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Showing posts from 2009

Christmas Cheers Now on 25th Year - CT

The annual Christmas Cheers begins marking its 25th year this December 16, making it probably the longest running privately-organized Yuletide extravaganza in Bicol region since Mons. Jose "Ping" Molina began the show in 1985 in response to the gloom following a typhoon.

Last week, the organizing committee chaired by DPWH District Engineer Ignacio T. Odiaman finalized the activities and the required budget for the 13-night series of shows at the Virac town plaza. The theme for the `09 Cheers is "Ang Kapaributan sa Pangpang ning Atbong" or roughly translated ‘The Environment on the Brink of Destruction."

The opening ceremony on Dec. 16 will be kicked off by a torch parade featuring ati-atihan dancers, at least six Santa Clauses, the Jollibee mascot and the 2008 Little Ms. Christmas Cheers. Sponsored by the Rotaract Club of Virac, the parade will start at the capitol grounds at 6:30 P.M. and end at Plaza Rizal for the official start of the program featuring a fi…

Real Change Is But A Change of Hearts Away

As we watched four typhoons devastate the Philippines in recent weeks we witnessed love and compassion in action among our citizens. It was very heart warming to see people helping people. The thousands of different scenarios that unfolded through the news media, Youtube and other sources, showed the world how we take care of disasters and each other. Without a lot of grumblings. Terrible as the situations were, and yes, we lost a lot of lives in the process, our countrymen almost without exception took things as they came with humble acceptance. We are indeed a nation of a lot of humble people. And life goes on after every disaster. The citizens of the Philippines have weathered all the beatings that nature can bring. We have learned how to submit ourselves to a lot of punishment whether it is by a natural disaster or whether it is man-made.

This is where our story as a nation of humble and submissive citizens turns sour. Our ability to handle unpleasant events and situations with eas…

Mayon Recorded Eruptions

Mayon has had forty-nine eruptions in recorded history. The first recorded major eruption was in 1616, the weakest eruption ceased on October 1, 2006, although a lahar followed on November 30, 2006. A further summit eruption occurred on August 10, 2008. The volcano is weakly erupting now and may be building up to a large eruption.

The most destructive eruption of Mayon occurred on February 1, 1814. Lava flowed but not as much compared to the 1766 eruption. Instead, the volcano was belching dark ash and eventually bombarding the town with tephra that buried the town of Cagsawa—only the bell tower of the town's church remained above the new surface. Trees were burned; rivers were certainly damaged. Proximate areas were also devastated by the eruption with ash accumulating to 9 m (30 ft) in depth. 2,200 Albay locals perished in what is considered to be the most lethal eruption in Mayon's history.

Mayon Volcano's longest uninterrupted eruption occurred on June 23, 1897 which l…

Nebres Reelected BCCA President

Rafael Nebres, General Manager of Action-Honda, was reelected President of the Bicol Canada Community Association in an election held last November 22 (Sunday) at the Quiapo Restaurant, No. 2 Principal Road, Scarborough, which was presided by BCCA past president Joseph Redoblado.

Nebres will be serving for another two years, 2010-2011. He announced the BCCA major project which is tne putting-up of a housing project in the Bicol Region in support of the ANCOP-GAWAD KALINGA HOUSING PROGRAM.

Aside from Rodoblado, the other past presidents of the BCCA include journalist Jess Cabrias and businessman Bobby Achacon.

The Bicol Canada Community Association (BCCA) is composed of Bicolanos coming from the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate who are now residing in Ontario, Canada.

Aside from Nebres, the other officers and members of the Board of Directors of Bicol Canada Community Association are: Ignacio L. Manlangit, Vice-president for Governmen…

Catanduanes Shifts from Pig to Tilapia - BM

VIRAC, Catanduanes—Instead of pigs that entail expensive food, Catanduanes now plans to raise tilapia to ensure food security in the island province.

The island province, under its Livelihood Vehicle for Job Regeneration Program, used to maintain a hog-breeding station that produced quality stocks for medium-scale and backyard piggery projects. These piggeries were put up by families and individuals who invested in the production of meat, but abandoned several years ago when these local businessmen incurred financial losses due to the high cost of maintenance.

“Later on, we experimented on tilapia-raising using the abandoned hog-raising project. We found it more feasible and effective in job generation and food production. Now, we are bent on pursuing this newfound food-production venture,” provincial agriculturist Herbert Evangelista told the BusinessMirror over the weekend.

Evangelista said the province’s tilapia-production project enjoys the support of the Bureau of Fisheries and…

P48-M Codon RORO Port Project Begins Next Month

The Department of Transportation and Communication is set to award the contract for the Codon Port Development Project costing some P48-million to an Albay-based contractor in preparation for the projected start date of January 2010.

DOTC Assistant Secretary Cesar V. Sarmiento, who has been keeping a close eye on the vital project, informed the Tribune that the DOTC Bids and Awards Committee was supposed to approve the resolution of award to Hi-Tone Construction and Development Corporation last Dec. 4, 2009.

Hi-Tone won the Nov. 6 bidding with a bid of P48,022,427.76 for the project, which would consist of the widening of the existing 80-meter rock causeway and its extension by 180 meters. The construction firm is a subsidiary of the Sunwest Group of Companies controlled by Elizalde Co, whose Sunwest Water & Electricity Co. is building three mini-hydroelectric power plants in San Miguel and Caramoran towns.

The same company also won the bidding for the Caramoan Port Development Pr…

In With the New, Out with the Old? - CT

The New Year is supposed to bring in the new and kick out the old. However, judging from the official list of candidates for the 2010 local elections, the electorate probably will have to make do with recycled leaders.

Former Governor Leandro Verceles Jr. is back to try to win a new stint in congress, against indefatigable loser Araceli Wong, former Vice Governor and now DOTC Assec. Cesar Sarmiento, and the largely unknown but reportedly loaded Manolo Sanchez.

Congressman Joseph Santiago tries to extend a nine-year stay in Congress to another nine-year stint in 2013, by using the governorship as a launch pad but he breaks up a friendship with Governor Joseph Cua in the process. Talk has it that the solon dreams of passing on the torch to his son, who is still in high school.

Of course, there are new faces in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan slates, councilors who have outgrown their towns, retirees out to break new ground, a son of Senator Kit Tatad trying his hand at local politics, and…

Albay to Evacuate 47,000 Around Mayon

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines— (UPDATE 3) Albay Governor Salceda has recommended the immediate evacuation of 47,285 residents (9,946 families) from 45 villages around Mayon Volcano on Tuesday morning after Mayon's alert level was raised from 2 to 3 Monday night.

The preemptive evacuation will cover Tabaco City, and the towns of Malilipot, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan and Ligao, Office of Civil Defense-5 director Raffy Alejandro said in a phone interview.

The figure comes from a total of 20 villages composed of 2,728 families or 12,803 people within the six-kilometer permanent danger zone, said Cristina Ador, statistician of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office.

By Rey M. Nasol
Source: Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 00:57:00 12/15/2009

Ako Bicol Group Seeks Catanduanes Votes - CT

The partylist group Ako Bicol launched its bid to corner a sizeable share of the partylist votes in the province of Catanduanes in the coming 2010 national and local elections.

Last Saturday, the group’s deputy secretary general for media affairs, Albay broadcaster Joshua Martinez Jr., met with members of the local media to explain the party’s mission, vision and objectives in joining the polls. Also present were officials of the Sunwest Group of Companies, whose chief executive officer Elizaldy Co is widely held as Ako Bicol prime mover and expected to be one of the nominees as partylist representative should it win the required number of votes.

Martinez said his group needs to win at least 900,000 votes out of the 3 million votes in Bicol, to be added to the votes of Bicolanos elsewhere in the country, to garner three seats in the House of Representatives. The problem, he said, is that Bicolano voters have yet to realize the importance of the partylist system, noting that in the 200…

PCARRD Project to Develop Model for Abaca Supply Chain - CT

Researchers from the Bicol University Research and Development Center are aiming o develop a business support model of coordination among chain actors in the abaca supply chain. The endeavor, funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), is the second phase of the project dubbed "Supply Chain Improvement for the Abaca Industry in the Bicol Region" that originally covered Catanduanes, Albay, and Camarines Sur. The first phase – Evaluation Research – was completed in 2008 and analyzed the supply chain of abaca fiber, pulp, cordage, and yarn products from abaca, resulting in a supply chain map showing the flow of products, information and payment and determining the efficiency, flexibility and overall responsiveness of a particular supply chain. Director Arnulfo Mascariñas of the BU R&D Center, said the second phase, which will have Catanduanes as pilot area, targets the sustained application of produ…

Opinion: A Brief Relief

The oil price freeze of the GMA Administration via EO 839 gave some relief to the transport sector and car owners devastated by typhoons and floods particularly in Luzon.

With a strong clamor from the business sector including her economic adviser from Albay for its termination, that initiative ended just like that a brief relief from the continuing increase of oil prices. That EO could have defined the truth behind oil pricing in the country which seems to be operating as a cartel.

The period under price cap could have been used to really determine the true components and costs within the pump price of oil and attain transparency in pricing. While the price of crude oil in the world market is dictated by market conditions and the unnumbered law of supply and demand (Could we hope the soon-to-be Congressman Pacman would initiate an amendment to this law?), the pump price of gasoline can be made more transparent.

The costs that the government may have a say on the operations of these o…

Short Supply of Nuts Threatens Pili Exports - Malaya

NAGA CITY – A scarcity of pili nuts threatens a rapidly growing export industry. The scant supply is due to the decreasing number of pili trees, said Lydia Lomibao who, together with her husband Joseph, turned a backyard business with an initial capital of P500 in 1997 into a P10 million business today. The Lomibaos own and manage J. Emmanuel Pastries and source their nuts from the 105-hectare Hacienda de Naga. But they are worried enough to plant seven hectares of their own land to pili trees. Raw material supply is dwindling because farmers have little knowledge of the value and potential of pili-based products, she told Malaya Business Insight. I am confident, however, that we can still manage the volume of raw materials for our present needs, which is about 120 kilos of raw nuts a day. Lomibao said there are only two companies, one being J. Emmanuel Pastries, currently exporting pili products. J. Emmanuel Pastries sells its products to the United States, Japan, China, C…

Catandungan Festival 2009 Winners

Winners of this year's Catandungan Festival held at Virac Catanduanes last October 22-24. And included are videos available for now on sharing sites. Post will be updated once related multimedia is available.

Festival of Festivals Showdown: Streetdancing CompetitionChampion – Paray Festival (Viga) - P 100, 000.001st Runner Up – Maparoy Festival (Gigmoto) - P 75, 000.002nd Runner Up- Badas Festival (Baras) - P 50, 000.00Special Awards
Best in Moving Choreography - Maparoy Festival (Gigmoto) - P 15,000.00Best in Costume – Paray Festival (Viga) - P 15,000.00People’s Choice Award- Maparoy Festival (Gigmoto) - P 10,000.00 PBM Shirley A. Abundo - Event Chair
Carmel Bonifacio-Garcia - Co-Chair

Agri-Industrial and Technology Fair
Pinaka for Abaca ( biggest and tallest) - Winner - Avelino T. Tapel – P 1,000.00Best in Abaca Stripping
1st Prize – Dante Dominguez - P 1,500.00Second Prize- Alberto Tayamora - P 1,000.00Conventional Stripping
1st Prize – Socito Ragos - P 1,500.00Second Prize- Albert…

Viga-Pandan Circumferential Road Project Awaits NEDA Okay - CT

Though still years away from implementation, the second phase of the improvement of the Catanduanes Cirfumferential Road project has nonetheless moved forward and is now undergoing appraisal by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee (ICC).

Approval by NEDA-ICC could come by February 2010, said DPWH Catanduanes section chief Engr. Rey Bejo in his report to the Provincial Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council (PSMEDC) during its meeting last Thursday (Nov. 12). The project would be undertaken under the Road Enhancement and Asset Preservation Maintenance Program (REAPMP) funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Under the schedule, procurement of consultants would be done from January to September 2010, with the procurement of civil works contractors set April to December 2011. Actual construction would be done from 2012 to 2014. Preparatory surveys have already been completed by JICA consultants this October.

To …

"Chicken a la Carte" - Bicol Film on Hunger Draws 12M Hits

This film is about the hunger and poverty brought about by Globalization. There are 10,000 people dying everyday due to hunger and malnutrition. This short film shows a forgotten portion of the society. The people who lives on the refuse of men to survive. What is inspiring is the hope and spirituality that never left this people.

NAGA CITY—Drawing more than 12 million viewers as of Saturday, a short film about hunger shot here by a Bicolano filmmaker has pricked the conscience of people around the world, who said it made them cry.

“Chicken a la Carte” by Ferdinand Dimadura, shot in 2005, beat some 3,600 entries when it won the 56th Berlin Film Festival award for short films in 2006. Its biting commentary has drawn viewers to the website and YouTube.

The film is “about hunger and poverty brought about by globalization,” the synopsis says.


Sunwest Awaits Approval of Hydro projects - INQ

Sunwest Water and Electric Co. Inc. (Suweco) is seeking the approval of its renewable energy service contract applications for 20 hydropower projects in Luzon and Visayas, according to data from the Department of Energy.

DOE documents showed that of the 20 proposed hydropower projects, 15 would have a combined capacity of about 55 MW. The capacities of the remaining five projects have yet to be disclosed.

Although Suweco did not indicate its possible investments in these projects, it may have to spend as much as $110 million.

This is based on the general rule that a company needs to invest at least $2 million to produce a megawatt of hydropower.

Suweco’s proposals are currently being evaluated by the DOE.

Under a renewable energy service contract, companies are given two years to conduct pre-development work.

Suweco is on track to spend P1.1 billion for three run-of-river mini hydropower projects, with combined capacity of 6.4 MW, in Catanduanes.

The Solong mini hydro plant would cost…

Pushcart Educator Named CNN Hero of the Year

(CNN) -- Efren Peñaflorida, who started a "pushcart classroom" in the Philippines to bring education to poor children as an alternative to gang membership, has been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year. CNN's Anderson Cooper revealed Peñaflorida's selection at the conclusion of the third-annual "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday night. The gala event, taped before an audience of 3,000 at the Kodak Theatre, premieres on Thanksgiving, November 26, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the global networks of CNN. The broadcast, which honors the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2009, features performances by Grammy Award-winning artist Carrie Underwood, R&B crooner Maxwell and British pop sensation Leona Lewis. Peñaflorida, who will receive $100,000 to continue his work with the Dynamic Teen Company, was selected after seven weeks of online voting at More than 2.75 million votes were cast. Our planet is filled with heroes, young …

Noynoy Aquino, Philippine Politics and Autism

Reading this news item “Attacks Get Nasty as Noynoy Maintains High Survey Ratings” is not new in Philippine politics, but one that interests me most, is the column of former Senator Ernesto Maceda, campaign manager and senior political adviser of Estrada, who floated a rumor that "a major national candidate" was autistic.

Interesting enough, but some of the world’s most celebrated individuals were autistic—including Isaac Newton, Beethoven, Mozart, George Orwell, Hans Christian Andersen, Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Immanuel Kant and (oops!) Adolf Hitler.

Searching for more information about autism, I found this article from, you be the judge.

Albert Einstein 'found genius through autism'
By Nic Fleming, Science Correspondent
Published: 4:01PM GMT 21 Feb 2008

Many leading figures in the fields of science, politics and the arts have achieved success because they had autism, a leading psychiatrist has claimed.

Michael Fitzger…

Sugbo Festival Dares to Do a Catandungan Landmark

If there were festival of the wind, Catanduanes would probably pose a tough lead billing with Batanes. By coincidence, these two small provinces share a homonym and a "windy reputation." If you happen to catch a geographical trivia about "land of the howling winds," that's Catanduanes, for sure. We're neither too small, nor too big a landmass. But we promise as much mystery as the serene beauty of the pacific and the lush forests wrapping up this island afloat in the eastern seas. So, what could we offer much this time folks? Much of the Manileños today who might happen to bear a poor grasp of geography would mistake Catanduanes as part of any of the islets somewhere in the Frisian or Caroline Islands. Oh gosh, where in Heaven's name is that? I got the same numb answer many years back in some of my sorties in the jungle city. How can I forget? I say this because we dare to put this relatively little known abode in a map of festival craze nationw…

Noynoy’s Girlfriend Quits Lakas, Joins LP - MST

Call it osmosis or adhesion, Senator Benigno Aquino III’s girlfriend, Valenzuela councilor Shalani Soledad, resigned on Tuesday her Lakas membership, looking forward to being sworn in to the Liberal Party.

Her political adviser Ramon Soledad made the disclosure to Standard Today on Friday night at his printing shop in MacArthur near Fatima School.

Last February, aside from Shalani, Vice Mayor Eric Martinez, councilor Gerry Esplana, SK chairman Mark Espiritu, village councilors Martell Soledad, Catherine Martinez joined Nationalist People’s Coalition, the party of Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian.

Mon, as he is known to close friends, said Shalani had not pledged herself to NPC as being circulated.

“Lakas lang talaga ang naging partido ni Konsehala [Shalani]. For sure, maiintindihan naman ni Mayor Sherwin ang naging desisyon ni Lans [Lakas was her only party. Mayor Sherwin will surely understand her decision].”

Shalani is expected to announce today what position she’d pursue, although only non…

Local Firms Earn P2.75M from OK Bikol Trade Fair

Producers from Catanduanes amassed a total of P2.75M in sales at the recent Orgullo Kan Bikol (OKB) Regional Trade Fair held at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.

Ten companies coming from the Food (4), Wearables (4) and Home Furnishing (2) sectors participated in the annual regional activity of the Department of Trade and Industry on October 22 to 25, 2009. The companies were: Belen’s Pinahamis na Pili, Elpedes Pancit Factory, Sarilikha Food Products, JERDLMS (Food); ETBal Enterprises and FiberArt Handicraft (Home Furnishing); Nicole’s Embroideries, Nizacch Crafts & Gift Items/Ale’s Handicraft and Catanduanes CARP (Wearables).

Among the six provinces of the Bicol Region, Catanduanes took 3rd place in aggregate sales, with the bulk of the sales coming from the Home Furnishing sector as expected. A total of 142 regional exhibitors joined the OKB ’09.

Congressman Joseph A. Santiago and Gov. Joseph C. Cua extended financial assistance to the exhibitors through the Catanduanes Produ…

Abaca Ban Now in Effect in Catanduanes - BM

VIRAC, Catanduanes—Selling and transporting abaca planting materials outside the island-province of Catanduanes, the “abaca capital of the Philippines,” is now a crime punishable with imprisonment and heavy fines. An ordinance recently passed by the provincial legislative board provides that the sale and transport of abaca planting materials such as suckers, corms and eyebuds outside the province are now prohibited up to five years as a measure to safeguard the local abaca industry. Suckers are shoots that grow from the underground root or stem of a plant that produce their own roots and grow into a new plant. Corms are seed pieces, and eyebuds are sliced from corms and are also capable of plant reproduction. The ordinance is also a preventive measure against the spread of abaca plant diseases in the light of findings that the dreaded abaca bunchy-top, abaca mosaic and bract mosaic diseases have been infecting 15 percent of the province’s vast abaca plantations, its principal aut…

Gigmoto Catanduanes After Super Typhoon Dindo in 2004

Perhaps, many in Catanduanes could still vividly remember Category 5 super Typhoon Dindo (Typhoon Nida) when it slammed last May 17, 2004 at 165 mph (266 km/h), taking everyone by surprise. And here is another surprise, a video taken in Gigmoto right after the storm.

Like many, I thought that Typhoon Dindo was a mere tropical depression in the middle of summer. There was no manifestation that it was a powerful typhoon since there was no rain except winds. However, on the evening of May 16, everything became clear, the wind is so strong that when it hit the concrete walls, the whole house vibrates.

At around 11:00 AM, there was a lull and everyone went out thinking that it was over. Some locals then started repairing their damaged roofs and walls. But after an hour or two of calmness, the south monsoon hit back with much powerful winds. It was the first time I saw an empty gin bottle hovered few inches in the air for a few seconds.

The powerful typhoon triggered landslides, destroyed …

ITU Council 2009: Interview with Mr. Rodolfo Salalima

An interview with Mr. Rodolfo Salalima, Senior Vice President for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs of Globe Telecom at the 2009 Session of ITU Council, talks about the construction of a typhoon early warning system pilot project in Catanduanes.

Geneva, 20-30 October 2009. Interview on ICT and Climate Change with Mr. Rodolfo Salalima, Philippines . The ITU Council is responsible for ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), coordinating work programmes, approving budgets and controlling finances and expenditure. ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, and the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services.

Source: International Telecommunication Union

ADB Announces Asia-Pacific Climate Change Video Contest

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced a new video competition – My View: The Asia-Pacific Climate Change Video Contest – to promote awareness of climate change, stimulate debate, and encourage climate change solutions in the lead-up to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

No area of the world is more vulnerable to climate change than Asia and the Pacific, with the region's families, food supplies, and financial prosperity at risk. The poor face the greatest threat from climate change because of their high dependence on natural resources and limited livelihood and mobility options.

While the situation is critical, there are already low-cost measures that nations can undertake to better protect the region's people, economy and environment.

"Every person can play an important role in our collective fight against climate change," said Ann Quon, Principal Director of ADB's External Relations Department. "W…

Abaca: Producers

The world's leading abaca producer is the Philippines, where the plant is cultivated on 130 000 ha by some 90 000 small farmers. While the crop is also cultivated in other Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines' closest rival is Ecuador, where abaca is grown on large estates and production is increasingly mechanized. Production and trade In 2007, the Philippines produced about 60 000 tonnes of abaca fibre, while Ecuador produced 10 000 tonnes. World production is valued at around $30 million a year. Almost all abaca produced is exported, mainly to Europe, Japan and the USA. Exports from the Philippines are increasingly in the form of pulp rather than raw fibre. Source:

Abaca: Natural Fiber

Once a favoured source of rope for ship's rigging, abaca shows promise as an energy-saving replacement for glass fibres in automobiles. The Plant Also called manila hemp, abaca is extracted from the leaf sheath around the trunk of the abaca plant (Musa textilis), a close relative of the banana, native to the Philippines and widely distributed in the humid tropics. Harvesting abaca is labourious. Each stalk must be cut into strips which are scraped to remove the pulp. The fibres are then washed and dried. The Fiber Abaca is a leaf fibre, composed of long slim cells that form part of the leaf's supporting structure. Lignin content is a high 15%. Abaca is prized for its great mechanical strength, buoyancy, resistance to saltwater damage, and long fibre length – up to 3 m. The best grades of abaca are fine, lustrous, light beige in colour and very strong. Uses of Abaca During the 19th century abaca was widely used for ships' rigging, and pulped to make sturdy manila envelopes…

International Year of Natural Fibres, 2009

A friend mentioned to me this morning to feature the UN General Assembly resolution declaring 2009 as the Year of Natural Fibers, for purposes of increasing public awareness. Although it's barely two months away before the end of year 2009. I am compelled to post it, considering that our province, Catanduanes is Philippines' top-producer of this natural fiber called, abaca or Manila hemp.

The General Assembly Noting resolution 3/2005 of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, adopted on 25 November 2005,
Noting also that the diverse range of natural fibres produced in many countries provides an important source of income for farmers, and thus can play an important role in contributing to food security and in eradicating poverty and hence in contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, Decides to declare 2009 the International Year of Natural Fibres;
Invites the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations…

EBMC Nurse is ‘09 Bb. Catanduanes

Nurses do have the "IT" factor as a 20-year old casual nurse at the Eastern Bicol Medical Center walked away with the Bb. Catanduanes crown during the pageant night at the Virac Sports Center Oct. 23.

Five-foot-six Mae Geraldine V. Samar of Virac, who represented Essensual Ellen Salon, wowed the judges with her 36-26-36 figure and overall performance during the centerpiece event of the three-day Catandungan Festival.

Best in Gown Ma. Fatima G. Velchez of Bagamanoc, 17, was chosen Bb. Catandungan Festival while 16-year old high school student Amylou B. Buendia, who was Bimasanca’s bet, got the Bb. Catanduanes Tourism title aside from Ms. Photogenic. Tall at 5’6" and just 16 years old, Mary Antonette L. Rodriguez of Cabugao, Bato, was first-runner-up while reigning Mutya ng Virac Ma. Amabelle A. Macabia, 17, took the second runner-up honors.

Velchez, Rodriguez and Macabia are all nursing students at the Catanduanes State Colleges along with two other candidates.

Aside from …

Energy to Sign 5 Coal Exploration Contracts - MST

The Energy Department will sign five more coal operating contracts within the week, bringing the total to 16, an official said.

“We will have 16 contracts awarded out of the 30 areas offered,” Energy Undersecretary Ramon Oca told reporters.

Oca said the five contracts covered “areas that had multiple proponents or applicants so we just had to be very careful in evaluating the application.”

The department awarded last month 11 coal exploration contracts that could generate investments of around P580 million in the next two years.

The government on April 14 launched the energy contract rounds to promote and offer prospective coal areas to both local and private investors for l exploration, development and production.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes earlier said the promotion of local coal exploration and development would boost energy security and generate savings from imports.

Reyes said coal might be seen as a “dirty fuel” but cited clean coal technologies that would minimize the impact on …

Trade Fair Showcases Bicol's Agri-Based Products - Philstar

MANILA, Philippines - The best of Bicol products and tourist hotspots are showcased anew in the OK Bikol-Gayon Bikol, the annual trade and tourism fair of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Trade and Industry Region V, which will runs until today at SM Megamall’s Megatrade Hall 2. According to DOT V Regional Director Maria Ravanilla, the fair is promoting market linkages with the players in the travel industry, trade buyers and investors to further boost Bicol’s tourism, trade and investment potentials. She said the region is highlighting its best travel destinations and festivals, as well as native products under the DTI’s “One Town, One Product (OTOP)” program. On display are Bicol’s signature products such as exquisite native furniture, abaca decors and accessories, gold jewelry, pottery, chili- and pili-based food items, among others. Bicol is composed of the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate. Source: (The Phili…

Climate Change Law Signed - BW

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday signed into law a measure that will institutionalize a climate change policy, particularly on mitigating its impact.

Republic Act 9729 or the Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009 comes in the aftermath of destruction caused by tropical storm Ondoy (international name: Ketsana), typhoon Pepeng (international name: Parma) and typhoon Ramil (international name: Lupit) which is currently pounding storm-battered Northern Luzon.

Ondoy and Pepeng have ravaged Metro Manila and North Luzon, respectively, with damage reaching P30.986 billion and the death toll at 929, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council’s Friday update.

Under the new law, a national climate change action plan would be crafted that would include roadmap for mitigation with emphasis on voluntary reduction of local carbon emissions, and adaptation with focus on disaster risk reduction.

The law created a Climate Change Commission, an autonomous policy-making body atta…

WFP Josette Sheeran: Philippines Storm Aftermath

The head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) pledge the agency's full support to the government and people of the Philippines as they seek to deal with the effects of the violent storms that devastated parts of the country last month.

Following tropical storm Ketsana and typhoon Parma which hit the Philippines in late September, the World Food Programs (WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran visited the country for three days and toured the areas worst affected by flooding with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and WFPs goodwill ambassador, actress KC Conception.

WFP said that the two storms cut off basic necessities for up to eight million people and that the agency was providing food for about a million, besides providing the logistics operation for the entire UN effort.

WFP is distributing rice and High Energy Biscuits (HEBs) to the affected people around Manila and the northern Luzon Island. The biscuits are ideal for emergencies such as the current one in the Philippines b…

Respite from Typhoons a Time for PDCC to Plan and Prepare - CT

The province of Catanduanes has yet to be hit by a big storm this year, with "Lupit" detouring to the north and the previous two storms just slipping by, leaving only minor flooding and easily removed landslides.

It is also fortunate that for "Ondoy" and "Pepeng", the province’s leadership convened the PDCC and sent out warnings to the 11 municipalities ahead of time in case the two storms moved closer.

The respite we are getting should give the disaster body enough time to complete the work the unlamented Provincial Disaster Management Office failed to do, particularly in gathering the data needed in disaster preparedness especially communications linkages and inventory of resources.

Despite the experience with the PDMO, there remains the need to create or reinvent the same body with the view of entrusting it not only with the responsibility of ensuring that the MDCCs and BDCCs are on their toes before, during and after calamities, but also with the job …