Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cloud seeding over Angat Dam eyed in May

Angat Dam

MALOLOS CITY—Planned cloud seeding operations over Angat Dam is likely to be implemented on the first week of May to avert possible water shortage in Metro Manila, the National Power Corporation (Napocor) said..

This came as water elevation at the Angat Dam dropped to 183.97 meters above sea level (masl) at 6AM on Saturday, April 26.

The said water elevation is less than four meters before it drop to crit5ical 180 masl.

Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita, president of the Napocor said that they are now finalizing memorandum of agreements (MOA) and contracts now.

While she did not disclose who are the parties involved in the MOA and contract, Engineer Rodolfo German, the general manager of the Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant (Arhepp) said the Napocor is now coordinating with the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Engineer German
DA is the mother agency of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) that usually takes the lead in cloud seeding operations over Angat Dam that supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s potable water requirement.

Cloud seeding operations is usually conducted when water elevation at the Angat Dam nears the critical 180 masl and when rainy season is still far.

It is mean to secure water requirement for about 13-Million population of the metropolis.

Earlier, German told PromdiNews that since January, rain hardly fall over the 53,000 hectares Angat watershed.  Dino Balabo

Bulacan remains red tide free

HAGONOY, Bulacan—All types of shellfish in Bulacan remain free from paralytic shellfish poison or red tide toxins, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.

This came as similar marine products in the nearby province of Bataan and in Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga Del Sur; and the coastal waters of Milagros in Masbate are still positive for red tide.

Citing recent report issued by Director Asis Perez of BFAR, Felix Terrado, said local consumer in the province have nothing to worry.

He said all types of shell fish caught on Manila Bay from Metro Manila to Bulacan are safe.

This includes fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs.

However, like BFAR advisory, consumer must thoroughly wash the products remove internal organs like gills and intestines before cooking.

 “There is no red tide in Bulacan and there is no white spot disease in Central Luzon,” said Terrado, the head of the BFAR research facility for brackishwater based at Barangay San Pedro here.

Terrado explained that water flowing from the Angat River keeps waters on the bay of Bulacan clean. 

Angat River is the lone major river system in the province that is still “alive” based on report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) about 10 years ago.

The same report noted that Marilao-Meycuayan River, along with the downstream of Bocaue, Balagtas and Guiguinto rivers are biologically dead.

6 devotees crucified in Bulacan

PAOMBONG, Bulacan—An epileptic mute faith healer led five others that includes two women in the reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ here, while hundreds others flagellate themselves in observance of the Holy Week.

This came as the Catholic Church discourage such acts, while some groups are looking forward to promoting it as a tourism attraction.

Crisanto Bautista, a 54-year old mute faith healer who suffers from episodes of epilepsy was the first to do the reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion on the morning of Maundy Thursday at the Sto. Cristo Chapel yard at Barangay Kapitangan here.

A resident of Barangay Mercado in the coastal town of Hagonoy, Bautista came with his family and friends who interpreted his message during the interview.

During the interview, PromdiNews learned that Bautista loss his ability to speak 16 years ago.

He even tried to write his answer on the wall by writing with his fingers.

Aileen, the younger sister of Bautista said that her brother suffered from episodes of epilepsy and was even comatose for three days when he was younger.

“Tatlong araw siyang patay, nung magising ay hindi na siya makapagsalita,” Aileen said and added that it was also then when his brother started as faith healer.

Despite his fragile physical condition, Bautista was nailed on the cross under scorching heat. It was his 16th year in a row.

Rowena Enriquez, 34, a friend and assistant, said Bautista’s physical appearance did not deter him from reenacting crucifixion twice a year.

She said that Bautista used to reenact crucifixion at the old Santisima Trinidad Church in Malolos City and in other places in the province.

This year, Bautista performed the reenactment at Barangay Kapitangan here on Maundy Thursday and in Malolos City on Good Friday.

He was followed by a still unidentified devotee who was also crucified on Maundy Thursday at Barangay Sto. Rosario here.

On Good Friday, Precy Valencia and Michael Katigbak performed the reenactment once again along with Evangeline Mendoza and Junjun Tanael.

All four are resident of this town and some claims, are following the footsteps of Amparo Santos, a faith healer from Guiguinto town who used to do the reenactment of crucifixion here in the late 80s and early 90s.

In other parts of the province, hundreds of devotees who are either carried a cross or flagellate their bloddied backs filled the streets of Bulacan on Good Friday.

The flagellants then braved the murky waters of local rivers in the belief that saline water on the rivers will heal their wounds faster.

Some like Nestor Celso and his nephew Joel Martin swam on the Hagonoy river after flagellating themselves.

The above acts were discouraged by the Church and even by the Department of Health, but Celso said they have been doing it for about three decades.

As this developed, the Bulacan Tourism Convention and Visitors Board (BTCVB) in coordination with the Tourism Committee of the Paombong Municipal Council is preparing a tourism master plan for Paombong.

The plan sources said is designed to improve tourism management in here noting that it is the only place in the province that draws about 100,000 visitors every year without a promotional plan.  Dino Balabo

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Half million vehicles to use MPTC managed expressways this Holy Week

MALOLOS CITY—Infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) is bracing for surge of traffic along three expressways they operate this Holy Week. 

Estimates showed that at least 500,000 vehicles will be using the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) during the lenten weekend from April 15 to 21. 

Rodrigo Franco, president and chief Operating officer of the MNTC said that additional manpower will be deployed at major interchanges along the NLEX especially in Balintawak, Bocaue, Mindanao Avenue, Dau and Mabalacat.

At SCTEX, they will deploy additional personnel at Tarlac and Tipo exits.

Franco said they expect traffic to surge by 30 percent  or about 60,000 from the daily average of 170,000 vehicles .

He said that traffic surge is expected starting Holy Wednesday until  late Maundy Thursday for north bound vehicle along the NLEX.

At SCTEX, he said that the daily average of 24,000 vehicles is also expected to climb by 30 percent.

For his part, Ramoncito Fernandez, President and Chief Executive Officer of the MPTC said that Cavitex daily average traffic volume of 101,000 might drop.

He explained that volume is for daily motorists going back and forth to Metro Manila.

“We expected that it will replaced by holiday motorist by the holy week.

Franco added that by Easter Sunday until the next they expect southbound traffic along the NLEX and SCTEX to surge as people return to manila.

He also noted that sponsors for this year’s SMSK program along the expressways are offering services like free wifi, motorist camps and sampling of products.

Some of the products that available at motorist camps are from Maynilad Water,Regent Belgian Wafles, Mochi Gelatin rice cakes, Yasai potao chips, and Rebisco Dowee donuts.

Others includes BeloSun product sampling at selected motorist camps.

Major sponsors for the 2014 SMSK are ShellPhilippines, Smart communications and Philippine Long Distance telephone Company.

Minor sponsors are Philippine Star and Belo  Sun Expert.  Dino Balabo

All roads leads to Hot Air Balloon Festival

2013 file photo by Peter Alagos.

MALOLOS CITY—All roads leads to Lubao town in Pampanga for the biggest  annual hot air balloon festival in South East Asia starting April 10.

Organized by the newly formed Pilipinas Hot Air Balloon Festival Inc., (PHABFI) in coordination with the Department of Tourism (DOT), the four day event is expected to draw at least 100,000 international and domestic tourists.

It will start on April 10 and will end on April 13.

Ronaldo Tiotuico, director of DOT Central Luzon Office said that as the annual festival moved from Clark Freeport Zone to Barangay Prado Siongco in Lubao town this year, more participants have registered to join.

In a live interview over Radyo Bulacan, Tiotuico confirmed that 35 to 38 multi-colored and differently shaped balloons from nine participating countries are joining.

Flying the balloon will start as early as 5:30 AM, while at night, glow in the night hot air balloons will also served as an attraction. 

The glow in the night balloon will be showcased on Friday and Saturday nights,buts such will be allowed for lift off as all nigh glow balloons will be tied on an anchor.

Tiotuico said that there will be balloons that tourists can ride, but it will also be tied to an anchor.

“This is the biggest annual hot air balloon festival in South East Asia and we are inviting everybody to come and see,” he said.

The director also said that as early at last week, participating international balloonist have arrived and in the country and tour other parts of the country before the starting their preparation for today’s events.

Some of the participating balloonists came to as far as France, Germany, the United States, Malaysia and South Korea.

Tickets for the annual festival is P200 each, which is lower than the P250 charged in the past when the festival was held in Clark Freeport Zone.  Tickets will be sold at the gates.

With regards to road directions, Tiotuico said that those coming from Manila can exit at San Fernando Toll Plaza along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and head all the way to Lubao, the last town of Pampanga when going to Bataan province.

However, there are road constructions along the Gapan-Olongapo Road on the east side of Lubao.

For this, Tiotuico advised visitors to turn right to Lubao megadike and follow the Luba by-pass road, then right again on Gapan-Olongapo Road.

He said that tourist can also use the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway, then exit at the Dinalupihan interchange and turn left on the Gapan-Olongapo Road towards Hermosa town in Bataan, then Lubao town.

As this developed, Tiotuico said they are keeping their fingers crossed that there will be no rains during the festival

However, Lubao town experience heavy downpour on Tuesday night.  Dino Balabo

Thursday, April 3, 2014

SM Baliwag cites Earth Hour benefits

BALIWAG, Bulacan—A local mall here cited benefits in participating in the annual Earth Hour celebrations saying they saved energy equivalent to consumption of 25 households since hosting the event four years ago.

As this developed, hundreds of Bulakenyos joined the Earth Hour celebrations in major malls in the province as the provincial government urged them to participate in the annual one hour switch off on Saturday night.

However, the annual activity in the province remain as a private initiated project as only a handful of local government units joined the Earth Hour activities.

Beverly Cruz, public relations officer of SM City Baliwag said they that every year they joined host the annual Earth Hour, they were able to save at least 15 percent in their daily energy consumption.

Citing cumulative records, he said they were able to save at least P51,300 in the last four years.

That savings is equivalent to energy consumption of at least  51 houselholds that consumes P1,000 in electricity every month.

Cruz also disclosed that SM City Baliwag and other SM mall branches are planning to install light emitting diode (LED) lights in the malls this year.

The said LED lights will replace chloroflourescent light (CFL) bulbs within the malls which replaced incandescent bulbs years ago.

“We continue to aim for more energy efficient and environment friendly operations in our malls,” she said noting that the plan is mandatory based on orders of the SM Group management.

Cruz also said that plan is part of their mall management’s attempt to further encourage use of environment friendly technologies that marked annual Earth Hour celebrations here.

Last year, the celebrations was highlighted by solar powered improvised fireflies inside hundreds of plastic bottles.

On Saturday night, the celebration was highlighted by fire dances and use of LED lights by hundreds of Bulakenyos.

Two other Earth Hour activities were celebrated at SM City Marilao and at the Robinson’s Place Malolos.

The celebration was even endorsed by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado in his weekly radio program over Radyo Bulacan on Saturday morning.

However, Bulakenyos noted the lack of related activities for the Earth Hour initiated by local government units in the province.

A local mayor and a municipal councilor who asked not to be named said they don’t even know what Earth Hour is all about.

However, they vowed to initiate similar activities next year and implement energy saving programs within their offices.  Dino Balabo

Angat Dam is earthquake resistant--Napocor

MALOLOS CITY—Angat Dam is safe and resistant to earthquake, the National Power Corporation (Napocor) said and assured the safety of Bulakenyos living downstream of the dam.

This came as the Napocor launched its information and education campaign on Angat Dam Operation in Norzagaray, Bulacan the other day.

During the launch of the campaign participated by municipal disaster risk reduction officials, planning officer and social workers, Engineer Manny Monteverde of the Napocor Dams, Reservoirs and Waterways division described the 47-years old dam.

 He said that Angat Dam is a rock-fill type of dam and that this type of dam which is resistant to damage from earthquakes.

Monteverde explained that the dam’s capacity to resist earthquakes is due to its inherent elasticity and self-healing characteristics.

He also also made clear that the dam has no crack saying “walang lamat ang dam.”

This in reference to news reports about five years ago that the dam have cracks.

With regards to presence of the West Marikina Valley Faultline which is said to be situated some 200 meters east of the dam’s dike, a geologist from the Engineering Development Corporation of the Philippines (EDCOP) also tried to allay fears of Bulakenyos.

Dr. Ramon Quebral, a structural geologist from the EDCOP said that the theory on the West Valley Fault in connection with Angat Dam is only a premise that is yet to be studied and verified further.

EDCOP is the partner of the Tonkin & Taylor International based in New Zealand that conducted a six month feasibility study on the integrity of the Angat Dam which was completed in May 2012.

In the said study, EDCOP and Tonkin & Taylor did not conduct a site specific seismic study on the Angat Dam to verify the presence of the splay of the fault line.

In an earlier interview, Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado disclosed that the said faultline is used by a former administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to justify construction of another dam in Rizal province.

Citing warnings from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs), Alvarado said that the said faultline can move anytime might cause a breach on the Angat Dam.

For her part, Gladys Cruz–Sta. Rita, president of the Napocor also tried to allay fears on possible dam break.

She said the other day, “We must not give in to fear but should not abandon caution."

As a former Provincial Administrator of Bulacan, Sta. Rita said that she came to the infprmation drive not only to speak on behalf of the corporation that has been in the dam industry for 77 years with a pool of the most talented engineers in the country, but also as a concerned Bulakenya.

“Ang aming misyon sa National Power Corporation ay ang maging tagapagbantay at kakampi ninyo sa matagalang kaligtasan at pakinabang sa yamang tubig na tuwina ay gamit natin sa araw-araw na pamumuhay,” she said.

The information drive also discussed why Angat Dam spills water in relation to possibilities of over-topping or overflowing of water that may cause dam failure.

“We only release water when our dam reaches its critical spilling level, this is to avoid over tapping that can impose greater risk in the province of Bulacan. We are only protecting the integrity of our dam,” explained Engineer Russel Rigor of Napocor’s Flood Forecasting and Warning System Division.

He enlightened the participants on Angat River’s flow capacity, Napocor’s warning stations and flood forecasting facilities.

It was also clarified in the presentations that recent floods that hit Calumpit, Paombong, and Hagonoy towns cannot be attributed solely to Angat Dam spilling, but to the natural tendency of these towns to serve as catch basin for the Pampanga River System.   Dino Balabo