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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
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LIGHTS HAVE DIMMED AT 'CHRISTMAS FANTASY HOUSE' IN PALO, LEYTE


DECEMBER 6 - -WHEN THE LIGHTS SHONE BRIGHT — This file photo shows the opening of the Saboren Christmas Fantasy House in Palo, Leyte in 2011, when visitors used to flock the famous attraction during Yuletide Season, before typhoon ‘Yolanda’ washed it all away. (Photo courtesy of Saboren family)  For many years, Christmas for Edito Gadil, 66, and his family had been merrier because of the lights and sounds in their neighborhood in Barangay Luntad, thanks to the Saboren Christmas Fantasy House, which opened its doors to the public every year starting in November. But all that ended two years ago when super-typhoon “Yolanda” unleashed its fury on Nov. 8, 2013. The strongest weather disturbance on record also washed away the displays and decorations of the fantasy house, dampening the local community’s Yuletide spirit. Yolanda brought death and destruction along its path, killing thousands and destroying property worth billions of pesos. “Now, everything’s gone,” Gadil said. The house was a local sensation. Gadil said the residents were so happy seeing the Christmas house. “People, even those from other towns, would come here,” he said. The Christmas House featured hundreds of items related to Christmas – sleeping, dancing, and snoring Santa Claus figures, angels, animated figures. When Yolanda came, the fantasy house was almost done for its opening on Nov. 15 of that year. “I think it was almost 90 percent finished when Yolanda came,” said Angelia Saboren, 79, who was in-charge of the Fantasy House. Her brother, Enrico, owned the Christmas collectibles. REKINDLING THE XMAS SPIRIT In December, 1988, United States-based Enrico went home to the Philippines. It was then when he started sprucing up his house for the Christmas season. “He has a passion for the arts. It was his dream to have a Christmas house,” Angelia said. Not only did he realize that dream, but he also convinced the neighborhood to put up lights and decorations in their homes. “(My brother) knew that here in Palo, we don’t have that kind of celebration, so he wanted the local folks to see what was in the States,” she said. Enrico’s initiative led to the yearly Palo Christmas Festival, which has attracted both local and foreign tourists. “Inspired by the sight of (Enrico’s) simply yet appropriately decorated house, his neighbors enthusiastically responded to his call,” a brief primer to the festival said. “Before anyone realized it, the whole neighborhood was properly lighted-up for the season.” “It became well-known not only in Region VIII, but also in the Philippines. Many people would come to see what was inside the house,” Angelia said. ‘SADDEST CHRISTMAS’ But Mother Nature’s wrath destroyed in a matter of hours most of the items Enrico had collected for more than two decades. “Our roof was blown away, so rainwater entered our house. The decorations [already set up at that time] were destroyed,” Angelia said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Australian Christmas tree sets record with 518,838 lights


NOVEMBER 28 -Christmas-Tree-Guiness.jpg
In this Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 photo, people gather to observe a Guinness World Records attempt for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree in Canberra, Australia. Australian David Richards set his third Christmas-themed world record in as many years Friday by illuminating a tree in downtown Canberra with 518,838 twinkling lights. Guinness World Records confirmed that Richards had broken the record for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree that had been held for five years by Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. (Lukas Coch/AAP Via AP) CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian set his third Christmas-themed world record Friday by illuminating a tree in downtown Canberra with 518,838 twinkling lights. Guinness World Records confirmed that David Richards had broken the record for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree that had been held for five years by Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. That 36-meter (118-foot) Japanese tree had set a new benchmark of 374,280 lights this month. Richards, a Canberra lawyer and businessman, brought together a team of volunteers including an electrical engineer, structural engineer, welders, carpenters, masons and steel fixers to erect the dazzling display on a 22-meter (72-foot) steel tree. Richards creates such Christmas extravaganzas to raise money for Canberra’s Sudden Infant Death Syndrome charity, SIDS and Kids, by drawing large crowds and inviting them to donate. “Some people say I’ve got quite a knack for getting people to do things for nothing,” Richards said. “I get people to do things for nothing because they know that I do things for nothing and I’m contributing my own money, resources, time and effort as well — so maybe they feel sorry for me,” he added. He set his first Guinness World Record in 2013 for the most lights on a residential property by covering his suburban home with 502,165 bulbs. Traffic snarls in his neighborhood created by 75,000 sightseers who visited the display over four weeks made it difficult for his family to get to and from their home and irritated some neighbors. So Richards promised never to try to better that record. He set his second record a year ago by stringing up 1,194,380 LED lights in a public space. The 120 kilometers (75 miles) of multicolored wire woven in the shape of three interconnected giant, wrapped Christmas gifts in a Canberra mall was the largest ever image made of LED lights. But records tumble fast in the competitive world of light displays. Richards’ 2014 record was smashed in June at a hotel in Myoko, Japan, by an image of a dragon comprising 1,529,103 lights. His 2013 record for lights at home was beaten within days by a family in LaGrangeville, New York, that decorated their home with 601,736 Christmas lights, reclaiming their 2012 record. WATCH THE VIFEO...RELATED, Christmas season begins at the Manila Hotel...

ALSO: Yule school break begins Dec. 19


DECEMBER 6 -Students in public elementary and high schools across the country will have their Christmas break from Dec. 19 to Jan. 3, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).
The schedule of the Christmas break was based on an earlier department order approved by Secretary Armin Luistro. DepEd said private schools may deviate from the school calendar released by the department, but stressed that their calendar should comply with Republic Act 7797 which set the provisions on the length of an academic year in the Philippines. According to DepEd, the school year currently consists of 201 school days. Luistro earlier urged school divisions, particularly in Metro Manila which was affected by a four-day class holiday due to last month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, to conduct make-up classes prior to the scheduled Christmas break. “Make-up classes are recommended in lieu of no-school days due to occurrence of a natural and man-made calamities,” the DepEd order read. “A mechanism for having make-up classes must be agreed upon by school administrators and parents,” it added. DepEd National Capital Region director Luz Almeda said schools have conducted make-up classes as early as August, immediately after the announcement of the four-day school holiday.FULL REPORT.

ALSO via Skype launched in Cotabato: Global classrooms now bridge Muslim & Christian communities in Mindanao and Luzon


DECEMBER 6 -Global classrooms bridge Philippines communities
– A non-government organization has launched the Global Classroom project in partnership with the Department of Education to promote education among Muslim and Christian youths in the country.
A global classroom is the newest learning space wherein students from two secondary schools in Luzon and Mindanao are interactively learning history and values education subjects through video conferencing, according to PeaceTech program manager Dana Raissa de Guzman. PeaceTech president Gianna Montinola said the global classroom aims to bridge communities and students affected by armed conflict. Montinola said they have reached out to approximately 40,000 students, out-of-school youths, insurgent groups, soldiers, widows and war victims. “In the Philippines, we have bridged provinces such as Manila and Cebu,” Montinola said. The PeaceTech has linked conservative and liberal Muslim groups in Sumatra, Java, Kalimtanan and Ambon in Indonesia. The global classroom was initially launched at the Cotabato City National High School (CCNHS) in Cotabato City and Ramon Magsaysay Cubao High School (RMCHS) in Quezon City. Shaira Lingko, an eighth grader at CCNHS, said she has learned to respect religious differences with her “virtual Christian classmates” at the RMCHS. “For almost five months, I have learned to respect our religious differences. We may be people of different religion, but that does not mean we cannot become good Christians and Muslims,” she said in Filipino. De Guzman said they used the same curriculum provided by the DepEd. “The difference is that students have their online assignments and two teachers are facilitating the lessons from each class,” she said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Homes for ‘Pablo’ survivors empty
[In Compostela’s Maparat NHA project, 719 units have already been raffled off to beneficiaries while at least 416 have been occupied, said Jovelin Abucayon, town shelter focal person. Abucayon said it was the local government that identified and screened beneficiaries “but the NHA central office has the final say as to who would be included in the list of actual recipients.” Red tape at the NHA could be the reason for the apparent delay in the full occupation of the 2,500-unit San Antonio NHA Village, Abucayon said.]


DECEMBER 6 -SOME of the 2, 500 duplexes built by the National Housing Authority for Typhoon “Pablo” survivors in Maparat, Compostela town, Compostela Valley province FRINSTON LIM
Local authorities and residents have rallied against a government housing project for survivors of Typhoon “Pablo” in Compostela Valley province, alleging defective units as thousands have yet to move into these homes three years after the disaster. This even as the province prepared to move forward to complete recovery, marking the third and final commemoration on Friday (Dec. 4) with Mass and a low-key program in New Bataan town, the ground zero of devastation wrought by the strongest storm to hit Mindanao in 100 years. “We’re now on the path to full recovery. This year is the final commemoration [of that tragic event],” said Fe Maestre, the provincial spokesperson. Officials said various sectors, particularly agriculture, had rebounded—after Pablo (international name: Bopha) laid waste to Compostela Valley’s 11 municipalities on Dec. 4, 2012—with help from the government and international humanitarian groups. President Aquino in 2013 approved a multibillion-peso rehabilitation plan to help Compostela Valley and neighboring Davao Oriental province, two areas in Southern Mindanao hit hard by the typhoon that killed almost 1,100 people. But for the tens of thousands of residents uprooted and displaced as a result of the calamity, the wait for new houses could be well beyond three years. The government, through Task Force Pablo, set aside some P5.6 billion to build new homes for some 14,089 families in Compostela Valley and 3,391 others in Davao Oriental through the National Housing Authority (NHA). Another P1.8 billion was allocated and downloaded to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for 15,629 homes in Compostela Valley alone. While the DSWD-implemented Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP) was nearing completion—with 9,767 on-site housing units already built and the last of the three tranches to start by next year—NHA off-site communities have been drawing flak from local officials and residents alike due to alleged delays and defects. Implemented by private contractors, NHA projects, particularly in the five hardest-hit towns of New Bataan, Monkayo, Compostela, Montevista and Laak, were plagued by structural defects such as poor drainage, inadequate electrical installations, among other issues. Such was the case of the NHA project in Kidawa village in Laak town, with occupants alleging defects ranging from uneven, rough and unfinished flooring of some 600 units, to faulty electrical installations in all of the total 1,150 duplexes. “The houses have defects, making these unsafe during earthquakes,” said Kidawa village chief Noli Bangonan. “Farmers are also complaining that the housing project’s drainage system empties into their rice fields instead of the Kidawa creek,” Bangonan said. Each NHA unit costs P220,000 while the DSWD’s is pegged at P117,500 each. Maestre, the provincial information officer, said NHA projects cost more because these included community development structures such as paved streets, multipurpose halls and other subdivision-like amenities. Last Nov. 11, residents sought the help of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) over the issue, prompting the board to conduct an investigation. “We received mixed reactions because during our recent visit there, we found out the construction has been stopped for two to three months now,” said Board Member Jayvee Tyron Uy. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Lights have dimmed at ‘Christmas Fantasy House’ in Palo


WHEN THE LIGHTS SHONE BRIGHT BEFORE 'YOLANDA'— This file photo shows the opening of the Saboren Christmas Fantasy House in Palo, Leyte in 2011, when visitors used to flock the famous attraction during Yuletide Season, before typhoon ‘Yolanda’ washed it all away. (Photo courtesy of Saboren family)

PALO, LEYTE, DECEMBER 7, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Jaimie R. Aberia December 6, 2015 - For many years, Christmas for Edito Gadil, 66, and his family had been merrier because of the lights and sounds in their neighborhood in Barangay Luntad, thanks to the Saboren Christmas Fantasy House, which opened its doors to the public every year starting in November.

But all that ended two years ago when super-typhoon “Yolanda” unleashed its fury on Nov. 8, 2013. The strongest weather disturbance on record also washed away the displays and decorations of the fantasy house, dampening the local community’s Yuletide spirit. Yolanda brought death and destruction along its path, killing thousands and destroying property worth billions of pesos.

“Now, everything’s gone,” Gadil said.

The house was a local sensation. Gadil said the residents were so happy seeing the Christmas house. “People, even those from other towns, would come here,” he said.

The Christmas House featured hundreds of items related to Christmas – sleeping, dancing, and snoring Santa Claus figures, angels, animated figures. When Yolanda came, the fantasy house was almost done for its opening on Nov. 15 of that year.

“I think it was almost 90 percent finished when Yolanda came,” said Angelia Saboren, 79, who was in-charge of the Fantasy House. Her brother, Enrico, owned the Christmas collectibles.

REKINDLING THE XMAS SPIRIT

In December, 1988, United States-based Enrico went home to the Philippines. It was then when he started sprucing up his house for the Christmas season.

“He has a passion for the arts. It was his dream to have a Christmas house,” Angelia said.

Not only did he realize that dream, but he also convinced the neighborhood to put up lights and decorations in their homes.

“(My brother) knew that here in Palo, we don’t have that kind of celebration, so he wanted the local folks to see what was in the States,” she said.

Enrico’s initiative led to the yearly Palo Christmas Festival, which has attracted both local and foreign tourists.

“Inspired by the sight of (Enrico’s) simply yet appropriately decorated house, his neighbors enthusiastically responded to his call,” a brief primer to the festival said. “Before anyone realized it, the whole neighborhood was properly lighted-up for the season.”

“It became well-known not only in Region VIII, but also in the Philippines. Many people would come to see what was inside the house,” Angelia said.

‘SADDEST CHRISTMAS’

But Mother Nature’s wrath destroyed in a matter of hours most of the items Enrico had collected for more than two decades.

“Our roof was blown away, so rainwater entered our house. The decorations [already set up at that time] were destroyed,” Angelia said.

READ MORE...

The year 2013 was, by far, the saddest Christmas for Angelia and her family. Aside from being victims themselves of one of the strongest typhoons that ever hit the country, their precious items were also washed out.

“It was really a sad Christmas. We used to have a family reunion and had some fun, but that time, we just went to our sister’s home because ours was not yet habitable,” she recalled.


LAST CHRISTMAS 2014 --“Thanks to Caritas, NASSA, and the CBCP more than 50 barangays chapels have been reconstructed in Palo alone,” Fr. Florencio said, Because of this, the people are also in high spirits, so happy to have a beautiful chapel where they can gather for the mass, fellowship and the sharing of the Word of God. FROM PAPALVISIT.PH (2015)

STARTING FROM SCRATCH

Many have been clamoring for the comeback of the Christmas house, but Angelia admitted that it might be difficult to bring back the same old, vivacious attraction.

“We have to start from the beginning. If my brother would collect again, it would be possible (to revive the Fantasy House,)” she said. “But I don’t know if he can do it in the next five years.”

Still, residents like Gadil are positive that the old festive Christmas mood they had before Yolanda came would return to their place.

“We look forward (to the re-opening of the Christmas house) because many are looking for it,” Gadil said.

For Angelia, however, life must go on. In fact, the Saboren family has already started decorating their home for Christmas.

“We have just started decorating just for us, not for people to see. Just a Christmas tree, belen, and some decorations,” she said. “It is not like before.”


MANILA BULLETIN

Australian Christmas tree sets record with 518,838 lights by AP November 28, 2015 Share87 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share89


Christmas-Tree-Guiness.jpg
In this Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 photo, people gather to observe a Guinness World Records attempt for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree in Canberra, Australia. Australian David Richards set his third Christmas-themed world record in as many years Friday by illuminating a tree in downtown Canberra with 518,838 twinkling lights. Guinness World Records confirmed that Richards had broken the record for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree that had been held for five years by Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. (Lukas Coch/AAP Via AP)

CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian set his third Christmas-themed world record Friday by illuminating a tree in downtown Canberra with 518,838 twinkling lights.

Guinness World Records confirmed that David Richards had broken the record for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree that had been held for five years by Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. That 36-meter (118-foot) Japanese tree had set a new benchmark of 374,280 lights this month.

Richards, a Canberra lawyer and businessman, brought together a team of volunteers including an electrical engineer, structural engineer, welders, carpenters, masons and steel fixers to erect the dazzling display on a 22-meter (72-foot) steel tree.

Richards creates such Christmas extravaganzas to raise money for Canberra’s Sudden Infant Death Syndrome charity, SIDS and Kids, by drawing large crowds and inviting them to donate.

“Some people say I’ve got quite a knack for getting people to do things for nothing,” Richards said.

“I get people to do things for nothing because they know that I do things for nothing and I’m contributing my own money, resources, time and effort as well — so maybe they feel sorry for me,” he added.

He set his first Guinness World Record in 2013 for the most lights on a residential property by covering his suburban home with 502,165 bulbs.

Traffic snarls in his neighborhood created by 75,000 sightseers who visited the display over four weeks made it difficult for his family to get to and from their home and irritated some neighbors. So Richards promised never to try to better that record.

He set his second record a year ago by stringing up 1,194,380 LED lights in a public space. The 120 kilometers (75 miles) of multicolored wire woven in the shape of three interconnected giant, wrapped Christmas gifts in a Canberra mall was the largest ever image made of LED lights.

But records tumble fast in the competitive world of light displays. Richards’ 2014 record was smashed in June at a hotel in Myoko, Japan, by an image of a dragon comprising 1,529,103 lights.

His 2013 record for lights at home was beaten within days by a family in LaGrangeville, New York, that decorated their home with 601,736 Christmas lights, reclaiming their 2012 record.

WATCH VIDEO FROM THE TELEGRAPH.UK

 
https://youtu.be/gLbDE5VppRY Published on Nov 27, 2015 For More Latest News Subscribe us: CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA: An Australian set his third Christmas-themed world record in as many years Friday by illuminating a tree in downtown Canberra with 518,838 twinkling lights.

Guinness World Records confirmed that David Richards had broken the record for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree that had been held for five years by Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. That 36-meter (118-foot) Japanese tree had set a new benchmark of 374,280 lights this month.

Richards, a Canberra lawyer and businessman, brought together a team of volunteers including an electrical engineer, structural engineer, welders, carpenters, masons and steel fixers to erect the dazzling display on a 22-meter (72-foot) steel tree.

Richards creates such Christmas extravaganzas to raise money for Canberra's Sudden Infant Death Syndrome charity, SIDS and Kids, by drawing large crowds and inviting them to donate.

"Some people say I've got quite a knack for getting people to do things for nothing," Richards said.

"I get people to do things for nothing because they know that I do things for nothing and I'm contributing my own money, resources, time and effort as well - so maybe they feel sorry for me," he added.

He set his first Guinness World Record in 2013 for the most lights on a residential property by covering his suburban home with 502,165 bulbs.

Traffic snarls in his neighborhood created by 75,000 sightseers who visited the display over four weeks made it difficult for his family to get to and from their home and irritated some neighbors. So Richards promised never to try to better that record. Category News & Politics License Standard YouTube License.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Christmas season begins at the Manila Hotel by Ces Dimalanta November 13, 2015 (updated) Share179 Tweet5 Share0 Email0 Share201


CHRISTMAS RUSH: A 'capiz' shell lantern maker in San Juan City, Manila is busy tending his wares as he stock up on inventory as people have started buying Christmas decorations for the Yuletide season.

The spirit of gift giving is in the air as we come to nearly 40 days before Christmas Day.

With just 43 days before Christmas, Manila Hotel welcomed the yuletide season with its annual tradition of tree-lighting at the hotel grand lobby, Thursday night.

Unlike previous tree-lighting ceremonies, hotel officials took a bold risk to take on an elegant theme with lesser decor colors, but this time, bringing the entire lobby to life with dazzling lights for the first time.


(Photo courtesy of Monica Pantaleon, MB File Photo)

Guests are welcomed by a huge gingerbread house filled with goodies, stunning lights, and friendly staff dressed in Santa Claus costumes. Corners of the lobby are filled with smaller Christmas trees, polar bears, and penguins.

The ceremony was graced by Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno who also led the Grand Lobby lighting together with Manila Hotel President Atty. Joey D. Lina, Resident Manager Gerhard Doll, Executive Vice-President Dr. Enrique Y. Yap, Assistant Vice-President for Public Relations and Corporate Communications Nian Liwanag-Rigor, and Assistant Vice-President of Sales Nathalie Ramirez.


The Manila Hotel officials with Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno (Photo courtesy of Monica Pantaleon, MB File Photo) The Manila Hotel officials with Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno (Photo courtesy of Monica Pantaleon, MB File Photo)

“We actually took a risk this year doing that (change of theme) because we wanted to be noticed from the other establishments because they always tend to be colorful. We used silver, white, and very subtle greens. We did not light only one Christmas tree. Usually, we would just light one tree… tonight, we lighted the entire lobby so it’s not even appropriate anymore to call it Christmas tree lighting, but the grand lobby lighting of the Manila Hotel,” said assistant vice president for public relations and corporate communications Nian Liwanag-Rigor.

READ MORE...

According to Doll, there is a new addition to the festivities called the ‘Christmas Village’, which aims to provide a grand family staycation for both parents and kids at the hotel. Little surprises await visitors who will be welcomed by a character named “Willy”.

Kids from the hotel’s chosen charity beneficiary — House of Refuge Foundation, were given goodies by Santa Claus during the event. The hotel works in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in providing quality care for children who are abandoned, neglected, orphaned and abused.


(Photo courtesy of Monica Pantaleon, MB File Photo)

The kids will also be returning on the first week of December to visit the hotel’s ‘Christmas Village’.

Guests were serenaded by the award-winning Las Piñas Boys Choir with Christmas carols, followed by performances from Harmonia Filipinas and San Sebastian Chamber Singers.

The Christmas decorations will be at the lobby until the Feast of the Three Kings, January 4 of next year.


Las Piñas Boys Choir (Photo courtesy of Monica Pantaleon, MB File Photo)


(Photo courtesy of Monica Pantaleon, MB File Photo)


PHILSTAR

Yule school break begins Dec. 19 By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2015 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines – Students in public elementary and high schools across the country will have their Christmas break from Dec. 19 to Jan. 3, according to the Department of Education (DepEd).

The schedule of the Christmas break was based on an earlier department order approved by Secretary Armin Luistro.

DepEd said private schools may deviate from the school calendar released by the department, but stressed that their calendar should comply with Republic Act 7797 which set the provisions on the length of an academic year in the Philippines.

According to DepEd, the school year currently consists of 201 school days.

Luistro earlier urged school divisions, particularly in Metro Manila which was affected by a four-day class holiday due to last month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, to conduct make-up classes prior to the scheduled Christmas break.

“Make-up classes are recommended in lieu of no-school days due to occurrence of a natural and man-made calamities,” the DepEd order read.

“A mechanism for having make-up classes must be agreed upon by school administrators and parents,” it added.

DepEd National Capital Region director Luz Almeda said schools have conducted make-up classes as early as August, immediately after the announcement of the four-day school holiday.


PHILSTAR

Global classrooms bridge Philippines Muslim & Christian communities By Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2015 - 12:00am 0 33 googleplus0 0


Global classrooms bridge Philippines communities

MANILA, Philippines – A non-government organization has launched the Global Classroom project in partnership with the Department of Education to promote education among Muslim and Christian youths in the country.

A global classroom is the newest learning space wherein students from two secondary schools in Luzon and Mindanao are interactively learning history and values education subjects through video conferencing, according to PeaceTech program manager Dana Raissa de Guzman.

PeaceTech president Gianna Montinola said the global classroom aims to bridge communities and students affected by armed conflict.

Montinola said they have reached out to approximately 40,000 students, out-of-school youths, insurgent groups, soldiers, widows and war victims.

“In the Philippines, we have bridged provinces such as Manila and Cebu,” Montinola said.

The PeaceTech has linked conservative and liberal Muslim groups in Sumatra, Java, Kalimtanan and Ambon in Indonesia.

The global classroom was initially launched at the Cotabato City National High School (CCNHS) in Cotabato City and Ramon Magsaysay Cubao High School (RMCHS) in Quezon City.

Shaira Lingko, an eighth grader at CCNHS, said she has learned to respect religious differences with her “virtual Christian classmates” at the RMCHS.

“For almost five months, I have learned to respect our religious differences. We may be people of different religion, but that does not mean we cannot become good Christians and Muslims,” she said in Filipino.


The PeaceTech has linked conservative and liberal Muslim groups in Sumatra, Java, Kalimtanan and Ambon in Indonesia.

De Guzman said they used the same curriculum provided by the DepEd.

“The difference is that students have their online assignments and two teachers are facilitating the lessons from each class,” she said.

READ MORE...

Using a projector and Skype, the students from CCNHS and RMCHS start their class by offering Muslim and Christian prayers, followed by a short review of the previous subjects they tackled.

Luz de la Cruz, a history teacher of RMCHS, said teaching has become easier as she would no longer exert effort in making visual aids or writing down the lessons on manila paper.

“We can present our lessons in an interactive way in just a click,” she said.

Aside from history and values education, De Guzman said they are planning to teach English and Science subjects in the future.

The PeaceTech is coordinating with the US embassy in Manila to be able to reach out to out-of-school youths in Zamboanga City and the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sulu and Tawi Tawi.


INQUIRER

Homes for ‘Pablo’ survivors empty By: Frinston L. Lim @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:20 AM December 6th, 2015


SOME of the 2, 500 duplexes built by the National Housing Authority for Typhoon “Pablo” survivors in Maparat, Compostela town, Compostela Valley province FRINSTON LIM

Local authorities and residents have rallied against a government housing project for survivors of Typhoon “Pablo” in Compostela Valley province, alleging defective units as thousands have yet to move into these homes three years after the disaster.

This even as the province prepared to move forward to complete recovery, marking the third and final commemoration on Friday (Dec. 4) with Mass and a low-key program in New Bataan town, the ground zero of devastation wrought by the strongest storm to hit Mindanao in 100 years.

“We’re now on the path to full recovery. This year is the final commemoration [of that tragic event],” said Fe Maestre, the provincial spokesperson.

Officials said various sectors, particularly agriculture, had rebounded—after Pablo (international name: Bopha) laid waste to Compostela Valley’s 11 municipalities on Dec. 4, 2012—with help from the government and international humanitarian groups.

President Aquino in 2013 approved a multibillion-peso rehabilitation plan to help Compostela Valley and neighboring Davao Oriental province, two areas in Southern Mindanao hit hard by the typhoon that killed almost 1,100 people.


COVERED IN MUD. This is what typhoon "Pablo" did to many towns in the province. 44 dead in Compostela Valley town Reports say many of the dead in New Bataan town in Compostela Valley had come from a nearby village where flash floods swept away an Army patrol base FROM RAPPLER.COM DECEMBER 5, 2012  Photo by Karlos Manlupig.

But for the tens of thousands of residents uprooted and displaced as a result of the calamity, the wait for new houses could be well beyond three years.

The government, through Task Force Pablo, set aside some P5.6 billion to build new homes for some 14,089 families in Compostela Valley and 3,391 others in Davao Oriental through the National Housing Authority (NHA).

Another P1.8 billion was allocated and downloaded to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for 15,629 homes in Compostela Valley alone.

While the DSWD-implemented Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP) was nearing completion—with 9,767 on-site housing units already built and the last of the three tranches to start by next year—NHA off-site communities have been drawing flak from local officials and residents alike due to alleged delays and defects.

Implemented by private contractors, NHA projects, particularly in the five hardest-hit towns of New Bataan, Monkayo, Compostela, Montevista and Laak, were plagued by structural defects such as poor drainage, inadequate electrical installations, among other issues.

Such was the case of the NHA project in Kidawa village in Laak town, with occupants alleging defects ranging from uneven, rough and unfinished flooring of some 600 units, to faulty electrical installations in all of the total 1,150 duplexes.

“The houses have defects, making these unsafe during earthquakes,” said Kidawa village chief Noli Bangonan.

“Farmers are also complaining that the housing project’s drainage system empties into their rice fields instead of the Kidawa creek,” Bangonan said.

Each NHA unit costs P220,000 while the DSWD’s is pegged at P117,500 each.

Maestre, the provincial information officer, said NHA projects cost more because these included community development structures such as paved streets, multipurpose halls and other subdivision-like amenities.


ON NOVEMBER 26, 2014 KEY TO HOPE – Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, chair of Task Force Pablo, hands over the symbolic key to a beneficiary for one of the nearly 3,000 houses that were turned over to victims of the worst typhoon to ever hit Southern Mindanao two years ago. Also in photo during the rites held at Barangay San Roque, New Bataan, Compostela Valley Tuesday were Gov. Arturo Uy and National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Chito Cruz. (Alexander D. Lopez) FROM PHILSTAR FILE

Last Nov. 11, residents sought the help of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) over the issue, prompting the board to conduct an investigation.

“We received mixed reactions because during our recent visit there, we found out the construction has been stopped for two to three months now,” said Board Member Jayvee Tyron Uy.

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Janet Meneses, vice president of Quezon City-based Eagle Rock Construction, contractor of the Kidawa NHA project, told the board that her company was in the process of rectifying the alleged defects.

Board members ordered the creation of a technical working group composed of representatives from the NHA, the provincial engineering office, local government unit and the contractor to inspect the Kidawa project.

Board members lamented the apparent no-show of NHA regional officials during Sangguniang Panlalawigan hearings, even as the provincial government had written officials of the government housing agency.

Board Member Neri Barte said NHA projects in other areas in Compostela Valley should also be investigated for possible defects and problems.

Barte cited an instance in Compostela town, wherein only close to 500 of the 2,500 housing units built are currently being occupied.

Meneses, the Eagle Rock executive, said work in the Kidawa project was delayed due to difficulty in transporting construction materials due to poor road conditions that were compounded every time it rained.

Despite the hitches, Meneses said, they were on track in finishing the project and would have turned it over to the beneficiaries this month. By NHA standards, she said, the Kidawa project was considered “substantially completed.”

“As a common SOP (standard operating procedure) of NHA projects, the perceived deficiencies are the removables, like windows, doors, doorknobs and [electrical materials]. There’s no turning over yet of the project,” Meneses said.

In Compostela’s Maparat NHA project, 719 units have already been raffled off to beneficiaries while at least 416 have been occupied, said Jovelin Abucayon, town shelter focal person.

Abucayon said it was the local government that identified and screened beneficiaries “but the NHA central office has the final say as to who would be included in the list of actual recipients.”

“They do final validation to ensure each beneficiary is entitled to only one housing unit,” she said.

Red tape at the NHA could be the reason for the apparent delay in the full occupation of the 2,500-unit San Antonio NHA Village, Abucayon said.

“The ball is now in the NHA’s court,” she said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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