“Tree tunnel” in Sorsogon lost to road widening

  Yahoo South East Asia Newsroom  by Kim Arveen Patria

Trees in this portion of the highway in Bulan, Sorsogon, have grown big enough that their branches meet, as if creating a tunnel. The so-called tree tunnel is threatened by clearing operations for road widening projects. (Photo from Bulan's Facebook page)
A tree-lined portion of the highway is among the most photographed spots in Bulan, Sorsogon, but some fear the so-called “tree tunnel” will soon be seen only in photos.

Hundreds of almost century-old trees are set to be cut down to make way for wider roads in the coastal town, which is among the busiest and richest in the province.

Angry locals have questioned the government’s road widening projects. An online petition has been launched to stop the tree-cutting. Others have taken to the streets.

“Bulanenos should unite now to save the trees that have yet to be cut down by the Department of Public Works and Highways,” a Change.org petition read.

Bulan resident Ramil Agne, who posted the petition, told Yahoo Philippines that the DPWH has temporarily stopped the cutting of trees, pending a consultation.

He noted that the move came too late, however, as about 185 have already been cut from May 14 to 21. A total of 235 trees would be cut for the road work.

Officials have claimed that the roadside had to be cleared of trees to expand the highway to 20 meters from 15 meters, by adding 2.5 meters to each side.

“The traffic volume on our highway does not warrant a road widening project,” Agne said. He added that the 5-meter expansion “is not enough to call progress versus cutting trees.”

Many residents have also wondered why the road will be expanded when the local airport it leads to has been idle for decades. DPWH has not responded to requests for comment.

“I don’t want the trees to be cut down for the sake of useless road widening project. Road widening project will benefit only few people specially in terms of corruption,” said Andrew Zuniga, who signed the petition.

A “selfie campaign” has also been launched against the project, with netizens posting photos of themselves holding up appeals to save the town’s “tree tunnel.”

More than 100 trees have already been cut to make way for wider roads in Bulan, Sorsogon. (Photo by Karl CK)

Bulan’s case is the latest in what netizens have taken to calling a tree-cutting rampage by the DPWH, most of them tagged unnecessary by the areas’ locals.

Earlier this month, locals in Los Banos, Laguna, protested the cutting of trees for a widening project covering a 5.6-kilometer stretch of road near Mt. Makiling.

Local officials in Iloilo City have meanwhile asked the DPWH to explain why so-called “heritage trees” have been cut down along the city’s General Luna highway.

In Naga City, the local government is also leading efforts against a plan to cut down at least 650 trees along the Maharlika Highway in Camarines Sur province.

“Thousands of trees all over the Philippines, many of them century-old, have been cut for road widening… Many more trees face the same fate,” a separate Change.org petition said.

The petition, posted by Ivan Henares, called on the DPWH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop cutting trees and review the policy.

“This review should provide a mechanism for genuine public consultation and a detailed scientific assessment the cutting of trees may have on the environment,” Henares said.


The politics of an executive order

Marginal Note

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr., BicolToday.com

At this early takers of greening position in local politics here in the province of Sorsogon are throwing stones with their possible opponents by way of couched personal interest, using position held by a family member who were given a woeful feedback on how to upend the incumbency in a position of influence and power.

For lately, legislative fiat is being secured by a woman chief executive inviting attention to its supervisory power over barangay affairs specifically in the monitoring of national funded projects. The scheme was seen as an early fireworks to the floated interest of her husband who is aiming the seat of an incumbent representative.

Disguising its family intent by way of an executive order was too much for the taking of the provincial board where sitting committee members were heard that its all about politics and nothing more. The exercise was futile, though arguing certain provisions of the local government code which was interpreted to suit its political purposes.

It was a dismal performance by the lady chief executive and her staff who argued their cause but who willfully misinterpreted the exact provisions of the local government code. The committee does not want to be in the crossfire for 2013 is just about in the corner, thus doing the explaining is the provincial director of the interior and local government, supplying the missing, omitted provisions of the local government code with regard to the role, duties and responsibilities of a chief executive.

Pity for the executive order is full of antagonistic ideas to the sitting congressman and did put to test the position of the engineering district, thus the value of loyalty was opened.

Creating a technical monitoring team was too good to be true, it was the icing of the executive order, but the biggest chunk of the take is to negate the authority of an independent local government executive to accept a finish project in his barangay funded out from the national treasury specifically, congressional funds. That was the rub, and the play of the executive order is rubbish for it overstep its limitations and intends to transgress upon a legal authority to function as clearly defined in the local government code.

Taking the issue of corruption and using the line of the present administration of ‘matuwid na daan’ the executive order falls smack in the face of the executive, but do not blame her, it was her husband who purloined the interest by his ilks in the municipal government. He counts his people for he served nine long dubious years and the wife is currently on her last term in their moonless town.

Here’s another rub, at the hearing, she was overheard name-dropping a cabinet secretary who according to her is a relative, as if pushing out the contradiction of the provincial director of the interior and local government for their department is the same. But, to no avail.

Their object of ire is a man who do’esnt expect to win but took the seat from under for his district believed that he performed far better as local chief executive that his contenders.

President Aquino’s visit in Zürich

President Benigno Aquino III’s visit to this ice – covered  Zürich last Saturday, January 26, was brief and concise as he gave a summary of his WEF participation in Davos and the progress achieved to date of his administration. It was a relaxed atmosphere in that morning in Renaissance Hotel Zürich where Filipinos – most of them also holders of Swiss passport – from all over Switzerland and the Liechtenstein flocked happily to meet personally their President.

There was a sense of pride all over the place for this time Filipinos were expecting to hear the good news coming from the President himself – good news this time about the growing economy, fight against corrupt government officials, etc. It is true that as we change our views and attitudes toward our system, we also change the same of the world upon us. The Philippine’s international image has been upgraded since President Benigno Aquino assumed office. And the Swiss are aware of the positive changes happening in our country and that’s really what affects the Filipinos in their daily life here in Switzerland. It’s amazing how the Swiss people react this way, this from the people whose country still has the best performing economy and institutions the world over. There are much to be learned from the Swiss system of governance, democracy and entrepreneurship. And the Filipino community here desires also only the best for our country – the Swiss way as much as possible.

President Aquino lauded the Filipino community here as being one of the most respected and appreciated foreign groups in Switzerland who contribute also to the stability of both the Swiss and Philippine economies. Not to forget that the old Swiss humanitarian tradition –  Switzerland being the birthplace of the  International Red Cross-  also has long found its niche in every Filipino residing here. Swiss-Filipinos, through their respective local organizations, are on the frontline when it comes to helping disaster victims in the Philippines.

The visit was short for the President had to catch his plane homeward bound after lunch. And so there was no more forum to throw questions such as the Enrile Problem and the current mess at the Senate where senators quarrel over their financial “Christmas” gifts, the ongoing talks with the Bansangmoro, the communist insurgency, etc.

We hope that President Aquino would realize much of his development plan for our country during his term, the institutionalisation of the reforms achieved to prevent the rollbacking to the old ways of Wang-wang mentality, to the self- serving government and public officials of the past administrations.

At the end of his speech was picture-taking. The Filipinos and some Swiss nationals who were present did not hesitate to be photographed beside President Aquino, another proof of his international popularity and trust to his intentions. Yes, public service is public trust.

jun asuncion


(photos by junasun)

Related news extracted from the President’s official communication websites:

Aquino accepts donation from Filipino community in Switzerland for victims of Typhoon PabloJanuary 27, 2013

ZURICH, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III thanked the Filipino community from Switzerland and Lichtenstein for extending aid to victims of Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao.

An initial check worth 8,650 Swiss francs was turned over to the President during his meeting with the Filipino community here.

“Marami pong nag-donate ng konting halaga para sa mga biktima ng bagyong Pablo na tumalasa sa ating bansa noong nakaraang buwan. Noong nalaman po nilang darating kayo dito sa Switzerland, ninais po naming magbigay pa ulit ng kaunti pang tulong,” Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja said in his remarks.

The initial donation, however, was increased to 9,050 Swiss francs.

During his speech, the President lauded the members of the Filipino community for their donation. “Lampas po sa halaga na ipinagkaloob niyo sa ating mga kapatid na nabiktima ng Bagyong Pablo, talaga naman pong napapadama niyo sa kanila na hindi sila nag-iisa,” President Aquino said.

The President said that the donation is the best present that they could give to the Filipinos in the country. “‘Yun po ang talagang napakagandang ipapasalubong natin sa buong Pilipinas,” he said.

President Aquino met with the Filipino communities in Switzerland and Lichtenstein before his return to Manila following his successful participation to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.


President Aquino calls on Filipino Overseas Workers in Switzerland to uniteJanuary 27, 2013

ZURICH, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III called on the members of the Filipino community here to unite and continue to tread the straight path as he moves to implement the various reforms needed to effect the country’s march towards progress and development.

The Chief Executive, who arrived here to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum from January 23 to 27, spearheaded the greet-and-meet activity with the Filipino community at the Renaissance Hotel here to personally oversee their condition.

In his speech, the President shared the positive changes and the economic developments back home during the last two and a half years of his administration, including the confidence of the international community in the Philippines, and the stock market’s remarkable performance that keeps the country’s resiliency despite the global crisis.

The President told members of the Filipino community present during the event that the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has continued to grow despite the global economic crisis. “Alam naman po ninyo na iyan ang pangunahing sukat ng sigla ng ekonomiya ng isang bansa,” he said.

The country’s GDP has expanded by 7.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012. The stock market index also posted record highs 70 times. “Tinalo po natin pati ang sariling mga projection. Sunod-sunod ang record-high sa ating Philippine Stock Exchange index,” he said.

“Sa katunayan, mula June 30, 2010, kung kailan po tayo nag-umpisang manungkulan, umabot na sa pitumpung beses ng nabasag ang record po ng ating stock exchange.”

The President expressed hope that the stock market index will reach the 6,500 level by next month, particularly on his birthday, and the 7,000 level by year-end. “Palagay ko, hindi pa naman ito nasisira sa atin, mukhang malaki ang pag-asang mangyari po ‘yan,” he said.

The President also cited the confidence of the international community in the Philippines as evidenced by the influx of investors who have already expressed their interest to invest in the country.

“Naaalala ko nga po dati, sa panahon ng aking ina: naisama po ako sa ilang biyahe po niya, nagpunta po ako sa Japan, at halos nagmamakaawa tayong magtayo sila ng negosyo sa Pilipinas. Pero ngayon po, tayo na ang pinipilahan,” he stressed.

“Gusto po nilang makisakay sa momentum ng pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya. At hindi po sa iisang sektor ito –mula sa edukasyon, sa imprastruktura, hanggang sa information technology, iisa ang bukambibig ng mga malalaking kumpanya –’Sali naman kami diyan,’” he added.

President Aquino likewise mentioned the reforms in the judiciary, and the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Ipinakita natin sa buong mundo ang bisa ng isang mapayapang diyalogo; higit pa rito, inilalapit natin ang Mindanao, ang naturingang Land of Promise, sa pangako ng kapayapaan at kasaganahan, na matagal na niyang inaasam,” he said.

During his speech, The President called on Filipino overseas workers for a continued support.

“Nasa kamay muli ng Pilipino ang manibela –itutuloy ko ba ang paglalakbay sa tuwid na daan? O pipiliin ko bang mag-U-turn pabalik sa kalsada ng katiwalian at kahirapan? Mahalaga pong ipaalala –ang pagsisikap ng bawat isa ay magsisilbing gasolina sa matiwasay na pagtakbo at tuluyang pag-arangkada ng ating bansa,” he said.

“Kaya nga po, karaniwang tao man o kasama natin sa paglilingkod-bayan, nasa Pilipinas man, o dito sa Zurich, saan man pong sulok ng mundo –bawat brasong nakikisagwan, bawat balikat na nakikipasan, bawat kakamping sumasagupa sa lumang sistema upang itawid ang ating reporma–kayo po, kayo ang gumagawa ng pagbabago, at hinihiling ko ang patuloy pa ninyong pakiki-ambag. Pasulong po ang ating martsa sa tuwid na landas; wala pong atrasan ito; huwag tayong pumayag na dumulas pang pabalik sa dating kalakaran,” he said.

President Aquino noted that with his move to keep the country toward a straight path, the Philippines has indeed changed. “Wala na nga po sigurong dudang nagbago na talaga ang Pilipinas,” he said.

“Kung dati po, ang tinatanong sa inyo kung bibisita kayo sa atin, ‘Paano ka nakaalis? Anong mga hakbang ang ginawa ninyo para makatakas?’ Ngayon po, ang malamang itanong sa inyo kung kayo’y makakauwi: ‘Kailan kayo uuwi ng permanente?” Tunay nga pong kay sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito,” he said.

In closing, the President thanked the Filipino community of Switzerland for their warm welcome despite the cold weather. “Kahit ano pang kapal ng ating isuot, wala pa rin pong hihigit sa init ng pagsalubong ng mga kababayan nating Pilipino,” he said.

“Kaya naman po, maraming salamat ulit sa pagyakap ninyo sa amin ngayong hapon; talaga pong napaka-warm ng welcome po ninyo, talagang napapawi ang ginaw at pagod ng buo nating delegasyon,” he concluded.


President Aquino says holding of 2014 East Asia Summit for the World Economic Forum in the Philippines to put country in the world mapJanuary 26, 2013

DAVOS, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino said the holding of the 2014 East Asia Summit for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Philippines will put the country in the “center stage of the world map.” The President echoed this statement as he announced that he has accepted the offer for the Philippines to host the WEF East Asia Summit next year.

President Aquino arrived in Davos, Switzerland last Thursday to attend this year’s WEF Annual Meeting from January 23 to 27. His attendance to the annual meeting provided him the opportunity to highlight the Philippines as an investment haven and tourist destination for the benefit of the country and the Filipino people as a whole.

“We agree to host the East Asia Summit for the WEF in 2014,” the President said following his successful attendance at the conclusion of the WEF annual meeting.

He noted that when the East Asia Summit for WEF is held in the Philippines next year, the participants would be experiencing a warmer weather compared to the freezing weather condition experienced by the participants attending this year’s WEF annual meeting.

The President pointed out that the holding of the 2014 East Adia Mummit for WEF in the Philippines would certainly benefit the country and the Filipino people as a whole.

“It puts us at the center stage of the world map for that period, which is something like July or so. The details will have to be worked out, it was offered to us and I accepted hosting the event,” he stressed.

The President, who was visibly animated by his successful participation at the WEF Annual meeting which was participated in by global leaders, chief executive officers, top business financial executives and other stakeholders from Europe and other parts of the world said the best meeting he had attended was the roundtable luncheon meeting arranged by the Ayala Corporation.

The roundtable meeting was attended by chief executive officers and top businessmen not only from Europe but also from other parts of the globe representing a wide array of businesses.

“We were able to touch base with so many other leaders of various countries like the Dutch Prime Minister,” the President said.

He said that one of the entities who was in the roundtable meeting is sending a team to the Philippines anytime this year to look and explore areas that they would be interested in.


Speech of President Aquino during his meeting with the Filipino community in Switzerland, January 26, 2013

Talumpati ng Kagalang-galang Benigno S. Aquino III Pangulo ng Pilipinas Sa pakikipagpulong niya sa mga Pilipino sa Suwisa

[Inihayag sa Zurich, Suwisa, noong ika-26 ng 2013]

Maraming salamat po. Maupo ho tayong lahat.

Secretary Albert del Rosario; Ambassador Leslie Baja; Secretary Cesar Purisima, baka hindi po n’yo po alam, Secretary of Finance natin; Secretary Greg Domingo of the Department of Trade and Industry; of course, marami raw hong fans ‘yung susunod na ipapakilala ko sa inyo, si Secretary Butch Abad, [laughter and applause] Marami raw hong taga-Batanes dito. Patay na. Hindi ka na uli mananalo ulit. Butch, nandito na lahat ang botante mo. [Laughter]

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras [applause]; atin pong Director General, Secretary Arsenio Belisacan ng NEDA; [applause] si Secretary Carandang, kilala na ho n’yo siguro, hindi ko na ipapakilala; [applause] Ambassador Evan Garcia; Ambassador Esteban Conejos; Mr. Bill Luz; members of the Filipino Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein—tama ho ba? [Applause]

Honored guests; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan:

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

Pagpunta ko dito, talagang tinuruan akong mabuti kung paano magbalot ng husto dahil malamig raw ho sa Davos, pero sabi ho ni Butch Abad, pareho lang sa Batanes. [Laughter] Basta may bagyo at madaling araw sa bandang Enero at naka-short pants ka lang, ganoon kalamig raw sa Batanes. [Laughter] Pero talaga naman hong napakainit ng pagsalubong n’yo. At alam naman ho n’yo— pangatlong araw ba natin dito? Pang-apat? Pang-apat na araw. Pasensiya na ho kayo. Pinaalis kami ng Pilipinas kasi, alas-onse ng gabi. Kaya counted na raw ‘yong one day. Tapos pagbalik ko, siyempre, bibigyan kami ng mga limang oras, balik sa mga problemang hinaharap natin, pero ang init ng pagsalubong n’yo, sulit na rin hong walang tulog, gininaw, pero marami hong nangyari. Kaya ulit, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. [Applause]

Ngayong naimbitahan po tayo dito sa Switzerland, naalala ko po, 1982 pa pala nang huli kong madanas ang winter. Sa bahay pa po namin iyon sa Boston noong naka-exile po ang buong pamilya namin. At kapag taglamig po ay talagang natatabunan ng yelo ang mga kalsada sa lugar po namin.

Sa mga pagkakataon pong iyon, bilang panganay at paboritong anak na lalaki ng aking mga magulang… [laughter] Kita n’yo, sang-ayon ho kayo, di ba? [Laughter] Ako po ang itinuturing na “tigas” sa aming pamilya: tiga-shovel, [laughter] tagapala ng snow, tigasilab ng apoy sa fireplace, tigalinis ng kotse, taga-alaga ng aso, at marami pang iba. [Laughter] Kaya ako ang pinakatigas ho doon. Minsan-minsan ho, tigasaing rin. [Laughter]

Kuwento ko na rin ho sa inyo: Dahil sa totoo naman ho, noong nag-aaral ako, ‘di naman itinuro ‘yong paano mag-saing eh. So sabi ng kapatid kong babae, kumuha ka ng ganito karaming bigas, tatapatan mo ng ganito karaming tubig, ilalagay mo sa rice cooker, i-on mo ‘to, ‘pag naluto, titigil ‘yan. [Laughter] Mayroon naman ho tayong titulo—kaya ko ‘yan. So, nagkataon ho, wala ‘yong nanay ko, wala ‘yong mga kapatid kong babae, kami lang ho ng tatay ko nasa bahay, siya paparating, ako tagaluto ngayon. Noong kinakain na po namin ‘yong aking isinaing na bigas, naging kanin, habang sinusubo ko, sabi ko, “Ba’t kaya ganito lasa nito, parang mapulbo?” [Laughter] Nakalimutan hong sabihin na kailangan palang linisin ‘yung bigas, [laughter] bago ilagay ‘yung tubig. Buti na lang ho, gutom ang tatay ko, ‘di na niya napansin. [Laughter] Pero nabawian naman po niya ako. Niluto niya kasi sa akin ‘yung bistek. Tapos eh, siyempre ho, ‘di ba wala namang kalamansi sa Boston. Pero ang sarap ho—tama ‘yung alat, tama ‘yung asim. Ang galing ng tatay ko talaga pati pagluto. Sabi ko, “Dad, galing mo palang magluto.” Sagot sa akin, “Wala kang bilib eh.” Kinabukasan, hinatid ko sa airport, mag-isa lang po ako. Tapos, mayroon ho akong binili kasing Lea & Perrins na sarsa the day before. Nagtataka ako, bagung-bago ‘yung bote, noong umalis ang tatay ko, wala na hong laman. Kaya pala tama ang timpla nitong bistek, ibinuhos lang niya ‘yung sarsa. [Laughter] Maabilidad ho talaga ‘yong tatay ko.

Alam n’yo ho, matagal na nga ho ako uling hindi nakaranas ng winter. Tapos, kailangan kong malaman ulit ‘yung, ano nga ang kailangang gawin para ‘di masyadong ginawin? So, tulad nga ho ngayon, iniisip ko kung kakaharapin ko kayo, iniisip ko po, kung anong magiging attire ko sa pagharap sa inyo, lalo na ngayong medyo hindi na ho kasing kapal ‘yong buhok natin. [Laughter] Sabi ko, “Magsusuot ako ng sweater. Papatungan natin ng coat; lagyan pa natin ng overcoat; [Laughter] maglalagay na rin ako ng ski mask, gloves, at mayroon pang matching scarf galing kay Kris.” Pero hindi ko na po itinuloy na isuot lahat ito. Baka naman ‘pag nakita n’yo ako, sabihin n’yo, “Sino kaya nagpanggap na Pangulo ng Pilipinas na ‘yan? [Laughter] Hindi namin makita ‘yung mukha.” [Laughter] So tiisin ko na lang ho ‘yong lamig, para sigurado kayong ako ‘yong katapat n’yo at hindi snowman. [Laughter]

Pero alam ho n’yo, kahit ano pang kapal ng ating isuot, wala pa rin pong hihigit sa init ng pagsalubong ng mga kababayan nating Pilipino. [Applause] Kaya naman po, maraming salamat ulit sa pagyakap ninyo sa amin ngayong hapon; talaga pong napaka-warm ng welcome po n’yo, talagang napapawi ang ginaw at pagod ng buo nating delegasyon.

Higit po sa lahat, nagagalak po kaming lahat makabisita rito at malaman na hindi lamang nasa mabuting kalagayan ang ating mga kababayan, kung hindi nagpapakitang-gilas din sa kanya-kanyang larangan. Nurse man o doktor, hotel worker o driver, accountant o manager, anuman pong propesyon, bilib at pinagkakatiwalaan po ang mga Pilipino dito sa Switzerland at sa Liechtenstein. [Applause] Sabi nga ho ni Ambassador Baja, kulang na lang po magsabit tayo ng banner sa convoy na nagsasabing, “Proud to be Pinoy.” [Applause] Sa tuwing may foreign trip po tayo at makakahalubilo ang ating mga kababayan, talagang taas-noo po ang mga Pilipino.

Hindi na nga po palaisipan: pagkalooban mo lang ang Pinoy ng kaalaman, kasanayan, at karanasan; ipuwesto mo lang ang Pinoy sa tamang lugar o kalagayan; bigyan mo lang ang Pinoy ng sapat na panahon, magpapakitang-gilas po tayo talaga. [Applause] Siyempre po, pinapatunayan ninyo ito; at pinapatunayan din ito ng mga Pilipino sa bawat panig ng mundo.

Sa kabilang banda naman, napapaisip din po ako: Bakit sa hinaba-haba ng panahon, hindi madala-dala sa ganitong ideyal na kalagayan ang kabuoan ng Pilipinas? Bakit may mga Pilipino pa ring isang kahig, isang tuka? Tila hindi dumarating ang nilaga, kahit buong-buhay nang nagtitiyaga?

Iyan nga po ang binabago natin sa Pilipinas ngayon. Inaayos natin ang mga kundisyon; ang gusto po natin, kung magbanat ka ng buto, tiyak kang aasenso. Inaalis na natin ang sistema kung saan ang umaangat lang sa buhay ay ang mga may kuneksyon, ang mga kayang manuhol, o ang mga nakakasikmura ng pandaraya. [Applause]

Napatingin ho si Jake ng relo niya, baka maiwan na ho kami ng eroplano. [Laughter] Huwag kang mag-alala, Jake. Papaspasan natin ‘to. Baka malagay pa tayong absent sa Lunes.

Nagtataguyod tayo ng lipunan kung saan kapag pumila ka, uusad ka; kapag nagsumikap ka, mabubuhay ka ng marangal at hindi inaabot ng gutom.

Hindi naman po natin kinailangan ng agimat o orasyon para simulang ilatag ang pagbabagong ito. Ginawa lang po natin ang dapat. Ang pera ng taumbayan, itinutok natin sa mga programang may katuturan; sinunod natin ang mga batas, at pinananagot ang mga lumalabag dito. Ang sabi nga po natin noong kampanya: Tanggalin ang tiwali, at itama ang mali.

Hayaan po ninyo, hayaan po ninyo akong magbigay ng ilang halimbawa. Mayroon pong isang kontratang pinasok ang pinalitan nating administrasyon: sabi po nila, ide-dredge daw po ang Laguna Lake. Maganda nga naman po sana. Tatanggalin ang naipong sediments upang lumaki ang water holding capacity ng lawa. Ang ganda hong pakinggan, ‘di ho ba? Dahil ‘yon ang pinagkukunan natin ng tubig para sa National Capital Region. Ang problema lang po, natuklasan natin ang huhukayin sa isang bahagi ng Laguna Lake, itatambak lang pala sa kabilang bahagi ng Laguna Lake. [Laughter] Baka akala ho n’yo, nagbibiro ako, nandoon ho ‘yun sa kontrata ‘yon. eh. Eh siyempre tanong naman ng ordinaryong Juan dela Cruz, “Paano naman lalaki ang water holding capacity kung ganoon?” Tapos, gagastos pa tayo, uulitin ko ho—tayo, gagastos pa tayo ng ‘di bababa sa 18.7 billion pesos. Baka hindi nakuha ‘yun, billion po ah, 18.7 billion pesos para maglaro ng putik. Putik natin ‘yon, ‘di ba? Sa Pilipinas ‘yun. Lalaruin natin ‘yung putik natin para sa prebilihiyo, at magbabayad ng 18.7 billion. Bakit po kaya may pumayag sa kahibangang ito? Sino kaya ang makikinabang? At palagay ko ho, hindi maglalaon, may maidedemanda na naman tayong panibago. ‘Di po tayo pumayag; pinigil po natin ang kontratang ito. Simple lang naman po ang gusto natin: kung may kontrata, idaan sa tamang bidding.

Patas na ang laban, hindi lang sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno, kundi sa ating mga merkado. Iyan po ang nakita ng buong mundo. Kaya nga po sa kabila ng global economic crisis, naging tuloy-tuloy ang pag-angat ng ating Gross Domestic Product nitong 2012.

Alam naman po ninyo na iyan ang pangunahing sukat ng sigla ng ekonomiya ng isang bansa; 7.1 percent po ang inangat ng ating Gross Domestic Product nitong third quarter ng 2012. Tinalo po natin pati ang sariling mga projection. Sunod-sunod ang record-high sa ating Philippine Stock Exchange index. Sa katunayan, mula June 30, 2010, kung kailan po tayo nag-umpisang manungkulan, umabot na sa pitumpung beses ng nabasag ang record po ng ating stock exchange. [Applause] Nito lang pong January 18, nagsara sa 6,171.70 ang ating stock exchange—isa na naman pong record-high. Alam po n’yo, bago tayo naupo, ‘pag umabot ng 4,000, pipitik lang ho sa 4,000, bababa na ulit. Parang paniwala ho, hindi kayang manatili doon o lampasan doon. Ngayon po, 6,000 na. ‘Yong mga gumawa po nito, sabi sa akin eh—hinamon ko na rin—kako nasa 6,000 na eh. Saan naman tayo tutungo susunod? Baka naman puwede 7,000? Ang sagot sa akin, aniya, siguro mga 6,500. Puwede na ‘yong 6,500. Baka puwede mangyari ‘yan sa birthday ko next month na ‘yun. [Laughter] Sabi ho niya, 7,000 na bago matapos ang taon. So palagay ko, hindi pa naman siya nasisira sa atin, mukhang malaki ang pag-asang mangyari po ‘yan.

‘Pag lalo pa po tayong nagtulungan, hindi na po ako magugulat kung sa susunod, sa talaan na tayo ng Guinness Book of World Records mapapabilang sa husay ng performance ng ating stock exchange.

Naaalala ko nga po dati, sa panahon ng aking ina: naisama po ako sa ilang biyahe po niya, nagpunta po ako doon sa Japan, at halos nagmamakaawa tayong magtayo sila ng negosyo sa Pilipinas. Pero ngayon po, tayo na ang pinipilahan. [Applause] Gusto po nilang makisakay sa momentum ng pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya. At hindi po sa iisang sektor ito: mula sa edukasyon, sa imprastruktura, hanggang sa information technology; iisa ang bukambibig ng mga malalaking kumpanya: Sali naman kami diyan.

Pinupuksa na rin po natin ang katiwalian sa mga institusyong panlipunan. Masusunod ang batas at kung lalabag ka rito, tiyak mananagot ka, gaano ka man kayaman o makapangyarihan. [Applause] ‘Di po ba, napatunayan na ‘yan nang natanggal sa puwesto ang mismong Punong Mahistrado ng ating Korte Suprema? Ang sabi po kasi ng Saligang Batas: Kailangan mong ideklara sa isang sinumpaang Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth ang buong kayamanan mo. So, ang pera pong idineklara niya, wala pang dalawang porsyento ng kabuoan niyang ari-arian. Parang sa English po, less than two percent of his cash assets was declared. Eh kailangan lahat. Ikinubli niya sa publiko ang mahigit nobenta’y otso porsiyento ng kanyang pera. Matapos ang impeachment trial, sinubaybayan po ng halos buong Pilipinas, lumitaw po ang katotohanan at walang palusot na umubra sa taumbayan. Ngayon po, gumugulong na rin ang reporma sa atin pong hudikatura.

Isa pa pong halimbawa: ‘Di po ba kaytagal-tagal na di matanaw ang kapayapaan sa Mindanao? Ngayon po, siguro nabalitaan na ninyo ang Framework Agreement na nilagdaan sa pagitan ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front at ng ating pamahalaan. Sa halip na ulitin lang ang dating “all out war” na estratehiya, “all out justice” ang ating naging tugon. Ang mensahe natin: Ang bandido ay bandido; pero kung talagang may lehitimo kang hinanakit dala ng kasaysayan ng pang-aapi, handang makipagbayanihan ang gobyerno. Imbis na walang humpay na barilan, ipinarating natin sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim: Iisa ang adhikain natin: Kapayapaan. Heto ang sagwan, tara’t itutok natin sa iisang direksyon ang bangka ng bayan, upang sabay-sabay natin maabot ang ating mga pangarap. [Applause] Ipinakita natin sa buong mundo ang bisa ng isang mapayapang diyalogo. Higit pa rito, inilalapit natin ang Mindanao, ang naturingang Land of Promise, sa pangako ng kapayapaan at kasaganahan, na matagal na niyang inaasam.

Sa huli, naniniwala po ako na anuman ang sitwasyon natin ngayon, dinala po tayo dito ng kolektibong panawagan ng Pilipino sa pagbabago. Naharap po tayo sa isang sangandaan kung saan kinailangan nating pumili ng tatahaking landas: Dito ba ako sa nakasanayang ruta ng baluktot na sistema? O ikakabig ko ba sa tuwid na daan, kung saan ang sambayanan ang mabibigyang-kapangyarihan upang sama-samang isulong ang bansa? Kung iisipin, napakadali po sana ng naunang ruta. Pipiliin ko na lang ang normal na buhay kung saan sarili lang ang kailangan kong intindihin.

Opo, madaling sabihin, pero hindi ko po yata ito maaatim na gawin. Kung ito ang landas na pinili kong tahakin, para ko na ring sinabing normal ang masadlak ang Pilipinas sa katiwalian at kahirapan; normal ang talikuran ang ipinaglaban ng aking mga magulang; normal ang pagtaksilan ang mga Pilipinong matagal nang naghihikahos para sa mas maliwanag na kinabukasan. Buong-loob po nating pinili ang tuwid na landas, kaakibat ng lahat ng kailangang pagdadaanang lubak at sakripisyo. Hindi na po bago sa atin ito. Ako po, labindalawang taong gulang pa lang nang makaranas ng Martial Law, at mahigit apatnapung taon na po ng aking buhay ang umikot sa mundo ng serbisyo publiko. Dati po’y dakilang alalay, ngayon inaalalayan ng lahat. [Laughter and applause] Mulat din po tayo, bawat Pilipino ay may kanya-kanyang binuno at binubunong pagsasakripisyo. Ang kailangan lang po nating tandaan: lahat ng pasakit ngayon, ginhawa ang kapalit sa susunod na henerasyon. Ngayong abot-kamay na po natin ang pagbabago, saka pa ba tayo hihinto?

Nasa kamay muli ng Pilipino ang manibela: itutuloy ko ba ang paglalakbay sa tuwid na daan? O pipiliin ko bang mag-U-turn pabalik sa kalsada ng katiwalian at kahirapan? Mahalaga pong ipaalala: ang pagsisikap ng bawat isa ay magsisilbing gasolina sa matiwasay na pagtakbo at tuluyang pag-arangkada ng ating bansa. Kaya nga po: karaniwang tao man o kasama natin sa paglilingkod-bayan, nasa Pilipinas man, o dito sa Zurich, saan man pong sulok ng mundobawat brasong nakikisagwan, bawat balikat na nakikipasan, bawat kakamping sumasagupa sa lumang sistema upang itawid ang ating reporma—kayo po, kayo ang gumagawa ng pagbabago, at hinihiling ko ang patuloy pa ninyong pakikiambag. Pasulong po ang ating martsa sa tuwid na landas; wala pong atrasan ito; huwag tayong pumayag na dumulas pang pabalik sa dating kalakaran.

Hayaan po ninyo akong magtapos sa isang kuwento. Noon pong congressman pa lamang ako, pinalad tayong makaharap ang isang grupo ng walumpung estudyante ng nursing. Ang tanong ko sa kanila, “Ilan sa inyo ang mananatili sa Pilipinas pagkatapos ninyong maka-graduate at pumasa ng board exams?” Ang nagtaas po ng kamay ay napakarami: dalawa. [Laughter]

Wala na nga po sigurong dudang nagbago na talaga ang Pilipinas. Kung dati po, ang tinatanong sa inyo kung mabisita kayo sa atin, “Paano ka nakaalis? Anong mga hakbang ang ginawa ninyo para makatakas?” Ngayon po, ang malamang itanong sa inyo kung kayo’y mauwi, “Kailan kayo uuwi ng permanente?” [Applause] Tunay nga pong kay sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito.

Bago po ako magtapos, gusto kong iparating sa inyong lahat, lampas po doon sa halaga ng ipinagkaloob n’yo sa ating mga kapatid na nabiktima ng Pablo, eh, talaga naman po’y pagpapadama n’yo sa kanila na hindi sila nag-iisa. ‘Yon po ang talaga ang napakagandang ipapasalubong natin sa buong Pilipinas.

Kaya magandang hapon po sa lahat. Maraming salamat muli.


Law bans Hit List Of Gov’t Enemies

(I find this article by Michael Lim Ubac  of Inquierer News very important, hence I reprinted it here. See also Mr. Lariosa’s article below entitled Gangsters Of Capitalism. junasun)

Rights groups urge swift enforcement

By Michael Lim Ubac

1:23 am | Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

The military is now prohibited from issuing a hit list—officially called “order of battle”—with the enactment of a law against enforced disappearances, Malacañang said on Saturday.

Order of battle is a list of people security forces say are “enemies of the state” to make them “legitimate targets as combatants,” including those not formally charged with crimes.

People on the military’s hit list are open to assassinations, abductions, harassment and intimidation.

Those who have disappeared are known as desaparecidos—the disappeared—a term first used in Latin America to refer to the critics of the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet who were seized by state security forces and never seen again.

Local security forces have used the order of battle to justify the seizure and detention of critics of the government, mostly activists suspected of being members of the communist New People’s Army or of front organizations belonging to the communist movement in the Philippines.

The new desaparecidos law “rejects [the] use of an order of battle or any similar document to exempt” state agents from the prohibition or “justify” the detention of enemies or critics of the government, President Aquino’s deputy spokesperson, Abigail Valte, said in a radio interview.

The President signed the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act late Friday, hours after attending the 77th founding anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The new law, the first major human rights legislation under Mr. Aquino’s nearly three-year-old administration, imposes up to life imprisonment for state agents convicted of being involved in enforced disappearances.

Its enactment has made the Philippines the first country in Asia to treat enforced disappearance as an offense distinct from ordinary kidnapping.

US-based nongovernment organization Human Rights Watch challenged Mr. Aquino to “move quickly to enforce it.”

“Effective enforcement of this new law by the Philippine government will deter enforced disappearances and address the deep-seated problem of impunity for human-rights abusers,” Brad Adams, the group’s director for Asia, said in a statement.


According to the human rights group Karapatan, more than 1,000 political activists and suspected supporters have disappeared since the 1972-1986 dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, including more than 200 under Mr. Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Karapatan has documented 12 cases of enforced disappearance since 2010 under Mr. Aquino.

The desaparecidos law defines an enforced disappearance as the abduction or “any form of deprivation of liberty” of a person by state officials or their agents who subsequently conceal the person’s fate or whereabouts.

Human rights groups have reported that such people have been kept in a network of “safe houses” where they are tortured and sometimes killed, their bodies buried in unknown graves or dumped in remote areas. They say this was extensively practiced during the Marcos regime.

The law against enforced disappearance prohibits secret detention centers and safe houses and authorizes the government to conduct “regular, unannounced … inspections of all places of detention and confinement.”

The law cannot be suspended even during wartime and does not permit amnesty for those convicted. Superior officers of those found responsible are to be equally penalized.


Reporting requirement

According to Valte, the law requires public officials and private citizens to report forced disappearances, and state agencies to investigate cases and report their findings.

It also requires the regular updating of the lists of people being held in state detention centers.

The number of attacks against political opponents of the government has risen alongside the growth of the 43-year-old communist insurgency and the decades-long Moro rebellion in Mindanao, which appears close to a political solution following a preliminary peace accord by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed in October.

Mr. Aquino, son of prodemocracy icons, has pledged to take steps to prosecute violators of human rights during the previous administration and prevent new ones. Rights groups, however, say violations have continued under his administration.

The groups have urged Mr. Aquino to prosecute violators of human rights during the Arroyo administration, particularly retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who has gone into hiding after being ordered by a court to stand trial for the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.

Palparan is also believed to have knowledge of the enforced disappearance of left-leaning agriculturist Jonas Joseph Burgos, son of the late journalist Jose Burgos, in 2007.

Rights groups have also urged the Aquino administration to give priority to the passage of a bill pending in Congress to compensate thousands of victims of human rights abuses, including enforced disappearance, during the Marcos dictatorship. With reports from AFP, AP

Fil Am Engineer Dies On His Junior’s Birthday


(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Jose “Onie” L. Villamor, Jr. was celebrating his birthday July 1 Sunday morning when the celebration was interrupted by the death of his father, Jose G. Villamor, Sr. at 1:40 p.m. Pacific Time at the hospital (Sharps Hospital Grossmont) in San Diego, California of lingering lung cancer.

When “Onie” called this reporter, his uncle, he did not even mention that it was his birthday. He just relayed the grim news that his father passed away. “Please pass around the sad news.”

Although the death of the elder Villamor, a native of Sorsogon City in the Philippines, was expected, it was a surprise because he was able to recover from a grave condition three months ago when doctors gave him 48 hours to live.

Villamor (photo), 72, an engineer by training and a college professor, was recovering and rehabbing in a nursing home (Jacob Health Care Center, also in San Diego) when he was rushed Saturday to the hospital, where he eventually died. He was the son of the late Nicolas Villamor and Concepcion Grones, both of Bulan, Sorsogon.

His wife, the former Violeta G. Lariosa, a former public school teacher in Sorsogon City, told her eldest sister, Antonia L. Rey in Chicago, Illinois, that Joe was able to say, “I am ready to go. Just cremate me and take my ashes back to Sorsogon City for my other children to see.” He must be referring to Manuel, Roman, Celeste and his grand children, who were not able to immigrate to the U.S.

During the time that he was rehabbing, Joe wanted to get healthy enough so that he could travel back to Sorsogon City, where he wanted to die. He was a general manager of the government Sorsogon Tecommunications office, where he retired before immigrating to the U.S.

His other children who were with him in San Diego are Onie, Rico, Nino and Jessie, the latter two are both in the U.S. Navy. He is also survived by his daughters-in-laws, Cathy, Evelyn, Jennet and grandchildren.

Other survivors include his in-laws, Antonia L. Rey (Roling), Dona L. Hernandez, Joseph G. Lariosa (Josie), Ray G. Lariosa (Angie), all of Chicago, and many nephews and nieces.

Funeral services, including a mass, will be held at National City and Chula Vista Mortuary and Cremation Service at 611 Highland Avenue, National City, CA 91950 on Saturday 7 July 2012 starting at 2:00 PM.

Inquiries and questions please contact his son, Nino L. Villamor, at email address, tsampion6582@yahoo.com or at cell phone number 619-518-6680. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)



Journal Group Link International

P. O. BOX 805072

CHICAGO IL 60680-4112 U.S.A.

Tel. 312.772.5454

Telefax No. 312.428.5714

Email: lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net


DPWH engineers in Bicol scored poorly in promotional test


Sunday, 01 January 2012 20:29

by  Manly M. Ugalde / Correspondent

LEGAZPI CITY—Public works and highways engineers in Bicol scored dismally in the most recent Civil Service Promotional Test conducted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The agency said not a single district engineer and assistant district engineer in the region’s 16 districts passed the test.

A source who requested anonymity said of the more than 60 engineers who took the Oct. 1 promotional test, only 17 passed it.

The test was held at the New Era University in Quezon City for Luzon-based engineers, Tacloban City for Visayas-based engineers, and Davao City for Mindanao-based engineers.

The source, however, said he has no idea as to the passing percentage for all the examinees.

The DPWH-CSC promotional test was first introduced during the stewardship of Secretary Gregorio Vigilar in 1997. It was a difficult test compared to the recently held test which had only 200 questions and multiple-choice answers that deals on management decision-making and technical aspect.

DPWH regional maintenance engineer Antonio Saguinsin who also took the test confirmed that only seven engineers from Bicol had passed the test, saying Fermin Peteza who was the overall topnotcher in the 1997 promotional test was among the seven passers. Peteza is the current chief of the region’s Quality Assurance Unit holding a rank of Engineer V. Only those with the rank of Engineer III upward were qualified to take the test.

The test is the basis for promotion to a higher rank similar to the criteria of the promotional test in 1997.

But retired district engineer Manuel Saret who was among the passers during the 1997 test said that many DPWH engineers in Bicol who flunked the 1997 test were promoted for unknown reasons.

A source from the Civil Service Commission said the 1997 test flunkers should have never been promoted.

Saret said among the flunkers who was an engineer III at that time was promoted to district engineer in 2000 and is now among the division chiefs at the regional office holding an item of Engineer V.

Those who passed the recently held promotional test were Fermin Peteza, Benjamin Buitre, Eleanor Areola, Rebecca Roces, Marilou Sariba all from the regional office; Nilda Doloiras from Sorsogon Distrrict Engineering; and one from Camarines Sur District Engineering whose name has not been provided.

DPWH regional director Danilo Dequito had earlier said that flunkers occupying the positions of district engineers, assistant district engineers, division chiefs, and section chiefs in an acting capacity and holding a rank lower than what is required will be replaced by qualified engineers.

He said the criteria for promotion will be strictly followed, saying passing the Oct. 1 promo test is the first step.

Dequito and his assistant regional director Jesus Salmo are reportedly Career Executive Service Officers (Ceso). But according to Mike Aguilar of the private construction industry, Dequito was not a Ceso when designated in Bicol in October when the Aquino administration was determined in terminating non-Ceso holders appointed by the Arroyo administration.

Aguilar said Dequito became a full-pledged Ceso officer only last Sept. 30.

The appointment of Dequito and Salmo in Bicol had caused the termination of regional director Danilo Manalang and assistant regional directors Oscar Cristobal and Jaime Martinez.


Chicago Church Bucks Trend; Holds Misa de Gallo At Dawn!


(© 2011 Journal Group Link International) 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – In the run-up of Dec. 16, the start of “Simbang Gabi” (evening mass) in Chicago and around the world, Father Alfredo Salera, Pastor of Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish in Chicago’s northside, sent out word that his parish was going to hold the Simbang Gabi at early dawn at 5:30 in the morning, which is the closest as it is observed in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, Simbang Gabi is held at 4 a.m. because of the tolerable weather.

The timing of the mass must have sent a chilling message to the parishioners, mostly Filipinos, because of the dip in temperature around the event in Chicago.

Feeling that there seems to be no takers to his plans, Father Salera, a native of Meycauyan, Bulacan in the Philippines, sent out another word that even if only one will attend the Dawn Mass, he would still hold a mass.

When his church parishioner and pianist, Amor Saenz, a native of Sorsogon City in the Philippines, told this reporter about this startling schedule at the Simbang Gabi community celebration in nearby St. Gregory the Great Church last Dec. 16, my first impression was that Miss Saenz must be joking.

So, at 5 in the morning on Sunday, Dec. 18, when radio newscast was telling me that the temperature was 29 degree Fahrenheit, I went to the Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish Church, at 2609 West Carmen in Chicago, some five miles away from my home in Jefferson Park in Chicago’s northside, just to satisfy my curiosity.

(For those in the Philippines, the freezing temperature is like the temperature inside the freezer of your refrigerator. At 33 degrees Fahrenheit when rain falls, it turns into snow. The 33-degree temperature stings when it is windy.)

So, when I got inside the church at about 5:40 a.m., the Dawn Mass presided over by Father Salera had started in earnest with Miss Saenz smiling at me while playing the piano.

It turned out there were not only one but about 30 parishioners, who braved the very cold weather just to attend the mass that they missed attending in the Philippines. They were the same number of parishioners, when the Dawn Mass started last Dec. 16.

One of the parishioners, Marc Aguja, told this reporter, “I used to sleep at 11 in the evening and got up at 5 in the morning. During these nine days until Christmas, I advanced my sleeping habit at 10 p.m., so I can get up at 4 a.m. just enough time for me to prepare and attend this 5:30 a.m. Misa de Gallo (Spanish for rooster’s mass, when the roosters or cocks crow).”


 If Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish Church will be able to hold a 5:30 a.m. for the nine-day Novena, ushering the Christmas Day celebration, it is believed to the first church located in a cold weather area outside the Philippines to hold a Dawn Mass anywhere in the world.

All the 75 different Catholic churches under the Asian Archdiocese of Chicago are holding the Simbang Gabi daily from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at its 26th anniversary celebration this year.

“I hope to keep up this same Dawn Mass while I am the pastor of this parish,” Father Salera, 65, told this reporter. “I hope my successor will continue with what I have started and other churches will follow suit” as he looks toward his retirement in five years.

He said, “Rising early in the morning with children is a form of discipline to keep up with Misa de Gallo as festive as Christmas is celebrated the longest in the Philippines. It still has penitential color in it, to reflect the life of Jesus to be like us, except for the sin, the sharing and His saving act. The act of all saints in Heaven, the sharing of our local food. The Filipino delicacies in the Philippines, where you buy them outside the church while some parishioners take the food with them in coming to church and partake of them in the basement of the church after the mass.”

When asked if he was going to pray for the 652 victims, who perished from the flash floods in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities in Mindanao during the last two days, the priest, who grew up in Cebu and Bohol, said he was not aware of it, saying he “doesn’t watch TV but I have not opened the news online. I will pray for them just as we have for so many intentions for many people.”


 Father Salera was pastor for seven years of St. Catherine Laboure in suburban Glenview, Illinois, where His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, will be celebrating the Simbang Gabi at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23. On Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m., Chicago Bishop Francis Kane will be celebrating Simbang Gabi at Transfiguration of Our Lord church at 7 p.m.

Last Friday, Dec. 16, St. Gregory The Great Church in Chicago’s northside was one of the 11 Chicago churches which celebrated Simbang Gabi at 6 p.m. Fr. Paul Wachdorf, pastor of St. Gregory The Great Church, celebrated the mass in front of majority members, relatives and friends of The Filipinos of St. Gregory, a lay and voluntary organization headed by Dr. Dona L. Hernandez of Sorsogon City in the Philippines. St. Gregory The Great Church is one of the Chicago churches, which have been observing Simbang Gabi during the last 24 years.

In a note to her fellow parishioners, Dr. Hernandez explained that, the Simbang Gabi “masses refer to the practice of performing nine days of private or public devotion to obtain special graces.”

Like the rest of other churches celebrating Simbang Gabi, a light dinner for the parishioners follows after the mass. The nine-day Novena during Simbang Gabi culminates with the Midnight Mass on Dec. 24.

Father Salera said there are 1,000 Filipino priests around the United States headed by the first Filipino American bishop, Bishop Oscar A. Solis of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. There are 100 priests from Tagbilaran and Bohol; there are about 65 or 66 Filipino priests each in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York and less than 10 in Chicago. He urged parishioners to be generous in their donations and asked families to encourage their children to join priesthood. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)



Announcement of the 5:30 a.m. Misa de Gallo is shown outside the Transfiguration Of Our Lord Church at 2609 West Carmen Avenue, Chicago, Illinois last Sunday, Dec. 18. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)


Fr. Alfredo Salera encouraged parishioners during the Misa de Gallo (Dawn Mass) at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, to pray often as part of the covenant with Virgin Mary, the Spiritual Mother of God, and who responded to the message of an angel when she answered “yes” to be the Mother of God, the most momentous and profound event in human history and the Christmas story full of beauty. Listening is Atty. Manny Aguja, lector during the mass. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)


Parishioners take a light breakfast in the basement of the Transfiguration Of Our Lord Church after the 5:30 a.m. Misa de Gallo (Dawn Mass). (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)


Parishioners await their turn to have their tsamporado (chocolate porridge), one of the light offerings during a light breakfast in the basement of Transfiguration Or Our Lord Church in Chicago’s northside after the 5:30 a.m. Dawn Mass last Sunday, Dec. 18, the first such early sunrise mass in Chicagoland area with cooler climates outside the Philippines. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)


Rev. Paul Wachdorf (ninth from right, back row), Pastor of St. Gregory The Great Parish Church in Chicago’s northside, and Dr. Dona L. Hernandez (fourth from right, seated), president of The Filipinos of St. Gregory join the officers, members and friends of The Filipinos of St. Gregory after the Simbang Gabi mass celebration at St. Gregory The Great Parish Church last Friday, Dec. 16 in the church cafeteria. To Dr. Hernandez’ right is Gina Ibardaloza, executive vice president of The Filipinos of St. Gregory, Angie G. Lariosa (second from left, seated), incumbent vice president; Mandy Ibardaloza (to Angie’s right), Alex Siapno (third from left, back row) and Mr. Vic Tibudan (fifth from left back row with cap), past presidents. (jGLiPhoto)


Bikol U.S.A of the Midwest Holds Christmas Party, Keeps Tradition Alive


(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – “Mommy” Irene Emperado, an employee of Unimart on 5845 North Clark Street in the northside of Chicago, Illinois, was scratching her head when I placed an order over the phone for 22 pounds of Galunggong (mackerel) to be fried for the Christmas party of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest last Sunday, Dec. 11.

But it was another director of our club, Dr. Dona L. Hernandez, who would be paying for the order. And yet there were two other members, Ben and Chit Ner, who were going to pick up the seafood.

I told Irene she should just keep still. We were not pulling a trick on her. It is just how teamwork and transparency work in a socio-civic organization. Everybody has to get involved no matter how trivial the part, including cleaning-up the place after the party, if you are the host of the party.

Nobody should be prima donna in any organization if they want to make it strong.
 If there are burden sharing, everything becomes even lighter, especially the checkbook.

In fact, even if members were no-shows for the event, they even volunteer to contribute.

Take for instance, my province mate, John Claridad, a Philippine lawyer of Bulan, Sorsogon. For the second time, John could not attend our party because our Christmas party coincided with the birthday party of his daughter. So, he told another, director, Miss Amor Saenz, from Sorsogon, Sorsogon that he will be contributing just the same for the expenses of members from Sorsogon of the club.

Even Nita Payos from Gubat, Sorsogon was able to convince Salvacion ”Sally” Expectation and Sally’s sister, Lourdes Coloma, to chip in too, even if they were no shows.


This story of cooperation and camaraderie in an organization was in full display during the annual Christmas party of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest headed by Ms. Evelyn R. Tolledo of Pandan, Catanduanes, as her whole family was involved in almost all facets during the party that was shared with Juzz Dance Club headed by Mr. Ed Cabanayan.

Evelyn’s better half, Robert “Bob” Tolledo, a doctor of medicine (orthopedic surgeon) in the Philippines, who decided to run his own medical code billing company, Alert Solutions, LLC, in Chicago area, for a living, did not want to eclipse the role of his wife. But he bought $500 worth hard drinks for the guests and parted with $250 cash as gifts to children, during the gift-giving.

While Rocky Tolledo, one of the three children of Evelyn and Bob, was the photographer, Rocky’s brother, Royce, donned Sta. Claus, complementing his Mom, who was dressed up as Mrs. Santa Claus also. Ronnel, the youngest, was busy giving away goodies to children, who were the envy of adults, for having lots of gifts, mostly cash.

But the officers of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest made sure that the kids, who were to get gifts had to take the hands of Lolo Norberto and Lola Irene Pagatpatan, parents-in-law of past president, Ayres Pagatpatan, and plant them on their foreheads. It is some trait that is running out of style, especially for overseas Filipino kids, who may not have ninongs (male sponsors) or ninangs (female sponsors) to turn to.”

The John Ajena family seemed to take the cake when Jau and Jannae Ajena turned the party into a virtual “American Idol” contest while the Christopher Jones Family performed Michael Jackson footwork to the tune of Billy Jean.

But the adults led by Ed Cabanayan, disk jockey and master dance instructor, and Lilibeth Castagna, representing Masbate province, did not take it sitting down by giving “Dancing With The Stars” performers a run for their money with their fancy steps.


If the party was a non-stop dancing, it had to because the social hall of St. Henry Church at 6335 North Hoyne in Chicago’s northside had no heater. If one were stationery, one could freeze.

The non-stop dancing was interrupted only when Evelyn Tolledo told the crowd of over a hundred that the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest had donated $1,000 for victims of Typhoon “Juaning” in Bato, Bula, Buhi and Nabua, Camarines Sur; $300 for the completion of Divine Mercy Shrine and Carmelite Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity (CNHT) in Kawakawa, Ligao City in Albay province; and another $320 for a package of three kilos of rice with six pieces of Nissin Ramen and canned goods in each of the packages to about 150 indigent families last month in Bagamanoc and Pandan, Catanduanes brought by club secretary Alice Llames plus additional contribution of $100 from Ray Galicia.

As PRO of the club, I was also tasked to announce some of its upcoming events for 2012. They are the Post-Valentine Party Fund Raising for Calamansi (Citrofortunella microcarpa) Tree Planting Project at $35 per donation at Lone Tree Manor at 7730 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, IL on Feb. 24; a trip to Our Lady of Snow in Belleville, IL from May 26-28; Hawaiian Luau Party on July 14 for $10 donation; BNAA National Convention, Hyatt Regency, Dearborn, Michigan from July 20-22; Annual picnic on Aug 12 at Proesel Park at 7001 N. Kostner Ave., Lincolnwoold, IL; Novena of Our Lady of Penafrancia and Feast Day at St. Mathias Catholic Church at 2310 W. Ainsle St., Chicago, IL, Sept. 7-14; Golf Tournament Fund Raising at Big Oaks Golf Club & Country Club in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, Sept. 23; Halloween Party and Masquerade Ball, Oct. 17; and Bikol U.S.A of the Midwest Christmas Party and Election of Officers, Dec. 16.

As PRO also of The Filipinos of St. Gregory headed by Dr. Dona L. Hernandez, I also announced the Simbang Gabi on Friday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. at St. Gregory The Great Parish Church at 5545 N. Paulina, Chicago.

Among the donors (mostly cash) to the Christmas party aside from Evelyn Tolledo, who also donated red and white wine, decorations and six bags of bread, were the Bikol USA of the Midwest, which spent $500 for the food; the Stanley’s Fruits which donated fruits; Alice Llames, Toy Mancenido (cash), Dennis Alban (water/ice soda) and Ayres Pagatpatan (hotdogs) (past club presidents), Rosalle del Valle, Rick & Aida Joseph (chicken), Letty Costales, Gil Buena (vice president), Jess and Lilet Mante (Arroz caldo), Julie Buenafe, Julie Chavez, Naty Atienza and friends Sally Kagingin , Julia Estrada and Lisa Soriano (Sotanghon), Ben and Yoly Zoleta (balloons), Rico del Rosario (chicken curry), Lilibeth and Sam Castagna (gifts), the Tolledo children – Rocky (gift/photography), Royce and Ronnel; Mila Emocling (cash); Lura & Darlo Gonzales (cash); Pipo & Frances D. (lechon kawali), Romy Sarcilla (dessert), Cecile Manlapaz and Joel Basilio (pancit). (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)


A young boy takes the hand of Lolo Norberto Pagatpatan and plants the back of the hand in his forehead to ask for a blessing as Lola Irene Pagatpatan is about to hand him the bills at the joint Christmas party celebration of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest and the Juzz Dance Club at the Social Gym of St. Henry Church at 6335 North Hoyne in Chicago’s northside last Sunday, Dec. 11. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)



Ms. Evelyn R. Tolledo (sixth from left, third row wearing red with black hat) smiles as she joins the officers and members and friends of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest in this souvenir photo during the Christmas party last Sunday, Dec. 11, at St. Henry Church at 6335 North Hoyne in Chicago’s northside. Also in photo are Bikol U.S.A. past presidents Toy Mancenido (behind, President Tolledo) and Dennis Alban (second from left front row) with Bob Tolledo to Dennis’ right, Joseph G. Lariosa (third from right, front row) with Marlon Pecson to his left and Dr. Dona L. Hernandez (sixth from right front row). (jGLiPhoto by Ernie Antonio, Jr.)





(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – A 36-year-old parolee was indicted Wednesday (Dec. 7) with 14-count murder in the brutal attack last October of Filipino American nurse Virginia Perillo before the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago’s south side.

A Clerk of Court source said that although, there was only one victim in the attack, the 14-count murder considers “different ways and intents” that contributed to the brutal killing.

Raymond Harris, a resident of 7100 Block of South Yale in Chicago, was not granted bail.

He will be up for arraignment on Dec. 28 at 9 a.m. at Room 101 at the Criminal Courts building on 2650 South California Avenue in the south side of Chicago.

Harris, who is on parole for an attempted murder conviction, was arrested after stealing the wedding and engagement rings of the victim, Perillo, 73, and used them to propose to his girlfriend.

If found guilty of murder, Harris could be sentenced to a maximum life in prison without parole. There is no death penalty in Illinois.

Prosecutors said Harris, who was paroled in May, attacked Perillo as she was getting out of her car in her garage in the 3300 block of South Parnell Avenue. He stole her purse and wedding and engagement rings. 

Perillo, a native of Cagayan de Oro City in the Philippines, sustained serious head wounds and was found lying unconscious by a neighbor, who was trying to close her garage door that was open. 

An intensive critical care nurse of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago’s southside for 40 years, Mrs. Perillo died on Oct. 24, two days after she was rushed to the hospital.

Prosecutors say on the night of the attack, Harris went to a party, wearing “brand new clothes” and showed the rings to a witness, asking which of them he should use to propose to his girlfriend. Harris later used both rings.


It was the DNA collected from a blood-stained men’s watch found inside Perillo’s car that matched Harris. A resident of suburban Carpentersville, Harris was arrested Tuesday afternoon in suburban Elgin, police said. 

When police contacted Harris’ fiancé, she turned the rings over to the detectives and Perillo’s family identified them as hers. 

Harris was paroled in May after serving 13 years of a 30-year sentence for his 1997 attempted murder and aggravated arson convictions, according Assistant State’s Attorney Melissa Howlett. 

In that case, Harris broke into a woman’s home, raped and beat her for several hours, Howlett said. He also threatened that victim at knifepoint, cut her neck and set three separate fires in the woman’s home, Howlett said. The woman woke up with her legs on fire and suffered third-degree burns. 

Just three weeks before that attack, Harris had been released from prison for a 1993 armed robbery, vehicular invasion and burglary. In that case, Harris brandished a gun at a woman getting outside of her car outside her home, Howlett said. 

Perillo’s son, Michael Perillo, 32, the youngest of Perillo’s three children, all boys, told this reporter in an interview that Chicago police found his mom lying unconscious Saturday (Oct. 22) between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. by a neighbor, who tried to close her garage after seeing it open.

M rs. Perillo’s husband, Mauro Perillo, 75, is a native of Polangui, Albay in the Philippines. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)


Our Lady of Penafrancia Assured of a Shrine In Chicago


(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

Joseph Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The celebration of the miraculous Our Lady of Penafrancia has been observed in the Chicago, Illinois for the last 22 years. Last Saturday, Sept. 17, the Rev. John J. Sanaghan, pastor of St. Matthias Church at 2310 W. Ainslie in Chicago’s north side, assured devotees that they could call St. Matthias Church as the home of Our Lady of Penafrancia “for the next 301 years.”

In brief welcome remarks after the translacion (transfer of the image of the Virgin of Penafrancia from one church to the other), Father Sanaghan, impressed with the big crowd that packed his parish church, has offered his parish church to be shrine of “Ina,” the revered Bikol name of Our Lady of Penafrancia.

The Penafrancia festivities have been observed annually in the home city of Ina in Naga in the Philippines for the last 301 years from the second Friday up to the third Saturday of September. Other parts of the world where there are preponderance of Bikolano devotees have also observed the same festivities simultaneously.

After a 30-minute fluvial procession from Belmont Harbor to Burnham Harbor in Lake Michigan in Chicago Saturday, the image of Penafrancia was returned to St. Matthias church on board a school bus along with the devotees.


Medyo ma-alon ang Lake. Pero hindi naman ako natatakot dahil kasama ko ang Virgen ng Penafrancia,” (The boat was buffeted by big waves of Lake Michigan. But I was not afraid because I was with the Virgin of Penafrancia.), according to Avelino “Ben” Ner, one of the devotees, who joined the fluvial procession.

But Daniel Hernandez, the three-year-old son of Larry Hernandez, who joined the fluvial procession, was dead tired, when the bus returned to St. Matthias church. His lola (grandmother), Dr. Dona L. Hernandez, who was also on board the boat, said Daniel might have felt dizzy during the trip on board the boat.

The fluvial procession was the culmination of the nine-day novena to usher the feast of the patroness of Bikolnons from the Philippines.

As in the eight previous nights, a chaplet, Rosary and Novena were held starting at 7 p.m. since Sept. 9 in St. Matthias Church.

When the fluvial devotees arrived in front of the St. Matthias Church, like a similar refrain in Naga City, welcoming devotees shouted “Viva La Virgin De Penafrancia !!! Vila El Divino Rostro! (Long Live Virgin of Penafrancia! Long Live the Holy Face!)

In Naga City, the fluvial procession is held at the Naga River.

To sustain attendance of devotees, residents who hailed from different six provinces and three cities of the Bikol region took turns alternately in hosting the nightly vigil.

President Roger “Boy” R. Odiamar of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Penafrancia said observance of the Penafrancia festivities in Chicago is growing each year because of the support of the Filipino American community. “We even got support from a boat owner, who provided us the boat for free during the fluvial procession for the last 22 years. I cannot just thank enough our supporters, including the flower and cape donors, voyadores (devotees), etc..”

But he is also thankful for the support of the Bikolanos notably the group called Bikol U.S.A., which was later renamed Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest now headed by Ms. Evelyn R. Tolledo of Catanduanes in the Philippines but is now a resident at suburban Schiller Park, Illinois. Ms. Tolledo is this year’s ad hoc committee co-chair.


At the mass during the Fiesta, Fr. John Era was the main celebrant assisted by Rev. Fr. Nelson Garcia and Deacon Roland Merced.

The nightly liturgy ministers included Fathers Nelson Garcia, John Era, Andre Beltran, Danilo Soriano, Leoncio Santiago, Tirso Villaverde, Joel Lopez and Noel Reyes.

Members of this year’s ad hoc committee included Jimmy Alto, Monette Calderon, Amor Saenz, Delia Silva, Aida Joseph, Lura Gonzales, Dona Hernandez, Romy Sarcilla, Alice Llames, Lilia Untalan, Danny Auro and Fely Odiamar.

In Naga City, on the second Friday of September, that is, September 9 this year, the image of the virgin and the Divino Rostro (Holy Face) are transferred, hence the term traslacion, from the Penafrancia Church to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral by barefoot male voyadores or devotees. While at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, the faithful start the Novenario. 
In previous years, the image of the Our Lady of Penafrancia was kept at the Basilica. But last year, the 300th year or tercenary of celebration, it was brought back to its original home, Penafrancia Church.

The festivities feature a fluvial procession on the ninth day of the novena bringing back the image to the Basilica for the Pontifical Mass. While only men can participate in the traslacion and fluvial procession, women devotees on the other hand have their own procession around the Basilica.



The image of the Virgin of Penafrancia is moved from the school bus after the fluvial procession towards the St. Matthias Church in the north side of Chicago, Illinois as it is met by female devotees last Saturday, Sept. 17. Photo shows foreground at left Roger “Boy” R. Odiamar, president of Confraternity of Our Lady of Penafrancia, talking to a devotee.


The image of the Virgin of Penafrancia is surrounded by devotees as it is being brought inside the St. Matthias Church in the north side of Chicago, Illinois last Saturday, Sept. 17, after the fluvial procession.


The image of the Virgin of Penafrancia is ushered inside the St. Matthias Church at the north side of Chicago, Illinois last Saturday, Sept. 17, after the fluvial procession, led by Fr. John Sanaghan (from left), Fr. John Era, and Fr. Nelson Garcia while devotees look on.

(Photos by jGLi Joseph G. Lariosa)


Golf Tourney Honors Bikol U.S.A. Ex-President Sunday


(© 2011 Journal Group Link International

Joseph Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest is going to host a golf tournament on Sunday, Sept. 25, at Big Oaks Golf Club & Country Club (262) 694-4200) at 6117 123rd Place, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin 53158-3635.

Jimmy Azul, former Bikol U.S.A. President, said tee time will start at 10 a.m., shotgun and the format, stroke play.

There will be first, second and third place trophies to be awarded separately under the U.S.G.A. (United States Golf Association) Handicapping System and the Peoria scoring system.

One low gross prize will be awarded under both scoring systems for men and women.

Competition for the longest drive, closest to the pin and the longest putt will be available on designated holes.

Various golf and household merchandise will be raffled off after the game.

There will be two divisions for men: One for players with current (within the calendar year) and verifiable official USGA handicap index and another for players with no official USGA handicap index, where the Peoria scoring will apply.

Each player will donate $55, which covers Green fees, Cart, Snacks and Dinner Buffet, while each sponsor will have to fork out $100.

Parties, who are interested to join the tournament, may call Mr. Azul at 847.308.0410; incumbent Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest President Evelyn Tolledo at 773.946.9668 and club member, Tony Blando at 832.603.7167.

This year’s golf tournament is dedicated to the memory of Engr. Jose “Joe” Ordonez, the third president of Bikol U.S.A.. Ordonez, a former dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City in the Philippines, died last month at the age of 76 of stroke at the Aquinas University Hospital in Legazpi City also in the Philippines. He retired in Tiwi, Albay in the Philippines and is survived by his wife, Jenny, and four children. He worked in the U.S. Federal government for many years prior to his retirement.

The golf tournament is one of the annual activities of Bikol U.S.A. based in Chicago, Illinois area. The group is now renamed Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest.

Photo of the late Engr. Jose “Joe”
Ordonez. (jGLi)



Lawmaker seeks tax deduction for families with children with disability







Government should help ease the financial burden on families caring for children with special needs by allowing a deduction on a parent or legal guardian’s taxable income.

Rep. Deogracias Ramos, Jr. (Sorsogon, Second District) said families with special needs children have different out-of-pocket expenditures than those with regular children.

“We should help children, regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have, to fully realize their potential for development. By allowing a tax deduction on a legal guardian’s taxable income, we help families reduce their expenses and hopefully provide better care,” he remarked.

Under House Bill 3765, a taxpayer caring for a child with a disability will be able to get a tax deduction of P50,000. Expenses that qualify for a deduction are:

• Tuition for a private school

• Therapy

• Diagnostic evaluations by a medical professional

• Tutoring

• Transportation expenses to school or a medical facility

• Specialized instructional materials

The Department of Education’s Special Education Division estimates the cost for taking care of a child with a disability is at least double compared to regular children.

Based on the 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, Filipino families earned an average of P206,000 and spent P176,000 on the average. This translates to an average annual family savings of P31,000 in 2009. On a monthly basis, the reported average income was P17,200 and average expenditure was P14,700.

Families in the bottom 30% income group reported an average annual family income of P62,000. Families in the upper 70% income group earned an average annual income of P268,000. On a monthly basis, the average income of the families in the bottom 30% was P5,200 while the upper 70% earned an average of P22,300.

A child with a disability is understood to be one who is intellectually disabled, has hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism and traumatic brain injury.

Rep. Ramos pointed out that families living in the provinces have a harder time getting an educational program and medical assistance suitable to the child’s needs.

He said children with different disabilities are often grouped together rather than have separate classes for each condition.

Children with a learning disability topped the list of special needs children enrolled in a public elementary school as of 2009. A total of 51,296 children were assessed as learning disabled, while the number of mentally retarded/intellectually disabled children stood at 13,119. Children who are hard of hearing ranked third with 12,039.

For School Year 2007 to 2008, the number of enrolled children with special needs in public and private elementary schools stood at 92,429. This translates to a 27.6% increase compared to School Year 2004 to 2005’s total of 79,118. Many children no longer pursue secondary education or stay in elementary schools for an extended period of time.

About Rep. Deogracias B. Ramos Jr.

Liberal Party – Sorsogon, 2nd District

Rep. Deogracias B. Ramos, Jr. represents the Second District of Sorsogon in the House of Representatives. The district covers Bacon, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulan, Irosin, Santa Magdalena, Matnog, Juban and Prieto Diaz.

He currently serves as vice-chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, Committee on Rural Development and Committee on Bicol Recovery and Economic Development.

Rep. Ramos received numerous national awards during his time as Mayor of Gubat, a second-class municipality in Sorsogon. These include:

• 1994 National Population Development Award

• 2002 TESDA Kabalikat Award

• 2004 Department of Agriculture Gawad Saka Award

• 2009 National Nutrition CROWN Award

• 2009 Punong Bayan Award of Excellence from the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.

The Congressman played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Bicol University – Gubat Campus.

The awards and the creation of the BU – Gubat Campus reflects the Congressman’s commitment to Agriculture, Education, Health, Nutrition and Public Service.


T: (02)9315001 local 7210.


LGU-Bulan 2010 Budget At 118 Million Pesos

From PIO- LGU Bulan  Mr. Tonyboy Gilana


Bulan, Sorsogon, December 31, 2009:

The Sangguniang Bayan has passed Appropriation Ordinance No. 02, series of 2009, authorizing the Annual Budget of the Local Government Unit for Fiscal Year 2010 in the total amount of 118,197,163.00 pesos covering the various expenditures for the municipal government.

In her Budget Message, Mayor Helen De Castro emphasized the need to judiciously manage the finances of the Local Government Unit to properly address the growing needs of about a hundred thousand people in the municipality, through the various programs of her Administration especially in the areas of Health, Education, Livelihood, Environment and Nutrition/Social Services (HELEN Program).

Of this amount, P98,197,163.00 shall come from the Local Government share from the Internal Revenue Allotment, while an estimated P20,000,000.00 shall be from the local taxes and revenues to be generated by the economic enterprises facilities like the Public Market, the Terminal, the Community Park, the Muncipal Fishport and various other revenue-generating activities.

The bulk of the expenditures, amounting to P54,173,506.00 shall go to General Services accounts like personnel services. Social Services Sector gets a share of P15,989,236.41, with Health taking in P8,884,993.00.The Economic Services Sector expenditures are expected next year to be in the amount of P11,281,176.60.

For Other Services, which includes Statutory Obligations, the 20% Community Development Fund comes in the amount of P19,639,432.60. Five percent or P5,909,858.15 is reserved for the Calamity Fund. P63,000 has been allotted as Aid to Barangays. A Lumpsum Appropriations of P2,500,000.00 as Terminal Leave Pay is also intended this year for out-going elective and other appointive officials.

Debt-servicing stands at P8,640,000.00 to cover payments for loans made by the Local Government Unit, and these include the Bulan Integrated Terminal and the DOF Premiumed Loans for the public market.

More municipal roads are due for repair and rehabilitation this year on account of the floods that caused much destruction this year, and the LGU is making sure that the pool of equipment is properly maintained to ensure consistent operation.

The municipal government is still waiting for the full implementation of the budget pending final approval by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, which has the power to review and/or reject the municipal proposal. /


“The Municipal Budget last year 2009 was P103,873,243.00. In 2008, the Budget was P102,078,480.70. So there was a marked increase especially in the share the municipal government got from the national government through the IRA or Internal Revenue Allotment.”

Please take note that the Local Revenues/ Incomes (P20,000,000.00) are mostly estimates. This amount will be possible only if we can realize our collection targets, through our economic enterprises and revenue-generating activities like business licenses, local taxes, service facility charges, etc.

The purpose why we released this news is because it is necessary that we in the LGU of Bulan be  TRANSPARENT  in our fiscal responsibilities and duties to the people of Bulan.


Ex-Governor Raul Lee Substitutes For Wife (Sally Lee) As Sorsogon Gubernatorial Candidate


From PIO- LGU Bulan Mr. Tonyboy Gilana


Sorsogon City, December 15, 2009:

In a sudden twist of events, incumbent Sorsogon Governor Sally A. Lee (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), gave up her bid to run for another term, when she filed yesterday at the provincial Comelec a certificate of withdrawal of her candidacy in favor of her husband, former three-termer Governor Raul Lee. December 14 was the last day for filing of substitute candidates by COMELEC-accredited parties.

Political analysts here said that with the entry of the former Governor, the opposition, led by Second District Congressman Jose G. Solis , running under the Kampi Party is in for a real run for their money as the former governor is seen as a more formidable force than his wife. While Governor Sally was seen as having done much for the province in her single term as governor, the ex-governor is believed to be a more unifying force on account of his political keenness and relationship with key political leaders all over the province. He never lost touch with all his political allies, and has continuously observed and participated in major political developments in the province.

While Lee is in for a tough fight in Bulan town, since Solis is from this place, which has a voting population of 46,000, the second biggest in the province, this was neutralized by the partnership with Lee of Bulan ex-mayor Guiming De Castro as vice-gubernatorial candidate. Analysts say Solis may win in Bulan but not with a margin big enough to carry him to victory. The De Castro camp promises a surprise win in Bulan for Lee, who has himself been beloved to the local populace. /




Submitted on 2009/12/02 at 4:10am


Bulan, Sorsogon, December 2, 2009: The filing of the certificates of candidacy for the national and local elections in the May 10, 2010 automated election officially closed at 12:00 midnight of December 1, 2009.

Bulan Comelec Officer Ma. Claire Salut-Laceda furnished the Municipal Information Office the list of those who filed their certificates of candidacy for the various local positions.

Here’s a summary of the list of the local candidates:

Lakas-Kampi-CMD Party:

Mayor: Helen C. De Castro (incumbent)

Vice-Mayor: Manuel D. Gogola (incumbent)


De Castro, Guillermo, Jr. C. (incumbent)

Dellomas, Jolife L. (incumbent)

Delmonte, Luis C. (Zone 4 capitan)

Gerona, Simplicio U. (incumbent)

Engr. Gigantone, Ronnie L.

Guran, Patricia L. (incumbent)

Hao, Bernard H. (incumbent Board Member)

Tan, Jose G. (former councilor)

Aksyon Demokratiko/Liberal Party

Mayor: Cesar O. Gogola

Vice-Mayor: Crisostomo G. Gotladera


Alcantara, Noli G. (former councilor)

Asuncion Angelito Xavier L.

Diesta, Arque DV

Evasco, Permo E. (San Isidro capitan)

Porras, Andres G. (former Liga President)

Kampi Party

Mayor : Redentor G. Guyala

Vice-Mayor: Oscar G. Deri (former Board Member)


Bautista, Ernesto D.

Boncan, Antonio B. (Gate capitan, incumbent)

Cano, Vicente A.

Golloso, Alvin G.

Grafil, Jose Gunao

Guray, Gerry G.

Oseo, Gilbert C.

Valeriano, Recto G.

Nacionalista Party:

Councilor: Que, Roberto, Jr. M. (incumbent)



Burias, Elmer C. (incumbent councilor)

Dellomas-Fundano, Joy L. (former Board Member)

Robles, Marnellie B.


Gernale, Arturo G.

Gocoyo, Ronaldo M. (former councilor, Lakas-Kampi, De Castro wing)

Grafil, Jose Golloso

Uy, Louie S.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Information Officer was able to obtain a partial list of candidates in the Provincial and District Levels.


1. Incumbent Governor Sally A. Lee (of Sorsogon City) Lakas-Kampi-CMD

2. Incumbent II District Congressman Jose G. Solis(of Bulan), Kampi Party

3. Ramon Gallinera (of Bulusan)


1. Former Mayor Guillermo O. De Castro, Sr. (of Bulan), Lakas-Kampi-CMD

2. Board Member Rosario Diaz (of Sorsogon City), Kampi Party

3. Former Vice Gov. Antonio Escudero (of Casiguran), Nationalist People’s Coalition

4. Former Mayor Nida Gamos (of Sta. Magdalena)


1. Incumbent Salvador Escudero (of Sorsogon City), Nationalist People’s Coalition

2. Former Casiguran Mayor Edwin Hamor (of Casiguran), Nacionalista Party

FOR CONGRESSMAN, Second District:

1. Flor Solis (of Bulan), Kampi Party

2. Former PCSO Gen Mgr. Ricardo G. Golpeo (of Bulan), NPC

3. Dr. Sappho Gillego-Ong (of Bulan), Independent

4. Cyril Ramos (of Gubat)

5. Mayor Deogracias Ramos (of Gubat)

6. Judge Escalante (of Gubat)

7. Incumbent Board Member Arze Glipo (Irosin)

8. Bulusan Mayor Juan Guysayko

Certificates of candidacy have also been filed with the Provincial COMELEC for the Provincial Board positions.

In Bulan, the three independent candidates for Vice-Mayor, Elmer Burias, Joy Dellomas-Fundano and Marnellie Ballesteros-Robles have all decided to adopt incumbent mayor Helen De Castro as his/her mayoralty candidate.

A total of  46,125 voters  have been registered by Bulan COMELEC. There are 265 precincts which shall be clustered to 83 polling precincts during the May 2010 elections.



From LGU-Bulan PIO-Tonyboy G. Gilana


It is November 10. We all listened once more today to the news, hoping perhaps the contents and contexts more complete, perhaps more comprehensive. The air is still melancholic!

Yesterday, November 9, in early afternoon, we received calls of a tragedy, and we all tensely waited for the news. Everywhere, different versions were being buzzed around by people, but the truth was there – eight young policemen from the 509th PPMG, on a hot pursuit operation, aboard their police mobile, were blasted by a landmine said to be planted by the New People’s Army, along the Barangays Antipolo-Calomagon road at around 11:30 in the morning, but not without a fight. Four of the police officers were killed, and two seriously injured, two others escaped. Another unidentified body was brought downtown to Funeraria Labalan. The reports said he was a member of the New Peoples’ Army. Those who died were natives of other towns, except for one Bulaneno, the locally-renowned nemesis of the NPAs in Bulan, SPO1 Johnson Gerola, labeled by his colleagues in the service as “The Legend Tiger” because he outsurvived his police batchmates in Bulan, and because he had survived many military battles and attempts on his life. He did not survive this time. But he died, together with his colleagues, in the performance of a patriotic duty. They are heroes in their own right.

And maybe, too, that unidentified NPA cadre, is a hero in the eyes of his comrades-in-arms. They should be relishing their victory now in their mountain hide-out.

There was a certain tension all over town, even though the fatal ambush took place in an isolated, remote roadside, some ten kilometers away from the poblacion. This war, now of attrition, has been taking place in pockets, for more than thirty years now, all over the country, and here in Sorsogon. Until when it will last, we never don’t know. We hope the better, more positive side of the leaders and negotiators from both sides come out for the good of all, that war is not a solution to our existing problems. Or that, war is causing us more problems than ever. Ironically, however, it is also this war that may purge us of the evils in the system that we are in.

And there was the paradox of silence and hushed noise among the townspeople as they crowded outside of the Bulan Municipal Police Station downtown and the 509th Police Provincial Mobile Group camp, or at the Funeraria Labalan where almost everyone wanted a glimpse of the dead. Families and friends shed tears for the fallen officers. Everybody seemed affected as groups and pockets of people, bystanders, huddled for the news, in many corners.

It is another rare instance today, that the peace of the town was once more broken. Every now and then, over the past years, we are shattered by news that this person or that policeman or armyman died, shot by somebody from whose side we seem to all know. To us in Bulan, it is always a big deal when we hear of those news because it is not commonplace. Despite this long-running war between government and the NPA rebels, Bulan has been a relatively peaceful town, and the townspeople, peace-loving, normally goes on and moves on with life, busy with living, making a living, as if, especially those in the urban areas, these things do not exist. In the remote barangays, especially those said to be influenced by the NPA cadres, the people, especially the barangay leaders, though afraid and cautious, fearful for their own safety, skillfully, prudently and wisely relates and deals with both sides, but do not seriously side with either of them. If the NPAs come, they welcome them. If the military patrol comes, they welcome them. The bottomline, for the local leaders, or the barangay chiefs, is that the lives of our families, of our children, of our residents, are safeguarded, and that we not be caught in your crossfires — (Those whom we love are more important than your ideologies, or your systems, or your philosophies, or your politics. You come and you go, but we remain here in this barrio, in this place, in this town.) I think these local officials and barangay leaders are heroes. They have courage in the midst of their fears. And yet they may, or can, be persecuted by either side.

The delivery of the dead fighters downtown is big news for the young generation today. Many were yet unborn when Bulan was drenched in blood during the Martial Law days, when every night was always broken by the exchange of gunfires, maybe in San Ramon, Marinab, Gabod, Busay. In 1972-76, during those darkest of years, the cadavers of both the military and the rebels were delivered daily, their pitiful broken corpses lined-up or displayed in one usual sad place in front of the police precinct. And we heard of the names of rebels, or they call them “freedom fighters” Tony Ariado, Nanette Vytiaco, Fenito Guan, Anihay, or from the other military side, Sgt. De Leon, etc. Those were really the years of living dangerously. I was ten or eleven years old when Martial Law was declared and we already felt the melancholy of the time.

The generation of today are fortunate, because they live in a time of relative peace.

But I think the generation of yesterday were more fortunate, because they were tried and tested in the crucible of those dark years, in vicissitude, in blood, in fear, in hope, in tears, in patriotism. Whether those who have fallen fought for government or against the government, they have not died in vain, if they died with that purity of intention and love of country. And for those who lived, they sure know what patriotism or betrayal meant. They emerged stronger.

And now, this day of melancholy hovers upon us, maybe, until the dead police officers are interred. Or for the families, until they shall have accepted the fate that descended upon their beloved. Both sides went there to perform a sacred duty, whatever their ideologies must have been.

I dream of that day when leaders will sit across tables, in negotiation, in truce, in goodwill and there settle differences rather than in the battlefields. I dream of that day when no corpse will come down from the mountain, and break the hearts of our people. I dream of that day when our rice and coconut farmers can bring in the best produce of their land because there are no more bullets from crossfires to fear for. I dream of that day when our our babies and our kids grow peacefully; our families live, not in fear but in friendship with one another.

I also dream of that day when there will be no more freedom fighters going to the hills to stage a revolution because they think government did not care for them, so they sought refuge in their beliefs even if this means death as a matter of sacrifice for others.

And I dream of that government, pure and honest, that takes into its caring fold every citizen, and then brings him up truly a person of dignity. I dream of this and much more…

It seems an impossible dream because history has proven that to us, from the beginning of time, all over the world. But there is no reason to despair as long as there is hope in men, and as long as there are hearts and hands to realize that dream. /

                                                                                                        – Sad End-


Bulan Observer Supports Swiss-Asian Chamber Of Commerce Task Force Asia

by jun asuncion


The devastation of  typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng to the Philippines was unprecedented in scale and magnitude. The whole world was witness to this natural catastrophe and the drama of the Filipino people as they fought to survive. Videos and  photos uploaded in internet platforms are documents of our suffering: A whole family on a roof that has been violently carried away by the gush of the swollen river only to be smashed against the concrete support of the bridge and be drowned as others were helplessly watching; a woman and a child carried by the strong current crying out for help. We can only wonder what she said to her baby before they were swallowed down the depths of the river…

 Now that the storm is over, the only thing left is to help those victims  make their miserable destiny bearable to them-  and to us. We know that catastrophes do not distinguish between rich and poor. The only difference is that the rich may recover materially much easier than the poor ones. The rich victims may already be under the shower and dressed with fine clothings  dining in fine restaurants and sleeping in comfortable rooms in hotels or fine apartments provided by their rich friends. But where are the poor? They are still there with their poor companions, stuck in the muds among the debris and sleeping in evacuation centers- if these were quickly provided by the government. Otherwise they are still  in the streets, wallowing in muddy waters, hopelessly lost, hungry and cold.

We may have been thousands of  miles away from Ondoy and Pepeng, thousands of miles away from the deep waters of Marikina and from our drowning citizens. Yet their crying voices seemed to have been heard in the farthest reaches of the universe. It is painful for those who heard them, even to those who do not share the color of our skin.

These crying voices echoed also in the alps of Switzerland and in the noble streets of Zurich. The Swiss were quick to respond, the humanitarian tradition being firmly rooted in their heart and soul. A Swiss lawyer, Dr. Martin Kurer, chairman of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce- Philippine Chapter and co-founder of the Taskforce Asia, quickly connected himself with two Filipino nurses here in Zurich, Franklin Patricio and Milagros Asuncion, who are both working in Hirslanden Clinic, to ask for  their help on fundraising for our fellow Filipinos who are still stuck in the miry streets of Manila. Milagros Asuncion is a photographer of Bulan Observer. She also had a taste of flooding  when Storm Dante battered Bulan last May. Now the engagement to flood victims continues even when far away from home.

 In order to help raise funds, she endorsed SACC by way of offering her  testimonial to the Taskforce Asia, appeared in the Caritas, a humanitarian organization with seat in Zürich, will be appearing on  a radio interview and will be- together with Franklin-  organizing a piano concert in Zürich. I am, on the other hand, just sitting quitely at the background with my laptop-, writing for some websites here and writing letters for donors. All for the benefits of our bedraggled homeless Ondoy victims in the Philippines.

The SACC Task Force Asia was set up by the Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland, H.E. M aria Theresa P. Lazaro, and Martin Kurer, Chairman of the SACC Philippine Chapter.

Here’s the Website of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce with our two  Filipino “ambassadors of goodwill” Mila and Franklin:


Milagros Asuncion, Nurse at Hirslanden Klinik in Zurich, Heart-Thorax Surgery Station.

Mila SCC “My name is Milagros Asuncion. I am a nurse at Hirslanden Klinik. For the past 28 years I have been working as a nurse in Switzerland. We have experienced very bad storms in the Philippines before, but this Ketsana, or Ondoy, is worse than anything I…( click here for more…)




Franklin Patricio, Nurse at  Hirslanden Zürich, Heart-Thorax Surgery Station

22I am Franklin Patricio. I am working as a nurse in a hospital in Zurich. The Philippines are very much affected by the storm which has hit Metro Manila and Northern Luzon, as the fate of my sisters’ family shows. Please support the… (click here for more…)




Bulan Observer will be supporting more humanitarian projects of the Swiss-Asian Chamber Of Commerce  in the future.

(Photos supplied by Swiss-Asian Chamber Of Commerce- with special thanks to Dr. Martin Kurer!)


Realted Articles


But we are not destroyed (as published in Taskforceasia.ch)

 by Maribel Oana, Zurich, Switzerland

I still have my family: my mother, a widow for 43 years, who has been blind for almost 15 years, and crippled- because of a car accident last 2005- but saved; with her is my youngest brother with his wife and their 3 children, they are the ones taking care of my mother. Venue:  our  two-floors Residential house in Vista Verde Executive Village in Cainta Rizal, one of the most devastated areas hit by Typhoon Ondoy.

This is their story, as related to me by my mother and my sister-in-law.

September 26, 2009, Saturday at about 8 o’clock in the morning; the water in the streets were we lived were already ankle high (our house is one meter elevated from that of the street). After less than 15 minutes, the water rose and have reached our main gate and Garage, so my brother told my mother that he will accompany her in going to the second floor because the water is rising fast. My mother didn’t took this seriously because she knew that it never flooded in our house even when our neighbor subdivisions are under water, ours never was.

My brother and his 2 sons started putting the appliances such as the Refrigerator, washing machine and electric cooking range on the dining table while my sister-in-law and her daughter brought some biscuits, rice, noodles and water upstairs and nothing else (they were caught unprepared for this situation). Another 15 minutes gone by, the water was already inside our house on the first floor and 1 inch below the knee. My brother hurried to my mother and let her stand on her feet to make her believe that the water is truly inside our house and she was very much frightened and shocked as she felt the water on her knees.

My brother carried my mother upstairs for there is no more time left because the water is rising up every minute. Then he and his sons took the light furniture upstairs as fast as they can and that within 5 minutes then after that is history: a huge amount of water flooded our first floor.

My brother was nearly drowned for he was caught unaware, because the appliances that were on top of the table fell on the water and bumped him, he was trap in the middle of the swimming appliances and the swimming piano, thanks God, his sons pulled him up.

Not long ago on the second floor, they heard voices from outside calling for help; they saw our neighbors swimming outside crying and shouting for help. Their houses (only one floor-Bungalow style) were under water with only the roofs seen. My family welcomed our neighbors

(2 families and the youngest was a 5-year old boy). Before 9 o’clock (within less than one hour), the whole place was flooded 2 meters high, and remained there 2 days and 2 nights, with no electricity, 3 liters of water and only biscuits to eat (for they cannot cook without electricity). We were able to communicate with them through cellphone on a limited basis, since cellphones need to be recharged, too.

We may not be with our family physically during this Ondoy Tragedy, but they were always in our prayers and we motivated and encouraged then to pray, too and continue to trust in God even this times of suffering, for we know that God is still in control! My eldest brother and his family, and my eldest sister’s family were saved, but we are still looking for our cousin living in Provident Village in Marikina who until now is missing. My mother is a prayerful woman and she told me this; “my child, we may be struck down, but we are not destroyed, Praise be the name of the Lord!

The Aftermath: as of now death toll is rising up, a lot of people is still missing and thousands of people are homeless and hungry. In behalf of my countrymen, I’m asking and pleading you to please help us in cash of any amount or in kind (any old clothes, old shoes, old linen)./



Submitted on 2009/10/04 at 9:41am

PIO- Bulan

Bulan, Sorsogon, October 3, 2009, PIO-BULAN: Bulanenos heaved a very deep sigh of relief, and offered prayers of thanksgiving to God, after the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council officially declared, in its October 2, 3:00 PM Advisory that the dangers and risks posed by Supertyphoon Pepeng to the town of Bulan is over. The Supertyphoon, packing winds of between 185-230 KPH, is on its way to the northern part of the Philippines on a west-northwest track as forecast by PAG-ASA. The MDCC Action Officer, Luis De Castro, however, appealed to the public to continue praying for other Filipinos who might be affected by the storm and that they too be spared of this calamity.

Supertyphoon Pepeng endangers the Philippines once more a week after Tropical Storm Ondoy, on September 28-29, brought death, devastation and havoc to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in Metro Manila. Hundreds died and many more were missing from the floodwaters as high as ten meters, due to the record high volumes of rain by this malevolent weather. As of this writing, rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts are still on-going in Manila. Not a single family in Bulan is without a relative in Manila.

When news from PAG-ASA and from the Internet about Pepeng was received by the Office of the Municipal Mayor, Mayor Helen De Castro, Chairman of the MDCC, immediately called, on Wednesday, September 30, an emergency meeting of all members of the MDCC and other stakeholders to put into action and implementation the Municipal Disaster Risk-Reduction Plan.

By evening of October 1, Sorsogon Province was placed under Public Storm Signal No.1, and by then, the Bulan MDCC and all the BDCCs were already activated. Other parts of the Bicol Region were ready, and so were all other Philippine regions. Great were the lessons learned from the tragic experience of Storm Ondoy.

In the whole town of Bulan, residents were properly informed, hand-outs on readiness were distributed, operation capabilities checked and re-checked by local authorities. All the four radio stations played very responsible roles in the public information. In flood-prone barangays like Managa-naga, Obrero, San Vicente, barangay officials prepared rafts from recycled ice chests or styrofores. Managa-naga Barangay Chairman said they also prepared a kilometer-long rope for their residents in case flood waters rise.

The spirit of Bayanihan and volunteerism once more came to the fore as several groups and organizations came to help the MDCC in monitoring , in the voluntary and pre-emptive evacuation of citizens in hazard areas, and in the relief operations in evacuation centers.

Groups like USWAG-Bulan, TOFY, Kabalikat-CIVICOM, BANWA, MAGIC 5, BEAT, and the Bulan Rescue Team were all in hand to do varied roles necessary for the safety of the citzenry

During the storm, 14 houses were partially destroyed by storm surges in Barangay JP Laurel. There were also 56 families or 188 persons attended to by MSWDO/RHU personnel and by the volunteers. The Bulan Integrated Terminal became a refuge center for 125 stranded passengers bound for Masbate and Ticao Island. Hot meals were given to them while they are staying at the terminal. Sadly, one passenger from Palanas , Masbate died of a heart attack upon arrival at the terminal. He was attended to by the Bulan PNP.

Fortunately, there were no reports of damage to public infrastructure. Farmers were also thankful that there was only minor damage to crops , especially that this is now the palay-harvest season in Bulan.

The MDCC, thru the Municipal Mayor and the Municipal Action Officer, extended thanks to all those who, in one way or another, did their share in making sure that the Bulan community was safe.





Bulan, Sorsogon, October 3, 2009 – Several passengers, before boarding their tricycles that will bring them to the Bulan Pier today, extended thanks and praises to the Local Government Unit of Bulan and the Bulan Terminal personnel, for the attention and care given to them while staying here at the local government facility at the height of typhoon Pepeng.

Yesterday, a total of 125 passengers bound for Masbate and Ticao Island were stranded at the Terminal, Of these, 54 were males, 54 females and 17 children.

The MSWDO gave out hot meals for dinner yesterday and another breakfast pack this morning to all the passengers before they left for their trip to Masbate, after Typhoon Signal No. 1 was lifted by PAG-ASA.

These were sad moments however for the family of one of the passengers, a 60-year old male resident of Palanas town in Masbate, who died of a heart attack, 20 minutes after debarking from the MegaBus, due to fear brought about by announcements on the typhoon. He was immediately attended to by terminal personnel and the PNP..

According to Terminal Manager Ruel Gimao, the Bulan Integrated Terminal, since it started operation, has always been a holding center to hundreds of Masbate passengers, everytime the Coast Guard suspends inter-island vessel trips to and from Masbate and Ticao or Northern Samar.

Gimao said that many passengers texted him after reaching their destination in Masbate and Ticao thanking local authorities for attending to them while staying at the Terminal. They say that they felt safer at the new facility unlike before that they were exposed to many elements in private terminals in the Poblacion.

THE Local Government Unit has in the past purchased several beddings and utensils to be used especially by children and old people stranded at the Terminal. A holding room has also been especially furbished for use by these passengers. The Terminal Manager reported that in many instances in the past months, they have already helped several persons with mental illnesses, and who were on their own when they arrived at the Terminal. These people were properly referred to the police and health and social welfare authorities.



The Way To Bulan Eco-Park

By: jun asuncion +* LGU- Bulan Mayor Helen De Castro and Tony Boy Gilana


We have taken all these photos by ourselves on that sultry summer morning last April 2009.  As I was sorting out the photos for this documentary article, I realized that I couldn’t provide myself  the necessary informative captions for each photo.  So I called up Mayor Helen De Castro and asked her if she could help provide the needed information. I caught her right in the middle of a meeting about H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu) but she was really  kind enough to listen to my concerns and promised she would send Bulan Observer the materials. I also knew how busy her team was at this point because of the upcoming town Fiesta. So it took awhile, but we have patience for good things.

The purpose of this little documentary is to give readers of  Bulan Observer especially those who are away from home a visual tour of the Bulan Eco-Park so that they will have a concrete image of it. Interestingly enough, my own mental picture of the Eco-Park before my visit did not diverge far from the real picture of it – at least as far as I could roam around and shoot photos and videos of it. Lack of a guide and time prevented me from exploring the whole park for it is really big.

Now, with the additional captions written in our Bulan dialect and other article-related substantial information in English sent by LGU-Bulan, it is practically a guided tour as you go from one photo to the next. The added facts and updates  at the end of the report will  round up your knowledge about the park. So enjoy your way to Bulan Eco-Park!  jun asuncion


It was a nice April morning when we drove to  Calomagon  to visit the BulanEco-Park. It’s not far from the center of the town. After Somagonsong  we found the signboard on the left side. We were excited and took photos along the way to -and from the Eco-Park. (For your sound as you travel, click the first photo and then minimize your media player)
















 A local Kiosk with young bystanders just passing the time, curios-looking eyes to passing strangers.









  Yet friendly and smiling faces.









 Turn left again to a long and winding – and rough road, naturally.









 Here’s the road in front of us, looking  quite and deserted, windless day, indeed a calm before the storm.










 (A quarry pit over there?)

Photo No. 6:

*Mao tabi ini an inkukuwaan ta baras na pangtahob ta sa mga basura saato dumpsite. Regular (weekly) tabi na in-uusong, hinuhulog san heavy equipment unit an basura sa bangin. Pakahulog tabi, tatahuban ini san baras (soil cover).









Looking like a natural gate marking the border to another town.









 Coconut plantation, an almost magical ambiance, like an oil painting from afar, palm leaves silvery and shining.









 Here we are, the Welcome signboard.









The certiicate of recognition to our Mayor De Castro  for excellence in environmental governance on Solid waste Management.










 A symbol for natural harmony- at least the way I see it.









Photo No. 12:

*Mao tabi ini an demo garden para saurbanagriculture o container gardening. Laom tabi sini na maipaimod sa mga tawo na sa halip na itapok an mga old containers o butangan (plastic, empty milk cans, platic cups, sako, nan iba pa) sa basurahan, pwede pa tabi ini gamiton bilang plant pots para sa mga ornamentals nan gulay). Intended/designed tabi ini lalo na sa mga urban areas o poblacion areas kun haen limitado o wara na tabi lugar para pagtanuman.








Photo No. 13:

*Parte tabi ini san kampanya san Lokal na Gobyerno sa pag-implementar san waste segregation








 A cow discretely resting beside a bahay kubo, seems to be observing us.








Photo No. 15:

*Mao tabi ini an istruktura kun haen tabi naka locate an Materials Recovery Facility. Pagsakat tabi sin trak para magtapok basura, didi muna tabi ihuhulog an mga basura na puede pa pakinabangan nan ipabakal. Ini tabi na istruktura, hinati sa tolo na kuwarto (Lecture Room, Materials Recovery Facility, Ecology Center).








Photo No. 16.

*Lecture Room. Didi tabi inhihimo an briefing o orientation sa mga bisita (LGU, estudyante, empleyado, o grupo na interesado maaraman an programa san Municipio sa Solid Waste Management) sa Ecopark. Didi man tabi inhihimo an demo san paghimo san mga manalaen-laen na activators para sa composting.








Photo No. 17.

“An sulod tabi san Lecture Room








Photo No. 18.

*Mao tabi ini an section para sa Materials Recovery Facility.








Photo No. 19:

*Mao man tabi ini an section para sa Ecology Center. Showcase room tabi ini para sa mga recycled products, information, nan mga pictures/documentation san programa sa Solid Waste Management.








Photo No. 20:

*An nasa left side tabi na structure, sayo po sa mga rest areas o cottages sa Ecopark. An sa right side tabi, mao an vermiculture nan vermicomposting facility. Sa sulod man tabi sini nafacility an shredding area kun haen naka takod po an shredder.

An vermiculture nan vermicomposting facility tabi, sayo na proseso san composting kun haen an ginagamit tabi ulod. Sa Ecopark tabi, an species tabi na may-on, mao an African nightcrawler. Pinapakaon tabi ini na mga ulod sin shredded na mga nabubulok na basura (market waste, grass clippings, etc.), an manure tabi nira, mao an produkto san composting. Mao man tabi ini an ginagahoy na vermicompost na pwede gamiton bilang soil conditioner o fertilizer sa mga tinanom.

An kulay blue tabi, mao an sayo sa duwa na tanke tabi san tubi sa Ecopark na ginagamit pangsaribo sa mga tinanom nan sa operation san MRFnan composting facilities.

An kahiwasan tabi na nasa letrato, mao an inkokonduktaran san mga programa sa Ecopark pareho san Fiesta sa Kabubudlan (film showing, games, concert, disco, nan iba pa).








Photo No. 21:

*Mao tabi ini an tanke san tubi sa Ecopark. Ini tabi na inguguyod na tanke, mao tabi an nagdadara san tubi sa Ecopark








Photo No. 22:

*Mga nakasako tabi ini na mga nabubulok na basura (balat nan iba pa na parte san prutas nan gulay, dahon, buto, nan iba pa) na hale sa Public Market. Ini tabi kukuwaon san in-charge sa composting facility para darahon sa shredding area para gilingon, paaguihon sa 2 weeks na anaerobic decomposition saka ipapakaon sa mga ulod.

Maiimod tabi sa upper left side san letrato an shredder. Sa upper right side naman tabi, an mga composting beds o vermi beds.








Photo No. 23:

*Mao tabi ini an mga tanom na puno san gmelina (about 2 years old). Sa likod tabi ini san vermiculture nan vermicomposting facility.

May-on man tabi didi sin hukay (0.75m x 0.75m x 0.50m) na pag nag-uuran, nabubutangan tubi. Ini tabi nakukuwaan man tubi pangsaribo sa mga tinanom nan compost piles sa likod..








Photo No. 24:

*Mao tabi ini an vermiculture nan vermicomposting beds. Kapag an shredded na basura tabi na binutang sa bed, halos puro manure na tabi san ulod, ibubutang na tabi ini na mga sako na may laman na fresh (although nag-agui na tabi ini sa 2-week na anaerobic decomposition process) na pagkaon para sa mga ulod. Mao tabi ini an paagui para makuwa an mga ulod nan mabalyo sa iba naman na beds.

Ini tabi na mga manure na, hahayaan mun-a tabi for 1 month sa lugar para maka-recover pa sin mga baby worms sa bed. After 1 month, pwede na tabi ini sakuhon nan i-stock sa bodega.








Photo No. 25:

*Mao tabi inian shredding machine na ginagamit sa shredding process. Sini-shred tabi an mga basura para mas madali malupa nan makaon san mga ulod.








Photo No. 26:

*An inkukuwaan tabi letrato san photographer mao tabian tree planting site san naka-agui na Fiesta sa Kabubudlan 2008. Sa left side tabi sini na lugar, mao man an campsite.








Photo No. 27:

*Mao tabi ini an close up picture san demo garden para saurbanagriculture o container gardening. An bubong tabi sini mao an pakanapan para sa ampalaya, karabasa, nan iba pa na nagkakanap na tinanom. Maiimod tabi an mga lata, sako nan plastic cups.








Photo No. 28:

*Sa sulod tabi ini san urban agriculture demo garden. Talong tabi ini na nasa sako. Pina-paimod lang tabi na an mga sako san semento, pwede man gamiton na patubuan san gulay/tinanom.








Photo No. 29:

*Sa sulod man tabi ini san urban agriculture demo garden. Mga kamatis tabi ini na nasa sako man san semento. An kawayan tabi sa taas san tinanom, mao an pakanapan.








Photo No. 30:

*Sa sulod man tabi ini san urban agriculture demo garden. Manlaen-laen tabi na gulay an nakatanom didi sa mga sako.








Photo No. 31:

*Tanuman man tabi ini na kawayan. Naka-design lang tabi siya na A-Frame. An mga irog tabi sini, pwede ibutang sa mga roof top san balay.








Photo No. 32:

*Signage tabi ini san Opisina.








Photo No. 33:

*Mao tabi ini an Ecopark Office. Nagsisirbi man tabi ini stock room san Ecopark.









Photo No. 34:

*Signage tabi pakadto sa Campsite. Kaupod tabi sa letrato an mga Acacia mangium trees (about 1 ½ years old).








Photo No. 35:

*Pathway pakadto tabi sa rest areas o cottages. Maiimod man tabi an mga puno san Gmelina arborea nan Acacia mangium sa palibot.








Photo No. 36:

*Pathway pakadto tabi sa campsite








Photo No. 37:

*Sayo sa mga rest areas/cottages. Kada rest area tabi, may signboard manungod sa solid waste management / waste segregation to inform the park goers about the policy of the LGU.








Photo No. 38:

*An sayo pa tabi sa duwa na tanke san tubi sa Ecopark. Naka-locate man tabi ini harane sa bungad san Ecopark. Inbubutangan man tabi ini tubi para pangsaribo man sa mga tinanom na nakatanom sa parte na ini san Ecopark.








 Driving back after a relaxing time inside the park.









A good segment of the road, smooth driving.









 This time a quintet of Calomagon boys. I’m very happy to see them as they look very natural, uncontaminated and safe from the dangers of  too much civilization.










Towards the end of our journey before the exit to the town, a nipa hut  surrounded by flowering birds of paradise! They would cost a fortune in Europe.


If you would see the Eco-park as it is, it is surely a big accomplishment for our local government knowing that it is also a place where environmental agendas are being held every year. I would be very glad to see the Feast Of the Mountains, or to attend a lecture or workshop on solid waste management or global warming. How about a Music Festival- or a Jazz Festival? My own fantasy, as I walked on the ground of  Bulan Eco-park with my mind filled with ideas on how it could be improved  with time as Bulan progresses.

I would have wished it was a guided tour when I was there so that I could ask questions about things that were not clear for me. Maybe next time I would have this privilege. One thing that would make you happy are the young trees planted all over the Campsite and the well-kept paths. I wanted to know the names of the trees so I suggest that they’d be written in their local and scientific names. Included would be short information about each specific tree like distribution, importance to Bulan ecology, status ( endangered or not yet), etc.

I haven’t seen a source of drinking  water like a faucet , a well, water pump or  a grilling area , a multi-functional pavilion, garbage cans, a toilet and wash room for Park visitors. And I haven’t seen anybody there- except for a cow behind the signboard which says “Waste Segregation Suportado San KadaBulaneño”. Was that cow segregating also her waste? Cows by the way are one of the biggest culprits of this global warming. /  jun asuncion


*LGU-Bulan Mayor Helen De Castro and Tony Boy Gilana



Gmelina arborea (Gmelina) – exotic

Acacia mangium (Mangium) – exotic

Acacia auriculiformis (Acacia auri) – exotic

Swietenia Macrophylla (Big Leaf Mahogany) – exotic


Tinanom tabi ini na species maski aram ta na exotic tabi ini sa dahilan na ini tabi, fast growing kaya sa panahon tabi na nagbabatog pa lang an pag-develop san Ecopark, kaipuhan tabi shade. Although exotic tabi, widely distributed naman na tabi siya sa Pilipinas for how many years.

Pterocarpus indicus (Narra)

Albizia saman (Acacia, Rain Tree)

Leucaena leucocephala (Ipil-ipil)

Fruit trees:

Artocarpus heterophyllus (Langka)

Mangifera indica (Mango)

Carica papaya (Papaya)

Annona squamosa (Atemoya)

Canarium ovatum (Pili)

Cocos nucifera (Coconut)

Theobroma cacao (Cacao)



Mac Arthur Palm

Yellow Bell






None yet, pero may plano na.


Sa niyan, an ginagamit lang tabi na area para sa mga activities, an kahiwasan san lugar na kahampang san vermiculture nan vermicomposting facility. Nagbubutang tabi stage nan big tents kun may mga lecture, demonstrations, programs, etc.

4. Garbage cans

Dire tabi kami nagbubutang san basurahan sa mga rest areas o cottages dahilan sa ini-encourage namo na paghale san mga park goers sa cottages, dara tabi nira an basura nira para ibutang sa garbage receptacles na naka-locate sa gilid san tinampo.

5. Toilet

Dire lang tabi siguro nakuwaan letrato an mga toilet rooms. May 3 sets (one cubicle for men, one cubicle for women) tabi na toilet strategically located tabi sa Ecopark. Pa-triangle tabi an location san mga toilet since masyadong malaki ang lugar. An sayo sa may campsite banda, an sayo sa may durho na cottage, an sayo sa may centro san Ecopark.



The “Bulaneño Ako, Basura Ko, Sini-segregate Ko!” Program is one of the priority thrusts of the Local Government Unit of Bulan. It was first conceptualized in 2004, launched in 2005 and strictly implemented in 2008. The program encompasses the whole solid waste management program of the LGUandwas designed for: a.) sanitation and environmental protection, b.) sound solid waste management systems, c.) provision and enhancement of livelihood opportunities through intensive resource recovery and recycling, and d.) minimization of public expenditures.

Prior to the program implementation, there were clear violations of RA 9003 which were really detrimental to the environment and lives of the people. Rampant burning of solid wastes in the household and in the municipal dumpsitewas prevalent. Throwing garbage at the different waterways seemed to be a normal scenario. Moreover, dumping of unsegregated wastes at the municipal dumpsite posed hazards not only to the environment but also to more than thirty (30) scavengers in the dumpsite seekingfor possible resources. Although Republic Act 9003 mandating all LGUstoimplement waste segregation and close all the existing open dumpsites was passed into law in 2001, implementation was difficult to materialize.

In 2004, the call for the execution of the mandates of the Act was very intense. It is the time when incumbent Mayor Helen C. De Castro decided to include Solid Waste Management (SWM) as one of her priority thrusts. To immediately act and address the existingsituation, Mayor De Castro formed a Technical Working Group (TWG). A plan of action was made and a series of multi-sectoral meetings, orientations and seminars for LGU key implementers and other stakeholders followed.

On June 30, 2005, the “Bulaneño Ako, Basura Ko, Sini-segregate Ko!” Program was officially launched. A month after, Mayor De Castro spearheaded the launching also of the Bulan Ecopark, with an aim of transformingthe existing open dumpsiteinto an ecological park. However, the first implementation of the program had not been successful. The problems were eventually traced to lack of regular monitoring and evaluation coupled with some operational deficiencies on the part of the LGU. Mayor De Castro realized the problem and tried to address it.

On November 2005, the Municipality of Bulan was enrolled to the DILGGO-FAR Project. In 2006, Mayor De Castro along with four (4) members of the TWG went to Linamon, Lanao Del Norte to attend the Replication Inception Workshop (RIW) on SWM. The good practices to be replicated then were the operation of Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and the preparation of two (2) compost activators. On the same year, Mayor De Castro spearheaded the replication process. Relevant facilities were established and more intensive IECs on RA 9003 and Municipal Ordinance on SWMwerere-packaged. Finally, on March 24, 2008, the program was strictly enforced givingemphasis on the following; a.) strict implementation of waste segregation-at-source, b.) collection of segregated wastes-at-source, c.) application of waste treatment (4Rs) / alternative technologies, d.) implementation of segregated waste disposal system, and e.) conversion of waste disposal facility into an Ecological Park.

With the efforts of the LGU and the massive participation of the community, the program earned various awards and recognitions both from the local and national levels. In 2007, the municipality was an awardee of the prestigious DENR Saringaya Awards, LGU Category for excellence in Local Governance and Environmental Protection on the field of SWM. In 2008, the DILG through its Secretary, Hon. Ronaldo Puno declared the Municipality of Bulan as Model Town on SWM. In view of being a Model Town, Bulan was expected to host RIWsfor interested replicating LGUs all throughout the country. At present, four (4) LGUsfromfour (4) provinces and two (2) schools including the U.P. Diliman – National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) have already visited Bulan for its SWM Program. In 2008 also, Mayor De Castro reaped the Punong BayanAward of Excellence for championing the program. No less than the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, Hon. Noli De Castro and LMP National President Hon. Ramon Guicogavethe award at the Manila Hotel during the LMP General Assembly.

At present, the program is workingand regular monitoringand evaluation is being observed. The Bulan Ecopark, a brainchild project of Mayor De Castro is continuously building a big space of hope in the big wide face of Mother Earth.


The program since has been enrolled and awarded by the DILG as Model Town on Solid Waste Management on October 2008 caters LGUs, barangays, schools, and other groups interested to visit, observe and replicate the program. Some of the LGUs and groups who have already visited Bulan for its SWMProgram are the following:

a. Personnel from Cataingan, Masbate

August 2008

b. Students from U.P. National College of Public Administration and

Governance (NCPAG), Diliman Campus

September 19-20, 2008

c. Youth for Environment in Schools Organization (YES-O)

Division of Sorsogon

October 28, 2008

d. Sorsogon National High School Students

November 20-21, 2008

e. Liga ng mga Barangay, Tigaon, Camarines Sur

December 15,. 2008

f. Barangay Officials of Poblacion, Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte

December 22, 2008

g. LGU Officials of Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon

January 9, 2009

h. South East Asia – Urban Environmental Management Application Project Executives

March 2, 2009

i. Members of Provincial Solid Waste Management Board (PSWMB), Sorsogon

March 20, 2009


Video Of BulanEco-Park coming soon.


Sta. Remedios Charity Medical Clinic

 By: Angelita de Guzman Kowalewsky

(click photo to enlarge)


COMPASSION, yes, it was compassion for the sick, the helpless and the vulnerable, that made all of these happen. Sta. Remedios is a small village located in the town of Bulan, Sorsogon, the southern province of Luzon islands in the Philippines. This is the village where I grew up and saw the existing poverty that affects so many lives. It is COMPASSION for the people that drove me to help and make a difference in the lives of the sick and vulnerable, the hungry, the poor children who need education and food. And because of COMPASSION, and through hard work, sacrifice and strong belief that it can be done, Sta. Remedios Charity Clinic was founded. And this is …


My name is Angelita de Guzman Kowalewsky and I have been a registered nurse for twenty five years. Three years ago, I went home to see my ailing mother confined in the local hospital. I brought with me precious medicines, antibiotics that were desperately needed. I went straight to the hospital from Ninoy Aquino International Airport which took fourteen hours by bus. I found my mother feeling better and getting ready to go home. While I was waiting for her, I had the chance to look around. I saw poor emaciated patients with sad look in their eyes, waiting for the family to bring back the much needed medicines from outside pharmacy. Apparently, the system in the hospital is for the physician to asses the condition of the patient, write prescription, and ask the family to buy the necessary medicine and medical supplies like IV tubing, IV fluids, etc. If the family has no money to buy the prescribed medicine and supplies, the patient will have to go home. I noticed some old gloves hanging by the window sill. The nurse told me that they had to wash the used gloves so that they can reuse it. I left the hospital with a heavy heart and feeling helpless. I wished I could do something to alleviate the suffering of those patients. I know in my heart that if they do not get the much needed medicine, they will die one by one.

While I was at home, I noticed one of the carpenters looking very sad. My sister told me that the carpenter’s son, Aldo, and eighteen year old boy, was dying. He had an infected abscess at the right side of his back as big as a grapefruit. Apparently, out of desperation, the parents sold their only carabao (the animal which the family uses for plowing the field) and a pig to take their son to the provincial hospital. When the family could no longer afford the cost of the hospitalization and medicine, they brought him back home to die or wait for a miracle to happen. I asked the carpenter to take me to his house to see the boy. He was very emaciated and barely able to raise his hand to greet me. He was lying on a makeshift bamboo bed. He weighed between 85 to 90 lbs. I offered my help to the family. I told them that I brought with me the best antibiotics and medicines from America which my mother did not use. They brought Aldo to my house in a hammock. I called the local physician in town to help me. We started him an intravenous hydration, gave him antibiotics, multivitamins and nutritious food. After two days of treatment, Aldo was able to sit up and walk with the help of his mother. On the tenth day, he was well enough to go home. His abscess was completely healed except for a little hole where the pus material drained out. I gave him a three month supply of multivitamins. His parents were crying and very grateful. I told them to thank the Lord for I was just His instrument. My mother got well without using the medicines. Those medicines were actually intended for their son so that he may live. God had answered their prayer for a miracle.

The story of Aldo spread around like a wildfire in the village. People various ailments started to come to my house. The cases ranged from simple headaches to urinary tract infection, influenza, to children with fever and cough. There was this young woman who came to me and was crying. She had been sick for several months. She appeared to have the classic symptoms of UTI. I called the physician whom I befriended when we treated Aldo. She was treated for UTI and instructed to come back after a week. When she returned, her eyes were bright and happy. She is clutching a chicken with her husband behind. She told me that for the first time in months she was not in pain. She had no money but she wanted to give me the chicken as payment. I told her that she didn’t have to give me anything. The fact that she felt better was good enough for me. Her husband was smiling in the background and I knew that chicken (a rooster) was his pet.

These are a few of the examples why I want to build a clinic. It is for the people who need medical help. I promised the people in the village that I would come back and build them a clinic with free medicine and free consultation. I came back to the United States, worked hard, worked extra hours, saved money and prayed to God to help and guide me for the task that I was about to embark on was a tremendously great task.

May 25, 2005, the grand opening of:


P1080917This charity clinic is dedicated to the people of Sta. Remedios Village especially those who cannot afford basic medical services so that the poorest man, woman and child can get the care they need. The clinic has a consultation room, a holding bed, 2 medicine cabinets, thermometer, and sphygmomanometer. It is a multipurpose clinic. It provides free medical check-ups, free medicine, milk for the children, nutritional supplements for the very old and malnourished, and education on sanitation, diabetes, environmental protection, ecology, and pregnancy and infant care. It also serves as a children’s library after clinic hours. The clinic is staffed by one physician and four helpers. Word spread that there is a clinic where poor people can avail of free medical check-up and treatment.

 Here are some photos of the Clinic:





 P1070829                                                                                                       P1070824



The following were some 0f the medical cases we have already encountered:

1. A man with a large cut on his leg- We did not have sutures so we had to send him to the provincial hospital which was a three-hour ride by tricycle.

2. A patient with pneumonia.

3. Several diabetic patients with problems of hypertension and hyperglycemia, renal failure, edema.

4. A five year old girl carried by her mother to the clinic (see picture in the brochure) She was severely malnourished and at risk of dying.

5. Several malnourished elderly patients suffering from abdominal pain (most probably from gastric ulcer) need nutritional supplements like Ensure plus, etc.

6. Several cases of influenza, gastroenteritis, typhoid, dengue, anemia

We are now serving many villages, patients from as far as the Island of Masbate which is across the San Juanico Strait. Very sick people accompanied by their families are crossing the sea by motorized canoe to seek medical help. This is the situation. We are running out of medicine and medical supplies. I had been supporting this clinic for over four years now. I need your help desperately. Please help save one more life. Let us all get together and continue these humanitarian services.

We need the following:

1. Over the counter medicines for cough, fever, pain, gastric ulcer, headache, hypertension, etc. We accept any medicine you can give.

2. Medicine samples: Don’t throw it away. We can use it.

3. Canned foods for malnourished old people and powdered milk for the children or anything you can give is very well appreciated

4. Multivitamins for children/infant, prenatal vitamins for women, vitamin supplements for men, women. Vit.b-12, B-6, Iron supplement, Vit. C, etc.

5. We need disposable thermometer to prevent cross-infection, Sphygmomanometer(blood pressure apparatus)

6. Old or new EKG machine and supplies

7. Surgical instruments for simple surgical procedures, sutures, scalpels lidocaine 1% or 2%

8. Infant warmer for newly born, forceps, stainless steel basins for durability

9. Medical supplies

Thank you very much for any help you can give. Every donation you give counts. All donations are tax deductible.


Photos by jun and mila asuncion April 29, 2009

Bulan Observer

On this day we went to Sta. Remedios to visit the Clinic founded by Angelita de Guzman Kowalevsky. We have been wanting to see this Clinic for quite a time already and so we made use of this opportunity last month when we went home.

But when we came it was off the clinic hours so we haven’t seen any patient and medical workers but we were greeted by Angelita’s niece who toured us around the clinic.

The Clinic is small but it symbolizes something very big which is the love for one’s own people and the hope for brighter Bulan’s future. Love moves each of us to sacrifice ourselves to  help improve the situation; in the case of Angelita she used her profession to give something back to her humble beginning.

The hope lies in reaching out other people who would offer their help  to the Sta. Remedios Charity Medical Clinic in any form- for any help counts, as Angelita says.

For now Bulan Observer helps spread this hope  to all its readers from many different places. May we indeed get some positive reactions from the people and other  institutions who are in a better situation to help what has been started.

We  thank Angelita for her great efforts in realizing her vision to help. It is now for all of us to help her keep this vision alive.

For A Brighter Bulan!

jun asuncion

Part II: The MDCC And The Bulan Rescue Team

The Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council or  MDCC and the Bulan Rescue Team deserve once again the highest respect for their selfless efforts and efficient performance in saving the lives of many Bulaneños and of coordinating the whole disaster management at the height of  typhoon Dante last May 1 and 2.

Under the leadership of  Vice-mayor Gogola and the young  and competent Municipal Administrator Luis De Castro, Jr., the dangerous risks  to the lives of our town people had been maintained to the minimum. I’ve observed these men at work in a situation where I know would also have triggered the highest emergency alarm and stress even among most advanced cities in the world. Our men worked with the serenity of spirit, bravery and heroism of a real Bulaneño amidst the chaos in the whole of  Bulan and the limited technical resources they have at their disposal. And I approached them and talked with them to know more about the disaster from their own perspective-  with Vice-Mayor Gogola as he inspects the evacuees in Bulan South Central School and with Mr. Luis De Castro in the MDCC office which is  housed in the old Municipal vicinity as he instructs the men of the rescue Team.

Mr. Luis De Castro has retained this  attitude of thankfulness in the midst of a disaster for the very little effort our Canipaan Team has done to the very first wave of evacuees that occupied the Bulan North Central School in the early hours of May2. I sensed also a deep sincerity in him when he told me ” sana walang maging casualty” (we pray that there will be no casualty).

These words had warmed my wet body and wearied soul for actually I came to bury my sister this very day- and not to roam around in the flooded streets of Bulan, an experience I never had for the last decades. Bulaneños still care for Bulaneños is the insight I have learned in my short exchange of words with Mr. Luis De Castro, Jr. I also somehow felt rewarded in return for the indignation and caring that I felt when as a young boy our then mayor Mr. Luis de Castro, Sr. met his tragic end. I think this inter-connectedness-in some-ways- in -a -deeper -level is the essence of being one people.

Our Kudos then to our competent young leaders who can practically manage the town on their own and who are present not only in peaceful and joyful times but in times of great calamities that even reached international news reports. Born good leaders seem to be always  at the right place and time and are there when the whole town is in distress and when  the padabas need them the most.

I violated my argument that if pictures speak louder than words, then let them be, which means words are unnecessary. My defense is that I cannot photograph my thoughts and feelings so again, I used words to convey them in this short tribute to our leaders.

For now let these following images speak louder than me:











Municipal Adninistrator Luis De Castro, jr.  instructing his men.

















 The silhoutte of Vice -mayor Gogola (middle figure) as he inspects the evacuees in Bulan South Central School.










Some of the rescue men having their briefing.









Getting set…









One of the rubber rescue boats.









Rescue men in action.


















Hold on tight, children! The water is wall-high.









A race against time.









Clearing the waters from dangerous objects.


















and pull…









Young boys on the look out,  ready to help.


These are some of images of Bulaneños’  fight for survival on that stormy days.


jun asuncion

Bulan Observer                                 (photos by jun and mila asuncion)

Part I: The Storm Dante: Images Of Survival


Tuloy Po or Please Come In  is unmistakably Bulaneño hospitality…

 Tuloy Po

 Even when Bulan is  under water brought about by the devastating typhoon Dante last May 1-2.


 But who will come in, what kind of guests when pupils are on vacation and  who will dare when it is flooded?



 They are the guests- evacuees; children from Managanaga fleeing from high waters that swallowed their bamboo huts,

spending the night of heavy rains awake,  fearful and anxious about their situation.

Storm Dante shows no mercy as it pounded Bulan with strong winds and heavy rains overnight.


The classrooms are  still closed and so they find their first refuge under the staircase;

children and even a baby are wet, shivering from cold- and hunger.


Young Bulaneños- pretty girls and handsome boys- soaked in water, sleepless and hungry.


We come to their rescue during the first hours in the morning of May 2; nursing and comforting them.


 As some fathers are  in great stress running and swimming back and forth

 to Managanaga to rescue their other children who are left behind.



 And this is how it looks by now outside the Bulan North Central School;

more families coming,  taking with them  their most important belongings as the waters continue to rise.




 whole family…


 And an old man escorted by his young ones.


 A pig is precious, too.


 I am astonished by the gracefulness in their bearing; they retain their dignity and calmness,

as many walk through waters in a meditative posture- which shows that experience

with floods is not extraordinary in the town of Bulan.


 A boy joining his family somewhere, behind him the man

 in a meditative rhythm opposing the currents.


 The day when boats are in the streets of Canipaan…


 and a raft made of banana trunks, in place of cars and tricycles.


 Meanwhile, these families are now inside a classroom, given towels, hot drinks and biscuits. etc.


 Children now dry, visibly feeling better -at least for the time being-,

and mothers continue watching over them.


P1070979(click this photo to view Part II, or  the whole album)

A shy boy with sadness in his eyes in this dark room

with no electricity and drinking water.

If pictures speak louder than words, then let them be.


jun asuncion        

Bulan Observer                                                          ( photos by jun asuncion)



Hostage Update: The Swiss Andreas Notter Released By Captors

Bulan Observer Quick Press


We are happy for the positive turn of events that led to freedom for the Swiss Andreas Notter. We also hope for the best for the remaining hostage Eugenio Vagni.



jun asuncion

Bulan Observer


News from Swissinfo:

April 18, 2009 – 1:16 PM  Swiss ICRC hostage is free

 Islamic rebels in the Philippines have freed Swiss aid worker Andreas Notter but continue to hold another European captive, security officials said on Saturday.
The circumstances surrounding the release of Notter, an employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were unclear, and he himself said he was not sure how it came about.

“I walked out and am happy to be alive and safe,” Notter told a media conference at the house of the provincial governor on the southern island of Jolo, where he was brought early on Saturday.

The 38-year-old from canton Aargau spent 93 days in captivity.

“I am very glad to be here with you. It happened very quickly. I am still a bit confused how it happened. My concern for now is my companion, Mr Eugenio Vagni. You are all aware that he is injured.”

In a statement, Switzerland’s foreign ministry said it was “relieved and pleased” with Notter’s freedom. It has demanded Vagni be “immediately and unconditionally released”.

Bern remains in close contact with the ICRC and Philippines authorities, spokesman Andreas Stauffer said.

Notter, Italian national Vagni and Philippines national Mary Jean Lacaba, all with the Geneva-based ICRC, were abducted by Abu Sayyaf rebels on January 15 when they were on a field visit to a prison on Jolo, a guerrilla stronghold.

Lacaba was freed by the rebels earlier this month and newspapers have said ransom was paid. The ICRC denies the claim and says it did not pay to free Notter.

“We never received any ransom demand for his release and we therefore have not paid,” said Florian Westphal, a spokesman for the ICRC. Notter’s return to Switzerland was “not foreseen in the coming hours,” Westphal added.

Attempted escape
Philippines Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno said a group of men holding Notter was attempting to slip out of the security cordon around the guerrilla camp in the interior of Jolo when they were spotted by security forces who gave pursuit.

“The kidnappers left behind Mr Notter because they were not able to drag him with them anymore,” Puno told reporters, adding military pressure forced the rebels to free the hostage.

“We are fortunate that this incident ended without injury to Mr Notter.”

Earlier, a military spokesman had said Notter was found by troops. Richard Gordon, a Philippines senator and head of that country’s Red Cross, said that Notter was found walking near Indanan town, in the interior of Jolo, early on Saturday morning.

“He is relieved and he is glad to be alive,” Gordon said. “I told him the whole country prayed for him. He expressed concern for Eugenio. He said ‘Thank you for all your efforts.”‘

« We are fortunate that this incident ended without injury to Mr Notter. »

Philippines Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno Notter, unshaven and with long hair, was smiling when he faced journalists after doctors gave him a clean bill of health, although he looked to have lost weight during his captivity.

The former history professor was given time to rest after a glass of milk and a soft meal, Puno said, adding Notter had already contacted family, friends and Red Cross colleagues.

“He is suffering from fatigue and may be a little bit disoriented for the moment,” Puno said.

“In good health”
“When we first heard reports of his extrication from the kidnappers, we were afraid because he was seen walking around with a cane. But he looks in good health. The doctors did not find any serious health problem.”

The Abu Sayyaf, a small but violent militant group based on Jolo and nearby Basilan, had earlier demanded that troops relax the tight cordon they were keeping around the rebel hideout before talks for the hostages’ release could start.

Provincial governor Tan sent a team of Muslim clerics to the rebel camp earlier this week to seek the release of Vagni, a 62-year-old who is reportedly suffering from hernia.

General Alexander Yano, the Philippines military chief said in a statement that disclosing the details of Notter’s rescue “may derail current efforts to ensure the safe release of the remaining victim”.

There was no word on any progress.

The Abu Sayyaf, with links to the Southeast Asian regional militant network Jemaah Islamiah and to al Qaeda, has been blamed for the worst militant attack in the Philippines, the bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay in 2004 that killed 100 people.

It is also notorious for high-profile kidnappings and large ransoms and has a history of beheading captives.

swissinfo with agencies


Senator Francis Escudero’s Senate Bill No. 1476



This is so far the most solid Bill filed supporting anti-graft and corruption efforts of the government authored by our  Sorsogon man in the Senate, Senator Chiz Escudero. Banking secrecy laws have always been used to their advantage by criminals be it corrupt public officials and dictators, mafia and drug bosses (money laundering), terrorist organizations and multi-millions tax evasion or tax fraud cases. In my own opinion, if passed into law this Bill would be a milestone in the legal system and criminal justice in the Philippines and a solid tool for investigators. Let’s be simple: Assuming Escudero’s colleagues in Congress had no government money to hide in their private bank accounts, we don’t see any reason for them not to support this Bill if they really are well-meaning public servants. jun asuncion


Read for yourself the original document  and the report reprinted hereunder. Included below are articles about Bank Secrecy and related news articles from other sources:



“No Financial Privacy For Public Servants”


Senator Escudero

Chiz:  Gov’t officials should not hide behind banking secrecy laws
Senator Chiz Escudero on Thursday called on his colleagues in Congress to work for the passage of a bill he filed which, if approved, would enable the government to examine the bank accounts and investments of civil servants

Escudero said that had Senate Bill No. 1476 been passed into law, government officials like State Prosecutor John Resado and former Agriculture Secretary Joc-Joc Bolante may not be able to evade questions in any hearing about their financial standing, especially in congressional inquiries.

The bill, which puts in place a mechanism that allows the government to audit the finances of a civil servant, was among  those filed by the senator during his first year as a member of the Philippine Senate.

“To ensure that the civil servant does not use his position to enrich himself, there must be transparency in the financial standing of the civil servants. Once passed, this bill will serve as deterrent to graft and corruption,” he said.

Escudero explained that once passed into law, the bill requires public officials and employees to submit a written permission or waiver in favor of the anti-graft body, Office of the Ombudsman, to look into all deposits of whatever nature with banks or banking institutions.

This will effectively put a certain class of people, in this case civil servants and high government officials, beyond the protective mantle of banking secrecy laws, which are often times being used as shield in investigations involving corruption.

Escudero said people like Resado and Bolante are emboldened by the cloak of the bank secrecy law, which also leaves lawmakers’ hands tied from further digging into their questionable finances.

“This covers both those within and outside the Philippines including investment bonds issued by the government” Escudero added.

The waiver, he said, should be contained in the SAL (statement of assets and liabilities) of all government officials and employees.

The senator said the passage of this bill is timely as it will not only plug loopholes in the anti-graft and corruption efforts of the government, assuming that they have some, but it will also aid the government to recover ill-gotten funds.”

29 January 2009


On Bank Secrecy (articles from various sources)

1. The  Swiss Bank Secrecy

“If You Are Not A Criminal”

 In Switzerland, once the world champion of banking secrecy, bank secrecy can now be “lifted for matters such as inheritance, divorce and debt and bankruptcy by order of a legal authority“.

  • “Swiss bank accounts are so popular because of political stability, safety stable currency backed by gold, excellent quality of banking services and privacy- if you are not a criminal.
  • “Political stability – Switzerland has not been at war with another country since 1505
  • Safety – Swiss banks are extremely safe. There is only an extremely remote chance of losing money deposited in a Swiss bank.
  • Stable currency backed by gold – the Swiss francs is probably the most stable currency in the world
    Excellent quality of banking services – internet banking, sophisticated investment services, multiple currency accounts and many other high-level services are available in Swiss banks.
  • Privacy – if you are not a criminal, it is almost impossible for anybody to get any information about you out”


“For The Sake Of Public Interest

” Swiss bank secrecy is most often lifted for criminal cases such as narcotics trafficking, extortion, terrorism, etc. The objective of a criminal trial is not to plead in the interest of the parties, but for the sake of public interest, and so the client’s right to bank secrecy gives precedence to the interest of justice. As such, bank secrecy is not an obstacle to criminal prosecution. Both the justice system and the Swiss banks take active part in the fight against money laundering.


 The limits to Swiss bank secrecy

There are a limited number of exceptions to Swiss bank secrecy that are strictly regulated by law.
In theory, bank secrecy can be lifted for matters such as inheritance, divorce and debt and bankruptcy by order of a legal authority.
In practice, Swiss bank secrecy is very difficult to lift, for the plaintiff must first prove before the Swiss court that the account exists in Switzerland, e.g. by producing a bank statement.
Note that tax evasion is not considered sufficient grounds for lifting Swiss bank secrecy.


Bank secrecy
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 18:05:00 01/27/2009

Filed Under: PDEA-DOJ bribery issue, Banking, Congress, Graft & Corruption
MANILA, Philippines — State Prosecutor John Resado, who is in the center of a scandal involving alleged for government lawyers to dismiss a drugs case against three scions of prominent families has refused to waive his right to the secrecy of his bank account.

“The undersigned expressly manifests to this Honorable Committee that he is not waiving his rights under the Law on Secrecy of Bank Deposits and other related laws, over his bank account with Banco de Oro, SM Bacoor branch, Bacoor, Cavite,” Resado said in a letter to the oversight committee on dangerous drugs, which is conducting an inquiry into the so-called “Alabang Boys” controversy.

Resado said he was also “invoking his constitutional right to privacy which should be respected by everyone.”

Cebu Representative Antonio Cuenco said Resado’s refusal to waive his right to bank secrecy indicated that the prosecutor “is hiding something.”

“This fortifies the suspicion created among members of the committee that, indeed, Prosecutor John Resado is hiding something,” Cuenco, vice chairman of the oversight committee, told reporters at a news conference.

It was, Resado recommended the dismissal of the drug case filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against Richard Santos Brodett, Jorge Jordana Joseph and Joseph Ramirez Tecson.

Soon after, the PDEA aired the allegations of bribery.

Both houses of Congress are now undertaking their respective inquiries into the controversy.

Last week, both Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and the PDEA disclosed an anonymous letter claiming on the day he recommended the dismissal of the drugs case, Resado and his wife each received P800,000 in their respective bank accounts, or a total of P1.6 million.

At least week’s House hearing, Resado acknowledged the P800,000 deposit on December 2 but said this were the earnings from a money lending business he and his wife ran in Tarlac but did not register because they considered it part of the “underground economy.”

However, a number of congressmen were unconvinced by Resado’s claim and dared him to waive his bank secrecy rights.

Cuenco said the committee will resume hearings on January 29.

Invited to appear are Resado’s wife, Rowena, and representatives of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) and Bureau of Internal Revenue.


INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS; The Philippines Moves Against Bank Secrecy

Published: October 13, 2001
Last month, the United States thrust this Asian country into an awkward spotlight, declaring that Muslim militants in the southern Philippines had financial ties to Osama bin Laden.

The Philippines has pledged to help the United States pursue the flow of money from Mr. bin Laden’s movement, Al Qaeda, to terrorist organizations here. The trouble is that the country’s strict laws on bank secrecy make it nearly impossible to trace the movement of money into local bank accounts.

”We are impeded by the law,” said Juan de Zuniga Jr., the general counsel of the Philippine central bank. ”We are almost sure the banks would not allow us to have access to suspicious accounts.”

Among the many collateral effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is a heightened scrutiny of cross-border money laundering. For developing countries like the Philippines, it is forcing a recognition that old laws are wholly inadequate against new methods of disguising illicit gains.

The banking law here was passed in 1955, a decade after the Philippines emerged from 400 years of colonial rule. As the country struggled to attract foreign capital, the law’s guarantee of confidentiality reassured potential investors that they could trust local banking institutions with their money.

Now, the Philippines has an established banking system. But the once-salutary law has helped turn the country into a haven for the laundering of proceeds from drug trafficking, kidnapping and gambling.

”Nobody knows the extent of money laundering in the Philippines,” Roberto Romulo, a former foreign minister, said. ”But in the context of transparency, we are hardly role models. We had to change our ways.”

On Sept. 30, the Philippines passed a law against money laundering, intended to address the deficiencies of the banking law. It requires banks to disclose suspicious deposits of more than four million pesos, or $80,000, to the authorities. Previously, banks did not have to disclose deposits of any amount unless investigators obtained a court order as part of a pending legal case.

”These are giant strides,” said Mr. de Zuniga, who helped draft the law. ”We have for the first time criminalized money laundering.”

Mr. de Zuniga said the Philippines was seeking to end a legacy of official corruption that extended from Ferdinand E. Marcos, the dictator accused of looting billions of dollars in the 1970’s and 1980’s, to Joseph Estrada, the former president toppled in a popular revolt last January.

Indeed, the Philippines is bowing to international pressure. The Financial Action Task Force on money laundering, a group convened by the major industrialized nations in 1989, had threatened to impose sanctions on Manila by Sept. 30 if it did not take steps to curb the practice here.

Four months earlier, the task force had put the Philippines, along with Russia and Nauru, on a list of countries making ”inadequate progress” in the global campaign against money laundering. The task force said it would hold off on sanctions while it studied the new law.

Critics say the Philippine Congress watered down the law. They note that the threshold amount for banks to disclose deposits is eight times that in the United States. Under American law, banks must disclose suspicious deposits of more than $10,000 to the Treasury Department.

The committee that drafted the legislation proposed setting the threshold at $20,000, twice the level in the United States. But in a heated debate, the House and Senate quadrupled that number.

Some say the lawmakers are protecting ethnic Chinese tycoons, who like to keep their finances under wraps, in part to reduce their tax bills. Many of these tycoons are generous campaign contributors.

Still, even critics acknowledge that the law will enable investigators to catch the most flagrant cases of money laundering. Mr. Estrada, a movie actor who became president in 1998, is a case in point.

During his impeachment trial in the Senate, prosecutors asserted that Mr. Estrada had laundered more than $8 million in proceeds from illegal gambling rings through various bank accounts.

Published: October 13, 2001
While backed by testimony from people involved in the scheme, the case against the former president was weakened because the banks did not release records of deposits made by Mr. Estrada or his associates.

Only when one bank, Equitable PCI, allowed a clerk to testify about the president’s use of an account under a fictitious name did the extent of his suspected wrongdoing become evident. Officials said that under the new law, the deposits into that account could have been easily traced by the authorities.

”It would have been labeled as a suspicious transaction because the identification on the account was not complete,” Mr. de Zuniga said. ”That would be a red flag under an anti-money-laundering program.”

Mr. Estrada’s impeachment trial was suspended, but his criminal trial on charges of plunder began here Oct. 1.

Despite its origins in domestic corruption, the new law may get its first test in the American-led war against terrorism. On Sept. 24, the Bush administration froze the assets of 27 organizations suspected of terrorism. Among those was a Philippine Muslim rebel group, the Abu Sayyaf.

Officials here acknowledge they have little clue where the group’s assets are. But the law gives them fresh tools. They said it was likely that terrorists would open accounts under aliases, or in the names of spouses. By having access to deposit records, the police have a better chance of tracking that money.

”If it comes through banks, there are several trigger points,” Mr. de Zuniga said. ”From the moment it enters the country, it can be flagged. Even if it is broken down into smaller amounts, it can be flagged.”


2. The Philippine Bank Sercrecy: A Primer

With recent events putting in issue the confidentiality of bank deposits and the identification process by the banks for their depositors, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, in coordination with the Bankers Association of the Philippines, deemed it advisable to come out with the following primer on frequently asked questions.
This primer seeks to clarify any misunderstanding or misapprehension that may have arisen on the subject and, more importantly, emphasizes that the secrecy of bank deposits remains sacrosanct and that their disclosure remains subject to strict safeguards and compliance with legal requirements. Trust accounts and other investments are partly included in the discussion.

A. Secrecy of bank deposits

Q. What guarantees on confidentiality do depositors enjoy under the law?

A. For peso deposits, Republic Act No. 1405 (Bank Deposits’ Secrecy Law) declares all deposits of whatever nature with banks in the Philippines, including investments in government bonds, as of an absolutely confidential nature and prohibits the examination or inquiry into such deposits or investments by any person, government official, bureau or office, as well as the disclosure by any official or employee of a bank of any information concerning said deposits.

There are only four (4) instances under the law where bank deposits or investment in government bonds may be disclosed or looked into, namely: (1) upon written permission of the depositor; or (2) in cases of impeachment; or (3) upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty; or (4) in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.

It may be noted that RA 1405 covers not only bank deposits but also investments in government bonds.

For foreign currency deposits, Republic Act No. 6426 (The Foreign Currency Deposit Act) similarly declares that these deposits are of an absolutely confidential nature and cannot be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative or any other entity whether public or private. There is only one instance for disclosure under said law and, that is, upon the written permission of the depositor. RA 6426 also exempts foreign currency deposits from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever.

For investments in trust accounts or in deposit substitutes, if these are in the form of investments in government bonds or deposits, the protection under RA 1405 and RA 6426 extends thereto accordingly. If these are in other forms of investments, the disclosure of information related thereto is covered by Section 55 of the General Banking Law of 2000 (Republic Act No. 8791) which prohibits, unless there is an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, the disclosure by any director, official, employee or agent of any bank any information relative to the funds or properties in the custody of the bank belonging to private individuals, corporations or any other entity.

Q. How do banks respond to an order of a competent court?

A. For peso deposits, banks comply with orders for disclosure in court cases subject to these requirements: (a) there must be a court order; (b) the order must be issued by a competent court specifically directing the bank concerned to disclose the required information; and (c) the bank should check and satisfy itself that the deposits or investment in government bonds being inquired into are either the subject of a case of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or of a case where the deposit or investment itself is the subject matter of the litigation. If these requirements are not met, there would be basis for the bank to request the court to excuse compliance with the court order.

In impeachment cases, it is necessary that there be an order issued by the impeachment court or by its authorized officer. For foreign currency deposits, the law does not provide an instance for disclosure upon a court order. As mentioned above, there is only a single instance for disclosure under RA 6426 and, that is, upon written permission of the depositor. Thus, for foreign currency deposit accounts subject of a court order, the bank can invoke RA 6426 to excuse compliance.

Q. What is the liability of the banks and/or its officers and employees for violating the laws against disclosure?

A. Violations of the prohibitions against disclosures under RA 1405, RA 6426 and under the General Banking Law of 2000 are subject to stiff criminal penalties.

Under RA 1405, the offender is subject to imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine of not more than P20,000, or both, in the discretion of the court. Under RA 6426, the penalty is imprisonment of not less than one year not more than five years or a fine of not less than P5,000 nor more than P25,000, or both, in the discretion of the court. The violation of Sec. 55 of the General Banking Law of 2000, the penalty is imprisonment of not less than two years nor more than 10 years or a fine of not less than P50,000 nor more than P200,000, or both, in the discretion of the court; and in addition, if the offender is a director or officer of a bank, he is subject to suspension or removal by the Monetary Board.

B. Use of alias or number in opening deposit accounts

Q. Are banks allowed to open accounts using an alias or a number?

A. There is no specific banking law up to the present prohibiting banks from opening deposit accounts using an alias or a number. Prior to July 7, 2000, there is also no banking regulation providing for such prohibition. On July 7, 2000 and in seeking the adoption of anti-money laundering measures, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued a regulation, Circular No. 251, providing that, unless otherwise prescribed under existing laws, anonymous accounts or accounts under fictitious names are prohibited.

The exception referred to under Circular No. 251 was RA 6426 (The Foreign Currency Deposit Act) which explicitly allows the keeping of numbered accounts for the recording and servicing of deposits.

For peso accounts, when banks allow the opening of deposit accounts under pseudonyms, it is assumed that: (1) they have exercised due diligence to ascertain the identity of their clients; and (2) they are aware of the legal provisions and requirements on the use of pseudonyms.

The above notwithstanding, it may be pointed out that in the Manual of Regulations issued by BSP, or even before the issuance of Circular 251, there were already regulations requiring the banks to: (a) adopt systems to establish the identity of their depositors; and (b) require to set a minimum of three (3) specimen signatures from each of their depositors subject to regular updating. Even for numbered accounts as authorized under RA 6426, BSP has required banks, under Circular 258, to take necessary measures to establish and record the true identity of their clients, which identification may be based on official or other reliable documents and records.

Q. Are there other laws governing the use of pseudonyms or aliases?

A. Art. 178 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes the: (a) publicly using of a fictitious name for the purpose of concealing a crime, evading the execution of a judgment, or causing damage; and (b) concealment by any person of his true name and other personal circumstances.

On the other hand, there is also Commonwealth Act No. 142, as amended by Republic Act No. 6085 (Regulating the Use of Aliases) which provides that, except only as a pseudonym for literary purposes and athletic events, it is unlawful for any person to use an alias, unless the same is duly recorded in the proper local civil registry. Related thereto, Articles 379 and 380 of the Civil Code provide that no person shall use different names and surnames except the employment of pen and stage names provided it is done in good faith and there is no injury to third persons.

What can be noted is that the above provisions allow the use of aliases under certain circumstances. Conversely stated, the use of aliases is not absolutely disallowed. Moreover, the sanctions for any violation of the above provisions on aliases are mainly directed to the one using the unauthorized alias.

Q. How does Circular No. 251 apply to existing numbered accounts?

A. For peso accounts, the banks should have their respective programs of compliance with the Circular. For foreign currency deposit accounts, they are allowed to continue maintaining numbered accounts opened in accordance with RA 6426 subject to the requirement that the banks shall take necessary measures to establish and record the true identity of their clients.

Q. What penalties/sanctions are applicable for violating the laws/regulations?

A. Article 178 of the Revised Penal Code is directed to the person concealing his identity publicly or using a fictitious name and the penalty would range from one day up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine up to P500,000. For violation of Commonwealth Act 142, which is likewise directed to the person using an unauthorized alias, the penalty is imprisonment from one year to five years and a fine of P5,000 to P10,000. For the violation of Circular 251, it is subject to the administrative sanction on the bank and/or responsible directors/officers of fine up to P30,000 per transaction.

C. Continued confidentiality/secrecy of deposit transactions

Q. Is confidentiality/secrecy of deposit accounts compromised with the issuance of Circular 251?

A. No. Circular 251 merely disallowed the opening of fictitious and anonymous accounts and has not in any way modified nor lessened the safeguards and protection to depositors under RA 1405. This means that, notwithstanding Circular 251, deposit accounts cannot be examined or looked into except under the limited circumstances provided for in RA 1405.

Q. Why are the BSP and the BAP advocating the amendment to bank secrecy laws?

A. The proposal of BSP and BAP is for access to deposit accounts only under exceptional circumstances, such as deposits only above the P50-million level and in relation to the commission of serious offenses like racketeering and illicit drug trade. Except for these instances, depositors and those with legitimate transactions remain protected under RA 1405. The objective of the proposal is to institute this measure as an anti-money laundering campaign so as to delete the Philippines as a non-cooperative country in the list of the Financial Action Task Force against money laundering.


MANILA, Philippines – Former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante admitted on Tuesday that he withdrew a “small” amount from some of his bank accounts which were ordered frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
During the resumption of the Senate investigation into the P728-million fertilizer fund mess, Bolante made the admission but declined to disclose specific details of the transactions.

“Maliit lang (Just a little)… I’m sorry I cannot disclose the specifics,” Bolante said.

When asked if he withdrew the amount from the bank after the account was unfrozen, Bolante said replied in the affirmative.

Bolante’s answer prompted AMLC executive director Vicente Aquino to inform those at the hearing that the bank where Bolante made a withdrawal may face sanctions for allowing the withdrawal, saying the Anti-Money Laundering Act requires official confirmation from the AMLC for any such withdrawal.

“May possible liability ang bank for not getting official confirmation from AMLC (The bank faces a possible liability for not getting an official confirmation from AMLC),” Aquino said.

Aquino admitted that such information is covered under the Bank Secrecy Act, and it is up to Bolante as the account owner to disclose it.

During the hearing, Sen. Panfilo Lacson expressed dismay over the situation, saying: “Talong-talo ang gobyerno rito. Ang bank secrecy act dapat ma-amend (The government is one big loser here. The bank secrecy law needs to be amended).”

This, as he pushed for the exclusion of government officials from the Bank Secrecy Act.

“(I had filed) an amendment to the Bank Secrecy Act, all government officials and employees should have automatically waive their rights once they are in government. That will solve a lot of problems of corruption in this country. Unfortunately wala ni isang hearing sa committee level for three Congresses I have been filing (not even one hearing was held for it in the three Congresses I filed it),” Lacson said.

He asked Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile to include his bill in the list of priority measures, now that they are in the majority bloc.

Lacson also pointed out that when he was being “vilified” in 2001 by then Armed Forces intelligence chief Victor Corpus, he waived his right to bank secrecy.

Enrile, for his part, said it was a “good proposal” but it needs study to make sure it is not used for harassment.

“My bill involves government officials and employees while in government service,” Lacson said. – GMANews.TV

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Senate seeks lifting of Bank Secrecy

Mario B. Casayuran

The Senate led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile pressed yesterday for the immediate amendment of Republic Act 9160 (Anti-Money Laundering law) to lift secrecy on bank deposits following the controversial P728 million fertilizer fund scam.
The amendment, Enrile said, is needed to arrest criminality in the country, particularly on the unabated illegal drug industry, corruption and other illegal activities.

Yesterday, opposition Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson filed for the third time in three years his bill seeking to amend the law.

Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said he is now terminating the committee hearing on the fertilizer scam with various proposed recommendations foremost of which are proposed amendments to the AMLC law.

Lacson complained that, based on the current provisions of the AMLC law, the government is at the losing end in the fight against criminality, terrorism and terrorism financing, trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling, sexual exploitation of children, corruption and bribery, illicit arms trafficking, currency counterfeiting, forgery and environmental crime.

The filing of the bill came after controversial former Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Jocelyn ‘’Joc Joc” Bolante told senators in yesterday’s public hearing by the Gordon committee that he was able to withdraw a part of his four bank accounts earlier frozen by the Court of Appeals.

The testimony of Bolante, who continues to face senators following allegations that he is the architect of the fertilizer fund scam that preceded the May 2004 presidential elections, surprised Gordon and Vicente S. Aquino, executive director of the AMLC secretariat.

Bolante said he was able to withdraw a small portion of his bank account after the court had lifted its freeze order.

Pressed by Lacson, Bolante refused to disclose the amount he was able to withdraw and the specific bank because of the Bank Secrecy Law.

The former Philippine National Police (PNP) director-general had filed a bill that those entering the government service should waive their right to invoke the Bank Secrecy law but Congress has not acted on it favorably.

Aquino said he is supporting the Lacson bill because the ALMC cannot examine bank accounts that are criminally-tainted because the ALMC law is mandated to give advance notice to depositors on the release of questioned bank deposits based on the Eugenio decision of the Supreme Court.

This led Aquino to blurt out that the unspecified bank that allowed Bolante to withdraw his deposit has violated the law.

He stressed that he had asked the President of a bank association to remind its members to seek the approval of AMLC before allowing withdrawals of questionable bank accounts.

Aquino earlier assured Gordon that Bolante could not withdraw his four bank accounts because the bank needs clearance from the AMLC although the Court of Appeals lifted last Dec. 10 its freeze order on 23 questionable bank accounts. Bolante maintained that he only has four bank account covered by the CA freeze order based on the petition of the AMLC.

He also denied an allegation of a senior official of the Blue Ribbon committee officer as submitted to Gordon that he (Aquino) notified the banks that they could now release the deposits of Bolante after the freeze order had been lifted. ‘’I never misled anyone,” he added.

Aquino said there was never a lapse on the part of the council as he has already recommended the filing of civil forfeiture cases.

He confirmed that he wrote the banks last Jan. 5 that the freeze order has already expired and they should now be guided accordingly.

‘’It means they should be guided by the rule or that they should ask for confirmation from AMLC before releasing the accounts. We complied with the rule,” he added. ‘’The bank account (of Bolante) is still intact,” he added.

Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera assured the senators that her office has, under the law, done its job on bank account preservation.

Enrile, a taxation expert, asked Aquino to specify the weaknesses of the AMLC law, particularly on its operations, to arrest problems in the country.

The law creating the AMLC ‘’is not a real law because it is liable to be breached, than obeyed,” Enrile said.

Enrile said there is a need to revisit the AMLC law ‘’not to oppress people but to arrest criminality in the country such as the (illegal) drug industry, any other illegal activities and corruption.”

He cautioned his colleagues that crafting a policy to lift secrecy on bank accounts should now endanger any sector of society or used to harass people.

Gordon noted that the AMLC law ‘’can be pierced’ ‘by inaction of government agencies such as the Office of the Ombudsman which has not acted upon the recommendations of the Senate agriculture committee then chaired in succession by Senators Ramon B. Magsaysay Jr. and Joker Arroyo 1,020 days ago that Bolante and others should be criminally charged because of the P728 million fertilizer fund scam.

He said the current AMLC law should now be altered because the AMLC cannot reveal its investigation in congressional hearings and that the current six-month freeze on questionable bank deposits should be lengthened.

AMLC, according to Aquino, also lacks manpower and is crippled by a string-bean budget.
Gordon emphasized that government, in furthering its investigation into allegations of money laundering, should be given the power to seize high-profile assets of depositors such as yachts or cars like Bolante’s expensive Porsche sports car.

The Lacson bill stated that the AMLC should be allowed to retain 25 percent of the forfeited assets not only as an incentive to intensify the drive to file more civil forfeiture cases for the State, but also to ameliorate AMLC’s budget.

Early passage of the bill, according to Lacson, would guarantee the Philippines’ recognition to the global efforts against money laundering.


Swine loan scammers cannot hidebehind bank secrecy law: Escudero


OPPOSITION Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero yesterday belied the claim of Malacañang that the Quedan and Rural Credit Corp. (Quedancor) could not publish the names of its borrowers because of the bank secrecy law.

Escudero said the bank secrecy law covers only deposits and not loans.

An anomaly involving the Quedancor was made public by lawyer Harry Roque who said the Commission on Audit has discovered that at least P1.4 billion of the P2.5 billion that Quedancor released for the swine industry remains unliquidated. He said the farmers who supposedly received hogs were paid P200 to P300 to sign papers that indicated they received the livestock.

Escudero has asked Quedancor to publish the names of the borrowers. But Apostol, invoking the bank secrecy law, said Quedancor “would be liable to borrowers if it publishes their names without their permission.”

“Bank secrecy law covers deposits. Quedancor is not a deposit-taking institution. It is a non-bank financing institution. Only banks are allowed to use deposit instruments,” Escudero said.

R.A. 1405 (Bank Deposits Secrecy Law) states that all deposits of whatever nature with banks in the Philippines, including investments in government bonds, are absolutely confidential in nature. It prohibits the examination or inquiry into such deposits or investments.

Escudero said Quedancor could not hide behind the bank secrecy law. “All I’m asking for is to make public the list of borrowers. What was used in this program is public funds and is therefore subject to public accountability. The public has the rightful claim to information on where our taxes go,” he said.

Escudero said the loans are automatically subject to government audit because they are government funds.

He asked what the COA, the primary institution in charge of examining proper use of public funds, is doing. “If they have already audited Quedancor, we also want to see their findings and recommendations,” Escudero said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier called for an investigation.

He said President Arroyo might have a direct hand in it because it coincided with the 2004 presidential elections, the year the supervision of the financing agency was transferred to the Office of the President from the Department of Agriculture.

Escudero also expressed the same apprehension that the swine-raising funds could have been diverted to the administration campaign fund for the 2004 polls.

He said the publication of the list of delinquent borrowers would remove speculations the fund was pocketed by corrupt officials or was diverted to the administration’s campaign chest.


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