Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Remembering Mang Ric

Mang Ric (right) and wife T'yang Rosing in a picture taken last year at home. - Photo from family Facebook

Michigan, USA

IT WAS not until we became friends that I really came to know him well.

Working in Jeddah during the early 80s, I met Mang Ric, also an OFW, and forged a close friendship him.

He was T'yang Rosing Evangilista-Romualdo's deceased husband (of Baranggay South Poblacion, JPanganiban) and a good father to his five daughters and a son..

As OFWs, Mang Ric worked for SAPTCO (Saudi Arabian Public transportation Company) as senior technician and mechanic and I, as an employee of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) at International Procurement office.

Meanwhile, T'yang Rosing was in the Philippines with her children.

Those days, while in Jeddah, I lived with a family where I rented a room in their house. I knew that the man in the family, who was employed with Saudi Arabia Airlines, did not earn much and that his income was not enough to support his wife and two children. This prompted his wife to venture into baking “pandesal” to make some extra.

Selling was something I was very familiar with, so I personally offered my time to help them as sales representative.

With that, my landlord and I started supplying various Filipino worker's camps around Jeddah, including that of Mang Ric's. 

He and I had so much fun selling our own brand of freshly baked "pandesal" at their company's compound – the bread sold out in matters of a few minutes.

Payment was made in cash and our little business was doing fine.

As demand soared, I found myself making a twice-a-day delivery, and this lasted for more than two year.

I could still remember Mang Ric telling me: "Putragis, Percy, sa susunod dagdagan mo pa ang kuha ng order, pati 'yong mga  Pakistanis, Indian, Africans,Yemenis at Egyptians gustong-gusto ng 'pandesal "natin (my gosh, Percy next time get more orders … even the Pakistanis, Indians, Africans, Yemenis and Egyptians like our pandesal very much). 

I couldn’t help but smile every time I would remember Mang Ric’s request.

Quite a reserve person, Mang Ric’s smiles and personal stories, including his Japanese war exploits as young Philippine Air Force commissioned officer (2nd Lieutenant), were simply colorful and amazing.

They were indeed unforgettable.

Mang Ric passed away on December 29, 2011.

Wherever you are Mang Ric, here's my salute and God Bless your soul, rest in peace.

He was given full military honors by Philippine Air Force, 1st Air Division, Headquarters Tactical Operations Group 5, Legaspi Airport, Legaspi City.

A Philippine flag was presented to Mang Ric’s surviving wife, Mrs Rosenda (T'yang Rosing) E Romualdo as a token of appreciation for his honorable services to the nation.

Mang Ric, who was Sir Knight of Knight Of Columbus, Jomapa Council No 6995, was posthumously offered a resolution of condolence by the KC, attested to by SK Libertado D Igana, GK Bro Ely C Landagan, DGK and SK Claudio E Quijano, Jr (PGK, PFN, FDD).

As my personal tribute to Mang Ric, I am reproducing below a Father's Day poem by one of his daughters:

Ever  Dearest Tatay,
with love from Chel

Words are not enough to describe
How grateful we are for having you by our side
In good times and tough you'd had;
How wonderful are your ways, dearest Dad!

Your coming home from work, had always been like a big moment
Your motorcycle from afar, that sound we had always awaited
to hug you; everyone would rush, to kiss you … we would race;
Your jokes would fill the air and your stories would be much anticipated.

The tiny, delicate bums you had cleaned, the little nostrils you had sucked
The scout uniforms you had washed, the tents you had helped built
The motor rides as we rushed for exams …
They all tell unique stories about you.

The ever-loving kindness you had always shown
When we could not stand yet on our own
Even now that we already have grown
Yours is the unforgettable love we always have known.

Now that you've gone to be with the Lord, and you're now in peace with HIM
We are told
Though our knees tremble in weakness, we thank Him, for HIS saving GRACE to you
And forgiveness
Yes, you are absent in body yet present with HIM, for in His Son you have trusted and believed
Though we are grieving and sorrowful, to Him we are exceedingly grateful.

(The first four stanzas were written and sent to Tatay for Father's Day
a few years ago, and the last one written today, January 5, 2012.)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Volume 1, No 16

1) PAGE 1 PHOTOS:  Another day/Tingnan ‘nyo/ Ano ‘to?

2) LATEBREAKERS by Percy A Ostonal

12) Photo caption:  Despite life’s glitches …


LITERARY CORNER: A short story

1) To view stories in the 15th edition, please click here
2) To view stories in the 14th edition, please click here
3)To view stories in the 13th edition, please click here
4) To view stories in the 12th edition, please click here
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11) To view stories in the 5th edition, please click here
12) To view stories in the 4th edition, please click here
13) To view stories in the 3rd edition, please click here
14) To see stories in the 2nd edition, please click here
15) To see stories in the 1st edition, please click here  

Editorial: Mayor Ricarte Padilla’s worries

The provincial capitol at Daet, CamNorte ... the powers that-be decides who gets the mineral wealth and who don't, one of the many headaches plaguing the LGUs of Jose Panganiban, Paracale, Sta Elena and Labo, which are all hosts to mineral resource like iron ore and gold. - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO PHERNANDEZ

SOMETIME last week, the Philippine government seized a Chinese-registered vessel while it was anchored at Paracale Bay, in Paracale, CamNorte.

The vessel Peace Angel was earlier found by vigilant Paracalenos to have a load of 50,000 metric tons of iron ore believed to be more than US$2 million, which had been illegally mined from Paracale and it was trying to smuggle the cargo out of the country.

Accordingly, the iron ore was mined from an area covered by a mining claim, but which has never been developed by the rights claimants. In short, the said mining claims also did not have proper permit to develop the ore body.

The immediate questions to ask: How did the illegal mining take place, and how come it was allowed?

Could the municipal government of Paracale have prevented this illegal activity?

Under the present mining laws of the country, the municipal government is just a by-stander as far as mining activities within its jurisdiction are concerned.

It can’t run after the culprits that are destroying the environment, or prevent them from carrying out illegal mining activities.

If a mining operation is doing badly creating havoc on the environment, the municipal government can’t do anything about this but only report the infraction to Legaspi-based Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the Mines Geophysics Bureau (MGB).

If these agencies decide to act, fine. But meantime, the municipal government could only watch in horror the destruction of environment taking place.

The only thing it can do is endorse applications for mining permit, extension of mining rights claims and endorse a miner’s application for the so-called CEC or the Certificate for Environmental Compliance.

Under a proposed Executive order which is expected to be signed any time now, a so-called Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board (PCMRB) will be created within three months from the time the EO is signed by the President.

While the EO mandates the creation of PCMRB, it has altogether ignored the presence of the LGU whose municipal jurisdiction is host to mining activities.

Under the proposed EO, the regulatory control and issuance of small-scale mining permits are vested in the Provincial/City Mining Regulatory Board (PCMRB), which, in this case, is run by the provincial government headed by the governor.

Almost all mining districts are located in the municipalities which make up the entire province and not in cities, and so therefore, the local government or the municipal government should have a direct hand in overseeing and controlling such mining activities.
The logic is simple: it is the municipality which will take the brunt of every ecological burden that could arise from faulty mining activities.

Our national mining law may have specified the DENR, the EMB and the EMB and the respective PMRBs/CMRBs as the main bodies tasked in the issuance of large and small-scale mining permits, and are fully vested with the corresponding regulatory functions and control over mining activities.

But is this fair? Is there justice?

In recent interview with MWBuzz, Mayor Ricarte Padilla has branded it as self-defeating for the municipalities concerned.

He said that mining is predominantly conducted in municipalities and its ill-effects will be felt by the host municipality in the years to come.

“We believe that the municipality as host of mining activity can exercise much proper due diligence processes in determining the capability of a mining applicant to fully observe environmental protection and socio-economic interventions within the areas affected by their operations.

Padilla said that the Local Chief Executive (LCE) of host municipality sitting as regular member of the PMRB, the issues of infrastructure dilapidation caused by the passing of heavy equipment owned by the mining operators could be fully addressed.

He said that if a Municipal Regulatory Board (MRB) is not allowed to exist under the law, then his administration is proposing to make it compulsory for the LCE of the host municipality to have a sit in the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) as a form of installing check and balance in the processing of mining-related permits.

Padilla said that the LCEs of host municipalities shall also be given the power to constitute a Municipal Mining Regulatory Council (MMRC) which shall be tasked, in close coordination with the DENR, PMRB and other government agencies, to closely monitor compliance of small-scale and large mining operations with existing laws within the area of their jurisdiction.

The Paracale saga happened because the LGU did not have any power to stop such illegal activities.

The moneyed Chinese owners of the vessel did not have to deal with the Paracale LGU.

Rumor circulating around the province is that these culprits went straight to the powers-that-be at the CamNorte provincial capitol to get blessings to spirit away the iron ore.

However, were it not for the efforts of Paracalenos to block the ship from leaving the bay at Paracale, the Chinese could have easily stolen million-dollar worth of iron ore just like a walk in the park, because of some alleged “padrinos” at the capitolyo.

Padilla is getting needle pricks because right now, there’s a heap of iron ore worth millions of dollars that has been abandoned after the Philippine Iron Mines (PIM) closed shop in mid-1970s.

This huge stockpile of iron ore is sitting somewhere in Baranggay Larap, then the host of PIM’s mining activities, awaiting shipment across the Pacific Ocean.

The Mayor of Jose Panganiban fears that one day, this wealth could just disappear right under his nose, and thus deprive his government of the much-needed funds in the form of royalties from the sale of this resource.

He said that the powers-that-be at the capitolyo could make it happen, just like the way magician David Copperfield does it.

At this juncture, Padilla feels powerless.

- Alfredo P Hernandez

A portion of Mambulao Bay, which has been inundated by mining silt and wastes due to indiscriminate gold operations in the municipality. The JP-LGU is powerless to stop operators because the regulatory powers solely belong to the EMB, MGB and DENR. - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

SPECIAL REPORT: Fast-crumbling farm-to-market road outrages villagers

Bike riders could have enjoyed driving along this road in baranggay San Rafael, if only it has maintained its smooth surface, now all gone.

Editor, MWBuzz

A RIBBON of farm-to-market road recently built by the provincial government of CamNorte in Baranggay San Rafael, Jose Panganiban, CamNorte is causing quite a stir among the villagers and on the Internet.

Reason: The supposed 2.5km asphalt road has begun to crumble like a week-old “monay” (bread bun) and is fast-deteriorating although it was built just recently.

The poor workmanship on the road project was revealed by the eroding asphalt pavement and the popping of stones and other boulders on the surface along its entire stretch.

The uncompleted road begins from Purok 4 at Sta Rosa Norte going inward to San Rafael. It was planned to link San Rafael to the paved national road at Sta Rosa Norte.

The edges of the road have started wearing away, which became more evident after recent heavy rains in the area.

One resident told MWBuzz through Facebook that the road began washing away last February after heavy rains.

Dismayed San Rafael residents with access to Facebook have posted several shots of the road as well as the drainage canal built along with it.

The pictures were more than enough to draw indignant comments from Facebook browsers, who said that the road builders contracted by the provincial government just “used poor-quality road building materials”.

One even said that instead of using asphalt to smoothen the road surface, the contractor “just painted it over” with “krudo” (used diesel fuel).

“Ipinahid lang sa surface ng kalsada para magmukhang aspalto,” comments one Facebook surfer.

A native of San Rafael who is now based in Taytay, Metro Manila told MWBuzz that he visited their baranggay very recently and saw how the road built under the administration of CamNorte Governor Edgardo A Tallado turned into a “big joke”.

“Wala man lang steel reinforcement ang kalsadang nakita kong ginagawa a few days ago,” he said

“’yon pong last time na nakita ko ay walang steel (reinforcement) … bato lang po na pinison, tapos binuhusan ng aspalto … (the one I saw the last time had no steel reinforcement … just gravel and earth that was steamrolled and poured with asphalt …”

Rodel Bang Occiano, a public school teacher in Metro Manila who was also at San Rafael, recently told MWBuzz that the farm-to-market road in their area is vital for all types of transportation, especially tricycles, which are servicing their baranggay.

“Pero kung masisira rin naman po agad, tulad ng kalsadang na ito (farm-to-market-road), eh wala rin po ‘yong kwenta (But if it would cruble quickly just like this road (farm-to-market road), well, it serves no purpose at all.)

A banner of Tallado announcing the so-called farm-to-market road was installed in one spot along the road project at Sta Rosa.

The banner announced: “Ang proyektong ito ay mula sa buwis ng taong-bayan na naisakatuparan mula sa pakikipagtulungan at pamumuno ni Gov Egay A Tallado at Sangguniaang Panlalawigan members”.

The banner described the project as “Rehab/asphalting of Sta Rosa Norte San Rafael Farm to Market Road”.

One Facebook holder, Aldrin Toribio, who is based in Ireland said: “Kapag hinilamusan lang ng aspalto kapag tumagiti, wash out na naman… para sa susunod may proyekto na naman uli … may budget na naman … tatawagin mong gatasan, palabigasan, o dili kaya pocket-enhancing programs ang mga tawag diyan …

“Ating pakatandaan … kalsadang walang kalidad at aspaltong singnipis ng papel at bulsa naman ay sing tambok ng cancer ng kasakiman …”

One professional Mambulaoan who is also on Facebook said he could not say if the money on the project was stolen.
“It is the condition of this road now that would tell if the money had been stolen or not …”

The municipal government of Mayor Ricarte Padilla has yet to comment on the said road project.

However, a source at the town hall said Vice-Mayor Ariel Non was to go to San Rafael to have a look.

The cost of the San Rafael farm-to-market road was not immediately known but MWBuzz has gathered from Ricarte that a kilometer of a contracted cemented road project would normally cost at P10 million per kilometer.

However, San Rafael locals said the farm-to-market road at their baranggay would not cost that much considering the “poor quality of materials used to build it”.

Incidentally, Padilla is building and cementing roads across the municipality of Jose Panganiban at a cost of only P5 million per kilometer, a far cry from the standard road-building cost of P10 million.

Normally, the “standard” contract price of P10 million per kilometer is agreed by the concerned provincial or municipal government, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the private road builder.

MWBuzz was unable to get a comment from the office of Tallado at the provincial capitol in Daet.

Email the blogger: and

A portion of the farm-to-market road that is beginning to disintegrate … there is no evidence of the asphalt that had covered it until recently.

These children don’t mind the breaking stonewall that would help prevent the road from eroding into the rice field.

After heavy rains, gravel and boulders begin to show – a proof that the concrete mix that bound them (above and below) was of poor quality.

This stonewall would soon fall apart … just give it another two or three heavy rain days.

Very soon, the entire road would disappear.

Drain like this one keeps rain water from flooding the road. However, it looks like it is beginning to fall apart.

An equipment lying idle on the road side while waiting for more materials to arrive – like enough cement.

Asphalt coating has disappeared after a series of heavy downpour recently.

P40m-bridge at Baranggay Sta Cruz

Jose Panganiban Mayor Ricarte Padilla (left) and Vice-Mayor Ariel M Non inspect a recently finished concrete road at a baranggay within the Poblacion.  – Photo courtesy of JP-LGU

THE municipality of Jose Panganiban, CamNorte will soon build a P40 million bridge at Baranggay Sta Cruz, Jose Panganiban, CamNorte, to solve mobility problem during heavy rains which would cause floods in the area.

The bridge will serve the needs of neighboring baraggays San Pedro, San Martin and San Jose, according to Vice-Mayor Ariel M Non in a message posted on the local government unit’s official Facebook site.

Non said a deal has already been signed between the Department of Public Works and Highways for the construction of the Sta Cruz bridge under the “Tulay ng Pangulo” program.

“Ang tulay na ito ay sagot sa matagal nang problem ng mga taga Sta Cruz, San Pedro, San Martin at San Jose … na sa konting ulan lang ay hindi na sila makalabas ng kanilang lugar para pumunta sa bayan (Jose Panganiban) dahil sa baha.

“Hinintay natin ito (bridge) at ngayon nga ay magkakaroon na ng katuparan,” Non said, as response to a number of queries from Facebook holders who are apparently natives of Mambulao.

Non also noted that the LGU plans to rebuild the bridges in Parang, Pag-Asa and Nakalaya, which have already outlived their usefulness.

“There are three bridges that need to be reconstructed such as the one in Parang, Pag-Asa and Nakalaya,” he said, adding that plans have already been prepared for the projects.

“We’re are just waiting for funding.”

Non has urged his Facebook audience to be patient a little more as the current LGU “is doing its best” to meet the needs of the community".

“Utay-utay lang po … at magkakaroon rin ng katuparan ang ating mga inihanay na mga proyekto.”

The bridge connecting the Poblacion and Baranggay Parang ... it was poorly designed and has become hazardous to both motorists and pedestrians, according to local officials. --MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

Mambulaoan named new general

A NATIVE of Mambulao and a member of alumni Batch ’81 was one of the new generals promoted by the Commission on Appointments recently.

Col Crisologo Nayve, who is the current chief of the Office of the Defense Reform of the Department of National Defense (DND), was among three senior military officers from the department who got their first star in a new batch of promotions approved by President Noynoy Aquino.

Also promoted to the rank of Brigadier General effective last May 3 were Brigadier General Herbert Yambing, BGen Oscar Lopez, BGen Danilo Servado, BGen Julius Guillermo, Commodore Abraham  Celzo, BGen Manuel Luis Ochotorena, BGen Leonilo Bongcawil, BGen Romeo Taguinod, BGen Emeraldo Magnaye, BGen Virgilio Hernandez, BGen Hernando Iriberri, BGen Ramon Mateo Dizon, BGen Paulita Cruz, BGen Remegio Valdez.and BGen Normado Sta. Ana Jr.

Nayve is a senior military assistant of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Philippines seizes illegal China-bound ore

A gold panner on a raft works on the sea-river in Paracale just a stone's throw away from Palanas (foreground), the biggest mining district in the municipality. - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

MANILA: Philippine authorities said last week they had seized a huge amount of iron ore intended to be smuggled to China, as part of a long-running battle against illegal miners.
The 50,000 tonnes of iron ore, believed to be worth more than US$2 million, were found stockpiled near a private wharf at a coastal mining town in the eastern province of Camarines Norte, mines bureau head Leo Jasareno said.

"A cargo ship was seen anchored at a distance, and it was believed to be waiting for the ore to be loaded when the raid happened," Jasareno told AFP.

"The shipment was supposed to go to China and they were clearly intending to smuggle it out."
Jasareno said the ore was extracted illegally because the mining companies involved did not have a mineral export permit, adding one was suspected to be a front for a Chinese firm.

Initial estimates by the bureau's experts placed the shipment's value at US$50 per metric tonne, or US$2.5 million, he added. See related story below. - AFP

Paracale fishers stop Chinese vessel from loading iron ore

Local fishermen with Kabalikat Charity and local Jaycees aboard wooden bancas approach the bulk carrier ‘Peace Angel’ to stop its crew from loading illegally mined iron ore in Paracale, Camarines Norte. – Photo courtesy of RIO PALIZA

DAET, CamNorte: A Chinese vessel registered in Hong Kong was ordered  by  the  local  government of Paracale, Camarines Norte and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau  (MGB) to hold its position within Philippine territorial waters after local fishermen and members of civic organizations stopped its crew from attempting to load iron ore mined from some of the mining facilities there.

The Chinese bulk carrier Peace Angel was held in abeyance at the shores of Pulangdaga in Paracale, Camarines Norte after a group of fishermen, accompanied by Kabalikat Charity, Jaycees Paracale and members of Save Pulang Daga Movement (SPDM), responded to a tip by an unknown employee of Uni-Dragon Mining and Baotong Mining companies that a loading operation would be carried out at around seven o’clock in the morning of June 5, Tuesday.

Rio Paliza, president of the local Jaycees and one of the prime movers behind SPDM, which is a civic group organized to oppose illegal mining being perpetrated by Chinese mining companies in Paracale, confirmed that they boarded  two  motorized boats with representatives from the LGU to inspect the vessel and stop it from loading 50,000 metric tons of iron ore which had been declared by the MGB last May 16 as confiscated minerals after mine tailings were found to have caused massive environmental devastation in the coastal village of Pulangdaga.

Paliza said they enlisted the cooperation of Mayor Romeo Moreno of Paracale who immediately came to the site to speak with the crew of Peace Angel and serve the seizure order issued by the MGB in Legazpi City.

Although he was not allowed by the crew to board the ship, Moreno assisted representatives from the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Customs in inspecting the vessel, which was later pronounced by the Bureau of Customs as a legally registered carrier whose  crew was unwittingly and innocently tasked to load the confiscated minerals.

Customs declared in an ensuing closed door meeting at the Office of the Mayor of Paracale with representatives from LGU, SPDM, local fishers and Coast Guard that the vessel and its crew do not have the proper permit to load the iron ore, Paliza said.

Recent development received by Bicol Mail from SPPM revealed that the MGB has issued a cease and desist order against the mining operations being done in Paracale by Uni-dragon and Baotong Mining companies.

Meanwhile, the bulk carrier Peace Angel remains anchored with its crew, halting its loading of the confiscated iron ore, until proper permits are obtained by its representatives who were not named for the meantime. – Bicol Mail

Members of Kabalikat and Coast Guard watch over the bulk carrier ‘Peace Angel’ which has been ordered not to move until MGB representatives come to inspect its papers.  The crew allegedly hauled confiscated iron ore from Paracale, Camarines Norte for transport to China. - Photo courtesy of RIO PALIZA

‘If it’s legal, why should we stop them?’: Escudero bucks mining ban

SORSOGON CITY: Mining companies have found an ally in Sen Francis Escudero as he made a stand favoring the continued operation of responsible mining corporations.
In a round-table discussion with local media here Escudero said that imposing a mining ban is wrong and unreasonable especially if it gives benefits to the community and does not harm the environment.

“If  it’s legal, safe to environment and brings benefits to the community, why should we stop them,” he said, adding that only those classified as small-scale mining operations are the ones causing troubles especially to the environment and the community.

Chiz Escudero ... a friend of good miners
Escudero, however, said that the government should do something to put the mining industry in proper order and to maximize the benefits that could be derived from it.

He suggested the imposition of a levy similar to the coconut levy to make it expensive to export the raw materials generated from mining which would compel mining companies to process and manufacture them here.

“That would generate more jobs and put additional value to the raw materials,” Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on Environment, said.

The solon stressed that current sharing of 2% for government and 98% for the mining company is grossly lopsided saying that China had offered a 60-40 sharing scheme in favor of the government for the exploration of resources at the Scarborough Shoal during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but which was rejected.

He also suggested that the government should come up with mineral map of the country and determine the areas which are open to mining and set aside areas for future generation.
“We should leave something for the generations to come and not allow indiscriminate mining,” Escudero added.

He urged Malacañang to speed up the issuance of the mining policy to harmonize everything, adding that the delay has caused the non-issuance of any mining license for the past two years.
Asked to comment about the possible extension of the mining operation in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, the senator said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should look into its operation.

Escudero said large scale mining is less problematic since they are effectively regulated by the DENR unlike small scale operations.

He said the DENR would not allow its continued operation if it has violations and is not beneficial to the community.

The Rapu-Rapu mine is projected to last until end of 2013, unless the actual mineral deposits exceed more than what was earlier estimated during the exploration, the president of the Rapu-Rapu Minerals Incorporated (RRMI) told reporters in an earlier interview.

Eng’r. Rogelio Corpuz said that the company would continue operation as long as the deposits are there and funds are available to sustain commercial operation.

The operation is highly dependent on the presence of the minerals as well as on prices of these minerals in the international market, he said, as he expressed concern for the communities which would be affected by the mine closure.

“Obviously, a big majority of the families in the community have become dependent on the mine for their source of livelihood, and we don’t want them to be economically displaced once the mine operation closes down, so sustainable livelihood programs must be introduced through the Social Development and Management Plan,” he explained.

‘‘If only we can continue operation endlessly so that the people would continue to have a steady source of income, we will do it,’’ he said.

Corpuz assured the stakeholders that the company has the best interest of the community in mind in all of its programs. - By Media Solutions/BicolMail

Tax benefit seen to cushion Philhealth members from adjusted contributions

Dr Eduardo Banzon

MANILA: The Philippine Health Insurance Corp (Philhealth) has said a tax benefit would cushion the bulk of its self-employed and individually paying members — those earning not more than P250,000 yearly — from the upward adjustment of contributions.

“We expect most of our 4.22 million self-employed members to be shielded by a tax allowance,” said Dr Eduardo Banzon, Philhealth president and chief executive officer.
Banzon was referring to a concession under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) that allows salaried workers and self-employed individuals to spend up to P2,400 yearly for health and/or hospitalization insurance premium, and then deduct the amount from their taxable income.

The implementing rules of Section 34, Chapter 7 (Allowable deductions) of the NIRC states:
“Premiums on Health and/or Hospitalization Insurance – The amount of premiums not to exceed P2,400 per family or P200 a month paid during the taxable year for health insurance and/or hospitalization insurance taken by the taxpayer for himself, including his family, shall be allowed as deduction from his gross income: Provided, That said family has a gross income of not more than P250,000 for the taxable year: Provided, finally That in the case of married taxpayers, only the spouse claiming the additional exemption for dependents shall be entitled to this deduction.”

Effective July 1, 2012, self-employed individuals contributing on their own would pay the minimum annual premium of P2,400.

However, for those who pay by the end of June, their discounted premium for the whole of 2012 would be fixed at only P1,200.

Moreover, individually contributing members who sign a policy contract by the end of June and commit to pay in lump for two consecutive years, would enjoy a discounted premium pegged at P1,200 annually, or P2,400 for the entire 24-months of 2012-2014.

The new rates are meant to enable Philhealth to fulfill its mandate to provide constantly improving health care to every Filipino.

Meanwhile, Banzon stressed that the adjusted contributions would not affect Philhealth members under the Sponsored Program.

The 5.2 million indigent families identified under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) are already enrolled as Philhealth members, with their premiums subsidized by the national government, Banzon said.

“These are also the same 5.2 million poorest households targeted by government as direct cash transfer beneficiaries,” he pointed out.

On top of the 5.2 million needy families, Banzon said another five million disadvantaged households not covered by the NHTS-PR have also been enrolled as Philhealth members, again with their premiums subsidized by their local governments.

Philhealth provides subsidy for room and board, drugs and medicines, laboratory exams, as well as operating room and professional fees for hospital confinements of not less than 24 hours. It is also covering an increasing number of outpatient services, including day surgeries and treatment of tuberculosis.

The subsidy covers every active member as well as his/her declared eligible dependents.

Book on Paracale Patroness set to be launched

THE AUTHOR AND INAY CANDI. Rens Tuzon presents the cover of the book Inay Candi: Bearer of Light.  The book is set to be launched this September in time for the Paracale Patroness’ canonical coronation. - Photo courtesy of Bicol Mail


DAET, CamNorte: “[It] proves that life is really important that even the heavens want to defend and sacrifice anything for the lives of the masses. That [the] Most Merciful Virgin later [on] became the Paracaleños’ benevolent defender that saves and protects the masses of believers and received a great deal of attention [among] the Catholics and hailed as their patron Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, Our Lady of Candles, and accepted purely as Inay Candi, the bearer of the Light and the defender of the Paracaleños’ Catholic faith,” says an excerpt from the book ‘Inay Candi: Bearer of the Light’ by freelance writer, photographer, artist and former broadcast journalist Rens Tuzon.

The book, which is set to be launched on September 8, will feature the 400-year-old devotion of the Paracaleños to the Patroness of CamNorte’s goldtown.

Tuzon, who is not a native of Paracale, said that what truly motivated him to write the book was the combined hope of Rev Fr Joselito Chavez, former parish priest of Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria in Paracale, CamNorte, and Totale Image Asia Meth Paliza to come up with a coffee table book that would do justice to all the miracles that were associated with the Virgin of Paracale.

“The great story behind Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, or Inay Candi, to the commoners (which involves eye-witness accounts of the Virgin’s involvement in a war with the Moros and other narrations which always depict Inay Candi as a defender of the masses wielding her sword) motivated me to create the book,” Tuzon said.

“According to the tales, the Patroness lost her finger while defending the townspeople from the Moro looters way back in August 29, 1809.”

He also said that he is quite fascinated with the fact that the image in Paracale is the only image of the Blessed Virgin Mary bearing a golden sword instead of the traditional image of young Jesus Christ.

“Primarily, it was my being curious, and keen interest on the project, that I decided to lay my writings and thought of coming up with this.  I believe this (the book’s launching) is a historical event since the book will be the very first to be published in more than 400 years which is dedicated to Inay Candi,” he added.

“This is my humble way of honoring the title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the known Our Lady of Candles – the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. Furthermore, I’m honored and so grateful, that of all the persons, I believe Inay Candi tapped me to do her book before her Canonical Coronation this September.”

With the help of photographers from Paracale headed by Rio Paliza, Rosemarie and Leslie Patingo, Chito Agliones and Jose Baluyot, Jr, “Inay Candi’ will be a vivid depiction in pictures and words of various accounts of miracles attributed to her and the origin of the devotion that unites Paracaleños as one people.

“To be honest with you, I’m not a religious person, but, I do believe the first coffee table book of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria would play a great impact on Paracaleños’ faith and devotion to the town’s once defender of the people. 

“I also do believe everyone will be reminded of what her miraculous deeds and it’s about time the Paracaleños should be reminded of the past of what really Inay Candi wants for her townspeople – the prosperity with kindness and respect for everyone, a love with so much of sharing to each and everyone, and lastly caring for the environment which Inay Candi is defending until now for her beloved children of Paracale,” Tuzon said.

He said that although the devotion to Inay Candi is relatively older than the devotion to Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, the recognized Patroness of Bicolandia, he certainly does not think of comparing the miraculous deeds of the two Patronesses.

“I believe that what other saints and patrons have in mind is to defend the faith of everyone and to shower more love and blessings through the intercession we considered as the Light of the World, our dear Lord Jesus Christ.”

Regarding his personal relationship with the Paracale Patroness, he professed that Inay Candi touched his personal life in miraculous ways after he came here from Quezon City and after several stints in broadcast media both here and abroad.

“First, she taught me how to be more compassionate and loving not only to other people but also to the environment.  Secondly, Inay Candi made my faith stronger and educated me more about Christian faith and devotion and personally, I do believe that Inay Candi always protects me as She had protected Her people.” – Bicol Mail

The home of Inay Candi - the parish church of Paracale. - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ