Saturday, January 23, 2016

Local governments urged to join UN campaign on disaster risk reduction

Photo via Pixabay
Former United Nations (UN) official Margareta Wahlstrom hopes to encourage more local government units (LGUs) to join the United Nations’ (UN) international strategy for disaster reduction campaign.

The Swede finished her two terms as the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) last November and her leadership has resulted in more than 170 provinces, cities and municipalities joining the "Making Cities and Communities Resilient" campaign.

The province of Albay, the city of Makati and the municipality of San Francisco in Cebu's Camotes Island are the role models of the UN campaign.

In 2011, San Francisco won the UN-backed Sasakawa Award and the US$25,000 top prize for its implementation of the "Purok system" where village members voluntarily contribute to an emergency fund for those in need after a disaster.

"We’ve already, during these four days, met two municipalities here in Metro Manila … We have one representative here who is what we call local champion, a former mayor, and he has made himself a champion to engage the cities and that’s the most effective way, of course. It’s when one city talks to another, one LGU talks to another, that’s when they actually get mobilized. So, what we would like to see is that this, of course, becomes a very strong national policy and that municipalities should follow the model of the ones that have already engaged," Wahlstrom said during Tuesday’s press briefing in Malacañang.

Wahlstrom, who was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2008, stressed the importance of assessing the vulnerability of the LGUs.

"What do they do? Well, first they assess their own vulnerabilities and then, of course, they have to do a plan, which is what I already mentioned, the plan is about to happen and the plan is not only about the disaster. It’s actually about what you do to mitigate the disasters, or understand your environmental risks, understand the risks of disasters be they your volcanoes, your watersheds, and the weather, of course. And then engage the entire population, be inclusive, then cities are better, LGUs are better prepared. And as I already mentioned, there are resources to be drawn up on," she explained.

"Now, how do you measure progress? There is the strong wish to measure resilience. Making cities resilient, they want to know that if we work hard on our plan for five years, 10 years, are we more resilient? And that measurement, there is now an instrument available for cities to become much more aware of where they are on that scale of one to 10. So, local governments are important but communities and people are maybe even more important. I think this cannot really happen unless communities are fully mobilized," said Walhstrom, who was replaced by Australian Robert Glasser.

Also present at the press briefing was National Climate Change Commission vice chairperson, Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" de Guzman, who said Wahlstrom has made seven missions to the Philippines since 2011.

"During these missions, she advocated for safe schools, resilient cities, build back better, improved early warning and preparedness, resilient business practices and improved understanding of disaster risks. She has also engaged Filipino champion parliamentarians, business leaders, provincial governors, and city and municipal mayors," said de Guzman.

"Her engagement with parliamentarian champions in the Philippines also supported the strong legislative and policy framework for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Philippines, which she noted the number of times as an exemplary legislation in Asia. Her engagement with local governments in the Philippines has led to global introduction of the exceptional work by champion local governments in the Philippines, including in Albay and in Cebu, on such topics as promotion of zero casualty in Albay and the swift and resilient shift to recovery of Cebu province after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)," he added.

"Her advocacy and topics, such safe schools and hospitals, engaged the Department of Education and local governments on school safety assessment, disaster risk reduction in education and preparedness in schools. Her advocacy with the private sector resulted in the launch in the Philippines of the Risk-Sensitive Societies, or ARISE, with now more than 20 companies as members and working on topics such as improving business continuity planning, public private partnerships for pre-disaster planning, and disaster risk education for the private sector," de Guzman said. (PND)

Friday, January 22, 2016

OFW Month in Bicol highlights mainstreaming of migration issues

OFW Family Day in Albay
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – As the number of Filipinos leaving to work or join their families overseas continues to increase, public and private sector entities are increasingly bringing migration-related issues to the mainstream level in the Philippines. This milestone highlighted the recently concluded celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos (MOF) in the Bicol Region of the Philippines last month.

To date, there are over 10 million Filipinos outside the homeland according to the Latest Stock Estimates of Filipinos overseas from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and over 3,000 Filipinos continue to leave every day for overseas work or migration according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). The same agency as well as Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reveal that it processed job orders totaling 771,635, of which 44 % have been processed.

As the numbers are increasing, these agencies, including other government agencies such as Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA), multi-lateral institutions, together with OF circle or communities (OFCs) and with full support from media partners such as The Filipino Channel (TFC), are addressing the needs and bringing the issues of OFs to the local government level, especially in areas with high deployment rates of OFs such as Region 5 or the Bicol Region.

In the province of Camarines Sur, the City Government of Naga in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the European Union- commissioned the JMDI-Bicol Project with key government agencies in launching the Migrant Resource Center (MRC) in the heart of the Naga City business district to converge government services and provide a one-stop shop for OFs covering the following: passport processing from DFA; to the Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) or Pre-employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS) of POEA and OWWA and skills trainings from the Technology, Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Aside from the fact that Bicol region is one of the areas in the country with high OF deployment, Naga City was chosen because it is one a pioneer in mainstreaming migration issues, according to LGU Head Mayor John Bongat. Mayor Bongat explained: “This means that in the city development plans and medium-term development plans, the city government takes an active role in helping the OFs and their families left here. After their work abroad, upon retiring, the government will continue to give them attention. The issues of the OFs were previously not part of LGUs.”

JMDI focal person Atty. Golda Roma of UNDP shared that the role of migration in development will continue to be an agenda for JMDI based on the comprehensive agenda of the European Union in 2016 and it hopes to make this priority for both sending and receiving countries.

On the private sector side, specifically the OF families themselves, the families continue to organize themselves into OFCs which aim to gather families of distant Pinoys and lay out a 360 degree support system for both returning and migrating OFs, including their families.

The OFCs were first organized by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in 2004 where about 1000 OFCs were formed. To date, there are about 2,264 OFCs which include 78 in the whole of Bicol Region and 6 (formed under the JMDI) from Camarines Sur. These organizations include pioneer Pamilyang Migrante kan Naga (PAMANA).

For Joseph Lee, president of the PAMANA, he is not just happy that the MRC was launched during the MOF to provide a one-stop shop for OFs but more importantly because their group now enables OFs to help each other. “I am happy and proud that we have organized today. This MRC is a great help for us. But more than that, the more privileged OFs can help us less fortunate OFs.”

Further on the private sector side, more opportunities were provided for the OFCs to find out more ways to invest the remittances and savings of their OF relatives as well as to showcase their livelihood programs in two early Christmas celebrations: the “Pamaskong Handog Para sa OFWs” at SM City Naga and Overseas Workers’ Welfare (OWWA) “OFC Family Day” in Albay Astrodome.

In the “Pamaskong Handog para sa OFWs,” hundreds of members of the six OFCs communed with their fellow OFs, shared learnings and discovered investment opportunities from subject matter experts from the private sector, in what is perhaps the most memorable time for Filipinos.

Meantime, in nearby Albay province, the Overseas Workers’ Welfare (OWWA) brought together over 600 OFC members in the annual Family Day at the Albay Astrodome also to tackle issues that beset OFs and their families and present solutions. The Family Day, an annual, institutionalized event created by OWWA for the OFCs, brought together families not only for merriment but most essentially, like the “Pamaskong Handog,” to showcase community amongst OF families and to propagate their livelihood programs. To date, there are 13 OFCs in Albay.

According to OIC Teresita Bantinan, the Family Day, while a yearly tradition, always does a different take each year. Bantinan said: “The Family Day’s goal is to recognize the OF families’ efforts and to recognize the modern day heroes. This year, we featured the products of their livelihood projects so they can be recognized and put out in the market.” The Family Day this time injected an interesting twist by putting the spotlight on OF families’ talent and skills as well with the Family Day “The Voice.”

During the two events, TFC, a purveyor of service beyond a showcase of Filipino talent and entertainment, shared one of the crucial issues that OFs need to face – that they can still play a role in nation-building despite the distance. Through TFC’s social advocacy (We Believe in the Power of Good), intellectual property rights (Don’t Pay A High Price for Free) and
Overseas Voting, the network showed the OFs and their families that by donating; patronizing original content & exercising their right to vote, OFs can help their kababayanin need, protect the hard-work of their fellowmen & choose their next leaders.

Earlier in December, TFC was cited for bringing migration issues to the fore as exclusive production “EDSA Woolworth” and exclusive program “JuanEuKonek” won best movie and TV Show, respectively in the Migration Advocacy and Media Awards.

Bicol local products
With the organized Filipino communities, more tangible support from government and the continued vigilance of media, OFs face more opportunities for them and their families to reap the fruits of their hard earned labor while continuing to be a part of nation-building.

The IAC for the celebration of MOF is chaired by the PMRW and co-chaired by the CFO with members from the government agencies and civil society. TFC is a partner of the CFO, OWWA, COMELEC and the DFA in propagating the rights, protecting the welfare and promoting the interests of OFs.


DepEd Sorsogon bags 19 awards in 2016 Bicol Regional Schools Presscon

The Department of Education in Sorsogon province garnered three first place wins, three second places, five third spots, six fourth places and two fifth place wins in the recently concluded Bicol Regional Schools Press Conference 2016 held in Sorsogon City on January 10 to 13.

The winners for individual competition categories are:

First Place Feature Writing English Secondary, Abigael Milagrosa Dampulay, Abucay National High School, Coach Hazel Naag; First Place Newswriting Filipino Secondary, Remyrose Gallanosa, Gallanosa National High School, Coach, Mely Guarino; First Place Editorial Cartooning Filipino Elementary, Carlo Ariate, Caditaan Elementary School, Coach Ramil Lucenario.
Second Place News Writing English Elementary, June Matthew Mañago, Magallanes North Central School, Coach, Rizza M. Romano; Second Place Sports Writing English Secondary, Ijanver Realo, Gallanosa National High School, Coach, Jacqueline Campo; Second Place Editorial Cartooning English Secondary, Emmanuel Delovas, Magallanes National Vocational High School, Coach, Marie
Joy Argana. Third Place Newswriting Filipino Secondary Marielle Kate Salomon, Pilar National Comprehensive High School, Coach, Haiza Base; Third Place Sports Writing Filipino Elementary Kate Andrea Mendones, Pilar I Central School, Coach Vivian Malejana;Third Place Science and Health Writing Filipino Secondary Lorielyn Losano, Casiguran Technical Vocational School, Coach, Dorothy Haveria. Fourth Place Sports Writing Filipino Elementary, Mary Joy Furio, Talaonga Elementary School, Coach Estrella Furio; Fourth Place Sports Writing Filipino Secondary Renz Ariate, Caditaan National High School, Coach Nicky Villa; Fourth Place Editorial Cartooning Filipino Elementary Khaled Jain, Bulan South Central School, Coach Ginalen Gueta; Fourth Place Editorial Cartooning Filipino Secondary, Dallin Orr, Bulan National High School, Coach Mylene Gosgolan; Fourth Place Photo Journalism English Elementary Trisha Faye Melitante, Jose Alindogan Elementary School, Coach Marlene Venus; Fourth Place Science and Health Writing Filipino Secondary Joshua Agnote, Cumadcad National High School, Coaches Nemia Perez, Emma Gonzales.
Fifth place Editorial Writing English Secondary Dan Lorenz C. Olbes, Barcelona National Comprehensive High School, Coach Eduardo Dineros; Fifth Place Feature Writing Filipino Elementary, Akikuh Mira Ermino, Bulacao Elementary School, Coach Rowena Yu.

For the group contest category, Deped-Sorsogon bagged the following:

Third Place Radio Broadcasting and Scripting Filipino Secondary, Roxan Mae Guerero, Ivan Kyle Asiado, Kimberly Dedase, Andrew Justine Briones, Hannah Jesica Cereno, Denise Anne Girado, Paul Adrian Gernale, Bulan National High School, Coach, Mylene Gosgolan.

Third Place Collaborative Desktop Publishing English Elementary, Kertziene Pangilinan, Clare Antoinette Callos, Kenneth Daryl Fidelson, Kristine Shayne Eneria, Ethan Josh Espeño, Mary Yu Diño, Dianne Rose Lagnerta, Gubat North Central School, Coaches Tirso Rico Rodriguez, Anatolio Farenas, Albert Estrellado. (by Joseph John J. Perez/DepEd Sorsogon)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Masbateña is Sinulog Festival Queen 2016

Cynthia Magpatoc Thomalla
MASBATE CITY—It's a back-to-back win for Masbateñas. At the Cebu Sports Center, Cynthia Magpatoc Thomalla of Placer town was crowned Festival Sinulog Festival Queen 2016 yesterday, a year after fellow Masbateña Julienne Hazel Penserga won the same competition.

Thomalla is the lead dancer of Placer's Tribu Himag-ulaw.

A tourism student at the University of Cebu Banilad campus, she also bagged a number of prizes, including Miss Photogenic, Miss Kokuryo Cosmetics, Miss OLX Philippines, Yamaha Rev Queen, Miss Lecit-E, and SM Festival Queen.

In 2013, she was crowned Miss Pintados in Leyte.

She will represent Cebu and the Philippines in the upcoming Purwakarta World Cultural Festival 2016 in Indonesia.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM. Pirming enot. Pirming bago.

Bicolano PWD who met Pope: ‘I miss you, Lolo Kiko!’

Photo: CBCP
TABACO, Albay – Remember John Angelo Ortiz?

He was the picture of perfect happiness when he met “Lolo Kiko” at a gathering of families a year ago in Pasay.

He still is.

Thousands, perhaps millions, were moved to tears by that brief encounter as the Holy Father took time admiring the framed cross-stitch work—a Madonna Dolorosa—he’d made especially for him using nothing less than his own two feet.

‘Like God’

“I will never forget Pope Francis laying his hand on me, making a cross on my forehead. It’s like God Himself doing it. I have received many blessings ever since. I thank the Lord for allowing me to see Pope Francis and to personally give him my portrait of Mama Mary,” he said in Filipino in an interview.

A chance to meet Pope Francis was only a wish at first until he found himself together with his family and other delegates of the Archdiocese of Legazpi on a 15-hour road trip to Antipolo, where they spent the night, then a few hours more to the Arena the next day.

“I miss you, Lolo Kiko. I want to see you again,” exclaimed Ortiz, who’s turning 29 in February, when asked about what he intends to tell the pontiff if given another opportunity to meet him or send him a message.

Prayers for auntie

The only thing that saddens this generally jovial young man is when he remembers an aunt of his who suffers from breast cancer.

“I will also ask Pope Francis to pray for my auntie so that she’d have more years to live,” he added.

Recalling that blessed papal moment, the cerebral palsy patient from Tabaco, Albay could only wish for a repeat, but he knows it would be asking too much.


Since then, Ortiz has become an inspiration to others like him by proving “people with disabilities” (PWDs) are not as “disabled” as some think they are.

In fact, he earns his bread from his handiwork and is currently finishing a portrait of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

“Despite my cerebral palsy, I never lose hope because I know the Lord is always with me. I may be like this but I still can do something that gives me joy,” he explained.

Ortiz told fellow PWDs not to despair and to remember that God keeps them company.

“Know your talents. Cultivate your talents. Show others your talents. Don’t be ashamed of your condition. And never blame God because of it. He has a reason for everything,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

Bicol provinces at risk for drought

Photo via Pixabay

MANILA—State-run Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) gave warning that by the end of March 2016, several Bicol provinces are at risk for drought. These include Albay, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes.

Also at risk are provinces in Central Luzon, Mindanao, and Visayas, the weather bureau declared at this month's El Nino forum.

PAGASA's data showed the country can expect between 16 to 31 dry days during 2016's first quarter. Between 26 to 31 dry days are likely in March alone across 16 of 18 regions nationwide.

January to March is the northeast monsoon's peak period but tropical cyclone (TC) activity that can bring rain to the country is at its minimum then, noted PAGASA.

For such three-month period, PAGASA forecast one to two TCs in the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

According to PAGASA, strong El Nino continues prevailing as data showed sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) in the Pacific exceeding 1.5°C.

PAGASA Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section OIC Anthony Lucero earlier said the Philippines is already experiencing El Nino's effects.

"Drought, dry spell, delayed onset of last year's rainy season, lesser-than-average number of TCs and higher temperatures are El Nino manifestations in the country," he noted.

Citing latest available model outputs, he said El Nino may last until mid-2016.

He noted the models also indicate possible decreasing SSTA as 2016 progresses, however.

"We expect neutral conditions to return by July's end," he added, citing possible normalization of rainfall in the country by then. (With report from PNA)

Bicol writers vie for regional literary prize

Premio Tomas Arejola
Image via Wikipedia Bicol
The 8th edition of the Premyo Tomas Arejola sa Literaturang Bikolnon (PTALB) will showcase anew the best literary works of Bicolanos in the Bikol language this 2016.

PTALB chair Carlos Arejola, a prolific and renowned writer himself, has deemed the occasion as an opportune time for Bicolano writers to promote the Bicol culture through literary works and writings.

“I hope that the PTALB, a private initiative, will continue to contribute in the blossoming of Bikol literature, with wider adherence for Bikol writing, and ultimately, engender a deeper appreciation of our history, culture, and heritage,” Arejola added.

New and unpublished works in the following genres are eligible for the competition: Osipon (fiction), Saysay (essay), Halipot na Pasali na Pan-entablado (one-act play), Rawitdawit (poetry), and Osipon na Pan-aki (story for children). Entries must show literary merit, social significance, and tackling issues relevant to Bikol realities.

Osipon and Saysay entries must be at least 10 pages in length but should not exceed 15 pages. Informal, personal essays about the Bicolano way of life are preferred. Halipot na Pasali na Pan-entablado must be at least 15 pages or of sufficient length to approximate a performing time of at least thirty minutes.

Rawitdawit entries on the other hand must consist of at least seven poems but not more than ten poems and Osipon na Pan-aki entries must be at least 7 pages but must not exceed 10 pages. Entries with a plot and narrative suitable for an illustrated storybook of at least 30 pages are also preferred.

Winners in the five (5) categories will be honored at the “Limang Pinakamababansay na Obrang Panliteratura sa Taon 2016”, a ceremony commemorating the Pambansang Buwan ng Panitikang Filipino in April 2016. The winners will each receive a Diploma of Merit, the Premyo Tomas Arejola Medallion and P5,000. 
The grand prize winner will receive an additional cash prize of P7,000.00 and will be named Parasurat kan Taon (Writer of the Year).

“We are enjoining everyone to be a part of the region’s premiere literary prize- the PTALB, and be included in the roster of the best writers in Bicol. This is our chance to let everyone know how rich and grandiose our heritage is. This is a celebration of a culture that is uniquely ours!,' he said.

Interested writers may send their entries at with the following email subject format: PremyoArejola_<insert genre>_<insert author’s name> (Example: Premyo Arejola_rawitdawit_Juan de la Cruz). For inquiries, please contact the PTALB Secretariat at the Pintakasi kan Literaturang Bikolnon Facebook Page. Deadline of submission of entries is March 25, 2016. (MAL/LSM-PIA5/Camarines Sur)

Advantages and disadvantages of mother tongue-based education

Photo: Naga Smiles to the World
by Shiela S. Ronquillo
Del Gallego Central,
Del Gallego District

Since School Year (SY) 2012-2013, the Mother Tongue-Based-Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) began to be implemented in all public schools, specifically in Kindergarten, Grades 1, 2 and 3 as part of the K to 12 Basic Education Program. Now, more than one school year after the start of its implementation, what have we learned from this program? What benefits and detriments have we discovered from MTB-MLE?

In 2003, UNESCO gave the following statement that is often used as an argument for MTB-MLE:

 “The choice of the language is a recurrent challenge in the development of quality education. Speakers of mother tongues, which are not the same as the national language, are often at a considerable disadvantage in the educational system.”

With MTB-MLE, we expand the access to social, political, economic and physical development processes, which are often unreachable for children who speak a different mother tongue. These children, are unable to learn as much about their society, not because they are cognitively inferior.

Rather, it is because by the time that they enter school, they have become proficient in communicating using their mother tongue. MTB-MLE helps pupils gain confidence not only in expressing themselves, but also in learners new concepts in school.

Along with this confidence, the multilingual education also prevents alienation from one's language and culture, from their parents and immediate community. We avoid the situation where children are teased for using a different language, leading children to think negatively of their culture and heritage.

With these core benefits of  MTB-MLE, we encourage children to become lifelong learners by urging them to be confident, accepting, and enthusiastic about their cultural heritage.

This is not to say, however, that MTB-MLE has no flaws. For instance, it has proven expensive to translate educational materials into the eight mother tongue languages recommended by DepEd. Translation, too, has unveiled problems, such as which dialect of the language should be used in Bicol, for example, which varies in vocabulary and accent from place to place? Lastly, it has become apparent that when the mother tongue is favored, the child's proficiency in English and even the national language may become diminished. This puts students at a disadvantage, especially since in an increasingly globalized world, it has become more important than ever to be fluent in languages that allow one to communicate with an international audience.

There is still much to learn about the MTB-MLE. As a teacher, I hope that we continue analyzing its advantages and disadvantages so that we can make the necessary improvements in the forthcoming school years.


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