Thursday, February 24, 2005


Peace and Progress

Light and Shadow
By: Gilbert R. Arbon
Metro Post-February 20-26 2005
Pge 08

Which comes first, peace of progress?

Elsewhere, this would probably be an idle question but definitely, not in the place called Sitio Kakha.

There, the question is a matter of life and death. For in Kakha, ensconced in the mountainous village of Talalak in the southern town Sta. Catalina, houses had been destroyed, blood had been spilled, lives habeen shattered for the sake of principles that must be defended to the death.

Kakha, for anyon who cares to know or remember, was once a no man's land -an arena for competing ideologies, a combat zone where government forces tried to smash the communist revellion with bombs and bullets, apparently wihout much success.

Even the leaders of the other side (now hopefully no longer the enemy) seemed to subscribe to the peace-before-progress formula. One spoke of her reformist organization's role in ensuring the successful implementation of the peace agreement, and mentioned micro-credit assistance and trucking services as their initial projects.

Another (a commander) explained that they didn't enter into the peace agreement for their own sake and benefit but for the benefit of the people, who are wallowing in poverty. And so he talked about his group's efforts to help stop illegal logging.

And yet, despirt all that I have seen and heard, I cannot really way that the question is totally settled. Yes, development projects for Kakha and similarly-situated communities are now pouring in precisely because of the absence of fighting.

Still, we must ask: Why was there fighting in the first place? Was it not because these communities were somehow left behind in the great march to progress?

It may be true, as the Governor said, there can be no development without peace. However, the converse may just be as true--without progress, there can be no peace. At least, progress in the area of social justice.

In a society where very many are poor because a very few own the wealth, occasions for breaking the peace bound.

So which comes first, peace or progress? Maybe this is just a false dilemma. I would like to think that, as has been shown in the war-ravaged community like Kakha, peace itself is progress.



Metro Post – Editorial
20-26 February 2005
Page 04

Some of the Dumaguete City councilors are talking like they want to sabotage the Integrated Solid Waste Management System Ordinance of the City.

Councilors Espiridion Catan and Saleto Erames suggest that it is okay for people not to pay garbage stickers. Catan says the people are overburdened and should be spared from having to buy the stickers.

Erames suggests that the City tolerate these people who throw garbage without buying stickers, until such time they eventually learn that buying garbage stickers is the duty of every civilized household in Dumaguete – perhaps in a year or two.

Never mind that Catan used to be the City’s General Services Officer, and is supposed to know the costs involved in collecting the City’s trash and managing a dumpsite. Never mind that Erames is a lawyer himself who knows that ignorance of the law excuses no one—not even those who profess to be so poor that they cannot buy garbage stickers at P1.50 per garbage bag.

Which curiously gives rise to the question: If they are so poor they cannot buy garbage stickers, what do they have to throw away anyway?

What is worse is that these two Councilors were among those who approved this same law in 1988 that they now reject. Catan was the Number 1 Concilor of Dumaguete then, and Erames was a Provincial board Member who reviewed the City Ordinance. Both legislative bodies approved this law unanimously.

These arguments, which blow hot and cold on an issue which we all thought had been resolved years ago, only serve to embolden Dumaguetenos who don’t know any better to disregard this law.

The good news, however, is that the number of people adhering to the garbage sticker system is growing, says Engr. Rogelio Clamonte, head of the City Environment & Natural Resources Office.

Clamonte estimates that more than half of Dumaguete households now buy their garbage stickers, and pu them on their garbage bags when they dispose of their trash.

Still, some barangays are adopting a lukewarm attitude to garbage disposal. As some of them are too old to adopt new paradigms, we may have to wait for more dynamic and willing barangay captains to take their place.

As Dumaguete continues to grapple with the challenge of garbage collection, Cebu has thought of a solution to theirs. Their Mayor Tomas Osmena says he will abolish the Department of Public Service which is in charge of cleaning and collecting trash all over the City, and leave trash collection to the barangays. Under this plan, the Cebu City government will just lease garbage trucks to spare the barangays from having to maintain them.

Such a bold plan – a wonderful display of thinking out of the box.

Dumaguete may never be a part of Cebu, but what’s to stop it from adopting some good ideas from its neighbor?



By: Oliver M. Lemence
Metro Post
20-26 February 2005
Page 03

With the twin purpose of promoting sports and tourism in Oriental Negros, Gov. George P. Arnaiz has announced the holding of the national finals of the 59th National Students Basketball Championships starting February 27 until March 5 in various sports complexes and sports facilities in the 2nd and 3rd District of the Province.

Arnaiz – himself a basketball player, scuba diver, and table tennis player – explained they decided to hold the games in various cities and municipalities to also allow the delegate and officials to enjoy the scenic spots of the Province, and see its investment potentials, aside from showcasing Oriental Negros as a sports mecca.

This is the first time the Province is hosting a national tournament.

Expected to compete are 22 basketball teams from around the country.

Vying for the top post are 12 challenging teams from the collegiate level, seven from the high school level, and three basketball women’s teams, including defending champions the Philippine Maritime Institute, the San Beda College, and the Lyceum of the Philippines women’s team.

The games will be played at the 5,000-capacity Lamberto Macias Sports & Cultural Center, the Silliman University gym, the Foundation University gym, the Zamboanguita Coliseum, the Salma Sports Center in Tanjay City, the Bais City gym, Bayawan City gym, and the Sta. Catalina gym.

Meanwhile, Basketball Association of the Philippines General Secretary Graham Lim expressed optimism the national basketball tournament will be a success. He also announced that the games will coincide with the BAP National Congress.

BAP technical Committee Chair Jerry Jimenez added that the various gyms and sports centers have been inspected and are ready for the national games.

Arnaiz said he expects the games to be covered daily by national newspapers and TV.



By: Edmund Sestoso
Metro Post – 20-26vruary 2005
Page 03

The Dumaguete City Council last week honored Silliman University for winning the Armed Forces of the Philippines Educational Institution of the Year Award.

Vice Mayor William Ablong authored the resolution of support and congratulations after the AFP top brass recognized the Reserve Officers Training Course at Silliman University.

The University, according to Vice Mayor Ablong has bagged several awards and recognition for the past years and had been consistently reaping these awards in the area of tactical inspections.

Meanwhile, the City Council has passed a resolution recognizing Master Sergeant Reu D. Ismil of the Philippine Army for his feat in the enlisted service.

Ismil, is presently the instructor of the Reserve Officers Training Course in Silliman University.

Last year, Ismil received his award as outstanding AFP enlister reservist of the year in Manila from Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz.



Metro Post – 20-26 Fbruary 2005

Bacong – The Negros Oriental provincial government will beautify the Talisay Beach Prk in Bacon as part of its drive to aggressively promote tourism sites.

The Provincial Board has allotted some P3.8 million pesos to improve the Talisay Beach Park, which will be undertaken by Gregorio Uymatiao Jr. Construction.

Governor Arnaiz said that the amount will be taken from the 20% Economic Development Fund (EDF) of the province.

Some of the existing facilities of the tourist attraction beach park will be renovated while others will be enhanced to fit the convenience of the tourists from different countries. Tree houses will be built, along with additional showers and toilets.



Metro Post
20-26 February 2005
Page 01

The Maritime & Ocean Affairs Center of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Silliman University have entered into a memorandum of agreement that would promote the study of the marine environment and ocean resources, and development of marine scientific research.

The MOA is also expected to facilitate the formulation of an ocean governance mechanism especially for the strategic Dumaguete-Siaton-Bayawan coastal stretch, which overlooks the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea, the South china Sea, and the Western Pacific Ocean.

In simple signing ceremonies at the SU Board Room, MOAC secretary general Alberto A. Encomienda and SU President Dr. Agustin Pulido agreed to also engage in programs and projects that would establish facilities for research and training in the marine sciences including laboratories, oceanographic institutions, and maritime museums.

“The MOAC is riding on the reputation of Silliman University in the marine sciences because of its high academic standards,” Encomienda said. He explained there is still a lot to learn about the inter-connectedness of the oceans and our stake in it.

The MOA also involves jointly organizing seminars, conferences, ocean expeditions, and opportunities for exchanging and sharing knowledge and technology. In April, a cruise will leave for Vietnam to conduct a hydrographic survey and gather data on other characteristics of oceans. Earlier, two expeditions were conducted in northern Palawan and off the coast of Mindoro.

Although the study will be confined to the Philippine territorial waters, Encomienda said it might include later on a survey of the South China Sea. “This could be melded into one larger study if we have theparticipation of other international organizations or the cooperation of other countries.” He said such projects now seem possible because of the thawing of tension as a result of the political implications of territorial disputes.

Other activities between Silliman and the MOAC include programs and projects that advance the sustainable exploitation of marine resources for economic growth, those that promote the interests of the Philippines as an archipelagic state, and those that establish intr-library cooperation and information exchange including the setting up of an electronic library and the sharing of knowledge and expertise in information management.

Encomienda noted there are about 168 island-states all over the world, 17 of which are archipelagic in nature, or composed of a group of islands, like the Philippines.

“The Philippine archipelago is unique because of the wealth of our biodiversity, and the significance of its geological configurations on the Asia Pacific region,” Encomienda said.

The MOAC is mandated to promote the development of national capabilities and institutions including human resources for maritime and ocean affairs, and to raise the national consciousness and awareness of the country as an archipelagic state.

Also present during the signing were Dr. Amado Romillo, Bernadette San Juan, Jeffrey Joseph Araula, Emily Reyes, and Alvin dela Fuente; SU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Prof. Carlos Magtolis, Jr., Biology Prof. Roy Olsen de Leon, School of Communication Prof. Irma Faith Pal, SU Marine Laboratory deputy director Dr. Janet Estacion, and Information & Publications director Mark Raygan Garcia.



Environment Connection
By: Dr. Angel C. Alcala
Metro Post – 20-26 February 2005
Page 04

We all know that practically all mountains on large islands of the Philippines are denuded, the result of a lack of sound environmental policy and programs in past decades.

We are now reaping what we sowed, to paraphrase the Bible, such as the desolation of many areas of the country.

I was reminded of the truth of this statement while visiting on February 10 Mt. Hinolugan Calis, a mountain peak 543 meters above sea level in the hinterlands of barangay Inayawan, southwestern Negros.

The denudation of Negros Island began in 1903 when the Insular Lumber Company was given a permit to operate a commercial logging operation, increasing in intensity from 1950s to 1970s.

Commercial logging was followed by the kaingin system employed by sustenance farmers in the name of “livelihood”, completing the “kill” of tropical rainforests in many areas of the island. Only three percent of the 1.3 million hectares of land on the island now remain occupied by original forest remnants.

The area around Mt. Hinolugan Calis now consists of a network of barren mountain ridges ending in peaks as high as 400 to 550 meters above sea level.

Small valleys, some with springs, are enclosed by these ridges and peaks. On top of Mt. Hinolugan Calis, one can see the Sulu Sea and the surrounding large desolate areas that must have looked like a scene a million years ago when the area rose from the Sulu Sea by volcanic action, before vegetation dominated by the majestic dipterocarp (Philippine mahogany) trees began to clothe the barren earth and limestone rocks.

This green mantle of forest trees is now gone except for the surviving remnants consisting of scrubby plants growing on small valleys, and course grasses on tops of ridges. Gone also are the wildlife species for which Negros has been known for in scientific circles of the world.

The question is, can we bring back the whole tropical rainforest that once thrived in the area?

In reality, we cannot. Once species are gone, they are gone forever. A number of animal species that were found there no longer exist in the island of Negros. Some species of Philippine mahogany may have also been lost. Only heaven know what species of plants and animals have departed from Negros forever!

But we can partly restore the tropical rainforest by planting tree species that have survived the onslaught of forest and wildlife destroyers in the past.

The local governments of the province of Negros Occidental, the municipality of Cauayan, and the barangay of Inayawan are determined to bring back the forest in their portion of the natural park declared under the ordinance of the municipality of Cauayan. They have begun with a reforestation program of the slopes of Mt. Hinolugan Calis.

The question on how to reforest an upland area without water was answered by the private organization Roots; the AID Foundation Inc. assisted in financial and logistics terms the municipality of Cauayan and the province of Negros Occidental.

A ram pump lifts water 90 meters up to a concrete water tank from a spring on the mountain slope. From this tank, water will flow down by gravity to irrigate forest and crop farms below.

The expectation is that the slopes of this mountain peak will be reforested and suitable areas will be farmed by the people using modern technologies such as the efficient drip method of irrigation. The newly constructed farm-to-market road will be used to transport farm products to enable farmers to obtain good prices and to allow access of tourists to the area.

We congratulate the people of Cauayan, Negros Occidental for this development.



Metro Post
20-26 February 2005

The 15th Bear Brand Kitefest, this year’s edition of the country’s biggest and most awaited kite festival, kicks-off at the Gov. Mariano Perdices Memorial Coliseum in Dumaguete on February 20. With the theme “Lipad Na sa Saya,” this year’s edition of the country’s premier kite event promises to be bigger and better, with exciting prizes in the store for the winners of the kite-making and kite-flying competition.

As a special feature of this year’s Kitefest, celebrities Teri Onor, Ethel Booba and Bearwin Meily will each endorse a special kite that will be flown in the kick-off leg. Teri will endorse the Maria Makiling Star Kite, based on the famous legend of Laguna, Ethel will have the Sirena Sisters star Kite, inspired by the marine-rich Visayas region and Bearwin will have the Manong Agila Star Kite, named after the country’s national bird which finds its home in Mindanao.

The three kites is also the subject of a text promo with GMA 7 called “BEAR BRAND Kite ni Kapuso” which will give away a total pf Php 2 million plus in prizes. A purchase of any pack of Bear brand Filled Milk entries you to vote for favorite kite Idol by texting BBKITE_Letter of Kite Choice, to 367 for Smart and Talk ‘n Text subscribers, and 2344 for Globe and Sun Cellular subscribers.

The 15th Bear Brand Kitefest will visit a total of 10 cities nationwide with the support of their local government units. Aside from Dumaguete, the 15th Bear Brand Kitefest will also visit Lingayen on February 27, Tacloban on March 6, General Sntos on March 13, Palawan on March 20, Baguio on April 3, Cagayan de oro on April 10, Lucena on April 17, Davao on April 24, and Manila on May 15.

Millions of pesos in prizes await the winners of the kite competition which has three categories, the Flat, Geometric and Figure kite category, and includes four age groups: Elementary Division for kids aged 6-12 years old; High School Division for participants aged 13-16 years old; College Division for those who aged 17-21 and Adults Division contestants aged 21 and above.

Other awards include the “Theme Kite Award” for the best flying kite to represent the province or city, the “Super Kite Award” for the biggest flying kite in the figure category and the “Saranggola ni Bear Brand Award.” These awards come with corresponding cash prizes. During every leg, one participating family will also win P10,000 in cash for the “Family On-the-Spot Kite-Making and Kite Flying Contest.”

This year, Bear Brand Kitefest again teams up with STI, the Philippines network of computer colleges, for more accurate and computerized results.

The Bear Brand Kitefest has registered almost 20,000 kites since its inception in 1991. Sponsored by the country’s ideal family milk, the Kitefest has promoted family-oriented values like unity through bonding and good health through proper nutrition and worthwhile physical activities. It has also brought wholesome enjoyment to people of all ages, especially young people and children. At the same time, it provides opportunities for enthusiasts to express their creativity and ingenuity in designing and flying kits.



Metro Post – 20-26 February 2005
Page 11

Entheos Information Technology Inc., the first and only medical transcription company in the Province, is starting operations on March 1st with 25 trained medical transcriptionists.

Managed by experienced executives and well-trained production head and trainer, the Entheos IT medical transcription training six month program was composed of different modules on encoding, transcribing skills, English grammar proficiency, and medical science.

The new employees have also been trained for the special programmable equipment.

Entheos IT expects to fully complement the 68 seats to be done in two shifts by end of the year. The number translates to more than a hundred employment opportunities for graduates of medical courses like nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical technology, medicine, biology, and other allied medical courses.

Medical transcription, an innovation in the IT business along with call centers and legal transcription, started as a clerical assistance to the US healthcare documentation industry.

When the US government reinforced the existing Health Insurance Portability & Accountability act, the industry saw the need to professionalize the job of medical transcription.

Realizing the shortage of the American workforce, they began to outsource the “job overflows” to other countries like the Philippines whose English proficiency is “distinctly high”.

In the Phlippines, the business of medical transcription is more that a decade old, with more than 30 MT companies to date. Most are located in Manila, Cebu, Davao and the Bicol region. Oriental Negros, particularly Dumaguete, has been noted for its pool of human resources as evidenced by the hig passing rate of applicants of 50 percent, compared to Cebu’s two percent, mainly because of poor English language skills.

The Entheos IT Inc. medical transcription facility will have its blessing and inauguration ceremonies on Monday, February 28 at 3:30 pm fronting the LG Sinco IT building in Foundation University.



Metro Post
20-26 February 2005
Page 11

The country’s top companies in information and communications technology will converge in Foundation University for three days starting on Thursday, February 24 for the holding of the annual Digital Dumaguete Expo 2005. This year’s theme is ICT: A Strategic Investment, a Way to Prepare for the future.

Exhibitions for the 3rd Digital Expo include Epson Phils., Intel Microelectronics; CISCO; CAL Holdings Phils.; Top PEG Animation & Creative Studio Inc.; Channel Solutions; MB Phils.; ECSS; Millennium Computer Technology Corp., Secure One Alarm Security System, Primary Software Development Corp., Prodatanet, MicroSouth Marketing Phils. Inc., Lexmark, NEC, and Ng Khai.

Other exhibitors include the country’s leading business process outsourcing and call centers like Ryte Solutions, People Support, Sykes Asia, E-Telecare, Teletech, C-Cube Services, SPI Technologies, and Entheos IT Inc. (medical transcription).

Aside from exhibits of products and services,, the three-day activity will feature a job fair in the field of ICT, film showings, lectures, and hands-on demonstrations. There would also be an Open House of the LG Sinco IT Building that houses the University’s state-of-the-art computer laboratory, and four modern AV rooms.

According to Ivy Selarde, OIC of the OIC of the FU Department of Computer Studies, they hope to raise the public’s awareness and increase their appreciation for the role of IT in today’s business transactions.

“We intend to help promote ICT as a strategic and worthwhile investment, and a good career path for students and professionals alike. ICT has become an indispensable part of our everyday lives and of the global market,” Selarde said.

Digital Dumaguete 2005 is open to all students and the general public. More details are on

Digital Dumaguete Expo, organized by the Computer studies department of the FU School of Industrial Engineering & Technology, will be held at the Sofia Soller Sinco Hall.

Thursday, February 17, 2005



By Alex Pal – PDI Visayas Bureau
Philippine Daily Inquirer Page-A19
Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dumaguete City – The local inventor of a preservation techniques in which live fish is put to sleep without water for more than 12 hours has been chosen as a semi-finalist in the University of San Francisco Business Plan Competition.

The business plan of Bonifacio Comandante was selected as one of 20 semi-finalists from a pool of 150 entries submitted by over 100 universities from 18 countries.

The USF Business plan Competition, to be held from March 9-12 in San Francisco, offers a prize of $25,000 for the winner, whose entry will also qualify for the Moot Corp3 Competition, dubbed by Business Week as “The Super Bowl of Business Plan Competition” in Austin, Texas in May.

Comandante, president of Buhi Marine Worldwide Supply Int’l., won last year’s Negros Oriental Business Development Foundation Innovation Awards.

His start-up capital of P50,000, which he got as his prize for the Innovation Awards, has now grown to P5 million, with the entry of business partners from Japan and Australia.

Comandante accidentally stumbled on his “anti-stress salt solution” to enable fish to hibernate as he was experimenting on the sex reversal of groupers in Palawan in 1987.

But he did not launch the product until he has successfully defended it as his thesis in his masters degree in Coastal Resource Management at Silliman University in 2003.

This technology now enable Philippine fish producers to export live fish producer to export live fish to Japan, Taiwan, China and other countries, for a more competitive price.

“Water accounts for 75 percent of the shipment cost so if that is eliminated, our fish producers in the Philippines could make it big in the international market,” he said.

Comandante said he was confident that he would stand a good chance in the competition because his business plan had a good financial and social impact.

“It’s very seldom that you have a business that has both a good financial and social impact. The financial impact is so appetizing and the social technology is so great that this is like two big things put into one,” he said.

To catch the judge’s attention, Comandante said he will have to rely on the element of surprise, which he is keeping a secret.

Comandante said he will have to rely on the element of surprise, which he is keeping a secret.

Comandante said he will ensure that the technology will remain in Filipino hands.

“We own 50 percent of the corporation and only Filipino technicians will apply and handle the technology anywhere in the world.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2005



Manila Standard – Friday October 15, 2004

Negros Oriental’s four Ts – tourism, trained people, technology and talent – take center stage as the province celebrates the Buglasan Festival in Dumaguete starting today.

Derived from the pre-Hispanic name of Negros Island, “buglas,” the 10-day festival promises a variety of activities designed to promote the province’s tourism and economic potentials.

“This year’s festival is bigger and more exciting because this is the first time that we have 100 percent participation from the local government units in the province,” said Negros Oriental Gov. George Arnaiz.

Arnaiz stressed that the province has much to offer tourists and investors that are starting to catch the attention of the world. “That is why the festival centers on the four Ts that abound in Negros Oriental,” the governor said.

The province, which is just an hour away by plane from Manila, is positioning itself as an ideal location for IT-based industries because of its sophisticated fiber-optic network that is comparable with the best systems in the world.

As investors look into the merits of doing business in – or even relocating to – Negros Oriental, they will be regaled with cultural presentations and other activities that will introduce them to the aesthetic wonders of the province.

Board member Mariant Escano-Villegas, who heads the Provincial Commission Culture and Arts, said that 14 contingents from all over the province have pledged to join the street dancing competition.

The grand showdown slated on Oct. 22 will highlight Negros Oriental’s different festivals – the Sandurot (Dumaguete City), Kapaw (Basay), Hambabalud (Jimalalud), Libod-Sayaw (Bindoy) tag-ilis (Sta. Catalina), Kinaihayan (Dauin), Saulog (Tanjay City), Sipong (Bais City), Tawo-Tawo (Bayawan City), Bakon (Bakong), Langob (mabinay), Dalupapa (Ayungon), Kasulad (Pamplona) and Yag-Yag (Sibulan).

The participants will try to wrestle the crown from the town of Sibulan, whose Yag-Yag frestival was the WoW Philippines grand prize winner in 2003.



Metro Post, January 09-15, 2004

Dumaguete and Negros Oriental may pride itself as a supplier of a talented and educated workforce with its four Universities and many schools and colleges, but it also supplies many blue collar workers.

Data from the provincial office of the Department of Labor and Employment said that a total of 2,841 workers were recruited for blue collar jobs in Negros Oriental in 2004.

Of that number, 51 percent, or 1,449, were recruited as domestic helpers, 34 percent, or 966, were recruited as laborers for a deep-sea fishing method known as pa-aling and 426 were recruited to work in sugarcane haciendas as migratory workers (sacadas).

Rogen Cumba, officer-in-charge of the DOLE provincial field office, said that they denied recruitment for 147 minors who were applying for various jobs.

Cumba also said that based on their records, a total of 801 persons were terminated in Negros Oriental last year,, mostly because their contracts had expired.

24 percent of the terminated workers were fired for violations of company procedures while 14 percent submitted their resignations.



Metro Post, January 09-15, 2004

Dumaguete skimboarders bagged top honors at the recently-held Tawo-tawo Festival Annual Open Skimboarding Competition.

Of the 15 skimboarders who represented Dumaguete, Rowel Fernandez garnered 1st place in the Expert division; Gian Vicuna, Mark Pedula, and Roland Partosa swept the Beginner’s division by garnering 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, respectively. Glenn Paul Malapitan garnered 1st in the Childrenn’s division.

Other Dumaguete competitors in the various categories include: Rey Legaspi and Christian Libradilla in the Master’s division; Nico Macasiar in the Expert’s division; Roselyn Gargar and Justine Yu in the Women’s division; and Chris Allusado, Shawnee Bacoloc, Rey Cabayon, Borris Magsayo,,, and Asterio Pagsican in the Beginner’s division.

Dumaguete team leader Joseph Merecido of Bradman Boards and Gordon Lasala said that with the support from the local government, skimboarding as a relatively-new sport could boom here in City.

The Tawo-tawo Festival Annual Open Skimboarding Competition was sponsored by the City of Bayawan through its Tourism Council.



Metro Post January 23-29,2005

“MY, my, look at these crabs-theyre so cute!” gushed a European tourist whose camer instantly went clicking away during last week’s Sinulog Festival in Cebu City.

No, he was looking at real crabs but the 160 Yagyag Festival dancers from Sibulan, Negros Oriental-festooned with red and gold crab costumes also showing the traditional Sto. Nino colors—were almost as real as they could get. They were, after all, telling a real story of how they7 live with these crabs back home in Cangmating, Sibulan.

To the beat of the drums, these dancers meticulously imitate the movement of the crabs, from the time they come out to mate, spawn and finally, until the king crab gets captured in a giant bamboo basket. The fast movements and the unique story line of this dance became an instant hit for the millions of people who turned out to watch the Sinulog Gestival, which also earned them the first prize in the Street dancing category, besting 47 other contingents.


“This is my first time to see such a different kind of dance in the Sinulog and that’s probably why it stood out from all the other entries,” said Jackie Flores, a regular Sinulog devotee who travels from Dumaguete City each January just to see this annual religious and tourist attraction.

Cangmating barangay captain Edwin Parajado, who led the Yagyag Festival delegation, said the theyu lagged behind the parade more than two time when they gave in to requests for an encore during the entire 4.3 kilometer Sinulog route. There were also requests from tourists and the local audience to have souvenir shots taken with the dancers.


Cangmating is a haven of crabs, locally known as caging, which come out by the thousands, especially during the last quarter of theyear to mate or lay their eggs along the riverbanks. The sight of countless crabs spread out in the marshlands inspired the villagers to name the occurrence “pag-yagyag,” after the Visayan word “yagyag,” meaning to pour out.

With the choreography of David Dean Ang, the dancers captured the process by which these barrio folks prepare their covered bamboo baskets, torches and bamboo crab traps during nighttime in dance form, winning for themselves P200,000 in cash, on top of a plaque and a trophy. The cash prize is on top of the P100,000 given by the Provincial Government of Negros Oriental and the P75,000 extended by the Local Government Unit of Sibulan. The Yagyag also won sixth place in the Free Interpretation Showdown category.

This is not the first time for the Yagyag Festival to reap awards. It has been a consistent winner in the Buglasan Festival of Negros Oriental held every October. It is also the 2003 National Street Dancing Champion in the Wow Philippines Festival of Festivals competition in Intramuros, Manila.

The Sinulog festival, however, experienced a letdown when it placed second during the Buglasan Festival last October to the town of Dauin’s Kinaiyahan Festival in the showdown category. The Kinaiyahan festival also joined this yearps Sinulog but failed to land a prize.

“Upholding the throne as the best of the best is the group’s primary aim,” said a triumphant Mayor Antonio Renacia. He said Sibulan chose to join the Cebu Sinulog because it is the best venue to promote Sibula, “as people everywhere from all walks of life are there.”

Other than the Yagyag and the Kinaiyahan Festivals, there were two other delegations from Negros Oriental to the Cebu Sinulog 2005. These were the Saulog Festival off Tanjay City and the Tawo-tawo Festival of Bayawan, which placed fourth in the Sinylog based showdown category.


With the Sinulog 2005 victory,, Renacia expressed hopes that the Festival would help spur tourism and investment opportunities for their town. “The impact of the feat to the tourism and investment thrust of the municipality is overwhelming; it left an imprint on every spectator,” Renacia said.

Adopting the slogan “Yes, Sibulan can!”, Renacial is vigorously promoting his town as an investment destination. Compared to the two other towns around Dumaguete, Sibulan already gets most of the spill-over business from the City.

Sibulan, which entirely hosts the Dumaguete airport, also where some of Negros Oriental’s tourist sites are located, such as the twin lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao, 1000 meters above sea level. Sibulan’s beaches also attract hundred of sea-lovers every day.

The Yagyag Festival dancers will celebrate their victory by dancing in the streets of Sibulan on January 31, on the occasion of their town’s 95th anniversary as a municipality. Sibulan,,, some six kilometers from Dumaguete, was created by the Philippine Commission through Act No. 82.



Editorial Metro Post, January 23-29, 2005

The crab, locally known as caging, is not necessarily a welcome creature in Sibulan. Talk to the rice growers and you’ll know why – the caging dig holes in rice paddies, making the water run out. And because rice is grown in large areas in Sibulan, the problems with crabs can be frustrating.

But the Sibulanons are showing us that when faced with bad things in life, we have a choice of whether or not we would allow it to haunt us for the rest of our lives, and that we may turn it into something good.

It is the cagang which actually inspired the people of barangay Cangmating to come up with a dance that has won laurels not only for Cangmating, but for the town of Sibulan, the province of Oriental Negros, and yes, for the Filipino people.

Clad in red and gold crab costumes, the Yagyag Festival dancers depict how the people of Cangmating live with these crabs. The dancers show the movements of the crabs as they mate and spawn, and they also imitate the movements of the crab hunters who stalk their prey with bamboo baskets.

The result is one award-winning dance. The Yagyag festival reaped top honors during the Cebu Sinulog Street Dancing Competition. Mind you, this is not yagyag’s first time to win a contest of this kind; the bigger award being the Wow Philippines national award for street dancing held lst 2003 in Intramuros, Manila.

But with last week’s victory in Cebu, we have once again proven that Sibulanons, or the Oriental Negrenses in general, can cope with any challenges that await us. It shows that yes, we can work our way around such problems and to turn them into opportunities.



Metro Post January 16 – 22, 2005

SIBULAN – Not resting on their laurels, the defending national champion in the 2003 Festivals of Festivals Competition held in Manila will hone their skills further by participating in the Sinulog 2005 in Cebu City, touted as the biggest religious event in the region.

The 160 – strong Sibulan Yagyag contingent will compete in the street dancing and the showdown competition categories. Most of them are residents of Barangay Cangmating.

Joining the participants in Cebu are Cangmating Barangay Capt. Edwin Parajado,, Sangguniang Bayan Councilor Maning Diputado who is chair of the Committee on Tourism, Culture & Arts, trainor Dean David “Dingdong” Ang, and the Sibulan Mayor’s staff led by Alexdel Fortin.

Sibulan Mayor Antonio Renacia said he allocated P75,000 from the tourism fund as support for the Yagyag presentation.

The amount is augmented by the P100,000 financial assistance given by the Provincial government.

Mayor Renacia said that while retaining the throne as the country’s cream of the crop is the group’s primary aim, promoting Sibulan as a potential investment and tourist destination is an encompassing goal.

“The Sinulog in Cebu is a good venue to promote Sibulan as people from all walks of life will be there.” Mayor Renacia added.

The Yagyag was conceptualized six years ago by residents of Cangmating, one of the six coastal barangays in the municipality of Sibulan.

Yagyag is derived from the word pagyagyag, the local people’s term for the spawning process of the crab.

The riverbanks of Cangmating is a habitat of crabs. In the last quarter of every year, thousand of land crabs (locally called caging) come out at night to either mate or lay their eggs a long the riverbanks of Cangmating.

The story of the Yagyag presentation revolves around the process by which the barangay folks prepare to bring out their covered bamboo baskets, lighted torches, and bamboo traps at night.

The Yagyag has gone a long way from being an inter-purok competition during its annual fiesta in June, to being a major cultural showcase for the province of Oriental Negros.

Mayor Renacia said he is grateful to the strong cooperative and enduring spirit of the residents of Cangmating under the leadership of Barangay Capt. Parajado. (Sibulan MPIO/Connie Rosales)



By Christine S. Dayrit, Rendezvous in the Philippine Star
Metro Post – January 16-22, 2005

There is place where opportunities abound, where opportunities abound, where information and communications technology are the most advanced in the world, where call centers and cartoon animators are eyeing to transfer their operations, where education being a top priority is made affordable for everyone, and where the English language is recognized as the “language of empowerment”.

Here, ecotourism is a way of life, where spinner dolphins and pilot whales incessantly perform stunts before tourists,, knowing they are safe from harm. In this nirvana of white sandy beaches, glorious waterfalls and lush forests, fiestas don’t only occur every feast of a patron saint, but they exist in the heart and soul of its people.

All these and more await you in Oriental Negros.

It is recorded in the book Reminiscences and Travels of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal that on Aug. 1, 1896, he sailed from Dapitan to Dumaguete, capital of Oriental Negros, where he observed the penchant of the townsfolk to care for their environment by adorning their homes with plants and flowers. It is believed that Rizal coined the moniker “ City of Gentle People” during his brief stay in Dumaguete.

Today, the Rizal Boulevard is an esplanade that stretches 800 meters along the seawall from the wharf to Colon St. It is home to cozy restaurants like Mamia’s owned by the family of Dumaguete City Mayor Agustin Perdices, Internet cafes, and Sans Rival the original bakeshop that makes that delightful buttery pastry.

The Protestant-run Silliman University, also known as the Campus by the Sea, sprawls over 56 hectares, its central quadrangle bordered by 307 centuries-old towering acacia trees planted by the American missionaries.

The institution was a magnanimous gifts of $10,000 from Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, a philanthropist from Cohoes, New Your, who founded Silliman barely five months after the end of the Fil-American War.

Oriental Negros Gov. George Arnaiz ws quick to share: “Education, which is our No. 1 resource, brings about people empowerment.”

Today, an international community foreign students from Korea, China, the Middle East, America, Europe, and the rest of the world learn in harmony and camaderie here.

According to Francel Martinez, executive director of the Oriental Negros Investment Promotion Center: “Since people in Dumaguete speak and write in English very proficiently, six out out 10 of the applicants to call centers and business process outsourcing jobs are actually hired. Only one out of 10 applicants to call centers and business process outsourcing jobs are actually hired. Only one out of 10 applicants to these ICT jobs from Manila and Luzon is hired.”

Also at the College of Nursing & Allied Health Sciences of Silliman University, the passing rate for the national licensure exams has been 100 percent since 1952. In fact, it has become a standing joke that if one were to fail the nursing board exam, a monument would be erected in his/her honor!

Engr. Alfredo Ang, dean of the College of Information Technology & Computer Science at Silliman University, showed us the impressive fiber optics technology that was a gift from Islacom through Deutsche Telecom. Here, blackboard and chalk are a thing of the past, and in their place are audio speakers and video monitors that flash the day’s lessons on screen.

Among Dumaguete City’s 100,000 population – fouor out of 10 of whom are college graduates – three other universities offer high quality education at affordable rates: the country’s first St. Paul University which is celebrating its centennial in October, the new Negros Oriental State University and Foundation University which is currently under the leadership of Dean Sinco, a University of Washing-trained architect, and Dr. Mira Dragon-Sinco who got her academic training in Michigan State University and at Harvard University.

Dean Sinco toured us around the 5.5 – hectare property of Foundation University, planned by his grandfather Dr. Vicente G. Sinco, former UP President, to resemble the Greco-Roman styled UP Diliman.

Dean noted: “In the past, there was no economic reason for college graduates to stay in Dumaguete. Our goal now is to produce graduates who can work here, allowing the City to be globally competitive.”

Gracious Governor Arnaiz, who heads the Oriental Negros Investment board, explained: “The Buglasan in a one – stop shop for Oriental Negros’ tourism and recreational sites. Here, we highlight our investment potentials, our technical capability in information and telecommunications, agricultural products, our achievements in culture and the arts.”

It was also the Yagyag Festival from the town of Sibulan last year that bested challengers from all over the country including winners in Bacolod’s Masskara, Iloilo’s Dinagyang, Tacloban’s Pintados – adjudged the WOW Philippines’ street – dancing champion.

We were impressed by the 13 contingents from Oriental Negros and their spectacular showmanship during the street-dancing contest held at the jampacked 5,000-seater Cong. Lamberto Macias Sports & Cultural Center.

Another major highlight was the dolphin-and-whale-watching trip in Bais City wherein we spotted about 30 spinner dolphins whose playful antics in the Tanon Strait were photographed by Michael Ocampo.

Bais Ccity Mayor Hector “Tata” Villanueva ensured we had a sumptuous lunch of kilawin, seashells,, and grilled fish on board the huge bancas, while docked at the two-hectare sandbar (at least that day when the tide was so low).

We learned that in August 1993, Silliman marine biologist Dr. Louela Dolar and Dr. William Perrin of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography of the University of California-San Diego led a group for a seven-day expedition of the Tanon Strait aboard the MV Auquastar. Their findings of over 20 species of dolphins and whales created an awareness of unprecedented value, and gave birth to an organized ecotourism industry in Bais.

A quick visit to the Oriental Negros Provincial Tourism Office made us all vow to explore all the natural scenic spots and glorious fins of the area.

Consider these: Valencia town’s “Little Baguio” where sweet fruits and wild colorful flowers bloom in the cool mountain climate; the glorious Niludhan Falls of Bayawan City; the sea, sun and fun in Manjuyod; Amlan’s natural bounties’ and Tayasan’s crispy lechon, freshest seafoods, and crunchy amargoso-pipino salad.

We will not forget the export quality abaca-leather woven bags from Tayasan and Manjuyod that we brought home to Manila. Neither will we forget the budbod (suman) packed in the native bags from Tanjay City.

Most enlightening was the lecture of former Pepsi and Islacom President Fred S. Dael who said that our country should learn more about the rest of the country. He enthused: “Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental has the most advanced telecommunications system in the world, comparable only to the one in Gernamy.”

From the time Deutsche Telecom infused $2.5 billion worth of fiber optics in the region five years ago, businessmen, investors and the rest of our countrymen have yet to maximize this wealth of technology for advancement and progress.

Call centers, the “single largest social upheaval” in the Philippine economy, can set up anytime and anywhere in the province of Oriental Negros.

For job seekers in Oriental Negros, one can earn a higher take-home pay because of the lower cost of living. Or one can own a house by the mountain, or along the beachfront – which will probably be the amount of one’s rental in a cramped apartment in Manila, according to Engr. Greg Uymatiao Jr., president of the Negros Oriental Business Development Foundation.

Gone are the perceptions of the laid-back south. Their infectious passion for progress, for global competitiveness, and their value of quality education are truly admirable.

Experiencing the developments of Oriental Negros makes me very proud to be a Filipino. Imagine the great minds and leaders from Oriental Negros like Dr. Angel C. Alcala, the father of community – based coastal resources management; National Artist for Literature Dr. Edith L. Tiempo; National Artist for Film Eddie Romero; and Architect Manny Almagro who was part of the team that did restoration work at the Statue of Liberty in New York.

The ultimate goal of a traveler, who in many ways is like a wandering nomad, is to eventually find a place where he may reside, settle in, and grow old gracefully. Once he finds his place in the sun, having gone full circle, he is complete.

Let that place be Oriental Negros, on the right side of Negros island, where the sun rises, blessing this favored land of the progressive yet, gentle and caring people with bountiful opportunities for a brighter future.
Christine S. Dayrit regularly writes for her column Rendezvous published in the Philippine Star. She has a masters in Film Production from Boston University in Massachusetts.



Metro Post – View Points P-4
January 16-22, 2005
– Editorial-
Oriental Negros and Dumaguete City continue to make waves not only in the Philippines but in other parts of the world.

Many people are taking a closer look at what’s happening in Oriental Negros with a desire to do the same thing in their respective communities.

The longest-running attraction in the Province is the well-managed coastal resources in Apo Island. This 74-hectare island off the coast of Dauin has noted several international scientists, tourists, diplomats, and students who marvel at how the community has been able to harmoniously coexist with their productive coral reef that is in excellent condition.

The beauty of Apo Island has in fact, convinced scientists at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to make it as a showcase of the Philippine archipelago. So when you visit this aquarium in Illinois, yu are greeted with the words, “Welcome to the Philippines!” and then you see a replica of Apo Island – from its beaches down to the coral reef – built at a tune of about $80 million.

Many visitors also come to Dumaguete to see the Gene V. Duran Ecological Park & Dumpsite. This dumpsite, which is perhaps a rarity because it doesn’t emit much foul odor, is a must-see for local government units who come over for their Lakbay-Aral tours.

We must be blazing the trail. The provincial governor of Antique, having read about the Galing Pook Award for Governor Arnaiz’ Barangay Agriculture Development Council (BADC), wants to replicate it in her hometown.

And just last week, a Sri Lankan, who works with an international NGO, wants to replicate the City’s housing project using bamboo and nipa to help reconstruct the tsunami-devastated villages in his country.

We have the resettlement site in Sta. Catalina, we have the award-winning primary health centers in the hinterlands of the Province. The list can go on and on – an indication that despite the hardships and crises in our country, some good things are happening right here in this right side of the Negros Island.

For this, we laud our provincial, city, and town executives for spearheading such novel and laudable projects.



The Philippine Star - Business
Monday, January 31, 2005

Taking advantage of the hi speed fiber optic network in Negros Oriental and its largely untapped human resource, a local entrepreneur with connections in the United States has started a medical transcription company in Dumaguete City.

Entheos Information Technology Inc. is currently training medical field students and graduates who could do work for the global market starting April.

“This is good opportunity for us to generate jobs for people in the nursing and allied medical fields as they wait for a bout two years to get jobs abroad,” said Entheos IT Inc. proprietor Victor Vicente G. Sinco.

Sinco noted the good English skills of Negros Oriental’s human resources, as evidenced by the high passing rate of 50 percent in call center companies from among Dumaguete applicants, compared to Cebu’s two percent.

“This week alone, we had 14 applicants who are Silliman graduates of biology, PT, nursing, and medtech,” Sinco said.

Preferred applicants to the BPO in medical transcription are students or graduates of nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, biology, medical technology, and allied medical courses who have an advantage in having a working knowledge of medical terms.

According to Rolo Cena, Entheos manager and training officer, they are working to improve the listening skills of all prospective regular employees. The main job of these medical transcribers is to convert physicians’ taped audio reports or digitized audio down loads and sound files into written form.

Other parts of the training include understanding foreign accents and colloquialisms, encoding to the required speed of about 400 lines of text per hour, accuracy of the transcription, andnusing the specific medical transcription software when submitting electronic files to companies abroad.

Sinco said he hopes to start production work at Entheos IT with 50 seats, and maybe expand as the volume of work increases. Medical transcription work at Entheos IT will be done on two shifts at the Foundation university campus.

There are more than 30 medical transcription companies in Manila, and two in Cebu City.” But the job load from abroad is just immense, the industry cannot cope with the demand,” explained Sinco.

The P7-million investment venture in medical transcription normally gets its return of investment in about 18 months.

“Medical transcription in the Philippines is a high pressure kin of business where ‘pwede na’ can not be good enough, especially that we’re dealing with a global market,” Sinco said.



The Philippine Star – Sunday, November 07, 2004

Negros Oriental’s formula for attracting information technology – based investors is winning a lot of believers not only from the private sector but even among the government officials overseeing the country’s technology industry.

One of them, Damian, “Dondi” Mapa, the commissioner of The newly organized Commission on Information and Community Technology (CICT) responsible for business development, was in Negros Oriental last week to find out what makes the province tick.

“I came to see how the province has achieved a head start in promoting itself to foreign ICT investors. I am hopeful that the formula used by Negros Oriental could be duplicated in other province that want to attract investors,” Mapa told members of the Negros Oriental Investment Promotions Center (NOIPC) in a meeting.

During his visit, Mapa learned what many businessmen who have already put up call center, business process outsourcing (BPO) facilities and technology-based operations in the province have earlier discovered: That Negros Oriental’s ICT success is the result of careful and systematic planning.

Negros Oriental Gov. George Arnaiz disclosed that “as early as five years ago, we were already positioning Negros Oriental, specifically Dumaguete City, as the investor’s site of choice for IT-enabled services,” resulting in a development plan outlining the province’s prospects.

Earlier this year, the Board of Investment (BOI) had identified Dumaguete as “one of four places for IT development / promotion.”

“Negros Oriental’s highly educated work force is another key attraction for investors,” Arnaiz said. “Dumaguete, the capital city, is home to six colleges and universities, including Silliman University, one of the Philippine’s oldest and most respected institutions of higher learning.

The top-notch graduates these schools produce every year constantly replenish Negros Oriental’s talent pool and make the province a “people processing zone,” Arnaiz added.

Aside from the local talent pool, Negros Oriental boasts of a P3.5 billion fiber optic infrastructure, which is considered to be the most advanced in the country today.

Fred Dael, former president and chief executive officer of Isla Communications Co. Inc. (Islacom), said: “Negros is one o fonly two islands in the Philippines that are completely surrounded by fiber optic cable, allowing for instantaneous data transfer from Negros Oriental to the world.”

Islacom, which is now part of Innove Communications, Laid $120 million worth of fiver optic cables in Negros Oriental in the 1990s. The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), TelecPhil Consortium and Eastern Telecom also operate major fiber optic backbones in Dumaguete City.

Dumaguete is in fact one of the most well connected cities in the Philippines, thanks to its international communications cable networks and fiber optic, a technology that is still unmatched in the world,” Dael said.

“With its skilled human resources and technology, what we have in Negros Oriental is not just a good system – its in fact the best system in place,,” he added.

Monday, February 14, 2005



River with a View
Text by Pinky Concha Colmenares
Photos by Johannes Chua
Cruising Magazine- November 2004
Page 18-21

Like the path of civilization, Forest Camp started simply because the land was along a refreshing curb of the Banica River in Valencia town, Negros Oriental. Sitting on an elevation of 238 meters in Mt. Talinis (the seventh highest point in the country), the weather cooperated in starting the resort.

When Florante and Melba Vicuna acquired the 2.3-hectare property, it was a family retreat place where they entertained friends. When friends of friends came to enjoy the river with its cascading falls and gurgling pools, crowding the property on weekends and summer holidays, the couple said it was time to put some order in the visits.

“We started with a hut, then another. From the rentals, we built two cottages and a kitchen. Our house maids cleaned the area and served the guests. My wife and I ran the kitchen,” said Florante, fondly called “Tengy” by everyone he meets.

The picture of a happy crown enjoying the river and the picnic area caught the attention of a banker. “He was from a development bank in Dumaguete and he had come to the rive to enjoy the day. He said – ‘come to my office on Monday and I will give you a P500,000 loan’.”

That funded the other facilities in Forest Camp which now includes four family cottages for overnight guests, five huts for day picnics, a large two-storey hut for functions, two nature pools, a cascading waterfalls, hanging bridge and landscaped gardens.

To keep the theme of the forest – and to keep costs low – all structures are made of bamboo, which is plentiful in the island. Hut designs – created by the Vicuna couple reflect traditional architecture which allows the mountain air to cool the rooms and the surrounding gardens to “color” the mood. For example, windows made of bamboo mats, swing out – to bring the outdoors in. In one cottage, the windows the family room run from the ceiling to the height of a bamboo ledge, which doubles as day beds or benches for eating.

The centerpiece of Forest Camp is a quaint – but stiff and safe hanging bridge which connects the reception area to the picnic grounds. Crossing the bridge brings the visitor to the original attraction of the place—a cascading falls pouring into a gurgling river that meanders across Valencia town.

Although most guests come to just enjoy Forest Camp, others have made it a stopover for a trek to Mt. Talinis or to nearby Casaroro Falls, a 90-foot cascade secluded by steep rock walls.

“Demand has overtaken our development. We have to close our gates and turn back many guests during Holy Week and summer vacation,” Tengy said. But expansion is on its way. The excavation for another natural pool is almost complete and other areas have been cleared for day huts.

“We call this an example of ‘sustainable development.’ We build new facilities from the revenue we get from existing facilities. In between those activities, I supervise the landscaping of the gardens,” he said.

And what of landscaping themes? “I group plants and stones in one place and if it doesn’t look good, I pull them out,” is his simple landscaping rule.

The rule obviously works because in that part of the foothills of Mt. Talinis, the forest still blooms.

If your path takes you to Negros Oriental, make time to enjoy Forest camp. It’s only 11.5 kilometers (or 20 minutes by car) from Dumaguete City. No special vehicle is needed to go there because the roads are good; just bring a special curiously to check the view of the Great Outdoors in that part of Mr. Talinis. (; or e-mail forestcamp@mail).



Text by Johannes Chue, Photos by Pinky Colmenares

It is the city mentioned in pages of books or in spirited conversation between writers. It is the city that is bounded by boulevard and populated by a people comfortable with books around them. It is called a “writers haven,” “University town,” and the “city by the sea,” and so on because it is a place etched in the memory of those it enchants. And it goes by the name Dumaguete.

For writers or for those who seek artistic inspiration, Dumaguete’s boulevard – with the Silliman University as backdrop -- is the perfect place. It is “perfect” because writers are able to come up with a plot outline, a character’s name or a dramatic ending for a story while strolling along the boulevard.

I was skeptic the first time I heard that story. But who will disagree? Dumaguete is the city that hosts the annual Silliman Creative Writer’s Workshop, undoubtedly one of the most prestigious workshops in the country. Conceptualized by the late Dr. Edilberto Tiempo and wife National Artist Edith Tiempo, the workshop produced the who’s who in the Philippine literary scene. It created a reputation of honing a greenhorn into a wordsmith, and aside from the writing awards, a fellowship in that workshop says your work deserves “a second look.”

Even my professor, the poet Marjorie Evasco who graduated from Silliman, speaks of Dumaguete as a sanctuary for writers. She would pause for a while, and look very far and say how that place has inspired her. And because of this several lines and pages of poems, stories and plays were dedicated to the boulevard and the city where it belongs.

Writers sand songs of praises to Dumaguete even if it they were just momentarily there. And they wrote lengthy passages extolling the boulevard as if underneath the concrete path lies an “inspiration magma.” One such praise is from Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo’s issay entitled “The Legend that is Dumaguete” in her book “Coming Home.” She writes: “But everything in Dumaguete, I discovered, is by the sea. Sea breezes drift through my memories of that first season in that languid university town.”

Then I had the chance to find out for myself if the boulevard is really what they say it is. How different is it from other boulevard in the country? I had that question in mind six years ago when I was invited to attend a seminar for student journalists in Silliman.

It was early morning and I clearly remembered the Bethel Guest House, though we didn’t stay there because we stayed in a dormitory. That is supposed to be the starting point of the stroll along the boulevard.

With the lull of early morning sea breeze, the mild heat of the sun and the soothing sound of rustling acacia trees, it was a perfect day to discover the boulevard.

Well, my group was not alone. There were several locals doing brisk walks, jogging or dong calisthenics. And since we were a group, and obvious Manilenos at that, the people gave us a second look while some even greeted us with warm smiles.

I cannot help but wonder why this boulevard stretch is different from others. There are the usual stalls --- which mushroom more in the evening – selling cigarettes, candies and native delicacies. There are kids, some half-naked, running around calling out to one another in an unfamiliar language.

After less than an hour of lazy strolling, sun burnt and all, we had a collective feeling of endearment – and memory – to the place. Sitting in one of the concrete benches while sipping Coke, I talked with a fellow writer about a story concept that I want to develop into a short story. Soon, other members of the group joined in the conversation. And we found out that another one brought a poem with her and would like to read that aloud to the group.

While she was reading her poem, the passersby didn’t give us a weird look, sneered at us or made side remarks. Instead, they let us feel that we are not making an unusual scene. You can feel their sense of respect towards artists and writers.

In that moment, I came to a personal conclusion that it is the collective high regard of the people towards writers that make Dumaguete a “writer’s haven.” Yes, the sea breeze cools, the magnificent view awes. But for writers, it is the “humanity” of the locals that makes it more inspiring for writers to stay for a long while in the boulevard.

That’s why when I came back to Dumaguete after winning two Palancas, I feel I’m comfortable with the people around me. They do not question me what a Palaca is if it’s a military citation or an award given by a local barangay. They don’t make me feel that I’m weird because I chose to become a short story writer and not a nursing aide. Some of them even ask for pointers and tips. I also met people along the way who showed me their poems or stories. My only regret is that I can’t have a slot in the Silliman workshop because my medium of writing stories is in Filipino. But I can always find my spot in the boulevard to create another story and find inspiration among the waves, sit on top of a concrete bench and feel the respect of the people.


Macrina Ramos Fuentes is the face behind an adventure in Negros Oriental.

As the moving force of 14 year-old Orientwind Travel & Tours, Macrina has become an expert in organizing itineraries that make tourists leave with a feeling of “a connection” with the locals. The success of those tours – from the sober city tour to the exciting dive, trek or cave exploration – has resulted in a chain of satisfied clients who now form Orientwind’s word-of-email advertising.

Her understanding of what makes a good adventure comes from a simple thought: To help a client have a good journey. And it is supported by a complex idea: A vision through the tourism groups where she is an active member. At present, she is the president of the Negros Oriental Association of Travel Agencies; director of the Provincial Tourism Council; and vice-chairperson of the Planning and Development Regional Tourism Board. As a columnist in the local newspapers, she advocates a tourism that “will not compete withCebu, Bohol or Siquijor.”

“It is that kind of destination that will evoke a spiritual experience that starts as soon as the visitor sees the skyline and shoreline of Dumaguet,” Macrina wrote in the Metropost newspaper.

With a woman like Macrina, those are not thoughts flying in the wind. It has become her major challenge – to put Negros Oriental in the tourism map as “an eco-tourism destination that will showcase a balance between environment and development, shared by spiritually aware locals.”

Macrina learned to be strong-willed from the angry waves of Tanon Strait. As a fishfarmer for more than 20 years, she had battled its furious waters by planting mangroves and fortifying the dikes. A mini mangrove forest provides the buffer in most portion now but relentless force of the sea is a perennial battle that she continues to fight.

Now a tourism advocate, she works with the same strong will, starting with the local tours she designs for domestic and foreign tourists. To sustain tourism efforts during the lean months, Orientwind Travel joins the WOOW Select Consortium which packages special three-day-two-night tours to various destinations in the country. This year, the consortium designed “Sweet deals and pure indulgence” packages which include various activities for the travelers.

Naturally Macrina is in the middle of the “WOW Select Sweet Deals” campaign. Visitors traveling on that tour package in Negros Oriental will likely take the journey with Macrina – as she is the one who puts together the cultural and heritage tour.

Other “pure” indulgence” activities of the program are health and wellness (sps); and sports and adventure (diving, snorkeling, trekking, wall climbing).

And that is the way she implements her simple and complez visions, which she now shares with her family. Husband, Vic, operates a resort in a neighboring island; daughter Sanda and son Sande, run Orientwind with her. Her son Sande also operates the family restaurants – Labas and Hayahay.

In our brief meeting, we found that Orientwind has become the wind beneath Macrina’s wings.

(“The WOW Select Sweet Deals” includes 3-day-2-nights in an aircon room; daily breakfast, round trip airfare via Air Philippines or Asian Spirit; land or boat transfers; a “pure indulgence” program. Destinations are: Boracay, Manila, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu City, Dumaguete, Baguio, Bacolod City, Batangas, Puerto Galera, Camiguin, Subic, Bohol, Puerto Princesa, Davao and Palawan.)



Text and photos by JOHANNES L. CHUA
Cruising Magazine – November 2004

The journey is long and arduous. Fourteen kilometers of rough road which jolted us from a deep nap lulled by the smooth 30 – km road from Dumaguete City up to the junction where the sign – To Antulang Beach Resort – changed our pace.

Located south of the city, Antulang Beach Resort is hidden deep in the woods. Every turn you take, you wonder if the next turn I Antulang’s entrance, or if the cove up ahead is the resort’s beach from. Finally, we get there, but the almost deserted place makes you think you may be in the wrong place.

A guided tour by resort manager Tonton Cena or by your personal butler Shabs, will change all that. You will discover why the resort is at the end of the beach; it’s designed to be a very private world for couples – or for workshops where the organizers want a truly captive audience. It is the only resort in the Visayas with private pool villas, suites and cottages equipped with heated outdoor Jacuzzis, satellite TVs, DVD/audio players and mini-bars.

Antulang’s charm is the unique sea view. Since the property sits on the edge of cliffs, its walls embroidered by the lapping of the waves, guests have the view of an endless sea, sprayed wvery so oftern by the mist of waves that rushed to the cliffs too fast. Behind that view are gardens with bright-colored bougainvilleas, an infinity swimming pool and exclusive rooms positioned right at the cliffs’ edge.

After reviewing all the cottages – Seaview, Garden view, Deluxe – you will realize how privileged the guests must be at the Pool Villa or even the Presidential Suite. They will have a commanding view of the endless sea, a monopoly of the sound of the waves and the amenities of a five-star hotel The Presidential Suite sits on top of a cliff while the Pool Villas will give you a feeling that you’re sitting on top of the world!

You will be amazed how a structure like this appeared “out of nowhere” in the rustic south of Negros Oriental. There seems to be nothing to do there, but that’s because the place seems so isolated. Except if the guests are water people, they’ll find time to dive (Antulang has a dive shop), snorkel, kayak, or even a cruise to the famous Apo Island or nearby Tambobo Bay. Or the ones who feel romantic for solo adventure can walk a concrete path that winds along the jagged edges of the cliff-where one can find a picnic bench in a truly isolated corner, with a chameleon resting above the cave-like wall.

If the guests are not in the mood for outdoor adventure, they can stay indoors and rent a DVD. But then if they don’t want to do anything at all they can rest by the pool and claim the exclusive view, cool breeze, and the sound of the waves. Antulang Beach Resort is a member of the WOW Select Consortium, which offers until December 15, a “Sweet Deals” promo of a 3-day, 2-night stay, daily breakfast, round trip airfare and a heritage tour.

For inquiries, call 035-2258899 or e-mail:




Text by Pinky Colmenares / Photos by Johannes Chua
Cruising Magazin-November 2004


Looking like generic Philippine products, the handicrafts that are produced by the Negrenses in the oriental part of the island come from a long process dictated by tradition and simplicity.

There is no handicraft that is produced only in Negros Oriental. Pina cloth’; abaca-based fashion accessories and tableware; stonecraft in boxes and houseware; bamboo products like house décor and kitchenware – all these are also made in other parts of the country. Yet, if you are able to take a peek at the process that produced its handicrafts, you’ll understand how patience has produced folk art.

Stonecraft like boxes and home décor come from a tedious process of shaping semi-precious stone – meticulously sized and polished a dozen times, and each piece hand-painted to form a Filipino scene.

Traditional pina cloth – costing about P600 per yard from the source – come from pineapple leaves which are scrapped, braided by strand, and woven by a hand loom.

Abaca-based crafts like bags, mats and home décor, are products of abaca strands braided and rolled individually, then tied and sewn to take on a function.

Bamboo products – from trays, kitchen ware to building materials – are cleaned, hardened, shaped by hand, with an eye for details.

These are the souvenirs that have given livelihood to small communities. Today, some of these have graduated from being known only as “souvenirs.” They are now elegant handicrafts that have been invited to sit on the shelves of the high-end boutiques in Metro Manila and other parts of the world.


Perhaps you must have been attracted to a varnish-shiny jewelry box in a boutique – the most familiar item in the showroom of the Negros Oriental Arts & Heritage (NOAH) in Bacong town, next door to Dumaguete City. That is a product of stonecraft, a labor-intensive manufacturing process that uses semi precious stones like Philippine jade, multi-colored corals, petrified wood and other fossilized stones in various colors. It is a product borne out of “God’s plan,” as Mrs. Divinagracia Yee, 62, shared with us.

The process to complete it smallest item like the jewelry box takes about a week; while a larger piece like a console table can only be finished in a month! About 150 artists-craftsmen are employed to work on the items which involves the meticulous shaping of each piece of stone which will be laid according to its color, inside aluminum linings to form a design. That is only the beginning of the long production that will create new life out of those stones. Polishing the whole picture by hand, then painting color to make the whole picture, and a series of quality checks to perfect the details, follow. Finally, the stonecraft is ready to sit in NOAH’s showroom – where the jewelry box carries no hint of the hundreds of small stones that shaped the whole picture.

Naturally, the items are expensive, but you understand that after a tour of the factory at the back of the showroom. Jewelry boxes come with tags from P1,500 to P25,000! So you can just imagine the price tags of the console tables, mirror borders, fruit stands, lampshades.

It is easy to get emotionally attached to a stonecraft product. The jewelry boxes have the air of heirloom pieces – something you would pass on to your daughter or son.

The story behind the stonecraft will make an heirloom of every product from NOAH.

According to Mr. Yee, the craft was started by an ordinary stone, where she had written a verse from 2 kings 3:17. desperate with bankruptcy at their doorstep (their businesses were being foreclosed), they were searching for a new venture.

A house guest had seen the inscription and preached its message to a Christian group, and from there they understood that the verse was God’s answer to their prayers.

Experimenting on ways to literally turn stone into cash, the couple – Romulo and Divinagracia – began producing stonecraft. That was 20 years ago. From exhibits in local and international trade fairs, NOAH’s stonecraft products have found their places among the best crafts from around the world.


There is nothing new about pina cloth, except perhaps that more intricate designs are embroidered on it to make a traditional Filipino dress elegant. Otherwise, the process to weave the pina cloth remains as it was years ago when our ancestors wore them as regular clothes.

This is the lesson you will learn from the showroom and factory of the Hiniosang Katawhan sa Bantayan (HIKABAN) a cooperative of 305 handicraft producers.

The process starts with the pineapple fruit, whose leaves are scrapped to look like fiber. These are dried, then tied together one stand at a time to form like thread, which then finds itself in the hand loom to be woven into the finished pina cloth.

The cooperative displays its products in local and national trade fairs where it has been noticed by designers and export buyers. The elegant and expensive barong cloth sold in Tesoro’s and Rustan’s are made of their pina cloth, Enriquita Alcayde, HIKABAN showroom manager said.

The more saleable products, though, are the abaca-based items which are cheaper. Exporters have been cleaning their shelves of abaca-based items like throw pillow covers, placemats and bags. By this time of the year, the sinamay cloth, used for Christmas décor and holiday wrappers, become their bestsellers.


Local and foreign craftsmen have joined the handicraft trade. Ms. Stella Lisama, owner of Orient Gifts, now has a shop in Dumaguete City. We walked in to find her in the middle of crafting a bag from floral pieces of abaca weave. Her products are distinguished by the flowers that form a bag, tableware, or home décor.

The products in her shop also come from small communities where she found unique pieces that carry the patience and creativity of the Negros Oriental people




Text by: Pinky Colmenares Photos by: Johannes Chua
Cruising Magazine – November 2004
Pages 4-5

The slogan, coined by multi-awarded writer, now provincial tourism operations assistant, Bobby Villasis, says in just one word – naturally – the province’s effort to “keep the sights as pristine as when we found it.”

The effort starts with the word “preservation” instead of “development” – which Bobby said is the provincial government’s thrust for its ecotourism program. Rich in forests and marine life, the province is aware of what has put it along the tourism highway.

“The province’s tourism effort is to keep everything as natural as it should be. We discourage private developers from building concrete structures within the nature sight. Tourists come to enjoy what nature has to offer, so we keep the trails friendly, but still rough. We keep the concrete roads far from the sights. And we don’t build structures next to the lake or the falls,” Bobby explained.

Although the “naturally” credo is not an absolute rule (there are some very developed resorts that remind you of the movies) – it is reflected in most of the provinces tourist spots. On top of this list is Apo Island, which is a protected landscape and seascape.

“A very aggressive mayor – supported by a vigilant ‘bantay dagat’ – strictly imposes rules on keeping the area natural. For example, they only allow a low num of divers daily, so as not to stress the seascape,” Bobby explained.

The Apo Island is a rocky islet about 45 minutes by motorized banca from Dauin town. It has been named one of the 10 best dive sites in the world.


The showcase of the provincial government’s tourism development program under Gov. George T. Arnaiz is the Twin Lakes project in Sibulan. Work is already ongoing in the area but stops a few kilometers from the lake.

“The provincial government has improved the main access road to the Twin Lakes; is contrasting a visitor’s center, restrooms, food shops, viewing decks and picnic sheds. A place for the butterfly sanctuary has also been identified,” Florante Vicuna, a volunteer consultant in the project, explained to us when we visited the site.

The Twin Lakes is composed of Lakes Balinsasayao (76-hectare surface) and Danao (30-hectares), separated by a narrow ridge and completely surrounded by a forest. The area is known to have one of the highest degrees of biodiversity in the region. It is also one of the province’s major watersheds.

The road from Dumaguete City to Sibulan town is well paved. From the junction where you turn to enter the forest, an all-weather road winds up to the Twin Lakes, 1,040 meters above sea level. The route shows off a magnificent view of the mountain, forest, Tanon Strait and the silhouette of Cebu Island.

As planned, the road nearing the Twin Lakes becomes too rough to be negotiated by two-wheel drive vehicles – encouraging people to park and walk up the path.

The first lake that will greet the visitor is Lake Balinsasayaw, where one can hire a banca to roam the still water, or go deep into the forest, to the ridge which separates the Twin Lakes.

Vicuna said they will be creating “middle-age-friendly” trails too, to encourage more than just the young back-packers to enjoy the Twin Lakes area where unspoiled nature will reward the visitor’s effort to walk the trail!

Mt. Talinis, the site of the Twin Lakes, also attracts its share of tourists. Its elevation – 5,900 feet – invites regular climbs with a major organized trek every September. Overnight camping is recommended to allow the visitors to enjoy the panorama, the wildlife, rare ornamentals, unique landforms, flora and fauna.

At the foothills of Mt. Talinis, nearer to Forest Camp Resort, is Casaroro Flls, a 90 – foot cascade secluded by steep rock walls. Although we ran out of time to visit the place, we were told that a 350-plus step concrete staircase had been built to allow easier access.

Canlaon Volcano, which separates the occidental from the oriental provinces, is more accessible from Canlaon City in Negros Oriental. Rising 8,085 feet from sea level, it has a “summit collapse caldera of about 15 square kilometers, and old craters from previous eruptions.” Canlaon Volcano is among the five most active among the country’s 21 volcanoes – so watch out for hot springs, mudpools and sulfur emissions. The Canlaon National Park has almost undisturbed forest cover. Inihawan Enchanted Falls is a popular destination.

In the recent years, Negros Oriental was known for dolphin watching in Bais Bay. The cruise along Tanon Strait allows tourists to watch the dolphins and occasionally, pygmy sperm whales. A tour package includes a boardwalk trek through Talabong Island, a mangrove island of about 300 hectares. This is the province’s last remaining important mangrove wetland. As a side trip, tourists are taken to the White Sand Bar, a strip of beach which vanishes during high tide.


Dumaguete City, the capital of Negros Oriental, lies in the middle of eastern Visayas. It is accessible from Cebu Island and Bohol Island by fast ferry, motorized banca or roll-on-roll of vessel. It is serviced by Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific which has regular flights from Manila. From Dumaguete City, you can take an airconditioned bus to Negros Occidental. The trip to Bacolod City takes five hours and costs about P250.00



The Philippine Star - Business
Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The province of Negros Oriental is poised to further cement its claim to being the hub for information and communication technology-based businesses in the country in 2005.

In a recent press conference held at the provincial capitol, Governor George Arnaiz recalled that the provincial government over the past year had embarked on a campaign to position Negros Oriental as a prime location for ICT-based businesses.

The result of this campaign was the establishment of SPI Technologies, a US-based pre-press company, of an outsourcing facility in the export processing zone of Bacong town. Other potential investors also visited the province last year, attracted by its hih level promotion efforts.

Arnaiz said the best thing the province could offer ICT investors is its excellent fiver optic network that connects practically all the towns and cities of Negros.

“I am told that the fiber optic network system in place in the province, which was established by Isla Communications in the late 1990s, is rivaled only by that of Germany,” he said.

In other developments, Arnaiz has set his sights on saving P65 million by end 2005, buoyed by the province’s net savings of P24 millioin 2004.

He said they were able to give cash to the provincial employees totaling P8 million.

The secret to generating savings was in keeping at lest 100 positions vacant, the governor noted.

The province was recently conferred the Galing Pook Award for its Barangay Agricultural Development Center Program and the Green Banner Award in Central Visayas for its nutrition feeding program.

For 2005, the provincial government will field the Buglasan festival as its entry in the Galing Pook Awards, Arnaiz said.

The Buglasan festival, held annually in October, showcases the various festivals of the 25 local government units in the province and is dubbed Oriental Negros’s “festival of festivals.”

“Judging by the past achievements of Negros Oriental and the Oriental Negrenses, this early, I can say that 2005 will definitely be a good year for our province,” Arnaiz said.



Metro Post – February 06-12, 2005
By: Gilbert R. Arbon

Like most everybody else, I received the news that the Central Azucarera de Bais (CAB) has resumed regular operations-after a labor-induced paralysis-with a sense of relief. After all, the factory workers’ strike, if it had gone on much longer, would have possible pushed some planters to bankruptcy and a horde of jobless and hungry farm workers to murderous desperation.

The strike at the oldest sugar central in this province, in fact, has sent shock waves to the local economy. And that was just for one sugar mill. Imagine what hell could ultimately break loose if all three sugar mills in the province were forced to shut down indefinitely in the midst of the milling season.

Considering the strategic importance of the sugar industry to the provincial economy, the recent industrial conflict should serve to jolt our local leaders (especially in government and business) from their business-as-usual mode. For all we know, the sugar industry may be dying, and the strike was not just a symptom of a debilitating disease but also a signal for help. What this disease is, it is our responsibility as members of the community to know.

Here we have an opportunity to discover new insights and develop new approaches regarding the future of our sugar industry. Let us not waste it. The strike may be over, the cont5roversy may be dead. If so, let us not bury it yet until after a thorough post-mortem has been conducted. I, for one, would like to know the real reasons why the unionists at CAB risked losing their means of livelihood, and harming the goose from which they—and so may others—get their eggs. Was the strike all about money? Was it about justice?

Questions lead to more questions. Could the strike have been prevented at all? Is there something wrong with the system at CAB? Is the problem unique to CAB, or common to all three mills? Questions such as these ought to be asked, whether in open forums or in closed-door sessions, especially by those who are in a position to craft public policy or steer the economic directions of the province.

Perhaps, in such discussions or debates, people will begin to see the local sugar industry in a new light. So long have we been accustomed to the old orthodoxy-the idea of having large tracts of land planted to just one crop sugar-year, and of having three corporation-owned giant mills, and of these mills producing mainly refined sugar, and of this sugar being sold to foreign markets-that it seems difficult to even imagine abandoning it. But it can be done.

What if a way could be found to reduce sugarcane area, thereby freeing land for more essential crops such as rice that we even have to import, while maintaining present sugarcane production levels? What if, instead of thee large mills, we have a number of small yet highly efficient sugar processing plants inside plantations so that transportation costs could be reduced? What if, aside from sugar, we also start producing sugarcane juice, fuel, good packaging and other non-traditional sugarcane-based products primarily for domestic consumption? And what if the people were given more stake in the sugar industry’s development through cooperative ventures and profit-sharing schemes?

These questions may sound heretical. But it there’s one thins our traditional and decrepit sugar industry needs right now, it’s probably heresy. In the long run, orthodoxy will prove to be its undoing.



Philippine Daily Inquirer – Sunday, December 05, 2004
By Alex Pal PDI Visayas Bureau

DUMAGUETE CITY – President Macapagal-Arroyo has accepted the invitation of Negros Oriental Gov. George Arnaiz to grace the National Agro-Trade Fair and Congress in Bayawan City.

The President is scheduled to visit Bayawan City on Tuesday at 3 p.m.. She is expected to deliver a brief talk and return to Manila that same day, Arnaiz announced Friday.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap will deliver the keynote address during the opening ceremony that will be held one day earlier.

With the theme “Dynamic Agriculture Sector Builds Strong Government,” the agro-trade fair and congress, co-sponsored by the Central Visayas Agriculture and Fishery Council and the Department of Agriculture and Fishery Council and the Department of Agriculture Region 7, will serve as a venue of exchange of new ideas and trends among stakeholders including input suppliers, producer-farmers and traders.

Bayawan City, headed by Mayor German P. Sarana Jr., is spending P2 million for this activity. “We want to position ourselves as the agriculture center of Region 7 and help our farmers learn modern techniques in raising cash crops,, said Bayawan City Vice Mayor Rene Gaudiel.

Highlights of the fair include the Bayawan Rodeo Competition on Dec. 08. There will be contests on fresh milk drinking, piglet catching, wood chopping, load carrying, cock carambola, bull riding, whip cracking, a banca race and fish catching contest.

Other lectures and demonstrations will be on topics like meat processing, management of pests in vegetables, the potentials of the production of essential oils, production of hybrid rice, the effects of aflatoxin on corn, market access, investment and tariff barriers and a cold chain system for fruits and vegetable.

Speakers include engineer Burt Llanto, director of the department of Science and Technology, who will speak on mango and jackfruit processing; Dr. Hernani Golez, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry, on the cultural and integrated pest management of mango; Dr. Edwin Villar, director of the Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development, on the production of goat; Prof. Rene Rafael Espino of the University of the Philippines Los Banos, on tissue culture system in Bananas,, and a director of the US Agriculture Trade Office who will review the bilateral relationship in agricultural trade and development between the Philippines and the United States.



The Philippine Star – C4 Sunday
December 05, 2004
People/Events – Editor: TONY F. KATIGBAK

The agriculture sector – whose contribution to the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) in 2003 stood at P200 billion – will converge at Oriental Negros tomorrow, Dec. 06, for the National Agro-Trade Fair and Congress.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap will keynote the huge gathering, which will run City, Oriental Negros. With will run from Dec. 06 to 10 in Bayawan City, Oriental Negros.

With the theme “Dynamic Agriculture Sector Builds Strong Government,” the Congress will serve as a forum for burning issues confronting this sector that represents 20 percent of the country’s entire GDP.

The fair will also be a fitting venue for a productive exchange of new ideas and trends among stakeholders, including input suppliers, producer-farmers, and traders, according to George Arnaiz, governor of Oriental Negros, host to the Congress.

“We are supporting the initiative of Bayawan City as this in line with our goal to promoted agro-tourism,” Arnaiz added.

The Oriental Negros gathering presents a powerhouse battery of speakers – notably: Sen. Richard Gordon,,, Gove. Arnaiz,,, Agriculture & Marketing Service National Director Salvador Salacup, Agriculture Regional Director Eduardo Lecciones Jr., Bureau of Post-Harvest Research & Extension Director Ricardo Cachuel and Ernesto Quiamco, head of Provincial Agriculture and fishery Council Oriental Negros.

University of the Philippines Los Banos Prof. Rene Rafael Espino will reveal scientific breakthroughs about tissue culture system in bananas, while Dennis Voboril of the US Agriculture Trade Office will review the bilateral relationship in agriculture trade and development between the Philippines and the US.

The five-day congress and fair will have briefings and lectures from speakers like: Rene Burt Llanto, director of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) who will speak on mango and jackfruit processing; Dr. Hernani Golez, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry, on the cultural and integrated pest management of mango; and Dr. Edwin Villar, director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture,, Forestry & Natural Resources and Development, on the production of goat.

Other lectures and demonstrations will be on topics like meat processing, management of pests in vegetables, the potential of the production of essential oils, hybrid rice production, the effects of aflatoxin on corn,, market access, investment and tariff barriers, and a cold chain system for fruits and vegetables.

Highlights of the fair include the Bayawan Rodeo Competition, which will be held on Dec. 08. There will be held on Dec. 08. There will be contests on fresh milk drinking, piglet catching, wood chopping, load carrying, cock carambola, bull riding, whip cracking, lassoing on foot, and lassoing horseback, a banca race, as well as a fishcatch contest.

Registration fee for congress participants is P1,500, including lunch and snacks during the five day affair.

Agro-trade exhibitors will be assessed P1,000 for a 4 x 5 meter booth.

The national agro-trade fair and congress is a joint undertaking of the local government of Bayawan City, headed by Mayor German Sarana Jr., Region 7’s Agriculture and Fishery Council, and DA-7.

More details can be acquired from the Bayawan secretarial at tel. no. (035) 5310020 or the RAFC secretariat in Cebu at (032) 2540969.



MetroPost January 30 to February 05, 2005

SIBULAN, Negros Oriental - Sibulan Mayor Antonio Renacia has pledged to continue addressing the needs of the poor with the goal of “propping up the poor to a higher level-to the middle class level.”

In his state of the Municipality Address (SUMA) delivered Wednesday before the members of the Sangguniang Bayan at the SP session hall here, the mayor said that his administration would seek to maximize production and ensure food security by providing technical assistance to the farmers and fisherfolks and encourage them to use modern techniques and equipments.

He also encouraged Sibulanon agricultural stewards to farm even the hilly terrains using contours farming as flat agricultural lands are slowly converted to residential, commercial or institutional use.

“Cooperative farming shall also be encouraged in order to address the problems on lack of lands and of capital” said the mayor, as he committed that the GPAK program of Governor George Arnaiz for schools shall also be adopted in the barangays where folks are encouraged to plant vegetables as well as raise tilapia in their backyards.

But he warned that he is not in favor of providing subsidies as he wants farmers and fisherfolks to develop self reliance.

The mayor also committed the creation of more livelihood opportunities in order to increase the income of the people specially the women sector and the out of school youth.

To augment the continuing health and nutrition program, Mayor Renacia emphasized the campaign of massive enlistment of the barangays to the PhilHealth program and accessibility of basic health services.

To complement the basic programs, the mayor also said that through his leadership, the town shall open more farm to market roads and improve existing ones.

He also said that for this year, the town government will also construct a bridge connecting barangay Camanjac in Dumaguete to barangay Calbanugan in Sibulan, as well as an overflow connecting barangays Magatas and Calabnugan.

A construction of the diversion road from Bunao to Booc-boloc to Tubtubon and will connect to Diputado Street in the Poblacion is also in the offing to ease traffic congestion in the national highway from this town to Dumaguete City (Edmund Sestoso)

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