Thursday, March 28, 2013

Docs warns flagellants from bathing on rivers

MALOLOS CITY—Medical doctors warned Bulakenyo flagellants from bathing on rivers to avoid inspection.

This is due to pollution on Bulacan rivers in Marilao, Meycauayan,Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto which were declared as biologicall dead by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Angat River.

As head of the Provincial Public Health office, Dr. Jocelyn Gomez told the STAR that bathing on rivers is not advisable especially for flagellants who have open wounds on their back.

Gomez cited the possibility of infection due to a number of unidentified pollutants in the province’s river systems.

 The was echoed by Dr. Roberto Ramirez of Bulakan who noted the possibility of getting infected by tetanus.

As a medical practitioner, Ramirez insisted that it is safer for flagellants to wash their wounds with soap and clean water.

He specifically suggested water distributed by local water districts and through available artesian wells.

However, many Bulakenyo flagellants are unwilling to heed doctors advise.

They noted that older flagellants used to wash and bathe on local rivers in the past.

However, the quality of water on local river systems has dramatically change in the last more than 20 years.

Back then local water flowing on local rivers were clear and clean, and rivers are teeming with fish and other marine life.

Today, local rivers in the province are polluted with solid waste not to mention effluents coming from factories and households.

This situation were affirmed by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado and Vice-Governor Daniel Fernando.

In an earlier interview, Alvarado lamented that water in rivers in the province turned brown in the last 10 years.

He said that it was due to pollution brought by increasing population.

The same was echoed by Fernando who said that if rivers in the past were teeming with fish,it is now teeming with garbage.

He also lamented the damage brought by undisciplined garbage disposal on local rivers that turned it into garbage dump.  Dino Balabo

Malolos Diocese reiterates stand on crucifixion, flagellation

Australian comedian John Safran at Kapitangan, Paombong, Bulacan.

MALOLOS CITY—The Diocese of Malolos reiterated its stand against self flagellation during the observance of the Holy week.

This came as the Church listed pilgrimage sites in Bulacan which exclude three prominent places in the province visited by thousands of devotes.

Excluded from the list if pilgrimage sites in the province are Grotto Vista in San Jose Del Monte City, old Santisima Trinidad Church in this city and the Barangay Kapitangan in Paombong town where devotees reenact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ every good Friday.

Arvin Ray Jimenez of the Commission on Social Communications of the Diocese of Malolos said that all three places have problems.

He said that Grotto Vista which draws thousands due to life size statue is no longer under the management of the diocese along with Santisima Church.

Jimenez said that pilgrims can instead visit the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Marilao town which is adjacent to San Jose Del Monte City.
As another alternative, the diocese is advising pilgrims to participate in liturgical celebrations in different churches in the province.

The diocese also advised pilgrims to join in the annual Visita Iglesia, not only to see century old churches but to pray.

Among the churches that they advise for Visita Iglesia are the St. John the  Baptist Church in Calumpit, National Shrine of St. Anne in Hagonoy, National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Marilao, Basilica Minore here, St. James the Apostle Church in Plaridel, St. Augustine Church in Baliwag, and Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in San Rafael town.

Another place to visit for the Holy week is the Immaculate Conception Seminary (ICS) in barangay Tabe, Guiguinto town.

Jimenez said that  starting last Sunday, seminarians at ICS have starting the daily reading of the passion of Christ or Pasyong Mahal ni HesuKristo, which will be followed by seminars about holy week and nightly vigils.

On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, there will be a celebration for the station aod the cross and the seven last words of Jesus Christ.

With regards to annual staging of cenaculo or community theater depicting the life of Jesus Christ, the diocese of Malolos encouraged Bulakenyo to watch.

However, they noted that watching cenaculo is not only for entertainment purposes but for meditation on the life of Christ.

For about a century now, cenaculos are being staged annually in Barangays San Sebastian in Hagonoy, Caingin and Tikay in Malolos City.

There are also other theater groups like the Dularawang Bulacan Foundation and the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation that stages cenaculos during the Holy week in Bulacan. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Recycled materials, renewable energy highlight Earth Hour in Bulacan

BALIWAG, Bulacan—Recycled materials and solar lamps highlighted the annual Earth Hour celebrations here on Saturday night as organizers stressed the need for renewable energy to save the planet.

At least 100 replicas of fireflies made from recycled soda bottles and powered by solar energy lighted the fa├žade of SM City Baliwag during the switch off as Bulakenyos joined the rest of the world in the annual celebrations.

It was followed by the lighting of laser finger beams attached to fingers of about 1,000 participants who joined the one-hour party.

Beverly Cruz, public relations specialists of SM City Baliwag said solar-powered firefly replicas symbolized the call to conserve energy and save the planet through utilization of energy efficient materials.

“Fireflies are known as lighting bugs and they are one of the symbols of environmental conservation as the insects only thrive in unpolluted areas,” Cruz said.

She stressed that fireflies also symbolize hope for every human effort to protect the environment from pollution.

Cruz also said that SM malls’ focus in this year’s Earth Hour celebration is on the use of the energy efficient materials and proper waste management practices.

Days before the celebration, she said that mall employees gathered soda bottles that were used in firefly replica production.

The improvised fireflies were later installed by SolarTech Enterprise, a Philippine-based company that provides functional and reliable solar power systems.

As one of the leading local supplier of photovoltaic cells, SolarTech aims to promote green and renewable energy in the country.

Its objective is to innovate products from solar and other renewable energy sources to help wean the world from relying on harmful and carbon-emitting energy sources.

Meanwhile, the annual celebration also drew pledges from participants who vowed to conserve energy by regularly turning off lights, re-use water and use bicycle as transport especially for short distances.

Just before the switch off, Shane Velasco of the Bulacan State University Rainforestation program also challenged participants including local officials to ensure sustainability of environment related programs.  DinoBalabo

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Join Earth Hour tonight

MALOLOS CITY—Reelectionist Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero called on every Filipino to join tonight’s (Saturday) observance of the annual Earth Hour.

This came as Bulakenyos prepare to join the rest of the world in the annual one-hour switch off starting at 8:30 tonight, March 23.

In their separate visit to Bulacan,Legarda and Escudero highlighted the need to participate not only to conserve electricity, but to raise awareness on environmental protection.

“Samantalahin po natin na makiisa sa pagsasagawa ng Earth Hour, not only to conserve energy but to raise awareness on the need to protect the environment,” Legarda said in an interview yesterday over Radyo Bulacan, a local radio station based in this city.
She also called on the use of renewable energy in order to protect the environment.

For his part, Escudero said environmental protection is not necessarily for the benefit of oneself.

“Hindi lang para sa ating sarili,kungdi para sa ating mga anak,apo, at susunod na salinlahi,” he said in an interview on Monday.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Ecudero said they have been participating in the annual observance of the Earth Hour.

He said it was meant protect and [preserve the environment for the next generation saying, “hindi man mas maganda, at least kaparehas ng mundo natin ngayon.”

A worldwide event, Earth Hour was first started by the World Wild Life Fund for Nature in 2007 in Sydney, Australia.

Since then, it is annually held towards the end march highlighted by one-hour switch off.

In Bulacan, SM City malls in Marilao and Baliwag town has been participating in the annual switch off.

Tonight, SM City Baliwag said their Earth Hour celebration will be highlighted by participation of bikers and skateboarders to highlight alternative more of trasponport.

Beverly Cruz, the public relations officer of SM City Baliwag said participants will start by skating and pedaling from the town proper of Baliwag to Sm City mall.

It will be followed by skateboarder’s exhibition and a one hour video presentation.

Cruz said that at 8:30PM, major lights at the amml will be switch off and it will be followed by the lighting of the fireflies which are made from PET bottles.

The said bottles will be powered by solar energy  provided by SolarTech, a partner of SM City Baliwag.  Dino Balabo

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SAYS CHIZ: Pinoys must rally behind PNoy on Sabah

MALOLOS CITY—Re-electionist Senator Francis Escudero called on Filipinos to trust and rally behind President Benigno Aquino in dealing with the Sabah crisis.

He also warned spectators including politicians to slow down on their comments to prevent escalation of hostilities that may end up in war.

“Hayaan po natin ang Pangulo na magdesisyon sa usapin sa Sabah, Galangin natin suportahan ang Pangulo dahil mabigat ang kanyang pasanin,” Escudero said in a press conference on Monday.

The re-electionist senator skipped the sortie of Team PNoy in Baguio City and chose to meet with journalists based in the province.

He explained that in dealing with the Sabah crisis, it is important for the country to have one voice on the issue.

“Huwag tayong sa publiko maghugas ng maruming damit, Hayaan natin ang Pangulo ang magsalita, suportahan natin siya, tama o mali ang kanyang desisyon, saka na lang tayo maningil,” he said.

Escudero also warned candidates in joining the fray saying “huwag na tayong makisawsaw,national interest na ang usapin, hindi ang pagsikat ng kandidatong pulitiko.”

He also reacted to proposals that the country must send an armed group to rescue the 200 member of the Royal Army of the Sulu Sultanate now trapped in Lahad Datu in Sabah.

Escudero said that 30 million lives in Mindanao and about 100 million in the whole country are at stake in case such proposals are heeded.

He said that there could be war between the Philippines and Malaysia noting that Malaysia will not just allow another armed group from the country to enter their territory.

Escudero said that the same principle is being followed by Malacanang in the case of Scarborough shoal off the coast of Zambales which is disputed between the Philippines in China.

“Kapag nagpadala tayo ng navy sa Scarborough tutumbasan o hihigitan pa yan ng China, ano ang mangyayari, baka giyera ang kalabasan,” he said.

Escudero added, “hindi dapat iba-iba ang boses natin ngayon, dapat ay iisa lang. Hindi natin dapat pag-awayan at pagdebatihan yan.” Dino Balabo

DOH's Health on Wheels to hit Calumpit

CITY OF MALOLOS-Two thousand five hundred Bulakenyos will gather at Northville, Calumpit on March 21, 2013 at eight in the morning to avail of the services of Lakbay Buhay Kalusugan caravan, a joint project of the Provincial Government of Bulacan and the Department of Health.

Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado said the health promotion caravan, which will be set in a fiesta theme aims to give information and education on maternal and child health care.

“Malaki ang role ng mga kabataan at mga kababaihan lalung lalo na ang mga ina sa ating lalawigan kaya marapat na bigyang pansin ang kanilang kalusugan,” the governor said.

Provincial Health Officer Jocelyn Gomez said that LBK features a bus customized with consultation and examination clinics wherein there will be talks about the importance of pre-natal check-up, birth planning, safe pregnancy and delivery, birth spacing, child immunization, hand washing, prevention of disability and health insurance.

“Bukod dito, mayroon ding interactive exhibit, storytelling sessions, entertainment shows and games on health,” Gomez added.

Alvarado added that prioritizing health programs also ensure the province’s continuous progress.

“Hindi mo matatawag na maunlad ang isang lalawigan kung hindi sapat ang mga programang pangkalusugan. Dahil dito, hindi tayo tumitigil sa pag-iisip ng mga programang pangkalusugan at pagpapatupad nito dito sa Bulacan,” Alvarado said.

The Lakbay Buhay Kalusugan is aligned with the Aquino Health Agenda of universal access to quality health care. ###

Pinoys to join Mars Homestead Project

MALOLOS CITY—Believe it or not, Filipinos will be taking part in the ambitious Mars Homestead Project that will be built by 2030.

Dr. Custer Deocaris of the Rizal Technological University (RTU) based in Mandaluyong City made the announcement on Saturday.

“Our very own Filipino astronomers, architects, engineers and students will be taking part in designing, planning and promoting for the Mars Homestead Project,” Deocaris said in an email message.

He said the goal of the ambitious project is to build the first permanent settlement beyond Earth allowing human civilization to spread beyond the limits of our planet.

Deocaris did not discuss details Filipino participation in the project, but said that ranking officials of the Mars Homestead project informed him that there designs that still needed for the settlement program.

It means that project organizers are still open for collaboration including with Filipino experts and engineers.

With regards to details of the Filipino participation, it will be discussed in a press conference at the RTU today (Tuesday).

Dubbed as First Astrobiology Forum with the theme “Mars Habitability”, the presscon will start at 9a.m.

Deocaris said that journalists will have a chance to interview NASA astrobiologist and Stanford Professor Dr. Lynn Rothschild, along with founder-director of Mars Homestead Project Engineer Bruce MacKenzie during the press conference.

Other issues that will be presented in the forum include the history of Mars water and updates on researches on Martian microbiology.

As an astrobiologist and head of the RTU Office of Space Innovation and Cooperation (OSSIC), Deocaris said “Mars, as you may know, is very important right now, in that we have ongoing missions designed to characterize the planet and search for biosignatures of life.”

Astrobiology, he said is a subject taught only at RTU which is considered as one of the newest and most cutting-edge fields of science as there is so much great deal of creative and exciting work happening now.

It revolves around questions on the origins and evolution of life, how life changes its environment, on the future of human civilization and its impact on biosphere amidst the various astronomical phenomena like asteroids and comets, and the scientific aspects of search for life beyond Earth. Dino Balabo

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Papacy

(Note: This column was first published by the Manila Times on the first week of April, 2005. Written by Dino Balabo, the column entitled Kapeng Tagalog came out every week for over a year.)

Residents of Central Luzon have vivid memories of their unique experiences with Pope John Paul II that kept them spell bound.

On his first visit to the country 26-year ago, the Roman Pontiff blessed the Dambana ng Kagitingan in Bataan while en route to Subic Naval Base, then to Morong, Bataan where he met with Vietnamese refugees.

As recounted by veteran journalist Ben Gamos, a white pigeon settled on the Pope’s right shoulder while addressing the refugees. It was moment reminiscent of Jesus Christ’s post baptism experience as told in the Gospel.

During his second visit in 1995 in the occasion of the World Youth Day, kneeling carabaos from Pulilan town were brought to Manila and the country’s beast of burden knelt before the Pope.

It was also on that second visit when members of the Philippine National Police stumbled upon a plot to end the Pope’s life. Nueva Ecija provincial police director Supt. Alex Paul Monteagudo said that a fire incident led police to the capture of Abdul Hakim Murad shortly after, and of Ramzi Yousef later in Pakistan.

However, as the Central Luzon resident join the world in mourning the Pope’s death, not too many know much about the unique institution of the Papacy.  Below is part of research paper I submitted to North Park College Theological Seminary for the completion of my two year masters degree.

In writing the history of the papacy, James Corbett said, “no other in the western world is older, none has had greater influence in the formation of Christian civilization. None has been loved or hated so much, none so often misunderstood, and reviled. It has been called the seat of the anti-Christ, of usurpers, and imposters, the instrument of shrewd men trying to enslave the minds of men, yet it survive all the attacks made upon it and today, enjoys great prestige, respect, influence throughout the world. It’s very vitality amazes and confounds its enemies.”

The concept and practice of the doctrine of the papacy didn’t come overnight. It was subjugated to the circumstances of the times and place and was established by painful stages, and many centuries were to pass before the theory was translated into practice.

It is interesting to note that the word or title “Pope” did not originate from Rome and it was not the Roman Church who first used the title “Pope” for her bishops.

Geoffrey Barraclough explained that the title “Pope” was an Eastern and African title, in early times it was applied to the bishops of the primatial Sees of Carthage Africa and Alexandria, Egypt. In 250 AD, the clergy of Rome, addressed St. Cyprian, and refer to him as the “most blessed and glorious pope”. However, during that time, the word ‘pope’ wasn’t seen as a title for power and authority because the papal office wasn’t established yet and no doctrine was conceptualized. The Church has to wait for 190 years before Pope Leo the Great, pronounced the theory of the papacy, and gave Rome actual primacy.

More than a century later, Barraclough said, a Roman bishop by the name of Siricious (384-399 AD) used the title Pope and claimed in his decretals and rescripts the same binding force as synodical decrees since he asserted the care of all churches. However, William Macdonald asserted that, it was Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) who decreed that the title should be confined exclusively to the Roman popes.

History tells us that the papacy rose to many occasions, but sometimes committed mistakes. It was even the subject of Dr. Martin Luther’s treatises. But the protestant reformer himself did not condemn the institutions as a whole, instead, he pointed at specific abuses. Such inconsistencies only reflect the perfection of God and the imperfection of men who represents Him.

The 47th bishop of Rome, Pope Leo the Great (440-461 AD) is an example of a great church leader like the deceased Pope John Paul II.

Phillip Schaff in his book Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers wrote, “As a boy, Leo was trained by Leo Magnus, the first great Latin speaking Pope and first great Italian theologian. During his early manhood, Leo was employed by Pope Zosimus to deliver letters to St. Augustine, the great bishop of Hippo in Africa.

Under Pope Celestine (422-432), he became the archdeacon of Rome and was appealed to by the great theologian Cyril to procure the Pope’s support in stopping the designs of the Juvenal, the bishop of Jerusalem.”

In his whole career as pope, Leo the Great proved himself to be a staunch defender of orthodoxy. He defended the Church against the Manichean heresy (444 AD), against Priscillanism (447AD), and against Euthychianism. In the political world, Leo’s triumphs
includes his intercession for the city of Rome to the barbarian Atilla the Hun (452 AD), who was defeated by Aetius at Chalos but nevertheless continued his devastating inroad to Italy.

Pope Leo persuaded Atilla to retire beyond the Danube. Less than three years later, he found himself again standing for Rome with the Vandal Genseric (455 AD) who was about to invade Italy. Pope Leo met with Genseric outside the city, saving Rome from destruction.

In the same token, Pope John Paul II displayed exceptional courage as the leader of the Church. He is now called the holy and missionary pope whose more than 25 years of leadership magnified the practice of what Christianity should be. He has the distinction
of being the first Pope to implement what has been approved at the second Vatican council which reflect the principle of ecclesia semper reformada.

We believe in the separation of Church and State, but we have so much to learn from it. Lets hope and pray that our government and the powers that be would also realize the importance of the principle of constant metanoia, that like the papacy, it may also have the vitality that will confound its enemies. Dino Balabo

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bulakenyos demands immediate repair of damaged hanging bridge

HAGONOY, Bulacan—Residents of the municipalities of Calumpit and Hagonoy demanded immediate major repair on the more than 30 year old hanging bridge that links villages from the said towns.

This came as Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado and officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) vowed to conduct necessary repairs.

Located along the Labangan channel here, the Iba hanging bridge suffered another damaged a week ago, the third since the 2011 flood spawned by typhoon Pedring.

Village officials from Barangay Iba here led by Chairman Celerino Fajardo conducted initial repair on Thursday.

However, local residents along with village officials said that the repair is now enough.

“It needs a major repair to ensure safety of residents especially school children,” said Soledad Santos, a village councilwoman.

The same was affirmed by Fajardo who noted that only one major repair has been conducted on the hanging bridge which was constructed in early 1977.

“We don’t have enough funds that’s why we requested for major repair after the 2011 flood,” said Fajardo.

He said that during the flood spawned by typhoon Pedring in 2011, water lilies got stuck on the bridge and it twisted as flood waters rushed beneath.

Late last year, the provincial government initiated a minor repair on the said bridge, but on March 3, the wooden girder in the middle of the 142 linear meters hanging bridge snapped.

It left about 10 feet long part of the hanging bridge hanging.

Ver Fajardo, a local resident said that not only school children pass through the bridge everyday,

He said that even workers of the United Pulp and Paper Corporation used the said hanging bridge as a short cut in going to work or home.

On Saturday, Governor Alvarado vowed to send a team that will assess the damage while Engineer Ruel Angeles of the DPWH First Engineering District said they are looking for fund that will be used for the immediate repair of the bridge.

Both Alvarado and Angeles agreed that to ensure safety of residents, the hanging bridge must be replaced by a concrete and permanent one.

However, they said project of such magnitude will require a large budget.  Dino Balabo

Eco-friendly campaign materials luanched

MALOLOS CITY—Candidates in the May polls can now be more environmental friendly during the campaign, not just in words but in deeds.

This came as a Liberal Party (LP) candidate here launched an eco-friendly materials that can be used for campaign posters.

The materials includes the eco-cloth, recycled cardboard paper, and biodegradable plastic that can all replaced the environmentally threatening tarpaulin posters.

Christian Natividad, the incumbent mayor of this historic city and LP mayor candidate showed said materials to selected journalists here.

“We would like to set a trend among candidates to use eco-friendly campaign materials this elections to prove our claims that we really intend to protect the environment,” he said noting that many candidates always claim the same but comes short of their actions.

He said that during election campaign, candidates in national and local post are the major violators of environmental laws.

“We are the first violators and after the elections, we produce tons of garbage,” Natividad stressed.

He explained that in using eco-friendly materials, the country’s environment will be another step safer.

The mayor said that he started thinking of using campaign materials after they launched the first Malolos Green Covenant during the 114th anniversary of the Malolos Congress here last September 15.

The said covenant is aimed that encouraging local government units (LGUs) in the country to pursue steps in mitigating impacts of climate change through green initiatives.

“We thought that we will be violating the Covenant that we launched if we will still use tarpaulins, so I asked my friend to looks for other materials that can be used,” he said referring to Dondon Hornedo of the ED Enterprises based in this city.

The Green Covenant has been submitted to the United Nations and to the Philippine Congress where it was used by Rep. Dan Fernandez of Laguna as basis in urging President Aquino to push for the first Climate Change awards.

“It was submitted to the United Nations and we would like to start the campaign here for eco-friendly election to revolutionize the election campaign,” he said.

For his part, Hornedo said that eco-cloth which is usually used on eco-shopping bags is cheaper by at least four times compared to tarpaulins.

“Tarpaulins costs at least P13 per square foot while eco-cloth only costs P22 per square yard which is about four to six square feet,” he said.

Hornedo said that eco-cloth are available and can be bought in bulk at Divisoria.

He also said that candidates can also use recycled cardboard and biodegradable plastic.

The recycled cardboard are common while the biodegradable plastics degrades into pieces in three months.

Aside from the said materials, Hornedo said that they are using the international sanctioned lead-free paint.

As a heavy metal, lead can affect mental capabilities of persons exposed to it.

According to Hornedo, he learned about lead free paint when he was in the export business which requires lead free paint.

“Its safer to use lead-free paint especially if the campaign materials will be recycled into bags later,” he said.

Hornedo said that it is easy to detect paint containing lead on campaign posters.

“If the picture on the poster is glossy,  its not lead-free paint,” he said.

Hornedo also said that utilization of eco-friendly campaign materials will generate more jobs, especially among silk screen painters who lost their jobs due to the emergence of tarpaulin printing machines.

At present, Hornedo’s ED Enterprises have seven workers and he plan to increase it as more orders come.  Dino Balabo

DA to fete Bulacan, NE for rice production

MALOLOS CITY—Despite decreasing farmlands, the provinces of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija excelled in rice production for 2012, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

This came as the DA prepared to honor the country’s outstanding rice-producing provinces, municipalities, institutions and individuals in the forthcoming Agri-Pinoy’s Rice Achievers Awards that will be held on March 15.

The awardees includes 10 provinces, 48 municipalities, 10 irrigators’ associations, three small-water-impounding systems associations and 443 agricultural extension workers (AEWs) that stood out in the field of rice production.

In Central Luzon, the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Bulacan excel in rice production and are adjudged as winners in the province category.

Felicito Espiritu, DA-III information officer, said the provinces will receive P4 million each in the form of projects in support to the attainment of rice sufficiency.

This is due to improved performances of the municipalities of Talavera, Guimba, General Tinio, Llanera, Sta. Rosa, Sto. Domingo, Cuyapo and Lupao in Nueva Ecija and the municipality of San Rafael in Bulacan in rice production.

The said municipalities will each receive P1 million in the form of projects aimed at rice sufficiency, after being deemed as winners in the municipality category.

Aside from the above, DA will also honor agricultural extension workers in Central Luzon which is known as the “rice granary of the Philippines.”

Records showed that Central Luzon was able to produce 87 agricultural technicians and officials who won in the LGU/AEW category.

Of the said agricultural technicians, 20 came from Bulacan, while 67 are from Nueva Ecija. Each of them will receive incentives worth P20,000.

The Agri-Pinoy Rice Program, one of the components of the Department of Agriculture, tackles rice farming and the development of the lives of Filipino farmers.

Now on its second Rice Achievers Awards, the Agri-Pinoy Rice Program will give away a total of P110 million in prizes, all in the form of projects and incentives, to recognize exemplary achievements in rice production and to boost the morale of the country’s farmers and agricultural workers.

Meanwhile, records obtained from the National Statistics office showed that areas dedicated for farmlands in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija have dropped from 1991 to 2002.

In 1991, NSO records showed that Bulacan has a total of 69,242 hectares of farmlands compared to 63,134 in 2002. In Nueva Ecija, farmland areas dropped to 196,390 hectares in 2002 from 223,853 hectares in 1991.  Dino Balabo

Sunday, March 3, 2013

PNoy elated with quick completion, savings on Bulacan infra projs

Usec. Alfredo Tolentino (L) brief President Aquino and Bulacan officials.

BOCAUE, Bulacan—While he did not publicly spoke, President Benigno Aquino III was elated with the early completion of two majors infrastructure projects in Bulacan where the government saved at least P163-Million.

This came as the President led the inaugural drive thru at the 14-kilometer Plaridel-Bustos arterial by-pass road project and the Bocaue bridge on March 1 before joining Liberal Party (LP) senatorial candidates in a sortie in Pampanga yesterday.

It was also noticeable that no LP senatorial candidates joined the President in Bulacan, however, he was greeted by local party mates and supporters in the ceremonial inauguration of the said projects.

The said projects were both aimed to decongest traffic along the Cagayan Valley Road in Plaridel town, and along the MacArthur Highway in Bocaue, but the inauguration left traffic flow along the MacArthur Highway at stand still for about an hour.

During the project brief at the Bocaue bridge, the President was visibly elated when Public Works Secretary Alfredo Tolentino reported that the government saved P163-Million on the Plaridel-Bustos arterial road bypass.

For the Bocaue Bridge rehabilitation and expansion project, the government.saved about P4-M.

Both projects, Tolentino said were completed ahead of schedule, emphasizing that the Plaridel-Bustos by-pass was completed three months ahead of its target completion.

The report was well received by the President as he even led local official in giving an applause to Tolentino’s presentation.

Tolentino also disclosed that phase 2 of the Plaridel bypass road will be bidded on March 5.

The said project included a 1.5-kilometer bridge that will span the Angat River and will extend the bypass to Barangay Maasim in San Rafael town.

Tolentino said that the phase 2 of the project includes package 3 and four with a combined length of more than 10-kilometers.

It is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2016, but Tolentino added that if the project will be implemented 24 hours a day, it will be completed by 2015.

As a possible impact, he said that it will reduce traffic congestion along the busy Cagayan Valley Road by 40 percent.
PNoy led the inaugural drive thru at Plaridel-Bustos bypass road.

The project will also reduced travel time of northeastern Bulacan and Central Luzon travelers to metro Manila by at least one hour and half.

For his part, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado said the completion of the Plaridel-bypass road opened new frontiers for development in the province.

He said that more land developers and other investors are eyeing Plaridel, Bustos and San Rafael towns.

“We cannot blame them, they see opportunities and we welcome them as they open new job opportunities for Bulakenyos.

This was affirmed by Mayor Arnel Mendoza of Bustos town.

Mendoza said that at least for new gas station opened in his town since the completion of the Plaridel Bypass road last November, while more residential subdivisions are being planned.

The Mayor said that they are now revising their comprehensive land us plan to open new areas for development in his town while preserving their agricultural lands. Dino Balabo

Ex-cargador led 10 outstanding Bulacan businessman awards

Ambrosio Cruz, a former cargador in Divisoria

MALOLOS CITY—A former cargador in Divisoria who transformed his town into a first class municipality, and a Business Administration graduate who turned Lugaw Republic into a booming franchise led the 2012 Most Outstanding Bulacan Businessman (MOBB) awards.

Eight others were feted in the awards given by the Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) at the Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center here on Tuesday night, February 26.

The awardees are Ambrosio Cruz Jr., the former mayor of Guiguinto town, Bienvenido Cruz Jr., Engineer Francis Miguel, Marcelino Garcia Jr., Leonardo Cruz Jr.,  Gina Estrella, Elvira Dela Rosa, Ervine Pangwi and Ramon and Maura Manuel.

Gigi Simbulan, president of the BCCI said 10 awardees are the province’s emerging business champions.

“All of them are champions, they are now only successful, they are leading, empowering and inspiring,” Simbulan said noting humble beginnings of the awardees.

She said that as a high school and college student, former Mayor Cruz worked as a cargador in Divisoria where his late mother maintained a store to sustain her 10 children.

After graduating from the University of the East, Cruz worked as an assistance chief accountant, then moved to Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation in 1971 where he later became a district manager.

Ten years later, Cruz resigned from Shell and established his own company and returned to Guiguinto, his hometown; and was elected mayor in 1998.

Cruz’s election started the transformation of the town from a fourth class to a first class municipality.

But even before he entered politics, Cruz acquired a 100 hectare property in Barangay Sta. Rita in 1992 and turned it to a first class subdivision with resort and hotel.

For his part, Bienvenido started investing on a franchise in 2005 after working abroad for seven years.

After a year in the franchise system, Bienvenido decided to establish his own franchise and called it the “Lugaw Republic,” which is now know as the “Pambansang  Lugaw” and was given the  Most Outstanding Food Franchise during the 2011 Top Brand awards.

Lugaw Republic now have 128 outlets in Luzon, 12 of which are managed by Bienvenido’s family.

Simbulan also spoke highly of other awardees.

She said that Miguel completed his Computer Engineering course from Adamson University and has worked with telecommunications giants in the country, but in 2005, he started working on multi-level marketing.

In 2005, Miguel established a networking marketing company Alliance in Motion Global Inc, (AIM) Global selling innovate products from the United States.
In 2011, AIM Global achieved P1.3-Billion in sales and further increase it to P1.7-B in 2012.

On the other hands, Garcia tried sending Filipinos to work abroad after the success of his liquefied petroleum gas business.

But the good heart in him bled when real life dramas of his recruited Overseas Filipino Workers in Lebanon unfold before his eyes.

He also learned the social costs of being a parent away from children, and decided to fold up operations of his recruitment agency.
In 2004, Garcia consolidated his assets and invested in four Mini-Stop branches in the province, while expanding his LPG distribution business.

Equally dramatic is the life Estrella whose father died when she was five and live with her mother who cannot read or write.

She struggled to finish college and went to work to Taiwan with her boyfriend.

Years  later they established their cellphone business in Greenhills but was robbed twice.

Estrella returned to her hometown in Balagtas and started her merchandising business.

According to Simbulan, Estrella’s life story and entrepreneurial skills is fit for a tele-serye.

So are the lives of Leonardo Cruz Jr., who formulated Hagibis EF a popular brand with cockfighting aficionados, Elvira Dela Rosa of Mavis Bakery, Ervine Pangwi of Santino Metal Industries,  and Ramon and Maura Manuel of Earjon Garments which directly exporting products to Canada and the United States.  Dino Balabo

No time for Facebook, Comelec urges reporting of violations

Illegal campaign poster on the fence of Bulacan provincial capitol. It was later removed. 

MALOLOS CITY—While the Commission on Elections (Comelec) encouraged use of social media to address violations of election laws, the provincial elections supervisor here said they have no time for Facebook.

However, they encourage voters and community journalists to report violations through Radyo Bulacan, a local radio station based in this city.

Lawyer Elmo Duque, the provincial election supervisor of Bulacan said they can’t open a Facebook or Twitter account, two of the most popular social networking sites.

He said,” we no longer have time for Facebook” noting that they cannot also open a social networking account for their office where voters can report violations of election laws.

According to Duque, elections officers in the province are now busy preparing for massive voters education campaign.

He said it was meant to accomplish goals for credible, honest, accurate and meaningful elections.

Despite shutting doors on social networking sites, Duque encourages local voters to report election violations through Radyo Bulacan.

“We will respond to complaints reported through Radyo Bulacan accordingly,” he said but noted that complaints must be properly documented.

When asked on possible punishment for violators, Duque explained that it will be processed and heard by the Comelec Law department.

He said that complaints may not result to disqualification citing that it requires criminal charges and conviction.

“we are still on corrective mode, we will always call the attention of violators in case of complaints,” Duque said.

Last week, illegally placed campaign posters in Malolos City of Bro. Eddie Villanueva, a senatorial candidate of the Bangon Pilipinas Party were removed along with posters of Alay-Buhay Partylist in Hagonoy town.

This came after the Duque received complaints from local residents and ordered the removal of the said illegally placed campaign posters.

“I had a conference with the leading supporters of Bro. Eddie in Bulacan and told them about the complaint,” Duque said.

With regards to posters of Alay-Buhay party-list, he said that the election officer of Hagonoy town was tasked to order the removal of posters on tricycle terminals.
Earlier, local voters here started posting on photos of illegally placed campaign posters.

The photos were sent to Mabuhay, a local weekly newspaper which maintains a Facebook fan page, and were reposted later.

The posting was in response to encouragement of Commissioner Grace Padaca who visited the province last December.

In an interview, Padaca said that social networking sites can be used by voters to report election violations by posting photos and videos.  Dino Balabo

Malaysia hit for detaining journalists, urged for more transparency

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MALOLOS CITY—Asian journalists hit Malaysian government and demanded greater transparency on armed stand-off in Sabah.

This came as three journalists of the Al-Jazeera including a Filipina covering the said stand-off were detained and interrogated by Malaysian authorities.

In a one page statement released Lon February 26,, Makati-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) along with Malaysia’s Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) secretariat based in Bangkok demanded that Malaysian authorities follow two short term measures.

One, make public the boundaries of the “no-go security zone” in the affected area to ensure civilians and media do not endanger their lives by breaching the limits.

Two, hold periodic press conferences to update the media on the “political negotiations” which are taking place to ensure media (and therefore public) official access to information around this public interest issue. This move will also allay the fear and uncertainty among people in the area and address the rumors abound in Malaysia regarding the “political negotiations/standoff” in Lahad Datu.

For medium term, the journalists groups also urged “the setting up a committee comprising of the authorities, journalists, editors, journalist union, media advocacy groups, human rights organizations and other civil society groups, to draw up a "standard operating procedure" on how security authorities should deal with the media during conflict situations, using UNESCO guidelines as the benchmark.”

The groups said they understand the national security concerns as a result of the armed standoff, however, they expressed alarm over the length of detention of the three journalists  and the secrecy surrounding the identity of the interrogating officers to be unnecessary given that the ones being questioned were not criminal suspects but journalists on duty and identifiable as such.
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The statement added “we view the vague restrictions imposed on journalists covering the Lahad Datu “political negotiation/standoff” as an attempt at limiting journalists’ access at providing accurate, timely and fair coverage of a public interest security issue, especially given the looming elections in Malaysia.”

They stressed that “it is even more important for the media to have adequate and safe access to be able to report on the situation accurately, given the impact on diplomatic relations between Philippines and Malaysia.”

On February 19, the three person news team of Al-Jazeera arrived in Sabah to report the “standoff“ between an armed group calling itself the “Royal Sulu Sultanate Army” and the Malaysian authorities which started on February 14.

The news team is composed of Al-Jazeera senior Asia correspondent Steve Chao, cameraman Mark Giddens and Filipina producer Jamela Aisha Alindogan.

The journalists were placed under the detention of Malaysian authorities for at least six hours, during which they were intercepted at sea off Tanjung Labian village, escorted to a local police station, transferred to another police station 30 minutes’ drive away while under armed escort, and questioned by the Malaysian Special Branch, before being released.

Citing statement issued by Al-Jazeera on February 22 and eyewitness accounts, the CMRF said that “the three were questioned for 30 minutes to two and half hours each, sometimes together but also separately. Alindogan, a Filipina attached to the Al Jazeera English Network office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was questioned the longest at 2 1/2 hours, and was accused several times of working for the Royal Sulu Sultanate Army, despite showing the authorities her employee ID.”

While the journalists were treated politely throughout the whole detention period, the statement said that “interrogating officers were not in uniform and when asked, declined to provide their full names or rank.”

They also noted that as journalists attached to international media organizations,  Chao, Alindongan and Giddens, are equipped and trained to provide coverage during wars, standoffs, riots, uprisings and other hostile environments.

The statement also said the Malaysian authorities claimed that the security zone around the standoff area was off-limit to civilians and media to avoid “disrupt(ing) political negotiations” with the “Royal Sulu Sultanate Army” and that this was a “sensitive political situation”.

It further said, “the Malaysian authorities also said they were not allowed to specify the boundaries of the “no-go security zone” but acknowledged that when intercepted, the boat with the journalists on board was far from the “no-go security zone” and that the journalists had not broken any laws.” Dino Balabo