Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Intayon iti Balay iti Turod: Adbiento ti Paskua

Ni Amado I. Yoro

(Pakauna: Nasuratko daytoy  iti kaawan ni Mama Oyya [wenno Kasimpungalan] ta naisurot iti pilgrimage idiay Holy land manipud Nobiembre 1-21, 2007. Nagluasda, 36da amin mairaman ti padimi, ti tour director, dagiti kameng ti Womens of St. Paul's Church Honolulu, kdpy. Routeda ti Honolulu-San Francisco; San Francisco- Frankfurt, Germany; Frankfurt- Tel Aviv, sa agalla-allatiwda iti Hotel: Renaissance, Jerusalem, Golden Crown, Nazareth; Morgenland, Sinai, Helnan Palestine, Alexandria, Sofitel, Panorama, Radisson, Amman.)

Mapantayon iti rabaw ti turod
A yan ti balay dagiti agpasungad
Itag-ay ti sagut;
Rag-o daytoy awis
Iti balay iti turod.

Daytoy ti balay ti Dios
Ni Jacob

Daytoy ti dalan a mapan
Iti pantok ti Zion
Dagiti pannursuro ti Apo

Usigen ti dagem ti basol
Ket magna iti silaw ti Dios

Rag-o daytoy awis
Iti balay iti turod.

Bay-am met ita nga agdakiwas dagiti dapan.
Ala wen, surotem ti tugot ni Juan a Mammunniag
Magnaka met kaduam dagiti sumuknal
ti Nasantuan a Daga
Naraniag ti alinaga ti Bethlehem
ti yan ti Kulluong ken taberna
iti yan ni  Maladaga a Jesus suroten
dagiti Paddak ti Apo a
natda a lemma dayta nasantuan a daga

sakduenyo, dakayo amin
ti nasantuan a danum dayta
Karayan Jordan
Ibatoktayo ti ulo
Ti bagi iti baro a buniag
Mamatika, mamatikayo iti Nasantuan
dayta ngarud ti gandat
a sinapataanyo iti simbaan ni San Pablo
Adda sinapataam
Uray la agkutimermer ti lasag
Ti lamiis ti karayan
Isangpetyonto ti talek, ti talged
ti ayat ken nalablabon nga asi
Tumulong kadagiti nakurkurang ti gasat
Iti biag dagiti baldado ti bagi ken nakem
Ammok a naragragsakka ita a makatulong
Kas serbisiom iti silpo ti serbisiom iti simbaan
dagiti marigrigat, dagiti destitute nga awanan taeng
feeding the homeless kadagiti makipangan....

Ammuem daytoy kasimpungalan: maikawaak
Kadagiti rabii a kaawanmo
Ulila ti iddam
Diak mangeg ti sagpaminsan a pannakabatibatmo
Adda mariknak: agkurang ti rabii iti Hoopio
Adda giwang ti rabii: diak mangeg dagiti katawam
 diak mangeg ti buybuyaem a Korean movie
Sangkakunam a love story
Ammuem: natuduan met dagiti masetasmo iti arubayan
Uray dagiti orkidia, dagiti euphorbia
Nupay awanan balikas, kasla adda met
birbiroken ken al-allingangen ni CJ
ti walo a bulanna nga apoko a lalaki
kunkunak ngarud: mailiw met iti ubba
ken panangilili ni Mama Oyya.

Napasnek a kararag: Adda koma a kanayon
kenka ti Dios: ti puso nga agayat
ti natulong, natulnog ken natudio
iti agtalinaed a sin-aw ti ayat
ken ti biag, mapnoka iti gasat
ken talingenngen daytoy a panagbaniagam
dayta, iti sakup wenno Ili ni David
Iti Bantay ti Sinai iti libro ni Moses
dagiti Sangapulo a Bilin

Agbiagka, Agbiagka, Ayat!

Powerless power

And so it came to pass that the man, who’d booked his return flight, stayed on and cancelled his home newspaper subscription. In between, Jorge Bergolio of Argentina, 77, emerged to the cry of Habemus Papam (“We have a Pope”).

He stunned Piazza San Pietro crowds by asking, as Pope Francis, for their blessing instead.  At that time, his letter of mandatory retirement, on reaching age 75, was on the papal desk.

In just nine months, Francis upended his church on issues from fixation on sexual morality to support for the poor. Time magazine picked him “Person of the Year. And across what seemed once an unbridgeable gap, so did “The Advocate”—the oldest US gay rights magazine.

“Along comes a man with no army or weapons,” Time said. (“How many divisions has the Pope?” the dictator Josef Stalin once scoffed.)  Yet, when he kisses the face of a disfigured man or washes a Muslim woman’s feet, the image resonates beyond his 1.2 billion flock.

Change does not come easy to his church. It has been weakened by scandal, corruption, a shortage of priests and growing Pentecostals in South America. North Korea’s dictatorship suppresses any twinge of prayer. Catholics in China are pressured by a state that claims for Caesar what belongs to God.

“He lives in a spare hostel. He prays even while waiting for his dentist. He retired the papal Mercedes in favor of a scuffed up Ford Focus. No red shoes, no gilded cross, just an iron one around his neck. He probed the Vatican bank, curbed the Italian “mafia” in the Curia and fired a German bishop for ostentatious overspending.

And before Christmas, Francis yanked out conservative US Cardinal Raymond Burke from the key Congregation for Bishops, New York Times reported. He was replaced by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, an ideological moderate with pastoral experience.

Burke insisted that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be barred from receiving communion, while Wuerl took an opposite tack. “That certainly is in line with the pope, who has said that communion is not a reward for being good,” observers said. “It is a sacrament of healing to help people.”

Burke’s preference for the long train of billowing red silk known as cappa magna, and other such vestments, has, however, made him seem out of step with Francis, Times added. Francis dons simple attire.

The new lineup at the Congregation for Bishops is critical, John Allen of National Catholic Reporter wrote. It shapes the criteria by which future church leaders will be chosen. Francis' appointments, so far, signal the kind of bishop he wants in the church: non-ideological pragmatists, close to ordinary people, and committed to the social Gospel.

During the John Paul II years, many observers thought the Vatican had turned a page in media savvy because the pope himself was such a beguiling figure. In fact, John Paul's charisma smudged the reality that the Vatican remained disorganized, a point revealed with crystal clarity under Benedict. The same thing could still happen under Francis.

The main thrust of Pope Francis' pontificate, so far, is he wants to see a less Vatican-centred Church, reports BBC’s David Willey. Its greatest concern should be for the poor and the marginalised, victims of an unjust global economic system that puts profit before people.

In addition, Pope Francis says that ties with Islam have taken on great importance for the Catholic Church because of the growing number of Muslim immigrants now residing in many traditionally Catholic countries.

“We Christians,” he says, “should embrace Muslims with affection and respect in the same way that we hope and ask to be respected in countries of Islamic tradition. In the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition.”

Now, he heads Vatican City “an institution with about enough followers to populate China—so steeped in order, so snarled by bureaucracy, so vast in its charities, so weighed down by scandals... that the gap between him and the poor seem unbridgeable,” Time said.. “Until the 266th Pontiff walked off in those clunky shoes to pay his hotel bill... 

“This is a man who led, from the start, by invitation, by welcome, and by expressing above all, God’s mercy for everybody, including atheists,” John Carroll wrote for CBC. He “changing the way power is executed in the Church an initiated a process that reaches to the lay people around the world.”

He has raised hopes in every corner of the world that can never be fulfilled because they are irreconcilable. “The elderly traditionalist who pines for the old Latin Mass and the devout young woman who wishes she could be a priest. The ambitious monsignor in the Vatican Curia and the evangelizing deacon in a remote Filipino village, both have hopes,” Time said. “No Pope can make them happy all at once.”

How will the “Francis effect” impact the Philippines where eight out of ten are Catholics? Bishops of Lipa and Bacolod were so fixated on the RH bill, they that openly campaigned versus “Team Patay”—and were trounced. ” In contrast, Cardinal Luis Tagle, Cagayan de Oro archbishop Antonio Ledesma, among others, led by seeking out the poorest.

We shall see by 2016. That is when Francis flies to the Philippines to attend International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu.  “Asked whether all of the pope’s changes mattered”, Cardinal Wuerl smiled and said, “Don’t we have to give this pope time?”

The year that was

WITH TWO elections, 2013 became one of the busiest years for politicians, especially the local ones. Not only did they have to fight tooth-and-nails with their political foes, they also had to have a quick turnaround for round two in the barangay elections so they consolidate their hold in their respective fiefdoms. The result was staggering. Here in Laoag City and Ilocos Norte alone, allegations of record-high vote buying were thrown against politicians of all sorts and colors. And this only worsened during the October barangay elections as even a supposedly apolitical office became fair game for local political kingpins. Topping it up was the Liga mga Barangay elections, which expectedly were won by the politicians-in-power's choices; never mind if they turned out to be their wives, sons, daughters or any other relative. What really mattered was that they maintain a stranglehold on their political kingdom. 

And as much as most—if not all—of them succeeded in their selfish interests to gain political control of their fiefdoms, these distinguished politicians could have been more useful to the people they are serving if they have also used the same effort in stopping the wanton killing and excessive violence happening all around the province. As sad as it has now become common occurrence for Ilocanos to wake up to morning news of shootings and stabbings, it is patently disgusting that no concrete moves have been made by these officials to at least decrease the violence as they seem to be inutile in trying to stop it altogether.

Their current thrust of promoting the province as a tourism destination and an investment hub falls flat on its face with the violence that has become normal occurrence. If only some officials would look beyond their noses and see for themselves the real situation--and not settle for unsettling "praise" releases and photo-ops for every conceivable express project—then they current campaign to boost Ilocos Norte's economy might actually work. Until then, the people they vowed to serve, protect and uplift would have to hold their breath as these promises are eventually fulfilled. 

A year that will be

In as much as we hope and pray for a peaceful new year, a lot of these still hinge on our local officials to buckle down to work and stop the wanton killing around the province. But if their past actions are any indication, then we might have more of the same violence in the coming new year. 

The perennial problem has always been loose firearms and the inability of the police to at least confiscate even a miniscule percentage of them. Police visibility has also become a problem as they are more often invisible; brawls among teenagers regularly break out in Laoag City's business district and not even a hint or a smell of cops coming to break it up has been observed. As it is, the brawlers are left to duke it out amongst themselves until more responsible citizens attempt to stop them. The frequency of these brawls are alarming and the fact that they happen in the heart of the city is, well, quite disheartening. If this is the situation in the center of the city, how worse could it be in the fringes of Laoag? 

As much as we expect our officials to be smiling at flashing cameras as they cut ribbons of their various projects, we expect them more to at least put order in the areas they are supposed to be governing. For it is the height irony for them to be flashing their million dollar smiles while their constituents fall to violence either by shooting, stabbing or mauling.

PNB outreach

AT least 100 families in Piddig, Ilocos Norte were given rice, grocery items and other gifts in the outreach program hosted by the employees of the Philippine National Bank – Laoag Branch. The activity was held at the St. Anne Parish Church in the said town. (Photo courtesy of Estelito Pablo)

THE EMPLOYEES of Philippine National Bank – Laoag Branch, headed by manager Metty Guerrero, held an outreach project in Piddig, Ilocos Norte.

At least 100 families from the different barangays were given rice, grocery items and other gifts as part of their annual Pasko Na Bayan program.

According to Mr. Estelito Pablo, relationship officer of PNB Laoag, they have been doing this project for seven years now. He said that this is one of their ways to fulfil their commitment to help the less fortunate families in the province.

This year’s PNB outreach was held at the St. Anne Parish Church in Piddig where a Holy Mass was conducted before the beneficiaries were treated with gifts and entertainment by the PNB Laoag employees.

Rev. Fr. Joel Castillo said that they are not calling the beneficiaries “indigents” but special families in Piddig who are in need of special love and care. He expressed his appreciation for the project realized by the PNB employees and prayed that they continue sharing their blessings to their fellowmen.

The bankers promised that their branch will sponsor more outreach projects in the province.

Meanwhile, GMA’s Balitang Ilokano and the Bad Circle Runners collaborated in hosting a series of running events in order to raise funds for their outreach projects.

In October, they held the Ilocos S2N 80-kilometer ultra marathon. While in December, they hosted the Takbo Para sa Pasko 2013 and the LSD (Long Slow Distance) for Balay Taripato.

These activities were supported by hundreds of runners, especially from the different running groups in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra and Metro Manila.

The beneficiaries of these running events were the senior citizens in Balay Taripato in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur and members of indigent families in Laoag City.

Balitang Ilokano and Bad Circle Runners also promised that in the 2014, they will spearhead more charitable activities in their area.

BARD NOTES: Special thanks to INWD General Manager John Teodoro, INWD Board of Directors and all employees of Ilocos Norte Water District. 

Happy bard-reading to Congresswoman Imelda R. Marcos, Governor Imee Marcos, Mayor Chevylle V. Farinas, Vice Mayor Michael V. Farinas, Mayor Jeffrey Jubal Nalupta, Board Member James Paul “Goro” Nalupta, Mr. Efren Bartolome, Ms. Pia Salapongol, Dr. Chester Puño, Dr. Sme Juancho Estrella and Atty. Yvette Convento- Leynes.

Happy reading also to Provincial Treasurer Josephine Calajate, INEC Director JV Calajate, Ms. Cecil Nalupta and the employees of Philippine National Bank – Laoag Branch, AMA – Laoag Campus,  DepEd – Laoag, Video City – Laoag, Runner’s High Specialty Shop, Land Bank of the Philippines and Ilocos Norte PNP.

Legarda calls for rice investments

Senator Loren Legarda asserted the need for adaptation programs on rice amidst threats on low food production caused by climate change.

“If we do not invest on climate change adaptation programs now, rice yield in the Philippines can decline by 75 percent in 2100, as shown by a 2009 study of the Asian Development Bank,” Legarda said during the opening of the Rice, Biodiversity and Climate Change: Celebrating the National Year of Rice exhibition at the National Museum early this week.

Legarda, chair of the senate committee on climate change, noted that the typhoons, floods, and droughts from 1970 to 1990 resulted in an 82.4 percent production loss in the country’s total rice production.

“We especially feel the urgency of providing rice to calamity survivors, like what happened after the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda. [Indeed, investment on rice means] investing on the very survival of the Filipino people,” she said.

As patron of the exhibit, Legarda emphasized the importance of relating rice production with climate change and biodiversity as only two of the 20 rice species are being cultivated, which may endanger other varieties and the plants and animals living in rice environments.

“[As] rice is central to our lives...we need to take aggressive and immediate action to adapt to the changing climate and prevent further rise in global temperature. We also need to sustain and protect [the lives intertwining with production],” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Eduardo Jimmy Quilang, deputy director for development of the Philippine Rice Research Institute said that the exhibit at the National Museum also aims to mold the children to be more responsible citizens of the future.

“The moment children learn to command value and respect even to a small and ordinary object such as the grain of rice, that’s when wisdom starts to take root in their hearts. Most importantly, if they learn to command value and respect to such small and ordinary object such as rice, how much more would they do for the other big things in life,” he said. (PhilRice News)

ENRO itultuloyda ti panagmula iti kabanbantayan

Agtultuloy ti ar-aramiden dagiti kameng ti Environment and Natural Resources a panagmula kadagiti kabanbantayan ken kabakiran ditoy probinsia.

Kuna ni Estrella “Baby” Sacro, National Greening program Project manager a  daytoy ket tapno masalakniban iti aglawlaw ken maalay-ayan iti nakaro nga epekto ti climate change.

Nagyamyamanan met ni Sacro ken ni Ilocos Norte Gobernador Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos gapu ta maysa ti re-greening kadagiti ipangpangrunana a proyekto.

Mamati ni Sacro nga apaman a madanon ti tawen 2016, natalged ken napintaston dagiti kabanbantayan ditoy probinsia.

Kunana a babaen kadagiti barangay ranger officers (BROs) a dinutokan ti probinsia ket dakkel a kabadangan a mangkita ken mangsalaknib kadagiti mula iti kabakiran ken kabanbantayan.

Gapu kadagiti BRO, in-inuten  a mapugipog dagiti agisaysayangkat ti saan a makianatad a panagpukan ti kayo ken panagkaingin iti bantay.

Mangnamnama ti Project Manager ti National Greening Program ti ENRO nga iti tawen 2017 a pannakarambak ti 100 years a panagkasangay daydi sigud a Presidente Ferdinand E. Marcos, agbalinton a makaay-ayo ti forest cover iti Ilocos Norte. (PGIN-CMO)

Naruay a panggedan, impanamnama ni Imee

Adu dagiti mabalin a pagtrabahuan apaman a dumteng ti tawen 2014.

Daytoy ti impanamnama ni Ilocos Norte Gob. Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos kadagiti nagduduma nga ili a pagturturongan ti MDG Christmas Caravan.

Kunana nga adu dagiti proyekto infrastraktura  a mabalin a panggedan dagiti kaprobinsiaan kangrunaanna dagiti saan a nakaturpos iti panagadal.

Adu pay dagiti kalsada nga agturong kadagiti away a saan pay a nasemento isu a rebbengna a matarimaan tapno alisto ti panagdaliasat, kinuna ti gobernador.

Uray dagiti kanal ti irigasion ket rebbeng pay a matarimaan tapno masolbar ti parikut pakaseknan ti padanom kadagiti kataltalonan.

Ti pannakaipatungpal kadagitoy a proyekto ket mangpatud ti panggedan kadagiti bumarangay. Malaksid iti dayta, agbalin pay nga al-alisto ti pannakaibiahe ti produkto dagiti mannalon nga agturong iti sentro.  (PGIN-CMO)

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Ilocos December 23-29, 2013

Click photo for the PDF file

Kerry thanks PH business leaders

UNITED STATES Secretary of State John Kerry met with Philippine and local U.S. business leaders in Manila on December 17, thanking the private sector for its work in the wake of typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan), welcoming the prospect of the Philippines’ joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks, and discussing how to advance the U.S.-Philippine economic relationship. 

American Chamber of Commerce President Rhicke Jennings welcomed the secretary to the gathering of top Philippine and local American business leaders.

Kerry began by thanking the business leaders for their efforts in saving lives and bringing relief to victims of typhoon Yolanda. In the days after the storm, he noted, local U.S. and Philippine companies such as Coca-Cola, Dow, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, and Citibank made vital contributions of relief supplies, and the business community continues to engage in initiatives to boost the local economy and provide livelihood to families affected by the disaster. 

“We’re really grateful for those kinds of efforts. That is great corporate citizenship, global citizenship, and we’re proud that the United States of America and American citizens that aren’t corporations reached out with not just their hearts and their words, but with their actions,” said Kerry. 

Kerry remarked that the Philippines had one of the fastest-growing economies in the world in the first half of the year. With the U.S. and Philippine economic partnership, he said, “we can ensure that the Philippines continues in that direction in spite of everything that the nation has endured and lost over the course of the last months.”

Kerry emphasized the importance of good trade relations, which will be furthered by the TPP. The Philippines, he said, has a “winning combination” for economic success: “free markets and free people and a free marketplace of ideas.”

Kerry then continued his trip, meeting with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto del Rosario and President Benigno S. Aquino III before traveling to Tacloban on December 18 to witness relief efforts first-hand.

Patrol 101 training ends

CAMP BGEN OSCAR M FLORENDO—72 top cops from the different local police stations of Region 1 finished the PATROL 1O1 training after a simple closing ceremony here on December 17, 2013.

The police commissioned officers (PCOs) who serve as chiefs of police (COPs) in their assigned area became the second batch of graduates.  Weeks ago, 70 COPs from the cities and first class municipalities took the same training. 

Acting as guest of honor and speaker was P/Sr. Supt. Moro Virgilio M. Lazo, deputy regional director for administration, who became the officer-in-charge PRO1 after Director P/Chief Supt. Ricardo C. Marquez took the Directorate for Operations post at Camp Crame.  A new regional director is still to be chosen by Chief PNP Alan LM Purisima.    

In his message, Lazo congratulated the participants and quoted Marquez.

“Patrolling is the bread and butter of police works, let us strengthen patrolling because we do not believe in magic, that is why, we take procedural changes, so may this be a step for the much desired PNP transformation.”, he cited.   

Lazo on the other hand, challenged the COPs to step up their efforts not only according to the salient features of PATROL 1O1 but for the overall picture of law enforcement regardless if it wasn’t included during the training. 

The participants are expected later on to share and disseminate what they’ve learned to their subordinates at the local level. 

Some of the subjects served were Effective Communication Skills, Tamang Bihis, Basic Traffic Investigation, Effective Community Organizing, Gender And Development, Intelligence Cycle, Profiling, Community Oriented Policing System, Leadership, Planning, Crime Trend Analysis, Vital Installation Security, RA 9344, Media Relations, Quad Policing and Self-Defense Tactics/Techniques. (PNP Region I)

Imee, dinawatna iti panagkaykaysa dagiti umili ti Marcos

Kiniddaw ni Ilocos Norte Gobenador Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos kadagiti taga Marcos, Ilocos Norte ti sangsangkamaysa a mangitandudo kadagiti programa ken proyekto ni Marcos Mayor Arsenio Agustin.

Inbatad ti gobernador a napateg iti panagkaykaysa ken agnanayon nga adda iti likudan dagiti mangidadaulo iti ili.

“Ti napudno a panangsuporta dagiti umili iti agdama a mayor iti Marcos nasisita para ti naan-anay a panagdur-as iti ili a Marcos,” inlawlawag ti gobernador.

Nupay napintas a nagan ti ili a Marcos, maud-udin iti panagdur-as no idasig kadagiti sabsabali nga ili ditoy Ilocos Norte, innayon ti gobernador.

Gapu iti daytoy,  impaganetget ti ina ti probinsia a  kasapulan iti  nayon panagkikinnammayet tapno magun-od ti al-alisto a pas dur-as ti Marcos, Ilocos  Norte. (PGIN-CMO)

Let Christmas be everyday

YES, indeed, let the spirit of Christmas be a daily affair for all us. It should not just be a yearly observance which we drown with a lot of fanfare and merry-making. It should not just be a historical event that we want to remember with some magical nostalgia.

Christmas has to be way of life itself. It’s a spirit, more than anything else, a truth of faith that is supposed to animate every cell and pore of our being. It’s the marvellous reality that whoever and however we are in this earthly life, we are actually with Christ, conformed to him, formally or informally, regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not.

That’s why Christmas always evokes joy and peace. Amid the ruins left by the natural calamities and the even bigger man-made disasters due to our pride and attachments that cause a Yolanda of partisan anger and hatred, a storm surge of collective cruelty and insensitivity among ourselves, the spirit of Christmas is what we need most urgently.

The radical objective reality about ourselves is that we have been created by God in his image and likeness, through the Son who later on became man to re-create us after we have fallen into sin and left alienated from God.

Christ is the very pattern of our being. If we want to know who we really are, how we ought to be, we should not look for references other than Christ himself. And Christ is not some distant, frozen model or idea that we strive to follow.

He is alive, and he is in us, he wants to be with us always, he identifies himself with us whatever our situation may be and shows us how to live that situation. This is what Christmas is all about. It’s Christ knocking at our heart’s door, asking to come in, to be born in us and to live with us.

We have to be more aware of this reality of Christmas. More than that, we have to learn to step into that reality and live it as best as we could, locking ourselves in it always as much as possible and actively corresponding to it with all the might that we have.

Let’s learn the many precious lessons of Christmas. Christ born in a manger, Christ who is God emptying himself to become man and to suffer all the inhumanity of man, etc.—he shows us how to live in this life.

We have to learn how to be simple and humble. These traits are never a sign of weakness. On the contrary, they are a sure path to our objective and original greatness that we lost but was recovered and enhanced for us through Christ.

This is the truth that we should relish together with whatever ham, cheese, beer and lechon we will be having this Christmas. That’s why the celebration of Christmas should have an eminently theological character, going beyond the social and sentimental.

We need to input the truths of faith to the merely natural and human elements of the festivity that always have a way, given our weakened condition, to intoxicate and desensitize us to the greater wonders of our life.

This Christmas, let’s take account of the challenges of our times. There are many disturbing developments that we need to face always with the spirit of Christmas. That would be the spirit of truth given in charity and causing joy everywhere.

At the moment, I can think of how many young people today are trivializing the sacredness of marriage and sex. Reports are rampant of what are called hook-up relations, the proliferation of the so-called selfie culture that promotes egoism and vanity.

In the area of politics, we now have so much inhuman partisanship that the different characters involved are now into red-hot acrimony and bashing. There is now fanaticism in the mainstream. It’s the new normal, as if basic courtesy and giving others the benefit of the doubt should be shot down on sight.

We are getting farther away from the true spirit of Christmas. And the irony of it all is that we like to flaunt our Christmas greetings and feastings. It has become a Christmas without Christ. Sadder still is the fact that we don’t seem to realize it. Our ignorance and inconsistency appear invincible.

But I know there’s always hope. That’s what Christmas also tells us. God’s ways are like water that through the most difficult mountains can still manage to pass to the sea.

Let Christmas be everyday!

Ilocos region to receive 35,000 metric tons of imported rice from Vietnam

San Juan, La Union—The National Food Authority in Region I is set to receive around 35,000 metric tons of imported rice from Vietnam as part of the 500,000 metric tons additional imported rice sought by the agency through the government-to-government import scheme.

Dir. Carlito G. Co said the imported rice is meant as “pre-cautionary stocks” of the government until it would start procuring palay anew from the farmers during the summer cropping season next year. He added that the first batch of the imported rice is expected to arrive at the Port of San Fernando middle of December and the remaining volume to be delivered to the region until March 2014.

Co said the rice import will help shore up the existing inventory in the region even as it continues to buy palay from the farmers.

This recent development, he stated further, is also seen as a way to ease up farm gate price of palay which he said is still very high.

“The infusion of the imported rice will hopefully cushion the buying price of palay by traders which is still way too high compared to the government  price of  P17.00  per kilogram”, he said.

He added that with the coming of the imported rice, prices in the market would also loosen up.

Vietnam has won the contract to supply rice to the Philippines with a tender of US$462.25 per metric ton beating Thailand’s offer of US$475.00. (NFA)

Hybrid tilapia fingerlings more beneficial to IN fish growers

By Cherry Joy D. Garma

The Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) has shifted to providing hybrid tilapia fingerlings to fish growers after the latter observed increased production compared to ordinary varieties.

Jose Ariston, a recipient from Barangay 2 Vintar town, said the hybrid tilapia brings in more harvests than the ordinary breed the PAO used to distribute.

“The hybrid one grew faster than the usual tilapia breed. In five-month time, they are ready for harvesting,” he said.

Ariston owns four fish pond near his house where tilapia is commercialized.

“The income is better now, because aside from shortened harvest time, the product is (of good quality),” Ariston said.

PAO regularly visits the fisheries to teach growers more technique in raising fish.

The project was realized under the provincial government’s innovative program “Manang Imee’s Capitol Express.”

Manang Imee’s Capitol Express is a pro-poor program of the provincial government that brings its basic services closer to the people for inclusive and sustainable growth.

The program includes: ‘Jobs and Livelihood’, ‘Tulong’ (Help) which caters to education, health, death and burial, barangay requests, legal consultation, social counseling, services for senior citizens and handicapped and ‘Documentation’ which includes the assistance on land titling, and other kinds of application for certification.

Inclusive growth must be asserted in AEC 2015

The inclusive growth mantra has to be further asserted in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), said Dr. Cielito Habito, former Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Chief of Party of the USAID Trade Related Assistance for Development, during the 4th Final Workshop of the ASEAN Beyond 2015, a project of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). State think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) co-organized the event held at the Carlos P. Romulo Hall, NEDA sa Makati Building.

According to Habito, ASEAN trade relations must be competitive rather than complementary. “The Philippines has a predominantly intra-industry trade with the rest of the ASEAN countries, especially with its major trading partners in the region, meaning we trade in products within the same industries. The Philippines’ top exports to its major ASEAN trading partners are petroleum products, electronics, and chemicals, the same products that we import in the region,” Habito noted.

Habito also commented on the budget misallocation in the agricultural sector, where 70 percent of the commodity budget goes to rice yet it is only responsible for only about 16 percent of the value adding in agriculture. 

He considers the growth potentials of the services sector. “The Philippines has much more growth in the services sector because there are lots of value adding within this sector such as in design and software.”

Meanwhile, UP Professor Emeritus and first NEDA Director-General Dr. Gerardo Sicat accentuated the negative impacts of the country’s governance and political issues on our investment performance. The changes of government have caused reversals of economic policies and the effects of these reversals were very costly, Sicat said.

Sicat explained that the Philippines is the only country in the ASEAN that has complex constitutional provisions on economic issues. “We have restrictions on capital, landownership, public utilities, and operation of land mineral resources, which not all foreign investors could deal with,” he said.

PIDS Senior Research Fellow and Acting Vice-President Rafaelita Aldaba stressed that the Philippines should not rely on the services sector alone if we want economic growth to be inclusive. Aldaba noted the urgent need for the revival of the manufacturing sector to increase the country’s competitiveness in the region. A more vibrant manufacturing sector also means more jobs available for Filipinos. “There has been very little movement of resources in the Philippine manufacturing sector. Its share of value added to GDP declined to 23.7 percent in the 2000s from 26.3 percent in the 1980s.”

ERIA Senior Researcher Ponciano Intal noted that ASEAN competitiveness has to be strengthened to sustain high and equitable growth beyond 2015. The Philippines needs an enabling policy and regulatory environment to meet the desired targets of eliminating dire poverty, reducing poverty rates by at least two-thirds, and reducing youth illiteracy rate and malnutrition. “There should be greater focus on food security as it remains to be a significant concern in the ASEAN,” Intal said.

PIDS President Gilberto Llanto stressed the need for ASEAN countries to focus on border and beyond-the-border issues. “We also need to cascade the implications of AEC 2015 to our policymakers, especially to those who still are not aware of what AEC 2015 is.” (Philippine Institute for Development Studies)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

SP passes new tax ordinance

Happy New Year?

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

THE SANGGUNIANG Panlalawigan has passed an ordinance amending the 2013 Revenue Code on December 16, effectively increasing all fees and charges being collected by the provincial government by 10 percent.

Sponsored by ex-officio board member Domingo Ambrocio Jr. and the committee on ways and means, provincial tax ordinance no. 2013-11-015 has been unanimously approved by all SP members and as such creates a significant increase in hospital fees, quarry fees, and rentals of provincial government-owned buildings among others.

With the recent upgrade and purchase of new equipment of provincial and district hospitals here, Dr. Juanito Chua, chief executive officer of the Ilocos Norte Hospital Management Council (INHMC) said there were new sources of income the INHMC has identified to be at par with neighboring hospitals particularly the Laoag City General Hospital and the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City.

According to Chua, most of the hospital fees and charges have increased while only a few were decreased based on cost analysis.

For example, he cited the new building at the Gov. Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital may now offer rentals for its conference hall, including the setting up of private clinic offices, and charges for additional procedures for ultrasound, radiology and laboratory.

“We are willing to straighten out the code but we need to justify the increase and serve its purpose within the bounds of the law,” said provincial board member Da Vinci M. Crisostomo who earlier demanded that a public hearing, inviting all those concerned are properly notified and informed particularly those living in rural areas who are most likely the ones availing the services of public hospitals.

Ambrocio pointed out a public hearing was earlier conducted, notifying concerned groups and organizations to voice out their concerns prior to the approval of the said ordinance.

By law, a revenue code can be amended once every five years except for rental fees which can be amended after a year or so, board member Vincentito M. Lazo explained.

Quarry fees and other rental fees and charges, including parking fees of government lots and properties such as the Rizal Amusement Park and Centennial Arena, Ferdinand E. Marcos stadium, Dap-ayan and Malacañang of the north were also amended.

PCCI prexy seeks measures to lift constraints to high growth

By Rachel O. Acosta

Atty. Miguel B. Varela, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), emphasized that in 2014 the Philippines can benefit from the Asean integrated market by building its competitive advantages provided that several constraints to growth are lifted.

“Next year is a critical year to take decisive action if companies are to satisfy a market of five billion strong consumers with products and services,” Varela said.  “We could lose out to our competitors if we delay in removing the constraints that have been making us just play catch up. Expanded trade has also an impact on the job-creating capacity of the economy.”

The PCCI president said that government could clear the list of constraints and enable the private sector to maximize the competitive advantages by:

Ensuring the adequacy and cost-competitiveness of fuel and electricity to power the growth of business and industries;

Rehabilitating, expanding and modernization airports and seaports to accommodate the growing number of tourists and travellers and rising volume of traded good domestically and internationally;

Constructing roads, rails and bridges with a priority given to linking airports and seaports to cities and key destinations and farm-to-market roads;

Streamlining business permits and licenses to facilitate the entry of investments as well as encouraging micro and small industries to be registered into the mainstream economy;

Improving customs administration and procedures to facilitate trade while improving border controls;

Strengthening our capacity to participate in regional trading activities including enhancing our international market intelligence and networks;

Improving education standards and enhancing the current curriculum based on market analysis and emerging trends, giving priority to industry needs; and

Promoting competition to seize the benefits of expanding and liberalizing trade and investment environment.

“Certainly, the rosy picture painted by our economic managers could result to the transformation of the Philippine economy into a powerhouse economy if the government, with the support and partnership of the private sector, is able to address the constraints to growth.

He acknowledged the growth of 7.4 per cent in the first three quarters in 2013 and believed that the momentum could keep going without the constraints.

The next year, he said, would also be critical for government to consider easing up on the foreign investment negative including such sectors as public utilities and liberalizing the restrictive economic provisions of our Constitution.

“Foreign companies have already strategically located themselves within ASEAN for some years now,” he said.  They do not need to locate in the Philippines to be able to enter our market.

Free trade rules under ASEAN rules will allow foreign companies located within Asean to sell at zero or at most 5% tariffs. 

“ASEAN countries with open market strategies in their investment policies will become internationally more competitive more quickly than those that hold on to their restrictive outlooks,” he said.