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Jun 22, 2008

Eestern Visayas loses close to P900M in crops, infra

By Joey A. Gabieta with a report from Jani Arnaiz, Inquirer Visayas - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- Close to P900 million worth of agricultural crops and infrastructure was damaged in several towns in Leyte due to typhoon "Frank," the Office of Civil Defense in Eastern Visayas reported on Sunday.

Angel Gaviola, regional director of the OCD-8, said that based on a report their office received as of Sunday, a total of P888.550 million of agriculture and roads and bridges were destroyed when "Frank" unleashed its fury last Sunday in Eastern Visayas.

He said losses in the region could still go higher considering that they had yet to receive damage reports from other municipalities in the region, particularly in the three Samar provinces.

But based on the initial report, the town of Isabel, Leyte, sustained the heaviest loss of P620 million in damage to agriculture and infrastructure, followed by the town of Kananga with a combined loss of its agriculture and infrastructure at P241.70 million.

The town of Capoocan reported a P5.4-million infrastructure damage; Bato, P10.2 million in damage to agriculture and infrastructure; and Jaro, P1 million in infrastructure damage.

Five-year-old Jhon Kenneth Gomez, a resident of the village of Libertad, Kananga, Leyte, drowned at the height of the typhoon while his one-year-old brother, Christian, was reported missing, Gaviola said.

The OCD-8 also received reports that two still unidentified persons, each from the towns of Matag-ob and Merida, both in Leyte, died due to drowning. The OCD-8 report did not provide data on these two incidents.

A total of six persons were reported missing, mostly fishermen, from the Leyte towns of Tanauan, Matag-ob and Abuyog, the OCD report said.

In Albuera, also in Leyte, three fishing boats worth P2 million were destroyed by big waves.

A passenger vessel with Bato-Cebu destination sunk at the Bato port. There were no reports of persons injured yet as of Sunday.

Another vessel in Hindang town in Southern Leyte was beached to prevent it from sinking, said Maasin City Coast guard officer Petty Officer One Michael Moreno.

He also said at least 240 passengers and 40 vehicles in a Liloan Ferry on Panaon Island were stranded. Eight vehicles in Hindang and about 20 people were also stranded by the typhoon.

Jun 22, 2008

'Frank' winds topple power poles in Samar, parts of Leyte

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- Samar Island and parts of Leyte province, including Tacloban City, are now in darkness after strong winds toppled electric poles across the region and caused a massive power failure.

Signal No. 3 remains hoisted over Leyte, the three Samar provinces and Biliran Island as Typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen) continued to ravage the region.

The typhoon, packing winds of up to 140 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 170 kph, was in the vicinity of Western Samar or 50 km southeast of Catbalogan City at 4 p.m. Saturday, according to the latest weather bulletin from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Rey Gozon, administrative officer of Office of Civil Defense in Eastern Visayas (OCD8), said that the blackout affected Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Samar provinces between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. when strong winds and heavy rains brought on by Typhoon "Frank" started toppling electric poles on the island.

Tacloban City and many towns in Leyte lost their electricity shortly after 1 p.m., Gozon said.

Many areas in Tacloban City are now submerged in ankle-deep water but there was no report yet of massive evacuation, although city disaster officials have already urged residents in low-lying and coastal areas to start leaving for higher grounds or take shelter at the nearest barangay (village) hall or public school.

At least 321 passengers bound for various points in Luzon also remained stranded at the Looc port in Allen, Northern Samar, Gozon said.

The beams of the amphitheater being built by the city government of Tacloban also collapsed after the canvass covering the construction site filled with water and fell.

Jun 22, 2008

Two fatalities reported in Eastern Visayas due to 'Frank'

By Sharon Evite

ABS CBN News - Philippines

Two fatalities due to typhoon "Frank" have been reported in Eastern Visayas of Region VIII Saturday.

One of the fatalities was identified as Ronilo Sabusap.

Reports said that Sabusap was last seen alive picking coconuts near a river in Palanog in Barangay 103 in Tacloban City. A boy bathing in the river later reported the floating body of Sabusap who was believed to have drowned.

Meanwhile a fishing boat was reported to have sank off Marabot town in Eastern Samar.

Of the 19 fishermen aboard the vessel one was reported to have died while 14 have been rescued. Four of the fishermen were still missing as of posting.

The survivors were brought to Hinamok island in Basey town.

Meanwhile two fishermen were also reported missing in Tanauan town in Leyte province. Three other fishermen who reportedly went out to attempt to search and rescue the two were reported to have been swept by huge waves. Their situation was unknown as posting.

The powerful typhoon which brought strong gusts also destroyed several structures that were being prepared for the holding of Tacloban City's fiesta.

Among these were the P10 million worth Balyuan Ampitheater, the Astrodome stage in Balyuan Park and some food stalls. The nightly events scheduled before the celebration have been cancelled.

Tacloban City was also hit by a power outage Friday night as electric posts were toppled by the typhoon. Power was being restored Saturday.

Jun 21, 2008

Fatal disease afflicts water buffalos in Samar

By Vicente Labro - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- At least 65 carabaos or water buffalos were reported to have died in a recent outbreak of hemorrhagic septicimea in Samar.

Leo Cañeda, regional executive director of the Department of Agriculture here, said 42 carabaos have died of hemorrhagic septicimea (hemosep) in Lapinig, Northern Samar and 23 other carabaos succumbed to the same disease in the adjacent town of Arteche, Eastern Samar.

Cañeda said the DA-8 regional disease surveillance team left for Lapinig on Thursday while a team of veterinarians from the provincial governments of Northern Samar and Eastern Samar were sent to the area a day earlier.

He said the veterinarians have already started a massive vaccination of carabaos in those two towns to prevent the spread of the disease.

"According to a report of my staff, it is already under control and that there were no further mortalities," he told reporters here Saturday.

Cañeda said the working animals became susceptible to hemosep due to climate change or when they became overstressed from heavy and long period of work or from lack of food to eat.

According to Cañeda, it has been over a week since the first occurrence of the disease and that there was a time when about 15 carabaos died of the disease in just a day.

The regional agriculture chief, however, could not say how many villages of these two towns were hit by the disease.

But he emphasized that with the veterinarians already there, they would conduct a massive vaccination drive to form a buffer zone.

Cañeda, however, said the occurrence of hemosep was not new in the region especially in Northern Samar.

In October last year, about 140 carabaos succumbed to hemosep when an outbreak of the disease occurred in Las Navas town. The province of Northern Samar was also hit by a hemosep outbreak in 1994.

Hemosep is a bacterial disease, specifically a bacterial invasion of the bloodstream, that usually strikes carabaos when these animals are overworked or exposed to stress. Sudden change of weather, heavy rainfall and work overload are the main reasons why carabaos become susceptible to the disease.

The disease is contagious to animals but not to humans, and the spread of the disease is very high among ruminants, according to Cañeda.

Cañeda said he ordered his field men to advise farmers to report immediately unusual deaths in their areas and to immediately bury dead animals to prevent the spread of the disease.

He also directed the veterinarians to initiate the holding of a massive information drive and to conduct continuous surveillance and monitoring of the health condition of carabaos and other ruminants in those areas.

Jun 21, 2008

3 killed, thousands flee homes as typhoon hits Visayas

Reports from Joey Gabieta, Vicente Labro, Carla Gomez, Jhunnex Napallacan and Nestor Burgos Jr. - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Heavy floods and landslides forced thousands of residents on the islands of Samar, Panay, Negros and in northern Cebu to take to evacuation centers as typhoon Frank (international codename: Fengshen) wrecked havoc across the Visayas Friday and Saturday.

The three provinces on Samar Island, Biliran, Leyte, Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Negros Occidental and most of northern Cebu have been without electricity since Friday after strong winds spawned by the typhoon toppled trees and electric poles.

At least three persons, two in Negros Occidental and a fisherman in Leyte, were killed while at least 26 fishermen were reported missing after two fishing boats -- one with a crew of 19 and the other, 22 -- capsized near Marabut, Samar, on Friday and near Tactloban City early Saturday morning as typhoon "Frank" unleashed its fury in Eastern Visayas.

All but six of the 19 crewmen of the F/B Luzmivin were rescued in separate villages in Basey town in Samar, which is just across Tacloban City.

F/B Luzmivin was already on its way home to Tacloban City when it capsized close to Dio Island in Tacloban City around 2 a.m. Saturday, due to big waves caused by the typhoon's 170 kph winds.

Emeterio Catindoy, a member of the crew from Barangay Olot, Tolosa, Leyte, probably got so weak that his companions said he lost grip on an improvised lifesaver, got separated and drowned, according to Police Officer 2 Tito Gaddi of the Basey police. Gaddi said Catindoy's body was found floating near Barangay Bacubac in Basey by village watchmen at around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday.

One of the fatalities in Negros Occidental, identified as Perlita Sanipa, 40, reportedly died after a whirlwind hit her home in Barangay Molocaboc, Sagay City shortly before 6 p.m. Friday, according to reports reaching the provincial disaster coordinating council (PDCC) in Bacolod City.

The whirlwind destroyed 16 houses and damaged 83 others, the PDCC reported.

The other victim, Teresita Campos, 8, drowned while crossing a flooded stream at Barangay Sta. Rosa in Murcia, Negros Occidental, the PDCC said.

Also reported missing was Norberto Meniano, who went out to catch crabs on Friday morning and failed to return home in Leyte.

A fishing boat with a crew of 22 was also reported to have capsized near Marabut, Samar on Friday, according to Angel Gaviola, regional director of Office of Civil Defense in Eastern Visayas (OCD8), quoting a report from the Tacloban City Disaster Coordinating Council.

Of the 22 on board the fishing boat, one was rescued near Barangay Rawis in Basey, Samar, identified as Jojo Casimero, while another one was picked up by a passing vessel. They others were still missing, the report said.

"OCD is now closely coordinating with Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard Tacloban Station for possible Search and Rescue Operation," said the report that Gaviola send to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Saturday.

At least two main road sections in the towns of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental were closed to all types of vehicles Saturday after series of landslides at key road sections at dawn, the PDCC report said.

Bridges located in Carigara town and the Santo Rosario-Villaba section, both in Leyte, were rendered impassable due to heavy flooding, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways in Eastern Visayas.

In Tacloban City, the disaster coordinating council reported that it has provided for 741 families or 4,446 persons from 20 villages who evacuated on Friday to schools, day care centers and other evacuation centers in the city.

Floods also displaced 99 families or 495 persons from eight villages in Ormoc City; 85 families or about 500 persons in Carigara, Leyte; and 8 families or 48 persons in Naval, Biliran.

In Negros Occidental, 1,461 families or about 5,443 individuals were affected when floods inundated 10 towns and cities, including Bacolod City.

In Cebu, floods reaching up to 6 feet displaced 150 families from Barangay Paypay in Daanbantayan town, according to Daanbantayan Mayor Luisa Loot.

The number was expected to be higher with a number of areas unable to report as telephone lines were down, said provincial welfare officer Liane Garcia.

In the City of Baybay, Leyte, around 3,000 families or 18,000 persons were affected by landslides while around 700 families were displaced by floods in the towns of Balangiga and Maydolong, both in Eastern Samar.

Electricity has been restored in many parts of Tacloban City since Friday evening, but some areas where electric poles were broken by the strong winds are still without power.

OCD 8 reported that on Friday, several low-lying areas in Eastern Visayas were flooded and that commuters were stranded in bus terminals as buses and jeepneys had suspended their trips.

Mobile phones in some areas could not be contacted due to bad weather condition, OCD 8 reported.

At least a thousand commuters were likewise stranded at the ferry terminals in Allen, Northern Samar due to the bad weather.

At least 58 vessels bound for Bohol, Negros and Leyte also remained stranded in Cebu City ports after Coast Guard authorities barred them from leaving port since Friday.

A child died in Pres. Roxas town in Capiz when a tower of Globe Telecommunications fell on a house.

Another man from Barangay Amaga, Sigma, Capiz, died when hit by a falling tree.

Two fishermen were also reported missing in Olotayan Island in Roxas City. Their identities have yet to be known.

Almost all barangays in Capiz, particularly lowland villages, were under water, and some families had moved to evacuation centers.

There was no power in the province since 3 a.m. Saturday.

Jun 21, 2008

NFA 8 makes available high grade rice in Tacloban markets in July

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- National Food Authority Region (NFA) 8 Director Ben Marta said that upgraded rice will be made available in Tacloban market at P25.00 per kilo.

Director Marta, however, was quick to add that the cheaper P18.25 per kilo NFA rice will still be available in the NFA accredited outlets all over the Region, for the benefit of the poor constituents.

Director Marta informed the P25.00 per kilo NFA rice is of better quality and variety. Still at that price, the government is losing because of the "buy high, sell low policy," in order to make rice accessible to the poor communities.

The P25.00 per kilo NFA rice which will be made available only at the Bigasan sa Palengke, is comparable to the commercial rice which is now sold at about P33 to P34 per kilo.

Poor people who want to avail of the better quality rice will now have access to it through the P25.00 NFA rice while people who cannot afford it could still avail of the cheaper P18.25 NFA rice.

There is available cheap NFA rice in the Region, Director Marta assured the people of Region 8. There is no need for the people to panic.

In fact, Director Marta revealed that he has already requested for the doubling of the allocation for Region 8.

An inspection of NFA warehouses and markets was conducted at Catbalogan, Samar early on June 17, by Cabinet members led by Political Adviser, Secretary Gabriel Claudio, PMS Asec Fernado Cui Jr. and Asec Ian Norman Dato, together with top NFA Region 8 officials, Catbalogan City officials led by Mayor Goefredo Uy and members of the media and the Philippine Information Agency Region 8.

The inspection showed that the NFA warehouses are full and that the NFA rice is available and is being sold and readily accessible in the market at P18.50 per kilo.

Jun 21, 2008

The inspiring story of
"The Almeria Seafarers Cooperative"

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- At this point in time when a great number of Filipinos are in dire poverty and remain in that state despite government support and intervention, the story of the Almeria Seafarers Multi Purpose Cooperative stands as a refreshing and inspiring success story.

In a Media Forum honoring the outstanding Overseas Filipino Workers in Region 8, a petite young woman stood out not only because of her looks but because of the story she bears - that of a cooperative which was able to put into good use the "Groceria Project" of the Arroyo Administration to become the Best Groceria in Region 8.

The young woman is Anita Corto, the manager of the Almeria Seafarers Cooperative (ASEMCO). Ms. Corto said that the Almeria Seafarers Multi Purpose Cooperative was organized by seven seafarers and their wives in 1994 with an initial capital of P12,600.00 assets and 42 regular members.

Today, ASEMCO already has 232 regular members and 1,416 associate members and has over P57 Million assets.

Starting on providing financial products such as deposits and loans, ASEMCO opened a pre-school learning center in June of 1999 with the aim of providing quality early childhood education.

When the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) launched the Government's Groceria Project in 2004, the Cooperative availed of the grant of P50,000.00 worth of grocery items to OFW groups.

Thus, the ASEMCO Groceria and Meatshop was made available to the members and to the community as a whole. The Groceria was inside the office of ASEMCO.

After one year, the Groceria moved to a rented place. Today, the ASEMCO Groceria and Meatshop already has an asset of P600,000.00, Ms. Corto revealed.

Today, 14 years after its birth, ASEMCO has purchased a lot and has put up a three-story building where the Groceria is located now. The building also houses the ASEMCO Office with 18 regular staff. The cooperative is in the process of hiring additional employees.

Through the years, ASEMCO has helped in the growth and development of the municipality of Almeria and the neighboring towns. The Cooperative has made available credit facilities to over 1,400 borrowers who totally availed of about P39 Million loan portfolio through its microfinance, salary loans, honorarium loans and Small and Medium enterprises for OFWs and their families.

ASEMCO has entered into pre-school service contracting service with the Department of Education and is now providing pre-school service to seven public pre-schools.

Meanwhile, the ASEMCO Learning Center has expanded into a private elementary school this school year.

Furthermore, ASEMCO also engages in various programs for the welfare of its members in the community through its Scholarship Program, Pamaskong Handog, medical mission and Balik Eskuwela program.

Indeed, ASEMCO has gone a long way not only in securing its members and their families but also in inspiring people to replicate its fete towards a sustainable economic development.

Jun 21, 2008

Typhoon Frank dampens festivities in Tacloban

Philippine Information Agency

TaclobanCity -- At least 450 families have already been evacuated and the number is rapidly increasing, no less than Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez informed the Philippine Information Agency.

Typhoon Frank wrought heavy rains and strong winds causing floods and still undetermined total damages to properties in the city of Tacloban and the nearby municipalities.

Initial reports had it that a number of electric post toppled down and the others inclined causing power failure at noon of June 20. As early at mid-morning, power failure was already felt in Eastern Samar, reports from the Province revealed.

Even the Tacloban Ampitheater which has been newly-built at Balyuan Park was toppled down by the strong gusty winds. The Ampitheater was speedily built in time for the Tacloban City Fiesta on June 30, to be the venue of the Sangyaw Festival on June 29.

Reports of lack of potable water in several areas of the City, was also reported. Houses particularly along the seashores were reported to have partial damages.

Mayor Romualdez has mobilized the City's rescue team and the staff of the City Social Welfare and Development Office in order to take care of the needs of the evacuated families, including hot food.

Mayor Romualdez assured that the City Government under his leadership, is on top of the situation and has been monitoring and evacuating people in the flood-prone areas of the City to the identified evacuation centers.

Earlier, several government agencies in the City cut short their office hours in order to rush home as the typhoon was observed to be getting stronger and street started to become flooded.

Jun 21, 2008

Typhoon threatens Mindoro, Panay islands

ABS CBN News - Philippines

Tropical Cyclone Frank (international code name: Fengshen) has moved westward for the past six hours and is now threatening Panay and the Mindoro area instead of Quezon province and the Ilocos region, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Saturday.

Typhoon signal no. 3 has been declared over Lubang Island, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Romblon, Marinduque, Masbate, Burias Island, Calamian Group of Islands, Aklan, Northern Antique, Capiz, and Northern Iloilo. These places will experience winds of 100-185 kph, PAGASA said.

Typhoon signal no. 2 has been declared over Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Southern Quezon, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Northern Palawan, Cuyo Island, Samar provinces, Biliran Island, Leyte, rest of of Antique, rest of Iloilo, Northern Negros Occidental, and Northern Cebu, the weather bureau said. Winds there will be at 60-100 kph.

PAGASA said typhoon signal No. 1 has been lowered over the rest of Palawan, Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, rest of Quezon, Polillo Island, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Metro Manila, rest of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, rest of Cebu, Bohol, Southern Leyte, and Dinagat Island.

In a press statement issued at 5 am, PAGASA said Typhoon Frank was located 70 kms south of Masbate province or 60 kms northeast of Roxas City, Capiz province.

Typhoon Frank has maximum sustained winds of 140 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 170 kph.

PAGASA said the typhoon dumped 300 millimeters of rainfall over Catbalogan and Tacloban where winds reached 100 kph. In Roxas City, rainfall reached 153 millimeters where winds reached 75 kph.

In an interview over dzMM, Dr. Anthony Golez, spokesman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) warned storm surges and flash floods may occur in provinces that will be hard hit by the typhoon.

Typhoon Frank is moving west northwest at 15 kph and by Sunday morning is forecast to be 70 kms West of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.

If it continues on this path, by Monday morning it will be at 200 kms west northwest of Iba, Zambales and by Tuesday morning will be 370 kms west northwest of Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

Public storm signals in areas not mentioned have been lowered but residents in low-lying areas and near mountain slopes are advised to take all the necessary precautions against possible flashfloods and landslides, PAGASA said.

It has also issued warnings that Typhoon Frank might cause big waves and storm surges in the coastal areas covered by signal 2 and 3.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised by PAGASA to take appropriate action and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 a.m. today.

In an interview over dzMM, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro said provincial and municipal coordinating councils have been activated in the areas where the storm is expected.

"I am confident we can cope," she said, citing increased level of awareness.

Jun 20, 2008

'Frank' knocks out power on Samar island, parts of Leyte

By Ephraim Aguilar, Lira Dlangin-Fernadez, Joel Guinto, Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- (UPDATE) The entire island of Samar and parts of Leyte province, including this city, were plunged into darkness after strong winds brought by typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen) toppled electric poles across the region.

In the Bicol region, which Frank is expected to hit after it leaves Eastern Visayas, Albay Governor Joey Salceda has ordered the "preemptive evacuation" of 32,000 families living in the lahar zones along the gullies of Mayon Volcano, 114 pre-identified landslide-prone villages, and flood plains or low-lying areas. Earlier, he had ordered classes at all levels in the province suspended.

Rey Gozon, administrative officer of Office of Civil Defense in Eastern Visayas (OCD8), said that the blackout affected Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Samar provinces starting from 1 p.m. Tacloban City and many towns in Leyte lost their electricity shortly after 1 p.m.

Many areas in Tacloban City were also submerged in ankle-deep water but there was no report yet of massive evacuations, although city disaster officials have urged residents of low-lying and coastal areas to start leaving for higher ground or take shelter at the nearest barangay (village) hall or public school.

At least 321 passengers bound for various points in Luzon are stranded at the Looc port in Allen, Northern Samar, Gozon said.

In the Bicol region, a total of 744 passengers are stranded in three ports. Aside from the passengers, 22 trucks, seven small craft, and four vessels have also been stranded at the Tabaco International Port, Matnog Port, and Masbate Port, Ensign Jeffrey Collado, operations assistant of Coast Guard Bicol, said.

The beams of the amphitheatre being built by the city government of Tacloban collapsed after the canvass covering the construction site became waterlogged and buckled.

Telephone services have also been disrupted and OCD officials are relying on handheld radio and cellular phones to get in touch with provincial, city and municipal officials in the region.

However, many cellular phones could no longer be contacted because owners had nowhere to recharge their batteries due to the massive power failure.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

At 4 p.m., the eye of the storm, which packs maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour (kph) with gusts of up to 170 kilometers per hour near the center, was located in the vicinity of Western Samar, 50 kilometers southwest of Catbalogan City, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

PAGASA director Prisco Nilo, said Frank "will more or less make a small U-turn and will be crossing Samar then move to Bicol then Aurora and Isabela and Cagayan."

The storm is forecast to cross Samar Island throughout Friday and will be over Camarines Norte province on Saturday afternoon, 50 kilometers northwest of Baler town, Aurora province by Sunday afternoon, and 30 kilometers northwest of Laoag City by Monday afternoon, PAGASA said.

It is moving northwest at 19 kph.

Public storm signal number 3, meaning winds of 100-180 kph, has been raised over the Camarines provinces, Albay, Burias Island, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, the Samar provinces, Leyte, and Biliran Island.

Signal number 2 is over Quezon, Polilio Island, Marinduque, Romblon, northern Cebu, and southern Leyte; while signal number 1 was raised in Aurora, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, the Mindoro provinces, Metro Manila, Antique, Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo, the rest of Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, the Negros provinces, Guimaras, Dianagat Island, and Siargao Island.

The storm is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon, bringing monsoon rains to southern Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao, PAGASA said.

Metro Manila can also expect to experience monsoon rains.

Residents in low-lying areas were warned against flash floods while those in coastal areas were warned against big waves.

Earlier, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the National Disaster Coordinating Committee activated to make sure measures are in place to avert casualties and assist families that may be affected by the typhoon.

Jun 20, 2008

Whale sharks frequent visitors to Leyte

By Vicente Labro - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- This city's fishery law enforcement team has appealed to people here not to harm whale sharks that have been sighted more often in San Pedro Bay.

Noel Ligtas, chief of the city's Fishery Law Enforcement Team, said gentle whale sharks have been coming here to feed particularly in an area of San Jose district.

Ligtas, who said that he saw the giant fish in the middle of 2007 in that area, said residents and picnickers at a beach resort panicked when they saw a whale shark in San Jose last Sunday.

He said the whale sharks should not be harmed because their presence would help boost the city's tourism industry.

Hubert Labanan, 42, married and a member of the Bantay Dagat (Sea Watch), said that whale sharks have been frequent visitors to the sea near their village of Baloc 1.

Labanan said his first encounter with the whale sharks was in 2006 when he was diving at their payao (artificial reef).

He recalled that the whale shark was eating tiny shrimps, which abound in the area.

In 2007, Labanan said he saw three whale sharks separately near their village, all of them swimming close to the surface of the water.

Last April 9, while the Bantay Dagat was launching their "payao" project, Labanan said they saw a whale shark longer than 20 feet swimming nearby.

The whale shark is locally known as "burohisan," "tiki-tiki" in Southern Leyte and "butanding" in Sorsogon.

Labanan said he and other residents also saw a whale shark at different times last week.

Despite its appearance, whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is harmless to humans. Scuba divers are known to clamber over its body unmolested.

Solitary in nature, the whale shark reaches over 15 meters in length and its weight may exceed 10 tons.

Jun 18, 2008

Typhoid downs 20 people in Eastern Samar

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- At least 20 persons have been afflicted with typhoid fever in a village in Hernani town, Eastern Samar.

Dr. Benefrida Bacunawa, the municipal health officer of Hernani, said they did not know yet the source of the water-borne disease but suspected it could be an open spring, the main source of drinking water of Barangay (village) San Miguel.

"Our sanitary inspector, Eden Basada, right away went to the village to inspect the source of their drinking water and at the same time advised the people there not to drink without boiling or chlorinating the water first," Bacunawa said in a phone interview Wednesday.

She said they learned of the typhoid fever cases in the village only Wednesday morning after several of the victims went to the municipal health office asking for medicines.

She added that based on her interview with some of the victims, they had been ill for the past two to three weeks but it was only on Wednesday that they decided to seek medical assistance from their rural health unit, which in turned referred them to the municipal health office.

The victims' ages ranged from 5 to over 50 years old, she said.

San Miguel, located around seven kilometers from the town proper of Hernani, has a population of about 700, Bacunawa said.

Bacunawa said many of the victims belonged to the same families.

She said the typhoid victims suffered body weakness, high fever, chills, headaches and loss of appetite.

Typhoid fever is an acute illness caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria deposited in water or food by a human carrier. It is contracted by the ingestion of the bacteria in contaminated food or water and treated with antibiotics, according to the website

Typhoid fever may lead to death if the victims are not given proper and immediate medical treatment, Bacunawa said.

Jun 18, 2008

Catbalogan aquaculture sector complains of high cost of production

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The exorbitant increase in the production cost in the aquaculture sector, was one of the major concerns raised by the participants in the recently concluded Forum on Fuel and Rice Security conducted in Catbalogan City on June 17, 2008, conducted by Secretary Gabriel Claudio and his party with the City officials led by Mayor Goefredo Uy, the Provincial Board Members of Samar and Congresswoman of the second district Sharee Ann Tan and the representatives of the academe, national line agencies, and other stakeholders in attendance.

Board Member Jimmy Dy of the Province of Samar disclosed that many of the fishponds in Samar are already closing because of the big increase in production cost due to increase in the price of fertilizer.

He said that he used to supply the milkfish requirement of Catbalogan and the nearby municipalities but now, most of the milkfish found in the market of Catbalogan is no longer from Samar but from Laguna de Bay.

Even fish cages are very difficult to maintain because of the high price of inputs especially feeds, Board Member Dy said. This is the very reason why those who venture into fish caging also retired, he added.

Another reason why many fishpond owners have closed shop is because of global warming where the seawater level has suddenly gone high.

Board Member Dy said that fertilizer subsidy is being given to farmers, then the same should be given to the aquaculture sector so that they will be able to continue with their business.

He said that no matter how great the desire of the businessmen to help in securing food supply, they cannot afford to be at the losing end all the time because their capital is also very limited.

It would be recalled that Region 8 or Samar province for that matter, is known for its lucrative aquaculture industry.

Secretary Claudio promised that the concern will be transmitted to the agency concerned.

Jun 17, 2008

Transport group in Calbayog requests for fuel discounts being enjoyed in other places

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The P1 fuel discount for Public Utility Jeeps is not yet being enjoyed by the transport sector in Calbayog.

This is one of the issues raised during the Forum on Fuel and Rice Situation which was conducted in Calbayog on June 16, 2008, with Secretary Gabriel Claudio of the Office of the Political Adviser, PMS Asec Fernando Cui Jr and Asec Ian Norman Dato in attendance.

Mayor Sarmiento confirmed that there are no DOE Lanes yet in Calbayog City, so the concern of the Transport sector representative is very valid.

The transport representative also requested that the same discount be made available to the public utility motorcycles especially because the fare rates has not yet been increased.

Infact, the representative said that the Tricycle operators and drivers are already contemplating on requesting the Sangguniang Panglungsod for a fare hike because the total increase in fuel this year already amounts to about P18.00 per liter and so if the daily consumption is 10 liters that is already P180.00 deduction to the earnings of the tricycle drivers.

Secretary Claudio acknowledge the validity of the concern and he promised that the matter will be transmitted to the Department of Energy for appropriate action.

Secretary Claudio said that the reason why President Arroyo directed the Cabinet members to go to the Regions is for her to know the concerns of the people in the various Regions of the country.

The Forum in Calbayog is the first to be held in the Region. After Calbayog, Secretary Claudio and his party will go to Catbalogan on the 17th and to Tacloban on the 19th to attend the Expanded RDC meeting.

Jun 16, 2008

200 fall ill over foul meat in Eastern Samar

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- More than 200 have fallen ill after eating food distributed during a fiesta celebration in a village in Hernani town, Eastern Samar, a health official said.

Hernani municipal health officer Benifeda Bacunawa said the 200 residents of Barangay (village) Carmen complained of "common manifestations" of food poisoning, such as dizziness, abdominal pain, loose bowel movement, vomiting and body weakness after eating rice, pansit (noodles) and fish on Saturday.

Bacunawa said around 70 percent of the 200 victims were children.

She said of the 200 "food poisoning" victims, 23 were brought to private and community hospitals in Llorente and 39 were treated at private and community hospitals at General Macarthur towns. The rest went home after they were given medicine by the local government.

Bacunawa said on Monday they had yet to determine the cause of the food poisoning but learned from the victims that the meat mixed with the noodles had a foul odor.

She said they brought samples of the food to the Department of Health regional office in Tacloban to determine what caused the food poisoning.

Bacunawa said that the results of the laboratory examinations would come out within the week.

She also said they had yet to identify those who provided the apparently spoiled meat.

Jun 13, 2008

Enrolment in Region 8 increases by 40%, DepEd reports

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- Department of Education (DepEd) Regional Office 8 Director Sol Matugas happily informed that initial reports reaching her office disclosed that enrolment in elementary and high school levels in the Region has increased by about 40 to 50%.

Even the enrolment in Grade I increased by about 40%, which is good news because this is plus factor in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal on education for all.

The disclosure was done during the 110th Independence Day Anniversary celebration in Ormoc City.

Director Matugas attributed the increase in the enrolment of student in the Region to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's directives on no payment of enrolment fees and the no uniform policy.

Director Matugas together with the DepEd 8 Regional Monitoring team has been going around the Region since the start of classes on June 10, in order to monitor the start of classes in Region 8.

Director Matugas bared that because of the increase in enrolment additional classrooms and teachers are needed. This means that the number of lacking classrooms and teachers have increased.

Director Matugas, however, assured that the Department of Education is doing its best to solve the concerns of the various schools in the Region.

There is always a solution to the problem, Director Matugas said, depending on the innovativeness of the teachers and the school administrators.

Jun 12, 2008

General says NPA can be reduced not eradiated by 2010

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines -- The commander of the Philippine Army in Eastern Visayas has modified his goal from completely crushing the rebels operating in the region to reducing them to an insignificant force by 2010.

"We cannot totally eradicate them. The ideology will still be there. But we'll reduce them to an irrelevant or inconsequential group, which could not hamper development in the area," Brigadier General Arthur Tabaquero, commanding general of the Catbalogan-based 8th Infantry Division, said on Thursday.

However, he said the military would give their best efforts to end the insurgency problem by 2010 as directed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Tabaquero, who took over the command last June 4 from Major General Armando Cunanan, said the anti-insurgency campaign would be heightened in the three Samar provinces, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and western Samar because Leyte has been "cleared of the insurgency."

The Armed Forces has been mixing combat with civic operations, such as dental and medical missions, in remote villages. The Philippine Army in the region will also implement the Army Literacy Patrol System that includes literacy and livelihood programs in the villages.

Tabaquero urged residents in the region, as well as local government units, to help the anti-insurgency campaign. "We have been saying this all along -- that solving the insurgency problem is not just the role of the military but also involves other sectors. This is a team effort," he said.

Communist rebels in Eastern Visayas are among the most active in the country.

Interviewed on June 4, during his formal assumption of the division's command, Tabaquero said defeating the communist rebels in two years was achievable and that everything is in place to meet President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's deadline for crushing the 39-year-old communist insurgency by 2010.

"We can achieve it. We will do it. That is our commitment; we have laid down the plan. All we have to do is to execute the plan by our field commanders," Tabaquero said.

Jun 12, 2008

PGMA exhorts Filipinos to keep alive 110-year legacy of RP heroes

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- On the occasion of the 110th Anniversary of Philippine Independence, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called on the Filipinos to keep alive the legacy of the Filipino heroes, solidarity, sacrifice and singular purpose, with which they brought forth a new nation.

"With the same love of country binding all Filipinos, we too shall achieve for the Philippines and all its peoples the blessings of freedom, justice and progress, and our esteemed place among the great nations of the world," the President stressed.

In her video clip that she recorded June 9 (Monday) from the grand hall of the Malacanan Palace Museum, President Arroyo reminded the Filipino people how "a century and a decade ago today, our revolutionary forefathers braved superior arms and the privations of war to break the chains of colonialism and stand proud among the free nations of the world, Asia's first republic."

"Today, as we celebrate with pride that historic moment, we take stock of what we as a nation have achieved with unity, audacity, sacrifice and patriotism, and we look forward with hope, to what we shall claim for our national future," the President added.

Paying tribute to the Filipino people and the homeland President Arroyo said, " Our people are enterprising and welcomed everywhere, as quick learners and hardworkers who are also generous of spirit to strangers and friends alike."

With that the President underscored that "we remain bullish on our country, optimistic about our future and deeply committed of being a force for good," as she called on all the Filipino people to join as one in the march "to a collective tomorrow for the motherland, for our families and for the generations to come."

Jun 12, 2008

E. Visayas profits from
'holiday economics'

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Eastern Visayas benefited from the government's holiday economics as shown by the increase in local tourist arrivals in 2007.

Department of Tourism (DOT) records showed that local tourists who came to Eastern Visayas rose from 189,645 in 2006 to 211,505 in 2007.

DOT regional director Karina Rosa Tiopes said more domestic tourists visited destinations within the country due to longer rest days instead of just staying home to watch TV.

Tiopes said records showed that tourist arrivals in the region surged during the long holidays.

"So there is really a positive side to the economic holiday being implemented by our government," Tiopes said on Tuesday.

Tiopes said the region's tourist attractions included the MacArthur National Park in Palo town, Leyte; the Sto. Niño Museum and the sequestered "summer residence" of the Marcoses, both in Tacloban City; several caves like the Sohoton National Park in Basey, Samar; and beach destinations like the Calicoan Island.

Calicoan Island has been promoted as the region's version of world-famous Boracay.

Tiopes said the tourism industry in Eastern Visayas still lags behind Central Visayas (Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor) and Western Visayas (Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras and Negros Occidental) but the rising tourist arrivals in the region already indicate that local tourism is getting "very, very vibrant."

She said DOT hoped that its aggressive campaign would bring in more tourists to the region.

<<< JUNE (22-26) 2008 NEWS



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