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Sep 25, 2008

Thousands more attend
healing mass in Tacloban

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The two-day healing mass conducted by Father Fernando Suarez ended yesterday with its organizers claiming overwhelming success.

However, a 50-year old man died while he was falling in line in the hope that he would be blessed and be cured of his ailment by the so-called healing priest.

Eugene Tan, president of the Pintados Foundation and one of the groups, which organized the two-day healing mass of Father Suarez, said that they were happy with the turn out of the crowd.

"While we have anticipated that we will have a big crowd for the two-day event, we never thought that we will have this kind of big number of people coming to the Santo Niño Church to see and hear Father Suarez," Tan said during an interview.

And in a radio interview aired over DyVL, Father Suarez himself said that the response of the people was "overwhelming."

He then urged the people to always believe in God whom he said the real "Healer."

The number of people who attended the healing mass of Father Suarez was placed by Tan at more than 20,000, many of them coming from various parts of the region.

About 75 policemen from the city police station were deployed to help control the huge crowd, with several rescue groups attending several people who have fainted while waiting their turn to see Father Suarez.

Tan also said that about 405 persons volunteered their services during the two-day healing mass.

"We would like also to express our gratitude to our people who cooperated with us which resulted to an orderly and peaceful flow (of the occasion)," he added.

But yesterday's last day of healing session of Father Suarez was marked with the death of a 50-year old man from Barangay Lukay, San Miguel town.

SPO1 Andrew Roca, desk officer of the city police station, identified the victim as Ricardo Mendiola.

Based on their initial investigation, Mendiola arrived at the Santo Niño Church, the site of the two-day healing mass of Suarez, around 5 o'clock in the morning.

"But apparently, he was so exhausted and have not eaten his breakfast coupled the fact that he appeared to be sick could have led to his death," Roca said.

Records at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, where Mendiola was brought by police officers, declared him dead on arrival around 7:25 am.

His remains were brought to a funeral parlor for his relatives to claim.

A security officer of the EVRMC, who asked not to be identified, said that one Fe Docena, who was also among the thousands of people who attended the mass, was the one who identified Mendiola.

"According to her (Docena), the victim was single and was suffering from diabetes and tuberculosis," the security guard said.

Tan said that they felt sad on the death of Mendiola.

But police officer Roca said that the area where the healing mass was held has remained peaceful and orderly despite the throng of people attending it.

People coming from all walks of life were attracted to his two-day healing mass.

Former Mayor Marietta Porciuncula and now vice mayor of their town of Capoocan, Leyte, said that she went to the Santo Niño Church on hope that Suarez could help her recover from the diabetes and "all the physical pains and discomforts that I am suffering."

"But of course, no amount of healing will not be effective if it is not coupled with a personal faith," she said.

Gorgonia Jayme, 60 year old and had suffered hip fracture two years ago, swore that she feels better now after Father Suarez blessed her.

"I feel better now though I cannot walk yet," Jayme, a resident of Barangay San Jose, Dulag, said.

Sep 25, 2008

City ENRO to set up
Tacloban mini zoo

By Eleanor A. Eder

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The City Environment and Natural Resources Office here in cooperation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) started implementing the project called Tacloban City Mini Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Center (cum Regional Wildlife Rescue Center).

"Actually, this project proposal was just approved by City Mayor Alfred Romualdez two weeks ago," Jonathan Hijada, the City ENRO department head, said.

This 50 hectares project located at Tigbao-Diit Watershed Area of Barangay Salvacion in this city will serve as the temporary repository of the abandoned and confiscated wildlife species in order to conserve the bio-diversity and will help fight the rampant illegal trading of endangered species in the region as stated in the Republic Act 9147 known as Wildlife Resources Protection and Conservation Act 2001, Hijada explained.

The said project is being technically supported by the DENR, DA, and the City Veterinary Office like feeds, medicines and other services needed to ensure the welfare and the well-being of the species.

"As of now, we are conducting site identification and surveying, site preparation and structural planning, wildlife assessment. We are also preparing the feeds and the medicines needed and we are also conducting seminar-workshops in order to have an effective information dissemination of the said project," Hijada added.

"We are looking forward for the success of this project in order also to have an eco-tourism spot in our region which is essential for the students," he said.

Sep 25, 2008

"Icot-Icot" offers
inexpensive city tour

By Ven Labro

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- If you're in Tacloban and would like to have a quick tour to historical, religious and man-made places of interest in the city and its environs, just hop in into the "Icot-Icot" vehicle.

The "Icot-Icot" weekend tour, which now also operates even on weekdays due to public demand, will provide you a 3-hour guided tour of Tacloban and a couple of nearby towns at very affordable prices.

This tour will, of course, include a brief stopover at some famous sites - the Sto. Niño Shrine and Museum and San Juanico Bridge in Tacloban City and the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park in nearby Palo town.

The tour fee is P100 for the morning trip and P150 for the afternoon trip because this would include a visit to a bucolic farm resort in Babatngon. The amount paid already includes a free ride with a tour guide and the entrance fees at the Sto. Niño Shrine and at the farm resort.

A brainchild of Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, the "Icot-Icot" tour was conceived to provide visitors, and even the locals, an opportunity to visit tourist destinations in the city and nearby towns through a group tour at an affordable price.

"The Icot-Icot tour was launched on September 2007...That time it was just a weekend tour but lately we have clamors for a tour even during week days, so we have to accommodate the others," said Nelieta Baguna, head of the Leyte Tourism and Investment Promotion Center.

Baguna said the tour operation is self-liquidating, for its income is just enough to pay for the driver and the on-call tourist guide as well as for the entrance fees of tourists, not to mention the use of the vehicle and the gas.

But she added that what is important is for visitor to see the beautiful places so they would enjoy in their stay in Leyte and come back either to do business or to have another vacation.

Baguna disclosed that they have plans to expand the tour operation, by including some towns in Leyte in the itinerary.

She said they are targeting Tanauan, Alangalang, Tolosa and Dulag, among others, because these towns, aside from being "tourism assets," are within the rim area of the present tour operation.

"We're happy that many local government units are now very conscious of (their tourism potentials)," she said.

The "Icot-Icot" vehicle, actually a multi-cab that can accommodate around 10 persons, leaves the RTR Plaza in Tacloban City at 9 o'clock for the morning trip and 2 o'clock for the afternoon tour.

From the plaza, the vehicle goes straight along Justice Romualdez street, passing through the CAP building, formerly the Price Mansion, where Gen. Douglas MacArthur resided and put up his headquarters shortly after the landing of the Allied Liberation Forces that he led at Red Beach, Palo, Leyte on October 20, 1944.

At the corner of Senator Enage street, the car turns right passing through the Redoña Residence, a two-storey wooden house along T. Caludio street, where President Sergio OsMeña resided at the early part of the Liberation campaign during the Second World War.

Going straight ahead, the vehicle also passes the Provincial Capitol, which is also a historical building because it was here where, three days after the famous Landing, General MacArthur and President Osmeña announced that Tacloban was the temporary seat of the Commonwealth Government until the country would finally be liberated.

Turning right to Magsaysay Boulevard, the car passes several government buildings such as the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, the Bulwagan ng Katarungan and the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, Tacloban campus.

Also along the boulevard are places of interest such as the Family Park; the statue of the Image of the Crucified Christ; the statue of Maria Kannon, an Asian madonna that symbolizes peace; the Philippine-Japan Peace Park; and the Balyu-an Tower.

Further ahead in Real street is the Sto. Niño Church, the main Catholic church in the city, and then the People's Center and Library and the Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum. The last two buildings were built by former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

The first stopover of the tour is at the Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum, where tourists can take a glimpse of the shrine and the different priceless art objects that are said to be gifts to the first lady during her trips abroad.

The building also has 13 guest rooms of different motifs, a wide ball room, a 20-seater and 30-seater dining tables, and rooms reserved for the First Family in the upper floor.

From the shrine and museum, the tour car speeds away to nearby Palo town for the next stopover at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park. On the way, it passes the city's new Astrodome and the Boy Scout Monument, said to be the first monument of a boy scout in human form that was erected here in 1941, among other places.

At the MacArthur Park, the group can have a brief sightseeing and take some pictures in the historic place. Then the tour proceeds to the San Juanico Bridge, located more than 20 kilometers away, for the last brief stopover.

Then the car - with a Manila-based priest and a group of female balikbayans among its passengers that sunny Monday - goes back to the city proper where the tour ends.

Franz Guiuan, the young tour guide, said many of their customers are out-of-towners and some foreigners. He added though that there are locals who also join the tour.

"This is the kind of tour where they can go to many places at least expense," he proudly said, adding that the tourists have enjoyed the "Icot-Icot" trips during their one year of operation.

By the way, the tour got its name from the Filipino word "ikot-ikot," which means "to go around," and from the nickname of the governor, which is "Icot."

Sep 25, 2008

Man dies at mass of healing priest - Philippines

Tacloban City -- A 50-year-old man died yesterday morning while attending a healing Mass presided by controversial priest Fr. Fernando Suarez.

SPO1 Andrew Roca, desk officer of the city police station, identified the man who died as Ricardo Mendiola, a resident of barangay Lukay, San Miguel town, some 40 km away from this city. Mendiola arrived at the Sto. Niño Church, the venue of the healing Mass, at around 5 a.m. yesterday.

Roca said Mendiola, who appeared to be sick, was reportedly exhausted and could not have eaten breakfast, which could have led to his death.

Based on the records of the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC), Mendiola was already dead when the police brought him to the hospital at around 7:25 a.m. His remains were brought to a funeral parlor.

Eugene Tan, whose group Pintados Foundation organized the mass healing of Fr. Suarez, described Mendiola's death as unfortunate and promised to provide help to Mendiola's family.

Meanwhile, Roca said the healing mass remained orderly despite the huge crowd of attendees.

The healing mass of Suarez has the approval of Archbishop Jose Palma of the metropolitan archdiocese of Palo.

The police estimated that around 10,000 people coming from the provinces of Leyte and Samar attended the healing mass.

The people came from all walks of life, including former Mayor Marietta Porciuncula and now vice mayor of their town of Capoocan, Leyte.

Porciuncula said that she went to the Sto. Niño Church, hoping that Suarez could help her recover from the diabetes and "all the physical pains and discomforts that I am suffering."

Young couple Eileen and Judy Edan also hoped that their four-month-old baby John Lyndon would also be healed from hydrocephalus.

"We are positive that Father Suarez will help cure our baby. We have faith in him," said Eileen, the 24-year-old mother.

Fr. Suarez, in a press conference on Monday afternoon, downplayed his reputation as a "healing priest."

"I am just an instrument of God. He is the one and the only Healer. If He says stop, then I will do so," Suarez said.

Sep 24, 2008

10,000 attend healing mass of Fr. Suarez in Tacloban

With reports from Joe Señase & Cynthia A. Baldesco

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Believing that they would be healed from the physical disabilities they are suffering, thousands of people trooped to the healing mass of Father Rogelio Suarez at the Santo Niño Church.

And a huge crowd is expected today as he ends his two-day healing mass in the city.

Gleceria Fiel, 62, came to the city all the way from her native town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar not only to hear the mass of Father Suarez but also to hope that the ailments she has been suffering for years now would be healed.

"I have been suffering from arthritis and high blood pressure for years now. They say that he can heal that is why I am here," Fiel, who had to withstand heat for about three hours just to get a glimpse of the controversial priest, said.

Tirso Marivelles, who is the sentinel officer of the health office of Tacloban, accompanied his seven-year old daughter Mekhyra, and hope that just like the thousands of people she would be completely healed from her congenital heart problem.

"She had an operation when she was just one month old. As a Christian, I believe in him; that he can perform a miracle for my daughter," Marivelles, who is a son of a noted medical practitioner, said.

Husband and wife Eileen and Judy Edan from San Jose of this city had also to wait for hours clinging with hope that their four month old son John Lyndon would also be cured from the hydrocephalus that he had been suffering since birth.

"We don't really care if we have to wait for hours. We believe and pray that he can cure our son," Eileen, holding her baby close to her, said, unmindful of the sweltering heat.

"Irma," a 53-year old employee of the regional office of the Department of Agriculture, had to skip from her work just to be "blessed" by Father Suarez, hoping that her diabetes would be cured.

"There is no harm in trying. It's just a matter of believing," she said.

And it was her faith to Father Suarez that despite of the fact that her aunt Violeta Entoy, 59, been rushed to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) as she fainted due to exhaustion, Lina Salazar continued to stay and hear the so-called healing priest.

Alipio Abuyme, 56, a government employee, said he sought treatment for his Diabetes and lung problem. "I came here because I believe that I would be healed of ailments that have affected my health for so long," Abuyme said.

Ranulfo Cue Kim Dit, a trader who owns business establishments both in Tacloban and in Dulag, said he came all the way from Dulag (a town 36 kilometers away from this city) to also seek treatment for an ailment.

"I have been suffering because of asthma. When someone from our place told me about the visit, I decided to go here because I know Fr. Suarez can help me," said Cue Kim Dit, as he sat outside waiting for his turn to go inside the church, which by that time, swelled with thousands of devotees.

As early as 7 a.m., several thousands of people, including some in wheelchairs, massed at the church grounds, according to, eyewitnesses.

Supt. Romulo Cleve Taboso, Tacloban City police chief, said that he had deployed around 30 policemen to the site to control the crowd, which had increased to around 10,000 by midday.

Suarez arrived at the church around 8:00 a.m. to a cheering crowd.

Saying the power to heal belongs to Jesus Christ and that he is only a medium, Suarez told them to pray hard for their wellness.

Suarez asked the people to touch the ailing body part and prayed over them.

Alex Montejo, Servants of the Living Word (SLW) coordinator, told the Express that a second healing mass by Fr. Suarez will be held today, Sept. 24, at the same venue.

The SLW, a charismatic movement in the city, along with the Sto. Niño Parish Council organized and sponsored the healing priest's visit to the region.

"Tuesday's healing mass was allotted for the faithful of the Tacloban Vicariate. Today's healing mass is for parishioners outside the Tacloban Vicariate within the Archdiocese of Palo," Montejo said.

He said that Suarez would then motor to Ormoc City on Sept. 25 for a healing mass upon the invitation of Rev. Msgr. Bernard Pantin.

Father Suarez had earlier downplayed perception that he can perform miracles and cure people who are suffering from debilitating diseases.

"I am just an instrument of God," he had said during a press conference minutes after he arrived at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport Monday afternoon.

He added: "When I pray, I don't feel something. For me there's no difference, it's a very ordinary feeling. Those people who I healed, they are the ones who feel the sensation not me."

Suarez is scheduled to meet Archbishop Jose Palma, head of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Palo today, said businessman Eugene Tan, who was one of the organizers of the healing mass of Suarez.

Tan said that they were overwhelmed by the huge response that the healing mass of Father Suarez received from the people.

"Hope he can find some other times and visit us again," he said.

Sep 24, 2008

DYVL, DYDW can now be heard in the Internet

By Joey A. Gabieta

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- In the words of Regional Director Buenaventura Go-soco of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), yesterday marked a history as the two radio stations based this city have "formally entered the field of Internet radio."

Go-soco joined Francisca "Babes" Costudio and Godofredo "Fred" Balbuena, station managers of DYVL and DYDW (Radio Diwa), respectively, in the official "click on" ceremony held at the People's Center coinciding with the Regional Development Council celebration.

Both Costudio and Balbuena said that they were happy that their respective radio stations could now be heard by the natives of Eastern Visayas working in various parts of the world.

The two radio station managers also said that now that their programs could now be heard globally, they would make some necessary adjustments by further improving their respective programs.

"And we would like to extend our appreciation to Director Go-Soco for making this possible," Costudio said.

And in jest, Balbuena said that the competition between the two existing AM stations operating in the city has now extended the world over.

For one to hear programs of either radio stations, all he has to do is to log on at and click to radio online located within the website and choose the preferred radio station.

Go-soco said that it took them five months to perfect the system as it required special software.

"But now, it is okay. It's audible now," the NEDA regional chief said.

He explained that their decision to install the two radio stations online was part of their effort to make people from the region now living and working abroad could still afford to listen local programs.

Two technical and administrative staffs have been assigned by the NEDA chief on a 24-hour basis to oversee the operations of the online radio works.

Sep 24, 2008

Mayor Hagedorn appeals to Taclobanons to push for HUC

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan province, has called upon Taclobanons to seriously take the chance to be independent from the province by being a Highly Urbanized City.

Hagedorn, who gave his brotherly advise to the people of Tacloban, said, " please don't waste this once in a lifetime opportunity to become independent - napakahirap ho ang pagkakataong ito, sayang ang pagkakataon pagkasinayang natin- so I'm appealing to all Taclobanons na pagtulongtulongan natin na maipanalo nga ang Highly Urbanized City."

Mayor Hogedorn, whose city was the latest to become highly urbanized, further said that there is no reason for any Taclobanon to refuse HUC because this is for their own progress and benefit.

After the Lakbay Aral

Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez described the recently concluded educational tour to Puerto Princesa as a very fruitful one - and the expenses is really worth it because he and the whole group had really learned a lot, which could be replicated or even modified here.

According to Romualdez, Puerto Princesa is very large in terms of land area compared to Tacloban because a barangay alone in that city is equivalent to the size of Tacloban- but they were able to developed the city and eventually into a Highly Urbanized City.

So, for Tacloban, he said it is easier to develop because it is a lot smaller compared to Puerto Princesa.
The group also saw the tenement housing provided for the fishermen along the coastal barangays and the excellent management of the Bantay Dagat team. This, and a lot more are the things that they learned in the educational tour.

In a randon interview with several barangay chairmen who participated in the Lakbay Aral, they had a common observation that Puerto Princesa is developed because of the political will of the leaders and the people there are disciplined. In their city tour, they said, they did not see a single cigarette butt or trash on the street- this, they said, all boils down to discipline among the people.

Mayor Romualdez added that Puerto Princesa remains as the cleanest city in the country and its cleanliness drive became more popular in the previous years when Mayor Hagedorn himself was apprehended by his chief of police for throwing a cigarette butt on the street. As the strict implementation continues, even the late Senator Cayetano and now Sen. Rodolofo Biazon were among those who were apprehended for the same violation, it was learned.

Sep 24, 2008

PSC donates P200,000 boxing ring to Tacloban

By Jose Rodriguez T. Señase

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has donated a P200,000 boxing ring to the City Government of Tacloban as a support to the sports development program of the city.

According to City Sports Director Joel Bugho, the donation was made possible through the initiative of Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez.

"Our office, with the support of Mayor Romualdez, recently sent a request to the PSC central office in Manila, and luckily for us the PSC immediately agreed to our request and approved the donation of the very expensive sports equipment," Bugho said.

Bugho said the new boxing ring and accessories that the PSC donated to the city cost around P200,000.

Aside from the boxing ring, the PSC equipment donation also included several sets of boxing gloves, head guard, mouthpiece, head bandage, and foul preventer.

"The equipment and accessories are still in Manila, but I was informed that it will be shipped here soon," Bugho added.

Bugho said that the boxing ring would be assembled and put in place in the soon-to-be finished Balyuan Amphitheater.

"We are very thankful to the PSC for the donation. Before, when we organize boxing tournaments here in the city, we have to ‘borrow' a boxing ring from the City of Ormoc or Burauen," Bugho noted.

"But with the PSC equipment donation, there is no longer a need to ‘borrow' a boxing ring from other places. We could now hold boxing tournaments and continue with our boxing promotion program, the Boxing ha Balyuan Park at the soon-to be completed Balyuan Amphitheater with our own boxing equipment," he added.

Sep 24, 2008

LTO soon to impose new rules for use of motorcycles

By Lemuel Pagliawan

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Land Transportation Office (LTO-8) will start to impose this October a new set of rules and regulations particularly for the use of motorcycle.

LTO-8 Assistant Regional Director Dennis Singzon said their office will already be stricter in implementing this new set of rules and regulations and that the penalties involved would now be much higher compared before.

He said the basis of these new rules and regulations are EO 292 and the Department Order 93-693 series of 1992.

Singzon said motorcycle riders caught without helmet or protective head gear would already be penalized P1,500. He said the helmet to be used should be that which covers the entire head of the rider and approved by the Department of Trade and Industry or DTI.

A fine of P1,000 would be charged for defective accessories and excess of passengers, respectively. He said modification of any part of the motorcycle without permission from the LTO and DTI would also mean a penalty of P2,000.

Singzon also warned those riders wearing flip flops, sandals, or barefooted because they could get a penalty of P500 on first offense up to P1,000 on the third offense or worse is the revocation of the driver's license.

Singzon also reminded motorists not to use cellular phones while driving because this could make them prone to accidents.

He said these new rules and regulations that they are set to fully implement next month is intended to ultimately protect those driving motorcycle particularly.

"This is not to deprive them of their rights or require them of bigger expenses but this is only aimed to protect them because those who will follow and abide by these rules and regulation need not to be afraid of these penalties," Singzon said.

Sep 24, 2008

Old man dies at Father Suarez's healing mass

By Melanie L. Bingco

ABS CBN News - Philippines

A 50-year-old asthmatic man died at the "healing mass" of Father Fernando Suarez in Tacloban City, Wednesday.

A radio dzMM report identified the old man as Ricardo Mendiola of Alangalang town in Leyte province.

The report said the old man died at a hospital after an asthma attack in the middle of a huge crowd at Father Suarez's healing session.

The old man was one of the hundreds of people who flocked to Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban City to witness Suarez's healing power. Several people have been reportedly fainting out of exhaustion while lined up for the priest's healing session.

The priest is famous for his miraculous healing abilities. There were claims that the priest can heal all kinds of sickness by touching and praying over people.

The priest was scheduled to travel to Ormoc City after the healing mass in Tacloban.

Sep 23, 2008

2 popular Tacloban City radio stations go global

By Jonnie H. Buenaventura

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The two renowned radio stations in Tacloban City, the Manila Broadcasting Corporation Radio DYVL Aksyon Radyo and Catholic Media Network DYDW Radyo Diwa is not only confined within Eastern Visayas but globally.

According to Atty. Buenaventura "Junie" Go-Soco, Vice-Chairman Regional Development Council (RDC) and currently the Regional Director of National Economic and Development Authority during the Launching of Online Radio held today at People Center, Tacloban City the putting by the Eastern Visayas Information Sharing Network (EVISNet) to the World Wide Web (WWW) of the two radio stations DYVL and DYDW signaled that information technology creates no boundaries in terms of broadcast that can be viewed and heard thru the internet.

Director Go-Soco further added that the two multi-awarded radio stations who are known and close to the heart of the people of Eastern Visayas and can be heard thru the different parts of the Philippines because of their public service oriented means of delivering information to the public is now globally acclaimed broadcast stations that even the whole world can now access to the programs of this two radio stations that entails the situational status of Region 8.

Director Go-Soco said the EVISNet made a portal to all member agencies of the RDC to be included in the RDC website and extend its technical expertise to help other industry in promoting its products and services to the entire world thus gaining the theme of the RDC dubbed as "Thinking Regional, Going Global".

Francisca "Babes" Custodio, Station Manager DYVL said on her speech that media industry should be an agent of all aspects, balanced reporting should be the prime ingredient in keeping the stations status and respect.

Ms. Custodio commended the effort of RDC leadership, its officials, organizers and members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) for putting DYVL in the World Wide Web free of charge, she said.

Godofredo Balbuena, Manager of DYDW said that it pave the way the local competition between their rival DYVL. The introduction of station DYVL and DYDW in the World Wide Web signaled that their competition is indeed global.

The RDC week will last until September 25, 2008.

On September 24, 2008 the Social Development Committee (SDC) is the host committee chaired by Forter Puguon, Regional Director Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and co-chaired by Racquel Cecilia S. Chua, Executive Director AMA Computer Learning Center (ACLC). Lined-up activities for tomorrow are free haircut, free massage, free registration of solo parents and free registration of senior citizens that will be conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

In addition, the Department of Health (DOH) will conduct healthy lifestyle program thru exercise and other healthy initiatives.

Ms. Dettie Panis owner of Dettie Panis Salon will discuss beauty tips while the Leyte Normal University (LNU) on the other hand will perform a cultural show to highlight the SDC day.

Sep 23, 2008

Thousands expected to troop to Sto. Niño church today

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Thousands of people are expected today to hear the Mass to be presided by Father Rogelio Suarez, acknowledged as a "healing priest."

With the huge number of people expected to troop to the Santo Niño Church, security would be tight to avoid possible untoward incident.

In a press conference held yesterday afternoon at the VIP Lounge of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport, the 41-year-old priest downplayed the reputation that he had built as a healing priest.

"I am just an instrument of God. This is a gift from God, who is the one and only healer," Suarez said.
He said that he discovered his "extraordinary ministry" when he was just 16 years old and reacquainted it 20 years later.

Father Suarez also said that the Masses that he had presided over the past years were not meant to display his gift from God but for them to get closer to Him.

"The Mass in itself is already a (form of) prayer. It is for everybody," he stressed.

Thousands of people have attested that they were healed by Father Suarez by just attending the Masses he had presided.

But despite these testaments, many still doubt his capacity to heal.

Father Suarez, however, said that he does not harbor any ill feelings to those who do not believe in him.

"I am not here to please everybody or pressure them but to become a good example, be a peace advocate and follow God," he said.

"We cannot really avoid people who are skeptics...," Suarez said.

The priest also said that he is not doing his ministry to enrich himself.

"I meet several people along the way who are generous enough. I am not here to enrich myself. I am here to help heal our people," Suarez said.

He added that healing do not only involve physical but even the moral aspect. The priest also made a pitch on environment protection, saying that many that ills the people could be attributed to the destruction of our environment.

The two-day visit of the popular priest was upon the invitation of the archdiocese of Palo; vicariate of Tacloban; Sacred Heart Parish and the Santo Niño Parish.

Sep 23, 2008

Medical groups, LGU launch Your Choice for a Smoke-Free Tacloban City

By Fred Pederson

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Promoting a more healthy place to live in, Mayor Alfred Romualdez has signified his commitment to make the city a "Smoke-Free City" in the near future by having a more stringent teeth to existing ordinance on anti-smoking.

The local chief executive, who was still fresh from his educational tour from Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, also a smoke-free city, spoke before city government employees, medical groups, hundreds of students from Rizal Central School yesterday morning (Sept 22) during the lunching of "Your Choice for a Smoke Free Tacloban City" held at Plaza Rizal. This program was in partnership with the Leyte Medical Society (LMS), Philippine Medical Society, City Government of Tacloban and a group called INSPIRE, it was learned.

During the program, pupils were discouraged from trying and eventually smoking cigarettes and further told to ask their parents to stop smoking (if smokers) and instead double their allowance in school.

According to Romualdez, this is a very good reason to quit smoking not only because the city is pushing for its Highly Urbanization but also for good health of everybody. The mayor who himself does not smoke, disclosed before the crowd that members of the Romualdez older generation died of lung cancer because of smoking- but the experience have taught the younger generation of the Romualdezes not to smoke and live a healthy life.

While there is an existing city ordinance prohibiting smoking in public places, one of the convenors, Dr. Paula Santa Maria of the LMS and INSPIRE, said that we do not need an ordinance that would penalize smokers just to make them quit. Discipline and determination is all that everyone needs to leave smoking behind, she said. This group of doctors strongly opposes cigarette smoking and have forged full cooperation and support to this campaign of Mayor Romualdez.

According to Santa Maria, their group as doctors, are engaged in treatment of different diseases including smoking related illnesses, but she said, that's fine with them if this would result to lesser patients -which would mean, of course, lesser income to doctors. What is important is to save more lives because a stick of cigarette is 13 seconds less of one's life, she added.

Starting from City Hall employees, the mayor had asked them not to smoke in their offices or in the premises of City Hall because very soon, the implementation of the anti-smoking ordinance will be intensified with more enforcers to storm the streets to show to the people that this is a serious campaign of his present administration.

Sep 20, 2008

Mayor Romualdez and party now in Puerto Princesa

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- Seeing is believing.

This is the idea of Mayor Alfred Romualdez for organizing a Lakbay Aral to a highly urbanized city with the Barangay Chairmen of Tacloban from September 17-20 to Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

All the 138 Barangay Chairmen were invited for this 4 day educational tour but for some reasons seven of them did not join.

Upon arrival of the group to Manila on the 17th, they were received by First District of Leyte Cong. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. At dinner time, they were brought to Pancho Victoria in Intramuros where they were joined by MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando, Marikina City Mayor Marides Fernando, Cong. Romualdez, Former Leyte Governor and Amb. Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, former Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo "Bejo" T. Romualdez and Msgr. Dean who blessed the food.

While enjoying the sumptuous dinner,in what Andy Macapagal, a participant, described as set in a very regal, movie comedienne Giselle Sanchez gave them an entertainment followed by a presentation on best practices, benefits, developments of a highly urbanized City based on their experience conducted by MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando.

In his report through Abante Tacloban radio program over DYVL Wednesday evening live from Puerto Princesa, Nestor Nachura, Executive Assistant of the Mayor, said that the barangay executives are learning a lot of things and benefits of being a highly urbanized City.

According to Nachura, Mayor Romualdez and the whole group was warmly welcomed by Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn and his officials. Thereafter, the 131 chairmen were divided into three groups, such as those belonging to coastal, urban and farmlands barangays and were given respective orientation on the best livelihood projects and programs which could be replicated upon their return to Tacloban.

The group were also toured to a very clean and high tech fully mechanized slaughter house in Puerto Princesa which the city government of Tacloban is eyeing to put up in the next years.

According to Mayor Romualdez, Puerto Princesa was the latest city to become a highly urbanized city and has maintained title as one of the cleanest city in the country today. With the all support from different sectors, Mayor Romualdez is very confident that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will declare Tacloban as a Highly Urbanized City (HUC) in the next few days.

Sep 20, 2008

REAL spearheads coastal clean-up drive in Tacloban

Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City -- The Region Eight Administrators League will spearhead a Coastal Clean-up Drive on September 27, 2008 starting at 6:00 o'clock in the morning, at the Port Area up to the Anibong District.

Port Manager Winfred G. Elizalde who is the Chairman of REAL Special Projects Committee, informed that the conduct of the Clean-Up Drive is part of the activities lined up under REAL's Special Projects for 2008.

The activity, Manager Elizalde said that the activity is REAL's contribution to the International Coastal Clean-Up Day on the third Saturday of September and in celebration of the Maritime Week on September 22 to 27.

The Coastal Clean-Up Drive is a part of the annual calendar of activities of REAL, President Flordeliz Menzon, PAG-IBIG Manager in Region 8, said.

Manager Menzon said that the Coastal Clean Up Drive will be participated by the DOTC family, the REAL Member agencies, the Local Government Unit of Tacloban City and the volunteers who have made the annual coastal clean up a part of their yearly activities.

The assembly area will be a the Tacloban Port Area at 6:00 o'clock in the morning of September 27, Manager Menzon disclosed. The coverage of the coastal clean up will be along the Port Area up to Anibong District coastline.

Since this is an annual volunteer activity, the participating agencies will provide their own snacks for their respective participants and shall also bring their own cleaning materials, tools and garbage bag to put the trashes they will gather, Manager Menzon added.

Manager Menzon said that the activity is a way of making all the volunteers both young and old, to be conscious in taking care of the coastal resources, to clean and protect the seas since this is their future.

The sea is a source of staple food for the people. The last thing a responsible citizen should do is to make it its big garbage ground, Manager Menzon underscored.

Sep 20, 2008

Group pushes for tobacco-free RP

By Joey A. Gabieta - Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY -- Cristina, 45, a businesswoman in Tacloban City, has been smoking for so long that she could no longer remember when she started the vice.

She says she could not stop smoking as it helps relieve her tension.

"But now, I am thinking of quitting smoking," says Cristina, who requested that her family name be withheld. She consumes a pack of cigarettes a day.

But until she formally quits smoking, Cristina is among the 33.8 percent of 90 million tobacco-smoking Filipinos, says Dr. Maricar Limpin of the Framework Convention on Alliance Philippines, a coalition of civil organizations advocating effective tobacco control policies for a healthy and tobacco-free Philippines.

The group was in Tacloban this month to launch its "death clock," a 16-feet-by-30-feet billboard on Real and Justice Romualdez Streets. The structure indicates the number of Filipinos who have died from smoking-related diseases. It says: "62,400 Filipinos have died from tobacco-related diseases from the time the Picture-Based Health Warning Bill was Filed in Congress last December 20, 2007."

A "death clock" was also installed in Manila; others would soon be put up in key cities like Davao and Legazpi.

Present during the launching was Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who is a staunch supporter of the antismoking campaign. His grandfather, Don Vicente Orestes Romualdez, the father of former First Lady lmelda Marcos, died of lung cancer.

"My wife, Cristina, was once a chain smoker, but I was able to persuade her to stop smoking (by) saying it stopped me from kissing her," Romualdez says of his wife, actress Cristina Gonzales.

Limpin says that in the Philippines, 240 Filipinos die every day of smoke-related diseases, such as lung cancer, stroke and heart attacks.

"But what is alarming is that those who are smoking are getting younger and younger," Limpin says.

Based on her group's studies, only 15 percent of smokers in 2005 were 13 to 15 years old, she says. "But in 2007, this number has gone up to 21.7 percent which is really very alarming," she says. She attributes the increase to "peer and advertising influences."

To combat this, Limpin says her group is conducting a massive school campaign highlighting the ill effects of smoking.

The group also continues to lobby for the passage of House Bill No. 3364 that seeks to mandate the use of picture warnings, instead of text warnings, on the front and back of cigarette packages.

The bill, authored by Northern Samar Rep. Paul Daza, aims to present a more accurate depiction of "real life debilitating diseases caused by tobacco smoking through strong warning messages in pictures," Limpin says.

A survey by the Council on Tobacco or Health and Air Pollution of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians reveals that 96 percent of smokers had admitted that picture-based warnings against smoking would most likely make them quit compare to text warnings, she says.

But pushing the passage of the bill could prove to be an uphill battle, considering that antismoking advocates would be fighting an industry that provides billions of pesos to government coffers.

"We have heard that cigarette companies are lobbying with our congressmen from the North for them not to support the bill," Limpin says, referring to lawmakers from the Ilocos region where tobacco is a major source of income and livelihood of its residents.

But Limpin says her group will not be deterred in its campaign for a smoke-free Philippines.

Sep 19, 2008

CTE to intensify drive vs traffic code violators

By Fred Padernos

Leyte Samar Daily Express

TACLOBAN CITY -- In an intention to bring back and maintain order in the streets and national roads within the city, the City Traffic Enforcer (CTE) office will intensify saturation drive on traffic code violators in a joint operation with the Traffic Division of the City Police.

Salvador "Buddy" Estudillo, new CTE head, told Leyte Samar Daily Express that Mayor Romualdez wants the traffic to be always in order, not only to avoid any untoward traffic related incident, but also to discipline the motorists and establishment owners, as the city is gearing to become a Highly Urbanized City (HUC).

Estudillo said that at present his office could not fully operate on their own because they are dependent yet on the availability of the vehicles such as towing trucks from the City Police office. But according to him, they have identified already the needed equipment for their operations and the Mayor, he said, is willing to provide them with the unit.

Illegal parking, unauthorized overnight parking, illegal blockade infront of establishments, loading and unloading in prohibited zones, reserved parkings on the streets (except for those with set backs) are among the violations that the enforcement office will clean in the next few days and without any consideration of whether who-is-who.

Estudillo, who is a former military officer and former Regional Director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) here, further said that because he has a lot of friends, he is sure that during their operations many will make "hirit" on him not to be apprehended or be freed. But he said, he will not entertain them because he mean business when he go out on the street for every operation.

Pedicabs operating in prohibited zones, such as in Real Calanipawan, Maharlika Calanipawan, Apitong, Boy Scout Junction (mistakenly known as Coca-Cola Junction), San Jose, Marasbaras, and all other areas will also be apprehended in violation to the traffic management code of Tacloban.

Aside from the fact that this is not allowed under the law , these pedicabs do not only expose their passengers and their own lives to danger but also pose a hazard to fast moving vehicles, he added,

At present, the city has four major intersections with newly- installed modern traffic lights - but even with the presence of such, traffic enforcers still need to man those areas as undisciplined and abusive drivers seem not to respect or follow the traffic signal especially during wee hours when no police officer is present.

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