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81-MW wind farm to rise in Pagudpud

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte—Another wind power farm with a capacity of 81 megawatts will soon rise in the wind-swept village of Caparispisan in this town following its groundbreaking on September 3.

The sprawling green hills of Barangay Caparispisan with several scattered pine trees overlooking the West Philippine Sea will soon be planted with at least 32 units of wind turbines worth approximately US$220 million.

With the growing interest of independent power producers to harness Ilocos Norte’s wind and solar power, three giant companies joined in to develop wind power projects here through Northern Luzon UPC Asia Corporation (NLUPC) as their joint venture company.

Earlier, AC Energy Holdings Inc. (ACEHI), a subsidiary of the Ayala Corporation signed an investment framework agreement and shareholders’ agreement with UPC Renewables and collaborated with the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure (PINAI) with investors composed of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Asian Development Bank, APC, and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings Pte Limited. An initial equity investment has been agreed for the first 81 MW project with ACEHI funding 64 percent of equity, PINAI, 32 percent and UPC, 4 percent.

On June 17, 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) approved the 81 MW declaration of commerciality paving the way for the issuance of notice to proceed as NLUPC already signed turbine supply, installation and service availability agreement with Siemens Wind Power A/S and Siemens Inc.

According to DOE Assistant Secretary Daniel Ariaso Sr., the initial phase of the project is expected to be connected to the grid by June 2014.

NLUPC has a portfolio of additional wind energy projects of over 200 MW under development, with ACEHI’s growing wind farm portfolio in the Philippines including Ayala Corporation’s 50 percent ownership of the 33 MW Bangui wind farm of the Northwind Power Development Corporation.

UPC, on the other hand, has already established 20 years of experience in developing, financing, constructing and operating wind farms in Europe, USA and Asia with gross generating capacities of approximately 2,000 MW.

PINAI is a P26 billion fund dedicated to equity investment in Philippine infrastructure assets being managed by Macquaire Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), a part of MIRA manages more than US$100 billion worth of infrastructure assets globally, including more than 16.7 GW (gigawatts) of power generation assets.

With the mushrooming of independent power producers rushing one after the other to invest in this wind capital of the Philippines, Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos told renewable energy stakeholders here to help Ilocanos understand that the impact of green energy here may not be felt outright like bringing down the cost of electricity in Ilocos Norte.

ANOTHER WIND FARM IN ILOCOS. Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos, Assistant Secretary Daniel Ariaso of DOE, John Eric Francia of the Ayala Corporation, Michael Rodriguez of Macquarie, Bryan Caffyn of UPC Renewables and Pagudpud Mayor Marlon Sales release the time capsule during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 81-MW wind power farm at Sitio Ayoyo, Barangay Caparispisan, Pagudpud on September 3.
Lei Adriano

”I hope you understand that we are on your side. We welcome renewable energy. It’s clean and green. However, due to experience in the past like we are being asked, ‘why is it our electric bill is not going lower?’ Sana maintindihan ninyo at bigyan ng tulong. Help us explain to our constituents by giving us facts such as the specific break down of prices, data costing and the benefits of energy campaign,” said Marcos.

Amidst a booming tourism industry in Pagudpud town boasting of its crystal clear beaches, waterfalls, bat caves and other natural resources, Marcos said Pagudpud remains to be one of the poorest municipalities in Ilocos Norte.

Like in Caparispisan where most derived their income from fishing and rain-fed farming, Barangay Chairperson Lovella Garvida said the establishment of a wind power farm in Sitio Ayoyo, which is expected to become operational by September next year is a welcome development as they expect more jobs and livelihood that would become available to them.

As early as now, Garvida said the company has already started helping her barangay by hiring several mason, carpenters and other skilled workers in the village for the repair and maintenance of their bridge including expansion of roads going to the project site. 

Also, they already started employing locals to assist in the implementation of the project.
With the continued growth of renewable energy in this northern gateway of Luzon, Ariaso, who was also present during the groundbreaking ceremony, said that host communities of renewable energy will eventually enjoy both direct and indirect benefits of the clean and green project as the cost will come down eventually over time.

Aside from the 33-MW Bangui wind farm next to the Caparispisan wind farm in Pagudpud, other renewable energy players have on-going wind and solar projects and assessment in the municipalities of Burgos, Pasuquin, Vintar, Currimao and Badoc, Ilocos Norte.

EGS Philippines to open site in North Luzon

EGS Philippines, the holding company for two renowned organizations in the global business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, continues to expand its local footprint with the opening of its site in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. Its entry into Laoag makes EGS the first company to set-up an operational site in the city and the company’s third provincial site.

The soon to rise EGS facility has an allocation of 500 seats awaiting the qualified talents in the vibrant city of Laoag. The site’s construction is expected to begin in October 2013 and expected to reach its completion in August 2014.

“We are very excited of our expansion in Northern Luzon. Laoag City is known as a first class city, which serves as the commercial and business hub of Ilocos Norte. The city has earned the distinction of being a top location for infrastructure by IBPAP and DOTC-ICTO in 2012,” said Bong Borja, president and country head, EGS Philippines.

“These qualities of Laoag make it an ideal location to set-up our new operations. We are also confident that the city has pool of highly qualified talents, which is one of the biggest deciding factors why we want to bring and grow our business in Laoag,” added Borja.

EGS prepares for the opening of its Laoag site with the rollout of sourcing and recruitment efforts. These efforts are geared to encourage local talents to join EGS’ One Team. The EGS Laoag site offers talents within the city and nearby provinces an opportunity to be part of the growing BPO industry without having to go to Manila and be away from their families. Additionally, EGS’ presence in the province will increase the market value of Laoag City because it encourages the set-up of more businesses to cater to the needs of the growing workforce in the province.

“EGS would like to make a significant contribution in the BPO industry and we are doing this through continuous investments that allow us to set-up facilities outside Metro Manila. Our presence in the provinces allows us to create job opportunities for qualified talents who choose to stay and work near home and within familiar grounds.  At the same time, it’s also an opportunity for the industry to promote and showcase the exceptional labor pool we have throughout the country,” enthuses Borja.

“As early as now, we’d like to invite applicants to partner with us and be our pioneers, as we build our One Team in Laoag!” shares Borja.

EGS Philippines Laoag team may be reached at 0917-8617940 or email

Updates are also available via EGSPhilippines page in Facebook or simply visit the team at I-Hub, A-1 Gov. Roque B. Ablan Avenue, Laoag City.

Brgy chair questions 24 persons’ voters’ registration

Voters' registration in Laoag for the barangay and SK elections in October

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

Laoag City election officer Atty. John Paul Martin disclosed that 24 registrants in the recent voters’ registration were challenged by a barangay chairperson.

Martin made the announcement after receiving a copy of the petition for exclusion filed by Barangay 28 Chairperson Jane Siazon.

In her petition, Siazon wants the 24 individuals excluded from the voters’ list as they are not residents of Barangay 28 contrary to what they wrote down in their registration forms.

Siazon stressed that the said individuals are not even from Laoag City and are just employees of a business establishment located at Barangay 28.

She added that the said persons might just be used for the coming barangay elections as their employer will allegedly for barangay chairperson.

Meanwhile, Martin explained that with respect to the six-month residency requirement, the local election office relied on the application for registration submitted to them and that they have not received any opposition to their registration until the August 8, 2013 deadline for filing of opposition.

In view of the lack of opposition to their registration, Martin said they approved all the application for registration with complete requirements during an Election Registration Board (ERB) meeting on August 12, 2013.

As for the petition for exclusion, Martin said this came after the ERB approval and it will now be up to the courts to decide if the individuals in question would be excluded.

He also emphasized that certifications for transfer of registration can be certified not only by the barangay chairperson but by other public authorities like district councilors of barangays concerned as well.

Martin related that a similar petition was also filed in Pinili, Ilocos Norte while a different petition—this one for inclusion—was filed in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

In the Bangui case, the ERB disapproved the registration of an applicant who later filed for inclusion in the voters’ list.

Batac’s petition for exclusion fails
In Batac City, elections officer Josephine Balbas announced that a reported petition for exclusion here did not push through after it was discovered that the person being questioned turned out to be a bonafide resident in the barangay mentioned.

As a result of this, Balbas said the list of voters in the city are now posted and voters should now begin checking if their names are on the list.

She added that Batac now feels the “election fever” as some residents are now acquiring lists of voters in their respective barangays while some have begun asking for certificates of candidacies.

Balbas considers the barangay elections as more complicated than the national election because she has observed that there could be 20 candidates for the barangay council, and with 43 barangays in the city, candidates could total over 800.

During the People’s Day here in Batac, Balbas appealed to the public not to wait for the deadline for the filing of candidacy which was originally set for October 15-17 as the Commission on Elections recently reset the filing to October 11-17.

Balbas pointed out that any applications found to have incomplete requirements on the last day will automatically be disapproved.

Records show that Batac now has a total of 33,925 for the barangay and 1,962 for the Sangguniang Kabataan with 110 clustered precincts.

Monsoon rains flood parts of LC

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

THE Laoag City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that several parts of the city were flooded due to the monsoon rains spawned by typhoon Nando.

The CDRRMC convened on August 27 to monitor the situation.

Newly installed CDRRMC officer Dr. Melvin Medel D. Manuel led the survey of flooded areas in the city.

Among the flooded areas were at Barangay Casili where water lilies clogged the river and the rainwater flowing through Padsan River overflowed.

Manuel instructed the engineering office to do a clearing operation since the stagnant water would remain.
Lataag Bridge along Sitio Borobor at Barangay Lataag was also totally washed out due to the strong water current.

The city engineering office and the residents of this barangay constructed a temporary bridge for their use as this affected about 15 households. The engineering office later office conducted an assessment and evaluation of the damages.

Based on ocular survey, city streets that were flooded were those along Balintawak corner Mabini Sts.; Gen. Segundo Avenue corner T. Pasion St.; M. Remigio St. from Gen. Segundo Ave eastward; Don S. Hernando Ave. between Gov. P. Lazaro and Mabini Sts. and Paco Roman St. between Bomburza and M. Remigio Sts.

These are the streets Manuel said that are usually affected by flood during heavy rains.
A residential house in front of a school along Gen. Segundo Ave. which houses two  families also sought assistance for evacuation because flood water have reached knee level. They were evacuated by the city government.

Three families from Barangay 7-B also reported flooding and were evacuated to Shamrock Elementary School but they later opted to go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office immediately assisted the evacuated families.

Several houses at Barangay 32-B La Paz Torre were also reported to be under water and the city engineering office again immediately responded and relief assistance were given.

A certain Hector Felipe was also rescued after he was stranded in the riverbank along Barangay Zamboanga. He was rescued by a fisherman from Barangay La Paz.

According to Manuel, the CDRRMC has not received any estimate of damages caused by the monsoon rains.

Classes of elementary and secondary schools were also suspended.

The reported list of barangays vulnerable to flooding in the city are Barangays 2, 4, 7-A, 12, 21, 23, 25, 32-B, 34-A, 39, 46, 49-B, 51-A and B, 52-B, 53, 55-A and 56-A.

SN, LC join forces to sandbag eroded dike portion
Meanwhile, residents of the poblacion area in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte worked together to patch an eroded portion of the dike along Padsan River.

San Nicolas Mayor Melanie Grace Valdez called an emergency meeting on with all barangay chairpersons on August 28 to remedy the eroded portion of the dike.
The dike suffered two eroded portions 10 meters apart.

Ms Valdez said she called the meeting to mitigate the effects of the torrential rain brought by monsoon rains after she learned that eastern Ilocos Norte has been suffering from non-stop rain and the large volume of water was expected to pass through Padsan River.

The huge volume of water later eroded the land beside dike, resulting in the damage. The lady mayor said flooding in San Nicolas’ Poblacion area became a possibility after the dike was breached.

To resolve this, Ms Valdez appealed to all barangay officials and residents in the area to help one another in sandbagging the damaged portion of the dike. The effort took three days.

Residents of Barangay 52-A Nangalisan, Laoag City also helped in the sandbagging particularly the barangay officials.

On the second day, The Ilocos Times learned that the Laoag City government sent trucks to help in the effort.
Employees of the Department of Public Works and Highways also joined the sandbagging.

In a random interview, some residents near the dike said that the cause of soil erosion near the dam is because of quarrying activities near it and the water always flows to the deepest part of the river.

Others said the Padsan River already needs dredging.

An old resident who requested anonymity said: “Idikwa, maalyawka pay a mangkita ta karayan no addaka ta rabaw yanta rangtay iti kaadalem na ngem itan mabalinmo pay matapwaken iti kaababaw nan. Ket awan rason nga saan a maiwaras ta danum na nga umay ditoy ili a San Nicolas ta saan met a naadalemen ket pumab-abagatan pay ketdin ta karayanen imbes a dita tengnga kuma awan anay pay dagitay dadduma nga ag-quarry ta ditoy met ngamin igid ta pag-quarry-an da isunga isu met iti suruten iti danum diay nabab-baba a lugar”.

Pygmy killer whale rescued and released

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte—While navigating his way away from danger, a blind pygmy killer whale (Ferese attenuate) in distress found refuge on August 27 when he was found by a resort caretaker along the shoreline of Barangay Naglicuan, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte.

Provincial fishery regulatory officer Arthur Valente said that at around 3:30 pm on August 27, the endangered animal was found by Jesie Sales beached near a resort here.
The incident was immediately reported to first responders who rushed to the area to examine the stranded animal.

Weighing approximately 150 kilos and measuring 226 cm,  Valente said the male whale  with a pulse rate of six per minute appears to have a gunshot wound at the right side above his flipper with exit point at the left ventral portion beneath the flipper.

Due to inclement weather, the stranded mammal was carried to a shed where personnel from the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) gave him first aid, fed with fish and was guarded overnight.
At about 9:30 am on August 28, the pygmy was successfully released after he was given antibiotics by PVO.

Legarda pushes for environmental audit

Senator Loren Legarda said that she will push through with the conduct of an environmental audit to determine the state of implementation and enforcement of the country’s environmental laws and policies.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, will file a Senate Resolution to conduct an environmental audit covering the performance of relevant national agencies and local government units in relation to their enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and compliance guidelines in light of the continued ecosystems decline and environmental degradation.

“Ecosystems decline and environmental degradation pose serious threats to our lives, and aggravate disasters that occur due to natural hazards. Thus, we intend to improve existing laws where weakness is determined and to ensure enforcement in ways that people and institutions will comply not so much because there is a law that penalizes non-compliance but because they understand that they have a personal stake in the enforcement of these measures,” she said.

Legarda noted that heavy rainfall has brought about destructive flooding in many parts of the country, believed to be due mainly to the low compliance rate with the Solid Waste Management Act. A recent government report shows that only nine out of the 16 cities in Metro Manila have submitted complete solid waste management plans and at the national level, only 414 local government units, corresponding to only 25.71 percent of the 1,610 cities and municipalities nationwide.

Legarda pointed out that despite numerous laws we adopted, the state of the Philippine environment continues to be on the decline as the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that forest area in the country has declined from 12 million hectares in 1960 to only about 5.7 million hectares, and the UNEP World Atlas of Coral Reefs reports that 97% of reefs in the Philippines are under threat.

Among the country’s environmental laws are the Marine Pollution Control Law, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System, Renewable Energy Act, Environmental Awareness and Education Act, Climate Change Act, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, and the Act Creating the People’s Survival Fund.

CVF solemnizes wedding of 39 couples

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

Laoag City Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas solemnized the marriage of 39 couples in a mass wedding sponsored by the city government on August 28 at the City Hall Auditorium.

Ms Fariñas thanked the couples for giving her the honor and privilege to wed all of them.

The mass wedding was part of the annual celebration dubbed “A cause for August”, a month-long celebration of the birthday of former Laoag Mayor Michael V. Fariñas, now the vice mayor and husband of the mayor.

Ms Fariñas also announced that activities are also being prepared for October for her own birthday celebration.

She however declined to say what the activities are and instead stressed that it would be an October to remember as they would try to make as many people happy as possible.

Another mass wedding may be staged then if there would be requests for such activity.

The mass wedding was spearheaded by the city Population Commission office and the Local Civil Registry.

During and after the wedding, The Ilocos Times observed that all the couples were happy to finally formalize their wedding as all of them have all been living-in together without marriage.

In a random interview with the live in partners, they said that they really waited for this mass wedding to be married for free.

Newly wed Arnel Gaioran and Aunor Manalo expressed their gratitude to the city government headed by Ms Fariñas for giving them their happiest moment with a free wedding ceremony in their 17 years as live-in partners.

The Gaoirans are from Barangay 46 Nalbo and were the oldest couple, aged 43 and 39, respectively. They already have two children.

The couple was one of four couples  given a free over-night stay in one of the best hotels in the city as a gift from the mayor.

The Ilocos Times learned that there should have been 44 couples but five of them backed out due to incomplete requirements.

Nutrition integrated in BFT training

The National Nutrition Council (NNC) Regional Office I in collaboration with the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMADs) of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit I (DA RFU) shared “Nutrition Concepts” and “The Important Role of Barangay Food Terminal (BFT) during the recently conducted Management & Capability Enhancement Training for Barangay Food Terminal Operators of Brgy. San Marcelino, Dingras, Ilocos Norte.

The BFT in Barangay San Marcelino was the 3rd one built in the marginalized and depressed barangays in the Province of Ilocos Norte, which aims to make foods available and accessible for the residents of the barangay and to ensure the sale of fresh and quality foods products such meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, and root crops. It also allows creation of employment opportunities and empowering the residents of the barangays through the livelihood components like food processing and packaging, which means bringing more food on the table for the residents and families of Barangay San Marcelino.

With the management and capability enhancement training, residents of the area were informed on the importance of good nutrition in their daily lives, that a BFT is established to serve as outlet of nutritious, safe, and affordable food commodities, and more importantly, on how to address the prevailing issues on hungerand malnutrition particularly among the vulnerable groups which include infants, growing children, as well as the pregnant  and lactating women.

Rice Mongo (RIMO) Curls and Blends introduced to solve malnutrition problem

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) continuously develops food technologies which include affordable and nutritious complementary foods like instant baby foods and snack curls.

In partnership with FNRI-DOST, Long Live Pharma with address located at Barangay Malanay, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan is one of the adaptors of the technology to manufacture complementary foods for children with the product brand RIMO. Their plant is equipped with mechanized pulvorizer, mixer, extruder and oven to produce the nutritious complementary foods which are contained in 30 grams package. Also, the plant has the capacity to produce 430, 000 packs at 30 grams per pack of instant baby foods and curls in a month. The facility is able to cater to the need of the nutritionally deprived children in the region and other areas.

 The two main products of RIMO include the following:
1. Instant Rice-Mongo baby food blend which is a complementary food rich in protein and energy. The product is ready to eat by adding previouslyboiled water. Mashed foods or boiled water can be added or flavored to further increase its nutritional value with 120 Kcal and 4 grams protein per 30 grams enough to meet 16.7% of recommended energy and 28.6% of recommended protein intake for 6 months to less than 12 months old children
2. Rice-Mongo curls with flavor and appealing cereal taste with 130 Kcal and 4 grams protein per 30 grams enough to meet 12.1 % of recommended energy and 14.3% of recommended protein intake is for 1 to 3 years old children.

Long Live Pharma owners, Mr. and Mrs. Racky D. Doctor introduced the Rice Mongo (RIMO) Curls and Blends during the 2nd RLNAOs Meeting held on June 27, 2013 at Alad Bar Resort, Caoayan, Ilocos Sur. He solicited the assistance of the Local Government Units through the respective Provincial/City/Municipal Nutrition Action Officers to include the promotion of their complementary food products in the local nutrition program to address the malnutrition problems affecting the young children in the region as well as in the country.

Nutrition of lactating mothers greatly affects infant health

By Imelda A. Agdeppa, Ph.D.
FNRI-DOST S & T Media Service

Lactation is the secretion of milk from the mammary glands and the period when a mother feeds her baby with breastmilk. Breastfeeding is a remarkable process when the mother’s breasts secretes milk that acts as natural birth control to the mother if given exclusively and can substantially sustain the offspring from birth to two years and even beyond.

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) conducted a national survey on the nutritional status of Filipino lactating women in 2011.
Results of the survey revealed that 1 in 10 or 11.9 percent of lactating mothers are underweight.
The prevalence of underweight among lactating women was highest in Bicol, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, ARMM, MIMAROPA and Ilocos regions, ranging from 12.9% to 16.6%. This prevalence is higher than the national prevalence of 11.9%.

Breastfeeding substantially increases the mother’s requirements for most nutrients.
The number of calories a woman needs depends upon how much body fat she has and how active she is.

Lactating women need to consume additional 500 extra calories, based on the Recommended Energy Nutrient Intakes (RENI).

These women need to increase not only the calories they consume, but all the nutrients that make up their diet in order to satisfy the additional requirements for milk synthesis such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate and vitamin B6.

The composition of human milk is distinct from the milk of other mammals and from infant formulas ordinarily derived from them.

Human milk is unique in its physical structure, types and concentrations of macronutrients such as protein, fat and carbohydrate and as well as micronutrients such as vitamins like vitamins C, A, thiamin and riboflavin and minerals like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
The vitamin content of human milk is dependent on the mother’s current nutrient intake and stores.

Chronically low maternal intake of nutritious foods may result in milk with low amounts of essential nutrients for the infant. Poor maternal diet during lactation therefore, poses a potential threat to both the mother and her infant.

Lactating women with poor nutritional status are more prone to sickness and when sick, they frequently refuse to breastfeed, thus adversely affecting infant’s growth and development. Newborns are the most vulnerable members of the society. Preventing newborn deaths and improving newborn health and survival go hand in hand with promoting safer motherhood.
Measures promoting proper food intake during lactation like supporting existing advocacies for micronutrient supplementation and nutrition education from public and private sectors are needed.

Improving maternal and infant health through healthy lifestyles will be beneficial to all.

For more information on food and nutrition, contact Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City. Email: Telefax: 837-2934 and 827-3164, or call 837-2071 local 2296 or visit our website: .

P3M worth of relief goods for Region 1 monsoon rain victims

By Iryn D. Cubangbang 
DSWD Information Officer II

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 continues to release family food packs/relief goods as augmentation support to requesting Local Government  Units for monsoon rain  affected families in Region 1, now amounting to P3.02 million.

In Ilocos Sur, Sugpon got 500 family food packs; in Bangar, La Union, 2,000; in Pangasinan, Mangatarem 1,000; Dagupan City, 2,000; Aguilar, 1,000; Sta. Barbara, 1,000; Lingayen, 1,000; Bugallon, 1000; and San Fabian, 100.

Also, the DSWD National Relief Operations Center will release an additional 4,000 family food packs for Dagupan City, and another 2,000 of the same will be released to Calasiao, Pangasinan. 

As emphasized by Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo, relief goods from DSWD should not be repacked as it is a violation under Republic Act 10121. Each family food pack is composed of 3 kilos of rice, 6 canned goods,  6 pouches of instant noodles and 6 pouches of 3-in-1 coffee. This  family food pack  will respond to the immediate basic food needs of families affected while activities are still not normal. 

At present, DSWD FO1’s  on-going relief operations is done with  the help of the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine National Police which facilitate in transporting family food packs to requesting Local Government Units. 

As per directive of Dir. Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo, DSWD Field Office 1 remains on red alert in coordination with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Provincial, City and Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (P/C/MDRRMC) until all relief augmentation requests coming from Local Government Units are responded

Likewise, the Quick Action Response Team (QUART), Social Welfare and Development Action Team, and Provincial Operations Office are  still  activated for disaster monitoring/ reporting  and repacking of family food packs.

INEC sets board elections in November

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

Dingras, Ilocos Norte—The Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC) has set the Board of Directors’ elections in November. The elections will be for four districts.

INEC Board President Reynaldo Lazo made this announcement after the National Electrification Administration (NEA) disapproved their earlier request to schedule elections in September since October will be for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The NEA decided that elections would be held after the barangay elections.

The schedule is as follows: November 9 for Badoc and Pinili district; November 16 for Banna, Nueva Era and Marcos district; November 23 for the Adams, Pagudpud, Dumalneg, Bangui and Burgos district; and November 30 for the Laoag City south of the river and San Nicolas district.

The new rule as contained in the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10531 will be implemented.

Under this law, it states that candidates should be a graduate of any four-year course and should not be more than 70 years old and not less than 21 years old.

Candidates should also not be connected or an employee of the government with rank higher than grade 16. This also applies to the candidates’ spouses.

Candidates should have also attended at least two general assembly meetings in the last five years and a cooperative member with good standing.

Incumbent board directors who are affected by the new rule this coming elections are Virgilio Calajate of Badoc, whose wife is the provincial treasurer Josephine Calajate and Marlon Valdez of San Nicolas who works at the Registry of Deeds.

Antonio Garvida, now Bangui mayor, filed his resignation earlier because when he filed his candidacy in the midterm elections this year.

INEC officer-in-charge Engr. Felino Herbert Agdigos said the INEC management is now ready for the said elections.

Earthworms bring cash crop to Solsona indigents

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

Solsona, Ilocos Norte—So, you want to help people out of poverty? In Solsona town, its local government unit has the answer—don’t give them cash but give them earthworms. Yes, teach them how to grow earthworms or the African night crawler at that. Not only they bring you cash but they also bring back a sustainable environment, away from the sight of foul-smelling garbage or buzzing fruit flies.

In the last three years, local residents here have lived up to the organic lifestyle. Market goers from nearby municipalities or even from outside the province look forward to buy or sell products at the huge two-storey  Solsona market for their display of fresh organic vegetables including rare exotic plants and products like sun-dried meat of wild boar or deer, gokgok [a wild giant frog], freshwater fish such as dalag bukto, paltat, and shells like agurong, liddeg, bisukol, tukmem or bennek and many others.

When you chance an open market set three times a week every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, Solsona town, which had been a hall of fame in the cleanest and greenest municipality in the Philippines in 2001, made even better its effort to make the town known as the “vermiculture capital” of Ilocos Norte producing almost a million kilos or 14,322 bags of vermicast since January this year or about 40 percent increase compared to last year.
When the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had self-employment assistance for poverty eradication program, former Solsona Mayor now Vice Mayor Joseph de 
Lara made sure that the fund would not be put to waste. Instead of giving the money in cash to the indigent recipients, he gave it in kind—a kilo of earthworm (African night crawler), 300 pieces of hallow blocks, cement and steel bars for the construction of vermibeds. Recipients were selected based on their economic status and those who are willing to learn and cooperate with the project.

“If you give them the money, they may just spend it for a day but if you give them earthworms, this can be their source of livelihood for a lifetime,” said De Lara.

In 2011 or three years ago, the municipality has already piloted a vermiculture project  in support of the municipal government’s zero waste management, envisioned as a holistic approach to alleviate poverty and care for the environment.

Starting from at least 12 vermibeds, the municipal agriculture office has designated one agricultural technologist, two casual employees and one officer-in-charge, Engr. Ranison Narciso to personally work on the project.

After perfecting the technology, the Solsona government has started to introduce organic fertilizer to farmers, selling them bags of vermicast to reduce the cost of farm inputs.

“We dream not for ourselves but for our children and children’s children.  We work to offer them a life better than what we have today.  But money is not only that counts.  What counts most is a life that is well-rounded.  A life with not only money but also a safe and sound environment.  We therefore work not only for money but also for the restoration of our Mother Earth.  And the CALL is URGENT. . . so we should act now.  Not only you, not only me, but YOU and ME.  Not tomorrow but NOW!!!” said in a bold statement at the municipal government website where both executive and legislative bodies, dominated by a local family dynasty of the De Laras  took the lead in showcasing the vermiculture technology to its people.
From a start-up capital of one kilo African night crawler brought to Solsona from Laguna province, the municipality is now the leading producer of vermicast organic fertilizer involving the total 22 barangays of Solsona with 638 individual producers this year.

Pegged at P5 per kilo of vermicast, producers sell their harvest directly to the municipality and the municipality delivers them to public and private individuals in need of organic fertilizer.

According to De Lara, the municipality has allotted at least P300,000 capital fund for the purchase of vermicast to producers, who just deliver their harvest to the municipality’s warehouse building every time they go the market or they have something to buy at the town proper. Aside from vermicast, the municipality also buys recycled plastic materials which the municipality is turning into bricks or vases for plants.

As of this year, the Solsona Vermi Producers Association has delivered a total of 716,076 kilos of vermicast or equivalent to more than P3.5 million in cash.

Citing a vermicast producer maintaining at least 5-7 vermibeds in a remote Catangraran village, Solsona Mayor Jonathan de Lara said he is gaining an income of P7,000 from his weekly harvest of vermicast. Another was a piggery raiser who gave up his farm and concentrate instead in vermiculture.

The demand for vermicast in the province is high as the provincial government under the administration of Ilocos Norte Gov. Ma. Imelda Josefa R. Marcos pushes for organic farming to defray high cost of farm inputs.

Vermicomposting uses earthworms to turn organic wastes into very high quality compost. It requires only a minimum capital of less than P1,000 to buy a kilo of African night crawler sold at P400-800 per kilo and for the construction of a 2 by 2 ft. vermibed with a height of six inches where you feed them with a 50-50 mixed of animal wastes, market or household wastes, weeds, grass and farm wastes like rice stalks and corn stalks. From a kilo of earthworm, you can raise it to 6 kilos in 40-45 days.

In what used to be as some hesitant cooperators of the project, De Lara said that more and more individuals are becoming interested in vermicomposting as even farmers from nearby municipalities visit them for educational tours which they gladly welcome.

In point of fact, De Lara said that they are planning to declare these earthworms as their “One Town, One Product” with the Department of Trade and Industry as it ensures local residents here a source of lifetime livelihood while nurturing the environment.

“It’s nice to see our constituents hunting for wastes at the public market or even at the slaughter house to feed their earthworms,” said De Lara citing the problem on garbage disposal has been significantly reduced because of these earthworms dubbed as “angels of the earth.”
Primarily a farmer, Bernardo Dahilig converted his small pigpen into a vermibed where he raises earthworms to provide additional source of income for his family.
Lei Adriano
African night crawler
(Lei Adriano)

LC has new tourism, disaster officers 

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

LAOAG CITY Mayor Chevylle V. Fariñas announced the appointment of new tourism, environment and disaster management officers in the city government. 

Named as tourism officer is Eduardo F. Versoza effective July 18, 2013, while the new City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council officer is Dr. Melvin Medel D. Manuel effective August 1, 2013. 

According to Ms Fariñas, Versoza will continue all the duties and responsibilities she left in her former office. 

Prior to being elected mayor, Ms. Fariñas was the city’s tourism officer. She expressed hopes that Versoza will at least approximate all of her achievements as tourism officer or better them. During the mayor’s reign as tourism officer, the city won various awards in the tourism field among them in Aliwan Festival where the city was enshrined into the hall of fame in the float category for winning the top prize in consecutive years. 

Ms Fariñas believes participating in the tourism-related events is one way of showcasing the city’s beauty, products and the talent of its people. The frequent showcasing of the city paved the way for Laoag to become one of the best tourist destination in this side of the Philippines as well as the favorite site of Lakbay-Arals. 

Meanwhile, Manuel vowed to do his best in his new job.


  1. I was impressed by how quickly and easily I got an Expedited passport for an unexpected foreign trip. At my local passport agency, the staff was quite helpful with the paperwork. My passport arrived days after they expedited my application. I was relieved to have such a solid and fast service when time was critical. I highly suggest it for last-minute travellers!


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