Monday, June 6, 2011

DTI hands in 429 computers
to Bohol schools IT training

Tagbiaran City, Bohol, June 4 (PIA)---BENT on tapping the information technology (IT) competencies of students and teachers, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) hands in some 429 personal computers to 39 public schools here.

“Set for turn-over to public schools from June 10 to July 27 this year are personal computers under the Personal Computers for Public Schools (PCPS) Project, which is now on its 4th year of implementation,” says trade Bohol information Officer Lucille Autentico.

PCPS is a DTI project funded by the Government of Japan through its Non-Project Grant Aid-Counter Value Fund (NPGA-CVF), she explained.

According to DTI Bohol Provincial Director Maria Elena Arbon, “the project aims to develop the competencies of students and teachers through school-based access to information technology.”

Moreover, she said the project also aims to create a steady pool of IT proficient knowledge workers who will soon get to maintain the country’s competitiveness as an IT services hub.

She stressed that through the PCPS Project, IT is now integrated in public secondary education but not all schools can acquire the necessary support hardware to come up with a comprehensive hands-on training.

“Computers help mainstream computer education curriculum and computers have been integrated in other core subjects,” she pointed out.

Also, the project promotes community resource mobilization as it brought community stakeholders together and counterpart requirements were met through the community in the form of cash and in-kind donations, she revealed.

With this, PD Arbon announced that a formal launch of the PCPS 4 Project will be done in Baclayon National High School on June 10, 2011 with no less than DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo present to hand in the information technology hardware.

Sec. Domingo is also set to also attend the Bohol Tourism Summit, Arbon said.

The 39 Bohol recipient schools are Baclayon High School (HS), Calape National High School (NHS), Tubigon West Central HS, Tubigon West Central HS, Hagbuaya High School, Catigbian NHS, Haguilanan HS, Tabalong NHS, and Biking Tech Voc HS in the First District.

In Second District, recipients are: Candungao HS, Danao NHS, San Agustin NHS, Inabanga HS-Nabuad, Southern Inabanga HS, Sebastian A. Jala Mem. HS, San Miguel Technical Vocational School, Tagum Sur NHS, Hinlayagan NHS, Ponciano E. Leoligao HS, Santo Nino HS, Bulilis High School, Camambugan NHS, Bonbon High School, and Pres. Carlos P. Garcia NHS.

In the Third District, beneficiary schools are Sierra Bullones Technical Vocational School, Bugsoc High School, Lila NHS, Faraon HS, San Jose NHS, San Roque NHS, Anda High School, Badiang High School, La Union NHS, Guinacot NHS, Cayacay High School, Katipunan NHS, Katipunan NHS Annex, Quezon HS-Batuan Annex, and Rizal HS.

Since 2001, the PCPS has completed 3 phases: PCPS1 (2001) was worth P 600 M, PCPS2 (2003) with P 580.25 M and PCPS3 (2005) P 600M.

Here in Bohol, PCPS has given a total of 320 computers to 16 schools in 2001, 260 computers to 26 schools in 2003, 290 computers to 29 schools and 26 LGUs in 2005. (Rey Anthony Chiu with Lucille Autentico) 

Universal kindergarten sends
more younger kids to schools

Tagbilaran City, Bohol, June 3 (PIA)---AS the regular school year opens Monday, expect even more younger kids trooping to the schools all over Bohol.

This as the full implementation of the universal kindergarten in public schools in Bohol and all over the country starts.

The Department of Education (DepEd) however said they have prepared.

Fresh from Brigada Eskwela which is now observed year-round to sustain the national school’s maintenance program, the DepEd has also prepared for the flow of this country’s 5-year olds who would be in preparatory school skills training for the necessities of basic primary course and future schooling challenges.

Sources at the DepEd said its early pre-registration program last April has already netted around 1.2 million preschoolers adding to the regular elementary and secondary students taking their tote bags for the first day of school this Monday.

According to Secretary Armin Luistro in a press release, children born on October 31, 2006 or earlier are eligible for enrolment in kindergarten. Those born on October 1, 2005 or earlier with or without kindergarten experience can be enrolled in Grade 1.

Birth certificates proving a child’s age can be submitted in June or within  the school year.

Already getting a picture of what to expect even if the pre-registration figure could actually double, DepEd has prepared for the sudden influx of preschoolers using more classrooms, upsetting even more the delicately tilting the balance in the pupil to classroom ratio.

But if the sudden influx contribute to the bleak scenario of classroom lack all over the country, acting schools division superintendent Bianito Dagatan said it may not be that acute here in Bohol.  

At the present 45:1 pupil classroom here in the country, Bohol still has 35:1, records from the division office shows.

Records also show that the past year noted 28, 676 pre-schoolers, a figure taken when the preparatory course was not mandated in all public schools in Bohol. 

While Dagatan admitted the preschoolers may occupy the much-needed space for the number that would be added to the 173,183 pupils listed in the past year regular enrollees, he also revealed that the DepEd is implementing some 300 classrooms in some 100 schools here, all of them in its regular classroom building program.     

They have done the bidding and we have received reports from the regional office that the special allotment release is on the way so awarding of the bids can be anytime soon, he said.

This also means that the new school buildings would not be too far away.

Dagatan also cited an unnamed DeEd memorandum, which accordingly formalizes its agreement with local governments on the temporary use of barangay halls and other government buildings to accommodate these expected spills.

Dagatan revealed that they are working closely with local government units, barangay officials, parents, civic organizations, the business sector and other education stakeholders to make the necessary preparations and address potential needs when classes open.

To respond to any occurring problems, education authorities in Bohol are now looking into the possible hitches as the universal kindergarten is implemented in all public schools.

He said a district supervisors’ conference, which was called earlier pushed them to establish an information and action center at the division to respond to problems relating to the opening of schools including the universal kindergarten full implementation as the classes open Monday.

“Teachers must come early”, calls Schools Division Superintendent Lorna Rances during a separate radio interview.

They must be early on Monday to welcome the pupils, she added while elaborating on the DepEd general guidelines on the opening of classes.

On this, DepEd sees the urgent need to minimize if not eliminate financial constraints among parents and guardians during the opening of classes.

The education department, while it posted a policy on voluntary school contributions said no fees shall be collected from kindergarten to Grade 4 anytime during the school year.

Voluntary contribution like Boys Scouts, Girl Scouts, AntiTB, PTA, school organ and memberships in organizations can only be collected beginning August from parents of grade 5 to fourth year.

School uniforms still remain to be optional, according to the DepEd memo. (ReyAnthony Chiu)

Other than an active hunting ban…
Dolphin, whale meat can be toxic

Tagbilaran City, Bohol, June 4 (PIA)----ASIDE from possible jail terms for possession of meat from dolphins, whales, manta rays or sea turtles, eating them can be fatal.

According to Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, these large marine animals are on top of the food chain and their consumption of pollution-contaminated fish makes their bodies a collector of these toxic substances.

Speaking during the weekly Kapihan sa PIA, the Italian marine biologist protector of marine mammals and director of Large Marine Vertebrate Project said chemicals like mercury is easily absorbed into these animal’s bodies that eating them puts one at risk of the Minamata disease.

Dolphins, whales and other large vertebrates are by nature migratory, meaning these animals journey across world oceans and eat along the way.

When they pass through seas which are polluted or contaminated with chemical dumping, small marine organisms that live on the area eat those toxic substances, and they too, are eaten by bigger organisms like fish and shrimps, which also absorb these chemical elements into their bodies.

When dolphins and whale eat these contaminated fish, the poison is absorbed into their system.

According to a research, a mysterious disease hit a Japanese village of Minamata in mid-1050s. At first, the people there notice their house cats appearing to be going insane. Then, people also noticed there were persons in the village who began experiencing numbness in their arms and feet, getting deaf or blind and some had shaking syndromes making walking and moving around difficult, some even going insane.

Scientists and researchers studied what could have caused such peculiar behaviors. They knew it was something that was affecting the nervous system but could not readily point it out.

Then they found out that one common thing about the people is that they all ate fish, so they suspected the people were eating poisoned fish.

What was even more alarming was that babies born out of poisoned mothers had severe body deformities including gnarled arms and feet, mental deficiencies including noticed retardation, deafness, blindness and other nervous system disorders.

Later, some 2955 people were analyzed having contacted the disease, of them, some 1784 have since died, according to wikipedia.

Even then, dolphins and whales have been considered exotic food in several communities especially in the Visayas.

These meat are slaughtered from accidental entangling in fishermen’s drift nets and are dead when pulled out of the water. These are then mixed with other big vertebrate’s meat and sold falsely as a variety of manta rays, which do not belong to the banned meat.

As appeals to stop the dolphin slaughter on humanitarian, moral, and animal cruelty grounds have not worked, perhaps the appeal on food safety could work, admit environmentalists.

Cetaceans are at the top of the food chain and long-lived, therefore they bio-accumulate marine pollutants in their internal organs and muscle (red meat), especially heavy metals like mercury, a website called said.

Many tests since 2001 have shown dolphin and whale meat to be extremely toxic with high levels of mercury, way above the government standard safe level of .4 parts per million.

Mercury and methylmercury are strong neurotoxins, which can cause severe neurological diseases, especially to the fetuses of pregnant women and brain damage to children, the website claimed.

Methylmercury is organic mercury, which is especially toxic and crosses the placenta and blood brain barrier, it adds. (Rey Anthony Chiu)

1st Bohol Tourism Congress
meets at Tropics June 9-10

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, June 4 (PIA)---INTENT on continually harnessing Bohol’s eco-cultural tourism promise as a reliable engine for the Boholanos’ well being, a neat convergence of sectors here led by the Provincial Government of Bohol convene the first Tourism Summit in Bohol on June 9 & 10, 2011 at the Bohol Tropics Resort Club.

Trapped in poverty, which has slowly contaminated into the psyche of its people, Bohol has opted to invest in an industry that would deliver better and broader value services to finally uplift the economic conditions of its poverty- mired people.

Banking on its rich well springs of ecology, history, culture and natural heritage sites, the decision to make Bohol a prime eco-cultural tourism destination was a fruit of consistent participatory and consultative democratic processes; deemed as the only way to engage the widest sectoral participation and ensure the development of appropriate policy planning and management, states then Governor Rene Relampagos in his presentation “Eco-tourism in Bohol”.

On the other hand, with a characteristic Boholano affinity to environment, then vice governor now Governor Edgar Chatto legislated the Bohol Environment Code and other pro-active laws responsive to the needs.

The biggest poser was how to manage eco-tourism’s sustainable development, admit former leaders who decided to hand over the control of the local tourism council to the private sector which makes it even more competitive.

The private sector, especially those in the business have an intense business sense, one that would be ideally the heart-throb of an industry that taps international tourists, stress Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials.

Now fully basking in the successes of an industry that has catapulted Bohol from the country’s 20 poorest provinces to number 52 on the country’s a little more over 70 provinces, industry workers also notice the price of success: a wide range of issues that need to be acted upon to ensure Bohol’s position as a prime global eco-tourism destination.

The Tourism Summit was set in motion last April 13, 2011 with a total of eight sectoral consultations for our tourism industry stakeholders, stated Governor Chatto in his letter of invitation for the summit.

The sectoral consultations were intended to bring out issues and concerns from major industry sectors, Bohol Tourism Officer Josephine Cabarrus said.

Issues like illegal operation by small time investors, cut-throat competition bringing down standards, tourism activities and their impacts to the environment and a whole spectrum of inter-related problems that need immediate policies to address surfaced during the break-out forum.

These sectors and the issues will be interfacing during the break-out sessions on the first day of the summit, June 9, 2011, Chatto added.

Aside from these, a new tourism vision for Bohol would be presented and validated during the Congress.

Tourism Council Chaorman Atty Lucas Nunag said a workshop among key sector representatives formulated the new vision as a development theme for the next decade of tourism in Bohol.

‘I am generally happy with the new vision which is simple, all encompassing and carries with it the aspiration of the industry,” Nunag said.

The new vision would be presented as a highlight of the Congress, according to Cabarrus.

On the following day, a Sofa Talk entitled “Kulukabildo Bahin sa Turismo: Responses and Commitments” will discuss together with guest of honors from national agencies and offices topics derived from the various tourism sector’s issues and concerns, Chatto continued.

The first Bohol Tourism Congress is presented by Capitol through the Bohol Tourism Office in collaboration with Provincial Tourism Council (PTC), German Development Service (GIZ), the Department of Trade and Industry - Bohol (DTI-BOHOL) and co-sponsorship by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). (Rey Anthony Chiu)

Solon to fund dolphin
rescue facility in Bohol

Tagbilaran City, Bohol June 4, 2011 (PIA)---WITH the recent developments in marine mammal protection and conservation, a Bohol representative is funding the establishment of a marine mammal rescue facility, reveals a top fisheries resource executive in Bohol.

According to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) provincial officer Cresencio Pahamutang, Congressman Arthur Yap has nodded to funding the establishment of a marine mammal rescue facility as a halfway house for stranded and distressed animals straying themselves in the shallows of Bohol waters.

Pahamutang, who also supervises the Bohol Rescue Unit for Marine Mammals (BRUMM) bared the information during the recent Kapihan sa PIA Thursday, June 2.

The forum which was aired live over DyTR tackled protecting large marine vertebrates in Bohol in the light of the fact that the southern coasts of Bohol have been the sites of large marine vertebrate stranding or by-catch.

Bohol’s strategic location right in the middle of a large nautical highway for migrating dolphins, whales and other large marine creatures has loaded the island and its people a huge responsibility: that of protecting these passing gentle animals for posterity and to feed the tourism related activities sprouting along the coastal communities.

“Of the 26 large marine animals spotted al over the country, around 17 of these have been found in Bohol waters,” said a visibly excited Dr. Alessandro Ponzo who has a project site in Bohol’s southeastern towns.

Dr. Ponzo, director for Large Marine Vertebrates Project of an Italian Non Government Organization Physalus, which conducts research, information education, marine mammal protection and conservation as well as community mobilization to advance protection of these animals, even said that they have spotted the return of the Brydes Whale.

According to him, the same specie was spotted off Pamilacan Island off Baclayon town last year, and its return already confirmed after whale hunters caught the last Brydes whale in 1993.

Unregulated fishing activities, poor implementation of fishery laws and very scant understanding of communities about these gentle giants have caused so much threat to the migrating animals that an occasional stranding of a dolphin or whale is reported in southern waters of Bohol.

Because of this, a marine mammal rescue unit has to be organized as an emergency medical rescue unit for these distressed animals, added Adelfa Salutan of the Bohol Environment Management Office, which does the BRUMM secretariat. 
The rescue group operates on voluntary basis and with the absence of operational funds and rescue center, the move to seek a funding for the establishment and equipping of a rescue facility surfaced.

The development however did not auger well with marine mammal protection advocates who sense some hidden motives behind the plan.

“Putting up a rescue facility is just too expensive,” said Dr. Jo Marie Acebes, veterinarian and principal investigator of 

“Any rescued animal should be freed immediately,” she argued.

“Keeping it in a facility will not be good as this can be the start of some animal abuse,” she said, adding she has heard that investors are already planning to put up dolphin shows from rescued marine mammals in Bohol. (Rey Anthony Chiu) 

‘Pantawid cash cards’ not
For pawn, loan collateral

Tagbilaran City, Bohol, June 2 (PIA)---THE government’s cash grants issued through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program can not be pawned or used as loan collateral, says the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) over reports of abuse in its use.

“The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a national government implemented poverty reduction strategy which provides cash grants to extremely poor households, but with set conditions on health and education”, explains Aileen Lariba, program information officer.

“Any abuse on the card subjects the beneficiary to automatic suspension and the risk of eventual delisting from the program,” she warns.

The program grants beneficiaries some P500 per month for nutrition and health and P300 for each of the beneficiary’s three children or a maximum of P1400 a month for a family with three school-age kids.

Other than being an immediate and short term poverty alleviation strategy, the program is also designed as a social development strategy that breaks the vicious cycle of inter-generational poverty through investing in human capital.

This way, the program helps fulfill the country’s commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals of Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger, achieving Universal Primary Education, Promoting Gender Equality, Reducing Child Mortality and Improving Maternal Health, the DSWD source sums up.

However, pressed against the seemingly impenetrable wall of extreme economic conditions, beneficiaries, who have to go through an 8-step cycle to be in the program are reportedly forced to pawn and put these cards as loan collateral, payable as soon as a new release of cash grants happen.

As it continues to educate and develop these identified beneficiaries, the DSWD urges the public cooperation, partnership and vigilance to make these cash grants work the way these are intended.

These cash cards should not be abused and as these are not acceptable as collateral nor guarantee on any loans.

For any violation reported and proven, beneficiary is subjected to automatic suspension and eventually delisting from the program.

Furthermore, the DSWD encourages the beneficiaries to practice responsibility by safeguarding their cash cards from getting lost since this is their ultimate identification in all Pantawid Pamilya activities and other services that would be accorded to them in the near future.
To report abuse and discrepancies in the use of grants, use the syntax: 4Psname
complaint and send to 0918-912-2813. (Rey Anthony Chiu with Aileen Lariba) 

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