Friday, December 28, 2007

A Christmas postscript (or a Mary Christmas)

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! First things first. Monsignor Basiling Rosales was laid to rest yesterday. He was 98 years old. Former Palo Archbishop Pedro Dean said the funeral mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Concelebrating with him were Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez and Bishop Emeritus Maximiano Cruz.

* * *

It’s a weekend and it’s the feast of the Holy Innocents. I can still recall some old folks say that it’s not nice to lend money on this day. Whatever that means. The capitalists raked it in at Christmas, it seems that they have ran out of ideas as to how make money out of this day of the niños inocentes.

So, we’re a few days away to the New Year. As always, a question is asked: what’s in store for us in 2008? The answers will be varied. I believe it will depend upon your main concerns in life. Take BusinessWeek which said that many see dark days for investors in 2008. And that we should hope for a rapid resolution of the housing and credit crunch. For its part, the Arroyo Administration is reportedly bullish about the economy in the coming year. Okey, economics is boring. Let’s have politics then, now this is where the answers will be as colorful as it is varied. On the national front I see the impeachment smoke filling the air again (hmm, time to make money again? Oops, me and my mouth!) On the local front, I’d rather keep my mouth shut (for now, anyway). Election is two years away and as it has been said time and again, action for the next election starts after an election. I dunnow about you, but it seems like I didn’t notice anyone raise an eyebrow or anything when news came out about political alliance being brewed between Lakas and either the Liberal or the Nacionalista parties. And yes, surprise! Thanks to Pulse Asia, Fred Lim turned out to be the most popular politician there is.

* * *

I failed to submit my column for December 26. It was supposed to contain a reflection on the liturgy for the eighth day of the traditional Misa De Gallo. I found that reflection nice that I always made it sure to feature it in this column each time Christmas comes. So, let me give it to you as a Christmas postscript.

As I’ve been doing the past two years, once again I would like to share some reflection I got two years ago. The subject for that day’s mass was the visit of Mary to Elizabeth (yap, this is the second joyful mystery. It always reminds me of a friend’s and my delusion about royalty that one time a friend leading the rosary said: “the second joyful mystery is the visitation of Mary to her cousin queen Elizabeth”). Going back to the topic, so what’s the big deal about that visit? I can still remember Fr. Jun Jungco’s take on this.

Mary was heavy with a child. (According to biblical scholars) The distance she traveled was 90 kilometers and in those days that distance took seven days. We never know if Mary walked or rode a donkey (something akin to private car or trucks of today’s rich people). She ran the risk of her chastity being violated, and not to mention the wild animals and muggers along the way. To make it short, it was not a travel for pleasure.

But there she was, making real the first encounter between the Messiah (Jesus) and the prophet (John). Mary brings Jesus to John, she brings Jesus to all of us Christians. This is why Mary plays a vital role of salvation. In today’s world, the visit tells us that we all have a social concern for others, that we have a social obligation to others. Our human weaknesses trap us to the temptations of being apathetic and callous to the needs of others. We don’t mind others because we are so comfortable with our own selves, with the security of our jobs and the comfort and safety of our homes. Not until we become victims ourselves do we join groups aimed at eliminating that which caused us to be hurt or afflicted.

Mary braved the dangers of travel just to visit and assist Elizabeth. We are called to do same to others. Mary was sensitive to the needs of others. Let us not be apathetic and callous to the needs of others. Let us take Mary as our model. And let us remember that this is not really a very heavy obligation because God does not demand beyond our capacity.

* * *

Taragpo 2007. Christie Regians will once again gather for the Annual Alumni Homecoming dubbed as Targapo 2007. Christ the King College Day and Night High Schools Batch 1987 will be this year’s sponsors. Taragpo 2007 is set at 7:00 pm this Sunday, December 30, 2007 at the Frs. Leopold and David Auditorium. And yes, following tradition, there will be raffle prizes.

* * *

Have a Happy New Year everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Halad Sa Pasko '07

While most of the City Hall employees got busy with their respective christmas parties, employees of the City Arts and Culture Office got busy with the annual share-a-gift program dubbed Halad Sa Pasko. Today I saw them on board the school bus. They were about to leave for the right river area to distribute gifts for some less fortunate Calbayognons.

the 12 days of Christmas

(this column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s Friday and we’re three days away to Christmas. Calbayog LGU employees are five thousand peso richer today. Disbursement of the said bonus started yesterday.

Yup, in addition to the Misa De Gallo, the food and the decors that depict either the birth of Jesus or crass commercialism, it seems that the bonus (and especially the additional or the extra) is the other big thing that many equate with Christmas. And sad as it may seem, when bonus comes around, a good number of people are quick to say, “salamat may pasko guihapon”. Does it boil down to values being eroded? Values (re)orientation perhaps? Or could be (considering that Christmas is basically a religious festivity) some, if not many guardians of the faith failed to inculcate the proper values upon the Christian or Catholic faithful entrusted to them.

But reality check. Commercialism is here to stay and values are sure to be affected by time and what have you. If there is one thing that characterized news this year, it should be the economic crunch that many of us are either complaining or raving about. So, is it going to be a lackluster Christmas? Nah! They don’t call us Pinoys if we don’t know how to make things light amid difficulties – perceived or real. One day news will report about families worrying about food on Noche Buena; other days one gets a report on how crowded Divisoria and the other shopping centers are.

Talking about the economic crisis. Alas, it’s not only the local establishments or the jeepneys that had to raise their prices. Even the U.S. embassy had to raise their fees. Well, what with every Filipino wanting to taste the milk and honey from the land of milk and honey, the increase in fees should be no big deal. Alas, not for one senator. I dunnow if I was watching the news half asleep or half awake, I thought I heard the newscaster say that the senator is planning to summon U.S. embassy officials to explain the fee increases. Hmm, the senate inquiry on this issue should be interesting.

* * *

Some history lesson. An AD in the lifestyle channel recently caught my attention. It was their take on that popular Christmas carol entitled The Twelve Days of Christmas. I kinda squirmed at the said AD (though I like what they did with the portion on the 5th day of Christmas . . . my true love gave me 5 naked men …) Seriously, that song seems so popular even fashion magazines occasionally come out with fashion forecasts based on the theme inspired by that song.

You might want to ask what in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge that won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? A few days ago I got an email regarding that song and I thought I’d like to share it with you.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning. The surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit-Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

* * *

Let me leave you with a line I got from Mana Charo (Nabong – Cabardo) when we met with her early this week. She mentioned something about her work on the life of the fist Bishop of the Dicoese of Calbayog, Msgr. Pablo Singzon. Asked why he chose Calbayog as the center of the Diocese which then included Samar, Leyte, Biliran and the Marianas Islands. The Bishop answered: “The religiousity of Calbayognons is second to none”.

* * *

Have a Merry Christmas everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Desiderata in waray-waray

I am pleased to feature Yoyoy Genotiva's Waray-Waray translation of Desiderata. Please check this link.

hey big spender

(this column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s midweek and we’re in to the fourth day of the Misa De Gallo. As to the attendance in the mass, no question about it, kumbaga it’s always "box office" (oops, sorry about the term, it’s so pink). It always makes me wonder what is it about this mass which makes people wake up and fill the cathedral early in the morning, come rain or shine, err, shining stars. A friend told me that for many it boils down to one word: wish. That one’s wish is supposedly granted if one is able to attend all nine masses. So, from the looks of it, it’s either many believers had their wishes granted thus they kept coming back all these years; or maybe one was not able to complete the nine masses for the past so many years and thus the desire to do it again and again. Seriously, whatever is one’s intention in going to this mass, it’s nice to note that we have this tradition wherein many make it an obligation to rise early and be with the faithful to worship and prepare for the birth of the Savior, that birth which in turn is also a time for many to be into what they do the best – seasonal generosity.

There is another familiar activity in Calbayog that happens in December, it’s the annual Light-a-Tree project (which we fondly refer to as Christmas Street café). The project is aimed at raising funds for the various humanitarian programs of the Rotary Club of Calbayog. They do it by renting out food stalls to local entrepreneurs for the whole month of December.

Just in case you’d like to know, the stall owners around the tree raked it in during the last weekend, and thus the title for today, what with the lowest earning for the night pegged at 15K. Well, nothing beats the timing: it was a Friday, sweldo time and many received their bonuses on that day. Some ATM machines in the city even had to hang for some time coz of heavy withdrawals. It makes me dizzy considering the money that circulated in the area that night; or should I say that was spent on beer, sinugba and chichirya. Well, it’s that time of the year. And considering the aim of the project, it was money well spent, in a way.

* * *

Awardees. Last December 11, 2007, thirteen Barangay Health Workers (BHW) from Calbayog received the Loyalty Service Award from the Department of Health (RO8). The award was given during the simultaneous awarding at the DPWH Convention Center in Candajug, Leyte.

The Awardees from Calbayog were: Anita Allequir, Norma Aquiliño, Teresita Balero, Dolores Cayunda, Aurea Concon, Dominga Jumaday, Concepcion Maribojoc, Sofia Monteron, Flaviana Yu, Gloria Arnaiz, Ana Gorgonia, Beatriz Merencillo and Angela Omila.

* * *

Two years ago the Philippines hosted the Southeast Asian Games. Among the issues that made it to the news at that time was the noise (read: protests) made by Thailand (so far the only country that made noise).

It made me write this paragraph in my column two years ago: “Now for the lighter side. So the Philippines topped the medal tally in the recent SEA Games. So, far it’s the Thais (or at least some of their officials) who made a fuzz about the Philippines making it to the top. A case of sore losers? C’mon, wait for the next games when you have the hometown advantage. But come to think of it, the Thai Olympic Committee president was all praises for the Philippine hosting.”

Fast forward 2007. No need to mention about how the Thais rigged the recent SEA games.

* * *

Also two years ago, I had a short chat with CSWDO’s Vir Tomnob regarding the MDG deliberations in Hanoi, Vietnam which, as expected, the Filipinos monopolized, well, almost. An Indonesian delegate commented: “We and the Philippines are both presidential but you are more intelligent than us. If you (the Filipinos) can only cut your corruption by 30% you will move forward”.

Fast forward 2007. Transparency international comes out with that controversial survey result on the world’s most corrupt nations.

* * *

Let me leave you with something to smile about this week. FUNERAL PROCESSION:

A woman was leaving a convenience store with her morning coffee when she noticed a most unusual funeral procession approaching the nearby cemetery.

A long black hearse was followed by a second long black hearse about 50 feet behind the first one. Behind the second hearse was a solitary woman walking a pit bull on a leash. Behind her, a short distance back, about 200 women were walking single file.

The woman couldn't stand her curiosity. She respectfully approached the woman walking the dog and said, "I am so sorry for your loss, I know now is a bad time to disturb you, but I've never seen a funeral like this. Whose funeral is it?"

"My husband's"

"What happened to him?"

The woman replied, "My dog attacked and killed him."

She inquired further, "Well, who is in the second hearse?"

The woman answered, "My mother-in-law. She was trying to help my husband when the dog turned on her."

A poignant and thoughtful moment of silence passed between the two women.

"Can I borrow the dog?"

"Get in the line."

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

seasonal generosity

Hi there! It’s Midweek and it’s barely two weeks before many of our fellowmen will be indulging in their seasonal generosity. One thing I’m sure of, there will be an overkill (hhm, that term reminds me of some recent events. Yup, like a senator and his cohorts who expected 11 million voters to go to the Peninsula?) in the supply of food, used clothing and well, toiletries for either the jail inmates or some of wards at the home for the aged. What with every organization there is in town thinking about doing the same thing for the same beneficiaries at the same time. Well, it comes but once a year, let them have it.

Oops, I’m reminded of one Holy Week celebration. At least three friends of mine went to visit prisoners and bringing with them some foodstuff and what have you on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It turns out the three (and I suppose, many other parishioners) said their confession with the same priest and they all got the same penitensya (does it mean they all committed the same sin? Smile, it’s supposed to be a joke). How about that? I couldn’t disagree with that priest, he must have realized early on the prisoners get attended to only at the end of the year, so why not a midyear break for them? (Smile! It’s midweek)

* * *

Yesterday, Mayor Mel Sarmiento together with some Department Managers met with Mr. Moon-Shik Kim, a Korean national who is connected with KIBIO 2007 Co. Ltd. They discussed about the possibility of tapping local resources / agricultural lands for conversion as jatropha / tuba-tuba plantation. Tuba-tuba has been identified as an important factor in bio-diesel / bio-fuel production. As an initial step, the Korean group is identifying a five-hectare lot which will serve as their nursery in Calbayog, that’s in addition to their nursery in San Roque, Northern Samar.

* * *

Cheers. The employees of the LGU will be 5-thousand peso richer this Christmas. During last Monday’s regular session, upon the request of the City Mayor, the SP approved an ordinance reverting the amount of 5.850 million pesos for the extra cash gift for qualified officials and employees of the LGU. Said amount is expected to be disbursed on the third week of this month.

* * *

Jeers. Last Monday, the City Mayor got pissed-off with the dismal attendance of employees in the flag-raising ceremony. He is expected to issue a memorandum aimed at (once again) reminding the LGU employees on the importance of the flag-raising ceremonies.

* * *

So, PGMA is back from her successful state visit to Europe and Kuwait. As to the term - state visit or junket - I guess it will depend upon which side of the political fence one is into. With Ranario being saved from the death row, PGMA got those rare few moments when she got raves from groups who are exactly into PGMA. Nice to know that. But of course, there is more to be done not only about Ranario and the OFWs but those who are planning to work as well, OFW.
Now, do you remember that man-on-the-street interview about the dollar’s dipping worth? I think I saw a husband complaining about his wife’s dollar buying less for their family. And a few days ago, the common-law husband of Ranario went on TV saying sana lubos-lubosin na ni PGMA na palayain na ang asawa ko. Just a question: what are the men doing here? Why is it that it’s their wives who are working abroad? Oops, I see some quarters saying that we have to blame it on PGMA coz of the non-availability of jobs at home. Seriously, I’m just bothered by that. Back to those two husbands who appeared on TV, I still need to hear reports if they have jobs here at home. I supposed they do, otherwise, it’s a different story.

* * *

Let me leave you with something to smile about this week. Let’s say it’s a result of the recent events. It’s something I got via email (as always):


1) Not even his mother joined them
2) Oakwood had a better lobby
3) CNN was not there to cover it
4) The hotel had run out of ice cubes
5) The APCs were parked in the lobby and not the parking lot
6) Sen. Trillanes realized being teargassed was not part of his mandate as senator.
7) Vice President Guingona thought it was an anti-erap, or pro-erap pardon rally, whatever...
8) Surrender was better than the company of Father Robert Reyes
9) Sen. Trillanes noticed people were crying not because of the tear gas but because of him
10) Even GMA was beginning to look better the longer they stayed

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 7, 2007


(this column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s Friday, and yes tomorrow the annual Concert at the Pen will go on as scheduled, where else but at the famous Manila Peninsula Lobby. But today’s title is not about that kind of lobby. Far from it.

Tomorrow is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Patron Saint of the Philippines. Just like the cold spell, that feast is also a reminder for me of Christmas being close at hand. The other reminder would be having some friends talk about memories of childhood. That we did a few days ago, and we ended recalling how we used to call things. Take these: idru (for airplane), pantalan (for the seaport), pridyider (for a refrigerator), bapor (for boat). So, it’s not hopeless after all, there still is another face of Christmas that we can look forward to, I mean friends and the happy memories of childhood.

* * *

So, PGMA is in Europe to pay homage to our (former) colonial masters (in Spain) and will be off to London to visit the queen. Ah, the perks of the Presidency (?). As the king and queen toasted PGMA, some solons back home are making noise about the trip being a junket. As in, like is it something new? I mean this kind of trip and entourage? (oops, me and my mouth!)

* * *

It’s been a week since we commemorated Andres Bonifacio (thank you for the long weekend). Seriously, (and thanks to channel 7’s i-witness) I’m wondering what happened to Bonifacio’s image which was replaced by that of Aguinaldo on the five-peso bill? As we all know the said denomination was later replaced with coins bearing the image of Aguinaldo. So where did Bonifacio go? He ended up sharing a spot with Mabini in the ten-peso bill, which in turn is also on the way out (read: out of circulation). Just wondering, is there a lobby group or something?

Talking about lobby groups (and how some of these groups can make people forget the law). Last Monday, Mayor Mel Sarmiento mentioned about what the LCP is doing about municipalities that were created as cities despite not being qualified (taking into consideration the requirements of the law). When confronted about this, one senator had it by simply saying “inaraw-araw kasi kami sa pag-lobby”.

* * *

Congratulations to Marju-Krisel Family Resort. The establishment won the 1st Place in the Economy Hotel Category during the recently concluded 2007 Healthy Cities Initiatives (HCI) – Healthy Places Contest.

Calbayog’s other entries to the contest included the following: Brgy. Carmen (Urban Barangay Category), Brgy. Panoypoy (Rural Barangay), Samar Coco (Industrial Workplace), Kaun Kit Restaurant (Eating Place) and San Joaquin National High School (for Elementary Public School).

Awarding Ceremonies is set on December 11, 2007 at the DPWH-RO8 Convention Hall. The said competition was joined in by the Cities of Maasin, Ormoc, Tacloban and Calbayog.

Still with the HCI activities. Last November 27, 2007. The HCI spearheaded the Regional On-the-Spot Painting Contest at DOH Office in Candahug. Angierose Rosales, a student from the San Policarpo National High School won over the other contestants from Region 8. Two other high school students from Calbayog participated in the contest. They were Nelette Sagayap of Christ the King College and John Paul Soliva of the Oquendo National High School.

* * *

I received an email regarding the celebration of the Immaculate Conception and the hour of grace. That’s what I would like to leave you with this weekend: THE REQUEST OF OUR BLESSED MOTHER FOR THE HOUR OF GRACE:

1. Day and time of the Hour of Grace: December 8th, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to be started at 12:00 noon and continuing until 1:00 p.m. for one full hour of prayer.

2. During this hour, the person making the "Hour of Grace" either at home or at Church must put away all distractions (do not answer the telephones, or answer any doors, or do anything but totally concentrate on your union with God during this special Hour of Grace).

3. Begin the Hour of Grace by praying three (3) times the 51st Psalm with out-stretched arms. (Psalm 51 appears below)

4. The rest of the Hour of Grace may be spent in silent communication with God meditating upon the Passion of Jesus, saying the Holy Rosary, praising God in your own way, or by using favorite prayers, singing hymns, meditating upon other psalms, etc.

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out My offense.
Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me. For I know my offense; my sin is always before me. Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sightThat you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn. True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me. Still, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my inmost being teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiterthan snow. let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.
A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit. I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you. Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise. For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart. Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice, burnt offerings and holocausts; then bullocks will be offered on your altar.

* * *

Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mayor Sarmiento assumes post as RDC-8 Chairperson

Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento formally took his oath as the new Chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC-8) yesterday.

Mayor Mel Sarmiento takes his oath before RTC Executive Judge Rodolfo Sescon
(photo courtesy of Vaugn Calvara)

Here's a news report by Ahlette Reyes of the Leyte Samar Daily Express:

TACLOBAN CITY - As he formally took his oath of office as the new chairman of the Regional Development Council in Eastern Visayas, three-term Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento exhorted political leaders and elected officials to actively participate in the council's activities and fortify their commitment to the council's development plans.

The new RDC chair took his oath before Executive Judge Rogelio C. Sescon of the Regional trial Court here during the Regional Development Council's meeting at the Hotel Alejandro Monday.

Mayor Sarmiento emphasized the need for a close working relationship with the existing chairmen of the different committees of the RDC as well as with local chief executives and political leaders.

"One of the things cited during our earlier meeting was the lack of commitment of some of our elected officials. Without them we cannot do the things that we need to do. Our politicians, through their political backing can sum and balance things up," Mayor Sarmiento said in his message shortly after his formal oath taking.

He added that "political will" have to be used sometimes to "get what we want." "We need political leaders to actively support the plan that has been given by the private sector, government agencies and local government units," Sarmiento said.

Among other things, the new RDC chair said he would focus on during his reign is for the council to actively participate in the legislation process and utilize their collective influence in lobbying for legislation that would really redound to the benefit of the region during its implementation.

"We now have elected officials who were formerly members of the Lower House and now they are having problems implementing some laws they themselves have approved before," he said.

Existing committees of the RDC had been retained with their respective chairpersons authorized by the newly appointed chairman to act on their own unless it would need "political intervention" from the higher officials of the board.

"I have also authorized the committee chairs to act on their own. If it needs political intervention that's the time that we come in the higher level," Mayor Sarmiento said.

Likewise he disclosed of a "score card" for the different committees formed under the council, which would show what the development body are supposed to achieve until 2010. This "score card," he said, was developed by the Harvard School for Business and has been modified for public use. The same has already been applied in the city of Calbayog under his leadership.

With a notable track record under him particularly his expertise on development strategies, other members and sectoral representatives of the RDC expressed confidence the body would be able to achieve their development goals during his three-year reign.

Mayor Sarmiento, who is known as an innovative and development-oriented local government executive, was the lone nominee of the RDC to the chairmanship post. His nomination was endorsed to and confirmed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The confirmation letter was received by the RDCEV Secretariat on November 9, 2007.

Monday, November 26, 2007

the road not less traveled

With all due respect (and apologies) to that literary classic, "The Road Less Traveled" was the first line that came to mind when I discovered that I had in my phone two videos which I took while on board a van during one of my trips to Tacloban sometime in September.

I decided to share these videos to give you an idea on what it is to travel from Calbayog (or is it from Gandara?) to Tacloban. Let me inform you however that during my latest trip (November 8 to be exact), thanks to PGMA, work is going on (or has been going on for quite sometime). Many portions of the highway have been cemented (or concreted, I dunnow which is the proper term). But then news had it that President Arroyo (during her latest visit to Region 8) got irked upon learning about the delay in the road project. Anyway, work is being done, thanks God.

Back to the videos. The first video was taken as the van approached Hinabangan or somewhere near it. I think it captured the bumpy ride that should be familiar to most travelers who trod this road that is not exactly less traveled. The second video is supposed to show the smooth ride from Calbiga to Tacloban.

a bumpy ride

some kinda smooth ride

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The CKC Jose Gomez Orchestra launched today

The CKC Jose Gomez Orchestra was officially launched today. Christ the King College President, Fr. Prisco Cajes, spearheaded the launching during the Concelebrated Mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The mass was said in celebration of the Feast of Christ, the King of the Universe.

In his message, Fr. Cajes stated the following details:

In Celebration of the grace of our origins of the Franciscan Movement in this part of the world wherein the Franciscan Missions, thru San Pedro Bautista, pioneered the first school of Music after 1578;

In memory and tribute to your very own, the late Maestro Jose Gomez, who captured the souls of every people of Samar and composed them into music;

In the spirit of championing the cause of humanity of which Christ the King College has untiringly offered to you;

In gratitude to the benefactors and patrons thru the initiatives of Mr. Walter Rhumor and Mr. Tony Gomez;

To honor Dr. Francisca P. Santos in her 50 years of service to CKC.

And for the greater glory of GOD as we celebrate this Solemnity of Christ the King…

We now present to you the CKC Jose Gomez Orchestra!


The CKC Jose Gomez Orchestra envisions itself as a musical organization that promotes the musical heritage of the people of Calbayog City, Samar Island and Region VIII, and develops their love of music and their natural musical talents, especially by encouraging people to appreciate and learn music through formal education and playing, itself, this music for the people in public. It acts as an agent affirming the past musical compositions and in evolving the culture, specifically the music of the people in this part of the Philippines.


The mission of the Jose Gomez Orchestra is the establishment and furtherance of a professional symphony orchestra, the advancement of music appreciation and music playing among musicians in Samar Island, the enrichment of the community through music, the encouragement, development and support of musicians, the performance and promotion of the music compositions of Jose Gomez and other local musicians, and the promotion and support of the musical productions and special events in Calbayog City and surrounding area.


The Jose Gomez orchestra commits itself to organizing musicians including its members; to collecting pieces of musical compositions from great musicians in Region VIII, like the great Jose Gomez and others; and to learning these musical compositions and playing them for public. It will exert efforts in promoting these musical compositions in concerts and other occasions. Hence, it will help develop the culture and music of the City and Region through formal education in music, in coordination with Christ the King College and through other means as well as. Therefore, the CKC Jose Gomez Orchestra will act as agent for the cultural and musical development of the Calbayog City, Samar Island and Region VIII.

(For some pictures of the celebration and that of the members of the orchestra, please check this link: Feast of Christ the King.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Barangay Officials take their oath

The newly-elected and reelected Barangay Officials of Calbayog took their oath today.

The program was held at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Fr. Rolando Vivas presided over the Thanksgiving Mass which preceded the oath-taking ceremonies.

Mayor Mel Sarmiento with the acting ABC President Romeo Evardone, DILG City Director Fernando Bohol, and Councilors Susano Salurio, Ina Rabuya and Benjie Dean

Councilors Noel Sermense and Virgil Clemens

Mayor Mel Sarmiento as he administers the oath to the Barangay Officials

DILG City Director Fernando Bohol delivering his message

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

OPLAN Sagip Mata 2007

Once again, the City of Government of Calbayog tied up with some private / non-government organizations for the Annual Oplan Sagip-Mata.

Oplan Sagip-Mata 2007 was launched today at the Our Lady of Porziuncula Hospital in Calbayog City. This activity is a joint undertaking of the LGU, the Rotary Club of Calbayog, Eastern Visayas Society of Opthalmology, OLPHI, EVRMC and the Cataract Foundation of the Philippines.

A streamer at the OLPHI entrance announcing the activity

Mayor Mel Sarmiento taking time to talk with the patients who availed of the free eye operation

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Region 8 Peace and Security Assembly

Calbayog City Mayor and Regional Development Council (RDC-8) Chairman Mel Senen Sarmiento actively participated in the Peace and Security Assembly which was held in Tacloban City last November 8 - 9, 2007. He presented to President Gloria Arroyo a copy of the Comprehensive Development Plan for Region 8.

Here are some pictures from that event.

Mayor Mel Sarmiento giving his presentation / report before the Peace and Security Assembly participants which included the President

Mayor Sarmiento as he presented his report to President Arroyo

Mayor Mel Sarmiento, Congressman Reynaldo Uy and PGMA with some Region 8 officials.

on the sidelights . . .

Mayor Sarmiento with National Security Council Member General Victor Mayo

Mayor Sarmiento with General Mayo and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales

Northern Samar Governor Raul Daza, Congressman Paul Daza, Congressman Reynaldo Uy, and (partly hidden) An Waray Congressman Bembem Noel

Mayor Sarmiento with Congressman Paul Daza and Gen. Mayo

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm back!

Hi! My apologies for not giving you some updates during the past so many days. I was in Manila to coordinate the wedding of my cousin Pheona Camille Ladrero. I have posted some details of the wedding in my other blog. Check this link.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Hi there! It’s midweek and we’re all in for another long weekend. Today’s title pays tribute to one of our endearing traditions which has to do with the observance of All Souls’ and All Saints’ Days. And this is way out of the tradition I have imposed upon myself (or this column) wherein I always pay homage to the ghouls, spirits and ghosts among us each time this season of the year comes.

It’s interesting to note that when the day commemorating the dead comes around, a good number of old women get themselves busy going house to house (I still have to hear someone go puntod to puntod) to do their long prayers supposedly aimed at ensuring that the dear departed a good life in the, well, after-life. The prayer is kinda long (not to mention that a good part of it is in latin) I managed to remember only a line: “…tungod san paghampaka san Sta. Cruz guin tubos mo an kalibutan, Ginoo kalooyi an amon bugto nga si…”.

That prayer supposedly is a novena that is usually said in nine days. But considering today’s fast-paced life (or maybe the hectic schedule brought about by many bookings), even the old ladies have adjusted their services. Some of them now offer a 9-hour (marathon) prayer. Yup nine days worth of prayer compressed in nine hours. Whew! And yes in between prayers (or hourly breaks) they take time to have some biko, sinugba and in some cases bahalina nga tuba. If you seriously consider bahalina, you do not have to imagine how the old ladies do their job halfway through the prayer marathon.

And there is this practice of offering food to the dead. Many do it by putting the offering in dining plates and placing it in front of a picture of a dear departed. Whew! I suppose it’s a way of letting them share what’s in store for everyone during this party for the dead; or is it for the dead to sustain them as they go on their journey in the next life? And the usual fare? Sinakugan, tsokolate, labtinaw, humba. Well, that’s what I call traveling on a heavy stomach. And just curious, why does it always have to include something that is malagkit?

And yes, each time the November 2 comes, my mom and our ever reliable house helper always argue (almost) as to which one to prepare for her (the helper’s) departed: tuba ug sumsuman para sa kalag-kalag against my mom’s suggestion which is to have a mass said for the dead. Thanks to tradition, they always end up with both having what they want.

Seriously, the fact that dates have been set to remember the departed underscores the importance of commemorating our loved ones. From my limited observance of some people’s faith, whatever one into in his belief about God or any supreme being, it seems that our existence on earth is one that is aimed in preparation for the after-life. And this leads me to my next topic which is about prayer.

* * *

I attended the evening mass last Sunday. And the theme of that Sunday had something to do with prayer, particularly our attitude in praying. As the gospel was read, it suddenly hit me! There must be a group of people – the candidates - who said one common prayer that night: Lord (please) let me win! (By this time we would have known who ended with unanswered prayers).

Back to the mass. In a way, the theme taught us about humility in praying. On the other hand, the priest observed that the last mass is always filled with young people. But not that Sunday. “Where are the young people?” the priest asked. Don’t tell me, he said. I saw some of them gathered (for the night?) at the youth hostel. Other groups may have been gathered in other places around the city.

Now a question: where they herded in various places to pray? Nah! It’s part of the SK tradition of herding a bunch of young voters to ensure a candidate’s victory. It used to be done only during the election for the Federation President, now some are doing it even at the barangay level. So how can some young people pull off something like this? Lest we forget, SK also can also stand for Samukan nga Kalagsan.

* * *

Let me leave you with something about my favorite topic (the past few days). This has to do with some doctors (not again). One is this doctorate degree holder who teaches in a local institution. She is among the rare species whom I refer to as the very few na may karapatang magdala ng titulong doctor. So what about her? I learned only lately that for a good number of times she locked horns with the doctorette I was referring to in my previous columns. That locking of horns is an open secret among their students. Some of these students were inquisitive enough to ask why is that? My favorite doctor na may karapatan simply said: “I’m giving her the rare privilege of hating me” Yun na!

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Hi there! It’s a weekend and the SCUUA 2007 meet officially ends today with the closing ceremonies to be followed by SCUAA Jam cum Paalam Night at the TTMIST Oval.

* * *

First things first. Mayor Mel Sarmiento is off to Jeju, South Korea for the 2nd United Cities and Local Governments World Congress on October 28 – 31, 2007. He has been invited to speak during the session on Strategic Responses in Fast - Growing Cities.

If I may repeat what I featured in this column a few weeks ago, the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) represents and defends the interests of local governments on the world stage, regardless of the size of the communities they serve. Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, the organization’s mission is to be the united voice and world advocate of democratic local self-government, promoting its values, objectives and interests, through cooperation between local governments, and within the wider international community.

* * *

A few weeks ago, news had it that some quarters are considering tapping nuclear energy for the country. It’s almost time don’t you think? Yeah right. After 30 years (?) they (or should I say we, I mean the Filipino people) have paid-off the loan for the mothballed Bataan Nuclear power plant. And now somebody is trying to float the idea about the need to tap nuclear energy. Okey it’s cheap, but they still have to make clear how to do away with radioactive waste safely.

And the glorietta blast. As expected some lawmakers were quick to accuse the government of doing it. I’m wondering when they are going to call an inquiry on the blast, in aid of legislation, of course.

* * *

I got this from Yahoo and I can’t help but feature it here, and this explains the title for today. I’ve heard of Harry Potter (who hasn’t) but was never into the movie, well, that’s until last week when a good number of sites featured this line: Dumbledore is gay! That’s after Jo Rowling said so when she answered one young reader's question about Dumbledore by saying that he was gay and had been in love with Grindelwald, whom he had defeated years ago in a bitter fight. If I may quote some lines from yahoo: '"You cannot imagine how his ideas caught me, Harry, inflamed me,'" Dumbledore says in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the seventh and final book in Rowling's record-breaking fantasy series.

Some quarters were quick to say that a gay character in the most popular series in the world is a big step for Jo Rowling and for gay rights." Some fans had this to say: "Jo Rowling calling any Harry Potter character gay would make wonderful strides in tolerance toward homosexuality. By dubbing someone so respected, so talented and so kind, as someone who just happens to be also homosexual, she's reinforcing the idea that a person's gayness is not something of which they should be ashamed."

* * *

I don’t remember the exact words, but I can clearly remember the message. An institution in the city is into promoting the culture of excellence. Nice to hear or know that. What person in his right mind will say no to that? And a culture like that entails discipline, no question about it. But then how should one react when along the way the discipline should include talking only in English or Filipino? The way I see it, the message is that waray-waray or binisaya is something that promotes anything but excellence. Did I get it right? What do you think? Nagtatanong lang po.

* * *

Let me leave you with the last part of the airline (cabin) announcements email I left you with last Wednesday.

All too rarely, airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some (supposedly) real examples that have been heard or reported:

- "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

- "As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

- And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Philippines Airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

- After landing the airplane and while taxiing towards the terminal, cabin attendant announced as passengers rise to retrieve their hand carry bags: "Manatili po sana tayong nakaupo habang hindi pa ganap na nakahimpil ang ating sasakyan, WALA PONG PREMYO PARA SA MAUUNANG LALABAS NG EROPLANO."

* * *
Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

by virtue of the power vested in me . . .

Hi there! It’s midweek and the games of the 23rd SCUAA officially started yesterday, but it was a rainy start though. And yes, thanks to that power outage, the delegates literally got a warm (or is it hot?) welcome on their second night in the city.

SCUAA 2007 opened last Sunday at the TTMIST Socio-Cultural Center with the Solidarity Night dubbed as Kangay. I hosted the said event and referred to it as the cultural side of SCUAA. It was preceded by a Mass presided by Msgr. Leonardo Guadalquiver. Dr. Socorro Bohol welcomed the guests which included the City Officials led by the Mayor Mel Sarmiento and the Presidents of the participating State Colleges and Universities of Region 8 namely, Naval Institute of Technology, Samar State University, Samar State College of Agriculture and Forestry, Eastern Visayas State University, University of the Eastern Philippines, Palompon Institute of Technology and Visayas State University.

Guests were treated to a sumptuous feast during the dinner cum sugba fest. It opened with a colorful ritual-dance performed by the Sarakiki-Hadang Performers of Calbayog. Guests were later treated to Calbayog songs and dances presented by the Kinetics Dance Company and the Campus Chorus. The cultural show was highlighted with the kuratsa being performed by Dr. Socorro Bohol and Dr. Cesar Sabenicio who were later joined in by the VIPs and guests.

The successful Kangay event was result of the collaboration between Dr. Gabriella Sabenicio of TTMIST and Jonas Lim of CACO. For some pictures of the said event, please check this link: kangay/scuaa 2007.

* * *

You must have noticed the recent TV ADs showing the country’s economic growth. Nice to know that. But why did the price of that breakfast staple a.k.a. pandesal have to go up? On the other hand, food and cosmetic manufacturers are still coming up with products packed in tingi or what they call saver packs. A few years back, there was this article saying that the tingi phenomenon is a manifestation that something is wrong with the economy. But then I heard somewhere that this marketing strategy is being followed by some of our prosperous Asian neighbors. Whatever one is into, I saw the wisdom of tingi lately when I did some grocery shopping with a calculator on hand. And yes, one can save a lot if one is to buy shampoo, gel and some beauty products in those small packs or sachets. So, is there something wrong with the economy? I dunnow, ‘coz in Calbayog the local food joints along with Jollibee and Chowking are still packing ‘em in.

* * *

So, what’s with today’s title? This has to do with my never-ending series about some doctors (not MDs if I may add) in Calbayog who can’t seem to do it right. I’d rather that I discuss about the new (and very interesting) twist on the Harry Potter series: Dumbledore is gay! But that can wait. I’ll deal with Dumbledore next time. For now, let’s have a little bit of this doctorette (now I just gave you a clue as to the size of the doctor).

A bubwit told me that earlier this year, this doctorette was invited as speaker in a school graduation in one of the barangays (carline, now that’s a clue) in the city. So what about it? People get invited to talk in graduations. Now, ang siste is that there was no official or somebody who was supposed to declare the candidates for graduation as graduates. Lo and behold, instead of the principal or maybe some DepeEd official, the doctorette was the one who declared the candidates as graduates. So what’s wrong with that? I’m still trying to see the konek between the doctorette’s school or at least his/her position in school and his/her being able to declare as graduates students from another school the curriculum of which has nothing to do with school from where the doctor comes from. Magulo ba? Do we blame it on the school officials? Or maybe the doctorette did not read the program so as to give suggestions? Or maybe the doctorette just didn’t know the difference. Es la vida.

* * *

Let me leave you with something to smile about this week. Something I got via email (again). It has something to do with airline (cabin) announcements.

All too rarely, airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some (supposedly) real examples that have been heard or reported:

- On a flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

- On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have."

- "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."

- "Welcome aboard . . . To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised. "

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The City Mayor receives Region 8 SUCs Presidents

The Presidents of the various State Colleges and UNiversities (SUCs) participating in the SCUAA Meet 2007 paid a courtesy call on the City Mayor this morning. Due to the ongoing repairs at the Mayor's Office, Mayor Mel Sarmiento received his callers at the CBO Conference Call.

A good number of topics were discussed during the meeting, among these was the positive results the city is getting from its partnerships with various schools and other private institutions in the city. The City Mayor also clarified his stand on the citihood of some municipalities in region 8.

The City Mayor with (l-r) Dr. Delia Combista (PIT), Dr. Aida Tobes (SSCAF), Dr. Editha Henson (NIT), Dr. Socorro Bohol, Dr. Jose Bacusmo (VSU), Atty. Mar De Asis (UEP), Dr. Simon Babalcon, Jr. (SSU) and Dr. Reynaldo Lumbio (ESSU)

Friday, October 19, 2007


(this column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s Friday and we’re two days away to the 23rd SCUAA meet; and that explains today’s title (and also the reason why for this issue, I won’t have nasty comments about issues both local and national as well as on some people who make life kinda uncomfy for some Calbayognons).

In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, TTMIST is hosting the annual event. (By the way, a few weeks ago I have featured a news item about TTMIST being on top of all SUCs in Samar. In case you're interested, check this link).

The City Government has contributed (both money and effort) to help in the successful hosting of this event which is expected to bring to Calbayog athletes and officials from the twelve state colleges and universities in Eastern Visayas. Mayor Mel Sarmiento in his message during the last Charter Day celebration called on all Calbayognons to ensure the success of the event.

In a way, helping the SCUAA hosting was one reason for the low-key 59th Charter Day celebration. A few days ago, Mayor Sarmiento signed an Executive Order naming Councilor Julius Mancol as chairperson of the committee tasked to come up with a meaningful and appropriate charter day celebration next year when Calbayog City turns 60. If I may repeat what the Mayor cited in his speech, Calbayog is the 19th oldest city in the country.

* * *

Charter Day 2007 highlights. The Parish Pastor, Fr. Toto Vivas presided over the Thanksgiving Mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. I had to attend to other program details so I missed that activity. Anyway, Fr. Vivas must have delivered quite a homily. Mayor Sarmiento quoted a number of lines from that homily when he delivered his speech.

Also part of the program was the Ceremonial Launching Knock-out Tipdas 2007 program. DOH Regional Director Teogenes Baluma was on hand for the said launching.

And the annual parade. It was participated in by a good number of employees from public and private offices, as well as students form the various schools of Calbayog. However this activity was cut short due to a sudden downpour.

* * *

Tribute to Senate President Jose Avelino. In celebration of the 59th Calbayog Charter Day Anniversary, the Sen. Pres. Jose Avelino Foundation in cooperation with some Calbayog artists hosted An Hulagway ni Lolo Jose, a portrait-painting exhibit of Calbayog artists at the museum located in the old barracks building. The exhibit is open for viewing from 9am to 5pm and will run until October 26, 2007.

* * *

Hey rockistas! KAMIKAZEE will be in Calbayog on Octboer 23, 2007 at the Socio-Cultural Center. Tickets available at TTMIST Bursar’s Office and SKR promotions office at Brgy. Rawis Calbayog.

* * *

Let me leave you with something to smile about this weekend. It’s something I got via email again. The way I see it, I believe this piece was written by a woman who seems to have some ill-feelings towards the opposite sex. Please don’t take it seriously.


Between 18 and 22, a woman is like Africa, half discovered, half wild, naturally beautiful with fertile soil.
Between 23 and 30, a woman is like America, well-developed and open to trade, especially for someone with cash.
Between 31 and 35, a woman is like India, very hot, relaxed and convinced of her own beauty.
Between 36 and 40, a woman is like France, gently aging; but still warm and a desirable place to visit.
Between 41 and 50, a woman is like Great Britain, with a glorious and all conquering past.
Between 51 and 60, a woman is like Yugoslavia, lost some wars, won some great battles but haunted by past mistakes, still very strong and proud.
Between 61 and 70, a woman is like Russia, very wide and borders are now largely un-patrolled.
After 70, she becomes Tibet. Off the beaten path, with a mysterious past and the wisdom of the ages. . . still desirable but only those with an adventurous spirit and a thirst for spiritual knowledge and true love dare visit there.

Between 1 and 80, a man is like Iran, ruled by a d-_-_- k. (in case you’re wondering what the word is, do email me. Again, don’t take it seriously. Smile! It’s a weekend)

* * *

Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the 2007 Calbayog Charter Day Celebration

Calbayog had a low-key observance of her 59th Charter Day Annivesary.

The Day started with a Thanksgiving Mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The said mass was presided over by Rev. Fr. Rolando Vivas.

A flag-raising ceremony followed in front of the City Hall, afterwhich Mayor Mel Sarmiento delivered his Charter Day message. The program also included the Ceremonial Launching of the Knock-Out-Tipdas 2007 program of the Department of Health with DOH-RO 8 Regional Director Teogenes Baluma in attendance.

The City Officials who attended the affair were Vice Mayor Onald Aquino, Councilors Julius Mancol, Danny Bernate, Noel Sermense, Ver Porlares, Benjie Dean, Nonoy Pasacas, Ina Rabuya, Virgil Clemens and Sonny Salurio.

The celebration was capped by the parade. For some pictures, please check this link: 2007 Charter Day Parade

Vice Mayor Aquino as he participates in the Ceremonial Launching of Knock-out Tipdas 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007


Brgy. Dagum, Calbayog City

Invites you!


Where: Nijaga Park, Calbayog City

When: November 10, 2007
at 3:00 in the afternoon

Great, great prizes are given away!

For further details & card purchase please call: 2093-169 / 2093-798 / 2091-170

Foods are available at the
open canteen.

4th Lamiraw Workshop Slated

The Arts, Social, and Cultural Affairs Office of TTMIST invites all writers in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) to join the 4th Lamiraw Creative Writing Workshop on November 8-10, 2007 at Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology in Calbayog City, Samar.

Interested fellows are required to submit 3 poems or 1 short story or 2 essays written either in Waray, Cebuano, Hinabaknon, or English as pre-qualification requirements.

This activity is a joint project of TTMIST and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). 20 slots are at stake for this region-wide workshop and those who will qualify will be free of registration, travel allowance, and board and lodging.

Deadline of submission is October 15, 2007. For inquiries, please email at or text 09162527995.

Friday, October 12, 2007

mader, mader, ay am sik

Hi! It’s a Friday and (my apologies to the business sector) today’s holiday proclamation is certainly one of the most welcome moves done my Malacañang.

First things first. Calbayog will turn 59 years old on Tuesday. It’s going to be a low-key affair which will include a Thanksgiving Mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Fr. Rolando Vivas has been invited to preside in the celebration.

After the mass, a short program at the City Hall Stage will follow. It will include the Ceremonial Launching of Knock-out Tipdas 2007, an activity under the auspices of the Department of Health. DOH-8 Regional Director, Dr. Teogenes Baluma will deliver a message. The program will be capped with the Charter Day Message of Mayor Mel Sarmiento and the annual charter day parade.

* * *

So, what’s with today’s title? Wala lang, just wanna feel light this weekend (ano yun?). Nope, I’m not referring to the doctors as in like the ones who make people well, physically, that is. Let’s talk about doctors as in Phd, EdD, and the like. I know a good number of them and I salute them. My former teachers at CKC who are now in other institutions are proofs of the good doctor-educators that we have in Calbayog.

And then, there are the other set of doctors who need to be doctored (read: duroktorun pa). Weeks ago a friend told me that the justices at the Ombudsman have strict instructions to all concerned that the word HONORABLE which comes before their names, as much as possible, should not be included in certificates or anything that they need to sign. So, how does that story connect to my topic on doctors? Well, there was this doctor in Calbayog who always insists on having his title indicated be it in certificates or, heavens, letters which he need to sign. Need I say more?

Do you remember my story about someone saying sinet (for senate), formulets (for formulates). Yup, that person is a doctor (I dunnow if it’s Phd or EdD.); then there are those who can speak in perfect, err, good English, but can qualify as the president of the world’s tactless persons society (there should a group like this somewhere); and then there are those who act as if they own they national highway, or at least a small portion of their school pathway, it turns out they haven’t published a book yet.

And yes, there is this classic line which I heard from another doctor “… from what they said, therefore they are doubt!”

Okey, speaking in English isn’t the only basis for becoming a (good) doctor. But then again . . .

* * *

I dunnow if I’ve shared this in my earlier columns. I like this (which I got via email) The Best Moments In Life:
1. Falling in love.
2. Laughing till your stomach hurts.
3. Enjoying a ride down the country side.
4. Listening to your favorite song on the radio.
5. Going to sleep listening to the rain pouring outside.
6. Getting out of the shower and wrapping yourself with a warm, fuzzy towel.
7. Passing your final exams with good grades.
8. Being part of an interesting conversation.
9. Finding some money in some old pants.
10. Laughing at yourself.
11. Sharing a wonderful dinner with all your friends.
12. Laughing without a reason.
13. "Accidentally" hearing someone say something good about you.
14. Watching the sunset.
15. Listening to a song that reminds you of an important person in your life.
16. Receiving or giving your first kiss.
17. Feeling this movement in your body when seeing this "special" someone.
18. Having a great time with your friends.
19. Seeing the one you love happy.
20. Wearing the shirt of a person you love and smelling his/her perfume.
21. Visiting an old friend of yours and remembering great memories.
22. Hearing some telling you "I LOVE YOU"
"True friends come in the good times when we tell them to, and come in the bad times.....without calling."

* * *

Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

and now they are after the monks

Hi there! It’s midweek and Pacquiao is several millions richer after his latest fight. And again, it’s ironic how a bloody sport can have the power to unite Filipinos. One police officer went on TV to say that no crimes were reported on the day of the fight (well I always see it as either no crime were committed or there were some committed but were not reported). Be that as it may, it’s nice to note how the Speaker and the resigned Comelec Chair made dedma about each other when they watched the fight in a cinema (maybe he was blind? Ah nandyan ba? Hmm, these lines remind me of the dedmahan between Gretchen and Dawn). You take it from there.

So far so good. There was another thing worth noting about the latest Pacquiao fight. The singer sang the national anthem quite well (but I’m not sure about the beat). At least it was not in the R & B style that previous performers were into. As to what Pacquiao said (in English) in the interviews that followed, well, I rest my case.

Oh no! Not Again! So they (or someone) had filed another impeachment complaint against PGMA. How do you think should we react?

Meanwhile in Burma, our ASEAN neighbor which is ruled by a military junta (for two decades now?), it seems like they are through with Aung Sang Su Kyi, they have started going after the monks. What the hell is going on? As news reports had it, the monks (or the temples that they are into) are considered as the (highest) moral authorities in Burma. If text messages are indeed true, how would you consider the death of more that ten thousand monks (and that those who survived were supposedly cremated alive). Text messages can be exaggerated, but certainly not the reports from credible news networks. So what’s the catch here? So far the ASEAN has done nothing (okey, it’s that non-interference thing again). Come to think of it, even the U.N. wasn’t able to do a thing. Why doesn’t Mr. Bush do something akin to what he did to oust Saddam? My apologies, the olive branch of peace could get broken or can dry up in time and one has got no choice but opt for the sword of war. Oops, just wishful thinking on my part.

* * *

Congratulations to the City Arts and Culture Office for a successful presentation of their stage play and digifilm entitled Inodoro in Dipolog City. The said presentations are part of the advocacy campaign of the City’s USAID-funded LINAW program.

* * *

Congratulations to Calbayog’s new judges: Judge Felipe Maglana and Judge Myrna Clemens.

* * *

Congratulation and Best Wishes to Romeo Salceda Jr. of Palo, Leyte and Leah Nicolasora of Calbayog City. They recently got married with Fr. Ric Pitogo saying the wedding mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Reception was held at the LMA Auditorium. Their sponsors included Judge Rey Clemens, Judge Odel Mabutin, Judge Philip Maglana, Mr. Ben Muncada, Mrs. Elsa Tan, Mrs. Ana Asis, among others.

* * *

Let me continue with the second part of the “INSTALLING LOVE” article I left you with last Wednesday:

Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, "Error - Program not run on external components." What should I do?
Tech Support: Don't worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.
Customer: So, what should I do?
Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.
Customer: Okay, done.
Tech Support: Now, copy them to the "My Heart" directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.
Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?
Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.
Customer: Thank you.

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

the GSIS w@ps kiosk

The City Hall Lobby has been quite busy with employees checking on the GSIS waps machine which was put in place last September 18

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Society of Philippine Surgeons in America (SPSA)

The Society of Philippine Surgeons in America (SPSA) should sound familiar to many Calbayognon and other people from some municipalities of Samar. It's the group responsible for the two surgical missions last year (Check this link). Calbayognons can't thank them enough for that undertaking.

Last week, the City Mayor received a publication from the Society, courtesy of Dr. Manny Cacdac, the group's team leader in Calbayog. I have featured Dr. Cacdac's notes on their Calbayog (Samar) experience in my other blog.

Please check this SPSA article Link.

Monday, September 17, 2007

TTMIST tops among region 8 SUCs

CALBAYOG CITY – Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (TTMIST) topped among State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the whole island of Samar. That is based on the latest evaluation made by both Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Dr. Socorro O. Bohol, TTMIST President said this during a live interview in the radio program “Hulagway san Ciudad: The Chief Executive Report” broadcast over Radyo Natin FM in Calbayog City

Region 8 has a total of 11 SUCs excluding UP Tacloban which is part of the University of the Philippines System.

Dr. Bohol said that the result is contained in the latest CHED Memorandum Circular No. 1-B soon to be released to all SUC’s in the Philippines.

“TTMIST is now in the limelight, TTMIST ranked fourth among all SUCs in Region 8 in an evaluation taken from the various aspects of SUCs operations like instructions, research, and management of resources,” Dr. Socorro Bohol said.

She said that from Level I, TTMIST is now in Level III-A, just a few points away from the highest level which is Level III-B.

The region’s top performing SUCs in the recent evaluation include Visayas State University (formerly Leyte State University and VISCA) in Baybay, Leyte, in the number 1 slate; Leyte Normal University (LNU) and Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) both in Tacloban City for number 2 and 3 slates, respectively, and fourth is TTMIST.

By placing fourth in the region, TTMIST got the highest rank so far that any SUCs in Samar Island got in the evaluation that included University of Eastern (UEP) in Catarman, Northern Samar, Samar State University (SSU) in Catbalogan, Eastern Samar State University (ESSU) in Borongan, Eastern Samar; and Samar State College of Agriculture and Fisheries (SSCAF) in San Jorge, Samar.

“Of the evaluation areas included in the survey, TTMIST got the highest in the field of instruction,” Dr. Bohol said. “Pero sa research hitaas liwat an na-achieve naton, imagine the highest score obtained by any SUC in the whole Philippines is 15 and TTMIST got 13 points,” she added.

Asked why a level in the evaluation is important for an SUC, Dr. Bohol emphasized that such move is being done by DBM and CHED because of the “normative financing” now being implemented in all SUCs nationwide. Since 2005 Maintenance and Other Operational Expenses (MOOE) given by the national government to SUCs reduces by 25 per cent every year and the Level of Evaluation that any SUC enjoys is one of the factors being considered in determining the budget, she further said.

Aside from that, Dr. Bohol added that, “When our graduates apply for a job anywhere in the Philippines some of the employers verify at the CHED what level of evaluation the school of the applicant is enjoying so it is always important for any SUC to achieve the highest evaluation level possible.”

During the said interview, Dr. Bohol commended all employees of TTMIST especially those in the instructional force who strove hard and thus caused TTMIST to get its latest achievement in the evaluation.

With the current financing scheme employed by the national government to all SUCs, Dr. Bohol, appealed to all parents and guardians of their students to understand their policy on the tuition fee prompt payment requirement during time of examinations since the fund that school gets from it is now being used to finance the school operations like the payment of salaries of all casual employees performing important functions, and payment of bills of various utilities like water and electricity.

According to Dr. Bohol proper financial planning among SUCs is very necessary as time is coming soon that what the national government will provide would only be for the salaries and wages of the employees and personnel, other operational expenses will taken from their income like the tuition fees, rental of their facilities and other possible sources.

(News report courtesy of Mr. Ike Macasa of Samar Sunday Star)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Suitable Ecological Solid Waste Management System for Calbayog

Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento (R) with Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon Jr.
JICA Resident Representative Shozoo Matsuura, DENR Undersecretary for Planning, Policy, Research and Logistic Affairs Demetrio L. Ignacio, Jr., National Solid Waste Management Commission Executive Director Atty. Zoilo L. Anden, Jr.

Sagay City Mayor Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr., Mayor Mel Senen S. Sarmiento, JICA Resident Representative Shozoo Matsuura, DENR Usec Demetrio L. Ignacio, Jr., National Solid Waste Management Commission Executive Director Atty. Zoilo L. Anden, Jr., JICA Philipppines Minnie M. Dacanay and Makoto Iwase.

(Here's a report provided to me by Ike Macasa of the Samar Sunday Star)

Calbayog City - A Suitable Ecological Solid Waste Management System will soon be established here along with Sagay and Davao cities chosen by the Japanese government as high priority cities in the country.

Calbayog's Solid Waste Management Office Chief Engr. Gonzaga recently announced in a press conference that on the third or fourth quarter of this year, the Technical Cooperating Project Team is set to conduct a technical study and planning which, at the same time, signals the start of the project. Gonzaga said Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Project Agreement was signed early this year. The signing was made at the DENR conference room. (please see pictures above)

Based on the document furnished by the CSWMO Chief, approximately 25 million pesos is allocated for the project depending on the output of the project technical study group and the target duration is three years.

As reflected in the Master Plan, the study is geared to strengthen the capability of the LGU on solid waste management planning, to improve the solid waste diversion system and the final disposal system.

The assistance will cover feasibility study on Solid Waste Management including preliminary design and technical study, formulation of master plan, capability building for the executing organization, solid waste management monitoring, computerization, weigh bridge, design of sanitary landfill, guidance and training on sanitary landfill method and operation and supervision of sanitary landfill construction work.

It was explained during JICA’s visit here that the cost of construction of the sanitary landfill shall be borne by the LGU and the financial scheme that will be adopted to finance the construction of the facility should be a two-step loan facility of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) under a soft loan.

The LGU will likewise provide, secure or purchase the landfill site that should be suitable in accordance with the site selection requirement criteria of RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 which prohibits the operation of open dumpsites for the disposal of solid wastes.

JICA has already conducted ocular inspections of the present dumpsite and the proposed sanitary landfill.

The results of the waste amount and characterization survey conducted by JICA’s consultants last January 2007 here revealed that the city generates a total of 93.611 tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) daily comprising 69,237kgs of residential waste, 2,112kgs commercial waste from restaurants, 18,470kgs commercial wastes from other shops, 53kgs institutional waste from government offices, 1,757kgs from schools, 198kgs from roads with street sweeping activities only and 1,784kgs from the market stalls.

The study also revealed the three categories of waste composition with high percentages are the kitchen waste with 22.76 per cent, followed by yard waste or wood with 21.77 per cent, and paper with 15.73 per cent.

“In our latest waste characterization conducted by the JICA’s contractor , almost 12 per cent guihapon an special waste. An special waste an basura nga di na nagagamitan asya na unta iton an basura an maulpot sa dumpsite. An tinatawag nga waste diversion nga kon pwede kunta nga in household level sa generation pala mag-iban na an basura. Sa pagpalit ta pala we have to take it a point nga an aton napapalit diri magiging basura naton unina…that’s reduction,” the CSMO chief said.

“We have 3 Rs --reduce, re-use and recycle. Mahimo ngani iton san aton mga household level, ma-reduce an basura nga mahingadto sa aton dumpsite,” he added.

As of now, garbage collection in the city is being done by a private contractor taking garbage from the residents during designated collection period for each area.

Gonzaga further said that section 27 of the law on waste diversion requires LGUs to reduce garbage at 25 per cent only three years after the approval of RA 9003 but the city had, so far, obtained 32 per cent reduction rate. He added that the garbage problem is not the sole responsibility of the government but is also everybody’s concern.

In 1993 the city was named as the cleanest in the region and one of the top finalists in the national level. Its two barangays also received awards. Brgy. Panoypoy was a National Silver Awardee in 2003-4004 Search for Model Barangay under the Solid Waste Management category by the National Solid Waste Management Commission while Brgy. Manguinoo won a Special Citation for Multiple Materials Recovery Facility and Coastal Clean-up Practices.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

LINAW National Conference

Just got these pictures taken last August 31, 2007 when Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento attended the LINAW National Conference at The Bellevue Hotel in Muntinlupa City. Among other things, the Mayor shared the Calbayog experience on making sanitation services a local government priority.

Calbayog City is one of the pilot areas in the country for the USAID-funded Local Initiatives for Affordable Wastewater Management (LINAW). A few months ago I featured in this blog one of the projects of the city relative to this grant. Check this link.