Thursday, July 31, 2008

Honest employee cited

Honest employee. During yesterday's People’s Day at the Calbayog City Hall, Mayor Mel Sarmiento commended an employee of the Calbayog City Air Transportation Office. Mr. Leopoldo Jumaday, a security officer at the Calbayog Airport was cited for returning a bag left behind by a passenger. That bag contained approximately 400 thousand pesos in cash, jewelries, laptop and mobile phones.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

from DepEd Calbayog

In a few days' time, expect to see this billboard / tarpaulin announcing the construction of the DeEd Cabayog City Division Office. This building will rise in Brgy. Hamorawon, near the Calbayog City National High School campus.

In case you are having a hard time reading the text on the sides, it says THANKS TO: DepEd Central Office, Congressman Reynaldo Uy, Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, VM Ronald Aquino and the City Councilors, Congressman Gabriel "Bembem" Noel and the Local School Board.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SAKAY-NA Project update

Do you still remember the SAKAY-NA Project? It was the project launched by no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when she visited Calbayog for Charter Day 2006.

SAKAY-NA is a tie-up up between the LGU, DepEd Calbayog and the office of Congressman Reynaldo Uy. It provides free shuttle service for students from the various barangays of Calbayog. This project has been replicated in a good number of municipalities in the region.

The City Government has recently put into operation the third bus. This one plies the Calbayog - San Policarpo (Ipao) route. Let me share some pix taken by Henry Puyat when he chanced upon the bus picking up students from San Policarpo National High School.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

from the PIA website

Here are some (July 15, 2008) Malacañang photo releases which I got from the PIA website.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo shakes hands with PAL President & Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista during the PAL Express Inaugural Activities today (Tuesday), July 15, 2008 at the Calbayog City Airport, Calbayog City, Samar. (Benjie Basug-OPS/NIB Photo)

Calbayog City Mayor & Regional Development Council (RDC) VIII Chair Mel Senen Sarmiento presents the Score Cards and the Status Report on Major Infrastructure Projects to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the Regional Development Council Region VIII Meeting at Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (TTMIST) Calbayog City, Western Samar (Tuesday) July 15, 2008. Also in photo (from left) are Northern Samar 2nd District Congressman Emil Ong and DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane. (Benjie Basug OPS/NIB Photo)

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her attendance at the Regional Development Council Region 8 Meeting at Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (TTMIST), Calbayog City, Western Samar. (Tuesday) July 15, 2008. Also in Photo from left are Region 8 NEDA Director Buenaventura Go Soco and DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane. (Benjie Basug-OPS/NIB Photo)

PGMA IN SAMAR—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gestures during the Regional Development Council Region VIII Meeting at Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (TTMIST), Calbayog City, Western Samar today. (Tuesday), July 15, 2008. Also in Photo from left are Calbayog City & RDC 8 Chair Mayor Mel Senen, Presidential Adviser Victor Domingo, Region VIII NEDA Director Buenaventura Go Soco & DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane. (Benjie Basug-OPS/NIB Photo)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gov't team coming to Calbayog to further study airport redevelopment plan

(Let me give you Sarwell Meniano's report as printed in today's edition of the LSDE)

CALBAYOG CITY- The national government will send a team to this city this month to further study the plan to redevelop the city airport after Philippine Airlines’ top management asked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to upgrade the airport’s facility.

City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento said one of the tasks of the group is to come up with costings required for the project.

The request was made on the airport here following the inaugural flight of PAL Express here Tuesday morning, 10 years after it ceased its operation in Samar province.

In his talk with Arroyo, PAL President Jaime Bautista said that the airport needs repair to pave a way for expansion of PAL and other airlines in the future.

These measures include the asphalt overlay of the runway extension, installation of runway lights, expansion of the turning pad, and setting-up of perimeter concrete fencing.

For the passenger terminal, the enhancements include the installation of a baggage carousel, x-ray machine and walk-through metal detectors. Modern air-to-ground communications equipment was also needed, Bautista said.

“We have sought the support of the President for a much needed upgrade of Calbayog Airport in order for it to handle the operation of jet aircraft. She said that she will seriously look at it,” the PAL executive said in a media interview.

In a brief interaction with the media prior to the plane's arrival, Arroyo welcomed PAL’s move to include Calbayog in their routes.

“The coming of PAL is an assurance that Samar is peaceful. I am here to see what else we can do in Samar in terms of infrastructure development,” Arroyo told the media.

It was learned that the President instructed Reuben Ciron, newly appointed director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and Calbayog City Mayor Mel Sarmiento, concurrent chair of the Regional Development Council in Region 8, to look into the request of PAL for urgent improvements to Calbayog airport.

PAL first flew to Calbayog in 1958; the city was among the flag carrier’s pioneer destinations. PAL last operated there in 1998 when its rehabilitation plan obligated it to focus only on major trunk routes.

“We were the first airline to fly to Calbayog back in 1958. Now, we hope to take Calbayog’s development to a higher level with our new PAL Express service. We are committed to provide affordable air service to the many far flung island communities of our country,” Bautista added.

Constructed in 1970’s, the airport’s runway has a length of 1,476 meters. Under the plan, the local government wants to extend the runway into another 200 meters and thicken the runway.

“The embankment is now ready. We just need funds to start the expansion. Our goal is to meet the international requirement of the runway to accommodate bigger aircraft in the future,” said Sarmiento.

“We’re expecting that passenger traffic will increase tremendously with the entry of PAL in the city. It will encourage more people to come. Accessibility and frequency is very important,” the city mayor said.

PAL Express flight PR 091 from Manila, served by a Bombardier Q400 turbo-propeller aircraft, landed at Calbayog airport 10:10 a.m. on Tuesday after a one-hour-and-20-minute journey from Manila. The flight carried 48 passengers.

Among them are Bautista, PAL’s deputy chief executive officer Henry So Uy, Canadian Ambassador Robert Desjardins and Leyte 1st District Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

Apart from Calbayog, which is served with four flights weekly, PAL Express also launches on the same day separate daily services from Manila to San Jose (Occidental Mindoro), Virac (Catanduanes) and Surigao City (Surigao del Norte).

This city now has daily flight with Asian Spirit flying three times a week. PAL Express will also launch the Manila-Catarman flight next month in Northern Samar.

Images from the President's visit

As reported, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to Calbayog last Tuesday. She was in town for three engagements: The inaugural Manila - Calbayog flight of PAL Express; blessing of the 56 million peso bridge in Gandara and the RDC Meeting.

Let me share with you some pictures taken during her first engagement at the Calbayog Airport.

Some of the officials who were on hand to meet the President were (l-r) Councilors Sonny Salurio, Nonoy Pasacas, BM Charlie Coñejos, Councilors Virgil Clemens, Jonas Montealto, Ver Porlares, Danny Dernate, Ina Rabuya and Julius Mancol.

President Arroyo being welcomed by Gen. Arthur Tabaquero

The President inside the terminal building as she waited for the PAL Express flight. With here were Mayor Mel Sarmiento, Sec. Gabby Claudio, Rep. Ann Tan and Gov. Mila Tan, among others.

President Arroyo greeting PAL President & COO Jaime Bautista

The President greeting PAL Deputy Chief Executive Henry So Uy

President Arroyo greeting Canadian Ambassador Robert Desjardins

President Arroyo as she listened to the brieifing made by Mr. Bautista

For more images, please check this link.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

RDC endorses to PGMA 45 major projects in Eastern Visayas

(let me feature Sarwell Meniano's report as printed in today's edition of the LSDE)

(President Arroyo listens as Mayor Mel Sarmiento made his report during the RDC meeting. To the President's left is DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane)

CALBAYOG CITY -- At least 45 major projects in Eastern Visayas were endorsed by the Regional Development Council (RDC) to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a bid to get funding allocation and complete it at the “soonest possible time.”

These projects are roads and bridges, airports and seaports, power generation and transmission, flood control, post harvest facilities, small farm reservoirs, and irrigation.

RDC Chair and Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento said that the President was very happy with the output and that she expressed her desire to replicate the scorecards to other RDCs in the country.

The media was not allowed to listen to the President’s response after Mayor Sarmiento endorsed the score cards, but Arroyo said in an interaction with the media at the city airport that the national government will earmark more projects in Samar before her term ends.

“We want to see Samar enjoying the same blessings of Cebu and Bohol. This is a beautiful island with a big potential for eco-tourism destination,” Arroyo told the local media.

The President recently approved the release of a 478 million-peso fund for rehabilitation of coastal road network in Eastern Samar.

“She welcomed our output and our initiative to improve the economic status of (the) people in Region 8. PGMA has assured funding but not for all projects of course” Sarmiento said.
The endorsed road projects aimed at upgrading the road links between the three Samar provinces, the Biliran Circumferential Road, and the Panaon Island Circumferential Road in Southern Leyte.

Airports and Seaports included the redevelopment of Tacloban Airport, Calbayog Airport upgrading, Catbalogan Seaport improvement, construction of Carigara RoRo Port and Carigara Wharf.

Prioritized power generation and transmission projects were the Southern Leyte Geothermal Project, Wright-Taft-Borongan 69 KV Transmission Line Project and Sta. Rita-Basey-Quinapondan 69 KV Line Project.

Proposed flood control projects are situated in the towns of Tanauan, Palo, Lapaz, Burauen, and MacArthur in Leyte. Distribution of post harvest facilities and construction of small farm reservoirs will be concentrated in Leyte.

At least six out of eight proposed irrigation projects are in Samar Island. These are located in the towns of Basey, Sta. Rita, and Calbiga in Samar; Bobon and Mondragon in Northern Samar; and Dolores in Eastern Samar.

“For major projects, we are not in a position to decide the annual allocation. We are appealing to Her Excellency to endorse these projects to the line agencies, through the Cabinet Secretaries, with the hope that same line agencies will support the funding requirements, to complete the projects,” Sarmiento said in his presentation during a joint meeting of the RDC and Regional Disaster Coordinating Council held at the Tiburcio Tancinco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology.

(President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as she received a copy of Mayor Mel Sarmiento's report)

Few minutes after her arrival, the President took part in the inaugural flight of Philippine Airlines' PAL Express. She also led the formal opening of the 56 million-peso Sto. Niño Bridge linking the towns of Gandara and Matuguinao in Samar before she convened the RDC members. The President left Calbayog City around 12:30 p.m. to visit Masbate and lead the cabinet meeting there.

GMA greets passengers of PAL Express inaugural flight

(Let me feature the headline in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

CALBAYOG CITY- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday led in welcoming the passengers of the PAL Express inaugural Manila-Calbayog flight at the city’s airport.

Among the 48 passengers who were welcomed by the President was eight-year-old Stephanie Spillane who was with her mother Nenita and elder sister Josephine, 10.

“I don’t know who she was but still I was excited,” she said, referring to the frenzy that greeted the arrival of the passengers at the airport located in Barangay Trinidad, seven kms. away from the city proper.

Her 40-year old mother said that she had no idea that they would be welcomed by no less than the President, who was on a smart casual. “I am shaking because of the excitement. She welcomed us” Nenita said.

The family had just arrived in the Philippines from London after 13 years of absence. They are here for a visit at Nenita’s town of San Isidro in Northern Samar.

Nenita and her two daughters had a picture taking with the President who also shook hands with other passengers, which included six foreigners.

Among the passengers of the 76-seater Bombardier Q400 turbo-prop aircraft were six officials of Philippine Airlines led by its president Jaime Bautista, Canadian Ambassador Robert Desjardains and Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

The President, who presided the joint meeting of the Regional Development Council and the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council held at the Tiburcio Tansingco Memorial Institute of Science and Technology, was joined by city and provincial officials led by Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento and Governor Milagrosa Tan.

Joining the President were Secretaries Hermogenes Ebdane of the Department of Transportations and Communications; Arthur Yap of the Department of Agriculture; Gabriel Claudio, presidential adviser for political affairs, and Sergio Apostol, presidential legal adviser and the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development-Eastern Visayas.

The commercial plane landed at the Calbayog Airport around 10:10 in the morning, just few minutes after the arrival of President. Ms. Arroyo arrived at the airport on board the presidential aircraft.

Bautista said that the new Manila-Calbayog route was in support to the President’s “super regions programs” as it would pave the way for the opening of a new route that could result to investments and tourists alike.

“This is (also) in response to the call of the government to improve the facilities of the airports so that we can carry more passengers,” Bautista said.

The PAL official personally asked the President to improve the more than 30-year old Calbayog airport facilities like perimeter concrete fence; asphalt overlay; runway lights and x-ray machine, among others. The President promised to accommodate the request of the PAL management.

Ms. Arroyo herself said that she was happy that the country’s premier airline company is now serving the Samar province. The President said that with the coming in of the PAL, influx of tourists as well as the coming in of more investors is expected to follow.

“(And) the coming in of PAL is also a recognition that peace and order in Samar is (improving),” said the President.

Samar Island, comprising of Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar provinces, has an active insurgency problem in Eastern Visayas.

Calbayog City Mayor, meantime, could not hide his happiness with the new Manila-Calbayog flight, echoing the observations of the President that it would boost the province’s economy as well as its tourism industry.

“Calbayog is really poised for more development with the coming in of PAL,” he said. At present, the Asian Spirit is servicing the Manila-Calbayog twice a week. PAL, meantime, has a four times a week flight schedule.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

news from the PAL Express site

Calbayog City was an item in the corporate news section of the the PAL Express website. I have attached two links from the said website:

link 1

link 2

The Speech of the PAL President

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was in Calbayog today. Her first engagement was the welcome program for the inaugural Manila - Calbayog flight of PAL Express.

Among the VIPs on hand was PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista. Mr. Bautista delivered a briefing at the airport.

(President Arroyo as she listened to the briefing given by Mr. Jaime Bautista. With the President are Mayor Mel Sarmiento, Gov. Ben Evardone and PAL Deputy Chief Executive Henry So Uy. Photo by Henry Puyat)

Here's the speech delivered by Mr. Bautista:
Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Ambassador Robert Desjardins of the Government of Canada, Ms. Ellen Ruth Zeisller, Senior Trade Commissioner of the Canadian embassy, ranking officials of the National Government, the Province of Samar, and the City of Calbayog, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good Morning.

On behalf of our chairman and Chief Executive Office, Dr. Lucio C. Tan, and the entire Philippine Airlines family, I thank President Macapagal Arroyo for graciously taking time to join us this morning to welcome the inaugural flight of PAL Express to Calbayog City.

Your presence here today, Mrs. President, adds immeasurable honor and prestige to this occasion and we in PAL are most grateful to you for this noble gesture.

I also thank the honorable officials of the Cabinet and other government agencies, as well as our host officials from the Province of Samar and the City of Calbayog, for the very warm welcome accorded us this morning.

Today's maiden flight is historic in that is the first service to Calbayog and to Eastern Visayas, for that matter, of PAL Express, the new low-fares sub-brand of Philippine Airlines using state of the art Bombardier Q400 turbo prop aircraft, made in Canada.

But PAL itself is no stranger to this city. We were the first airline to fly to Calbayog - this occurred 50 years ago, in 1958. So today's inaugural flight of PAL Express is very fitting indeed, coming on the golden anniversary of PAL's first flight to this city.

Back in 1958, Calbayog was a fledging city, having received its charter just ten years earlier. The arrival of PAL and the establishment of direct air links to Manila and Tacloban opened the way for more investros, traders and tourists to visit Calbayog.

It also opened new markets for the city's products, spurring trade and development in the process.

Today, we hope to take Calbayog's development to a higher level with our new PAL Express service. Indeed, PAL Express was created with an important mandate - to provide quality, affordable air service to the many far-flung island communities of our country.

This is PAL's modest contribution towards the realization of President Macapagal Arroyo's visions of creating "super regions" throughout the country.

In particular, today's inaugural flights to Calbayog and three other points - Virac, Catanduanes; San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; and Surigao City, Surigao del Norte - directly support the initiative to make Central Philippines a super region for tourism.

Indeed, this region - and Calbayog, in particular - can significantly share in the tourism bonanza if we can bolster infrastructure.

With your indulgence, Mrs. President, we in PAL would like to humbly seek your support for a much-needed upgrade of Calbayog Airport, in order for it to handle the operation of jet aircraft.

We realize, of course, that a full-scale sirport upgrade entails considerable time, effort and resources, thus the following small-scale enhancements are respectfully submitted for your consideration:
- Asphalt overlay of the runway extension
- Perimeter concrete fencing
- Installation of runway lights
- Expansion of the turning pad
- Installation of x-ray machines
- Installation of walk-through metal detectors
- Installation of baggage carousel
- Air-to-ground communications

We believe that these physical improvements will lead to a corresponding expansion in the Calbayog operations of not just PAL Express but other airlines as well.

And with more carriers serving Calbayog Airport, we can, of course, expect tourist arrivals in this heretofore undiscovered region to take-off.

With that, I would like to once more thank you, Mrs. President, along with all the other officials and guests, for honoring us with our presence this morning.

Maraming salamat po. Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

PGMA to visit Calbayog today

( Photo courtesy of the Office of the President)

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be in Calbayog today. This is the sixth time that she will set foot in Calbayog as President.

The President's itinerary includes a welcome program for the inaugural Manila - Calbayog flight of PAL Express. Among the VIPs expected is Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista. This activity will be held at the Calbayog Airport.

From the Calbayog Airport she will take a chopper to Brgy. Sto. Niño in Gandara. She will be on hand for the inauguration of a new bridge in the said barangay. The said bridge connects the Municipality of Matuguinao (by land) to the Municipality of Gandara and the rest of Samar.

The last acitvity is the Regional Development Council (RDC-8) Meeting which will be held at the TTMIST AVR.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

update on the Rueda Street Walkway

I was able to take some pix of the Rueda Street Walkway Project. I have uploaded these in my other blog. Pleasec check this link.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

another day at the Calbayog Airport

We were at the Calbayog Airport today. We were there with the City Mayor to meet with Usec Malou Frostrum to discuss the details of the forthcoming visit of President Gloria Arroyo. If the visit should push through, it would be the sixth time that the President set foot on Calbayog. Anyway we will be giving out details of the visit in the days to come.

This blog update is more of an update on the airport. Do you remember my earlier blog about the CRs at the airport? Well, the management has done something about it.
Here are some pictures I took at the airport today.
that's the PAL Express check-in counter being finished in time for the inaugural flight this coming Tuesday.

And that's the Asian Spirit check-in counter.

Where there is PAL, expect Cebu Pacific to be there too. If plans should push through, the latter will start serving Calbayog on September 2008; and this area will hopefully serve as their check-in counter.

Now for the main reason of this blog update.Here are some pictures from the (male) CR.

the sinks were clean, the faucets were working and there was a garbage bin . . .

... and there was soap!

deodorizers / air fresheners were all over the place

... and the toilet bowls were clean

Before I was able to say congrats to the airpot management, I was informed that more improvement is coming. Now that's what I call good news.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Calbayog in the news

Calbayog was featured along with the various winners in the Asian Institute of Management's Philippine Cities Competitiveness Ranking Project (PCCRP) 2007 in two of the country's broadsheets today.

For the Manila Bulletin report, please check this link.

For the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Business Section), please check this link; and this link.

Friday, July 4, 2008

AIM cites Calbayog as one of the country’s Top Performing Cities

Calbayog City today received an award from the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center.

Calbayog was cited as among the top performing cities in the Small Cities Category during the recently completed Philippine Cities Competitiveness Ranking Project (PCCRP) 2007. This research undertaking is a project of AIM Policy Center’s City Competitiveness Program.

For this round, the study covered 90 cities in the country, which were clustered into three categories namely: small, mid-sized and metro cities. The ranking was based on six (6) drivers of competitiveness: Cost of Doing Business, Dynamism of Local Economy, Infrastructure, Human Resources and Training, Responsiveness of LGU to Business Needs, and Quality of Life.

Mayor Mel Sarmiento received the award during the National Presentation of Results which was held today at the Grand Ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Daily Manila - Calbayog - Manila flights

Philippine Airlines through its new, low-fares unit PAL Express will be offering daily Manila - Calbayog - Manila flights starting July 15, 2008.

Flights from Manila to Calbayog will depart at the NAIA Terminal 3 at 5:20 am and will arrive in Calbayog at 6:40 am. Calbayog - Manila flights will depart at 7:10 am.