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Old March 7th, 2008, 10:43 PM   #21
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Mt. Province prepares for Lang-ay Festival

BONTOC, Mt. Province – Preparations are now underway for the fourth staging of the Lang-ay Festival here in April.

After a series of meetings, the Lang-ay Development Council chaired by Governor Maximo B. Dalog, finalized plans for this year’s celebration that will revolve around the theme of: “ Living Tradition: We care and share.”

Activities were identified for the week long celebration that will start on April 1st and the different committees organized to insure the best presentations for this year’s Lang-ay Festival.

The series of events include an agro-industrial fair, traditional and tribal competitions as ‘Gimata’ race and pounding rice; indigenous games and exhibits, cultural dance presentation combined with street dancing parade, Day-eng contest, and cultural fashion show among others.

The agro-industrial fair, now a regular component of the annual festival, will serve as the ‘kick off’ activity of the week-long festival and will formally open on April 1. There will be a contest for the best local products and best boothes.

The ‘Gimata’ race, is a race for men while carrying the “gimata” (the baskets on both ends of a strong pole used to transport newly harvested rice-on-stalk) and pounding rice competition for women. Competing in these events will be chosen from the Balangao, Baliwon, Aplai, Kankana-ey and Bontoc tribes. Participants must be in their ethnic attire.

Lomban di amam-a ya inin-a (marathon for the elderly) is open to men aging 50 years old and above for the 5km run and women who are 45 years old and above for the 3km run. Interested to participate are required to submit medical and birth certificates.

The street dancing competition will be opened to two groups: the Children Street Dancing which shall be participated in by elementary pupils; and the first and second year high school students. Participants in this category shall be composed of a minimum of 25 to a maximum of 30 students;

The second group is for the Mixed-age Group street dancing which shall be participated in by the community of all ages with a minimum of 60 to a maximum of 100 performers to include dancers, musicians and prop-bearers.

Other activities to be conducted during the week-long festival include mountain trekking; skills fair/showcase; Ms. Mt. Province Pageant; Lang-ay Theme song competition; farmers forum/congress/lectures; medical/dental mission; coffee sipping experience; indigenous worship and concert; Theater presentation; 11th Community get together; Job fair and Serbisyo Caravan of selected agencies; Chorale Fest; Oratorical contest for the youth with the theme, ‘Gawis ay Mountain Province’.

The Regional Development Council will also be holding its meeting here.

From the P1.5 million allocation last year, the provincial government has increased the Lang-ay allocation for 2008 to P2 million.

Financial assistance of P50,000 will be given to each of the ten municipalities to defray cost of preparation, coordination, and rehearsal for street dancing, props and costumes, preparation ,of booths and honorarium of municipal coordinator/choreographer.

Another P10,000 per municipality to defray cost of lunch by the Chico River Bank; P10,000 each for transportation expenses for the municipalities of Barlig, Sabangan, Sagada, Sadanga, Bauko, Besao and Tadian; and P20,000 each for the Natonin and Paracelis, the farthest municipalities.

Financial assistance of P15,000 will also be given to each participating group in the children street dancing to defray expenses incurred during coordination, preparation, to include costumes, props, etc.

The remaining amount will be given as cash prizes to the winners of the different competitions like in the street dancing, the Best Performer in the Mixed-Age group will be given a cash prize of P50,000 while the other participants will be given P25,000. the Best Performer in the children group will receive a cash prize of P10,000 and consolation prize of P5,000 for each participating group.

The Lang-ay Festival, which was first staged in 2004, is the biggest crowd drawer in the province.
(Juliet B. Saley/PIA MP)

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Old March 9th, 2008, 12:08 PM   #22
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Trails, instead of roads, will beef up Cordillera tourism

By Vincent Cabreza
Northern Luzon Bureau

BAGUIO CITY -- Common sense tells most people that roads lead towns to economic success.

But an alternative map detailing a rudimentary trail system, which links 500 kilometers of rich forest land in interior Cordillera, may be all that rural communities need to bring modern trade to them.

Ibaloi naturalist Jose Alipio of the Ateneo de Manila University offered experts this alternative road map at the first International Conference on Cordillera Studies sponsored by the University of the Philippines Baguio last week.

The National Economic and Development Authority spent two decades negotiating for funds to complete the Cordillera road improvement project, a network of roads that connect Baguio City to Benguet, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao and Abra.

The region counts most of its towns as poverty-stricken communities.

But instead of pining for concrete roads, government should start developing earthen trails instead, said Alipio, a grant beneficiary of the National Geographic Society.

Trail development “brings money into remote villages without [resorting] to the cost of building roads,” he explained.

The primary industry that could make good use of trails is tourism, he said, because foreign tourists who visit the Cordillera have been drawn there by government’s eco-tourism marketing campaign.

Alipio said most of these community trails have been used for decades to haul market goods for trade with neighboring towns.

Most villagers in interior Cordillera have been waiting for government to build them proper roads, he said.

According to the Department of Public Works and Highways website, the Cordillera has 1,844 kilometers of road.

But only 510 kilometers of these road stretches are paved with concrete, and about 105 kilometers are covered by asphalt.

The public’s attention has been concentrated on Halsema Highway, the main artery between Benguet and Mt. Province that is used to transport the region’s daily supply of salad vegetables to Metro Manila.

In the latest assessment made by the Regional Development Council, capital gaps still compel government to suspend paving plans for these road networks.

Alipio offered a reason for the delay: “If I were a businessman, and I would build P50 million [worth of] road [benefiting only] five houses in a village, how would I get back that P50 million?”

The alternative road map “brings the outside economy to the village instead of bringing the village to the market.”

A master’s degree holder in environmental management, Alipio admitted that his primary concern was the region’s dwindling forest land.

Reducing the amount of concrete should protect the region’s natural landscape, and allow interior communities to harness their water, land and floral resources at their own pace, he said.

He said his initial survey suggested a correlation between the high consumption of forest resources to a local economy.

He said many Cordillerans have migrated to the cities or abroad to work, and the money they remit back home determines how much trees are cut for fuel near their villages.

The proposed trail system requires communities to develop their own “cultural maps” because the villages become “pseudo-protected areas.”

“What we want to present here is tourism where tourists learn from the local community instead of impose what they want from the local community,” Alipio said.

He said he and fellow environmentalists have mapped out the primary trails that already lead to popular Cordillera tourist haunts.

But before the trails can be “commercially activated,” villagers must also develop mechanisms that would address problems that accompany tourism, he said.

He said communities should also determine their respective “carrying capacities” for tourists.

Bhutan in the Himalayas, for instance, requires tourists to spend a minimum of $500. This helps reduce the number of visitors there, he said.
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Old March 9th, 2008, 09:57 PM   #23
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Getting Lost: A walk in the clouds


On the cover of Newsweek a couple of months ago it says, “Slow is Beautiful.” Just like the “Slow Food” movement, a new philosophy in travel is encouraging visitors to be more reflective on their experiences, to go beyond what they see and explore what their other senses can perceive.

Like all other terraces in Ifugao, the Hungduan rice terraces has been seriously neglected. Photo courtesy of Chen Reyes-Mencias

A trip to the Ifugao province emphasized this paradigm as I allowed myself to see, taste, feel and understand what it is like to visit a place that is so rich in culture and history that I ended up craving for more.

Discovering a treasure

An interesting bit of information that got my attention was the fact that Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita surrendered in Ifugao. This mountain hideaway was the last stance of the Japanese Imperial Army. Perhaps this created a lot of speculation about the possibility of having hidden treasures in places where he was known to have been during the war.

More valuable though are the terraces themselves that remains to be the most compelling asset of the province.

More commonly known as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the hagdan-hagdan or rice terraces of Ifugao province is an engineering feat that never fails to amaze visitors. The actual date of the terraces is highly debated. Several theories have developed over the years, although the most amazing is the result of carbon-14 dating that indicated that the oldest terraces could have been made as early as the 7th century.

Inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List are four sites: Mayaoyao, Hungduan, Banaue and Kiangan. Each one demonstrates indigenous knowledge that is in danger of disappearing for good unless steps are taken to preserve them for the benefit of future generations.

Mayaoyao is known for experts on native house constructions, stone tiling and stone terrace construction. Hungduan is known for their land management while Kiangan is said to be known for indigenous rice production. Banaue is also known for its rice production, as well as for forest management. It is also the most famous tourist destination among the four.

Serious concern

The terraces may be man-made but just like natural ecosystems they are plagued with serious problems. Poverty and the interest of young people to seek better opportunities in the cities have led to some terraces being abandoned. Lack of local employment and livelihood leaves the people no option but to migrate somewhere else.

Tourism and development planners find it depressing to see a growing trend on the use of GI sheets for roofing. Locals, however find the iron roofs much cheaper than using traditional materials. As one local farmer said galvanized roofs are easier to maintain than the traditional grass roofs.

More than a dozen Ifugao houses had been saved and are now showcased near the Municipal Hall of Hungduan. Photo courtesy of Chen Reyes-Mencias

Some government officials consider tin-roofed houses as eyesores because these stand out against the landscape. It is easy for them to conclude that local folk are not concerned about preserving their culture and heritage. However, it should be noted that such trends are indicators of the declining economic state of affairs. Minimum basic needs such as food, education, shelter, clothing and health care have to be addressed first before any resources are used for conservation. Poor people will always find ways to maximize whatever money they have, sometimes at the expense of heritage.

The proliferation of large earthworms has been a serious concern as well since they have weakened the terraces and caused erosion. The use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers has resulted in the decline in production of some farms. The local fish called yuyu that used to thrive in the rice paddies almost disappeared because of the increased toxicity of the soil.

Hope for the future

Education will play a key role in the preservation of indigenous knowledge and vernacular landscapes. The integration of heritage education in mainstream education will ensure that the next generation will appreciate their heritage and will continue to protect it. This is exactly what a small band of young men and women are focusing on.

The Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMO) is an NGO implementing the project aptly called Indigenous Knowledge Transmission (IKT). The group is piloting this concept at the Ifugao State College and aims to integrate indigenous knowledge in the school curriculum. Led by passionate indigenous knowledge experts, the group hopes to see Ifugaos preserve their architecture, food, arts, crafts, dances, folklore, costumes, jewelry, practices and traditions amid the sweeping changes happening in the world.

Augusto Villalon, chairperson of the International Committee on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Philippines said, “People is part of the landscape and it is in the way they adopt to the challenges of their environment that they develop their heritage.”

Indeed the challenge for the local people is to find a balance between survival and protecting the terraces, a colossal task considering that they are now perceived as a precious asset not just for the Ifugaos but f for humanity.

Hungduan Mayor Pablo Cuyahon emphasizes that the locals are doing their best in preserving the terraces not just for them or for the Filipino people but for the world.

“It is a remarkable responsibility,” Mayor Cuayahon adds.

Ordinances banning the use of chemicals in rice planting and the re-seeding of the paddies with yuyu is restoring productivity. Concerted effort is already bearing its fruit as more young people have seriously made the choice to stay and have an active role in the advocacy.

A glimpse of what lies ahead

As I climbed the steps to the Lagud Village Learning Inn, I was met by Japanese-looking girls wearing ampuyo or skirt that has red and black stripes. It turned out that they were indeed Japanese students who came over for an immersion trip. I learned that they had been living in the village for three months. Upon reaching the top I saw more students, this time locals who had been active participants in a scheme that allow them to raise funds for their education through tourism.

This boy proudly shows off the list of visitors who bought seedlings to be transplanted in the muyong or forest. Part of the fund will go to his education. Photo courtesy of Chen Reyes-Mencias

Eco-cultural tours provide interesting experiences to visitors as the people themselves showcase their culture through dances, souvenirs, local wine and food, and even traditional ways of managing their natural environment. After some dancing, chanting and merrymaking, the festive mood became more serious when the tour organizer announced that visitors can help by buying seedlings that may be planted in the muyong or forest on top of the mountain that supplies water to the terraces. This tree-planting project is not only a source of fund for the conservation activities, but also pays for the education of the young scholars.

The Pochon Group headed by Joan Sheelah Nalliw has come up with highly experiential activities for tourists during the planting and harvesting season. The guests are allowed to participate in the actual planting and harvesting of rice and in building local Ifugao houses. As they become ambassadors of their own people, they promote local pride, as well as increased appreciation and awareness of their own cultural identity.

After a day of traveling and sight-seeing I went to the local market and bought a drum and a few functional baskets. I was tempted to buy more souvenirs with the distinctive ethno-cultural motifs. I held myself and instead bought a bottle of baya, also called pfudfud. What better way to end my three-day trip than to relax and taste the local rice wine. While sipping the local brew I sat in the balcony of the hotel enjoying the panoramic view of the majestic steps that disappeared in the clouds. I could not help but feel proud. There is not a drop of Ifugao blood in my body but as a Filipino, I am one with them in their advocacy to leave a legacy for the future.

For more information about the eco-cultural tours of Ifugao and how you can help preserve its rich culture, contact Nilo Manangan at [email protected] and The Pochon Group at [email protected] . Let me know what you think. Send me an email at [email protected].

Article from the Northern Dispatch Information Service
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Old March 10th, 2008, 10:35 AM   #24
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Cordillera losing its water due to watershed destruction

Philippine Daily Inquirer

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET—The Cordillera Administrative Region is losing more water than saving its sources, and irrigation officials are afraid the region may fail in its bid to become a major cushion against climate change.

Abraham Akilit, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) regional manager, said declining forest cover and watershed degradation continued to imperil the region’s remaining water supply sources. “More water is being lost than kept,” he told reporters in a forum here on March 4.

Akilit said expanding commercial vegetation remained to be the main human activity that had threatened the life of watersheds, bringing to a head-on collision the government’s poverty mitigation agenda and watershed protection.

The government, he said, must balance food security program in the region that puts premium on vegetable production and the need to preserve the ecosystems, particularly in areas where farming has become viable.

“The food program must be pushed with regulation to avoid agriculture encroaching on watersheds,” he said.

Akilit admitted, however, that the food security program that dwelt on intensive food production might not ignite a massive conversion to agriculture lands since other reasons might have also caused the depletion of the watersheds.

Forest fires, illegal logging and slash-and-burn farming, called the kaingin system, were also hurting the forests and other natural resources.

The impact of commercial vegetation, Akilit said, was most felt when vegetable terraces were carved out of mountain slopes that loosen the soil, making them vulnerable to slides, erosion and siltation.

This can be seen in the cases of Mt. Data National Park in Bauko, Mt. Province, and of Mt. Pulag, the country’s second highest peak that straddles Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.

The felling of trees and the elimination of mossy forests in these areas have compromised the ability of the forests to survive for a long time, he said.

This was the reason that pushed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the NIA to launch a massive tree nursery and tree planting program of more than one million trees as a measure to arrest the forest and watershed decline, Akilit said.
Records showed that the NIA had scored some success in its campaign to rehabilitate the watersheds and make full use of the distribution of water to the farms.

Reynaldo Apil, NIA engineering and operations chief in the Cordillera, said more drainage canals, water reservoir, pipe lines and other water conveyors were constructed for rice, corn and vegetable farmers.
Delmar Carino, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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Old March 10th, 2008, 10:44 AM   #25
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Benguet needs more development funds

By Jane Cadalig

WHILE Benguet is perceived to be receiving more than other provinces in the Cordillera region in terms of agricultural development funds, Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said much has yet to be improved in the province.

"In fact, we need more (funding) assistance from the National Government because we still have wide (agricultural) areas which need more improvement," Fongwan said.

The governor was reacting to an earlier claim that Benguet is the favorite of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in terms of funding for farm-to-market roads (FMRs) having allotted the highest amount last year.

Fongwan said several vegetable producing areas in the province have yet to be reached by infrastructure developments.

He added that Benguet was not the province being referred to, when three Cordillera regional governors slammed the DA allegedly for playing favorites in allocating funds for FMRs.

"I believe when they said that, they were not referring to any province because we all have the same problems," Fongwan said, while adding that other provinces should not envy Benguet's FMR development as this also benefits nearby localities being the major link from the farm to the market.

"The improvement of the roads in Benguet is benefiting the farmers in our neighboring provinces," he said.

Benguet was allotted P15 million from the DA's FMR program last year, but the agency's top officials clarified that the province got more because it is the major vegetable producer in the region.

Other provinces which produce majority of other commodities like rice and corn are also allotted more under the DA's program for the commodities.
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Old March 12th, 2008, 10:43 PM   #26
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Ancient burials

Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd

It would be a shame to make it all the way to Banaue and not make the trip further to Sagada, a tranquil mountaintop town famous for its ancient burial caves and hanging coffins.

But be forewarned, the journey there is not for the faint-hearted.

We were on the National Highway but the dirt road looked anything but that.
It was dusty, narrow, washed out in certain areas and full of potholes. The 62km journey from Banaue to Sagada, which might take 30 minutes on a regular highway, took four hours.

Coffins stacked like logs in the Lumiang Burial Caves.

Often, drivers have to wait when the road gets too narrow as they figure out who gets right of way. The system is such that it’s not about who is ascending or descending but rather who has the bigger space. I noticed that the drivers were very patient, for they would wait without grumbling at lorries or tractors doing construction work in the middle of the road oblivious to traffic.

They will only move once their job is done. Most of the time was spent waiting for one thing or the other, as the debris from landslides covered the road at most places. Our guide informed us that they carry shovels in the coach for a bit of D-I-Y remedy since it would take ages to wait for the authorities to clear landslides.

Tours to Sagada are also dependent on weather and road condition, so make sure to check with your local tour guide before making arrangements to this part of the Philippines.

We stopped at Mt Polis, the highest point of our journey, to take pictures with a giant Virgin Mary statue that was at least three-storeys high. It was quite chilly as the wind was very strong.

There were small shops selling various local products by the side of the road, and I decided to try their delicacy, balut (duck embryo in an egg), which is supposed to warm you up. The sight was not very appealing but it tasted like normal duck and egg. I was amused at my fellow German tour mates because they were appalled by the idea of eating duck embryo and refused to taste it.

As we approached Bontoc town, the gateway to the Cordillera region, I noticed that the rice terraces were shorter and the walls made of stone in contrast to the mud terraces at Banaue. The farmers here must be very romantic, for we spotted plenty of vegetable crops planted to form heart shapes and words such as IªU.

The Bontoc Village Museum is a must-visit as it is quite simply the best in the region, with its powerful black-and-white photos and the indigenous music accompanying its exhibits relating to the region’s main tribes.

The head-hunter exhibits are the most fascinating as there are some grisly photos of the ancient practice. Check out the Bontoc village replicas outside to have a better understanding on how the tribes live.

Hanging Coffins make it easier for the dead to reach God.

We finally arrived at Sagada and were taken straight to the grand but eerie Lumiang Burial Caves where over 100 coffins were stacked, the oldest believed to be about 500 years old. The dead were buried in a foetal position and left in the cave. Our guide told us that most coffins are empty as irresponsible tourists used to take bones and artefacts home as souvenirs. The area is well-guarded now.

There was another area before the main cave, which housed smaller coffins of mothers who died in childbirth and young children.

We passed the Sugong Coffins that were suspended on the cliff face on the way back. These “Hanging Coffins” are perched precariously on wedges that are seemingly impossible to reach. Sagadians believe that the higher the gravesite, the easier it would be for their lost ones to reach Heaven or God.

Many come to Sagada to explore the network of limestone caves and subterranean streams. Sumaging Cave, the largest, can be explored by anyone with a local guide. Basic tours last around three hours but it is possible to spend an entire day inside.
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Old March 14th, 2008, 07:59 PM   #27
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Cordillera experiments with educ programs for remote villages

KIANGAN, Ifugao – Cordillera is experimenting on innovative teaching practices to combat the low functional literacy rate caused by the region's lack of roads and schools.

Here in Kiangan, in the woodcarving village of Bolog, a pre-school program was launched to solve these problems.

The Supervised Neighborhood Playgroup had mothers and volunteers of pre-school children teaching their kids. The nearest school is about three kilometers away.

The SNP, coordinated by the Cordillera Parents Federation Incorporation with assistance from the Christian Children's Fund, was proven to be effective as the normal preschool instruction program.

"This will serve as an example of responsible parenthood to others for the proper early childhood growth and the development of their children," a CPFI officer said.

Another grassroots program is the Text2Teach500 project of the Southeast Asian Ministries on Education Organization - Innotech, Nokia, Globe Telecom, Ayala Foundation and other partner agencies.

The T2T500 will provide every school beneficiary with a satellite disk, television and video server/recorder and mobile phones for teachers to just text for specific videos to be accessed. The educational videos would then be sent and the class could then watch and learn.

Two-hundred of the 500 elementary schools in remote areas are expected to come from the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley.

In terms of simple literacy, Cordillera is at par with the rest of the country, but fails in functional literacy.

Benito Tumapao, Cordillera head of the Department of Education, said the simple literacy rate of the region is 97 percent (the national rate is 92.3 percent in 2000) but the functional literacy is only 84 percent. This is the same functional literacy rate for the country.

Tumapao said the lack of books and infrastructures particularly in remote communities contributed to the low functional literacy. He also said that these same communities have no or little exposure to modern technology .

Tumapao said that grassroots education is the key to increasing literacy. - GMANews.TV
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Old March 15th, 2008, 09:39 PM   #28
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Town readies new strawberry products for festival

By Delmar Cariño
PDI Northern Luzon Bureau

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET – Jammed, juiced, fermented, extracted for flavor or simply eaten raw, Benguet’s versatile strawberry has come a long way from its usual preparations to include being lipped, scrubbed – and even applied as feminine wash.

This town’s strawberry festival on March 14-28 will feature not only fresh and sweet strawberries but new byproducts as well, such as soap, lotion, body scrub, lip gloss and feminine wash. Mayor Artemio Galwan said the town was ready to start making them in a bid to widen the market potentials for its fruits.

“We are the country’s strawberry capital. But we are all set to go beyond strawberry jams and strawberry cakes. Our farmers are ready to become entrepreneurs themselves,” he said.

Felicitas Ticbaen, the municipal agriculturist, said the growing market for fresh strawberries and processed products had made local production an annual P50-million industry. National demand has pushed farmers to increase production, she said.

Farmers, she said, should not be satisfied with supplying only the retail and wet markets. Right now, she said, the market for both fresh and processed strawberries had been responsive to the 600 strawberry farmers.

La Trinidad has more than 74 hectares of strawberry fields with an average production of 14 metric tons (MT) per hectare.

The festival will be geared toward looking for institutional buyers who will patronize most of the 3,234 MT of strawberries produced a year. Harvests come between November and April. A kilogram costs P35 to P80 during peak season and from P90 to P300 during the off-season, Galwan said

Byproducts will mark the festival’s “Strawberry Lane,” in a bid to bring back memories of the town’s record of producing the “World’s Largest Strawberry Short Cake” in 2004, which landed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

“The festival will highlight our strawberries in terms of its aesthetic and business potentials,” Galwan said. Local entrepreneurs hope to cash in on the festival following the success of the sale of strawberry byproducts in the Panagbenga Flower Festival in Baguio City last month.

Metaphor Soaps, a strawberry processing business of the Ayupan family, sold 500 such products at the flower festival, using around 40 kg of fresh strawberries.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 08:32 AM   #29
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PGMA visits vegetable farms

BAGUIO CITY – Still in a working Holy Week mode, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will visit and touch base with vegetable and strawberry farmers in Betag in nearby La Trinidad today (Saturday).

La Trinidad is holding a Strawberry Festival.

The President is scheduled to motor to Betag for a firsthand look into the plight of upland farmers whose produce have been affected by blight due to unexpected fluctuations of the temperature in the area.

Local government officials, farmers and researchers from the Benguet State University (BSU), formerly the Mountain State Agricultural College (MSAC), will present to the President the result of their studies on the processing of vegetables into veggie noodles, veggie meat, veggie sausage, and dehydrated veggie noodles which can be commercialized as processed food.

Processing vegetables, instead of selling them to middlemen at bargain-basement prices in the wake of natural calamities, or a supply glut, will help farmers earn higher income from their produce.

The President will also send off delivery trucks laden with processed vegetables from the country’s vegetable bowl to Metro Manila markets.

Before proceeding to Betag, the President will distribute various forms of government assistance in nearby Brgy. Puguis, including rice and checks for farm-to-market road projects.

She will also distribute certificates to operate several Botika ng Barangay, about 3,000 Philhealth cards, certificates to operate Tindahan Natin in La Trinidad, self-employment assistance, scholarships, vegetable seeds, financial support for the vegetable industry, and English reading materials for teachers.

Accompanying her are Rep. Samuel Dangwa of the lone district of Benguet, and Gov. Nestor Fongwa.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 08:13 PM   #30
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IFUGAO NEWS : Mayoyao Prepares for Igkhumtad ad Majawjaw 2008 Festival

Mayoyao, Ifugao – Officials from the Local Government Unit, Non-government Organizations, and various sectors met here last March 7 to discuss the preparations and conduct of Igkhumtad ad Majawjaw 2008.

Igkhumtad, according to indigenous knowledge holder Robert Bongayon, is a mythical term from the mythical adventures of the heroic Aligkhujon who had shown prowess in top playing and wrestling in a famous Igkhumtad ad Pfayyukan, a festivity in Pfayyukan that used to draw the Mayoyao people together after rice planting season to hold competitions that test physical strength and intelligence. Bongayon explained that to extol this extraordinary literary masterpiece and instill it in the hearts of the young generation, it is but proper that officials carried out the conduct of Igkhumtad festival from mythology to reality and now, being conducted here in Majawjaw (Mayoyao).

As per ordinance, Igkhumtad ad Majawjaw is annually conducted on April 25 to 27. Locals from the 27 barangays of Mayoyao gather at the stone tiled municipal plaza to participate in various activities such as ethnic parade, ethnic sports and take pleasure with everyone’s presence.

Mayoyao Mayor Romeo O. Chulana facilitated the said meeting that resulted to the identification of ethnic sports to be contested, presentations, working committees, and suggestions to enhance all activities making them truly educational to the young generation and tourists. One of the participants pointed out that the essence of each activity must be given emphasis by the organizers.

Furthermore, the body tackled the problems being encountered in the promotion of the said festival. One of which is the changing of the festival’s name from Tikhaw to Igkhumtad ad Majawjaw in year 2002. Tikhaw is a festive celebration of victory and is usually held after rice planting season. A participant brought out that tourists who attended the Tikhaw ad Majawjaw wrote articles on it and posted them in the internet, as a consequence, there are tourists inquiring more on the Tikhaw festival. Planning Coordinator Florence Ponchinlan said that she had foreseen the said problem and presented it to the committee members but were persistent to change its name because Tikhaw, according to them, has negative connotation.

Discussions on the festival’s official name resulted to the agreement to retain its current name since it had been used for 6 years. It was reiterated that Igkhumtad is, at any rate, worth promoting taking into account its mythical origin. --Jeremy M. Gawongna
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 08:16 PM   #31
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IFUGAO NEWS : Construction of Ifugao hut to signal cultural festival in Hungduan

The traditional rituals that weave the fabric of tribal identity, this time those surrounding the construction of the nail-less native house on stilts of the Ifugaos, will be done on March 30 in remote Hungduan town where some of the most extensive and oldest rice terraces in the Cordillera are found.

“Hamang di Bale”, as the rituals are collectively called, will prepare the setting for the annual “Tungoh” festival, set mid-April in an effort to help mend the fraying cultural fabric.

“We hope this cultural revival will convince those who trace their roots to Hungduan, especially the younger Ifugaos, to return home and learn, appreciate, value and help save their vanishing heritage,” mayor Pablo Cuyahon said.

“Tungoh” is a period of rest after the terraces have been planted, in anticipation of a bountiful harvest in July of the highly valued “tinawon” (yearly) native rice variety planted during the “tunod” last January.

The festival proper opens on April 15, with the remaining “mumbaki” (native priests) presiding over the traditional “hogop di bale” (house-warming ritual) beside the town hall where nine native huts – one for each of the town’s barangays – were built.

Mayor Cuyahon himself will officiate in a “pahang ad Hungduan”, a mass wedding ceremony for couples who were earlier united in native rites but whose children will need the marriage contract document when they go to school or for other legal purposes.

“Bayah”, or fermented rice wine, “inlagim”, a native version of duck, chicken or pork stew and other traditional dishes will be offered in a dinner-for-a-cause set evening of April 16.

Villagers from the nine barangays will be in full native regalia the following day for a parade depicting the evolution of the Ifugao costume, followed by traditional contests in native dance, gong-beating, native song, ethnic ensemble and the ethnic games.

On top of the “guyyud” (tug-of-war), “hanggul” (arm wrestling), “dopap” (wrestling) for men will be a contest in the chanting of the “hudhud”, the romantic tales celebrating wealth and nobility and are traditionally sang by women during harvest and wakes.

Chorale and folk dancing will continue until evening. Some of the young men, however, will rest early for their foot race to and from historic Mt. Napulawan.,Ifugao’s highest peak.

As in past years, a team from the Philippine Sports Commission will sponsor and record the climathon up and down the mountain where Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, commander of the Japanese imperial forces made his last stand before his surrender in neighboring Kiangan town.

The fastest runner is expected finish the climb in two hours, in time for the continuation of the ethnic contests featuring “akkad” (stilts), “bangngunana” and “mumbayo” ( rice-pounding).

Other features of this year’s “tungoh” include ball games, a chess tournament, tree-planting, musical-literary contests, and the search for Wigan and Bugan, to personify the first man and woman in Ifugao myth –- Ramon Dacawi.
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Old March 23rd, 2008, 08:48 AM   #32
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42 Cordillera bridge projects now finished

P451.8-M program improves accessibility of remote areas


BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported the completion of 42 President’s bridge projects in different areas of the region with a total cost of P451.8 million.

The bridges were constructed to improve accessibility of remote areas and spur economic activities.

In a report submitted to Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Engineer Mariano Alquiza, Cordillera DPWH director, stated that 25 of the bridge projects were funded by the United Kingdom (UK), 13 bridges were financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and two were funded by Austria.

Alquiza said the UK-funded bridge projects have a total length of 992.5 meters, the JICA-assisted bridges, 421 meters; and the Austrian-aided bridge projects, 89.98 meters.

The report stated that the funding for the 25 bridges came from the UK President’s bridge program, 13 from JICA, and two from the Austrian bridge program.

The remote areas in the Cordillera, particularly in the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province, were the recipients of the foreign-funded bridge projects.

These areas need bridges to link remote communities to urban centers. This is expected to facilitate economic development in the countryside.

Mountain Province got the most number of bridge projects with 13; Kalinga, second, with 11; Apayao, 10; Benguet and Abra, three each; Ifugao, two.

The implementation of the President’s Bridge program started in 2004 when funds from various foreign agencies began to come.

Alquiza noted the improved accessibility in the areas where the bridge projects were undertaken, saying that thousands of people can now travel faster from one place to another because of the improved accessibility.

The national government under the stewardship of President Arroyo has embarked on a sustained effort to bring infrastructure development to the countryside.

It is one of her priority programs to help uplift the living condition of people who are on "the level of extreme poverty."

These programs are also intended to attract investors who would pour in money in businesses in the countryside.

Alquiza said that the DPWH will continue to fast-track the implementation of priority projects of the President in the different parts of the Cordillera in a bid to fulfill the commitment of the government for better accessibility and more opportunities for rural people to earn income and improve their living condition.
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Old March 23rd, 2008, 07:52 PM   #33
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Cordillera gets P10B for PNP modernization

LA TRINIDAD, BENGUET – Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon has handed 27 new vehicles to Cordillera to start the P10-billion PNP modernization program.

Razon said that the program had just been approved by Malacanang this week and is needed to boost the police effort in combating lawlessness and preserve peace and order in the countryside.

Cordillera Regional Police Chief Superintendent Eugene Martin said that the fleet given to the province includes 13 Toyota Hi Lux pickup, 11 motorcycles and two Toyota Altis.

Martin said that the Cordillera would be the first in northern Luzon to benefit the modernization program.

He said that these would be dispatched to the more remote towns in the Cordillera.
Razon said that the police needs about 500 more vehicles for its fleet. He said that this would augment the 8,000 vehicles the PNP already have.

Razon said that the fund would be used not only for vehicles but also for firearms and police stations.

He also said that the country needs 1,800 more police stations all over the country.

Razon inaugurated a new police station on a lot donated by the La Trinidad municipality.

He also visited the all-women police station in Baguio located at Burnham Park. Thirteen female cops headed by Police Senior Inspector Maria Teresa Pucay heads the station, which particularly caters to women and children cases. - GMANews.TV
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Old March 23rd, 2008, 07:53 PM   #34
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Cordi visitor arrivals reach 1M

Sun Star

TOURIST arrivals in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) reached the one million mark last year, five years after this was first recorded way back in 2002.

This year also registered the highest number of foreign tourist arrivals, the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office reported.

Tourist arrivals surpassed the five percent increase target, the DOT in its report said, with Baguio still the top destination at 71 percent. Benguet province followed with 11 percent and Ifugao with nine percent.

DOT records showed that from January to December last year, 1,117,226 tourists arrived, compared to only 992,918 in 2006.

Domestic tourists still account for the largest number at 90.46 percent, 8.28 percent for foreigners, and 1.26 percent for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In terms of foreign arrivals, Ifugao accounted for the highest arrivals at 50 percent or 46,036 visitors and Baguio with 38 percent or 34,810.

Koreans topped the list of foreign visitors followed by Americans, Japanese and Germans. (RO)
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Old March 24th, 2008, 12:11 PM   #35
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Going organic


Whether for health reasons, or just watching their figures, or being environmentally conscious, many are into lifestyle changes nowadays in terms of health habits. This growing trend is an indication that more people are becoming more aware on the importance of “clean living” not only for their physical condition but for their overall well-being.

Organic farms like this in La Trinidad are also frequented by tourists who are treated to a first-hand experience on organic farming. Photo courtesy of Braxton Valasote

Unfortunately, corporate food manufacturers are taking advantage of this trend. There are more choices than ever in terms of “healthy” food products. We are bombarded with all kinds of products that are low fat, sugar-free, low cholesterol, and free from preservatives, which are most probably just deceiving marketing strategies.

Vegetarian diet

Many switch to vegetarian diets for different reasons. Health considerations, economic concerns, and religious beliefs are the most common reasons for opting for this kind of alternative diet. Some convert to vegetarianism out of concern over animal rights or the environment.

There are those who refrain from consuming heavily processed foods. They prefer whole wheat bread over regular white bread, brown sugar or even moscuvado over white sugar, and brown rice over regular commercial rice. The principle behind is that the more process a product undergoes, the less nutrients are left in the finished product.

A stricter form of vegetarianism is veganism. Vegan diet excludes meats and other animal by-products like eggs, dairy products and honey.

But there are a growing number of people who go beyond just being simple vegetarians or the more strict vegans and consume only organically grown produce. Organic living is gaining mainstream popularity mainly because of the increase in consumer awareness on food safety issues and environmental concerns.

Organic farming

Organic farming does not only refrain from using commercial chemical fertilizers and other plant regulators. It involves a more integrated and ecologically balanced approach to farming. To maintain soil productivity, organic farmers rely on the use of plant residues and animal wastes as fertilizers. Farmers practice crop rotation or grow a variety of crops to promote biodiversity. The use of genetically modified organisms or hybrid seeds is also discouraged to promote sustainability.

Because of the growing demand for organically grown produce, a number of conventional farmers shift to organic farming. Here in Benguet Province, member-farmers of the La Trinidad Organic Practitioners Multipurpose Cooperative or LaTOPMC are farmers who took the risk and opted to go organic in their farming business. LaTOPMC organized with the support from the La Trinidad local government in 2005 has 46 members coming from Benguet municipalities of Tuba, Tublay, Sablan, Atok, and Buguias.

Aside from highland vegetables and fruits such as carrots, lettuce, strawberries and blueberries, they also produce low land crops like okra, eggplants, ampalaya and string beans. They also have different herbs like mint, basil, and oregano. For tea they have lemon grass and yakon leaves. They also produce special products like mushroom patties and malunggay noodles.

To ensure the quality of their products, the LaTOP cooperative formed a committee that inspects farms of those applying to be a member. As its standard, the committee checks the history of the farm, quality of the compost being used, soil quality, and water quality. They also do surprised inspections to make sure the farmers are not deviating from their standards.

“We produce our own compost by using plant residues or the “green manure” and for pesticides, we make our own spray using fermented mixture of fruit extracts, garlic, ginger, sugar, beer and gin,” said Lily Carpio of the LAC Eco-Farm and a member of LaTOP. She said they also place aromatic plants like oregano along the plots or in between crops to repel unwanted pests.

It is not only in farming that the organic system is practiced. A growing number of poultry and hog raisers are also into this trend. They avoid using artificial animal feeds and boosters. As a result, they produce eggs and meats that are free from any chemicals and are therefore safer to consume. They also provide animal wastes to organic farmers to be used as natural fertilizer.

“Organic farming is more expensive than conventional farming because it is labor-intensive,” said Carpio. “But because there is a growing demand for organic produce, it pays off in terms of profit and at the same time it protects the environment,” she adds.

Japanese support

The Japanese Agricultural Exchange Council (JAEC) started an experimental program on organic farming in partnership with the Benguet State University (BSU). Started in April 2007, the three-year program trains farmers on how to properly practice organic farming.

According to JAEC representative Juntaro Nakajima, “We are very much open to share our technology and know-how on organic farming,” adding that their project aims to help farmers increase their income by organic-based vegetable production.

Whatever the reason that pushes people to go organic, those who do always find it beneficial in the long run, not only on one’s health and the environment, but also on the pocket.

Article courtesy of The Northern Dispatch Weekly
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Old March 26th, 2008, 11:16 AM   #36
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Town bans ownership of land near water sources

BONTOC, Mountain Province – In support of World Water Day over the weekend, the town of Bauko passed a radical municipal ordinance forbidding the cultivation and ownership of land within 100 meters of identified water sources.

The ordinance "prohibits any individual to claim ownership of any legal document and/or cultivate any portion of land within 100 meter radius of all sources of domestic water supply."

The passage of the ordinance came after the town received reports of contamination of drinking water from pesticides and fertilizers from commercial farmlands.

The delimited area shall fall under the responsibility of the barangay to reforest these areas with any suitable variety.

As the amendment to the Municipal Ordinance 004-C said, any tax declaration or other legal documents within these "delimited areas" would be recommended for cancellation after an agreement between the claimants and the barangay unit was forged positively.

If both parties agree, they submit the result to the municipal assessor for recommendation to the province.

Violation of the ordinance means a fine of P2,000 or imprisonment of 30 days or both upon court discretion.

Meanwhile, the whole province is set to double its "Million Tree Program" started in 2004. Mountain Province residents already planted 1,758,811 trees of various species since four years ago.

About three-fourths of these trees are forest trees while the rest are fruit-bearing ones, most of them coffee.

Provincial agriculturist Concepcion Wangdali said the province has been providing a fund of P400,000 annually to ensure that these trees mature.

The province issued tree certificates to the planters so that their children can benefit on the fruits of the trees, said Wangdali. - GMANews.TV
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Old March 26th, 2008, 11:17 AM   #37
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Mountain Province rice varieties to be exported to US

BONTOC, Mountain Province – After successfully helping Ifugao and Kalinga provinces export their native rice varieties to the United States, the Cordillera Heirloom Rice Project hopes to do the same with rice varieties from the Mountain Province.

At least 13 of the 30 native rice varieties grown from the rice terraces here were identified for export by the National Irrigation Administration and the Revitalize Indigenous Cordillera Entrepreneur (RICE).

Eighth Wonder Inc. and RICE are the marketing arm of CHRP, which had helped export up to 20 metric tons of native rice from Kalinga and Ifugao last year to gourmet shops and restaurants in 15 states in the US. In 2006, they had exported seven tons.

The rice varieties would be marketed by CHRP under one trade name known as "Ginolot." It will supplement the other CHRP's varieties like the Tinawon Fancy and White, Kalinga Unoy and Ulikan Red.

Participating towns included Sagada, Bontoc, Barlig, Bauko, Besao, Natonin, Sadanga and Tadian. CHRP conducted field consultations with the farmers in these towns before embarking on the project.

NIA regional director Abraham Akilit said exporting of the native rice varieties is expected to revitalize the payew or the rice terraces in the Mountain Province.

Many of the native rice varieties, though far more delicious, are harvested only once a year and are meant only for sustenance of the villagers.

One thing going for them, Akilit said, was that these varieties are organic, which means that they are grown with no chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In most of these payews, only sunflower leaves and stalks were used as mulch.

Akilit said that this type of cultivation made the payew sustainable for centuries. He said that the traditional way is needed if the Mountain Province wanted to preserve their remaining forests.

Akilit said that many of the payews, particularly in the low-lying towns, were already planted with commercial varieties which were already applied with chemical inputs.

He said that they needed to remain in fallow, or the ground was left to remain idle, for at least three years before they could be included in the CHRP "Ginolot" variety. - GMANews.TV
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Old March 26th, 2008, 11:18 AM   #38
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Mayors to promote Ifugao as tourist destination

By Rimaliza Opiña

EVERY mayor of Ifugao will promote his/her respective town as a tourist destination.

But instead of competing against one another, the mayors have adopted a radical change in the promotion of the province as a tourist destination.

Although the town of Banaue is recognized as the most frequented, since this is where the amphitheater-like rice terraces are located, Kiangan Mayor Jonathan Cuyahon said that with the thrust of the Provincial Government of improving its economy through tourism, every town now promotes their own tour destinations.

Ifugao is host not only to the hand-carved rice terraces but also of the Ibulao River, which is promoted as another white water rafting site; Mt. Napulawan for hikers and trekkers; caves and waterfalls.

This summer, several festivals have been lined-up in the province. These include the Imbayah in Banaue on April 15 to 17 and the Gotad ad Kiangan on April 29 to May 1. Also included in the list of major activities in the region is the International Igorot Consultation in Banaue on April 12 to 15.

Spearheaded by the International Igorot Organization (IIO), the conference is a gathering of Igorots from around the world for a few of days of immersion in their native community. The event is also held to discuss common problems of overseas Igorots.

Bontoc, capital town of Mountain Province, will be celebrating the fourth Lang-ay festival on March 31 to April 8. Street dancing parade and an agro-industrial fair will be showcased during the weeklong affair.

On April 12 to 15 will be the Sas Aliwa festival of Natonin, Mountain Province and the Unoy on April 20 to 23 in Kalinga.

Baguio recently concluded its flower festival and La Trinidad is celebrating its strawberry festival. It will end on March 30.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 09:51 AM   #39
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Rising rice costs seen good for terraces

By Vincent Cabreza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

BAGUIO CITY – Increasing world prices of rice are good for farmers tilling the centuries-old rice terraces of Ifugao and Kalinga, agriculture officials said here on Tuesday.

Organic indigenous rice grown by these farmers have penetrated the American market due to the business efforts of a former US Peace Corps volunteer, said Virginia Tapat, program coordinator of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA).

The value of the grains produced by the terraces only goes as high as P50 a kilo in domestic markets, but its export value should have tripled by now based on the new global mark-up for the staple, she said.

“For a few years now, farmers (have been exporting) their indigenous rice and spending their profits buying cheaper rice for their consumption,” she said.

President Macapagal-Arroyo said global warming had reduced harvests in most rice-producing countries and the high oil prices had hurt rice distribution.

She said the country was not experiencing a shortage, even though the $200 price tag abroad for a ton of rice had increased to $700.

The Cordillera is expected to produce 191,000 metric tons of rice by June, Tapat said, to address the increasing demand.

This is a 4.8-percent increase for Kalinga, Abra and Apayao, which produce the biggest volume of rice in the Cordillera, Tapat said, but their capacity to produce more rice is hampered by the environment and terrain.

Many farmlands there are rain-fed, which means their planting and irrigation cycles are attuned to a different season compared to lowland rice paddies, Tapat said.

But the government is looking closely at the region’s indigenous organic varieties because of the opportunities that the world demand has opened for these produce.

Unoy, a special variety of red rice, was sold for $5 (P208.40) a kilo in Montana, when it was introduced there by the Revitalized Indigenous Cordillera Entrepreneurs (RICE), which a Filipino businesswoman set up in tandem with Mary Hensley.

Hensley was a Peace Corps volunteer who was assigned to Kalinga in the 1970s. She set up Eighth Wonder, a Montana-based organic food supplier, which markets unoy from Kalinga and tinawon from the Ifugao terraces as cereals that are harvested and pounded into grain by hand.

The RICE federated many farmers’ groups of these provinces to help sustain their annual export quotas.

The increasing rice prices should also encourage younger farmers to return to the terraces, which have been classified in the World Heritage List as one of its most endangered sites, Tapat said.

The preservation of the terraces requires farmers to revive their ancestral mountain rice farms, said Ifugao Gov. Teodoro Baguilat Jr.

He said most of the terraces had been abandoned because many young Ifugao no longer find them economically viable.

Only a few tons of tinawon and unoy reach the US markets.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 03:17 PM   #40
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Tabuk City mulls establishing crisis intervention unit

by P. Balocnit

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- The city government is eyeing to put up a haven or a Crisis Intervention Unit to cater to the welfare of abused women and the Children in Conflict with the Law (CICWL), victims of violence, human rights abuse, and other forms of crimes.

The proposal was revealed by City Social Worker and Development Officer (CSWDO) Susana Daluping saying documents and other technical aspect of the plan are being prepared for submission to the Sangguniang Panglunsod for deliberation.

When presented to City Mayor Camilo Lammawin Jr., Daluping said the chief executive readily accepted the proposal and gave the go signal to the CSWDO to prepare the necessary documents and come out with a technical study on the feasibility and viability of the project.

Daluping said the feasibility study (FS) is being taken cared of by an organized team composed of members from concern departments of the city government. She said the FS will be submitted to City Councilor Sandra Uyam-Mejia, Committee Chairman on Social Services for her to introduce in the legislative body.

She said her office is also coordinating with the provincial Social Welfare and Development Office for technical assistance and the possible integration of the city plan to the proposed Alay Pag-asa building project of the Provincial Health Office for CICWL where the city government of Tabuk can provide the lot and staff.

With the absence of such facility, victims of family violence and abused children are brought to Baguio City's Haven for protection, shelter and counseling. (PIA Kalinga)
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