Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A perfect Xmas gift for Bulacan fishermen

HAGONOY, Bulacan—A perfect Christmas gift.

That was how fishermen here described the repair of the 80-old lighthouse saying it will benefit fellow fishermen living in communities along the coast of Manila Bay.

The lighthouse was repaired on Friday afternoon by member engineers of the Sigla Movement of the Philippines (SMP) less than a month after an ocular inspection on November 24.

Located at the coast of Barangay Pugad here, the lighthouse has lost its light more than seven years ago when its solar powered batteries expired.

Barangay Pugad is one of the two coastal villages of their town, and both are at least one hour ride from the Hagonoy town proper.

Edgardo Baltazar, the chair of the Samahang Mangigisda ng Pugad said no other gift could perfect for them saying, “ito ang pinakamagandang pamasko sa amin, ang tagal naming hinintay na magkailaw uli yang parola.”

He said that the re-lighting the lighthouse erase their anxiety in resuming their fishing activities at the Manila Bay at night.

“Hindi na kami nangangamba ngayon na sumadsad sa pilapil ng palaisdaan ang bangka namin at masira ang elisi at timon,” Baltazar said referring to submerged fishpond dikes that used to cause damage on their boat’s propeller and rudder when they make miscalculation at night.

The same was echoed by Rogelio Tamayo, the vice chair of the fisherfolk association.

He said that the lighthouse served as guide for generations of fisherfolk here and other coastal villages of Bulacan and Pampanga.

Both Baltazar and Tamayo started fishing in their teens and are still pursuing the same until now.

Village councilmen Alfredo Lunes, Bernard Dave Concepcion and Gilbert Tamayo said that they sought help for the repair of lighthouse for years.

“Marami na kaming opisyal na nilapitan pero hindi rin natupad ang pangako,” Lunes said referring to moves made by the Sangguniang Barangay of Pugad.

But things started to change after Concepcion posted a picture of the lighthouse on Facebook.com on January 2011, and caught the attention of this writer.

The story and picture of the unrepaired lighthouse was published by the STAR in February 2011 and local officials began to take notice of the situation.

Governor Wilhlemino Alvarado submitted a request to the Central Luzon Regional Development Council (RDC) on June 30, 2011 asking endorsement for the repair of the lighthouse.

It was unanimously approved months later in an RDC meeting in Malolos and a resolution was submitted in Malacanang.

SMP Chair Dax Uy (L), MCDC chairman elect Rezzy Tanjuan-Totlentino (R)
Last November 24, the Sigla Movement of the Philippines led by Grossman Dax Uy conducted an ocular inspection on the lighthouse and vowed to lead its repair.

In an earlier interview Uy cited the importance of the lighthouse to small fishermen.

As a businessman involved in trading solar panels and other electronic equipment, he said that repairing the lighthouse is a simple gift to fishermen. (Dino Balabo)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tension rise in Norzagaray, suspended mayor cling to post

Mayor Feliciano Legazpi

NORZAGARAY, Bulacan—Tension continue to grip this town as the suspended mayor continue to hold on to his post preventing his vice mayor to assume the position in acting capacity.

However, the vice mayor made assurance not to take hostile action noting that he want a peaceful turn over.

“We will not undertake a hostile action, dahil sinusunod ko lang ang inuutos ng batas,” said Vice Mayor Rogelio Santos who was supposed to assume the mayoral position in acting capacity last week following a six months suspension meted by the Ombudsman against Mayor Feliciano Legazpi.

Legazpi was suspended by the Ombudsman based on the charges of oppression and abuse of authority filed by Yolanda Ervas, the municipal budget officer of Norzagaray.

Santos said that residents of Norgaray are getting confused on who is the mayor of the said town.

This is due to the fact that Legazpi continue to stay in his office and claims that he is not suspended yet because the Ombudsman has not acted on his motion for reconsideration.
Acting Mayor Rogelio Santos

According to  Santos , the resolution of the Ombudsman is clear and it was echoed in the order issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Signed by Florida Dija, the DILG regional director, the order states that Legazpi is ”hereby directed to cease and desist from exercising the powers and performing the duties and responsibilities as Mayor of the Norzagaray, Bulacan.”

As elected vice mayor of Norzagaray,  Santos  was directed in the same order to temporarily assume the function of acting mayor while the suspension is in effect.

Santos  said that he issued a memorandum to all municipal department heads last week, asking them to report to him, but none followed.

The department head still heeds Legazpi who claims that the Ombudsman’s decision and the DILG order is not final and executory.

Legazpi also said that he did not personally received the order of the DILG regional director, instead, it was received by the municipal human resources officer who later returned the order to the DILG regional office.
Legazpi while performing his duties as mayor

In an interview, Legazpi insisted that  Santos ’ moves were premature and politically motivated.

However,  Santos  said he not politics in involved in his assumption as acting mayor.

He even said that he is not running for reelection as vice mayor.

“Kung  talagang gusto ko ang posisyon ninyo, dapat  sana  ay kumandidato akong mayor, pero ang kandidatura ko sa 2013 ay para konsehal lang,”  Santos  said and reiterated that he is just following the DILG order.

Santos  was first elected as municipal councilor in the 2004 elections when he ran under the banner of the Aksyon Demokratiko.

In 2007, Legazpi asked him to become his running mate and they won.  They were both reelected in 2010 for the same position. (Dino Balabo)

6 mayoral candidates, 6 others withdrew candidacies in Bulacan

Paombong Mayor Donato Marcos

MALOLOS CITY—Paombong Mayor Donato Marcos, the president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) and 11 other including five other mayoral candidates in Bulacan withdrew their candidacies.

Of the 12 who formally withdrew, only three were substituted, according to the Lawyer Elmo Duques, the provincial election supervisor in Bulacan.

The candidates who withdrew their candidacies are Pancho Ordanes, an independent candidates for the second congressional district of Bulacan, Lawyer Rustico De Belen, an independent mayoral candidate in the mountain town of Donya Remedios Trinidad (DRT).

Rolando Flores and Pablo Milan, both independent candidates for the mayor in the town of Baliwag and the city of Meycauayan, respectively; Reynaldo Santos, the incumbent vice mayor of Hagonoy who filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) last October for mayor under the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) banner; and Carla Paula Galvez Tan, the incumbent mayor of San Ildefonso town who earlier filed here COC with endorsement from the National Unity Party (NUP).
Atty. Rustico De Belen

Other who withdrew their candidacies are candidates for the municipal councilor’s position in their towns, namely Romeo Rodriguez (Independent, Baliwag), Modesto Espinoza and Kris Blas Ople San Jose who filed files their COC in October in Hagonoy, Leandro Celedonio of Pandi and Erlinda Sigua of the City of San Jose Del Monte.

Duque said that based on their records, Marcos is substitute by his wife Maryanne; while Celedonio and Sigua who are both running under the Liberal Party banner were substituted by Vicente Gatuz and Ananias Dicdican, respectively.

Duque added that some of the candidates withdrew their candidacies as early as October, but there are those that waited until the last two days like Marcos and Santos.

Mayor Carla Paula Galvez-Tan
Marcos, the standard bearer of LP in Paombong town is on his second consecutive term and is only being challenged by Lawyer Isagani Castro, an independent candidate who lost in the mayoral race in the past.

But on December 19, he filed his withdrawal and is substituted by his wife.

Sources said that Marcos’ withdrawal from the race in due to the fact that he was offered a post in the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Marcos was elected as mayor of Paombong in 2007, after serving the remainder of the term of the late Mayor Dominador Gonzales who died in 2005.

He was elected as president of the LMP Bulacan in 2007 and 2010; and last year, he was elected as president of the LMP national directorate.
Vice Mayor Rey Santos

As this developed, De Belen said that his withdrawal from mayoral in DRT is due to loss of interest and concern to continue his private law practice.  He served as head of the Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office from 2010 until his resignation last October.

In Hagonoy town, sources said that Vice Mayor Santos’ withdrawal from the mayoral race is due to financial constraints, but his close friends said that the vice mayor would like to focus his attention to his family. (Dino Balabo)

Bulacan State U keeps SCUAA-III dominance for 16th straight years

MALOLOS CITY—For the 16th straight year, the Bulacan State University (BulSU) emerged victorious in the annual State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association Region III (SCUAA-III) Olympics.

The BulSU Gold Gears bested athletes from 12 other state colleges and universities in Central Luzon by hauling a total of 121 gold medals after the five day competitions that ended on Friday and hosted by the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University (RMTU).

Most of the sports events were competed at the new Zambales Sports Complex in Iba, Zambales

At distant second is Central Luzon State University (CLSU) with 46 golds; followed by the Bataan Peninsula State College (BPSU) with 27.

Dr. Danilo Hilario, BulSU vice president for external affairs research and extension said that Gold Gear’s dominance of the annual competitions is no secret.

He said that is due to the year round training of athletes under the program developed by Raquel Mendoza, the dean of the College of Physical Education and Recreation (COPERS) of the BulSU.

“We can’t deny the fact that our athlete’s performance is greatly enhanced by our year long training program led by Dean Raquel Mendoza,”Hilario said.

Like in the past, the Gold Gears depended on individual performances in their gold medal haul as they faltered in team sports like men’s basketball which placed third, women’s volleyball, second; and men and women’s softball, second.

The Gold Gear’s performance is also lower that their over-all championship finish in 2010 when they hauled 147 gold medals.

However, in the emerging sports of football, the Gold Gears went undefeated in six games, defeating Tarlac State University twice.

The Gold Gears’ football team defeated TSU 8-1 in the first round and 5-0 in the finals to take their fifth straight SCUAA-III trophy.

Other schools that participated in the 2012 SCUAA-III are Aurora State College of Technology (Ascot), Bulacan Agriculture State College (BASC), Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NEUST), Pampanga College of Agriculture (PAC), Tarlac College of Agriculture (TCA), Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University (DHVTSU) in Pampanga, Ramon Magsaysay Technological University (RMTU) in Zambales, Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) in Bataan,  and the Philippine State College of Aeronautics (PhilsCA) in Pampanga.

Next year, the NEUST will host the 2013 SCUAA-III Olympics.  (Dino Balabo)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Doomsday is out, Christmas is in

RTU student showing a piece of asteroid.

Can coronal mass ejections (CMEs or solar flares) generated by the sun destroy the world this December 21 2012? Taken by astronomers of Rizal Technological University (RTU), these are huge bursts of solar wind and electromagnetic radiation ejected from the Sun into space. As solar particles strike Earth, they cause geomagnetic storms disrupting the planet's magnetosphere---our protective shield from the lethal radiation in outer space. RTU is the only Philippine university that offers both undergraduate and post-graduate degree programs in astronomy.

The end of life as we know it on Dec 21?

“[Walang delubyo, tuloy ang Pasko] There is no doomsday. Christmas will come!” says physicist and astronomer Norman Marigza of RTU. Even with massive solar flares, migratory birds, dolphins and other animals that are sensitive to the Earth's magnetic field might feel a little odd, but other than that, Marigza commented, “it might just be a wonderful day to stay alert for Aurora Borealis at the Northern Hemisphere”, a lacy splash of color and hues in the sky made up of ionized air particles. In outer space, it can be very dangerous for astronauts as large doses of solar radiation can be fatal.

Meanwhile, the website of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory reports a recently detected coronal hole in the sun last Dec. 17. This said coronal hole is located down in the sun's Southern Hemisphere, so that the Earth will not be hit directly by a stream of high-speed solar wind. It is estimated that we will experience a 20% chance of geomagnetic storms.

During a press conference last Dec. 14 in Quezon City, top astronomers and planetary scientists debunked all other possible scenarios associated with the end of a cycle in the ancient Mayan calendar.

Planets, meteors and celestial alignment

Frederick Gabriana, a mathematician and astronomy teacher, described a “galactic alignment” in the Milky Way that is set to occur Dec. 21, when the winter solstice point crosses the galactic equator.

“This chance alignment occurs every 26,000 years, and the earth is about 4 billion years old, so if it brings about the end of the world, the Earth would have ended thousands of times already.” Gabriana said.

“Planetary alignment is a different issue.” Gabriana calculates that even if all the planets, including the sun, were to lie on a single line to influence the Earth, the sum of all the tidal forces would only be 1/10,000 of the tidal force of the moon. "Besides, they are not going to align this weekend," he adds.

Dr. Jesus Rodrigo Torres, the president of RTU, said any large object, like a rogue planet like Nibiru on collision course to Earth would have been seen by astronomers years ago. It would also be one of the brightest objects in the sky next to the sun and moon in the past weeks. Therefore, it's just a hoax.

Scientists might know what to do if these were all true. Unlike in the movies, according to Marigza, "firing a nuclear bomb in space to destroy a huge meteor that is bound for Earth will not work. Fragments from the meteor can hit the planet and cause devastation. We can just send a space object to deflect its trajectory."

A historic space program

“Instead of fearing the end of the Mayan calendar, it is time to celebrate the country’s long-awaited entry into the Space Age,” according to DOST Balik Scientist and astrobiology professor Dr. Custer Deocaris of RTU's Office for Space Science Innovation and Cooperation (OSSIC).

A copy of the proposed draft of the “Philippine Space Act” was distributed to the media. The legislation is part of a national initiative to push for the establishment of a space agency that would be the Philippines’ version of NASA, a centralized office that will explore high-impact applications in space technologies for environment and disaster monitoring, communication, national defense, smart farming, among many others.

Indonesia had successfully launched its locally-developed rocket into space from a launch pad in West Java province in 2009. The government is preparing to bring its own satellite into orbit by 2014. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is sending two satellites into orbit by next year. Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia have all overtaken the Philippines in terms of space science, based on a presentation during the press conference given by Dr. Edgardo Aban.

Dr. Aban attempted to initiate a space program in 2007 yet he was unable to get support from government. Aban, who left the country, is now a professor at the University of Brunei Darusallam.

Deocaris and his peers laments that while the country was among the most scientifically advanced some decades ago, the Philippines is now "biting the (space) dust of her neighbors."

House Bill 6725 also known as the Philippine Space Act was filed by Rep. Angelo Palmones on Dec 3, 2012 and went into First Reading on Dec 5, 2012. Philippine astronomers and concerned scientists have turned to social media to gain support for this historic space initiative. The public is urged to visit and “like” the Facebook page "I Support the Philippine Space Agency Bill". (RTU-OSSIC)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pinoy astronomers cite benefits of space program, call for creation of PSA

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—Filipino astronomers called for the creation of the Philippine Space Agency (PSA) citing the benefits of space science that will usher in further development in the country.

The call came during the launch of the initiative for the creation of PSA in Quezon City on Friday where copies of a House Bill submitted to Congress by Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones were handed to journalists.

Dr. Jose Edgardo Aban of the University of Brunei Darussalam said that creation of the PSA will lead to development of technologies that will help the country address the effects of climate change and disasters.

As former head of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Committee on Space Technology Applications, Aban said through the PSA, the country can have its own satellites that can be used in mapping the entire archipelago.

He said that satellite-based images can also be used in addressing post-disaster situations in the country along with proper identification of the country’s territorial boundaries to avoid international disputes.

“It has been a long time dream for Filipino astronomers and space scientists to someday have a single agency on the country, just like NASA that will navigate the country’s space science research and development that will spur development of applications that can generate wealth to the nation,” said Aban.

He said that other countries in Southeast Asia had long embarked on their own space program, and the Philippines is lagging behind.

As one of the leading proponents of the PSA while he was with DOST, Aban said that they first introduced it in 2006 after a study conducted a year before.

He said that at the same time, other countries in South East Asia were also gearing up for their own space program.

“They move forward while our space program remains a proposal,” Aban said.

This was affirmed by Dr. Custer Deocaris of the Rizal Technological University (RTU) who said that “we are now behind Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.”

Deocaris said that these Southeast Asian countries will soon benefit from their space program.

“We should not forget that most of today’s modern conveniences like cellular phones, internet, cloud computing, LEDs and solar panels are spin offs from investments in space technology,” Deocaris said.

He added, “Countries that have some control on those technologies are able to develop even faster as they break the vicious cycle of technological parasitism and are able to compete in the global market.”

Deocaris added that patriotic impacts of a Philippine space program would be immeasurable.

He cited the impact of the US space program when it sent men to the moon in July 1969.

This is also true for Filipinos who are currently rooting for boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

According to Deocaris, Filipinos are always proud of themselves and are willing to relate with fellow Filipinos who are successful.

He cited that after Miss Gloria Diaz won the Miss Universe title in 1969, it created a “pageant culture” in the country.

“Pati noong makasama sa Miss Saigon si Lea Salonga, marami din ang nahilig kumanta,” he said.

Deocaris said that there are other Filipino scientists abroad who already pledged to help develop the PSA.

BulSU to defend SCUAA-III title for the 17th year

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—The Bulacan State University (BulSU) will defend their 17th over-all championship in the annual State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) in Central Luzon.

The annual sports competition that started Sunday is hosted by the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University in Iba, Zambales. It will end on Friday.

As reigning over-all cham-pions for the past 16 straight years, the BulSU Gold Gears will be challenged by athletes from Aurora State College of Technology (Ascot), Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU), Bulacan Agriculture State College (BASC), Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NEUST), Pampanga College of Agriculture (PAC), Tarlac State University (TSU), Tarlac College of Agriculture (TCA).

Also competing are athletes from Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University (DHVTSU) in Pampanga, Ramon Magsaysay Technological University (RMTU) in Zambales, Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) in Bataan, Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in Nueva Ecija, and the Philippine State College of Aeronautics (PhilsCA) in Pampanga.

“We are ready to defend our title because our athletes are working hard all year round,” said Dr. Mariano De Jesus, the president of BulSU.

He said that BulSU owes its strong performance in the annual SCUAA-III to its sports program.

De Jesus said that many years ago they started recruiting  athletes and placed them under a scholarship program and even provided a dormitory for members of the BulSU Gold gears.

The program was hailed by Dr. Danily Hilario, BulSU vice president for external affairs, research and extension.

He said that the BulSU Gold Gears has dominated the SCUAA-III by winning at least 140 gold medals.

BulSU’s dominance is only challenged by the BPSU which used to place second, harvesting some 20 gold medals during the five-day meet.

Also, football is expected to take center stage during the games as the sport continues to gain popularity.

Emmanuel Robles, the head coach of BulSU’s football team said they expect stronger competition this year.

“Every team wants to dethrone us defending champions,” said Robles who also coached the FutBulakenyos that won the first Central Luzon Football League (CLFL) championship last July.

This champion team has retained at least nine of its players last year, and is expected to provide a stiff challenge to the other participating teams this year.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pinoy astronomers to launch initiative for the creation of Philippine Space Agency

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—Top Filipino astronomers and planetary scientists will launch Friday the historic initiative for the creation of the Philippine Space Agency (PSA), the country’s version of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States.

Part of the launch is a forum that will discuss scientific evidences debunking the Mayan doomsday prediction for December 21.

Dr. Custer Deocaris of the Rizal Technological University (RTU) said that a copy of the proposed draft of the Philippine Space Act will also be distributed on Friday.

“Instead of fearing the end of the Mayan calendar, it is time to celebrate the country’s long-awaited entry into the Space Age,” Deocaris said in an email to Punto.

As head of RTU’s Office of Space Science Innovation and Cooperation (OSSIC), Deocaris said the launch is a historic step towards a legislation that will create the PSA.

The launch is expected to be graced by top Filipino astronomers and planetary scientists like Dr. Jesus Rodrigo Torres, president of RTU, Dr. Jane Punongbayan of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Dr. Cynthia Celebre of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration, Dr. Jose Edgardo Aban of the University of Brunei Darussalam and former head of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Committee on Space Technology Applications, and Frederick Gabriana, a mathematician and expert in positional astronomy of the DOST.

Deocaris said that aside from the forum on the Mayan calendar, they will also install specialized solar telescopes for first hand solar activity.

Viewers will be guided by volunteer astronomers from the RTU, the only institution in the country that offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in astronomy.

Deocaris added that the forum was designed to prevent confusion and panic over the ”December 21, 2012" Mayan apocalypse.

There will be discussions on the science behind the cataclysmic scenarios from collision with asteroids, meteors and orphan planets; planetary alignment with the Milky Way; magnetic pole reversal; mega-volcanic eruption or severe solar flares.

Earth models and fragments of meteorites will also be shown.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

PNoy, CHR hit on Human Rights Day

By Dino Balabo
MALOLOS CITY—A lawyers’ group accused the Aquino administration and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for condoning more violations as they observed the International Human Rights Day on Monday.

The number of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture, illegal arrest along with political, civil economic, social and cultural violations has increased halfway into the current administration, the group said.

“President Aquino completely missed the point with half-hearted and ill-advised approach to human rights,” said Lawyer Edre Olalia, spokesperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).

Olalia was interviewed after the hearing of the kidnapping case against retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan.

As a lawyer for human rights victims, he said that the current administration has laid down an environment that emboldens perpetrators, and allowed them to get away.

“The non-arrest of Gen. Palparan is a chilling reminder that government security forces are still stolidly untouchable,” he said noting that it is capped by the promotion to higher positions of military officers accused of grave human rights violations.

Among the military officers he mentioned are Generals Eduardo Ano, Aurelio Baladad and George Segovia.

Olalia said that promotions of said officers belie any pretense at accountability.

With regards to the CHR, Olalia said that the creation of an inter-agency task force through Administrative Order No 35, is a public acknowledgement that the commission is inutile.

“The President has cleverly transformed the CHR into practically no more than a defender of his administration and whitewasher of even the most abominable violations in plain view,” he said.

Olalia added, “This is a time when victims and their families are clamoring for effective investigation and proactive, speedy and dogged prosecution, things which the President has by and large yet to deliver.”

“Obviously, there is nothing to celebrate on the International Human Rights Day, not while the administration continues to show appalling lack of will, foresight, ability and sensitivity in addressing persistent Philippine human rights concerns amid cries for justice of the victims and their families,” Olalia said.

Bulacan mobilizes relief efforts for Mindanao

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—Bulacan officials along with non-governmental organizations are now gathering donations that will be sent to victims of typhoon Pablo in Mindanao.

This came as President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity yesterday following the onslaught of the typhoon that left hundreds dead and widespread devastation in the southern part of the country.

Citing assistance they received from different organizations in the past calamities suffered by his town, Mayor James De Jesus of Calumpit, Bulacan said they will send donations to Mindanao typhoon victims.

He said that it is like repaying what they received in the past.

In 2011, Calumpit and Hagonoy towns in Bulacan suffered from week-long flood due to heavy rains brought by typhoon Pedring.

Last August the same town s along with other cities and municipalities of Bulacan suffered from widespread flooding caused by the heavy southwest monsoon rains that led the provincial government to place the province under the state of calamity for the second time in two years.

In Bustos town, Mayor Arnel Mendoza vowed to send sacks of rice to typhoon Pablo’s victim.

Mendoza said they will also ask contributions from his constituents.

For his part, Mayor Christian Natividad of this city said that they are also preparing relief goods for Mindanao.

As this developed, Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado formed a task force that will handle donations from Bulakenyos and other organization.

In his weekly radio broadcast over Radyo Bulacan yesterday, the governor said that Bulacan has been the recipient of donations in the past years after the province was struck by calamities.

He even said that as of Friday, the province received a donation worth P300,000 from the provincial government of Cebu.

“It is time that we do the same not only to repay what we received, but as an expression of sympathy with the victims,” Alvarado said in Filipino.

The governor also ordered offices of the provincial government to observe austerity in the conduct of annual Christmas parties.

He said that savings from the said parties will be included in the donations that will be sent to Mindanao.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bulacan light house repair underway

SMP members and Pugad officials
HAGONOY, Bulacan—Repair of the 80-year old lighthouse in this coastal town of Bulacan is expected to be completed before Christmas.

This came after old equipment of the solar power lighthouse were pulled down last week and are being analyzed by technicians and electrical engineers of the Sigla Movement of the Philippines (SMP), the non-government organization that vowed to lead the repair.

Grossman Dax Uy, chair of the SMP-Bulacan chapter told the STAR yesterday that they are planning to inaugurate the lighthouse before December 15.

“We are hopeful that we can install it back by December 15,” Uy said.

He said that a week after they visited the lighthouse on November 24, a team of technicians and electrical engineers climbed the lighthouse and pulled the old equipment with the help of residents and officials of Barangay Pugad.

He said that all equipment are being analyzed and noted that the lighthouse’s lamp changer flasher, day light control and light bulb needs to be replaced.

The lighthouse’s electrical cables and other connectors also needs replacement.

With regards to the solar panel and solar batteries, he said that both are still being analyzed by technicians.

“We are hoping that some parts can still be used but we already placed an order for parts that will be replaced,” Uy said.

Standing on the mouth of the Hagonoy river fronting the Manila Bay, the 80 year old lighthouse served as guide for fishermen at night.

Local residents said that in the 60’s it is lighted by an alcohol powered lamp, and when electricity reached the coastal village in the late 70s, the lighthouse’s was lighted by electric powered lamp.

However, during typhoons, the lighthouse usually fail to function as strong winds used to cut power line to the lighthouse.

In the late 90s, officials decided to upgrade the lighthouse with solar powered lamps.

However, the solar powered batteries of the lighthouse expired seven years ago and since then, fishermen in Manila Bay lost their guide at night.
SMP members and Pugad officials

Last year, Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado took notice of the lighthouse after a local newspaper published as story and picture of it.

Alvarado submitted a proposal to the Central Luzon Regional Development Council for the repair and it was approved in October last year.

The RDC endorsed to Malacanang the repair of the lighthouse along with the construction of additional lighthouse along the coast of the Manila Bay.

But more than a year after, nothing has been done until SMP took the initiative last November.  (Dino Balabo)

Loren stresses importance of geo-hazard maps in averting disasters

 Senator Loren Legarda stressed on the importance of disseminating, using, heeding and updating geo-hazard maps to avoid exposing communities to disasters.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, made the call following reports that geo-hazard maps were ignored in some areas, thus resulting to a large number of casualties.

“Geo-hazard maps will tell us where it is unsafe to build homes. It is only logical not to build subdivisions in flood-prone areas or construct buildings along a fault line. We must use these maps to avoid exposing our homes and our people to disaster risks,” she said.

In the geo-hazard map, many parts of Compostela Valley are shaded in red, which means these areas are highly susceptible to landslides.

“It is important that we have these geo-hazard maps, and that these maps should be applied, not only to the regional and provincial level, but also to the local municipalities. Maybe it would even be prudent to ensure that citizens are aware of the vulnerabilities of the communities they live in. It is their right to know the risks present so that they can decide to move to safer places, which should be supported by the local government. In fact, LGUs should already be relocating to safer ground those families and communities in high-risk areas,” the Senator stressed.

“We knew about Typhoon Pablo and we were warned. It is a matter of making our laws work and implementing the disaster mitigation plans and programs on the ground. We also have to update the geo-hazard maps and integrate risk information in development planning, increase investments in improving critical infrastructure, and institutionalize effective and efficient early warning systems that will allow people at risk to respond immediately, therefore averting deaths in disasters,” Legarda concluded.

Bulacan board condemns ambush on Violago

File photo of Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando

MALOLOS CITY—The Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Bulacan condemned last week’s ambush attempt on Board Member Mark Cholo Violago, but noted they will not beef up security for their other provincial board members.

As this developed, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado ordered immediate but careful investigation after Senior Superintendent Noli Talino, the acting provincial police director created Task Force Violago.

“We condemn in strongest terms the attempt on the life of Mark Cholo Violago” said Vice Governor Daniel Fernando in an interview.

He said that local police still have to determine the motive and who are behind the ambush on Violago.

Fernando added that the Sangguniang Panglalawigan have also asked the provincial police for a detailed report in the incident.

“What we know is as good as what you know because the provincial police still have to provide their official report,” the vice governor said.

Last week, Violago was on his way to Manila when his Hyundai Starex van with license plates CHO 45 was sprayed with bullets along Plaridel by-pass road in Barangay Banga 1st, Plaridel town.

Violago and his companions, a driver and a body guard survived the ambush with minimal injuries.

Sources said that a suspect armed with M-16 assault rife fired from a another van when Violago’s vehicle reached Barangay Banga 1st.

A Barangay Captain of Barangay San Roque in San Rafael town, Violago represents the Association of Barangay Captains in the province as an ex-officio Board Member.

Meanwhile, Governor Alvarado also demanded the fair and fast investigation from the provincial police especially from the Task Force Violago.

He said that the task force was created immediately after the ambush, but it has not came out with a report yet.

Alvarado said they expect the report soon.  (Dino Balabo)

Save Sierra Madre, Padaca urged

MALOLOS CITY— Commissioner Grace Padaca of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) enjoined everybody in protecting and conserving the Sierra Madre saying no one is excused.

Padaca’s statement came receiving the Gawad Sierra Madre award from the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc., (SSMESI) and the Center for Bulacan Studies (CBS) for the Bulacan State University.

Other recipients of the said awards are Father Pete Montallana, a crusading priest from Quezon province, and Delfin Friginal, the late Dumagat chieftain in Bulacan.

“Walang exempted sa tungkuling pangalagaan ang Sierra Madre,” said Padaca, the former governor of Isabela province.

She stressed that whether a person is in government or nor, sick or healthy, he or she has a duty to rptect the mountain ranged that stretches from Isabela in northern Luzon to Bicol region in southern Luzon.

Padaca added that a person’s economic situation is also not a hindrance saying, mayamaa o mahirap ay hindi pwedeng magsabi na hindi sila kasali sa pagbibigay protection sa Sierra Madre.”

The same was echoed by Father Montallana, the crusading priest from Quezon province who said, “tayong lahat ay dapat maging tagapagtanggol ng kalikasan.”
Montallana recalled the 2004 tragedy caused by flash flood in General Nakar town in Quezon.

He said that while wading through waist high mud, he realized that protection of the environment must not be entrusted to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

This is due the fact that despite the agency’s programs and projects, the environment, especially the Sierra Madre remained at the mercy of illegal loggers, miners and quarry operators.

As a priest who spent years in immersion with Dumagat tribesmen, Montallana recalled the lessons he learned from indigenous peoples (IP) in terms of conserving the environment.

He said that the environment must not be viewed as a source of income but must be considered as “brothers” just like how the IPs treated it.

The same was affirmed by Brother Martin Francisco of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc., (SSMESI) who authored the book “Mahabe Pagotan: Kasaysayan, Kalinangan, at Kalikasan ng  mga Dumagat sa Bahaging Bulacan ng Sierra Madre.”

Citing what he learned from Dumagats, Francisco saiironmental protection that lowlanders have very low understanding of environment protection and of the culture of the IPs.

He said that lowlander’s culture have influenced the IPs and resulted into unabated destruction of Sierra Madre.

“Nakalulungkot na habang nabibihisan ang mga Dumagat ay nahuhubaran ang Sierra Madre at mga kabundukan natin,” he said.

Francisco said that the he hopes that the book he wrote will bridge the gap in understanding environment and the Dumagats.

The award was given after the launch of the book on Monday which coincide with the 108th founding anniversary of the Bulacan State University (BulSU).

The book was pubslished by the BulSU Center for Bulacan Studies (CBS) where Francisco serves as consultant on Dumagat studies.  (Dino Balabo)

NGO vow to lead repair of old Bulacan light house

HAGONOY, Bulacan—For more than seven years, fishermen in Manila Bay thread its waters in the dark of night due to unrepaired lighthouse at the coastal village of Pugad here.

But soon, their woes will be over after a non-governmental organization offered to bring back light on the much needed lighthouse.

Grossman Dax Uy, the chair of Sigla Movement of the Philippines (SMP) Bulacan chapter conducted on Saturday, November 24 an ocular inspection on the more than 80 years old light house.

He said SMP will lead the repair of the lighthouse by donating solar batteries and lamps.

“This lighthouse is crucial for fishermen at night because it serve as their guide, that’s why we offer to repair it,” Uy said.

He added that the lighthouse can also be a tourist attraction if its surrounding areas will be developed.

This was affirmed by local residents who said that in the past, travelers from Bulacan going to Corregidor Island, Bataan and Manila used to stop at the base of the lighthouse.

Rommel Santos, a former village councilman said that the light house is more than 80 years old based on narrative of older residents.

Village councilman Alfredo Lunes said the lighthouse ceased to serve its function more than seven years ago after its solar powered batteries failed.

This led village officials to seek help from the municipal and provincial government.

Last year, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado submitted a proposal to the Central Luzon Regional Development Council (RDC) or the repair of the said lighthouse.

It was approved by the RDC along with the construction of additional lighthouses in on the coast of Obando, Paombong towns in Bulacan and in Pampanga and Bataan provinces.

The Central Luzon RDC submitted a resolution to Malacanang through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) endorsing repair and construction of additional light houses.

However, after more than a year, the national government still have to act on the RDC endorsement.  (Dino Balabo)

Bulacan made fireworks are safe and of high quality--DTI

Engr. Celso Cruz of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association Inc.,

MALOLOS CITY—The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) made assurances that fireworks manufactured in Bulacan are safe and of high quality.

This came as 475 different types of fireworks manufactured in the province secured the DTI product standards (PS), while 75 others are being processed by the Bureau of Product Standard.

Zorina Aldana, director of DTI-Bulacan said that PS license is one of the guarantees that a product is safe and of high quality.

“Those that applied and secured PS licensees are following the provisions of Republic Act 7183 of the firecracker law,” Aldana said noting that legal limit chemical content of pyrotechnics products is .2 grams.

However, she stressed that following the legal limit on the chemical content of a pyrotechnics products is not enough.

She said that the secure a PS license from the DTI, a manufacturer must foloow strict manufacturing process and quality management system (QMS) that follows international stands and the Philippine standards on fireworks.

Aldana added , “there are also requirement on packaging and labeling. The manufacturer’s name and contact details plus safety labeling must be written on the product.”

She said that the above requirements are meant to ensure accountability among manufacture and assure buyers that products are safe.

Aldana said that 475 fireworks products in the province that secured PS license includes different types of fountains, aerial fireworks, sawa, judas belt, trompillo, roman candle, luces, Mabuhay fountain, Pagoda fountain and others.

 The said products varies in sizes and design.

Based on DTI-Bulacan records, manufacturers that secured PS license are Dragon Fireworks based in San Rafael town, and Diamond Fireworks from Pulilan town.

Both companies have secured PS license for 100 different products each.

Others include LF Fireworks in San Ildefonso town (80 products), Nation Fireworks based in Baliwag (25 products), SPM General Merchandise in Bocaue (40 products) Pyro Kreation Fireworks based in Sta. Maria town (30 products), Platinum Fireworks from Sta. Maria (50 products), and Phoenix Fireworks, also from Sta. Maria with 50 products.

Others that have applied for PS license which are still being process by the DTI-BPS are Z & N Nicolas Fireworks (20 products), ERCY Fireworks (20 products), A. Santiago Fireworks (10 products), and Purity Fireworks (10 products) which are all based in Baliwag town; and Double L Fireworks from Pandi town with 15 products. (Dino Balabo)

NCCA feted 21 cultural masters

2012 Dayaw Festival awards

MALOLOS CITY—The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) feted 21 master craftsmen on from different indigenous groups as part of the culminating activity of the 2012 Dayaw festival here on Thursday night, November 29.

The 21 master craftsmen received their awards during a banquet sponsored by the provincial government of Bulacan and the city government of Malolos at the historic Barasoain church yard here.

 The banquet, according to Dr. Joycie Dorado-Alegre of the NCCA sub-commission on cultural communities and traditional arts (SCCTA) is reminiscent of the opening of the Malolos Congress which drew representative from across the country 114 years ago.

“This is historic and symbolic event because it happened 114 years after the opening of Malolos Congress,” said Dorado-Alegre noting that about 600 indigenous peoples representing 47 tribal groups were present in Thursday night’s event.
Banquet at Barasoain

Long applause followed her statement and comments from participants who likened the banquet into a national tribal council except for the lack of politics involve.

With regards to the awardees, Dorado-Alegre described them as the few who are part of the country’s school of living traditions.

“Their skills and craftsmanship are unparallel and a testament of our creativity and colorful traditions,” she said.

Earlier, Dr. Felipe De Leon, the chair of the NCCA stressed that Filipinos have so much to learn from IP groups.

He cited the speech of President Benigno Aquino which was read by former Senator Jamby Madrigal on the opening day of the festival which stated that from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao, IP culture have influenced the larger Filipino culture.

De Leon added that IP groups must be considered as teachers saying that “they preserved their culture while we lowlanders assimilated news culture to the extent that we forgot where we came from.”

With regards to the 21 awardees, De Leon said they are not only master craftsmen but cultural masters and purveyor of school of living traditions of their communities.
Francisco Eligio

The awardees are Micahel Dexter Aliguyon of Kiangan, a cultural (CM) on Ifugao performing arts; Emilia Alindayo, a CM on Ifugao textile weaving and clothing, Ellenera Aliguyon,  a CM on Ifugao performing arts, loom weaving, textile weaving and clothing.

Amparo Mabanag of Mountain Province (Ga’dang cloth weaving and accessory making), Rebecca Reyes of Abucay, Bataan (Ayta Magbukon performing arts), Cenia Lastrilla of Calinog, Iloilo (Panay-Bukidnon epic narration with chanting, Binanog dance and Panubok hand embroidery), Aurelio Damas of Calinog, Iloilo (Binanog dance), Nedemio Badac of Brooke’s Point, Palawan (Pala’wan dances and songs).

Gloria Emag of Aborlan, Palawan (school of living traditions on Tagbanua music, songs and dances), Richard Impil of Bagong Silang, Don Salvador Benedicto (Ati language, music and dance), Marleta Mahinay of Sagay City, Negros Occidental (Ata pandan mat weaving), Rodrigo Panganiban of Nabas, Aklan (Ati traditional baskets and crafts), Delia Pauden of Hamtic, Antique (Ati languages, songs, dances  and literature).

Janeth Hanapi and Kamaria Sabturani of Sofronio Espanola, Palawan (Jama Mapun mat weaving), Tirso Serdena of Gasan, Marinduque (Kalutang playing), Francisco Eligio of Hagonoy, Bulacan (master craftsman in Singkaban making),  Abbay Tacabil  and Solaw Duca, both of Sanggani, Davao Del Sur (Sangir dances & musical instruments playing; and mat weaving, respectively), Florita Umilos of Zamboanga Del Norte (Subanen basket weaving), and Datu Josefino Gonlibo of Maramag, Bukidnon (Manobo beads and accessories making).  (Dino Balabo)