Sorsogon governor suspends himself

Governor Raul Lee of Sorsogon provicne. Imave via

Sorsogon City – Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee requested Vice Governor Antonio H. Escudero to assume as officer-in-charge of the Office of the Provincial Governor during the next 90 days, starting June 1.

Lee requested Escudero to take his post, following the voluntary preventive suspension he had submitted to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) last Monday after his motion for reconsideration was denied by the Sandiganbayan.

Lee, who ran under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) party during the 2013 midterm elections, is facing a Criminal Case (SB-11-Crm-0036 to 0039) at the Sandiganbayan for violations of Sec. 3(e) and (g) of Republic Act 3019 pending before the Court’s First Division.

In his letter to Escudero dated May 30, he stated that sometime in May 26, 2014, he wrote a letter to DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas informing him of his voluntary submission to the preventive suspension order for a period of ninety days effective June 1, 2014 to August 29, 2014.

“I personally talked to him about the matter and he advised me to wait for a formal notice of acceptance. I deemed it wise however, not to wait for the formal notice of acceptance and instead, formally relinquish my post to the Vice Governor,” Lee said during the press conference at the Provincial Capitol on Friday.

Original article is posted at Yahoo site on June 1, 2014.

Posted in Government, Politics, sorsogon | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Heritage clinics, cleanups mark Taoid 2014

The National Heritage Month of May ushered in the Taoid celebration of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

The Ilocano word for “heritage,” Taoid is the flagship program of NCCA’s Subcommission on Cultural Heritage (SCH), headed by Commissioner Fr. Harold Rentoria, OSA. The theme this year was “Pamanang Pinoy: Taoid 2014.”

Heritage clinics all over the country were being conducted by the NCCA national committees on archives, art galleries, historical research, libraries and information services, monuments and sites, and museums.


The Taoid tour was held recently in Bicol to focus on heritage structures and sites in the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon, known collectively as Almasor.

The main celebration was held in Albay to focus on Daraga Church and Mayon Volcano. Declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 2007, Daraga Church has its eastern and western façades and baptistery still intact.

Also considered a cultural landmark are the ruins of Cagsawa Church, which was buried by lava from the eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1814.

“Cagsawa Church is a historical site, and, behind it, Mayon Volcano, is a natural heritage,” explained Father Rentoria. “We would like to send the message that we need to protect both built and natural heritage.”

The Augustinian friar added that Taoid and the NCCA sought to foster awareness about heritage and to look for structures and sites that could be formally declared of cultural or historical importance.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said his administration was united with the NCCA in conserving cultural landmarks and fostering public awareness of their significance.

Salceda said Albay sustained “cultural practices” so that they could form part of the people’s “muscle memory.”

“Unang-una talaga, kailangan you should practice culture para maging kasama sa muscle memory mo,” he pointed out. “Katulad dito sa Albay, ang paggawa ng handicraft ay parang muscle memory dahil sa practice.”

Salceda added that all tourism programs in the province were “culture-based.”


He explained that an “investment-driven” tourism program might put up resorts and tourist facilities that could be wiped out by storms and disasters. He said it was best to anchor tourism on culture and creative practices.

“So our cultural assets are immune from natural disasters,” he added.

Salceda emphasized that tourists were looking for a tourist site’s distinct cultural identity and look. He said it was culture that united the people and provided them a distinct identity.

“Mahirap magpagalaw ng bayan in one direction but through culture, and because 92 percent of Albay is Christian, it became easy,” Salceda said. “Everybody paddles in the same direction, therefore we’re closer and closer to the aspirations of our own people and we have done that because of culture.”


First Catholic Mass

Even before May, there had been run-up festivities such as the one on Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte, the site of the first Catholic Mass in the country, in line with the 493rd anniversary of the historic event.

SCH conducted an ocular inspection and technical assessment of cultural properties, sites and structures on Limasawa, as well as natural heritage sites.

There was a heritage cleanup drive as part of the Bayanihan Project Series (BPS).

Taoid held heritage school tours called “Mga Kuwentong Pamana sa Mga Batang Bida,” which aimed to spread the message of heritage conservation advocacy to the younger generation.

Because of recent disasters in the Visayas, the 2014 Taoid also touched on disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

The steering committee of Taoid 2014 was composed of Fr. Rentoria, head of SCH and the National Committee on Archives; Stephen S. Totanes, vice head of SCH and head of the National Committee on Historical Research; Lucille Karen E. Malilong-Isberto, head of the National Committee on Monuments and Sites; Marilou P. Tadlip, head of the National Committee on Libraries and Information Service; Robert Bjorn O. Santos, head of the National Committee on Art Galleries, as represented by Delan Robillos, vice head of the Galleries group; and Amado R. Alvarez, head of the National Committee on Museums.

Proclamation No. 439, signed on Aug. 11, 2003, declares the month of May as National Heritage Month “in recognition of the need to create among the people a consciousness, respect, and pride for the legacies of Filipino cultural history and love of country.”

In 2009, the government formally made heritage conservation a legal mandate, by ratifying and implementing Republic Act 10066, the National Heritage Act of 2009, empowering NCCA and its affiliated agencies in policy-making and conservation enforcement.

Call NCCA Public Affairs and Information Office head Rene Napeñas at 5272192 or 0928-5081057. E-mail; visit

The original article is published at Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 2, 2014.

Posted in Bicol Area, History, Religion, Structures, Tourism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

‘Butanding’s visit in Legazpi shortened by dirty water

Butanding or Whale Shark. Image is via

LEGAZPI CITY—They could have stayed longer at this city’s waters, but noises and contaminated water could have driven away the nine gentle giant whale sharks locally known as butanding to find a better haven.

Tourism officials believed the whale sharks came from Donsol in Sorsogon and wandered to the city’s open waters.

Donsol water is the known sanctuary of whale sharks in Bicol for the past years, although they would sometimes disappear for months only to return after a time.

The nine whale sharks showed up near the shoreline of Legazpi waters on February 10, and already attracted foreign and local tourists. It was the third showing since 2010.

The World Wildlife Fund and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources had named three of the gentle giants in a Bicol dialect as “Magaro” (sociable), “Durat” (flirt) and “Mailyas” (unfriendly).

A radio report, however, said some of the butanding already left the city’s waters, which is part of the Albay gulf. The remaining may also follow, quoting former city councilor Carlos Ante of the Bantay Dagat.

Ante said a BFAR report showed that the coastal Legazpi water stretching from barangays Pigcale and Lamba to the four kilometers of the highly developed boulevard at Barangay Puro was highly contaminated due to garbage and human waste.

Puro Boulevard starts from the biggest Bicol waterfront commercial complex Embarcadero De Legazpi Mall, one of the Legazpi’s major tourist attractions.

Early this week, the butanding visitors reportedly dwindled to three.

A source said the butanding would certainly leave the place because of the excessive close interaction from residents to the extent of riding them.

Some residents, however, assailed the Office of Civil Defense for its regular drilling exercise using the Puro coastal area as venue, saying the butanding are disturbed by noises from the helicopter.

Mayor Noel Rosal said he had warned OCD Regional Head Raffy Alejandro to change their venue, believing the disaster-preparedness exercise and helicopter noise could irritate the visiting butanding.

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Syndicate hounding claimants, says CHR

Karen Gomez-Dumpit, CHR director of government linkages, said members of the syndicate had been hounding legitimate beneficiaries so their names would not be stricken off the list of claimants.

The warning came as the agency awaited the appearance of 387 victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime to receive P50,000 each as compensation for the abuses they suffered during martial law in the 1970s.

A total of P19.3 million will go to the victims from the six provinces in Bicol, Dumpit said. The amount is the victims’ share from a court-ordered settlement that arose from a class suit filed in the United States against the estate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Dumpit, in a phone interview, said the P50,000 was part of the second tranche arising from the $10-million settlement of a case involving a British millionaire who bought a Monet painting believed to be part of the ill-gotten Marcos art collection.  Reports said the buyer had agreed to the settlement for as long as he would not be dragged into the case.

The first tranche amounting to P43,000 was distributed in 2012 to each of the victims for a total of P16.6 million. It came from the $7.5 million awarded to 10,000 martial law victims following a 2011 ruling by a US court in Hawaii on a class suit filed by Robert Swift, the American lead counsel of the claimants.

As early as 4 a.m. on Monday, Myrna Gallardo, a daughter of a human rights abuse victim, and other persons from Sorsogon province were at the CHR office to collect their compensation checks. Mar S. Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon

The article is originally published on February 25, 2014 on Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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Project SNHS Rebuild – February 28, 2014

Cash Donation: Prosec. Honey Deniega & Family (CM grad) P5,000.00



a. BPI ACCNT BALANCE: p74,890.00
Prev. Balance P70,890.00
(Ms. Bañares – P2,000.00
(Ms.Mediodea- P2,000.00)

SNHS main building burning to the ground.

SNHS main building burning to the ground.

b. Shirts bought 658 pieces
paid orders 253 pcs
available for orders 405 pieces


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Project SNHS Rebuild – February 26, 2014



On-hand advance cash payment for shirts:
Batch 2000-Clea Dreu P3000.00
Batch 1972-Ella Chavenia 8000.00 P11,000.00

B. Info drive launched via Bicol TV, Padaba FM and DZRS TV.

The SNHS' main building after the fire.

The SNHS’ main building after the fire.

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Suspect in high school student’s rape, slay yields

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—The suspect in the rape-killing of a third year high school student in Sorsogon City surrendered to the police chief of Sorsogon City on Tuesday in Quezon City.

Chief Superintendent Victor Deona, Bicol police chief, in an interview Wednesday, said Roderick Diesta, 33, a tricycle driver and suspect in the rape and killing of Angela Artita, is now in the custody of Sorsogon City police.

Artita, 16, was found dead along the Diversion Road in Sitio Baribag, Barangay (village) Bibincahan, last Friday.

Investigation showed Artita left home on Thursday to visit a classmate but did not return home. She was last seen riding a tricycle from her classmate’s house, also in Barangay Bibingcahan.

Diesta, according to Deona, fled to Quezon City and hid in the house of his brother, Freddie. Freddie turned over Diesta to police at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

Police on Tuesday filed rape and homicide charges against Diesta at the Sorsogon City prosecutor’s office.

The article is originally published on February 5, 2014 at Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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