Saturday, March 31, 2012

Philrice to farmers: brace for rat attacks in farms

MUNOZ CITY, Nueva Ecija, March 31, 2012-Mr. Leonardo Marquez, Chief of the Philippine Rice Research Institute crop protection division has warned local farmers against massive rat infestation in their farms where crops are nearing the booting stage with the increase in the rodents’ population this month.

“The farmers should inspect potential breeding grounds of rats, many of which have gotten pregnant this month,” he said.

Marquez sounded the alarm after PhilRice laborers caught 80 rats in a 90-hectare farmland during a two-hour operation at its central experiment station here.

Marquez said the rat population starts to swell at booting stage when rats will have something to feed on, which favors breeding. He said with enough food and water, a pair of rats and their offspring can produce up to 500 puppies.

Armed with sacks, fish nets, bamboo rods and pails, PhilRice laborers track rats on creeks, irrigation canals and ducts.

Marquez said catching rats requires proper timing and must be employed when their population is still low or before rice enters the reproductive stage to reduce potential damage.

He said rats usually hide and reproduce in burrows, then go out from their holes when rice plants are in reproductive stage.

Marquez said burrows may be filled up with mixed soil and water which can cause the burrows to close when mud dries up.

To reduce rat population, Marquez recommended a year-round community-wide rat control, field sanitation, and proper water management. He stressed that community-wide rat control conducted twice a month is vital because rats are very mobile and elusive to catch.

Presently, PhilRice is spearheading rat control activities at least four times a month.

He also said that fields must be free from weeds and dikes and must be kept narrow while depths of irrigation water must be maintained at between three to five centimeters to discourage rats from cutting and chewing the tillers. (Jason de Asis)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Expect more violence in the hacienda—solon

ANTIPOLO City, March 30, 2012—More violence are expected to happen in Hacienda Luisita if the family of President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino III will still refuse to distribute the 6,435-hectare sugar estate to the farmworker-beneficiaries (FWBs).
This was the statement of the partylist Anakpawis, after seven farmworkers, including a minor, were arrested as the police and the military had served the order to vacate, issued by the Tarlac Municipal Court Branch 1, last March 26. They were just released yesterday, and warmly welcomed by their colleagues in the Hacienda.
Anakpawis Rep. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano said, the attempt of the farmworkers to dismantle the perimeter fences on the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. land in Brgy. Balete, in Luisita, must not be viewed as a criminal act, rather an assertion of the FWBs of their rights to the land, pursuant to the November 22, 2011 decision of the Supreme Court.
“The continuing violence and disorder at Luisita emanates from the Cojuangco-Aquinos’ blatant refusal to respect and implement the November 22, 2011 Supreme Court (SC) decision that ordered the distribution of 6,435 has. of Luisita lands to farmers-beneficiaries. The President’s family is maintaining its control and stronghold over the disputed sugar lands through illegal and immoral means. At the same time, the President is playing dumb and nonchalant on the current situation at Hacienda Luisita,” said the veteran peasant leader, turned lawmaker.
“Restlessness will continue in Hacienda Luisita as long as the Cojuangco-Aquinos, aided by the government, refuse to abide the Supreme Court decision and recognize and respect the rightful ownership of farmers over the Luisita lands,” he added.
Mariano also said that the RCBC continued to harass the farmers-on-picket near the land, using their private guards, as well as the police and the military.
Meanwhile, Mariano challenges the SC to decide, with finality, on the issue of the Luisita as they are expected to convene in Baguio on April 12. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Drilon bill to commercialize public health services

MANILA, March 29, 2012—A more commercialized health care is what Senator Franklin M. Drilon wants to happen in filing a bill which aims to classify government health institutions as government-owned and controlled corporations.
While it is bad for the poor people’s pockets, it is too bad, literally, for their health as it will allow giant fastfood chains, mostly serving greasy and rich-in-fat-and-sugar foods, to open their stores inside the hospital premises.
The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) assailed this move of the lawmaker from Iloilo, saying that it would make the health services in the country pricey, disallowing poor people—like ordinary fisherfolks—to access.
The Drilon bill, also known as the “National Government Hospital Corporate Restructuring Act of 2012”, will liberally allow the government-run hospitals to engage in business and generate more income for the facility, that will eventually improve its facilities and the services it renders to the people. However, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, expressed disbelief in this motive.
“Senator Drilon is fooling the people. His bill is all about privatization of public hospitals and public health so the national government will stop extending budget to public hospitals and let hospital administrators look for money outside government sources. If this highly condemnable bill is passed, Malacañang and Congress will further cut the budget for people’s health which is a complete state abandonment of public health,” Hicap said.
Hicap, also an Anakpawis Partylist Council member said, Drilon should think of better ways of improving the healthcare services in the country, and not to make government hospitals and clinics “at the mercy of conglomerates or corporations”.
Meanwhile, Eleanor A. Jara, M.D., executive of non-government health organization, Council for Health and Development (CHD), Inc. said, it seems that the Benigno C. Aquino III government is “doing the old ways” in terms of corporatization of the health services in the country.
“Instead of public service, the government's priorities are directed towards the interest of foreign investors as manifested by budget cuts on public services and the government's sheer effort to accentuate privatization. Privatization is encouraged by the Aquino government, through the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) program. This is said to decrease the government's budget spending while increasing the income with the help of the investments from private corporations,” the lady doctor said.
In the 2011 National Budget, observes Jara, the government had allocated a measly P3.2 billion for facility enhancement of hospitals under the Department of Health (DOH), while P6.1 billion for medical tourism project of the government.
“In privatization, budget cuts on government owned hospitals will be implemented. This, along with shares and investments of private corporations that desire profit will result to the need of hospitals to obtain more income. In return, health care services become more expensive. The ones who will benefit the most would be the foreign and domestic investors and corporations. The health services for the masses which should be free in public health facilities would be compromised. Even if the government is successful in raising its funds with PPP, it will be at the expense of the poor,” she said. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

5 HLI workers arrested; tension brews in the hacienda anew

ANTIPOLO City, March 28, 2012—Five farmworkers from the Hacienda Luisita were arrested, according to Hacienda Luisita Peasants’ Supporters Network (HL PeasNet) secretariat.
The arrests are in connection with the case of grave coercion and illegal occupation of property filed before the Tarlac Municipal Trial Court Branch 1 by the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) last February. The warrants of arrest were released by Judge Marvin Mangino, against 23 farmworkers of the hacienda, last February 23.
Some of the farmworker-leaders, including Lito Bais, chairperson of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), who is among the farmworkers to be arrested, are in Manila for a protest and dialogue on the land distribution case filed before the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) assailed the “divide and rule” tactic being employed allegedly by the RCBC and the HLI [Hacienda Luisita, Inc] management, in terms of regaining control of the disputed hacienda.
“The RCBC and Cojuangco-Aquinos’ efforts to evict the farmworkers [from the hacienda] started last year and continues up to now. They attempted to displace farmworkers and demolish their camp-out located in Brgy. Balete last October 28, 2011 and February 20, 2012 deploying some 100 security guards, elements of the Tarlac provincial police and the Philippine Army, who served as escorts while the RCBC personnel begin to fence the said land,” AMGL chairperson Joseph Canlas said.
Felix Nacpil Jr., chairperson of the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) said in a statement that they believe the Cojuangco-Aquinos are the ones behind the “railroading” of the release of the warrants of arrest to weaken the hearts of the 6,000 workers fighting for their rights to the land.
What is saddening, said Nacpil, is that they have paid some of the residents of the hacienda, some P300 daily, in order to gain support and turn against their fellow beneficiaries.
“The Cojuangco-Aquino clan wants us, farmworkers, to fight each other. The Cojuangco-Aquinos have mastered this maneuver and want us to surrender our rights to the 184 hectares in Brgy. Balete, as well as the aggregate 4,915 hectares agricultural lands in the hacienda,” Nacpil said.
However, the problem of arrests are not only for the Hacienda 22, but for another 15 members and leaders of Ambala who are now facing charges of malicious mischief, grave coercion and robbery, in connection with the February 20 incident.
Nevertheless, the HL farmworkers’ fight for land and rights had garnered much support, here and abroad.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice & Peace (CBCP-Nassa) had expressed its support with the HL workers, urging the Supreme Court to finalize its decision, to have the land properly distributed to its rightful owners—the farmworker-beneficiaries.
Even the Asian Peasants’ Coalition (APC) had condemned the HLI and the RCBC of filing “trump up” cases against the farmworkers who had started the bungkalan or collective farming on the 184-hectare RCBC land in Brgy. Balete, last July 11.
“We denounce these criminal cases being pushed by RCBC against farmworkers and their supporters. We strongly believe that it was pure intimidation to undermine the struggling farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita,” the APC statement said, as published on their website.
The APC also urged the DAR to “act in favor of the Hacienda farmers on their January 5, 2012 petition for the revocation of the land conversion order on the 184-hectare land which was re-classified by the department as industrial in favor of RCBC,” since the farmworker-beneficiaries, technically, are the legitimate owners of the Hacienda Luisita.
The APC also called for the dismissal of grave coercion and illegal occupation of property against 23 farmworkers and the robbery case against 20 other farmworkers who participated last Feb. 20, 2012.
“The farmers merely confiscated galvanized iron fences being put up by a construction team escorted by armed security guards, police and military in the land being claimed by RCBC,” the APC statement read.
“We call on more than 15 million APC members to send their solidarity messages or conduct solidarity actions to express their support to the struggling Hacienda Luisita farmworkers,” it added. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Monday, March 26, 2012

Luisita farmworkers decry series of harassments

ANTIPOLO City, March 26, 2012—Farmworkers of the controversial Hacienda Luisita decried the alleged harassments of private security hired by the Yuchengco Group’s Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation.
In a statement, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura revealed that some “hired goons” of the RCBC had attempted to disperse the farmworkers-on-camping, near the 184-hectare land in Brgy. Balete, which the farmworker-beneficiaries began to till since July last year for food and livelihood. The said parcel of land, also inside the Hacienda Luisita territory, was purchased by RCBC 16 years ago from the HLI [Hacienda Luisita, Inc.] management.
“This is a blatant disregard of the rights of the farmworkers, [who] in reality are the true owners of the Hacienda Luisita,” said Rodel Mesa, UMA’s secretary-general.
Earlier, the Tarlac Municipal Trial Court Branch 1 had issued warrants of arrest against 23 farmworkers of the hacienda, including Lito Bais, who serves as chairperson of UMA.
The 23 are facing charges of grave coercion and illegal occupation of private property, in connection with the tilling of the 184-hectare land of the RCBC, and the clash that happened between some 100 security personnel and the farmworkers, when the latter had attempted to dismantle the security post last February 20.
Mesa forewarns the RCBC management that it would be held accountable if any of the protesters would be harmed.
The farmworker-beneficiaries had already filed a revocation of the land conversion order by the Department of Agrarian Reform some years ago. In addition to this, they had also filed an early petition to the Supreme Court, asking the highest tribunal to cancel all conversion orders issued in favor of the HLI. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thousands join K of C's Walk for Life, reiterate RH bill rejection

MANILA, March 25, 2012—An estimated 30 to 50 thousand members of the Knights of Columbus and their families marched from Intramuros to the Rajah Sulayman park on Roxas Blvd. yesterday to carry out the annual Walk for Life in support of life and rejection of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
Themed “We Value Life”, the activity started with a 6 a.m. Eucharistic celebration at San Agustin Church, Intramuros, with Luzon State Chaplain and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco as main celebrant.
Participants from different Knights of Columbus Councils and other organizations assembled in front of the church after the Mass, then walked to Roxas Blvd. carrying streamers and placards identifying their group, and bearing life-affirming messages as well as expressions of anti-RH bill sentiments.
Some of the placards read: “Give us a chance to breathe because life is a wonderful gift,”” No to RH bill, We value life,” “Defend life,” “We fight for the Culture of Life, Against the Culture of Death,” “Ang buhay na isang regalo huwag sayangin, pahalagahan ito” and “Take my hand, not my life”.
The kilometric line of participants of varied ages, from a handful of preschool children and numerous elementary school and high school kids, to adults and quite a few seniors were upbeat during most of the way to Rajah Sulayman where a program was held.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim commended the supposed concern of the RH bill’s proponents for caring for women’s health issues but pointed out that the measure’s name can be deceiving.
“Ang hindi ko ho maintindihan, ang title ng proposed bill na ito, ‘reproductive health bill’. Ang sinasabi ng mga proponents nito, ay pinangangalagaan daw nila ‘yung kalusugan ng mga ina na manganganak dahil maaari daw mamatay sa panganganak at meron silang mga statistics na nagsasabi kung ilan ang namamatay sa panganganak,” Lim said.
“Sa biglang pandinig, napakagandang pakinggan — inaalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga ina natin.”
He segued into a personal testimony of living a welcoming attitude toward life and being contraceptives-free with his first wife of 44 years before she died and with whom he has eight children, and with his second wife with whom he has four children.
Zambales Representative Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, known for her firm opposition to the RH bill as well as her prowess in discussing it in plenary debates, explained what makes the measure unnecessary and thereby unworthy of support.
Some 80 percent of the provisions in the RH bill, she said, are contained in the Magna Carta of Women which was signed into law in 2009.
“Nakalagay po sa proposed RH bill that we should provide pre-natal and post-natal care sa lahat ng mga babae dito sa Pilipinas. Iyang provision na ‘yan nasa Magna Carta na eh. Kapag sinabi niyo pong ‘access to all kinds of family planning methods,’ nasa Magna Carta na rin ‘yan. Kapag sinabi mong ‘the right to space your children,’ nasa Magna Carta ‘yan.”
“Kapag sinabi mong dapat mag-provide ng birthing facilities ang mga health centers nationwide, nasa Magna Carta na rin ‘yan. At ‘pag sinabi mong dapat magkaroon ng midwife, nurse at duktor ang mga health centers nationwide, nasa Magna Carta na rin ‘yan,” Magsaysay continued.
“So bakit pa natin kailangang ipasa ang RH bill? Eh dapat ngayon pinapatupad na po namin sa pamahalaan ‘yung provisions ng Magna Carta.”
The congresswoman also delved on the concept of essential medicines and how she regards the attempt to categorize birth control drugs and devices as “essential medicines” as senseless.
“Anong sakit ba ang ginagamot ng contraceptives? Ang pagbubuntis ba ay isang sakit?” she recalled asking RH bill sponsors in plenary debates, to which the latter replied in the negative.
“Ang alam ko sa ‘essential medicine,’ ‘yan ay iniinom ng isang tao sapagkat siya ay may sakit, at kung sakaling inumin niya yung gamot, gagaling siya. Kung hindi naman pala sakit ang pregnancy, ibig sabihin walang sakit, so hindi mo pwedeng i-consider na ‘essential medicine’ ang condoms at contraceptives,” the solon explained.
The bigger picture that could explain the bill’s proponents’ motivation was revealed by Magsaysay.
“Ang sabi kasi nila, sa DoH, mas mabilis ang priority sa pagbili ng gamot kapag ‘essential medicine’ ang classification. Kaya gusto nilang lokohin tayong lahat at sabihin ang contraceptives ay dapat gawing ‘essential medicine,’ she said.
The Zambales congresswoman also mentioned that she would rather that students were taught values formation rather than sex education, as the youth need to learn to know and value their self-worth, understand principles such as integrity and focus on character building in general.
Allen Paolo Guballa, State Chief Squire, also spoke as part of the program, which ended with the release of white balloons as the song “Habang May Buhay” was played.
The Walk for Life took place a day before the Day of the Unborn, a special day officially designated in several countries including the Philippines for celebrating the sacredness of the lives of babies before birth. Besides the Philippines, other countries that mark March 25 with a pro-life theme are El Salvador, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Slovakia, Cuba, Austria and Romania. (CBCP for Life)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Filipinos abroad contribute to youth programs—Church official

MANILA, March 24, 2012—Filipinos working abroad help in maintaining the various programs of the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) through their generous donations, according to ECY executive secretary Fr. Conegundo Garganta.
Garganta has visited the Filipino community in Doha, Qatar last March 16 to appeal to ‘kababayans’ working here to become supporters/benefactors of the youth programs initiated by the youth commission.
“Their support is through financial assistance. We know that our ‘kababayans’ working there are also experiencing difficulties but we believe that despite the difficulties and struggles, it cannot be discounted that they can still show or manifest their generosity and concern for the Church in the Philippines,” Garganta said.
The initial appeal to contribute to the programs of ECY was initiated by a Filipino Capuchin priest, Fr. Zacharias Parra, OFM Cap, to which the Filipino community responded positively.
The financial assistance given may not be that big, Garganta continues, but you can see and feel that they are eager and willing to help.
He hopes that a continued relationship with the Filipino communities in Doha, will assure ECY of assistance from ‘kababayans’ in the said country.
The Capuchin-ministered parishes follow some dynamics and guidelines for appeals done by priests coming from the Philippines.
“The Capuchins in UAE do not want that the appeal for help be made through 2nd collection, at this point in time, it must be made through private capacity or responses from ‘kababayans’ who will be responding to the said request,” Garganta shared.
He added that the Capuchins are trying to avoid a negative picture the continuous would create in the parishes since more and more priests come from the Philippines also to ask for help.
“They are observing also some restrictions from the government, especially the freedom to practice faith and religion,” he added.
Appeals received form Doha come in a subtle way. As of now, there is still no concrete response from ‘kababayans’ in the said country, although an initial amount was already brought home by Garganta.
When asked about his opinion on the generosity of ‘kababayans’ abroad, he pointed out that it is not only programs or projects here in the Philippines that overseas Filipinos are willing to help.
During calamities, Filipinos abroad automatically initiate a fund drive to help the needy back home.
“It is their way of extending themselves, they believe they are also responsible to their kababayans’ at home,” Garganta said.
“The natural goodness of a Filipino always comes in, which is an identity. Many of our ‘kababayans’ are naturally concerned for their home country. ‘Yun ang nakikita kong kabutihan sa ating mga kababayan na nagtatrabaho sa abroad. They are open to share the blessing of the fruits of their hard work. And it is already a part of our culture, ‘di nila hinuhubad ‘yun ganoong consciousness and awareness, ‘yun pagiging matulungin ay andoon pa din,” the priest commented.
During his Qatar visit, Garganta stayed at the Our Lady of Rosary Parish in Doha with parish priest Fr. Peter P.M., OFM Cap, together with Fr. Zacharias Parra, a fellow capuchin. He was also introduced to Bishop Camillo Ballin, the Apostolic Vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia.
In 2010, Garganta has also made a similar appeal to the Filipinos in Dubai which generated a positive response. Although minimal, the donations received were used in youth projects initiated in the same year.
The priest also calls on other generous benefactors to help in maintaining youth programs by sending aid to their office. Interested benefactors may call +063 (02) 527-9567 or (Jandel Posion)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Siete Palabras at Sto. Domingo Church to air on Good Friday

QUEZON City, March 23, 2012—The Dominican Province of the Philippines (DPP) will again be holding the Siete Palabras at the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City on April 6 with the same theme as last year: “Ang Pasyong Mahal sa Buhay ni Juan.”
Fr. Christopher Jeffrey Aytona, OP, chairman of the DPP Media Board, said the organizers intend to stress that Christian religion is a significant part of the Filipino culture.
“Siete Palabras also reminds us of what we should appreciate and continue, like how we express our beliefs,” he said.
To be featured in Siete Palabras 2012 is the recitation of the “Pasyon,” which is one of the most popular Catholic devotion during Lent.
A live telecast of the Lenten special will be aired by GMA-7, with a simultaneous broadcast by Radio Veritas 846 on Good Friday.
The main highlight of the event will be the reflections of the Dominican fathers on the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ–“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43); “Woman, behold your Son: Behold your mother” (John 19:26-27); “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34); “I thirst” (John 19:28); “It is finished” (John 19:30); and “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Preachers are Fr. Napoleon Encarnacion, OP; Fr. Nilo Lardizabal, OP; Fr. Enrico Gonzales, OP; Fr. Winston Cabading OP; Fr. Eugenio Cabillon, OP; Fr. Filemon Dela Cruz, Jr., OP; and Fr. Florentino Bolo, Jr., OP.
Liturgical presentations will be presented by the Letran Filipiniana Dance Company, the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, the Mandaluyong Children’s Choir, the Sto. Domingo Male Chorale, and the Tiples de Santo Domingo.
Testimonials about their faith will be shared by former ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa; Letty Syquia (mother of Fr. Jocis Syquia, the director of the Archdiocese of Manila’s Office of Exorcism); veteran comedienne-singer Elizabeth Ramcey, TV producer Tak Barrios; and renowned director Laurice Guillen.
Siete Palabras, the longest-running Lenten special on Philippine TV, is a collaborative project of DPP’s Provincial Media Board, the Santo Domingo Convent, and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, Pangasinan. Major partners in this event include the University of Santo Tomas and the Rhythm Sound & Light Trading Corporation.
Other sponsors are Angelicum College–QC, Colegio de San Juan de Letran–Manila, Security and Credit Investigation, Lorenzo C. Reyes Laboratory, and Cross Over 105.1. (Levine Andro H. Lao)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Media group supports P125 ATB wage hike for workers

ANTIPOLO City, March 22, 2012—An alliance of media workers, journalists and publishers expressed its support to the P125 (US$2.90 based on the prevailing foreign exchange rate of P43.10:$1.00) legislated wage hike, which the Anakpawis Partylist had been pushing in Congress since 2004.
In a statement, the Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM) said that it is not impossible for a substantial wage hike in the Philippines since other third world countries had done the same thing to empower their workers.
National Press Club (NPC) president, ALAM chairperson and Hataw news tabloid publisher Jerry Sia Yap stressed that those who work, fair and square, should gather the fruits of their labor.
Meanwhile, ALAM president and lawyer Bertini Causing said, raising the salary of daily wage earners by P125 will help them cope with the soaring prices of commodities and services.
ALAM officials also said that they do not believe the big companies’ alibi that raising the salaries of their workers by P125 or by P2,500 ($58.01) per month would cost the company’s closure.
In the meantime, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chided the alleged erroneous computation made by the Palace’s “think-tanks” on the amount that the industries should shell-out, annually, for the wage increase.
Deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the businesses, all over the country, should at least shell out around P1,605,500,000 trillion (P1.6 sextillion) to make the wage increase possible. This, according to Valte, will hurt the industries more and will result to massive layoffs.
“This is an old tactic: to portray workers as asking for too much and making many unreasonable demands. But workers know that labor costs account for a very small portion of production costs and that wages are very small compared with the profits of capitalists – especially those of the big foreign and local ones,” explains KMU national chair Elmer “Bong” Labog.
In 2011, independent think-tank IBON Foundation, Inc. said the P125 across-the-board wage hike, nationwide will only amount to a 15% reduction of profits for establishments that have 20 employees and higher. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PH's first environment-friendly chapel built in Bacolod

BACOLOD City, March 20, 2012—An environment-friendly chapel, solar-powered and constructed from indigenous and recycled materials was opened in a simple blessing ceremony yesterday in Bacolod City.

Located within the area of the Greenheart Hermitage on the campus grounds of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, the chapel was a collaborative effort of three Negrense artists who offered their talents and skills pro bono to build the “earth chapel” due to their common advocacy of protecting the environment.
The chapel structure was made of indigenous materials that include mud, bamboo, rice straw and stalk and cogon grass. Recycled objects including wine bottles, discarded tiles, discarded wood slab and other bits and pieces were also added in the structure.
Brother Tagoy Jakosalem, a Rekoleto friar and an official presenter of The Climate Reality Project, did the interior of the chapel.
He conceptualized and incorporated renewable energy into the structure, making the chapel true to form and function in its liturgical scheme.
"The chapel is the first solar-powered religious edifice in the country, it is envisioned both to have a sound spiritual and environmental atmosphere, LED lights are used to illumine the interior. Wine bottles are incorporated in the structure, natural lighting effects emanating from the green-colored wine bottles, serving as recyclable stained-glass windows," said Jakosalem, a religious environmentalist who was personally trained on climate change science by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore through The Climate Reality Project.
The other two artists who worked with Jakosalem were Marisol Alquizar, a visual artist who spends her time building mud houses in Negros island; and Nunelucio Alvarado, a leading social-realist in the country.
Alquizar designed the chapel while Alvarado transformed his pen and ink version of “Kristo ni Alvarado” into a colourful mosaic as the chapel’s centerpiece.
"Working on a mud chapel, is a labor intensive exercise; that truly needs a collective manpower. The chapel, started its skeleton from the hands of volunteer students, who are all active members of the Tsinelas of Hope; offering their time to give life to the chapel," explained Jakosalem.
"We are envisioning the chapel to be the center of our ecological reflection, owing to the spiritual inspiration of our Creator; hoping to be transformed to be men and women of faith committed to protect and preserve the earth," he added.
Meanwhile, Rodne Galicha, the Philippine district manager of the Climate Reality Project, said the Earth Chapel is a sustainable spiritual edifice that reconnects people to nature, to “what we have been.”
“This is the 8th R which we always emphasize, R-econnecting ourselves to Nature, to the creation and to the Creator. Unless we are unable to realize that we are part of the whole creation, we will not be able to solve this climate crisis," he said.
The Climate Reality Project in the Philippines is currently doing its bottom-up information education campaign with the grassroots to promote awareness on the climate crisis. The group promotes climate change adaptation and mitigation through observance of 8-Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, refuse, rethink, rainforest and reconnect.
"We are called to be stewards of creation and there is a need to re-establish the role of spirituality in restoring the integrity of creation," Galicha said. (CBCPNews)

Monday, March 19, 2012


BALER, Aurora, March 19, 2012-Our hometown hero never fails to amaze me. I’m referring to Senator Edgardo J. Angara who again pulled off another first in Aurora by making the province the first to establish an artists’ village in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

Sometime last month, the artist village was inaugurated at the Dicasalarin beach resort in Barangay Zabali with the senator leading the way along with officials of the Board of Trustees of the Juan C. Angara Foundation.

The opening of the artists’ village was graced by national artists for literature Sionil Jose and Virgilio Almario and national artist for visual arts Benedicto Cabrera.

I was fortunate to interview internationally renowned installation artist and BOT member Jun Yee along with my friends, Manny Galvez of Philippine Star, Ronald Leander of GMA7 and we were informed that the artist-village will serve as a private-driven institution that will help revolutionize culture and the arts.

Yee, who has stayed long enough in Aurora to familiarize himself with the local culture and arts, explained that the village will serve as the private counterpart of the CCP and will provide a venue for seminars, workshops and lecture series on various art disciplines such as painters, architects, interior designers, landscape architect, dancers, musicians, poets, and writers and will eventually expand into the fields of film photography, food, fashion, furniture and even cyber media of the internet and mobile technology.

“Our vision is to invite artists from Asia and the Asia-Pacific where they can showcase their arts skills and impart their knowledge to our local artists so they can hone their home-grown talents by enrolling in our programs,” he said.

How the project was conceived was awe-inspiring. Yee was earlier asked by Senator Edong to draw up the conceptual framework for the project, a living testament to the passion shown by the senator for culture and the arts.

The project will accommodate a facility, called “longhouse,” for a lecture series and a clubhouse for social gatherings among artists. A second facility that will rise in the village will include workshop building for stone works, sculpture and experimental works of artists in the various arts disciplines.    The third facility is the construction of six cottages which can accommodate four artists each, where they may design their works of art using indigenous materials from the province.

Grand plans for the artists’ village include holding art festivals and painting exhibitions to enhance interaction among artists not only here but also abroad in coordination with the CCP.

We see this village as perfect compliments to the Aurora Arts Council which is also coordinating with various government agencies for art related events and activities in the province.

With this project, we won’t be surprised if Aurora becomes the bastion and hub of culture and the arts in Asia. We just have so much talent in our midst which needs to be harnessed to make us stand out in the global stage of performers, artists and the like.

We are hoping for more of this village to rise in other areas so that a genuine arts revolution could ignite in the Philippines and ingrain in us the artistic values of our talent.

After all, life imitates art.  (Jason de Asis) 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Central Luzon farmers demand halt in N. Zambales mining operations

ANTIPOLO City, March 18, 2012—It’s the farmers versus the mining giant in Zambales as the former demand the immediate halt of large-scale mining operations in Sta. Cruz town.
In a statement, the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and the Movement for the Protection of the Environment (Move Now!) said that the environmental health and the livelihood of farmers and indigenous peoples in the area are being threatened by the mining operations of different mining firms namely Benguetcorp Nickel Mines, Inc. and its contractor D. M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI), Eramen Minerals, Inc., Shangfil Mining and Trading Corp., Filipinas Mining Corp., PhilAsia and Loren and Leoni (LnL).
Joseph Canlas, chairperson of the AMGL said, they are dismayed over the granting of permits by the local officials, knowing that wide-scale mining would eat up most of the forest areas in Sta. Cruz, will mess up the waters, and will make the arable areas barren.
In the fact-finding mission organized by the groups, together with Anakpawis Partylist, the Move Now!-affiliated Agapan ng Kaligtasan at Kabuhayan (AGAP) – Zambales, and SAGIP Zambales, the team had seen the devastating effects of mining in Sta. Cruz:
Effects on the environment: the forest on the mountains were totally wiped out; the river is dead, the water is itchy to the skin, fishes and other food sources vanished, it is heavily silted; water from wells are already contaminated and made undrinkable forcing residents to buy purified water; landslides occurred in Brgy. Guisguis and Lomboy, flashfloods also eroded the soil by the river and floods became regular during continuous raining.
Effects on livelihood: rice yield dropped by 30 to 50%, previous yield reaches to 70-100 cavans per hectare which dropped to 50-70 cavans. Rice lands have been polluted with “red soil” especially during rainy season. Rice production is lower during rainy season. Lower production declined their income to sustain their daily needs. Farmers could no longer source the mountain and river for wood, food, cogon and other necessities.
Effects on people’s health: residents who accidentally drink the water from the river or contaminated wells suffer loose bowel movement and those who use it experience skin irritation. People regularly suffer cough and colds, eye irritation, itchiness as dust from trucks scatter around their community and they fear that dust contain nickel deposits. In Brgy. Canaynayan, trucks pass by the school, thus, residents fear health hazard on children.
Effects on people’s safety: people are restless as they are aware of tragedies that took place in different parts of the country caused by mining, logging and other activities that destroy the environment, such as “baka ma-Ormoc kami,” (we could experience like what occurred in Ormoc), “baka matulad kami sa Mindanao,” (what happened in Mindanao could happen here) said by residents, referring to what happened in Ormoc, Leyte in 1991 that killed more than 6,000 people due to landslides and flash flood. Residents could not sleep calmly during rains as they stay alert for flash flood. People estimate that 100 to 200 trucks pass by their community thus fearing children could be run over.
While there were promises of employment, the FFM team had found out that out of 3,500 registered voters in Brgy. Guisguis, less than 10% (around 300) were employed in the mining areas. In Brgy. Canaynayan, out of 800 eligible workers, only four (4) were employed and in barangays Guinabon and Lomboy, only 70 and three persons respectively, were employed out of 800 households.
However, Sta. Cruz is only one of the towns where big mining operations are being conducted. Move Now! revealed that almost of the Northern Zambales areas are being dug up for nickel, chromites, magnetite, copper and gold.
The groups are now calling the attention of former general Hermogenes Ebdane to look into the matter as his constituents are threatened to be deprived of their rights to land, food security, and to live in a safe and clean environment.
“It is very reasonable why Sta. Cruz farmers are demanding the cessation of mining operations in Sta. Cruz, the Central Luzon farmers support their call as mining in Zambales is not only an issue of the people of Zambales and region, but also of the entire country, as it is a plunder of our national patrimony. We have nothing to hope from the Aquino government as the president is a promoter of mining in the country, we call on the people, direct and indirect victims of mining in Zambales to unite and struggle against it,” said Canlas. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2K ‘patriotic’ trees to be planted near Taal Lake

ANTIPOLO City, March 17, 2012—About 2,000 trees are to be planted as part of the campaign of Bayan Muna Parylist to save the famous Taal Lake in Batangas and to teach residents surrounding the lake to fight climate change by preserving and defending the environment, which is their only source of living.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño said the 2,000 ‘patriotic trees’ would be the living monuments of the people’s fight against the privatization of the lake, as well as to foster environmental awareness among the inhabitants of the six barangays (villages) in Tanauan City.
“We are optimistic that with this joint undertaking with the City Government of Tanauan, the tree planting project along the lakeshore of Taal we can further enhance the formation of positive values among concerned communities and other project partners through shared responsibilities in sustainable management of the easement zone,” said Casiño.
The trees to be planted are narra (Pterocarpus indicus), a type of hardwood that is known as the Philippines’ national tree; mahogany (Shorea almon), which is under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species; alibangbang (Bauhinia monandra Kurz or the pink butterfly tree); caballero (Caesalpinia pulcherrinma); and fire tree (Morella faya).
The project was co-sponsored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Region IV-A and the Tanauan City Government, represented by Honorable Mayor Sonia Torres and was supported by the the Sangguniang Panglunsod ng Tanauan, Sangguniang Barangay of Ambulong, Banadero, Gonzales, Wawa and Boot, Janopol Oriental Farmers Association, Banadero Farmers Association, Wawa National High School, Boot National High School, Tanauan School of Fisheries, 727 Riders, Log-Out Riders, Bikers of Tanauan, Kabalikat Civicom, Generation for Christ, the Samahan ng mga Mangingisda ng Tanauan and Tanauan local police.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna is also planning to re-forest the denuded watershed of Laguna Lake and Talim Island, a small island within the bay.
Casino said that they are also involve in the reforestation of mangroves along the shores of Manila Bay, as proposed by the fisherfolk group, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya). [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Friday, March 16, 2012

Campus Ministers' national convention to be held in Cebu

CEBU City, March 16, 2012—The Campus Ministries of the Archdiocese of Cebu and the Archdiocese of Manila are jointly organizing the 4th National Convention of Campus Minister to be held at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City on April 24 to 26.

With the theme “New Directions in Campus Ministry: Discovering Roadmaps for Youth Guides of Today”, the convention aims to have a venue for the exchange of stories and approaches in ministering to the youth of today.
“We have invited guest speakers and facilitators from Manila, Cebu and Davao. We wish to nurture and enhance the personhood and competencies of campus minister in order to face the challenges of ministering to the young,” said the organizers.
“In view of this, we wish to invite you to this large gathering of campus ministers, chaplains, youth directors, youth ministers, educators, theologians, religion teachers and student leaders. We hope that this shall be an occasion where we are together in our search for better ways and approaches and forge a network that will create positive impact to the growth and spirituality of young people,” they added.
The organizers estimate around 800 ministers will participate on the said convention.
Interested participants can email the Cebu organizers (headed by Fr. Jake Reyes, the Director of the Cebu Archdiocesan Campus Ministry) at or inquire through their fax/telephone number +32 4168002. (Jandel Posion)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Motorists asked to join ‘5-minute EDSA blockade’ vs Oil Price Hike

ANTIPOLO City, March 15, 2012—Urban poor group, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) urged motorists to give at least 5 minutes of their time to “block” EDSA [Epifanio de los Santos Avenue] to protest the unabated oil price increase.

In a statement, Kadamay secretary-general Gloria Arellano, said it is very obvious that Malacañang and the big oil companies Shell, Petron and Caltex are in “connivance” in terms of oil overpricing. The pump prices in the Philippines had increased eight times due to the tension happening in Iran.
"We only ask for five minutes of their trip to register our strongest opposition to the seeming collusion between Malacanang and the oil cartel at the expense of the majority of the Filipinos. And, it would need our united effort to bring the Aquino administration to its knees for its subservience to the oil cartel,” the urban poor leader said.
For the poor, Arellano explains, every centavo counts and the unabated oil price increases make the lives of the urban poor from worse to worst as food prices and transport fare also go up whenever there is an increase in the cost of petroleum.
"While the government continues to protect the oil cartel and does nothing against its profiteering scheme, Aquino has no right to absolve himself of the soaring number of Filipinos who go hungry or consider themselves poor," Arellano said.
Meanwhile, Kadamay said that the Filipinos should do a “Nigerian-type” of war against the oil price hike, as the Nigerian people had forced their government to bring back oil subsidy after a massive of protests launched that lasted for weeks.
She also said that President Benigno C. Aquino III’s “puppetry” to oil companies must come to an end and force him to act on people’s issues, not only on oil, but also on the problems of burgeoning unemployment, devaluating workers’ wages, and soaring food prices.
“We have no choice but to act now,” Arellano said. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]


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