Manhunt on for killers of 2 new N. Ecija execs, Pangasinan vice mayor

>> Sunday, June 24, 2007

BY LIAM ANACLETO

SAN MANUEL, Pangasinan -- Police investigators here are trying to establish identity of three gunmen who ambushed and killed the vice mayor of this eastern Pangasinan town who ran for mayor in the recent elections but lost.

This, as police are also hunting killers of the newly elected mayor and vice mayor of Lupao town in Nueva Ecija who were gunned down in a cockpit arena in San Jose City in the province on June 15.

In San Manuel, Vice Mayor Bonie Apilado had alighted from his jeep to look for a pipe repairman when he and his driver, Ricardo Clemente, were fired at by three motorcycle-riding men here past noon on June 20.

Clemente said the perpetrators fired at Apilado who ran away but he was pursued. The gunmen then reportedly pumped more bullets at Apilado.

Senior Supt. Isagani Nerez, provincial police director, said Apilado was shot in the head, while his driver bodyguard was hit in the shoulder.

He said he would form a task force to look into the killing even as relatives of Apilado said politics was the motive in the killing.

The two were rushed to the Sacred Heart Hospital here, where Apilado passed away at around 4 p.m., two hours after the ambush.

Police recovered 12 empty Cal. 45 shells at the crime scene in Barangay San Vicente.

Nerez said he has deployed an augmentation force from the Provincial Mobile Group in San Manuel to defuse tension and avert further violence.

Nerez said investigators were looking at all possible angles, including politics.

In the Lupao, Nueva Ecija case, Chief Supt. Ismael Rafanan, Central Luzon police director, said in Camp Olivas, Pampanga he directed Senior Supt. Alfredo Caballes, officer-in-charge of the Nueva Ecija police, to track down the gunmen and mastermind in the gunslaying of Lupao mayor-elect Virgilio Vendivil.

Rafanan said Caballes formed Task Force Vendivil to gather information from witnesses so perpetrators could be identified.

A number of people were injured as they scampered for safety when the two officials were attacked as they were going to the canteen during an intermission in the cockfight derby.

Read more...

Accused in Campbell slay pleads 'not guilty' in court

LAGAWE, Ifugao – Juan Donald Duntugan, accused of killing U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Julia Campbell last April 8 in Barangay Batad, in the highland tourist town of Banaue, this province, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge filed against him when he was arraigned on June 20 at the sala of Regional Trial Court Judge Esther P. Flor of RTC Branch 34 at the Justice Hall here.

After the murder charge sheet was read to Duntugan by the clerk of court who repeated it in the Ifugao vernacular, Duntugan calmly and clearly said, “Not guilty” before a jampacked crowd of capitol employees, observers and police authorities.

Judge Flor repeated the answer of Duntugan for the record, and forthwith set the pre-trial conference of the case in the morning of July 23, 2007 and the pretrial proper at 2:30 p.m. the same day.

The prosecution and defense panels agreed. The 25-year-old Duntugan, who is now detained at the Tiger Hill provincial jail in Kiangan town has a one-man defense counsel in the person of lawyer Pedro Mayam-o, a member of the Ifugao sanggunian panlalawigan.

The prosecution is being handled by the law firm of Agrazamendez, liceralde, Gallardo and Associates based in Baguio City, assisted by Provincial Prosecutor Joseph Tumapang and Prosecutor Ronson Tilan.

The arraignment, originally sat earlier this month, was postponed after defense lawyers asked the judge that they be given time to study the amended information filed by a new battery of private prosecutors commissioned by the US government and Peace Corps Philippines.

During the investigation, Duntugan confessed having killed Campbell. But he claimed it was by an accident. He said the American bumped into him while she was on her way back to her rented room at Batad village in Banaue town. Duntugan, who hails from La Trinidad, Benguet, said he thought it was a neighbor with whom he had a longstanding grudge that he had hit with a stone.

He said it was too late for him to realize that it was Campbell whom he had hit. Mayam-o, Duntugan’s defense counsel, said amendments in the information presented by the prosecution through their Baguio-based private prosecutors meant he needed more time to study their arguments.

Meanwhile, the two father-and-son teams of Baguio lawyers said they will see to it that justice is served in the case.

Veteran lawyer Reynaldo Agranzamendez, his lawyer-son Glenn and San Miguel Liceralde with sons Miguel Jr. and Cres are the private prosecutors for the case.

“Our job is to bring justice to Campbell, her family and the US Peace Corps,” said Agranzamendez -better known in law circles here as “Attorney A-Z.”

He refused to elaborate further saying he wouldn’t want to be cited for sub judice.

Agranzamendez said he did not know why the US Peace Corps office in Manila on May 31 asked him if he could represent the Campbell family against Duntugan.

Agranzamendez said he was “honored” to handle the case. But he told newsmen probability of the murder case being dismissed was close to nil, since “Duntugan admitted it.”

Forensic experts earlier found no definite link to Duntugan from the evidence gathered at the gravesite where Campbell was found half-buried in Batad, Banaue.

Agranzamendez, who has been a litigant and a law professor for 32 years, was optimistic of obtaining a conviction though Dontugan is represented by former Mayam-o.

He said this is not the first time he was asked to represent a foreigner who was the victim in a sensational killing.

In the early 1990s, a Briton was killed in Benguet and Agrazzamendez represented him. “I was able to get a conviction for the killer.”

Among the many law offices in the country, Agranzamendez said he does not know why he and his law firm, which holds office at the Antipolo building in Baguio City, were chosen by the US Peace Corps.

Agranzamendez is also the law school dean of a “little known school outside Metro Manila” – the University of the Cordilleras – which produced two bar topnotchers in an eight-year period; Jeanette Abuel in 1998 and Noel Malimban in 2006.

Malimban’s extraordinary feat is attributed to his good study habits and UC’s professors, who are committed to excellence. – With a report from Juan B. Dait Jr.

Read more...

Terraces rice served in US gourmet market with Peace Corps help

By ROBERT L. DOMOGUEN

SAGADA, Mt. Province –Mary Hensley, a former US Peace Corp Volunteer in Lubuagan, Kalinga, is back.

She is behind the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project and the Eight Wonder company that retails Mountain Province rice in the United States.

Since 2005, the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project has partnered with Vicky Garcia, Executive Director of the Revitalize Indigenous Cordilleran Entrepreneurs (RICE), to promote folk farming knowledge.

Their aim: to spur the local economy and preserve the terraces and its environment as well.

Hensley believes the evasive key to the decades quest to save the rice terraces lies in the indigenous cultures of the Cordilleras and the heirloom rice that it grows.

And she is determined to “establish a project that would be successful financially and not dependent on dole outs from the government or international development agencies.”

She is assisted by Adam Angsten, another US Peace Corps Volunteer with a degree in economics based in Banaue, Ifugao.

In recent years, locals slowly abandoned rice terraces farming in favor of tourist-related work. Or they migrated to the lowlands where farming is more lucrative. Losing half of these farmers, the rice terraces were about ready to crumble.

The past two decades saw many “Save the Rice Terraces” projects, none of which succeeded. Tourism-related projects, retraining for new farming skills, the introduction of high value fruits and vegetables, and high yielding rice varieties – all came to naught.

According to the Tebtebba Foundation, the mass production of wood carvings and the establishment of lodgings on properties within the rice fields actually made a major environmental toll. The use of pesticides by vegetable farmers introduced new pests.

Meanwhile, the all-important concerns remained unresolved: the out-migration of farmers, the deterioration of watersheds, the collapse of centuries-old irrigation systems, and the disappearance of indigenous cultures that revolved around the growing of traditional rice.

One thing seemed certain: the rice terraces in the highlands of Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao and Mt. Province gradually shrunk to only about 20,000 hectares functional fields.

Now it seems rice could very well be the answer. In 2006, Eight Wonder retailed over 7 tons of rice from Kalinga and Ifugao terraces. This year, the target is 20 tons of selected mountain varieties.

Farmers have suddenly found a reason to continue terraces rice farming.

The way to go, according to Hensley, was to put money on the centuries-old, noble and ingenious farming.

A former social worker, Hensley initiated the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project together with RICE, terraces farmers in Ifugao and Kalinga, Eight Wonder and the local government.

Back in a US graduate school, Hensley did a feasibility study on whether native rices could be sold in the highly competitive US specialty food market.

When the results looked promising, she wrote a five-year business plan projecting the organizational needs and costs for organizing farmers, and developing a marketing strategy to sell the rice at a price that compensated the farmers for their incredibly hard work.

Her master’s thesis proposed the shared equity business model – poor farmers would be part-owners of Eight Wonder. She and Vicky Garcia, RICE executive director, then convinced the farmers about the scheme.

Back in 2003, few believed the Tinawon rice from Ifugao and the Unoy rice from Kalinga would sell. Now for the first time, more farmers are returning to the rice terraces because they sense a profit, says Julie Aclam, Kalinga’s assistant provincial agriculturist.

With the assistance of RICE, the newly established Rice Terraces Farmers’ Cooperative of Ifugao and Kalinga was able to produce and process 7 tons of native Tinawon and Unoy rice for the export market.

This was shipped to Eight Wonder in the US for sale in the gourmet rice market. The rice was purchased at a fair trade price, with an advance payment to help capitalize the cooperative.

In Kalinga, farmers have started forming a federated association of unoy rice growers. They have established seed banks as ready sources of rice seeds. Other farmers are set to follow. InterNews&Features

Read more...

Tabuk men don’t trust G-string to hide privates

TABUK, Kalinga – Tabuk men no longer fully trust the G-string, the traditional Cordillera male attire, to keep their private parts hidden.

This became evident during the Matagoan Run, an eight-kilometer “fun run” held during the Matagoan Festival that highlighted the celebration of the Tabuk Foundation Day last June 16.

During the run, the participants were supposed to be wearing only G-strings.

Most of the 21 men who took part on the 2007 edition of the Matagoan Run were wearing only G-strings.

Glen Amla, co-chairman of the Matagoan Run committee, said the runners were apprehensive their G-strings would fall along the way, as these loosen as they run.

Amla said, however, that to preserve the native feature of the “fun run,” they would study how to secure well the G-strings so it would not fall no matter how far the distance of the marathon is or they might require the runner to wear wider G-strings so their briefs no show up.

Many Tabuk menfolk wear the G-string for cultural presentation or occasions such as weddings also wear briefs.

Another distinct activity during this year’s 57th Tabuk Foundation Day was the demonstration on the proper processing of “bongsos” by the Municipal Agricultural Services Office.

The "bongsos" is a taste enhancer made of pork intestines. The innards are generously mixed with salt and then kept in an airless container for three days. -- EA

Read more...

Fishkill damage placed at P32 M

BY JERRY PADILLA

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – The Region 1 office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic resources bared milkfish worth some P32 million was lost due to massive fishkill in Anda and Bolinao towns, Pangasinan last week.

Nestor Domenden, BFAR regional director, based the P32-million estimate on the 1,151 metric tons of bangus that floated dead due to low oxygen level in fishcage water.

Domenden said 25 fish cages and eight fish pens were affected by the fishkill.

The fishkill was also caused by heavy fish stocking and accumulated deposits of unconsumed fish feeds in the water.

“Although there are other estimates of losses coming out, the damage is much lower if compared to the fishkill in 2002, and this recent incident had been handled properly,” Domenden said.

“Because they (operators and caretakers) were able to undergo training on proper handling of fishkill, some of the bangus that were alive were sold in the market

Read more...

COA asked to audit P240 M loss of power coop the past 3 years

By DEXTER A. SEE

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Cooperative advocates here have asked the Commission on Audit to conduct a comprehensive audit on the reported R240 million losses incurred by the Benguet Electric Coop. the past three years.

In Resolution 14, series of 2007, the Regional Cooperative Development Council stated conduct of the audit was sought by some consumers to ensure transparency in the operation of the power utility company.

The group said its annual income statement showed the power cooperative incurred losses of R67.01 million in 2004, R78.8 million in 2005, and R96.4 million in 2006

RCDC said Beneco incurred losses because it reportedly entered into an agreement with Mirant Philippines which has a plant in Sual, Pangasinan.

But Gerardo P. Verzosa, Beneco general manager, said some people in RCDC wanted to create a public impression that the Beneco management was inefficient.

He said people criticizing power firm’s operation were the same people pushing for the conversion of Beneco into a stock cooperative but their attempts failed.

Verzosa asked stock cooperative advocates if they were sincere in their cause since they were singling out Beneco.

“They should look into other cooperatives who are incurring huge losses due to mismanagement,” he said.

Beneco had admitted it incurred losses the past years, but said this couldn’t be attributed to mismanagement.

The RCDC said collection efficiency of Beneco was now at an average of 99.36 percent, and its systems loss was pegged at an average of 12.71 percent.

Verzosa said management had not been remiss in its obligations to give effective, efficient and reliable power service to its over 100,000 member-consumers.

A proof that Beneco had been effective and efficient in complying with the rural electrification program was that only three barangays out of the 140 barangays in Benguet were left un-energized as of this year, he said.

Versosa said almost 90 percent of the rates charged to consumers in Baguio City and Benguet represented cost of power and that Beneco had been working with a very tight budget the past years.

Read more...

5 men holdup buses in spree; woman slain

BY DEXTER A SEE

BUGUIAS, Benguet -- The identity of five heavily armed men who held up two Baguio-bound buses at the boundary of Tinoc, Ifugao, and Buguias late afternoon on June 16 is still being established, police said.

A woman bus passenger was killed when she was shot by one of the men during the incident.

Supt. Joseph Adnol, spokesman of the regional police office had identified the dead victim as Mary Payan Mangibin, 45, married, native of Tinoc, Ifugao.

She reportedly suffered a bullet wound in the stomach that caused her instant death.

Initial investigation showed five bonnet-wearing armed men flagged down the Baguio-bound Ron Ron bus with license plate number TGN252 at about 2:20 p.m. on June 16 and announced a holdup.

After the cash, jewelry, cell phones and other valuables of the passengers, one of the holdup men fired a shot at where Mangibin was seated, hitting her in the stomach.

Later, the armed men flagged down a Blooming Miles bus which was also en route to Baguio City from Tinoc, Ifugao and took away the cash and valuables of the passengers.

Adnol said the still unidentified robbers were armed with four handguns and one shotgun.

Passers-by immediately reported the incident to the Tinoc and Buguias police stations. Others rushed the shooting victim to the Lutheran Hospital in Buguias, Benguet where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Meanwhile, a truck driver was killed and his three passengers were seriously injure when the truck they were riding in lost its brakes and rammed a concrete marker and a mahogany tree on the Abra-Ilocos Sur road in Tangngadan, Bangued, Abra over the weekend.

Senior Supt. Alexander Pumecha, director of the Abra Police office, identified the victim as Benjamin Custona, 39, married, truck dirver, and native of Bato, Naguilan, La Union.

Read more...

Ifugao BIR chief lobbies for Magat tax

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- The chief of the Bureau of Internal Revenue here is appealing for a 50-50 or equal sharing with the district office of Isabela all revenue taxes to be paid by the Statkraf Nortfund Power Investment and Aboitiz Power, Inc. (SNAP, Inc) over the operation of the Magat Power Plant.

Lawyer Elena Rillera, Revenue District Officer here said the SNAP, new owner of the Magat Power Plant located in the territorial jurisdiction of the provinces of Ifugao and Isabela, has opted to register its head office at Ilagan, Isabela. “This means they will be paying their taxes there.”

Rillera said the payment of the taxes of the said company should be the same with the agreement of the two provinces when it comes to the payment of franchise taxes which is equal sharing.

“A total amount of P200 million will be added to our collection if this will materialize. The SNAP will be the biggest taxpayer in Ifugao once this is realized,” Rillera said.
The amount of P29 million has reportedly been received by the province as its franchise tax share over the operation of the Magat Dam.

Rillera said she is optimistic that her appeal will be granted since she had working on this with SNAP and BIR officials.

In a memorandum of agreement dated August 1, 2001 entered into between the provincial governments of Ifugao and Isabela represented by then governors Teodoro Baguilat Jr. and Faustino Dy, Jr, respectively and the NPC represented by its then president, Jesus Alcordo, it was agreed that payment by the NPC of the franchise tax collections shall be divided equally or on a 50:50 basis, which scheme shall be reckoned and computed to commence from fiscal years 1994 and onwards.

The two provinces have not yet resolved the boundary dispute hence the problem on where will the owner of the dam will pay the franchise tax and the revenue taxes.

“The Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the province shall increase and bring progress and development to the province once the SNAP will grant our request,” Rillera said.

Read more...

MORE NEWS

Four tricycle riders killed in IS mishap
BY FREDDIE LAZARO

STA. LUCIA, Ilocos Sur – A passenger was killed and a driver was seriously injured when the tricycle they were riding collided head-on with an Izuzu jeep on the national highway in Barangay Bical, Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur last week.

The tricycle was traveling northwards when it overtook an unidentified vehicle. The tricycle driver did not notice the incoming Isuzu jeep, driven by one Alfredo Jadomio, 55 of Barangay Calaoan, Sta. Cruz town, on the opposite lane of the highway.

Police identified the dead victim as Nelson Y Gascon, 26, of Barangay Bagani Tocgo, Candon City.

He was declared dead on arrival at the Candon City Hospital. Police identified the seriously injured victim as Ronal Galus, brother of the dead victim and resident of Barangay Bagani Tocgo, Candon City.

He was transferred to Iocos Region Training and Medical Center in San Fernando City, La Union for further treatment.

The driver of the Isuzu jeep surrendered to the Sta. Lucia police station. Meanwhile, a laborer, who was riding a XRM motorcycle, was killed when he was stabbed by an unidentified man at Ilocos Sur on June 15.

The victim was identified as Isaias Villaluz Jr, 41, native of Barangay Immayos Norte, San Juan.


Rehab works on Halsema to Banaue road on
BY DEXTER A. SEE

BAGUIO CITY - The implementation of rehabilitation works of Phases II and III of the La Trinidad-Bontoc-Banaue Road known as the Halsema Highway road project have taken off simultaneously to spur the super region’s economic growth.

The Halsema Highway Phase II or Mt. Data-Bontoc Section with a total length of 50.5 kilometers has an estimated project cost of P1 billion while the Bontoc – Banaue section or Phase III covering an approximate length of 39 kilometers has an appropriation of P780 million.

As of May 25, a report released by the Department of Public Works and Highways showed that P340 million was initially released for civil works for the Mt. Data-Bontoc section.
There are 20 sections issued Notice to Proceed with 16 already ongoing and four sections still on the mobilization stage. Based on the initial release, DPWH reported a 23.82% accomplishment.

For the Bontoc-Banaue Section, accomplishment is 17.13% based on the initial release of P189 million for civil works. 11 sections were issued NTPs with 7 sections already ongoing while 4 are still on the mobilization stage.

Also released was P35 million for detailed engineering to be undertaken by the DPWH regional office.

In both projects, scope of work are described as widening, concreting, drainage, slope protection and road side structures.

It has been noted that in the status of work, some have been suspended due to shortage of portland cement and afternoon rains, aside from the usual road right of way problems.

Phase I which starts from La Trinidad to Mt. Data Section was substantially completed last year by the DAEWOO Construction.

As to the other infrastructure projects committed by the President during her State of the Nation address last year, being implemented by the DPWH, the Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao Road, which is composed of two sections, is also proceeding. Its improvement is envisioned to strengthen east-west link as it will enhance economic linkages between Regions II and CAR and a north-south mountain link between Mt. Province , Kalinga and Apayao.

For the Bontoc-Tinglayan Boundary Section I, the DPWH Regional Office and the District Engineering offices already received the initial release of P112 million for civil works out of the total project cost of P382 million. Six sections were issued NTPs with one ongoing while five sections are suspended due to shortage of Portland cement.

Another P19 million was released for the detailed engineering for this section undertaken by a consultant. This was bid out at the Central Office.

As for the Tinglayan Bdry.-Lubuagan-Tabuk Section 2 with an appropriation of P988 million, DPWH reported a 31.19% accomplishment based on the initial release of P229 million for civil works. Except for one project undergoing the preparation of Program of Work(POW), the four others issued NTP are now ongoing. Detailed engineering for this section was also bid out at the Central Office in the amount of P17 million .

This road is also seen as a factor to poverty alleviation as it will bring about tremendous economic and social activities in the area as well as lower the cost of transport of goods and services.
North Luzon Super Region development champion and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap had earlier inspected these projects to ensure their smooth implementation.

The government has made infrastructure one of its priority investment areas as it believes that investments made on infrastructure will pave the way for a sure path to prosperity.


Cordillera-Cagayan Valley road almost done - DPWH


BAGUIO CITY -- Motorists will soon have another alternate route in going in and out of the tourism and agricultural highlands in Cordillera with the near completion of the Baguio-Pangawan, Kayapa Section, contract package 1 of the Baguio-Aritao road under the Cordillera road improvement project.

This was bared by Highways Secretary Manuel Bonoan saying the project was hastened since it was a high-impact projects.

Dept. of Public Works and Highways Philippine Japan highway loan project director Vicente Perez said the project was 83.4 percent complete, ahead of 0.125 percent as compared to its scheduled accomplishment rating.

“Because of the good weather last month, the contractor worked continuously in almost all the scheduled construction activities resulting to a good accomplishment,” Perez said.

The Baguio-Aritao Road is included in the DPWH major high-impact project because of its expected socio-economic benefit.

Upon its completion, the new road network will link the Cordillera to Cagayan Valley Region which will speed up agricultural trade, and provide employment opportunities as it will also support the tourism industry.

The project involves construction of 66 kilometers of Portland cement concrete pavement, replacement of Acnip Bridge, reinforcement of concrete box girder on drilled shaft foundation, and some drainage and slope protection works.

This P 1.5 billion road and bridge project jointly funded by the Japan Bank for International Development and the Government of the Philippines , is expected to be completed October this year.


DPWH exec gunned down in Nueva Ecija
BY LIAM ANACLETO

TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija – A district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways in this province was gunned down by a motorcycle-riding man as he stepped out of a restaurant here at noon on Wednesday.

Senior Supt. Alfredo Caballes, officer-in-charge of the provincial police, identified the victim as Pacifico Berin, 64, district engineer of the DPWH’s Nueva Ecija first engineering district based here.

Berin died on the spot from several gunshot wounds from a Cal. 45 pistol in the head and the body.

Police said Berin had just come out of the Lucy’s Restaurant in Barangay San Miguel na Muntil here where he attended the birthday party of a certain Resty Candelaria, of the DPWH’s construction division, when he was shot.

The gunman, who was wearing a ski mask and a white long-sleeved shirt, then boarded a motorcycle driven by another man and fled toward Cabanatuan City.

Witnessed described the triggerman as small, dark complexioned and of medium build.

Berin was a known kumpare of Governor-elect Aurelio Umali. They stood as godfathers during the wedding of a brother of Cabanatuan City councilor-elect Nero Mercado a few years ago.

Caballes said they are looking into reports that Berin might have been slain because “marami siyang nalalaman (he knows so many things).”

According to reports, Berin was with his assistant district engineer, Ric Puno, and some 20 DPWH employees before the shooting incident.

Puno said that Berin excused himself in a phone interview saying he was returning to his office in Barangay La Torre.

Moments later, shots rang out. When Berin’s men rushed outside the restaurant, they saw a bloodied Berin slumped on the pavement.

Berin bore two wounds in the head and five in the body. His attacker reportedly shot him even while he was already lying down.

Puno said Berlin had no known enemies, much less received threats prior to his killing.

“He had never mentioned anything about an enemy or death threats. Bigla na lang (It’s so sudden),” he said.

“Malalim ang dahilan nito. Di mo maintindihan (There’s a deeper reason. You don’t understand),” he said.

Puno said Gov. Tomas Jason III and his younger brother, Vice Gov. Mariano Cristino, who was abroad, both immediately called up, expressing concern over attack.

“Inaabangan na talaga. Alam kung saan siya papunta (They had been eyeing him) they know where he was going),” he said.

Berin had been the district engineer here for the past five years. Previously, he was a district engineer in Isabela and Zambales.


Slain Fil-Am soldier given 21-gun salute
BY FREDDIE LAZARO

CANDON CITY – The United States government accorded full military burial honors to Fil-Am US Army Staff Segeant Greg Phil Gagarin whose remains were buried last week at the public cemetery in Barangay Caterman, this city.

Gagarin, who was killed in action when an improvised explosive device exploded last June 3 in Thania, Iraq, was given a 21-gun salute by US honor guards during his burial rites morning of June 20.

He also received from the US Armed Forces a posthumous Bronze Star Medal, the fourth highest US military award for gallantry in action, and the Purple Heart medal in recognition of his valor and dedication to the service.

Brig. Gen. Simeon Trombitas, commander of the US Army’s Special Operation Command based in Korea, arrived here to lead the US soldiers who attended the burial rites.

In the necrological service, Trombitas extended condolences to the bereaved family. He described Garain as a great war hero, a great soldier and a great leader.

“We miss him so much in our command,” he said.

In behalf of the US government, Trombitas also thanked the bereaved family and the Philippines for having a soldier like Gagarin and for being a hero of both the Philippines and the US.

In his response, retired US Air Force Master Sgt. Ernesto V. Gagarin, 73, father of Gagarin, described his son as great soldier and hero as he sacrificed his life to restore democracy in Iraq.

Earlier, the elder Gagarin told journalists he and other members of his family were shocked by the news that his son was killed in Iraq.
“This is what I feared that might happen to my son, but, we are very proud of him because he had served in the US Army for the sake of strengthening democracy,” he said.

He said his son was scheduled to retire in 2009, and was then planning to stay in Candon City for good.

Gagarin was born on Jan. 4, 1970 in Barangay Caterman, Candon.

At the age of 10, he migrated to the US upon the petition of his father, who was then in the active service of the US air force.

After graduation from high school at the age of 17, he served in the California National Guards. Then a year later, he joined the US Army.

Gagarin had been deployed to Iraq several times. At one time, he was also assigned as a member of the peacekeeping force at the border of North and South Korea.

Later, he returned to Fort Louis in Washington State, and later volunteered to be assigned in Iraq.

US Staff Gagarin was married to Alma, who was a native in Candon City.

They resided in Taguig, Metro Manila, and have two children, a boy and a girl, who are four years old and three years old, respectively.


Isabela LTO executive shot dead while patrolling road
BY JOAN CAPUNA

CAUAYAN CITY – A ranking officer of the Land Transportation Office in this Isabela City was shot dead while he and three of his men were patrolling the national highway for colorum vehicles and traffic violators last week.

Police said Renato Patawaran Quinto, LTO agent team leader, sustained eight gunshot wounds in the face and abdomen and died on the spot on June 19.

Supt. Amorsolo dela Cruz, city police chief, told newsmen they have suspects in the killing based on accounts of eyewitnesses.

Rolando Aguada, LTO district officer, said his men were on regular patrol along the national highway in Barangay Minante-2 when two motorcycle-riding men attacked Quinto.

Quinto failed to draw his licensed Cal. 38 revolver.


5 die of dengue in Ilocos
BY JERRY PADILLA

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – Four children in Pangasinan and a 14-year-old boy in La Union were the latest casualties of dengue based on records of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unity of the Department of Health.

Dr. Julia Racquel Magalong, Resu chief, said the two casualties were from Lingayen and one each from the towns of Dasul and Mangaldan, all in Pangasinan.

The record of the 14-year-old boy in San Juan, La Union, who died a week ago at a private hospital, has yet to reach the RESU office.

Magalong said 92 dengue cases have been recorded in the Ilocos region since January.

Pangasinan topped the number of cases with 40, followed by La Union, 33, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur have 17 and two cases, respectively.

“Based on our current date there is no dengue outbreak in the region. The number of cases that we had last year, that is our usual parameter,” Magalong said.

Magalong added the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Units of the various provincial health offices in the regional have been properly equipped to manage their own surveillance system on dengue cases.

She said continuing preventive measures are now being conducted by the DOH Dengue Control Program with the help of local government units.

“We are doing the regular advocacy campaign in cleanliness of our environment to create awareness is the best practice in driving away dengue mosquitoes.

Day-biting mosquitoes are the carriers of dengue virus.


Elected officials taking oath in far Paracelis surprises constituents

BY BERLIN TOYOKAN AND JULIET SALEY

PARACELIS, Mountain Province -- Constituents here got surprised since for the first time in the history of this province, elected officials took their oath of office in this remote town on June 16.

Around a thousand well-wishers came from different municipalities to witness the event when elected province officials headed by Gov. Maximo Dalog were sworn to office.

It was a timely event as the town celebrated its 45th founding anniversary that day.
Pundits however said the oath taking was held here to show gratitude to the people as it is the town where the Dalog got 3,089 votes over his closest rival Bonifacio Lacwasan.

Others present were Natonin mayor-elect Ana Marie Rafael Bana-ag and her father Paracelis Mayor-elect Ceasar Rafael.

Various tribes of the province made the event colorful with their traditional dances and garbs.

Paracelis has the biggest land area of 54,513 hectares of the province’s total land area of 229,231.

Meanwhile, Dalog bared some 507 households in the town of Sabangan in the province are now benefiting from the Programang Gulayan para sa Masa.

The program initially covered Sabangan barangays of Pingad, Napua, Gayang, Capinitan, Camatagan, Bun-ayan and Bao-angan.

Municipal Agriculturist Evelyn L. Dalog said these beneficiaries were identified based on the malnutrition data of the Rural Health Unit.

The Gulayan Para sa Masa, a project of the national government, aims to reduce hunger and malnutrition in selected areas of the country.

It is a vegetable backyard raising program aimed to provide livelihood opportunities and easy access to more affordable vegetables.

Each household beneficiary started its backyard garden with seeds like pechay, okra, eggplant, pole sitao, squash, ampalaya, bush sitao and sweet pepper given for free by the Department of Agriculture.

Dalog said another batch of 225 households identified municipal wide will also be benefiting from this program.

The Municipal Agriculturist office has scheduled distribution of same assorted seeds for the beneficiaries to start with their backyard garden.

Families who don’t have vacant lots can adopt containers gardening technology.

“To ensure successful implementation of this project, the MAO provides technical assistance, and trains the beneficiaries in preparing and planting vegetables. It also conducts regular visitation and follow up family backyard gardens to determine the status of the project,” Dalog said.

Under this program, all harvests will be owned and consumed by the household. In case of production excess, the household can sell the produce or can also share with their neighbors. Some seeds can also be dried for the next planting.

The Gulayan para sa Masa is part of the Department of Agriculture’s continuing effort of providing a favorable environment for agriculture with the target to increase farm production to mitigate hunger and create jobs, among others.


Cabanatuan hospital making a name as ‘heart center of the north’; low operations cost cited
BY LIAM ANACLETO

CABANATUAN CITY – A hospital here is now getting attention as “heart center of the north.” In a span of two weeks, the Wesleyan University Philippines Cardiovascular and Medicinal Center (WUP-CMP) performed four major heart surgeries on four patients who almost gave up due to high cost of such operations.

The WUP-CMP is now getting raves with its specialization in cardiovascular surgery using the latest state-of-the-art equipment also found in advanced hospital in Metro Manila.

Dr. Jose Santos G. Abad, medical and administrative director of WUP-CMC, said the first successful open heart surgery conducted on tricycle driver Leopoldo Paricia Jr. last April 18 was performed by Dr. Florante Lomibao, head of the cardiovascular surgery department at the WUP-CMC.

Five days later, Paricia was certified “A-Ok” for release from the hospital.

The Fernando Medical Enterprises Inc. here supplied the light, cardiac monitors, anesthesia machine heart-lung machine, suction apparatus in the so-called “skin-to-skin” (from opening to closing) operation.

Last June 2, Mario Nelson Canilao Jr., 16, of Angeles City, Pampanga, underwent surgery for mitral-aortic valve replacement.

On the same day, Valerio Balualua, 65, of Claveria, Cagayan Valley, had a double bypass graft operation.

Then, on June 3, with the same precision shown in the past three cardiovascular operations, Romeo Candelaria, 65, retired government employee at the National Museum, and resident of Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija, underwent a quadruple bypass graft operation.

Wesleyan University-Philippines lawyer Guillermo Maglaya said the four patients had a difficult time seeking cure for their ailments because of the high cost of such surgery performed in medical centers in Metro Manila.

They were referred to the WUP-CMC by physicians who heard of its reputation and mission of sure cure at the least cost.

Administrative Office Dolores R. Galang said the cost of operation at the center here is way below the rated in premiere medical centers in Manila, and it is even “negotiable and adjustable” to the economic situation of the patients.

President Maglaya and Doctor Abad have envisioned the WUP-CMC “to be the center for research, education and training in cardiovascular medicine outside of Metro Manila, and to provide the best quality cost-effective cardiovascular and health services to all patients through its high caliber, medical specialist and well-trained professionals using state-of-the-art technology geared towards building a healthy community.

In answer to the growing needs for facilities by heart patients in the region, Maglaya announced plans to build a 17bed building to complement the P200million, 40-bed medical center to serve the growing need for cardiovascular surgeries and referrals.

Doctor Abad, looking towards perfecting further science of cardiovascular surgery and referral centers, said the plan includes facilities for hearth transplant, nuclear medicine, training of medical personnel, courses in allied medicine, medical and occupational technologies, and physical therapy.

Read more...

EDITORIAL

10% pay hike for government workers takes effect on July 1

Pay slips for government workers will reflect a 10 percent hike in their basic pay next month. This raise was ordered by President Arroyo in March through Executive Order 611, and includes the government’s share in health insurance and pension contribution.

The Department of Budget and Management is expected to release before the end of June P10.3 billion to fund the 10 percent across-the-board salary increase for nearly 840,000 civilian government employees as well as the government‘s share in the adjustment of health insurance and pension contributions and the increase in the subsistence allowance for some 282,000 uniformed personnel.

The 10 percent salary increase covers civilian officials and employees of national government agencies (NGAs) including state universities and colleges, government owned and/ or controlled corporations (GOCCs), government financial institutions (GFIs) and local government units, which are covered by the Compensation and Position Classification System under Republic Act 6758, as amended.

Also granted a P30 per day increase in their subsistence allowance and P120 per month increase in their hazard pay effective July 1, 2007 are military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and all uniformed personnel under the Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine Coast Guard and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

Under the EO for NGAs, the amount shall be charged against the appropriate fund source under the FY 27 General Appropriations Act. Thereafter, such amounts as are needed shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

For GOCCs and CFIs, the amount shall be taken from their respective corporate funds. For LGUs, the amount shall come from their respective local funds.

It also provides that GOCCs, GFIs and LGUs which do not have adequate or sufficient funds to pay the authorized increase, shall partially implement the adjusted rates provided it shall be a uniform increase for all positions. The compensation adjustment s to government personnel aims to improve the morale of civil service and support their economic well being in the face of the rising prices of basic commodities.

The basic salary of government employees has not been increased since July 2001, and the subsistence allowance of military personnel since 1998 while the hazard pay remained at P120/month since it was initially granted in 1987.

The salary increase is said to be a social payback of the fiscal discipline and reforms the national government has implemented that generated enough money in the budget to expand investments in infrastructure and social welfare. No beef with that. But for the private sector, they can just grit their teeth.

Read more...

BEHIND THE SCENES

Barangay elections, government revamps
Alfred P. Dizon

I have a good guess this favorite barangay captain of mine who assumed a higher office in Baguio would not be reelected should barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections push through on October.

You see, this character has earned a rather unsavory reputation as the top gambling king in the city where jueteng kubradors comb daily every nook and cranny scrounging for bets.

This early, according to our bubwit, his constituents are not happy with the way he is handling affairs of their barangay as he spends much time counting money or pitchas in casinos. The other barangay captains are not talking, our bubwit said, but come October, they would show their displeasure.
***
There are a lot of characters nationwide like my favorite in Baguio. I saw an episode on ANC wherein an investigative news team documented how a barangay captain was renting out public facilities in a Manila barangay. The rent of course went straight to his pockets. The answer he gave to authorities was like something out of a telenovela script – “I am helping the people.”

How often have we heard of abusive barangay officials who misused their office for vested interests. It is a shame why there are only a few who are jailed, fined or fired for their misdeeds.

Maybe, if we have a justice system like Saudi Arabia where one could lose one’s head for a crime even if it was self defense, there would be fewer corrupt officials. But then again, anything could be bought in this country like decisions in a court case, so this is not advisable. So let’s leave this system to the Arabs.
***
Come October, barangay constituents would select their new set of officials. The deserving ones are supposed to stay while the inept and misfits should go. However, one couldn’t discount the fact that money always plays a huge factor in winning.

People in some areas I visited in the Ilocos said P1 million is a small amount to spend during such elections if one is eyeing a post as kapitan. Sorry for those who want real change, but in this Banana Republic, in most cases, one has to have the three Gs to win – guns, goons and gold. It is a vicious cycle – the misfits and the corrupt who have the money always win, unless voters would become more patriotic (Ah! Is there still such word?) and vote for the good eggs.
***
But even if elections are always tainted with fraud in this country, the proposal of the House of Representatives to defer this year’s scheduled election of barangay and SK officials to next year maybe off the mark.

Now some opposition senators like Aquilino Pimentel are complaining. The deferment of barangay and SK elections was earlier raised in the Lower House by Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas who filed it as House Bill 6166.

Gullas earlier said the government could ill-afford to spend some P2.8 to P3.8 billion funds for another election less than six months after the conduct of the May elections since only P2 billion had been earmarked under the 2007 national budget.

Now Pimentel is saying it is a bad argument to postpone an election by raising the issue of funding. The senator said people should not be deprived of their right to pass judgment on barangay and SK officials and their right to elect their replacements for the good of the community.
***
He said there is money for the polls since the administration keeps on saying the inflow of government funds has substantially improved. The Commission on Elections should also make do with the P2-billion funding for the barangay and SK polls and adapt measures to minimize cost of political exercise. Local government units may also be requested to help defray cost of elections out of their internal revenue allotments.

Pimentel has a point since incumbent barangay and SK officials have overstayed in their posts, as their three-year term of office was extended by two years when the election for these officials was postponed from Oct. 3, 2005 to Oct. 29, 2007 by virtue of a law passed by Congress.
***
Aside from this, the postponement has brought about an awkward and anomalous situation since the incumbent youth council officials are now way above the 15-17 years age bracket for youth. Besides, any deferment of the elections and consequent extension of term could be seen as a reward for barangay and SK officials for favors they might have done for the administration particularly in the recently held elections.

Indeed, barangay and SK elections should be held as scheduled this October. The good officials need not fear the outcome if they are vigilant enough in guarding their votes and if their constituents are not swayed by bribe money. It is the bad eggs who should be worrying as their misdeeds would be judged come election day.
***
The wide-ranging revamp of the government bureaucracy is under way as part of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s aim to revitalize her reform program during the last three years of her term.

As part of this revamp, the President has ordered the chairmen, chief executives, presidents and board members of government-owned or controlled corporations to submit their courtesy resignations.

Earlier, the President hinted a major Cabinet shakeup was in the works in the face of calls from various quarters for changes in her official family in the light of the administration’s poor showing in the senatorial elections.

Close associates quoted Ms Arroyo as saying she was through paying back political debts, the next three years were hers, and that she could do as she pleased. The statement suggested she would no longer put up with protégés of political allies who have turned out to be “liabilities” to her administration.
***
The new order calling for courtesy resignations is now affecting hundreds of appointees. Usually, the chairmen and members of the board of government corporations have a term of three years, but since last year, the President has issued only temporary appointments. There are about 90 government-owned or controlled corporations, according to a Malacanang e-mail dispatch. The list grows longer with the addition of wholly owned subsidiaries and sequestered companies.

According to the mail, the President’s newest order also covered government appointees in sequestered private companies. A Malacañang panel would review the performance of the appointees and decide if their resignation would be accepted.

According to the grapevine, former Press Secretary and later peace talks negotiator Silvestre “Yongyong” Afable tendered his resignation. I guess, Yongyong who wrote the editorials of the Baguio Midland Courier when I was with the paper in the early 90s had grown tired of the snake pit that is Malacanang. I guess Yongyong is contemplating a quiet, peaceful life in the city of pines away from the madness and stress dealing with the powers-that-be. Welcome back Yongyong.

Read more...

STRAIGHT FROM THE BIG CITY

Killing the agriculture budget
Ike ‘Ka Iking’ Señeres

I agree with Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap that the study of the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) to cut down the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is premature. However, I believe that these two agencies should conduct dialogs to find common grounds of agreement right away, as both of them may have strong points that are beneficial to the national interest.
**
“White man speaks with forked tongue”, so said the Indians about the Cowboys who could not understand what the white folks are saying. Even if the Indians would understand, they would still suspect that there is something warped or wicked about the whites are saying, thus prodding them to be careful about what they would believe or not. As I read through the report about the DBM study, I found it difficult to figure out what they were really saying, but somehow I sensed that in so many words, they were trying to write the death sentence to Philippine agriculture.
**
Reading between the lines, I think that the DBM was saying that if the DA will continue to support Philippine agriculture, it will only cause the national deficit to worsen, and as a consequence it would also increase our national debt servicing burden.

I am not sure if the DBM consulted the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) about their study, but somehow, someway, the DBM should have also looked at the macroeconomic and econometric effects of public investments in agriculture, regardless of what or how the national books of account would look like. By the way, as far as I recall, the Palace has already declared the non-existence of a fiscal crisis.
**
An economic analyst shared with me the visual picture of a mother who is very proud about how big her bank deposits are, ignoring the fact that her children have no more food to eat on their table.

In this example, the analyst says that the fictional mother suffers from misplaced priorities, as she has made the fiscal health of her household her top priority, setting aside the physical health of her children. Analyzing what the DBM said in its report, it seemingly wants to cut down on agriculture spending so that it could balance its books of accounts, ignoring the fact that they are putting the survival of farming families on the balance.
**
I understand that the DBM is specifically the guardian of the government’s fiscal health, while the NEDA on the other hand is generally the guardian of the country’s economic health. Given this reality, the NEDA should really step in as the referee in the fray between the DBM and the DA, putting the higher interest of our national economic health above all.

To complete the quartet, they should also invite the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) to join the process, because the DTI would certainly know the supply and demand situation in relation to agricultural crops in the country.
**
Interpreting what the DBM said, it was in effect saying that after pumping so many millions of pesos into our agricultural economy, there appears to be no hope now and in the future that our rice production could ever increase, in effect saying also that future agricultural investment would not have any value added effects either. In other words, the DBM is saying that we should slow down in producing rice, and that instead, we should fast track our rice importation, transferring incentives instead to rice traders not growers.
**
It is disappointing to note that none of the four agencies- the DBM, the DA, the NEDA and the DTI have realized that it is now possible to increase rice production using only 100% organic fertilizers, in other words completely doing away with chemical fertilizers. It seems that these four agencies also have not heard that rice crops using organic fertilizers have been proven to be lesser dependent on chemical pesticides, therefore decreasing as well another major expense item in the overhead of farming families.
**
Although the signals of the DBM are really not that clear, it appears that it is blaming irrigation or the lack of it as the main reason for the apparent failure of rice production in our country up to now.

It seems that the DBM bright boys are better in counting numbers than planting rice, because there is more to growing rice other than the water in the paddy. Not that I am trying to be a smart aleck, but it is actually possible to plant rice without digging irrigation canals, relying only on plain and simple plumbing and even more simply trucking (i.e. using water trucks).
**
Setting aside water costs and labor costs, it is a well known fact that fertilizers and pesticides are the two biggest expense items of farming families. These are the two agricultural inputs that are actually bearing down these families, driving them down to poverty as a matter of fact.

It is really just simple mathematics, but if only the farmers could reduce the costs of their agricultural inputs and correspondingly increase their selling prices, then they would end up with more profits, a way for them to get out of poverty. As an added advantage, the increased supply of food would also decrease the incidence of hunger in our country.
**
On the practical side, it is theoretically easier to reduce the costs of agricultural inputs than to increase selling prices, but there is a methodical way of dealing with this given challenge. Still on the practical side, there is no other way of reducing the costs of agricultural inputs except to teach the farmers how to make their own feeds and fertilizers and the good news is, we already found a scientific way of doing this.

This is precisely the subject matter of the seminars about “Integrated Farming System” (IFS) that we are now offering through the Alliance of Philippine Rural and Urban Business (APRUB). We have conducted two seminars already, and a third batch is now being scheduled.
**
For those who are reading my column for the first time, we are going to teach farmers to make their own feeds by growing their own yellow corn and vermin meal, sources of vegetable protein and animal protein respectively.

Other than these, all they have to do is to add a feed mix supplement that would promote the full digestion of protein in the animal feeds, an ingredient that would also improve the meat conversion of the animals. Using the natural wastes from these animals, the farmers could also make their own fertilizers for their crops and trees.
**
Going back to our main subject, rice is definitely still a good crop to plant, because it has a sure market in this dominantly rice eating country. Proof of this is the fact that we are importing rice by the billions, a large source of domestic sales if only it could be produced locally. Sad to say, the DBM is in effect saying in their study that we should practically give up on local production, in effect becoming just a mere rice consuming economy.

On behalf of all the rice farmers in this country, I am calling on the DBM to give the DA a chance to make good on the rice productivity program, hopefully the latter would also give the IFS a chance. Since this is a matter of life and death for our farmers, I hope that the government would listen.
**
Tune in to "Gulong ng Kabuhayan" on DZXL (558 KHZ) Mon to Fri 6 to 6:45 PM. Join the InterCharity Network. We assist you in looking for a job, starting a small business or getting a scholarship. Email ike@kaiking.net or text us at 09196466323.Unit 324, Guadalupe Commercial Complex, Makati.

Read more...

BENCHWARMER

Marker attention deficiency
Ramon Dacawi

Writing about numerous markers installed on places here and abroad that Dr. Jose Rizal visited or stayed in, respected historian Ambeth Ocampo considered installing one in his home that, he said, would scream Jose Rizal did NOT stay or visit this place.

In his Philippine Daily Inquirer column, Ocampo, the chair of both the National Historical Institute and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, quoted historian Teodoro Agoncillo: “Pati yata eskinitang inihian ni Rizal ibig lagyan ng marker.”

So there’s no marker attention deficiency (MAD) when it comes to honoring the national hero. In San Francisco, there’s that re-installed marker noting his stay at the Palace Hotel in May, 1888. Baguio boy Joel Aliping showed it two years back. There’s another one blue one in front of an apartment rechecked in London after his U.S. visit. .

Afflicted with attention deficiency (or deficit) disorder (ADD), I forgot the address of the London apartment, although its numbered 37. Iitâ’s near the Green Park where Rizal must have walked during some his springtime mornings there. George (I forgot his family name but a truly hospitable Filipino host), led and asked me to pose beside the marker.

He had me twice with a bonnet on (a gift from Olivia, a course classmate from Brazil). With George’s head also hooded, we must have startled the present occupants peering from their window. One of them also took photos of us, including the white van with the Ice Sculptures U.K. sign emblazoned on its white body, together the giant telephone numbers of van owner and ice-carver Henry Gano.

Just in case, I guessed the resident photographer by the window must have muttered. Not bothered by attention deficiency disorder of the other kind, or “kulang sa pansin” KSP in Pilipino. I was bothered he might have suspected us as terrorists.

We leave that deficiency problem to some politicians and their self-proclaimed king-makers. The best I could think of to approximate Ocampo’s point comes each time name-droppers (and there are plenty of them still in the wake of the last elections) start getting conversant about how close they are to this or that politician who won.

When a blabbering social climber joins the brandy table at newsman Alfred Dizon’s expense, the soft-spoken, ever-patient March Fianza keeps quiet and just lets the hot air pass. Sometimes I don’t and regret it after. My neighbor’s dog is the brother of the dog of the neighbor of Senator so-and-so, offer.

Back to the Rizal markers, Ocampo also wrote All this reminds me of dogs marking their territory with pee…””.

It seems to be the other way around here in Baguio, a city where film stars and celebrities used to feel getting not much attention from locals. We hardly have markers here for historical buildings (called heritage habitats) such as the city hall, the Presidential Mansion, summer residences of the country’s vice-president, senate president and speaker of the house and the Cabinet Hill cottages of our cabinet secretaries.

I don’t mean signs proclaiming what building these are for whom, but ones that tell their significance and their history. I mean something that explains that the neglected, rotting, under-mined CasaVallejo is the last remaining structure of the Government Center Compound built in 1908-09 by the American colonial government to make Baguio the Country’s Summer Capital.

Which reminds me of Charlestown (or Charles Town), Virginia, which main street marker tells you it was founded by Charles Washington, the youngest full brother of The first President of the United States. It tells you Charlestown was where John Brown, the slavery abolitionist who triggered the American War, was tried and hanged.

If it isn’t there yet, perhaps it would be good to have one in John Hay where the war in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia began and ended in the said camp here.

The markers we have here were defaced or lost, transferred or simply neglected. The one at the historic Baden Powell Hall along Gov. Pack Road had been relocated. It’s supposed to mark the building, now the Baden Powell Hotel, as where the Philippine Commission used to hold its summer sessions here. The commissioners used to pass through the city’s inclined main street on their way to and from their sessions, hence it’s called Session Road. The U.S. Army- 66th Infantry stone marker in honor of the city’s liberators during the second world war was dug up with the improvement of Marcos highway and left lying on its side for months (or years?) before it was reinstalled. I pine for the full restoration of that marker that used to remind our visitors Baguio is not only the highest city in the Philippines. It also has the coldest jail in the
country.

The Veterans Park honoring the Filipino soldiers and guerrillas does not lack markers. Teen-aged boys who never learned history or to read, or are simply afflicted with marker attention deficiency, use it to hone their skateboard twirls and jumps. Some turn it into an open bar and toilet, evidenced by broken glass thrown on the roster of heroes and human waste on hallowed ground the morning after. Recently they added another marker on its side: No Skating in the Park. Retired police officer Larry Fabian also fears they might eventually cart away the relic of a howitzer that adorns the memorial.

Sadly, we have renamed some of our streets, an act of aberration that out-going city councilor Edilberto Tenefrancia wisely put to stop during one of his earlier terms. The original names of these streets are part of our history, he reminded his then colleagues who tried to rename them, for one insignificant reason or another.

I salute the Baguio boy and esteemed lawyer Art Galace and Baguio boy and Senator Juan Flavier. Art objected when there was a move to change Jungletown where he grew up in to honor his father, the late police officer Agustin Galace. Flavier laughed off strong suggestions that the Baguio General Hospital be named after him for his substantial support in its expansion and modernization as THE medical center of Northern Luzon.

Significant places and buildings are named only after people who are dead, he reminded the proponents. Okay, they answered, let’s name it in honor of your father. What did my father do for Baguio?; he was just a worker in the mines, he told them.

With the preparations by the Baguio Centennial Commission towards the city’s 100th charter anniversary in 1909, all these issues about marker attention deficiency can be rectified, the proper markers restored or installed to give proper historical perspective and significance to the places they mark. (e-mail: rdacawi@yahoo.com for comments

Read more...

PASSING LANES

Cordillera fashion
Jorge Pawid

Congress missed the exquisite and attractive fashion show by former Mt. Province Congresswoman Josephine Dominguez depicting the native colors of the Cordillera. She gave way to her husband in 2004.

Baguio representative Mauricio Domogan, who traces his roots to the backwoods of Mt. Province did continue to wow his counterparts with his sporting of traditional native G-strings at the same time displaying the native colors in the Halls of Congress.

This time, however, the former city mayor has rationalized the need to show his G-strings and long legs well-carved from years of walking the many miles of the manicured golf courses of John Hay and the Baguio Country Club. In fact, it is also known in golf circles that he once teed off dressed in a G-string several years back as a public official.

Domogan said that his donning the G-string is a way of dramatizing the plight of the people of the Cordillera including Baguio City . Of course, this aside from showcasing the native colors and his masculine features.

This fashion show of native colors in Congress, we were told, was actually started by the late Congressman and Governor Alfredo Lamen during his term as representative of the old Mt. Province in Congress.

Lamen was a handsome heavyweight standing 5’10’’. He usually wore the G-string with matching coat without any shirt under and military issue pair of shoes topped by a Stetson cowboy hat.

We came to learn that Lamen became a celebrity overnight especially when in G-string, he took the floor of Congress to deliver a privilege speech demanding for the abolition of the National Bureau of Investigation after he was reportedly arrested by NBI agents the day before in a gambling joint along the sunset strip of Manila Bay .

We were told that the wearing of cowboy hats since then became a fashion tool among politicians and aspiring ones gunning for elective posts.

Even squats with protruding bellies and barely standing below five feet tall followed the fashion statement of Lamen and started sporting cowboy hats. This made and continues to make them look like clowns in the land of the Lilliputians.

During the hearings by the Commission on Appointments for members of the defunct Cordillera Regional Consultative Commission for autonomy in 1988, we witnessed its soon to be chairman in the person of Abrino Aydinan stand before the members of Senate and the House of Representatives in a barong and G-strings displaying the Ifugao colors.

Aydinan would soon wear barongs lined on the frontal left with one-inch native colors. It would soon be adopted and variated by many designers. It is now a common sight in Cordillera offices where men’s barong uniforms are adorned with a touch of Cordillera native colors.

Credit must be given to Domogan for wearing G-strings in public occasions. He has succeeded in bringing consciousness among the young Cordillera natives for the need to preserve native traditions. He must have been in native festivities where in these modern days, the hosts wear their native attire only during the cultural rites.

The Baguio solon soon gained a follower in comebacking Ifugao governor Teddy Baguilat Jr. An Ifugao-Gaddang meztiso, the bachelor Baguilat took his oath as governor in 2001 wearing a Kiangan G-string. Maybe in his oath-taking ceremonies this week before his return to the Ifugao capitol this July, he will again wear that G-string.

Lamen, Domogan and Aydinan had other followers. Among them is former Mt. Province board member and former Tuba councilor Brian Aliping. During the initial Impakabsat Displays of Cordillera products in Metro Manila malls by the Department of Tourism and Trade and Industry, Aliping completed the events donning the Mt. Province G-string and headgear. He was swamped by photographers and overshadowed the product displays.

Like Aliping, others have followed. Not necessarily politicians, Bong Cawed was known to dress in G-strings on city cultural festivities. Like Lamen, he was tall and dark. But I never saw him wear a cowboy hat.

Other town officials in the Cordillera’s six provinces and Baguio City occasionally put on their native colors. We now have coats (americanas) and lady’s gowns made up of native material. Some are even of the same color and designs as that of curtains and seat covers found in government offices.

Other native colors have found themselves as table clothes. These same material and color also make up native clothing for some.

We also saw some people having the native cloth that is reserved exclusively by Ibaloys as blankets for the dead into material for clothes designed for the living. Hehehe. What would be next in Cordillera fashion?

Read more...

LETTERS FROM THE AGNO

Has your peso become stronger?
March Fianza

Headlines that talk about a stronger peso bring new hope for Filipinos. Unluckily for the penniless, they still have to look for the money before they feel the effects of the declaration, as compared to those who have the peso to spend. Still, whether one is moneyed or penniless, he feels insulted by the statement.

Quite mysteriously, an economic growth is declared at a time when four consecutive increases in gas prices take effect immediately after the election. The pronouncement of a strong peso seems artificial since its effects are not felt – not even by the rich.

With the government’s economists believing the country has a stronger economy, I am beginning to suspect they spend a currency that is different from us. Their peso seems to buy more while my peso buys less.

Once in a while I do the marketing. I did so the other day for curiosity and to see if the effect of Ate Gloria’s strong peso has trickled down. I found out that the prices have not gone up as compared to the last time I was in the market, but neither has my peso become stronger because it is unable to buy more.

In search of more proof, one need buy a thing. Simply ask a sari-sari store owner about prices of groceries, at the same time be ready to find out the truth. The salesladies too can attest to the truth. They will tell you that their prices have slightly gone up a few centavos but their salaries have not. They will tell you further that they change their shelf prices everyday – a manifestation of a weaker peso.

The controversy is in the vegetable market in the wholesale trading -- where the farmer can not dictate gate prices to middlemen buyers for fear his perishable produce might just rot in the truck if this is not sold. That explains why vegetable prices remain stable, slightly rising and falling at three to five percent. In this scenario, the farmer does not see a stronger peso.

I buy gasoline for my Beetle every two to three days or every 15 kilometers. Days before election in May, my regular gas was pegged at P36.14 per liter. A few days after election, it shot up to P37.14 or one peso higher. One and a half weeks later, fuel prices again went up at fifty centavos higher.

In the second week of June, price per liter for regular gas rose to a high of P38.14 and was up again this week at P38.63 per liter. That comes up to a total of P2.49 increase in regular gas price in 30 days. That is in the nearby town of La Trinidad . In Baguio , the price is at P39.82 per liter. Maybe by the time this article is printed, the fifth gas price increase has taken effect. What economic growth or strong peso are they talking about?

Contrary to Gloria’s economists, news reports said of an increase in the take home pay of government workers. The contrast is shown in the fact that even with the economists’ declarations, government workers complain of having to tighten their budget. And this may be loosened with an increase in salaries. Again, this does not portray a stronger peso. It simply means that a government worker will be able to buy more goods because of the recent increase in take home money.

Forgive a dirty mind but I am starting to doubt the basis for the economists’ declaration of a stronger peso. They may be up to something that we ordinary Filipinos do not see. If so, then they may not be called economists. They may be better branded as rumor-mongers. The truth is that no Filipino would dare say his peso has bought more than what he bought yesterday, not even tomorrow. mf

Read more...

HAPPY WEEKEND

From the rice terraces to policy advocacy
Gina Dizon

KIANGAN, IFUGAO - Governor-elect Teddy Baguilat Jr lives and breathes home. Home is the rice producing province of Ifugao which boasts of its stairway terraces to the skies, the famous 8th wonder of the world.

Rice being the top product of the province, the young governor sees rice culture as a vital source of livelihood and a potential source of income to be developed too.

Currently heading the Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMO), Baguilat wants to bring the experiences of SITMO in the provincial level.

For one, SITMO wants to popularize a viable method of transplanting rice seedlings at an early 10- day age and not at the usual 30- day maturity. Tried in the municipalities of Kiangan and Lamut, rice seedlings of the tinawon variety are transplanted early and spaced at least 25 cm from each other.

The rice planting technique forces the roots to grow deeper into the ground, grow more panicles, and yield more harvest when transplanted earlier. Tried first in Nueva Ecija by the Kalikasan Federation of Farmers in northern Nueva Ecija, it was found out that yield increased by at least 50% from the usual harvest.

Recently, SITMO won a 2-year grant from the United Nations Development Program which works on a biodiversity program for four towns of Ifugao.

These experiences shall serve as models in related programs in the provincial government which can be replicated in other parts of Ifugao, the development-oriented governor-elect said.

Ifugao is known for its mud- walled rice terraces which have been built centuries ago. Rice culture continued through the years and has been the livelihood of majority of Ifugaos since then.

Depending solely on rice farming is not a viable source of income and livelihood in this times of commercialized era however. Where most Ifugaos, if not most Cordillerans have terraced rice lands in limited scale, rice production is only good for at least 6 months and the rest of rice supply bought from the market.

With this, rice culture is seen as a diversified source of income where tourism comes in.
SITMO launched a rice terraces cycle tours which intends to offer a different experience to tourists. They will not just see the rice terraces but actually experience working on them, Baguilat said.

The community will be economically benefited as to the fees which the visiting tourist will pay including environmental, guide, entrance, and cultural show fees. While this is the case, the community also shares an age-old culture of planting and harvesting rice the indigenous way to the visiting tourist who does not only see and take pictures of the eighth wonder of the world but also try working on them.

Currently, SITMO in cooperation with Pochon Group will be spearheading the B’foto ad Majawjaw tour (Harvest tour) on June 22-24 at Mayaoyaw,Ifugao.

The package tour includes transportation within the province, a three-day meals and lodging, and the fees as earlier mentioned, a souvenir t-shirt and an ID and certificate for the participant-tourist.

These experiences furthering tourism for Ifugao and generating income for the community shall be elevated in the provincial government through advocacy policies promoting eco-cultural tourism for one.

Packaging the rice wine is also a need. Ifugao wine makers bottle their wines in the San Miguel 4 x 4. Baguilat sees the need to support packaging of Ifugao products including rice wines.

Participatory development
Development for the province needs the participation of the community. For this dynamic governor in his early 40s, Baguilat wants to see progressive politics in Ifugao at least. “It is a development-oriented approach in terms of decision making on the appropriations for the allocation of funds for one. It is looking beyond tomorrow, towards the future.”

For example, “we want the community to decide what tourism they like in their community. They will decide the dos and don’ts. What is important is that you have a protected area”, he said. With this, Baguilat commented that Banaue is fast losing its rice terraces with the gradual building of houses in rice-terraced areas.

Baguilat asks, would they (the community) want to see rice terraces 50 years from now? Who will work on these rice terraces? What kind of development would they want? How relevant is culture in this modern times?

And one major approach in making progressive politics happen is to involve civil society groups in local governance. Baguilat wants the private sector like the church-based groups, cooperatives and non government organizations be part of special bodies of the provincial development council take part in decision making and local governance.

Progressive politics is also making a stand against traditional politics. It is making a stand against corruption. For this youthful leader who dons a ponytail as a sign of protest against corruption, he considers worth supporting the initiatives of community groups like the monitoring and evaluation systems of the church-based Social Action Development Center (SADC) in monitoring government programs and likewise curbing corruption.

And for corruption to be gradually eradicated, “I have to start with myself”. The two- time (he was governor in 2001-2004) governor-elect said corruption means not receiving SOPs. “Where one contractor has won his contract fair and square, then he does not have to give an SOP and bribe a public official,” he said.

“Corruption is not only malversation of funds. It is also poor planning”. Baguilat sees development as a wholistic and interrelated approach to development. Capability building and provision of support services are necessary to make a development program finally redound to the people in the community. For example, not only are roads built. Livelihood trainings are given and the necessary packaging and market outlets will be established to support a person’s initiatives and a community product.

Read more...

THE MOUNTAINEER

Independence Day, Flag Day and nationalism
Edison Baddal

The country has just celebrated its 109th Indepedence Day Anniversary last June 12, 2007. This storied date was same date that Aguinaldo and other noted leaders of the Philippine revolution
first hoisted the Filipino flag at the balcony of Aguinaldo’s house at Kawit, Cavite. In connection therewith, the national Government recently promulgated an issuance through the DILG which declared May 28, 2007 as a flag day to kick off the celebration and commemoration of
Philippine Independence. In consonance thereto, the National Historical Institute set up three sets of date in observance of the twin celebrations of the Flag Day and Independence Day as both are intertwined with each other being both milestones in the tapestry of the nation.

These dates started from May 24, 2007 up to June 30, 2007. Same issuance likewise enjoined
the continuous display of the flag up to June 30, 2007 in government structures and buildings
as well as in private structures like malls, department stores, frontage of humongous buildings
including homes.

By now, speeches and pep talks have been delivered by public officials from the national level down to the local level with the dominant theme centered on the need to reminisce and recall with pride the significance of the independence. The theme revolved on our redoubtable forebears heroic struggle against foreign invaders with insufferable conditions nothwithstanding. Having won freedom and ensured the freedom of the succeeding generations of Filipinos as well, the commemorative rites is undoubtedly proper and called for. The lionized heroic feats as the invariable color of the talks may sometimes border on
apotheosis but in no way does it measure up to the degree of sacrifices endured and undergone by our freedom-loving ancestors.

With the surfeit of freedom now suffusing every facet of Filipino life, the legendary feats need to be retold as presentday Filipinos seemed to have forgotten the latter’s sacrifices just to win back our freedom. Such is evidenced by the fact that corruption is taking place in every level of government bureaucracy through countless shenanigans by the powers-that-be. Conversely, the cycle of corruption in our present political system is the direct reverse of what our forbears’ struggled for during the revolution.

Unmistakably, our forefathers never fought only for political independence from foreign yoke but also independence from the grinding poverty. This condition generally characterized Filipinos’ lives then as only the Spanish civil and ecclesiastical authorities enjoyed the fruits of
the nation’s wealth. So with the overarching goal of political independence with concomitant economic prosperity, the revolution continued against the Americans after the downfall of the Spaniards after the former took over as colonizers. Later, with political independence intact, the predominant issue on unequal economic opportunities brought about by unmitigated corruption gave rise to the bloodless revolution of the Filipinos at EDSA (dubbed as EDSA I)
in 1986 against the homegrown Marcos tyranny. In the same vein, Filipinos staged EDSA II against the despicably corrupt Estrada in 2001.
*****
It is sad to note that the corrupt and sly methods employed by the Spanish colonizers seemed
to have rubbed off on the native leaders when Independence was vouchsafed to Filipinos
by the Americans in 1946. At the outset, having been dictated by foreigners for centuries, Filipino leaders seemed to have become heady when they actually exercised political power.
It was some sort of a sluice in which the valve suddenly burst and confined water gushed forth unrestrainedly. So having been given the chance to exercise political power even while they begrudged the Spanish masters who lived off Filipinos’ toil in ease and comfort, they grabbed the chance to help themselves to the state’s resources.

Also the just ended second world war, which caused incalculable destruction to the nation, might have contributed to the rapacity of native leaders with survival of the fittest being the utmost concern then. In effect, corruption sort of subjoined itself to our political system since it took a foothold when native leaders exercised actual leadership. This accepted fact emboldened a senator in the early 1950’s to coin a tagline with these brazen words, “What are we in power for?”. Such statement rhetoricized in the jauntiest manner political leaders’ effrontery in availing themselves to slices of the political pie. The transference of Spanish colonial corrupton to local leaders starting 1946 indelibly smeared the nation’s moral fabric.

With the socio-economic and political elite as the main beneficiaries of the nation’s patrimony at present while millions wallow in poverty, our revolutionary leaders must be turning and churning in their graves. They surely must be nauseating, whimpering and inveighing at the
fact that only a farthing have much while the vast majority are barely eking out a living. Worst, many are bereft or dispossessed of a roof over their heads and forced to live as panhandlers on the streets. Certainly, this is not the kind of society that our forbears aspired and sacrificed their lives for. This is because they envisioned a society where there is social justice, equality and prosperity for all under the blessing of democracy. And neither have they envisaged a society where the miasma of poverty has converted the mass of poor hoi polloi into nothing more than pawns of those in power for selfish ambitions and interests.
******
Therefore, the poor cannot be totally faulted for supporting candidates who has enough largesse to share during elections. And neither should they be censured or remonstrated for being suckers and gullible enough in voting for candidates from showbiz. They often go for the latter as they have limited choices and not a few of the showbiz denizens proved to have honesty and integrity as public officials than their non- showbiz counterparts. Being wellfed and wealthier from their showbiz earnings, most of the former shun the lure of corrupt gain. On the contrary, most non-showbiz politicians who invested millions in electoral campaigns are forced to recoup such investment through fraudulent means.

Having no adequate resources then and food being their most integral consideration, they are not so much to be faulted for selling their votes to power-hungry politicians. It is thus that our type of politics is dubbed “politics of the stomach” on account of the fact that issues are not the overriding consideration by the poor when electing candidates but rather those that have something to do with assuaging hunger. Issues or slogans for the latter don’t count much when they choose leaders. In a way, for being suckers, they are incidentally to be faulted
for unwittingly sustaining the cycle of corruption in our political system.

Also their unpatriotic attitude as well as the wrong values they subliminally espouse brought about by their humdrum existence, are among some of the culprits in the continuance of the abhorrent culture of corruption. Wily politicians are very much aware of the power of money
in persuading the poor electors. So while in power they will resort to all means to amass wealth to be used in wheedling the poor voters again. In the process, well-meaning economic programs of the government always hit a snag due to widespread corruption.
*****
Ironically, Southeast Asian countries who were trailing the Philippines by a mile in terms
of economic development in the 1950’s are now miles ahead of the Philippines on same score.
The Philippines was then the second best economy in the whole of Asia next to Japan. But same countries which once envied the Philippines then are now the cause of envy by the latter.
This occurred when Marcos and his cronies were ravaging the economy while the economies
of Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hongkong, Thailand and Indonesia grew by leaps and bounds and achieved unprecendented economic growth. Lately, China and Vietnam, formerly socialist
and wartorn countries, and also India joined the league of progressive nations in Asia with the Philippines relegated to the group of the least progressive nations in Asia that include the likes Bangladesh, Pakistan, Laos and Sri Lanka.
*****
With economic development still a mirage in the national landscape, Independence Day celebrations, Flag as a symbol of unity and Nationalism, are basically empty and
meaningless concepts to the poor as they are in no less related from their most peremptory
need:FREEDOM FROM HUNGER AND WANT.

If at all, they join the celebration out of routine. All those speeches by which the officials harangued the crowd are like sounds that echoe in the wilderness. It is not farfetched to think that while a speaker is rendering his eloquent speech, the poor in his audience might be
silently imprecating him for all his hypocrisy, effrontery and barefaced lies.

Infact, statistical data like a 6.79% GDP for the first quarter of the year as among the highest in a period of 17 years is to the poor an empty boast.

By all means, Independence can only be understood and taken to heart as a concept by the majority of Filipinos if it is accompanied by economic development.

For such will never be appreciated and will always remain a recondite term until the gnawing
and churning hunger of Filipinos is sated.

Like what they say in the vernacular, “AY SINU DASA AY INDEPENDENCE YA NATIONALISM AY MAKAN DATOSA?.”(Whatever they are,are Independence and nationalism edible?) This just illustrates the apathy and cynicism that people regard these concepts.

Read more...

BULL'S HIT

Grease money and illegal gambling dens
Rudy Garcia

The successive raids conducted on suspected gambling dens in Baguio by elements of the Criminal Investigation Detection Group showed authorities particularly the city mayor’s office are in full swing battle against these illegal activities.

“This is war,” said Mayor-elect Peter Rey Bautista and he now means business when he strictly made his order for the immediate crackdown of suspected gambling lairs. First to fall was the “Drop Ball” and “Pula’t Puti” at Hilltop Kayang, followed by the daytime raid of illegal gambling activities along lower Magsaysay Ave., just below the Hidden Massage and Videoke.

“There will be more to follow” said “Ka Greg,” the trusted lieutenant and secretary of Bautista. I really believe this guy as he initiated the closure of the mini carnival trade fair at Otek St. and the supposed Bingo Rama cum gambling den along lower Magsaysay Ave., formerly Philippine Rabbit Sinkhole.

His recent actions refuted the allegations of some that he is on the take from the operators of bingo dens. He never was involved in any way fixing activities when it comes to easy issue of permits and clearances to bingo ramas. Grease or protection money is not in his vocabulary, but he accepts the fact that these dirty tricks allegations thrown at him is the price he has to pay for doing his job.

True, I exposed in my past columns, the fixing activities of some government and barangay officials regarding permits, clearances and even protection of these bingo establishments, but “Ka Greg” or any of his co-staff are not involved, the reason why it earned the ire of some persons not given special favors.

To me, it was such disgust to read in the newspapers and hear on the radio allegations Ka Greg took money from these operators. He was like a suspect pre-judged through public opinion. Yes sir, those detractors of this man are but protectors and even taking part of the cake from these bingo cum gambling activities.

Why don’t they take a deeper look on what is really happening at city hall? Instead of verifying facts, these Hao Shiaos tried to play the game circumventing the truth! May I ask if they know that a top department head at city hall is among those protecting these bingo dens?

That he easily receive a measly P15,000.00 just for his “blessing”? And even giving guarantee that these establishments will be free from bulabog? In fact he was not able to lift even a single finger at times when the operators needed him most? Well, if these nakikisawsaw people don’t know yet, they better shut their mouths and go back to elementary to learn more the real facts. Wala pong personalan. Trabaho lang, period!
***
Now that school days are back to normal, school authorities should start to monitor their students and keep tight watch over those students suspected as members of fraternities or gang groups. I bet, these groups are eyeing possible new members to be recruited especially high school students.

The increasing incidents of young gang wars in this city is alarming. City authorities can’t solve the problem without the cooperation of citizens especially teachers and the parents. The parents should make this one of their primary concerns otherwise, it might be too late before they knew that their children are members and deeply involved with undesirable groups.

School authorities and the parents should institute strict measures to abate the proliferation of young fraternities in their school premises. It is also appropriate for them to coordinate with proper authorities like the police if they know of any existence of fraternities or gang groups in their schools.

I have been receiving reports that some favorite hang-outs of fraternities are at Burnham Park Skating Rink, Melvin Jones Grandstand, Rizal Park, Rose Garden Park, and their favorite stand bye after class hours is in front of Insular Bldg, below the City Hall.

So dear parents, why don’t you try to visit and take a short look at these I mentioned areas. Who knows, your child maybe there, and to Baguio City police chief Moises Guevarra, pakibusisi po ninyo ito sir!
***
Our parting lines for this week. Everyone of us know that health is wealth no matter where and how your status stands whether you are rich or poor. Being healthy is a non- compromise treasure worth keeping. Feeling great by being healthy both in mind and body is worth a price.

For parting health tip, it is best to start your exercise with warm up aerobics mixed with flexing then followed by isometrics like weight lifting. Follow strict diet and avoid unhealthy lifestyles. For more information and proper guidance, visit us at Muscleanous Fitness Gym located ay Kayang St. Baguio City. Look for Mr. Ahmor Cayat, proprietor and chief instructor. So what are you waiting for, start training, be physically fit, build your muscles, pump them up and see and feel the different you. See you there.

Read more...

BUSINESS BITS

Goat-raising a lucrative trade
Joel D. Adriano

It used to be that goats were considered a poor farmer’s livestock, and that very few were seriously raising them. Yet the growing demand for and the rising prices of healthier and leaner chevon, or goat meat, as well as the promise of very good returns from this business are changing this perception.

Chevon prices have shot up to P180 to P220 per kilogram from over P140 per kilo two years ago. Just a while back, live native goats were selling at P800 to 1,000 per head, now they go for as much as P2,000 to P3,000. Prices of mestizos, crossbreds, have also doubled to between P7,500 and P10,000 per head.

Dr. Edwin Villar, director of the livestock research division of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development, sees a lot of room for growth for the goat industry. Current per capita consumption of goat meat is just 300 grams per year, compared with the yearly person consumption of 21 kilograms of beef and 18 kilograms of pork.

People from Northern Luzon who use goat meat for their popular native dish, papaitan (goat meat and innards simmered in water and vinegar), are the biggest chevon consumers. Mindanao, with its sizable Muslim population, is also a huge market as Muslims who don’t eat pork would naturally go for meat alternatives like beef or chevon.

Twenty-three year-old Ketty Chua saw the tremendous potential in breeding goats when she did a feasibility study on this business. Chua, a Business Management graduate of the University of Asia and the Pacific, learned about the income potential of goat raisin from her uncle, who was also into the same business. Chua got her start after her family, who owned a feeds and poultry business in Cebu, asked her to take charge of their goat-breeding project.

Chua imported 550 Boer goats from Australia in October 2005 to cross breed them with the smaller native goats that produced less meat and milk. Cross breeding her goats would improve their qualities. She sold her imported breeds for P40,000 to P60,000 each while her island-born purebreds went for P30,000 per head.

Most of Chua’s buyers were farmers from Mindanao, although she would give seminars and hire salesman to help market her goats to raisers and buyers in Luzon. Despite being new in the business, Chua is already considered one of the country’s biggest goat breeders because of her no fewer than 500 goat stocks, all purebred and worth around P50,000 each. She expects to recover her substantial investment in three to five years.
***

Angelina Mendoza, who owns the Tarlac-based Lakeview Farms, never thought that goat raising would bring her tremendous returns. She started goat-raising as a hobby in 2001 to while away her time while waiting for their mango trees to bear fruit. She bought he goats – a male and a female – for P12,000. Goats are fast breeders and Mendoza can attest to how quickly her pair multiplied several times over in the next five years. Just the same it took her three years to realize there was serious money to be made in this business, and decided to become a serious breeder by importing more Anglo-nubian goats in 2004. Her farm now counts 350 goats worth P3 million.

Even if more and more entrepreneurs are going into goat-raising, the existing supply cannot keep up with the shooting demand for goat meat. And then there is a huge untapped overseas goat meat market to consider. Mendoza says they can dictate their prices now because production is only close to 1.7 million heads when demand is more than 1.8 million goats.

Even though Mendoza and Chua spent a lot to start their goat farms, Villar says other can go into this business on a much smaller capital. A farm with one male goat and 10 does can be started with between P30,000 and P40,000. A big part of the capital will go to buying goats. “An eight-month-old male meztizo breeder goats costs around P7,000. With just one male, you can have 10 females which cost P2,000 each or a total of P20,000,” he says. “Including the investment in housing and feeds, initial investment in housing and feeds, initial investment for a goat farm of this size could cost between P30,000 and P40,000.”

Antibiotics would only set you back by P50 for each goat for one year, while you would hardly spend on feeds as goats, even the imported ones, graze on just any grass or leaves, although Vilalr says napier grass, and ipil-ipil and kakawate leaves are the ruminants’ best food.

Does are ready to bear kids on their eighth month, and reproduce twice a year. While goats normally have a single offspring, the native varieties would often give birth to twins. Given this reproduction cycle, a goat farmer could double his stocks in less than a year, and could recoup his investment in 18 months if he sold the animals every eight months (the time it takes a goat to weigh as much as 20 kilos). Villar says around 40 goats can thrive in a cage built on a 50-square-meter lot.

Mendoza says anyone wanting to get into the goat raising business can approach her group, the Federation of Goat and Sheep Producers, which offers regular trainings on goat farming. Others can e-mail their inquiries to the federation’s e-group, (goatraisers@yahoogroups.com). Goat meat, anyone?

Read more...

  © Blogger templates Palm by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP  

Web Statistics