Baguio Council puts on hold ‘Yamashita treasure’ digging

>> Sunday, January 22, 2017

90-year-old ex-Jap soldier bares he helped bury treasure 

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Except for one hitch, a treasure hunter is set to dig the fabled Yamashita treasure here following revelation by a 90-year-old half Japanese man, that he along with Japanese soldiers buried the treasure during World War 2.
The city council decided to invite all parties concerned on proposal to conduct treasure-hunting activities within premises of the Baguio Convention Center for them to discuss first the matter like its effect on environment.
The council invited representatives from National Museum, treasure hunters led by Eliseo A. Cabusao, City and Environment and Parks Management Officer Cordelia Lacsamana, city legal officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes, engineer Faye Apil, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and University of the Philippines Baguio Chancellor Raymundo D. Rovillos to issue policy statements on the matter.
Earlier, Cabusao wrote the local legislative body requesting that their treasure-hunting activities within the vicinity of the Baguio Convention Center and UPCB be exempted from Article 9 Section 52 of Ordinance No. 18, series of 2016 or the city’s Environment Code that totally prohibits treasure hunting activities within the city.
According to him, a 90-year old Baguio-born half Japanese man, who has been an American citizen since the mid-1970s, allegedly pointed to him, in the presence of their respective families at his house in the city, the location of truckloads of gold bars he and Japanese soldiers in their teens deposited inside a tunnel somewhere in the vicinity of the Baguio Convention Center during the closing days of world War II.
“We explored and detected around the Baguio Convention Center using four different detecting tools or units of equipment and all converged on a small grassy area five meters away from the sidewalk towards the side of the UP ladies dormitory. We repeated this three more times and the results were all identical,” Cabusao said.
He explained their retrieval plan as approved by the National Museum through a technical and environmental work plan requires them to confirm to laws, rules and regulations regarding, among others, environmental protection including rehabilitation and remediation, labor safety and health standards.
Cabusao said their method of extraction will be sub-soil exploration using a 10- centimeter drilling equipment on a 15-cm steel casing; evaluate results and re-confirm the treasure spot; after re-confirmation, enlarge drilling hole to 30-centimeter if tunnel is encountered as projected; scan the area using flashlights and camera connected to a computer and if target item is encountered, enlarge further the drilling hole to 60 up to 80-cm to facilitate extraction of items using mechanical lifting equipment; install a liner and bring down a capsule, pump in the air, provide light, remove the capsule, lower down the container, and start the retrieval operations with the use of hydraulic truck.
Cabusao told the council treasure hunters have posted a performance bond amounting to P250,000 in case of their failure to provide the same, to answer for and guarantee payment to whatever actual damages that may be caused by their exploration or retrieval activities.


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Abra educator finalist in Global Teacher Prize


By Ginalyn B. Brioso

TAYUM, Abra -- Francis Jim Tuscano, an educator from Abra,   has made it to the top 50 finalists of the 2017 Global Teacher Prize (GTP), an award conferred to an exceptional teacher worldwide for incomparable efforts and contribution to the teaching profession.
Tuscano is the only Filipino in the list of Top 50 finalists in this prestigious award by the Varkey Foundation under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Emir of Dubai.
The finalists were chosen from among 20,000 nominations from 179 countries.   
Tuscano’s accomplishments qualified him to the GTP like innovative teaching and learning approaches to his students, being  a model teacher to his fellow educators through excellent and continuous professional learning, acknowledged school, local and national community efforts, expertise and experiences in using technological tools in supporting best pedagogical practices such as the use of iPad in class and leading the school through giving high-quality training sessions for teachers.
“I have made my multi-touch book, iPad Activities for the Christian RE class, dedicated to guiding Filipino and international Religious Educators with use of the iPad in class.”
The book was a finalist in the 2016 iBooks Author Conference in the United States, under the category, Best iBook of the Year (Education, Overall).
Among his awards were Pineau-Clifford Educator’s Award for Outstanding Faculty in Xavier School, San Juan and Best Professional Blog of the Year in Xavier School with his professional learning website “www.francisjimtuscano.com - Mr. T’s Online Blackboard”.
He is also recognized by Apple, Inc and Google Philippines for his achievements and innovations in teaching and learning with tech tools in the classroom.
He is a member of the global community of Apple Distinguished Educators and a Google Education Group Leader for Ortigas, Philippines.
Tuscano served as resource speaker to numerous trainings and workshops organized by the Department of Education here  particularly in Tayum Central School, his Alma Mater.
“Knowing the limitations of certain schools like in the public school system  where computers or tech tools are not present, I also give trainings and seminars on innovative, non-digital approaches to learning such as growth mindset, visible thinking routines, and employment of inquiry-based learning among others to help push the Philippine education system out of the traditional mindset, ”  he expressed.

“If I win the grand prize, I planned to use it for teacher training for public schools and to set up coding and robotics for public school students,” he said. 

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Seven school buildings turned over to DepEd in Mt Province


By Wabilyn M. Lomong-oy and Roger Sacyaten

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Seven school buildings were turned over by the provincial Dept. of Public and Highways to Dept. of Education in this town witnessed by local officials and stakeholders.
“Construction of school buildings in Mountain Province is a testament of collaborative efforts and working together of stakeholders involved in establishment of quality and effective education in the province,” said Rep. Maximo Dalog during inauguration and turnover of several school buildings from Jan. 9-11.
Finished school buildings were Guinzadan National High School-Mayag Extension, Guinzadan National High School-Senior High School, Caotit Primary School and Lagawa Elementary School all in Bauko town.
The Pingad National High School-Senior High School in Sabangan, Ankileng Elemantary School and Balugan Elemantary School in Sagada were also inaugurated and turned.
The buildings were funded under the Basic Educational Facilities Fund (BEFF) through Dalog who acknowledged projects were offshoot of love and service.
In his talk, Dalog said collaboration and support of everyone from the school administration, students, Parents Teachers Association and the local government units had been very vital.
He said occasions were times to celebrate unity for progress and thanksgiving for the blessings.
Various stakeholders through the local officials and officers of PTA have expressed appreciation for the buildings that made the educational environment better with the wider classroom spaces for the learners.

Dalog said provincial constituents should be involved in education of children echoing statement of Judith Bangaan, representative of Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr., quoting him, “It takes a village to educate a child.”  

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Veggie prices up as Baguio, Benguet chills; frost on farms


BAGUIO CITY – The temperature in this summer capital dropped to 11 degrees Celsius Tuesday, the lowest since December as in other parts of Benguet where farms were covered with frost resulting to rise in vegetable prices in Manila.
On Jan. 8, the temperature here was recorded at 11.5 degrees Celsius.
It is cooler in northern Benguet towns such as Atok, Mankayan and Kibungan, where the temperature is two degrees lower. 
Kabayan town’s Mt. Pulag, the second highest peak in the country, usually records lower temperatures.
Frost covered vegetable plantations in Barangays Madaymen in Kibungan, Cada in Mankayan and Paoay, Atok since Jan. 7, Agot Balanoy of the Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative said, citing reports from farmers.
Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso said effect of the cold spell on vegetable farms was minimal and will not drastically affect prices where veggies are distributed like Metro Manila.
Vegetable dealers in Metro Manila have suddenly increased prices of veggies baling frost as the culprit and lack of the commodity but Benguet authorities said they used the reason to make a killing when in fact prices were stables in the province and supply was normal.   
The lowest temperature here last year was recorded in December at 13.6 degrees Celsius.

The coldest temperature was recorded at 6.3 degrees on Jan. 19, 1961.

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Ombudsman appeals ex- Cagayan mayor’s acquittal


TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan -- The Office of the Ombudsman has urged the Sandiganbayan to reverse its ruling acquitting former Tuguegarao mayor Delfin Ting of graft in connection with the demolition of a public market in 2008.
In a 17-page motion for reconsideration filed before the second division of the anti-graft court, the Office of the Special Prosecutor said it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that Ting ordered the demolition of the Tuguegarao City market without approval from the city council.
The OSP said the court erred when it sided with the defense that the city council authorized the demolition of the old market through Resolution 053-2008.

The prosecution maintained that the resolution only provided for the renovation of the public market.
The OSP said former city engineer Emilio Matanguihan Jr. had testified that the old market was transformed into a department store.

“Contrary to the intent of Resolution 053-2008, the constructed Mall of the Valley was different and cannot be considered an upgrade of the Tuguegarao City Central Market because the former was not devoted for the purpose to which the demolished building was devoted,” the prosecution said.

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COA: Panagbenga funds not fully accounted; BFFFI violated laws


BAGUIO CITY – The Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. (BFFFI) vowed to comply with the recommendations of the Commission on Audit to sustain the city’s major crowd-drawing event held between February and March every year.
Appearing before the regular session of the city Council last Monday, Andrew Pinero, media officer of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio, said had the audit findings been provided the BFFFI the earliest possible time, the foundation could have initiated appropriate moves to comply with the COA findings to improve handling of the flower festival.
Among the COA findings is the absence of a policy in the full accounting of funds and memorandum of agreement between the local government and the BFFFI for the conduct of the festival.
The COA found out collection of special permit fees during the festival was assigned to BFFFI contrary to Section 130© of the Local Government Code considering act of allowing a private entity to collect fees and charges is contrary to the fundamental principles governing the exercise of the taxing and other revenue-raising power of the local government.
It was found gross amount earned were not fully collected showing a balance of P253,727.76 as indicated in the COA report.
Pinero said matters raised by the COA will be brought to the attention of the BFFFI for them to craft guidelines in management of the annual flower festival and memorandum of agreement between the local government and foundation.
However, in relation to the uncollected amount contained in the COA report, Pinero claimed the foundation will coordinate with the concerned offices of the local government to synchronize their records to clear the amount from the COA report.
Pinero said partnership between the local government and private sector in the city’s major festival will be enhanced to guarantee successful conduct of events lined up for the month-long celebration from February 1 to March 5 this year.
The HRAB official told local legislators the foundation will comply with requirements of the COA for full accounting of funds generated by organizers for various income-generating activities during the month-long festivities.
He said the BFFFI had been religiously submitting to the city its audited financial report similar to what it had been submitting to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Pinero added the foundation’s financial statement had always been published in local newspapers for the information of the public and in deference to their policy of transparency and accountability so the people will be fully aware of how funds were generated and spent for  successfully staging events lined up for the festival annually. -- Dexter A. See

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Two solar plants to rise in Pangasinan


SAN MANUEL, Pangasinan – The construction of two solar power plants in this town is expected to start this month, an official has said.
“It’s a go. It’s a done deal,” Cezar Perez, municipal administrator, told reporters on Tuesday.
Perez said the municipal council earlier approved two resolutions endorsing the 40-megawatt solar photovoltaic project of Pilipinas Newton Energy Corp. in Barangays San Bonifacio and San Roque and 45-MW project of Pilipinas Einstein Energy Corp. in Sto. Domingo.
“The Sangguniang Bayan recognizes the importance of private sector participation in accelerating the development and utilization of renewable energy sources,” the resolutions stated.

Perez said the project proponents had secured the permits from concerned government agencies. – Eva Visperas    

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Etag Festival 2017 held with contests, concerts


by Gina Dizon

SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE - Contests and concerts to have the community people be happy and festive on the celebration of its Etag Festival shall be observed on February 2-5, 2017  with theme” A Celebration of an Empowered Community through Faith and Culture”.  
Contests to be participated by elementary and secondary school students are video making, poster making  emergency race on disaster prevention and awareness on February 2 with prizes handled by Treasure Link Cooperative Society.
Quiz show, quiz bee contests also be participated in by elementary and high school students on February 2 with prizes on winning entries  sponsored by Rural Bank of Sagada.
An essay writing contest for secondary school students shall be conducted on  February 3 and the winners  given prizes sponsored by some individual-writers who trace their roots from Sagada.     
Music contest is open to ages 5 and above with categories solo, duet/trio, instrumental and  band. Battle of the Bands shall be  seen on February 3 after the Kantan di Ungung-a  at 3 pm on the same day with  winners’ prizes from the Local Government Unit of Sagada.
Though Sagada Got Talent on a singing competition and other talents shall also be participated in by  elementary and secondary students on February 4 with winners given prizes sponsored by Smart Telecommunications.  
Cultural presentations and  street dancing  scheduled on February 3 shall also grab prizes along with winners of ground demonstrations and ballgames rewarded with prizes  provided by the LGU.
                  Search for Ms Sagada shall be shown by the night of February 5 and winners given prizes from sponsor Smart Telecom. 
A concert by Shalom Beharim composed of clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines  shall be shown on  February 2 at 7 pm at the Church of St Mary the Virgin.
              Jam Night sees some singing talents from Sagada on the nights of February 3 and 4 along with musicians from other places who are currently in Sagada and would like to join the festivity.  
                Simultaneously on the night of February 3, a Cultural Fair happens at Bangaan in northern Sagada.
Distinctly of community bonding on the occasion of the town fiesta lets barangay constituents  get together and enjoy lunch on any day during the four day festival. While this is so, boodle fight of  the native delicacy ‘etag’ and pinikpikan shall be served to visitors.
Now on its 6th celebration the Etag Festival is celebrated  with the feast of the Purification of  the Virgin Mary and presentation of Jesus Christ in the temple by the Church of St Mary the Virgin on February 2 .
The yearly event which falls on the first week of February is the  traditional Sagada Fiesta now called  Etag Festival by virtue of a resolution passed  by the Sangguniang  Bayan in 2011.
Etag is a native delicacy of smoked meat used for rituals and now a commercialized food.  
Traditional events are the civic parade, cultural presentations  by barangay and school delegates and ball games participated by schools  and invited guest players.  

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BIBAK demolition set before Jan. 31


By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – The city government through the city anti-squatting committee Thursday agreed to reset the demolition of illegal structures at the Benguet-Ifugao-Bontoc-Apayao-Kalinga (BIBAK) area to a later date but not beyond Jan.  31.
This after the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) relayed to Mayor Mauricio Domogan the possibility of obtaining a commitment from the affected parties to undertake voluntary demolition of their structures.
Committee head city administrator Carlos Canilao said they are intent on pursuing the demolition within the month to avoid further delay in the long overdue operation.
Domogan convened the committee to discuss the possibility of postponing the operation in the light of the PCUP development and of the scheduled Ms. Universe event in the city.
The operation was earlier set for Jan. 17-18 with all the manpower and logistical requirements being readied.
The mayor said the city remains open to obtaining cooperation of affected parties but it will still depend on how they plan to go about the demolition especially the time frame.
The PCUP promised to forward the commitment as soon as possible.
The committee also deemed it prudent to postpone the demolition as the visit of the Ms. Universe contestants will fall on Jan. 18.
Canilao said the event will require the city’s full attention in terms of the maintenance of peace and order which cannot be done if the BIBAK demolition will still be pursued at the same time.
During the meeting, the committee signified readiness for the operation with the city buildings and architecture office under engineer Nazita Banez to take the lead with the manpower and equipment needed.
The operation will be in collaboration with the Baguio City Police Office under Senior Supt. Ramil Saculles who committed to field in 200 personnel to provide security and the regional offices of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) which both pledged funding and logistical support, among others.
The mayor said that after the demolition, the city will shift its focus on developing the property. 
He said a technical working group will be formed to work on fencing the property and on drafting a master development plan in cooperation with stakeholders.


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Cafgu man nabbed for murder of boss


SADANGA, Mountain Province -- A former member of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Units who was tagged in the killing of his commandant was arrested in here Thursday.
Senior Supt. Tellio Ngo-is, provincial police director, said Antonio Cassiw Jr., 43, was collared at his house in Barangay Saclit.
Cassiw was accused of killing Sgt. Jerry Cuntapay in an eatery in Sitio Opucan, Barangay Poblacion following an altercation on Dec. 6, 2014.

Ngo-is said Cassiw is facing murder charges before the Bontoc regional trial court. 

Judge Sergio Angnganay Jr. has not recommended any bail for Cassiw.    

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