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Ako Bikol sees easy win in elections

by: Inquirer Southern Luzon

MANILA, Philippines—Winning a seat in Congress is as easy as having a barber’s cut, lawyer Rodel M. Batocabe, one of the three nominees and president of the party-list Ako Bikol (AKB), said in jest.

Finding the time to visit his barber and have his hair dyed a day after Monday’s elections, Batocabe said he was also stunned by the overwhelming support given by voters to the AKB, a regional party-list group which ran for Congress for the first time.

Based on partial, unofficial tallies online of as of 7:57 a.m. on Wednesday, the AKB was leading in the party-list race with 1,390,794 votes. It was followed by Senior Citizens (1,169,846), Buhay (1,162,301), Akbayan (967,630) and Gabriela (923,997).

Asked why his group was emerging as the front-runner, Batocabe said its activities were already very visible and felt by the people even before the election period started.

Supertyphoon ‘Reming’

The AKB started as SOS Bicol, a rescue and relief program organized by private individuals and organizations in Bicol after Supertyphoon “Reming” ravaged Albay in November 2006.

Batocabe would not name the individuals and groups for “personal and private” reasons. “They don’t want to be identified,” he said.

Since then, the group has continued with its programs for Reming’s victims by helping in rehabilitation programs involving both the government and the private sector.

Likewise, it has started livelihood programs for the displaced, such as selling of the rocks and sand spewed by Mayon Volcano.

‘Ondoy’ victims

These efforts started drawing financial and moral support from other Bicolanos residing in the Philippines and abroad, among them successful businessman Elizaldy Co, an ally of President Macapagal-Arroyo. (The AKB’s two other nominees are entrepreneur Christopher S. Co, Elizaldy’s brother, and lawyer Alfredo A. Garbin.)

In October until December last year, Co’s Sunwest Group of Companies was at the forefront of the AKB in gathering donations for victims of Storm “Ondoy” in Marikina City, Quezon City and other towns in Rizal. It hosted a caravan that passed major routes in the Bicol and Calabarzon regions and handed the donations to the victims themselves.

In a story published in the weekly regional paper Bicol Mail in April 2008, Batocabe parried allegations that the AKB is solely financed by Co, a real estate developer who is also behind Sunwest Water and Electric Co. (Suweco). The company is currently generating hydroelectric power in the island-province of Catanduanes.

Batocabe said the accusation implied that the AKB was established for the sole purpose of joining the May elections.


In a statement circulated for media people in Legazpi City in Albay before the elections, AKB spokesperson Joshua E. Martinez Jr. said Co should not be singled out for his contributions to the group.

Martinez, the group’s deputy secretary general for media relations, was referring to issues raised by lawyer Luis Ruben General who alleged in the article that the AKB was financed and run by tycoons and as such, did not represent Bicol’s marginalized sectors.

Batocabe also bristled at the “black propaganda” hurled against the group by Tessa Lopez, spokesperson for the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Bikol.

In a phone interview, Lopez said Batocabe must be referring to the “Letter to the Editor” which she had sent to local media entities early in May.

In that letter, the Bayan leader issued a challenge to review the AKB’s claim of representing the marginalized and questioned its source of campaign funds for the May polls.

“Many Bikolanos know that AKB is nothing but a dummy party-list of Malacañang and it is better called Gloria Bicol party-list,” Lopez wrote.

Bayan-Bicol is a militant multisectoral organization closely allied with the issues raised in Congress by Bayan Muna, a party-list group currently represented by Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares.

Black propaganda

“The black propaganda actually helped us make AKB more popular,” Batocabe said.

“With what they have done, the more that Bicolanos did not believe them,” he said. Instead, he urged rival party-list groups to work with them to achieve the common goal.

Batocabe said the AKB planned to sponsor at least 30 bills in its first 100 days in office. The measures, he said, would focus on education, economy, agriculture, tourism promotion and environmental protection.

“We will support the next president, whoever he is. AKB is friends with everyone.” Batocabe said. Sarah B. Moran and Jumean Rose M. Atun, contributors

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates, , ,

Arts council holds doodle earth visual arts workshop

Sorsogon City (13 May) — The Sorsogon Arts Council, in partnership with the Red Root Artists and Artisans Cooperative, has announced the holding of the “Doodle Earth Visual Arts Workshop” on May 17 to 21, 2010 at the Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Council (PAFC) Training Center in Barangay Burabod, this city.

The workshop is open to participants ages 6 to 12, with a limit of 50 participants on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The workshop aims to develop and enhance the creativity of the children particularly in the field of visual arts and nurture the advocacy for environmental stewardship.

According to Red Root Administrative and Support Services Department chief Thea Cristina Gile, Red Root is the FIRSTArtists cooperative in the Philippines.

“Our cooperative offers diverse field of expertise in design innovation, audio-visual communication and marketing strategy development,” Gile said.

Her sister, Teresa Paula, is Red Root’s creative director and a Fine Arts alumna of the University of the Philippines and will be one of workshop’s resource persons. Both of them hailed from this city and daughters of SAC Adhoc Committee members Buenaventura and Isabel Gile.

For interested participants, please contact Totep Perez at cp # 09189443656 or Ella Jamoralin at cp# 09326457457. (JJJPerez, SAC/PIA)


PIA Press Release


Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates, Upcoming Events, ,

Little-known DOST program turns students to techno biz


Pili coated in three heavenly flavors: milk-, dark- and bitter sweet chocolates.

It is right there with the best almond chocolates of Hershey’s or Cadbury – and it is made in Bicol, by some members of Class 2005 of the Ateneo de Naga University.

If the entrepreneurs can only extend the six-month shelf life of the chocolates, now with its own barcode, the sweets can easily go beyond Bicol.

It all started in 2005 with a small P274,104 financial assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to 11 undergraduates in a program to encourage college students into technology-based enterprises.

Having paid the amount of the original loan, and now graduates, the entrepreneurs applied and was granted in 2007 P231,154 to push the chocolate-coated pili nuts all the way.

The pili enterprise is one of only three projects that have made it to Stage 2, or full commercialization, of the DOST-Academe-Technology-Based Enterprise Development (DAT-BED) Program.

The other two started at the Marcos Agro-Industrial School (MAIS) with a P104,398 financial assistance in 2003 for the food processing, poultry, goat and cattle raising projects of eight students. After three years, the projects earned profits of P42,878; the original amount provided was given to the school as a no-strings-attached grant.

Two of the students, now graduates, pursued their business dreams and each received loans of P336,885 in 2007. Each will fatten 15 heads of cattle using the Urea, Molasses and Mineral Block technology as feed supplement.

The feed is the innovation part of the project required by the DAT-BED Program. The Naga enterprise was innovative in coating pili with chocolates.

“All project proposals are required to be technology-innovative,” said Theda Mae L. Salvania, a young agricultural engineer graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Banos who is part of the DAT-BED monitoring team at the DOST- Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI).

DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program provides the funding to TAPI which implements DAT-BED.

The 55 on-going Stage 1 projects (for undergraduates) in 18 schools are all agri-based or in food processing maybe because, Salvania explained, the schools are all in rural areas.

Remarkably, except for Ateneo de Naga, all 42 schools accredited since the program started in 1994 are state colleges and universities. Two Metro Manila schools joined this year.

For 2010, three new projects worth P411,820 started at the Palompon Institute of Technology in Palompon, Leyte. Fourteen project proposals from the Central Mindanao State University and nine from Cagayan State University are under review.

Still, the P500,000 used in 2009 reflects the program is not fully tapped by schools.

Out-of-school youths can avail of DAT-BED through non-government organizations linked with college vocational and technical schools with a maximum student-faculty ratio of 25:1 in science and technology courses and entrepreneurship programs.

After three years of successful implementation, TAPI gives the full financial assistance to the school as a grant. If projects are unsuccessful, TAPI gets back the unexpended balance; if it has been exhausted, it requires a full financial report.

To be accredited, schools needs only a DAT-BED orientation and must submit project implementation plans. They must also have a core team of advisers with project-related expertise such as management, business administration, agriculture, home economics and so on.

The TAPI financial assistance are interest-free; it is up to the schools whether to charge 6 percent per annum maximum or agree to income sharing (85 percent to students, 10 percent to advisers and 5 percent to the school).

“DAT-BED aims to develop entrepreneurial competence among students, young professionals and out-of-school youths by providing them access to funds, facilities and technologies,” Salvania said, “at the same time creating income-generating projects for the institutions.”

At the end of the day, she added, “success is indicated by the students turned full-time entrepreneurs and the income and employment they have generated.”

Filed under: Business Ideas for OFW Families, Encouragement, Negosyo Tips, OFW Livelihood Training, Sorsogon News Updates,

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