SORSOGON UNITED

When we unite, We make our life better

Just privatize PNR

 By Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star)

The current PNR general manager should probably be given a medal for his heroic efforts to make the government-owned railroad company run its trains again all the way to Bicol. He is most probably of my generation, albeit a few years younger, to feel so passionately about the Bicol Express. There is something romantic about the PNR in those days… it wasn’t the Orient Express but it served our needs.

So now we are being told that after years of neglect and abuse, PNR will once again run a Bicol Express service. According to newspaper reports, they apparently conducted the test-run the other weekend and it covered more than 400 kilometers through a newly refurbished locomotive train with several hand-me-down tourist class coaches donated by the Japanese government.

“In my assessment, the Bicol test-run we conducted was 95 percent successful and we are nearing our objective to put back in operation the commercial PNR trips to Bicol region,” said PNR general manager Junio Ragragio Jr. The Manila-Naga trip took nine hours, shorter than the usual 10-hour travel time through bus, Ragragio said. He added that all train coaches for the “Bicol Express” will be air-conditioned.

“We also have two types of sleeper coaches. One is a family suite that is good for a family or barkada of four to six persons. And we also have the executive class for passengers who would like extra privacy and the inclusion of a dining car with the ambiance of a first class restaurant,” he added.

“In the tourist class we have reclining chairs with more leg room compared to commercial buses. This includes a wide screen LCD with state-of-the-art sound system to comfortably watch movies during the long trip,” Ragrario said. We didn’t even have it this good in the good ol’ days.

They will also renovate several train stations traversing along the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay. I also heard that they will try to get back the historic Paco Station and restore it to its old grandeur. They are also thinking of putting up railway connections to Batangas, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon. Definitely too good to be true!

Back to reality… the coaches are 30 years old. . . the Japanese gave us train coaches they have already junked. Maintenance costs will be high… for ‘brakepads’. (common source for PNR graft), aircon/engine repairs and extraordinary expenses for regular mishaps and accidents (diskarel) will plague this band-aid solution. . . expect the usual landslides along the old tracks resulting from typhoons and continuous rains during the rainy season.

I e-mailed Ray Altarejos, Ragragio’s high school classmate and fellow Bicolano about this development. Altarejos is a New York-based entrepreneur who is now in Brazil looking for business opportunities. Here is his comment:

“I told Jun Ragragio to focus on changing the narrow-gauge PNR tracks to wide-gauge and make it run freight trains all the way to Sorsogon. In the 1930’s, PNR (then known as the MRR or Manila Rail Road) was extended to Albay to haul abaca to Manila. Manila hemp was a major dollar earner.

“But a PNR for freight has no political constituency. Warren Buffet is now making tons of money with his big bet on Burlington Northern. With the high price of oil, Burlington Northern has stolen the business of long-distance trucks. Brazil has a great train system into the interiors hauling soybeans, corn and iron ore bound for China.

“Bicol despite the usual typhoons could have a dynamic agri sector.”

At least they are doing something to resuscitate the PNR rather than pillage what is left of PNR assets, which politicians in the past apparently did quite well. The next 12 months will show whether the P500M P-Noy gambled on these old coaches running on the old PNR tracks will be worth it. . .

Worthy of praise as these current efforts are, I think there is a better way: privatize PNR. The faster they do this, the better before more of PNR’s assets get dissipated. Somebody in a past administration even sold its air rights over the tracks!

It isn’t as if there isn’t any private sector interest. San Miguel made a proposal to buy 51 percent control of PNR and still have government as a partner in its development. At no further cost to taxpayers, San Miguel offered to develop a national railroad system starting with the Luzon line of PNR that will run slower trains on at-grade level and fast trains on top.

Ramon Ang told The STAR last year that they have commissioned a group that includes international companies with experience in bullet trains to study the possibility of building a bullet train railway that will run from the north to the south end of Luzon. San Miguel proposes to run the bullet train railway on the Laoag-Manila-Bicol route. SMC’s top executive expressed optimism about the possibilities that this venture… a high-speed train service is also expected to help boost the economy in general.

I asked Ramon how he expects to make money considering the large amount of capex he must invest on it upfront. He said he is looking at PNR not only as a train company but a general logistics company. Consumer goods marketers will find the railroad the more efficient way to do Luzon wide distribution of their products… exactly what Altarejos was suggesting. San Miguel will run telecom, water, electricity lines along the right of way. He will develop the adjacent real estate and make money on malls and other property ventures near train stations.

Ramon said he has made a pitch to Secretary Ping de Jesus who just gave him a polite “we will study” kind of reply. But from the discussions, it was clear that the bureaucrats, specially the powerful usec that Ping depends on, do not want anything that does not require ODA financing. They also want to keep government control over PNR even if the past decades have shown government is totally incapable of running it, except to run it to the ground.

It is stupid to ignore a proposal like this. What is there is lose with taking Ramon Ang on his word? PNR isn’t exactly the epitome of operational efficiency and profitability. If Ramon Ang fails, the attempt would still have generated economic activity and the failure will cost PNR and the taxpayers nothing. But if the venture succeeds, the government and the people benefit tremendously.

ODA will only get us so far in rehabilitating PNR. In fact, ODA has failed to do anything for PNR for years now. If San Miguel is willing to stake its money and its reputation on reviving a dead duck like PNR, they should be given the chance to do so. We need bold measures like what San Miguel has proposed.

San Miguel would not give me a copy of their proposal out of respect for Secretary Ping who promised to study it. But such proposals should be made public if only to put pressure on unimaginative bureaucrats that they have to think boldly to move this country onward. Or could it be that the bureaucrats are afraid of losing lucrative rackets imbedded in ODA-financed projects? Secretary Ping should not forget how to think like a private sector manager. Right now, he is allowing his usec to repeat proven failures… the old bureaucratic way.

We are spending money on international road shows supposedly to entice foreign investors to invest on our PPP initiatives. But here, we have a local investor ready and willing to invest big bucks on a major infrastructure program and all our government could tell them is that they “will study it”. This is absolutely ridiculous. The earlier P-Noy cracks the whip to get his people moving and thinking boldly, the better for his credibility rating and for our country’s future.

Filed under: Government, Information, Innovation, Invest in Sorsogon, Sorsogon News Updates, Technology, , , ,

PNP Sorsogon promotes pili products from alternative livelihood

by BA Recebido

Sorsogon City (June 18) — Pili nut (Canarium Ovatum), a native product abundant and wild in Bicol region particularly in Sorsogon is now highlighted in Sorsogon Police Provincial Office’s (SPPO) Alternative Livelihood Development Program for their police force.

Just recently, PNP Sorsogon has successfully conducted its livelihood development program activity held at the Camp Salvador Escudero, Sr., this city, where personnel of SPPO along with their wives and other civilians went through a training demonstration on cooking various pili products.

Pili food expert Melinda Yee spearheaded the cooking activity and has commended the Provincial Police Office’s effort to promote products made from pili utilizing its various parts for their alternative livelihood development program.

Dubbed as “Benepisyo Ko, Benepisyo Mo” (My Profit, Your Profit), PNP Provincial Director Police Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, said that the livelihood program aims at helping the family of Sorsogon policemen to augment their income by introducing them to alternative sources of livelihood.

Participants went through actual pili cooking demonstration activity where each one’s cooking ability was tested. Products made include crispy pili, salted pili, chocolate-coated pili, sugar-coated pili, molido, pili tart and pili chips, among others.

Meanwhile, the participants conveyed their ‘sweet’ gratitude to their trainer and to the Police Provincial Office as well, headed by PD Olitoquit, for its continuing effort to help and expose his men and their family to other livelihood opportunities. (PIA Sorsogon)

Filed under: Business, Entrepreneurs, Invest in Sorsogon, Livelihood, Negosyo Tips, Philippine National Police, ,

OFWs investing more

by Jun Vallecera / Businessmirror
THEY may still account for a fractional minority, but the number of families of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) that set aside a portion of their monthly allotment as investments is growing, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.

From only 5.8 percent of OFW families surveyed in January, their number swelled to 7.2 percent in the latest data that measures in general the confidence of Filipino consumers in April.

Deputy BSP Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo noted the growing number following the release of consumer confidence data which showed a slight weakening in the second quarter of the year.

“Those households using remittances for investment purposes increased to 7.2 percent from 5.8 percent,” he told reporters. Total remittances from an estimated 8 million Filipinos abroad reached a total of $17.3 billion in 2010.

Nevertheless, the percentage of households that allocated portions of their remittances to savings went down to 38.0 percent during the survey period from 50.4 percent three months earlier, Guinigundo said.

The great majority of households, or 96.3 percent of total, use the money for food; and 64.2 percent spend the money for the education of their children.

Covered by the latest survey are 5,706 households, a little over half of which (3,104 or 54.4 percent), are from Metro Manila.

Traditionally, the bulk of families receiving foreign-exchange earnings of family members working overseas are neither known much as savers or investors.

However, the number of families that do invest some of the repatriated money in small enterprises or financial tools has steadily grown in small increments, the BSP noted.

Most savings are in the form of bank deposits that earn very little interest over time, as most remittance recipients are not financially sophisticated.

The BSP is confident, however, that the OFW families would in time invest their savings in a wider menu of options as the continuing financial literacy campaign championed by the central bank begins to bear fruit—both in the country and among the migrant workers reached by the seminars in labor-hosting countries.

The campaign has gone to Hong Kong, Dubai and other parts of the Middle East, among many territories where thousands of overseas Filipinos work in various fields of endeavor.

Banks such as the privately-owned Security Bank and HSBC have also conducted financial literacy campaigns of their own to parallel efforts the BSP pioneered in much earlier.

Some sophisticated banks and financial institutions have crafted innovative products aimed at securing part of the monthly flows. For instance, global insurer Axa Life Insurance and Investments is preparing a new product just for OFWs—one that guarantees uninterrupted remittance if something bad-—and hopefully transitory—happens to family members working overseas and cuts off the remittance flow.

Such a product has yet to muster the approval of the Insurance Commission, Axa officials said.

Filed under: Business, Business Ideas for OFW Families, Invest in Sorsogon, Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner,

RISKS OF GOING INTO BUSINESS OR ENTREPRENEURSHIP



Possibility of failure

There is always the possibility of failure – a single wrong business decision can bring a business to bankruptcy.

Unpredictable business conditions

A small business is vulnerable to sudden changes in the business environment. In a fast-paced industry, a small firm may not have the financial capability or the organizational capacity to respond adequately to new opportunities and their concomitant problems.

Long hours of work

A prospective entrepreneur must be ready to spend most if not all his waking hours in the business. Also, family time and personal affairs may be sacrificed.

Unwanted or unexpected responsibilities

The entrepreneur may eventually find himself saddled with management responsibilities he did not bargain for.


LOOKING WITHIN (SELF-ANALYSIS)


Do you have what it takes to go into business?

A successful entrepreneur possesses personal qualities that will help him grow and thrive his business. Extensive research by the Management Systems International  reveals ten Personal Entrepreneurial Competencies (PECs) that lead to success. These are grouped into what are known as the Achievement Cluster, the Planning Cluster, and the Power Cluster.

Take a look at these competencies. Try to see if you have some of them and to what extent.

ACHIEVEMENT CLUSTER

1. Opportunity-seeking

• Perceives and acts on new business opportunities

• Seizes unusual opportunities to obtain financing, equipment,       land, workspace or assistance.

2. Persistence

• Takes repeated or different actions to overcome obstacles

• Makes sacrifices or expends extraordinary effort to complete a task

• Sticks to own judgment in the face of opposition or disappointments

3. Commitment to work contract

• Accepts full responsibility for problems encountered

• Helps own employees to get the job done

• Seeks to satisfy the customer

4. Risk-taking

• Takes calculated or studied risks

• Prefers situations involving moderate risks

5. Demand for quality and efficiency

• Always strives to raise standards

• Aims for excellence

• Strives to do things better, faster, cheaper.

PLANNING CLUSTER

6. Goal-setting

• Sets clear and specific short-term objectives

• Sets clear long-term goals

7. Information-seeking

• Personally seeks information on clients, suppliers, and competitors

• Seeks experts for business or technical advice

• Uses contacts or networks to obtain information

8. Systematic planning and monitoring

• Develops logical, step-by-step plans to reach goals

• Looks into alternatives and weighs them

• Monitors progress and shifts to alternative strategies when necessary

to achieve goals.

POWER CLUSTER

9. Persuasion and networking

• Employs deliberate strategies to influence or persuade others

• Uses business and personal contacts to accomplish objectives

10. Self-confidence

• Believes in self

• Expresses confidence in own ability to complete a difficult task or meet

a challenge.



LOOKING OUTSIDE

After looking into yourself – your personal qualities, your interests, skills,

experiences and hobbies and how these would orient you towards a

business of your own, you may now look around. See if the environment

is a conducive one for entrepreneurship.



Here are some questions to ask about the “outside world.”
1. How adequate is the infrastructure for business in your community,
province or city? Are there enough provisions for basic requisites like
roads and bridges, power and water, telephone, postal and internet
facilities, as well as banking services?

2. Is the environment peaceful, safe and orderly? Investing hard-earned
money is already a big risk. Operating in an unsafe environment makes
it even more risky.

3. What are the incentives, assistance programs and other support that the
national and local governments make available to business, especially
to small, start-up businesses? Ask about tax exemptions and discounts,
low-interest financing, technical assistance, marketing and promotional
services, training, etc.

4. How prepared is the government bureaucracy to serve the needs of
businessmen? Are civil servants courteous and service-oriented? Are
procedures and requirements for business registration, for example, clear
and simple?

5. Study national and local market trends, business growth and market
share, purchasing power of the public, confidence in the economy.

6. Study imports. What goods does the country import from abroad? What
goods and services does your particular community or town “import” from
Manila and other big cities? Think whether you can provide these goods
and services locally. This is known as “import substitution”.

7. Think of other possibilities: subcontracting, a promising way by which
small firms can start supplying parts or services for bigger companies;
public sector purchasing, which small businesses might explore because
government offices are required by law to purchase supplies from local
producers; and franchising, dubbed as the “business with the least fears”.
Source: Department of Trade & Industry

Filed under: Business Ideas for OFW Families, Entrepreneurs, Financial Literacy, Invest in Sorsogon, Negosyo Tips,

Business for OFW’s Returning to the Philippines

Identifying Small Business
Opportunities in the Philippines

Identify small business opportunities in the Philippines now and get started! Don’t wait until your contract abroad expires or until you retire before you start your own business.

You have the advantage of being gainfully employed as an Overseas Filipino.
Venture into a business using your specialized skill/knowledge, experience and capital that you gained from working and living abroad.

The process of identifying small business opportunities and choosing the number one opportunity should help you proceed.

Use these three simple steps to help you move forward.

Step 1: Create a list of potential small business opportunities in the Philippines and choose your top three options.

Write down ideas as they hit you – do not edit your thought. Make your list as ideas flow. Look for possibilities when reading the newspaper, or watching a talk show on TV, or browsing the Internet.

Take your time building this list, and then make a short list of three business opportunities. Choose the top three that you love the most. Get the three ideas that you are passionate about and that you think would appeal to customers.

Do not limit your choices to offline business ideas. The Web has provided a very good chance to set up a business and succeed online, so include online business ideas as well. Click here to find how you can take advantage of the way people use the internet for an online business.

Step 2: Assess and choose your number one from the list.
There is no magic formula in choosing the best small business opportunity that will succeed. Some guidelines can help, but use your own judgment in making a final decision.

  • Consider “profitability”. Demand and supply affects profitability. Demand is the desire of people to possess or make use of your product or service while supply is the amount of competition you face for your chosen business idea.
  • Reflect on your knowledge and passion. A business that you know best or are willing to learn and excites you the most would stand out. Malcolm Forbes once said, “The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy.”
  • Look for a business idea that has a “fair” return on investment. Decide what is “fair” to you. It is ok to have a business and not make money if you do it as a hobby. But why not earn from your hobby as well?
Step 3: Consider franchising.

Your number one choice may be among the small business opportunities in the Philippines under franchising.

Franchising is a good option. You will enjoy the popularity and support of the franchiser and other franchise holders. The franchiser will guide you in running the business as you start out.

Check several franchisers of the same product or service. Visit their offices and attend product or service presentations to help you decide which is the best franchise for your business. Some may have special offers for Overseas Filipinos.

Finding the right franchiser to work with is just a part of running a successful business. What matters is your passion and interest to what you will be doing. Go back to Step 1 as needed to find the right business for you.

Go through these steps in identifying small business opportunities in the Philippines. The right business opportunity may be just under your nose…

Some Ideas for Small Business Opportunities in the Philippines

Learning how to invest in real estate with these 4 techniques can provide Overseas Filipino Workers extra income. Borrow private money and tell lenders that this is one of the safest ways to invest money.

Setting up an Internet cafe business offers huge potential for Overseas Filipinos. Start making your internet cafe business plan now before coming home for good to the Philippines.

Internet cafe business has a huge potential in the Philippines. This internet cafe business plan and franchise sets up the business right for OFWs and Overseas Filipinos.




Filed under: Business Ideas for OFW Families, Invest in Sorsogon, Kwentong OFW, Livelihood, OFW Corner, OFW Livelihood Training,

Promoting our very own Sorsogon Tourism

To Ms. Christine S. Dayrit of (The Philippines Star).  We would like to thank you for your contribution in promoting our very own Sorsogon Tourism. This will help a lot in inviting locals & foreigners to visit our beautiful places here. We are looking forward for more articles you can share with us.

Sensational Sorsogon

RENDEZVOUS By Christine S. Dayrit (The Philippine Star)

Updated April 11, 2010 12:00 AM


Photo is loading...

Discover the hidden jewel of Matnog, Sorsogon

In his recent award-winning film Up in the Air, George Clooney attempts to accumulate 10 million frequent flyer miles for his many trips taken. He advocates, “To know me is to travel with me.” Personally, I am far from hitting the 10-million mileage mark but am passionately working at it.

I decided it was time to embark on a very exciting local sojourn. This time, to sensational Sorsogon, in the stunningly beautiful province of Bicol.

It dawned on me that there is no better way to kick off the summer than to go swimming with the gentle submarine-sized whale sharks that shyly feed on tiny krill fish; explore lovely world-class boutique hotels, experience a multitude of  fireflies that illumine the ebony night like Tinkerbell fairies bathing in the moonlight; stroll in the charming courtyards of old churches and antique homes.

Here, every epicurean’s wish to savor mouth-savoring delicacies is satisfied and one is privileged to enjoy Mother Nature’s finest treasures — luscious lakes and rivers, glorious waterfalls, steaming hot springs, refreshing cold springs, medicinal salt springs, indigenous flora and faunas, fertile emerald fields where pili, coconuts, abaca and more produce grow abundantly.

From Manila, a brief and comfortable flight on Cebu Pacific took us to Legazpi City. We had a quick snack at Small Talk Café where my dear friends who hail from Bicol — DOT regional director Nini Ravanilla and TOYM awardee for agriculture Lyndon Tan — vowed that the pinangat pasta, a delightful combination of gabi leaves, coco cream and fiery chili, is a must-have.

My dear sister Michelle Dayrit-Soliven was invited by her Divine Healing Servants Foundation Group — headed by gracious Fr. Gerard Deveza, president Gerard Reonisto, treasurer Lucy Lee, assistant treasurer Joy Sy, Tonton and Tasha Sy, Benny Soliven, Edwin Tang, Ding Mercado, Nino and Arlene Mabanta — to be the inspirational speaker at the first-ever elementary graduation of the Divine Healer Learning Center in El Retiro Compound, Cabid-an, Sorsogon.

“Follow your dreams,” Michelle enthused in this very special ceremony that took our gregarious traveling group to a land blessed by providence, where life, love, laughter and prayer emanate from the heart and souls of its residents. The Divine Healer Learning Center is a school founded by Fr. Gerard Deveza and is a dream come true for this kindhearted healing priest who wanted to help the underprivileged children of Sorsogon by providing them a quality education.

After the graduation, we discovered more the sights and sounds of this lovely sanctuary. After an hour-and-a-half drive from Cabid-an, we entered the quaint town of Donsol, Sorsogon, the famous whale shark capital of the world. Disembarking from our van, we were given the standard briefing complete with a video — on the whale shark interaction.

Whale sharks (Rhicodon typus) are known locally as butanding or balilan, and grow up to 45 feet. The biggest fish of the world, the whale shark resembles a slow-moving underwater island because of its size. It is sometimes found near the surface while feeding. October to May is the official season of whale shark sightings but the peak season is in April.

It was Michelle’s very first encounter with the whale sharks and she was rather frightened at first. We were able to convince my beautiful alabaster-skinned sister to embark on the activity by making her realize how blessed she was to have the opportunity to see the whale sharks. She finally took the plunge and was ecstatic to have six encounters with the whale sharks in just 10-minute intervals of each other.

After our glorious encounter with the whale sharks, we proceeded to Sta. Clara Ridge Inn, our home away from home in Sorsogon City. It is owned by Tony Maligaso, an advocate of peace and serenity. His inn-timate lodging is creatively built on a hill slope where the cool shade of narra trees and serene view of rice fields and mountain range greet you every morning. The staff is most cordial and accommodating, while the bedrooms, decorated by Tony himself, feature Ethan Allen-country style furnishings. 

In the duration of our stay in Sorsogon, we were pampered to no end by gracious Gov. Sally Lee and her charming husband Tito Raul Lee. They prepared our every meal showcasing the best local cuisine ever. Aside from pinangat, topping our list also included tinoktok (meat of freshwater shrimp and young, tender coconut au gratin, wrapped in gabi leaves and simmered in thick gata), tinagoktok (fresh water fish, preferably dalag or mudfish cooked on a bed of petchay, plus various other ingredients in a more diluted solution of gata), and bayway (pork marinated in vinegar and various spices and herbs for at least two days before being fried).

Local folklore has it that Sorsogon got its name when a group of Spaniards got lost somewhere around the bay. Fortunately, they chanced upon a local fisherman whom they asked for the name of the place. The fisherman, thinking that the strangers were asking for directions, simply said “Sorsogon,” (which meant “Follow or trace the path”) while pointing to the river upstream. The name stuck, evolving from Sosogon to Solsogon, to Sorsogon.

In Sorsogon, a must-see place is Lake Bulusan, dubbed the “Switzerland of the Orient.” It lies at the heart of the National Park, which covers a land area of 3,672 hectares. On our way to Lake Bulusan, we were escorted by gentle rain showers over the emerald green rice fields and the wildly growing lavender orchids blooming profusely on full-grown trees along the way.

Fr. Gerard described the moment as a scene straight out of the movie Lost Horizon. My brother-in-law Benny and my nephew Vincent kayaked while the rest of us did the trek around the lake, discovering Avatar-like scenes, ancient trees and insects and Tarzan-like vines and humongous rocks which we climbed. Those who didn’t engage in outdoor activities opted for a relaxing massage.

Another truly precious find in this haven is the Sirangan Beach Resort, one of the illustrious properties under the Fork & Pillow Group, which includes the Hotel Trias in Palamos, La Malcontenta Hotel in Palamos, Market Hotel in Barcelona, Spain. Sirangan Beach Resort in the Philippines, located in Bacon Beach, Sorsogon, has a long stretch of caramel and white sand cooled by clear-blue waters. It is owned and run by Vicky Duran, a passionate, well-traveled and proud-to-be Sorsoganon whose tasteful style is reflected in every corner of the resort. I remembered another wonderful lady who hails from Sorsogon, my dear friend Loida Nicholas Lewis who intimated that I ought to stay in Fernando’s Hotel, a cozy boutique hotel of old-world charm situated in the heart of Sorsogon City. I vow to check it out on my next visit.

It is also a must to see Matnog Islands where guests are instantaneously transported to a pristine paradise with white fine-sand beaches and gardens of reef corals. The Manta Bowl, a 60-minute drive from Sorsogon Beach Resort, is also a paradise for those who want a close encounter with dolphins and manta rays.

Trekking Mount Pulog at the end of the Sierra Madre Mountain range, which extends from the north of Luzon to the south and ends in Bacon, Sorsogon, also gives an exhilarating high. Here, you will find geothermal steam wells and other small steaming geysers that extend to the Pacific Ocean.

The sunset at Donsol Beach was made more unforgettable with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Gerard for our group. We all prayed with reverence to the Almighty for all the blessings experienced in Sorsogon.

On our last night, we cruised the river on a bamboo houseboat that had tables and benches. Trees by the bank of the river were aglow like Christmas trees as colonies of fireflies twinkled in the dark. Some friendly fireflies darted playfully around us and gently landed on our outstretched hands.

This memorable sojourn to Sorsogon further reinforced my personal belief that I really was a Bicolana in my past life. No matter how many times I visit here, I am always mesmerized by its beauty and grace. Besides, I believe there is always something peculiarly steaming in Bicol and it isn’t just from the smoldering lava of the active volcano. Here, I feel connected to the land, the cuisine, the culture, the people. There exists a deep sense of appreciation and belonging. To have a sensational summer, believe me, Sorsogon is the place to be.

* * *

For more information on whale shark interaction, call Omar Nepomuceno at 0927-9989289 or e-mail him at omarnepomuceno@yahoo.com. Santa Clara Ridge Inn can be reached at telefax (056) 211- 5413 or 0910-7166535.) Cebu Pacific flies two times daily to Legazpi, for reservation please call 702-0888.

E-mail the author at miladay.star@gmail.com.


Sensational Sorsogon
RENDEZVOUS By Christine S. Dayrit(The Philippine Star) Updated April 11, 2010 12:00 AM


Photo is loading...

Discover the hidden jewel of Matnog, Sorsogon
| Zoom

In his recent award-winning film Up in the Air, George Clooney attempts to accumulate 10 million frequent flyer miles for his many trips taken. He advocates, “To know me is to travel

with me.” Personally, I am far from hitting the 10-million mileage mark but am passionately working at it.

I decided it was time to embark on a very exciting local sojourn. This time, to sensational Sorsogon, in the stunningly beautiful province of Bicol.

It dawned on me that there is no better way to kick off the summer than to go swimming with the gentle submarine-sized whale sharks that shyly feed on tiny krill fish; explore lovely world-class boutique hotels, experience a multitude of  fireflies that illumine the ebony night like Tinkerbell fairies bathing in the moonlight; stroll in the charming courtyards of old churches and antique homes.

Here, every epicurean’s wish to savor mouth-savoring delicacies is satisfied and one is privileged to enjoy Mother Nature’s finest treasures — luscious lakes and rivers, glorious waterfalls, steaming hot springs, refreshing cold springs, medicinal salt springs, indigenous flora and faunas, fertile emerald fields where pili, coconuts, abaca and more produce grow abundantly.

From Manila, a brief and comfortable flight on Cebu Pacific took us to Legazpi City. We had a quick snack at Small Talk Café where my dear friends who hail from Bicol — DOT regional director Nini Ravanilla and TOYM awardee for agriculture Lyndon Tan — vowed that the pinangat pasta, a delightful combination of gabi leaves, coco cream and fiery chili, is a must-have.

My dear sister Michelle Dayrit-Soliven was invited by her Divine Healing Servants Foundation Group — headed by gracious Fr. Gerard Deveza, president Gerard Reonisto, treasurer Lucy Lee, assistant treasurer Joy Sy, Tonton and Tasha Sy, Benny Soliven, Edwin Tang, Ding Mercado, Nino and Arlene Mabanta — to be the inspirational speaker at the first-ever elementary graduation of the Divine Healer Learning Center in El Retiro Compound, Cabid-an, Sorsogon.

“Follow your dreams,” Michelle enthused in this very special ceremony that took our gregarious traveling group to a land blessed by providence, where life, love, laughter and prayer emanate from the heart and souls of its residents. The Divine Healer Learning Center is a school founded by Fr. Gerard Deveza and is a dream come true for this kindhearted healing priest who wanted to help the underprivileged children of Sorsogon by providing them a quality education.

After the graduation, we discovered more the sights and sounds of this lovely sanctuary. After an hour-and-a-half drive from Cabid-an, we entered the quaint town of Donsol, Sorsogon, the famous whale shark capital of the world. Disembarking from our van, we were given the standard briefing complete with a video — on the whale shark interaction.

Whale sharks (Rhicodon typus) are known locally as butanding or balilan, and grow up to 45 feet. The biggest fish of the world, the whale shark resembles a slow-moving underwater island because of its size. It is sometimes found near the surface while feeding. October to May is the official season of whale shark sightings but the peak season is in April.

It was Michelle’s very first encounter with the whale sharks and she was rather frightened at first. We were able to convince my beautiful alabaster-skinned sister to embark on the activity by making her realize how blessed she was to have the opportunity to see the whale sharks. She finally took the plunge and was ecstatic to have six encounters with the whale sharks in just 10-minute intervals of each other.

After our glorious encounter with the whale sharks, we proceeded to Sta. Clara Ridge Inn, our home away from home in Sorsogon City. It is owned by Tony Maligaso, an advocate of peace and serenity. His inn-timate lodging is creatively built on a hill slope where the cool shade of narra trees and serene view of rice fields and mountain range greet you every morning. The staff is most cordial and accommodating, while the bedrooms, decorated by Tony himself, feature Ethan Allen-country style furnishings.

In the duration of our stay in Sorsogon, we were pampered to no end by gracious Gov. Sally Lee and her charming husband Tito Raul Lee. They prepared our every meal showcasing the best local cuisine ever. Aside from pinangat, topping our list also included tinoktok (meat of freshwater shrimp and young, tender coconut au gratin, wrapped in gabi leaves and simmered in thick gata), tinagoktok (fresh water fish, preferably dalag or mudfish cooked on a bed of petchay, plus various other ingredients in a more diluted solution of gata), and bayway (pork marinated in vinegar and various spices and herbs for at least two days before being fried).

Local folklore has it that Sorsogon got its name when a group of Spaniards got lost somewhere around the bay. Fortunately, they chanced upon a local fisherman whom they asked for the name of the place. The fisherman, thinking that the strangers were asking for directions, simply said “Sorsogon,” (which meant “Follow or trace the path”) while pointing to the river upstream. The name stuck, evolving from Sosogon to Solsogon, to Sorsogon.

In Sorsogon, a must-see place is Lake Bulusan, dubbed the “Switzerland of the Orient.” It lies at the heart of the National Park, which covers a land area of 3,672 hectares. On our way to Lake Bulusan, we were escorted by gentle rain showers over the emerald green rice fields and the wildly growing lavender orchids blooming profusely on full-grown trees along the way.

Fr. Gerard described the moment as a scene straight out of the movie Lost Horizon. My brother-in-law Benny and my nephew Vincent kayaked while the rest of us did the trek around the lake, discovering Avatar-like scenes, ancient trees and insects and Tarzan-like vines and humongous rocks which we climbed. Those who didn’t engage in outdoor activities opted for a relaxing massage.

Another truly precious find in this haven is the Sirangan Beach Resort, one of the illustrious properties under the Fork & Pillow Group, which includes the Hotel Trias in Palamos, La Malcontenta Hotel in Palamos, Market Hotel in Barcelona, Spain. Sirangan Beach Resort in the Philippines, located in Bacon Beach, Sorsogon, has a long stretch of caramel and white sand cooled by clear-blue waters. It is owned and run by Vicky Duran, a passionate, well-traveled and proud-to-be Sorsoganon whose tasteful style is reflected in every corner of the resort. I remembered another wonderful lady who hails from Sorsogon, my dear friend Loida Nicholas Lewis who intimated that I ought to stay in Fernando’s Hotel, a cozy boutique hotel of old-world charm situated in the heart of Sorsogon City. I vow to check it out on my next visit.

It is also a must to see Matnog Islands where guests are instantaneously transported to a pristine paradise with white fine-sand beaches and gardens of reef corals. The Manta Bowl, a 60-minute drive from Sorsogon Beach Resort, is also a paradise for those who want a close encounter with dolphins and manta rays.

Trekking Mount Pulog at the end of the Sierra Madre Mountain range, which extends from the north of Luzon to the south and ends in Bacon, Sorsogon, also gives an exhilarating high. Here, you will find geothermal steam wells and other small steaming geysers that extend to the Pacific Ocean.

The sunset at Donsol Beach was made more unforgettable with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Gerard for our group. We all prayed with reverence to the Almighty for all the blessings experienced in Sorsogon.

On our last night, we cruised the river on a bamboo houseboat that had tables and benches. Trees by the bank of the river were aglow like Christmas trees as colonies of fireflies twinkled in the dark. Some friendly fireflies darted playfully around us and gently landed on our outstretched hands.

This memorable sojourn to Sorsogon further reinforced my personal belief that I really was a Bicolana in my past life. No matter how many times I visit here, I am always mesmerized by its beauty and grace. Besides, I believe there is always something peculiarly steaming in Bicol and it isn’t just from the smoldering lava of the active volcano. Here, I feel connected to the land, the cuisine, the culture, the people. There exists a deep sense of appreciation and belonging. To have a sensational summer, believe me, Sorsogon is the place to be.

* * *

For more information on whale shark interaction, call Omar Nepomuceno at 0927-9989289 or e-mail him at omarnepomuceno@yahoo.com. Santa Clara Ridge Inn can be reached at telefax (056) 211- 5413 or 0910-7166535.) Cebu Pacific flies two times daily to Legazpi, for reservation please call 702-0888.

E-mail the author at miladay.star@gmail.com.


Filed under: Family, Friends and Society, Food and Drinks, Hobbies and Recreation, Invest in Sorsogon, Lutong Bikolnon, Promote Tourism, Show your pride, Sorsogon News Updates, Travel & Adventures, Travel Advisory, What's Happening Here?, , , , ,

DA turns over coco coir processing project

The Department of Agriculture of under its RP-Spain project recently turned over the 3.7 million coco coir processing and marketing project. This is a grant-assistance from the Spanish government through the Agencia de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarullo (AECID).

It aims to facilitate technology adoption, resource utilization and to add value to existing economic activities of the agri-stakeholders in the rural areas. Included in the project component is the establishment and provision of processing facilities which the Castilla Development Cooperative (CADECO) in San Rafael Castilla, Sorsogon is one of the recipients.

CADECO BOD chair Ireneo D. Din said that 98% of their members are coconut and rice farmers. The cooperative has been existing for 22 years and has over eight million assets. He proudly declared that their long years of existence is due to the strong participation and cooperation of their 350 members.

The cooperative’s business activities include: palay/rice trading, rice mill and palay drying. With the establishment of the coco coir processing project, Din is optimistic that more farmers will benefit from the project as coconut husks are just left to rot in the field after copra making, but now it can be converted to cash. He was also thankful to the Local Government Unit of Castilla headed by Mayor Olive Bermillo for giving the counterpart for the installation of the 3-phase electrical installation.

OIC Regional Executive Director Marilyn V. Sta. Catalina said that the cooperative will not be successful if the members did not support the economic activities and the officers did not work hard for its success. Study shows that only few cooperatives are making good in their economic activities. She emphasized that on the part of the DA priority is given to organized cooperatives with good track record.

She challenged the cooperative to continue to serve the farmers in Castilla and the neighboring towns. She lauded the efforts of the officers for their continuous assistance and hard work to keep the cooperative afloat. She also mentioned that the cooperative maximized use of the flatbed dryer installed in the CADECO compound because record shows they were able to generate additional income of Ps 42,000 from drying palay alone.

SAIS-BC project coordinator Ernesto Parato disclosed that the region has 32 project beneficiaries. He urged the cooperative to treat the project as their business in order to generate income. He said that given the technology and the right management the project will benefit many members.

One plus factor of the project is the ready market. JUBOKEN enterprise is buying the coco coir and a marketing contract has been forged between CADECO and JUBOKEN. The project is equipped with coco coir shed, hauling truck, decorticating machine, bailing machine and electric pump. The project is jointly implemented by DA and the Philippine Coconut Authority.

There are two varieties of coir. Brown coir White coir

Brown coir is used in floor mats and doormats, brushes, mattresses, floor tiles and sacking.

The major use of white coir is in rope manufacture. Mats of woven coir fibre are made from the finer grades of bristle and white fibre using hand or mechanical looms. White coir also used to make fishing nets due to its strong resilience to salt water.       Source: Department of Agriculture April 12, 2010 (Philippines)  http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/textile-news/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=84595

Filed under: Agriculture, Business Ideas for OFW Families, Inspiration, Invest in Sorsogon, Negosyo Tips, Sorsogon News Updates, What's Happening Here?,

DOST pushes science, biotech program to strengthen MSMEs in Bicol

NAGA CITY—The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is aggressively pushing in Bicol a program to further strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to become the backbone of the country’s economy.

As driving forces for manufacturing and production, MSMEs are the bedrock for economic stability, forming 99.6 percent of all enterprises and 60 percent of all exporting firms in the Philippines.

They also employ 53 percent of the country’s labor force, said DOST regional director for Bicol Tomas Briñas at the SM City Events Center here over the weekend.

The facility was the venue for the five-day Southern Luzon Cluster Science and Technology (S&T) Fair that ended on Sunday and brought together the DOST and local MSMEs into showcasing the latest visual and interactive breakthroughs and technology-generated, -developed and -commercialized products.

Anchored on the theme “Responding to Global Challenges Through Science and Technology,” the S&T fair was a joint initiative of the DOST regional offices in Bicol, the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan).

In urging Bicolanos to engage in manufacturing and production, DOST Assistant Secretary Mario Bravo, who represented Science Secretary Estrella Alabastro, said during the culmination day of the event that the agency is presently accepting applicants for its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading (Setup) program.

Setup, he said, is the umbrella program that provides both technical and financial assistance to S&T-related activities of MSMEs.

These activities include technology and raw-materials acquisition, training and consultancy, Bravo said, adding that Bicol has been allocated by the DOST some P6 million to finance these activities this year.

“Setup provides new technology, manpower training, capital, product markets, product standards and testing facilities, packaging and product labeling, raw materials, information and better transport facilities,” Ma. Josefina Abilay, DOST regional director for the Mimaropa said.

The program is a nationwide strategy to boost MSME productivity and competitiveness via technology innovations and the technical interventions involving it result in enhanced product quality, upgraded human resources, cost reduction, effective waste management and tuned-up operations, Abilay said.

Bravo said with Setup, MSMEs can find answers to enterprise challenges and problems; get technical advices from consultants, training for workers; and acquire new equipment to mechanized and improved product lines.

It also provides for standardized and improved product quality for more competiveness with proper labeling and packaging, he said.

Qualified beneficiaries for Setup are Filipino entrepreneurs operating MSMEs classified under priority sectors, such as food processing, furniture, gift items and decorative handicrafts, marine resources, horticulture like cutflowers, fruits or high-value crops and metal processing.

“Through this program, we are expanding the whole gamut of economic activity as the vital role of MSMEs is recognized and so are their needs,” Bravo added.

Briñas said the S&T fair acquainted the public about the role in manpower development of the agency’s Science Education Institution-Human Resource Development Program.

Product-technology upgrading, employment and investment generation and enterprise development via DOST programs were also showcased in the fair.

Briñas said these programs are aimed at building up massive advocacy, promotion and application of science and technology among the citizenry.

Entrepreneurs engaged in MSMEs were also taught food safety and appropriate packaging, while attendees in the scientific fora underwent sessions on biological control for the management of Brontispa longgisima in coconut, risk mapping, pili pulp oil, indigenous herbal medicine, avoiding the inevitable health-related effects of calamity, alternative energy and understanding the weather, he said.

Under the techno-demo, participants were taught how to cook and prepare nutritious snack food, he added.

Written by Danny O. Calleja / Correspondent
Sunday, 29 November 2009 19:03

Filed under: Invest in Sorsogon, Negosyo Tips, Sorsogon News Updates, , ,

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