Nat’l Convergence Initiative draws stakeholders backing

By JESSEL S. BASANTA

PILI, Camarines Sur—It is “all systems go” for the launching on March 11 here of the National Convergence Initiative (NCI), an advocacy which seeks to get active support from various stakeholders in setting up sustainable forest management models.

“This convergence initiative will be implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to further strengthen community development through sustainable forest management,”  DENR Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada said.

Fragada stressed that this convergence initiative is geared  to reduce  poverty, promote security and arrest the impact of climate change.

He emphasized the need to pursue a paradigm shift to ensure sustainable development and livelihood in the countryside specifically in upland areas as further stipulated under the joint Memorandum Circular on policy implementation framework for the enhanced national convergence initiative among DENR, DA and DAR.

Fragada said the strategy focuses on interventions for small fisherfolks and marginalized upland dwellers, mostly covered by tenurial instruments of DENR and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

“The signing of the memorandum of agreement by the DENR, DA, DAR, Department of Interior and Local Government and local governments will signal the start of NCI in Bicol region” he added.

Naga City Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO)  Imelda Baltazar confirmed that Environment Sec. Ramon Paje, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala and Agrarian Reform Sec. Virgilio de los Reyes are the signatories of the MOA, with other local chief executives, led by Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr.

“Secretary Paje will also be distributing 300,000 seedlings, free patents, and geohazard maps to the recipients from nine model sites: Pili, Ocampo, Bula, Tigaon, Baao, Presentacion, Caramoan, Lagonoy and Garchitorena,” Baltazar said.

Aside from the launching of the NCI in Camarines Sur, Sorsoson will be holding a similar endeavor on March 23 at three priority areas, in Sorsogon City, Castilla and Casiguran.

DTI to bring WOW Go Negosyo Caravan to Sorsogon in May

SORSOGON CITY  – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has chosen Sorsogon province, through an organized local business group, as the summer time host in Bicol for the holding of its national program for countryside development dubbed “Work on Wheels (WoW) Go Negosyo Caravan.”

The program, according to DTI Sorsogon provincial director Leah Pagao on Friday, will provide hands on knowledge on how to make two to three-year-old business enterprises globally competitive and how to start for those who intend to put up small and medium range business enterprises.

Slated in the province, particularly in this provincial capital on May 19-20 this year, Pagao said the Caravan is President Benigno Aquino III’s enabling mechanism to inspire local and countryside development through opening opportunities to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in accessing national government-initiated programs.

It would also promote the 3Ps which is the public- private-partnership in economic development and encourage more productivity in the rural communities, the DTI provincial chief said.

All the activities involving the Caravan will be in close coordination between the DTI and the Sorsogon provincial SME Development Council (SMEDC), a local group of business entrepreneurs which is working on the mustering of 500 participants coming from various sectors like graduating students from business courses, women’s organizations and cooperatives.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on the other hand has committed 50 participants coming from the beneficiaries of their livelihood assistance project in the province who were provided with capital and other help in putting up their own small business ventures.

Marilyn Luzurriaga, DOLE’s provincial officer, said it will be helpful to these beneficiaries of their program to have a working knowledge on the several modules that will be provided by the Caravan such as access to finance, productivity and efficiency and green manufacturing.

“We will try to share the benefits of this program to our people and the SMED council will assist them access capitalization” SMEDC president Cita Hababag said, adding that she wanted to inspire the women into venturing in successful businesses following her example of starting through hard work and close networking with DTI and government banks.

Civil society groups ink pacts backing DWSD’s 4P

As of Feb. 25, 2011, 77 national and local non-government organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) signed memoranda of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to empower their active participation in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program also known as the conditional cash transfer program of the Philippines.

The formalization of the partnership through the MOA defines the specific roles and functions of the CSO and DSWD in the monitoring and implementation of poverty-reduction programs. This is in line with the directive of President Benigno S. Aquino III in the public-private partnership in the fulfillment of his platform of Good Governance and Poverty Reduction.

For DSWD in particular, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is a system for cooperation between the two parties for the purpose of delivering basic social services to the poor, implementing development projects of the government and instituting transparency and accountability mechanisms to fight corruption.

This may be done in any of these four ways: (1) “Bantay,” or projects and activities geared towards fighting corruption; (2) “Gabay,” a mechanism for extending technical assistance; (3) “Kaagapay,” or anti poverty projects and activities; or (4) “Tulay,” which refers to facilitating action, feedback and monitoring.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman in coordination with DSWD field offices has completed the conduct of the Convergence Roadshow where different volunteer groups nationwide were oriented on the convergence of the three poverty-reduction programs of the department.

Eight regional planning workshops with volunteer groups and CSOs have also been conducted.

The DSWD wishes to inform the public that NGOs and CSOs are now welcome to actively participate in the Pantawid Pamilya through adoption of areas covered by the program.  Partner CSOs may assess every step of the program in order to ensure good governance and transparency in all levels. The DSWD shall also facilitate training/workshop and transfer of technology to CSO members.

Concretely, volunteer organizations may be involved in any of the following ways: (a) coordinate with the leaders of Citizens’ Organizations for the participation of their volunteers in the implementation of the program; (b) participate in Community Assemblies as part of the beneficiary identification process; (c) on-the-ground audit of the Compliance Verification System; (d) assist in the Beneficiary Updating System; e) assist in the implementation of the Grievance Redress System; and in the (f) enhancement and implementation of the Family Development Session modules.

“To ensure its success, the Pantawid Pamilya must be democratically implemented with active participation of civil society and the grassroots urban and rural communities”, Sec. Soliman said.

The Pantawid Pamilya helps the poorest families meet immediate needs and at the same time ensuring that young people have better opportunities for advancement. It helps families to gain leverage by giving them the capacity to access basic social services to be able to help themselves break free from the inter-generational cycle of poverty.

It is hoped that the program can be an important weapon in helping the poorest families step forward in the effort to create a base for a movement for “transformative social protection,” one that sees the right to be free of poverty as a basic social right, the fulfillment of which must be the basic goal of economic and social policy.

CSPC Naga campus marks centennial year

NAGA CITY – The Camarines Sur  Polytechnic Colleges, Naga Campus (CSPC), formerly known as the Bicol College of Arts and Trade (BCAT), celebrated its centennial year on March 3 to 5 this year.

The school established in 1911 during the American colonial years marked its 100 years founding anniversary through various activities capped by a grand alumni homecoming at its campus at Peñafrancia Avenue in this city.

CSPC  President Monsito G. Ilarde said the CSCPC, the school has survived 100 years as an institution of learning that served generations of Bicolanos in this province. It has  presently over 3,000 students and faculty members.

Ilarde said “that CSPC-Naga remains the only polytechnic college in this locality that maintained its mandate in teaching technology education, develop skilled workers that are globally and locally competitive.”

Among the highlights of the anniversary activities were: a grand parade around the city; field demonstration by students at the CSPC campus; unveiling of the centennial marker with Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Luis R.Villafuerte, as guest of honor; an Employees’ and Retirees’ Day; and a grand alumni homecoming.

This year’s homecoming was hosted by “BCAT Batch 1986,” and was attended by former students.

Ilarde said that the alumni groups from the 1980’s are pushing for the CSPC to be an independent state college in Camarines Sur.

Congressman Villafuerte has filed a House Bill No. 220 dubbed as: “An Act Separating the CSPC-Naga (former BCAT) from the CSPC Nabua, Camarines Sur (CSPC main campus) and Converting it Into a State College to be called as the “Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology (BISCAT).

Reportedly, the bill was passed by the house of Representatives  and now pending with the Senate Committee on Education.

The move to separate  the CSCP-Naga is being supported by the alumni groups and faculty members, with the position that the school’s historic existence should be given due recognition as an independent state college. –SONNY SALES

UNEP Chorale joins star-studded cast of Simon’s Way

IRIGA CITY —-  Lucidly setting another mark of its out of the box repertoire, the University of Northeastern Philippines (UNEP) Chorale will once again wow its followers with its much awaited performance in a cine musical, dubbed as one of the best theatrical event ever to be shown in the region.

“Simon’s Way”, a perfect blend of cinematic production and theatrical rendition will be in town in time for the wrapping up of the 300 years of devotion to our Lady of Penafrancia, a fitting tribute to our lady who deserve no less than the best her devotees can give.

Freddie Dimadura, the cine-musical’s director, composer and arranger is himself a devotee who have thought of putting into a melodramatic scenario Simon’s journey as he walked thru the rubbles of faith in search for the miraculous image of Ina.

Dimadura created a long list of performers and came with a shortlist of putting the best theatre players in line, including the world renowned UNEP Chorale.

UNEP Chorale is a recipient of the Highest Silver Diploma Award in the 4th World Choir Games held in Xiamen , China in 2006.  In 2008, it brought home another honor after grabbing the top plum in the 2008 Hongkong International Youth and Children’s Festival held in Hongkong’s Cultural Center .

The creation of the UNEP Chorale is Miss Deli Alfelor-Tibi’s brainchild. A music lover herself, the energetic Executive Vice President and concurrently the university’s VP For Finance have thought of sharing her brilliant reflection and have wondrously created a singing fleet which have already conquered not only its local viewers but have also captured the international scene.

“These successful feats were only few of the things that we are truly proud of but I think the most significant gain that we have achieved is the fact that we Bicolanos can also be at par with the best and great performers in the world.” Tibi said in an interview.

Atty. Remelisa Alfelor-Moraleda, UNEP President is also ecstatic with the inclusion of UNEP Chorale in the cast.

“I have great devotion to our Lady of Penafrancia, just like the rest of my family who also have a great attachment to endeavors like this.  I have also heard great things about Freddie Dimadura, one of the great composers of our time, who is also known for his international achievements in line with directing. Combining these thoughts, I can proudly say that UNEP Chorale really have already set its name in the realm of the music industry.”

Simon’s Way will be staged at the University of Northeastern Philippines on March 28.  Other performers who will surely light the spark of excitement for the viewers would be Cocoy Laurel, Jenine Desiderio, Cris Villongco, Broadway singer Jon Joven and band vocalist Nicol Asencio, PGT Finalist Jelyn Oliva , Raymond Roldan and our very own singing priests; Fr. Lou An Jarcia and Fr. Fidel Bagayawa.

A venture of the Archdiocese of Caceres in cooperation with Our Lady of Fatima Association, Simon’s Way will be a showcase, not only of great actors and theater performers but of the rich inheritance of religiosity that we Bicolanos continue to cherish and keep, particularly as Marian devotees.

DENR Bicol names key officials in new posts

LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced recently the new assignments of key officials in Bicol, as part of the DENR’s continuing organizational development in its bid to ensure  efficient enforcement of the agency’s mandates.

In a special order dated March 2, 2011, two Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officers (PENRO), three Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers (CENRO) and a new official were re-assigned or designated.

DENR Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada re-assigned the following PENROs: Engr. Luis Loyola from Masbate to Camarines Sur and Forester Benjamin Medel from Catanduanes, now designated as Officer-in-Charge, CENRO Legazpi City.

CENROs Tito Migo former CENRO of Mobo was named OIC, PENRO Masbate. Forester Eduardo Ampongan, former CENRO of Mobo, Masbate was re-assigned CENRO of San Jacinto, Masbate while former Legazpi City CENRO Ricardo Ramos, Jr. was named as the new PENRO of Catanduanes.

Forester Evangeline Arcenas development management officer was designated CENRO of Mobo, Masbate.

Director Fragada said the officials were ordered to immediately fulfill their duties and assume their responsibilities beginning March 15, 2011. – Jessel Basanta

UNEP cites mentors, staff with loyalty, service awards

IRIGA CITY — Their unswerving dedication to serve has inspired many and has put most of their students in their rightful places as responsible citizens of our country. These are the personnel, professors and mentors of the University of Northeastern Philippines (UNEP) who have stayed with the university for the past years, with great pride and loyalty.

As UNEP celebrates its 63rd Foundation Anniversary, so does its devoted workforce who are also reminiscing the number of fruitful years that they were a part of the university.

Given recognition during the Employee’s Awards Night over the weekend,  were faculty members and the university’s staff who have served the learning institution for the past five, 10, 15, 20 , 25, 30, and 35 years.

Speaking before the awardees and guests, Atty. Remelisa Alfelor-Moraleda, UNEP president said that this year, they chose to have a simple celebration of the event, given the many activities that the university spearheaded during the past few weeks, not to mention their active participation during the Magbinaydan 2011 and Tinagba Festival.

Yet no matter how simple it is , what matters most, she says, is the message that the university wants to convey to their employees.

“Once every year, we gather together to come as one family, to bond and let our hair down. We ignore organizational hierarchies and for one night, there are no bosses, no subordinates but friends who come together to have fun. But beyond the enjoyment, we also give tribute to our employees who thru the years, thru thick and thin, have stayed with the university.”

Almost all of the awardees were teary-eyed when they were asked to take their ceremonial walk at the UNEP gymnasium.

Mrs. Luz D. Villar, UNEP College of Arts and Sciences secretary who have served UNEP for the past 35 years thanked the Alfelor family for the opportunities they have given her and for nurturing her passion for teaching and sharing her wisdom to the many generations that the university has molded.

Sharing the same slot with her were Mr. Alfredo Alfelor of the Physical Plant and Facilities Department and Ms. Virginia Aguila, UNEP High School Teacher and Campus Ministry Coordinator. Luz, Alfelor and Aguila all started working at UNEP in 1975 and have grown to love their crafts until they have reached their 35 years.

Present during the occasion is no less than UNEP’s member of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Filipinas Alfelor and Ms. Eleanor Alfelor, who both came all the way from the United States just to grace the celebration.