MANILA, August 19, 2003 (STAR)  The US Trade and Development Agency has approved a $446,909 grant to the Rural Electrification Financing Corp. (REFC) of the Philippines for technical assistance on the development of a rural electric cooperative financing facility in the Philippines. The project represents a joint effort between the Philippines and three US government agencies including USAID, the US Commercial Service, and the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).

The US-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International will be conducting the technical assistance and contributing an additional $446,909 in in-kind services towards the project’s completion. The total budget for his public-private partnership will be $893,818.

The signing of this grant agreement represents a formal commitment that follows a May 20, 2003, memorandum of understanding signed between Energy Secretary Vincent Perez, and USTDA Director Thelma Askey. President Arroyo and US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone witnessed the signing of this MOU during her state visit to the United States.

The grant was signed by REFC president Wilfred Billena and US Embassy Commercial Counselor David Fulton. "This is a wonderful day for rural electrification in the Philippines," said Fulton. "This grant from USTDA will help open the doors to infrastructure improvements that will greatly benefit Philippine consumers and businesses."

This technical assistance will involve three types of activities aimed at identifying loan demand for the REFC by participating electric cooperatives (ECs). These activities include: (1) preparation of detailed investment needs assessments, (2) preparation of financial plans, along with loan request documentation, and (3) informational seminars to reinforce the results of the EC studies. The 40 participating ECs will be drawn from a pool of 76 ECs that may be eligible for financing from the REFC over the next several years.

For additional information, contact: Office of the Commercial Counselor, US Embassy, Manila at tel. no.: 8884088, or fax no. 8886606.

Niit Offers Scholarships On Oracle 9i Courses

Oracle Phils., a subsidiary of Oracle Corp., the world’s largest enterprise software company, and IT training leader NIIT recently inked a partnership to offer certification training on Oracle technologies in the Philippines under Oracle’s Workforce Dev’t Program.

The alliance will enable NIIT to offer comprehensive training on Oracle technologies to students and professionals in the Philippines. In particular, individuals seeking training and international certification on Oracle technologies will benefit from this program.

Under this alliance, NIIT will now offer training in two of Oracle’s most popular tracks – Oracle Application Developer and Oracle DBA – with an emphasis on building Oracle Certified Associates (OCA) and Oracle Certified Professionals (OCP) to significantly enhance the prospects of Filipino students and working professionals while raising their global employment prospect, at select centers in the Philippines.

As part of the launch NIIT is giving scholarships to make Oracle training more accessible to Filipinos. Applicants will have to take a qualifying exam scheduled on Aug. 23.

Arjun Shankar, regional head of NIIT Education and Training for Asia-Pacific said ‘The NIIT-Oracle education partnership will create a specialized pool of IT professionals who will play a major role in bridging the skills gap in advanced Oracle technologies. It will also elevate the standards of our professional training services in the Philippines. We are launching the program in our Makati Center in the first phase and plan to roll out to more locations in due course."

Applicants may contact the nearest NIIT Center: Makati, 8303000; Ortigas, 6891189; Alabang, 7757001 and Taft Avenue, 4050018.

Judge To Induct Pinili-Metro Residents Ass’n Officers

Judge Manuel Fernandez Jr. of the Regional Trial Court in Las Piñas will induct into office this weekend the officers of the Pinili-Metro Manila Residents Association Inc., the group of professionals and students from Pinili residing in the metropolis.

The oathtaking will be held at the Renaissance Towers in Pasig City.

The officers are led by Fil Estate Realty Corp. architect Roland Polendey and Amador Tolentino Jr., managing partner of the Tolentino Corvera Macasaet Reig and Associates law office in Alabang, re-elected president and vice president, respectively.

The other officers are Josie Lane, secretary; Engr. Priscillano Aguinaldo, assistant secretary; Dr. Mayvelyn Gose, treasurer; Atty. Abraham Vermudez, auditor;

Ma. Rose Cabie, director for public relations; Dr. Helen Buduan, director for business affairs; Engr. Albert Espejo, director for special projects; Ret. SPO4 Valentino Ancheta, director for peace and order; and Annabelle Aurellano, chairman for youth affairs.

Ex-officio director is Bernardo Catubay who in his term launched the tree-planting program in the tobacco-growing town of Pinili, Ilocos Norte, chosen by Monsignor Gregorio Aglipay as his last stand against the advancing American troops at the turn of the 20th century.

Apart from Judge Fernandez, the other advisers are Atty. Pacifico Tacub, Atty. Augusto Colona, Francisco Dagutnot and Prof. Honor Blanco Cabie.

Pinili, founded on Jan. 20, 1920 from three barangays of Paoay, Badoc, and Batac, lies on an erstwhile wooded hill and rice fields at the foot of Simminublan mountain, only seven kilometers from Luzon Bay and 459 kilometers from Manila.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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