Friday, September 30, 2016

BPI Laoag goes Spanish

Officers and employees of the Laoag Rizal Branch of the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) added a Spanish touch in their office decorations and costumes. This is in connection with the month-long celebration of BPI’s 165th anniversary. The branch with the best cultural theme will receive an award from the head office of BPI. (Mayvel Julian Canlapan)

Ilocos Norte prov’l board steps up probe on LC’s missing P85M

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan here is set to conduct its own “deeper investigation”, following the Laoag City government officials’ failure to present a clear measure, assuring taxpayers here that the loss of over Php 85 million will not happen again and let those behind it be penalized.

On August 22, the Laoag City council led by vice mayor Michael Fariñas was invited to the provincial board. However only three neophyte councilors appeared: Laoag councilors Handy Lao, Roque Benjamin Ablan and Justine Clarence Chua. The three councilors were not yet part of the Laoag council when the funds went missing, hence they were excused by the board.

In explaining their non-appearance, Mr. Fariñas sent a letter dated August 18

expressing the city council’s inability to attend the committee hearing saying, the sanggunian “has done what it needs to do” and the request to investigate “has been accomplished.”

Earlier, City Mayor Chevylle Fariñas and her husband, former Mayor and now Vice Mayor Michael were requested by the same body to both take a leave of absence while the Commission on Audit and the Bureau of Local Government Finance are conducting separate investigations. Both refused to do so, citing they have nothing to do with the missing funds.

“If they are really willing to shed light on the issue, they should come and attend the hearing,” said SP member Vicentito “Toto” M. Lazo who earlier expressed his dismay through a privilege speech the loss of over the P85 million that reportedly went unnoticed by its top executives since 2008.

As this developed, SP member Da Vinci M. Crisostomo, in his capacity as chair of the committee on laws, introduced some amendments to Draft Resolution No. 2016-07-005 sponsored earlier by Mr. Lazo. The amended draft calls for the SP to conduct its own legislative inquiry as to what really transpired regarding the loss of multi-million funds from the coffers of the city government and the absconding of its treasurer Ma. Elena Asuncion.

Mr. Crisostomo clarified the SP investigation, which hopes to invite members of the local finance committee of Laoag is meant specifically to enact a measure to protect taxpayers’ money and ensure that the same irregularity will not happen again among the 21 municipalities and 2 cities of Ilocos Norte in the future.

Apart from the SP investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman is also looking into the loss of the missing funds of the Laoag government.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Batac eyes citywide internet access

Batac City—With internet connectivity a must for developing areas, Batac mayor Albert D. Chua said they may need a city-wide internet access. He said his wish is Batac would cope with public utilities upgrade.

The neophyte mayor notices that rural barangays in this city sometimes cannot connect to the internet. Either they have low or no signal. The poblacion area, or the city’s commercial area, is saturated with internet signals, he added. With this development, he stressed that the city’s rural areas should be served by service providers more.

He emphasized that internet connectivity should now be considered a public utility.

“Kasi gumatang da cellphones da plus loads ken ag access da dagitay promos ngem ton agawid da awan met gayam signal. Ket kasanu ngarud dagitay ginatang ken binayadan dan, maibos to latta dagitay loads dan nga saan da man pulos a nausar”, he explained.

He added that city’s schools also need internet connections for their ICT programs. (Dominic B. dela Cruz)

Paoay loom weavers learn new designs

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

PAOAY, Ilocos Norte—The next time you buy your ‘Abel Iloko’ [handwoven cloth] product, chances are these may have become more intricate and stylish that goes with modern style.

Leading the way in reinventing the modern fashionista style of unique abel products in Paoay town are some 10 highly-skilled women from the Nagbacalan Loomweavers Multipurpose Cooperative (NLMC) who were taught new designs courtesy of the state-run Mariano Marcos State University.

In partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and its implementer, the Research Triangle Institute, MMSU professor Ciriaco Ragual said the new patterns and designs transferred to the Paoay loom-weavers were produced by employing mathematical procedures.

The new designs and patterns were showcased at the University Guest House in Batac City on August 10.

Under a memorandum of agreement signed between MMSU representatives and the NLMC, both parties agreed to come up with modern loom-weaving designs meant to improve the textile heritage of Ilocos Norte and make it more competitive in the global market.

For her part, Dr. Prima Fe Franco, MMSU officer-in-charge said, “This is a big step towards improving the quality of local products that are already part of the Ilocano tradition and identity.”

To date, the College of Industrial Technology based in Paoay campus is equip with several weaving looms where interested groups may conduct research to further improve the designs.

According to Ms. Franco, the university facilitates the procurement of other equipment, supplies and materials including the maintenance cost needed by loom-weaving facilities.

The NLMPC also assists the university in recruiting trainees who will fine tune their skills to produce quality abel products aside from serving as resource persons in future loom-weavers training programs to transfer said technology to others.

PhilRice Text Center gains popularity among rice stakeholders

The PhilRice Text Center (PTC) posted a 47.3% increase in client registration nationwide for the first quarter of 2016.

Data shows that from 18,924 registered clients in March 2015, it jumped to 27,883 as of March 31, 2016.

PTC is a digital platform that provides daily consultation services to rice farmers through call and short messaging services (SMS). It also caters to students, extension workers, researchers, and other stakeholders who are inclined to the rice industry.

The PTC management considers this a milestone which went far from just less than a hundred registered clients in 2004 when it started its operations. PTC was initially launched as the Farmers’ Text Center (FTC) by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (OPAPA).

In 2015, PTC also received an average of 240 SMS per day. Other services it renders are monthly rice tips, weather advisories, promotions, and announcements. 

“By responding to the farmers’ queries, we give them informed decisions in their farming practices. We regularly receive positive feedback and it overwhelms us,” said Fredierick Saludez, agriculturist and PTC’s main agent.

Mr. Saludez reported that top queries are on seed quality and varietal information, pest management, seed availability, and nutrient management.

“Salamat po sa mga tips, maganda po ani ko ngayon [Thank you for the rice tips, I got bountiful harvest],” said Sanny Huelva, farmer-client from Masbate.

By sending keywords, for instance Rc222, farmers can instantly receive characteristics of rice varieties such as yield, maturity period, reaction to pests, and eating quality.

Top 10 provinces with most “texters” come from Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan and Isabela. Rounding off the list are the provinces of Agusan Del Norte, Oriental Mindoro, Northern Samar, and Leyte.

PTC was established due to the popularity and economical cost of text messaging in the Philippines in early 2000. Another rationale for its establishment is to complement the existing agricultural extension services and link farmers to experts and inform them of the new rice production technologies.

“The rise in the number of texters implies that our clients perceive the platform useful for their purpose. We highly encourage our partners in the agricultural sector to continue promoting the PTC to make rice information more accessible to farmers especially those who have little or no access to these information,” said Myriam G. Layaoen, head of the PhilRice’s Development Communication Division.

Meanwhile, the PTC team is looking at tapping national telecommunication companies to introduce upgrade in systems and facilities to further improve the delivery of PTC services.

“We are now exploring the possibility of partnering with TelCos to provide us with technical advice on system upgrades and eventually help us reach their client base through mass text messaging,” Ms. Layaoen added. 

To register, just type REG<space>NAME<space>LOCATION<space>OCCUPATION (e.g. REG JUAN DELA CRUZ LEYTE FARMER) and send to 0920 911 1398.   

De Lima's dilemma is heavy; she must resign

By Alfredo C. Garvida, Jr.

President Duterte's controversial war on illegal drugs is widening, what with the unremitting occurrences of drug-related killings by the police and vigilantes nationwide which have now invited world attention, spearheaded by no less than the United Nations. Understandably, Mr. Duterte is unhappy with the UN censorious attitude toward this domestic problem of the Filipinos that the president has correctly labeled as one that can only be solved by Filipinos under a strong leadership, like the one he is giving now to them. 

This writer has consistently questioned Mr. Duterte's style of dispensing justice on the criminals, centered mostly on his loosely unleashed rhetoric of taking up the cudgels for the police even if they get convicted given his constitutional power to pardon convicts upon his own discretion. In our perception, he has practically given the police the blanket authority to kill people, be they deem them to be criminals or otherwise. It is heartening to note though that lately, Mr. Duterte is defining a clearer parameter for the police to observe before killing their subjects, although it remains to be seen if those who will not comply will be subjected to the same wrath he has against the drug traffickers he so profoundly disdains. 

This writer believes in the president's sincerity to eliminate crime in our country, especially on illegal drug matters. We also believe that this particular presidential crusade will be next to impossible to achieve if everything he must do to pursue it is framed within constitutional constraints. We understand his point, we only wish that he must be equally fierce to deal with policemen who take advantage of his liberality on them.

What the president pursues is justice for the Filipino people. He was correct in saying that the drug problem in the Philippines has now destroyed every fabric of our society. It has destroyed our children's future, the family, and even the true rhythm of rightful governance given the involvement of high ranking government officials.

And there could be no more depressing news for society to swallow than the alleged involvement of the former Justice Secretary, now Senator, Leila De Lima to illegal drugs. This writer would like to reject President Duterte's allegation of her involvement, but she herself has impliedly admitted about her illicit affair with her former driver, who is a married man and being accused now by the president as the grand bridge between the then Secretary of Justice and the most powerful drug lords in the country who, for Christ's sake, were calling their shot from the national penitentiary—where they were being incarcerated—a government institution under the direct line of the Department of Justice. 

We have been very appreciative of Senator De Lima's courage to stand, in the name of justice, as the lone vocal dissenter to President Duterte's kill-kill-kill policy. But sadly now, we feel more than betrayed if her boyfriend's link to these drug bigshots in prison who are yet calling the shots on drug distribution throughout the archipelago, is true. And it could be true, if those high-powered firearms and expensive appliances found inside these drug lords' dormitories at the national penitentiary were our gauge in basing our point. For how could these items get inside their prison cells without the connivance of prison officials and how could these prison officials be so blatant enough to let these huge tangible items get into the prison compound without the blessings of higher authorities from the Department of Justice? 

Justice Secretary De Lima, as the nation knows, held several raids on this prison compound to discover these contrabands inside these bigshots' dormitories, but these raids were done at the waning months of President Aquino's term, and her term too as Justice Secretary. She had to do these raids, this writer was informed, because the stench of these drug lords' overly privileged living style inside prison was about to burst open, more than enough to contaminate Mr. Aquino's government and his candidates, especially Mar Roxas, and Ms. De Lima herself. Her boyfriend's link with the drug lords would have been exposed too and the Liberal Party's chances at the polls would have been doomed. 

Former President Benigno Aquino cannot escape responsibility from Ms. De Lima's dilemma now for it would be next to impossible for him not to have known her adulterous affair with her driver while it was ongoing. Just the knowledge of that affair should have caused him to terminate her services as the Justice Secretary for this office is supposed to be epitomizing lawfulness, the end of which is justice. But Aquino did not mind this unlawful relationship his Justice Secretary was being into, in fact he even wanted her to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the most disastrous episode that our history would have had if it had been realized. Why Aquino had to appoint her as Justice Secretary in the first place, given that her adulterous relationship with her driver was already known even when the former President stepped into the presidency must be a mystery to us all. 

We salute Ms. De Lima's tenacity to pursue justice through the rule of law. Given these stunning revelations about her however, if true, she must do the honorable way by resigning her office immediately. There is no reason for her to stick around any further in the august halls of congress to pursue justice, for she herself had compromised it via her adulterous affair with a married man who happened to have had serious links with the drug lords in our country. The lady senator is grossly tainted, she must go.

Notices for August 29, 2016

RA Form No. 10.1 (LCRO)
Republic of the Philippines
Local Civil Registry Office
Province of Ilocos Norte
Municipality of Sarrat

          In compliance with Section 5 of R.A. Act No. 9048, a notice is hereby served to the public that REMEDIOS GANUT LLAPITAN has filed with this Office a petition for change of first name from REMEDIOS ESTRELITA to REMEDIOS in the birth certificate of REMEDIOS ESTRELITA GANUT who was born on 25 January 1965 at Sarrat, Ilocos Norte and whose parents are NICOMEDES GANUT and NICOLASA TAGAMA.
          Any person adversely affected by said petition may file his written opposition with this Office not later than September 12, 2016.

Municipal Civil Registrar
Aug. 29-Sept 4, Sept. 5-11, 2016*IT

Regional Trial Court
Branch 19
Bangui, Ilocos Norte



SPEC. PROC. NO. 2864-19

          Filed with this Court is a petition for the adoption of minors Richel Baloaloa and Christian Baloaloa.
          Finding the petition to be sufficient in form and substance, the Court orders that the petition be set for hearing on October 25, 2016 at 8:30 o’clock in the morning before the Court in session in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, where this Court is holding sessions.
          Let a copy of this order be published once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the Province of Ilocos Norte so that all concerned may appear on or before the scheduled hearing and show cause, if any there be, why the petition should not be granted.
          Let a copy of the petition with its annexes be furnished the Office of the DSWD in Laoag City, and the Provincial Welfare Officer is hereby directed to submit the Home and Child Study Reports to the Court not later than October 25, 2016.
          Likewise, let a copy of the petition and its annexes be furnished the Regional Office of DSWD in San Fernando City, La Union, the Civil Registrar General, Manila the Solicitor General of the Philippines, 134 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, the Provincial Prosecutor of Ilocos Nortre and the Local Civil Registrar of Bangui, Ilocos Norte, counsel for the petitioners and the petitioners, for their information and guidance.
          SO ORDERED.
          Given in Chambers this 23rd day of August 2016 at Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

Presiding Judge
Aug 29, Sept 5, 12, 2016*IT

          Notice is hereby given that the intestate estate of the late SPS. BENITO NICOLAS and GREGORIA CARIAGA NICOLAS, TITO C. NICOLAS and his wife CANDIDA RAMOS NICOLAS, SPS. ALEJANDRO C. NICOLAS and ISIDORA SUGUITAN NICOLAS, MERCEDES S. NICOLAS, FLOR S. NICOLAS and his wife ESPERANZA VER NICOLAS, JANUARIO CARIAGA married to VICENTA SALANTES CARIAGA and ILDEFONSO CARIAGA consisting of their respective shares of a parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 29397, 32407, 32409, 28548 and 29111 covered by OCT Nos. 13198 and 13329, TCT No. 1157 and TD No. 08-052-02381 containing an area of 776 sq.m., 2,611 sq.m., 1,016 sq.m., 553 sq.m. and 1,049 sq.m. situated in the Barrio of Vira (now Lagui-Sail), Barrio of San Mateo (now Lagui-Sail), Barrio of San Mateo (now Rioeng) and Barrio of Lagui-Sail all of Laoag City respectively has been adjudicated by their heirs extrajudicially and simultaneously sold to FELIPE R. NICOLAS ratified and acknowledged before Notary Public FRANCISCO A. MUSNI as per Doc. No. 311; Page No. 63; Bk. No. LXXXI; S. of 2016.
Aug. 29, Sept. 5, 12, 2016*IT

          Notice is hereby given that the intestate estate of the late CIPRIANO TUMANENG and his wife VICTORIA ROLLAN consisting of a parcel of land designated as Lot No. 21776 of the Laoag Cadastre covered by TCT No. T-14055 containing an area of 718 sq.m. situated in Poblacion (Barrio of San Bernabe), Laoag City, has been adjudicated by their heirs and simultaneously sold to JAYSON G. TOLENTINO and JOHNSON G. TOLENTINO ratified and acknowledged before Notary Public SANDRO MARIE N. OBRA as per Doc. No. 114; Page No. 19; Bk. No. I; S. of 2014.
Aug. 29, Sept. 5, 12, 2016*IT

          Notice is hereby given that the intestate estate of the late CIPRIANO TUMANENG married to VICTORIA ROLLAN consisting of a parcel of land designated as Lot No. 22128 of the Laoag Cadastre covered by TCT No. T-14055 containing an area of 279 sq.m. situated in Poblacion (Barrio of San Bernabe), Laoag City has been adjudicated by their heirs and simultaneously sold to BERNARD V. PLACIDO married to KRISTINE JOY D. PLACIDO ratified and acknowledged before Notary Public SANDRO MARIE N. OBRA as per Doc. No. 112; Page No. 19; Bk. No. I; S. of 2014.
Aug. 29, Sept. 5, 12, 2016*IT

          Notice is hereby given that the intestate estate of the late SPS. DOROTEO M. TORRES and ANTONIA ISAGUIRRE consisting of a parcel of land designated as Lot No. 12168, Cad-398 covered by OCT No. P-19767 containing an area of 1,495 sq.m. situated at Brgy. Quiling Sur, Batac, Ilocos Norte has been adjudicated by their heir and simultaneously sold to SPS. REYNALDO C. BAGA, JR. and MA. EVANGELINE T. BAGA ratified and acknowledged before Notary Public DA VINCI M. CRISOSTOMO as per Doc. No. 31; Page No. 8; Bk. No. CCCXX; S. of 2016.
Aug. 29, Sept. 5, 12, 2016*IT

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

IN’s Semana ti Ar-aria icon dies at age 81

By John Michael Mugas

Veteran actress Lilia Cuntapay who was dubbed as the country’s “Horror Queen” died at 81 years old on August 20, 2016 at her son’s home in Pinili, Ilocos Norte.

Ms. Cuntapay, who died due to a spinal cord illness, was the icon of Ilocos Norte’s annual horror festival ‘Semana ti Ar-aria’ and a mainstay of the ‘Parada Iloca-locana’ [Ghost Parade] which has been drawing thousands of local and foreign tourists to the province since 2010.

Governor Imee R. Marcos and actress Lilia Cuntapay ride together a make-shift horse carriage during the Parada Iloca-locana (Ghost Parade) as part of the province-wide annual Semana ti Ar-aria Horror Festival last October 31, 2013. (Alaric Yanos)
Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos mourns the passing of the great actress whom she described as “a vibrant and gracious Ilocana.”

“We have forever been given an unforgettable icon, whose talent enlivened the screen and brought magic to our humdrum lives. We will miss you, Nana Lilia!” added Ms. Marcos.

Ms. Cuntapay, who always looked forward to visiting Ilocos Norte to participate in the Semana ti Ar-aria, emerged as the country’s “Horror Queen” for her prominent roles as a scary woman in classic Filipino horror films such as the Shake, Rattle and Roll III as well as television series in the past decades.

In 2012, she received her first Best Actress award from the Cinema One Originals Film Festival for playing the only lead role in her decades-long career in Antoinette Jadaone’s critically-acclaimed film ‘Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay.’

Award-winning Ilocano blogger and professor Herdy La. Yumul also expressed his gratitude to the great actress, saying, “Maraming salamat, Nanay Lilia at paalam. Dios ti kumuyug kenka, nana Lilia.

Recent reports noted that Ms. Cuntapay’s wake will be in Pinili, Ilocos Norte until her burial, set after her birthday on September 16.

Ultra-fast public Wi-Fi now serving at Laoag Int’l Airport

LIA WI-FI LAUNCHUnderstanding the need for virtual connectivity, LIA and PLDT-Smart officials launched the 200 mbps public Wi-Fi at the Laoag Airport. On hand during the launch are (from left) are PLDT AVP for Network Engineering Roberto Pascual; PLDT Head of Alpha Enterprise- Regional Dick Perez; PLDT/Smart VP for Enterprise Customer Operations Management Finina Gorres; Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) Terminal Manager for LAO Ronald Estabillo; Laoag City Councilor Handy Lao; and PLDT AVP for Enterprise Fulfillment Management Kim Orbase. (Contributed photo)

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—As the Laoag International Airport (LIA) gears up for modernization, it has not forgotten everyone’s need to be connected to the internet while at the airport.

With this in mind, the LIA officials officially launched an ultra-fast public Wi-Fi on August 26, 2016.

Attended by airport personnel, local government units’ officials and representatives of the PLDT Group and its wireless unit Smart Communications, the public Wi-Fi was officially launched at the airport’s arrival area to provide fast and reliable internet service to all.

With a speed of 200 mbps but depending on the number of active users, Finina Tabuena-Gorres, PLDT and Smart Vice President for enterprise customer operations management sector said this new high speed service Wi-Fi offers internet service “without interruption, without delay and without the buffering.”

Para ka makapag-download or stream ng video, you only need 2 mbps at the minimum. So, this is actually very, very fast compared to normal experience kahit sa bahay,” she explained.

As the northern gateway of Luzon, the Laoag airport ranks eighth out of the 18 major airports and other public transport hubs to have its free Wi-Fi installed in the first 100 days of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

With an initial investment of P1 billion earmarked this year for the first phase of the nationwide deployment of Smart Wi-Fi, Ms. Gorres hopes to bring in the same ultra-fast internet service to local government units including high density areas like schools, hospitals, malls and other public facilities to have good, fast and reliable internet connection.

In support of the Duterte administration’s internet for all program which he pointed out during his first State of the Nation Address, Ms. Gorres said it is also upon the corporate responsibility of the company, as a service provider, to have many beneficiaries as possible.

“It is something that we see of something permanent mainstay in Laoag. Mas nauna pa ang mga domestic airports kaysa sa NAIA 1, 2, 3. But we are already in the process of doing that now and we hope to be able to launch that in September,” she added.

For his part, Ronald Estabillo, Laoag airport manager said this is a welcome development for all airport stakeholders to have free internet access and makes them more productive citizens of the country.

“This is a big help for us especially our office because they also gave us free access. The free internet service also goes with our airport modernization because it is not enough that we are upgrading our facilities if we don’t have improved communication technology too,” Mr. Estabillo added.

The Department of Transportation and Communication and PLDT Smart signed earlier an agreement to strengthen data connectivity in airports, seaports, railways, train stations, and bus terminals across the country.

The nationwide rollout is backed by the group’s robust and resilient wireless and fixed-line network infrastructure, and is part of Smart’s three-year massive network modernization program to handle the expected rise in data traffic.

Batac DepEd hails successful senior HS program start

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff reporter

Batac City—City schools division superintendent Vilma Eda hailed the successful start of the senior high school program in this city.

Speaking at the “Kapihan sa DepEd,” Ms. Eda added that a groundbreaking ceremony was recently held for the construction of a four-storey building for the Batac National High School Bungon Campus. The said building will have 12 classrooms in addition to the six classrooms in its two-storey building.

Ms. Eda also announced the formal opening of bids for the construction of the Crispina National High School. The Dept. of Public Works and Highways opened the bids.

On top of these, the Batac DepEd head also announced that two item for principal for senior high school and administrative staff have been released.

Meanwhile, Ms. Eda also disclosed that students from Billoca who were temporarily allowed to use the Mariano Marcos State University College of Business Economics and Accountancy building have been relocated to the Mariano Marcos Memorial Elementary School. Classes opened for MMSU this month, hence the need to relocate them anew.

The students would remain at the MMMES until the DPWH completes a building for them.

Campaign vs illegal drugs
Ms. Eda also said that she is in favor of random surprise drug tests for all teaching and non-teaching staff in the Batac division.

She added that no personnel from her division has been involved in illegal drugs. She said she also instructed all teachers to monitor their respective students regarding the proliferation of illegal drugs.

She also said that she is open to drug testing for students but the problem with this would be funding.

She is also in favor of incorporating illegal drugs in the curriculum so all pupils and students would learn its negative impact on the people and the community.

Batac gets head start in 2017 budget preparation

Batac City—Mayor Albert D. Chua disclosed that members of the local finance committee have started the preparation for the 2017 annual budget. He said the early preparation is to check how much they can increase the annual budget compared to this year’s budget.

Mr. Chua said he has started meeting with the city government’s department heads to ascertain their respective proposed budgets for next year.

He stressed that the proposed budget will be submitted on or before October 16 to the Sangguniang Panlungsod. (Dominic B. dela Cruz)

MMSU offers new graduate program on renewable energy engineering

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

BATAC CITY—Responding to the needs for more professionals in the field of renewable energy sector, the state-run Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) launched another specialized course program to advance professional training and managerial capability building of engineers and other concerned stakeholders here. 

Dr. Prima Fe Franco, MMSU acting president said the Professional Science Master’s in Renewable Energy Engineering is a pioneering two-year program of MMSU in partnership with the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) project funded under the United States Agency for International Development.

Being the first in the country and Southeast Asia to offer such program, Ms. Franco said this would open a lot of opportunities for Ilocanos who may want to pursue this course, which is more of a hands-on training with partners from the renewable energy industry.

Ms. Franco said finishers of the new curriculum on renewable energy engineering will be guaranteed of adequate employment as this is the current demand of the energy sector. 

“Just like the fees we collect from the graduate school, the new program offers a highly competitive tuition fee and miscellaneous expenses. This course however will be more of a hands-on experience with the industry and few lectures,” Franco said.

As Ilocos Norte is the capital of various renewable energy plants such as windmills, solar and hydroelectric power, the program aims to further promote the province as the center of development, providing equal opportunities to its people by harnessing the maximum potential of its human capital for sustainable development and inclusive growth.

Highlighting the launching ceremony is the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Research Triangle Institute and the EDC held at the Teatro Ilocandia, Batac City.

Present during the launch were Dr. Susan Brems, USAID Mission Director for the Philippines, Pacific Islands, and Mongolia; Dr. Lawrence Ilag, STRIDE Program deputy chief of party; Dr. Fiorello Abenes, STRIDE faculty and institutional development manager; and representatives of the EDC, local government units’ officials and the office of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri as represented by his chief of staff, Dave Torres.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Duterte’s burial decision is correct

By Alfredo C. Garvida Jr.

President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to bury the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani was the right thing to do in the midst of the nation's divisive state on this burial issue for the past 30 years.

The self-righteous of course had to raise their opposition to this presidential decision invoking as reasons the late president's human rights sins, his fake records as a soldier during World War II and his plundering the nation's coffers which, sadly, has yet to be substantiated in an acceptable form. 

It has to be noted, however, that those who have voiced their opposition to the president's burial decision have trained all their guns against the late President's alleged misdeeds without casting any faulting word against the person who made this decision in the first place that is President Duterte. Why? Because these guys are devoid of the needed balls to clash with the fierceness of Mr. Duterte's style of dealing with his detractors and enemies. 

These guys are so combative about Mr. Marcos' human rights violations but their silence about the open disregard of human rights now prevailing under Mr. Duterte's watch is just so horribly deafening. With the spate of extra-judicial killings now ongoing, no other president would have been spared from the censures of the Drilons, Pangilinans, Cayetanos, Hontiveros, Lagmans and them other self-righteous politicians and activists. And now they oppose Mr. Marcos' burial at the Libingan under human rights reasons, as one of their reasons? Double standard is it? And what an injustice to all human rights victims this silence could be.

Mr. Marcos has all the qualifications to be buried at the Libingan, and none of the disqualifications under the law. The law specifies that among other things, a former president or a soldier can be buried at this cemetery. It does not say that a President deposed by the military or a coup de etat or by people power is disqualified from being interred here. 

The other issue against the late President is plunder. His enemies are not united and consistent though on how much did he and his family plunder allegedly from the nation's coffers. Some say billions of dollars, without telling exactly how much. Recently, one politician said $5 billion. Lately, Mr. Kiko Pangilinan, the returning senator husband of the Mega Star, Ms. Sharon Cuneta, said $10 billion—by the way does anyone wonder what Mr. Pangilinan is doing again in the Philippine Senate given his dismal, unproductive performance as PNoy's rice czar? What this writer wants to drive at is the absurdity of these people's claim of plunder with no substantive, reliable basis to buttress their assertions. For certainly, the fact that they are shooting trial and error arrows into the air on the amount of what was supposed to have been plundered speaks well of how wild and absurd their accusations could be.

If $10 billion was what was plundered as Mr. Pangilinan alleges, where did he base his computation on? Does he have an accounting trail of this amount? And what about that guy who said $5 billion? Where did he base his computation as well? In short, how could these guys feel so empowered to accuse of wholesale thievery a man who could no longer rise up from his grave to defend himself on wild speculations? As the saying goes, it is easier to accuse someone of wrongdoing than proving it. Therefore, this column would greatly appreciate it—in the name of fairness to all Filipinos—if Ms. Sharon Cuneta's husband could stand up and prove the legitimacy of his claim that the Marcos family had stolen $10 billion from the people, otherwise, he should shut up and face, as a statesman, the issue of whether Marcos' burial at the Libingan will end or at least lessen the Filipinos' divisive state on the issue of Marcos as a whole.

History will judge whether Mr. Marcos was a bad president or not. He had transcending accomplishments in his public life; and he had wrong deeds as well. The plunder issue against him—involving allegedly billions and billions of dollars is just mind-boggling in the absence of a detailed or acceptable accounting trail offered for public scrutiny. It is indeed easy to say he stole $10 billion but I can bet my last peso that Mr. Pangilinan will not be able to present an acceptable accounting of this figure in his lifetime—because his accusation is merely a resonance of what they have conjured up all these years to destroy the late President and his family and not based on facts. 

Furthermore, with the willingness of other nations, especially the United States, which devised Marcos' deposition in the first place, those billions of dollars allegedly plundered by the Marcoses should have been recovered by now—after 30 years so to speak. If certain computer hackers could steal $81 million dollars from Bangladesh, without physically lifting the money from the depository bank but by merely tinkering with the computer keyboard, how could America's vaunted CIA or the other superpowers' spy arms fail to locate the alleged Marcos plunder? 

The answer is very simple: the plundered money, as deposition Pangilinan and company are wildly asserting, is non-existent. If the late president has untold wealth, it is hidden from the most of us, yet known to the big nations: because his wealth is derived from a legitimate source, namely, his being the asset manager of a gigantic foundation that he co-initiated with the late Father Antonio Diaz long before he became president out of some gold horde emanating from the Tallano clan's wealth through the Vatican that the superpowers came know about later and joined in to protect it for the world's economic benefit.

Then there is this guy named, Mr. Ricardo Jose, an alleged historian, who is alleging that the late President's wartime record as a soldier was fake. In our book, a genuine historian is one who knows how to reconcile his data with logic. Which means that is it logical for Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur, the iconic five-star general of the United States Army, to pin that war medal on deposition Marcos on the mere faith of the late President's claim of being a war hero without a corresponding basis on the U.S. government's record? Did the U.S. government make a fool out of Gen. Mac Arthur then if Mr. Jose's assertion were the gospel truth? Anyway, has Mr. Jose ever crossed path with a certain former policeman from Vintar, Ilocos Norte named, Rizal Raquino, who claimed, without reward or whatever consideration, that he took care of the late President when he became sick while serving under the USAFFE command of Gen. Russel Volkman defending Bataan? Further, why has this war record issue only become prominent now that deposition Marcos is dead and about to be laid to rest at his rightful place and not when he was still alive running for president or congressman or senator? As history is based on recorded events of the past, it must likewise survive the test of logic. Sadly, Mr. Jose's history records, by logic, do not reconcile with history in itself.

The most crucial issue that must be considered at this point, in this writer's view however, is whether President Duterte's burial decision will ease up the divisive state of the nation on Mr. Marcos as a whole and get the nation to move on. The Pangilinans, and Drilons and Hontiveroses and Lagmans and them human rightists certainly believe that they represent the majority's sentiment against this presidential directive. Certainly, they don't and they know this because even people who claim to have been victims of human rights transgression under Marcos agree with Duterte that it is time to move on let and history judge down the road whether Marcos was a villain, or a hero.

Ilocanos in Hawaii coming home for FM burial

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—When Ferdinand E. Marcos died in exile in Hawaii on September 28, 1989, his body was only flown back to his homeland four years later. That time a planeload of Ilocanos went home with him.

Though already back in the country, the body of the former President remained unburied. And after 27 years, newly elected President Rodrigo R. Duterte allowed Mr. Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani with all the honors befitting a former President and a soldier.

With the burial scheduled, some Ilocanos in Hawaii are also scheduled to come home to the Philippines to witness the burial. The Ilocanos are mostly the same as those who accompanied Mr. Marcos body to the Philippines in 1993.

A native of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, Engr. Ric Agnes who heads the Marcos for Peace Movement (MPM) based in Honolulu, Hawaii said they are delighted to know about the latest development.

“Ever since the passing of the late President, it has always been the desire of Filipinos in Hawaii that his remains be buried with full highest degree of honor given to a President and war hero. For this reason, we are planning to come and attend as our expression of respect to the highest degree as he will be laid to rest finally at the Libingan,” Mr. Agnes said in a phone interview.

The MPM is an active group of Marcos supporters in Hawaii who have long been pushing previous administrations to allow the burial of Mr. Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani with full military honors

From time to time or when the issue of Mr. Marcos burial crops up, the group, composed of mostly Ilocano migrants and professionals in Hawaii would organize peaceful rallies and express support for the best interest of their homeland. 

For Stanley Baluscang, a licensed security officer in Hawaii, he said, “This is the perfect time in the history of the Filipinos to bury our greatest late Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos to the Libingan ng mga Bayani.” He said it is what he had long prayed for so that the old man may finally rest in peace. 

“I am very happy that Marcos, a World War II veteran will now be buried at Libingan. He was not just an ordinary soldier but a decorated officer. He deserved our greatest respect with full military honors,” said Avelino Felicitas, 67, a former university professor who migrated to Honolulu, Hawaii since 2008 after staying in Wapato, Washington.

Silvino Bermisa, also a Filipino migrant in Honolulu since 1974 said he takes pride in Mr. Marcos and his leadership particularly in making the country’s economy one of the richest during his time. 

Rizal Fernandez who traces his roots in Badoc, Ilocos Norte said that when the Marcos family was in exile, he would join some friends and help in the crowd control of people visiting their home in Makiki heights. 

“There were times when we would also sacrifice our time to work and join rallies for our beloved president,” Mr. Fernandez added citing a huge number of Filipinos in Hawaii made a lot of sacrifices to keep the Marcos family safe and at home during their exile.

Given the chance and should he not maximize his vacation leave, Mr. Fernandez said he would love to come and see the former President buried at the Libingan. 

Eddie Bueno who hails from San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte and now residing in Hawaii with his family said there were times before when they would also visit the Marcos family in their Hawaiian home.

“We are happy for him [Mr. Marcos]. With the firm decision of President Duterte to allow his burial at Libingan, I guess there is no one that can stop it now,” Mr. Bueno said.

For the past 23 years, mortician Frank Malabed succeeded in keeping the body of Marcos well-preserved at the Batac mausoleum. 

Every year, sources said Mr. Malabed would visit the body and ensure proper maintenance of his remains. 

Over the years, Batac City has maintained its steady influx of tourists probably drawing interest   for its best tasting empanada and out of curiosity of a man lying in a refrigerated crypt. 

Nat’l living treasure creates shroud for FM burial

National living treasure Magdalena Gamayo shows off the shroud for former President Ferdinand E. Marcos. (Alaric Yanos)

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

PINILI, Ilocos Norte—A pure white abel Iloko [handwoven cloth] measuring seven and a half yards is now being prepared as a shroud and pillow case for the scheduled burial of President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani next month. The shroud will go along with the bronze casket imported from the United States of America.

Personally handwoven by national living treasure Magdalena Gamayo said it is an “honor and great privilege to make the former President’s shroud and pillow case.

Ms. Gamayo is 93 years old a master abel weaver from Brgy. Lumbaan Bicbica in this town.

“I am deeply honored to make his blanket and pillow case for his burial. I have seen him visit our village when he was President,” said Ms. Gamayo adding she will give it as a “gift to the best President the Philippines ever had.”
National living treasure Magdalena Gamayo works on the shroud for former President Ferdinand E. Marcos. (Alaric Yanos)

Awarded as a Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan by then President Benigno Simeon C.  Aquino in November 2012, Ms. Gamayo is known for her master weaving skills she learned at the age of 16. Her handwoven products are much sought after by many, including Ilocos Norte Governor Maria Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos, a self-confessed abel lover. Her abel creations have more intrinsic designs that other inabel products.

She disclosed it was the governor’s idea to have an abel blanket and pillow case for his father. 

A touch of abel in every corner of the Marcos birthplace turned museum, including the Marcos mansion and heritage house in Batac City—from blankets, pillow cases, old clothes of Marcos, bed sheets and table runner are evident, showcasing the Marcoses’ love for abel products.

In what used to be a lowly abel cloth used by older Ilocanos when they go to the market or to the farm, Marivic Adena, a resident of Laoag City said the use of Abel Iloko as President Marcos’ burial shroud and pillow is great boost to the dying abel industry. 

According to Melchora Ver Dragon, a retired teacher from Sarrat and who is also a relative of the former President said, “It’s a big honor for us in Sarrat that we have a produced a President like him. How I wish that he will just be buried here so that we will not miss him that much.” 

Ms. Dragon said Mr. Marcos’ grandmother was also an abel weaver in Sarrat where the young Marcos may have learned some tricks in abel weaving. 

“His grandmother was a weaver too and we have seen his fascination of the abel cloth when he was still young,” Ms. Dragon recalled about the young Mr. Marcos then.

As Mr. Marcos is expected to be brought to Sarrat before he will be flown to Manila, Ms. Dragon said they have already organized along with the relatives to go to Santa Monica church during his scheduled wake to pay their last respects.

“We will gonna miss him very much,” Ms. Dragon stressed.

As of this posting, the Marcos mausoleum remains closed until Governor Marcos, who is in charge of the preparation reopens it for public viewing again.