Thursday, August 30, 2018

Batac turns public schools to evacuation centers for disasters

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff reporter

Batac City—All public elementary and secondary schools in this city are now also evacuation centers for calamities and disasters.

This was the result of a recent Sangguniang Panlungsod resolution that authorized Batac Mayor Albert D. Chua to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the local Dept. of Education office here. Division supt. Joann A. Corpuz will represent DepEd in the MOA.

Batac councilor Jeremiah C. Nalupta sponsored the resolution is in line with the thrust of the national and local leaderships to mitigate the impact of such foreseen and unforeseen disasters and calamities.

Mr. Nalupta said this is for the city’s preparedness and resilience to minimize, if not eradicate, undue losses such as lives and properties.

The vice chairman of the committee on education therefore, said that the city government should have initiatives and protocols to establish a permanent standby or areas which can become evacuation centers.

He noted that all the public schools in this city are ideal places as evacuation centers in view of their strategic locations, sprawling compounds and immediate availability of basic provisions for lodging, sanitation and basic utilities.

To attain this, the city council approved a resolution for formality by way of MOA between the city government and the city DepEd.

Relative to this, Mr. Chua expressed his agreement with helping the people of Batac specially those located on the low-lying areas’ needs for evacuation.

Mr. Chua said the city government will coordinate with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) for the proper identification of schools that are suitable sites as evacuation centers.

The city government will also coordinate with the concerned agencies and authorities like the police, firefighters, barangay tanods, and barangay officials to ensure the safety, orderliness and security of school facilities, pupils, students, teachers as well as the evacuees.

Ms. Corpuz, for her part, also welcomes the resolution and promised to continuously monitor the physical facilities and equipment of the schools targeted and identified as evacuation centers are in order whole year round.

Laoag City dad proposes renaming hospital after late vice mayor

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff reporter

Laoag City—A city councilor proposed the renaming of the Laoag City General Hospital (LCGH) into the Michael V. Fariñas Memorial Hospital (MVFMH).

The council tackled the proposed resolution, sponsored by Laoag councilor Edison Siazon on first reading. The council later referred it to the committees on health and laws.

Laoag vice mayor and council presiding officer Franklin Dante A. Respicio requested that they should also refer the proposal to the National Historical Institute of the Philippines to know the requirements needed for its renaming.

Mr. Siazon, who chairs the committee on health, welcomed the suggestion saying he will secure all the needed requirements, if there are any.

Relative to this, Mr. Siazon said that the measure would be in recognition and a memorial to the late Laoag mayor and vice mayor for the “big transformation” he made for the LCGH.

Mr. Fariñas perished in a car crash last June.

Under the revised guidelines on the naming and renaming of streets, public schools, places, buildings, bridges and other public structures, it states that the Philippine president can name or rename all public places through a proclamation or by Congress through legislation.

Laoag City Ordinance No. 48 created the LCGH during the administration of the late Laoag Mayor Eulalio F. Siazon in 1969.

The LCGH started with a 15-bed capacity hospital in 1975, with the Department of Health (DOH) establishing it. The Philippine Hospital Association classified it as a “general and primary hospital” in 1984.

On November 2008, the Laoag City government during the term of the late Laoag Mayor Michael V. Fariñas declared LCGH as an “economic enterprise”.

Since then, LCGH became a self-sustaining and income-generating enterprise of the city government, similar to the Laoag City Public Market.

PhilRice museum, a repository of rice culture in PH

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—The mecca of rice in Ilocos Norte has been attracting farmers and students as well.

Ask a 10-year-old Gian Abad, a Grade V pupil of Shamrock Elementary School in Laoag City what are the tools to harvest rice and he may stare at you with a blank look on his face.

As a city boy, he regularly consumes rice at least three times a day but he may not have been to the rice fields or witnessed what is was like to be planting or harvesting rice under the scorching heat of the sun. 

With the continuing farm modernization, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Batac City established a rice museum where young learners can go to appreciate the culture of this staple food for Filipinos.

The rice museum located at the lower ground floor of PhilRice building is the first of its kind rice museum in the province that houses rice-based farming systems, involving pieces of material culture, from the past and present and highlights the culture of rice farmers all over country.

It also features different information and technologies in rice production with audio visual presentation.

Specifically, the centerpiece of the museum is the Ifugao rice culture which is described as the best representation of rice culture in the country with its backdrop of the rice terraces and farm tools and equipment, like the batawel (for carrying the harvest), galud (for digging), panuptop (taking down soil from the terraces), hukikud (dibbles), ganulang (for harvesting), luhung and lalu (mortar and pestle), and heirloom rice harvests, among others.

The museum also has sections for lowland farming that shows plow and harrow, singkaw (yoke), and tsako among others; modern farming, biodiversity that depicts the diverse life forms in the rice fields, anatomy of rice kernel, rice ecosystem, rice art, rice food, rice life, rice environment, and rice technologies, among others.

According to Dr. Reynaldo C. Castro, chief science research specialist of PhilRice-Batac, he said hundreds of farmers and students had visited the museum for learning.

“The rice museum aims to show the importance of rice to Filipinos. The collected artifacts and farm implements present the evolution of rice technology over the last 2,000 years,” Castro said.

Open from Mondays to Fridays, Mr. Castro said the rice museum is open to all interested groups and individuals to promote a deeper appreciation of what agriculture means as the backbone of the economy.

In a study, Filipino farmers are aging and the average age in Ilocos Norte is aged 58.

It is in this premise that local government units, research agencies and other support groups are enticing the young to engage themselves in all aspects of agriculture to produce a new wave of farmers to sustain growth and development.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tobacco company eyes partnership with Ilocos Norte farmers

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—Amidst the implementation of the sin tax law, a multi-national tobacco company is ready to expand to a bigger market and partner with Ilocos Norte farmers to plant tobacco.

Edwin Cariño, head of the Sustainable Development Center under the provincial government confirmed this as he reported the management of the Universal Leaf Philippines Inc. (ULPI) is set to visit Ilocos Norte to discuss the possible partnership agreement with Ilocos Norte Gov. Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos.

“We are expecting the top executives of ULPI represented by its president Winston Wi or the vice president Erwin Ang to meet with our governor in the upcoming week,” said Mr. Cariño.

According to Mr. Cariño, ULPI is interested to enter into a contract growing scheme with tobacco farmers here.

Under the contract growing scheme, he explained ULPI will assure tobacco farmers that they have a ready market for their products. They will also provide both technical and financial assistance to them.

In 2012, the government enacted Republic Act No. 10351, more commonly known as the sin tax law, which aims to curb the incidence of smoking in the country, by making cigarettes more expensive through higher taxes on cigarette manufacturers. 

It means simplified cigarette taxes by imposing a single PHP30 tax for every pack of cigarettes, regardless of brand.

The single tax rate took effect in January 2016 with a four percent increase annually.

Earlier, the National Tobacco Administration has conducted a series of consultations and dialogues to formulate a roadmap for the tobacco industry.

The roadmap shall serve as a basis of NTA in effecting policies and implementing programs for the benefit of the 65,000 registered tobacco farmers in the country and those that depend on the industry for livelihood.

PNP conducts surprise earthquake drill in Pinili school

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Pinili, Ilocos Norte—The Philippine National Police conducted a surprise earthquake drill at the Badio Elementary School in this Pinili town on the morning of July 19, 2018 to assess the knowledge and preparation skills of learners here in the event of calamity.

At 9:45 in the morning, the school bell rang, which surprised the students. A grade 3 pupil, Hannah Luzcille Pagdilao and her classmates immediately ducked and covered their head with a book and moved out of the classroom since an “earthquake” has disturbed their on-going classroom activity.

While they were at the open ground, the eight-year-old Ms. Pagdilao who became the team leader, started to count her classmates to check if there anyone trapped inside the classroom.

In a corner, SPO1 Noel Abad along with PO Claire Ramiscal, Princess Aguinaldo, Sammy Sangbaan, Neil John Kieran Leano and Richard Rafanan of the Police Community Relations Office of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Mobile Force Company observed the reactions and alertness of the kids.

After the drill, Mr. Abad lauded the school children for their serious cooperation in the undertaking.

“Job well done, children!” Mr. Abad exclaimed with a warm applause as he also acknowledged the teachers and their school principal for teaching the students well.

“The hold, duck and cover [exercises are] not already new to our pupils,” said Aileen Rambaud, principal of the Pinili school as they regularly participate in the conduct of nationwide earthquake drill.

Nonetheless, the police reiterated to the young learners the do’s and don’ts when an earthquake happens. They also shared some tips to the children which they may share with family and friends at home.

Mr. Abad reminded the children not to panic instead just hold, duck and find hard objects to cover the head to avoid falling objects from causing accidents or wounds.

On August 16, the province of Ilocos Norte will host a nationwide earthquake drill where they encourage all concerned stakeholders to participate.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Distribution of housing materials for typhoon ‘Lawin’ victims

Better late than never. Laoag Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas and Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Ria Fariñas lead the distribution of housing materials of typhoon Lawin (international name: Haima) victims in 2016. Those with totally and partially damaged houses totaling 120 received eight galvanized iron, one kilo nails and roof sealants each. The funding came from the National Housing Authority thru Rep. Rudy C. Fariñas (Ilocos Norte, 1st district). The city government also gave financial assistance in the amounts of PHP5,000 and PHP3,000 to those who suffered totally and partially damaged houses right after the typhoon, respectively, and aside from the relief goods. (Doms dela Cruz)

Ilocos Norte gov’t brings local SMEs to Cagayan; sustain QC presence

Laoag City—The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN), through its Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEi Office brought local products to an open trade fair in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan on June 24 to July 1, 2018 in response to a vegetable shortage in the said province.

The trade fair was part of the Aggao Nac Cagayan Festival and allowed the showcase and promotion of products coming from nearby provinces. In addition to answering Cagayan’s vegetable shortage, it was an opportunity for Ilocos Norte enterprises to increase profit.

According to Edison Natividad, administrative officer IV at the SME office “[T]he purpose of this project is to eradicate the middleman, to directly sell the product of our SMEs to consumers; so ibig sabihin, maalis yung middleman sa proseso kasi kung mayroong middleman, liliit yung profit o kita ng mga farmer o producer natin.”

Agricultural produce, processed foods, and native accessories were among the Ilocano products marketed at the fair.

Janet Uganiza, also of the SME office, shared that, “With the help of the provincial government, we’re able to send local products with PGIN providing marketing assistance and others needs in order to help our SMEs and promote local products and businesses.”

With their successful participation in the Cagayan festival, the SME Office is looking forward to extending their ongoing project P2C or “Producer to Consumer” arrangement with the Quezon City government and establish the same in Tuguegarao City.

Ilocos Norte has been participating in regular P2C Bazaars in Quezon City, Metro Manila since 2017, with the city and provincial governments signing a memorandum of agreement to continue the arrangement until 2019.

Mr. Natividad emphasized that such programs and partnerships initiated by Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos are a great help not only to SMEs’ profit, but also for the development of business linkages. (Jesus Antonio P. Tacorda)

Pagudpud’s tourism transformer passes away

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—Retired Philippine Air Force Col. Ricardo Nolasco Jr., owner of Hannah’s Beach Resort and Convention Center in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte passed away on Wednesday evening, July 11, 2018. He was 67.

“He did not survive an open-heart surgery,” said Ronald Dominguez, spokesperson of the largest resort at Brgy. Balaoi in Pagudpud.

Known as the architect behind the transformation of Pagudpud town as a premiere destination of the north, Mr. Nolasco put up Hannah’s Beach Resort in what was originally meant as a family vacation resort.

The rest is history when it expanded into more than 300-room executive villas and cabanas, with on-going infrastructure developments and set up various amenities.

As a result, hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists visit here daily.

The resort is on a cliff by the beach, which provides a spectacular view of the sparkling blue lagoon.

“Yesterday will go down my lifeline as one of its darkest moments because I lost my big boss who later on became my brother, mentor, friend and idol but the thought that heaven gained an angel somehow consoles me,” said Mr. Dominguez in a social media post on July 12, 2018.

“Thank you for supporting me colonel and seeing me as the queen I could be, before I could even see it myself,” said Miss Universe Philippines 2018 Catriona Elisa Gray. The Filipino-Australian beauty queen became Miss Hannah’s in 2016.

Mr. Nolasco’s Josefa Llanas Nolasco and non-biological daughter Hannah, who he named the resort after, are his only living relatives.

The Pagudpud resort received accreditation thru an Environmental Award from the United Nations (UN) organization several times. The only beach resort in the Philippines which has accreditation from UN.

Also, Hannah's Resort received several recognitions: tagged as the Most Outstanding Individual Initiative on Environmental Management on June 2013, Gawad Amerika 2014-2017, London Organization of FIL-AM International as one of the best hotels in the Archipelago and Certified Member of the UNESCO Eco Tourism Spots in the world.

Hannah's beach resort is known for its clean environment with white fine sand and clear bodies of water--obviously loved by the travelers, visitors and adventure seekers coming from other parts of the country and of the world. (With a report from Bernard Ver)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ilocos Norte board mulls tax holiday for new investors; MSME fusion

Laoag CityThe Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan is considering a tax holiday on real property tax for companies or businesses looking to invest in the province, Senior SP member Matthew Joseph M. Manotoc said.

He shared that the SP is reviewing the provincial investment code, particularly the possibility of a tax holiday.

“Just to incentivize yung mga big business to come in and set up shop sa atin—so long as we know that hindi nila [maapektuhan] ang local industries, or yung smaller businesses. Ayaw nating i-take yung market nila,” he said of agriculture, small manufacturers, and handicrafts. “With these big businesses, we want them to come in, pero we want yung tamang negosyohindi kahit sino lang.”

They would lean towards companies bringing to Ilocos Norte a high number of quality local jobs.

In addition, the provincial board intends to further integrate micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSMEs) into the investment code.

Mr. Manotoc mentioned a law on a percentage of bank loans going to MSMEs, “So, gusto ko lang mag-inquire kung ini-implement ba ‘yan? Pina-practice ba ng mga bangko natin? I’d like to check whether our lending institutions here in Ilocos are observing that.”

As chair of the board’s committee on trade, commerce, and industry, he acknowledges that startup capital is among the biggest hurdles of small business owners.

He is hopeful that with more facilitation for MSMEs’ financing, plenty doors of opportunity will be opened.

Kailangan ding may support ng private sector, kasi siyempre, limited din yung budget natin sa gobyerno,” Mr. Manotoc added. (Mizpah Grace Castro)

Ilocos Norte gov’t, DepEd partner for more public playgrounds

SP member Matthew Manotoc attends the inauguration of another public playground and turnover of school materials at Filipinas East Elementary School in the Town of San Nicolas. (Alaric Yanos)

Laoag City—The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd)-Ilocos Norte inaugurated six new playground facilities in various elementary schools in the province from July 4-6, 2018.

Beneficiaries were Piddig South Central Elementary School, Carasi Elementary School, San Marcelino Elementary School in Dingras, Paoay Central Elementary School, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial Elementary School in Pinili, and San Mateo Elementary School in Batac City.

Senior Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Matthew Joseph M. Manotoc headed the inauguration of the playground facilities.

“I hope this will be a very important place, not only for the school, but for the community where children can play and families can socialize,” he said.

Since December 2016, Mr. Manotoc has spearheaded the installation of three-generational (3G) playground-cum-fitness-parks in support of Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos' initiative to create public recreational spaces, thus making the province “livable.” 3G parks contain both children's play equipment and outdoor exercise facilities, serving as a playground for young and elderly Ilocanos alike.

“It [playground facility] inspires students to study harder because they already have a space for recreation,” he remarked, adding that though the six new sites are situated within elementary school campuses, they are “open to all, even to non-students.”

The provincial government funded the Playground facilities situated within school grounds under the Special Education Fund (SEF). Following the inauguration was the distribution of school materials to students.
To date, 13 public elementary schools and 14 local government units have been recipients of Mr. Manotoc’s playground initiative.

Manotoc urges 'healthy lifestyle' among local employees
Meanwhile, Mr. Manotoc also reiterated Provincial Ordinance No 034-2018, which gives provincial employees the “right to stand during work,” to emphasize the importance of workplace health and wellness.

Ms. Marcos approved the ordinance, which he sponsored, on April 16, 2018, and is based on the Philippine Constitution’s declaration that the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people.

The ordinance combats the effects of a sedentary lifestyle linked to desk or office work and allows employees to have a standing or walking break of five minutes every two hours, or 10 minutes every four hours, as scheduled by their supervisors to ensure that public service is not impaired.

“Very passionate ako na none of us should be sitting for longer than half an hour to an hour maximum,” said Mr. Manotoc, “So I think that [the ordinance] will help encourage more activity.”

He likened this purpose to that of the public playgrounds, a continuous project since December 2016. So far, they have installed a total of 27 playgrounds throughout 14 towns and cities and 13 public elementary schools in Ilocos Norte.

“I encourage mayors to enhance and add to the playgrounds, so they can be full-fledged parks katulad ng parks natin dito sa Laoag at sa Batac na may mga adult fitness equipment—that is really my hope for these playgrounds.”

The senior board member also noted that the media and workplace authorities, including those in the private sector, should promote a healthy lifestyle, emphasizing not only health and wellness of employees, but also the camaraderie and team-building that could come from engaging in group physical activities.

Aside from putting up public playgrounds, Mr. Manotoc is also behind the offering of athletic scholarships in the province as well as the yearly Ilocos Norte Youth Games to encourage sports involvement among the youth. (Edison Justin B. Deus andMizpah Grace G. Castro)

Piddig, DTI boost market vendors entrepreneur skills

By Bernard Ver

Piddig, Ilocos Norte—The local government unit here, led by Piddig Mayor Georgina Salazar-Guillen, in partnership with the Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI) held an entrepreneur forum with the local market vendors association here.

Agri mentor Vix Madlangbayan served as the resource speaker. He discussed marketing and marketing trends as part of business planning procedures.

Piddig municipal government consultant Engr. Eddie Guillen said that “Capitalists in Piddig indeed need more production techniques, values, practical knowledge and strategies, and consultation services to foster successful and sustainable agri-enterprises.”

The forum aimed to help town folks and share knowledge to Piddig entrepreneurs as part of the town's development strategy on agribusiness industry, an initiative project of the LGU Piddig.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Ilocos Norte board seeks clarification on NGCP’s pass-on costs to consumers

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—Ilocos Norte Officials and residents want clarification on the recovery of more than PHP327 million which the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) plans to pass on to its consumers in Luzon.

Sponsored by the committee of the whole, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed a resolution asking the management of NGCP to make a full disclosure of its request to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for a provisional approval for the collection of the force majeure pass-through costs from its customers in Luzon. The collection, if approved, will take effect on 2018 to 2020, or until NGCP fully recovers the total amount.

Ilocos Norte Vice Governor and SP presiding officer Eugenio Angelo M. Barba said “Electric consumers here need to be enlightened why is there a need for them to shoulder the costs NCGP incurred from the damages caused by typhoon Nina in December 2016”.

When sought for comment, Lilibeth Gaydowen, NGCP corporate communications and public affairs officer explained that under the rules for the setting of transmission wheeling rates, the law allows NGCP to recover the expenses it incurred from typhoon damages as the law considers this as a “force majeure” or an avoidable incident.

Once approved by the ERC, NGCP will collect the total amount of PHP327,520,000 from end-consumers on installment basis.

But before the pass-on charges take effect, officials and consumers expect the ERC to call a public hearing inviting all local government units concerned to participate.

“The NGCP is open [to] a dialogue. During the typhoon Nina, there were minor damages in Ilocos Norte but NGCP incurred damages Luzon-wide. It’s like a spider web, when one is broken, it affects the whole,” said Ms. Gaydowen citing “It all depends on the ERC on what computation to follow.”

She also assured consumers the NGCP has “no right to recover the amount without the approval of the ERC”.

To recover the amount, the grid operator will charge an additional PHP0.83 per kilowatt (kwh) a month in 2018, PHP0.86 per kwh a month in 2019, and PHP0.90 per kwh a month in 2020.

Earlier, the Benguet provincial board filed a resolution blocking the NGCP request to the ERC to allow the collection of more than PHP327 million from Luzon consumers.

NGCP incurred the said amount for the repair of transmission lines previously damaged by the typhoon.

Ilocos Norte local officials undergo ICS training to strengthen executive disaster management

Laoag City—The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), in cooperation with the Department of National Defense (DND) and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), conducted the Incident Command System (ICS) Executive Course on July 10, 2018, at the Provincial Capitol Auditorium.

Local chief executives and department heads of the provincial government attended the one-day training together with representatives from the academe. This was to make the ICS more comprehensive and responsive to different agencies, according to Engr. Pedro S. Agcaoili, officer in charge of the Provincial Resiliency Office.

Talagang napakaganda ng naidulot ng Republic Act 10121 o Philippine Disaster Risk and Management Act dahil napakaaktibo na ng mga agency at local government unit na pinangungunahan ng disaster management ng lugar natin,” Mr. Agcaoili stated.

Topics comprising the training included the key principles of ICS, composition and functions of each officer, and the purpose of ICS facilities.

Police Supt. Ferdinand Z. de Asis of San Carlos City Police Station in Pangasinan, who was one of the resource speakers, also emphasized the importance of the ICS to local government units.

“This is a very simple course, but you have a very important role to play because you are the responsible officials. You will not be the one to respond to an incident. [We designed this] executive course for you as the responsible officials. Ang Incident Command System (ICS) ang gagawin nating gabay upang ang mga utos mula sa mga kinauukulan ay mabigyan ng angkop na pagsasagawa dahil ang bawat isa ay may tungkulin na dapat gampanan,” Mr. De Asis added.

He also noted that Ilocos Norte will host the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill this August 16, 2018, thus stressing the importance of the local executive, chief of police, and Risk Reduction Management Officer during times of disaster.

Sa ganitong paraan, makakabuo na sila ng plano na angkop doon sa komunidad kabilang ang bawat insidente na tutugunan ng planong ito,” he said. (Zhermaine B. Bacud)

Badoc farmers receive tractors, fertilizers from tobacco excise tax

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Badoc, Ilocos Norte—Farmers groups in this town Norte are all smiles as they finally received farm machineries and fertilizers on July 5, 2018 courtesy of the municipal government.

Funded under the tobacco excise tax share of Badoc town, the municipal government distributed at least 31 tractors to all the town’s barangays along with 4,307 sacks of fertilizers.

Agyamankami unay kadagitoy a traktor ken abono. Dakkel a tulong kadakami a mannalon [We are thankful for all these tractors and fertilizers. These are great help for us farmers],” said Luciano Gamayo, of Barangay 13-B, Bato.

During the distribution, municipal agriculturist Leonora Escarda reminded farmers to take good care of the new farm machineries to ensure its long- term use.

As part of the agreement, the farmer organizations and barangay officials shall take charge of maintenance of the tractors while extension workers from the Municipal Agriculture Office will be monitoring them when they go to the barangays.

As stated under Republic Act No. 7171, LGUs producing Virginia tobacco gets a share of 15% of excise tax collection incremental revenue. The law then divides this into 30% among the beneficiary provinces: 40% to the component cities and municipalities of said provinces (provided that all the municipalities and cities of the beneficiary province have equal 50% share and 50% shared according to the volume of tobacco production of tobacco-producing cities and municipalities); and 30% to the component cities and municipalities.

LGUs producing Burley and native tobacco, under RA 8240, also receive a share of 15% of the incremental revenue.

Of this share, 10 percent will go to beneficiary provinces and 90 percent to the component cities and municipalities based on the volume of tobacco production.

Per Department of Budget and Management guidelines, the amounts should be for cooperatives, livelihood, agro-industrial and infrastructure projects aimed at enhancing the productivity and advancing the welfare of tobacco farmers.

The amount shall help improve the capacity of the LGUs to deliver basic services for their constituents.

Solsona acquires rescue vehicle

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Solsona, Ilocos Norte—Residents in the flood-prone areas of this town lauded the town’s local government for upgrading its capacity for disaster preparedness.

This is because a brand new six-wheeler truck with crane is now on standby whenever a strong typhoon hits this part of Northern Luzon.

In previous years, the municipal government’s rescue team are dependent on old heavy trucks to transport typhoon victims in evacuation areas or to a safer ground.

“We purchased the rescue vehicle to promote resiliency and to ensure zero casualty during calamities,” said Solsona Mayor Alexander Calucag.

In time for the observance of the National Disaster Resilience Month this July, hundreds of government employees, municipal and village officials, students and other public and private organizations and agencies joined the “Walk for Resilience” around the major thoroughfares of Brgy. Poblacion here.

Organized by the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the local government unit of Solsona, the activity highlights the need for the public to be disaster-conscious and to take necessary precaution before a natural calamity or a state of emergency strikes.

The country observes National Disaster Consciousness Month every July through Executive Order No. 137 signed on August 10, 1999 by then President Joseph Estrada.

In 1988, the national government declared the first week of July as National Disaster Consciousness Week; in 1999, Mr. Estrada extended the observance of the occasion to a month to include man-made disasters and other emergencies.

Monday, August 20, 2018

SKtarting on the wrong foot

THE REFORMED Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) is back. It’s officials in Philippine barangays assumed office on July 1, 2018.

There were many thoughts about the reforms made in the new edition of the Sangguniang Kabataan, through Republic Act 10742 or the SK Reform Act, especially on how it empowers youth leaders to better contribute in national development, thereby erasing the reputation it has sadly earned in years past—that it is irrelevant, corrupt, and a bane to an already bloated bureaucracy. Bringing SK back to life was a big challenge, but its believers, including my friend James Ventura, who is commissioner-at-large of the National Youth Commission, are holding their hopes high.

It seems like the youth leaders of Pagudpud town here in Ilocos Norte are up to the challenge. In their first days in office, they got themselves busy with their first assignment, their baptism of fire: a beauty contest. The town is celebrating its 64th founding anniversary, and organizers tasked the SK officials in the different barangays to scout for candidates and prepare them for competition; and in serving as ushers and production staff during the competition proper. I learned from my interview with Rex Benemerito Jr., the Pagudpud SK federated president of Pagudpud, that the municipality’s tourism office gave these assignments to them. What kind of competition did they get busy with?

It’s actually the brainchild of the town mayor. They dressed straight males and made up as women, inspired by the Paloma character in the epic television soap, “Ang Probinsiyano”. Ten contestants from different barangays vied for the title, Miss Paloma 2018. While the competition is already on its third year, Kevin Riveral, the SK chair of Pagudpud’s Brgy. 2 explained, “Kami po yung partner ng LGU para maging possible ulit ang Miss Paloma 2018.” [As the partner of the LGU, we—the SK—made possible the restaging of Miss Paloma 2018.] Kevin said he is “so happy a naisabak kamin uray katugtugawmi pay laeng [We are so happy that we got to work immediately even if we have just assumed office]”.

The event was a crowd drawer. Expectedly there was a lot of laughter as it’s an old, tried-and-tested formula to get Filipinos entertained by male cross-dressing. But what actually did Pagudpud achieve with this? Well, organizers say, it gave men the rare opportunity to experience what a woman goes through.  But isn’t it lame to have that mindset? Being a woman is certainly more than wearing heavy make-up and high heels. You could, in fact, be a woman even if you have a different sense of fashion.

If at all, the pageant only perpetuates gender stereotypes. “It doesn’t promote gender sensitivity because the candidates are being a laughing stuff,” PJ Quitoriano, a well-distinguished young transgender from Pagudpud, notes. He also lamented that the show fell short of promoting neither the empowerment of women nor the LGBT. The head of the Committee on Gender and Development of the nationally acclaimed Sirib Ilokano Kabataan Association echoed the same sentiment: “It only promotes the culture of domination because participants are reduced to being objects of laughter.”

I will leave it to you, dear reader, to assess the merits of the first activity Pagudpud’s youth leaders embarked on. I will be cruel if I don’t give them credit for their effort. Some of them (and I know this because I was their speaker on public service ethics during their mandatory SK training held in May) may actually be truly eager to serve and make a difference.

But they started on the wrong foot.

While SK is back to life, I maintain that there are things that should have remained dead.

I’d be happy if they prove me wrong.

Sharing with you the thoughts of Commissioner James Ceasar Ventura of the National Youth Commission regarding Pagudpud’s Paloma beauty pageant that the town’s SK willingly got involved in, and in general how SKs around the country have been doing by far. Note though that here he is giving his personal position as a young leader, and we should not take his statements as the position of his agency. It would be worthy to listen to his thoughts because James is sincerely one of those who truly want the SK to succeed.

“At a personal level, sir, I don’t believe we really need pageants right now. It’s too costly for entertainment. Waste of resources. That’s regardless of SK man yan o Buwan ng Wika, tourism, whatsoever.

“Plus, there are too many things we need to prioritize. In Ilocos, it would be teenage pregnancy, jobs, access to quality education, life skills kung kabataan ang pag-uusapan.

“I appreciate the SKs for helping their LGU implement its programs and activities, but I would have appreciated them more if they opposed the Paloma pageant for these reasons:

“1. They could have asked LGU to give them the funds which [they can use] for a scholarship or a training on crime or illegal drugs prevention.

“2. By supporting the activity, even without paying for it using the SK funds, the SK officials consented on inefficient budget use, and tolerated the culture of reducing gender issues as a laughing matter.

“I’d be honest, sir. Many SKs are at a loss hanggang ngayon. They do not know what to do while they are also under pressure to do something ASAP. Hence, they become welcoming to proposals such as pageants and sports activities. Templated na kasi at madali nang gawin.

“I hope there were more of us at NYC to really guide them on the ground. I pray that their youth development officer, their LGU and other youth leaders are already sitting down to plan for their kabataan. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t look forward for another SK election by 2020.”

I thank James for making me believe in youth power despite my cynicism. I was hoping the reformed SK would produce more noble young Filipinos like him, but what we have now, as in the past, are many SK officials and federation presidents elected not on the basis of their skills and zeal to serve, but on the strength of their blood relations. Trapo manipulation of the youth remain strong. And, as James correctly observed, SK officials are at a loss on what to do.

My humble advice to them is to carefully craft relevant, high-impact, and sustainable programs instead of falling to the allure of tokenism and “Instagram fame”. SKs have been in the position for only a few days and they have done a couple of activities here and there, and they lined up more in the coming weeks. Coastal clean-ups, bloodletting activities, sports programs are good, but they must be a part of honest-to-goodness programs and not turn out as sporadic activities that only look good on Instagram.

I don’t believe in the necessity and relevance of SK, not anymore at this time in our national life, as it was a bane in the past two decades. It was a nice idea that belonged to another era. It’s a dead intervention that should have remained peacefully in the grave of our collective political memory. But because the SKs are here and they receive public funds, let us, with all we can help them succeed. If this be the last batch of SK, may they build good memories before we bury this idea back to the grave of ignominy.

Ilocos Norte dad hopeful for Marcos Stadium renovations

Laoag City—Senior Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Matthew Joseph M. Manotoc said that they have already approved the budget for the renovation of the Marcos Memorial Stadium in Laoag City and is currently “a matter of processing.”

The Marcos Stadium last underwent renovation and had its oval track rubberized between 2008 and 2009, but lack of maintenance soon reduced the oval to a cement track.

The complex now also houses the Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office (INYDO) and Sports Development Office (INSDO), and was the venue of the first Ilocos Norte Youth Games and Ilocos Norte Children’s Games last year.

“[Renovation] has definitely been on our to-do list nang matagal na. Even I go to the Stadium sometimes, and medyo depressing nga, at kung minsan, I also ask to increase the lights kasi ‘pag gabi, medyo madilim na masyado,” said Mr. Manotoc.

He acknowledged that quality sports facilities are key in encouraging locals to exercise: “Ayaw mong mag-work out kung alam mong pangit naman yung pupuntahan mo, so we have to make sure that people have options. We have to improve it, not only for the locals, but also if ever magho-host tayo ng event. We really have to level up,” he added.

Ilocos Norte might be a host of the Region I Athletics Association (RIAA), according to Mr. Manotoc’s talks with Ilocos Norte schools division superintendent Vilma Eda, but would have a hard time catering to larger-scale or national-level events.

Cesar de Ocampo, School of Tomorrow (SOT) Philippines senior manager of, earlier expressed his hope for Ilocos Norte to upgrade its sports facilities, saying that the province has high potential as a venue for the yearly National Student Convention (NSC).

Products of the SOT curriculum and NSC include singer-actress and model Nikki Gil-Albert, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) player Doug Kramer, and Peter Matthew Fowler, who ranked first in the May 2018 Chemical Engineer Licensure Examination. The NSC gathers an estimated hundred schools yearly at the chosen venue.

Mr. Manotoc assured that Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos is following up with national agencies and with President Rodrigo R. Duterte with regards to the renovation. (Mizpah Grace Castro)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

NGO partners with Pagudpud school to boost reading literacy

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte—Silid Aralan Inc. (SAI), a non-profit organization that reaches out to the academically-challenged public school students in the country is partnering with Pagudpud Central Elementary School (PCES) to strengthen the reading literacy of low-performing learners here.

Targeting some 100 learners from the Pagudpud Central Elementary School (PCES), Richard Riveral, PCES principal II said they will establish a learning hub will in the said school primarily to cater to these students. Last May, he said they conducted an intensive reading assessment among grades 1 and 2 PCES pupils and selected at least 100 out of the nearly 200 pupils in the pre-assessment.

Among those who will undergo the program was grade 2 pupil Anxiel Marie Guiamsay.

Nagbasa ken naganserkami. Adda narigat ken adda met nalaka,” she said saying the new learning hub is a welcome development for her.

Under the “Ground Zero Program”, an entry level of SAI, the selected pupils identified by their teachers as non-readers will undergo a focused learning session after their regular classes.

In here, learners will engage in fun and interactive sessions with the aim of developing their love for reading as they begin to learn how to read.

In a 2017 pre-test result recorded by the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI) of the school, it shows that there are 25 percent out of the 600 pupils population who are under the “frustration level” or they could hardly read with comprehension.

The Silid Aralan will come in handy. Learning sessions are customized to each learner's learning style assisting him or her to acquire the required competencies to move on to the second level of the SAI learning program,” said Maylynne Shiela dela Cruz, coordinator of the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI) of the school. 

After completing the program, the learners will move to the second-level of the program described as iLEAD. Launched in 2012, the iLEAD is a leadership program that starts off with character building.

“Through this program, we hope to reduce the number of pupils under the frustration level and they will be motivated to learn more,” said Mr. Riveral.

The organizers scheduled a series of orientations among the 100 learners and their parents on June 30, July 7 and 14 for a better appreciation of the program.