Embattled Cordi DPWH chief lashes back at critics

>> Sunday, January 25, 2009

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – The beleaguered Cordillera Highways chief who had been accused by critics over “substandard, anomalous and corrupt” implementation of infrastructure projects in the region particularly Halsema Highway lashed back at his critics saying “defects in such projects should not always be equated to corruption to pin down personalities but should be viewed in a holistic manner so as not to prejudice and compromise quality of work.”

Engineer Mariano R. Alquiza, regional DPWH director said “continuous allegations of substandard implementation of projects, particularly State of the Nation Address commitments of President Macapagal-Arroyo in the region, had been blown out of proportion by some interest groups” who have acts to grind against agency officials.

“If there are really defects in the projects which will be uncovered by the agency’s inspectorate team, the contractor is obliged to replace the work at his own expense and no government funds will be wasted in such case, thus, the quality of the project is maintained up to its completion and eventual turnover to the agency,” he said.

The DPWH official said critics had been putting the blame on him and a few other officials for alleged substandard implementation of work saying there are other agency officers directly supervising projects who have a hand in overseeing all projects implemented by the agency.

While SONA projects have been bid out in the regional level, he said the implementation stage is under the supervision of the project engineer, district engineering offices where the projects are located, the construction, maintenance and quality control divisions of the regional office, assistant regional directors for maintenance and construction before ending up with the regional director.

Alquiza said their work is “too politicized because of involvement of a lot of personalities in identification of projects coupled with the selfish desire of some interest groups and individuals to corner projects, thus, they are simply torn between two lovers.”

According to him, the complaints and accusations being hurled against him by purported anti-graft crusaders in Mountain province and Kalinga are the handy work of disgruntled groups and individuals who were not able to get their desired projects from those which were earlier bid out by the agency under the SONA commitments of the President.

Alquiza claimed those who are very vocal about the issue are contractors who do not have appropriate licenses and have very disappointing performances in their previous projects which they sub-contracted from legitimate contractors, thus, it was the licensed contractors who were penalized for substandard works which their partners implemented.

Alquiza added the disgruntled groups and individuals had been subjecting him to trial by publicity the past few months but they were not brave enough in filing the charges in the proper forum where the arena would be fair to all parties concerned.


Mt Province gov cites achievements

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Gov. Maximo Dalog summarized achievements of the province under his leadership for the past year in his State of the Province Address here last week.

Dalog said the Local Government Program Measurement System (LGPMS) gave a very satisfactory rating to the provincial government for the previous year.

On peace and order, Dalog cited many resolutions passed by the Provincial Peace and Order Council.

Among them were the resolutions banning jueteng in the province and another for the cancellation of land titles issued to individuals outside the alienable and disposable land within the Mount Data watershed.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan came out with 224 resolutions and six ordinances to address concerns of the populace aside from the issues tackled by the special mandated bodies.

Programs on literacy and universal education, he said, are gaining ground even as the provincial government continues to pay honoraria of 48 alternative learning system coordinators.

The Makabasa ya Makasulat koma san IIyon-a (MAKSI) program has assisted hundreds of illiterates.

This program requires all graduating high school students to teach an adult how to read and write before he/she will be allowed to graduate. The provincial government likewise continue to help 462 college students under the provincial scholarship program.

The Bontoc General Hospital is about to be elevated as a tertiary level hospital given the creation and filling up of positions to man the required service areas.

On public health, the number of households using iodized salt and equipped with sanitary toilets continue to rise with the issuance of an executive order urging all offices not to hire applicants whose houses are without sanitary toilets.

Housed at the college is the newly inaugurated Liwid Center for student counseling like informing them on dangers of early pregnancy.

Despite meager revenue, at least 17 farm to market roads were either rehabilitated or constructed aside from the building of day care centers and classrooms.

Two open gymnasiums were also put up while seven irrigation and water works project were implemented. The first phase of the capitol extension building in under construction and is hoped to be finished this year.

These projects were funded from the total revenue which increased due to the massive tax collection campaigns of the office of the provincial assessor and provincial treasurer.

The tree planting project spearheaded by the Provincial Agricultural, Environmental and Natural Resources Offices board registered additional trees planted even as provincial and baranggay nurseries continue to produce planting materials which are distributed to people for free.

The board also distributed 12 tree planting certificates to people. The certificate entitles the holder to harvest the trees he has planted.

The Provincial government scholarship program provided tuition fees of 426 students of Mountain Province Polytechnicque State College. Illiteracy rate went down from 16% in 2007 to 9% in 2008 due to Alternative Learning Systems (ALS) program of the provincial government and Makabasa ya Makasulat Koma san Iiyon-a (MAKSI). ALS provided the honoraria of 48 facilitators. The program assisted 3,785 non-illiterates and 375 elementary and high school drop outs to enhance reading and comprehension. MAKSI assisted 140 illiterates. In the program, high school students teach at least one illiterate before they graduate .

A memorandum of agreement was inched with the 10 mayors of the province for the implementation of Early Childhood Care and Development.

United Nations Fund for Population Administration (UNFPA) representative Suneeta Mukherjee also visited pilot areas in the province. The program will be extended till 2011 in Mountain Province.

The Sumyaan Center under the social welfare and department office continues to serve as a temporary shelter for women and children victims of abuse and other clients in crises. It has served 22 women and children. Of these cases, 17 were sexually abused children and five women victims of domestic violence. -- Angel Baybay and Gina Dizon


RTC judge orders Arroyo to release activist: Gov’t execs linked to Balao's disappearance

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The Regional Trial Court-Branch 63 in a decision promulgated Jan. 19, the first on the writ of amparo found “substantial evidence” to link President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano, PNP Chief Jesus Versoza, Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, Dir. Edgardo Doromal, Maj. Gen. Isagani Cachuela and Senior Supt. Eugene Martin to the abduction and continued disappearance of activist James Balao.

These government officials were the respondents in a petition for the issuance of the writ of amparo filed by the family and co-workers of James Balao in September 2008. Judge Benigno M. Galacgac penned the decision in this case.

The Court’s 13-page decision directed the respondents to “(a) disclose where James Balao is detained or confined, (b) to release James Balao considering his unlawful detention since his abduction and (c) to cease and desist from further inflicting harm upon his person.”

In reaching the decision, the court found Balao disappeared because of his “activist/political leanings.” Balao was a member of the militant Cordillera People’s Alliance when he was abducted at Barangay Tomay here last year.

The court also chided respondents for their “very limited, superficial, and one-sided” investigation on Balao’s enforced disappearance, and for using “technicalities and evidentiary jargon to thwart the petition to surface the activist.”

The court also recognized the need for President Arroyo to respond to a petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo.

The court supported this tack on the President’s own duty to be informed of the goings-on around her and to enforce the rule of law.

“By this decision, the President can be held accountable for every case of human rights abuse, especially enforced disappearances, even simply on the level of ensuring the reappearance of the disappeared,” said the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers- Cordillera.

“Through its independence and commitment to the rule of law, the court has pinned the responsibility for Balao’s disappearance and reappearance upon President Arroyo and her cohorts.”

The NUPL, in a statement however said there is need to find Balao. “We thus deplore the Court’s ruling to deny the interim reliefs prayed for, especially the issuance of an inspection order. An inspection order would have saved much time and effort in locating James Balao. Still, we are hopeful that the process of executing the decision pending appeal, with all ancillary reliefs, would reverse an otherwise empty victory. The Court has found and rightly so that James Balao is in the hands of the respondents. The Court must exercise its vast powers so that justice is done though the mighty respondents fall.”

The court said: The tribunals are the palladium of the civil liberties of the people. They are the sanctuary where the fundamental human rights are safeguarded. Shall we fail in the crucial hours of actual test? Shall we disappoint the unfortunate victim? This is the last asylum where the victim can resort to. Shall we reject him with freezing indifference? Here comes for salvation a drowning man. Shall we throw him to his doom? From the deepest bottom of our souls surges a powerful No, as an overpowering answer. No. We cannot do that. We must protect the victim. It is our unavoidable duty. It is an imperative mandate of the conscience.”


Councilors back move to junk SK over dirty politics

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The municipal council here has expressed full support for a proposal calling for the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), saying the youth group has become breeding ground for teenagers to practice "dirty politics" as done by their elders.

The municipal legislators here said it would be best if Congress amends the Local Government Code of the Philippines to scrap the provisions requiring the organization of SK.

This would enable the youth to concentrate on their study rather than getting involved in dirty politics which has become the breeding ground for dishonest and corrupt leaders.

The municipal council came out with its position on the issue following the confusion caused by the sudden resignation of Jane Aprille Luis, SK president in this capital town and the ex-officio councilor in the municipal council.

She resigned so she can concentrate on her studies. She also quit for health reasons.

Luis, a second-year nursing student, opted to quit politics because of the tremendous pressure involved in her post, aggravated by hectic class schedule.

As a result, her grades were eventually compromised, causing her name to be dropped from the dean’s list.

Several proposals were submitted by lawmakers in both chambers of Congress, all calling for the abolition of the SK.

One reason is that it does not conform to the purpose the organization was formed as the SK leaders are being used as political allies by politicians.

Various groups in this town hailed the action by Luis of quitting politics in favor of her studies.

Some two years ago, student leaders of private and public secondary schools nationwide passed a resolution calling on Congress to abolish the SK because the organization failed to promote the interest of the youth.

The student leaders accused SK officials of being dummies of corrupt and dishonest politicians. – Dexter A See


P106.5-M marijuana uprooted in Ilocos, Benguet

By Freddie G. Lazaro

CAMP PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur – Marijuana plants, seeds and seedlings worth P106.5 million were uprooted by elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, police, and Philippine Army at the boundary of Ilocos Sur and Benguet last week.

The marijuana plantations, which have a combined area of 12 hectares, were located at the boundaries of Barangay Licungan, Sugpon in Ilocos Sur, and Barangay Takadang and Libong, Barangay Badeo, both in Kibungan town, Benguet.

Supt. Roberto Opena, Cordillera PDEA director, said operatives uprooted and destroyed 795,000 fully grown marijuana plants and 35,000 marijuana seedlings.

They also seized 2.5 kilos of marijuana seeds.

Opeña said that so far, it was the biggest haul achieved in a single operation in the country.

The PDEA agents, policemen and soldiers conducted a three-day operation that started Jan 16.

The operation was called "Oplan Buntot Pusa."

"The bulk of the uprooted marijuana plants was burned at the plantation, and some were brought to our office for documentation," Opena said.

He said that the estimated value of the destroyed marijuana plants was based on a Dangerous Drug Board rule which states that one kilo of marijuana plants has a street value of from P3,000 to P5,000.

Opena said a suspected cultivator of the marijuana plants had been arrested.
The identity of the suspect was withheld pending further investigation.

The operatives seized from the suspect a gun without license. Also seized were the suspect’s personal belongings and sacks of fertilizers.

Residents blamed the lack of help from national government agencies and local government units for the continued marijuana growing in the area, noting that they have lands good for food production.

Opeña said that the residents have long complained about the absence of good farm-to-market roads in remote areas, where they produce sweet potatoes that provide them meager income.


DSWD cancels grant for project in Ifugao

By Juan B. Dait Jr.

LAGAWE, Ifugao -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development has withdrawn a P2.5-million grant to this province for the construction of a rehabilitation center for Ifugao juvenile delinquents or children who had been in conflict with the law.

The DSWD cancelled the grant and transferred the fund to Abra Province after the sangguniang panlalawigan failed to pass a resolution endorsing the project.

The rehabilitation center, to be called "Bahay Pagasa," was supposed to be constructed in the municipality of Lamut on a vacant government lot set aside for the project.

Miss Joyce Niwane, Ifugao social work and development officer, said that the DSWD’s request for the Ifugao SP to pass a resolution of support and endorsement for the Bahay Pagasa project was submitted to the SP, through Vice Gov. Nora Dinamling, on May 6, 2007.

"Unfortunately, the SP (provincial board) ignored the DSWD request for a resolution of support and endorsement, and as a consequence, Ifugao forfeited the grant and the project was transferred to Abra," Niwane said.

Ifugao would have been the first province in the Cordillera Region to be the recipient of a P2.5-million grant from DSWD under its nationwide Bahay Pagasa program for the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents.

The DSWD Bahay Pagasa program is an offshoot of the passage of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 or R.A. No. 9344.

The law is the Philippine government’s compliance with its commitment to the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC).

A salient feature of the law is the adoption of the principles of restorative justice and other UN Convention tools in handling juveniles and the implementation of a comprehensive juvenile intervention program on all levels of the local government units.


142 stranded Cagayan folk ferried home after boat sank

TUGUEGARAO CITY -- A total of 142 residents of two isolated islands in the northernmost tip of the country were ferried home by the Navy after being stranded in Cagayan province since mid-December due to the cancellation of passenger boat licenses following the sinking of M/B Maejan, a spokesman said.

Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman said in Manila BRP Rizal was sent by Naval Forces North Luzon chief Commodore Jose Luis Alano to transport the passengers who were stranded in the towns of Aparri, Claveria and Sta. Ana since Dec. 14 after the Marina cancelled all licenses of passenger boats that were unable to meet safety standards.

Aside from bringing home the passengers, who are mostly teachers and government employees, the vessel also brought assorted supplies for the people of the two islands such as diesel, rice, fertilizer, sugar, salt and other basic commodities.
Arevalo said Calayan Mayor Joseph Llopis requested the Navy to provide a vessel for the transport.

BRP Rizal, the spokesman said is currently refueling before proceeding to Dingalan, Aurora for a medical and dental mission and other community development projects in the area.

“The tragic sinking of M/B Maejan last month left nearly half of its 103 passengers dead, prompting Marina to suspend the licenses of all remaining passenger vessels due to findings that they failed to comply with maritime safety standards,” he said.

Arevalo said with the creation of their Fleet-Marine Ready Force, they could be able to efficiently and rapidly deploy their men, vessels and aircraft to respond to national emergencies such as this one.

The said unit, according to him, is composed of elite Navy Seals, air and surface assets, rescue vessels.

It could address national emergencies such as terror atacks, disasters, calamities, and even civil disturbances. – JM


2 holduppers killed in Nueva Ecija shootout

CABANATUAN CITY – Two holdup suspects who are members of a robbery-holdup gang tagged behind the string of robberies and holdups here were killed in a shootout with operatives of the local police night of Jan. 19.

Supt. Eliseo Cruz, Cabanatuan police station commander, identified the two slain holdup men as Anthony Palencia,30, of Barangay Sapang this city and a certain Ferdie of Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

They were both members of the Palencia robbery-holdup gang believed responsible for past incidents in this city.

They both died on the spot from gunshot wounds. Cruz said their other companions were able to escape.

The encounter took place 6:30 p.m. at Purok 4, Barangay Sapang when lawmen raided their safehouse, resulting in a shootout.

Cruz said the group also held up and killed a fruit and vegetable dealer and held up a grocery store in Mayap­yap Norte. -- MG


Malacañang assails ‘snail-paced’ Baguio hotel project

By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – Who is to blame for the “snail-paced” rehabilitation and upgrading of the former Diplomat Hotel here and its compound? The city government, according to the Presidential Management Staff of the Office of the President.

The hotel project was turned over on April 29, 2004 to the city government, which vowed to make it a tourist and recreation center.

Through a proclamation issued by President Arroyo, the city acquired at least 32,000 square meters of the 52,402-square-meter land occupied by the former Diplomat Hotel.

In a letter sent to Mayor Reinaldo A. Bautista Jr., PMS Director-General Cerge Remonde stated that since the facility was turned over to the city government, only P13 million had been spent for the rehabilitation of the parking area and perimeter fence of the hotel.

The Palace official reminded city officials that the P13 million allotted by the city government is way below the estimated rehabilitation cost of the facility which was earlier pegged at P87 million.

Remonde said the city government should make good its commitment to develop the area into a heritage-tourist facility in a five-year period, which started when it was turned over in 2004.

With the failure of the city government to undertake the development of the facility, the PMS chief is seeking an audience with the concerned city officials to discuss a proposal of the Baguio Historical and Mining Museum Foundation Inc. to develop the Dominican Hill property into a world-class mining museum.

The group, through chairperson Ambassador Delia Albert, wants the Diplomat Hill property to be converted into an interactive mining and historical museum that could be one of Baguio’s historical attractions during the city’s centennial celebration on Sept. 1, 2009.

City council Resolution No. 199-2996 reserves a portion of the Diplomat Hotel compound in the Dominican Hill for the Baguio Historical and Mining Museum Foundation.

Historically, the Sandiganbayan objected when the Diplomat property was ceded to the city government through a deed of conveyance signed PMS represented by then Secretary Ricardo Saludo, former mayor Bernardo M. Vergara representing the city, and the Sandiganbayan represented by then Presiding Justice Nenita Chico-Nazario.

To settle the issue, talks regarding property were held. The talks resulted in a swap involving the Diplomat Hotel and a city-owned property at Wright Park. The city then was bent on developing the century-old hotel into a revenue-generating facility.

At present, the Diplomat Hotel property is being used as a ghost-hunting area by students as well as location shooting for horror movies because of its weird ambiance, especially at night.

The Diplomat Hotel was devastated during the July 1990 killer earthquake. The city engineer was forced to declare the building as an abandoned property because of the heavy damage.



Cordillera body urges electric coops to convert as stock coops
By Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council is supporting the registration of electric cooperatives from the National Electrification Administration to the cooperative Development Authority to make member-consumers more participative in decision-making which would advance the interest of the general public in terms of the national government’s rural electrification program.

The Cordillera RDC urged the bicameral conference committee on the proposed amendment to the Cooperative code of the Philippines to hasten finalization of its report for ratification of both chambers since one of the salient provisions introduced in the amendment is that electric cooperatives must register with the CDA.

At present, nineteen out of the one hundred nineteen electric cooperatives, including the Abra Electric Cooperative (ABRECO) in the cordillera, have opted to register with the CDA.

According to the RDC, electric cooperatives registering with the CDA would mean that members are considered owners of the cooperative s and that they have greater involvement in the decision-making process, pay lower electricity cost and have a more transparent audit system.

In 1973, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree 269 mandating the organization of electric cooperatives and their subsequent registration with the NEA to promote rural electrification in a bid to provide electricity to the over 42,000 barangays nationwide.

However, Republic Act (RA) 6938 or the Cooperative Code of the Philippines provides electric cooperatives the option to be registered with the NEA or the CDA.

For the NEA-registered electric cooperatives, management decisions greatly emanate and influenced by the NEA.

The RDC emphasized electric cooperatives through their monthly bill payments regularly pay the amortization of the loans of the electric cooperative and as such should have a more significant role in the cooperative decision-making process.

The regions policy-making body cited the output of the bicameral conference report on the amendment of the Cooperative code of the Philippines for the registration of electric cooperatives to the CDA is in response to the persistent clamor of member-consumers of electric cooperatives.

Earlier, the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reform (NASECOR) in the cordillera passed Resolution No. 2008-11 strongly supporting the registration of electric cooperatives with the CDA as this empowers the consumer-members to be the genuine owners who will ensure efficient and effective management of the electric cooperatives.

Gerardo P. Verzosa, general manager of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) with franchise area in Baguio City and Benguet, said the imposition of franchise taxes on the electric cooperatives by the local government units (LGUs) is still undergoing debate especially on the basis on where to compute the supposed tax.

The collection of franchise taxes from electric cooperatives is one of the offshoots of the amendments of the Cooperative code which does not exempt electric cooperatives from the payment of taxes unlike other forms of cooperatives.

Verzosa explained it would be unfair if they will be taxed based on their gross sales when 82 percent of their income is being used to pay power it buys from the power generating companies.
Under the law, electric cooperatives will have to pay one half of one percent of its gross sales as their franchise taxes to the local government units within their areas of operation. -- Dexter A. See

Baguio City tops web search for tourist site
By Larry Madarang

BAGUIO CITY — The word “ Baguio ” was cited as top keyword people searched for 2008 according to one of the top search engines based here.

Yahoo Philippines in its website “top searches 2008” tagged Baguio as the top with Batangas coming in as number two, followed by Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Davao, Manila, Palawan, Puerto Galera, Siargao.

These places in the Philippines were tagged as the top ten keywords searched by people at the Yahoo Philippines search engine for the year 2008 and are identified under the “Byahe” category of the site.

Other top inquires and categories for the year 2008 for the search engine are: Angel Locsin, celebrities; Amazing Race Asia, TV shows; Arnel Pineda, music; Barrack Obama, news; Ako Si Kim Sam Soong, our flavor; eeePC, tech and info; Chris Tiu, leisure; and the currency converter for the sari-sari category.

Council seeks Abra-Kalinga road rehab
BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council urged the national government to fund rehabilitation of the Bangued-Boliney-Pasil-Tabuk road to spur economic development in remote towns of Abra and Kalinga, two of the conflict-stricken areas in the region, to achieve peace in the reas.

The region’s policy-making body cited improvement of road networks and infrastructure projects like the Bangued-Boliney-Pasil-Tabuk road are sectors that need attention to facilitate demands of growing agricultural needs, literacy and health services in the different parts of the region, especially the far flung communities which are not accessible to transportation because of lack of roads.

Undersecretary Hermenegildo Dumlao of the North Luzon Growth Quadrangle Area had been advocating for the immediate opening of the Boliney-Pasil road to connect the existing Bangued-Boliney Road to the Tabuk-Pasil road to enhance economic activities in the remote areas.

The regional Department of Public works and Highways had completed the required technical survey and project guide for the improvement and rehabilitation of the Bangued-Boliney-Pasil-Tabuk road which were eventual submitted to the NLGQA and the DPWH central office two years ago for inclusion in future commitments to be made by the Arroyo administration for the Cordillera.

According to the RDC, the improvement of the Bangued-Boliney, Pasil-Tabuk road would bring about development in the Abra and Kalinga provinces, open up the municipalities and barangays traversed to the capital towns of the adjoining provinces and consequently, to the neighboring regions and would open up and pave the way for the municipality of Boliney to transport its farm products to the neighboring provinces of Kalinga and Mountain Province and vice versa.

Furthermore, the new road network would eventually lessen travel time and make travelling from Abra to Kalinga and vice versa more convenient and it would serve as an alternative route to the Abra-Kalinga road, which is so far the only national road connecting the two provinces.

Earlier, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Kalinga passed on June 10, 2008 Resolution No. 2008-269 and Resolution 2008-270 endorsing the multi-million road project to Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao and Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. for funding purposes especially for inclusion in the State of the Nation (SONA) projects of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to complete the rehabilitation and upgrading of the cordillera roads, particularly those linking remote communities which are potential growth areas that would contribute in the region’s economic growth.

Pasil town is known to be a mineral-rich area in Kalinga while Boliney is one of the agricultural areas in Abra which produce quality agricultural crops being traded in the various markets of the province and the Ilocos region. -- Dexter A. See

Treatment facility urged for Baguio hospital toxic wastesBAGUIO CITY -- The Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia (HCWH-SEA) has asked the city government here to speed up the purchase of a “more efficient” treatment technology for the city’s infectious hospital wastes.

HCWH-SEA executive director Merci Ferrer said in a statement that Baguio must soon have a centralized treatment facility for such wastes.

She said her group agreed with Baguio officials and the administrators of seven tertiary hospitals there last September that a centralized treatment facility is the “immediate and long-term solution” to the city’s hospital waste problem.

Since July last year, chemically treated wastes from Baguio hospitals had not been collected by the city government due to the lack of a treatment facility for chemical and hazardous wastes at the Metro Clark waste management facility.

This forced the hospitals to handle the final disposal of their own treated wastes. The seven hospitals churn out 9,708 kilograms of infectious wastes in a month.

The HCWH-SEA is recommending the use of an autoclave, a pressurized device used to heat solutions above the boiling point normal atmospheric pressure to achieve sterilization.
The group is part of a global coalition of 473 organizations in more than 50 countries working to protect health by reducing pollution in the health care sector. -- SC

DVD vendor, cohort nabbed with P32,000 worth of shabu

BAGUIO CITY -- A seller of pirated digital video discs and his cohort were found to be using the DVD business as their cover in trading shabu when they tried to deliver two sachets of the dangerous drug to an agent of the regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency who acted as poseur-buyer around 10 a.m. Thursday here at Otek St.

PDEA officials identified the suspects as Acsapala Guro, 28, married, of Marawi City and resident of Dagupan City, Pangasinan and Rodel C. Montero, 28, single, construction worker, resident of Dagupan City.

Guro and Montero were caught red-handed with a pirated DVD containing a medium sachet and small sachet of suspected shabu weighing 2.50 grams and 0.05 gram respectively, valued at P32,000.

The Nokia 1600 cell phone used by the suspects during the ‘entrapment’ deal and 16 other pirated DVDs were also confiscated by cops as additional pieces of evidence against them.

A case for illegal drugs was filed against the suspects.

Reports from the intelligence and investigation Division of Cordillera PDEA identified Dagupan as one of the lowland areas where shabu is being distributed and sold in the Cordillera.

Other areas named were Manila, Cavite, Urdaneta City (also in Pangasinan), La Union and Bulacan.



Tabuk execs tap prayer power to save cityhood

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — Led by city officials and the local clergy, some 3,500 people gathered here Tuesday to pray for God’s intervention in the resolution of the case regarding the status of the 16 new cities, including this city.

Two motions for reconsideration of the decision of the Supreme Court declaring the laws converting the erstwhile towns into cities unconstitutional are now pending before the SC.

The city government and the local clergy organized the prayer rally on the belief "that we cannot just rely on human wisdom to determine the fate of our future generations and that prayers are a potent means of directing the flow of history."

"We are all Christians. We all believe in the power of prayer. We believe that God can touch the hearts and minds of the justices," Vice Mayor Rainier Sarol said.

Before the participants recited the prepared prayer, speakers representing the executive and legislative departments of the city government, the barangay councils, the senior citizens and the city college scholars related how their sectors were benefited by the conversion of Tabuk into a component city in 2007.

City Agriculturist Gilbert Cawis said that aside from the services rendered by his office with funds from its regular budget in 2008, the city government was able to distribute P3 million worth of seeds and organic fertilizer to hybrid rice farmers.

Councilor Ludar Luyaben said infrastructure development which took place in 2008, the first year of Tabuk as a city, approximated the infrastructure development gains from 2001 to 2007.

The common prayer which was said by the assembly as they held lighted candles asked God to let the Holy Spirit enlighten the justices so that they will come up with a "fair and just verdict, and if possible, a verdict that favors us." -- EAJ



Over 100 ‘tindahan natin’ stores built in MP

BONTOC, Mountain Province – There are now 135 “tindahan natin outlets” established in the province of which 104 were self-funded while the other 31 were funded by the Dept. of Social Works and Development.

Erlinda Likigan of the provincial DSWD office said TNOs given funding by the government got P20,000 loan each.

She added the project was done to make available low-priced but good quality rice for marginalized families particularly in depressed barangays of the province.

The Tindahan Natin is a priority program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to address the twin problems of poverty and hunger which is jointly implemented by the National Food Authority and the DSWD.

The DSWD is responsible for setting the criteria for the selection of areas where such outlets will be established while the National Food Authority license, accredits and supplies each outlet with its rice requirement. -- Juliet B. Saley



Philex donates P1M to school for mine course

TUBA, Benguet – The management of the Philex Mining corporation here donated P1 million to the St. Louis University (SLU) in Baguio City to boost the continuous offering of the Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering course to sustain the availability of mining professionals to cater to the increasing demand of such as a result of the reinvigorated mining industry not only in the country but also in the various parts of the global village despite the current global financial crisis.

The donation of the company to the higher education institution was embodied in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into between Philex represented by Jose Ernesto C. Villaluna, president and chief operating officer and Engr. Eulalio Austin, vice-president for operations and resident manager and SLU represented by Rev. Fr. Jessie Hechanova, president.
Under the agreement, the donated amount shall be used for instruction, research and community extension relative to the offering of the mining engineering course.

At the same time, Philex shall also rehabilitate SLU’s existing mining engineering laboratory equipment to ensure that students will be provided with the latest trends in the lucrative mineral industry.

Villaluna said the company is remain committed in encouraging the youth to take the mining engineering course because of the promising trends in the global mineral industry which perks up the economies of various developing countries.

On the other hand, SLU shall allow its existing mining laboratory equipment to be pulled out from the institution and rehabilitated at the Padcal mine site of Philex and recommend incoming fourth year students of the mining engineering course to undertake on-the-job-training (OJT) program for a minimum of 384 hours at the mine site.

However, there will be no employer-employee relationship between Philex and SLU OJT students or client-supplier or principal-agent relationship between Philex and SLU with the said agreement.

SLU is considered to be an excellent, accredited and autonomous higher education institution offering quality undergraduate and graduate courses in the country.

In view of the positive developments in the local and foreign mining industries, it has re-opened the Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering program which requires the exposure of students to the actual operations of mining companies that involves mineral exploration, mining operation and mineral processing.

Philex is a reputed company with extensive operating experience in the country which can provide sufficient and realistic material resources and technical know-how to the re-opened mining engineering course of the school.

Both parties acknowledge and believe in the need to establish academe-industry linkage that will develop the Filipino graduate to become globally competitive and enable the country to be the top provider of technically-competent and dedicated mining professionals not only in the Philippines but also overseas.-- Dexter A. See

Symbols in Benguet native clothing under study at BSU

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- The iBenguets will soon be aware on the meanings associated with the native cloths they are buying and using.

A study on the cultural implication of the Benguet native attire is being conducted by researchers from the Benguet State University. The study, under the joint efforts of BSU and CARASUC with funds initiated by Senator Angara, aims to document the meanings of the symbols, colors and patterns found in the ethnic Benguet costume accessories and woven products.

The documentation will serve as basis for the improvement of the native designs for commercial purposes. The study also aims to preserve and advocate the culture embedded in native clothing of the iBenguets to pass on the culture and innate artistry to the next generation.

History accounts reveal that Benguet people are more inclined into farming thus their cloth are being weaved by the Ilocanos, Mt. Province and Kalinga people. Though Benguet people do not originally weave their own clothing, their own clothing identifies them from other ethno linguistic groups in the region. Same with other tribes, every linings, designs, motifs, and colors depict something related to the lives of the Benguet people.

Apparently, these native attires appeal to the public especially the tourist and these are easily bought to be used as curtains, wall décor, and table runners without knowing the cultural implication attached with them.

To some, these are being altered or mixed with other designs in order to meet the demand of mainstream fashion. Ignorance on the significance of the color combination and design will eventually lead to the loss of native Benguet attires. With this dilemma, the DTI advised these weavers and sewers not to use these native attires with cultural meanings as curtains, table runners and the like.

Benguet is composed of different ethno-linguistic groups so the uses, meanings, traditions and rituals vary from one place to another. Exact meanings can not be determined because culture has been passed on to these old folks through oral tradition. This somehow differ their interpretations regarding the meaning of the symbols, color combination and patterns found in these native attires.

During the initial data gathering, each municipality has different meanings in the use of these attires. It depicts the social status and gender of the person using certain clothing. For example, the alahdang blanket can only be used by a person who has performed the highest level of cañao. Second in rank is the dilli (kn) Shengdi(Ib) that can only be used by men who have performed second level of cañao.

However for the Ibaloi, the use of shengdi is hereditary, wherein a person can only use it when his great/grand fathers have used it. This cloth is also used when executing the tayaw(men's dance) during festivities. It is also notable that there are so called "eyes" in the native blankets like in the dilli/shengdi and pinagpagan, the salibobo, a head turban. These "eyes" depict the number or level of cañao the user has performed.

The status blankets are characterized by the combination of red, black and white with symbols and patterns in them. The kolebaw (ib) bandala and bayaong (kn), combination of black and white are usually associated with the ordinary status. These are plainly combination of color black and white with no designs in them. These native cloth are used also to wrap the corpse and as offering during rituals and ceremonies.

Colors signify the status of the user. Aside from the blankets, this can also be seen with the women dresses. Colors being used for the kambayashu show the status of the user. Black and white is said to be for women of ordinary status. The kambayashu with different color combination like green, red and yellow are considered from a high status.



Tipster in NPA chief's capture gets P2 million

CAMP AQUIO, Tarlac -- A civilian, whose information led to the capture of one of Northern Luzon’s high-ranking communist leaders, now joins the country’s millionaires club.

The Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command gave P2 million Monday to the tipster that caused last year’s arrest of Randy Felix Malayao, then the deputy secretary-general of the Northeast Luzon Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army in Northern Luzon.

According to Lt. General Isagani Cachuela, chief of the Tarlac City-based Nolcom, at the time of his capture, Manayao, also known in the underground movement as Panyo, Tonyo, James, and Edu, was a regular member of the NELRC’s executive committee as well as the head of its education committee.

“Malayao’s arrest is a big blow to the communist terrorists’ organization in Cagayan Valley. They have lost seasoned cadres who can help salvage their deteriorating organization. They do not have mass base support, so they are now on the run,” said Cachuela in an e-mail Jan 19.

Manayao, who also used Salvador del Pueblo as nom de guerre in their news releases, was captured by Army and police operatives in Cainta, Rizal on May 15 last year. He was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant against him for murder cases in Tuguegarao City.

Cachuela, who personally handed the amount in a simple ceremony at the Nolcom headquarters, commended the ski mask-wearing informer for taking “great risks just so the mission will be accomplished.”

A student leader during his days at the University of the Philippines, Manayao, who was the political officer of the Cagayan Valley Regional Committee prior his designation to higher posts, was also tagged by the government in the killing of then Cagayan congressman Rodolfo Agui¬naldo in June 2001. -- CL



Rehab of P55 M Ilocos Sur highway full blast
By Mar T. Supnad

CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur – The rehabilitation of the national highway in this province, called Manila North Road (MNR), has been in full swing since a P55-million fund was released by the national government upon the initiative of Rep. Eric D. Singson (second district), deputy Speaker for North Luzon.

Ray Elaydo, head of the second engineering district of the Department of Public Works and Highways, said rehabilitation of MNR is in full blast and is expected to be finished before the rainy season.

He said he was ordered by Rep. Singson to hasten the rehabilitation project.
Other projects being rushed by DPWH, Engineer Elaydo said, are the MNR-Sta. Lucia section funded with P15 million; two sections of MNR-Candon City funded with P10 million each; MNR-San Esteban section, P10 million; and MNR-Sta. Maria section, P10 million.

The MNR rehabilitation project is part of Construction Package 1, an urgent community project intended to spur rural development. The contractor is Nippon Steel and Miyaji, a Japanese joint venture whose expertise is the building of quality roads and bridges.

The fund was provided by the national government and a loan from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation.



Cold spell benefits Nueva Vizcaya 'ukay-ukay' traders

SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya – Business is brisk for vendors of ukay-ukay or used clothes due to the cold spell.

As a result of the all-time temperature low of 10 degrees Celsius in some parts of the region, imported second-hand clothes, mostly of the bulkier kind made of wool or heavy cotton, have been selling like hotcakes here.

Meanwhile, five people aged at least 50 in Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino and this province reportedly died last week as a result of the extremely cold weather.

According to ukay-ukay vendors, there has been a sudden rage among residents for sweaters, jackets, overalls, slacks, shawls, bonnets and other types of clothes intended to keep one warm.

On the other hand, farmers here feared a looming shortage in the supply of vegetables and other crops due to the prolonged cold spell, which causes flowers and leaves to wilt.

Normally having a mild climate, this province has been experiencing a cold spell that has seen the temperature dropping to almost single-digit levels similar to that of Baguio City and Benguet province.

This was particularly true in the province’s upland areas of Kayapa, Ambaguio, Kasibu, Santa Fe and Diadi. -- CL



No valid reason for panic buying of corn: party-list
By Jerry Padilla

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union — Hog raisers were cautioned against panic buying of corn feeds or importing corn by Abono partylist chairman Engineer Rosendo O. So saying this was not needed.

So said during a meeting last year and participated in by the National Federation of Hog Farmers led by Gabriel H. Uy and members of the Central Luzon Hog Farmers, Abono party-list recommended that hog raisers buy corn at prices higher than the prevailing price of P11 per kilo to encourage farmers to plant corn.

"Kung mura ang presyo ng mais, hindi magtatanim ang mga magsasaka dahil hindi sila kikita, kasi mahal ang cost of production," So told the hog raisers.

At that time, the cost of production, including those of fuel and fertilizer, was so high that it was not feasible for the farmers to plant corn.

Most of the farmers, instead of growing corn, planted palay which was then bought by the government at P17 per kilo.

"Walang dahilan para mag-panic ang mga hog raisers dahil malapit nang magharvest ng corn ang Pangasinan at may parating pa na wheat for feeds (There’s no valid reason for the hog raisers to panic because corn harvest in Pangasinan is nearing and there is an incoming wheat imports for feeds)," So said.

Pangasinan is the largest producer of corn in Region I and its harvest in March will boost the supply of feeds for the hog raisers, he said.


Farmers hit NFA over non-payment of palay deliveries

By Jerry Padilla

URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan — Farmers in the province assailed the National Food Authority last week for alleged failure to pay palay shipments they had delivered and sold to the grains agency.

Abono party-list Chairman Rosendo O. So who was informed of this by the farmers said NFA Administrator Jessup P. Navarro earlier announced the country has sufficient rice stocks for the next three months.

Navarro likewise said the stock will be further augmented by the coming harvest.

Navarro was also reported to have said that as of first week this month, NFA had some 18.7 million bags of rice which will be sufficient until the middle of this year.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics reported the government has a buffer stock of rice good until March and that with the harvest during the present cropping season, the national stock will be enough up to June, this year.

President Arroyo and Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap had said palay procurement by the NFA is a continuing program to help farmers.

But the farmers in this province claimed the NFA has not yet paid their palay deliveries.

Abono party-list President Ponciano V. Onia Jr said that Abono has received reports that the NFA has not yet paid farmers in Bulacan for their palay deliveries valued at some P80 million; in eastern Pangasinan, P50 million; and western Pangasinan, P30 million.

The farmers said the Department of Agriculture might have already released the funds to the NFA, but Administrator Navarro might have withheld the release of the amounts to be paid to the farmers.

They noted reports the government is negotiating for rice importation. They said there is no need for rice imports as the country has enough rice stocks.



Will new DENR Cordillera chief live up to his words?

Protection of the region’s forests is the top priority this year of the Cordillera according to Primitivo Galinato Jr. who was appointed recently by Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza as regional executive director of the DENR in the Cordillera.

Galinato took over the post of Samuel Penafiel, who was detailed at the DENR central office in Manila. The new director told newsmen the position of DENR chief in the Cordillera carries with it heavy responsibility since like other regions in the country, Cordillera is hounded by serious ecological problems.

Galinato cited importance of the region’s watersheds which supports life systems and serves domestic and agricultural water needs in the Cordillera and three other regions in Luzon. He said protection of the region’s forests should be the concern of every DENR worker because lives of thousands of people depend on whatever action is taken in the forests and watersheds of the Cordillera.

One of the first actions of the new Cordillera DENR official was to order the creation of fire brigades in areas prone to forest fires during the dry season. Galinato said there is need to strengthen a multi-sectoral committee which is investigating the reported destruction of the mossy forests at the boundaries of Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao.

He said this is in support of the creation of quick response teams by the Regional Development Council. Galinato said he will work for the improvement of the land-acquisition system in the region, particularly Baguio noting the present system is plagued by problems regarding disposal of lands. The RDC earlier adapted an inter-agency approach to land management.

Galinato said he would work closely with other national government agencies, local officials, and RDC in the formulation of a master plan for the protection and preservation of the region’s forests. Forests, he added, are being rapidly denuded by the expansion of commercial vegetable farms, which is being tolerated by local government units.

Galinato appealed to stakeholders in the region to help preserve and protect watersheds for the sake of the future generations. Galinato was former DENR regional executive director of the Caraga Region. Let us see if his words match his actions.



Alfred P. Dizon
Wolves in sheep’s clothing

Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio is being egged on by his supporters to run for president next year and he is open to it “if God wills it.” His minions say a priest with unsullied reputation as the country’s top executive could bring hope to residents grown weary of lawlessness and corruption. They say they would rather have him run than see another corrupt clown aspiring to sit as top honcho of this blighted republic.

I received an e-mail from the priest-turned-governor on his intention to run. In his own words: “I never had a liking for partisan politics. Priesthood and pastoral ministry has always been my life for 28 years. And I love this life.

“On the evening of May 18, 2007, I was proclaimed governor of Pampanga. On that same night I said I would only be in public service for 3 years. That was my promise and I intend to keep it. However, we have a saying that goes, ‘Man proposes, God disposes.’ Hence, if the Good Lord wills me to run for a second term or a higher office, let His will be done. After all I have stopped living for myself.

“My agenda has therefore been to be submissive to His design. I have been approached by a number of groups prodding me to aspire for the presidency. I replied let us make a collective discernment to know whom God really wants for this job. If we find a person or persons that best embody good governance, effective and ethical leadership, let us support such leaders and make them win. I too will support them.

“I will not volunteer to run. But if God tells me to run through this collective process, so be it. I will also come to a personal discernment. Whatever is the decision that brings peace to my heart, then that must be His will.”
There are others like Panlilio with untarnished records who could also be tapped to run for president like Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno so people of this Banana Republic could feel a new lease in life from the hopelessness, moral breakdown and thievery in high government places. We need somebody who could inspire hope, like US President Barack Obama, even on a lesser degree.

Call it wishful thinking, but maybe, if only we could ban all these politicians with tainted records from running for public office, maybe, this country could become great again. We don’t need inept and corrupt people running the government. We don’t need feudal dynasties like they are the only people who can run affairs of government. We want change, but it should be change that is genuine, upright and geared for the betterment of everybody.

Who doesn’t want a better life? As pointed out by Obama, it is the role of everybody to work for the good of all. We can’t just entrust our fate to God and do nothing. We have to work for it. If we have the same set of officials every after election, it is because we let them coerce, trick or buy us with ill-gotten money.
Puno struck an emotional chord when he called for a “moral force” to fight for what is right and just. I guess it is really what the people have been waiting for – somebody who has the unsullied character, education, experience and intelligence who can call for such. Any tainted politician saying that would have been dismissed as another ambitious clown.

In Panlilio’s case, now that he bared his presidential ambitions, his guts are now spread on the table to be dissected by people with unwashed hands and this could be messy. Such people, reportedly supported by jueteng money have been trying to ease him out as Pampanga governor.
National elections are scheduled to be held next year (if the lackeys in the Lower House wouldn’t make magic with their Charter change machinations) while the wolves in sheep’s clothing are trying to make their presence felt. Their breath could be smelled a mile away. The next elections would determine where this country could go. It is high time people become more discerning and more mature in voting for candidates. But then again, the three Gs – guns, goons and gold are hard to resist. God save the Philippines.
I can’t for the life of me understand why the Ifugao sangguniang panlalawigan failed to pass a resolution of support and endorsement for construction of a Bahay Pagasa project which resulted to the scrapping of the project. The Department of Social Welfare and Development reportedly submitted to the SP, through Vice Gov. Nora Dinamling on May 6, 2007 the request for the body to make a resolution but it has gone the way of a betel nut into a waste can.

As a result, Ifugao forfeited the grant and the project was transferred to Abra. The DSWD has withdrawn the P2.5-million grant to the province for the construction of the rehabilitation center for Ifugao juvenile delinquents or children.

The rehabilitation center, to be called "Bahay Pagasa," was supposed to be constructed in Lamut town on a vacant government lot for the project. Ifugao would have been the first province in the Cordillera Region to be the recipient of the grant from DSWD under its nationwide Bahay Pagasa program for rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents, but then, that is now water under the bridge.

Was the reason for the non-action of the SP due to differences over perceived kickbacks as some Ifugao constituents claim, forgetfulness or plain laziness? Just asking.



Perry Diaz
Hail to American Caesar!

Taking over the reign of power of the greatest country on Earth at a time of economic implosion and seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be too much to bear for any man in this day and age. But that's what Barack Obama did at noon on January 20, 2009, when he took his oath as the 44th President -- and the first President of African descent -- of the United Sates of America.

And to signify the symbolic meaning of his meteoric rise to lead the nation, he took the oath of office using the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln in 1861.

While Lincoln would have presided over the reconstruction of a reunited country devastated by a bloody civil war, President Obama is going to preside over a disunited people shattered by an economic crisis of catastrophic proportion.

While Lincoln issued the "Emancipation Proclamation" during the Civil War to free the African slaves from human bondage, President Obama wants to emancipate America's middle class besieged from financial bondage.

Although the Civil War ended in 1865 ending slavery in the nation, it took another 100 years before the African-Americans gained political empowerment with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And it took another 44 years before an African-American ascended to the pinnacle of power of the most powerful nation on Earth.

The historic -- and spectacular -- election of President Obama last November 4, 2008, has the widest margin for a non-incumbent presidential candidate, more than 9 million votes over John McCain. It was the desire for change that eventually convinced the American voters to elect President Obama who's message, "Change we can believe in," resonated with the people.

And "change" did President Obama start to make.

By the time he named the members of Team Obama, 80% of Americans approved of what he was doing. Clearly, President Obama -- the son of a Kenyan father and a Caucasian American mother -- was on the right track. And if he stays on course, the American people will stay with him all the way. But it's not going to be a piece of cake. The road to recovery is going to be difficult to travel.

To begin with, President Obama's number one priority is to jump-start the moribund economy. He and his economic team are putting together the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" -- estimated at $800 billion -- which will put millions of Americans to work. "We need an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that not only creates jobs in the short-term but spurs economic growth and competitiveness in the long-term," he said.

Then he has to grapple with the political realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which is draining the U.S. treasury $10 billion a month. He is aware that these wars cannot be won militarily. He knows the lessons America learned from the Vietnam War and the lessons Russia learned from its invasion of Afghanistan.

Then he has to deal with the age-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Can peace be achieved during his presidency? The crux of the matter is: Can there be peace without a resolution to the question of the Palestinian refugees' "right of return," who were driven out by the Israelis in 1948 and are now living in squalid camps in Lebanon? The issue is complicated when Israel said it will never allow the Palestinian refugees to return to Israel and Hamas said that there will be no peace unless all of Israel is returned to the Palestinians.

In addition, how is President Obama going to deal with Iran who is hell-bent in developing its nuclear weapons which she will used against Israel in the event that its puppets -- Hamas and Hezbollah -- are unable to annihilate Israel by conventional means.

How is he going to deal with a re-emerging superpower Russia who wants to regain its economic hegemony over the former republics of the defunct Soviet Union? Can he trust Vladimir Putin?

How about the soon-to-be superpower China, the most populous country on Earth that is hungry for oil and other natural resources she doesn't not have. Are we seeing the revival of the concept of "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" which would be led by China this time around? The oil and natural gas-rich Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea is claimed by China as part of its continental shelf. What would prevent her from claiming the entire South China Sea? With dwindling supply of crude oil, it is anticipated that this could be the next major trouble spot which would pit China against the United States.

Indeed, President Obama is faced with gargantuan problems. However, they're not insurmountable. It would take a great leader with a grand vision and diplomatic skills to solve these problems. But like Emperor Septimius Severus of Rome 1,900 years ago, President Obama could bring stability to America and peace in the Middle East during his presidency.

Septimius Severus was born in Leptis Magna in what is now Libya in 145 AD. Like President Obama, he was of mixed raced -- Libyan father and mother of Italian descent. In 193 AD, when Emperor Commodus' assassination was followed by the murder of his successor, Pertinax, who only reigned for three months, a civil war erupted between Generals Septimius Severus and Pescennius Niger when both of them were declared emperor by their legions. Septimius Severus won and he became the first African Roman emperor.

He was credited for restoring stability in the empire. Rome was then at war with Parthia, which included Mesopotamia (Iraq). In 197 AD, he won and annexed the conquered lands -- including Mesopotamia -- to the Roman empire; thus, increasing Rome's military and financial burdens. But he was able to meet these responsibilities and Rome prospered. He died peacefully in Britain in 211 AD.

Indeed, President Obama could learn from the reign of Septimius Severus and restore stability in the U.S. and turn its economy around. If President Obama succeeds, he could become the modern-day American Caesar. Hail Caesar! (PerryDiaz@gmail. com)



Ramon S. Dacawi
The Gaza children

(Some media colleagues say my son Johann ‘Boogie’ writes better than I do. As I'm
beginning to think they're serious about it, here's a piece from his musashiboogie's weblog.)

The financial crisis has left my beloved hotel, where I work, with just a handful of guests for nearly a month now. All the rooms in four floors of the eight storey building are empty. For the past several days, work was light and tips were low. My colleague, before he finished his shift, left me a list of rooms to work on. He told me to dust off the “baldachino” (those curtain-like things that hang on the beds and head boards) using a vacuum cleaner. I went to work, finished a room and moved on to the next.

The work bored me to death and my boredom made me feel tired, sleepy and lazy. I was about to go to the next room when I decided to take a break. So I grabbed the remote control, sat on the edge of the bed and clicked on the TV. Nothing caught my interest until I got to CNN. The Cable News Network ran the war on the Gaza Strip as it dragged on for the 21st day now.

A UN facility was in flames, the Israeli army hit the compound because they were being fired upon from the building. CNN also showed footage of a large crater somewhere in Gaza and the Palestinians standing around the rim of the hole, looking on. BBC was running the same news and I changed the channel again. I continued to surf the channel and was about to switch it off when the studio of the Aljazeera caught my eye.

The news anchor was standing and behind him was a video wall, wide and black with the names of all the Palestinian children killed written in white letters. They highlighted a name, and said he was four years old, his sisters died, too, killed by an Israeli bomb. They picked another name and this time the boy was two and he died in his mother’s arms.

Then Aljazeera showed the images of the dead children. Some of them were lined up and covered with cloth, others were covered by debris, one was mangled and many were being carried by Palestinian men. The lifeless faces of these children were scarred and bloodied. Some were “lucky” (I don’t know if this is the right word) enough to be recognized; others were not. As I sat there and looked on, shivers ran down my spine and I wasn’t bored any more.

Aljazeera continued on with the children but now they showed the survivors recovering in hospitals. A pretty little girl told a reporter of a bullet hitting her hand and another one finding its way on her back. I saw a boy lying down, his head bandaged, his face covered with scars and his eyes covered with tears as he tried to talk about what happened.
Something in me gave way when I saw this boy’s tears. I started to cry and at the same time tried to control the tears but I could not. My mind told me, “goddammit, it’s okay to cry!” So I turned off the TV and cried.

Except for the breathing and sniffing sounds I made, the room became silent. I got up, paced around and dried my tears. Then I left the room, dragging the vacuum cleaner along and headed for the service elevator. I decided to put away the machine and do something else. Tears began to fall again when the lift started to move down.

I cried a lot of times this day. I cried after I called my wife telling her what I saw. I cried again when I was on the boat on my way home. I’m crying now as I write this piece.

I don’t understand this war; I couldn’t even tell who is winning. One thing is clear - the Palestinian children and civilians are paying the price. I’m a father of two boys and I felt that the dead Palestinian children were my own. I wonder about the Israeli fathers and Hamas fathers who are fighting each other in this senseless war. Do they cry, too, like me? I hope and pray that this monster of a war would stop killing. . . . . stop killing our children.



March L. Fianza
Sacrificing clean air and Baguio folk for tourism

All was fine until the city council passed Ordinance No. 107-2008 authored by councilor Perlita Rondez and co-authored by many others. The newest ordinance exempts “private motor vehicles and chartered public utility vehicles of visitors, tourists, vacationers, or participants of sanctioned activities such as conventions, conferences and assemblies” from Baguio City Ordinance No. 01-2003 or the number coding scheme.

Barely a month after its approval, the new law has already stirred motorists, law enforcers and other sectors in the city who felt they have been cast aside because the controversial Ordinance No. 107-2008 appears to benefit outsiders more than them. Why?

To offer one’s bed to a visitor and sleep on the floor, or provide the best seat in the room to a visitor is known as Filipino hospitality. But to give consent to visitors who contribute to the deterioration of the quality of air, exempt them from an ordinance that a Baguio resident can not even be excused from, and freely allow them to magnify the traffic problem are not careless acts. Probably, they may turn out to be carefully designed accomplishments with motivations that we have yet to know.

Two weeks ago, mayor Bautista issued Executive Order No. 01 to clarify matters. However, the clarification seemed to have made things more complicated. The mayor defined “private vehicles” as those used by visitors, tourists, vacationers, or participants of said sanctioned activities. Included in the exemption are “chartered public utility vehicles” used by Baguio visitors.

There is no problem with the new definition of “private vehicles” that can not be found in any dictionary even if it does not include private vehicles owned by city residents. I drive an old Voloxwagen and I agree with the rest that with an uninterrupted implementation of the number coding scheme, we do our share in helping reduce the number of vehicles on the road and help improve the quality of air in the city.

What stuns us is that Manila or any other district can not suspend its number coding law in favor of Baguio residents. The new ordinance challenges the saying “While in Rome , do as the Romans do” which I thought all along depicted a world where equality and fairness reigned. But then even that is no longer true.

What is true is that when you violate the number coding law in Manila , you suffer the consequences. What is also true today is that Baguio folks are being cheated by those who are supposed to stand up for them. Instead, they are cast outside of the exemption ordinance, while their visitors can just drive around the city comfortably and “stress-free” which was the word used by one councilor.

I wish to find out too if the terms “visitors and tourists” mean only those who come from Manila or farther South. What about those who come from the remotest barrios in the Cordillera or the nearest barangay in Tuba – do they qualify as ‘visitors or tourists’ under the definition of the mayor?

EO 01 ‘clarified’ that “sanctioned activities” means “sponsored, co-sponsored, or hosted activities by the city, duly authorized or approved by the mayor’s office or the city council through a resolution.”

If that is the law and in order to implement it properly, then practically all events that involve visitors and tourists will have to be ‘sanctioned’ or approved in a city council resolution.

The EO further said that convention or conference participants “are required to present to the apprehending traffic enforcers the proper identification issued by their respective convention organizers to ascertain their involvement to the events.”

What about visitors and participants to an important event that is private in nature such as big company seminars or conventions, including big weddings, silver, golden, diamond celebrations and other anniversaries? Certainly these events will have visitors and tourists who want to be exempted from the number coding law.

Then of course, these will all have to be ‘authorized or approved or sanctioned’ by the mayor’s office so that the visitors and tourists from outside Baguio who will attend these events will be exempted from the number coding law… Okay, mayat dayta!

So next time, when two lovers celebrate their wedding anniversary and will receive visitors from outside of Baguio, they will have to make sure that the event will be ‘sanctioned or sponsored or approved’ in a city council resolution so that their visitors can at least tour the city in their private cars without having to worry about getting arrested.

Of course no big wedding, big birthday or baptism rite will be approved by the city for the sake of the visitors or tourists who will be attending the event. It would be foolish to do so. Nothing of that sort should ever happen even if that is how people interpret the clarifications in EO 01.

Aside from becoming indifferent to some extent to the number coding system that was passed to alleviate worsening traffic conditions, the new law also threatens Ord. No. 61-2008 that was passed for better air quality in the city.

In the study conducted by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), a global association of over 400 local government units, the annual fuel savings due to non-use of fuel by public and private vehicles for 35 number coding days in a year is equivalent to a reduction of 17,802 tonnes of eCO2. The ICLEI attributed such results to the implementation of the number coding ordinance.

And even while the number coding scheme was approved in 2003, the agency’s report showed that tourist count still increased by 41% from 2000 to the time of implementation in 2003 – that is from 986,230 visitors in 2000 to 1,411,964 in 2003.

What is the logic behind offering something better to tourists and visitors that can not be offered to people who are voters in this city? I see no good reason in allowing private cars and chartered vehicles to ply our streets and pollute the air that the city is trying to clean, just for the sake that tourists and visitors will enjoy our city.

I hope Baguio folks will be treated the same way when they drive in streets of other districts that are also covered by number coding ordinances. I hope that when any of our councilors will be caught for violating the number coding ordinance of a city somewhere, he or she will just be allowed to go free after talking to the arresting officer about attending a convention or seminar. – marchfianza777@yahoo.com



Ike Señeres
Modern farms

MANILA -- The convergence of technologies should not only happen in the information and communications technologies, it should also happen in agricultural and industrial technologies. For some reason, no one seems to be talking about automating or computerizing agricultural processes, but I think that it is a logical and practical idea to pursue.

I have written about the subject of Process Logic Controllers (PLCs) before, but I think that it is time to again follow up on this topic. Simply put, a PLC is the brain of an automated system. In a manner of speaking, a PLC could be likened to the engine of a machine, being the one that runs the operation of machineries.

This comparison is actually inexact, because a PLC actually has a higher function than an engine, given the fact that a PLC could run and automate the operation and the synchronization of mechanical engines. To some extent, a PLC could be likened to a personal computer (PC) except for the fact that a PLC has a higher and more robust processing power than a PC. Adding to the comparison, a PLC is more like a server than a terminal.

In Israel , agricultural farms are networked in such a way that servers are able to deliver water and liquid fertilizers to specific farm sections, as the demand for water is triggered by moisture sensors. To some extent, this programmable and addressable infrastructure could be likened to the programmable and addressable process of delivering video signals to cable television customers who are ordering pay per view shows.

For some reasons, the purpose of irrigation systems in the Philippines seems to be limited only to rice, which is really very limited in purpose. When will our government planners ever reach the consciousness that irrigation or water is also needed by fruits, vegetables, poultry, livestock and even tree farms? In Thailand , they irrigate and water their coconut which is a rather alien concept here.

Since the price of PVC pipes have gone down, why don’t we shift our irrigation design to pipelines so that we could irrigate more farms? In Israel , they pumped water 300 kilometers inland. Why can’t we do it here?

Email iseneres@yahoo.com or text me at +639293605140. Watch my TV show “KA IKING LIVE” every Friday from 930 to 1030 PM in Destiny Cable Channel 3. Tune in to “KAPIT-BAYAN” in DWIZ 882 KHZ 5 to 6 PM Mon to Fri. Join the Inter-Charity Network. Form your local chapter.



Gina Dizon
Lang-ay fest set once more

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The lang-ay Festival has been scheduled in this capital town on April 1-7 with Gov. Maximo Dalog encouraging entrepreneurs to make handicrafts to be displayed and sold during the event.

The crowd-drawing annual Lang-ay was first celebrated in April 1-7, 2005. The week- long activity kicks off with an agro-industrial fair and ends with street dancing and a cultural program on the last day.

The agro-fair features different local products produced by farmers and craftsmen of the province. Among these include woven products, processed coffee, abaka products, furniture, pottery, processed foods, highland vegetables and fruits such as oranges and bananas. Original handicraft and souvenir items such as hand-woven bracelets, seed beads, clay beads, and indigenous caps come in small and rare quantities.

In a radio interview, Dalog specially urged interested entrepreneurs to make known individual interests to the provincial government for this to be taken up by the Lang-ay Development Council.

The Lang-ay Festival last year attracted some 30,000 people from the ten towns of the province, neighboring provinces, and other visitors from the country and abroad as well. Hotels were fully booked and establishments were in full swing.

The Department of Trade and Industry-Mountain Province said the Lang-ay Festival in 2007 registered sales at P3.2 million with 83 local microenterprises who participated in the agro-industrial fair.

Woven materials specially topped sales with an average of P2.5 Million worth of woven products sold in the form of costumes, props, uniforms and souvenirs sold from various weaving firms. About 300 direct workers in loom weaving were benefited. Sales continued even after the Lang-ay festival.

The culture of the place is a highlighted feature of the yearly event with the holding of a lively and colorful street dancing and cultural competition. Indigenous games and Anap di Bangan di Montanosa ( Search for Ms Mountain Province) also highlights cultural costumes which the contestants specially use. For this year’s celebration, the audience are invited to join in the street dancing.

Ballgames and a marathon are among the sports activities. A farmers’ summit along with other government services such as job fair, medical services, and passporting are among the highlights of the yearly activity.

The Lang-ay is observed in celebration of the Foundation Day of Mountain Province as a separate province from the old Mountain Province composed of Bontoc, Ifugao, Benguet, Apayao and Kalinga (BIBAK) by virtue of the passage of House Bill 1526. The provincial legislative board then passed the first resolution declaring the birth of a new Mountain Province in April 7, 1967. Proclamation No 144 was then signed by President Fidel Ramos on April 28, 1993 declaring April 7 as Mountain Province Foundation Day.



Edison L. Baddal
Defending territorial integrity
(Second of two parts)

Looking back, Hamas never recognized Israel as a sovereign nation when it won control over Gaza on the heels of its major victory during the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January, 2006.

This unyielding stance unmasked its hideous intention to destroy Israel at whatever cost. Anyway, the destruction of Israel is its staunchest goal when it was organized during the first Intifada that occurred from 1987 to 1993.

Hamas further made no bones of its horrible intention when it refused to renounce violence as its policy even after several nations, including the United States and the European Union, severed direct economic aid to the Palestinian Government in which it is a part. Inexorably, the uncontrolled smuggling of arms into Gaza across its steel-fenced border with Egypt is serving this grim purpose.

It could be contended that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza (which it captured from Egypt in 1967) on September 12,2005, after occupying it for 39 years, could have been a lapse on its part. Even its withdrawal from the west bank (which it captured from Jordan in 1967)in favor of Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Front in 1994 seemed to have been misplaced.

This is because its vision of a land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians is proving to be a flop having failed to create the environment of peace and security for the Israelis. In the case of Gaza, its failure to completely destroy the secret tunnels used for smuggling arms into it even after it continues to exercise control over its air space and sea access to its ports, is proving to be a stab and a prickly thorn on its back.

Fact is, while Israel is prudently giving concessions in every opportunity to the Palestinians hoping for peaceful co-existence with them the latter, notably the Hamas and other militant groups, are bent on eradicating Israel from the map.

While the media is castigating Israel for excessive display of firepower against a recalcitrant enemy, some things should be considered seriously. Putting things into proper perspective, Israel has never been the aggressor in this war and so with the past wars that it fought against the Arabs starting from its 1948-1949 war of liberation.

In the latter, six Arab nations comprising Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iran conspired to destroy Israel. They used their military might as a drag against Israel’s existence after the latter boldly declared its independence as a sovereign nation on May 14,1948.

If anything, the war of liberation in 1948-1949,the 1956 Israeli Suez campaign, 1967 six-day Arab-Israeli War, 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1982 Lebanon invasion to neutralize a nascent Palestinian terrorist attack, 1987-1993 first Palestinian Intifada, second Palestinian Intifada in 2000-2005, Israeli-Hezbollah war in mid-2006 and now the Gaza-Israeli war, all boils down to one thing: the determination of Israel to survive as a sovereign nation hand in hand with its need to maintain and protect its territorial integrity. Needless to say, being a small nation girded by angry and hostile nations bent on its destruction and annihilation, it is its prime duty to do no less.

For the prejudice, discrimination and violence that the Israelis experienced for centuries in every country where they tried to settle down, not to mention the extreme anger and hostility of the Arabs against them, their piece of land is the only land where they feel secure and comparatively at peace. Hence, they cannot just let their small plot of land be grabbed by angry wolves after investing much blood (exemplified by the Nazi holocaust), sweat and tears since the turn of the twentieth century when Jews started migrating to Palestine to create a country of their own at the auspices of the Balfour Declaration.

Jordan and Egypt have recognized Israel as a nation but the fact remains that its people hate the Jews in the same way as that of the Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians and other Arab countries.There’s even a sinister information bandied about some years back that children in West Bank and Gaza are being trained to hate the Jews so that they grow up hating the Jews.

Arabs are known to close ranks and drop their hatred and prejudice against each other once they face a common enemy. This practice is borne out of an Arab saying which goes: “My brother and I will fight my cousin but my cousin and I will fight a stranger.” Right now, the recent rocket attacks from Lebanon into northern Israel is believed to be from the Hezbollah, another terrorist group based in Lebanon bent on destroying Israel. This threatens to open another front in Israel’s current war just like in 2006 when Hezbollah struck at Israel while the latter was battling Hamas.

It is widely believed that the Hezbollah attack is meant to show league with the Hamas militants being its brother in terrorism, anti-semitism and racism. Anyhow, Israel has already withstood such kind of challenge in its previous wars. This was most exemplified by the 1973 Yom Kippur War where it simultaneously battled Syria in its northern border and Egypt in its southern border and won over both with a resounding victory.

Also, its experience in battling Arabs simultaneously on six fronts during its 1948 war of liberation comes in handy if and when it fights Hezbollah again in its northern border while dealing with the Hamas in its midwestern border.



Cesar G. Bonilla
Obama / Ilocos Norte festivals

LAOAG CITY -- The first black President in the history of the United States of America, Barack Obama together with Vice President Joe Biden will be launching a new era of political maturity coupled with responsibility as the world economy sinks into the quagmire of recession.

The Bible used by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US was very significant because Lincoln also became President of the Americans during the turbulent days of US history that led to civil war.

By his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, he abolished slavery in the Confederate States. He was not free from faults and vacillations, but his patience, fortitude and fierce devotion to the Union made him one of the America’s greatest presidents.

Lincoln supported abolitionism as a way to treat the black slaves from the burden of insurmountable abuses, humiliations, and severe maltreatment by the white masters of whom they were enchained into submissiveness. This great President of America was shot at the theatre by John Wilkes Booth, and died early on April 15.

Lincoln experienced the hardship of life when he was still a little boy and the Bible which he owned has magnified his faith in God despite the trials and tribulations of his mortal life. With Obama on the helm of American democratic government, the global crisis has hope of being solved.

Obama is the right person to lead the U.S. during the era where the inhabitants of the world are clamoring for a great savior who can show the light of a new day with optimism and hope.

I consulted Jesus V. Cariaga about the present crisis that the world is facing as a result of economic meltdown in the American continent. His impressive record in the field of banking is a legacy that inspires enthusiasm among Commerce students from different universities and colleges.

His wife Imelda was accommodating when I visited their place. Despite his achievements, Sir Jess remains humble and level-headed. May the Lord God be with you always Sir.

Maria Respicio-Gonzales, Sr. Tourism chief of the Department of Tourism Laoag Regional Sub-Office, said the Kurapnit Festival in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte was splendid. The festival aimed to promote the culture and ecological balance within the areas where bats known as Hipposideros hide in the Sagiao cave.

The cave consists of various formations like stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and other amazing beauty of nature. According to Gonzales, the DOT in cooperation with NCAA earlier conducted a festival management seminar to tackle issues about the festival.

Again, the “Panagasin Festival” will be the forthcoming event perhaps in the tourism calendar. Different towns in the province are encouraged then to feature their own festival so they may be included in the national activities of the DOT.

The influx of tourists in Ilocandia particularly students from difference colleges and universities in the whole archipelago during such festivals attest to the faxct that there are well conceived.

The Pamulinawen and Guling-Guling festivals are enticing more foreign and local tourists because of their finest religious and historical impact. The hotels and restaurants are abiding with rules and regulations imposed by local government units whereas. The DOT slogan: “Ang Turista ay Kaibigan.” With the help and support of the Philippine National Police, tourism would go a long way in Ilocos Norte.

Ma’am Marie informed me filmmakers from France were in Balaoi, Pagudpud in an area called “blue lagoon” to surf together with team surfers Mike and Alma Oida, the loving couple who owns the production called Planet Blue in France. Meanwhile Gonzales and her dynamic staff like Cely, Mariel and Michael are doing a lot in promoting tourism in the province.
Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Yvonne Ranada is the epitome of an excellent leader and public servant. The towns of Sarrat and Vintar would be so lucky to have board members like Madam Yvonne because she manifests through action the way the programs of the government through constant communication with municipal officials and the masses.

Being the chairman of committee of senior citizens though she is not yet a senior citizen, she is there to help the elderly. She served the city of Laoag as lawmaker wherein she said members of the August body of the province are in unity with one another for the sake of public service.

This writer salutes the lawmakers of the province under the leadership of Vice-Gov. Windell Chua and likewise sports legend Gov. Michael Marcos Keon.
Ma’am Yvonne showed interest on the ordinance to be filed by one of her colleagues in the lawmaking body of the province regarding the provision for retiring pensioners or overseas Filipino workers who will spend their precious moments here in Ilocos Norte with corresponding privileges afforded to them.

Adams Mayor Eric T. Bawingan and the municipal administration have put effort to promote tourism though trainings and workshops including tour-guiding where courtesy and proper etiquette have been learned by participants.

SK president Pamela Tarnate has been active in convincing the youth to participate in sports considering that Keon has provided equipment. Adams is perfect for nature lovers. But development of the town entails a lot of determination. Adams became a municipality by virtue of Republic Act 337 on May 16, 1983. Eco-tourism is evident in the panoramic environment and Mayor Bawingan is aware of the potentials of the town for tourism.
Provincial board member Jessie Galano has started the ball rolling for a computerization program for the benefit of punong barangays in Ilocos Norte and a sports gestival for executives and barangay jagawads including some sectors for better camaraderie.

The PBs should be well-oriented on how firearms can be used as self-defense for security purposes, Galano said.

This corner would like to greet provincial tourism officer Madam Angel Alvarez-Lao, former board member and assistant tourism consultant Jeogie B. Jimenez, Cyndel and Zandra, and Ms Wayne of E Business Services, Inc.



Glo Abaeo Tuazon
And the bead goes on

Beads, beads, beads. The word bead if looked up in a dictionary or thesaurus comes from the word “bidden”, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to pray” or the word “bede” which also means “prayer”. Beads were probably one of the earliest ornaments or accessories that humans ever possessed, as evidenced by archeological finds throughout the world. From this fact alone, we could say that beads through the eons have become essential and durable possessions of humans.

The intimate relationship of beads and humans is reflected in the fact that no matter the culture, the time or condition or situation, beads have always been part of those artifacts being unearthed from ancient graves or lost civilizations as may be. And most certainly, in most cultures where tribes are an important cluster of identification, beads are often worn and carried by its owner from birth to death, and are often buried with the person too when he dies.

A bead seems such a simple and a very little object to be given importance, but looking at stories, from such a small tribe to world history, this little bead of an object could change everything we ever perceived it to be.

In the highland culture of the Philippine Cordilleras, beads are heirlooms, passed on from generation to generation. Talking with the oldies in Sacasacan, Sadanga one time and trying a bid to haggle with a strand of beads made me realize they would not just part with it.

The old mama told me of tales as fascinating and mundane as could be. She said her ancestors got the beads from Chinese traders back then. How did the Chinese ever got to these parts of the mountains? She pointed downwards to the ever green terraces of Fokong and told me that before this land was populated by the “Sacasacans”, other people probably lived here too. When they started excavating those parts to turn it into rice fields, jars and ceramics of Chinese ancestry were found, proof of existence.

Historians believe that beads travelled to the Philippines by introduction of traders from India, China, Indo-China, Malaysia and some Arab countries. They were traded back then with other commodities such as precious metals and porcelains, silk and other cloths, teakwood and others. The flooding of the world market from beads started way back in the early 15th century when Europe started manufacturing them en masse.

In Sadanga, as also in other parts of the Mountain Province, beads are held precious and sacred by women specially. They inherit it from their mothers who in turn inherited it from their mothers and grandmothers before them. It connotes in some ways the grandeur and the wealth of the family, because these are valuable ornaments.

These strands of beads are usually worn during special occasions such as weddings, thanksgiving, or such other events that would entail a canao. Most women wear it intertwined with the hair, and we could see that from all over the highlands of the Mountain Province, whether in Sagada-Besao-Bauko-Tadian-Sabangan-Barlig-Bontoc-Sadanga-Natonin-Paracelis.

Even in Ifugao, Kalinga, Benguet, Abra and Apayao, they hold heirloom beads as precious too. If not worn on the hair, it hangs down in strands as regular necklaces or chokers do. In Paracelis, Natonin and the Kalingas, beaded wrists and arms are fascinating. Seed beads arranged in articulate designs and profusion of bright colors adorn heads, necks, wrists, arms, and even traditional garbs.

Aside from adornments, the highland culture also has other uses for beads. Status symbol is one. It could indicate one family’s wealth and rank in society. The more, the better since it dictates one’s place in society. It is worn as a show of wealth and is usually (these days) an investment. If converted to cash, it would be worth a lot.

It could also be used as amulets or charms, though people from the highlands do not go much for these as unlike the American Indians do for their medicine beads, or the Zulu Afrikans for their love beads, or the Carribeans their chant and voodoo beads.

In Kalinga (and I stand corrected if I may be wrong, email me for info), they have such beads they call “faringot” and “ong-ong”. In Sadanga, they call their heirloom beads “finlash”. But whatever each tribe call their beads one thing is true and common. Since the appearance of beads some 40,000 years ago, these tiny morsels have evolved and travelled great distances and histories. In each case, per culture, each one has developed its own unique style and design and the techniques by which they were made vary too. Through trade they spread their values depending on the uniqueness, beauty, history and their use. Email: twilight_glo@yahoo.com


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