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Albay Announces 2010 Gawad sa Edukasyon Awardees

by: mike dela rama |

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 1 2010 – The Provincial Government of Albay announced Wednesday the awardees for Ten Outstanding Teachers of Albay (TOTAL), Three Outstanding Principals (TROPICAL), Student Excellence in Academics and Leadership (SEAL), and Kadunong LGU with Best Practices in Education, all under the 2010 Gawad sa Edukasyon.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said that the annual Gawad Albay sa Edukasyon is an awards system that recognizes and rewards the significant contributions of teachers, principals, students and local government units to the cause of quality education in the province.

This rewards system was started in 2008 and is now organized by the Albay Education Department (PED).

Awardees for categories of TOTAL, SEAL and TROPICAL will receive a P100,000 cash reward, certificate, medal and trophy each.

For Kadunong with best practices in education, the Most Outstanding LGU Best Practices in Education and Outstanding LGU with best Practices in Education will also receive P200,000 cash rewards and certificate.

TOTAL is for teachers who best exemplify the teaching profession and efficient inside the classroom and a source of inspiration to students as well as in the community.

The TROPICAL category is for principals whose leadership and vision have made their schools true bastions of learning and significant contribution to community progress and development.

SEAL is for students who even at the young age show significant and positive contribution to the school and the community, while the KADUNONG is for cities or municipalities whose education related projects, programs and activities have made significant impacts on the lives of their constituents and have contributed to community development.

This year’s awardees for SEAL are: Rhod Jeram Sabater, John Eulo Bas, Jessa Marie Monson, Micah Madelejos, Andre Nico Belen, Kimberly Rapirap, Ronald Francis Dacillo, Antonette Reburiano, Shaira Orogo and Aaron Castillo.

Awardees for TOTAL are Michelle Musne Daniel, Diana Lascota Desuyo, Sixto Osia Orzales, Leopoldo Castillo Brizuela Jr., Nora Laguda, Shirley Maravillas Rustria, Jazel Asejo, Ruben Cenita, Roger Banal and Nancy Aguda.

The three outstanding principals in the countryside are Dr. Norma Orozco of Pagasa National High School, Ms. Rhodie Quirab of Ligao East Central elementary School and Ms. Carmen Beldad of Albay Central School.

For this year’s Kadunong awardees are the municipality of Tiwi, Libon and Tabaco City.

According to Salceda, in the awards night set on December 17, 2010 the BAKAS will also be launched.

“Next year the Gawad Albay sa Edukasyon will expand to include Barangay Kasangga sa Edukasyon which will recognize barangay in the province with exemplary education related projects,” the governor said. (PNA)



Phivolcs: Magnitude 3.5 quake rocks Camarines Norte


A magnitude-3.5 quake rocked Camarines Sur province in Bicol on Monday afternoon but state seismologists said no casualty or damage was expected.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs) said the quake was recorded at 3:12 p.m. and was tectonic in origin.

In its bulletin, the Phivolcs said the epicenter was traced to 85 kilometers northeast of Daet, Camarines Norte.

Phivolcs said the quake was felt at Intensity III in Naga City.

No aftershock from the quake was expected, state seismologists said. – VVP, GMANews.TV

Phl women rowers rule Camsur tilts


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The Philippine women’s team dominateds the 400-meter Mixed Division and Women’s Division in the CamSur dragonboat finale with clockings of 1:44:44 and 3:35:90, respectively.

MANILA, Philippines – The national women’s team stamped its class in the Cobra Camsur International Dragonboat Festival, ruling the 400m finals and the 400m mixed finals at the Lago del Rey, Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Camarines Sur recently.

The Phl ladies squad churned out a 3:35.90 clocking to beat Camarines Sur, the Philippine National Police and the Fleet Marine teams in the 400m finals of the event hosted by Camsur Gov. Lray Villafuerte.

The national team then bested Fleet Marine and Camarines Sur Teams A and B for the mixed crown with a 1:44:44 clocking in the event which drew a total of 63 dragonboat teams and which staked a total prize money of $18,000.

The Philippine Army, on the other hand, captured the men’s 400m division crown in 1:37:38, beating Fleet Marine, Camarines Sur, and newcomer Team Buhi-Iraya, a team composed of fisher folks from Buhi Lake.

Overall, the national women’s team won four gold medals and a $7,000 purse for winning the 400m, 250m, mixed 250m and the mixed 400m while the Philippine Army copped the men’s 400m and 250m titles and took home $3,500.

Camsur has hosted some of the biggest world-class sports events, including the Cobra Ironman 70.3, Camsur Marathon, the only race in the country that has an IAAF certified race course and the only qualifier to the IAAF 2011 World Championships to be held in Korea, and the World Wakeboard Championships.

For other sports events at Camsur, log on to and

Bicolanos Send Reinforcements to Flood Victims in Isabela

Source: HM Cabunoc, Chief 9ID PAO |

LEGASPI CITY, Albay Nov 08, 2010 – The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Council of Albay sends a contingent to heavily-flooded Isabela province in its effort to provide assistance to the growing number of typhoon victims in the said place, a military official said here today.

Colonel Arthur Ang, Commander of the 901st Infantry Brigade, said that he sent 12 soldiers and two M35 trucks to be part of Albay government’s disaster response operations in Isabela province.

“I readily provided my disaster response team as part of the contingent of rescuers from Albay. My unit is not short of volunteers who would like to help our brothers in Isabela province,” said Ang.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who also chairs the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Council, personally attended the send-off ceremony held in the provincial capitol in Legaspi City at around 10:30pm last night, November 7, 2010.Mr Cedric Daep, the head of APSEMO said that Governor Salceda organized this disaster risk reduction mission.

“He wants to help our ‘kababayans‘ in Isabela who are now suffering due to heavily flooding. The people in Albay are very grateful that we had been spared from major natural calamities this year,” said Daep.

In anticipation to the health problems such as waterborne diseases which are usually encountered during typhoons and flooding, a water purifier and three ambulances with complete medical facilities and personnel were brought by the contingent.

Daep said that the water purifier, a donation from the Spanish government to Albay, can filter 32,000 liters of drinking water per hour. This facility can serve thousands of people who might not have access to safe-drinking water as of this time.

In the next two weeks, the contingent of rescuers are expected to be housed in a large tent  which they have brought with them, in a strategic location in the flooded areas to provide help to a maximum number of people.

Daep said that the contingent was self-sustaining with complete facilities and food provisions. “We will go there to help and we have ensured that our personnel are well-provided with all the things that they need to perform their noble mission,” Daep added.

The 70-man contingent was composed of health workers from the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development; the Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO); rescue personnel from the AFP‘s three branches of service (PA, PAF, PN) and the PNP.

DOT sees more tourists coming

Source: Mayen Jaymalin |

MANILA, Philippines – More foreign tourists are expected to visit the country in the last two months of the year despite the recent travel advisories, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reported yesterday.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said they expect the number of foreign tourists to peak from November to December just like in past years.

“Even if we incur a slowdown in the months following the hostage-taking incident, we are optimistic that November and December figures will be on the rebound as historical peak periods,” Lim noted.

He cited DOT data showing positive growth in tourist arrivals since January to the present, with the months of July and August having the highest growth rates of 24.6 percent and 22.1 percent, respectively.

Lim added that promotional efforts have been sustained in the major international markets through attendance at significant institutional travel and consumer fairs as well as through the conduct of travel trade and media invitational programs.

Concerning the recently issued travel advisories, the tourism chief said the Philippine government has already taken precautionary measures to ensure the safety and security of the public and visitors.

“An appeal to the respective governments has been aired for the review and lifting of said advisories and over the weekend, the United Kingdom had given its clarification and hopefully, the other countries will follow given that the President himself has vowed to take up the issue in a forthcoming summit of state leaders,” Lim stressed.

He said all tourism posts worldwide are closely monitoring possible tour cancellations, but have not recorded any so far.

With the projected arrivals of tourists in the last two months of the year, Lim expressed confidence that DOT would be able to achieve its target arrival of over three million tourists by yearend.

Meanwhile, DOT is pushing for better airport facilities and construction of additional tourism-related establishments to accommodate the influx of tourists to the country.

Lim disclosed that DOT is planning to improve two of Manila’s tourism icons – Intramuros and Luneta – to make the Philippines among the top three destinations in Asia.

“From the government end, we need to drastically improve our airports, seaports and roads to make travel convenient, and emerging destinations accessible,” he said.

The DOT has also been coordinating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police on assigning tourist police in high-density tourist areas.

Lim said his agency is also looking at reviving the fountain and bringing back cultural events at the Luneta, which is a nice place to visit not only for tourists but Filipino families as well.

Within the next few years, San Ignacio Church in Intramuros would be rebuilt and reused as a museum.

“We would like to add more life in the Walled City at night. If it is transformed and transformation is replicated in other heritage sites, we’re in business,” he said.

Catandungan Festival: A Celebration of Unity in Diversity

source: Carmel Bonifacio-Garcia |

October 24, 1995 marks the first staging of Catandungan Festival, coinciding with the celebration of the 50th foundation anniversary of Catanduanes to mark the historical date of its independence from the province of Albay

Spearheaded by the Provincial Government of Catanduanes, the celebration was conceptualized as a season for Catandunganons to look into their past with appreciation and to make them aware of their history and culture as a people.

Through the years, the festival has evolved with the bigger goal of promoting the tourism potentials of the island – showcasing its natural, historic, cultural, educational, scenic and recreational resources.

Catandungan Festival has set the ambience of fun and pageantry as a celebration of life and lights. It is a celebration that showcases the Catandungan’s rich history, arts and culture, religious, trade and industry and tourism through a variety of special events, beauty pageant, sports, exhibitions, tournaments, recreation and bringing into life the Virac Heroes Memorial Fountain as the center of the Catandungan Festival celebration.

Adding more thrill and adventure is a special event reeling with surf, sand and sun featuring the tourism icon of the province, the “Majestic” waves at Puraran Beach. Surfing competition with sidelight events like frisbee, wall climbing and the likes take centerfold at Puraran Beach amidst the backdrop of scintillating coves and rolling hills.

Capitalizing on Catanduanes’ diverse attractions from forested peaks, rugged terrains, majestic waves down to a lush underwater world, which through the years still remains to be seen and experienced, sweetly agreed by an ever developing economy and shared by tropically warm people, the Festival tells of people and places, products and traditions, encapsulating the essence of being Catandunganons.

With the local chief executives of the eleven towns starting to appreciate the real meaning of holding a festival beyond fanfare instead, considering it as a vehicle of promoting the distinct and unique features of each municipality, several festivals are now starting to thrive and bloom in the island. From the Lasa Festival of Caramoran, Dinahit of Pandan, Manok-manok of Bagamanoc, Paray of Viga, Kinis of Panganiban, Tinagcrosan of Bato, Abaca of San Miguel, Badas of Baras, Maparoy of Gigmoto down to Calo of San Andres and Sarimagyo of Virac, the Catandungan Festival serves as a kaleidoscope of all festivals in the island. It unifies the color and divergence of the various festivals flourishing in the island.

It’s about you and me; it’s about us; it’s about Catanduanes – people, places, products, traditions; its about our diversity yet we find commonality in being our islanders.

It’s about the people of Catanduanes, our characteristic as steely islanders who prevail and weather all forms of challenges, natural or otherwise, because of our unyielding spirit.

It banners the island’s soul – the unyielding spirit of a true Catandunganon – just like the storms that test our strength and perseverance.

The festival is envisioned to create a vibrant economy in the province of Catanduanes brought by the increased number in tourist arrivals translated into more revenues coming in and spreading its benefits to transport, accommodation, restaurants, resorts, souvenirs and other tourism-related industries. It is aimed to bring to the fore a global image of grandeur, magnificence and amazingly attractive wealth of wonders dotting the island province, waiting to be explored.

Indeed, if you are looking for fun, an array of colors, a different adventure and a panorama of attractions, Catandungan Festival is the festival to experience. Whichever way you travel, you’ll reach Catanduanes and surely will be welcomed by hospitable people. This generous celebration is truly an experience that you’ll want to come back for more.

Mara na kamo sa Catanduanes!

Bicol sheds off ‘poorest’ image, now RP’s fastest growing region

Source: Business Insight |

LEGAZPI CITY – Bicol is now the country’s fastest growing region posting an astounding 8.2 percent growth rate last year. It is, in effect, shedding off its ‘”poor region” image. It even surpassed the national growth rate of only 1.1 percent.

“RP could grow 7.9 percent this year but Bicol probably could outperform it by growing 12.4 percent based on electricity rates,” said Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who, last week, was elected uncontested to his second three-year term as chairman of the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC).

Bicol also got boosted by other complimentary perks. Bicolana Venus Raj placed 4th runner-up in the recent Miss Universe tilt in Las Vegas, Nevada and an Ateneo de Naga graduate topped the nursing licensure examinations. These pieces of good news indicate that Bicol is on a roll, Salceda noted.

The Bicol region held the second poorest region title in the country for decades based on the records of the National Economics and Development Authority (NEDA), due to extreme poverty caused primarily by an anemic business climate that got further stunted by periodic natural calamities.

Salceda, who first assumed the Bicol RDC chair post following his first election as governor of Albay in 2007, said the economic landscape of the region now looks different, and the momentum of growth it had taken from last year will “sustain a faster growth rate within the next three years and with new RDC thrusts.”

Bicol’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth target is more optimistic than the revised target of five percent to six percent set by the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC). Economic managers originally expected GDP to grow between 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent this year, he pointed out.

A noted economist, Salceda forecasts that Bicol could even post a higher growth rate this year, about 12.4 percent, then climb up still higher by next year, aided for the most part by tourism revenues of Albay, utilizing once more the potentials of its world famous Mayon Volcano, the Cagsawa Ruins, the Mayon Skyline, Putsan Beach and the Spanish Galleon Wreck Site, among others.

Abaca: Albay’s moral ‘fiber’

SourceL Julius P. Vicente |

Abaca, commonly known as Manila hemp, is considered to be one of the major sources of income in the province of Bicol that helps boost small-scale industries especially in the rural areas.

Since Albay province became famous for its Mayon volcano, festivals, and other local products such as pili nuts and other spicy dishes, the local government has somehow overlooked the significance of abaca in the province.

Dr. Marissa N. Estrella, dean of Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry bared that abaca is one of the top dollar earners in the country, in terms of exportation. She also stated that in 2009, the Bicol region was noted for being the highest producer of Manila hemp followed only by Eastern Visayas and Davao. The reason behind the high demand for abaca, here and abroad, is its flexibility as a raw material for handbags, baskets, and storage containers.

The making of abaca fiber or pinukpok in the form of woven cloth as sinamay has been existent hundreds of years ago. “It was only in 2001 when pinukpok came into large production in Albay. The victims of the Mayon volcano eruption in 1992 were the first beneficiaries of the abaca making in Sitio Banquerohan, Legazpi City. They were provided with abaca silk technology as a regular source of livelihood,” says Myrna Pereyra, coordinator of Bicol University Tobacco Campus Extension Service Center.

Aside from their skills in weaving, Albay residents also underwent a series of trainings for handloom weaving, dyeing, and processing to upgrade their skills in the production of high-value exportable abaca textile products, under the guidance of Bicol University and Department of Science and Technology.

With assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment through the Bicol Small Business Institute Foundation, Inc. (BSBI), the weavers were provided 20 units of steel handloom, one mechanized steel fiber rotary press, a plastic press being introduced by the Philippine Textile and Research Institute, as well as tools and materials for the mass production of pinukpok.

Since then, pinukpok has evolved into a fine high-end fabric.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda has expressed optimism that local designers would produce high-quality barongs and fashion gowns for the continuous promotion and demand of abaca in the province.

Recently, the Pinukpok festival was held in the province to further enhance the presence and use of abaca in the fashion market.

“I want to promote pinukpok dresses as part of our culture in Albay. The government is still providing training and funds to replant and rehabilitate abaca plantations. This, in turn, will help Bicolanos promote and be part of the living culture of Albay,” he concludes.

A weekend sojourn in Bicol

source: Fil C. Sionil |

Reservations dominated my mind in accepting a weekend sojourn in the Bicol region. There were many considerations I had to deal with before I could pack my bag for a quick weekend getaway.

The frenzied, dynamic desk work made it a bit difficult. But, I do believe that if it was meant to be, it would be. God was on my side that day. With some rescheduling and the assurance that I would just be a phone call away, the Boss easily gave his nod. Having surmounted this first hurdle, another snag came into play—the weather was a bit uncooperative as thunderstorm illuminated the sky followed by a heavy downpour.

I was so looking forward to the much-needed break as I haven’t been in the region for close to two decades. The last time I had a good view of the iconic perfect cone that is Mayon Volcano was when I was a wet on the ear political reporter covering Malacañang Palace. The inclement weather further inflamed my apprehension about going.

Still, the call of a weekend respite with friends whom I haven’t seen in a while was more than enough reason. Honestly, if I had foregone the trip, which they had arranged several months back and had been postponed for the nth time, I would never hear the end of it.

Reluctantly, I dragged myself out of my comfort zone one early morning amidst the heavy rain and thunderstorm. I almost didn’t make it to my early morning flight. I had to psyche myself—prepare for a rough ride. But surprise of all surprises, the ride was smooth, calm even. Actually, we arrived 20 minutes ahead of time.

“Bicol is in southwest and northeast of the Philippines, thus it is always in the typhoon path,” Misibis Bay Resort manager Ian Mayer Varona explains as if giving the day’s weather bulletin. “The challenge is to try to convince the people that Bicol is not a typhoon haven.”

True enough. The sky was blue, the sun was up, smiling with nary a hint of any rain clouds, a complete reverse from the situation I just left over an hour ago. The overnight heavy downpour left Manila submerged in water.

Built on a private pristine stretch along the southern tip of Cagraray Island off the western coasts of Albay, Misibis Bay Raintree is fast becoming to be known as an alternative weekend getaway.

Depending on one’s requirement and lifestyle, the secluded resort can be reached three ways from the Legazpi airport.

One access is by a speed boat from Bacacay across the Sula Channel, traversing the Albay Gulf which opens up to the Pacific Ocean. If you have all the spare time to enjoy the scenic, provincial allure, there is the one shuttle bus ride. And finally, for those in a rush, there is an available helicopter transfer ride that can be availed of from the airport.

As the second resort in the country, the first is its sister-resort Discovery Shores in the world famous Boracay Island that has been accredited by the Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) of the World, Misibis Bay Raintree is the best option for the weary CEOs (chief executive officers) who prefer a quick getaway.

Being in the SLH list, which is composed of over 480 hotels in 70 countries, it naturally meant that Misibis Bay Raintree has to live-up to the standard of offering an infinite array of experiences tailored especially to the luxury market. The chopper ride from Manila to the resort takes only a little over an hour.

The crossover by speedboat from the wharf within the complex of the embarcadero mall to the resort was where the pampering began. A smiling crew greeted the weary travelers as they entered the 24-seater fast craft.

Once acclimatized, a steward, who also served as a personal butler for the entire duration of the welcome trip handed out a cold face towel for freshening up, a cold water drink or soda, chips or cookies while we enjoyed the unsoiled vista. We didn’t even realize that the 25-minute ride was nearly over.

At the wharf, an airconditioned van awaited us. The five-minute ride from the quay was breathtaking as well. I felt like I was part of the movie, Mamma Mia, while negotiating the winding path with the panoramic view of the sea with a picket fence on the right side of the narrow road.

As I stepped out of the vehicle to the resort complex that sits on a five hectare property in the Southeast corner of Cagraray Island facing the Albay Gulf, the pampering continued with a contingent of resort staff lined-up wearing their most beautiful smile, one handed out leis made out of seashells while another served us each a glass of the resort’s very own concoction of pandan flavored buco juice.

Checking in was a breeze as well. Each guest is assigned his very own butler, attending to his every whim. The butler’s presence is conspicuous, a plus factor, especially if you prefer privacy. Though, they appear from nowhere always ready to lend a hand.

The view from my villa overlooking the one-kilometer delta of white sand beach was magnificent. The beautiful guestrooms are quintessence of style that allow one to completely relish the environs—the sound of the rushing waves and the chirping of the birds. Totally rural but with first-class amenities.

Each structure is designed with high airy ceilings, large terraces, sun decks and has direct access to the beach. It is also equipped with state-of-the-art LCD television, DVD/CD player, iPod docks, and WiFi access.

Of the 22 rooms, there are four triplex villas, two-bedroom and one-bed room suites with jacuzzi. “Our plan is to put jacuzzi in single villas,” explained Mr. Ian. Construction is on-going to bring the accommodation to 37 rooms as well as provide additional amenities such as a 350-seater convention center, a VIP gaming area for those who would like to mix vacation with a bit of high-roll gambling to be operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

All of these are still a work in progress, said Mr. Ian. Barring any other hitches, the objective is to finish the construction sometime this month to before the end of the year, at the latest.

Since its soft opening in May this year, Mr. Ian said the response had been beyond the expectations of the management. That weekend, all of the 22 rooms were booked, mostly local tourists like me and a sprinkling of foreigners.

“We are starting to reach out, looking at the foreign market, particularly the Europeans, who are long staying guests. In the region, we hope to generate interest from the South Koreans,” he adds.

In this Peñafrancia week, Mr. Ian is hoping to cash-in on the influx of devotees offering a bondless Bicol package of P12,888 for a three-day, two-night stay via Cebu Pacific up until the end of the month. This is inclusive of buffet breakfast. It, too, includes non-motorized facilities such as wind surfing and kayaking. And for those who want to venture out into the sea for the first time, intro-dive is free. And after a day’s frolic on the beach, one can take the romantic sunset cruise.

Though, its lure is distinct from its sister resort in Boracay, needless to say I had no regrets taking a weekend getaway at the Misibis Bay Raintree. It did not only accord me a respite from the daily desk work but I had a chance to learn how to cook Bicol Express and tour the Cagsawa ruins.

You too can have the ultimate escape in Misibis paradise. Visit


Ibalong: Bicol’s Folk Epic-Fragment

From |

Ibalong, the sixty stanzas that remain of a full-length folk epic that is today little known even in Kabikolan itself, was presumably jotted down in its complete Bicol narrative by Fray Bernardino de Melendreras (1815-1867), a Franciscan missionary in Ginobatan, Albay, from a minstrel referred to in the epic as Kadungung and who could be the same wandering bard described years later by another Franciscan, Fray Jose Castaño (b. 1854), as “Homero de Ibalon.”

Put afterwards into Spanish by Melendreras in Ibal, a 400-page manuscript in verse on the ancient custom of the Indios of Albay, its sixty-stanza portion was later included in a treatise on the Bicol Region by Castaño in 1895 as un pequeño fragmento inedito en verso. But because no credit was given to Melendreras by Castaño in the work, students of the Ibalong have since presumed that it was recorded and translated by Castaño himself.

Until a copy of the Bicol original is found, it would seem that what is left of the Ibalong – at least its sixty stanzas – is only the text in Spanish.

Fragmentary that it is, but just like any epic, the Ibalong portrays deeds in heroic proportions. Its three culture heroes – Baltog, Handyong, and Bantong – share glory in freeing Old Bicol of predatory and foraging beasts, of the sarimao and other monsters.