JUNE 15, 2008
(STAR) Citing higher fuel costs and lower demand, Continental Micronesia has announced that flights between Saipan, the US Commonwealth of Northern Marianas, and Manila will end July 16.

Continental Micronesia has also cut flights linking Guam with Hong Kong and Bali.

Nonstop flights between this US territory and Hong Kong will be suspended July 28, while Guam-Bali nonstop flights will end Oct. 2, the company said.

“While these are very difficult decisions to make, the record fuel costs, combined with lower customer demand in these markets, lead to the decision to suspend service,” Continental Micronesia CEO and president Mark Erwin said.

Customers booked on cancelled and suspended flights will be contacted by the airline to arrange alternate flights or ticket refunds, the company said.

Continental Micronesia will continue to offer daily service between Saipan and Manila through Guam, it said. – AP

GK helps transform Cavite relocation site By Patricia Esteves Sunday, June 15, 2008

The celebration of the 110th Independence Day last June 12 took on a deeper meaning for families who used to live beside railroad tracks in Cavite and Manila as they were given their own homes at the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Southville in Trece Martires, Cavite.

As the nation commemorated Independence Day, GK also celebrated “freedom from poverty” day.

GK Southville is the relocation site of some 4,000 families from squatter communities beside the railroad tracks in Manila and Taguig.

The relocation is a project of GK, the National Housing Authority, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the local government of Trece Martires, which are all united to build God-fearing, self-sufficient and beautiful GK communities.

GK Southville is the first of many other relocation sites in Luzon that will be transformed into GK communities and hopefully affect the lives of some 40,000 families.

“We want to focus on values formation and community empowerment, livelihood training, child and youth development and building a healthy and beautiful environment with volunteer doctors, teachers, and architects and engineers working closely with the HUDCC and other government agencies. Our dream is that by working together the new sites will not become slums again and breeding places for criminals and that the new settlers will not become professional squatters like the patterns of relocations in the past. This is a big challenge but we can do it if everyone will help,” GK champion Tony Meloto said in an interview.

Last June 12, GK and partners organized a three-day build in Trece Martires for the construction of the homes.

About 50 groups came to participate in the Bayanihan build called “Kabayanihan” village (a place for heroes) with the theme Kapatiran, Kalayaan sa Kahirapan (Brotherhood, Freedom from Poverty).

On hand to give support were the different kapitbahayan (residents) teams from various GK sites, residents of Southville, Globe and over 700 GK builders who all gave their time, resources, and love for the families and their new houses in Southville.

Vice President Noli de Castro graced the opening ceremonies of the Bayanihan build and urged the residents and volunteers to emulate the heroism of the 13 martyrs of Trece Martires who died fighting the oppressive Spanish government in order to regain freedom.

Meloto stressed their vision is for GK Southville to be transformed into a first-class village, comparable to the plush Ayala Alabang village.

“When you are here in Southville, you are no longer a squatter. We will make Southville the most beautiful relocation site in the Philippines, more beautiful than Ayala Alabang,” Meloto told the residents. “This will be built with your cooperation and help.”

Cavite Gov. Ayong Maliksi was also present and expressed optimism that the poor families will have a better life at GK Southville.

“Let us continue to break free from an oppressive past and let us continue to grow free toward a future full of hope,” Maliksi said during the opening ceremonies.

Trece Martires Mayor Jun Sagun and Taguig Mayor Freddie Tinga, who worked together to ensure the smooth relocation of the families, also attended the event to lend their support.

Poor helping fellow poor

At the Bayanihan build, GK residents from various sites came in full force to show their love and concern for their fellow GK beneficiaries.

About 500 volunteers from different GK villages in Luzon like those in Quezon, Laguna, Isabela, Brookside, Bagong Silang, Tatalon, Hiyas ng Maynila, Villa Paraiso, West B Tagalog, and South Sun Life, together with other groups, trooped to Trece Martires to join the build.

More and more kapitbahayan from other GK sites are helping in the actual construction of the homes of their fellow beneficiaries.

In GK, a beneficiary becomes a benefactor and those who were helped become passionate helpers too.

Under the sweltering sun, the GK volunteers from other sites were unmindful of the discomfort and picked up shovels, mixed cement and put in hollow blocks for the foundation of the homes.

“I am happy helping my fellow poor,” said Virgie Gimota, a resident of GK Bagong Silang, Phase 9.

Gimota wants to see GK Southville become a beautiful, clean, God-fearing and self-sufficient community like their community in GK Bagong Silang.

Paulito Manahan, a disabled resident of GK Research Minante Uno village in Isabela province, traveled 15 hours with his team to Trece Martires to participate in the Bayanihan build.

“I came here freely with an open heart. We also desire to be of service to others,” Manahan said.

Kapitbahayan president of GK Bagong Silang Julius Caubat said he personally dreams that the lives of his fellow poor would get better.

“One day their place will become more and more beautiful. My dream for them is for their lives to become beautiful too,” Caubat said. “The light that was started in Bagong Silang, we are bringing to Southville.”

“True freedom is when we are able to give (part) of ourselves,” Caubat added.

On that special day, the atmosphere was festive and everywhere, the bayanihan spirit was alive. Not very far away, Philippine flags fluttered in the breeze.

The poor families said they are very hopeful that in due time, they can attain their dream: freedom from the shackles of poverty.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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