailing by one,92-93.
Bebat missed both throws to the relief of the Great Danes, who escaped with the win before a huge, noisy crowd that packed the stadium.
The UB Cardinals also had to go through anxious moments before winning its opening game, a 98-95 squeaker over ICAS, but played much better in out-lasting API, 112-77.
Leomario Abac topscored for the Titans with 27 points, while Dennis Maravilla, Rommel Galvez and Josel Suarez combined for 35 points, underscoring AMA-CU’s balanced firepower.
“Malayo pa ito. We still have to face the tougher teams in the tournament. But our boys are prepared,” said Titans coach Boni Garcia, who grew up in this third-class municipality located less than an hour away from the world-famous Boracay Island.
Warly Hontilo finished with 17 points for the Surigao-based dribbles, while Ariel Cantuna, the team’s slam-dunking forward, added 15.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Comelec Aklan releases election regulations for May ‘07 polls

KALIBO, Aklan - In campaigning for the May 2007 national and local polls, a candidate under a political party can only spend P3.00 for each registered voter, while an independent candidate can only spend P5.00.
Also, a partylist candidate can only
spend P5.00 for each voter while a political party as a group can spend P5 too.
These are just some of the regulations contained in the Fair Elections Act to guide the conduct of the May 2007 elections as revealed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec)
here to members of the Aklan media at a recent press conference.
Lorena Tumbagahan, OIC Provincial Election Supervisor here and at the same time Election Officer of the municipality of Kalibo also talked about lawful election propaganda
, the regulated sizes of pamphlets, posters, and streamers and the proper way of displaying these materials.
According to Comelec, a candidate running for a national position can have 120 minutes airtime in television or Cable TV and 180 minutes in radio.
For a candidate running for a local position, he can only have 60 minutes campaign airtime on television and Cable TV, and 90 minutes allowed airtime on radio.
Comelec-Aklan appealed to all candidates, national and local, to display their posters only at designated common poster areas in the different towns of the province.
“For every 5,000 voting population, one common poster area will be designated. In Poblacion Kalibo, for instance - two common poster areas were identified - at the Kalibo Pastrana Park and the other one at Toting Reyes Street. All barangays in the province will have common poster areas,” Tumbagahan said.
Tumbagahan also revealed that for this election season, all candidates are required to submit themselves to a mandatory drug test.
Presently, election officers of the different municipalities here are also bracing for their imminent transfer to the nearby provinces of Antique and Capiz, tentatively set on March 15. Tumbagahan said this is Comelec’s usual arrangement for election officers who have stayed in their municipal post for more than four years.
Tumbagahan, who assured that Comelec-Aklan is already prepared for the May 2007 polls, said a total of 1,330 Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) will be serving in the May 2007 elections here. One BEI is composed of three persons, usually teachers from the Department of Education.
There are 273,677 Aklanon voters who will troop to polling centers in the province this May, based on records released by Comelec-Aklan.

Friday, February 23, 2007

PNP Aklan told motorists: Wear helmets

KALIBO, Aklan – Motorcycle riders must wear helmets. If not, they will be arrested, warned Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., acting Aklan police director.
Durana also reminded his men to be models in obedience by wearing helmets themselves when they are riding on police motorcycle patrols.
"The Aklan Police Provincial Office (APPO) will be strictly enforcing the law on the use of helmets,” Durana said, citing the rise in the number of casualties and injuries to motorists because of their failure to wear helmets.
Even “backriders” would be required to wear helmets, not the motorcycle drivers only, Durana added.
“Helmets protect motorcycle riders from harm should they meet road accidents,” he explained.
Land Transportation Office (LTO) Asst. Regional Director Eric Lenard Tabaldo earlier assured the deployment of regular personnel from LTO to impose existing traffic rules instead of contractual employees that seemed to tarnish the image of the agency.
"No more 'Flying Squad' to apprehend violators in Aklan ," he stressed.
The LTO agents and enforcers are flagging down vehicles in the national highways with no license plates or seatbelts and confiscate licenses of violators.
Some drivers here reportedly went to LTO office in Iloilo City after the Flying Squad confiscated their licenses.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rabies cases in Aklan alarming BY VENUS G. VILLANUEVA

KALIBO, Aklan - The rabies situation in Aklan is alarming. Last year alone, three Aklanons died due to rabies while early this year, one already died, a resident of Altavas, Aklan, according to the Provincial Health Office (PHO) here.
The PHO also reported that 1, 172 Aklanons were bitten by dogs in 2006.
With this alarming situation, the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian (OPVET) here headed by Dr. Gervase Radislao is aggressively conducting awareness campaign in all municipalities on the danger of rabies, as well as for the full implementation of the existing Municipal Rabies Ordinance in the different towns through the attendance of OPVET staff to Sangguniang Bayan sessions to campaign for the full implementation of the Rabies Ordinance and gather support for the existing Provincial Ordinance.
The Provincial Ordinance provides for the elimination of stray dogs, compulsory leashing and caging of dogs, castration to regulate dog population and encouragement to owners to be responsible pet owners.
According to OPVET-Aklan, millions of pesos were already spent to eradicate rabies, but this problem still exists up to this time in Aklan.
Stray dogs, according to OPVET also caused countless fatal motorcycle accidents in the province for years. Besides, these stray animals scavenge for food, disturbing and scattering garbage in waste receptacles, have their droppings anywhere and some have skin diseases that might be transmitted to other dogs and eventually to humans.
This scenario could also affect Aklan’s booming tourism industry, according to OPVET.
Currently, Aklan has a total of 55, 312 heads of dogs and OPVET, under its Rabies Prevention and Control program targets to vaccinate 80% of these dogs to eliminate rabies and make Aklan a rabies-free province.
OPVET records show that only 7,671 dogs out of the total population, were vaccinated, or 13.8% out of the 80% target as the supply of vaccines is limited and most municipalities have no budget for this program. To attain the 80% targets, dogs vaccinated should number 44,249.
Besides attending SB sessions in Aklan towns to advocate for the full implementation of the Rabies Ordinance, other anti-rabies activities of OPVET now include conduct of public awareness / information dissemination to schools and municipalities, airing of rabies plugs, display of billboards and distribution of pamphlets / leaflets on the hazards of rabies.
Comelec's Oplan Kakas in full force

OPLAN KAKAS. Comelec Aklan is serious in its campaign to implement the designated common poster areas for candidates of the May 14 polls. (BRZabal)

KALIBO, Aklan - Campaign posters strategically posted in public areas not designated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as common poster areas here will soon be scraped off and removed.
This was what agreed upon in a recent meeting/conference called for by Comelec-Aklan with members of the Aklan media.
OIC Provincial Election Supervisor Lorena Tumbagahan said the task force specifically formed to remove the illegally-posted posters composed of the Comelec and the PNP will lead in the removal/scraping off of these posters at major thoroughfares in Kalibo to show the violators that the task force is serious in this campaign.
Dubbed “Operation Kakas Posters”, Tumbagahan also invited the Aklan media to join in removing posters on Monday, February 26, as well as to document and witness this first-ever activity of the task force in the province this election season.
Some members of the Aklan media who attended the press conference identified a partylist candidate as having the most posters placed in public areas here.
Tumbagahan said “Operation Kakas Posters” in Kalibo will be replicated in all of Aklan’s barangays deputizing barangay officials to do the same activity.
“The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) here has already committed to help implement the task force’ operations in the barangays,” said Tumbagahan.
“We call on the candidates and their coordinators here to already avoid placing their posters in public places as this is punishable by law. They should only display their posters at designated common poster areas,” Tumbagahan said.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Children hurt by Boracay tourism: ECPAt study

BORACAY - A non-government organization, which aims to generate public awareness on the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) phenomena, shared recently the results of a study it conducted on the effects of tourism on children in this world-renowned island.
End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (Ecpat), also known as ECPAT International, is a part of a global network of agencies and individuals, working to end child sexual abuse and exploitations.
Dolores Alforte, executive director of Ecpat-Philippines, said the study stemmed from the airing of GMA TV-7's I-Witness documentary in 2003 yet.
The documentary, titled "Ligaw sa Paraiso," featured four girls, aged 17 and below, who claimed to be engaged in the sex trade in Boracay. Help call Ecpat-Philippines Advocacy Officer Josefina Alforque said with the help of GMA 7 reporter Maki Pulido, who conducted the said documentary, two girls sought the assistance of Ecpat on March 28, 2003.
"One of them was part of the I-Witness documentary. They claimed that they were first sold for P1,000 each by a pimp to a foreigner staying in Boracay. Allegedly, the foreigner even took a video of them while having sex. Their first encounter led them to prostituting themselves," said Alforque.
"But they escaped Boracay because of the negative impact brought about by the airing of the documentary," she added.
A subsequent study on the extent of CSEC in Boracay in 2004 identified 11 young women and three boys, most of whom were actively involved in the sex trade. Of the 11, five were minors, aged between 14 and 17, at the time of the interview. All 14 of them claimed they were sold by a pimp to a foreign client. All said their first sexual abuses happened when they were 11-15 years old.
Nine of those interviewed came from Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo; four from the three barangays of Boracay (Manoc-Manoc, Balabag and Yapak); one from Mindanao; and another one from Albay. Three of them claimed they were victims of domestic trafficking.
Child exploitation Lawyer Anjannette Saguisag of Ecpat-Philippines said some people use tourism as a means to get access to child exploitation.
Boracay is no exception as it caters to some 200,000 tourists every year. Koreans constitute the largest number of these tourists. They are also among the most frequently mentioned sex tourist clients by the girls interviewed.
Other foreign sex tourists come from Japan, France, Germany, England, China and the United States. The study, however, showed that there were also Filipino sex clients and even foreign gay tourists who seek young boys as sexual partners.
The term "lady boys" was coined here to refer to prostituted males and boys, dressing up and acting like girls.
The study showed they were more prone to violence and discrimination. The CSEC victims interviewed claimed that payment for their sexual services vary depending on the time the client wants to spend with them. On the average, they get P1,500 to as much as P5,000 from 30 minutes to a whole night of service.
On the whole, those identified in the study claimed they have, at least, one to two customers per night. Peak season in Boracay also spells more customers for the minors. "
According to them (minors), they would work as many as seven days a week when the situation calls for it. The money they get from their clients was usually sent to their families who, they claimed, are not aware of what they are doing," Alforque said.
She added that most of the girls interviewed expressed that although they do not like what they do, "they are forced to do it because they have no other opportunities for work that provides them with a fair pay."
With the unearthing of CSEC in Boracay and the recorded new victims in December 2006, Alforque said intensified advocacy campaigns were conducted.
A special committee for the protection of children to which Ecpat is a member conducted a community dialogue with different stakeholders here recently. During the dialogue, the need to conduct a situational analysis and training among stakeholders to fully understand the situation related to CSEC was recommended.
The findings of the situational analysis were shared recently at Patio Pacific here. It was attended by representatives from the departments of Social Welfare and Development 6 (DSWD), departments of Tourism (DOT) and Education (DepEd), Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of Malay, Boracay Special Tourist Police, Kiwanis Club of Boracay and Iloilo, Boracay Foundation Inc., barangay officials and Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP).
Participants were urged to converge efforts and services to combat the proliferation of child sexual abuse and exploitation here. Among others, strict imposition of municipal ordinances on curfew on minors after 10 p.m., restricting minors to enter amusement centers, and banning the use and sale of intoxicating liquors and cigarettes to minors were re-iterated. Malay Social Welfare Officer Magdalena Prado said the MSWDO has laid down its preventive and rehabilitative measures against CSEC.
These include massive information drive among minors on the curfew ordinance, self-awareness, team building and counseling. Government measures For its part, DSWD continues to advocate for the strict implementation of the Anti-Trafficking of Women and Children Act (R.A. 9208) and the Anti-Violence against Women and Children Act (R.A. 9262) to local government units.
"We urge policemen and barangay officials to be more vigilant. They, along with concerned citizens, could check on suspicious-looking foreigners especially those who are accompanying very young Filipina girls in checking-in in hotels and going to establishments," said Acting Regional Director Teresita S. Rosales of DSWD FO6 who attended the Ecpat forum.
Asking for the legalities of a possible paternal relationship of a minor-Filipina and adult-foreigner is one of the most basic and effective ways to prevent a potential child sexual abuse case, Rosales stressed.
Boracay hosts top Nestea beach volley teams

BORACAY - The famous summer tourist resort plays host to the 11th edition of the Nestea national beach volleyball tournament on April 21 to 22. The event features beach volley action, fashion show, parties, and a concert graced by the country’s finest beach volley athletes and some of the most beautiful faces and bodies in the country.
Sherwin Meneses and Mike Alinsunurin of Adamson University and Faith Ann de Guzman and Janilyn Sarabia of College of St. Benilde topped the Nestea championship last year.
Top teams from Luzon led by defending champion Adamson University, St. Benilde, De La Salle-Dasma, Far Eastern U, Letran, Lyceum, Philippine Christian U, St. Francis of Assissi, San Sebastian, University of Baguio, University of the Cordilleras, University of Luzon, University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas have to qualify the elimination rounds on March 21-22.
The elimination round for Visayan competing schools - Foundation U, Iloilo Doctors College, Southwestern U, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, St. La Salle-Bacolod U, University of San Agustin, San Carlos U, University of San Jose-Recoletos, University of Southern Philippines Foundation and University of Visayas is set on March 27-28 to earn tickets to the semifinals and championship.
On March 29-30, Mindanao teams composed of Capitol University, Holy Cross of Davao, Mahardika Institute of Technology, Mindanao State U, Mindanao State U-Marawi, Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural, University of Mindanao-Davao, University of Mindanao-Tagum and Western Mindanao State U compete for slots to advance into Boracay stage.
The top two teams in both divisions from each leg will earn tickets to the semifinal rounds and championship in Boracay Island .
The Boracay champion teams from both men and women divisions will receive P150,000 each, second and third placers will take home P75,000 and P40,000 including sports equipments.
The annual tourney is sponsored by Boracay Gold Crowne Club, Speedo, Crystal Sand, La Salle Greenhills, Villa de Oro Boracay Beach Resort Hotel, Hey! Jude @ D'Mall, Microtel Inns and Suites Boracay, Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel, D’Mall D’ Boracay, Schering Plough Coppertone and Mikasa.
Aklan first in West Visayas to receive int’l flights – Miraflores

KALIBO, Aklan - With the scheduled inauguaral flight of the Asian Spirit Airline from South Korea direct to Kalibo Airport tentatively on the first week of March, Aklan Rep. Florencio T. Miraflores said Aklan will be the first province in Western Visayas to receive an international flight.
Miraflores said the Asian Spirit is already prepared for this event with its landing rights already approved and its request to the offices of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs already in place.
"Having the first international flight from Korea to Kalibo is like opening Aklan to the world. When we open Kalibo to international flights we will see the progress of business and the economic advantages in Kalibo and the entire province. There will be a bigger employment generation, the tourism industry and the services sector will thrive more, and other allied services will be needed,"” Miraflores said.
He also expressed happiness over the approval of the 2007 national budget, saying this will mean an additional P50 million budget for the Kalibo Airport terminal improvement specifically for its international section.
For the meantime, according to him, temporary arrangements had been identified by Customs, Immigration and Quarantine officials just for the initial flights of three times a week.
The Asian Spirit is now readying its aircrafts that can stand direct flights, the MD 82 that has 167-passenger capacity, a medium range aircraft.
"Once we can prove that medium-range aircrafts can be accommodated in Kalibo then we we can already ask the national government and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to go for long-range aircraft because we have enough land here. Our advantage here is we have a big room for expansion, we will not affect big buildings that will entail big expenses."”
"These opening flights will open the eyes of the national government that the market for international tourists is here with us. So I’m sure the President will grant this, because she has said so herself that it is Kalibo Airport that should be developed as an international airport," Miraflores said.
With this positive economic development in Aklan, Miraflores and the rest of the province’ local officials envision that other airline companies besides the Asian Spirit which is very aggressive as it know the strong Korean tourist market will come in as the province improves its airport facilities.
The direct flights from South Korea to Kalibo and vice versa is also seen to open the window of opportunities for Aklanon businessmen here.
"Not only will Aklan be open to tourists, but the Korean market for Aklan’s products. Our world-class products can be brought direct to South Korea. This is one opportunity that the whole Western Visayas and the neighboring provinces could benefit. Capiz, for instance, could also bring their sea food products direct to South Korea from Kalibo Airport,"” Miraflores emphasized.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Estrada chooses Galvan to fight reelectionist Marquez

ELECTION FEVER. The Aklan Provincial Capitol, the seat of the provincial government of Aklan. Incumbent governor is Carlito Samson-Marquez of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats. (BRZabal)

KALIBO, Aklan – Detained former President Joseph Estrada endorsed the candidacy of Dr. Karen Ambito-Galvan for governor of Aklan against reelectionist Gov. Carlito Marquez.
The endorsement came during the visit of Estrada to his ailing 101-year-old mother Doña Mary Ejercito at her house in Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila on Sunday.
Galvan, a Lyceum of the Philippines graduate, said over DyRU Super Radyo Kalibo yesterday that Estrada also supports the congressional bid of former Manila City Treasurer Anthony Acevedo under the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
Acevedo is the uncle of Kalibo Mayor Raymar Acevedo-Rebaldo of Kusog it Akean. Rebaldo, however, is a close ally of incumbent Cong. Florencio Miraflores.
Marquez is being endorsed by the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) while Miraflores is the district and provincial chairman of Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (Kampi), the political party of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"My father, Lolong Ambito, is a desperate politician. I am willing to take the challenge to serve my fellow Aklanons," she stressed.
During the 2004 local elections, Miraflores overwhelmingly defeated Lolong Ambito and closest rival Gabrielle Calizo for the lone congressional seat.
Galvan said he met Estrada after the party's meeting in Club Filipino with Lito Banayo and Horacio Morales, former Cabinet secretaries of Estrada. She was with PMP Aklan stalwart Vic Inserto and his father, Lolong Ambito when she was introduced with Estrada.
Dr. Emmett Custodio denied the statements of Galvan that he is interested to run for vice governor under PMP against incumbent lawyer-journalist Ronquillo Tolentino (Lakas-CMD).
"I’m much more willing to seek for election in the provincial board," he said yesterday.
Estrada also endorsed senatorial candidates from the Genuine Opposition – Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, former Senators Loren Legarda and Nikki Coseteng, Cong. Benigno ‘”Noynoy” Aquino III, Cong. Francis Escudero and Sen. Panfilo Lacson during his nine hour visit to Doña Mary.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Northwestern Visayan Colleges

AKLAN’s partner for progress.
The Northwestern Visayan Colleges (NVC) was founded on April 7, 1948 from the rubbles and devastating aftermath of World War II with the noble purpose of offering quality education in an atmosphere of religious freedom. It has since stood, survived all odds and grown through the years.
The NVC is a private non-sectarian institution, which started modestly as a learning institution in all the branches of arts and sciences offering classes in pre-elementary, elementary and secondary instruction as well as graduate and collegiate courses.
The founders’ task was to arm the youth with the realms of learning which involved the education of the body, mind and heart.
The Northwestern Visayan Colleges RSQ Building at the Capitol Site in Kalibo, Aklan.Through the relentless efforts of its founders, classes were opened with 350 students in all levels occupying one building which is presently the Administration Building.
Its five decades and nine years of existence boasts a record high in enrollment in the municipality of Kalibo, in particular and in the province in general. NVC remains consistent with its role as a college in which higher learning and research are promoted and nurtured.
From its humble beginning, NVC grows steadily. Starting from elementary, high school and short courses school, it expanded to two graduate programs, Master in Education (MAED) and Masters in Public Administration (MPA), 15 baccalaureate programs, including the different majors or specialization. It also offers five associate programs and two TESDA accredited six-month training courses.
As part of its strategy plan and with conform to modern quality standards, the Northwester Visayan Colleges is already expanding both in structure and academic endeavor.
After inaugurating its new Rustico S. Quimpo (RSQ) Building in 2004, now, a multi-purpose gym is currently under construction. Last year, it opened the NVC Hotel, a training laboratory for the Hotel and Restaurant Management course. Standing in the heart of Kalibo, The NVC Hotel caters to the needs not only of its BSHRM students but also to the local guests and foreign tourists especially Korean students and interns. It has become a self-sustaining enterprises with the completion of the NVC Gym.
The present Alumni Hall located at the top floor of the RSQ Building, which serves as a venue for activities requiring a large crowd, will eventually be converted into a library, science laboratory and IT center.
More classrooms will be generated from the space located near the library to meet the needs of increasing number of enrollees.
The construction of the multi-purpose gym is a bold step undertaken jointly by the alumni and the school administration. The alumni association takes an active part in raising funds to finish the project.
On the academic side, NVC students are now enjoying the revised and enhanced curriculum for all programs. This was started two years ago so that all programs conform with the minimum requirements set by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Last year, NVC expanded and modernized its speech laboratory to give better opportunities for its students to undergo speech lessons emphasizing on the American Accent Training. This could largely help students to be readily employed in call centers which will soon be established within the province of Aklan. Intensive training is conducted during summer for those who want to improve their skills and proficiency in English.
The computerization of the School Operation System is already in place. Students ID’s are bar coded for easy verification of student records. All data regarding the students are encoded and stored in the electronic file. Enrollment and subsequent transactions by students will be made faster using the modern technology.
NVC is closely identified in Aklan with its BS Criminology program. It is the most populated department, currently with 652 students. Headed by its highly respected dean, Dennis Ibutnande, the NVC criminology department has established its name in Western Visayas.
Just last December; Ibutnande was awarded the Most Outstanding Dean of Criminology in Western Visayas. Through his stewardship, NVC was able to ink a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Universidad de Zamboanga to give opportunity to undergraduate Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel in the service as provided for in RA 8551 to finish their baccalaureate degrees.
NVC is proud to maintain an above national passing rate for its criminology graduates in Professional Board Examinations for criminologists. Since its establishment in 1984, it has already produced not only police personnel but also PNP station commanders in Western Visayas and PNP provincial directors in the country.
2007: The Year of the Fire Pig
EVERY new beginning is joyously hailed, as people anticipate a fresh season of blessings and prosperity.
In ancient days, Chinese astronomers, observing the cycles of the moon, deemed the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar as the New Year. This day is marked by the thawing of winter frost and the awakening of green buds. A warm wind begins to crown trees with flowers and calls forth the grass in the fields. Hence, this day is also known as the start of the Spring Festival, which lasts 15 days.
Homes are decorated with plants and flowers. Sprigs of tiny tangerines hang in kitchens and dining rooms, signifying the branching out of one family to the next generation. Vases of roses and bowls of oranges are placed on tables, symbols of flowering and fruitfulness. Assorted candies are arranged in a round tray, a symbol of sweetness and togetherness. Red paper cutouts adorn walls and windows. At night, silk lanterns hanging in the terrace sway in the breeze.
New Year’s Eve is the night of the new moon. It is a time for remembering, an occasion for reunion. Departed relatives are honored. Family members share a lavish feast of noodles (a symbol of longevity), a whole chicken (for prosperity), a whole fish (for abundance), and other delicacies. They also enjoy dumplings or jiaozi, crescent-shaped wrappers filled with mincemeat and chopped vegetables. The characters Jiaozi mean "coming together to have more offspring." In the Philippines, people especially relish tikoy, a sweet glutinous rice pudding. Family members wear red shirts or dresses. Children receive ang pao, or money in red envelopes. This is the elders’ act of bestowing a blessing upon the younger generation.
On the night of the new moon, firecrackers are set off. The heavens light up, displaying a spectacle of colors and luminescence. It is believed that fireworks will scare off any lurking shadow and drive off unwelcome spirits. Chinese tradition traces the origin of this practice to the tale of a monster that appeared in spring to prey on victims, sowing fear in the village. The villagers finally resorted to the burning of bamboo stalks to produce fire and explosions to drive the creature away.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2007 is the Year of the Fire Pig. The fire element is situated over water. Fire is an indispensable ingredient of life, a sign of birth and regeneration. Fire over water thus foresees a year of warmth, optimism, and indulgence.
May this day be a renewed beginning for us as we continue to hope for a better future and more lasting peace and happiness on earth.
Kong Hei Fai Choi!
World welcomes Year of the Fire Pig
Hundreds of millions travel in China for New Year rites Dragon dances, merrymaking mark celebration. Firecracker explosions were loudest not only across East Asia but also in Chinese communities throughout the major capitals of the world last night to hail the arrival of the Chinese New Year of the Fire Pig swathed in traditions, amid the ringing of temple bells and the burning of incense to honor family ancestors.
As in every Chinese New Year celebration, the Year of the Pig sets off one of the world’s biggest number of visitors to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, not only among fellow Asians, but also among tourists from Europe and the United States.
In Manila, continuing a tradition began by Manila Mayor Jose Atienza Jr. almost nine years ago, lion and dragon dances snaking through the crowded main thoroughfares of Binondo highlighted the city’s Chinese New Year’s Eve yearly celebration .
By midnight, millions of Chinese families had gathered in various temples to light their first incense in accordance with family tradition and rituals.
In Binondo, long lines of Chinese families rose by the hour until past midnight as families wearing red clothes patiently queued up inside temples, picking designated numbers of joss sticks along the way to light the main altars.
Families did not just visit one temple, but one after the other in various places in Metro Manila, offering incense to the gods of their households, and giving thanks to their ancestors.
Following the temple visits, families gathered at dining tables filled with food and fruits, especially mandarin oranges and pineapple, for their Chinese New Year reunion that included married children working overseas who came home to continue a time-honored family tradition. After the Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner, parents and grandparents began distributing red envelopes called "Hong Bao" for their children and grandchildren to attract rising fortunes in the Year of the Pig.
The cash inside the "Hong Bao" is kept by receivers in their pockets the whole day today and are not supposed to be spent.
Rev. Wong Seng Tian of the Sheng Lian Temple, said the general picture of the Year of the Pig may not be very productive for the country, but China’s economy will continue to rise steeply which could extend benefits to its Southeast Asian neighbors.
He noted that not much change is expected in the nation’s political scene, adding that while there are efforts to improve the country’s peace and order, "stability will still be a problem."
"The country’s economy may be better than the last two years as claimed, but the improvement is still below par. Unemployment still lingers, and the benefit of better economy is not felt because workers’ takehome pay is not sufficient," Rev. Wong Seng Tian said.
He, however, cautioned that such predictions may not be final, but they should instead motivate government leaders to face up to the challenges.
At the same time, Joy Lim, a rising and much sought-after "feng shui" consultant, said that a knowledge of what to expect in the Year of the Pig, "would be a helpful tool in looking forward to a more positive 2007."
"Remember that the fat, happy pig is the ‘laughing Buddha’ among the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac, an animal that is naturally pleased in whatever it does," Lim said.
She also cited the importance of earthly colors, "2007 being the Year of the Fire Pig under which earthly colors are believed to be auspicious."
"Colors are everywhere and always carry a rich amount of meaning and significance, and since ancient times, the color red has always been considered to be most powerful among the Chinese," Lim said.
She explained that red is a compelling symbol of strength and power, "that can very well relate to happiness and prosperity."
By wearing red, she said, the wearer "invites luck to those around you as well as to yourself."
On the eve of the Chinese New Year, Lim said: "Having said what may or may not happen in the Year of the Pig according to ‘feng shui’ which is the art of placement, one thing is important. We must be positive with how we treat others and all those around us. Above all, let us not forget to always put our faith in God the Almighty for a peaceful, healthy, and abundant Chinese New Year ahead."
Chinese hit the road for annual New Year mass migration
BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese are on the move.
Hundreds of millions of people have clambered aboard cars, buses, planes and trains to return to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year in an annual event that stretches the country’s transport system to near its breaking point.
And they will be doing it in the warmest weather on record, according to the Beijing Meteorological Station, which said Beijing’s temperature on the eve of the festival would reach 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) _ the warmest since records began in 1951.
The Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, starts on Sunday to usher in the Year of the Pig, but the Chinese have been preparing and boarding trains and planes for the last several weeks to go home for family reunions.
The travel strain has increased in recent years as tens of millions of migrant workers flood big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai in search of construction and other jobs.
Such workers can seldom afford to fly, instead crowding into places like the Beijing West Train Station to board trains for trips of up to 35 hours.
"I am feeling very happy because I can join my family soon and I can see many old friends in my hometown. We will celebrate a happy New Year together," said Liu Juanhong, a migrant worker in Beijing heading home to Henan province.
Liu is one of an estimated 155 million people who will travel by train during the holiday period, which is officially one week but lasts longer for some.
The People’s Daily said the total number of trips _ including by plane, train, ship and vehicle -- could total more than 2 billion during the 40 days around the holiday. To avoid the crunch, many people leave early or return late.
Chinese media have reported in the past that because of the crunch on the trains, some people have bought adult diapers to avoid the long lines outside the often stinking toilets.
Airlines were expected to have run more than 4,000 flights during these two weeks leading up to New Year, with the departure area of the Beijing airport brimming with travelers.
"I go back home every Chinese New Year. It is very important for Chinese, just as Christmas is for Westerners," said Wu Xingbiao at the Beijing airport.
Police issued cautions warning people to be careful of pickpockets. Travelers often carry large amounts of money to give children New Years gifts of "hong bao," cash-filled red envelopes.
In Singapore, lawmakers sing alongside "God of Fortune"
SINGAPORE (AP) — Against the backdrop of Singapore’s city skyline, the bearded 20-meter- (70-foot-) tall Chinese deity dressed in a red imperial gown and a large hat smiles benevolently at the crowds gazing up at him from beneath his abundant waistline.
The towering effigy of the Cai Shen, or God of Fortune, is a highlight of an annual event by the Singapore River launched Friday with booming gold-and-red fireworks to mark the start of the city-state’s Lunar New Year celebrations.
Hotel manager Kenneth Teo, 50, said he was there for only one reason _ to ask the Cai Shen for divine help in striking it big.
"I ‘saw’ the numbers that the Cai Shen gave me so I bought lottery tickets. I am ready to collect my money over the weekend," Teo said, but declined to explain what he had seen, saying it could jinx his chances.
But the three-week event, named River Hongbao _ which combines its location with a reference to the "hongbao," Mandarin for "red packet," in which money is exchanged between families as a gesture of goodwill and kinship _ offers more than lottery numbers.
"It’s also a platform for tourists to come in to see our people and our culture, to showcase Singapore," said Fatimah Lateef, an ethnic Malay parliamentarian who joined a dozen lawmakers in performing a medley of three popular Chinese New Year songs in Mandarin.
The island-state of 4.5 million people, where the Chinese make up a 77 percent-majority, rose from a malarial backwater to prosperity as a tightly controlled manufacturing hub with one of the busiest ports in the world. Competition from re-emerging China, however, has prompted Singapore to boost tourism.
Singapore’s historic Chinatown, an area which stands in stark contrast to the polished skyscrapers of the financial district that surrounds it, has been dressed up to meet visitors. Bargain hunters haggle with sellers of dried duck, chicken, sweet barbecued pork and other Lunar New Year fare under rows of decorative red lanterns.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Peace and order council pushes security monitor TV in Boracay

BORACAY- The Region 6 Peace and Order Council is pushing for the establishment of a close circuit television (CCTV) in Boracay Island to monitor tourists and other individuals coming in and out of the island.
In a resolution, the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) asked the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Tourism (DOT) and other government agencies to take steps for the implementation of the project.
For its part, the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) recommended the creation of a database of residents and workers in the area and the strict implementation of a gun-free policy in Boracay to strengthen security measures in the island, a prime tourist destination.
PRO-6 regional director C/Supt. Wilfredo Dulay also asked for allocation of funds for the procurement of equipment needed by the troops of Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police operating in the island.
In December 2006, the Joint Task Group Boracay (JTGB) was created to provide and implement security measures in Boracay Island which could be a target of local and even international terrorists.
A memorandum of agreement was signed by PRO-6, the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division, Philippine Army, Boracay Intelligence Sub-Committee, the Regional Intelligence Committee, Military Intelligence Group and PCG District Western Visayas creating JTGB.
Philippine Govt expects tourist arrivals to increase

TOURISM Secretary Jose Ace Durano has expressed optimism that more tourists will visit the country as the Philippines is one of the great performers in Asia.
Last year, he said, tourist arrivals in the country reached 2.9 million from 2.6 million in 2005.
"We already added millions of tourists," he noted.
Durano said the Department of Tourism (DoT) is still maintaining its aim of getting an eight to 10 per cent growth in tourists arrivals in 2007.
He said this year, the DoT's marketing team is promoting Philippine tourism in Australia, Russia, Germany and India. The DoT is also reviving promotion in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.
"We market this together because the tourists' characteristics complement with one another," Durano said.
To accommodate the expected influx of tourists, especially in Central Philippines, there will be 3,000 additional new hotel rooms available this year in Boracay, Cebu and Palawan, he added.
Durano said he was bent on facing the challenges in boosting the country's tourism industry that he would not run for any elective position in the May 14 elections.
"I am not running. I've already made my point to continue my work and face the challenges," he said, reacting to news reports that the administration party had persuaded him to run for senator.
Durano said he believed that the DoT had laid the foundation for creating sustainable demand in tourism industry by institutionalizing the portfolio approach.
The tourism industry also generated millions of employment opportunities, he added.
Based on the National Statistics Office record in 2006, there were 3.7 million employees directly employed in the tourism industry.
Durano said both the private and government sectors had contributed in the development of the country's tourism industry.
The Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Foreign Affairs are now in the tourism bandwagon, he added.
Durano said the opening of the Marco Polo Hotel, the former Cebu Plaza Hotel which is now owned by Metrobank, was proof that different sectors in society are joining the tourism bandwagon.
"The owner (Metrobank) of Marco Polo Hotel is a nontraditional investor for a hotel, yet it has invested in the tourism industry,"

Friday, February 16, 2007

BJMP, Aklan rehab center take measures to prevent escapes

KALIBO, Aklan - The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Aklan Rehabilitation Center (ARC) here are strictly implementing measures in their respective institutions to prevent inmates from escaping, as what has happened in some parts of the country.
In a radio interview, both BJMP Provincial Administrator Edmundo Cortezan and ARC Provincial Warden Cristito Angub said their personnel are alert and on constant lookout as to signs of unrest or trouble in their respective buildings, both located in Nalook, Kalibo, Aklan.
Sr. Insp. Cortezan said that in Aklan, their building is very secured and most often, high profile detainees, involving cases of drug trafficking and murder, are remitted to them. However, he said it is the courts that decide where to remit the inmates. This was also echoed by ARC Provincial Warden Angob, who stressed it is up to the courts to decide whether to remit the detainees to the BJMP or the ARC.
To fully eliminate the risk of escapes, Col. Angub said the provincial government here under Governor Carlito Marquez is presently constructing the perimeter fence of the ARC.
Presently, inmates at the BJMP have a daily budget of P40.00 each, while those at the ARC have P30.00 each.
To help the inmates earn money while inside the rehabilitation center, Col. Angob said they (inmates) are allowed to cultivate vegetable gardens inside the compound. Some inmates also take care of pigs inside to augment their income, and those who are skilled carpenters engaged in furniture making.
At the BJMP, inmates avail of training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) on practical electricity, appliances repair and other skills so when they get released from detention, they can use these as their means of livelihood.
Currently, the BJMP houses 133 inmates while the ARC houses 176.
Prov’l police gets new patrol cars, motorcycles

INTENSIVE ANTI-CRIME CAMPAIGN. The new patrol cars from the Philippine National Police would enhance visibility and response time for police assistance.(BRZabal)

KALIBO, Aklan – The Aklan Police Provincial Office (APPO) received four patrol cars and three motorcycles from the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6).
It would contribute to the anti-crime campaign of the APPO, said Aklan acting police director Senior Supt. Benigno “Bong” Durana Jr.
The Toyota Altis patrol cars and Honda 200 cc motorcycles were used in the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Cebu City.
"The patrol cars for local police offices would be of great help to the mobility of cops as part of their efforts to intensify peace and order in Aklan," said Durana.
The four patrol cars – for APPO, Nabas, New Washington and Kalibo police stations – formed part of the 28 patrol cars given to the PRO-6 by the Philippine National Police to help augment its acute shortage of police vehicles.
To boost their capability to patrol the streets and curb criminality, the PNP issued patrol and motorcycles to enhance the service and ensure faster response to the needs of the constituency by the police, Durana added.
"This would improve the capability of our police stations to conduct more aggressive patrol operations and to shorten response time to calls for police assistance," the newly installed police director said.
The PNP currently has 7,500 ground vehicles nationwide in its inventory consisting of trucks, troop carriers, patrol cars, and motorcycles.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Aklan mayors join Gloria’s Kampi

KALIBO, Aklan – Not to be outdone by the bandwagon of elected officials from other provinces, incumbent town mayors in Aklan joined the Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (Kampi), the political party of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Incumbent mayors – Denny Refol (Altavas), Edmund Peralta (New Washington), Rex Gubatina (Madalag), Herodutos Ramos (Batan), Charito Navarosa (Libacao), Dominador Ilio Jr (Malinao), Ernesto Templonuevo (Numancia) and Ramon Legaspi Jr (Makato), all of the dominant Tibyog Akean local party, took their oath as Kampi members at the first national convention at the historic Manila Hotel.
“The Team Unity of the administration coalition parties reflects the united leadership of Tibyog Akean. Our national leaders clearly recognizes this kind of leadership we espoused for over a decade,” said Aklan solon Florencio ‘Joeben’ Miraflores, who himself aligned with Kampi last month, over local radio stations here.
Aside from Kampi, other political parties under the pro-administration Team Unity are Liberal Party-Manila mayor Lito Atienza wing, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and Nationalist People’s Coalition of businessman Eduardo ‘Danding’ Conjuangco.
Gubatina, Legaspi, Navarosa and Ilio are seeking for reelections on May 14 polls. However, incumbent mayors Raymar Rebaldo (Kalibo), Jed Tirol (Tangalan), Concepcion Labindao (Buruanga), Victor Fernandez (Lezo) and Ceciron Cawaling (Malay) allied with Lakas-CMD.
Kampi now had 58 congressmen, 13 provincial governors, 31 city mayors, 533 of 1,600 municipal mayors, and 2,139 other local government executives including vice governors, vice mayors, board members and councilors.
The affiliation of Miraflores from Liberal Party to Kampi also ended speculations that Maria Bettina Mobo-Garcia would be appointed as Kampi district chairman of Aklan. The lady banker is expected to challenge incumbent Miraflores for the lone congressional seat on May 14 polls.
Miraflores, a three-termer Aklan governor and former Ibajay town mayor, is endorsed by 15 out 17 incumbent town mayors for his reelection bid.
The Lakas-CMD in the province led by incumbent Gov. Carlito Marquez is surely to be endorsed by Speaker Jose de Venecia as official candidate for governor along with lawyer-journalist Ronquillo Tolentino for vice-governor.
Cops wary of Boracay ‘prostis’

BORACAY – Aside from drug traffickers and users, the police here is also wary of the possible surge in the number of commercial sex workers as summer draws near.
The Aklan Police Provincial Office (APPO) has started monitoring commercial sex workers in the island, said Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., Aklan police director.
The one entry, one exit policy that begins today would be a big help in the police’s monitoring activities, he added.
Policemen have also started coordinating with the managements of hotels and resorts.Of particular concern to the police are under-aged or child commercial sex workers, and children who could fall prey to pedophiles.
“We are not only enforcing the law. We are also promoting the rights of women and children. We don’t want our children to be exploited, especially by foreign nationals,” Durana stressed.
So far, Durana said, they have not monitored any case of pedophilia or cybersex in Boracay.
His men recently underwent a crisis management training in preparation for these concerns, he revealed.
The one entry, one exit scheme prohibits any sea craft originating from the Caticlan Jetty Port to embark and disembark passengers anywhere around the island except at the Caticlan Jetty Port.
It also designates Cagban Jetty Port in Brgy. Manoc-Manoc as the one-entry and one-exit point for all passengers going to and leaving the island.
The Regional Peace and Order Council in Western Visayas, meanwhile, expressed support to the recommendation of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 to install close circuit television (CCTV) cameras in Boracay.
These hidden cameras will help monitor the movements of people in Boracay, thereby increasing the safety of tourists, residents and other island stakeholders.
During the Council’s regular meeting last February 7, a resolution was passed requesting representations from the Department of Tourism, Department of Telecommunications Commission and other concerned government agencies for the implementation of this project.
Chief Supt. Wilfredo Dulay, regional police director and Council vice chairman, also recommended the establishment of a data base of Boracay residents and workers; allocation of special budget for the purchase of equipment necessary for the enhancement of the present capability of the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the island; and, the implementation of the gun-free policy in Boracay.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine’s Day

SAINT Valentine refers to one or more martyred saints of ancient Rome. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the saint whose feast is celebrated on the day now known as St. Valentine’s Day was possibly one of three martyred men named Valentinus who lived in the late third century, during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (died 270).
Saint Valentine was believed to be either a priest in Rome, a bishop of Interamna, or a martyr in the Roman province of Africa. Various dates are given for their martyrdoms – 269, 270, and 273.
The feast of Saint Valentine was formerly celebrated on February 14 by the Roman Catholic Church until the revised calendar in 1969 was issued and the celebration was taken out as part of a broader effort of the Catholic Church to remove saints viewed by some as being of purely legendary origin.
Notwithstanding the omission of the church celebration, Valentine’s Day continued to be celebrated around the world, propelled by many legends that are traced to England in the 14th century, notably to the famous poet Geoffrey Chaucer.
Early celebrations of Valentine’s Day involved lovers expressing their affection through various forms of correspondence.
Outside of greetings, Valentine's Day is now associated with gift-giving among lovers. Flowers, chocolates, jewelry, and any other item that materially express the affection of a person towards a significant other, abound on this day.
To a number, such expressions of love are rightly placed, while an equally significant number have asked for a stop to the commercialization of the celebration and for all to give importance and live out the central virtue around which all Valentines Day celebrations revolve – love.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all! May the love that the Almighty so graciously showed to us reign on this and the days to come.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Korean flights to Kalibo kicks off next month

KALIBO, Aklan – The inaugural flights directly from South Korea to the Kalibo domestic airport would start on the first week of March, said Aklan Rep. Florencio Miraflores.
Over DYRG Budyong ng Kalibo, Miraflores stressed the preparations for the first regional flights from Korea is in place with flights thrice a week
“These (regional flights) could be a historic milestone in the united leadership and support of Aklanons for having regional flights ahead of other airports in Panay Island ,” he pointed out.
Miraflores said he allocated an additional P50-million for a new passenger terminal to accommodate more tourists and visitors, including the customs and immigration offices.
Aklan Gov. Carlito Marquez said immigration and customs officials conducted site inspection of the domestic airport yesterday. The additional components of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) would be installed in time for the regional flights to improve the navigational and landing facilities of the airport, he added.
“More Korean tourists would visit the Boracay Island with the opening of direct flights from Asian capitals next month,” the governor pointed out.
With flights from Korea, Miraflores is optimistic that regional company airlines from other countries would follow to cater to the growing tourism market in the renowned tourist island resort of Boracay. Vice Gov. Ronquillo Tolentino said the regional flights would add to the P10.4-billion tourism receipts last year. Tourists, who went to Boracay Island , registered 567,421, of which 184,363 were foreigners and 351,537 domestic.
Panay Island has a P6.5-billion international airport in Iloilo province and would start operations on April 17 this year.
273,738 Aklan voters ready for May polls

KALIBO, Aklan - Almost 30,000 more voters will be trooping to Aklan’s polling places in May 2007.
Final report of Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Aklan on the total number of registered voters after the December 31, 2006 deadline for continuing registration pegged the list at 273,738, compared to 244,429 as of August 2006.
Kalibo, the capital town of Aklan is still the richest in voters with 36,162 followed by Ibajay, 22,116 and New Washington, 21,891.
The municipality of Banga has 20,174 voters, Batan, 17,649; Malay, 16,930; Numancia, 16,715; Balete, 14,973; Makato, 14,783; Libacao, 14,453; Nabas, 14,504; Altavas, 13,437; Malinao, 12,996; Tangalan, 10,626; Madalag, 9,667; Buruanga, 9,373; and Lezo, 7,289.
All municipalities increased in their respective number of voters.
For this forthcoming election period, Aklan has 1,916 established precincts, 1,328 grouped/clustered precincts and 339 total number of polling places distributed in 327 barangays.
Comelec-Aklan under OIC Lorena Tumbagahan has conducted several command conferences with the local Philippine National Police (PNP) here in preparation for a clean, honest, and credible elections. The local media here has been briefed from time to time on updates on the forthcoming elections as well as to inform them on the do’s and don’t’s during the election period, which started January 14 and would end June 13, 2007.
During the election period, prohibited acts include carrying guns and other deadly weapons in public places, suspension of elective local officials, transfer of officers and employees in the civil service; use of security forces or bodyguards by candidates whether or not such bodyguards are regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or PNP or other law enforcement agency and giving of donations or gifts in cash or in kind, etc.
Other prohibited acts as contained in Comelec Res. 7707 are the appointment or hiring of new employees, creation or filling up of new positions starting March 30, 2007 to May 14, 2007; construction of public works and releasing disbursing of expenditures of public funds for public works.
On May 14, 2007, Election Day, campaigning is prohibited; so is selling, offering, buying or taking liquor, giving, accepting free transportation, food and drinks; selling votes; voting more than once; holding of fairs and cockfights, and selling of merchandise within a radius of thirty meters from the polling places.
Meanwhile, the Comelec has come out with a code of conduct for election officers and employees nationwide to ensure that they will be guided by the highest standard of honesty, impartiality, and transparency in carrying out their task of ensuring honest and orderly elections in May.
Tourist arrivals to rise 10%

INTERNATIONAL visitor arrivals to the Philippines are expected to increase by 8 percent to 10 percent in 2007, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said over the weekend.
The growth forecast matches the 8.4-percent increase in arrivals in 2006, which was a record-year for tourism, Durano said.
Data show that the number of foreign guests who visited the country reached a record high of 2.84 million last year, up from 2.62 million in 2005. But the 2006 figure was below the Department of Tourism’s target of 3 million foreign tourists for the year.
The government was targeting to draw 3 million visitors in 2006, 3.4 million in 2007, 3.88 million in 2008, 4.42 million in 2009 and 5 million in 2010.
But sources at the tourism department said the specific arrival targets for 2007 to 2009 were reduced after missing the 2006 target. But just the same, they said, the goal was to attract 5 million visitors by 2010.
Despite the increase in arrivals in 2006, the country’s tourism receipts from foreign tourists fell 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2006. Travel exports went down 1.1 percent to P120.87 billion in 2006 from P122.24 billion in 2005.
National Statistical Coordination Board secretary general Romulo Virola linked this to the strong peso, whose appreciation against the US dollar reduced the growth of the peso value of foreign inflows such as tourism receipts.
Durano described 2006 as a good year for Philippine tourism and said prospects for 2007 were even better, with the expected completion of new resorts and accommodation facilities that would bring the total number of hotel rooms to about 18,000 by yearend.
The hotel and restaurant sector expanded 6.1 percent year-on-year in 2006, contributing P106.03 billion, up 10.6 percent from P95.85 billion a year earlier.
Employment in hotels and restaurants grew by more than 42,000 jobs or 2.6 percent to 913,000 as of October 2006 from just 871,000 a year ago.
Durano said the passage of a P1.5-billion budget for the department in 2007 and the expected enactment of the Tourism Bill would be good for the industry.
“Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, is doing its part to contribute to the President’s 10-point agenda, which includes tourism development as a means to accelerate employment generation. They have shown this not only through the Tourism Bill, which both chambers filed with their respective versions, but also through the bigger allocation for DoT in the 2007 national budget,” he said.
Senator Richard Gordon, the main proponent of the Tourism Bill in the upper chamber, said tourism means jobs for Filipino people.
“The industry has an immense impact on an economy. Every foreign tourist spends P50,000 in shopping, eating, touring and staying at resorts. On an average year, 2.6 million foreign tourists give our economy P130 billion. That P130 billion generates jobs across the board, from the ordinary street vendor to the hotel magnate,” Gordon said.

Monday, February 12, 2007

One-entry, one exit scheme takes effect on February 15

BORACAY – The boat cooperative here is ready for the full implementation of the one-entry, one-exit scheme on February 15.
Godofredo Sadiasa, chairman of the Caticlan Boracay Transport Multi-purpose Cooperative (CBTMPC), stressed their 57 motorized pump boats welcome the provincial government’s plan to implement Provincial Ordinance No. 15-03 imposing a one-entry-one-exit policy on the island-resort.
CBTMPC, established in 1996, serves tourists and residents going to and leaving this resort island.
A regional trial court had dismissed last year the petition questioning the legality of the provincial ordinance filed by the local government of Malay town. The ordinance was supposed to take effect on April 1, 2006 but this was strongly opposed by the municipal government.
Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) and the Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) also called for the deferment of the implementation last year until the infrastructure systems are put in place.
Sadiasa said his group is “fully supportive of the scheme for the betterment of the tourism industry… (It) would improve the security of the tourists staying in the island of Boracay and clear the island’s beaches of motorboats from overcrowding the swimming area.”
The provincial ordinance prohibits any sea craft originating from the Caticlan Jetty Port to embark and disembark passengers anywhere around the island except at the Caticlan Jetty Port.
It also designates Cagban Jetty Port in Brgy. Manoc-Manoc as the one-entry and one-exit point for all passengers going to and leaving the island.
Earlier, the Department of Tourism (DOT) issued guidelines on the accreditation of any motorized boat/banca of 20 Gross Tonnage (GRT) and below engaged in providing water transport services, including sightseeing and other water-related tourism activities to foreign or domestic tourists for a fee or any other form of compensation.
It also requires motorized boats to be made of good quality materials and in accordance with Marina standards: clean and well-maintained, painted with a color prescribed by the DOT and the company’s name and certificate of number issued by Marina, as well as approved seating capacity/weight restrictions clearly imprinted on both sides of the boat.
Once implemented, the boat should be equipped with life-saving and firefighting equipment and facilities; lighting signals, radio equipment; waste bin/ waste disposal and at least two boatmen with proper work permit/license from Marina.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Comelec, PNP join forces for peaceful, credible May polls

KALIBO, Aklan - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) continue to focus on the enforcement of gun ban, increased police visibility and other actions that would preempt poll-related violence to sustain the government’s campaign for a peaceful and credible May polls.
In this province, Aklan Police Provincial Office (APPO) Provincial Director Benigno Durana said the PNP has already one gun ban violator in Boracay Island and had already filed a case against this person.
Comelec-Aklan OIC Lorena Tumbagahan said the PNP is its gun ban implementing arm, tasked to monitor and arrest gun ban violators. She also confirmed that the APPO here has already put up checkpoints in the different areas in the province
Tumbagahan also revealed that in the province, a substantial number of persons have applied for gun ban exemptions, composed of elements of the PNP and the AFP, security agencies, government employees and private individuals.
Late-breaking news stated, however, that the Comelec has exempted the PNP and the AFP from the nationwide election gun ban.
This week, Comelec-Aklan expects to complete its list of registered voters.
“We are awaiting only one municipality to submit its list. However, based on what is already here in the provincial office, I can safely say that the increase in the number of voters is not much as many names were scrapped off the lists for failing to vote twice, while some transferred to other provinces. Others also transferred, but only within the province”, Tumbagahan said.
The Comelec is also set to meet DepEd-Aklan Division Superintendent Victorina Laroza to talk about the public school teachers’ election assignments in the May 2007 polls.
“So far, Aklan teachers ever since showed willingness and dedication in rendering service during elections,” Tumbagahan said when queried if the Comelec has encountered problems in this area.
In other parts of the country, the Comelec will be utilizing thousands of ROTC cadets to fill in the void left by lack of teachers. According to the Comelec, the ROTC cadets agreed to being utilized in the elections as they said “this is a way to serve the country.”
Tumbagahan revealed that this coming polls, serving teachers will receive a total of P2,000.00 for rendering work for two days. She assured that in case of any untoward incident and the teacher gets hurt, her actual hospital expenses will be paid by the Comelec but not to exceed P100,000.
At this point also, Comelec-Aklan’s thirteen (1) election officers including Tumbagahan are anticipating to be reshuffled and deployed to nearby Capiz and Antique provinces before the elections.
“We are only waiting for the resolution from Comelec. This is really the usual routine for those election officers who have served a certain municipality for four years. We are not sure yet if after the elections, we would be ordered to come back to our former assignments, Tumbagahan said.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bora cops gird for influx of tourists, illegal drugs as summer draws near

BORACAY – Summer is fast approaching. The Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) is preparing for the influx of tourists in this island paradise, and the expected surge in the supply of illegal drugs.
According to Chief Supt. Wilfredo Dulay, regional police director, the recent arrests of three drug pushing suspects in this island simply showed that drug trafficking exists in Boracay.
On February 1, elements of the Boracay Special Tourist Protection Office (BSTPO) arrested Melanie Gorospe in Sitio Tulubhan, Brgy Manoc-manoc.
Recovered from Gorospe were a plastic sachet containing suspected shabu.
During the police interrogation, Gorospe – a resident of Zamora St. Extension, Iloilo City, claimed she was working for a certain “Rebecca”.
Immediately, Senior Insp. Christopher Prangan, chief of BSTPO, planned a buy-bust operation, which resulted to the arrest of Rebecca Yturiaga and her daughter Genevieve, also residents of Iloilo City.
Recovered from the mother were one small plastic sachet of suspected shabu and three big plastic sachets of the same drug.
Meanwhile, five plastic sachets of suspected shabu were recovered from Rebecca’s daughter.
Dulay said that sometime in 2004, the house of Yturiaga in Iloilo City was searched by elements of Task Force Waterfront. The operation, however, yielded negative result.Supt. Rolen Balquin, regional director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 6 (PDEA6), said Yturiaga was under their drug watch list in the region.A total of 200 personalities are the drug watch list of PDEA6.
These personalities are either drug users or drug peddlers, said Balquin. He also revealed that there seems to be no decline or surge in the demand for shabu and marijuana here.“Wala man sang daku nga demand of those illegal drugs. The volume being traded is still at tolerable levels,” he added.
Balquin won’t confirm nor deny reports on the existence of several drug trafficking financiers in Western Visayas.
“We have received information (about this) thru letters and text messages from several concern citizens. But we are still verifying these. What he have now are raw information,” he told Panay News yesterday.
PDEA-6 said there are five illegal drug groups in the region. One is in Capiz, two are in Iloilo City and another two are in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental.
Balquin said they have neutralized the illegal drug group in Capiz.
“We already arrested some of their members that was why their operation stopped,” he quipped.
But Balquin said they have monitored several new faces of drug personalities operating in the region.
“Some new faces that we have monitored were relatives and family members of some drug personalities who are now detained,” he quipped.
Rise in diarrhea cases in Aklan noted

KALIBO, Aklan - There is a notifiable rise in diarrhea cases in Aklan at present.
Dr. Maria J. Magpusao, Chief of the Technical Services Division here of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) said diarrhea cases were monitored to be increasing since December last year through surveillance units deployed to different health centers, municipal health offices and public and private hospitals in the province.
Children with ages 5 and below were identified to be most affected, based on hospital records.
Dr. Magpusao said that in order to prevent more diarrhea cases in the province, everybody must observed proper hygiene. Hand washing should be observed before and after eating and after using the toilet. School children should also avoid buying street foods and juices in open containers outside schools.
“Contaminated food and water causes diarrhea. It is advisable that when children buy food, they should choose those which are packed, like biscuits and juices placed in tetra packs. We must see to it that our children are not eating contaminated foods,” Dr. Magpusao stressed.
The Provincial Health Office is currently implementing all applicable preventive measures to prevent diarrhea cases here from reaching an alarming proportion.
This is to prevent a diarrhea outbreak from happening in Aklan as what happened in Loon, Bohol.
The DOH is currently distributing chlorine stock solution to the Loon residents to help them avoid diarrhea. Chlorine stock solution is scientifically known to kill the microbes in the water.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Kalibo dads want fire marshall out

KALIBO, Aklan – The beleaguered fire marshal is counting her stay in Kalibo fire station.
This after the Sangguniang Bayan members expressed their loss of confidence to the performance of Kalibo Fire Marshall Senior Insp. Gweenah Besas and urged the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to replace her.
SB member Melanie Tolentino said vital government offices such as the Municipal Planning and Development Office for zoning clearance, the Municipal Health Office for the sanitary and health cards issuance, the Kalibo PNP for police clearance and the Kalibo Fire Station for fire clearance composed the ‘One-Stop-Shop’.
It aimed to fast track the processing of permits and clearances prior to the issuance of permits and other licenses by the local government unit, she added.
But the three-termer SB member observed that during the stint of Besas as Kalibo Fire Marshall, her office failed to provide a representative in the ‘one-stop-shop’.
“This non-provision of representative was noted by Mayor Raymar Rebaldo and that it was brought to the attention of Besas. Unfortunately, this was not acted upon favorably, to the disadvantage and inconvenience of the transacting public,” Tolentino added.
In Resolution No. 2007-012 approved by the SB members, it stressed, “the clear defiance of the establishment of the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ under DILG Memorandum Circular No. 99-35 including the provision of ample office spaces to facilitate the issuance of Fire Safety Inspection and other certificates.”
Tolentino also criticized the urgent transfer of a Kalibo fire truck to the Boracay Fire Station in Boracay Island without prior notification to Mayor Rebaldo and the SB.
“This is a clear manifestation of disrespect and obvious bypassing of the local officials who should be first to know considering the pull out of the fire truck involves public safety and security affecting the entire community,” she said.
Over DYRG Budyong ng Kalibo, Rebaldo confirmed that Besas failed to communicate with him despite the appointments made by her to discuss the issues for a better delivery of services in the community.
“The disrespect, unsupportive and ‘I do not care’ attitude of Besas has lost the trust and confidence of the local government of Kalibo prompting us to seek the assistance of DILG to replace Besas,” the SB members said.
What added to the dismay of the SB members is the collection of additional 10 percent to all charges collected by the local government of Kalibo including that of business and real property taxes without any clarification with Rebaldo and the SB members.
Besas said the accumulated amount paid clearances and permits – police, zoning, realty tax, rental and charges, fire, sanitary permit, medical certificate, cost of health card, business tax (lessor tax), garbage tax and mayor’s permit and special occasion permit is subjected to additional 10 percent fee known as Fire Safety Inspection Fee under Section 1.206 of the Fire Code of the Philippines.
WV 2006 tourist arrivals generate P23-B receipts
ILOILO City – Western Visayas, noted for its beautiful Boracay Island and famous gourmet, was able to generate P23,744,275,191 income because of foreign and domestic tourists who came to enjoy the region in 2006.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office here said that based on their partial report received from the provincial offices, tourists who came here last year numbering 1,291,615 generated the receipts for the region.
Of these tourists, 239,239 of them were foreigners and 983,788 were domestic.
Tourists who went to Boracay in Aklan Province, totaled 567,421. Of the number, 184,363 were foreigners and 351,537 domestic, that generated an income of P10,431,127,211.40 for the hotels, restaurants and other commercial establishments in the white-sand beach.
Iloilo City and the province registered the second highest number of tourist arrivals in Western Visayas with its 361,225 figure and total receipts of P6,640,543,665.
The other provinces in Western Visayas that have benefited based on the number of tourist arrivals and receipts generated are Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Antique and Capiz.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Akelco-Mirant amended EPPA questioned

KALIBO, Aklan – Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro ‘Teddy’ Acevedo-Casiño has filed a resolution seeking for a legislative inquiry on the power purchase agreement signed between the Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco) and the Mirant Global Power Corp., now called the Global Business Power Corp. (GBPC).
Casiño, who traces his roots in Aklan, said the controversy has caused uproar in the province of Aklan, with consumers led by the People Opposed to Warrantless Electricity Rates (Power-Aklan) and the clergy led by Fr. Isauro David even going to the streets in protest to what they consider an “illegal and immoral power rate increase.”
"The power hike would add more burden to electric power consumers in Aklan if this controversial and onerous amended EPPA is implemented," he said in a press conference on January 13, 2007 here.
In his resolution, Casiño stressed that key officials of Akelco revealed that more power rate hikes are to be expected, and that the total projected power rate increase would reach P2.10 per KwH under a blended cost/rate of power purchased from both National Power Corporation (Napocor) and Mirant, such piece being way above previous electricity rates when Akelco was exclusively buying power from Napocor.
Akelco is the sole electric distributor in Aklan, including Boracay Island and the northern towns of Antique since 1972.
From being one of the worst performing electric cooperatives prior to the takeover of its management by National Electrification Administration (NEA), Akelco has exhibited "exceptional performance, rising from bankruptcy under an E category to an outstanding A+ cooperative.”
Earlier, a caravan and rally protest on December 14, 2006 was held by Power-Aklan assailing the amended EPPA signed on August 3, 2004, which was approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on August 2, 2006.
On September 27, 2006, the Aklan Provincial Board, in its Resolution No. 06-405, also granted Aklan Government Carlito S. Marquez the authority to take legal action against the implementation of the amended EPPA.
Power Aklan stressed under the original EPPA, the Mirant Global would supply electricity with rates similar to the Napocor rate of P4.30 per kWh, including the transmission charges.
However, the Mirant Global would collect a higher rate of P8.82 per kWh, which is 105 percent higher than that of the national power firm in the amended EPPA.
Casiño said the implementation of the rate increase has been questioned by consumers in ERC in a motion filed on November 27, 2006, and in a case filed with the Regional Trial Court.
“In arguing for the original EPPAs, Akelco officials impressed upon the Aklan Provincial Board and the public at large that the rate to be charged to consumers under the Akelco-Mirant EPPA would be equal to or even lower than the Napocor rate, but in presentations after the EPPAs’ were amended, Akelco officials reversed themselves and said that power sourced from Mirant would cost P8.83 per KwH, a 105% increase from the prevailing Napocor rate of P4.31 per KwH,” Casiño added.
“The country’s lawmaking body, it is imperative for Congress to look into issues surrounding the power industry and the rights of its consumers, especially the practice of surreptitiously increasing electricity prices through the amendment of existing power purchase agreements,” Casiño said.
Aklan PNP vows to work for honest, credible elections

KALIBO, Aklan - Newly installed Provincial Director Benigno Durana Jr of the Aklan Police Provincial Office (APPO) here said that Philippine National Police (PNP)-Aklan is all for the conduct of an honest, peaceful and credible elections.
Durana said his office is closely coordinating with the Commission on Elections here and has already attended two command conferences with the election officers, and is set to attend an area conference in Cebu City next week for the May 2007 political exercise.
As the apprehending arm of the Commission on Elections on gun ban, Durana said the PNP has already arrested one violator in Boracay Island and had already filed a case against the person.
“We are also strengthening and conducting our checkpoints activities in the province now,” Durana said.
As to measures to prevent the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) from collecting fees from candidates during the campaign period, Durana said the PNP is closely monitoring far-flung municipalities for these possibilities, but he admitted that evidences and witnesses are needed so the PNP can act, even as he said that paying campaign fees to the CPP-NPA is an offense and a ground for disqualification on the part of the candidate.
As to the poll summit proposed by the government which will be held after the last day of filing of certificates of candidacies, Durana said what they might take up in the Cebu conference could also be used during the poll summit.
Prior to Durana’s assignment to Aklan, he was the chief of the Change Management Advocacy Unit of the Program Management Office of the PNP Chief.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Couple’s quarrel leaves two dead, one injured

KALIBO, Aklan - A couple’s quarrel resulted to the death of two persons, including the suspect and left one injured Friday evening at Nabas, Aklan.
Insp. Lino Dalisay, chief of the Nabas PNP, said the hacking incident took place at around 10:20 p.m. at Brgy Solido, Nabas, Aklan, about 45 kilometers north of the capital town.
The suspect identified as Eriberto Sijera, a native of Boracay Island , Malay, Aklan and presently residing at Brgy Solido hacked Adela Salmorin, 84, single, inside her house.
Before the hacking incident, Sijera was looking for his wife, Edita, whom he believed hiding inside the house of his aunt, Adela.
“The suspect (Sijera) was not drunk during the hacking incident. The couple were quarreling always,” the police chief stressed.
Sijera allegedly destroyed the back door of Adela’s house and asked the victim where his wife was.
A 13-year old witness Cynthia Palanog pointed out she heard Adela replied to the suspect, “She (Edita) is not here.”
Without provocation, the suspect hacked her once on her right neck. She died on the spot. Dalisay said the witness actually heard Adela spared for her life, “Why you hacked me?”
After hacking his aunt, the suspect fled towards their house, about five meters from Salmorin. While fleeing, he met 17-year old Mark Paul Abalayan.
Unknowingly, the suspect also hacked him hitting Abalayan in the head. Abalayan was brought by his neighbors to Aklan Cooperative Mission Hospital for treatment.

Responding cops led by SPO1 Calixto Vargas, SPO2 Marlon Tirazona, SPO1 Rany Somil, SPO2 Jenalyn Dela Cruz and PO1 Abdon de Mateo saw the suspect holding his 21-inch bladed weapon outside his house.
Dalisay said the policemen asked the suspect to surrender, but, Sijera moved towards the police officers and hacked Vargas, who was standing a few steps from him.
Vargas retaliated and shot the suspect thrice with his M-16 armalite rifle. Although injured, Sijera attempted to strike back, but, Tirazona grabbed the bladed weapon of the suspect.
Sijera, who succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds, was initially brought to Ibajay District Hospital for treatment. He was declared dead on arrival at Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital here.
“The shooting of Sijera is an act of self-defense,” Dalisay claimed over RMN DYKR Kalibo yesterday.
Recovered in the crime scene were the bladed weapon and three empty shells of M-16 armalite rifle.