Monday, May 14, 2012

Execs allay quarrying fears on Angat Water Park

Bustos Dam

MALOLOS CITY—Bulacan officials allay fears on possible resumption of rampant quarrying in the province with the construction of the planned Angat Sports Water Park that will rival similar facility in Camarines Sur.

This came as Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) Chief Operating Officer Mark Lapid led the groundbreaking ceremony in Angat town earlier this week.

Officials also made assurance that the water park will be safe as water related activity will only be held on summer days, and not during the wet season when Angat Dam release water into the river.

However, they noted operation of other facilities in the planned water park, like restaurants zip lines and others will continue even during the wet season.

“There is nothing to fear, “Alvarado said yesterday, “while there will be quarrying along the river, it will be monitored and regulated.”

As an eco-tourism project endorsed by TIEZA, Alvarado said that part of the proposed three hectare water park will require quarrying to even the depth.

He said that based on preliminary design, depth and width of the river were predetermined.

“The river bed is un-even, so, there are parts that will be quarried, but only based on the required depth,” he said adding it will be regulated in order to protect the embankment of the river and prevent possible erosion.

Alvarado added that Angat Water Park can rival similar but man-made facility in Camarines Sur due to its proximity to Metro Manila.

Concern over possible resumption of rampant quarrying along the Angat River was raised by local residents after Alvarado and Lapid led the ground breaking ceremony for the Angat Sports Water Park early this week.

Residents cited in the 2000, similar project was proposed by the local officials, but they said it was used by some officials as an excuse for rampant quarry operations.

A resident who asked not to be identified said quarrying was partly to blame in the killing of the former municipal administrator of Angat town who was gunned down by New Peoples Army rebels in 2003.

It was followed by torching of quarry equipment and other machineries in 2004, an incident whose responsibility was also claimed by the rebels.

With regards to the safety of the water park, Alvarado said water related activities like rowing and dragon boat competitions will only be held during summer.

The same was echoed by Mayors Feliciano Legazpi of Norzagaray and Arnel Mendoza of Bustos.

But Mendoza added that they are also working on safety measures for water related activities during the wet season.

Earlier, Lapid asked the town mayors of Angat, Norzagaray, Bustos and San Rafael to come with their own tourism packages related to the planned water park.

This due to the fact that the water park is not only concentrated in Angat town as the river spans all four towns.

Mendoza said that as early as January, they initiated a rowing and kayaking exhibition on Bustos Dam at the lower part of the upstream of Angat River.

“At present, we can actually hold such activities even before the completion of the Angat Water Park, but of course, it will be better if we have Waterpark,” Mendoza said.

For his part, Mayor Legazpi said that during summer, parts of the Angat River in Norzagaray town have been drawing thousands of local tourists.

“It is like a poor man’s resort especially Sitio Pugpog and Sitio Bitbit,” he said.  (Dino Balabo)

Friday, May 11, 2012

DENR intensifies monitoring of sash factories

MALOLOS CITY—Sash factories in Central Luzon are now under intensified monitoring by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources due to reports that have accepting deliveries of illegally sourced lumber.

This came as the DENR anti-illegal logging task force seized about  P70,000 worth of illegal lumber in the City of San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan on Monday afternoon, May 7.

Following the seizure, the task force said they are now preparing charges against a hardware operator and three other unidentified persons for violation of the Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Code of the Philippines.

The law which was amended by Executive Order Number 227 in 1987 not only prosecutes timber poachers and illegal loggers, but individuals involved in the trade of illegally sourced lumber.

Joseph Mendoza, the intelligence officer of the DENR Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force they have been monitoring sash factories in the province and other parts of Central Luzon and Rizal province.

This is due to reports that sash factories and other wood enterprises has been accepting delivery of illegally sourced lumbers.

“Our monitoring paid off,” Mendoza said in vernacular and added, ”reports are now confirmed  and we have more reasons to further intensify our monitoring on sash factories.”

Among those under the monitor of the task force is Sureluck Wood Enterprises located along the Quirino Highway in Barangay Gumaoc, City of San Jose Del Monte.

Around 4PM on Monday, they monitored men monitoring freshly cut lumber from an Isuzu closed van with license plates CSL 394.

The said vehicle is marked “Fruit and vegetable dealer” and is said to be registered to a certain “J. Jimenez.”

“The driver and helper fled immediately when we introduced ourselves,” said Mendoza in a telephone interview.

A total of 1,498.67 board feet of lumber worth P67,410 were seized upon verification that it was not backed with any permit, including the one for transport.

Mendoza said they are still verifying the source of the lumber but sources said cited three possible places, namely Isabela; Minalungao in Nueva Ecija and Donya Remedios Trinidad town in Bulacan.

He said that the lumbers were cut by “carabao loggers” or timber poachers.

“Timber poaching destroys our watershed especially the Angat Watershed,” Mendoza said noting that it has been categorized as one of the most highly critical watershed in the country.

The same was affirmed by Bro. Martin Francisco of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society (SSMEES) based in the City of San Jose Del Montte.

Francisco explained that the Angat Watershed not only serves as the main source of Metro Manila’s potable water supply, it also generates electricity for the Luzon Grid through the Angat River HydroElectric Power Plant (ARHEPP).

“What is sad is the fact that there is a logging ban, and yet, there are people who continue to act with impunity against the environment,” he said but stressed that SSMES is happy with the seizure of illegally sourced lumber.

He said that it should serve as reminder to other timber poachers that the government is serious in its campaign to protect watersheds.

Meanwhile, Mendoza said they are preparing charges against the the driver and owner of the closed van, along with the operator of Sureluck Wood Enterprises.

He said that while Sureluck was given permit by the DENR, they have received reports that it is receiving illegally sourced lumber, but the task force has not luck until Monday.

 Mendoza said that in the past, they checked with deliveries at Sureluck and found no discrepancies in documentations.  (Dino Balabo)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cardinal Santos honored in an exhibit

Ramon Efren R. Lazaro

MARILAO, Bulacan --In celebration of the National Heritage Month and annual feast of St. Michael, the Sining MarileƱo Inc. in cooperation with SM City Marilao launched “Abito: Pamanang Kasuotan ng mga Pari ng Marilao,” a week-long exhibition that will end today (May 11).

 The exhibit kicked off with folk singing and theatre play replicating the re-enactment of events during the Colonial Era at the event center of SM City Marilao and features 20 antique piece collection of liturgical vestments worn by the parish priests of Marilao.

The “abitos” documented the beauty of embroidery and intricacy of the different Philippine hand-woven holy garments made from indigenous materials and highlighted the legacies of the past and the town’s identity.

Details of the exhibit exuded the indigenous practices and classical artistry wherein Filipino altar vestments are more than a colorful and fine needlework garment used by the priests. They are treasures of Filipinos' unwavering faith, rich culture, heritage and deep rooted traditions.

"Vestments or abitos are important aspect of our culture. They are the narratives of our faith and our glorious past. They are enshrined to bring us closer to the Creator", explained Jaime Salvador Corpuz, a Bulacan historian and added "I am glad that SM Supermalls was able to accommodate this kind of exhibit. It helps to educate the public on our rich history and our strong faith in God."

Most of the garments featured in the exhibit were selected ecclesiastical garments of priests in the town of Marilao from 1920 to 1950.

Highlighting the exhibit was the ceremonial robe of Father Rufino Santos, the first Filipino Cardinal of the Catholic Church in 1932.

Also featured were some garments by Father Roberto de la Cruz (1934- 1938), Father Marcelino Fajardo (1938-1939), Father Gabino Baluyot (1939- 1945), Father Florentino Fuentes (1945- 1954), Father Angel Pengson (1954- 1956) and Father Avelino Santos (2001-present).