Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Patrun Na!

We were at the Nijaga Park last wekeend. Posters and streamers have been set up for Hadang Festival.

. . . as some CACO personnel got busy with some details, we also saw some streetsweepers do their jobs. On a weekend, if I may add

Monday, August 25, 2008

update on the Rueda Street project

Let me give you an update of the Rueda Street project. They have lighted the first set of decorative lamp posts along Rueda Street a few weeks ago.

In case you'd like to know, the building (pitured below) is the annex of the Our Lady of Porziuncula Hospital (OLPHI) the first, and so far the only tertiary hospital in Samar.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

All set for Hadang Festival 2008

An artist puts some finishing touches on the backdrop at the Nijaga Park Stage. The said stage is the main performing area for the various activities slated the Hadang Festival 2008. The highlight of the event is the Grand Streetdancing Competition on September 7, 2008. It is open to all festival / cultural groups from Samar. A prize of one hundred thousand pesos awaits the winner.

(For other festival details, please check the poster I have uploaded at the bottom of this blogspot.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

re-post: Manila Bulletin's Eli Cinco on Calbayog City

(Last Wednesday, I featured in this blog Mr. Eli Cinco's column in the August 20, 2008 issue of the Manila Bulletin. I received a good number of emails and a phone call. It turned out that a good number of blog viewers were not able to access the links I have provided. I am posting the whole column, or the part about Calbayog. Try checking this link, in case does not work, do read what I have posted)

Calbayog gets PCCRP ‘Top Performing City’ Award
By Elinando B. Cinco

NOW Calbayog City has all the reasons to attract investors and draw visitors after it has been awarded last July 4, the much-coveted Top Performing Metropolis Award – Small-sized Category – by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center, in conjunction with its biennial Philippine Cities Competitive Ranking Project.

Only 12 cities, out of 45 covered by that category, made it to the ranking, Calbayog among them.
Launched in 1999, the PCCRP is a two-year independent study conducted throughout the archipelago "to rank cities on the basis of economic performance and responsiveness to business enterprise."

There are two other categories – Metro Cities and Medium-sized Cities – involving the Philippines’ 90 cities surveyed nationwide.

Rating of the contending cities was based on such factors as (1) dynamism of the local economy, (2) cost of doing business, (3) infrastructure, (4) human resources and training, (5) responsiveness of local government units to business needs, and (6) quality of life.

In a front-page news story in the Manila Bulletin last July 5, to project the importance of the biennial awards, Dr. Federico Macaranas said city competitiveness is vital in national development.

The AIM Policy Center has this study and its goals "to promote national competitiveness by encouraging healthy competition among highly urbanized and emerging cities."

"By gathering and compiling strategic data and providing focused analyses of the results, the PCCRP also seeks to cultivate competitive industries, promote healthy communities and maximize the economic performance and responsiveness to business enterprise,"Macaranas emphasized.

Since the first city awardees were bestowed almost 10 years ago, results of the PCCRP research and evaluation have benefited those local government units. They came in the form of accurate and workable city planning, realistic and, therefore, attainable development objectives, all combining to make intelligent implementation effortless.

Now, what does this ‘Top Performing City’ Award mean to Calbayog? A bagful, if you ask me. One is that the place is now in a position to engage in many revenue-generating projects, independent of the national government. Revenues make a city in-step with progress, and the multi-faceted effects redound to the development of private enterprises, and improved income of the city residents.

The award will also be seal of quality for Calbayog to become a top priority in foreign-assisted projects. Just as it is an attestation of its viability when securing financing for its people-centered ventures and tourism-attraction undertakings.

Furthermore, to my reading, the recognition means Calbayog itself and the inhabitants are a fertile market even for non-traditional goods and services. An asset of a small metropolis that trumpets to the outside world that it is now in business!

I take my hat off to City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento who personifies a dynamic local government executive, always on his toes looking for avenues and opportunities to position his city in vying for 21st century enterprise and technology.

Similarly, kudos to the city council and its presiding officer, Vice Mayor Onald Aquino, the heads of different departments of the city administration who must also share the credit in attaining the enviable recognition.

Remembering Ninoy

Today we commemorate the death of Ninoy Aquino. It's the history buff in me that made me come up with this blog post. It's something I got from Notable Biographies.

Here's their material on Ninoy Aquino.


Born: November 27, 1932 Tarlac Province, Luzon, Philippines

Died: August 21, 1983 Manila

Benigno Aquino (of the Philippines) was a leading opponent of the rule of President Ferdinand Marcos (1917–1989), who governed the Philippines from 1966 to 1986. Aquino's opposition ended in August 1983 when, after living in the United States for three years, he returned to the Philippine capital of Manila and was assassinated (killed) at the airport. Aquino's death touched off massive demonstrations against President Marcos.

Youthful accomplishments
Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino was born on November 27, 1932, in Tarlac Province, on the island of Luzon, to a prominent family. He was the grandson of a general and the son of a Philippine senator who was also a wealthy landowner. His ambition and energy stood out early when, at age seventeen, he was sent by the Manila Times newspaper to report on the Korean War (1950–53). The war was between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and was a war in which the United States and China eventually joined.

At age twenty-two Aquino became the Philippines' youngest mayor in his home-town of Concepcion. Just six years later he became governor of Tarlac province (a position similar to governing a state). In 1967 Aquino once again made history when he became the youngest senator ever elected in the Philippines. Meanwhile he married Corazon Cojoangco, with whom he eventually raised five children.

A fallen leader
Aquino became famous for his gifts as a public speaker and for his brilliant mind, as well as his great ambition. He became the leading candidate for the presidency in 1973, when President Marcos was scheduled to leave office after completing the maximum two terms as president. Aquino's ambition to be president was never realized, however, because President Marcos declared martial law (a state of emergency in which military authorities are given temporary rule). At the same time Marcos dissolved the constitution, claiming supreme power and jailing his political opponents, including Aquino. Aquino was charged with murder, subversion (intention to undermine legal authority), and illegal possession of firearms. Although he denied the charges, Aquino was found guilty and was convicted by a military tribunal, or military court, and spent over seven years in prison. In 1980 he was allowed to go to the United States for a heart bypass operation. He remained in the United States as a refugee until returning to the Philippines in 1983. Upon arriving at the Manila airport he was shot and killed.

Following the assassination President Marcos was pressured to appoint a five-person, politically neutral investigative board, led by Judge Corazon Agrava. Marcos and the military stated that a lone gunman who had been hired by the Communist Party had carried out the assassination. The alleged gunman, who had been shot at the airport immediately following the shooting of Aquino, could not be cross-examined. The military carried out its own investigation, and reported that no military personnel were involved in the death.

The official commission's majority report found that Aquino was not slain by the alleged gunman, as Marcos and the military claimed, but was the victim of a "criminal conspiracy" by the military led by General Fabian C. Ver, who was the armed forces chief of staff. He was also a close friend and cousin of President Marcos. The commission's findings were astonishing, although from the beginning most Filipinos doubted the official version of the assassination. No proof was ever presented that directly showed Marcos was involved, but almost no one in the Philippines believed that military generals would order the execution of Aquino on their own. Those who suspected Marcos's involvement noted that Aquino posed a threat as someone who might unite the opposition and who had been the president's main rival for decades.

Aquino's legacy
As it turned out the democratic opposition to Marcos was strongest after its leader's death. As Marcos lost the trust of his people, the Philippine economy also fell apart. By 1985 the nation was in political and economic chaos, with Marcos under attack by the press and by the strengthened political opposition, which did well in elections.

In December 1985 the court proclaimed that General Ver and the others charged with Aquino's murder were not guilty. Marcos promptly returned Ver to his former position. Popular unrest with Marcos's rule grew steadily, however. Within weeks a political movement formed around Aquino's widow, Corazon. She was elected president of the Philippines in 1986, unseating Marcos.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Manila Bulletin's Eli Cinco on Calbayog

Mr. Eli Cinco, one of Calbayog's sucessful journalists featured Cabayog in his column for today's edition of the Manila Bulletin.

With the author's permission, I am featuring a link to that column in my blog.

"NOW Calbayog City has all the reasons to attract investors and draw visitors after it has been awarded last July 4, the much-coveted Top Performing Metropolis Award – Small-sized Category – by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center, in conjunction with its biennial Philippine Cities Competitive Ranking Project.

Only 12 cities, out of 45 covered by that category, made it to the ranking, Calbayog among them."

(to read the rest of the article, please check this link)

HADANG Festival 2008

In celebration of the Calbayog City Fiesta, the City Government of Calbayog thru the City Arts and Culture Office will be holding HADANG Festival 2008. The festival will run from September 5 to 7, 2008.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The City Forest and Marble Park

We drove to Brgy. San Joaquin today to savor what's left with the fiesta in a friend's house (read: nanliwas). Along the way, I noticed some sights that many of us take for granted. One of these is the City Forest and Marble Park located in Malopalo, a barangay which is a few meters away from Malajog Beach.

A few years ago, there was a move to make the area a quarry site that will produce marble. The material in the area is said to be of better quality compared to that of Romblon. Fortunately, the locales and some NGOs opposed the move. I'll take it from there. In the meantime, this natural wonder stays for everyone to appreciate and thank God for the beauty that is Calbayog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Over 2,000 Calbayog City squatters are now lot owners

(Let me give you Sarwell Meniano's report for the LSDE. This report came out a few issues ago. I believe it's never too late to feature any good news about the City)

TACLOBAN CITY - Over 2,000 squatters in Calbayog City have turned lot owners after the city government had devised ways in the past eight years to relocate them with the cheapest cost of as low as one peso and fifty centavos per day.

Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento said in a media interview that this is one of the innovative programs of their city as part in urban planning.

“We are proud to say that from 6,265 informal urban settlers when we started the program in 2002, it went down to 4,000 this year. We are attaining our goal to be an informal settler-free city,” Sarmiento stressed.

Since 2006, the city government has awarded 2,000 secure tenure certificates to these families who once lived in areas with high risk of being swept out to sea or being washed away by flooding due to swelling of rivers during stormy weather.

“The city government is not giving lands for free. The association collects payment daily and the city government collects from the association on a weekly basis." Sarmiento said.

The city mayor pointed out that with this system, a lot owner can devise plans to improve their houses. “We feel that once the land is secured, they find money to improve their houses because they own the land.”

In a mobile phone interview, Cecinio Oquendo, chief of the city urban housing division, described the process as “tedious.”

“It’s hard to convince people to engage in the program. We have to earn their trust and it takes years before others have seen the advantage. The good thing about this is that we have applied the bayanihan concept,” Oquendo told Leyte Samar Daily Express.

The city government approached the land owners of the areas where there are squatters. It was the city government which negotiated sale of the private land to the government itself and in turn the recipient pays the lot according to his capacity to pay. Some would pay as low as P1.50 to P 4.00 a day.

Others too lived in lots owned by the government, though legally transferred. This comprises some 20% of the land area occupied by the informal settlers.

“The agreement is that whatever income we are going to generate, we will bring it back to them through projects aimed to improve their community,” Sarmiento told the media.

Oquendo said that at present, 2,500 families have secured ownership of vacant lots in 10 urban barangays in Calbayog City . These are (with its corresponding number of families): San Policarpo (300), Payahan (300), Rawis (220), Caballero (178), Capoocan (500), Aguit-itan (300), Balud (149), Dagum (115), Hamorawon (300), and Obrero (200).

“We have not transferred those families who built houses in proper places. We have just facilitated in the process of securing land ownership,” Oquendo explained.

The city is eyeing 1,000 more families that would graduate from being tagged as squatters by 2010. Calbayog City is a first class city in the province of Samar. It comprises 157 barangays and is the largest city in Eastern Visayas. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 163,657 people in 28,912 households.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

and now for the good news

(I got this news / PR a few days after the President's visit. I tried to confirm it and got busy along the way. I think it's never too late to announce any good news.)

PGMA orders upgrade of Calbayog airport

CALBAYOG CITY – This city received an unexpected boost when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo directed national and local officials to implement enhancements to the local airport following the arrival here of the inaugural flight of PAL Express, the low-fares unit of flag carrier Philippine Airlines.

The chief executive instructed Reuben Ciron, newly appointed director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and Calbayog 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.

These measures included 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 included the installation of a baggage carousel, x-ray machine and walk-through metal detectors.

Modern air-to-ground communications equipment was also needed, PAL said.

“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,” said PAL president Jaime J. Bautista, who was on board the Bombardier Q400 turbo-prop that arrived here from Manila at around 10:10 a.m.

Other ranking passengers were PAL deputy chief executive officer Henry So Uy and Canadian Ambassador Robert Desjardins.

On hand to welcome the flight at Calbayog airport was President Arroyo, who arrived earlier to convene a meeting of the Regional Development Council and inspect development projects in the region.

She was joined by local officials led by Calbayog Mayor Sarmiento.

Monday, August 4, 2008

3 priests and 2 deacons ordained

As announced, Bishop Isabelo Abarquez this morning presided over the ordination ceremonies at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

The three new priests are Rev. Fr. Guillermo Alorro III, Rev. Fr. Gil Cagomoc and Rev. Fr. Ted Ryan Perez. The two new deacons are Rev. Romualdo Fajardo and Rev. Basilio Salino.

For more images (courtesy of Joselo Co of Studio 8), please check this link.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

RDC Chairman calls leaders in E.Visayas to unite together

(Let me give you the banner story of today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

TACLOBAN CITY - Leaders in the region should unite to achieve development not only within their respective areas but for the entire Eastern Visayas.

This was the appeal made by the chairman of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and Calbayog City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento as he noted that “political intramurals” among politicians in the region was one of the reasons why the region remain economically depressed.

“Our leaders in Eastern Visayas should unite beyond partisan politics and political biases for the general welfare and development of the region. Let us all support the regional development towards development,” Sarmiento said.

The RDC chairman cited his own effort to extend cooperation and support with the effort of Northern Samar Governor Raul Daza, who belongs to the opposition.

“I had just talked with Governor Daza regarding the circumferential road to be completed in his province that the President had mentioned during her State of the Nation Address,” Sarmiento said.

He was referring to the Arteche-Laoang-Lapinig- San Isidro-Lope de Vega road rehabilitation project which was mentioned by the President during her SONA last Monday.

The RDC chairman and Calbayog city mayor said that with the completion of this circumferential road it would create economic activities that would redound to the benefits of the people living on those areas. Sarmiento said that Eastern Visayas has all the potentials to become one of the country’s top regions, especially in drawing tourists. But because of differences among leaders in the different parts of the region, the potential of the region remain unfulfilled.

He said that these political bickerings among leaders have placed him on past occasions in an awkward situation as he does not know whom to approach.

“But now, we are working as a team,” Sarmiento said.

But he could not hide his envy with the leaders in Central and even in Western Visayas who are all working together for the development of their respective region.

“We should act like Bohol, for instance, whose leaders are working together with a single master plan,” Sarmiento said.

“Actually, I don’t really mind if our leaders in the region would work for the development for their respective areas. But if it concerns with the region, I personally think that all of us must work together,” he said.

Sarmiento mentioned that he is personally making some efforts on the rehabilitation of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport based on this city, saying that if the region’s premier airport would be rehabilitated, it could mean more flights using bigger commercial planes.

“Let’s face it, Tacloban is the gateway of the region. That is why, I am personally making some follow up on the rehabilitation work of its airport,” the RDC chairman said.

It was learned from him that more than P600 million has been initially earmarked by the national government through the Department of Transportations and Communications for the purpose of DZR rehabilitation. (By JOEY A. GABIETA)

Friday, August 1, 2008

A consul comes to town

The Philippine Consul to Milan, Calbayog's very own Peter Chan was in Calbayog.

Before he left for Manila, Mayor Mel Sarmiento treated him to lunch. They discussed a good number things which reflected their common desire to help Calbayog. I'll be giving out other details of that meeting in the days to come.

In the meantime, I am pleased to inform everyone that Mr. Chan gave his commitment to be of assistance to any Calbayognon who have problems overseas (yup, read that as any part of the globe). And this blog is more than happy to be part of service that the good consul will be providing.

Mayor Mel Sarmiento with Consul Peter Chan and Cathy Rodriguez