Thursday, May 31, 2007

Aklan real property tax increase under scrutiny
BY BOY RYAN B.ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan – A former Sangguniang Panlalawigan member is challenging the legality of the provincial ordinance on the imposition of the new schedule of assessed values on real properties leveled by the provincial government.
In the 15th regular session on Wednesday morning, lawyer Romeo Inocencio protested the real property tax increases beginning the year 2006, which he described as “virtually bereft of legal basis.”
Provincial Ordinance No. 005-009 fixes and approves the schedule of base market values of lands and natural improvements, building classification and schedule of base unit construction cost for buildings, machineries and other improvements
"The revised assessment and the collection of higher realty taxes arising from the ordinance are erroneous,” Inocencio pointed out.
The former board member stressed the provincial ordinance is invalid for its failure to publish first, 10 days after the filing of the proposed tax ordinance or revenue measure in a newspaper of local circulation or be posted simultaneously in at least four (4) conspicuous public places under Article 276 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Local Government Code of 1991 or Republic Act 7160.
“There is still a need to have the ordinance fully explained and that’s why there is another interaction on June 6 in a regular session,” Vice governor and presiding officer Ronquillo Tolentino told Panay News yesterday.

NEGATIVE REACTIONS
Inocencio’s call also drew negative reactions from real property owners that lamented the non-compliance of a public hearing on it.
Provincial Assessor Mary Jean Rebaldo, who was also invited in the session, said there was a public hearing held at the Gov. Corazon L. Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center in Old Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan before the ordinance was passed.

An approved provincial ordinance published in Madyaas Pen, a local weekly paper on February 2006, was presented before the local legislative council.
Inocencio claimed the 300 to 700 percent increase in the real property taxes violated the fundamental principles of taxation that it should not be unjust, excessive, oppressive or confiscatory as enshrined in Section 130 of the Local Government Code.
Inocencio said the ordinance fixing the new base market value of real properties in the entire province is “clearly and undoubtedly void ab initio therefore has no valid and binding effect on taxpayers.”
LIFEBLOOD OF LGU
According to SP member Plaridel Morania, tax is the lifeblood of government and the province has a major stake in the collection and tax assessment of real property taxes by the 17 municipalities, including the Boracay Island.
Inocencio further decried the lack of a provincial ordinance fixing and prescribing the assessment levels to be applied to the new fair market value to determine the new assessed value of the real property subject to realty tax as required by Section 218 of the Local Government Code.

Ecotourism entrepreneurs needed in Aklan

Aklan is not just the famed resort island of Boracay. The GREET of the national government aims to promote the eco-tourism spots in Aklan.

KALIBO, Aklan - Blocks of P50,000 worth of grants to deserving groups or individuals with feasible entrepreneurial/business proposals in eco-tourism sites in the country are at stake with the opening for applicants for GREET – or Grassroots Entrepreneurs for Ecotourism.
The GREET program is in line with the directive of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to promote and safeguard the country’s eco-tourism sites through the provision of essential services for tourists.
The program has been conceived to enhance the livelihood opportunities for promising entrepreneurs who can best explore the inherent tourist drawing potentials of ecotourism sites which can readily be sources of income within their respective protected areas.
Information materials obtained from the Provincial Tourism Office here bared that qualified to join the GREET program are applicants who are Filipino citizens, 18 years old and above and has some training/experience related to their business idea; must be a resident of the town or province where the ecotourism site is located for a minimum of two years; at least high school graduate and of good moral character.
Entrepreneurs who wish to establish new or expand existing tourism products and services may also apply. All applicants must be able to present their business plans/proposals in person to the GREET Screening and Evaluation Committee.
For organizations – qualified to apply are community organizations, business associations and local tourism offices based and operating in town or province where an eco-tourism site is located and is duly registered with the appropriate government agency.
Merits will be given to organizations that have demonstrated successful delivery of programs for community and have a well-developed network of key stakeholders and private sector partners. The organizations must also manifest functionality and must have at least a minimum amount of organizational funds to sustain the current operational level of its existing activities and projects.
Examples of activities or projects eligible for funding are the following but not limited to: Tourism Products – Operation of new activities (Whitewater Rafting, Water sports, hiking, etc); Operation of new services (Tour Guiding, Interaction Guiding, ground handling); Tourism facilities – accommodations, foods and beverages establishments, souvenir shops and gears and equipment shops.
It is seen that with Aklan’s other eco-tourism sites besides the world famous Boracay Island, the GREET program will gather many Aklanon applicants.
Several municipalities also boast of tourist attractions and eco-tourism potentials. These municipalities – like Kalibo, Aklan’s capital town has its Manggad it Kalibo Eco-tourism program composed of the Bakhawan Eco Park, the Ati-Atihan Village and the Piña Village; Tangalan has its Bugna it Tangalan Community Based Ecotourism composed of Marine Sanctuary and Coral Garden, Jawili Falls, Bughawi Beach and Recreation Project and Campo Verde which is ideal for mountain trekking, biking and horseback riding; Malay where Boracay is, and so are the Malay Ecological Garden in the mainland, Dalamuan Falls, Agnaga Falls and Cold Spring and the Nabaoy River where Boracay sources its water supply for tourists and residents alike; Libacao, with its Wild River ideal for bamboo rafting, kayaking and water bases sports; its water falls, its mountains ideal for hiking and trekking and Nabas, packaging itself as nature’s haven for its cold springs, pebble beaches, clean rivers and mountains also ideal for mountain hiking and trekking.
Individuals interested to apply may secure application forms at Municipal tourism offices and DOT Regional offices. Forms can also be downloaded from the GREET Website at www.wowpinoy.net/greet.

Deadline for submission of entries is on June 30, 2007 while the awarding of grants is on September 2007.

Sporadic brownouts in Boracay
BY NESTOR P. BURGOS JR

BORACAY - This island is suffering from intermittent power interruptions and fluctuations after submarine power cables were damaged by vessels docking at the shoreline in the past few months.
While the power interruptions have not seriously affected the operation of resorts because most are equipped with power generators, business owners are calling for government attention to the problem to prevent long-term damage to the country's prime tourist destination.The power interruptions started in February after cargo barge, the LCT Filipino, damaged one of two submarine cables linking the island to the Aklan mainland when it docked at Barangay Manoc-Manoc in the southern part of the 1,032-hectare island.
The damage was worsened after unidentified vessels which docked on the shoreline also struck the underwater cables on February 26 and April 22. The docking site is the entry point for cargo vessels bringing in supplies to resorts and restaurants and construction materials.
Wilfredo Ortiz, officer-in-charge of the Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco), said they were forced to use the 69 KV transmission line of the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) because the two Akelco lines were severely damaged. The Transco line is intended to be used to connect to power substation to be constructed on the island.

Ortiz said the brownouts and power fluctuations, which occur during peak hours at night, are caused by the leaks from a 2-meter span of the damaged submarine cables which were severed or burned. The cable lines were installed around 30 years ago.

The daily peak demand on the island reaches 7.5 megawatts (MV) daily, according to Akelco and is expected to increase to 8.5 MW next year and 9.3 MW in 2009. Boracay has around 2,000 consumers including 250 resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Ortiz said they have started the repairs on Monday which could take around 10 days. The repairs are estimated to cost around P5 million including the extraction and the submersion of the two damaged cable lines. A 100-meter span of the cable lines will embedded a meter below the seabed to protect it from future damage.

The Akelco has asked the municipal government of Malay to regulate the docking of vessels especially at the area where the submarine cables of Akelco and other utility lines are located. Ortiz said they have asked the municipal council to pass an ordinance barring sea vessels to dock in the area.

Akelco has also asked the assistance of the Coast Guard and Tourism Sec. Joseph “Ace” Durano to prevent more damage to the transmission lines.

The Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) said the power interruptions and fluctuations are causing additional expenses and have damaged electrical units.

It said attention should be given to resolve the problem immediately because it might affect tourist arrivals on the island. Around half a million tourists visited the island last year with earnings reaching P8 billion.
The BCCI said that even if the submarine cable lines are repaired, the long-term power supply needs of the island should also be addressed because the existing transmission lines from the mainland to Boracay could not sustain the increasing power needs of the island.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Aklan rabies-free by 2010, vow health officials
BY VENUS G. VILLANUEVA

KALIBO, Aklan - The province of Aklan aims to be rabies-free by 2010.
This is according to Dr. Emma Cortes, Provincial Health Officer II here when she welcomed the guests and participants to the Update/Meeting on Rabies Prevention and Control Program held recently at the Gov. Corazon L. Cabagnot Tourism and Training Center at Old Buswang, Kalibo.
Dr. Cortes said rabies is a very fatal disease and the Philippines is one of the top 10 countries with high incidence of human deaths due to rabies.
According to Dr. Cortes, Region 6, where Aklan belongs, had the highest number of rabies deaths in 2005 with 39, while Region 3 had 33 and Region 5, 30.
“Aklan had three rabies deaths in 2006 and in the early part of 2007, one already died, from the municipality of Altavas,” Cortes disclosed.
Based on updates on Rabies Prevention and Control of the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian headed by Dr. Gervase Radislao, 7,671 heads or 13.8% of the total dog population were vaccinated in 2006 while from January – April of this year, 961 dogs were vaccinated. OPVET – Aklan aims to vaccinate 80% of Aklan’s total dog population now numbering more than 55,000 to attain Aklan’s vision of being rabies-free by 2010.
On the other hand, the Provincial Health Office here noted in its 2006 accomplishment report that of the dog bite cases in Aklan, mostly bitten are males 15 and below. The PHO also found out that in Aklan, there is a low percentage of dog vaccination; implementation of Rabies Control Ordinance in municipalities is poor and weak; pet owners are irresponsible, municipal rabies control committees are not organized; and there is an inadequate supply of dog vaccines.
The meeting/update was highlighted with the lecture/talk of Dr. Alberto Gabriel, currently holding the position of Army Chief Surgeon of the Philippine Army, who discussed the Rabies Control Program Updates.
Dr. Gabriel talked on the different manners of transmission of rabies from dogs to humans, rabies prevention and the guidelines on the management of animal bite patients.
Dr. Gabriel revealed that rabies could be transmitted through exceptional cases like the inhalation of virulent aerosol; man-to-man transmission of infected corneas; and by eating dog meat or “kilawin”.
He also revealed that in 98% of dog bite cases, 88% were caused by pet dogs while only 10% were due to stray dogs and although there are two clinical forms of rabies – the esophalitic and the paralytic, both will progress to coma and death.
Dr. Gabriel also talked on the proper care of wounds cause by dog bites as well as the different bite categories and what to do according to the categories.
“When bitten by a dog, first thing you must do is to wash the wound vigorously with soap and water for 10 minutes, then apply antiseptic or alcohol. Keep the wound open and do not apply any ointment or even garlic,” Dr. Gabriel emphasized to the more or less 50 participants composed mostly of government doctors, nurses, midwives, Provincial Health Office Officials and representatives of various national and provincial offices and the local media.
“Rabies is 100% fatal disease but preventable,” Dr. Gabriel stressed.
Boracay reels from power outages; gov’t urged to act fast
BY NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.

BORACAY - Resorts are urging the government to solve the island’s power shortage, saying it was hurting tourism and other businesses.
The power supply problem began in February, after vessels docking on its shoreline damaged submarine power cables.
While the power interruptions have not seriously affected the operation of resorts because most are equipped with power generators, business owners are calling the government’s attention to the problem to prevent long-term damage to the country’s prime tourist destination.
The Boracay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) said the power interruptions and fluctuations resulted in additional expenses and damage to electrical units.
It said the power supply problem should be resolved immediately because it might hurt tourist arrivals.
Last year, around half a million tourists visited the island and tourism earnings reached P8 billion.
The BCCI urged the government to address the long-term power supply needs of the island because the existing transmission lines from the mainland to Boracay could not sustain the island’s increasing power needs.
The power interruptions started in February after the cargo barge LCT Filipino damaged one of two submarine cables, which linked the island to the Aklan mainland. The barge was docking in Barangay Manoc-Manoc in the southern part of the 1,032-hectare island.
The damage worsened after unidentified vessels also struck the underwater cables on Feb. 26 and April 22.
The docking site is the entry point for cargo vessels bringing in supplies to resorts and restaurants, as well as construction materials.
Wilfredo Ortiz, officer-in-charge of the Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco), said the 69-kv transmission line of the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) had to be used after the two Akelco lines were damaged.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No major shake-up, same old faces at Prov’l Board
BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan – Expect a display of fireworks and speeches when the Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) opens its regular session on July.
It is 6-4 in favor of the administration camp minus lawyer-journalist Ronquillo Tolentino, who lost his vice gubernatorial reelection bid against former Cong. Gabrielle Calizo.
Kusog it Akean and Aklan Independent Movement – reelectionists Dr. Daisy Briones (Nacionalista Party) and Ramon Gelito (Liberal Party) are the “senior” opposition members.
Fiery former Akelco president Rodson Mayor (Nacionalista Party) and senior board member and retired police officer Nemesio Neron (Liberal Party) are certified crowd-drawers in the august body.
Old faces and reelectionists lawyer Plaridel Morania (Lakas-CMD) and Selywn Ibarreta (Liberal Party), Jose Yap (Lakas-CMD), Gerick Templonuevo (Lakas-CMD) and Pedro Garcia (Kampi) belong in the administration bloc, including former vice governor and SP-elect Jean Rodriquez (Kampi).
The “hot” issues mostly likely the opposition members would support are the controversial Akelco-Mirant deal, real property tax increases and the Economic Enterprise Development Department.
Adding color to an intense-debate in the floor are Association of Barangay Captains president Ananias Solina and Sangguniang Kabataan president Kaizan Fernandez.
Defeated SP member Franklin Quimpo (Liberal Party), president of Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Aklan is reportedly supporting the election bid of Malinao councilor-lawyer Wilbert Ariel Igoy (Lakas-CMD) for the outright SP seat.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tourism helps peso appreciation
BY RODERICK T. DELA CRUZ

THE rise in international visitor arrivals has been supporting the peso appreciation this year, which is expected to continue given the growing interest in Philippine destinations.
Jose Clemente III, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, said economists had overlooked that international tourism revenues helped the peso gain value against the US dollar.
He said about 3.5 million foreign tourists would visit the Philippines this year, up from 2.8 million in 2006, which was already a record high.
The Department of Tourism estimated that a foreign tourist in the Philippines spent an average of $1,200, higher than the country’s average per capita gross domestic product of about $1,100.
Clemente, however, said that travel agencies had complained about the strong peso, because their rates are in US dollar, which when converted into peso, has less value this year.
Local airlines, on the other hand, claimed that the strong peso had been helping their business, mainly because it brought down the cost of aviation fuel and imported planes and spare parts.
“It is very, very good,” said Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei, who disclosed an ambitious plan to buy 20 Airbus planes and 14 turboprop aircraft at a total cost of $1.25 billion over the next six years.
The increasing volume of air transport passengers, brought about by the booming tourism industry, has in fact forced the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to extend by two more hours the period of operation of its international runway 06-24 to serve more flights of airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Kuwait Airlines, Emirates Airline, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airline and Qatar Airways.
Arrivals from Korea have been singled out as the biggest contributor to the tourist growth in the Philippines.
The tourism department said it would prepare a strategic and tactical marketing offensive in Seoul to further increase its fast-growing captive market.
Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said the department would launch the marketing blitz during the Korea World Travel Fair 2007 on June 7 to 10 at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Seoul.
Maricon Basco Ebron, who heads the department’s office in Korea, expects some 650,000 Korean tourists to visit the Philippines in 2007, up from 572,133 Koreans who came here last year.
“To be launched at the travel fair is a five-minute video of our new ‘Beyond the Usual’ campaign highlighting the uniqueness of Philippine destinations, festivals and parties, shopping and bargains, lifestyle and honeymoons, health and wellness, history and traditions, and nature, culture and adventure, and many other activities that set our country apart from the rest of Asia,” Durano said.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

BFP Aklan starts crackdown on erring boarding houses
BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan - The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Aklan has intensified its inspection to ensure the compliance of boarding houses here with the Fire Code safety standards.
Two weeks before the opening of classes, SFO4 Darius Melgarejo, administrative chief of BFP-Aklan, appealed to boarding house owners to comply with the requirements of the building and fire codes by installing fire safety provisions, or face closure.
So far, 28 boarding houses were recommended by BFP-Aklan for temporary closure.
Melgarejo stressed Mayor Raymar Rebaldo is closely coordinating with BFP-Aklan and the Kalibo Fire Station for the crackdown of erring boarding house owners to comply with fire safety provisions in the densely populated areas where college students normally stay.
“We could prevent disasters on those boarding houses with no adequate fire exits and safety devices if student boarders report to us the violations of the owners of the boarding houses,” Melgarejo added.
Among the violations noted were substandard electrical wiring, cramped rented rooms and inadequate bathrooms and water facilities.
BFP-Aklan, he added, are monitoring the violations of some restaurant owners in the Kalibo Public Market who clearly violates the municipal ordinance.
Under the law, BFP could recommend the closure of any establishment or boarding houses found violating the provisions of the law on fire safety measures, Melgarejo pointed out.
Chief Insp. Dennis Daymon, provincial fire marshal, said boarding houses and student occupants in C. Laserna area, Quezon Avenue, Oyo Torong Street and Brgy. Estancia and those within the vicinity of colleges and high schools are inspected for the safety of students and residents.
“Some owners, even, replied the students renting their rooms are their relatives when the task force conducted inspection," Melgarejo said.
Weaving Wonders
EMPOWERING WOMEN, STRENGTHENING THE FILIPINO FAMILY

BY JONATHAN L. MAYUGA

KALIBO, Aklan - When Javier and Anna India Legaspi started their small business of weaving pineapple and abaca fiber, all they wanted was to make a living.
Heritage Arts & Crafts soon grew over the years, with the couple’s virtues of hard work, patience and dedication.
Today, around 200 women from different parts of the province, once strictly housewives dependent on the income of their husbands, are now earning their own income from weaving inside their homes.
The industry has empowered women, who are no longer dependent on their husbands’ earnings.
The company now exports various hand-woven products to the United States, Columbia, France, Italy and Japan.
Undeniably, Heritage Arts & Crafts is now a major dollar-earner in the pineapple and abaca fiber weaving industry, bringing in an estimated US$50,000 annually—not bad for a small family business with humble beginnings.
“Hard work and dedication is the only real investment we made,” Javier said.
Javier, a native of Kalibo, Aklan, like his wife India, started their business with only one weaver—a housewife, whose hobby is weaving. From weaving simple table clothes and place mats out of abaca and pineapple fiber, the company now produces pineapple seda, banana seda, fine abaca and ply hemp cloth, abaca ribbons, pineapple seda scarves and shawls. They also export crochet hats, embroideries, fiber arts, paintings and many mores.
Partnership made in heaven
IN 1989, the couple’s “partnership” literally went beyond their vows of marriage when they decided to put up the business and became business partners.
The couple now has a pool of more than 200 weavers, who went though skills training and personal supervision by the couple.
“I was already planning to accept my father’s offer to migrate to the United States but eventually, I decided to stay with my wife. That was the time when we decided to start the business,” he said. The 60-year-old Javier, a mechanical engineering graduate, is the company’s chief executive officer while India, a fine arts graduate, is the artist.
“I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades but I am more of a manager. I manage the business while my wife, besides helping me run the business, works as our artist. She makes the designs based on the concepts of our clients,” he said.
From nothing to something
Weaving, Javier admitted, is not a full-time work. Weavers do not receive monthly salary as they only get paid based on what they produce.
“Put it this way. After doing their chores at home, mothers usually do nothing but watch television or look after their young children play. They can do that while weaving. They earn something out of it and become even more productive,” he said.
Skillful weavers who weave faster can earn more than minimum daily-wage earners, says Javier.
“Our company makes sure that our weavers earn enough to raise and send their children to a decent school,” he said.
Self-sustaining business
According to India, since they are making use of abaca and pineapple fibers, their business helps farmers boost their income in a way.
“We use natural materials. Local farmers grow abaca and pineapple and supply the raw materials to us. Sometimes, their wives are the ones weaving for us,” India said.
“That’s one way of making life self-sustaining in Aklan,” he added. “We discourage urban migration. We make sure that resources are well within reach,” he said.
Although most of the company’s products are exported, some of their products are sold locally and find their way to the local marketplace.
Empowering women
The couple adopted the business concept of outsourcing which, besides providing housewives a part-time job, preserves the Filipino family’s culture and tradition.
“We conduct training to enhance their skills and we provided them handlooms for weaving. Most women take care of their children at home while their husbands go to work. Since they can’t go to work because of the household chores, we thought of bringing in the work to their homes,” he explained.
India, for her part, said that as a woman and a mother, she understands her fellow mothers who want to be productive and help put food on the table, without having to sacrifice their roles as mother to their children and wife to their husband.
Heritage Arts & Craft maintains a small shop on L. Barrios Street in Kalibo, Aklan, where only a handful of weavers, mostly young and single women, work. Others also work in the office as clerks or marketing or sales assistants, but the rest of the pack stays at home, weaving abaca and pineapple fiber.
Strengthening Filipino family
Weavers work under the precept of pakyawan, which means they get paid for the kind of product and the volume of the products they produce.
Pakyawan is an old system developed and introduced by Chinese businessmen under the precept of “pay for work.”
India, who usually makes the designs, personally supervises the weavers at the small shop, and gives the weavers tips on how to do job faster and better.
She also visits weavers in their homes to check if they are doing well and to make sure that the production is well within target schedules.
One advantage of the pakyawan system over arawan, wherein employees or workers get paid on a daily basis, is that the families can help together to do the job making every member of the family more productive at home.
“They can teach every member of the family to weave and help finish the job early. The more productive they are, the more they earn. That’s very helpful because even their children can weave when the mothers do the chores.” Javier said.
In strengthening the Filipino family, he said, they encourage teamwork among family members. “Father, mother and children work together,” he said.
Making business manageable
Keeping the business small throughout the years, says Javier, is the secret of their humble success.
“We don’t produce products without an assured market. Our production is based only on the orders,” he said.
He said the company has very few stocks. However, he added that when orders do come in, they make sure that they can produce the quantity based on the export quality standards the company is known for. In fact, he said they only spend only around P100,000 to P200,000 a month for supply of raw materials which they produce, based on orders from abroad.
Javier said keeping the business small also avoids a lot of problems normally encountered when business grows bigger and bigger.
Rivalry, he said, is one of them. Investment, he added, is also small if the business is small. Nevertheless, he said, the business can be productive and revenue-generating.
“Investment is small if you keep the business small,” he said. According to the couple, they don’t intend to force an expansion. “We want the market to decide. If the orders grow, then that’s the time we will have to grow,” he said.
Right now, the couple said it is all right for them to do business to make a living—for them and at least the families of their more than 200 weavers.
Hot, Hot, Hot!
BY NEIL RAY RAMOS

BORACAY - That—in a nutshell, best describes this year’s edition of Nestea Beach.
Already in it’s 11th year, Nestea Beach once again confirmed itself a veritable magnet for action seekers, volleyball enthusiasts and sun worshippers, who, like in celebrations past, came in droves to crowd the already teeming shores of Bora for a glimpse of one of the country’s most intense beach volley action.
That said, of course, there are those who are into it more for the sidelights particularly the parties and the celebrities.
According to Nestea consumer marketing manager Tina Samaco, it’s simply all about fun and excitement. “Over the years, Nestea Beach has been tantamount to exciting summers. This year is certainly no exception.”
And the choice of Bora as venue is still appropriate she said. “There’s no other beach paradise as big and as beautiful. We want to try other beaches but we haven’t found a beach area which can accommodate the size of crowd the event attracts each year,” alleged Samaco.
We couldn’t agree more, as the four-day event saw huge multitudes gathering themselves daily at the beach fronting Hey Jude Bar even as the sun burned. But it’s all worth it as the games bear out.
Stunning upset
From 48 teams from 34 colleges and universities nationwide that competed in the eliminations at La Salle Green Hills, 27 teams from 17 schools made it to the semis and final rounds.
In the end, University of Visayas’ Janez Igot and Jusabelle Brillo took down their counterparts from Southwestern University in the women’s division while in the men’s division, Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi’s duo of Gabshar Tahilludin and Yusop Abdulkarim pulled off a stunning upset over the greatly favored Joshua Alcarde and Jeremy Floyd Pedregosa of Far Eastern University.
University of Visayas and Mindanao State University brought home the P150,000 top prize each while their head coaches each took home P50,000.
“I’ve been coaching volleyball for 20 years and I considered this one as my biggest achievements,” said University of Visayas head coach Raffy Briones.
For 22-year-old Brillo, who is majoring in criminology, the amount meant only one thing: I’ll get myself a new scooter,” she said beaming.
“This is for Mindanao. We’re so happy and so proud to finally win this one,” exclaimed Abdulkarim after thrashing Far Eastern University.
Mindanao State University’s come from behind conquest of Far Eastern University was undeniably, one of the most exciting finals matches in Nestea Beach Volley history. “Well, this is our last year so we came out more aggressive. It [was] now or never,” said the 26-year-old Tahilludin after receiving the P150,000 champions’ purse.
Scintillating celebs
Intense as the inter-school part of the tourney was, the celebrity matches was as scintillating and as entertaining. Seemingly inspired, the chiseled men and curvy women of local tinsel town gave their all in providing the crowd a fun and engaging contest even as the mid-day sun smolder hotly on their back.
The celebrity teams consisted of—(Team 1) Geoff Rodriguez, Tisha Silang, Andrew Neri and Mondo Armedilla; (Team 2) Brad Turvey, Nancy Castiglione, Karel Marquez and Bubbles Paraiso; (Team 3) Sam Oh, JR Isaac, Philip Cu–Unjieng and Iya Villania; (Team 4) Robby Mananquil, Valerie de los Santos, Amiel Cabanlig and Reema Chanco (hey, love that tan!).
After a few tumbles and spills (and laughs), the team of Rodriguez outplayed the team of Oh to clinch the Nestea Beach 2007 Celebrity Match Championship.
Beach revelry galore
But the fun didn’t end there. Came sundown there were the parties.
First off, was a sexy fashion show at the Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel that featured bodacious models parading the beachside creations of Boracay-based designer PJ Arañador. This went on the next night as ethnic/alternative band Kadangyan played a superb set at the “Brazilian Night” party held at Summer Place.
The “Egyptian” victory party held at Crystal Sand the following night, where Nestea gave away cool prizes and freebies galore, was another memorable one, highlighted as it was by the lively and wacky performance from Parokya ni Edgar, who aside from doing their hits also covered a couple of popular tunes from other bands to the delight of the gathered throng.
All told, boozing and partying became a nightly affair for us. Not that we’re complaining of course as indeed, the beach, the babes, the booze all go well together.
Keeping it clean
Yet it wasn’t all fun and parties. Nestea also did a beach clean-up campaign along Boracay’s stations 1 and 2, which saw the likes of Turvey, Castiglione and Oh together with island residents, resort owners and tourists earnestly picking up trash along the coastline.
Aside from the usual clean–up program that Nestea has been doing for the past 10 years, the company has decided to give donations to the Philippine Business for Social Progress.
“Supporting the beaches in our country is one of the projects of PBSP. And we love to be part of that. It is our way of giving back to the environment particularly our beaches, where Nestea has always held numerous successful events,” Tina shared.
Looking ahead, one can’t help but be keyed up at what the official drink of summer has in store for everyone next year. Whatever it is, we’re betting our tattered board shorts it’s going to be another heady summer blend that is definitely worth the plunge!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Women make presence felt in Aklan politics
BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

WOMEN POWER. Mayor Delfina Ramos of the town of Batan, Aklan with his vice mayor-elect Jayner Demeterio (ACMagno)

KALIBO, Aklan - Women politicians are making their presence felt in Aklan politics. Five women mayors have been elected mayors out of 17 towns - the biggest number of women elected to office in Aklan history.
The newly elected mayors are Delfina Ramos (Kampi, Batan), Elverita Templonuevo (Kampi, Numancia), Dr. Kathryne Refol (Lakas-CMD, Altavas), Maria Lourdes Miraflores (Kampi, Ibajay) and Noemi Cordero (Nacionalista Party, Balete).
Mayor Miraflores is the wife of reelected Aklan Rep. Florencio Miraflores (Kampi), a three-termer Aklan governor and former Ibajay town mayor. Cordero is the sister of 'graduating' mayor Teodoro Calizo Jr of the town of Balete.
Three reelectionist vice mayors - Dr. Nilda Tambong (Nacionalista Party, Kalibo), Rosie Iguban (Lakas-CMD, Malinao) and Jean Velarde (Lakas-CMD, New Washington) were also proclaimed winners in the May 14, 2007 elections.
But there's a first-timer in the vice mayor's league -Evangeline Maypa-Ibabao of Numancia bringing to four the number of vice-mayor-women in the province.
Meanwhile, incumbent Dr. Daisy Briones (Nacionalista Party) and former vice governor Jean Rodriquez also made it in the Magic 10 of the Aklan Sangguniang Panlalawigan race while former congresswoman Gabrielle Calizo (Nacionalista Party) was elected as vice governor of Aklan.
In Kalibo, two incumbents - Lilian Quimpo Tirol and Madeline Ang-Regalado were reelected as Sangguniang Bayan members. Reelectionist Jonna Morales-Torres and neophyte Rosemarie Piolo were also proclaimed in the town of Banga.

OTOP fair in Boracay will make island’s potentials shine brighter – Remonde

BORACAY - “Through the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippine Trade Fair, Boracay Island’s potentials for growth will shine even more brightly and nearby provinces’ treasures will all be discovered.”
Secretary Cerge Remonde, Chief of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) has this to say as keynote speaker in the 2nd Visayas OTOP Fair, on-going since May 23 up to May 27 hosted by the province of Aklan with venue at the La Carmela Resort in Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.
The OTOP fair focuses on selling the products produced by participating regions.
Remonde, who is also the Oversight Official for the Development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) also said he sees too the potentials for MSMEs development, and although some have already established their place in the island, there is still room for micro enterprises to prosper.
A total of 107 micro and small and medium enterprises in the Visayas are participating in the 5-day OTOP Trade Fair.
OTOP is one of the priority programs of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that promotes entrepreneurship and creates jobs in the countryside. It encourages MSMEs to produce and market distinct products or services using indigenous raw materials and manpower of every municipality or city.
According to DTI Aklan officials, participating regions in the 2nd Visayas OTOP Fair are Region 6 with 40 SMEs; Region 7, 36; and Region 8, 25 SMEs.
Nine (9) Aklan SMEs are participating in the OTOP Fair, mostly from the Piña loom-weaving sector.
In his keynote speech, Remonde also revealed that as of February this year, government agencies involved in MSME development have already released P159.8 billion in loans to more than 2.6 million active micro finance clients and SAME accounts, generating more than 1.5 million jobs.
“And I am also telling you here and now that with the President’s full support, we will move heaven and earth and climb the highest mountain to generate more jobs, create more entrepreneurs and ultimately bring to fruition our common dream of a progressive and prosperous Philippines for the generations to come, Remonde stressed.
Job creation, the immediate benefit of the MSME program, is a priority under the social payback program of PGMA, according to Remonde.
Here in Aklan, SMEs are noted to have realized sales income of P172.9 million in 2006.
SMEs also continuously provide jobs to thousands of Aklanons engaged in the loom-weaving, food processing, furniture and gifts and house wares sectors.
Last year’s 1st Visayan OTOP Fair was held in Cebu City. That time, Aklan was the 2nd top seller in the fair held at SM-Cebu Trade Hall. (Philippine Information Agency)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Micro, small, medium enterprises
from Visayas display wares in Boracay
BY MAX V. DE LEON
BORACAY - A total of 107 micro, small and medium enterprises from the Visayas participating in the government’s One-Town, One-Product (OTOP) program get to display their wares to foreign tourists in the white-sand beaches of Boracay in a five-day fair that started Wednesday.
Participating in the fair are 46 exhibitors from Region 6, 37 in Region 7 and 30 in Region 8.
“It is our first time to have a DTI trade fair in Boracay. Aside from sharing our beautiful beaches, we need to develop local products that we can sell to local and foreign tourists,” said Trade and Industry Undersecretary Carissa Cruz-Evangelista of the Regional Operations Group, who is also the OTOP national program manager.
Cruz-Evangelista said this year’s fair will feature product improvements made by entrepreneurs from last year’s presentation, which served as the first Visayas OTOP fair held at SM City Cebu from November 23 to 26.
She said OTOP consultants have helped the producers to make their products more competitive in the market by providing more input for design, merchandising and packaging.
“Success of OTOP hinges on local government support and the support of our partner line agencies, like the Department of Tourism, which is promoting our rich culture, traditional travel spots nationwide,” she said.
“Also, each municipality has to buy into the idea that it needs to create a product or service for which it will be known for not only in the national but also for the international sector,” Cruz-Evangelista said.
The OTOP is a priority government program that aims to spur countryside development by encouraging more people to engage in home-grown business.
Since OTOP’s inception in 2004, it has now 1,240 validated municipal and provincial OTOP products. Ten regions are now exporting their OTOP products to the world.
As of December 2006, the program has generated P3.2 billion worth of investments and 142,227 new jobs, developed 3,589 new SMEs and assisted 9,473 small businesses.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No truth on relief of Aklan police director
BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan - Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr laughed off reports of his relief as acting police director of the Aklan Provincial Police Office (APPO). Earlier, there were reports that some chiefs of police were unsatisfied of Durana's "transformation program" and policies for the APPO's uniformed and non-uniformed personnel.
Durana, a member of Class 1988 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), urged policemen to support his programs - wearing of helmets, refraining from going to cockpit arenas and beerhouses, conduct daily morning prayer and wearing of proper uniforms while on duty.
"The misgivings of some chiefs of police are purely hearsay. The impending relief order is untrue," he stressed.
APPO has 18 police stations in 17 towns, including the Boracay Special Tourist Protection Office (BSTPO) in the famous island of Boracay.
Durana, who assumed his post on January 13, 2007, said he would strongly implements the PNP's transformation program to maintain peace and order in the barangays, support the tourism policies of the provincial government, provide a customer service desk in every police station and conduct trainings on customer skills service to his men.
Durana, a Metrobank Foundation Search for the Country's Outstanding Policemen in Service (Cops) 2005 recipient, underwent a six-month strategic management training course with the London police involving criminal investigation, handling of hostages and other crisis situations, and counterterrorism last year.

“Whether at the height of challenge or celebration, I will be here for all of you in times of victory not just as acting police director but as a father and a fellow servant of God and the people,” he stressed.
Durana was also the chief of the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response (Pacer) based in Metro Manila.He led police operations to neutralize the Ilonggo-Waray robbery and kidnap-for-ransom group and the most wanted masterminds of the Calauag massacre.
Durana was also assigned at the Office of the Chief Directorial Staff, PNP Camp Crame in 2005 and former head of PNP’s Transformation Program during the stint of PNP chief Arturo Lomibao.
AIDS wastes 17 in Western Visayas
BY T. VILLAVERT

ILOILO CITY - AIDS has already claimed the lives of 17 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs), out of the 47 in Western Visayas who have been afflicted with the disease, according to Ms. Charity Perea, HIV/AIDS Coordinator of the Department of Health (DOH) during the AIDS Candlelight Memorial at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Grounds, recently.
The relatively low figure, however, is no reason to let down our guard, Perea said. "It is possible that there are several PLWHAs out there, who are afraid and or ashamed to come out".
The remaining 30 PLWHAs are those who bravely came out and sought medical assistance from the DOH and other NGOs.
HIV refers to the Human immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is a virus that attacks the body's immune system and then causes AIDS. AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a fatal syndrome because the progressive damage to the body's immune system leaves people highly susceptible to contracting certain diseases.
Perea emphasized that there is no cure for AIDS, but a person infected with the virus can extend his/her life and improve the quality of his/her life in a number of ways.
She mentioned of the anti-retroviral drugs (ARV) which help reduce mortality and morbidity, but these are very expensive.
PLWHAs who turn themselves confidentially with the DOH, are given medical assistance. Some of the PLWHAs in the region are openly joining in the advocacy of the government to prevent and control HIV/AIDS.
The Regional HIV/AIDS Coordinator was happy to declare during the program that Western Visayas is the only Region in the country that has organized the PLWHAs and likewise several government and non-government organizations closely helping the DOH raise public awareness on HIV/AIDS.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Piña fiber’s ‘power’
BY BOMBETTE G. MARIN

PIÑA is a soft, delicate textured fabric from Aklan. The durable fibers of the piña cloth come from premium mature leaves of pineapples of the Red Spanish variety and are woven by highly skilled and patient weavers, mostly old women who have inherited their weaving skills from their elders. Aklan is known as the Piña Capital of the World.
The use of piña in the olden times tended to follow power as it helped create an impressive image, a statement of authority, power and legitimacy to the one wearing it. It even inspired controversy because it fed vanity as people, especially the women, competed with one another for elegance in dress.
Modernity drove the wearing of the fabric almost to extinction when changes in fashion later on promoted trade during the 1700 as imported fabrics such as cotton were imported to the Philippines.
Clothing up to this day continues to function as a social sign. Where a person garbed in piña fabric still serves as an indication of one’s status and wealth and keeping up with piña fashion proved expensive. It is expensive because preparing the fiber is laborious and painful. The fabric is no longer than 30 inches and it almost take at least two months of solid work for a weaver to produce ten meters of the piña cloth. The weaver’s hand sometimes bear scars from cuts they get from the sharp fiber. Favored automated processes of weaving fabrics were made and a great variety possible. But, the used of the piña thread is so fine that weaving it cannot be mechanized. Weaving piña fibers is far more burdensome than cotton or silk.
The piña fabric can have designs, either inlaid or embroidered with popular local designs such as flowers, coconut trees and nipa huts, and are worked in thread and a needle.

The fabric can last longer than any other if cared for properly. Its original texture and color can last for decades thus, making it a sound investment for fashion. It is also known for its amusing shine and strength and is usually pale ecru in color but can be dyed and can produce colors of black or blues.
Although popular these days are many textiles produced by automated processes, these weavers continue to create this beautiful fabric on hand-looms.
The growing economic and cultural influence in clothing, perceived a more democratic and more natural in terms of design, the fabric used and clothing style. However, there are still those who drew their fashion inspiration from the past.
Aklan DPWH completes P20M infras

KALIBO, Aklan – Four major infrastructure projects worth P20 million had been completed in Aklan by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Aklan Engineering District.
District Engineer Delano Pelayo and Assistant District Engr. Ludovico Amboboyog said these four major projects include:
* asphalt Overlay on Existing Concrete Pavement along Junction Nabas-Kalibo road section started on January 18, 2006 and completed March 8, 2007;* construction of the P5-million Calimbajan Access Raod at Makato and Tangalan which was started on June 15, 2006 and completed March 8, 2007; * construction of the P5-million Calimbajan Access Road at Makato and Tangalan which was started on June 15, 2006 and completed February 10, 2007; * construction of Agbalili River Control/Revetment Wall (gabion type) worth P5 million located at Sitio Agbalili, Altavas started on July 21, 2006 and completed on November 26, 2006 and construction / improvement of the multi-purpose pavement (Phase 2) around Pastrana Park, one of the thriving business areas in the poblacion, started November 17, 2006 and completed March 16, 2007.
The asphalt overlay at Junction Nabas-Kalibo is seen to make the travel of tourists arriving through the Kalibo Airport comfortable and smooth when going to Boracay Island.
With the recent inauguration too of direct flights from Incheon, South Korea to Kalibo Airport, more tourists are expected to pass this route.
The route is a major component of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SNRH) of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo connecting the provinces of Iloilo and Capiz to the Jetty Port of Caticlan, Malay.
The Caticlan Jetty Port serves the Roll On, Roll Off (RORO) vessels from Manila through Batangas and Mindoro.
The construction of the P5-million Calimbajan Access Road at Makato and Tangalan is part of the continuous implementation and rehabilitation of farm-to-market roads to improve arterial roads linking the different rural areas in the province in support of the economic development activities of Aklan farmers, while mitigating the adverse effect of annual flooding that causes the destruction of prime agricultural lands and residential areas in Sitio Agbalili, Altavas, is the main purpose in constructing the Agbalili River Control/Revetment Wall.
In Kalibo, DPWH-Aklan’s most visible project is the construction/improvement of the multi-purpose pavement (Phase 2) around Pastrana Park. The place is one of the thriving business areas in Poblacion Kalibo.
Pastrana Park, fronting the Kalibo Cathedral, is the congregating point for participants and guests attending the annual celebration of the world-renowned Kalibo Sto. Niño Ati-Atihan Festival, processions during the Holy Week and other religious activities, graduations, programs, amateur contests as well as political rallies and other gatherings hosted by Aklan’s capital town.
For 2007, DPWH -Aklan is targeting the the implementation of some more major high-impact projects like the concreting of Boracay Road worth P15 million; construction of Diversion By-pass Road along Kalibo-Iloilo Highway, Banga Section – P15 million; concreting of Altavas Diversion Road – P17,200,000; and rehabilitation of Kalibo Bridge – P47,200,000.
The more or less kilometer-long Kalibo Bridge links the provinces of Iloilo, Capiz and Aklan to Antique and the western towns of Aklan.
Malay, where Boracay Island is located, is one of Aklan’s western towns.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Vice guv to retire from politics
BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan – After a lopsided defeat from vice governor-elect and former Aklan congresswoman Gabrielle Calizo (Nacionalista Party), lawyer-journalist Ronquillo “Kel” Conanan Tolentino (Lakas-CMD) is retiring from politics.
Over DyRU Super Radyo Kalibo, Tolentino said he had decided to leave politics for good and would pursue his public service as lawyer-journalist.
"All what I have done was service to humanity, a genuine public service in the next years to come through media. As journalist, we could still deliver services to our people," he stressed.
Tolentino, a three-termer Sangguniang Panlalawigan member, had been an Assistant Provincial Secretary, Provincial Manager of the Bureau of Employment Services, Ministry of Labor in Aklan and former Kalibo Sangguniang Bayan member.
He is a seasoned columnist of Panay News, an alumnus of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and the former secretary-general of the National Union of Students of the Philippines for Western Visayas.
In 2004, he was elected vice governor of Aklan under the ruling local coalition Tibyog Akean, but he lost his reelection bid to Calizo.
Calizo got 109,097 votes. Tolentino had 71,508.
As presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Tolentino was instrumental in the passage of landmark ordinances, including the Economic Enterprise Development Department.
The 63-year-old veteran journalist is thinking also his retirement as professor of a law school and would concentrate in socio-civic organizations like Philippine National Red Cross, Aklan Press Club and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, administration candidate Carlito Marquez (Lakas-CMD) dominated the gubernatorial race, besting his three closest rivals, according to Commission on Elections(Comelec).
At 3:30 a.m. Friday last week, Marquez was proclaimed the winner. The Comelec tally showed the reelectionist leading with 90,623 votes compared with the 72,339 votes of Anita Victoria Ramos (United Opposition).
Maria Bettina Mobo-Garcia (Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban) got 28,543 and Karen Grace Galvan (Partido ng Masang Pilipino) had 1,155 votes, out of 17 towns canvassed.
In the two-cornered fight for vice governor, incumbent Tolentino (Lakas-CMD) lost in his reelection bid to Calizo (Nacionalista Party).
In the lone congressional race, reelectionist Cong. Florencio Miraflores (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino) won over former Manila Treasurer Anthony Acevedo (PMP-GO).Miraflores, former Aklan governor from 1995 to 2001, garnered 130,093 votes compared to his rival who got 52,067 votes.
Out of the 17 towns, 14 Tibyog Akean mayors aligned with Marquez and Miraflores were elected, except for the towns of Malay, Banga and Balete.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

SENATE RACE
It’s 8-2-2 for Genuine Opposition in Aklan
BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan – Genuine Opposition candidates almost sweep the senatorial race in Aklan after Loren Legarda and seven of his fellow opposition bets were on top 12 in the official tally of the Commission of Elections (Comelec).
Legarda is leading with 123,257 votes, followed by Rep. Francis Escudero, 116,644 and Manny Villar, 108,116.
Independent candidate Kiko Pangilinan grabbed the fourth spot with 99,085 followed by Panfilo Lacson, 93,626 and Benigno Aquino III with 89,635 votes.
Team Unity candidate Edgardo Angara is on the seventh position with 80,252, followed by Allan Peter Cayetano (GO) with 75,418.
Former Senator Gregorio Honasan came next with 68,031 followed by Antonio Trillanes, 65,503, Aquilino Pimentel, 63,313 and TU bet Miguel Zubiri took the 12th spot with 62,872 votes.
Team Unity candidates Ralph Recto, 61,595 (13th), Joker Arroyo, 61,178 (14th) and Prospero Pichay, 58,232 votes for the 15th spot.
Livin’ la vida buena in Boracay BY ISAH V. RED

BORACAY - If some of us think Boracay is overrated, overexposed, overcrowded, and too hedonistic for comfort, you’d be surprised there are still those who think of it as one of the best places in this planet to spend a much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life in the concrete jungles of Makati and Ortigas Centre in Pasig and Mandaluyong.
Donita Rose is one. Yes, Donita, the former MTV VJ who is now blissfully settled with Eric Villarama, an information technology wizard working in Singapore, and mother to five-year-old son Joshua Paul, is hosting a travel magazine special titled Boracay ‘007.
“This is something out of the ordinary,” the still pretty Donita told us over lunch at Chili’s on Tomas Morato in Quezon City. “It is a documentary but not of the serious kind. We did some crazy stuff here to make it interesting to the audience.”
The show, by the way, is not going to be seen by Filipinos in the Philippines, but by Filipinos living abroad who, perhaps, have never heard of or been to Boracay in their lives. It will be telecast on ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel where it is available worldwide.
How did she get involved in a travel show?
A few months ago, Boracay Beach Club (in Station 1) main man Ariel Abriam had a notion of doing a TV special completely dedicated to the paradise island. His partner Koy Rivera said “hmmmm...” and called on two other buddies, Alvin Anson and Cyril Lorenzana. Koy later asked Angeli Valenciano what she thought of the idea and she answered with “Let’s put this on TFC and get Donita Rose to host!”
The four gentlemen who got together for this one-of-a-kind TV special call themselves Moguls.
Boracay ‘007 is essentially a travel magazine show on which Donita (the main host) invites some friends (model and Hit FM 99.5 DJ Tracy Abad, Magic 89.9 DJ Joey Agustin, and Koy) to come and spend some time in Boracay.
It is almost like a how-to-show. It tells the audience how to go to the island from Manila via Caticlan; where to take a pump-boat to the island; and how to live la vida loca en la isla.
Alvin Anson, an actor now based in Los Angeles, is the island partymeister. The hosts show where the viewers can stay (featuring the unique characteristics of the individual hotel). The audience gets information on where to eat (from exotic street foods to the fine dining restaurants).
The group then parties the night away at the choicest happening places, from sunset happy hour chill-out to the hottest dance grooves. They relax through massages on the beach. They have tons of fun doing a variety of available water sports and land-based trail activities.
The many facets of the island are discovered and experienced through the eyes of the hosts as they tie the show together on board a 70-ft. yacht and cruise the Boracay skyline with a helicopter. (It is the first time audiences can view an aerial shot of Boracay taken from a chopper.)
Manila Genesis Entertainment partnered up with the Moguls in this endeavor. It seemed only fitting with Alvin and Koy being two of the artists represented by them. Koy and Cyril shared directorial duties with the latter also doing the editing.
Original music was done by Minco Fabregas and the fun writing penned by Jackie Castillejo. Commander Ariel Abriam (US Navy, retired) provided all the fun stuff and gave everyone moral support by saying “yehey!” all the time. Mayor Ceciron Cawaling was also very generous in his support of the show.
Donita is very excited over the project. “This is one way of promoting Boracay not only to Filipinos abroad but also to foreigners who have not visited the island,” she says.
This was actually the first time Donita spent so much time on the island. Prior to the project, she had spent no more than three days in Boracay. Nowadays, you can hardly get her out of the place. She has since been lovingly adopted by the residents and is now considered a Boracaynon. The island has left her perpetually blooming. She is currently helping the Moguls think and come up with more shows to do on the island. Can anybody blame her?
(Boracay ‘007 (part 1), your guide to a dreamy lifestyle, will be airing May 27, Sunday on TFC at 11 a.m. in North America and Asia-Pacific, 11:15 a.m. in the Middle East, and 11:45 a.m. in Europe. In each region’s local time.

Friday, May 18, 2007

AKLAN ELECTIONS
Miraflores-Marquez tandem, Calizo proclaimed winners

BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan – Administration candidate Carlito Marquez (Lakas-CMD) dominated the gubernatorial race against his three closest rivals, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) official tally.
As of 3:30 a.m. proclamation, the Comelec tally showed reelectionist Marquez leading with 90,623 votes compared with 72,339 votes of Anita Victoria Ramos (United Opposition) for the winning margin of 18,284 votes.
Maria Bettina Mobo-Garcia got 28,543 (Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban) and Karen Grace Galvan (Partido ng Masang Pilipino) with 1,155 votes, out of 17 towns canvassed.
In the two-cornered fight for vice governor, incumbent Ronquillo Tolentino (Lakas-CMD) lost in his reelection bid against former Aklan solon Gabrielle Calizo (Nacionalista Party). Calizo cornered 109,097 votes while his lone rival got 71,508 votes.
In the lone congressional race, reelectionist Rep. Florencio Miraflores (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino) won over former Manila Treasurer Anthony Acevedo (PMP-GO).
Miraflores, former Aklan governor from 1995 to 2001, garnered 130,093 votes compared to his rival who got 52,067 votes.
Out of the 17 towns, 14 Tibyog Akean mayors aligned with Marquez and Miraflores were elected, except for the towns of Malay, Banga and Balete.
Four administration candidates were proclaimed Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) members (Western side) – reelectionists Selwyn Ibarreta, 44,137 votes (Liberal Party), Pedro Garcia, 41,646 (Kampi), Jose Yap, 41,294 (Lakas-CMD) and Gerick Templonuevo, 36,788 (Lakas-CMD).
Reelectionist opposition candidate Ramon Gelito (Liberal Party) got 34,046 votes to grab the 5th spot.
Three opposition bets led by retired police officer Nemesio Neron (Liberal Party) with 47,264 votes also captured seats in SP Eastern side followed by reelectionist Dr. Daisy Sucro-Briones (40,250) and former Akelco board president Rodson Mayor (NP) with 38,390 votes.
Reelectionist lawyer Plaridel Morania (Lakas-CMD) grabbed the third slot with 38,956 votes and former vice governor Jean Rodriguez (Kampi) with 34,606 votes for the 5th spot.
Aklan has 273,738 registered voters. The capital town of Kalibo has 36,162 voters followed by Ibajay (22,116), New Washington (21,891), Banga (20,174), 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).
The official canvassing of votes was supervised by Atty. Renault Macarambon, First Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Montalid Patnubay Jr and Deped Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Victorina Laroza.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

LACHICA LOSES ANEW
Rebaldo, Tambong dominate Kalibo elections

BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL
WINNING MAYOR. Reelectionist mayor Raymar Rebaldo thanks his supporters for their support in the recently concluded May 14 polls (BRZabal)

KALIBO, Aklan – Raymar Acevedo-Rebaldo stood tall as he was declared the mayor of the capital town of Aklan for the third time, finally dominating the ‘bout’ against perennial mayoral candidate William Lachica.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec), through the Municipal Board of Canvassers led by Election Officer III Francisco Palomar, made the proclamation at the Kalibo Sangguniang Bayan Hall at around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The board also proclaimed reelectionist Dr. Nilda Tambong (Nacionalista Party-Uno) as vice mayor and the eight councilors out of the 20 candidates after a 48-hour canvassing of votes.
Rebaldo (Lakas-CMD-Tibyog Akean) garnered a total of 13,468 votes, defeating two other candidates, including opposition bet Lachica (Nacionalista Party-Uno), who got 13,299 votes or a slim margin of 169 votes.
The town of Kalibo has 176 precincts in 16 barangays and 36,162 registered voters, according to Comelec records.
Tambong defeated three-termer councilor Ariel Fernandez, running mate of Rebaldo. She got 16,856 votes against her closest rival with 8,726 votes. Blas Carrillo, another opposition mayoral bet, tallied 753 votes only.
Rebaldo, a multi-awarded chief executive, said his first order of the business is to reconcile with his opponents – Lachica and Apolonio Zaraspe III, who got 791 votes.
Former vice mayor Lachica ran against Rebaldo in the May 10, 2004 mayoral elections but lost by 81 votes. Two weeks after, Lachica filed an election protest with a regional trial court.
On September 29, 2006, Judge Eustaquio Terencio junked the complaint, saying, Lachica failed to substantiate in evidence the grounds to nullify the proclamation of Rebaldo as duly elected mayor of Kalibo.
“We have no right to put any personal and political consideration above public service to our town. We have no right but to focus our duties to our constituents,” he told reporters after the proclamation.
Rebaldo’s supporters, including her wife Alita, brother Randy Rebaldo and his mother, Provincial Assessor Mary Jean Acevedo-Rebaldo, were among those who witnessed his proclamation.
Abu nga saemat sa bulig ag pagmahae ninyo kakon ag para sa banwa it Kalibo. Kabay pa giyahan kita gihapon it Ginoo para sa ikamayad ko aton nga pumueoyo,” Rebaldo pointed out
Outside the canvassing area, around 50 supporters of Lachica assembled to protest the proceedings of Palomar in the counting of votes almost an hour before the proclamation.
Uniformed men from the Kalibo PNP led by Chief Insp. Arnold Ardiente and the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) from the Aklan Provincial Police Police (APPO) also secured the vicinity of the town hall.
Palomar, for his part, was unfazed by the allegations of Lachica’s supporters. He said the holding of a peaceful, orderly and honest election in this town and the outcome of the elections should be respected by local candidates.
After the proclamation, Rebaldo and running mate Fernandez marched towards the Tibyog Akean local headquarters, about 20 meters from the canvassing area, amid the cheers of his supporters and family members.
Four councilors aligned with ruling coalition Tibyog Akean were elected – reelectionists Mark Vega-Quimpo (Liberal Party) with 14,320 votes followed by Lilian Quimpo-Tirol (Lakas-CMD) with 12,710 and Gregorio Malapad Jr (11,781) of Kampi and Andagao barangay captain Ronce Reyes (Lakas-CMD) with 9,245 votes.
Four opposition bets - Emmanuel Soviet Russia Dela Cruz got the third-highest votes with 12,545 (Liberal Party) followed by reelectionist Madeline Ang-Regalado (11,993), Poblacion barangay captain Peter Jean Lao with 10,805 and Poblacion barangay kagawad Buencamino Villanueva (9,160), all of Nacionalista Party, to complete the eight councilor’s slots.
Korean tourists to reach 650,000 this year—DoT
BY RODERICK T. DELA CRUZ

AROUND 650,000 Korean tourists, many of them honeymooners and students, are expected to visit the different destinations in the Philippines this year, the Department of Tourism said.
Maricon Basco Ebron, who heads the department’s office in Korea, said the figure would be about 14 percent higher than the 572,133 Koreans who traveled to the Philippines last year.
Korea replaced the United States as the largest tourism market of the Philippines and accounted for a fifth of all international visitors in the country in 2006.
Ebron said arrivals were on track toward meeting the 2007 target, as data show that visitors from Korea increased 18.8 percent to 171,716 in the first quarter of the year from 144,768 a year ago.
Arrivals from Korea represented 21.7 percent of the total international arrivals of 790,888 in the January-March period. The United States accounted for 19.8 percent.
Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano said the bulk of foreign tourists came from Korea, US, Japan and China because of the Philippines’ competitive advantage in such markets.
“Korea, Japan and certain parts of China have the Philippines as their nearest tropical neighbor, while the United States has an increasing number of Filipino-Americans visiting the country regularly,” he said.
“The biggest increase in actual numbers at 26,948 came from Korea, indicating that our promotional campaign is hitting our specific target market squarely,” Durano said.
Durano was referring to the department’s four priority segments of Korea’s 11.6 million outbound market, composed of students, holiday seekers, honeymooners, and special interest groups such as golfers, scuba divers and other sports buffs.
“The first quarter, mostly comprising winter and partly spring, is really the best time for Koreans to travel abroad to escape the very cold weather. That is why we intensify our campaign before and during this period targeting our four priority market segments. And it certainly shows that our choice of media for the campaign is correct, particularly the cable TV programs and magazines that cater to our target market,” he said.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ELECTION WATCH
Tibyog Akean-Team Unity mayoral bets show force
BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL

KALIBO, Aklan - Out of 17 towns in Aklan, 13 bets of the ruling coalition Tibyog Akean-Team Unity have so far captured the mayoral seats in the crucial mid-term polls.
In the hotly-contested mayoral race in the town of Banga, opposition bet businessman Antonio Maming (Nacionalista Party) emerged victorious against his three opponents – incumbent mayor-lawyer Jeremy Fuentes (Liberal Party), Dr. Mercedes Imperial (Lakas-CMD) and former Banga mayor Dr. Stevens Fuentes.
Reelectionist Ceciron Cawaling (NP), another opposition mayoral bet, also defeated his two rivals – Vice Mayor Frolibar Bautista (LDP) and businessman Waldemar Marasigan in the town of Malay and the renowned island resort of Boracay.
In the town of Balete, businesswoman and opposition candidate Noemi Calizo-Cordero (NP), elder sister of former Aklan solon Gabrielle Calizo, convincingly won against Roque Melde Oquendo Sr (Kampi).
Incumbent Roberto Garcia Jr. (PDP-Laban) lost in his reelection bid against Maria Lourdes Miraflores (Kampi), wife of incumbent Aklan Cong. Florencio Miraflores, in the much-awaited mayoral fight in vote-rich town of Ibajay.
But the camps of Garcia is calling for public vigilance on alleged massive irregularities in the just concluded midterm election and would filed a disqualification case with the Comelec against his opponent.
In Numancia, Elverita Templonuevo (Kampi), wife of three-termer mayor Ernesto Templonuevo, overwhelmed lawyer Adolfo Iligan (NP) for the mayoral post.
Incumbent mayor Ramon Legaspi Jr. (Kampi) won against former Akelco manager Leovigildo Mationg (Liberal Party) in the town of Makato. In Tangalan, youthful three-termer vice-mayor Gene Fuentes (Lakas-CMD) defeated businessman Glenn Tabang (NP) for the mayoral race.
In Batan, Delfina Ramos (Kampi), wife of three-termer mayor Herodutos Ramos, defeated incumbent Vice Mayor Dante Reyes (Uno-PDP-Laban) and businessman Romeo Abella (NP). Incumbent acting Lezo mayor Victor Fernandez (Kampi) prevailed over Alejandro Arcenio Sr (Liberal Party).
In the town of Libacao, reelectionist mayor Charito Navarosa (Kampi) outdueled councilor Edwin Inosanto (Uno). Incumbent Malinao mayor Dominador Ilio Jr. (Kampi) also defeated three-termer councilor Edwin Garcia (NP), now a mayoral bet.
Reelectionist Nabas mayor Romeo Dalisay (Kampi) outclassed his two opponents – Juana Amatonding (Partido ng Masang Pilipino-Genuine Opposition) and Cipriano Casidsid (NP).
In the town of Altavas, Dr. Kathryne Refol (Kampi), wife of three-termer mayor Denny Refol, won over businesswoman Rosario Belarmino (NP).
Incumbent Madalag mayor Rex Gubatina (Kampi) also defeated his two opponents – Archimedes Orbista (NP) and businessman Ambrosio Diapo.
In the town of New Washington, lawyer Edgar Peralta (Lakas-CMD), brother of three-termer mayor Edmund Peralta, defeated his four rivals – former mayor Eriberto Venus (NP), businessman Willex Meñez, Engr. Apollo Peralta (PDP-Laban) and Bertoldo Ambito (PMP).
Engr. Quezon Labindao (Kampi), husband of “graduating” mayor Concepcion Labindao, prevailed over Engr. Rolando Rojo (Uno-PDP-Laban) in the town of Buruanga by a slim margin.
In a related development, as of 1 p.m. yesterday the Comelec has yet to declare the winner between reelectionist mayor Raymar Rebaldo (Lakas-CMD) and former vice mayor William Lachica. (NP-Uno).

Monday, May 14, 2007

Vote wisely, vote for the future

TODAY, the Filipino people will cast their votes for senators as well as congressmen, provincial governors and city and town mayors.
This political exercise is a crucial one as it will not only give the citizenry yet another opportunity to choose their leaders, but more important, determine whether the nation can achieve political stability that will enhance economic growth and social concord and move the nation forward.
We urge our people to vote wisely. This means evaluating the candidates on the basis of clear criteria. And what should these criteria be?
One, we should evaluate candidates on the basis of their competence for the job. Public office, whether it involves lawmaking or implementing the law and crafting policies and programs, requires familiarity with the workings of the democratic system.
Popularity alone can get a candidate elected, but it does not guarantee that he or she will perform creditably in office. We should be wary, for instance, of movie stars and other celebrities who can offer nothing more than their good looks and acting prowess as their only qualifications for the demanding job of public office.
Two, we should choose candidates on the basis of their integrity and character. We should vote for those who are honest and upright, and those who have not been involved in graft and corruption or any misconduct involving moral turpitude.
Three, we should give preference to those candidates who are genuinely committed to democracy and the democratic process. We should vote for those who truly believe in participatory democracy, people’s empowerment and political pluralism.
And four, we should select candidates on the basis of what they can offer by way of a clear program of governance. The electorate deserves a clear vision for the future from those who seek to govern. We should reject those candidates who say they want to serve, but have neither the intellect nor the wisdom to offer a clear vision for the future.
We should choose candidates who will help steer the nation forward to peace and progress, not those who will bring us backward through sheer lack of a platform and a vision for tomorrow.
We need not limit our choices to the two main parties fighting for supremacy in today’s polls, namely the proadministration Team Unity and the Genuine Opposition. While Team Unity claims the economic performance of the Arroyo administration will make the difference in the results of today’s elections, most Filipinos believe that the May 14 elections will make little difference in solving what they think is the country’s most important problem, which is the economy, particularly unemployment, according to a recent SWS survey.
For the Genuine Opposition, the key issues are still the legitimacy of the Arroyo government, poverty, corruption and the breakdown of law and order as exemplified by the rash of killings of activists and journalists.
But it would seem that the campaign has been run not on the basis of party platforms and issues but more on personalities. With the candidates unable to explain their advocacies in meaningful ways, then it is next to impossible for the electorate to make informed choices in the voting booth.
The polls take place today with the spotlight on the capability of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure free and fair elections in thousands of precincts throughout the country. Its credibility has been tainted by allegations of involvement in fraud, particularly in dagdag-bawas operations in the 2004 presidential election.
More recently, its neutrality has come under serious doubt because of its accreditation of party-list groups tagged as fronts of the administration. But one hopes the Comelec upholds the integrity of the electoral process, and rises to the challenge of making democracy work through free and fair polls.
Beyond this, there is also the capability of the state to ensure peaceful and orderly elections. Election-related violent incidents have led to 112 fatalities since the start of the campaign season in late January. While the Philippine National Police takes pains to explain that this is much lower than the 2004 figure, intense political rivalry in Abra, Masbate and other provinces has led to armed confrontations that have led to bloodshed and loss of lives, indicating shortcomings in implementing the Comelec gun ban and dismantling private armed groups in the employ of politicians.
On the other hand, it is worth commending the efforts of various sectors, including business, the Church and civil society groups, to monitor the polls and ensure that the voice of the electorate is reflected, and not thwarted, in the final results.
Free, fair and transparent polls today will set the stage for free, fair and transparent presidential elections in 2010. Polls marred by widespread violence and fraud today will only mean that we are likely to have similarly tainted elections in 2010.
That is why the electorate should go out and vote wisely. Today’s elections is not just another exercise of our right of suffrage. It is an occasion for us to affirm our faith in the democratic process. Honest, orderly and peaceful elections today will reflect the maturity of the Filipino electorate, strengthen our democracy, and pave the way for peace and progress in the years ahead.
Bishop tells Filipinos: Go out, guard your vote

CATHOLIC Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Iloilo Bishop Angel Lagdameo called on the Filipino public Monday to go out and vote but added that they should guard their vote vigilantly.
In a statement, Bishop Lagdameo cited the saying, "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" and urged Filipinos not to lose hope in the democratic system.
"We have proven it time and again, from one election to another that the 'ballot' is the ultimate expression of 'people power'," the bishop said.
He added that "a clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and peaceful" 2007 election was possible, especially with the help of poll watchdogs and volunteers. He noted the process was part of nation-building.
"We need the Lord’s help in this important event. May the hand of God stop the evil of electoral violence, cheating and corruption from getting in control of our electoral process. Let us accompany our election and counting of votes with prayer and watchfulness," he said.
He further warned, "Do not allow anyone to violate the sanctity of your ballot. Vote according to your conscience. Vote freely whom you believe can advance the common good of this country. Protect your vote from being tampered with. Remember: the candidate who wins by cheating will also govern by cheating. The citizens who sell their votes for any price deserve the government they install with their votes."
Filipinos are set to troop to the polling places by early morning to cast their votes in the local and national elections.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Nestea plays and parties hard in Boracay
BY JUN EBIAS

The lady and the champs. Tina Samaco, Nestlé assistant vice president and consumer marketing manager for Nestea, with the men’s volleyball champ, Mindanao State University of Tawi-Tawi.

IT’S a fact of life that we need to exercise not only to look like a god who just descended from Mount Olympus clad in slim jeans or a bikini, but also to live longer, free of any disease. And by exercise, I don’t mean pushing the buttons on the remote control while lounging on a comfortable sofa.
But going to the gym sometimes becomes a routine and, in the long run, boring. I know a lot of people who were enthusiastic at first to go to the gym, even buying new outfits to match their bags, only to stop after a while. Lifting weights or stretching on the mat has stopped being fun.
Nestea, the nation’s leading powder tea brand, recognizes this and launched an annual activity that lures the young to get into sports. Even under the scorching heat of the sun. Thus, the Nestea Beach Volleyball, now an important event awaited by sports enthusiasts and celebrity watchers every summer, was born.
“We wanted an activity that’s fun and, at the same time, enables us to build an image that when it’s summer, when you’re all hot and sweaty, all you crave for is a cold glass of Nestea,’’ said Tina Samaco, Nestle’s associate vice president and consumer marketing manager for Nestea.
Recently, Nestea flew in more than 300 guests to the island of Boracay, including 18 teams from 17 schools throughout the country that competed in its annual beach volleyball tournament. Boracay, famous for its powdery white sand and crystal-blue water, is the perfect venue for such an event, Samaco said. The event has been held there for the last 11 years.
“We tried looking around for other venues, but there is no place big enough to accommodate all of us,’’ Samaco said in an interview on the last day of the three-day tournament. “We went to Dumaguete, Palawan, Bohol but the problem really is space and logistics.’’
While the games were not meant to boost sales, she said it has helped keep Nestea become the beverage of choice by moms at home, even with the onslaught of newer tea-based drinks that are out to challenge its dominance in the local market. She said the entry of bottled tea drinks like C2 hasn’t hurt Nestea’s market share.
“C2 is an out-of-home drink. Yes, they are very strong but they affected soft-drink sales rather than powder drinks,’’ she explained. Still, Nestea launched two varieties: the Nestea Light and Nestea Green Tea to suit the needs of those who are constantly watching their weight and diet.
Actors and models were also invited to either play in the celebrity portion or to become poster girls and boys of Nestea. Spotted in the island-paradise parading in their bikinis and board shorts were Iya Villania, Bubbles Paraiso, Tisha Silang, Nancy Castiglione, Robby Mananquil, Brad Turvey and Geoff Rodriguez.
The celebrities did not only play in the beach volleyball but they also participated in a fashion show, clad in summer wear by Iloilo-based designer PJ Arañador. The evening show capped the first day of the event. After that, everyone engaged in his other favorite activity in Boracay: partying at bars that sparkled like fireflies along the shore at night.
Besides a chance to hobnob with celebrities and smolder in the beach after each game, the students who participated in the tournament also got a chance to win nearly P1 million in prizes.
In the end, University of the Visayas won in the women’s division, while the Mindanao State University lorded it over other participants in the men’s division. Each of the two teams took home P150,000 in cash prizes and were toasted at a victory party, where famous band Parokya ni Edgar and up-and-coming Wake Up Your Seatmate played all night.
But what’s a healthy body without the beach where you can flaunt your washboard abs and hour-glass figures? Thus, Nestea thought of an activity that would help clean up the beaches, not just Boracay but others as well. The company will be donating some of the amount raised from selling special-edition Nestea tumblers to the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) for its beach clean-up drive, Samaco said.
For every tumbler sold, P5 will go to PBSP, she said. And just like the much-awaited Nestea beach volley event, the special promo is a hit among consumers, she said. Nestea expected to sell 2,000 tumblers but so far, it has already sold 20,000. The tumblers are sold in malls in Manila, as well as in the shores of Boracay.
“We didn’t expect to sell that much,’’ she said.
The day after the tournament, Nestea spearheaded a clean-up drive in Boracay, like picking up trash along the shore and under the water, with some of the celebrities lending a hand. Ah, the things you have to do to be alluringly fit and quite famous.