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FILIPINOS' PRAYER FOR POPE FRANCIS: GOOD HEALTH, GUIDANCE 

OCT 12 --PHOTO: FAITH CAN’T WAIT Pope Francis, who is visiting the country in January,
radiates such a charm that even a standee of his image is sooo “selfie”-worthy for these law students of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila shown taking a snapshot at the Arzobispado de Manila (Archdiocesan Chancery Office) in Intramuros.--Ninety-five days leading up to the papal visit, the faithful are praying for Pope Francis’ good health and safety, especially during his visit to the country. Three out of every five prayers for Pope Francis submitted by readers to the Inquirer are prayers for the 77-year-old Pontiff’s continuous good health. The “Prayer for the Pope” feature is part of the Inquirer’s 100-day countdown to the papal visit to the country and as a response to Pope Francis’ tweet on his official Twitter account @Pontifex, “Please pray for me,” during the anniversary of his election as the 266th Bishop of Rome.

The question: What is your prayer for the Pope? “Long, healthy life for our Pope Francis to serve the world and our God more,” Kathlyn Atienza said. “I pray for the good health, strength and constant guidance of the Holy Spirit for Pope Francis, as he is becoming an effective agent of transformation in the Catholic Church,” said Fr. Paul Arnel Lucero, SMM, from New Manila, Quezon City. “I pray that the Pope will always be healthy and be blessed by the Lord. May the Pope remain open-minded in dealing with the challenges faced every day by mankind,” said Belen Choi Chiu from Tondo, Manila. Aside from good health, many of the prayers sent are for the Pope’s safety, especially during his visit to the country. “I pray for the Pope’s good health and for his safe visit to the Philippines. May his visit comfort spiritually the survivors of Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ who lost their loved ones in the tragedy,” said Ian Solamo of Jaro town, Leyte province.

“I pray that the Pope and His influence reach many people and that everyone will see how many things will change if everyone would decide to do good to one another. May Pope Francis and His goodness reach everyone and may it spread continually,” said Rina Misajon from Barangay Mayamot, Antipolo City. Most of the personal intentions sent by the readers are also focused on the good health and safety of their families. Solamo’s personal intentions are to be blessed with a child, to pass the civil service exam and for family and friends to have good health. “I pray that my family be blessed with good health and happiness, and that no harm shall come to them. Lastly, may the families who have lost loved ones find comfort and strength as they continue their journey in life even without the ones they love,” Misajon said. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT....Readers can still submit their prayers for the Pope through the site http://www.inquirer.net/popeinPH until January 2015.

ALSO: MILF seeks Pope Francis’ endorsement of Mindanao peace pact 

OCT 13 --PHOTO: Moro Islamic Liberation Front . INQUIRER FILE PHOTO --DAVAO CITY,
Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has said it plans to write a letter to Pope Francis asking him to say something in support of the peace process in Mindanao in the course of his visit to the country on Jan. 17, 2015. “We are thinking about writing the Pope to ask him to say something about the need for peace,” said Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel that signed a comprehensive peace deal with the Philippine government on March 27, 2014.
Iqbal said a statement of support for the peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the MILF would be a morale booster for efforts to hopefully end over four decades of Moro conflict in Mindanao.

“I think that the letter will be addressed and will be delivered very soon to the Pope,” Iqbal said in an interview with reporters over the weekend. Civil society groups and international donor agencies have greeted the signing of the peace agreement with great enthusiasm, as it could end the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced communities in Central Mindanao. After the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, composed of the MILF and government representatives, came up with the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, or the law that governs how the Bangsamoro political entity should be run, which has already been submitted to Congress for deliberation. Once Congress ratifies the document, the BBL will be submitted to a plebiscite to allow the people to decide whether to accept the proposed law or not.

Pope Francis will be in Leyte on Jan. 17, 2014, to visit survivors of the Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” a natural calamity, which ravaged huge parts of Central Visayas and claimed over 6,000 lives in November 2013. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: City of children  

OCT 12 --PHOTO:  cancer patient awaits treatment at the Cancer and Hematology Center of
the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City. This is a story of young boys and girls. It begins in a room with a pastel green door, and walls with hot air balloons, flowers and robots and a crawling pink crab. Angel, 13, steps inside the smaller room with a yellow door. It is Friday, a school day, but this is not a classroom where children learn math or science or the Chocolate Hills and the three main islands of the Philippines. A woman in a crisp white laboratory coat waits for Angel, ready with a syringe. Angel has been in this same room the week before this, and the week before that and many other weeks since September last year.

Today, she is wearing a purple floral sleeveless top so she doesn’t have to roll up the sleeves. She stands and takes the shot; she doesn’t cringe or cower. By now, she is used to the jab on her right arm. When she is done, she goes back to her seat, in a row of red plastic chairs in the waiting room with the pastel green door. She opens her borrowed tablet covered with dusty violet leatherette and attempts to prevent an army of zombies from eating the brains of her plants. It is her favorite game. She will wait for another doctor to call her name. There will be another procedure to check her blood. Angel has leukemia, diagnosed in September last year. It was an ordinary night with fever, says her father. But it was no ordinary fever, the thermometer stayed at 40 degrees Celsius. She is bald now. The thick black hair that once cascaded down her shoulders is gone because of chemotherapy. Welcome to the Cancer and Hematology Center of the government-owned Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Quezon City, a decrepit building with faded walls of red, blue and yellow, built decades ago with the help of Elizabeth Taylor.*READ MORE...

ALSO: Cagayan to have int’l airport  

OCT 13 --BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – Commercial flights are being readied at the newly
constructed international airport in Cagayan province, whose operation is expected to accelerate economic and tourism development in northeast Luzon. This came after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) approved the application of Cagayan North International Airport for P1.67 billion to finance its commercial operation following a series of test runs and inspections of its facilities. One of the airport’s major proponents, Julian Gonzales, officer-in-charge of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), said they received the clearance to operate from CAAP last Oct. 9.
CAAP is the only government agency mandated to issue permit or clearance for commercial and private operations of airports and implementing policies on civil aviation to ensure safe, economic and efficient air travel. “Actually, we are expecting the arrival of a chartered plane and its departure for Manila today. This will be the airport’s first official commercial flight. The plane is owned and operated by the Helitrend Airline Corp.,” he said.

Located in Cagayan’s northern Lallo town, the airport is a joint venture between CEZA and a private sector through 48-52 sharing scheme, respectively. Initially serving domestic flights, CEZA said the 150-hectare airport could now accommodate direct international flights from Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea. “Its 2.1-kilometer and 45-meter wide runway can accommodate up to the capacity of Airbus 320 aircraft,” said Nilo Aldeguer, CEZA senior deputy administrator. The construction of the international airport is in line with CEZA’s mandate of transforming Cagayan, as well as northeast Luzon, into one of the country’s economic, tourism and logistic hubs. CEZA, created in 1995 through Republic Act 7922, is a government-owned and controlled corporation under the Office of the President. It has been tasked to manage and supervise the development of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. CEZA said the presence of the airport would not only make Cagayan’s economy stronger and sustainable but also throughout Cagayan Valley, especially since the region is considered one of the country’s food baskets.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: No place like a tent in Bohol  

OCT 13 --PHOTO: NEW HOPE An alternative church is opened by Bishop Leonardo Medroso
in Loboc town, Bohol province, where three churches were flattened during the Oct. 15, 2013, quake. SAGBAYAN, Bohol—Earthquake survivor Remedios Alpuerto already has a new home in Barangay (village) Ubojan here, but for her and her family nothing beats living in a tent when another tremor strikes again. In fact, the tent where the Alpuertos found haven when the disastrous 7.2-magnitude quake struck on Oct. 15 last year still stands outside their new home—just in case another tremor rumbles through Bohol again. The tent was the Alpuertos’ home for nine months after the 2013 tremor leveled their old house and other structures—including churches—and killed more than 200 people in the province.

For Remedios, her tent is the safest place where she, her husband and four children can run to whenever the earth shakes again. “We don’t consider our new house to be safe despite their assurance that it can withstand strong earthquakes. We cannot afford to be complacent,” she told the Inquirer. “It is still advantageous to have a tent. The tent is safe even if there are strong winds.” Who can blame them? Remedios is not alone in her anxieties.
Other tents can be seen in front of some of the houses built by the International Organization for Migration—residents are scared another strong quake would happen again. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Albay gov says Mayon erupting softly  

OCT 13 --PHOTO: FROM SOFT TO EXPLOSIVE Mayon Volcano spewed lava early on Sunday in
what Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and volcanologists called “soft eruption.” But the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology says the lava flow may mean an “explosive eruption” is imminent. MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON. LEGAZPI CITY, Philippine—Lava is again flowing out of Mayon Volcano, raising fears an eruption could be imminent, officials said on Sunday.Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said Mayon was most likely going through a “soft eruption.”
The government has already evacuated around 63,000 people living inside a 6-kilometer danger zone around the volcano, after it began to spew out white smoke and some lava last month.

Activity had appeared to quiet down but a fresh cascade—confirmed by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Sunday—this time stretching further down the slopes, has prompted concerns that an eruption may soon take place.“The first activity started on Sept. 15 and lasted for a few days. After that, there was a lull or no summit activity, but this morning, our volcanologists spotted a lava flow,” Renato Solidum, head of the government volcanology agency, told ABS-CBN television.Slow activity --“What is happening now is that there is very slow movement … of lava flow about 350 meters in length from the summit,” he added. Solidum warned that lava flow from Mayon was usually followed by “an explosive phase of eruption” although he could not estimate when such blasts could occur. * READ MORE...


ALSO: Urban decay threatens hot Philippine economy  

OCT 13 --Manila’s creaking train network means a miserable three-hour work commute for
salesman Gerard Galang – just one example of major infrastructure woes that analysts say threaten to cool the Philippines’ red-hot economy. Peak-hour hell comes in many forms in the city of 12 million people, with commuters experiencing a sweaty, stinky crush on dilapidated trains and giant queues to buy tickets. “I pity myself and my fellow commuters but I don’t have any other option than the train,” said Galang, 29, who inhales antiseptic rubbed on to his hands to help negate the stench on the train. “It gets so crowded our faces get pressed against each other and on doors and windows.”

Galang spends three hours commuting to work every day, half of which is spent in queues. For other commuters on buses or in cars, daily gridlock worsens to a complete standstill that can trap people for hours when even small rain storms trigger flash floods. The Philippine economy has in recent years shed its reputation as one of Asia’s laggards, with growth of 6.4 percent in the second quarter maintaining its status as the region’s best performing after China.
The country also recently gained its first investment grade scores from the big three global credit rating agencies.
Urban decay --Infrastructure development, however, hasn’t moved at the same pace, and economists warn the creaking systems that are of so much frustration to millions of people will also have a growing impact on economic growth. “Our facilities are not built for an economy that is growing at seven percent every year,” Ronald Mendoza, a senior economist at the Asian Institute of Management, in Manila told AFP. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

Filipinos’ prayer for Pope Francis: Good health, guidance


FAITH CAN’T WAIT Pope Francis, who is visiting the country in January, radiates such a charm that even a standee of his image is sooo “selfie”-worthy for these law students of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila shown taking a snapshot at the Arzobispado de Manila (Archdiocesan Chancery Office) in Intramuros. RICHARD REYES

MANILA, OCTOBER 13, 2014 (INQUIRER)  By Marielle Medina - Ninety-five days leading up to the papal visit, the faithful are praying for Pope Francis’ good health and safety, especially during his visit to the country.

Three out of every five prayers for Pope Francis submitted by readers to the Inquirer are prayers for the 77-year-old Pontiff’s continuous good health.

The “Prayer for the Pope” feature is part of the Inquirer’s 100-day countdown to the papal visit to the country and as a response to Pope Francis’ tweet on his official Twitter account @Pontifex, “Please pray for me,” during the anniversary of his election as the 266th Bishop of Rome.

The question: What is your prayer for the Pope?

“Long, healthy life for our Pope Francis to serve the world and our God more,” Kathlyn Atienza said.

“I pray for the good health, strength and constant guidance of the Holy Spirit for Pope Francis, as he is becoming an effective agent of transformation in the Catholic Church,” said Fr. Paul Arnel Lucero, SMM, from New Manila, Quezon City.

“I pray that the Pope will always be healthy and be blessed by the Lord. May the Pope remain open-minded in dealing with the challenges faced every day by mankind,” said Belen Choi Chiu from Tondo, Manila.

Aside from good health, many of the prayers sent are for the Pope’s safety, especially during his visit to the country.

“I pray for the Pope’s good health and for his safe visit to the Philippines. May his visit comfort spiritually the survivors of Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ who lost their loved ones in the tragedy,” said Ian Solamo of Jaro town, Leyte province.

“I pray that the Pope and His influence reach many people and that everyone will see how many things will change if everyone would decide to do good to one another. May Pope Francis and His goodness reach everyone and may it spread continually,” said Rina Misajon from Barangay Mayamot, Antipolo City.

Most of the personal intentions sent by the readers are also focused on the good health and safety of their families.

Solamo’s personal intentions are to be blessed with a child, to pass the civil service exam and for family and friends to have good health.

“I pray that my family be blessed with good health and happiness, and that no harm shall come to them. Lastly, may the families who have lost loved ones find comfort and strength as they continue their journey in life even without the ones they love,” Misajon said.

Readers can still submit their prayers for the Pope through the site http://www.inquirer.net/popeinPH until January 2015.

MILF seeks Pope Francis’ endorsement of Mindanao peace pact Germelina Lacorte @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Mindanao 5:14 PM | Sunday, October 12th, 2014


Moro Islamic Liberation Front . INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has said it plans to write a letter to Pope Francis asking him to say something in support of the peace process in Mindanao in the course of his visit to the country on Jan. 17, 2015.

“We are thinking about writing the Pope to ask him to say something about the need for peace,” said Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel that signed a comprehensive peace deal with the Philippine government on March 27, 2014.

Iqbal said a statement of support for the peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the MILF would be a morale booster for efforts to hopefully end over four decades of Moro conflict in Mindanao.

“I think that the letter will be addressed and will be delivered very soon to the Pope,” Iqbal said in an interview with reporters over the weekend.

Civil society groups and international donor agencies have greeted the signing of the peace agreement with great enthusiasm, as it could end the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced communities in Central Mindanao.

After the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, composed of the MILF and government representatives, came up with the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, or the law that governs how the Bangsamoro political entity should be run, which has already been submitted to Congress for deliberation. Once Congress ratifies the document, the BBL will be submitted to a plebiscite to allow the people to decide whether to accept the proposed law or not.

Pope Francis will be in Leyte on Jan. 17, 2014, to visit survivors of the Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” a natural calamity, which ravaged huge parts of Central Visayas and claimed over 6,000 lives in November 2013.

FROM PHILSTAR

City of children By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 12, 2014 - 12:00am 5 306 googleplus0 0


A cancer patient awaits treatment at the Cancer and Hematology Center of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City. JES AZNAR

This is a story of young boys and girls. It begins in a room with a pastel green door, and walls with hot air balloons, flowers and robots and a crawling pink crab.

Angel, 13, steps inside the smaller room with a yellow door. It is Friday, a school day, but this is not a classroom where children learn math or science or the Chocolate Hills and the three main islands of the Philippines.

A woman in a crisp white laboratory coat waits for Angel, ready with a syringe. Angel has been in this same room the week before this, and the week before that and many other weeks since September last year.

Today, she is wearing a purple floral sleeveless top so she doesn’t have to roll up the sleeves. She stands and takes the shot; she doesn’t cringe or cower. By now, she is used to the jab on her right arm. When she is done, she goes back to her seat, in a row of red plastic chairs in the waiting room with the pastel green door.

She opens her borrowed tablet covered with dusty violet leatherette and attempts to prevent an army of zombies from eating the brains of her plants. It is her favorite game. She will wait for another doctor to call her name. There will be another procedure to check her blood.

Angel has leukemia, diagnosed in September last year. It was an ordinary night with fever, says her father. But it was no ordinary fever, the thermometer stayed at 40 degrees Celsius. She is bald now. The thick black hair that once cascaded down her shoulders is gone because of chemotherapy.

Welcome to the Cancer and Hematology Center of the government-owned Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Quezon City, a decrepit building with faded walls of red, blue and yellow, built decades ago with the help of Elizabeth Taylor.

* Angel is one of roughly 100 cancer patients seeking treatment here daily.

“Every day, there are 200 to 300 outpatients that come here, of whom 100 are cancer patients,” says Jara Corazon Ejera, deputy director of PCMC.

Angel’s father Armando is a tricycle driver, but he has stopped driving to take care of his daughter. If he could, he would still ply the roads of Bulacan but he needs to bring Angel to the hospital almost every week or more often than that.

They live in a borrowed room, in far-away Bulacan, in the northern part of the country, two hours away from PCMC.

In the mornings, they leave the house before the roosters wake up because the queue can be long. Armando says he and his wife choose to bring Angel here because the cost of treatment is half that of a private hospital. And the doctors are good and kind, he says.

“It’s P75 here. Outside, it’s P300 to P500,” says Armando, referring to the consultation fee for patients. Angel’s Cytarabine infusion, a chemotherapy agent, costs P200 at PCMC. It can cost P1,000 in a private hospital.

Miriam, mother to 11-year-old Johnell, also leaves their home in Caloocan at 5 in the morning to beat the long lines. But for Johnell’s chemotherapy, there is no other choice except the PCMC.

“I asked around in my neighborhood. They told me PCMC is good. And it is. I’ve seen the doctors here. They are really good,” she says.

Miriam used to work in Dubai as a domestic helper but she had to come home when she learned of Johnell’s leukemia.

Parents like Miriam and Armando usually have to stop working so they can take care of their children full-time. The children have to stop schooling until they get better.

There’s no fixed schedule for treatments. Sometimes, their children turn pale in the dead of night, in the stillest of hours, in the most quiet of moments, in between dreams and nightmares. When that happens, they rush to the hospital. Costs keep spiraling because leukemia patients are too fragile for public transportation. It is too dirty. It is too tiring.

“We have no choice but to pay for a cab,” says Armando.

During treatment at PCMC, their children go through several procedures, which can sometimes take the whole day. To save on costs, they bring lunch and snacks. Whatever money left is used to pay for the treatment and medicine.

Miriam says she cannot afford to bring Johnell to a private hospital because the costs are higher.

More than that, she says, she is at ease at PCMC because the doctors are kind to her son.

“They know what they’re doing,” she says.

The doctors are warm and gentle, all smiles in white laboratory coats. They know the children by their names: Angel, Shyli, Johnell, John, Faye, Catherine.

This story, originally published in the authors’ collaborative website www.roadtopuka.com , hopes to shed light on PCMC’s campaign to be able to permanently retain its present site.

Cagayan to have int’l airport By Charlie Lagasca (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 13, 2014 - 12:00am 1 3 googleplus0 0

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – Commercial flights are being readied at the newly constructed international airport in Cagayan province, whose operation is expected to accelerate economic and tourism development in northeast Luzon.

This came after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) approved the application of Cagayan North International Airport for P1.67 billion to finance its commercial operation following a series of test runs and inspections of its facilities.

One of the airport’s major proponents, Julian Gonzales, officer-in-charge of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), said they received the clearance to operate from CAAP last Oct. 9.

CAAP is the only government agency mandated to issue permit or clearance for commercial and private operations of airports and implementing policies on civil aviation to ensure safe, economic and efficient air travel.

“Actually, we are expecting the arrival of a chartered plane and its departure for Manila today. This will be the airport’s first official commercial flight. The plane is owned and operated by the Helitrend Airline Corp.,” he said.

Located in Cagayan’s northern Lallo town, the airport is a joint venture between CEZA and a private sector through 48-52 sharing scheme, respectively.

Initially serving domestic flights, CEZA said the 150-hectare airport could now accommodate direct international flights from Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea.

“Its 2.1-kilometer and 45-meter wide runway can accommodate up to the capacity of Airbus 320 aircraft,” said Nilo Aldeguer, CEZA senior deputy administrator.

The construction of the international airport is in line with CEZA’s mandate of transforming Cagayan, as well as northeast Luzon, into one of the country’s economic, tourism and logistic hubs.

CEZA, created in 1995 through Republic Act 7922, is a government-owned and controlled corporation under the Office of the President. It has been tasked to manage and supervise the development of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport.

CEZA said the presence of the airport would not only make Cagayan’s economy stronger and sustainable but also throughout Cagayan Valley, especially since the region is considered one of the country’s food baskets.

FROM THE INQUIRER

No place like a tent in Bohol By Carmel Loise Matus |Inquirer Visayas2:43 am | Monday, October 13th, 2014


NEW HOPE An alternative church is opened by Bishop Leonardo Medroso in Loboc town, Bohol province, where three churches were flattened during the Oct. 15, 2013, quake. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

SAGBAYAN, Bohol—Earthquake survivor Remedios Alpuerto already has a new home in Barangay (village) Ubojan here, but for her and her family nothing beats living in a tent when another tremor strikes again.

In fact, the tent where the Alpuertos found haven when the disastrous 7.2-magnitude quake struck on Oct. 15 last year still stands outside their new home—just in case another tremor rumbles through Bohol again.

The tent was the Alpuertos’ home for nine months after the 2013 tremor leveled their old house and other structures—including churches—and killed more than 200 people in the province.

For Remedios, her tent is the safest place where she, her husband and four children can run to whenever the earth shakes again.

“We don’t consider our new house to be safe despite their assurance that it can withstand strong earthquakes. We cannot afford to be complacent,” she told the Inquirer.

“It is still advantageous to have a tent. The tent is safe even if there are strong winds.”

Who can blame them?

Remedios is not alone in her anxieties.

Other tents can be seen in front of some of the houses built by the International Organization for Migration—residents are scared another strong quake would happen again.

* But who can blame them? Last year’s temblor—the strongest to hit the province in years—brought so much devastation to this island-province.

43 towns affected

According to the Bohol Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), the quake—which sprang from a new fault line in Inabanga town—affected 43 out of 47 Bohol towns and the capital Tagbilaran City.

Of the 43 towns, 17 were badly hit.

These were the towns of Antequera, Balilihan, Buenavista, Calape, Carmen, Catigbian, Clarin, Corella, Cortes, Danao, Inabanga, Loon, Maribojoc, Sagbayan, San Isidro, Sevilla and Tubigon, according to the PDRRMC.

The PDRRMC said 211 people were killed while 877 were hurt in the violent jolt. Eight others remain missing. It isn’t clear if they will be accounted for again.

Some churches flattened

A total of 95,884 families, or 465,146 people, were displaced as the quake destroyed 8,083 houses and damaged 42,771 others in 43 towns and one city.

The quake severely affected the province’s tourism industry—Bohol’s bread and butter. Tourist arrivals hit a record low as tourism spots on the island were either damaged or destroyed.

Three churches were flattened in Loon, Maribojoc and Clarin.

At least 22 other churches suffered damage in varying degrees—10 of them were later declared as heritage sites.

The viewing deck of the famed Chocolate Hills was destroyed. Restaurants and boats used in the Loboc River Cruise were also damaged.

Rumbling trucks shake nerves

A year after Alpuerto’s old house disappeared, aftershocks still shake the nerves of the Boholanos.

Alpuerto, her husband and four children—ages 14, 13, 10 and 9—are now living in a 5-meter-by-6-meter house made of “amakan” (bamboo woven mat), lumber and GI sheets.

But their so-called “permanent shelter” has failed to make them feel safe, Alpuerto said.

She said her family would get scared whenever the ground vibrated at the passing of a six-wheeler truck in front of their house.

Safety in tents

At least, the tent near the house gives Alpuerto’s family a feeling that they have somewhere to run to—where they cannot be pinned down by heavy objects, like what happened to villagemates who died in the quake.

Felito Pon, head of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said tents could still be seen in four out of 24 barangays in Sagbayan.

These are the barangays Canmaya Diot, Poblacion, Ubojan and Sta. Catalina.

While the council doesn’t have the number of families that continue to hold on to their tents, Pon said villagers were still scared of the aftershocks.

From Oct. 15, 2013 to May 31, 2014, at least 6,000 aftershocks were recorded, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Phivolcs assurance

Robinson Giorgio, chief of the Phivolcs office in Central Visayas, said these were “minor earthquakes” ranging from 2.3 to 3 in magnitude.

He said the institute had stopped recording aftershocks in Bohol since May because their magnitude had lessened, an indication the ground was stabilizing.

Phivolcs has said that it will take years before another earthquake of the 2013 magnitude hits Bohol again.
People still scared

But many Boholanos are not convinced.

Victoria Betarmus would still carry her 7-month-old granddaughter Kristel Mae running outside her temporary house in Barangay Maria Rosario in Inabanga town whenever the earth shook.

“We are still scared. I would tremble every time an aftershock occurred,” she told the Inquirer.

Even school classes have been disrupted by aftershocks.

Ma. Teresita Lapiz, a Grade 5 public school teacher in Calatrava town, said pupils would stay still and quiet during strong aftershocks, as if waiting for something to collapse.

She said the teachers had to assure the children nothing bad would happen to ease their fear and help them return to their lessons.

“We have no choice but to adapt to the situation. The pupils need to go to school and we have to conduct classes because we cannot [keep them from their studies] for a long time,” Lapiz said.

Boholanos are trying to cope with the situation despite what some see as lack of support from the national government.

Albay gov says Mayon erupting softly Philippine Daily Inquirer1:01 am | Monday, October 13th, 2014


FROM SOFT TO EXPLOSIVE Mayon Volcano spewed lava early on Sunday in what Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and volcanologists called “soft eruption.” But the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology says the lava flow may mean an “explosive eruption” is imminent. MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippine—Lava is again flowing out of Mayon Volcano, raising fears an eruption could be imminent, officials said on Sunday.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said Mayon was most likely going through a “soft eruption.”

The government has already evacuated around 63,000 people living inside a 6-kilometer danger zone around the volcano, after it began to spew out white smoke and some lava last month.

Activity had appeared to quiet down but a fresh cascade—confirmed by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Sunday—this time stretching further down the slopes, has prompted concerns that an eruption may soon take place.

“The first activity started on Sept. 15 and lasted for a few days. After that, there was a lull or no summit activity, but this morning, our volcanologists spotted a lava flow,” Renato Solidum, head of the government volcanology agency, told ABS-CBN television.

Slow activity

“What is happening now is that there is very slow movement … of lava flow about 350 meters in length from the summit,” he added.

Solidum warned that lava flow from Mayon was usually followed by “an explosive phase of eruption” although he could not estimate when such blasts could occur.

* He said magma inside the volcano was now rising to the summit slowly but added that it could accelerate, prompting quakes and small explosions and potentially causing a much larger eruption.

Aid delivered

Relief worth P9.4 million arrived in Albay province on Sunday morning as part of the government’s preparation for helping the evacuees.

The supplies were unloaded in Guinobatan town.

Thirty-six military and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) trucks will deliver the supplies to the evacuees staying in 44 evacuation centers.

The Department of Health also sent trucks carrying water, hygiene and family kits, and medicines.

The 2,460-m Mayon Volcano has a long history of deadly eruptions.

Four foreign tourists and their local tour guide were killed when Mayon last erupted in May 2013.

In 1814, more than 1,200 people were killed when lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa.

An explosion in August 2006 did not cause direct deaths, but four months later a typhoon unleashed an avalanche of volcanic mud from Mayon’s slopes that killed 1,000 people.

Cabinet officials

The head of civil defense operations around Mayon, Bernardo Alejandro, said the government had done an aerial survey of the volcano and six Cabinet officials were in the area to assess the needs of people who had fled their homes.

He said the government would now be stricter in enforcing a ban on the entry of people into the danger zone.

Among the Cabinet officials who were on the scene on Sunday was Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who assured the evacuees that the government was providing all their needs.

“No one will be left behind,” Roxas said.

Mayon is now on Alert Level 3, meaning a possible eruption in weeks, but Alejandro said authorities were now assessing whether to raise this to Alert Level 4, meaning a possible eruption in days or even hours.–Reports from Michael B. Jaucian, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Julie M. Aurelio in Manila; and AFP

Urban decay threatens hot Philippine economy By Joel Guinto |Agence France-Presse3:55 pm | Sunday, October 12th, 2014


AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Manila’s creaking train network means a miserable three-hour work commute for salesman Gerard Galang – just one example of major infrastructure woes that analysts say threaten to cool the Philippines’ red-hot economy.

Peak-hour hell comes in many forms in the city of 12 million people, with commuters experiencing a sweaty, stinky crush on dilapidated trains and giant queues to buy tickets.

“I pity myself and my fellow commuters but I don’t have any other option than the train,” said Galang, 29, who inhales antiseptic rubbed on to his hands to help negate the stench on the train.

“It gets so crowded our faces get pressed against each other and on doors and windows.”

Galang spends three hours commuting to work every day, half of which is spent in queues.

For other commuters on buses or in cars, daily gridlock worsens to a complete standstill that can trap people for hours when even small rain storms trigger flash floods.
The Philippine economy has in recent years shed its reputation as one of Asia’s laggards, with growth of 6.4 percent in the second quarter maintaining its status as the region’s best performing after China.

The country also recently gained its first investment grade scores from the big three global credit rating agencies.

Urban decay

Infrastructure development, however, hasn’t moved at the same pace, and economists warn the creaking systems that are of so much frustration to millions of people will also have a growing impact on economic growth.

“Our facilities are not built for an economy that is growing at seven percent every year,” Ronald Mendoza, a senior economist at the Asian Institute of Management, in Manila told AFP.

* Mendoza said growth could have been faster had it not been for the ageing airports and road networks that turn off foreign investors and tourists, and limit the movement of local trade.

Manila already loses 2.4 billion pesos ($53 million) in potential income daily due to traffic jams, according to a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Among the other infrastructure problems are power shortages that lead to brownouts, clogged drainage that exacerbate frequent rainy season floods and an Internet network so slow that it sparked a parliamentary enquiry.

Millions of people in slums, and even some residents of middle class districts, do not have access to running water.

And Manila’s decades-old international airport, with malfunctioning air conditioning and leaking toilets, has been cited by a travel website as the worst in the world.

No quick fix

President Benigno Aquino and his team are acutely aware of the problems.

“Sustaining the economy’s high-growth trajectory requires continued investment in infrastructure,” Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told Japanese businessmen last week.

The government is planning to increase infrastructure spending from 2.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2012 to five percent by the end of Aquino’s term in 2016.

As part of that, the government will pursue its so-called public-private partnership program. More than 50 projects are being put out to private builders.

Balisacan also said implementing a 2.6-trillion-peso ($58 billion) “dream plan” drafted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency was a top priority.

The agency’s plan calls for an expansion of rail and toll road networks to provinces north and south of Manila, spreading economic activity, as well as a subway system for the capital.

It also envisages a new Manila airport terminal.

Many of the projects cited by the Japanese plan are included in the PPP pipeline, but these have moved painfully slowly due to regulatory delays and court cases between rival bidders.

Fewer than 10 contracts for the public-private partnership programme have been awarded during Aquino’s first four years in office, with no projects yet completed.

And while Aquino’s intentions are laudable, there is only a limited amount it can do before his term ends in the middle of 2016, according to Mendoza.

“Many of these projects are perfectly doable, especially the airports and toll roads,” Mendoza said.

“What’s needed is a multi-administration plan… many of them take up to three administrations to finish.”

Philippine leaders are elected to single, six-year terms, raising continuity problems.

Manila residents, in the meantime, have little choice but to count the personal cost of the urban decay.

Jury Domino, who owns a catering business, said ever-growing delivery times eat into his profits — with his vans held hostage for hours guzzling fuel in traffic and staff having to be paid overtime.

“It’s a big hassle, expenses rise every month and the problems pile up,” he said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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