When we unite, We make our life better

DAR inaugurates P10-M irrigation facility system in Sorsogon


MANILA, Jan. 28 – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) on Thursday said it has teamed up with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to turn over a P10.2-million communal irrigation system (CIS) to the Banawang Irrigator’s Association in Casiguran, Sorsogon. 

The project is made possible through the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Project Phase II (ARISP II), which is funded by the government of Japan under the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC). 

In support of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), it delivers useful support services for the agrarian reform communities (ARC) nationwide to develop their lands. 

ARISP II is one of the highly recognized projects under the agency’s official development assistance (ODA) and has achieved a 96-percent accomplishment rate in its infrastructure development component. 

This represents 487 infrastructure sub-projects which includes 133 irrigation and drainage facilities, 184 farm-to-market roads, 82 rural water systems and 68 post harvest facilities such as solar dryers, warehouses and Agrarian Information and Marketing (AIM-C) buildings. 

The irrigation system covers a total of 28 hectares of riceland in Brgy. Tigbao and Banawang, Casiguran. 

With the irrigation’s completion, the rice production in the area rose up from 50 to 60 sacks per hectare to 80 to 90 sacks. 

“Our efforts to improve the small farmer’s level of productivity is paying off as we make you no longer dependent on the wet season as the sole source of water for your farms. Furthermore, the responsibility for its maintenance is in your hands.” Regional Director for Region V. Celestina Tam said during the turn over. 

With a gleeful heart, the farmer beneficiaries of the Casiguran ARC Cluster B accepted the facility promising to utilize it for the benefit of everyone concerned. Over a hundred farmer beneficiaries benefit from it. 

Salvador Hife, the association’s president said, “We have been waiting for this for years and we will be forever grateful to DAR and Japan for what they have given us.” (PNA)


Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates,

Building Communities

Building Communities

Sr. Maria Perpetua Bulawan, DC,
Literacy Worker

What is a good literacy implementer? Does she teach, clothe and feed over a thousand people? Does she bring them to the Lord and guide them through? It is all this and more. At the most fundamental level, she must ensure that the welfare of the people – in all its myriad guises – is fulfilled.

Sr. Maria Perpetua “Mapet” Bulwan DC, 38, of St. Louise de Marillac College of Sorsogon (SLMCS), Sorsogon City has done just that – and still doing it. She has devoted her life to harnessing the talent and energies of the people in Sorsogon for productive use; and creating a society built on Christian ways. Sorsogon is the second poorest region in the country so her devotion to advance the status of the people is no mean feat.

She was rewarded a Special Recognition by the Literacy Coordinating Council (LCC) for her exemplary performance as a literacy worker of the Louise de Marillac Foundation, Inc. Community Extension Services (LMFI-CES), while her “Education for Life Program” got top honors during the 2008 LCC Recognition Day in Teachers Camp, Baguio City this September. In 2005, her program, “Literacy Intensification and Values Education” also got third place in the LCC Awards. Literacy has been her covenant – and she has never failed.

Tell us your secret, Sr. Mapet. The nun is on a roll.

The Education for Life Program

“There is no secret,” says Sr. Mapet while seated on a chair wearing a veil over her habit. “We just realigned the Foundation’s programs and services to the UN Development Goals and responded to the people through the alleviation of poverty and hunger, access to primary education, ministry to migrants and persons with Acquired Immune Deficiency (AIDS) diseases, environmental sustainability and many more,” she rattles in a voice that is heartbreakingly soft and measured.

SLMCS in Sorsogon City has been among the forefront institutions responding to the call of government in the eradication of illiteracy since the 1980’s. in 1989, the then Bureau of Nonformal Education (NFE) now Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS), asked SLMCS to be the service provider for the Literacy Service Contracting Scheme in Sorsogon.

Certainly, Sr. Mapet would not disappoint anyone. She is famously accessible and has taken her crusade for functional literacy classes to 15 learning groups in Sorsogon West, Sorsogon East and Bacon District every year. Along with the sessions are bible sharing activities either in the barangay hall, Day Care Center, chapel, classroom or even in an unfinished house. Word of each small success spread from town to town. And gradually, she won the support of many. Indeed, it is hard to exaggerate the impact of the community service done by Sr. Mapet, but from among her learners, a number have become domestic helpers abroad; others have become officers of the kapilya pastoral council and a few turned into barangay health workers.

The learners are recruited house to house with the assistance of the barangay kagawad and other elders in the community. “I interview them to identify their needs. Ang mga learners mismo ang pinapipili ko ng schedule at lugar ng learning sessions,” she says.

This is one of the most challenging aspects of the Program: to maintain the learners after a calamity. “Naku! Ang hirap lalo na nung tinamaan sila ng super typhoons Milenyo at Reming. Syempre inuuna nila ang pagpapatayo ng bahay nila at sa ikabubuhay nila bago nila harapin ang learning sessions”, she says with a sigh.

Yes, life for Sr. Mapet could have been easier if she had not chosen to take on the burden of joining the Sisters of Marillac. But she did. Hence as a nun, she also mobilizes donation brigades and extends relief assistance to the often typhoon – visited Bicol and other areas. Her dedication spills over to her role of extending assistance in the housing construction of disaster victims; providing stress debriefing and home visits. In fact, Dr. Norma Salcedo, LCC Secretariat Head says of Sr. Mapet: “She’s not a talker. She’s a doer.”

Gliding from one mission to another, and loving every minute of it – Sr. Mapet’s jail apostolate is equally impressive. She does spiritual formation, gift giving and socialization to the inmates of Sorsogon.

She has also devoted her life assisting out-of-school youth and adults to formal secondary and tertiary schools through the Balik Eskwela Program. The Study Help and the Marillac Grantees Student Assistance Program help finance the needs of students.

In this interview, she recounts with all humility that the Education for Life’s Adopt-a-School Program established in 2005 has also helped hundreds of undernourished kids. The program caters annually to 120 malnourished elementary pupils of Bitan-O Elementary School, Sorsogon West district, and this program is bound to go a long way more. This is her great hope.

“We strive to help bring the world a little closer to the ideal,” she says. The Foundation also hired two experts from the Benguet State University to teach the community farming techniques and high value crop production. “Now, the community raises its own carrots, strawberry, sayote, sweet peas and yacoon,” Sr. Mapet smiles as she clasps her hands.

Sr. Mapet’s indefatigability is beyond compare. There is something in her that is devoid of the trappings of bigness and grandeur. There is something about real greatness and selflessness when you see her. She continues, “we also reach out to the spiritual formation of the elderly in barangays Tugod, Cambulaga, Sampaloc, Talisay, Bulabog and San Juan Roro in Sorsogon. This is in preparation especially for their next life.”

After a perfectly timed pause, I suddenly interrupt her, “have you had boyfriends?” She answers, “Yes, but Iam happier with the Lord.” I laughed after that and Sr. Mapet sneaks into a girly giggle. I realized that beneath that gentle mien of a nun is a warm person with a sense of humor, even-in-your-face wacky.


Filed under: Encouragement, People who inspired Us,

10 lifesaving numbers you should know

Here are 10 numbers every person should know. Read on and learn about them. Be sure to keep them below danger levels.

1.Your blood pressure: 120 over 80, or lower. The first number in the blood pressure refers to the pressure in the arteries when the heart is pumping. The second number correlates to the pressure when the heart is relaxed. The optimal blood pressure based on scientific studies is 115/76. To make this easier to remember, doctors round it off to 120/80. A blood pressure in excess of 140/90 (either one of the numbers) is considered high and must be treated with lifestyle changes and/or medications. How important is this number? Well, if a person with a blood pressure of 160/90 reduces his BP to 120/80 through medicines, he will live approximately nine years longer.

2.Your heart rate: Within 60-90 a minute. The normal heart rate at rest ranges from 60 to 90 beats a minute. You may check your heart rate by taking your pulse at the wrist area or the neck area. The most accurate heart rate is determined by listening to the heart with a stethoscope. An athletic person may have a heart rate as low as 50, which is normal for him. However, if a person’s resting heart rate is persistently above 90 beats a minute, he needs a checkup to rule out thyroid disease, anemia, heavy smoking, and other disorders. When we exercise, our heart rate increases, but should return to normal within two to four minutes of resting.

3.Your waist line: Less than 35.5 inches for males and less than 31 inches for females. Now these numbers are a bit difficult to accept. But research shows that if your waistline (measured at the belly button and not the pants area) is less than 35.5 inches in males, and less than 31 inches in females, then you are in the ideal range. However, if your waistline is more than 40 inches in males, and more than 37 inches in females, then you are at the highest risk for a heart attack and stroke. People in between those numbers are at moderate risk and should try to reach their ideal body weight.

4.Your ideal body weight: Within 10 percent of the ideal. Your ideal body weight is shown in the accompanying table. Try not to exceed 10 percent of your ideal weight. Anything more than 20 percent of the ideal weight is labeled as obese. The higher the weight, the greater the risk for diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.

5.Your LDL cholesterol level: Lower than 130 mg/dl. LDL cholesterol is the “bad” kind of cholesterol. It breaks apart easily and gets stuck in the walls of your arteries, causing impaired blood flow. If a middle-age man reduces his LDL cholesterol from a high 180 mg/dl down to 100 mg/dl, this will make him three years younger. To reduce your LDL cholesterol, reduce your intake of beef and pork, and increase intake of healthy fats like olive oil, fish, walnuts, and omega-3 fats. Monitor your cholesterol level at least once a year.

6.Your oxygen saturation level: 95 percent or higher. A pulse oximeter is a portable device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. The better your lung and heart function, the higher your oxygen saturation rate. Young adults usually have higher oxygen saturation levels of 98 percent or more. However, for chronic smokers and city dwellers, this level goes down. Breathe clean air, avoid cigarette smoke, and use air-conditioning. All these will help keep your lungs strong and healthy. Practice slow and deep breathing for five to 10 minutes in the morning and at night. It’s relaxing and good for the lungs.

7.Your fasting blood sugar: 100 mg/dl or lower. A blood sugar higher than 100 mg/dl means that you are not normal. If you don’t watch out, this will lead to diabetes and its frightening complications. The excess sugar in your body damages your arteries, causing cracks and holes to appear at the walls. If you have a first-degree relative with diabetes, try to keep it lower than 90 mg/dl. Avoid simple sugars like donuts, candies, and cake icings. Go for more veggies.

8.Your body fat: Less than 25 percent (for males), and less than 30 percent (for females). Manny Pacquiao has a body fat of 10 percent. Wow! But for us ordinary mortals, the ideal numbers are less than 25 percent for males and less than 30 percent for females. Women have more body fat because of their breasts and wider hips area. To reduce your body fat, exercise more to build more muscle mass. Also, reduce your fat and food intake to keep your weight down. These body fat measurements are available in gyms.

9.Your sleep hours: At least 7-8 hours. Sleeping and resting are a great way to boost your energy. The best sleep is at night, especially from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. because this is the time the liver exerts its regenerating powers. If you work the night-shift at call centers, then try darkening your room during the day to simulate nighttime sleep.

10.Your bank account. It’s partly true that wealth can buy you health. You need money to buy nutritious food, and to pay for medicines and hospital bills. However, there’s a limit to what money can buy. Exercise, a healthy diet, and a healthy lifestyle are still your choices. Get a yearly checkup. And make sure you have some money stashed away for urgent medical needs.

Finally, have a list of emergency contact numbers at hand, like your favorite doctor, the hospital, the fire department, etc. Keep these lifesaving numbers handy for your health and peace of mind.


By Willie T. Ong, MD

The Philippine Star

Original Story:

Filed under: Health Tips, Healthy Living,

POEA warns job applicants to Korea

January 27, 2010 – Workers with immigration violation in Korea are ineligible under the Employment Permit System of Korea, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) warned Wednesday.

The POEA, which is in-charge of implementing the EPS in partnership with the Human Resource Development Service-Korea, advised applicants that they should provide truthful information on their previous record of travel to Korea.

“Those who may have misinterpreted that they have not entered Korea before, in order to escape sanctions could be disqualified later on and not be entitled to an entry visa, even though they may have passed the preliminary stages of application,” POEA said in a statement.

The agency stressed that former applicants, who may have committed immigration violation in the past, should not apply anymore so that they can be spared from spending time, money and effort only to be disqualified later on.

POEA said it has also adopted measures to ensure that only those qualified and not restricted to enter Korea should be able to take the EPS-Korean Language Test.

“With the cooperation of the Korean Embassy, applicants who are on active registration status as of Jan. 22, 2010 shall still be pre-screened for any record of immigration violation in Korea,” POEA said.

The registration period and other details for EPS-KLT and actual date of examination are being finalized by the POEA and HRD-Korea.


Filed under: OFW Corner, POEA-Advisory,

OFWs’ financial future

While it is well known that the reason the Philippines escaped a recession is due in part to the huge remittances from the country’s overseas Filipino workers, there is a lingering fear that these OFWs, save for those with financial savvy or with the benefit of financial education, face an uncertain future when they reach retirement age.

Many of our OFWs, it must be noted, do not have access to a financial-literacy program that should come from the government or any advocacy group. Without that, the OFWs are bound to continue with their wasteful spending ways that do not take into consideration their future well-being.

Stories abound about OFW families facing bleak prospects once their principal end the workers’ stint abroad. Having failed to save for their future because of their wasteful ways, these OFW families become mendicants in their own neighborhood. And with nary an income, they are reduced to dwelling on “what ifs.” Which is a pity considering that they once were branded as modern-day heroes and saviors of the economy. What kind of life awaits them when they have not learned the rudiments of saving for their future, or simply of saving part of their income? This is a challenge the administration should seriously consider—to show its gratitude, to say the least, to those who saved the country from economic ruin.

OFW remittances, now averaging $1.5 billion a month, boost the country’s flagging dollar reserves on account of its mounting trade deficit. Without this hefty contribution from the overseas workers, the government could have come under the same money woes that characterized the last years of the Marcos government. At the time, the country, having lost its financial credibility, had to buy the dollars from the informal market and had these flown to Hong Kong where the letter of credits for the imports were then sourced. Thus was born the so-called Binondo Central Bank manned by then-trade minister Roberto Ongpin who has, of late, reinvented himself as a heavy hitter in the stock market.

It is incumbent upon the government to ensure that the OFWs get to know about the investment instruments they can invest their money in, while the going is still good. It is equally important for the government to see to it that these OFWs get the kind of investment advice that should serve them in their twilight years, when the need for a nest egg becomes much more pronounced. While there are financial-literacy programs that some government agencies come up with or breast-beat about, the fact is the investment bug has not caught on as can be evidenced by the increasing number of OFW families at their wits’ end trying to make ends meet.

This lack of concern from the government on the need to provide financial literacy for the 10 million-plus OFWs could be traced to the number of failed finances of many OFW families. How come there has been no visible effort from the government to make sure these OFWs distinguish, for instance, the difference between “need” and “want?” It is simply mind-boggling for the government not to reach out to the OFWs on this score. OFW families should have basic financial-literacy programs in place, such that they get to know that sometimes what they “want” (which could be a higher-priced car) could actually be taken care of by knowing what they “need,” which is that they need just a vehicle, no matter how lowly or cheap it may look.

Sad to say, the government appears to have failed in this because its concerns were only focused on the dollars that these workers remit. It is time, therefore, for the government to stop the lip service and address in earnest our OFWs concerns, foremost of which is to help them to have a grasp of financial instruments. This should no longer be a difficult task, considering that many overseas workers’ families have now become all too familiar with the subprime meltdown, the trillions in dollars and euros that the United States and the European zone pumped into their respective banking institutions and prospects of another Big Depression.

Perhaps, it is time, too, for the government to save the OFWs from the likes of the Legacy scam where high-interest rates proffered on hapless victims made them form a beeline to the bank, not knowing that the banking group has failed the test on solvency, liquidity and capital ratios. It is sad to note here that many of the victims who fell prey to the scam were overseas workers. A friend told me that an OFW from Canada was hysterical after the news of the Legacy group’s closure brought her P2.5-million savings to just the maximum limit of bank insurance, plus the frayed nerves that went with the hassle of talking to government regulators.

Written by Lito U. Gagni / Market Files

Filed under: Business Ideas for OFW Families, Encouragement, Financial Literacy, Kwentong OFW, Livelihood, OFW Corner,

Sorsogon vice gov recommends forest farming vs climate change

CASTILLA, Sorsogon, Jan. 25 – The vice governor of Sorsogon province where the vast forest areas are confronted with rapid deterioration due to natural and man-made destruction is pushing forest farming as an effective measure to avert the negative impacts of climate change in the locality.

“Through forest farming, we would be able to have economic gains from the forest we nourish while contributing to the global effort of solving the problem on global warming,” Vice Governor Renato Laurinaria told the Philippines News Agency at his mini-forest farm here over the weekend.

“The signs of global warming that indicate we are now in the midst of it are already ominous as we feel the immediate effects of global warming through the climatic changes that make our summers hotter while the typhoons during the rainy season are increasingly getting to be fewer, but more furious,” he said.

The prospects for global warming are quite perilous. These include: a general increase in global temperatures leading to mass extinction of wildlife and plant species; melting of the polar ice caps resulting in permanent flooding of low lying areas; extreme weather conditions causing huge crop losses, death and loss of property; proliferation of hazardous disease such as skin cancers, eye cataracts and various respiratory ailments.

“In retrospect, we cannot truly eliminate the release of greenhouse gases since they are byproducts which are ingrained into the source of power of appliances, vehicles and machines we use everyday. To reverse the trend, a proactive measure should also be undertaken to extract the overwhelming numbers of greenhouse gases already present in our atmosphere,” Laurinaria said.

For gases that have already been released into the atmosphere, there are only very limited options and one of the only feasible ways to sequester existing greenhouse gases already released into our atmosphere for now, is to plant many trees, he explained.

Trees absorb greenhouse gases and release oxygen for humans to breathe and the moisture they release also creates clouds which reflect the harmful rays from the sun. At the same time, they help control soil erosion and enrich the topsoil with the decomposing leaves and branches that trees produce regularly, he further said.

The Department of Natural Resources (DENR) as well as several non-government organizations (NGOs) had been busy with their reforestation campaigns and while their efforts are truly commendable, “we have to help them because of the enormity of the task at hand. Everyone should be involved for the efforts to be effective,” the vice governor, who is a staunch advocate of environmental protection, said.

For sufficient impact, not only millions of trees, but billions of them should be grown to maximize carbon sequestration ability on a per hectare basis. “To marshal the necessary resources, we need to reintegrate forestry into our lifestyle and job. The forests we plant also have to be profitable to create financial resources and to sustain the enthusiasm of everyone,” he stressed.

In order to sustain forest planting activities, the forests should, in turn, be able to nourish and sustain the population by using abundant sources of food and raw materials.

Laurinaria said, “Global warming is a very real threat to mankind. We cannot afford to be complacent because it is a global war we cannot afford to lose. We only have one planet. We need to change our lifestyle and adopt means of livelihoods which are harmonious to nature.”

Forest farming is a solution to global warming and a means to increase the sustainability of farms and livelihoods. It takes only 30 trees to offset the greenhouse gases produced by an urban family and more can be planted.

This is a form of three-storey farming which integrates our present knowledge in forestry and agriculture. It is not new. The tribal minorities have been into it for centuries. The DENR calls it “rainforestation”.

In forest farming, Laurinaria said multi-purpose trees and plants are selected and planted. Like natural forest stands, they are designed to grow into three stories of crops.

The first to be planted are the canopy tree crops. These trees which grow at least 20 meters when matured, shall form the upper storey for the forest farm and would thrive under direct sunlight.

While most of these climax trees should be forest trees, multi-functioning trees can also be included. Some examples of pioneering, fast growing exotic forest trees are Gmelina (Gmelina arborea), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta), rain tree Acacia (Albizia saman), and Falcatta (Parathensis falcataria). Indigenous trees like Red Lauan (Shorea negrosensis), and Apitong (Dipterocarpus grandifloris) can also be planted.

While the exotic species are deemed fast growing, indigenous species, on the other hand, he said are more typhoon-resistant and adaptable to local conditions.

Both can be planted to achieve the best synergies from these species while creeping palms, like rattan can also be cultivated symbiotically with these canopy trees as an additional source of income, Laurinaria said.

Underneath the canopy would be the second storey crops that are either juvenile forest trees awaiting their turn to grow into the canopy or tree crops which thrive in partial shade.

Examples of shade-tolerant fruit tree crops, Laurinaria said are durian, cacao, coffee, some varieties smaller, shade-tolerant plants can also be cultivated on the tree trunks of these second storey trees. Examples of such are aerial ubi and orchids.

He said, the ground level of the forest farm can still be farmed despite the lower level of sunlight on the forest floor. Crops that be farmed on the forest floor are gabi, anthurium and ginger. Mushrooms like the highly medicinal Ganoderma lucidum, the tasty banana mushrooms (Tjolvariella volvaciae) and various oyster mushroom species can also be cultivated to make use of the enormous amounts of decomposing litter on the forest floor.

Fred Araya, the DENR spokesman for Bicol said that studies proved three-layered forest farming is very efficient because sunlight for photosynthesis is filtered and maximized.

Several plants growing symbiotically in diversity generate a higher cumulative yield and ensure a balanced, profitable cash flow for farmers compared to a single or dual cropping as presently practiced, Araya explained.

With this form of crop diversity, soil nutrients are also recycled more efficiently and pests cannot proliferate rapidly. Hence, the cost pesticides and fertilizer is minimized because the trees, especially nitrogen fixers, create their own fertilizer in the form of decomposing forest litter, he said.

Moreover, the soil’s capability to retain water is enhanced. Soil erosion will also be avoided as the extensive root system generated by the trees can hold the soil together even during strong downpours, Araya added.

Department of Agriculture (DA) regional executive director Jose Dayao agreed, saying three-storey multi-cropping ensures a more stable and continuous cash flow.

The farmer could use the income from the yield of his short-term crops for his immediate needs, while the medium term crops for his long-term needs. “What he would earn from climax, forest trees, on the other hand, could be his investment for the college education of his children and for his retirement,” Dayao said.

Above all, this type of forest farming is eco-friendly. Each hectare of this multi-storey farming system sequesters eight to 12 times more greenhouse gases than a rice crop, he said.

For farmers with growing coconut, palm oil or rubber tree crops, a modified form of forest farming can be applied. Fertilizer trees, such as rain tree acacia, Acacia mangium, Eucalyptus deglupta, Falcatta, Narra or Apitong can be planted in between coconut trees.

These intercropped trees, Dayao said, are nitrogen fixers which will help the coconut trees absorb nitrogen from the air. Fertilizer trees will also help enhance soil fertility through the forest debris it sheds.

Multiple crops also mean multiple incomes, creating a symbiotic win-win situation for the crops and for the farmer. More importantly, intercropping with forest trees will increase the farm’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases, he said.

At the very least, these fertilizer trees or fruit trees should be planted in borders and areas in the farm which are not suitable to agriculture. Crops, such as sugarcane, rice and corn can also be planted in between rows of fertilizer trees and this is called the Taungya system.

There are also lots of farms whose topsoil is already depleted and unsuitable for most crops. Forest farming can resurrect and rejuvenate them into highly profitable farms.

Livestock farmers can also plant fodder-producing trees or fruit trees in between their livestock buildings as Dayao said these trees will serve as coolants to their farm animals and the cooling effect that each tree produces is equivalent to the cooling effect that 25 air-conditioning units produce.

As an additional benefit, the DA regional chief said the trees can directly recycle the voluminous animal manure into a major source of income. Livestock farms produce not only greenhouse gases, but also methane, a gas that is three to four times more detrimental to the environment than carbon dioxide.

By planting trees and other crops, the livestock farms would offset the greenhouse gases the farm animals produce, he added. (PNA) LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd/

By: Danny O. Calleja

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates,

Life Still Has a Meaning

If there is a future there is time for mending-
Time to see your troubles coming to an ending.

Life is never hopeless however great your sorrow-
If you’re looking forward to a new tomorrow.

If there is time for wishing then there is time for hoping-
When through doubt and darkness you are blindly groping.

Though the heart be heavy and hurt you may be feeling-
If there is time for praying there is time for healing

So if through your window there is a new day breaking-
Thank God for the promise, though mind and soul be aching,

If with harvest over there is grain enough for gleaning-
There is a new tomorrow and life still has meaning.

Filed under: Encouragement, Inspiration,

DAR, NIA turn over irrigation project to Casiguran farmers

Casiguran, Sorsogon (25 January) — The of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) have finally completed and turned over the Communal Irrigation System (CIS) project to the Tigbao-Banawang Irrigators Association (TBIA) of this municipality.

Leto P. Bernal, NIA Sorsogon Irrigators Development Section chief, said during the turn-over rites that the project has been carried out based on the needs identified by the beneficiaries themselves and “it is the now for the beneficiaries to take responsibility of its management, operation and maintenance.”

“Of course, we will continue to assist the association, which forms part of the Casiguran Agrarian Reform Cluster (ARC) Cluster B, in their continuous endeavors to pursue agricultural development and food security,” he stressed.

Rodrigo Estremera, Casiguran agrarian reform officer, said that the project, implemented under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP) II, intends to increase rice production to ensure higher income for farmers to finance their children’s education.

Salvador Hife, TBIA president, thanked and expressed his appreciation to DAR and NIA, noting that “the association had agreed to allot 75 kilos of palay per hectare every harvest to fund the CIS maintenance.

Hife also clarified that the palay allotment will not serve as payment but for maintenance of the facility, since the responsibility of taking care of the project now lies in their hands.

CIS will be benefiting a total of 89 hectares of rice land tilled by 112 farmers covering Barangays Tigbao and Banawang.

Through ARISP II, a dam in Talinga River in Tigbao was also constructed in 2004 to provide the water source for the irrigation system. (DAR Sorsogon/PIA

by LA Arbolente

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates, ,

Abot Tanaw enables communication for Global Pinoy Center

Abot Tanaw enables communication for Global Pinoy Center
Manila Bulletin
With its clear connection and advanced technological services, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and their families and regional migrants, can now call their
See all stories on this topic


Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

Changes to Migrant Workers law welcomed

A recruitment official lauded Wednesday the passage of an amended version of the Migrant Worker and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 making “repro orders’’ an illegal recruitment act.

The two Houses of Congress adopted last Monday the bicameral conference committee report amending Republic Act 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, “to further improve the standard of protection, promotion of welfare and assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).’’

One of the salient provisions is making reprocessing of job orders for OFWs an illegal act.

“The amended version should now instill fear among recruiters, legal or illegal,’’ Emmanuel Geslani said in an interview.

“The scheme, commonly termed as contract substitution, has victimized many OFWs who sign contracts here in the Philippines but execute and enter into employment contracts upon reaching their destination,’’ he said.

According to the bicameral report, “illegal recruitment’’ to include reprocessing workers through a job order pertains to non-existent work, work different from the actual overseas work or work with a different employer whether registered or not with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The amended version provides a penalty of imprisonment of from 12 to 20 years and a fine of at least P1 million to P2 million.

Geslani said the imposition of longer prison terms and heavier fines for persons who will commit illegal recruitment acts like “repro orders” were intended to address the mounting problem of recruitment and deployment of OFWs.

In 2008, he said the scheme was the reason for the deployment of some 100, 000 domestic helpers to Lebanon, Dubai, Jordan and Syria.

He claimed that licensed and non-licensed holders used the “repro orders” in processing household service workers under different categories like janitress, cleaners, chambermaids, washers, and other service workers.

“Many of those service workers were trafficked to Lebanon and Jordan to work as domestic helpers while the rest were deployed as house maids in Dubai and Kuwait,’’ the migration expert said.

Moreover, the bill also provides for accountability on the members of the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in the deployment of migrant workers.

“Government officials found responsible for the issuance of permits and allowing deployment of OFWs to countries that do not guarantee or comply with international labor standards shall suffer the penalty of dismissal from service or be disqualified from holding appointive public office for five years.’’

Earlier, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, concurrent chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and of the joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, said the consolidated version of Senate Bill 3286 and House Bill 5649 features a combination of preventive measures to address problem in the recruitment and deployment of OFWs and better rescue and assistance mechanisms.

January 20, 2010, 5:05pm

Filed under: OFW Corner,

From OFWs to Entrepreneurs

WHAT businesses do overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) invest in once they decide to resettle back in the Philippines?

Food franchises, according to sources, in the form of inexpensive fast-food stalls are almost always the first business ventures that OFWs go into, in the hope of making a quick profit at minimal capital.

Following in second, as of recent years, are the manufacture and production of soaps and/or detergents. Third place goes to the making of bead accessories. Also in the running is the propagation and sale of potted plants.

Ultimately, though, the success of these homegrown businesses depends less on their market appeal and more on the passion, patience and knowledge, present and potential, of the OFW-turned-entrepreneur.

Points out Pinoy ME Foundation president Dan Songco: “OFWs need to go into a business that they can be passionate about. One phenomenon about start-up businesses is how entrepreneurs lose interest after a while. A business usually takes two to three years before it becomes profitable. If entrepreneurs do not believe in the business they’re engaged in, they might give up before the business turns a profit.”

Songco elaborates: “The stories about successful businesses that we’ve heard are those where entrepreneurs engage in something that their parents, relatives, or former employers were involved in. They learned the ropes through their past exposure to the business. The most successful entrepreneurs are those who speak passionately about their business. They enjoy what they do so they put their heart and soul into it.”

In short, OFWs thinking of putting up a siopao stall or hotdog stand should do some serious soul-searching and ask some pertinent questions: have they ever been inclined to the culinary arts even as a hobby? Are they good at cooking and take pride in it?

Elena F. Baluyot, marketing officer of the Center for Small Entrepreneurs (CSE), gives the brass tacks when it comes to putting up a small food business or becoming part of a mini-franchise: “The initial outlay is P120,000, which includes royalty fees and training for approximately three months. Profits will depend on the product and location. Or you can just add the products to the stocks on your shelves if you have a sari-sari store. The franchise owners will check your location and the traffic around it and give you an estimated time for your return on investment (ROI).”

Baluyot continues: “The P120,000 is starting capital for two months. Small franchises usually take six months to regain it. For the next four months starting on the third month, expenses will be about P4,000 a month. Profits are normally rolled back into the business. If successful, after six months, a food cart can earn like P1,500 a day.”

Small products usually start with minimal capital that, when handled with expertise, can be the start of something big. CSE provides a kit worth P500 that can produce a liquid detergent that can be sold up to P2,000 in bazaars, stores, or directly to consumers. Other enterprising souls can manufacture a leather jacket at the cost of P35 each and sell it for P200 each.

One former OFW who was able to create her own brand of soap with the help of a chemist now manufactures it in large quantities and markets it to hotels in Dubai, her former city of employment. The cost per soap bar is P30, but she can sell it for as much P200 per piece.

Baluyot uses this to point out the advantage of an ex-OFW’s network: “You can see the needs of your potential market. If you’re a nurse in an establishment, you can inquire about the material that they use in their beddings, for example. What are the needs of your fellow OFWs? If they’re living in the UK, what are their clothing needs, and can you send them material from the Philippines that can help them deal with the cold? Your friend has a friend who has a friend who has a friend.”

One potential business that has a growing market and a lack of suppliers has to do with herbs and potted plants. Edsa Garden House sells at reasonable cost to Filipino garden lovers, plants that are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as rosemary, wheatgrass and stevia. They do this for two reasons: to educate them about greens that can keep them healthy, and to encourage them to propagate these in their own backyards as a hobby or business. To date, Edsa Garden House sells 101 varieties of herbs.

Michael Caballes, Edsa Garden House’s horticulturist and consultant, describes the various opportunities:

“You can start with pots, and you don’t necessarily need a hectare of land. You can work with 500 square meters, which can be occupied by 25 pots. Buy a mother plant and then plant this directly in the soil. Cut the branches from the mother plant and replant the cuttings to make them root and grow in pots, and then sell the individual pots in the markets, bazaars or supermarkets that are now beginning to sell potted herbs.

“Some of our customers used to buy in retail, sell in the weekend market, and end up propagating plants for their own business. One guy would buy 100 pots of stevia, plant them in his land in Baguio, and then resell them.”

Edsa Garden House usually sells their potted plants at P30 a piece, with discounts for volume sales. Would-be farmers who can plant, grow, and sell plants can find a welcome market in restaurants and hotels that need a steady supply of herbs for their dishes.

Caballes elaborates, “Chefs need something like a kilo of rosemary a day. The problem is consistency of supply. Luzon is visited by typhoons six months in a year. During rainy season, they can’t get supplies. They either get herbs from abroad or resort to processed goods in the absence of fresh ones.”

To assist would-be farmers, Edsa Garden House also provides information to buyers on the plants they’re buying. They usually hold workshops on the basic methods of propagation, the growing of herbs, the selection and nurturing of the soil, pest and disease control, and the profitability of certain herbs. Initial investment for potted plants on a 200-square meter plot of land can be as little as P20,000.

Pearl Banaag, Edsa Garden House’s marketing consultant advises patience for the would-be herb and plant grower. “Like any other business, the regular supply of herbs can take two years to become profitable,” she says. “You also need a caretaker to look after your plants.”

Caballes gives other guidelines: “Propagation and finding a market can be difficult initially. You also need time to learn about the plant, to study what it needs, how it grows, and so on. Study the plants’ behavior, understand the pests and their possible diseases. Plants are also affected by different weather patterns. Individual growers should first focus on the top three selling herbs. Do that for a start, and when you are confident, expand and venture to other herbs.”

Understanding the product and the market, along with record-keeping, are fundamental in starting and growing a business. Baluyot continues: “We also teach basic marketing, which means understanding the trend and what people want. It’s about knowing functionality, the traffic, the need, and the location of people. Record-keeping is fundamental in keeping track of what goes in and out of your business as well as the supplies that should be ordered.”

Finally, Baluyot says, being a businessman means separating the personal from the professional, which makes record-keeping necessary: “Don’t mix family expenses with business earnings.” •

By Cora Llamas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 16:59:00 01/16/2010 

Filed under: Livelihood, OFW Corner,

DOLE searches for whereabouts of 2 OFW livelihood program beneficiaries

DOLE searches for whereabouts of 2 OFW livelihood program beneficiaries
Philippine Information Agency
DOLE 8 Regional Director Forter G. Puguon identified the two OFWs as Josephine Patrolla and Rizza Galarze. He called on them and those who know their
See all stories on this topic

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

Group seeks permanent ban of ‘notorious’ Saudi firm for detaining 88 OFWs

Group seeks permanent ban of ‘notorious’ Saudi firm for detaining 88 OFWs
A migrant workers’ rights group called Wednesday for the permanent banning of a Saudi Arabian conglomerate from recruiting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),
See all stories on this topic


Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

DFA ePassport Announcement

ePassport Announcement

January 13, 2010 by DFA Webmaster


Due to data migration and systems upgrade, we would like to inform the public that there will be no ePassport processing on 15 January up to 22 January, 2010.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding…

posted by : OCA

Filed under: DFA-advisory,

Caregivers and nurses in demand for Japan

Caregivers and nurses in demand for Japan
Philippine Information Agency
“Pre-employment orientation shall soon commence for qualified applicants who have registered online and maintained an active status through the POEA
See all stories on this topic

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

How OFWs cope with crisis under study

How OFWs cope with crisis under study
Business Mirror
Tomas professors are vying for a coveted global funding awards contest to research the ways overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and their families cope with the
See all stories on this topic

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

Healthcare, construction top job sources

Healthcare, construction top job sources
Manila Bulletin
The POEA said the Middle East will continue to be the major labor market of OFWs in 2010 with the Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman,
See all stories on this topic

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

OFWs promote the common good

MANILA, Philippines—Roman Catholics among the overseas Filipino workers should read the encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI entitled Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth).

There is much in this letter to all people of good will that refers to the life of an OFW. Its content should be communicated to all regardless of culture or creed.

Among the important insights in this encyclical (which means “letter”) is the love of benevolence or love for the common good that can inspire every OFW. Although some OFWs have written me disclaiming that they are “heroes” and that their only reason for enduring the sacrifices of working abroad is to support their respective families, their modesty should be rewarded by the truth pointed out by Pope Benedict XVI: that every human being is capable of seeking the common good, of loving with the love of benevolence.

It may be true that the immediate reason for seeking employment abroad is love for family. This does not preclude the fact, however, that an OFW can also directly want to help the country with the foreign exchange he remits. These remittances have helped the economy grow, especially during the recent global crisis.

Human love is complex: There can be different layers or grades of motivation. Gratuitousness (the word used by the Pope) or the love of benevolence can also motivate OFWs. They just have to be aware of the help they give to their country and then consciously will this good to accrue to their fellow Filipinos.

In the same manner, any businessman can aspire for reasonable profit without neglecting to use his business operations to serve the common good in one way or another. He has very many stakeholders whose welfare he can promote.

The first social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) is addressed—like all the other social encyclicals since Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII in 1891—not only to Catholics but to all people of good will.

All the principles he espouses in the encyclical letter can be understood and accepted by any reasonable person, whatever his or her creed or culture. The very first principle is in the title itself: integral human development.

The present Pope borrows this concept from Pope Paul VI who in the encyclical Populorum Progressio written in 1967 first wrote about development that is for every man and for the whole man. Only development that includes every one and addresses all the dimensions of a human being (economic, political, cultural, social, and spiritual) can be considered authentic development.

No matter how high the rate of growth of gross domestic product (like the 10 to 12 percent per annum of China over the last 20 years), true development is not happening if hundreds of millions of people still live in dehumanizing poverty and/or if there is no freedom of the unborn to live, religious freedom, or freedom of speech even among those who have been liberated from material poverty.

The recent encyclical is a timely reminder for all of us that we have to do everything possible to address the problem of mass poverty in our country. Any Filipino who is living a comfortable life and has any talent or skill whatsoever cannot rest until she or he has done everything possible to help very concrete and specific poor individuals and families to rise above dehumanizing poverty through the creation of jobs, the provision of basic needs like housing and quality education for the children of the poor, skills training especially for the unemployed youth, the production of goods and services through the market that are especially tailored to the needs of the poor, etc.

These are among the varied ways by which each one can contribute to the common good, which the Pope describes in detail: “The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practice this charity, in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the polis.”

This clearly states that no individual can just pursue his so-called enlightened self-interest, no matter how legitimate. He must consciously look for ways of contributing to the common good of society. Fortunately for the OFW, what he earns has a double benefit: he helps his family and he helps the country by contributing much needed foreign exchange.

The Pope goes out of his way to clarify what is the common good. He reiterates the doctrine of the Church that the common good can never be equated with “the greatest good for the greatest number.” The common good is “the good of ‘all of us,’ made up of individuals, families, and intermediate groups who together constitute society.” As I have often pointed out in these columns, the common good is a social or juridical order which enables every single member of society to attain his fullest human development economically, politically, socially, culturally, and spiritually. The common good is not determined by majority vote. We can never allow an erring majority to victimize a minority. For example, God forbid, if the Reproductive Health Bill is approved by the majority of the members of Congress, such a legislation would never justify the evil of artificial contraception or the possible killing of a live fetus by an abortifacient under the guise of a contraceptive pill.

The concept of “integral human development” should also make us resolve to help all families in the Philippines attain a level of material progress that will no longer make it necessary for fathers or mothers to leave their children to work overseas in order to support their families.

This necessary evil is forcing numerous households to sacrifice their social and spiritual welfare in favor of economic progress. As long as this undesirable situation persists, every effort should be exerted by business, civil society, and the government to minimize the psychological damage done especially to children by the absence of one or both of their parents.

More frequent visits of parents, arranging for even daily telephone conversations, intervention by psychologists and psychiatrists for especially troubled adolescent children, and efforts to convince host countries to give visas to the immediate members of the families of OFWs can help these “heroes” who support our national economic development efforts to attain integral human development.

By Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas

For comments, may email address is

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

RP Embassy in Berlin uncovers new Recruitment Scam, warns Filipino Job-Seekers

RP Embassy in Berlin uncovers new Recruitment Scam, warns Filipino Job-Seekers

Posted: 08 Jan 2010 07:11 PM PST

9 January 2010 – The Philippine Embassy in Berlin reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that it has uncovered another scam designed to victimize Filipino job-seekers.

This was after two Filipinas contacted the Embassy seeking assistance in verifying the authenticity of a company named Markel-Power International, allegedly located in Bremen, Germany, which informed the two through e-mail that they will be hired by the firm.

The company advised the job-seekers that in order for their recruitment to be completed, they have to pay €70 through Western Union to an employment company based in Monza, Italy.

The Embassy later discovered that Markel-Power International is non-existent, is not registered with the Bremen Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has a fictitious address, has no telephone and fax numbers, and is using a host in the United States for its English website.

The Embassy advised the two Filipinas not to pay the company any amount for their alleged recruitment.

“The Embassy is convinced that this recruitment scheme is another variation of the Nigerian 4-1-9 advanced fee scam designed to victimize innocent Filipino job-seekers,” Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Christine Queenie C. Mangunay said.

The Nigerian 4-1-9 scam, also known as the Nigerian Advance Fee scheme, is a worldwide scam which involves the receipt an unsolicited letter allegedly from a Nigerian Central Bank employee or from the Nigerian government. It is named after the section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraudulent schemes.

The Embassy warns Filipino job-seekers of the scam and has asked the DFA to bring the matter to the attention of relevant government authorities such as the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Justice, and the Philippine National Police. END


Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

Gov’t blunder shatters dreams of OFW mistaken for a fugitive

Gov’t blunder shatters dreams of OFW mistaken for a fugitive
son of Presidential Chief of Staff Undersecretary Renato Ebarle Sr. [See: OFW mistaken for slay suspect Jason Ivler brought back to RP] “Yung mga
See all stories on this topic

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

NP local candidate gunned dow

NP local candidate gunned down
Business Mirror
CASIGURAN, Sorsogon—A candidate for councilor in this town died early Tuesday Casiguran is the hometown of incumbent Sorsogon First District Rep.

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

POEA clarifies job availability in US, UK

POEA clarifies job availability in US, UK
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reminded prospective applicants on Wednesday to check first with the agency on the availability of
See all stories on this topic

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

Gov’t to redouble aid for jailed OFWs

Gov’t to redouble aid for jailed OFWs
Manila Bulletin
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday assured that it will “redouble its efforts” in assisting jailed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),
See all stories on this topic

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

POEA offers vital advice to OFWs heading overseas

POEA offers vital advice to OFWs heading overseas
Manila Bulletin
By JC BELLO RUIZ The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has advised Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to keep copies of their passport and
See all stories on this topic

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

POEA bares 13360 job openings in US

POEA bares 13360 job openings in US
Manila Bulletin
So far, a total of 876 of the total job orders have been filled up, POEA Administrator Jennifer Jardin-Manalili said, although the US is currently on visa

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

More jobs in Japan

THE Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in Central Visayas has started accepting a second batch of caregiver and nursing applicants for Japan.

POEA Director Evelia Durato said that over a thousand of applicants will be needed. Applicants should register online at on or before January 15.

POEA will prequalify applicants for interview and examination by prospective employers. Those who pass will sign contracts and get language training in Japan with allowances equivalent to their salary. Those that pass language training will then be assigned to employers.

The POEA is also asking applicants for Korea to grab the opportunity of taking the low-cost Korea Language Test. Durato said that for those who want to work in Korea should first pass the test, which the POEA offers for $17 (the noraml price is $30). Applicants should also register online. Deadline of registration is on January 22.

The POEA also said that it is still ironing out job opportunities in Australia, particularly in Southern Australia where thousands of skilled workers are needed in construction sites and hotels.

The demand for overseas workers means applicants must be careful to avoid illegal recruiters.

Durato said that applicants should be wary in accepting offers and check with the POEA if a recruiter is licensed. If the offer is too good to be true, the applicants should think twice, she added.

The Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas is also expecting a better turnout for local work this year.

Director Elias Cayanong said that still booming are the call center industry, construction, tourism, electronics, and garments. For the last quarter, call centers grew 30-35 percent.

/Correspondent Carine M.

Filed under: OFW Corner, Overseas Jobs, POEA-Advisory,

POEA accepts applicants for Korea language test

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), in cooperation with the Human Resource Development Service of Korea, is accepting applicants for the 6th batch of Korea Language Test for EPS workers.

Interested jobseekers to Korea may visit website and register to maintain an active online status.

Applicants must not be more than 38 years old; at least a high school graduate; have at least one year of work experience; and must be physically fit.

The registration for qualified KLT applicants is scheduled from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29 at the POEA regional center in LDM Building along M.J. Cuenco Avenue corner Legaspi Street, Cebu City.

Applicants must submit a detailed resume with one 2×2 picture, high school or college diploma, employment certificate, valid passport and NBI clearance (for travel abroad) upon registration.

The deadline for submission of application is on Jan. 22.

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, Overseas Jobs,

POEA warns: Illegal recruitment still prevalent

POEA warns: Illegal recruitment still prevalent
Philippine Information Agency
The case is now filed at POEA while some victims have already coordinated with the NBI. It is the duty of the POEA to help people duped by these poseurs and

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

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