Monday, March 17, 2014

Bohol wants most hands 
In Bayani Challenge ‘14
Rey Anthony Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 13, 2014 (PIA)— Bohol pitches in for the seemingly impossible, in an attempt to engage the most number of volunteers for the country’s Bayani Challenge (BC) in 2014. 

Bohol, which is poised to do a massive rehabilitation for its public and private infrastructure, which the earthquake toppled and the super typhoon Yolanda flattened, had the BC coming in time, according to volunteers during the recent coordination meeting held at the Governor’s Mansion Wednesday, March 12.

A call to mainstream the small bits and patches of Filipino spirit of helping each other, BC also aims to build relationships among different sectors, groups and nationalities, creating peaceful and more caring communities that are ready for any eventuality, according to BC Bohol coordinator Christopher Rivera. 

BC is also the platform to gather and inspire volunteers who are key players in innovating and implementing plans that address poverty and other social challenges, making it the is also the opportunity to raise extraordinary resources that complement funded or unfunded programs of the local government, states the Bayani Challenge 2014 website. . 

Initially targeted for volunteer work are nine badly damaged towns, in the spirit of bayanihan, a Capitol functionary wants it in 47 towns and Tagbilaran City.

According to Rivera in previous meetings with Bohol officials, SEEM Cluster head Liza Quirog said she wants BC in all towns of Bohol. 

Excited by the development, Rivera said he has reasons to believe Bohol can put up the numbers as there really is a lot of things that can be done. 

BC, as most people believe, is not just about homebuilding, Rivera said. It is also about spending time with the kids in Paraisong Pambata, conducting medical and dental missions, going on environment care through clean-ups, re-greening or roadside beautifications or fixing and refurbishing classrooms. 

Simultaneous in two months time in Alkan, Antique, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Ilo-ilo, Leyte, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Samar and Zamboanga, the BC 2014 attempts to come up with a million volunteers from April 9-June 12. 

Also coming at a time when Bohol will have its fiesta months in May, Josephine Cabarrus, Bohol Tourism Officer believes it adds up to the taste of the patriotism.

With the flurry of rebuilding activities in post quake Bohol, observers also note that the task entails a huge manpower requirement that by putting up the volunteer work, costs in rebuilding can be lessened as labor can be put up for free.

In 2013, one after another disasters hit us almost like a plague: the wars in Zamboanga, the killer quake in Bohol and the last straw was Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan), unleashing a fury like the world had never seen before with an intensity and magnitude that quite literally blew away almost the whole of the Visayas islands. 

“But thanks to the heroism of volunteers and partners, we are responding to the biggest storm ever recorded in history – with the largest missionary spirit and bayanihan the world has ever seen,” according to Bayani Challenge website. 

For this year's challenge, we will go to the areas affected by recent disasters and show our brothers and sisters that we will not leave them behind!

Clarin mayor links inform gap
Between govt, camp settlers 
Rey Anthony Chiu

PIEZAS COMPOUND, Bonbon Clarin, Bohol, March 13, 2014 (PIA) –Showing full control of the tense unwanted displacement situation in his town, Clarin Mayor Allen Rey Piezas expertly calmed nerves of his people who have less than three weeks to remain here before the authorities break the evacuation camp. 

Aside from radiating full control and armed with the correct honest-to-goodness information, Piezas also brought in the information which the 17 families temporarily settled in a cramped camp in Bonbon Clarin wished to hear. 

Piezas came in invitated by the communications management team of the international humanitarian organizations who noted the huge communication gap that fed a lot of speculations and uncertainties among temporary shelter dwellers.

To fill the lack of information, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Bohol brings in mobile Pulong-Pulong sa Komunidad as a venue for quake survivors and evacuation camp settlers as well as local government authorities and donor organizations to dialog on key issues and concerns. 

Wanting to be assured of a relocation site after the temporary camp lot owner has served notice to break camps by March 31, 17 families belonging to Piezas Compound settlers ask about their future. 

Piezas shared two arrangements by the town as yet.

He said the LGU is helping people stay temporarily on a resettlement lot in Tangaran, where settlers pay a minimal rental, while another area is negotiated for acquisition by LGU in Buacao. 

He also said Clarin has 316 houses it got from the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Develoment-Habitat for Humanity assistance. He also said international shelter assisting organizations have also packages of shelter and water and sanitation for Clarin quake victims.

The mayor however stressed that with Clarin not included in the 9 priority towns for shelter assistance, they may have to settle for more help from shelter organizations and not with government. 

The mayor also told the people that with Capitol, they are asking for an exception in the National Housing Authority rules on its assistance. 

The NHA gives aid, but this could not be used for land acquisition, he said. 

In the case of Clarin, being a 5th class town, he has tapped Bohol Capitol to help him convince the NHA to convert its assistance for land acquisition instead, as international organizations are already pledging shelter assistance to his town. 

Christie Bacal, IOM communications specialist assured people that with government still looking at getting the resettlement site, victims with private lots available now can already start erecting IOM assisted core shelters. 

International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) also said they can help Clarin residents with shelter assistance, even on those to be built on private lots. 

The ongoing policy for shelter donations on private lots is that, beneficiaries need to show ownership or consent from land owners and that the lots are risk-free before shelter packages can be released. 

Piezas also reports that aside from the 316 houses from DSWD, IOM is giving out 190 shelters. Other shelter assisting groups have also communicated assistance. 

While the Piezas Compound lot owners said they are getting back the lot March 31, IOM begged a bit of patience as there is a noted difficulty in sourcing out construction materials and supply in Bohol.

But of the 17 families in the compound, IOM said the least they could do is deliver the shelter materials a week before March 31, to the applause of the forum participants. 

Piezas also assured the full support from local government to the evacuees, offering livelihood assistance and cash for work schemes to allow families to slowly stand and be self reliant in time.

Amakan weavers appeal, 
“Let us produce, 
redeem our pride”

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 12, 2014 (PIA) –Given the opportunity, craftsmen residents of the evacuation site in Ma. Rosario Inabanga would rather work to get their food than take the queue for food relief. 

“It is not that we are too proud to accept we need food, but given the chance to work and redeem our pride devastated by the earthquake, we would,” candidly admits a skilled bamboo weaver here who has been producing ‘amakan’ before the great earthquake. 

Here, bamboo craftsman, along with many residents of Riverside, Ilaya and Ma. Rosario find themselves weaving amakan when they are not working on their rice farms. 

Amakan is a decorative walling material crafted from weaving stripped bamboo, a construction material that abounds in most areas in Bohol.

But after earthquake of October 15, residents could not go back to their cracked farms and weaving has become secondary to keeping the family safe from cold nights and scorching sun. 

Now living in too hot for the day tarpaulin tents and surviving on food relief, residents have slowly risen enough to move on and rethink of living on their own. 

“We are now surviving on relief and a little income we can squeeze out from the abandoned farms and a little bit of odd jobs,” Barangay Chairman Nestor Tabiliran admitted. 

We do not want this, we want to earn a little so we do not rely on the food here, he confessed. 

At the camps, people also think weaving amakan is the safest income earner as of now.

At the camp, camp managers, admit too that people have put earnings high on their list of priorities. 

“Most of the men and women here know how to weave amakan, noted Tabiliran, who adds that they used to supply amakan walling sheets to native supply stores, and earning their living.

“The only sensible thing to do to earn is go back to weaving, but we are so hard-up to finance it,” Tabiliran said. 

For this, he and his bamboo weavers appeal to shelter and livelihood assisting organizations to give them the chance to supply their amakan needs so they could also earn.

“If only we could find a partner, we could have them order the materials so we could weave back,” they said. 

At the Pulongpulong sa Komunidad, which the PIA and IOM brought in Ma. Rosario last week, residents said together they could produce a good number of amakan sheets in a week, which international organizations could also use for their rebuilding activities.

“It fits,” said Christie Joy Bacal of International Organization for Migration (IOM) who has been into Camp Coordination and Management Cluster, meaning matching the weavers to livelihood assisting groups helping Bohol. 

She also hinted that shelter assisting groups can also help Ma. Rosario by buying their produce.

“We are here to help and when people we are helping also help themselves, it becomes a good sign [of recovery],” she said.

In good times and bad… 
Bilar ‘earthquake survivors’ 
Want neighbors helped too 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY BOHOL, March 12, 2014 (PIA) – Neighbors are neighbors, in good times and in bad. 

This fairly describes Dagohoy Bilar settlement, where current evacuation camp dwellers ask helping groups to include in their beneficiaries those who are not in camp anymore. 

Here, nestled in a valley ringed with tall limestone hills, near the rotting foundations of an old abandoned school, lie a crude temporary settlement of people from the sitios of barangay Dagohoy and Bonifacio, in Bilar. 

Here in a place where at the base of the hills are wide ricefields, people build their sparsely spaced houses near their farms. Sometimes you won’t see them in the tall shrubbery until you’re much closer. 

Here was paradise, until the earthquake of October 15 shook the hills and rolled tons upon tons of boulders from the hilltops into the valley. Some flattened homes. People died here. 

Not too far away, a house was literally flattened, posts turned into brittle toothpick, when a three ton boulder perched some 100 meters above, smothered the house where a mother, an infant, an aunt and a grandmother were resting after breakfast. 

Now, the traces of the tremor are the scarred hillsides, yellow contrasts in the green vegetation that crowns the hills. 

Here too, huge boulders remained untouched, some roads partially blocked by some of them. 

Somewhere in a hill-ringed valley at the heart of Barangay Dagohoy, earthquake survivors pitched crude camps, almost inaccessible by 4 wheeled vehicles. 

In this crude encampment used to dwell 17 families, striving on their own, without the help of donors until late December. 

The bitter cold pushed some dwellers who think no help was coming, to go back to their ruined houses if only to be sheltered from the cold nights and scorching days at the tents. 

Now, with only 7 families in the camps, international humanitarian organizations have promised them at least alternative transitory shelters (ATS), as long as a lot can be acquired for these 7 families. 

ATS, according to Christie Joy Bacal is a shelter assistance comprising of a whole house with an attached communal service facilities. In fact, several shelter units from donors have in them complete toilet facilities, reiterates Bacal who works as communications specialist of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 

Now, with assistance in line, some dwellers who have returned to their homes, asked if they could be included among the 7 beneficiaries. 

“We used to be together here, and as good neighbors, we bring to you their request,” pleaded Angelita Oblena, camp Manager at Eskwelahan Daan Camp site. 

As neighbors, we can’t afford to live in better shelters away from the risk of boulders, when we knew they live, in areas which should have been totally evacuated, the camp manager said in Cebuano during the Pulong-Pulong sa Komunidad with Philippine Information Agency and IOM March 12. 

As to donor agencies, informants said as long as these people in risk areas are within the list of beneficiaries, they can be assisted to their new shelters which the government could purchase. 

Barangay Kagawad Bienvenido Tapao shared that pending the acquisition of a resettlement lot by the local government, the evacuees have arranged for a 1.1 hectare lot for temporary resettlement not too far from the camp site. 

International shelter assistance groups have assured quake victims whose houses were totally wrecked and those who have been advised to relocate, core shelters and ATS until they could return to normal lives, echoed IOM’s Bacal. 

IOM, a group into shelter assistance is also helping communities manage the camps as well as coordinate information assistance to settlers. 

Along with shelter aids, including repair kits to houses which the quake partially ruined, other organizations are helping communities put up water and sanitation kits including hygiene tips, health and medical services, livelihood assistance through cash for work schemes and long term alternative livelihood that would allow settlers to live decent lives. 

He also asked international donors present at the forum, of they could be helped in bringing water to the new site. 

UNICEF’s Cogie Vidad also assured her group would talk with local officials and her cluster member organizations to share costs in tapping communal tap-stands and putting in a reservoir at the new resettlement. 

On this, although a quick settlement of their situation is still bleak, faces of evacuation enter settlers here appear a bit lighter after the forum, knowing that they may be relocated to a new site, they would be bringing still their neighbors. 

With the neighbors working together to solve problems, life wont be tough, after all, councilor Omac said.

PIA trains Candabong student 
writers during HEAT IT -Anda 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

ANDA, Bohol, March 11, 2014 (PIA)— In response to the call for education as that which helps Bohol attain its progress, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) brings in student skills trainings to Candabong National High School (CNHS) in time for the HEAT-IT Caravan in Anda, March 11. 

Aspiring young writers, about 18 of them from Grades 7 to fourth year, gathered at the school’s Computer Room, to learn about the basics of News-writing, do it and be critiqued of their work. 

In the afternoon, the same group, now joined by school paper advisers then delved into the basics of photography and photojournalism, the basics of the digital camera and the tips on taking good media-presentable shots as well as the basics of photo captioning. 

The short course also includes a practicum on picture and photo coverage, photo captioning, minor desktop editing, cropping photographs, and preparing photo releases. 

School principal Zita Amora said she appreciates the government for offering the free training to their students who have gone to several annual press conferences with barely enough training. 

The training workshops is PIA Bohol’s contribution to Capitol’s Health, Agriculture, Education, Tourism and Information Technology (HEAT-IT) service caravan which was designed to bring government services to the communities. 

The training is also part of the PIA Bohol’s Leadership Enhancement Training Seminar (LETS) workshops designed to help students earn better skills in schools. 

PIA has been offering its LETS workshops in schools and in previous caravans all over Bohol. 

Aside from the LETS Media skills workshops, PIA also has training seminars for Livelihood Enhancement, Tourism and related services as well as Arts, Sports and Theater skills.

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