Tourists, folks flock Adivay fest events; grand canao set

>> Monday, November 20, 2023

Benguet revelries 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Tourists, visitors and local folks are now flocking the  2023 month-long Adivay festival in this capital town and celebration of the 122nd founding anniversary of Benguet with exciting events.
    This, after celebrations kicked off Nov, 6 at Provincial Capitol grounds.
    Theme of this year’s festivities is ‘Benguet: Gateway to Unforgettable Getaways.’
    Gov. Melchor D. Diclas said Adivay kicked off earlier with the traditional Kapihan sa Benguet at the Ben Palispis auditorium starting with eucharistic celebration followed by pre-pageant for the Search for Mr. and Miss Benguet on Nov. 6.
    Vice Gov. Ericson “Tagel” Felipe during the kickoff, talked about “honoring the past, reveling in the present, and recognizing the resilience and integrity of the people of Benguet.” 
    The highlight will be the Grand Cañao on Nov. 23, a feast with 30 pigs and two cows to share with the community, including tourists.
    Activities include lapan (rabbit meat) cooking contest, pageant, cultural dance competitions, Benguet quiz bee, job fair, and even a mass wedding for Benguet couples.     
    Mining stakeholders participated in the Mining and Environment Forum at Benguet Sports Complex (BSC) gymnasium on Nov. 9 followed by opening of the agro-industrial trade fair, 2nd Adivay quiz bee and Benguet cultural dance performance on Nov. 11.
    Cultural dance troupes of the municipalities of Benguet stirred anew the consciousness of the Benguet people of their rich cultural heritage with story-telling through cultural dances and performances.
    The Cultural Performances Competition was showcased Nov, 11 at the BSC.
    Diclas said Benguet people WERE proud of their cultural heritage and through it, they WERE being bound as one.
    He added performances emphasized significance of preserving cultural wealth of the province.
    Students from the Lepanto National High School of Mankayan, Benguet told the story of “Sangbo” that featured a ritual for good luck brought about by a mysterious event.
    They received P40,000 cash prize for their performance.
    Meantime, the Municipality of Buguias represented by Buguias National High School students performed the story of “Dang-as” highlighting the culture of “Ubbo” or community cooperation. The students went home with P35,000 cash prize for their effort.
    The Municipality of Kapangan represented by students of Gov. Bado Dangwa Agro-Industrial School, on the other hand, showcased the Legend of “Pongayan” narrating the story of Sayod, a “beautiful lady with buxom bosoms” as they placed third, earning them the P30,000 cash prize.
    In other developments, La Trinidad was awarded the Best in Storyline, Itogon with Best Folkloric Performance, and Bokod as Best in Visual Impact Award. Each was given P5,000 cash prize.
    All Benguet towns are now showcasing their agri-tourism destinations through opening of the fair at the Benguet Sports Complex on Nov. 14, 2023 followed by the traditional acoustic competition Nov. 15 at Benguet Sports Complex gymnasium.
    Lat Nov. 16, activities included the Senior Citizens Adivay at Benguet Sports Complex gymnasium; skills competitions at the trade fair area in Wangal; inter-local government unit volleyball championships at the Capital covered court; Farmer’s Day at cold chain area and Stellar Health Achievements yearly Awards (SHAYAW) at Ben Palispis auditorium.
    The inter-local government unit basketball championship is on at the Capitol covered court while the Search for Mr. and Ms. Benguet pre-pageant was held at the Sports Complex gymnasium on Nov. 17.
    The Benguet Fusion Fashion Showcase was held at the Benguet Sports Complex gymnasium Nov. 18.
    The annual Children’s Congress, the Lapan, rabbit meat, cooking contest and the awarding of the Best Integrated Farming System and Best Rabies Program Implementer is set on Nov. 21.
    The Benguet Awards Program will be held at the New Town Plaza Hotel in Baguio city on Nov. 22.
    The Benguet Day grand parade will be held Nov. 23 followed by Grand Can֮ao at the Benguet Sports Complex and Battle of the Bands at the gymnasium.
    The Agri-Tourism fair will come to a close Nov. 24, followed by the Coronation Night of the Search for Mr. and Ms. Benguet on Nov. 25 all happening at the Benguet Sports Complex gymnasium.
    Biking enthusiasts will show their skills in the Hari ng Ahon Bike Challenge from the Ambuclao dam area to Beckel; the annual dance sports at the Ben Palispis Hall and closing of the agro-industrial trade fair on Nov. 26.
    The event entitled Jesus Reigns is set Nov. 27, 2023 followed by mass wedding of couples at the St. Paul Parish in Poblacion, Tuba, Benguet on Nov. 28.
    Employees and officials of the provincial government will be participating in the Employees Adivay Night at the Capitol covered court on Dec. 1, while the annual Adivay and Benguet founding anniversary activities will commence with Christmas lighting on the same day.
    On Dec. 2, bodybuilders will show their prowess during bodybuilding competition at Ben Palispis Hall while the Adivay Fusion Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition will be held at Benguet Sports Complex gymnasium on Dec. 9.
    Benguet officials earlier urged the people of Benguet and visitors to patronize  activities to ensure successful conduct of this year’s celebration considering the province is still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. – With a report from Aldwin Quitasol


Folks vandalize bus after fatal motorbike collision in Tabuk; 1 dead, 3 hurt

By Ruth Cupang

TABUK CITY -- Enraged residents vandalized a Victory Liner Royal Class Sleeper bus after it crashed into a motorcycle, killing one of its passengers here Nov. 12.
    The bus driven by Diosdado Valdez, 48, was headed to Cubao when the accident took place.
    A police report said the bus was attempting to overtake a motorcycle with four people — a couple and their two children — on board at an intersection when the motorcycle suddenly made a left turn.
    Valdez said he was unable to apply brakes in time as the bus hit the motorcycle, which he claimed did not make a left turn signal.
    Eyewitnesses reported several angry residents attacked the bus and tried to break its windshield by throwing stones and other hard objects.
    Fearing for his life, the driver remained inside the bus until authorities arrived.
    Col. Freddie Lasona, director of Kalinga Provincial Police Office, identified the fatality as Joy Balwog Alos, 49, a resident of Dananao, Lacnong East, Tabuk City.
    The motorcycle driver, Daniel Alos, 46, and his children, ages 10 and 8, suffered injuries and were brought to the hospital.
    The damaged Victory Liner bus was impounded at the provincial police headquarters for safekeeping, while the driver was held at the Tabuk City Police Station for investigation.
    The Victory Liner management has yet to release a statement on the incident.


B’gay councilor checks in with lady in Bauang motel; later found dead checked in with lady

BAUANG, La Union — A barangay councilman was found dead in a motel in here Monday afternoon, Nov. 13.
    Oscar Guzman, 65, of Barangay Tanquigan in San Fernando City, La Union, was declared dead on arrival at the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center.
    Police said the victim and an unidentified woman checked in at the motel at around 11:30 a.m., but the woman went out of their room after 20 minutes.
    A room attendant, who checked when he saw the door of the room of the two open, saw the naked body of the barangay councilman.
    An investigation is ongoing.


Baguio team vs human trafficking formed; 30 women rescued in ops

By Jessa Mardy P. Samidan

BAGUIO CITY – Thirty women, victims of human trafficking were recently rescued in here in nightspots. 
    This made the City Council’s local committee on anti-trafficking and violence against women and children (LCAC-VAWC) approve a resolution to create a quick response team that will carry out immediate rescue operations and social interventions to victims of human trafficking.
    Establishment of the QRT Against Human Trafficking was recommended by the City Social Welfare and Development Office being the secretariat of the LCAC-VAWC after confirming an increasing number of trafficking in persons in the city.
    CSWDO Social Welfare Officer II Coralie Dulnuan reported the 30 individuals, mostly women, were rescued from anti-human trafficking operations conducted first semester of the year.
    “There were two minors among those rescued and the majority of the victims were forced to work in bars or night establishments in the city,” Dulnuan said.   
    While court cases have been filed against alleged perpetrators of human trafficking, the lack of proper documentation was identified as a challenge thus the need to establish a QRT to be led by the City Prosecutor’s Office to develop a standard operating procedure.
    Mandatory members of the QRT are law enforcement agencies such as Baguio City Police Office, the regional offices of the National Bureau of Investigation together with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, with the CSWDO for social intervention and the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Centers to provide psychological intervention as well as medico legal services to victims.
    Other members of the QRT include the City Health Services Office, the Business Permits and Licensing Division of the City Mayor’s Office, and the Child and Family Services Office.
    While the city regularly conducts inspections of night establishments, the LCAC-VAW said operation of bars without permits remains a challenge.
    Dulnuan said in the recent joint monitoring of the council, there were 79 employees without work permits and 11 bars without business permits.
    Establishments found operating without permits and committing other violations to city ordinances such as Smoke-free Baguio and Silent Night among others were issued notices.


Med tech stude shot by classmate in Tuguegarao

TUGUEGRAO CITY -- A third-year medical technology student was shot by her classmate at the parking lot of Saint Paul University Philippines here Nov. 13, police said.
    Police identified the victim as Althea Vivien Mendoza and her classmate as Kristian Rafael Ramos.
    Based on the report, authorities said a security guard and a library staff heard the victim crying for help while inside a parked vehicle around 5:30 p.m.
    Witnesses Jun-Jun Ignacio and Mark Anthony Laude approached the vehicle and saw Ramos assaulting Mendoza, prompting both of them to alight the vehicle.
    As seen in CCTV footage, witnesses fled the area after Ramos pointed his gun at them.
    After that, the suspect went inside the car and drove away from the parking lot.
    A concerned citizen rushed the victim to Cagayan United Medical Doctors Hospital, where she is currently recovering.
Moments later, he also shot the victim twice before hitting her head 11 times using his weapon.


4 missing Pangasinan fishermen rescued

By Gabriel Cardinoza

INFANTA, Pangasinan -- The four fishermen from this town who were earlier reported missing have been rescued by fellow fishermen in the waters off Candelaria town in Zambales province at around noon on Thursday, Nov. 16, an official of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.
    Commander Alexander Corpuz, PCG Pangasinan station commander, said the four fishermen were ferried to Infanta by the Candelaria Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) and turned over to the town officials here at about 2 p.m. Thursday.
    The rescued fishermen were identified as boat skipper Edgar Bejar, 44, and Jake Bejar, 19, of Barangay Cato; Melchor Molato, 26, of Barangay Bayambang and Arnel Awanan, 46, of Barangay Batang.
    "They are all accounted for. They are healthy and they are now resting in their respective homes with their families," said Corpuz in a telephone interview.
    On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the PCG scoured the West Philippine Sea (WPS) off the provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, and Ilocos Sur to search for the fishermen, who were reported missing on Tuesday, November 14.
    Allan Rey de la Cruz, head of this town's DRRMO, said they had requested the aerial search after receiving reports that the missing fishermen's boat was seen anchored in the waters off La Union on Wednesday night.
    The four fishermen left the shore of Cato aboard their fishing boat FB Pepito 3 on November 9 to fish at the WPS about 70 nautical miles west of this town.
    "They were expected to return to Cato on November 12 but they did not make it," said de la Cruz in a telephone interview.
    Aside from aerial search, de la Cruz said the town government here also launched a seaborne search and rescue operation using two big private fishing boats.
    The PCG had also alerted commercial fishing boats in the vicinity about the missing fishermen.
    De la Cruz said the fishermen may have encountered rough seas and strong winds spawned by the northeast monsoon on their way home on November 11.
    On that day, he added, the PCG radioed all fishing boats at sea to sail home because of the monsoon winds locally known as "nortada" or northern wind.
    "All the other boats were able to return to the shore that day, except them," de la Cruz said.
    Corpuz said that the fishermen's boat's engine may have conked out and the fishing boat drifted towards Zambales.
    This was not the first time for fishermen here to encounter a nortada.
    In December 2006, at least 70 fishermen from this town were reported missing after their boats were swept by strong winds and giant waves spawned by the nortada.
    Some of them were rescued hours later, while others managed to paddle to seek refuge at the Scarborough Shoal.
    This unpredictable weather phenomenon usually takes place in these waters between the months of November and February.


Bontoc fire victims receive another batch of financial donations

By Alpine L. Killa- Malwagay and Kayna Casey Shalou Ubongen

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The Bontoc local government disbursed another batch of financial donations worth P581,961.10 for victims of fire that burned several houses and buildings here in Barangay Poblacion on April 11.
    Municipal Social Welfare and Development officer Araceli Shane Bayanos said eight fire victims with partially damaged structures received P8,000 each while the 27 owners of totally damaged structures received P20,000 each.
    Aside from the P581, 961.10 that was divided and distributed to 35 owners of partially and totally damaged structures, Bontoc Mayor Jerome “Chagsen” Tudlong, Jr., turned over the donation of International Igorot Organization (IGO) through Lyn Madalang amounting to P29,000.
    The mayor added P3, 400 from his pocket, thus, totaling P32, 400.
    The said amount was equally divided among the 27 owners of totally damaged structures with each receiving additional P1, 200.
Mayor Tudlong urged recipients to look past the devastation and set life anew.
    “God did not give us a burden that we cannot carry. The tragic incident is not a test of our faith in God. It strengthens our faith in Him. We are with you, as you get back on your feet and recover from the effects of the tragic fire incident,” the mayor added.
    We are thankful for all the in-kind and monetary donations which came from the help and love of our fellow community members, neighbors, people from abroad and from various people who want to help,” Tudlong added.
    Since the start of donation drive for fire victims, the mayor assured that every single centavo of the donations received by the Bontoc LGU will go to those affected.
    The disbursement of financial donations on Nov. 14 at the Bontoc Municipal Capitol lobby was facilitated by the MSWDO and the Office of the Municipal Treasurer.
    Also in attendance was Municipal Administrator Eric Fulangen, Sr. 


Converge Wins Broadband Telecom Company of the Year at International Business Magazine Awards 2023

By Rizza C. Ampong

Philippines' premier fiber company, Converge ICT Solutions Inc., has been honored with the prestigious Broadband Telecom Company of the Year (Philippines) 2023 award at the International Business Magazine (IBM) Awards held on November 4, 2023, at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai.
    The UAE-based business publication awarded Converge the Broadband Telecom Company of the Year award, recognizing the ICT company’s efforts in expanding and improving its digital infrastructure and operations to better serve both its residential and business clientele. IBM also deemed Converge as the best internet service provider in the Philippines that has continuously shown excellence and has been the top performer in the country’s telecom sector.
    Converge has been on a winning streak as of late. Recently awarded the Technology Excellence Award for AI – Broadband Telecommunication at the Asian Technology Excellence Awards 2023, the company has been hailed as an industry pioneer with its groundbreaking Network Intelligence and Automation Platform (NIAP), propelling Converge to the forefront of network management evolution in the Philippines.
    Leading the charge in redefining network operations management through NIAP’s visionary initiative, the creation of a 'zero-touch' network operations center proved to be a transformative approach for Converge in enabling autonomous network operations and maintenance, which improved customer service response.
    Converge was also recently included in the Circle of Excellence, which recognizes the most innovative companies in the Philippines by the Asia CEO Awards 2023, the largest business awards event in the Philippines, and is considered the most significant event of its kind in Southeast Asia.
    “These prestigious, globally recognized awards serve as a testament to Converge's unwavering dedication to providing the Filipino people with the connectivity solutions they truly deserve,” said Converge Chief Operations Officer Jesus C.    Romero. “Through innovation, operational excellence, and a commitment to serving our more than two million customers, Converge has solidified its position as a leading force in the telecommunications industry, not only in the Philippines but on the global stage.”
    Converge ICT Solutions Inc. continues to set new standards in the telecommunications sector and remains committed to delivering cutting-edge services that enhance the lives of Filipinos, ensuring they are always connected to the world.


CIDG: Illegal gambling, estafa, rape up in Cordi

BAGUIO CITY -- Officials and personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Cordillera recently confirmed in their reports of the increasing number of cases of illegal gambling, estafa, sexual assault and rape, even while agents focus on service of warrants of arrest of wanted persons and their arrest.
     Col. Leon P. Talleo, CIDG-Cordillera Regional Chief expressed his appreciation to the agency’s personnel who helped in the successful arrest of the wanted persons, further saying that the community had done its part in the campaign of the Philippine National Police to track down law violators.
    Based on reports for the month of October as submitted by CIDG field agents stationed in Baguio and the six provinces of the Cordillera Region that were furnished this paper, there were at least seven separate WoA for persons involved in sexual assault and rape cases that took place in Baguio City; Tuba, Benguet; and Bangued, Abra.
    Under the crime of estafa, at least two cases were filed by CIDG Baguio CFU and CIDG Kalinga PFU, respectively, while the top most wanted person (TMWP) on the provincial level of CIDG Baguio was nabbed in Valenzuela City, MM by virtue of warrant of arrest issued by Baguio RTC Branch 5 for estafa.
    In the CIDG Cordillera accomplishment report for October, at least one criminal case for large scale illegal recruitment and estafa was filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Baguio City by operatives of the Baguio CFU.
    The same CIDG Baguio CFU reported the arrest of another TMWP on the provincial level by virtue of a WoA issued by Baguio RTC Branch 3 for homicide and frustrated homicide.
    Based on the accomplishment reports, the CIDG Cordillera served 32 arrest warrants for October.
    The warrants were issued by RTC branches on different dates in the past against individuals involved in assorted crimes, apart from those served by other law enforcement agencies under the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation.
    All persons named in the different arrest warrants were arrested by CIDG field units in the region.
    These were in addition to 14 arrests made during police operations over several illegal gambling activities.
In their reports, the CIDG field units described illegal gambling operations as the collection of bets by persons who failed to present pertinent documents issued by the PCSO that authorized them to collect money bets for small town lottery (STL) games.
     The CIDG reports indicated the presence of illegal gambling activities called “bookies” that pretended to be operating under the STL, even while the Pines Estate Gaming Corp. certified that the arrested persons were not registered as bet collectors on their behalf.
     The arrests of illegal bet collectors by the CIDG Benguet PFU under Capt. Oscar S. Dalmacio were the result of police operations in Sablan, Tuba, Tublay and La Trinidad, particularly at Camp Dangwa, Barangay Alapang and in the vicinities of the BAPTC and the Vegetable Trading Post.
     Police operations and arrests against STL “bookies” were also conducted in the towns of Lamut, Alfonso Lista and Lagawe by the CIDG Ifugao PFU under PLt. Eddie P. Palisoc; and in Kalinga by the concerned CIDG field unit. 


Benguet farming, tourism trades boosting Cordillera economy: DA

The vegetable gardens in Atok, Benguet, known as salad bowl of the Philippines.

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Benguet’s farming, tourism industries are boosting Cordillera economy, according to the regional Dept. of Agriculture. 
    “Benguet is the leading producer of semi-temperate vegetables in the country and the premier source of strawberries," DA-Cordillera OIC regional executive director lawyer Jennilyn Dawayan said during opening of Benguet's Agri-tourism Fair here at Benguet Cold Chain Project Compound, Wangal.
    According to the DA-CAR, 88% of the Cordillera's total vegetable production comes from Benguet, while the province produces 59% of the region's heirloom rice.    
    Dawayan added Benguet produces 60% of green beans in Cordillera and holds sixth position nationwide.   
    She said that Benguet is also home to the renowned agri-tourism destination “Northern Blossoms” in Atok town and cut flowers at Bahong, La Trinidad.
    Benguet also hosts two of the largest trading posts in the country -- the La Trinidad Trading Post and the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC).
    Dawayan said amid the problems arising from vegetable importation, she proposed a thorough study of policies, while encouraging public support in patronizing local products amid challenges posed by importation.
    Dawayan affirmed DA’s support for the struggle of farmers against illegal entry of vegetable products from other countries.
    "Let us be the voice crying in the wilderness against smuggling. It is our responsibility as consumers, as government players, and as stakeholders to report this immediately," she said.




P’sinan b’gay chief killed in road crash

By Gabriel L. Cardinoza

SAN CARLOS CITY, Pangasinan -- A village chief here was killed after he was run over by a dump truck in a freak accident in Barangay Perez Boulevard here on Tuesday, Nov. 14, a report by the Police Regional Office 1 said on Wednesday.
    The police said 55-year-old Alejandro Calugay, village chief of Barangay Cobol, was driving his motorcycle with 29-year-old Melanie Rosendal as his back ride when he tried to overtake a dump truck in the outermost lane of the road.
    He lost control of his motorcycle, which slipped on the road ahead of the truck. He was thrown off his motorcycle, and the truck ran over him.
    Calugay suffered injuries in the different parts of his body and did not make it to the hospital alive.
    He was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.
    His passenger also suffered injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Calugay was recently reelected as barangay chief.
    In Bolinao town, a 33-year-old construction worker was killed, also on Tuesday, after he was electrocuted while fixing a cable in his house in Barangay Luciente 1.
    Police said Jerry Romero Casipagan was found dead by his father, Pancho, at around 12:45 p.m.
    His family brought Casipagan to a hospital in the town, but a doctor there declared him dead on arrival.


2 passengers shot dead in bus by 2 men in NE town

PNP probing murder 

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan 

CARRANGLAN, Nueva Ecija -- Police investigators are now backtracking the CCTV on the shooting incident where a man and a woman were gunned down by two unidentified suspects inside a Victory Liner bus here Wednesday, Nov. 15 around 12:50 noon, a police official said.
    Philippine National Police information chief and spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said Thursday police investigators are now investigating to identify if there are more than two men involved in the shooting incident.
    “Tinitingnan natin yan at napag-usapan nga namin kanina yan dahil tinanong ko nga from the time na sumakay ‘yung mga biktima doon sa terminal, ilan ba ‘yung nakasakay doon, ilan ba yung nakasabay nila at the fact na inabangan lamang sa Nueva Ecija ‘yung mga biktima natin at doon sila sumakay, there is a possibility na talagang alam ng mga suspects ‘yung movement ng ating mga biktima at alam na sumakay sila doon sa bus na yun (We are looking into that and we talked about it earlier because I asked from the time the victims boarded at the terminal, how many boarded there, how many were with them and the fact that they were only waiting in Nueva Ecija, there is a possibility that the suspects really know the movement of our victims and know that they boarded that bus),” Fajardo told reporters.
    Based on the police report, the bus was traversing a mountainous portion in Barangay Minuli in Carranglan town when two unidentified men, who pretended to be passengers, stood up from the back, walk towards the front and shot the victims, seated at the first row, six times in the head and neck.
    The victims who died on the spot were reportedly live-in partners. They were not unidentified.
    The gunmen got off the bus and fled through a nearby river.
    The incident was captured by the dash camera of the bus and has since gone viral.
    According to Fajardo, one of the victims' family who refused to be identified said the age of the female victim was 60 years old from Cauayan City, Isabela, and her live-in partner was around 55 years old from South Cotabato.
    She said police investigators are looking into the possible involvement of the son in the killing of his mother and her live-in partner.
    “Based on the initial investigation, we are looking into the son’s involvement because before this incident happened, the victim had a dispute with her son and in fact, it was recorded in a police station and her son is only on bail, Fajardo said in Tagalog.
    However, the son denied his involvement when interviewed by the investigators.
    Meanwhile, Fajardo said they are also looking into the possible involvement of the helper who brought the couple to the bus terminal.
    She said the PNP will coordinate with the transportation terminal management for the possible deployment of bus marshals and security dogs in public transportation to ensure the safety of the riding public. -- PNA 


Bontoc ili wins SK town council seat

The15 Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairpersons of Bontoc elect their Municipal SK Federation Officers. Mark Branford Andaya, the SK Chairperson of Bontoc Ili won as Municipal SK Federation president, securing him a seat as ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Bayan.  Christy Mae C. Pangesfan, Bontoc LGU 

By Christy Mae C. Pangesfan

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The 15 Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairpersons of this capital town elected Mark Branford Andaya as Municipal SK Federation president, securing him a seat as ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Bayan.
    Andaya won eight votes over his two opponents who were also nominated for the position during the SK Federation orientation and election on Nov. 14 at the mayor’s conference hall.
    Meanwhile, SK chairperson of Tocucan, Grant Hill Cattel, was proclaimed vice president after winning against one candidate.
    Other proclaimed officers were: Beverly Kam-mon Tuma-ak of Maligcong, secretary; Elmer Zuñiga Jr. of Gonogon, treasurer; Marcelo La Madrid of Talubin, auditor; Clarence Ing-inga Can-eo, public relations officer and Denis Kongoy of Samoki and Christian Fongao of Mainit as sergeant at arms.
Prior to the election, the 15 SK chairpersons underwent the SK Federation orientation facilitated by Municipal Local Government Operations officer Lourdes Claire Peel, Local Youth Development officer-designate Ross Kiat-ong, and Civil Society Organization representative Anton Zaren Nasungan.
Bontoc Mayor Jerome “Chagsen” Tudlong, Jr., who administered the oath-taking of SK Federation officers same day, cited their crucial role in shaping the future of the community by representing interests and aspirations of the youth.
    “I encourage you to approach your duties with enthusiasm, integrity, and a deep sense of responsibility. Your ideas, initiatives, and passion will undoubtedly play a vital role in building a stronger, more vibrant community,” he said.
    Meanwhile, Andaya advocated programs that encourage the active participation of young people in local governance and community development, as well as initiatives that focus on improving education and skills development and supporting campaigns on health awareness, mental health, and fitness programs.
    The Board of Election Supervisors was composed of MLGOO Lourdes Claire Peel, Election officer Virginia Chokowen, and local legislative staff officer Coy Abel Pachingel.
    Panel of Observers were Municipal Treasurer Lourdes Austria, Saint Vincent’s School elementary department school principal, Christopher Che-es, Sr. and Bontoc municipal police station chief Maj. Pedro Tactay.




Top Benguet teams clash in Congressional Cup finale

 Provincial basketball tourney 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Bokod and La Trinidad 1 reached the finals Monday evening after disposing their semi – final rivals in the Cong. Eric Go Yap Congressional Cup here at the Benguet Sports Complex.    
    La Trinidad took the first finals seat after beating Itogon, 98-86, on a night when Armando Pollante was absent.
Even with the absence of one of its key player, Trinidad 1 took an early lead, thanks to long hitters Jason Alvaran, Will Kean Lee and Kean Zachary Diaz as they raced to a 10 point lead before settling to a 49-41 halftime lead.
    Trinidad 1 raced to its biggest lead at 14 in the third canto and finished that period with a 76-63 lead.
    “We have to be more aggressive on defense due to a key player being absent. We can’t win without (good) defense,” Lee said.
    Aside from Pollante, La Trinidad also missed the services of Neil Ulep, recently elected as SK Chairman of Barangay Buyagan who needed to attend a meeting of the SK Federation.      
    Coach Jong del Rosario said the team stepped up on all fronts of the court as they limited Itogon’s  top gunners.  
    “With no Pollante and Ulep, everybody stepped – up. We have to stop Kim Padawag then we we took advantage on our speed with Chad Villanueva and Omer Baluch inside, and it clicked,” added del Rosario.
    Lee led Trinidad 1 with 23 points on top of eight rebounds and eight assists and three steals while Jason Alvaran, Kean Diaz and John Tuazon chipped 17, 15 and 12 markers in that order.
    Padawag led Itogon with 24 while Villanueva and Jude Quitolbo, who was hobbled with four fouls  as early as the third canto, added 15 and 13 markers a piece.
    Top seed Bokod also made it to the finals after escaping Tuba in the other half of the semi – final match.    
    After a 9-2 Tuba run to start the fourth quarter and see its lead down to nine from 25 points, Bokod took control of the game late in the canto to walk with the 76-62 win.
    Bokod wanted no complications and follow second seed La Trinidad 1 to the finals as soon as possible when it opened a 21-13 first quarter lead which ballooned to 18, 43-25, at halftime.
    League scoring leader Cyril de Vera was practically a no show in the first 15 minutes of action as youthful Fruto Luzadas III practically took the yeoman's task of lifting Tuba's waivering spirit.
    Rey Gabino took over the offensive thrust for the top seed in the second canto scoring 10 of the team’s 22 point production.
    His fellow former Cordillera Career Development College player Darwin Fernandez contributed exactly a third of Bokod’s first quarter output of 21 points.
    With Ramil Alimba draining a put back on a Kendrick Joseph miss with 3:09 to go in the third canto.
okod made it a 56-31 lead, a big 25 point advantage but Tuba mounted a 10-1 run for a 57-41lead.
    Buenaventyra summed the third to fourth quarter Tuba run when he said: “Collapse sa defense sa third and Cyril (de Vera) explode.”
    Buenaventura led Bokod with 20 points, eight rebounds, two assists and four steals.
Fernandez, Gabino and Alimba chipped in 12, 10 and 10 points for Bokod . Gabino scored all his points in the second quarter alone.
    Luzadas led Tuba with 18 points, while de Vera and John Cedric Pugong added 16 and 10 a piece with the latter hauling 12 boards. -- MSD


2-K vacancies up for grabs in Benguet job fair

JOB FAIR -- The Benguet provincial government holds a two-day job fair at the capitol building Nov. 13 to 14. The activity coincides with the month-long celebration of the Adivay festival and the province’s 123rd founding anniversary. -- Liza Agoot/ PNA 

As part of Adivay fest 

By Liza Agoot 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Some 2,000 job vacancies for local and foreign job placements were offered to jobseekers in the Nov. 13 to 14 job fair here at  the Benguet provincial capitol.
    Julie Tabcao, the province’s Public Employment Services Office (PESO) chief, said 12 local companies and 10 overseas manpower agencies joinined the two-day event as part of the month-long Adivay festival.
    “This is an annual activity, and we have institutionalized this as part of the Adivay festival to serve our people who are searching for jobs,” Tabcao said Monday of the activity, which also coincides with the 123rd Benguet Foundation Day.
Tabcao said over 300 jobseekers have been listed in the pre-registration conducted by the PESO office.
    “We are happy that as early as the morning of the first day, we have a lot of walk-in applicants who were here looking at the list of vacancies for something that might interest them,” she said.
    For those attending the event on the second day, she advised them earlier to bring documents such as resume, certificate of employment (if relevant), passport-size photo, a copy of their professional license (for board passers) and passport for those interested in finding an overseas job.
    Tabcao said local mining and utility companies such as Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation, Itogon-Suyoc Resources Inc. and Aboitiz subsidiary Hedcor Inc. sought to fill multiple job vacancies, including engineers and other positions.
    She added other participating local companies sought to fill up positions, such as customer service representatives, heavy equipment operators, cashiers, butchers and geologists.
    For those aiming to work abroad, Tabcao said welders and heavy equipment operators were mostly sought in Japan and other countries. -- PNA


PMSEA-adopted park ups Baguio tourism industry

INSPIRED. Rhenan Diwas, chief of the Baguio City Environment and Parks Management Office, speaks at the opening of the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association conference on Tuesday (Nov. 14, 2023). He lauded the association for its various environmental protection efforts. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

By Liza T. Agoot

BAGUIO CITY – A renovation that improved the waterways of a garden inside the Botanical Park here has benefited the city’s tourism sector.
    Rhenan Diwas, head of the City Environment and Parks Management Office, said the Botanical Garden along Leonard Wood Road not only serves as additional place for students to obtain knowledge but is also a tourist magnet.
    “We have a lot of tourists in the Botanical Garden and they would appreciate the elephant [sculptures] and other features of the Botanical Garden. Architects and designers who are local and even those from other countries would visit it to obtain inspiration from it being a waterways solution project,” Diwas said on the sidelines of the four-day Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) conference that kicked off Tuesday.
    PMSEA adopted a 5,000-square meter portion of the Botanical Garden in 2010 in a bid to help the local government protect and preserve the environment.
    Louie Sarmiento, PMSEA president, said when they adopted the park, the first thing they did was to clean the area.
    He recalled collecting about six truckloads of garbage
    Sarmiento said PMSEA’s other major contribution to the city is the adoption of the 80-year-old Norfolk tree at the foot of     Session Road, which used to be the annual Christmas tree.
    About 3,000 participants from mining companies nationwide are currently in the city for the PMSEA conference.
    “PMSEA is helping stir the economy of the city for 69 years now, the home of the event since the first year,” Andrew Pinero, spokesperson of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio, said during the press conference. --PNA


Baguio on joining ‘open government partnership’

>> Thursday, November 16, 2023


Since the Baguio City government signified it is willing to be among models of Philippine Open Government Partnership in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s Executive Order No. 31 on June 20, 2023 institutionalizing co-creation of collaborative solutions to public problems, it could now start to be a model and address issues by involving the citizenry in monitoring projects, addressing rampant illegal gambling, among others.     
    The Dept. of Interior and Local Government, Dept. of Budget and Management and the Philippine Information Agency launched the OG Pinas last Tuesday in Baguio clustering participants from government, academe, civil society organizations and other groups from Regions I, II, III and CAR.
    The PIA reported that OGP seeks to raise awareness about PH-OGP, especially at the local level. It seeks to provide avenues and more channels of communication for government-civil society partnerships and strengthen public participation in policy-making and governance in the country.
    Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said his administration has always been supportive of inclusive and sustainable development, thus encouraging youth groups and civil society organizations in committees and decision-making bodies of the city as part of his Good Governance campaign.
    He said utilization of social media platforms in information dissemination has also been a catalyst in the city government’s transparency of projects and plans therefore boosts citizen participation.
    According to Magalong, his administration's seven-point development agenda is also in line with OGP's direction to promote integrity, accountability and social innovation, enabled by the use of new technologies.
    Being an OGP model provides LGUs verifiable means of reform credentials with incentivized training in the development of local action plans that address local and national issues.
OGP has been launched simultaneously in other parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
    It was formed by 76 countries, 104 local governments and more than 3000 civil society organizations since 2011 aimed at developing and implementing concrete commitments to advance open government.



Confidential funds


Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY -- The media recently had been abuzz with reports of confidential funds worth millions of pesos being allocated into the coffers of government agencies or bodies like the Office of the Vice President getting the ire of concerned citizens.
    Through the media and online platforms, commentators hit such allocations saying these funds are taxpayers’ money and how these are spent should be explained. Some Commission on Audit officials said confidential funds are not audited, raising more complaints.
    (In this summer capital, we hear of a P2 million confidential fund under the top local government office as bared by Rep. Marcoleta among others like illegal gambling in a privilege speech, but that is another story).
Last Tuesday, a group of former government officials and lawyers filed a petition before the Supreme Court, questioning validity of transfer of P125 million to the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) confidential fund.
The petitioners -- lawyer Barry Gutierrez, spokesperson of former vice president Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo; former Commission on Elections chairperson Christian Monsod; former Finance undersecretary Maria Cielo Magno; former Commission on Filipinos Overseas chairperson Imelda Nicolas; law professor Katrina Monsod; Ray Paolo Santiago; Honorio Poblador III; Augusto Lagman; Vicente Romano; Rex Drilon; and Miguel Jugo -- also sought to order the OVP to return the money to the government's treasury.
    In July, the COA released the 2022 audit report of the OVP confirming that the latter used P125 million that was transferred in December 2022.
    The COA, in the same report, flagged the equipment the OVP procured for its new satellite offices that were supposedly obtained without following procedures mandated by Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.
Last September, the Office of the Executive Secretary said the confidential fund was released in compliance with provisions in the 2022 General Appropriations Act, which authorized the Office of the President to approve releases to cover funding requirements of new or urgent activities or projects that need to be implemented or paid. 
     Lawmakers on Wednesday said the House of Representatives' decision to realign confidential funds amounting to P1.23 billion of different government agencies was the "right thing to do" as shown by a recent OCTA survey, indicating that majority of the Filipinos agree with the reallocation to security agencies.
    Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City 3rd District Rep. Franz Pumaren said the survey results showing that 57 percent of Filipinos agree with the confidential fund realignment is a "vindication for all of us" in the House of Representatives, according to a report by the government-run Philippine News Agency.
    “As far as we are concerned, this is a crucial and very important gauge for us, and an affirmation that we did the right thing. More so, it also encourages us to continue on this righteous path in carrying out what is good for our fellow countrymen. We have the moral high ground,” he added.
    Pumaren said this comes as a time wherein the chamber has been the object of criticism and threats from certain quarters due to the realignments made in the proposed 2024 national budget.
    “As you know, we have been the political punching bag of some quarters, specifically Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez who did nothing bad, and who only did his job,” he said.
    The PNA report said the Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 poll of 1,200 adult respondents nationwide showed that only 14 percent “disagreed” with the House's move to reallocate confidential funds of some civilian agencies to front-line agencies in charge of ensuring national security and protecting the country's territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea.
    Of those who agreed, the highest percentage was in Balance Luzon at 75 percent, followed by the National Capital Region at 65 percent, Visayas at 46 percent, and the lowest was in Mindanao at 24 percent.
    Among socio-economic groups, 72 percent of class ABC agreed (highest) while 54 percent of class E agreed (lowest).
    Mindanao had the highest level of disagreement at 26 percent and Balance Luzon had the lowest at 10 percent.
    Among socio-economic groups, 15 percent of class E disagreed (highest) while 8 percent of class ABC disagreed (lowest).
    Occidental Mindoro Lone District Rep. Leody "Odie" Tarriela, meanwhile, said the OCTA survey strengthened the notion that the House of Representatives was on the right track.
    "It fortified our belief that the House leadership did the right thing when it removed the confidential funds of some civilian agencies and transferred them to agencies that have a direct hand in protecting our interests in the West Philippine Sea (WPS)," Tarriela said.
    "As lawmakers, we serve the people and are answerable to the people. With 57 percent of adult Filipinos agreeing with our move, it tells that we echoed the pulse of the majority. And that's what matters in the end, not rhetoric or propaganda," he added.
    He said the House stands behind the Speaker's intention to protect the country's interests in the WPS and use the full resources of the government to do so.
    "That is the patriotic way to handle our challenges at sea," he said.
    House appropriations committee chairman and Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, meanwhile, welcomed the reported consensus among senators to remove confidential and intelligence funds from civilian agencies.
    “This is a vindication of the decision of the House of Representatives to realign those appropriations.     With such consensus, we foresee a smooth bicameral conference on the 2024 budget,” he said.
    Co said the reported agreement of senators to strip civilian agencies of CIFs would expedite the approval of next year’s spending program.
    Co earlier said the Office of the Vice President, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the Department of Foreign Affairs will get "zero" confidential funds under the proposed spending plan for next year.
    He said the P1.23 billion worth of confidential funds will be realigned to security agencies, particularly: P300 million will be reallocated to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; P100 million to the National Security Council; P200 million to the Philippine Coast Guard for intelligence activities and ammunition; and P381.3 million to the Department of Transportation for the development or expansion of Pag-asa Island Airport.
    According to news reports, the senators’ consensus to deprive civilian offices of CIF appropriations was reached in a caucus early last week. 


What the dream of dead kin could mean


Richard Kinnud

I am writing this on the day I woke up from a dream of two of my grandparents who have already passed away.  The grandmother I dreamt of died four years ago while the grandfather I saw and heard in my dream was gone more than 35 years ago.
    Purportedly in the dream, I have just finished my presentation to an audience on an open ground facing an Ifugao traditional native house.  The native house was blocking the stage in front of the building where the institution that invited me was supposedly holding office.
    I saw a moderator stood up, held the microphone and announced an open forum.  An old woman who was seated on some boulders behind the plastic chairs rose.  The moderator went to her with the mike then she spoke, “On ngadan ay nan alyon yun u’ungah an nipto’ an aton?”   The voice had me recognize that she was my grandmother.  What she said is “What was that which you said, young ones, is the right way to do it?”
    The moderator took over the microphone and said, “Sir, she was asking the right way to do the dance.”
    I was not able to reply immediately as supposedly I was taking care of a younger toddler sibling who was crying at the side of the building.  (In my present reality, I no longer had any toddler sibling.)  With no answer from me, the moderator that maybe I am still preparing an answer and so he asked the audience if there still are additional questions.
    An old man rose from the middle of the audience.  He was in g-string and green shirt with the “bayya-ong” (native blanket/cloth) worn over his shoulder and to his waist.  I recognized him to be my grandfather.  (I had once in my possession a photo of him in exactly the same attire.)  He asked, “On ngadan ay, adi tau kaanon tun bale?”  (Can you clarify, are we not to demolish this old native house?)      He was referring to the structure blocking the stage.
    Before I could utter any answer, I woke up.
    Dreams, especially of dead kin, are believed to mean something in many cultures.  It had me thinking on what could possibly be the significance of it.
    It made remember another time when I have dreamt of the same grandfather.  I was then hospitalized for more than a week of severe chicken pox.  In the dream, he was calling me to a table with abundant food while pointing to the infections on my skin.  When I told the dream to my mother, he secretly went to where the bones of my grandfather and found out that red ants invaded the remains.  She cleaned and wrapped them in new cloth.  A few days after, I was discharged from the hospital.
    Is my present dream up to something?  The present faith of course does not deny of what happened at that time I was hospitalized but the sequence could just be purely incidental.  I think that even if I tell this dream to my elders, it would no longer lead to the performance of a ritual,
    I have heard once an elder say that “in-inop e ya bungan ya abun di nomnomon.”  (dreams are just fruits of what one is thinking).  On the other hand, could they be fruits that should bear other fruits?  In other words, they can lead to some good thoughts.
    In a coffee break when I went to work after my dream, a friend and I had a good conversation on that “professor” in a foreign land who, in a certain program, tried to portray a Kalinga dance while wearing some traditional cloths, one of which is attributable to i-Benguets and and another Ifugaos.  That professor claimed his lineage to be Cordillera.  He was heavily criticized though on social media as inappropriately representing the people of the Cordilleras in his performance.
    The conversation with my friend soon flowed to how we natives sometimes debase our own culture to include cultural resources, icons, practices, traditions.  There are instances when we say things are right even as it may not be as what has been done in the past.  There are instances when present practices totally replaced traditional practices.  Of course, my friend and I agreed that not everything of these instances are cases of bastardizing our own culture.
    Just like the questions my grandmother asked in my dream, “What then, young ones, would you say in rightfully portraying our own identity.”   Just like the question my grandfather asked in my dream, “Are we supposed totally demolish the olden traditions and showcase modern, new, and even foreign ones?”  We have our own answers!


Holy smoke


March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- Congratulations to the candidates in the last barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan elections or BSKE who got more votes than their opponents. Their winning is a fresh mandate for their barangay, an opportunity for change and to perform business correctly this time.
    For those who garnered lesser votes, losing should be an encouragement for them to try again in the next BSKE on December 2025 as public service knows no end. Not winning this time also means the world has better plans for them.
    After all the stress and the problems encountered in the tightly contested BSKE, in addition to numerous election-related killing incidents; it is time to look forward to a much-needed breather, a dip on a beach somewhere in Ilocos with 12-year-old Johnny Walker, and warm friends Alfonso and Pedro Domecq. Maybe good smokes, too.
    Talking about relieving stress and having good smokes, the number of states in the U.S. that have legalized recreational marijuana-use is increasing. Reports say that research on use of cannabis in the treatment of medical conditions is going fast.
    In fact, the number of states in the USA that have legalized recreational marijuana use is increasing. The number of patients seeking information on cannabis for medical use is increasing as well.
    That is the main reason why doctors have to be on their feet and stay updated with proofs to inform their patients about the benefits and risks associated with the use of cannabis as medicine.
    Medical marijuana is increasingly available in the U.S. On many instances, we come across articles claiming that it is often used to relieve chronic pain, nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy, kills cancer cells and slows tumor growth.
    It could also be used to reduce seizures, anxiety and relax tight muscles, reduce inflammation and arouse appetite to improve weight gain for people with cancer and AIDS, and helps treat many other unbearable medical conditions.
    However, medical studies have shown conditions that the application of medical cannabis had clear improvements of symptoms in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and uncontrollable spasms of extremities, and depression.
    Based on the personal claims of patients, medical marijuana helped them manage pain from cancer, and helped reduce epilepsy attacks as well. An old friend who had suffered from insomnia told me it helped recover her sleepless nights. She sipped marijuana tea instead of nipping whiskey as she knew that the latter could spike her blood sugar.
    But this is not to be abused as there are disadvantages in using medical cannabis. It is not a “cure all” plant as some believe it to be. Based on the experience of patients, some of whom I know personally, medical marijuana may or may not treat all our illnesses.
    What is commonly accepted is that the relief of pain from the application of medical marijuana differs from case to case. What medical marijuana-use can treat you may not be effective for me. That is why the risks and benefits of cannabis-use have to be balanced carefully for each patient.
    There are side effects too that have to be revealed, some of the most common of which are dizziness, laziness, dry mouth that makes one drink liquids, light-headedness and even drowsiness depending on the dosage.  
    Cannabis-use affects the thinking of the user, makes one hallucinate and paranoid, gives one a feeling of grandiosity, gives a user the “high”, distorts time and dimensional space perception, slows reaction and compromises motor coordination which could lead to accidents – and death sometimes.
    Of course, excessive smoking of the commodity that profusely grows in the Cordillera could damage the lungs, leading to cancer. The only good side effect that anyone can prove for himself is that it increases the appetite which makes one eat more than the stomach can carry. And it is a cash-crop that can produce money after an illegal trade.
    In the near future, our congressmen and senators might get the chance to try medical marijuana if they have not yet tried, for the sake of genuinely crafting a law that will approve medical use of the controversial hemp. Although, I am suspicious that many of them have tried smoking weed.    
    When that time comes, I am quite certain that many places in the Cordillera would not be left behind in the production of the volume of marijuana that would be required to manufacture medical cannabis. Throw a marijuana seeds somewhere on the mountain, next month you will see wild growth.
    If so, I am about to see employment opportunities for upland farmers, a game changer in the economy of marijuana-producing LGUs, more money for the locals who can now send their kids to school instead of playing hide-and-seek with anti-drug agents, and also foresee a solution to insurgency.
    Of course, the activities of our anti-drug enforcement men would be lessened as the marijuana plantations they keep on raiding would now be presumed to be legit depending on the legislation from congress.
    But come to think of it, while many first world nations have legalized marijuana use, our lawmakers are not serious in coming up with legislation regarding the use of medical marijuana. Is it because our anti-drug agents could become jobless and the illegal plant would now be worthless and no longer be negotiable in the streets? 


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