Thursday, June 29, 2017

DOST, DTI in Bicol help upgrade skills of abaca workers

LEGAZPI CITY, June 28 -- The regional offices of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Bicol have been closely working together to help upgrade the skills of workers who are into abaca fiber production and processing.

Dr. Pilita O. Lucena, DOST-Bicol public information officer, said the two agencies had spearheaded a training program for the abaca workers on how to soften the abaca fiber and apply the proper dyeing techniques.

“The training for the abaca workers fall under the ‘wearable and houseware cluster’ in the region that assists micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMES which are into fiber production and development,” she said.

Lucena, in an interview on Wednesday, said that to attain quality and add value to the product of the abaca workers there was a need for proper abaca fiber processing and dyeing.

“This need was identified during consultation meetings for the ‘National Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Project’ or NICCEP,” she said.

Lucena said the NICCEP meetings stressed that the marketability and global competitiveness of abaca fiber products could be realized through training and exposure to actual production sites.

She cited that on May 23 and 24 this year DOST and DTI conducted a training-workshop on “Softening Abaca Fiber and Training on Dyeing Techniques and Standardization (water pH factor).”

Lucena said 19 abaca raw material producers and processors attended the training held at DOST Bicol conference room in Barangay Rawis in this city.

Engineer Adela H. Montalvo, senior science research specialist of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI), discussed the procedures on abaca fiber softening and later conducted an actual demonstration together with the participants.

A site visit by the participants to Banquerohan Resettlement Site Neighborhood Association Inc. (BRSNA Inc.) in Barangay Banquerohan, Legazpi City followed.

Pilar M. Aydalla, BRSNA Inc. president, led the group tour of the abaca processing facility that houses the DOST-PTRI rotary press machine being used in abaca softening, locally called the abaca “pinukpok” technology.

Prior to introduction of this technology the softening of abaca fibers was traditionally done manually by abaca processors.

Lucena said during the hands-on activity, the participants were able to experience abaca softening using the PTRI press machine.

She said the during the workshop on proper color choice and combination and cooking of the abaca fiber the participants had adopted the techniques on abaca dyeing that were taught to them.

Lea A. Pagao, provincial director of DTI in Sorsogon, closed the training program by commending the participants who were “actively involved and determined to find ways and means to improve their business enterprises.”

Lucena said the participants, who were encouraged by their learnings, hoped that similar activities could be conducted in the future.

“The DOST, DTI undertaking with the abaca producers and processors resulted into a public and private partnership which created opportunities and benefits for both,” she said.

Lucena said the partnership is important as like pili and coconut, abaca is one of the leading export industries in Bicol. (Gina V. Rodriguez/PNA)

Declining seagrasses worry seashell gatherers in Albay coastal village

BACACAY, Albay, June 20 (PNA) —- Seagrasses gracefully dance with the sea current, serving as a nesting ground and as habitat of marine species to create a natural seagrass garden along the coastline of Bacacay town in Albay.

In Barangay Buang, Bacacay, villagers, who rely on the sea for a living, however, attest to how these seagrasses have been on a decline through the decades.

They said from the 1960s up to the '80s, their coastline, which faces the Pacific Ocean, were once dense with seagrasses, so-named because most species have long, green, grass-like leaves.

“Over time, there has been a decline in the seagrasses, which are home to the seashells,” said Marcy Burac, 53, a resident of Buang who collects seashells along the coasts as a means of livelihood.

Fishermen here noted the decline in the marine species from the 90s up to the present.

On a particular day, Marcy, along with her 10-year-old son Jeric, a grade 4 pupil, rush to the seashore as soon as the sea water recedes to collect the seashells.

Mother and son, with their “eco-bags” and “bolos” (a type of native knife) then scoop the seashells beneath the seagrass beds.

Locally known here as “bariw-bariw,” the seashells appear once the sea water recedes during low tide, which occurs for around two to three hours.

During this time Marcy and son start to collect the seashells which they sell to local tourists at PHP60 per one medium-sized eco bag.

They fill up the eco bag with a variety of seashells.

According to Marcy “sarad” and “kudkud” are the other types of seashells that villagers could find beneath the seagrass bed.

Scientists attribute the depletion of seagrasses along the coasts such as that in Buang to the warming of sea temperatures brought by climate change.

They said rising sea temperatures produce bigger waves from the ocean which in turn pound the coastlines where the seagrasses are nurtured.

Marcy noted how big waves hit the coastlines of Buang, particularly in the months from July to February.

Restoring the conditions in the ocean so seagrasses could thrive as they did in the past is a concern of everybody, said exhibits mounted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Bicol.

The agency, which is observing June as Environment Month, has been spearheading various activities, among them the holding of a “biodiversity challenge” to spread awareness on environmental consciousness among communities, especially those living along the coastlines.

Environmentalists said restoring the seagrass beds are important as after the estuaries and wetlands, seagrasses are the third most valuable ecosystem in the world.

They said seagrasses modify their environments to create unique habitats.

Known as the “lungs of the sea,” the seagrasses support commercial fisheries and biodiversity, clean the surrounding water and help take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

According to scientists, one square meter of seagrasses can generate 10 liters of oxygen every day through photosynthesis. (PNA)

64 Albay villagers down with Chikungunya; outbreak seen

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27 -- Some 64 villagers fell ill from suspected Chikungunya fever that struck eight villages in Guinobatan town in Albay, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) said Tuesday.

A provincial epidemiology team was sent on Tuesday to check reports by the town’s Municipal Health Office (MHO) that Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, hit the villages of Poblacion with 32 cases, Muladbukad Pequeña with 26 cases while the villages of Ilawod, San Francisco, Malabnig, Banao, Masarawag and Maninila have one reported case each, according to Dr. Antonio Ludovice, acting Provincial Health Officer.

An initial report sent by Dra. Joanna Limos, municipal health officer of Guinobatan, said that the people who fell ill manifested on and off fever, skin rashes and joint pains in the extremities -- the clinical symptoms of Chikungunya.

The MHO reported that the cases of dengue-like symptoms were observed since April but during health surveillance, the cases of the mosquito-borne virus turned out to be Chikungunya cases.

PHO said that a possible outbreak could be declared following the significant rise in the number of people becoming ill due to Chikungunya fever in Guinobatan town.

As this developed, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara directed the PHO to closely coordinate with the MHO and carry out disease control measures to stop the possible spread of the disease.

A PHO epidemiology surveillance team has started gathering laboratory examinations from the patients which would be sent to the Department of Health in Bicol for analysis.

The PHO medical team dispatched medicines to treat the patients suffering from the disease.

As a counter-measure against the disease, the PHO has urged local government units to organize an “Aksyon Barangay Kontra Dengue,” a surveillance team from the provincial down to the barangay level.

The PHO urged residents to observed the “four o’çlock habit,” which means to stop at this time during the day so as to eliminate the breeding places of mosquitoes.

In previous years, at least 100 people fell ill from Chikungunya fever that struck two villages in Sto Domingo town and a village in Batan Island in Rapu-Rapu town, both in Albay. (Mar S. Arguelles/PNA)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ASEAN info caravan by PCOO, DILG, DFA set June 30 in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27 -- The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Bicol in partnership with the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will be hosting the Bicol regional leg of the information dissemination caravan on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

An activity to increase the people’s awareness on the concept of the “ASEAN integration,” the information caravan will also focus on the theme of the ASEAN conferences being hosted by the Philippines this year, which is “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

Ma. Grace Joy Tango, DILG-Bicol information officer, in an interview Tuesday, said the caravan aims to orient the participants on what is ASEAN and the benefits that could be derived by the Philippines and its citizens by being a part of the regional group of nations.

She said around 300 participants are expected to the whole-day event on June 30 at the Legazpi City Convention Center wherein a forum and press conference will follow the talk of the various speakers.

Tango said the series of activities for the day will be attended by local government executives, national and local government representatives, heads of state universities and colleges, various other stakeholders and media practitioners.

Tango said PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar is expected to deliver a short message while DILG Regional Director Eloisa Pastor will welcome the participants.

DFA-ASEAN Executive Director Zaldy Patron will discuss the hosting of the ASEAN by the Philippines, an original member of the 50-year-old regional organization.

Tango added that other topics to be discussed in the event are updates on the declaration of martial rule in Mindanao in the aftermath of the Marawi crisis, ways to counter violent extremism and federalism.

Aside from the Philippines, the other members of the ASEAN Community are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (Connie B. Destura/PNA)

Civil works for PHP7.2-M drug treatment facility in Albay start in July

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27 —- Civil works for the construction of a PHP7.2-million drug rehabilitation center in Barangay (village) Tula-tula, Ligao City in Albay will start in July this year, according to Governor Al Francis Bichara.

He said in an interview on Tuesday (June 27), that the project had been bid out soon after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) approved the funds for the project.

“The site development plan is ready and now scheduled for bidding while the construction which will start in July, is expected to be finished by the end of August,” said Bichara.

He added the facility will be operational by the end of the year.

Bichara said the architectural design of the treatment center, which is seated on a one-hectare lot, is that of a two-story structure “of at least 10 big cargo aluminum 40-foot containers.”

Aside from the center, a separate administration and medical building will also be built in the drug rehabilitation center compound.

The construction cost for the rehabilitation center is PHP5 million while another PHP2.2 million will be spent for the administration and medical buildings.

Bichara said the funds were sourced from the Provincial General Fund.

He said provincial architects and engineers have designed the center as a “dormitory type” that could accommodate 150 drug dependents as patients.

“As a standard practice, the rehabilitation center could only accommodate patients with a severe drug problem,” Bichara said.

The site is located at the compound owned by the provincial government which is presently the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Public Safety Company or PPSC.

Bichara said he doesn’t foresee any problem on security at the facility because of the presence of the PNP.

He said there are plans to put up in the adjacent lot a correctional facility for youth offenders to be manned by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Bichara said management of the rehabilitation center will be a joint effort of the Departments of Health, Social Welfare, PNP and provincial government.

During the second quarter council meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council or RPOC on June 20 the Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol reported that it has validated and assessed 38,234 drug surrenderers.

DOH-Bicol records showed that of the 38,234, there were 4,332 who belong to the low-risk category, 4,301-mild, 2,561-moderate and 557 deemed as “severe.”

It added that among the 557 in the severe category, there were 179 who had been referred for treatment at two existing rehabilitation treatment centers in Bicol, one in Malinao, Albay and another in San Fernando, Camarines Sur. (Mar S. Arguelles/PNA) #REALNUMBERS

DOST-Bicol sets June 30 deadline for invention entries

LEGAZPI CITY, June 27--The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Bicol has set this June 30 as the deadline for the submission of entries to this year’s “Bicol Regional Invention Contests and Exhibits” or BRICE.

Dr. Pilita Lucena, DOST-Bicol public information officer, said this year’s BRICE would be one of the major highlights of the celebration of the Regional Science and Technology Week or RSTW on Sept. 26-28, 2017 in this city.

“Through the RSTW celebration, outstanding science and technology programs and projects will be showcased and recognized for their contribution to the advancement of science and technology and regional growth and development,” she said.

Lucena, in an interview on Tuesday, said BRICE has the following categories: “Tuklas” Award on inventions, Outstanding Utility Model or UM, Outstanding Industrial Design or ID, “Likha” Award on creative researches, and “Sibol” Award for the high school and college levels.

She said qualified inventors; makers; designers and creative researchers, both professionals and students from the academe, research and development institutions, local government units and other public and private entities must submit to DOST-Bicol the complete contest requirements together with the duly accomplished forms.

Lucena said “innovation and creative breakthroughs and other milestones” will be featured during the RSTW in September. (Gina V. Rodriguez/PNA)