Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Ilocos Times Oct. 28-Nov 3, 2013

‘Naimas nga agserbi’

Near midnight of October 28, my Uncle Gerry in Hawaii posted a lengthy note at the Labayog Clan Facebook page. There was good news for the clan. (For the curious, yes, Labayog is the La in La Yumul.) My brother was elected as chairman of Barangay 7-A, Laoag City where his family has lived for around 25 years. I reside in nearby Barangay 5. The following is Uncle Gerry’s post quoted verbatim.

“Wow! Again, the Labayog Clan made history. Herry Labayog Yumul is elected as kapitan.

“If you are a Laoagueño, West Riverside is like a municipality within a city. It covers Barangays 1 to 10. Barangay 7-A is like its capital, being the center of the densely populated West Riverside.

“Herry, who has the heart of a leader, deserves the position. When I attended his graduation in Baguio City, I already saw in him the makings of a leader. When his name was called, there was a thunderous applause and standing ovation. He even captured the heart of the most beautiful co-civil engineering graduate and now his wife Gina. Sabi nga nila, may inalat si Herry.

“He practiced briefly in construction supervision. But his salary was not enough to raise a family. With three children to feed and send to school, his salary was not enough so he ventured in business. As a market vendor, the hundreds of vendors in Ilocos Norte were amazed of his character and personality and elected him as president of the Ilocos Norte Ambulant Vendors Association. He had represented them in dialogue with government officials for a system beneficial to both sides. He is currently president of the Laoag City Night Market Vendors Association.

“In 2010, he ran as a barangay official, and was overwhelmingly elected. In this election, the outgoing barangay captain made Herry his personal choice to lead 7-A. Even high-ranking provincial and city officials gave him their blessings.

“In his campaign sorties, members of the Labayog clan extended their all-out support. They were with him everywhere, rain or shine. The Pink Ladies—composed of Mafae, Mafel, and Girlie (Herry’s nephews)—were even branded as EBB or Eat Bulaga Babes. I call them Herry's Angels.

“I laughed at one of their campaign slogans. ‘Ibotos tayo a Kapitan ni Tito Herry, naimas nga agserbi’ (Iboto natin si Tito Herry, masarap siyang magsilbi.) And they follow it up with, ‘Uray damagenyo ken Tita Gina.’ (Kahit tanungin niyo pa kay Tita Gina.) Dinamagko ken Gina, kasta unay ti katkatawana. (Nung tinanong kay Gina, sobrang tawa niya.)

“His candidacy made the clan stronger. Naging lalo tayong matatag. Lalo tayong naging close. Lalo tayong nagmahalan. Wala kami diyan. Ngunit kasama ninyo kami sa tagumpay. Wala kaming naitulong except our fervent prayers that God will guide Herry's candidacy.

“We continue to pray that God will bless him and that he will do his job with the wisdom of Godliness, honesty, and dedication.

Agbiag ni Herry! God bless us all.”
-Love, Uncle Gerry
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing, said Edmund Burke. Putting this statement in the Philippine political context, we ask: Who is evil? And who are the good men? Truth is, you do not need to be a politician to be evil, and your veering away from politics never guarantees your being a good man.

When my brother Herry broached the idea of him running as a barangay official, I was the first in the family to encourage him to carry on. Initially, his wife and our mother were vehemently against it. Among us five siblings, he is really the born leader. Among us five, I am the born critic. I was optimistic, dear karikna, not only that he will win, but that he will do well. Yet I did not campaign for him in any way, lest I lose credibility as a writer and sociologist.

Now that he has indeed won, the bigger challenge he faces is how to serve his barangay well and fulfill his promises. In the murky world of politics, it is never easy to be upright, but I know he will try really hard. And because I am no Conrado de Quiros, I will never tolerate, much less defend, an erring brother.
On a somber note, your karikna wishes to extend his deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of the late MMSU Professor Basilio Jesus “Jessie” Ranchez who perished in a car accident on his way home to Bacarra on Saturday past midnight, October. 26. His brother Marnel, who drove the car, also passed away due to severe head trauma while a third passenger, Eugene Ramos, also an MMSU professor, survived.

In the middle of the highway along Barangay 7, Bacarra, there was a big trash can (steel drum) which they tried to avoid. Marnel lost control of the car which slammed into a gigantic metal electric post.

That the victims lost cash and other valuables raises the suspicion that what happened was a well-planned modus operandus. A motorcycle rider also crashed that same night after meeting an accident in the area, apparently due to the same cause: obstruction in the highway. He died a day after.

Prof. Ranchez is sorely missed and fondly remembered by us, his grieving friends and students who still wish all these is just a bad dream. He was supposed to travel with me to Hawaii on November 10 to attend the Nakem International Conference. A few hours before the accident, our Hawaii-bound group met to plan our activities, and he gamely sampled us a song he suggested we perform in a socialization program.

I will write a full-length tribute to Sir Jessie, but let me say for now that he is the most cheerful, fun-to-be-with fellow I have known at MMSU. We were together in some travels and adventures. We were also co-advisers at the MMSU CoEd’s dorm where I have seen Sir Jessie’s motherly side.

Happy trip, Sir Jessie. And pray for us.

When the smoke settles down

WITH THE casting and counting of votes over and done with, we now welcome our new—and reelected—sets of barangay officials.

Though allegations of vote-buying and voter terrorizing campaigns have surfaced during the short campaign period for the barangay elections, the October 28 polls turned out relatively calm and peaceful. It is, however, sad to note that even the most basic of political units in this country is no longer immune from tactics used in local and national elections. It does not help that most of the candidates for the barangay elections have been backed by politicians of all stripes and colors as this only pushed erstwhile simple folks to go the way of the very serious politicians.

One thing that remained constant during the length of filing of COCs and campaign was the simple fact that the battle for 2016 began with the barangay elections. And whether or not the newly elected barangay officials would work for the good of their neighbors and villages in general or pay back their political debts to their benefactors remains to be seen.

The only thing certain now—so it seems—is that it would be a very interesting 2016.

Goodbye mayor

HE MAY HAVE been seen by the generation of today as loose cannon, a nuisance candidate whose main purpose during elections is to make us laugh. But before all these, former Laoag City Mayor Cesar A. Ventura was a purpose-driven, results-oriented local chief executive.

It was during his first and only term as mayor in 1992 that he foresaw the potentials of building a road leading to Laoag’s sand dunes at Barangay La Paz. Once built, it was unofficially named after him. And it is this very road today that has given life to the tourism industry not only in the city but also of the province.

Ventura may have been a lot of things, but he was a gentleman of the first order and a public official worth emulating. Unfortunately for him—and for the city—he lost when he ran for reelection in 1995. And as much as this practically ended his political career, his contributions to the city’s progress then and now can—and should—still be felt.

And as we bade farewell to the man, we hope we could all remember him for all he was and not just for what we think he might have become.

Fare thee well, Mr. Mayor.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Sa panahon natin, ang mga tinatawag na “may K” ay mga taong may “karapatan.”

May karapatan sa kanilang mga hangarin. May karapatan sa kanilang mga ambisyon. May karapatan sa kanilang mga propesyon.  At may karapatan sa kanilang mga posisyon.

Kaya’t kung tinawag kang “may K”, isa itong positibong pagtingin sa iyong kakayahan, dignidad at maging sa buo mong pagkatao. Isa kang taong dapat pamarisan ng iyong kapwa at dapat bigyan ng karampatang respeto.

Pero kung ika’y tinawag na “walang K”, isa itong malaking insultong inihampas sa’yong mukha. Itinuturing kang walang karapatan sa mga tangan mong hangarin, ambisyon, katayuan, propesyon at posisyon.

Tila ba ipinagsisigawang wala kang kakwenta-kwentang nilalang na hindi karapat-dapat bigyan ng anumang paggalang.

 ‘Yan ang dalawang klase ng tao sa pananaw ng tao—ang mga “may K” at mga “walang K”

Subalit, kabaligtaran ito sa pananaw ng Ancient Rome, lalo na noong kasikatan ni Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Noon, kung tinawag kang “may K”, isa kang masamang mamamayan. Pero kung ikaw ay tinaguriang “walang K”, isa kang idolo at iginagalang ng karamihan.

Bago tayo malito, kailangang malaman natin ang kaibhan “K” sa ating panahon sa bokabularyo ng mga sinaunang Romano. Sa Ancient Rome, hindi “karapatan” ang isinisimbolo ng letrang “K”. Para sa kanila, ang letrang “K” ay tatak para sa mga nagpapabaya sa kanilang mga tungkulin o “kalumniator.”

Halimbawa, kung ang isang abogado o prosecutor ay naging pabaya sa hinahawakan niyang kaso o di kaya’y mali ang kanyang mga akusasyun, tatawagin siyang false accuser—isang “kalumniator.”

Bukod sa mga parusang ipapataw ng batas, ang isang “kalumniator” ay sasailalim sa forehead branding o ang paglalagay ng tatak sa kanyang noo. Ang ilalagay na tatak sa kanyang noo ay isang malaking letrang “K.”

Ang forehead branding ay lalo pang sumikat noong ipagsigawan ni Cicero sa korte na dapat lagyan ng tatak na “K” ang noo ng prosecutor na nagbitaw ng maling akusasyon na parricide sa kanyang kliyenteng si Sextus Roscius.

Mula noon, ang mga pabaya sa kanilang mga obligasyon at mga sinungaling sa kanilang mga propesyon ay nanganganib malagyan ng tatak na “K” sa kanilang noo.

Sa ating panahon, ano kaya ang maging hitsura ng mga tanggapan ng gobyerno kung malalagyan din ng forehead branding ang mga “kalumniator”? Ano kaya ang hitsura ng mga sangguniang? Ano kaya ang magiging pangunahing tanawin sa kongreso? Sa senado? Pati na rin sa mga korte?

Mamamayani kaya ang letrang “K” sa mga noo ng ating mga opisyal?  

Pero kahit bawal na ang forehead branding sa kasalukuyan, sana huwag nating kalimutang itatak sa ating mga puso’t isipan kung sino ang mga pabaya, abusado at walang kwentang lider sa ating bayan.

BARD NOTES: Special thanks to INWD General Manager John Teodoro, INWD Board of Directors and all empoyees of Ilocos Norte Water District. 
Happy bard-reading to Governor Imee Marcos, Congresswoman Imelda R. Marcos, Mayor Chevylle V. Farinas, Vice Mayor Michael V. Farinas, Mayor Jeffrey Jubal Nalupta, Board Member James Paul “Goro” Nalupta, Mr. Efren Bartolome, Ms. Pia Salapongol, Dr. Chester Puño, Dr. Sme Juancho Estrella and Atty. Yvette Convento- Leynes.

Happy reading also to Provincial Treasurer Josephine Calajate, INEC Director Virgilio Calajate, Ms. Cecil Nalupta and the employees of Philippine National Bank – Laoag Branch, AMA – Laoag Campus,  DepEd – Laoag, Video City – Laoag, Runner’s High Specialty Shop, Land Bank of the Philippines and Ilocos Norte PNP.

Showcase of Ilocano researchers’ pride at Teatro Ilocandia

Dr. Miriam E. Pascua, president of the MMSU leads the opening of the exhibit during the 25th Regional Symposium on R&D Highlights on Oct. 23 held at Teatro Ilocandia. Also in photo: Dr. Stanley Malab, retired ILARRDEC Consortium Director, Dr. Arthur Arganoza of PCARRD, Interim Consortium Director Leonardo Pascua of ILARRDEC, Wilma Ibea of DA, Dr. Prima Fe Franco, Vice President for research, extension and linkages of MMSU, and Dr. Arturo Sadumiano of DA. (Lei Adriano)
By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

Batac City—Over the years, this pinakbet capital of Ilocos Norte continue to produce outstanding farmers known for producing high-value commercial crops like fruits and vegetables including quality and high-yielding varieties of rice, corn, garlic and union among others. All these come with value-added processed food products and other product lines sold here and abroad.  

These were made possible as researchers continue to develop technologies and innovations, helping communities improve their quality of life.

Now on its 25th year, the Regional Symposium on research and development organized by the Ilocos Agriculture, Resources, Research and Development Consortium (ILARRDEC) held at the Mariano Marcos State University’s Teatro Ilocandia on October 23-24 highlights the transfer of technologies to people as a social responsibility.

Dr. Miriam Pascua, president of the MMU said the regional symposium serves as a “fertile ground of sharing bright ideas to address the needs of stakeholders, where researchers hone their skills and an avenue where the best researches in the country are first presented.”

Recognizing the vital role of research in problem solving, Pascua enjoined fellow researchers to continue developing technologies and bring back the benefits due to people who are paying their taxes to fund these researches. 

Attended by researchers, farmers, entrepreneurs and students, at least two science and technology-based farms, 17 researches, 12 undergraduate researches, 28 posters and 16 poster researches were presented for evaluation.

On top of the list of winners were the Science and Technology-based farms on dragon fruit production and organic bamboo production and rejuvenation authored mostly by MMSU researchers.  

Fraudoriski and four lawyers

An alien whom we shall call “Fraudoriski” was petitioned by his mother, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, as a single person, although he was married with two children. The petition was approved and he was admitted to the U.S. He wants to petition his wife and children.

Lawyer # 1
Fraudoriski went to Lawyer # 1 and asked what he should do. “Do nothing,” advised the lawyer.

But I want to be reunited with my wife and children, he insisted. Lawyer # 1 said that if he petitioned his wife, his fraud would be discovered by USCIS because his marriage contract that he would submit to establish marital relationship would show that he was married before he was admitted to the U.S. In the unlikely event that USCIS is sleeping and misses that fact and approves the visa petition, U.S. Embassy is not likely to miss it, since they would be checking the National Statistics Office (NSO) on his civil status, and they would discover that his marriage occurred before he was admitted.

Fraudoriski said that there were fixers in the Philippines who could change the date of the marriage contract to show that he was married after he immigrated. Lawyer # 1 said that those fraudsters may be able to produce such a fake document but the original files remain at the NSO in film, microfiche or other secure form. Besides, have you ever used your genuine marriage contract for any purpose, like applying for a job? If you have, how are you going to correct that? How about your children, their birth certificates probably show that they are legitimate and that you and their mother are married with a specific date of marriage? “The fixers can change that too, so they will appear as illegitimate and that their mother and I are not married,” said Fraudoriski. There is still that problem of the original files remaining at NSO. Besides, your children must have used their genuine birth certificates, like enrolling in school. Can you retrieve those certificates? “I will contact another lawyer and ask for a second opinion,” said Fraudoriski. How much do I owe you? “You owe me nothing,” replied Lawyer # 1.

Lawyer # 2
Fraudoriski contacted Lawyer # 2. Give me $5,000 and we can easily fix your problem, said Lawyer # 2. Have your wife hire a lawyer in the Philippines to file a petition for annulment of your marriage. After your marriage is annulled, you re-marry her. Then petition for her using the new marriage contract as a basis. “That will take long and it costs too much,” said Fraudoriski. “I will seek a third opinion.”

Lawyer # 3
Fraudoriski contacted Lawyer # 3. Give me $10,000 and I will solve your problem, said Lawyer # 3. I will accompany you to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and ask them to place you in deportation proceedings. Then we will ask the Immigration Judge for a fraud waiver. If the IJ grants it, then you can petition for your wife and children. “Can you guarantee that I will not be deported?” asked Fraudoriski. “Give me $1 million and I will guarantee it,” replied Lawyer # 3. “Where will I get $1 million?” asked Fraudoriski. “That is an insulting question, do not ask a lawyer where you will get the money to pay him,” Lawyer # 3 told him.

Back to lawyer # 1
Fraudoriski went back to Lawyer # 1. The lawyer who suggested that you get an annulment does not know the law and does not read cases, Lawyer # 1 told Fraudoriski. It is your civil status at the time of admission that determines whether you are single or married. Annulment in your situation does not wipe out the effect of your first marriage. You are using annulment to cover up fraud. Tell that lawyer to read the case of Matter of Garcia which involved a Filipina who tried to do the same thing but was deported anyway. As for the lawyer who suggested that you have ICE place you in deportation proceedings, you are taking a very big risk. ICE will place you in jail immediately. Whether the judge will grant you a fraud waiver is very uncertain. Are your favorable equities more than your unfavorable ones? Tell that lawyer to read my annotation on fraud waiver that was published by Thomson Reuters. Tell him also to read my books on ineffective assistance of counsel. A lawyer who brought his client to ICE for deportation was accused of being ineffective.

Lawyer # 4
“I am going to seek a fourth opinion. I will contact that lawyer whom I see on TV,” said Fraudoriski. Like the relatives of a terminally ill person, they will never stop asking for another opinion until they find one that agrees with their opinion that the patient will live long.

(Atty. Tipon has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He specializes in immigration law and criminal defense. Office: 800 Bethel St., Suite 402, Honolulu, HI 96813. Tel. (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: Websites: He is from Laoag City and Magsingal, Ilocos Sur. He served as an Immigration Officer. He is co-author of “Immigration Law Service, 1st ed.,” an 8-volume practice guide for immigration officers and lawyers. Listen to the most funny, interesting, and useful radio program in Hawaii on KNDI at 1270 AM dial every Thursday at 7:30 a.m. This article is a general overview of the subject matter discussed and is not intended as legal advice. No warranty is made by the writer or publisher as to its completeness or correctness at the time of publication. No attorney-client relationship is established between the writer and readers relying upon and/or acting pursuant to the contents of this article.)

MMSU launches new website

By Reynaldo E. Andres

Batac CITY—It’s the beautiful façade of the Administration Building fronting the sprawling garden with twin fountains that greets online visitors as they begin to surf the new and improved website of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), the center of excellence in higher learning and scientific research in Region 1.

In a few seconds, the page starts a slide show that presents the programs and projects of the university in instruction, research, extension, and production. These programs, which can be seen in detail in the website, translate the core values of MMSU – excellence, effectiveness, and growth.

These, and among other features, were shown to those who attended the launching of the newly improved website of MMSU held at the University Library on October 18. The new website can be accessed at

MMSU President Miriam E. Pascua said the university is compelled to improve its website so that “we could compete in globalizing our programs for the sake of our students” and to keep pace with the dynamic technology so that we can “sell” the university to the world.

“We should keep attuned in the advancement of information technology if we don’t want to be left behind by other institutions,” the president said, adding that she felt elated by the launching with “the way things are developing in the university.” She assured that the new website is safe from cyber hacking.

On her part, MMSU Vice President Prima Fe R. Franco lauded the concerted efforts by those who worked hard for the improvement of the new website saying that this is another milestone in the history of MMSU.

“Central to our collective effort to go globally and to realize our vision of becoming a world class university is the need to make our web page open to the world, thus, it must be attractive, acceptable, and accessible,” she said.

Franco has reminded the students and the university employees that “we are living in the midst of the information superhighway. Thus, the need to be kept abreast with the changing trends in cutting edge technology can never be emphasized.”

Franco considered the network in the cyberspace as complicated as the network of nerve cells in the human body, because the interconnection is basically anchored to the combination of a determining factor for the processing efficiency of any program.

“As we showcase our institution in the cyber world, it should be everybody’s effort to make our web page dynamic, protected from hacking, operating within the bounds of cyber ethics and free from cyber contaminants,” she stressed.

Led by Prof. Reynold P. Villacillo, director of the university Information Technology Center (ITC), the following university personnel helped in improving the MMSU website: Arlene Gonzales (CAFSD), Lee Carlos Simon (CAS), Joy Garvida (CASAT), Lyle Van Aldrich Ines (CHS), Armie Sabugo (CBEA), Jayvee Mark Villegas (CIT), John Modesto Blanco (CTE), Bobbly Eclarin (COE), Brian Jay Corpuz (COL), Richrad Lee Martin (IUL Batac), Deo Parinas (LHS Laoag), General Valdez (LES Laoag), and Sharon Laeda (CMR). 

RCF withdraws poll protest vs CVF

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

FORMER Laoag City Mayor Roger C. Fariñas has withdrawn his election protest against incumbent Laoag Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas.

On October 9, 2013, Atty. Arthur Villaluz, Fariñas’ legal counsel filed a Manifestation and Motion informing the Honorable Commission that the protestant has decided not to pursue his protest anymore and withdraws the protest against Chevylle V. Fariñas.

The motion stated that “He [Fariñas] believes he has realized his purpose of uncovering the fraudulent manipulations that were perpetrated during the May 13, election for the office of the mayor of Laoag City to frustrate the will of the voters and ensure the victory of the protestee”.    

It added: “The protestant is grateful for the opportunity accorded him by this Honorable Commission to lawfully ascertain the truth”.

Reacting to this, Ms. Fariñas said she considers this as good news for the people of Laoag, especially those who supported her in the May 2013 elections. She added that she respected and followed the process laid down by the Commission on Elections about the case.

“Now that it has been withdrawn, I know a saan lang a siyak iti maragsakan no di nang-nagruna dagidi tattao nga isuda iti puon ken gapu na nga adda kami nga agser-serbi ita”, Ms Fariñas said.

Earlier, Laoag City election officer John Paul Martin announced that 22 contested ballot boxes were delivered to the Comelec warehouse in Manila on August 15. This was one of the requirements on the election protest case filed by the former mayor against the elected mayor.

Martin personally accompanied the contested ballot boxes from Laoag to Manila and all the ballot boxes were surrendered to the proper Comelec officials there.

As of press time, however Martin said his office has yet to receive any order from the Comelec Second Division advising them that the protest has been withdrawn. He said though that he has already learned about the withdrawal.

SN is PH’s most business-friendly LGU anew

MOST BIZ-FRIENDLY LGU AGAIN. San Nicolas Mayor Melanie Grace Valdez and Vice Mayor Alfredo P. Valdez Jr. receive a plaque and certification from PCCI officials for being the Most Business Friendly-LGU municipal level at the Manila Hotel on October 24, 2013. This is the second most business-friendly award for the first class municipality. (Doms dela Cruz)
By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

MANILA—Proving that its earlier recognition as the most business friendly municipality in the country was no fluke, the San Nicolas municipal government again stamped its class as it was again adjudged as the most business friendly local government unit for 2013.

The award was given to San Nicolas official during the 39th Philippine Business Conference and Expo held October 24, 2013 at the Manila Hotel. The award is the second for the local government unit under the Municipal Category Level I.

San Nicolas Mayor Melanie Grace Valdez and Vice Mayor Alfredo P. Valdez Jr. personally received the plaque and a certification for the free construction of a school building.

The mayor thanked all the people behind the award for their trust and confidence and for investors who continue to pour investment to the municipality.

She also emphasized that this award is still an accomplishment of the past administration of the former mayor, now the vice mayor.

She explained that San Nicolas’ main investment thrust has been to streamline procedures in opening a business in line with the Anti-Red Tape Act. She added that her programs for employment has been boosted with the arrival of various investors putting up their business in the municipality.

The Most Business Friendly Local Government Unit (LGU) Awards is the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (PCCI) initiative to complement the efforts of the government to streamline procedures in compliance with the Anti-Red Tape Act or RA 9485.

The award also seeks to recognize and promote models of governance of municipalities, cities and provinces that have demonstrated outstanding efforts in instituting good governance reforms to promote trade and investment; ensure accountability; transparency and efficiency; and further competitiveness of LGU’s.

The LGU Award adopts the slogan “ What’s Good for the Citizenry is Good for Business” where this represents a framework for achieving continuous improvement of LGU services to their areas benefiting both the business community and citizenry.

The municipality of San Nicolas won over the municipality of Roxas in Isabela under the municipality category Level I while the municipality of Guimbal in Iloilo beat San Felipe in Zambales under the Level II category.

Mandaluyong City won against the cities of Iloilo and Olongapo under the City Category Level I; the city of Puerto Princesa got the better of Calamba and Cabanatuan under the Level II Category; and the cities of Laoag and Calapan toed for the top position over Masbate and Dipolog under Level III city category.

The Province of Tarlac took top honors followed Isabela, Camarines Sur, Bulacan and La Union under the Province Category.

The awarding ceremony also included the testimonial for the 38th PBC chairman Mr. Antonio Lopa; Media Scholarship Award; Alfredo M. Yao Intellectual Property Awards; Excellence in Ecology and Economy Awards and the Most Outstanding Chamber Award           

Records show that this national award for San Nicolas is already its fourth national award in just three months this year.

Earlier, San Nicolas was recognized in the 15th National Sandugo for Outstanding Local Government Executives (LGEs) of former Mayor and now Vice Mayor Alfredo P. Valdez Jr. at the Heritage Hotel, Pasay City on September 25, 2013; San Nicolas was also adjudged as one of the 2013 National Kabalikat Awardee municipal level by TESDA; and Mr. Emerson B. Tabios of Barangay 22, San Guillermo in this municipality was also adjudged as the Regional and National Outstanding Young Farmer during the Gawad Saka Search for Outstanding Agricultural Achievers for the year 2012-2013.

PCCI to discuss People’s Initiative issue in annual meeting

THE PHILIPPINE Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, said that its network of member-chambers nationwide will join consultations to support or not a proposed law through People's Initiative to abolish the pork barrel system.

“The signal for the PCCI chambers to mobilize is when the Supreme Court declares that the power of Congress to create pork barrel fund is constitutional,” said PCCI president Miguel B. Varela in a statement. “Our chambers will then convene voters to discuss whether or not they will sign a People’s initiative to abolish the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund or the Development Assistance Fund or any other discretionary funds.”

“The nationwide chapters of PCCI, as members of development councils, are among the leading influencers in their communities,” said Varela. “Businessmen, as the largest taxpayers, have a right to express their opinion on how their taxes are spent.”

The People’s Initiative, to succeed, needs the signature of at least ten per cent of the registered voters and three per cent of voters in every congressional district.

Varela welcomed pronouncements by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that the Supreme Court had “decided to come together and deliberate on this with all possible speed”.     

Senior Justice Antonio Carpio also said that the Court will decide by November before Congress finalizes the 2014 General Appropriations Act.

The PCCI president said that mobilization for the education campaign phase of the People’s Initiative has been included in the agenda of the annual Philippine Business Conference of member-chapters from October 22 to 24, 2013, at the Manila Hotel.

A resolution will be proposed and adopted during the conference, and will be submitted to President Aquino.

The People’s Initiative was proposed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno as a specific actionable measure for those opposing the pork barrel system. A People’s Initiative is allowed under the Constitution.  The Commission on Elections will verify compliance with requirements for support signatures. The minimum required total number is close to 5.08 million, or ten per cent of total voting population.


“Allah means God—unless you’re a Christian in Malaysia,” read Time magazine’s headline. Or Sikh, Hindu or atheist for that matter. A new Kuala Lumpur court decision stipulates only Muslims can invoke the name of “Allah”. And that triggered concern beyond Association of Southeast Asian Nation countries.

Four years back, KL courts ruled that the term “Allah” transcended different faiths. Why then the flip-flop? “Islam (is) vulnerable e to conversion efforts by other faiths,” the decision asserts.  Anyway, Allah was "not an integral Christianity".

No? Herald editor, Fr. Lawrence Andrew, said he’ll appeal. Non-Muslim Malaysians reacted with anger. “Appalling,” snapped Jagir Singh who heads the Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism. “Bahasa Malaysia–speaking Christians used “Allah” even before formation of Malaysia,” recalled Rev. Eu Hong Seng,

Sabah and Sarawak churches, where Christians are a majority, protested. As they have done for years, they’d invoke “Allah” in worship and in the “Al-Kitab”—the Bahasa Malaysian version of the bible. Malaysia’s Parliament, in 2011, allowed circulation of “Al-Kitab’. Today’s ruling fractured the “10-point solution” by KL.

This rekindled 2007’s uproar when government claimed a franchise on “Allah". It confiscated 15,100 bibles, printed in Indonesia, which used the word “Allah”. After the High Court shredded that ban, in December 2009, non-Muslim places of worship, including Sikh temples, were ransacked.

“Islam is the religion of the federation but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony,” says the Malaysian Constitution. Malaysia signed up to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 undergirds “freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”

Those principles apply to ethnic Malays who form two-thirds of Malaysia’s 28 million people. Chinese and Indians number 22 percent and 7 percent respectively. About 9 percent of Malaysians are Christian.  

See the issue in the context of next door Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.  

Muslims here form 5 percent of population. Catholics constitute 83 percent, Iglesia Ni Cristo 2.3 percent. No one dictates how anyone addresses a “God Of A Hundred Names” as Barbara Greene and Victor Gollancz title their book on prayers of various faiths. Banning titles of divinity would constitute prior restraint. And that’d fracture the Philippine constitution’s shield for liberty of expression.

Religious intolerance can trigger strife, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cautioned. “Public debate cannot be on whose religion is right and whose is wrong,” but on   rational considerations of public interest…"

Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population (205 million). They account for 13 percent of the world’s Muslims. But “no one who believes in the power of one supreme God can claim exclusivity,” warned Endy M. Bayuni, Jakarta Post senior editor, a founding member of the International Association of Religion Journalists “There is no such thing as the God for Catholics, or Allah for Muslims....

“Indonesia and Malaysia may rightfully claim to have developed a more moderate strand of Islam.  But there is only a thin line dividing tolerance and intolerance, so we should not take this moderation for granted...”

The claim to a monopoly on "Allah" is absurd, wrote opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim in Wall Street Journal. “Arabic's sister Semitic languages” used similar words for the Deity, namely ‘Elaha’ in Aramaic and ‘Elohim’ in Hebrew. “Historical manuscripts prove that Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians and Jews collectively prayed to God... as Allah for over 1,400 years.” 

“Go into any church in the Middle East and you will hear the chant: "Quddusan Allah, Quddusan al-Qawi" ("Holy God, Holy and Strong..."), the Economist notes. They’ve been doing so for centuries.

Kuala Lumpur’s ruling party and United National Malays Organization welcomed the court straitjacket. “This is to appease extremist supporters after hard-pressed Prime Minister Najib Razak scraped thru with a thin majority,” wrote Parliamentarian Mujahid Yusof Rawa. The  parties play the “radical and religious car” to woo votes. “Malaysia is not prepared for  mature interfaith relationships.”

Ethnicity has been a key facet of Malaysian politics since colonial times. But this intensified after 1971 bloody race riots. Affirmative action was then cobbled for the bumiputra, or “sons of the soil” as Malay and smaller indigenous minorities call themselves.

“Move to another country,” snapped spokesperson Abdullah Zaik Rahman. Those who disagreed with the Court means “they no longer accept the supremacy of Islam.”

No, former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim told the Malay Mail.  “We should instead   get (these hardliners) to move over to Saudi Arabia. There, sovereignty of Islam is not to be questioned....  We have become a nation we were not”.

Indeed, the “beginning of wisdom is to call all things by their right names,” a Chinese proverb teaches. The world’s major faiths share a deep reverence for Divinity’s name. Muslims have 95 other names for Allah. Jews would not address God directly. And many where scandalized when Jesus taught his disciples: “Say Our Father…’Abba’”. Tatay. Dad. Ama.

Names have a function. Adam, Genesis tells us, named all creatures. And on the night before He died, Christ prayed for others: “Protect them with the Name you gave to me.”

Samtoy Books brings first Origami fest in Ilocos Norte

By Grazielle Mae A. Sales

Cartoon characters, miniature animals and 3D skeletal dinosaurs are among the attractions in the first ever major event in Ilocos Norte dedicated to highlight the ancient Japanese art of paper folding.

The Origami Festival, hosted by the Ilocano bookstore, Samtoy Books, and which ran from October 17 to 19 here in Laoag City tapped artists all the way from the Manila-based Origami Pilipinas and is now set to showcase both the traditional and functional form of paper art.

The workshops at La Tabacalera Lifestyle Center ranged from beginning models for the origami novice, to advanced models that aim to enhance the skills of even experienced ‘folders’. Featured is a variety of different folds for people of all experience levels including animals, geometric forms and moveable origami.

Several origami installations which show the innovation of the art are as well exhibited at the Ilocos Norte Capitol auditorium.

Origami Pilipinas was founded and now managed by Isabela-born Leo R. Natividad in 2012. Consisting of ‘folders’ from all over the country, the group has already showcased their artworks through international exhibits and in a television show which pertain to contemporary origami’s potential in livelihood.

Aside from conducting workshop and exhibits, the group also does an outreach program, specifically a learning activity for the out-of-school youth through origami.

A former SPED teacher, Natividad said that his interest for origami started when he found its importance in art therapy and learning.

“Origami has numerous potentials. First, health wise, it is therapeutic. At the same time, it is a perfect instructional material for teachers. And of course, business wise, they are internationally eyeing for this [origami] especially in Europe,” Natividad said. 

The group’s first ever provincial tour, Natividad said that they are leading the said festival to raise “awareness” and convey to Filipinos that there is more to origami than paper folding.

The opening ceremony was attended by representatives from the Department of Education Division of Laoag with superintendent Aracelli Pastor as the guest speaker.

A total of 705 tickets were distributed with the aid of the participating schools and universities which took interest on the exhibit while 34 workshop slots were availed.

Samtoy Books, a cozy bookstore where you can get Ilocano classics is being supported by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte. With its name derived from the Iluko word “samtoy”, a contraction of “sao mi ditoy” (our language here), it provides an avenue to strengthen Ilocano culture, arts and literature.

Offering a wide range of books, including Filipiniana, scholarly, literature, children’s books, materials from the University of the Philippines Press, it also has a section dedicated to the Marcos family from the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center. Store hours are from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos lauded the said event since it is in line with her advocacy towards innovation and further development through arts.

Ilocanos want revival of IN, Hawaii sisterhood ties

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

ILOCANOS living in Ilocos Norte and the Aloha state of Hawaii are eyeing the revival of sisterhood ties between the two to further boost cooperation, this time, in the field of agriculture and education among others.

In 2002, the administration of then Ilocos Norte Governor now Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and former Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle forged a sisterhood agreement  between Ilocos Norte and Hawaii resulting in better health care exchanges, making Filipino nurses most preferred in Hawaii.

To keep up with the 2.7 percent unemployment rate, Hawaii kept on hiring health care professionals as about 40,000 new jobs were created under Lingle’s administration.  

Through the Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City and the University of Hawaii, serving as focal points, both committed in the exchange of learning scheme between and among qualified faculty and students in Ilocos Norte and Hawaii.

This way, the nursing faculty and students will be able to improve their teaching-learning methodologies to easily pass the standard nursing board examinations and facilitate their access to the Hawaiian island and augment the state’s shortage of nurses.

Now with a new set of leaders, the Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed a resolution on October 21 requesting Hawaii State Representative Rida Cabanilla and State Senator Brickwood Galutera to cause for the revival of the sister state-province relationship between Ilocos Norte and Hawaii and to encourage Hawaiian-Ilocanos from Ilocos province to rediscover their roots as part of the bicentennial celebration of Ilocos Norte in 2018.

According to board member Da Vinci Crisostomo, draft provincial resolution no. 2013-09-007 aims to request for the reinstatement of the sisterhood ties and bring back an active calendar of activities for the exchange of better practices particularly to promote sustainable agriculture and education excellence including environment, tourism and cultural exchanges.

Just last week, Ilocos Norte Vice Governor Eugenio Angelo M. Barba visited Hawaii and met with Ilocano associations there to renew ties and promote better cooperation in helping Ilocanos back home.

Aside from that, the provincial government is also giving special incentive packages for balikbayans should they wish to invest in the province.

Univ of Hawaii's May Kealoha speaking before MMSU nursing studes

Monday, October 28, 2013

Senators formally give up 2013 PDAF; pass resolution urging PNoy to augment calamity fund

In an effort to help victims of calamity-stricken areas, the Senate has decided to abandon the remaining Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allotted to senators for 2013.

On October 22, the Senate passed a resolution which urges the President to use the savings which will be created by the senators’ abandonment of their PDAF allocation to augment the calamity fund in order for the government to respond effectively to the needs of the victims of various calamities that hit the country recently.

“We adopted Senate Resolution No. 14 wherein the senators have waived and abandoned their PDAF for 2013. With that abandonment of their PDAF entitlement, it has created savings which the President may use as calamity fund for areas affected by the typhoons ‘Labuyo’ and ‘Santi,’ by the earthquake in Visayas, and the man-made disaster in Zamboanga,” stressed Drilon, primary author of said resolution.

“We urged the President to use these savings to support ongoing recovery activities for victims of these disasters,” he added.

“We have to respond and assist the government in disaster relief, speedy post-disaster recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of provinces affected by these recent calamities that hit our country,” said Drilon.   

“These disasters have brought pain and suffering to our people, disrupted the functioning communities, caused mass casualties, damaged cultural heritage, and caused widespread human, material, economic and environmental losses,” the Senate Chief added.

Drilon said the realignment of the PDAF is authorized under the Constitution, specifically Section 25 (5) of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution.

The President may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the General Appropriations Act from savings in any other items in the executive department, he noted.

He likewise cited Section 52 of the 2013 GAA authorizing the President to use savings to augment actual deficiencies incurred for the current year in any item of his appropriation.

The Office of the President declared that only P1.37 billion of the P7.5 billion calamity fund remains, it added.

According the Department of Budget and Management website, the unreleased PDAF for senators for 2013 amounts to P3.18 billion.