Volume14 / No. 9                                                                                                                May 15, 2014
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Violago files bill creating
5th congressional district

Second Dist. Rep. Joseph Violago has filed a bill creating the fifth congressional district in Nueva Ecija by splitting the two cities and six towns now under the second district.

Under House Bill 3718, San Jose City and the towns of Carranglan, Lupao and Talugtug will form the Second Legislative District while the Science City of Muñoz and the towns of Pantabangan, Rizal and Llanera will be under the proposed Fifth Legislative District.

The composition of the First, Third and Fourth Legislative Districts shall remain.

Violago cited the rise in the population of the province as the reason for reapportioning its legislative districts to give proper and adequate representation in the House of Representatives to all inhabitants of Nueva Ecija.

He cited the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Aquino vs. COMELEC dated April 7, 2010 which states that a population of 250,000 is not an indispensable requirement for the formation of an additional legislative district iin a province whose population growth increased beyond the 1986 numbers.

"Under the same Supreme Court ruling, it provides that the number of inhabitants in the resulting additional district should not be considered. It further clarified that population is not the only factor but is just one of several other factors in the composition of the additional district," Violago explained. ###

DOLE taps 420 Ecijano youth for government internship

A total of 420 marginalized college, technnical-vocational and high school graduates and students from Nueva Ecija will benefit from the Government Internship Program (GIP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

They form the biggest group among the  1,242 beneficiaries of the program in Central Luzon.

DOLE Regional Director Raymundo Agravante said, "Under this, beneficiaries will be assigned to local government units, public schools and national government agencies for six months wherein they will receive a stipend equivalent to 75% of the region’s prevailing minimum wage or a daily rate of P252."

Among their jobs are the profiling of child laborers in the barangays, encoding of registrants to the Skills Registry System and other functions related to DOLE programs and services, he added.

Of the seven provinces in the region, Bulacan came in second to Nueva Ecija with 225 beneficiaries; Bataan, 174; Tarlac, 137; Aurora, 115; Pampanga, 105 and Zambales, 66.

The internship begins on May 15. ###

EDSA statue unveiled in San Isidro

(Photo courtesy of Armand Galang)            

A  10-foot statue of the man whose initials -- EDSA -- identify the main traffic artery of Metro Manila was unveiled last May 15 at the plaza in front of the San Isidro municipal hall.

Local officials and relatives of Epifanio delos Santos attended the unveiling, among them former Press Undersecretary Ching delos Santos-Suva.

The monument is a project of  Class1958 of General de Jesus Academy High School.

“This is long overdue. We are proud of him. He was the first democratically elected governor of Nueva Ecija,” said Dr. Romeo Lorenzo, class president.

Delos Santos, a native of San Isidro, was born on April 7. 1871. He graduated summa cum laude at the Ateneo de Manila and went on to finish a law course at the University of Santo Tomas. He topped the bar examination in 1898.

Don Pañong, as he was called, was a historian, literary critic, art critic, jurist, prosecutor, antiquarian, archivist, scholar, painter, poet, musician, musicologist, philosopher, philologist, bibliographer, translator, journalist, editor, publisher, paleographer, ethnographer, biographer, researcher, civil servant, patriot and hero.

He was considered one of the best Filipino writers in Spanish of his time and regarded as a literary genius. When he was young, he was the first Filipino to become a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Language, Spanish Royal Academy of Literature and Spanish Royal Academy of History in Madrid.

He was appointed district attorney of San Isidro. He was later elected as governor of Nueva Ecija in 1902 and 1904, becoming the first democratically elected provincial governor.

The last and most significant position he held was Director of the Philippine Library and Museum, to which was appointed by Gov. Gen. Leonard Wood in 1925

He died of cardiac arrest on April 28, 1928 at 57 years old.

In recognition of his contribution to arts, culture and the country’s history, the 23.8-kilometer Highway 54 that pass through six cities and 17 towns was named Epifanio de los Santos Avenue by virtue of Republic Act 2140 on April 7, 1959. ###

Gapan beauty wins Miss Philippines Earth-Fire title

Ma. Paula Bianca Paz, representing Gapan City, won the Miss Philippines Earth-Fire title in the pageant finals held last May 11.

A self-employed fashion designer, Paz is a beauty pageant veteran.

She failed in her Binibining Pilipinas bid in 2009 and was disqualified from the same pageant in 2011 for a calendar photo. She placed No. 4 twice in the Miss World Philippines Pageant -- in 2011 and 2013.###

Pantabangan water level still above critical level

Officials of National Irrigation Administation-Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems (NIA-UPRIIS) say they expect the water level at Pantabangan Dam to drop to 178.3 meters above sea level by the end of June -- still a few meters from the critical level of 172 meters above sea level.

This is due to the wider area serviced by the dam and the lack of strong rains in the watershed.

Eng. Josephine Salazar, NIA-UPRIIS operations manager, however said that farmers have nothing to worry about as the dam can continue to provide irrigation until the end of May 11.

She described the water decrease as a normal occurrence at this time of the year and advised farmers to use water wisely. ###

Balikatan 2014: Live fire exercises at Fort Magsaysay...

Joint forces from the Philippine Army and the United States Army converged at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan city to conduct live fire exercises in connection with Balikatan 2014.

Captain Mark Anthony Ruelos, public affairs officer at the military reservation, said the aim of the live fire exercises was to enhance the cooperation between the two countries' armed forces with the Filipinos taking the lead.

He said the Fort Magsaysay setting of the exercise was a direct simulation of the landscape where such kind of operation is used. ###

... and school development project in Santa Rosa

Filipino and American troops participating in the Balikatan joint military exercises, local officials and residents of Santa Rosa participated in a civic mission by constructing a fence at Sitio Riverside Elementary School.

Aim of the activity was to strengthen humanitarian assistance and disaster relief which is one of the main goals of the yearly Balikatan.

The construction of the fence was to ensure the safety of pupils and make the school conducive to learning and growth.

A groundbreaking rite was held last May 2 with the community, especially school children, giving a warm welcome to the soldiers.

Celia Morales, school principal, expressed the community's gratitude for the help of the Philippine and US Army soldiers, with the project just in time for the upcoming Brigada Eskwela.

"Apparently, the school has a lack of facilities like fences and classrooms; and the school needs a big repair. Even some classrooms have no ceilings. We would like to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to the 7th ID (7th Infantry Division) of the Philippine Army, and the US Army, who helped and gave us the assistance to have this project realized," Morales said. 

Sgt. Jeremiah Diaz, representative of the 797 Engineering Company of the US Army, said, "Civic missions is important because we know that the communities out here -- they need a lot of help especially knowing that the Philippines had a lot of trouble storms, typhoons, which really come around from the East and go stronger to the West. The materials are always gonna be needed for the communities out here, for the houses and for the schools."

He also extended the US soldiers' appreciation for the Filipinos who worked side by side with them.

Diaz' counterpart, Cpl. Jonas Ballesteros from the Civil-Military Operations of the 20thInfantry Battalion, equally stressed the importance of the project. "Napaka-importante po na nakikita ng mga mamamayan, na hindi lamang po kami combatant po na mga sundalo pero naipapakita po namin yung aming katangian sa isang side po, peace-loving soldiers po kami at tutulong po kami para sa kapakanan ng bayan. At kami po ay nagagalak na yung pong mga US soldiers ay nandito upang makipag-isa with the PH Army para po tumulong para sa socio-economic development at building up ng nation natin para po sa kabataan," Ballesteros said.

Philippine and US military officials went to other neighboring barangays to scout for other possible school beneficiaries for next year's Balikatan. ###

Aurora Quezon's death anniversary marked

The Aurora Quezon Memorial in Barangay Labi, Bongabon.
(Photo courtesy of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines)

The 56th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Bernardo Ona; the local governments of Bongabon, Nueva Ecija and Baler, Aurora; the organization BANAK, Inc.; and descendants of the late President Manuel Quezon held a wreath-laying ceremony in Barangay Labi, Bongabon to commemorate the 65th death anniversary of former First Lady Aurora Aragon-Quezon.

Mrs. Quezon was killed together with her daughter Baby and ten others while on their way to inaugurate the Quezon Memorial Hospital in Baler on April 28, 1949. ###

2 Ecijanos reach out across the Pacific to collaborate on book

Two Nueva Ecija writers – one in Cabanatuan City and the other in Dallas, Texas – have defied time and space to collaborate on a book.

The product of their efforts is “The Sins of the Fathers”, a historical fiction that touches on the political situation in the Philippines.

 It is sold in paperback and e-book editions  through Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Smashwords and Kobo, and will be available soon in the country in selected National Bookstore and Pandayan Bookstore outlets.

Authors Rafael Echanova and Carlos Marquez (front row) with Radio Wesleyan
Announcer MarkAnthony Miranda and NEJ publisher/editor RamonValmonte.

The authors, Carlos Marquez, Jr., a freelance Cabanatuan City journalist, and Rafael Echanova, originally from San Leonardo but now based in Dallas, Texas, saw through every step of  the project  using cell phones, the social media, email and a publishing software.

Marquez has written for various national papers in the Philippines and edited community publications including the business-tourism magazine “Nueva Ecija GOLD”. He has received two journalism awards – the Jaime V. Ongpin Award for Investigative Journalism and the Biotechnology Media and Advocacy Award.  He also co-authored “Democracy Under Fire” produced by Vera Files and Asia  Foundation and “Pains of Success” by PhilRice and has contributed science stories to the London-based online magazine SciDev.net.

On the other hand, Echanova has three books to his name – "Prince of Nepal”, “Rampage in Manila” and “The Asian Brother”, all published by Amazon. He belongs to the first batch of Mass Communication graduates of Wesleyan University-Philippines and a winner of the prestigious Magnolia Youth Award for Leadership. He was once a staff reporter of the Provincial Radio Station, DWNE, and had a stint with a multinational marketing outfit before deciding to migrate to the US.

Reviewing “The Sins of the Fathers”, the news magazine “One Philippines Texas”, said “…the novel could have dealt only with the long and tedious litany of the ‘sins’ of the Philippine presidents just to find somewhere in the middle of the journey, the discussion, that both the leaders and the led are trapped and could not seem to get untangled from the climate change issues.

“The authors outline the ‘sins’ committed by Philippine leaders to the Filipinos who never realized that they have been party to, or guilty of, too, those wickedness. In the first place, they have voted them. They have allowed their presidents to establish, and then perpetuate, a patriarchal system of politics that has made the 96,706,764 Filipinos willing subjects, slaves, victims. How could they blame then their leaders for the latter’s misgivings they willfully consented? What rights have them to rally for their ousters any time they want?” ###

North Ecija suffers from 18-hour power blackout

Strong winds toppled several electric poles in San Jose City and neighboring towns, triggering a power blackout that lasted for almost 18 hours from May 9 until the following morning.

The adjacent Science City of Muñoz and Guimba were also affected by strong winds that caused a temporary power outage in the area.

At the San Jose City Electric Cooperative office, a sign said the power blackout was unscheduled and that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines had no advisory as to when power would be restored.

Restoration work was done along the  Cabanatuan-Pantabangan 69KV line where some power poles were toppled by strong winds in Barangay Caanawan, and in Bakal III, Talavera where a conductor got entangled in the 69KV line. ###

Shooting incident mars opening of Talavera 'Farmers Week'

A shooting incident marred the first day of the Farmers Week celebration in Talavera last May 9.

A former barangay kagawad was wounded when hit by a bullet fired by a former barangay chair from a caliber .45 pistol that accidentally went off during a drinking spree.

Supt. Wilson Santos IV identified the victim as Patricio dela Cruz of Barangay Gulod. The suspect was identified as Romeo Cruz, Jr. alias Jun, of Villa Rufina, Barangay Pag-asa.

Santos said the victim and the suspect were having a drinking session at about 6:45 P.M. when Cruz took his pistol, went outside the compound and fired.

Afterwards, he returned to the table and tried to unload the gun but it accidentally fired hitting the victim in the chest.

Dela Cruz was taken to Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center Extension for treated and was later transferred to Premiere General Hospital in Cabanatuan City.

Responding policemen was not able to catch up with the suspect who had left, taking with him gun used in the shooting.

Santos said Cruz is the subject of a manhunt operation and criminal charges were being prepared against him. ###

Suspects in OFW murder fail to show up in arraignment

Two suspects in the murder of a female overseas Filipino worker did not show up during their arraignment in a court in Cabanatuan City.

This was confirmed by relatives of the victim, Maribel Alpas of Hinobaan, Negros Occidental, who was beheaded and her body allegedly burned by the suspects El Cielo Valdez and Reginald Samson.

The arraignment was originally set for May 6 but the suspects through their lawyers asked for a postponement.

A subpoena was issued to the suspects to appear at the next hearing on May 20. ###

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