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21st April 2016
McDonald's opens second store in Tacloban, Leyte
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on April 21, 2016, 4:46 pm

(By Sun Star Tacloban, Thursday 21 April 2016)

MCDONALD'S Philippines continues to expand its presence in Visayas as it opened its second store in Tacloban City, Leyte.  The event also signifies that McDonald's is close to having 500 stores nationwide.

"We are proud and happy to open our second store in Tacloban. It is the first McDonald’s store in the city equipped with a Drive-Thru. More than offering Taclobanons the convenience of eating great-tasting food like Big Mac, Chicken McDo, and our World Famous Fries, the new store also brings more job opportunities for the youth," said Kenneth S. Yang, McDonald’s Philippines president and chief executive officer.


13th May 2015
Higher farm productivity, resiliency offsets climate change, Asean integration
Posted by Jani Arnaiz, Chief Editor on May 13, 2015, 10:39 pm

By Marcelo M. Pedalino

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, May 11 (PIA)  --  A higher yield in farms for rice and rootcrops, plus a change in farmers’ attitude to adapt to latest farming technologies and practices that promote resiliency in plants and livestocks amid changing weather conditions, are the key factors to address climate change and the imminent Asean integration.

Dr. Wilson Cerbito, Assistant Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture (DA), made this clear in his keynote address during the first Southern Leyte Agriculture Summit  --  and the first of such kind of gathering in Region 8  --  held at Lourdes Convention Center, this city, Thursday, May 7.

“The Philippines is the third vulnerable country in the world for climate change, and Region 8 is the most vulnerable region in the entire country,” Cerbito said.

He added that besides this natural threat in agriculture was the current development of a no-barrier region for member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), something stakeholders should better be prepared.

Citing Southern Leyte’s performance in its contribution for the regional rice production output, Cerbito said the province placed second in terms of yield per hectare, which is 4.7 metric tons average harvest per hectare.

“But this should be increased to at least 5 to 10 metric tons per hectare” by the use of new farm technologies in order to meet the challenge of Asean integration, with much cheaper imported rice expected to flood the local market, Cerbito told the audience composed mostly of agriculture officers and extension workers all over the province.

He said other high value crops and rootcrops, aside from rice, must also be promoted to ensure food security, with matching benefits on one’s health and nutrition.

For the ever changing climate, Cerbito called on the agriculture personnel to propagate drought-resilient varieties during dry season, and water surviving species during the rainy season, so that farmers can still look forward to harvest something even in any of these times.  (esg/mmp, PIA8-Southern Leyte)

2nd December 2013
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on December 2, 2013, 10:01 am

(By Justin Goldman and Ava Patricia C. Avila Posted on 12/02/2013 10:00 AM  | Updated 12/02/2013 10:01 AM)

FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. U.S. Marine Capt. Joseph White (L) and Philippine army Pfc. Vic D. Victorlano (R)
carry USAID relief supplies from an MV-22 Osprey in Basey, Samar, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2013. Photo by the
US Department of Defense/US Marine Corps Capt. Caleb Eames

The immediate aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) has resulted in a flurry of activity to provide relief of the suffering of longtime US ally, the Philippines.  This occurs at a complicated time in a region filled with tension emanating from territorial disputes, many of which are centered on contested claims with China, including Beijing’s recent announcement of their Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea.  However, China remains an important economic partner for countries with whom it has disputes, including the Philippines.  This tension has led several regional countries to call for an increased US military presence, but the sustainability of that US presence has been questioned.  The extensive deployment of US forces for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of a vulnerable ally that lies within the aptly named “ring for fire” sends an important signal that the US remains able to respond to contingencies.


11th July 2012
Fishers blame firm's wastes for fish kill
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on July 11, 2012, 10:00 pm

(By Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas, 11 July 2012)

MACARTHUR, Leyte --- Residents of Barangay (village) Imelda here are up in arms against a mining firm that they accused of causing a fish kill that affected one of their main sources of income --- tilapia-raising.

The residents tied a rope across the street at the boundary of Barangays Imelda and Pongon to prevent the heavy equipment of Nicua Mining Corp. from getting near their quarry site in Saloquege Creek, Barangay Pongon.

"We will not allow them to enter our village. This is ours and we will not allow them to cause further destruction," said Jesus Cabias, president of Bito Lake Fisherfolk Association.


31st May 2012
Southern Leyte battles starfish attack
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on May 31, 2012, 7:05 pm

Infestation destroying coral reefs, threatening ecosystem and livelihoods
(By Ronald O Reyes, UCANews.com, 31 May 2012)

(Fishermen land crown-of-thorns starfish that are destroying coral reefs in Southern Leyte.
(Photo by Armando Gaviola))

Southern Leyte is embroiled in an “all-out war” against starfish which are being blamed for destroying coral reefs off the coast of the province, a favorite destination for diving enthusiasts.

Rio Cahambing, a scuba diver and tour guide, yesterday said a declining number of divers and tourists in the province is the least of his worries.

What he is more concerned about is the increasing proliferation of large, toxic and venomous crown-of-thorn starfish (Acanthaster planci) which are threatening not only diving areas but also the province’s main source of livelihood – fishing.


12th April 2012
Mining ops blamed for fishkill in Leyte
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on April 12, 2012, 7:42 pm

(By Geron Ponferrada, ABS-CBN News Tacloban (ABS-CBNnews.com), 11 Apr 2012)

MANILA, Philippines -- Fish pen owners are blaming a mining company for allegedly causing fish kill in MacArthur, Leyte.

Over 16 metric tons of fish, mostly tilapia, died inside their cages in Lake Bito in Villa Imelda.

Fish pen owners said strong rains in the past weeks destroyed the dike of a magnetite mining area in nearby Barangay Pongon, allegedly spilling mining waste into the lake.

The fish kill has also affected the supply of tilapia in Tacloban City and the towns of Dulag, Abuyog and Baybay.

The Department of Agriculture has collected water samples in the lake and the mining area to determine whether mining wastes indeed caused the fish kill.

The possible overcrowding of fish that resulted in the depletion of oxygen in the lake is also being looked into as the cause of the fish kill.

11th April 2012
First tilapia hatchery in Leyte to produce fingerlings commercially
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on April 11, 2012, 7:49 pm

(By Jennifer a Ng, Business Mirror, 11 Apr 2012)

THE province of Leyte is not traditionally known as a major producer of tilapia. The province does not have a reliable source of fingerlings required by farmers. Leyte farmers who opt to grow tilapia produce the fish species not for commercial purposes but for their own consumption.

Officials of the provincial government said commercial growers of tilapia in Leyte were forced to import fingerlings from General Santos City. While the Kananga Integrated Production Center (KIPC) in the town of Kananga supplies fingerlings to farmers, it could not cope with the supply requirements of farmers and commercial growers.

According to provincial agriculturist Rogelio Portula, the KIPC was set up in 2007 to encourage farmers to diversify in aquaculture production. But minus a steady supply of fingerlings, the province will be hard pressed to persuade farmers to go into aquaculture.

To spur the production of more fingerlings in the province, the provincial government of Leyte partnered with the German government through Deutsche Geseilschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to put up the first tilapia hatchery dubbed as the Leyte Provincial Freshwater Fish Hatchery (LPFFH) to produce fingerlings on a commercial scale.

The commercial-scale tilapia hatchery is an expansion of KIPC and costs P4.9 million. Of this amount, GIZ through its Enhancement of Food Security in the Visayas (Efos) program alloted P3.78 million while Bfar contributed P198,000. The provincial government of Leyte shelled out P914,533.15.

The project was undertaken from April to December 2011. Existing ponds in KIPC in Kananga were rehabilitated and additional ponds were constructed to accommodate more fingerlings.

The construction of LPFFH also included a "cash for work" component wherein 137 households worked in pond and dike development, drainage canals and other structures.

LPFFH is being operated by the provincial government. It will produce 3.015 million tilapia fry or fingerlings annually. These fingerlings will be distributed to a 3,015 household pond operators at 500 pieces per operator.

Farmers interested to avail themselves of additional fingerlings aside from the 500 pieces given for free can buy them at prices ranging from P0.15 to P0.35 each fingerling depending on size. Dr. Andreas Lange, GIZ-EFOS senior adviser, said income generation will ensure the continued operations of the hatchery.

To help farmers ensure the efficiency of tilapia production, provincial agriculturists from Leyte will train on hatchery operation, pond construction and management at BFAR's National Freshwater Fisheries Training Center in Nueva Ecija.

In a project brief, officials of the Leyte provincial government said tilapia is the major fish specie produced by Philippine aquaculture.

9th April 2012
DA-EU Program Benefits 40,000 Households
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on April 9, 2012, 7:11 pm

(By Phoebe Jen Indino, 9 Apri 2012)

SILAGO, Southern Leyte -- A food security program sponsored by the European Union, Germany-based Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) has benefited over 40,000 poor households in Eastern Visayas.

The program, named Enhancement of Food Security in the Visayas (EFOS), which was implemented by the Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Internationale Zummenarbeit (GIZ), and which ended early this year, was designed to sustainably increase food security, and agricultural, fisheries and forestry productivity in the region, with special focus on Eastern Visayas.

GIZ operates in more than 130 countries worldwide with most of its work commissioned by the BMZ

EFOS was comprised of four project components, namely, natural resources governance, infrastructure through cash-for-work, productivity and production enhancement, and crop insurance.

EFOS Senior Adviser Alex Tabada said the program's cash-for-work covered over 12,000 households in 24 towns, earning some P35 million in wages.

That particular program component paved way for the creation of 62-kilometers of farm-to-market roads and 40 kilometers of upland foot trails including 11.4 kilometers of communal irrigation canals supporting some 933 hectares of ricelands.

3rd March 2012
Agriculture dep't earmarks P128M for rice processing
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on March 3, 2012, 8:52 am

(Louella D. Desiderio and Sarwell Q. Meniano, 23 Mar 2012)

THE AGRICULTURE department is allotting P128 million to put up four rice processing centers aimed at supporting farmers and increasing output.

In a text message yesterday, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dante S. Delima said the department will be spending P32 million for each processing centers.

"We will be spending P32 million per rice processing center. This will be put up in San Francisco [in] Agusan del Sur, Sto. Niño [in] South Cotabato, Mexico [in] Pampanga and in Oriental Mindoro," said Mr. Delima, who is concurrent National Coordinator for Rice Program.

He said the processing centers will have drying facilities to minimize "wastage during milling and to maximize the income of farmers."

Similar facilities were put last year in cooperation with the Korea International Cooperation Agency in the provinces of Pangasinan, Iloilo, Bohol and Davao del Sur, Mr. Delima said.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said last week that the country is targeting palay production at 18.46 million metric tons (MT) this year, higher than last year's output of 16.68 million MT.

Meanwhile, rice production in Eastern Visayas grew 2.68% last year, but still below the region's 5% annual growth target.

Antonio G. Gerundio, Department of Agriculture (DA) regional executive director, cited a Bureau of Agriculture Statistics (BAS) report which showed that the 2011 harvest reached 989,937 metric tons, higher than the 2010 harvest of 964,145 MT amid favorable weather conditions.

But Mr. Gerundio said the output again failed to reach the one-million-ton mark which the region had breached in 2008.

This year, the DA is targeting to harvest 1.014 million MT of palay in the region and raise the average yield per hectare to 3.51 MT from 3.37 MT in 2011.

Under the 2011-2016 regional rice industry road map, the region targets a 1.285-million-MT output and annual average yield per hectare of 4.76 MT by 2016.

"This can be easily achieved with the ongoing development of irrigation systems in Samar Island and significantly higher budget for irrigation," Mr. Gerundio said.

"The three (Samar) provinces occupy 51% of the rice area in the region but its share in terms of production is only 26%," he added.

The National Irrigation Administration has reported that out of the P2.6-billion allocation for the region this year, P1.6 billion is intended for irrigation projects on Samar Island.

Four provinces recorded a yield increase while Southern Leyte and Biliran posted a decline of 0.58% and 6.19%, respectively. Southern Leyte harvested 93,762 MT and Biliran 66,643 MT.

Leyte, which accounts for more than half of the region's rice output, produced 527,738 MT, or an increase of 0.92%; Samar production went up 11.46% to 138,309 MT; Eastern Samar harvested 57,083 MT, or a growth rate of 10.21%; and Northern Samar produced 106,402 MT, 8.15% higher.

To attain a better harvest, Mr. Gerundio said the DA regional office will provide local government officials with the rice industry situationer every quarter with recommended interventions.

"We will also focus on municipalities with the highest share to the provincial and regional rice output," he said.

Other strategies include providing incentives to small farmers, increase area harvested through irrigation projects, increase cropping intensity especially in rain-fed areas with currently only one cropping a year, timely provision of the different program interventions, strengthen irrigators and farmers associations, and intensify pests and diseases surveillance.

Conservation of rare fruit bats urged
Posted by Yel Cobile, IT Admin & Correspondent on March 3, 2012, 8:38 am

(By Reyan L. Arinto, 3 Mar 2012)

PALOMPON, LEYTE -- About 10 minutes by boat off the northwestern part of Leyte is a small island declared as a marine, mangrove and bird sanctuary.

This small land mass is called Tabuk, home to five endemic Philippine birds and two of the world’s rarest species of fruit bats.

The bats, locally known as kabog, make up about three-fourths of the wildlife species on the island.

Raoul Bacalla, municipal environment and natural resources officer of Palompon, said there are over 10 colonies of the giant golden crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus) and giant flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus). A colony is composed of at least 10,000 bats.

The bats, however, are at great risk as most of the residents hunt and eat them.

Some residents also sell the bats to buyers, who use these to concoct traditional medicine for asthma or kidney diseases.

Flying kites to capture the rare fruit bats is a common practice. The kites come with fish hooks that snag the bats.

“The kites are flown in the evening, near Tabuk Island, as the bats are leaving to feed. Many bats can be caught quickly and only a few die, which is important because they are sold in the markets alive,” resident Rafael Apolinar said.

A hunter, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said the practice started in Barangay Masawalo and other barangays followed suit, including Barangays San Isidro, Giwan I, and Giwan II.

He said they even go boating at around 6:00 p.m. near Tabuk Island to fly the kites. It usually takes only 30 minutes to capture one bat. “I like the taste of the bat meat. However, we see them also as pests because they attack our mangoes and coconuts,” he said.

When people started selling fruit bats in the market, the municipal government of Palompon banned kite flying as a way of hunting of bats.

“We have no municipal ordinance banning people from catching bats but we are implementing Republic Act 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. The mayor (Ramon C. Oñate) has been very strict against the catching of fruit bats,” Mr. Bacalla said.

Despite the ban, kite flying has continued, although discreetly.

Mr. Bacalla warned that the island could lose its most important living treasure if the practice continues.

“The giant golden crowned flying fox is a rare megabat and one of the largest bats in the world. The species is already endangered because of poaching and forest destruction,” Mr. Bacalla said.

The giant golden crowned flying fox is endemic to forests in the Philippines. It has a wingspan of 1.5-1.7 meters, and weighs 0.7-1.2 kilograms. It is primarily nocturnal and can travel up to 40 kilometers in one night searching for food.

“Though they eat the fruits, they have a major role in rainforest conservation and fruit trees propagation. They are called ‘the silent planter’ because they release seeds in their droppings, often while flying,” Mr. Bacalla said.

The giant flying fox has a wingspan of 1.5 meters and weighs 0.6-1.1 kilograms. They feed on flowers, nectar and fruits.

To conserve the bats, Mr. Bacalla said they have been pushing for an ecotourism project that will feature the bats.

He said the local government has strengthened its information and education campaign about the importance of fruit bats to convince the residents that conserving them would be beneficial. “Such a change in perspective won’t come overnight but we are committed to finding practical solutions that the people of Palompon can use to preserve and benefit from their own natural resources,” Mr. Bacalla said.

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