Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Aftershocks not enough 
to alter Bohol landscape 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, December 13, 2013 (PIA) – Enough of the viral text messages saying Bohol is a goner after the 6,000th aftershock.

Local seismologist and in charge of the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcs) said aftershocks do not sink Bohol, but an innermost energy strong, maybe stronger than the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that could allow the alter of Bohol landscape. 

Engr. Nolan Evangelista, seismology graduate at International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering (IISEE) in Tsukuba Japan averred that aftershocks, which do not surpass the main shock which occurred on the morning of October 15, are way too inconsequential for people to get alarmed. 

As of December 11, the main shock last October 15 has had produced 4,215 aftershocks, about 118 of them felt in areas in Bohol.

By December 12, at least two perceptible aftershocks sent the already traumatized people for open grounds: the 9:51 am intensity 3 in Tagbilaran and the 1:59 Intensity 2 in Panglao. 

The data is also based on strategically located seismic monitoring stations in the Visayas and in Bohol, Evangelista said.

Speaking at the Kapihan sa PIA Thursday and aired live over DyTR, Engr. Evangelista said the 7.2 magnitude earthquake has caused a reverse fault in Bohol, its most visible sign is an increase in elevation of about three meters in Anonang, Inabanga. 

A reverse fault simply is a thrusting upward of one break in a plane, like a land form moving up relative to its other part of the plane. This results in elevation differences where subsidence or uplift-ment happens.

Another fault, called lateral is simply the lateral movement of both planes, as forced by the forces acting on them, like compression for example. 

In Bohol, PhiVolcs noticed indications of uplift-ment in Bohol areas in Tubigon where a general increase in elevation of a few centimeters on the average, following the trajectory of northeast in Inabanga to southwest of Bohol, in Maribojoc. 

While it may be imperceptible to many except to those who has available satellite images showing pre and post earthquake Bohol, the tremor has caused a general uplift of ¾ of Bohol island, Evangelista shared. 

In fact, through a slide presentation citing satellite imagery gathered by the Department of Science and Technology through Renato Solidum showed that the massive tremor has pushed the southwestern part of Bohol towards Cebu by 55 centimeters. 

On this, the local seismologist noted that the northern part of Bohol stayed put, but the southwestern part pivoted some 55 centimeters towards Cebu. 

This may be the reason why Bohol appears to be round, because of the twisting movement, according to Evangelista.

US hands education kits, 
rehab promise to Bohol 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

MARIBOJOC BOHOL, December 13, 2013 (PIA) –MAKING good its promise of support to calamity stricken areas in Bohol while emphasizing its push for access to education, the United States (US) Government, through its three-week-old ambassador hands over its education kits package for Bohol kids and teachers. 

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg hands over school bags loaded with a raincoat, rubber boots, writing implements, notebooks and other necessary school supplies to elementary kids of Maribojoc Central Elementary School December 12. 

The Ambassador, along with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines Program Director Gloria Steele, Governor Edgar Chatto, Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr., and local officials turned over boxes full of teaching materials to teachers who have lost most of their instructional materials to the massive earthquakes that flattened school buildings and classrooms last October 15. 

The top US official in the Philippines, in his message said his coming affirms the strong US-Philippines relations which has deepened in the twentieth century. 

While handling the education package which the government of America shared to help Boholanos in calamity ravaged areas, Ambassador Goldberg could not help but praise the people for their selflessness. 

Earlier during his visit to Bohol, Goldberg witnessed for himself at a local radio station how calamity stricken Boholanos still responded to a call for help to Samar and Leyte, despite their being in want. 

I saw something incredible: Boholanos donating rice, food for Samar, Leyte despite the suffering, he said. 

In his second trip outside Manila after his assumption into the embassy, first to Leyte and then to Bohol, Goldberg showed how impressed he was on Bohol’s recovery plans as well as the way the government was using the proper tools to do such. 

At this, the ambassador also shared how happy he was of the way the rehabilitation and reconstruction plans of Bohol were laid out, pointing out the short and long term plans Bohol crafted on its way to recovery. 

In his visit to Maribojoc, school children recited in chorus to greet Goldberg and USAID’s Steele, who walked into the event amidst school children waving America and Philippine flags. 

After the ceremonial hand over of education kits, Goldberg and Steele also received hand-drawn thank you cards from pupils of Maribojoc Central School who were gathered under tarpaulin tents, awaiting for the US officials. 

Also present during the event were US based volunteer organizations: All Hands and Save the Children, along with their leaders.

USAID helps Bohol craft 
its tourism rehab plan 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, December 13, 2013 (PIA) – Bohol tourism may have been down but, a big brother is now helping it up. 

The Chocolate Hills, for example, may have lessened its allure after the quake, but a 5,000 hectare enhancement to cultivate real chocolates from the chocolate hills would properly re-enthrone the name to the scarred hills, explained a United States funded project director entrusted with helping out Bohol repackage its tourism industry. 

Dr. Enrico Basilio, Project Director of a USAID funded Enhancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) project said part of the plan is to engage about 5000 families in Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan to grow cacao. 

Cacao is that tree from where its fruits are roasted to make that irresistible chocolate. 

Dr. Basilio also said the USAID is tapping a US company who is supplying Mars Chocolates, to come to Bohol and engage the people by brining in the technology and by contracting the growing of cacao for their requirements. 

On the other hand, the massive tremor which has altered landscapes in Bohol has presented another tourism potential, bared Atty Lucas Nunag, Provincial Tourism Council chairman. 

With the local tourism planners, moves are in to make a new tourism circuit in Bohol: the geological tours, reveled Governor Edgar Chatto, while briefing US ambassador Philip Goldberg at the Mansion. 

Bohol has just turned into a geological museum, following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, said seismologist Engr. Nolan Evangelista, that same day the governor shared the plan. 

The USAID is helping Bohol craft its Tourism Rehabilitation and Development Plan, shared Atty Nunag to local media during a separate event. 

Part of the US-assisted rehabilitation plan is the putting up of a new communication strategy to promote and market Bohol, to put up a new brand as well as product development, the artist lawyer said. 

On all these, the United States, notably Bohol’s big brother said “You do not stand alone.” 

USAID Assistant Deputy Administrator for Asia Bureau Gregory Beck, who traced the storied relations between the United States and the Philippines added, “The US has a great affection to you and your country.” 

Speaking to a group of local leaders assembled to dialogue with the US government’s premier donor agency, Beck also said his coming was to assess the quake damage and help determine the level of assistance that the US is giving to Bohol. 

Sent sprawling and crumbling to the ground, Bohol’s tourism industry groped in darkness, but showed brisker heart to get up, crutching on its own and the help of a responsive partner in the United States. 

Bohol tourism industry workers admitted that tourism industry slumped after the earthquake with hotels and resorts closing or partially operation with power and water services hampered by the island wide-black outs. 

Moreover, tourism transport services complained of circuitous routes, apart from wrecked infrastructure and ruined tourism stops. 

Amidst all the troubles, among the first responders to help us bring back Bohol tourism in operation is the United States, through its offer for assistance to Bohol Tourism Rehabilitation and Development Plan, Atty. Nunag told reporters during USAID Beck’s visit. 

USAID Philippines Program Director Gloria Steele and Lee Marshall accompanied Beck, also assured US support.

UP CHK brings 1st sports relief 
Program with “Dula Ta Bohol” 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, December 12, 2013 (PIA) –In a move that may mark a new direction for the country’s premier public institution, the University of the Philippines College of Human Kinetics (UP CHK)steps in towards sports relief as a community extension service program for calamity stricken communities. 

Through its Office of Community Recreation (OCR), the school organized Duwa Ta, Bohol: a sports relief and community recreation activity for survivors of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that devastated Bohol Province last 15 October 2013. 

In its project brief, UP organizers led by Balilihan native and UP Professor Thor Manlangit said “the school recognizes that the massive devastation to public and private infrastructure rendered thousand families homeless, roads, heritage churches, and homes collapsed due to the strength of the earthquake, rendering thousands of families homeless, without access to electricity, water, and services. 

“And while the focus now is on provision of basic services and physical recovery from the earthquake, rekindling a sense of hope and possibility is needed by the communities affected to move forward. 

This project aims to contribute to the individual and community healing of affected communities,” and here enters Duwa Ta Bohol. 

The project is an activity filled day, where survivors can take time away from the stress and trauma caused by the earthquake, and re-live happier times through sports and community activities. 

Sports and arts workshops, holy mass, community dances, community sports fest and a feast could help communities heal and move forward after the devastation. 

For UP, organizers said they are “keen to explore how sports and community recreation can contribute to the psychosocial recovery of our fellow Filipinos from both man-made and natural disasters.” 

This project can be part of the development of indigenous Filipino psychosocial intervention processes, an avenue we should actively pursue as the premiere university in our country, Manlangit said. 

Earlier, Dula Ta Bohol was also held in Bilar November 30. 

UP CHK tapped UP student volunteers, professors, Manila and Davao-based medical professionals, counselors, and development workers, local athletic groups and individuals who feel called to support the endeavor. 

In Balilihan, Dula Ta tapped Bohol Football Association (BOHFA) through President Edmar Thaddeus Simpao, coach Louie Supremo, the Philippine Information Agency and IKA Soccer team to handle the soccer clinic while UP coaches and varsity players handled basketball, volleyball, extreme frisbee, gymnastics, Zumba and yoga. 

Activity participants also shared their earthquake experiences, lunch and snacks, and unburdened themselves, even for a day. 

Towns gain, some lost land 
After devastating tremor 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, December 11, 2013 (PIA)—Maribojoc and Loon towns gained some 18 hectares of dried up beaches, while Tubigon may ultimately lose some of its islets in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake the rocked Bohol to the core. 

Aside from landslides, sinkholes and tension cracks that threaten residents to abandon populated areas in the dry land, rising or receding tides plus huge underwater cracks also pose threats of towns further suffering from nature’s wrath triggered by the mega tremblor. 

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol October 15 left not only an ugly pile of debris from collapsed structures or corpses in body bags in Bohol, but also widened its beach lines and left partially sunk islets. 

At least four inhabited islands of Tubigon town, northwest of Tagbilaran: Batasan, Bilang-Bilangan, Ubay and Panggapasan lost sizable dry lands as sea water started breaching houses during high tides after the earthquake, reports town planning officer Engr. Noel Mendaña recently. 

Before, some parts of these islands do not get flooded, even with extremely high tides. Now, at 1.7 high tide, sea water starts to flood homes and village centers, he added. 

The same has been reported in the town’s coastal barangays of Matabao to Macaas, according to fisherfolks association president Rolando Caba. 

About twenty kilometers south, the earthquake has manifested an entirely different phenomenon. 

In Maribojoc and Loon towns, sea water has receded at astonishing levels that even high tides could not save the now exposed tide-flats and gleaning grounds basking in the heat of the sun. 

For this, at least Maribojoc gained 18 hectares of land, formerly underwater but are now completely dry, said Oscar Francisco Valles, town executive chief of staff in a report to foreign dignitaries at the mayor’s office December 9. 

Geologists call the Tubigon phenomena a subsidence, while that of Maribojoc and Loon as uplift-ment, as an earthquake aftermath. 

Accordingly, during the earthquake, subsidence happened when there was a noted downward shifting of the surface relative to a sea-level in Tubigon areas, while the upward movement, also called uplift-ment resulting in increased elevation was noted in Maribojoc and Loon. 

At this, Maribojoc and Loon lost the gradually sloping shellfish gleaning grounds supporting the livelihood of thousands of its residents. 

In the islets of Tubigon, gleaning rounds have deepened, making livelihood difficult. Moreover, the earth movement toppled several good coral formation, driving away fish and mollusks, confessed Victor Boligao, aqua technician in town. 

On this, marine expert Lorie Tan of World Wildlife Fund, fish may have momentarily gone, but as soon as the ground settles and algae start growing back, herbivores would come and the big predators would follow.

Innovative wifi internet 
Finds good use in Bohol 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, December 11, 2013 (PIA) –A United States government piloted project in Bohol spewed out more than it was intended for, a testament of endless technological search now put to good use from the land of innovations. 

An internet facility that uses the unutilized white space in your television has been brought for piloting in Bohol, to advance internet connectivity in areas where commercial internet facility is yet unreliable. 

Television white space (TVWS) is a range of unused broadcast frequencies allocated for television channels but remain unused, explained Laurence Ang, specialist of the TVWS project which the US government through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is piloting in Bohol. 

Envisioned to help the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) attain the National Fisheries Registration through an online facility provided via the DOST Information Communication Technology Office, and Microsoft Corporation, the TVWS becomes a wireless signal internet carrier to facilitate mobile registration of fishers. 

Brought to Bohol via a USAID project called Ecosystems Enhanced for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH), we hope the TVWS will provide the necessary data to fill the fisheries profile of Danajon Bank, of which Tubigon partly hosts, according to Anecita Gulayan, Ecofish Bohol Coordinator. 

However in the midst of the piloting term, a calamitous even hit Bohol. 

TVWS opened an innovative portal to alleviate the need for fast and reliable communication among calamity stricken Tubigon town, says Ang, who excitedly showed the new technology to visiting USAID Washington Assistant Deputy Administrator for Asia Bureau, Greg Beck. 

“Microsoft provides the gadget that identifies the unused channels, and they gave us 20 computer tablets to facilitate the registration,” Ang explained to USAID Philippines Project Director Gloria Steele, who was with Beck and a complimentary staff from USAID in Manila. 

Said to be used in emergency situation for the first time, the TVWS in Tubigon connected families, helped local government trace and organize rescue and relief operations and aided the DSWD and DOH in their continuing efforts, added Betinna Quimson, DOST ICTO expert who updated USAID dignitaries via skype facility using the newly installed Tubigon TVWS 12 mbps wifi internet. 

Installed within the Tubigon Government Complex and its hardware hosted by the National Telecommunications Office, the TVWS wireless fidelity (wifi) internet has been a constant refuge for quake-survivors who contact their relatives or vice-versa. 

The complex also hosts a cluster World Food Program stockpile of relief goods for Tubigon and its neighboring towns, and the internet eases the dispatch of goods as well as tracking its whereabouts, local MSWDO personnel shared. 

“Were still harnessing the system, as were putting up a mechanism to kick out over-users to make sure there is equal opportunity for emergency net-users, noted Ang, who spoke while a cluster of laptop users comfortably settled in the shady nooks of the complex, surfing for relatives and seeking help to earthquake victims.

Officials discuss “help plan” for 
Fishers, sunken Tubigon islets 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TUBIGON, Bohol, December 10, 2013 (PIA) –Tubigon authorities are now finding ways to help residents of at least four island barangays who are threatened by rising waters following the October 15, 2013 earthquake. 

When high tides reach as high 1.7 meters then, it only submerges small portions of the islet. Not anymore after the quake. 

Town agricultural officer Yolanda Labella named the four island barangays as Batasan, Bilangbilangan, Ubay and Panggapasan, which are of immediate risk of being swept by high seas. 

Residents from these barangays noted that a rise in tides after the magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol, causing the islands off Tubigon town to sink by at least 50 centimeters. 

That means the islands, which used to still keep some dry lands during extreme tides are now facing the problem of sea water intruding into their usually dry living rooms during high tides. 

Geologists often ascribe the phenomenon into subsidence. 

While the local government mulls on evacuating the people from the islets, another problem is how to keep these people from doing what they are good: fishing. 

The earthquake did not just sink portions of the town, it also caused tension cracks and collapsed the usually good coral cover that attracts fish in the town’s municipal waters. 

At a dialogue with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officials led by Washington-based Gregory Beck and USAid Philippines Program Director Gloria Steele, town planning officer Engr. Noel Mendaña explained this as a sudden drop in elevation due to the earth’s movement. 

Mendaña represented Mayor Marlon Amila who has to go to the island barangays to arrange for help plans. 

The USAid funds a project in Tubigon town called Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (EcoFISH) to help sustain and conserve the world rare Danajon Double Barrier Reef. 

Incidentally, all those quake-sunken islets are home to EcoFISH project beneficiaries, many of which are subsistence fishermen whose livelihood is also severely affected by the tremor. 

Rolando Caba, Macaas Fisherfolks Association reported that they noticed tension cracks underwater, table coral reefs collapsed and seagrass areas dying due to deprived sunlight caused by deepening waters due to subsidence. 

If the sea grasses are too shallow, they die of overexposure, when they are too deep, they also die, comments Lorie Tan of the World Wildlife Fund. 

Tubigon has identified 26 households needing new homes, from the 128 households that have evacuated due to the quake devastation to their homes. 

Engr. Mendaña shared that the town has set plans for permanently settling these 26 families who have no homes to return to. 

On the other hand, alternative livelihood like offshore fish cages are mulled for fishermen’s organization who have temporarily lost their livelihood, the planning officer and town administrator added. 

Meanwhile, as the catastrophic tremor killed about 280 persons and caused billions of lost of public and private infrastructure and sunk Tubigon islets, it also caused the upliftment of Maribojoc and Loon shorelines, depriving locals of income from gleaning.

Washington official says US aid
Depends on people’s priorities 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

MARIBOJOC, Bohol, December 9, 2013 (PIA) – A United States Agency for International Development (USAid) Washington official said his visit to earthquake-ravaged areas in Bohol is partly to seek ideas from community for their priorities for help which the US government could help. 

Greg Beck, AUSAid Assistant Deputy Administrator for Asia Bureau travelled to Antequera and Maribojoc towns today, as well as to Tubigon and Catigbian towns tomorrow said the USAid aims to dialog with local stakeholders and partners as well as to properly assess disaster damage to effectively direct help US governments help, where it is needed the most. 

Receiving the USAId party in town was Vice Mayor Fructuoso Redulla Jr, Maribojoc executive chief of staff Oscar Francisco Valles, Sangguniang Bayan members and the local school board. 

Beck’s party includes USAid Program Director Gloria Steele, Lee Marshall, Deputy Director for the USAid Philippine’s Office of Education, former Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez, now a USAid Project Trustee, Dr. Ernesto Malvas, USAid project Synergeia director and staff. 

Asked what the US government’s help priority is, Beck said he would have a better sense of what the US government help priority, after his two days of visit to Bohol. 

In Bohol, where the USAID has been partnering for several development program funding and technical assistance, Beck and party rounded up to see for themselves earthquake ravaged towns, to see for themselves the degree of devastation and converse with communities on possible help from the US. 

In a side interview with the media, Beck clarified that the USAID leaves it for the communities to decide on where the US government could get in. 

The group went to Antequera and Maribojoc towns, two of the most heavily wrecked communities which clearly need infrastructure and educational system rehabilitation support. 

Also with the USAID team was Bohol’s tourism council top official Atty. Lucas Nunag who told media that the USAid has helped Bohol craft a Tourism rehabilitation program. 

USAid has been one of the first responders to bring Bohol tourism back in operation, with its Bohol tourism rehabilitation plan technical assistance. 

Nunag said the USAid is assisting Bohol with loaned communications strategy experts, technical assistance of rebranding Bohol after the earthquake and bringing in new product development.

USAID Washington dignitary 
to visit quake-ravaged towns 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, December 9, 2013 (PIA) – Boholanos await with excitement the coming of United States Washington official in Bohol today and tomorrow, in the light of tightened relations between the US government and the province of Bohol. 

US Agency of International Development (USAid) Washington Official Greg Beck is slated to arrive late morning today and is expected to visit earthquake-ravaged areas in Bohol. 

Beck is the Washington’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia Bureau of the USAID. 

According to Andrea Trinidad Echavez, USAIDs Communications specialist, the visit is in connection with USAID's assistance to the Philippine government's recovery efforts. 

Beck’s itinerary includes a project briefing on COMPETE, a dialogue with Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto in Panglao, an Environment Briefing in Tubigon town tomorrow and for a PRISM event late tomorrow. 

The US Government, through its donor agency the USAID, is implementing in Bohol a project called COMPETE, short for Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project. 

Under the Partnership for Growth (PFG) Agreement between the Philippine and US governments, the USAid implements the COMPETE project, which aims to support government’s effort in paving the way to industrial competitiveness and helping attain inclusive growth through, better infrastructure. 

The USAid COMPETE is a five-year project that seeks to increase the levels of domestic and foreign investments in Bohol, create increased employment opportunities and enhance domestic incomes through quality infrastructure, more competitive industries, and credit facilitation. 

In the Washington dignitary’s itinerary are visits to the towns of Antequera, Maribojoc and Tubigon, some of the most heavily affected towns in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol October 15. 

Earlier, Bohol and the United States through the USAid partnered on a major water and sanitation venture of lasting impact on the economy and lives of the Boholanos. 

The tie-up concretizes the way for the development of resources for a more sustainable bulk water supply and address widespread sanitation concerns, thereby also reducing many health risks in Bohol. 

But the devastating tremor which hit Bohol could have massive impacts on water and sanitation infrastructure, which the US may again have to fund for its rehabilitation.

USAid official vows 
Strong US support 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

ANTEQUERA Bohol, December 9, 2013 (PIA) –“You don’t stand alone.” 

Washington based United States Agency for International Development (USAid) Assistant Deputy Administrator for Asia Bureau assured grateful members of the local legislative of the strong United States support for Bohol, especially to the earthquake ravaged people of Antequera. 

The United States has a great affection for your country, Greg Beck said as he could not hold his admiration for the people’s resiliency amidst the series of calamities that could have made people of lesser stuff wave the white flag. 

“Your sense of resiliency is remarkable,” Beck told local officials gathered at the Municipal Training Center now converted into a Sangguniang Bayan Session Hall after the 7.2 magnitude tremor rendered the municipal hall dangerous for human habitation. 

After seeing for himself the degree of devastation that the October 15 tremor has dealt on the town, Beck said he “looks forward to working with the people.” 

“We are here to see how we might be able to help,” Beck, who came to Bohol accompanied by USAID Philippines Project Director Gloria Steele, USAId Philippines Office of Education Deputy Director Lee Marshall and USAid support staff. 

While the earthquake has wrecked most of the key infrastructure and public buildings and facilities in town, the Washington-based official saw it as a great hope for building back a better town. 

The early morning earthquake left 3279 homes in town totally or partially damaged while 1156 homes were rendered total wrecks, according to the municipal planning and development officer. 

The town public market, church and several school buildings did not escape from the massive earth shaker, which made the town’s main economic enterprise totally useless. 

Antequera Mayor Jose Mario Pahang also said the tremor damaged the town water system and it would need some P30 million pesos for a full rehabilitation program for the waterworks alone.

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