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100,000 expected in ‘Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid’


ILOILO City – The Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 6 expects not less than 100,000 devotees and tourists to visit the island-province of Guimaras to see the famous Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid on Good Friday.

Pagtaltal, now on its 38th year, is the annual reenactment of the passion and death of Christ.

It has been compared to Germany’s world-renowned Oberammergau Passion Play – a staging of Jesus’ passion, covering the short final period of his life from his visit to Jerusalem, leading to his execution by crucifixion.

Each year, the crowd of foreign and domestic tourists watching Pagtaltal gets bigger, observed Tourism regional director Helen Catalbas.

Traffic is expected to build up at the Ortiz wharf here where tourists converge to take passenger boats sailing to Guimaras.

The tourists’ traditional line stretches to the University of Iloilo, starting from 5 a.m.

It could take up to three hours of waiting before they could board the motor boats, Catalbas said.

Penitents and devotees do not mind the discomfort, stressed Catalbas, because it’s part of their their panata (sacred oath) that culminates in climbing the mountain top of the province known as Balaan Bukid every Good Friday.

Catalbas said DOT, together with the municipalities of Jordan and Buenavista and the provincial government of Guimaras, had devised ways to decongest the Ortiz crowd.

They had recommended to Pagtaltal goers to take the Buenavista route via Parola wharf and take land trip going to Balaan Bukid where the Lenten presentation of Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid will take place.

The Guimaras Police Provincial Office (GPPO) headed by Senior Supt. Ricardo De La Paz had also come up with security measures to contain the influx of tourists at the Jordan wharf.

He said they had coordinated with Iloilo City Police Office with regard to the traffic on Ortiz wharf.
De La Paz said the police had organized command posts, police assistance centers, medical team, communication group and force multiplier.

The Pagtaltal has evolved from being a stage play to a street drama of Christ’s passion. Under the scorching heat of the sun, more than 130 characters followed by devotees have to walk for more than two kilometers passing 14 Stations of the Cross before reaching the Balaan Bukid.

The theatrical presentation starts with the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem, staged at what is being claimed to be the world’s smallest plaza in Jordan’s Brgy. Poblacion, and ends with the “Pieta” at the highest point of Guimaras – the Balaan Bukid Shrine in Brgy. Balcon Melliza.

Pagtaltal in the vernacular means “to remove.” Thus the street drama ends with the removal of Jesus from the cross to the arms of Mary, his mother./PN


LTFRB prays for accident-free Lent



ILOILO City – The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Region 6 has stepped up its inspection of public utility jeepneys, buses, taxis and vans to ensure they are road-worthy.

The goal is to achieve a road accident-free Lent, said Regional Director Romulo Bernardez.

Thousands of people have started cramming jeepney and bus terminals, airports and seaports. They are either headed home to mark Holy Week with their families or off to some vacation hideaways.

Bernardez said LTFRB inspectors particularly check the body of the vehicles, their tires and breaks.

Worn-out tires are definitely a no-no on the road, he stressed.

Public utility vehicles with defects will not be allowed to travel, he stressed.

Bernardez also warned drivers against overloading their vehicles.

Passengers should also be vigilant and report erring drivers, he added.

LTFRB has set up help desks in various transport terminal across the region.

Bernardez said his office is also conducting random drug tests on drivers./PN


25 dynamite fishers nabbed in Carles


ILOILO – Twenty-five fishermen from Brgy. Bancal, Carles town were caught using dynamites.

The operation of the Iloilo Provincial Bantay Dagat Task Force early this week headed by SPO1 Gilbert Piedad was held following complaints from Barangay Captain Susie Aningat of Brgy. Talinting, Carles.

Aningat said fishermen with no permit to operate were destroying seaweeds.

The suspects were onboard three motorboats when caught.

The motorboats were owned and managed by certain Evangeline Ibañez, Chona Ignacio and Rolly Obligar.

The boat captains and their respective crew were identified as follows:

F/B R.M. 

* Jose Bensorto (Boat Captain)

* Rodel Rico, 25

* RomelBandojo, 15

* ArnaldoDionaldo, 72

* Ludy Juarez, 43

* Jeofrey Ibanez, 37

* Ronmark Delmonte, 20

* Eugene Pajarilla, 44

* AldrenBlancaber, 16

* Ronel Julian 36

F/B 1

* Francisco Balote (Boat Captain)

* Rizaldy De la Cruz, 17

* Francis Balote, 12

* Rogelio De La Cruz, 37

* Johndel Banez, 17

* Redjie Bensorto, 42

* Jenard Irenia, 43

* Jude Irenia, 14

F/B 2

* Rolly Obligar (Boat Captain)

* Marjonn Colongon, 29

* Reynald Constantino, 15

* Mark Louie Delgado, 52

* Eufemio Betita, 38

* Jojie Betita, 38

* Richard Salve, 25

The fishermen, detained at the Carles municipal police station, will be facing charges for violating Section 86 and 88 of Republic Act 8550 (The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998).

The criminal case against the fishermen will be filed once the results of the laboratory examination of their fish catch are released by Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College – Concepcion Campus. (Jezza A. Nepomoceno, Capitol News/PN)


Is Iloilo ready to feed APEC Summit guests?


ILOILO City – If this city bags the hosting of one of the ministerial meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit next year, some 1,500 guests and delegates are coming over.

Is the city ready to satisfy their palates?

Business establishments and the food industry in this southern city have started preparing for the big task.

The Iloilo Business Club (IBC) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 6, in collaboration with the Iloilo Hotel, Restaurant and Resort Association (IHRRA), recently finished a training on international cuisine designed primarily for APEC delegates.

Iloilo City is one of the venues being targeted to host APEC’s Ministerial Conference on Food Security from October 15 to 17.

The mentoring and certification on food preparation and presentation for APEC 2015 was highlighted by a graduation of chefs and cooks.

However, the DOT said the training on international cuisine is ongoing as more business establishments in the food industry is sprouting in the city.

On the other hand, a seminar on the preparation of halal food is being planned for the first quarter of 2015.

In Arabic, the word halal means permitted or lawful. Halal food are food allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines.

According to these guidelines gathered from the Koran, Muslim followers cannot consume the following:

* pork or pork by products

* animals that were dead prior to slaughtering

* animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah

* blood and blood by products

* alcohol

* carnivorous animals

* birds of prey, and

* land animals without external ears.

The DOT regional office, the city government of Iloilo and IHRRA will be on the front line in food presentation for APEC delegates mostly composed of Muslim country representatives.

APEC is composed of 21 member nations. The Ministerial Conference on Food Security will be  spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

DA Region 6 director Larry Nacionales said Western Visayas is a top food producer of the country and there is no fear of acute shortage of food for the specific needs and taste of APEC delegates. (PNA)


DOH lauds Iloilo for anti-smoking policy



ILOILO City – The Department of Health (DOH) supports concerted effort to make this city smoke-free.

“Iloilo City is one of the few local government units in the Philippines that have successfully passed a very comprehensive ordinance on tobacco control,” said Dr. Paulyn Rossel-Ubial, DOH assistant secretary.

She was referring to the Iloilo City Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance.

Ubial told participants of the “Orientation of Iloilo City’s Punong Barangays on Tobacco Control Policies” held at the Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center on Wednesday that Iloilo City is next to Davao and Marikina cities that have “excellent” anti-tobacco policies and campaigns.

Almost all of Iloilo City’s barangay captains present in the seminar agreed to help enforce the city’s anti-smoking ordinance.

The biggest challenge in eliminating tobacco use is not passing an anti-smoking ordinance but enforcing it, Ubial pointed out.

She added that nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, is more addictive than common illegal drugs such as cocaine, shabu and marijuana.

The DOH also considers tobacco smoking as the No. 1 cause of fatal but preventable diseases in the world, including lung cancer.

An estimated 600,000 Filipinos die every year from smoke-related diseases, Ubial revealed.

The top two causes of death in the Philippines are stroke and heart attack and the risk of dying from these diseases is 10 times higher for people who smoke, she stressed.

The Global Adult Survey conducted in 2010 showed that 44 percent of the male population and 19 percent of the female population in the Philippines are smokers.

Around 22 percent of the populace, or one out of five Filipinos, are engaged in smoking.

“The percentage is very high and we hope to have it lowered,” Ubial said.

Meanwhile, the city government is continuously working towards the strict implementation of the anti-smoking policy, said Inigo Garingalao, Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Taskforce (ICAST) director.

The city government, through ICAST, is concentrating on the elimination of campaign posters and print advertisements promoting the consumption of cigarettes in places where teenagers are exposed, including malls, sari-sari stores, restaurants and eateries.

These ads are also banned in schools, medical facilities.

Garingalao said almost all of these ads have been pulled down, and a good number of store owners and barangay officials who know about the policy have taken them down voluntarily to avoid the fines imposed on violators.

The total ban on these advertisements is stated in the comprehensive anti-smoking and was based on Republic Act (RA) 9211, the law regulating the packaging, sale distribution and advertisements of tobacco products.

The anti-smoking ordinance also includes the following prohibitions:

(1) Not putting up “NO SMOKING” signboards in the entrance and interior areas of the establishments;

(2) Providing ash trays in tables within the NO SMOKING AREA;

(3) Knowingly allowing, abetting or tolerating smoking of any tobacco products or using electronic device systems;

(4) Designating Smoking Areas within the buildings or establishments is a smoke-free establishment;

(5) Selling/allowing minors to smoke in their establishments;

(6) Non-declaration in the business Permit indicating that their establishment is a smoke-free one.

(7) Allowing smoking during events;

(8) Selling cigarettes in front of schools within 100 meters as stated on RA 9211 / No cigarette poster, billboards, tarpaulins and promotion materials and the like;

(9) Selling of cigarettes within the 20-meter perimeter or recreational activities, hospitals, medical clinics pharmacies and laboratories and

(10) Not putting up “NO SMOKING” signs on public utility vehicles./PN

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