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Old March 27th, 2008, 03:19 PM   #41
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Peace shrine unveiled in Kalinga

TABUK CITY, Kalinga -- A memorial peace shrine built by the Kalinga Peace Makers Movement at the Tabuk Pastoral Center (TPC) here was unveiled on March 15 with Governor Floydelia Diasen and City Mayor Camilo Lammawin Jr. leading the wreath laying at the foot of the marker.

It was dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives in the name of service for the people of Kalinga, particularly the four Catholic priests killed in recent years and those victims of violence.

The inscription at the peace shrine reads: "In memory of Rev. Fathers Conrado Aquino, Elias Bareng, Leo Vande Winkel, all CICM priests and Franciscus Madhu, SVD and all those who sacrificed their lives due to tribal or criminal violence. May the blood they shed be the seed of lasting peace in Kalinga."

A text drawn from the gospel of Luke 6:27: "Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you" was hanged on the wall to always remind peace makers on the virtue of humility.

Lighted candles were also put under names of other victims after which the eternal light was raised proclaiming the birth of the movement.

Bishop Prudencio Andaya Jr. said the occasion was momentous when two family victims of violence, Gov. Diasen and Mayor Lammawin, wholeheartedly embraced the way of peace and openly gestured to one another and other victims to discard hatred and instead work together for non-violent solutions to killings.

"How beautiful it was for two persons losing their own love ones to tribal violence cheerfully met together and led other victims to set aside vendetta but instead promote love for enemies," Andaya said.

"The movement was really organized for healing and reconciliation among aggrieved parties and perpetrators of crimes including victims of tribal violence. It works on prevention of further killings," Andaya explained.

The solemn unveiling of the anchor for the peace movement in Kalinga was immortalized by the message of Gov. Diasen when she said: "it is only when we find a place for the enemies in our hearts that we know peace." She leveled a biblical teaching of loving ones enemies, as key to genuine peace and unity in Kalinga.

"As governor and leader of the province, I exhort our people the spiritual teaching of loving our enemies, for this could only be the start for genuine peace to stay", Diasen stressed adding that for the rest of her term, she offers this for the attainment of genuine peace in Kalinga, "where we find every tribe at peace with one another".

Let us leave the act of vengeance to the Lord and instead fill our hearts with forgiveness for unless we do this, we will hardly find a peaceful province to stay, she said.

The occasion was made more symbolic by the two doves released by Diasen and Lammawin that flew separately then perched on one branch.

"It was so touching, some people cried while a pleasing musical background was being played by the 501st Army band, the day was so meaningful for the province everyone to throw away hatred and embrace the way of peace," Andaya remarked. (PIA Kalinga)

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Old March 29th, 2008, 09:02 AM   #42
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Village opposes landfill proposal

A VILLAGE in Itogon is opposing a project, which intends to put up a sanitary landfill in the area.

In a resolution, the barangay council of Gumatdang manifested its opposition against the proposal to set up a sanitary landfill in the village, saying this came as a surprise to residents and officials.

"Most of the residents are not aware of any detail regarding the construction of a sanitary landfill at Sitio Besil as they were not informed about this project," the resolution stated.

The council said it came to know only of the project when one of its members saw the bidding invitation for the project posted at the Itogon Municipal Hall.

Consultations with residents and previous barangay officials revealed that there was no information dissemination conducted regarding the project, according to the barangay council resolution.

"In meetings with previous barangay officials, (it was learned) they never issued any document, much more an endorsement to the construction of the sanitary landfill at Sitio Besil," the council said.

"Upon assumption of office of the newly elected officials in December, the council never issued endorsement for they were not aware of the project," it added.

Local government units (LGUs) are mandated to put up their sanitary landfill, pursuant to Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. (JC)

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Old March 29th, 2008, 09:03 AM   #43
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Arroyo gives P1M for tramlines to transport Benguet veggies

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The Benguet vegetable industry is hanging on the line and that's good news for farmers.

President Gloria Arroyo gave Benguet farmers P1 million this Easter Sunday for the installation of two tramline systems in transporting vegetables.

Beneficiaries, which will be getting P500,000 each, are the Labilab Agricultural Tramline System in Itogon town and the Ambassador Tramline System in Tublay town.

The P1 million is part of the P25 million motorized tramline and cold chain systems for the temperate vegetable industry not only in Benguet but in Mountain Province as well.

3President Arroyo in her visit to Benguet last Black Saturday acknowledged the great contribution of Benguet in the vegetable production.

The Department of Agriculture said that Benguet supplies 68 percent of the country's temperate vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, lettuce, Baguio beans and many others.

DA's Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE) was calling for more motorized tramlines and cold chain systems in Benguet and Mountain Province because of the lack of roads and the fact that these vegetables should be handled with care. The BPRE said that the Benguet towns of Itogon, Bakun, Atok, Mankayan, Buguias, Kibungan and Tublay and the MP town of Bauko were pinpointed as beneficiaries of the tramline project.

Mayor Concepcion Balao of Atok, a major vegetable producer, said that her town already installed six tramlines prior to the project. Balao said that hauling cost dropped by a third when they installed the tramlines between the farms and the road. Before that, they have to rely on porters and trucks, she said. Hauling time of the vegetables also dropped by 70 percent with the installation of the tramlines.

She said that hauling off vegetables used to take them three days in some remote farms. "Now it's reduced to just three hours," she said. - GMANews.TV

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Old March 30th, 2008, 10:26 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by allan_dude View Post
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

Freaky. We're having problems with supply of rice in our country yet we are exporting?
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Old March 31st, 2008, 12:26 PM   #45
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Getting Lost: Pools of possibility


In the book Seven Lenses, it was mentioned that everything is connected to everything else and that everything goes somewhere. These are two of the seven environmental principles that govern the way nature works. A recent trip in the outskirts of Baguio City illustrated to me how much people need to take these principles seriously.

A mere 19 kilometers from Baguio city is the town of Itogon. It is a place of mountains, deep valleys and steep slopes. People say that it was once a pristine wilderness where creeks and rivers with clean clear water meander through the canyons. The Agno River runs through it and provides water for Binga Dam and the San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam in Pangasinan. Upstream of Itogon is the Ambuklao Dam.

FABULOUS POOLS. These warm pools provide opportunities for visitors to relax and enjoy the natural phenomenon of the place. Photo by Cye Reyes/NORDIS

A total of 2,113.74 hectares is currently covered by mining claims. Itogon has a long history of resistance against mining. Despite this, several mining companies have exploited its mineral resources for a decade now. Mining had been proven time and time again to be destructive. It is in fact believed to be the most destructive human activity on the planet. And yet this mining town seems to have very little choice but to go into mining. Small-scale mining had become a major livelihood.
Nature knows best

Benguet province has always been known to be the land of the gold. Itogon is one of its 13 municipalities and has hosted the most number of mining companies. Through the years these companies have operated open-pit mines and underground large scale mining activities that devastated the environment, polluted the rivers and displaced many families.

In Barangay Poblacion nature wreaked havoc when a major landslide occurred in 1987 followed by an earthquake in 1990 that brought down massive rocks and boulders down the slope. It covered Tolving Creek, a tributary of the Ambalanga River. This event opened up underground springs from where hot water flowed and drained from the creek and down to the river below.

A life changing inspiration

Lito Kimmayong is a member of the Barangay Tourism Council and recounts how a local resident named Avelino Tiangao one day saw kids wading in the small natural pools created by the spring. An idea started to gel in his mind. He decided to harness the water of the spring and build a big pool where the children can swim better and more freely.

This was in 2005. Since then other people have built several other pools in varying shapes and sizes. The Department of Agriculture was so impressed by this initiative that it introduced the concept of “fish terraces.” These are fish ponds that are arranged like terraces along the slope. Fingerlings were provided and today locals harvest tilapia twice a year. Tourists also have the option to fish, buy what they catch and cook it themselves.

The pools had become popular and business increased when the Department of Tourism started providing assistance through promotions and guideship training. There are now eight swimming pool owners and they have banded together to form an association. They aim to provide safe and enjoyable experiences for the visitors. They also wish to come up with regulations and policies that will ensure that the water of the springs are not contaminated by mining or other highly pollutive activities.

Viable alternatives

Since the introduction of eco-tourism the local people have realized that there are other feasible alternatives to small scale mining. Tourism is not only bringing economic benefit for the families involved in the fish terraces and the swimming pools but provides an excellent motivation for preserving the integrity of the environment.

STEAM BATH. Hot water and steam comes out from a diversion tunnel and now serves as a natural sauna for visitors. Photo courtesy of Chen Reyes-Mencias

“We monitor the water quality quarterly and we inspect the small scale mining activities that are going on up the slope. We monitor for the presence of e-coli and heavy metals. These pools are now a valuable resource and we need to protect them,” said Kimmayong.

Large or small scale mining impact heavily on the forests, the land, the rivers and the communities. Whatever happens up the mountain will eventually affect the lower slopes and the rivers to where the creeks eventually drain to. This is how things are connected.

While the warm and hot pools provide wondrous and relaxing moments, an equally fabulous experience when visiting Poblacion is to cross the long stretch of hanging bridge. It is quite a unique and challenging activity especially for people who come from the city. A bonus is to spend some time in the “nature spa,” a diversion tunnel from where steam and hot water come through. As I balanced myself onto the rocks to climb the slope and take a peak into the tunnel, I was warned by my guide that I should not allow myself to dip my feet into the boiling water. People flock to this place to detoxify themselves. It has the potential to be developed into a real and honest to goodness steam bath. Indeed I found some people huddled together inside. Some even brought their own chairs.

The struggle continues

Slowly the local residents are opening up to other possibilities, especially from non-extractive livelihood activities. Tourism has inspired mountain guides to organize a “Climb for a Cause” from where funds were raised from fees collected from tourists and were used to provide assistance to a community member who badly needed medical treatment.
Another group is engaged in raising cattle and had even formed the Cattle Herders Association of Poblacion. Others have engaged in small businesses such as small stores, production of souvenirs, knitting and weaving items to be sold to tourists, selling vegetables and fruits and managing small eateries.

During the last fiesta, a horse raising event called “Dongba ni Kabadjo” was organized and it drew a crowd all the way from Baguio City, La Trinidad and other nearby towns.

Despite the new outlook the local people believe that the struggle to resist mining will continue. Some believe though that mining and tourism may co-exist if mining companies are only serious about their commitments. The proliferation of irresponsible practices in the mining industry will be the major stumbling block in finding a “win-win” situation between these two.

Lessons learned the hard way

The people of Itogon have drawn valuable lessons from years of solidarity and resistance to destructive industries like mining. They are now learning other ways of making a living that may provide a brighter future for their children.

“Sana di na maulit iyong nangyari nung nakaraan na natabunan ang Tolving Creek. Nakakabit na rito ang kabuhayan namin,” (I hope that the landslide that covered Tolving Creek years ago will never happen again. The pools are already part of our livelihood) Kimmayong reiterates.

But in an environment that keeps changing and that is re-shaped by human hands this wish may have to be strengthened by an advocacy that will ensure that the resources of the land will benefit the local people for a long time.

For more information on how you can visit the pools of Itogon, contact Lito Kimmayong at 09212751639. Support communities engaged in tourism. Your contribution will go a long way in motivating them to further take care of the environment. Let me know what you think. Send me an email at [email protected].

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Old April 3rd, 2008, 01:49 PM   #46
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Mountain Province celebrates the Lang-Ay Festival

Mountain Province is staging the fourth "Lang-Ay Festival" in celebration of Mountain Province Day on April 7. The weeklong festival starts on April 1 and culminates on April 7.

The "Lang-Ay Festival" was the biggest crowd-drawer event in the province when it was launched in 2004 to promote the wine production business in the province. With the success of the first "Lang-Ay Festival," it was made part of the annual cultural activities of Mountain Province Day.

"Lang-ay" characterizes the Mountain Province’s cultural practice of generosity and sharing of food and wine on important occasions. It aims to create unity among families and promote fellowship among community members and respect for visitors.

With the theme "Living Tradition: We Care and Share," the weeklong celebration kicks off with an agro-industrial fair where participants vie for the best local products and the best booth. Ethnic tribes such as the Balangao, Baliwon, Aplai, Kankana-ey, and Bontoc will compete in the tribal sports known as "Gimata." The participants will be in their ethnic costumes while they race and pound rice. There will be a marathon run for the elderly tagged as "Lomban di amam-a ya inin-a." There will be other indigenous games, sports, exhibits, Day-eng contest, cultural fashion show, cultural dance celebration, and street dancing parade.

Other highlights of the weeklong "Lang-Ay Festival" include a search for Ms. Mountain Province, medical and dental mission, skills fair, farmers forum/congress/lectures, job fair and Serbisyo Caravan, Lang-ay theme song competition, theater presentation, oratorical contest for the youth on the theme "Gawis ay Mountain Province," choral festival, community get-together, indigenous worship and concert, mountain trekking, and coffee sipping experience.

We congratulate the people of Mountain Province led by Governor Maximo B. Dalog on the occasion of Mountain Province Day and the celebration of "Lang-Ay Festival" and wish them success in all their endeavors.

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Old April 10th, 2008, 05:54 PM   #47
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Ifugao promotes IK Tourism

BANAWE, Ifugao — Indigenous Knowledge (IK) Tourism, a newly introduced concept in Ifugao’s tourism operations, triggered curiosity among ten Japanese university students.

The Japanese students came to Ifugao on a study tour from March 19 to 29, organized by officials and staff of the National Federation of Unesco Associations in Japan (NFUAJ) headed by Division Director Kawakai Chiharo.

The Nurturing Indigenous Knowledge Experts (NIKE) Team currently headed by Ifugao Governor Teodoro Baguilat Jr. maintained that IK tourism aims to use indigenous knowledge as competitive edge that would, at the same time, help intensify IK transmission to the young generations of Ifugao.

Study tour participants started their ten-day activities with an orientation by the NIKE Team on their IK transmission project starting from its phase 1, the mapping of existing IK in the province which revealed that indigenous knowledge such as stone terrace construction, stone-tiling and native house construction are mostly concentrated in Mayoyao. They discovered that well-protected watershed areas, are mostly found in Hungduan, and indigenous rice (tinawon) is produced in Kiangan, where General TomoyukiYamashita allegedly surrendered.

The result of phase 1, according to the NIKE Team, became the basis for the implementation of the project’s phase 2 where elders from the said municipalities were hired to directly teach IK to out-of-school youth who were sponsored by the team to attend IK classes during Saturdays at the pilot school, the Ifugao State College of Agriculture and Forestry (ISCAF).

After the orientation on the IK transmission project, the participants witnessed a demonstration on rice-wine and rice-cake making at ISCAF. They went to Mayoyao where they witnessed the native house construction demonstration, the Pfuni (Baki) rituals, and where they climbed the historic Mount Nagchajan, trekked the extensive rice terraces, and visited typical Mayoyao homes.

“We truly had a great time in Ifugao,” Chiharo announced during the farewell program. “We hope to foster stronger relations between Japanese and Filipinos in Ifugao,” she added.

Contributed by Jeremy M. Gawongna

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Old April 10th, 2008, 05:54 PM   #48
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Angara proposes master plan for restoration of rice terraces

Says let us save Ifugao Rice Terraces before it is too late

In a bid to preserve and bring back the natural grandeur of the Ifugao Rice Terraces, Senator Edgardo J. Angara has filed a bill seeking to formulate a 10-year Cordillera Terraces Master Plan for the preservation and restoration of the Ifugao Rice Terraces.

"The Ifugao Rice Terraces is known worldwide as the 8th Wonder of the Old World and the country’s prime tourist destination. They are the living testament to the Ifugaos’ mastery of watershed ecology, terrace engineering, and water distribution. Unfortunately, the condition of the terraces has continuously deteriorated," Angara said.

In 2001, it was placed in the World Heritage List in Danger.

The Ifugao Rice Terraces and Cultural Heritage Office (IRTCHO) cited several factors causing the deterioration.

These are: 1) loss of biodiversity due to biopiracy, unregulated hunting and indiscriminate use of new technology and introduction of new species; 2) reduced farm labor due to increasing out-migration of farm labor force; 3) erosion and siltation due to destruction of watershed; 4) land use conversion and abandonment of rice terraces due to damaged rice terraces; and 5) insufficient irrigation water supply, limited income from rice farming, shift in values and priorities of the people, unregulated land use and physical planning.

Angara said the major components of the 10-year Cordillera Terraces Master Plan are the restoration of the terraces, the protection and maintenance of ecological balance, the rehabilitation of the age-old irrigation systems, and massive reforestation.

"This bill is a first step towards an overall terraces management and preservation strategy with the end in view of establishing a permanent, efficient, and effective body to coordinate and lead efforts to safeguard, restore, and protect the Terraces of the entire Cordillera Region," he said.

The Ifugao Rice Terraces significantly forms part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera, whose terraces and culture were inscribed in the World Heritage list in December 1995 under the category "living cultural landscape" having both natural and cultural characteristics of outstanding universal significance.

"The terraces of the Cordilleras are truly a rare engineering achievement, and the Philippines is racing, nay scrambling, against time to save them from deterioration," he added.

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Old April 10th, 2008, 05:56 PM   #49
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Ifugao rice farmers among world’s best

By Conrad M. Cariño Senior Desk Editor

Can the Ifugao rice farmer be considered as one of the best, if not the best, rice farmers in the world? The facts behind the fabled and legendary Ifugao rice terraces can perhaps answer that question.

Of the several rice terraces in Ifugao, the Banawe rice terraces are largely touted as the “eighth wonder of the world.” It is also well known that the Banawe and other Ifugao rice terraces were built without forced labor, unlike the other Seven Wonders of the World, which employed slaves.

It is thus fitting that the Banawe rice terraces be named a United Nations Heritage Site.

The other rice terraces in Ifugao, which have also caught much of the attention of tourists and anthropologists are: Batad, Banga-an, Mayo-yao, Hapao, Bacung, Kinga, Nagacadan, Julongan and Nunggulunan.

While Bontoc also boasts of its rice terraces, the Ifugao rice terraces are larger in scale.

According to the website of the Ifugao local government, the rice terraces may have dated back to the late 16th century or early 17th century. And at one time, it stretched from Cagayan in the North to Quezon province in the South.

However, the age of the rice terraces has been a subject of debate, with the Ifugao local government’s website stating that “there are young and enthusiastic writers/speakers who say that the rice terraces were built some 2,000 years ago.”

Age notwithstanding, the rice terraces are more than a sight to behold and an ancient monument—they are actually a very functional agriculture and ecological masterpiece. Likewise, the rice terraces have been producing rice for centuries, showing that the Ifugaos were able to maintain the fertility of the rice fields’ soils and even contain soil erosion.

“Agriculture is an extractive activity [on the soil], but the rice terraces have been productive for many centuries. It’s a wonder how the lands [of the rice terraces] have remained fertile for thousands of years,” said Rodelio Carating, technical assistant to the director of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

Apparently, the Ifugaos have proven that they are more intelligent compared with their counterparts from other local tribes who practiced slash-and-burn or kaingin farming, which is unsustainable and even discouraged.

“At the most, kaingin farms last only up to three years. After that, another area must be cleared for farming,” Cataring said.

Engineering marvel

Cataring said the Ifugaos must be highly commended for constructing the rice terraces, since they did not have surveying instruments and modern machinery at their disposal. Notably, some portions of the rice terraces reach as high as 4,500 to 5,000 feet.

As to how the Ifugaos built the rice terraces using mostly crude primitive instruments and without the aid of surveying instruments is actually thought provoking.

The Ifugao local government’s website states “it is indeed a wonder how the early Ifugaos, with only the simplest and crudest hand tools, were able to build the rice terraces. They were able to cope with the ecological factors, which they have to interrelate with the social and cultural factors.”

The engineering feat of the Ifugaos never escaped the attention of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which conferred it the “International Historic Engineering Landmark Award.”

Besides being an engineering feat, the Ifugao rice terraces demonstrate that farming can blend in harmony with culture, and more importantly, nature.

Cataring said Ifugao culture includes beliefs in anitos or gods, who are believed to dwell in forests, hence the preservation of forests is part of their culture. And it is from the forests that water for the streams and rivers is supplied, which feed the irrigation system of the rice terraces.

The Ifugao’s irrigation system diverts water from rivers and streams, and channels these to the terraces through a series of dikes and pipes. The pipes can be bamboo of various diameters, which make sure only the right amount of water is channeled to the terraces, and that no soil erosion is caused by excessive water flow.

At the upper point of most terraces are well-preserved rainforests, the primary source of water.

So simple yet efficient is the irrigation system of the rice terraces. But prominent Filipino biotechnologist Dr. Saturnina Halos labeled it as “advanced.” Halos is also the chairman of the Biotechnology Team of the Department of Agriculture.

Harold Conklin, in his Ethnographic Atlas of Ifugao (Yale University Press), explained that “for hundreds of years, Ifugaos have diverted stream water for irrigation up to five to six kilometers. Using the stream’s current and sheer manpower, they rolled stones and small boulders from mountaintops and formed these as rock walls to hold mountainsides and create rice terraces.”

And in an article taken from the University of California Publications in American Archeology and Ethnology dating back to 1922, which is posted on the Internet, Barton R.F. somehow shows amazement on how the Ifugaos were truly skilled agriculturists, taking note also of their irrigation system.

“In this the Ifugao shows himself [as] a highly skilled agriculturist. Did he know the reason for this practice would even be a science one? All year the fields have been under water. Even after rice harvest the water is not turned off for the fields would then grow up with dense vegetation. There has been little action of the air on the soil; little decomposition of vegetable matters by oxygen. In the mounds the air has an excellent opportunity to decompose and mellow the soil,” Barton said.

And for centuries, the Ifugaos were able to preserve the ecological balance of the rice terraces vis-à-vis the forests, which they believed is where the anitos dwelled.

“The rice terraces are truly multi-functional [because] it’s also an ecological piece,” Carating said.

Future of farming

In an earlier interview with Agence France-Presse, International Rice Research Institute President Robert Zeigler said, “There is just not enough land” in the Philippines to plant more rice. This partly explains why the country has to import rice.

IRRI economist David Dawe also cited that Thailand, India, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Bangladesh have the advantage of having broad deltas and large tracts of plains that are best for rice farming. Unfortunately, the Philippines does not have the luxury of having vast plains.

Halos also warned that investing in traditional irrigated lands require large outlays of capital and huge amounts of water, which is not sustainable.

“When a water crisis hits the country, we will suffer a rice crisis because most of the technologies developed for rice farming are for the lowland varieties which require large amounts of water,” she said.

However, the Ifugaos demonstrated that even without access to arable lands on the plains, rice farming is possible and can be sustained for centuries in the mountainous regions.

In fact, Halos lists Ifugao terrace farming as one of the five methods to cultivate rice, the others being: clearing or kaingin; upland (using rice varieties that need less water); sabog or broadcast method; and transplanting or Chinese rice culture.

The only problem of the rice terraces is its low yields, which according to Halos, is less than one metric ton per hectare. The variety grown is a red fragrant variety that takes more time to mature compared to lowland rice.

However, the Ifugaos never resorted to using fertilizers or pesticides. Compost and animal manure are among the organic fertilizers used. Nor have the Ifugaos asked government to build irrigation systems for their terraces, because their rice fields have a “natural irrigation” system.

Halos even notes that besides its advanced irrigation system, Ifugao rice terrace farming is also noted for its pest control, weeding and fertilizing.

To contain pests, Barton observed that “when infected plants are found, all infected parts are picked off and burned or left in the hot sun to dry. In case a field is found to be badly infected, recourse is to have religious ceremonials. Rice pests are thought to have been originated by one of the highest deities, Bangauwan, in order to compel men to give [sacrifice] animals to him.”

The advantage of this organic type of farming is the soil’s fertility is maintained and even improved.

“Fertility is rarely a factor because the Ifugao method of agriculture tends to render a field more fertile year by year,” Barton said.

Nonetheless, a noted biotechnologist told The Manila Times that it is possible to increase the yields of the Ifugao rice terraces by using organic fertilizers produced with enzymes or co-enzymes and composts; and seed inoculants that increase the absorption of soil nutrients by a plant’s roots.

With the alarm raised toward unsustainable farming practices like the excessive use of chemicals on farms that can affect the long-term fertility of soils, the Ifugao method of rice farming deserves study as a solution to attain rice self-sufficiency, at least for the Philippines.

But the bad news is the younger generation of Ifugaos are no longer interested in the adopting the culture of their predecessors, which may result in the rice terraces having no caretakers. This is very bad news, because the rice that the Ifugaos grow is now gaining popularity in Europe as gourmet rice, which can command a high price there.

“The younger generation of the Ifugaos are leaving for the cities,” Cataring said.

Perhaps these young Ifugaos are not aware that their fathers, grandfathers and forefathers are one of the best rice farmers the world has ever seen. Or even the best the world has ever seen.

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Old April 13th, 2008, 01:20 PM   #50
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Bontoc emerges from popular neighbors’ shadows

By Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

BONTOC, Philippines—This idyllic capital of Mt. Province in northern Luzon, situated at the crossroads of Ifugao’s crown jewel Banaue and the famed Sagada highlands, is carving its own niche in the Cordillera’s booming tourism business.

Linked to either town by a dirt-road much narrower and rougher than Baguio’s zig-zag road, Bontoc is enjoying some windfall from burgeoning public interest on Sagada, which was made known to the world in the 1960s by European backpackers who fell in love with its great caves, hanging coffins and lovely landscapes.

After hitting the global tourism charts, domestic tourists too started exploring Sagada in the 1980s, thus lifting tourism in the adjacent Bontoc in the absence of mass transport going straight to the highlands. Tourists from Manila can go either via Baguio or Banaue but there’s now an increasing appetite to hit two birds with one stone—see the Banaue Rice Terraces en route to Sagada.

“Most of the tourists coming here now are only passers-by,” says Frank Odsey, mayor of this third-class municipality known to many as a mere gateway to Sagada and an alternative source of lodging during the peak season.

During the recent Lenten break, for instance, some Manila-based tourists heading to Sagada but who ran out of sleeping quarters there found refuge in the Bontoc poblacion. In such cases, tourists would take a 45-minute bumpy jeepney ride to Sagada first thing in the morning and then return to their Bontoc camp before dusk. Not bad, tourists say, since it’s also from Bontoc that they would take the bus back home to Manila anyway.

Jewel in the Rough

But Bontoc is emerging from the shadows of its more popular neighbors. With its equally rich Ifugao heritage, postcard-pretty landscapes and natural resources, the town is striving to lure more tourists and make them stay longer.

Unknown to many, Bontoc was endowed by its forefathers with its distinct clusters of rice terraces built at about the same time that the world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces were chiseled out. It is also blessed with a number of hot springs, which, if developed, can offer the weary traveler some respite, for instance, after a weekend of serious hiking and spelunking.

Hilda Peckley, whose family owns Churya-a Hotel in Bontoc, says there’s a lot more to her hometown that the outside world hasn’t explored.

Aside from the rice terraces and the hot springs, Peckley says Bontoc has its pristine waterfalls and caves which natives believe to be connected to Sagada’s famous caves.

“You have to spend a whole week here in the Cordilleras to explore everything,” Peckley says.

She adds that the hotel business in Mt. Province is doing well, especially during the summer. Recently, Churya-a (the native name of Bontoc) Hotel acquired a property and put up an annex in Sagada.

Meanwhile, Odsey says plans are underway to build a domestic airport atop one of Bontoc’s peaks—in what could be the first in the Cordilleras. The plan seeks to give tourists going to any of the region’s hotspots the option to fly than endure a 10-hour road trip. It has the potential to catapult the town into a logistics hub.

But building the first airport in the Cordilleras is a tall order. After finding the suitable peak amid Bontoc’s rugged terrain, it has been difficult to convince the descendants of old tribes to yield their ancestral domain, Odsey says.

Bontoc is nevertheless grooming itself to attract more tourists. It is also developing “homestay” programs for backpackers to address the lack of commercial hotels and inns outside of the Bontoc town-proper, replicating the state-backed transient bedspace programs popularized in the Western countryside and now adopted in rural tourist spots like Sagada and Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte.

Of landscapes, cultural heritage

Two of Bontoc’s terraces stand out—the Bay-yo and Malegcong terraces.

The Bay-yo terraces, built on a low-sloping valley embracing a quaint little village, offer a breath-taking respite for travelers en route Banaue to Bontoc. It is so pretty that tourists literally halt in the middle of the road to take panoramic snapshots. Unlike the usual rice terraces which resemble stairways to heaven, the Bay-yo terraces, when viewed from the roads high up in the mountain, look like a pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces spread out in a reclining valley.

“People often mistake it as still being part of Banaue,” Odsey says of Bay-yo, which has been featured in various travel documentaries.

On the other hand, the Bontocs consider the Malegcong Rice Terraces as the greatest landscape made by their ancestors. But unlike the Banaue terraces which were carved out of the mountains, theirs were constructed with stone piled atop each other to form terraces from the base to the top of the Malegcong mountain. Before the planting season, they are thus more brownish than their green counterparts in Banaue. They also look like stairways but are shorter than those in Banaue.

“Sometimes you’ll wonder where our forefathers got all the stones to build these,” Odsey says.

Another local jewel is the Bontoc Village Museum, built and run by ICM nuns and located within the Catholic sisters’ convent and Saint Vincent’s Elementary School. It is a must-see for tourists seeking to learn more about the Igorots’ rich heritage.

Although native houses have been wiped off the landscapes of Bontoc, the museum recreates its old social structure centered around village wards, where young men and women lived in dormitories and went home to their families during meals. Unlike the native houses of Banaue which stand on stilts and whose removable stairs are pulled up at night as a protection against wild animals, native Bontoc houses are built on ground-level but are in clusters.

“We try to preserve things as they are,” says Sr. Marcel Agang-Ang, a native Bontoc who came back after her retirement from the ICM congregation and now serves as museum curator.

Aside from offering an outdoor life-size diorama of the native Bontoc village, the museum has an interesting photo-documentary on the Bontocs’ colorful pre-Christian history, including its legendary headhunting sport. There’s even a photo (dated early 1900s) of a beheaded person tied up in a bamboo pole and of an unceremonial burial for such a beheaded person (It’s considered a family disgrace to lose your head).

But today, this municipality with a population of 25,000 is home to a peaceful and friendly farming people who love country music and shun from politics.

The Bontocs comprise one of the six ethno-linguistic groups of the Igorots of the Cordillera region. The others are the Ibalois, Ifugaos, Isnegs (or Apayaos), Kalingas and the Kankana-eys.

Hot springs

Odsey says Bontoc does not have a woodcarving industry but has a loom-weaving tradition. Samoki, one of its old villages, specializes in backstrap weaving. Various colorful woven materials like knapsacks, placemats, bags and purses are among the popular products.

Temperature in most of Bontoc is warmer compared to the highlands of Banaue and Sagada. This is because it sits on a dormant volcano that now produces hot springs. These sizzling pools give it the potential to become the “Los Baños (Laguna) of the North.”

The residents of Barangay Mainit (which means hot in the vernacular), 18 kilometers away from the poblacion, have long discovered the medicinal and refreshing effects of hot springs. There’s another hot spring in the nearby municipality of Sadanga, 29 km away from Bontoc’s town proper.

“This is the area with the lowest incidence of skin disease because imagine them bathing in sulfuric hot water every day,” says Tex Odsey, the mayor’s son, while boiling a dozen of eggs in Mainit’s hot spring for afternoon snack.

Odsey, whose parents hail from Mainit, says previous studies were conducted to see if the area could produce geothermal energy, but it turned out that there was not enough to supply other regions.

There are only two private mini-resorts offering swimming pools and overnight accommodation in Mainit. Even the tiny houses along the spring thus have a pipeline linked to the hot springs water.

“Although it’s a dormant volcano, we’re not afraid because the earth is letting off the heat,” says Benedict Odsey, the mayor’s brother who owns Ben-Vic Resthouse, one of Mainit’s two swimming resorts which is still under construction.

But to attain its potential to be a hub of natural spa, Bontoc hopes to attract more private investments. It can’t even rely on overseas remittances, as there are more sons and daughters migrating to Baguio and Manila than anywhere abroad.


At present, local hotels and buses plying the Manila-Bontoc route can better help actively promote Bontoc as a tourist hotspot of its own instead of being content with the town remaining as a mere gateway to the more popular Sagada.

The local government hopes to use the Internet to promote its attractions, like the hot springs. To date, there’s very little official online promotion for tourists to be attracted to a longer stay in Bontoc. Leaflets and maps on the must-see sites are not yet easily available.

Likewise a big challenge for the whole of the Cordilleras is to smoothen the rough roads that lengthen travel time. And to prepare ways to ensure its rich heritage shall be preserved if and when tourists come in droves.

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Old April 13th, 2008, 06:59 PM   #51
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Other routes offered to reach La Trinidad

By Jane Cadalig

AS LA Trinidad lures more visitors, advocates of the tourism industry are pushing for the use of alternate access routes to reach the town and its adjacent municipalities.

Long-long Road, a less-traveled road leading to the town, is being offered to visitors, as well as the riding public, to avoid traffic.

"The best way to see La Trinidad is through the Long-long Road. By using this alternate route, one will be able to see the scenic sites of the town, while avoiding the traffic," lawyer Damaso Bangaoet Jr. said.

Bangaoet is one of the founding members of the newly organized Benguet Visitors Bureau (BVB), a private group working as coordinator of the province's tourism activities.

While taking the road may mean longer travel time, it will have no difference when taking the main access road, where traffic is a serious problem.

Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan has been advocating the use of alternate routes to La Trinidad to decongest the stretch from Baguio to Km 6 from heavy traffic.

Motorists are assured of convenient travel through the Long-long Road as this is already concreted.

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Old April 16th, 2008, 08:17 PM   #52
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Asin’s natural hot springs

By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW During summer time when the children are having their vacation and seemed irritated on the summer heat, it is a time when a family considers an outing. Destinations could either be in the white sand beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, the pine cool weather in Sagada, Mountain Province, or the rice terraces in Banaue, Ifugao.

You need not go so far just to have fun or enjoy a vacation with your family. There are places near Baguio City, which are usually frequented by city residents and local tourists.

HOTSPRINGS RELIEF. One of the resorts in Asin, Nangalisan in Tuba, Benguet frequented by visitors. Photo by Arthur L. Allad-iw/NORDIS

Nangalisan, Tuba, Benguet is frequented by visitors due to its natural hot springs the locals call Asin. There are at least five hot spring resorts in the area. Asin is more or less 18 kilometers from Baguio City. Since the roads had been cemented, the area is now merely a 30-minute drive from the city.

My recent visit to the area has proven that Asin, with its hot spring resorts, is fast turning into a tourist destination.

The five resorts in Asin, Nangalisan have established bathrooms, some with steam bath, and pools complemented by the hot waters from the springs.

A staff of one of the resorts said even during cold season, the hot springs are utilized by visitors. He noted from visitors during this season that they complained of body pains due to arthritis and fatigue, among others.

“Even during lean season, visitors regularly go to the hot springs due to its natural therapeutic effects on body pains,” explained the staff.

Peak of visits

During summer, the area is frequented as the hot spring resorts use the cool waters coming from the natural springs to supply their pools and bathrooms. Summer in the area is hot due to its proximity to the lowlands but mountains balance the summer heat.

“The peak of the visits is during summer and holidays,” the staff added. In their resort alone, he claimed the resort receives more than 100 persons a day, not only visitors from Baguio, but also other places. Even Koreans living in the city are among the notable regular visitors of the hot spring resorts in the area.

The resorts in Asin also cater to seminars and conferences. Seminar halls can accommodate at least 100 persons. Room rates depend on the space and capacity. Rooms have either an air conditioner or an electric fan, depending on the rate. Resort restaurants are usually open until 10:00 in the evening.

The entrance fee in the resort is considered cheap at P 80 per person but children are charged lower.

Hot springs

The natural hot water in Asin bubbles up from the underground continuously. In my last visit in the area, my daughter asked: “Why do they have the hot springs in Asin? Why do we not have it in Baguio?

These are questions from an innocent mind which force a father like me to seek answers. According to an environmentalist hot springs in Asin and Klondykes in Kennon, also in Tuba, are believed to be a result of the Mt. Cabuyao, believed to be a dormant volcano. Mt. Cabuyao is in Mt. Sto. Tomas, the highest peak in Tuba town. It is 7,000 feet above sea level and 12 kilometers away from Baguio City. You can view the La Union beaches when you are on top of that area.

There are natural beauties in Tuba which have been discovered long ago but remained unpopular. There are natural waterfalls, caves and rivers in the area. The maintenance of their natural beauty is notably due to the local communities’ sense of natural resource conservation and protection. This is an area which can also be documented and published and shared to the public.

While hot springs in Asin contribute to the town’s income, local residents however expect local government officials also to adopt a project where they can utilize the natural hot springs. Regardless of this issue, however, Asin is an alternative for family outings. These are natural beauties that can satisfy our love for nature.

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Old April 17th, 2008, 07:01 PM   #53
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The humorous side of the Ifugao people

By Delmar Cariño
Philippine Daily Inquirer

BANAUE, Ifugao – The jokes are still on them, but the Ifugao have managed to keep things in stride. And just like those who have heard the funny stories, the people themselves relish listening to the stories.

The so-called Ifugao jokes have made the natives popular, making others want to know more about them as indigenous peoples, next to the curiosity over their woodcarving skills, world-renowned rice terraces, and years of chewing muma (momma) or betel nut.

Ramon Dacawi of Hungduan town, Baguio City’s public information officer, brought the house down during the Igorot International Consultation (ICC) at Banaue Hotel when he dished out samples that ribbed the delegates to the hilt.

Here are some of them:

An Ifugao flagged down a Dangwa Tranco bus bound for Baguio. When the bus stopped, the conductor asked where he was going. The man answered, “Ket siempre dita oneg a (There, inside),” meaning, he would go inside the bus.

The man had a pig placed in the bus compartment. When the conductor asked him to pay for the cargo, the man said, “Damagen a no adda pagpliti na (Ask the pig if he has money for fare).”

Evolution of jokes

Dacawi’s jokes, narrated with native accent and facial expression, were enough to generate discussion on their evolution.

Fernando Bahatan, former director of the Cordillera Executive Board, said the jokes reflected the Ifugao’s sense of humor and flair for knocking in some sense to a situation or communication through seemingly harmless – but practical – questions and answers.

“The jokes showed how the Ifugao view life and their struggle to confront the changes that came their way,” Bahatan, a native of Banaue, said.

But the stories were sometimes misunderstood, he said. Listeners have typified the Ifugao as “pilosopo (smart aleck),” but he said: “The jokes actually expressed our being discerning and critical through practical queries and retorts.”

The jokes were first known as “Kiangan jokes,” he said, referring to the former capital town of Kiangan. The early ones had something to do with riding on the Dangwa bus, which had its loading area in Kiangan at that time, Bahatan said. “But later, the jokes became applicable to all areas in the province,” he said.

He said the jokes had helped a lot in easing tension and in arriving at an amicable settlement for elders who handled conflicts involving personal quarrels, land claims and family relations.

These showed the Ifugao people’s ability to make things light or to provide some comic relief to some serious, if not tense, matters or conditions, Hungduan Mayor Pablo Cuyahon said. These evolved from the way the Ifugao adapted themselves to the transition period in their lives, he said.

“That’s why the jokes often involved experiences while riding on the bus, going to the city or meeting policemen when caught violating a city ordinance,” he said.

Discerning trait

Cuyahon said the jokes showed the discerning trait of the Ifugao. “Their questions might appear ignorant, but they actually wanted facts or questions to be direct and clear,” he said.

Aguian Maximo, a retired public school teacher and now a farmer in Barangay Patilong in Banaue, said the jokes also came from their elders who would end the day gathered before a bonfire. “There, they would exchange stories that turned out to be funny and which later became stories,” he said.

Maximo, 72, said the jokes were often associated with daily experiences.

Gov. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. said the funny stories were actually the “self-deprecating humor” of the Ifugao. “We make jokes out of ourselves, about our feigned ignorance and about our peculiar traits, like betel nut chewing and the use of G-strings,” said Baguilat, a native of Kiangan.

“The jokes are meant to make one think and not actually to make one laugh. They are actually sources of wisdom,” he said.

But he said the kind of jokes spun for them were not exclusive to his province mates since these also applied to the other provinces.

Dacawi said the jokes revealed the sense of humor that the Ifugao had. “The stories showed how the Ifugao made life bearable for themselves.”

These had something to do with the rice terraces that made engineers marvel over how they were built, he said. “The Ifugao realized that the task of building the terraces needed a shovelful of humor,” he said.

Ifugao jokes are many, but Baguilat said he had yet to come across a book on them.

Bahatan though said his classmate at the seminary then, now Rev. Patricio Guygoyun of the Episcopalian Diocese of Bontoc-Lagawe, had a record that contained 62 stories.

Ray Baguilat Jr., president of the Igorot International Organization which convened the ICC, was so entertained with Dacawi’s jokes that he hinted at sparing a slot for Dacawi in Vancouver, Canada, the next conference site in 2010, for the jokes’ retelling.

Whether Baguilat was serious or not, only he would know.

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Old April 17th, 2008, 07:03 PM   #54
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Beyond the greens of Banaue

Posted under Philippines, Travel & Commuting, Tourism, Tourism & Leisure, Banaue

By Izah Morales

ASK for a P1,000 bill. Browse your old Araling Panlipunan book. Surely, you will see the sketch of the Banaue Rice Terraces. Yet seeing the greens with your own two eyes would mean a guessing game on which is which. You will be surprised to see many terraces in Banaue, Ifugao.

The one sketched in a P1,000 bill is the terraces located in what they call the view deck, near the town proper of Banaue. You would not only have the chance to see the staircase-like mountain, but you may also walk directly into the rice paddies.

The view deck at Banaue View Point can be easily accessed through a short tricycle ride from the town proper.

Aside from this attraction, a bahay kubo beside the deck would catch your attention because of its unusual decoration. You might wonder why bones are used as decor.

According to the Ifugao woman living in the kubo, hunting is a way of life. Displaying the skulls and bones of animals is a sign of bravery and serve as status symbols.

Not only do the bone decors embellish the Ifugao’s dwelling place but the bundles of harvested rice grains also add appeal to the facade. They may remind you of miniature versions of Cousin Itt in “The Addams Family.”

But there is more to these grains than a cartoon show look-alike. You will know why when you visit the rice terrace in Barangay Batad.

You need to go up a steep, slippery, and stony mountain — and that is a thirty-kilometer walk. That makes 60 kilometers back and forth. Imagine how sweaty you can get. Just tell yourself that you’re burning your calories. Not only that, you’re also lucky you have shoes to protect your feet while the natives walk barefoot.

It will also surprise you to see them carrying something heavy like an LPG cylinder. It seems dangerous but to them it is not. You will notice that even children are climbing up and down the mountain.

Though exhausting, you will not regret it once you are rewarded with the breathtaking sight, and welcomed not only by the cooler temperature but also the warm hellos of the natives. It is also surprising to learn that they are very fluent in English. An aged native carrying her granddaughter on her back shared that they learned English from the foreigners who visited the place.

Beyond the greens of Banaue are the Ifugao — the people who molded and cultivated the mountain with their bare hands.

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Old April 18th, 2008, 09:40 PM   #55
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Crime rate in Cordillera drops - police

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines - The number of criminal cases referred to or handled by the Police Regional Office (PRO) in Cordillera last month was lower compared to March 2007.

PRO records showed that the total crime volume in March 2007 was 140, compared to 99 last month.

These same statistics showed out of the eight index crimes reported in Abra last month, six of them were solved, giving the Abra Provincial Police Office (PPO) a 75 percent crime solution efficiency rating for March 2008.

In March last year, 10 out of the 13 reported cases were solved, giving the same PPO a 76.92 percent solution efficiency rating.

Although no crimes were reported in Apayao last month, the two crime incidents reported in the same province in March last year were both solved by personnel of their PPO.

The Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), on the other hand, improved its crime solution efficiency from 92.16 percent in March 2007 to 97.14 percent last month, after its personnel solved 34 out of the 35 index crimes reported.

While Benguet recorded 10 index crimes last month compared to the 14 cases in March 2007, their PPO maintained a 100 percent crime solution efficiency rating, after solving all cases reported in both periods.

Two cases each were reported within Ifugao in March 2007 and last month. Since only one of these reported cases was solved last month, this gave the Ifugao PPO a lower crime solution efficiency rating compared to last year, when both reported incidents were solved.

Kalinga got a 100 percent crime solution efficiency last month for the lone crime reported and solved, compared to the five cases last year where four of them were solved, giving their PPO an 80 percent crime solution efficiency rating then.

Mountain Province had the same number of recorded index crimes in March 2007 and last month, both with a total of 10, but eight out of them or 80 percent was solved last month, compared to all for a 100 percent crime solution efficiency rating last year.

For non-index crimes, Baguio City is still in the lead with a total of 18 cases reported last month, but this still showed a decrease compared to the 24 reported last year.

Benguet runs second with six cases, Mountain Province with four, Abra with three, and Ifugao and Kalinga with one each. Apayao had no reported crime incident last month.

All in all, the total number of non-index crimes of 43 in March last year has dwindled down to 33 last month.

According to Chief Superintendent Eugene Martin, PRO-Cordillera director, the various programs of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are now showing good results based on the statistics shown.

He said community support and enhanced police service are two important ingredients in the prevention and solution of crimes.

Martin encouraged the public to report any crime prone situation that may threaten the safety of the citizenry, and peace and order in the community, to the nearest police station.

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Old April 21st, 2008, 05:54 PM   #56
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All-out info drive seen as key to attain Cordillera autonomy

Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – A long-term, all-out information and education campaign could be the key to the attainment of the Cordillera development and autonomy that would benefit future generations.

This was the suggestion of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera which analyzed the results of a baseline survey.

Acting on the suggestion, it ordered concerned agencies to fast-track the preparation and conduct of an information and education campaign on regional development and autonomy.

Earlier, Malacañang released P15 million for the new drive for regional development and autonomy.

The RDC has allotted an amount for an all-out information and education campaign which aims to acquaint the people on the benefits of self-governance.

The region’s policy-making body said that the analysis of the baseline survey concludes that the populace is generally interested in regional autonomy. Those who remain undecided want Cordillera’s capability for autonomous governance to be gradually developed or through a phase-by-phase program.

The baseline survey was conducted between October 2007 and January 2008 in the five provinces and one chartered city of the region to get the people’s pulse on the issue of regional autonomy.

The survey indicated significant revelations vital in the crafting of appropriate strategies to convince the people to vote for regional autonomy once the issue is brought to them in a plebiscite.

The survey also indicated that 41.4 percent of the Cordillera people are not aware of the 1987 constitutional provision for the creation of an autonomous region in the cordillera.

Furthermore, 64 percent tend not to be aware of the legislative powers being granted to the proposed Cordillera autonomous region.

Ironically, 66.3 percent said they are undecided on the issue should a new plebiscite to ratify a new organic act is held soon.

This indicated the urgent need for information, education and drive on the matter especially on the grassroots level.

While autonomy advocates assert that regional autonomy is far more beneficial than the present administrative setup on the Cordillera, they believe that the people are being misinformed by anti-autonomy groups.

During the plebiscite on the first Organic Act held on Jan. 30, 1990, only Ifugao Province voted in favor of regional autonomy. The Supreme Court had ruled that one province could not comprise an autonomous region.

In the March 7, 1998 plebiscite, Apayao was the only province which voted in favor of joining the proposed autonomous region.

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Old April 21st, 2008, 06:02 PM   #57
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Belgians renew ties with Cordillera partners

Contributed by Jane L. Yap-eo/CDPC

The partnership of the North with the South in achieving peoples’ genuine holistic growth was at work and evident with the recent visit of a delegation from the Belgian Province of East Flanders to the Cordillera.

PROVINCIAL TOUR. The Belgians pose with their Ifugao partners. Photo cortesy of CDPC

Comprised of government officials and representatives of non-government development organizations, the Belgian delegation headed by East Flanders Deputy Eddy Couckuyt, deputy for Development and Cooperation, Tourism, and Youth and Children Welfare also had Secretary-general Albert de Smet; William Blondeel – the Department Head for Development Aid; and Agnes Verspreet, administrative officer for the North & South Relations Office.

Belgian NGO New World sent Pascal van Dreissche & Roger Camps, who have long been visiting and staying with the local NGO partners in the past two decades.

The Southern partners in the Cordillera region of the Philippines are the network of people’s organizations and NGOs allied with the Baguio-based Center for Development programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA).

Province of East Flanders has started a partnership with two more countries, Ecuador and Rwanda.

“Emancipation and welfare, working on short and long term changes are both important,” said Coukuyt in his introductory statement. “Food security, health and socio-economic work is important. But at the same time we need to work on building a democratic society, based on equal rights. We are glad to see that we share these goals with our partners in the Philippines,” he added.

East Flanders Deputy Eddy Couckuyt receives the key to Baguio City. Photo courtesy of CDPC.

The Belgians chose multi-sectoral approach because they saw that the integrated strategy in development is effective. The CPA and CDPC is a network of peoples’ organizations from the six provinces of the Cordillera region. Its sectoral organizations include those of the urban poor made up of women, children and youth, drivers, indigenous peoples and lowland settlers; those of the government employees, teachers and the religious.

This year’s visit was mainly to assess the Belgian province’s policy on development cooperation.

“We want to observe the effectiveness in the field and the actual project implementation. We want to have a dialog, a discussion with our partners on the cooperation after 2009. Will we continue or will we phase out?” Coukuyt said.

He added they also expected an open discussion on the sustainability of the investments in the Cordillera. “When we talk about investment we do not only think about money but we also think about the work done by a lot of people,” he clarified.

East Flanders Deputy Eddy Couckuyt receives a gift from Ifugao Governor Teddy Baguilat. Photo courtesy of CDPC.

Places they visited included urban poor communities in Baguio City particularly Barangays Upper Pinget and Happy Hollow; Barangays Bulalacao and Colalo in Mankayan; Province of Benguet, Barangay Can-eo-Chapyusen in Bontoc, Mt. Province, and Barangay Tupaya in Lagawe Province of Ifugao. The Belgian partners stayed and mingled with the local folk, dialogued with them and learned from their daily lives.

“It gave me a week-long sleepless nights,” Coukuyt was quoted as saying during the assessment. He said the culture shock is a normal experience for a visitor from the “first world coming to a third world country for the first time.” Nevertheless it helped the delegation understand the context of development approaches to adopt.

The sharing with the officers and members of Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) on their issues and activities was productive and it concluded the whole activities in Mankayan. The meeting with the LEU was significant to the Belgian official because he once worked with the labor sector.

The assessment gathered multi-sectoral representatives, who are directly involved in the actual implementation of the multi-sectoral program, these points were clarified and handled lightly to the satisfaction of the Belgian partners.

The Belgian partners were very appreciative of the evening dinner meetings with CDPC multi-sectoral implementors, allies and friends from the academe, church and in the local government units, from the provincial down to the barangay (village) level.

Upon hearing such very positive comments regarding strategy and approach of the network in serving the people, Executive Director Benedict Solang said “It is encouraging and challenging for CDPC-CPA to carry on and further advance its work towards peoples’ genuine development.”

Solang said the entire week-long encounter with the Belgian partners was very successful as he expressed the network’s appreciation for the contribution of the academe, the church and the local officials and allies in the activities.

The delegation paid a courtesy call to Baguio City officials, represented by Vice-mayor Daniel Fariñas who handed them the symbolic key to the city. A solidarity program in Baguio City capped the program with fitting exchange of tokens, as CPA Chair Beverly Longid termed it.

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Old April 21st, 2008, 06:03 PM   #58
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P290-M released for Manabo bridge

BANGUED, Abra — This upland Cordillera province – the 10th poorest country in the Philippines – got an unexpected P290-million from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she flew to this province last April 10 to address the peace assembly in this capital town.

In her speech at the Provincial Capitol’s social hall where the peace assembly was held, the President announced that she had instructed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to complete the half-finished bridge that has been towering for more than a decade over banca-riding commuters crossing the Manabo River in hinterland Manabo, Abra.

GMA said the bridge is “a monument to corruption where you spent on infrastructure, and then just leave it alone, never mind what happens.” She then revealed that she had earlier resolved to do something about the bridge that looks like a suspended rainbow of concrete over the Manabo River that residents cross with bancas to this day.

Also in the peace assembly in Bangued were Philippine National Police chief Avelino Razon, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, and Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza, among others.

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Old April 27th, 2008, 08:01 AM   #59
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Ifugao gives final salute to last World War II veteran of province

ABS-CBN Baguio

KIANGAN, IFUGAO -- Ifugao recently gave its final salute to its erstwhile last surviving World War II hero.

War veteran Lt. Santiago Balajo succumbed to complications from prostate cancer around 5 a.m. in Ifugao Provincial Hospital last April 18, according to his doctor Roberto Calugdan. He was 98.

Balajo was designated as Commanding Officer "C" under First Battalion, a unit organized to fight Japanese troops in Ifugao during the Second World War.

Ifugao was the site of a major event in WW II history when General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Japanese Imperial Forces informally surrendered on September 1, 1945 in Kiangan town. Yamashita finally vowed to Philippine and American forces after he formally surrendered on September 2, 1945 in Baguio. Kiangan in Ifugao then became the repository of Yamashita's belongings.

Mentor and mayor

Aside from being a war hero, Balajo became a mentor and served as the first mayor of Mayoyao town in Ifugao.

Ifugao Gov. Teodoro Baguilat said Balajo was an icon and well-respected in the province due to his heroism as well as his active efforts in promoting the welfare of WWII veterans.

"He also fought for the benefits of the bolomen," added the governor.

Historical reference

Baguilat was impressed with Balajo's vivid memory of the cruelties of the war. Balajo started writing his autobiography in the early 80's.

Balajo would constantly ask Baguilat, who was then a mayor, to edit manuscripts of the veteran’s accounts of the last world war.

"Eventually, his memoir will become a historical reference not only for Ifugao but for the whole country," Baguilat also said.

Heroism recognized

In the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Philippine’s liberation from Japanese occupation last September 2, 2005, President Arroyo pinned a commemorative badge to Lt. Balajo in recognition of his heroism during the war.

"Really, I thought he would live to be a hundred. His death was not really a tragic death because he lived a full life. But I was honored to know him," Baguilat added.

After five days of mourning, Balajo was finally laid to rest last Wednesday, April 23, 2008, at three in the afternoon in Kiangan, Ifugao, where he lived most of his life.

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Old April 27th, 2008, 08:07 AM   #60
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Yabadabadoo industry in Ifugao booming

By EV Espiritu, Elmer Kristian Dauigoy
Northern Luzon Bureau

BANAUE, Ifugao—Every three years in this town that is famous for the rice terraces, men in G-strings race down the road using homemade wooden scooters.

The race, part of the Imbayah (Merrymaking) Festival here, has drawn fans who have witnessed a fleet of scooters speeding down the terraces.

Unknown to many here, the race also serves as a marketing showcase for these scooters.

After the race, tourists negotiate to buy the scooters, some priced as high as P15,000.

The scooters have become a “midnight-madness” spectacle because their underground retail is one of the few profitable businesses in the agriculture-dominated Ifugao economy.

Aside from the terraces, a perennial tourist draw, most Ifugao eke out a living selling woodcarvings as well as woven G-strings and hats topped with feathers or foliage to simulate age and ritual authenticity.

The race has been profitable, says Rafael Buccahan, 31, who makes wooden scooters.

The scooters began selling for P500 in 2005 when photos published in newspapers caught the attention of many visitors.

Buccahan says the scooters used to help his older relatives ferry food stock or vegetables around town.

The first scooter was made of ordinary firewood and twine. It belonged to a local town mayor in the 1960s.

Rubber tires had not been available then so the mayor carved the wheels from wood. The wooden wheels were greased from the sap of a local shrub.

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