DOT questioned on P140-M ‘roads leading to nowhere’

A Philippine Air Lines plane taxiing on the runway of Legazpi Domestic Airport. In the background is the majestic Mayon Volcano.

A Philippine Air Lines plane taxiing the runway of Legazpi Domestic Airport. In the background is the majestic Mayon Volcano. The airport will be moved in Daraga town, nearer to Sorsogon.

A proposal to allocate P140 million to construct two roads in Albay has left tourism officials stunned after being informed by lawmakers that the two projects are actually “roads leading to nowhere.”

During a congressional hearing for the Department of Tourism (DOT) budget, Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. appeared flabbergasted as he failed to give a rational response to inquiries about the inclusion of two new Albay road projects under the DOT-Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Convergence Program.

The proposed P140 million funding for the projects appeared to have been deducted from the P150 million proposed initial allocation for the construction of a new access to the Legaspi International Airport and tourist destinations in Sorsogon, popular worldwide for “butanding” (whale shark) sightings.

From the original P150 million in approved funding, the Legaspi airport access road was left with only P50 million, it was learned.

Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe questioned the inclusion of the two road projects, saying that none of these will traverse through tourism destinations.

“One will lead to a Chinese cemetery which cannot qualify as a tourist spot at all,” Batocabe said as he noted that the DOT-DPWH Convergence Program was supposed to implement the Tourism Road Infrastructure Project Prioritization Criteria (TRIPPC).

Under the TRIPPC, funding for road projects with tourism values were to be prioritized in accordance with the innovative bottoms up budgeting system. This method requires all stakeholders, from the barangay up to the provincial level, to approve an infrastructure proposal.

The P150 million Legaspi airport road was placed on top of the list of budgeting priorities under the TRIPPC. On the other hand, the two new roads were nowhere in the list.

Batocabe, chairman of the House Committee on Bicol Recovery, said they discovered the irregularity only after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted the proposed P2.606-trillion national expenditure program last month.

“I do think the TRIPPC is a very good, laudable project,” said Batocabe. “ But somebody pulled a fast one here.”

The party-list solon aired suspicions that a “syndicate with strong connections” with the DOT-DPWH Convergence Program could be behind the incident.

Original article is published at Manila Bulletin on August 17, 2014.

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Paglaom, A Bicol Song

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Binaha Kami Niyan – Bagyong Glenda

I called my mom to say, hi, and also check her status in Brgy. Bibincahan, Sorsogon City. It was around 530pm. She told me that the water was rising and the level was above her ankle already. Considering that our house is a bit elevated relative to the road, that means, it’s really flooded (initially, I thought because of the leak in the roof).

Luckily, a kasambahay is with her as of this writing. They are busy lifting stuff to higher place to avoid getting soaked.

So far, this is the worst typhoon that hit our area. The last flooding of our area that I could remember was during Bagyong Sisang. But the water never even reached our house’s flooring.

Is it really the amount of rainfall or our environment is really messed up? Or both?

Ingat tabi an nasa agihan san bagyo.

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Pili Nut Snack at Kultura

While trying to figure out what to bring to the states as pasalubong for my colleagues, friends and relatives, I found the Sorsogon’s Pili Nuts. I took more than a couple.

I am proud to give this to my friends and colleagues, prouder that I found it on one of the most popular souvenir ship.

Maurag talaga!

[Front] Sorsogon's famous Pili nuts is now in the mainstream. I found this at Kultura while looking for pasalubong for my American colleagues.

[Front] Sorsogon’s famous Pili nuts is now in the mainstream. I found this at Kultura while looking for pasalubong for my American colleagues.

Lo and behold! The Pili snack is courtesy of Tia Berning.

Lo and behold! The Pili snack is courtesy of Tia Berning.



[Back] The packaging looks attractive enough. I bought a couple of boxes for a relative in the states.

[Back] The packaging looks attractive enough. I bought a couple of boxes for a relative in the states.

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Bagatao and Sablayan Islands

According to Wikipedia article of Sorsogon City, the islands of Sablayan and Bagatao are under the supervision of the said local government. It doesn’t mention which barangay administers the said island.

Which barangay do these islands belong to? Image via Google Map

Which barangay do these islands belong to? Image via Google Map

 Would anyone know?

Dios mabalos!

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Sorsogon artists push for restoration of historical ancestral house via funshoot

This is the left corner of the old house. SPES is just on the other side, so, pupils find this place as an alternative playground for the Patio.

This is the left corner of the old house. SPES is just on the other side, so, pupils find this place as an alternative playground for the Patio.

Gov. Raul Lee. Image via


LEGAZPI CITY, July 3 (PIA) – The seat of government where the capital town of Sorsogon was born is now slowly dying and may soon be forgotten.

This prompted the newest accredited visual arts arm of Sorsogon Arts Council (SAC) Kurit-Lagting, a community-based arts organization to initiate a photo shoot project last June 22 at the Bahay ng Angkang De Vera, an ancestral house beside the Sorsogon Pilot Elementary School and the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral here to boost the efforts for its restoration.

“The photo shoot project, dubbed as “Pitik-Abante”, called on support in the restoration of the Bahay ng Angkang De Vera (De Vera ancestral house), an important historical edifice in Sorsogon that was once a grandiose house but is now a dilapidated remnant with only the concrete walls at the ground floor and posts at the façade surviving the natural disasters and elements,” Kurit-Lagting art director and founding member Geri Matthew Carretero told the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Bicol in an exclusive interview.

Aside from this porch, there's no indication that this house is originally a 2-story house.

Aside from this porch, there’s no indication that this house is originally a 2-story house.

“Pitik-Abante”, according to Carretero, was an avant-garde inspired shoot utilizing found-objects and recycled materials as costumes to produce experimental and innovative designs is aimed at promoting environmental awareness.

According to artist – entrepreneur Mari De Vera, also the granddaughter of the house owner Vicente De Vera, the Bahay ng Angkang De Vera was formerly owned by Lizarraga Hermanos which was sold to Selim Nassr in 1889. In 1902, Vicente De Vera (representative of Sorsogon in the First Philippine Assembly in 1907 and the first Senator from Sorsogon who served in 1916-1922) acquired ownership of the house. Vicente’s son and Mari’s father, Teodoro was also elected as a senator under the Liberal Party in the late 40’s also utilized the house as residence.

Prominent people from all over the world stayed in the historical house including General Vicente Lukban and Ananias Diokno in 1899; Richard Evelyn Byrd, before he became a Naval Officer and polar explorer; Alice Roosevelt, daughter of American President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 when she visited the province to together with then Governor General of the Philippines and later President of the United States William Howard Taft to officiate and witness the inauguration of the Sorsogon Provincial High School (now Sorsogon National High School) and Alice Bridge which was named after her; and Philippine Presidents Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmena Sr. and Elpidio Quirino in various occasions for their political sorties..

Due to its proximity to the town center, it's a favorite parking spots for motorcycles.

Due to its proximity to the town center, it’s a favorite parking spots for motorcycles.

The house served as the venue for the declaration of the town of Sorsogon as the capital of Sorsogon province in 1903.

This was also where Governor Bernandino Monreal stayed from 1902-1903 which was later used as station by the Japanese forces during World War II from 1942-1945. After Japanese forces occupied the edifice, the 158th U.S. Regimental Combat Team and the 56th Special Bicol Brigade made it a military post in 1945.

After the war, it was used by the Constabulary and became the office of San Miguel Brewery, Bureau of Internal Revenue, hospital and developed into a hotel (Bayview Hotel) in the late 1980s.

In 1987 the edifice was damaged by Typhoon Sisang.

The National Historical Institute (NHI) approved the historical marker for the house in 2006 but the unveiling was postponed after the house was destroyed by typhoon Milenyo.

Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee provided a seed fund for its initial restoration but it was again destroyed by subsequent typhoon Reming, thus the project did not materialize.

NHI has declared that it cannot install the marker on the historical site under the present condition but can be reconsidered after restoration works.

In January 2013, another descendant, Edgardo De Vera wrote the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to avail of its technical assistance program (TAP).

“We may work hand-in-hand with your experts in the preparation of the conservation and management plan,” De Vera wrote the NCCA.

Few days before the photoshoot, NCCA TAP project coordinator Flor Balibao informed SAC spokesperson Joseph John Perez that the officer of National Committee on National Research is currently discussing the concerns on the Bahay ng Angkang De Vera to the head of the National Committee on Monuments and Sites.

Both the De Vera family and the Sorsogon artists are taking another shot to relive the glorious past of the Bahay ng Angkang De Vera.  (MAL/JJP-PIA5)

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Sorsogon organizes provincial sports council

Gov. Raul Lee (L) and Provincial Administrator Robert Lee (R). Image via

LEGAZPI CITY, July 4 (PIA) – Recognizing the field of sports as major concern for human development, sports organizations and professionals in the province of Sorsogon organized recently the Sorsogon Council for Athletic Development (SCAD).

Sorsogon provincial administrator Robert Lee-Rodrigueza was named as SCAD chair and Michael Sulit as vice chair, while the organizer of the Edgar Balasta, chief organizer of the First Sorsogon Provincial Sports Summit, was chosen as the council’s executive director, and Bon Mercado as board secretary.

Elected to the SCAD board were Sorsogon State College president Dr. Modesto Detera as director for Human Resources and Organization Strategy; Rico Estur, director for Programs, Standard and Sports Medicine; Ruel Frago and Romy Llona, directors for Tournaments and Games; Engr. Paul Fernandez, director for Strategic Marketing; Gerry Gojar, director for Training and Development; Michael Guysayko, director for Infrastructure and Facility Development; Vladimir Vega and Tito Fortes, directors for Research, Development and Linkages; Dr. Soledad Quiñones director for Finance and lawyer Adrian Alegre as director for Grievance.

The SCAD was an offshoot of the recently concluded First Sorsogon Provincial Sports Summit that gathered more than 100 participants coming from various sports organizations, association clubs, teachers, sports managers, coaches, trainers, sports coordinators and athletes.

Cong. Evelina Escudero. Image via

Meanwhile, Rep. Evelina Escudero of Sorsogon first congressional district expressed optimism on the creation of the SCAD that will produce national athletes that the province will be proud of.

“It is heartening to note also that aside from the government sector, almost all public and private athletic associations will be joining hands and complement each other to raise the standard of sports in the province,” Escudero said.

Escudero observed the absence of sustainability or continuity in the sports development program in the province and noticed that different athletic and sports competitions are being conducted almost year-round by public and private groups were just for mere purpose of holding the games or events either mandatory on their part or to gain personal mileage.

“I fervently hope that the summit was the right step in formulating a sports program that will truly respond to what we are aiming for,” Escudero said.

Earlier, Escudero instructed her staff to conduct coordination with summit’s sponsoring groups as manifestation of her full support for the plan to formulate and create a unified sports development plan for the province.

These organizations are the Nanay Evie Escudero Developmental Sports (NEEDS), Provincial Government of Sorsogon, Department of Education (DepEd), Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA), State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA), Basketball Inter-Collegiate Championship of Sorsogon (BICCS), Sorsogon Private Secondary Schools Association (SORPRISSA),Bicol Association of Catholics Schools (BACS),  Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and Basketball Academy of Sorsogon (BAS).

In an exclusive interview conducted earlier by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Bicol with Balasta, he explained that the summit aimed to assist the local government units, public and private sports organizations to streamline sports direction of the province of Sorsogon by forming the SCAD that will help create programs and strategies for the development of the athletic and sports programs in Sorsogon. (MAL/JJJP-PIA5)

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