Friday, October 26, 2012

PNP vows crackdown on illegal firecracker

PPMDAI's Celso Cruz showing legal fireworks.

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan—The Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed to crackdown on illegal pyrotechnics products as the yuletide season draw near.

This developed, the PNP also advised pyrotechnics manufactures in Luzon attending a safety workshop here yesterday to be responsible in production in order to achieve the zero pyrotechnics related injuries this year.

The workshop was organized by the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers Dealers Association Inc., (PPMDAI) which drew participants from northern, central and southern Luzon.

Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, head of the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) told the STAR that they will confiscate illegal pyrotechnics products which include oversized firecrackers and smuggled fireworks.

“We have the responsibility to ensure safety of the people and we will do it by confiscating illegal pyrotechnics products,” he said.
Daway (L), Petrasanta (R)

Petrasanta explained that any pyrotechnics products with over .2 grams of chemical content are illegal.

Some of the oversize pyrotechnics that the PNP warned to confiscate include pla-pla, super lolo, lolo thunder, bin-laden, goodbye Philippines, goodbye Gloria, kwiton bomb, and giant whistle bomb.

Other smaller products like piccolo and watusi are also banned due to danger it pose on children.

With regards to smuggled products, he explained that it cannot be allowed, otherwise, the domestic pyrotechnic industry will continue to suffer.

This was affirmed by Senior Superintendent Ferdinand Daway, the chief of the PNP explosives management division.

Daway said that law governing pyrotechnics manufacture, sales and distribution in the country only allowed totally knocked down materials.

“It is illegal to import pyrotechnics unless it is totally knocked down,” he said.

 Daway noted that smuggled fireworks are openly sold in in the domestic market.

He said that some businessmen are smuggling the said products and passing it to the market as local manufactured by stripping its label and replacing it with local labels.

This scheme, the PPMDAI said has been going on for about 10 years.

Participants to Fireworks Safety Training Workshop
Vimie Erese, the president of the PPMDAI admitted that said scheme has caused decline in the domestic pyrotechnics industry.

She said that at present, there are only 20 registered manufacturers in the country compared to 40 last year.

“We are still struggling not only because of high cost of raw materials imported from abroad but with the presence of smuggled products that some businessmen are distributing locally,” she said.

For his part, Engineer Celso Cruz, the chairman emeritus of the PPMDA explained that for some businessmen, it is more profitable to smuggle pyrotechnics than produce it locally.

“It is so easy, they will not maintain workers, they will only need a warehouse.  But the said practices is killing the industry,” Cruz said.

The commercial pyrotechnics industry was born in Bulacan in the late 1800s when a Spanish friar taught a young man in Sta. Maria town to mix black powder to produce skyrockets or kwitis which they used in waking up people for the annual misa de gallo.  (Dino Balabo)

1st Bulacan Buildex 2012 hailed

MALOLOS CITY—Government officials and businessmen hailed the recently concluded 1st Bulacan Builders Exposition 2012 (Buildex 2012) here saying it’s a big step in inspiring public and private partnership.

Organized by the Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) in coordination with the provincial government of Bulacan, the three-day Buildex 2012 drew hundreds of participants along with at least 80 exhibitors.

“This is the first of its kind, because no province has organized an activity like this,” said Blesila Lantayona, the director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Central Luzon.

She explained that builder’s exposition is usually organized by countries, and not by province of a local business chamber.

Lantayona also said that she was not surprised why the BCCI and the provincial government of Bulacan pushed for Buildex 2012.

She said that the no other province in the country is home to companies that holds product standard (PS) mark from the DTI.

“There are 32 companies in Bulacan that holds 32 PS marks for at least 52 different products,’ she said.

Lantayona said that existence of products manufactured in Bulacan with PS mark only shows that the province is primed for the exposition.

She added that it also proves that products manufactured in the province are of high quality.

Rhine Aldana, the provincial director of the DTI in Bulacan said that some of the products manufactured in the province with PS mark are cement, galvanized iron roofing, nails and even plastics based pipes.

She added that quality of products sold in the province is also screened by sellers.

This is through the Bulacan Association Hardwares Inc.m, (Bahai) which was organized last year to ensure that only products that have PS mark will be sold in the province.

For his part, Lawyer Miguel Varela, the president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said that the exposition is timely fast becoming an investment haven for real estate with bustling metropolitan areas.

He said that Bulacan is now developing to take advantage as a vital economic growth area in the country that will complement Metro Manila.

This developed, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado said that Buildex 2012 was meant to show the competitiveness of Bulacan.

He said that he was saddened by the fact that Bulacan is equated with disasters after the the floods spawned by Pedring last year and southwest monsoon last August.

“Buildex 2012 showed that Bulacan can be a haven for suburban living and we are working together to make that happen,’ he said.

Do not abandon NorthRail, bizmen asked PNoy

MALOLOS CITY—Business leaders here called on President Aquino not to abandon the anomalous NorthRail project noting that further development of the province and of Central Luzon depends on it.

As this developed, other businessmen said Bulacan might have two railways in the future saying that NorthRail project might be built on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

Renato Simbulan, the president emeritus of the Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) told the STAR that the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) reminded the President on the importance of the said project.

He said that it is part of a resolution submitted by the PCCI to the President during the recent Philippine Business Conference (PBC).

“NorthRail is very important to us here,” Simbulan said noting that it should not be totally abandoned.

As former head of the BCCI, he said that he collaborated with former Subic Bay Administrator Felicito Payumo and Rufo Colayco of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) for the said project in the early 90s.

“We saw NorthRail as the major key in development of Central Luzon provinces,” Simbulan noting that concept for the project came after the American left Clark Field in Pamapnga to avoid devastation brought by the eruption of the Mount Pinatubo.

By mind-90s, the concept of the project was completed and an agreement was signed with China in 2004 for the implementation of railway project that will link Metro Manila and Clark Field.

Initial design was for a rapid railways, but later it was modified into a commuter train that will service Caloocan city and towns of Bulacan up to Pampanga.

However, the emergence of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport led to consideration of design.

Business leaders and former Department of Transportation and Communications officials said there is a need for a rapid transport that will link Clark Field and Manila in less than one hour.

The natural answer is the NorthRail project, but it was abandoned in 2008 by Chinese contractors until contract was rescinded months ago.

This developed, Ambrosio Cruz of Archer Realty and former mayor of Guiguinto town said that there is a possibility that Bulacan might just have two railways system.

Citing conversation with DOTC officials, Cruz said that the rapid train system can be constructed in record time in between the north and southbound lanes of the NLEX.

With regards to the old Philippine National Railways track which was cleared to give way to the NorthRail Project, Cruz said the government is considering to establish a commuter train there.

“We just have to wait, but we might just have more than what we are asking for,” he said.

Cruz added that when completed, the railway project terminal in Bulacan will become an instant growth area.

The same was echoed by Mara Bautista, the former executive director of the BCCI who said that in Japan and other countries, areas where a train terminal was built experienced quick progress as businessmen came to invest. 

Wacky & wicked Halloween adventure

It’s that time of the year again when cute fairies, prince and princess, superheroes, villains,
zombies, witches and wizards roam around the walkways of SM City Baliwag to have a spooky-fun
time this Halloween season.

The Halloween’s magical charm certainly excites the young and the young at heart. That’s
why SM City Baliwag has lined up an array of events starting October 25 to make the Halloween
celebration more enchanting.

Be sure to drop by the mall’s atrium and take a photo opportunity at the Wicked Pumpkin
Centerpiece for that spook-tacular snapped moment with friends and family. For Marvel and DC
Comics fanatics, visit life-size replicas of Iron Man, Spiderman and Batman at the Superhero Nook at
SM Cinema Baliwag.

From the creepiest to the cutest of designs, a selection of ready to wear Halloween costumes
are available at the SM Department Store’s Children’s Wear and Accessories section. Kids can
take their pick from the store’s mix of awesome outfits where they can dress as ninjas, vampires,
skeletons, ballerinas, mermaids as well as animal-themed costumes like turtles and bees among

At 2 p.m. on October 28, pet lovers and owners will be showing off their ‘boo-tiful’ pets in ‘howl-
oween’ costumes for the annual Halloween Pet Show and Costume Contest dubbed, “Bow Wow
Wacky Dog Show” happening at the Event Center. With Philippine Canine Club Inc. as one of the
major partners, winners of the Best in Pet Costume will receive a total of P5, 000 worth of SM Gift
Certificates and freebies.

To register for the contest, interested pet owners may present a proof of purchase worth P500
from any of the stores inside the mall. A purchase of SM Foodcourt Baliwag’s Yard Cup with an SM
Bottled Water also entitles a pet owner to join their pet.

On October 31 at 10 a.m., kids of all ages are invited to be part of SM City Baliwag’s Wacky
and Wicked Trick or Treat where youngsters can don their favorite character or Halloween costume
as they collect goodies from the various shops inside the mall. Pass by SM Hypermarket and get a
bag-full of sweet treats. What’s more, mom or dad’s P500 worth of purchase from SM Hypermarket on
the same day entitles her child to grab all the candies from a bowl using one hand during the store’s
Dakot All You CANdy promo.

At 2 p.m., get the chance to win one of the 3 Wickedly Wacky Costume Contest where three
winners will emerge from three different categories which includes the Cutest Halloween Costume,
Spookiest Halloween Costume and Wackiest Halloween Costume. The top three runner ups for each category will receive SM Gift Certificates worth P5,000, P2,500 and P1,500 plus exciting freebies
from major sponsors.

Cap off the Halloween adventure with the most thrilling and mind blowing exhibition of live
science experiments at the Mad Science event happening on October 31, 4 p.m. at the mall’s Event

Experience a bewitching journey this Halloween season only at SM City Baliwag!

Real time traffic updates for NLEx, SCTEx now available online

MALOLOS CITY—The Tollways Management Corporations (TMC) is now implementing a real time travel advisory for the expressways north of Manila, saying it’s the first of its kind in the country.

The travel advisory is available online on and can be viewed on desktop computers or mobile gadgets like smartphones and ad IPads.

“This is one of two innovations we are implementing in time for the Halloween weekend,” said Benigno Valles, TMC senior manager for corporate communications.

The other innovation is the Lakbay Norte Pass which will ensure faster transactions on toll plaza’s as motorists will not have to pay cash for toll fee.

Valles said that both innovations were designed for the motorists’ comfort especially those who will travel to provinces north of Manila before and after the All Saints day weekend.

Like in the past, the TMC which operates the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) is expecting a 15 to 20 percent increase in traffic volume on both expressways before and after the Halloween break.

Records show that average daily traffic volume along the NLEX is at least 155,000 vehicles. It is expected to climb to about 200,000.

Valles said that with the new innovations, motorists can plan their travel.

He added, “if they monitored that traffic flow along NLEx is slow, they can stop and rest for the meantime at gas stations along the expressway.”

 Updated every minute, the TMC website according to Valles not only shows traffic conditions on real time basis and real time travel time from one toll plaza to another. It also provides advisory in case of accidents or road repairs.

He said that it can also be accessed using smartphones with internet connection, but he also advised drivers to have a navigator to read the advisories for them while driving.

With regards to the Lakbay Norte pass launched last week, he said that it can be used from October 31 to November 4 by motorists driving Class 1 vehicle cars and passenger vans.

A magnetic swipe card, the Lakbay Norte Pass is a prepaid toll card available to Class 1 vehicles going to Dau, Tarlac and Subic and those travelling back to Manila.

However, Valles said that Lakbay Norte Pass has only one way value with specific areas for use.

The one way trip toll value of the prepaid cards are as follows, P218 for vehicles traveling NLEx Balintawak/Mindanao Avenue to Dau or vice versa; P322.for NLEx Balintawak/Mindanao Avenue to Tarlac or vice versa and P408 for NLEx Balintawak/Mindanao Avenue to Subic or vice versa .

Lanes dedicated to Lakbay Norte Pass holders are located at the Balintawak, Mindanao Avenue, Dau, Bocaue Tarlac and Subic toll gates.

The Lakbay Norte Pass can be bought at the NLEx Customer Service Centers in Balintawak, Valenzuela, Bocaue, Tabang and San Fernando and Shell stations in A. Bonifacio, Mindanao Avenue, Barangay Bahay Toro and Santolan, Quezon City, Buendia, Makati and at the SBMA Tipo Total Gas station.