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GMA Visits Nueva Vizcaya as the year 2004 Ends
PRESS RELEASE NO.7: GMA: 'Year 2005 will be a year of urgent change'
DUPAX DEL NORTE, Nueva Vizcaya—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today 
said that she looks forward to the year 2005 as a "year of urgent 
change" to move the country’s economy forward and to provide a better life for the Filipino people.
In an interaction with the local media here, the President said that 
the year 2004 was a year of triumph and tragedy. "We must look forward 
now to 2005 as a year of urgent change," the President said.
The President said that because there is a need for urgent change in 
the coming year, what her administration will do is to improve tax 
collections and to step up the drive against graft and corruption.
PRESS RELEASE NO.8: GMA distributes financial assistance, seeds to 
Nueva Vizcaya residents
BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya--After leading the commemoration of 108th year 
martyrdom of the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal in Baguio 
City, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived here this morning and 
distributed various seeds and gave financial assistance to typhoon victims in the province.
Upon arrival in Brangay Almaguer North, in this town, the President was 
welcomed by Nueva Vizcaya Governor Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, Bambang Mayor 
Pepito Baldos and Nueva Vizcaya Lone District Representative Rodolfo 
She distributed corn seeds, hybrid rice seeds, and assorted vegetable 
seeds to the typhoon victims in the area.
The President then turned over a check worth P1 million to Mayor Baldos 
as part of her financial assistance to the victims of the typhoon.
She immediately proceeded to Barangay Lamo of Dupax del Norte and 
Barangay Palabutan of Dupax del Sur in Nueva Vizcaya where she also 
distributed bags of seeds of corn, hybrid rice, and assorted vegetable worth P3.12 million.
The President also distributed 350 gift packs to indigents affected by 
the typhoons as well as tilapia fingerlings.
Nineteen farmer beneficiaries have personally received from the 
President their respective certificates of land titles.
Dupax del Sur Mayor Romeo Magauay also received from the Chief 
Executive a check for P1 million representing her financial assistance to the typhoon victims in this town. Nueva Vizcaya Governor Cuaresma and Rep. Agbayani witnessed the presentation of the check.
The President said that since about 1,000 families in various parts of 
the province have lost their homes due to typhoons, she also gave an 
additional P25,000 as financial assistance to each family.
She likewise thanked the local officials here for continuing to strive 
despite the economic difficulties that they faced brought about by the 
ps4-123004.gif (9536 bytes)President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shakes hands with Mayor Jesus Baring of Dupax del Norte in Nueva Vizcaya after presenting to him a P1 million check intended for the victims of typhoon "Yoyong" during her visit to the province of Nueva Vizcaya this afternoon (December 30). At center is Rep. Rodolfo Agbayani. (Malacanang Photo) ps5-123004.gif (8356 bytes)President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presents a check worth P1 million to Nueva Vizcaya Governor Luisa Lloren Cuaresma (left) intended for the victims of typhoon "Yoyong" during her visit this morning (December 30) to Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya. Also in photo is Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman (right). (Malacanang Photo)
Winners of the Nutrition Honor Award were Dupax, Nueva Vizcaya, for Cagayan Valley; Tagaytay City for CALABARZON; kalibo for Western Visayas; and Talibon for Central Visayas.
INQ7 Journey (Honasan)

On Day One, the caravan swung from Clark to Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao. Sitting 287 km north of Metro Manila and surrounded by the Sierra Madre, Caraballo and Cordillera mountain ranges, the province of Nueva Vizcaya is known as the country's citrus capital for its famed perante oranges.

A number of limestone caves such as Alayan and Heaven proved ideal for spelunkers and explorers; for the history and culture buffs, Dalton Pass was an interesting stop as a scene of World War II military encounters, as was the 14th-century Spanish-style brick church in Dupax del Sur, the biggest and the oldest in the Cagayan Valley. For the business seeker, the fruit and vegetable processing industries offered tremendous potential; the Ikalahan tribe, for example, still gather and process their fruits without preservatives.

From Nueva Vizcaya, all roads led to Ifugao, home of the Rice Terraces found in such rugged locations as Batad, Banga-an, Lagawe and, of course, Banaue. Less touristy but equally breathtaking were the 8,865-ft Mount Amuyao, the eighth highest in the country; the O'Phaw Mahencha Waterfalls, named after the mythical beauty who leapt into the water to retrieve a precious necklace; and the Tam-an Weaving Village, a two-hour hike away from the Banaue Hotel, where traditional cloth and handicrafts are produced.

On Day Two, the caravan split into four groups.


A main caravan headed for Quirino, on the southeastern portion of Cagayan Valley. Here, the visitors delighted in the wildlife sanctuary and lovely seven-level waterfalls of Maddela, located some 35 km from the capital town of Cabbaroguis. Another revelation was the Aglipay Caves, a maze of subterranean waterfalls, rock formations and 37 separate chambers, eight of them open to explorers of all levels. An Outdoor/Adventure Group made tracks for Sagada, the famous mountain village of hanging coffins and lush trails. A four-by-four off-road team set off for Mayoyao in the Central Cordillera, famous for the most extensive stone-walled rice terraces in the world, a 2,000-year-old engineering feat that still leaves people breathless.

From Manila times

Tribal road named after President Arroyo's mom
(June 25, 2003)

DUPAX DEL NORTE, Nueva Vizcaya  --  Bishop Ramon Villena of the diocese of Bayombong inaugurated Sunday, (June 22), the 38-km road named after Eva Macaraeg Macapagal, mother of President Gloria Arroyo.

The road, which in the 1950s was only a foot-trail used by Bugkalot tribesmen from Quirino province to the village of Belance here, was constructed from the Presidential Social Fund for P20 million.

Villena said the president’s mother, who was a physician, was very close to the Bugkalot people.

“When she was first lady, she often came here to give the Bugkalot medical assistance, so it is appropriate to give her name to this road,” Villena said.

He said he also helped in the approval of the funding for the road improvement because the village of Belance is his first parochial assignment as a priest and it has become his personal and religious refuge.

“I am very much delighted with the road’s improvement unlike before when I even had to help push my jeep through foot-deep mud,” the bishop said.

Gov. Rodolfo Agbayani said the project was completed within 256 days without delays, although there was a minor problem during its implementation.

Prior to the completion of the project, a case was filed by a contractor against members of the provincial bids and awards committee (PBAC) for violation of the antigraft law, but this was later dismissed by Victor Fernandez, deputy ombudsman for Luzon.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed against the PBAC by R.O. Builders and Development Corp. after it was disqualified to bid for the gravelling of the road.

The firm claimed that the bidding was tainted with gross irregularity and that the prequalification process was designed to deny the company its right to bid.

In answer, the PBAC justified the award of the project to CCF Construction owned by A. Castañeda Mayor Alfredo Castillo Jr.

Basilio Rupisan, chairman of PBAC, said they used the guidelines, rules and regulations in the conduct of the public bidding, wherein only contractors duly accredited were allowed to participate in the bidding of provincial projects.

Fernandez signed a resolution for the dismissal of the case, stating that there was no evidence aptly presented to show that the PBAC had violated Section 3 of R.A. 3019 (Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

Earlier, CCF representative Efren Almuete challenged provincial accountant Dominador Dacumos to a duel because the latter was accused of delaying the release of the payment-voucher, but Agbayani later interceded and resolved the conflict.

During the inauguration, Villena said the Bugkalot would have no further worries about transporting their vegetable products to the commercial center in Bambang. - Gene Basilio, Northern Luzon Bureau


Musang-wild cat and other Vizcaya Stories


I could vaguely remember the faces of these big cats of my boy hood .  I could hear the warning wild meows then lightning  like  sound tracks from the leaves and branches as they vanished  like a ghost.  Even for small game my palciit/tirador had no chance maybe shotgun or paltik.  Fair game maybe but we progress to shooting with air gun and the dumbest thing I have done in my whole life. In the tradition of sumpit we innocently carried the reserve lead pelts in our inside our mouth. Lead poisoning was not in our vocabulary at that time. Anyway back to our cats.. Elusively wild they would survive in the forest with the agility of a cat. That was almost 60 years ago and they were many. How did the name “pusa” and “musang” evolve?

civ·et (s¹v“¹t) n. 1. Any of various carnivorous catlike mammals of the family Viverridae of Africa and Asia, having anal scent glands that secrete a fluid with a musky odor. Also called civet cat. 2. The thick, yellowish, musky fluid secreted by one of these mammals, used in the manufacture of perfumes. 3. The fur of one of these mammals. [French civette, from Old French, from Catalan civetta, from Medieval Latin zibethus, from Arabic zab³d, civet perfume.]

From the same place this year, the Inquirer news services repot.. DUPAX DEL SUR, Nueva Vizcaya – The wild civet cat (Macrogalidia musshenbroeki), a species thought to be already extinct, which was bought by an Army soldier here last week died while it was being transported. The soldier bought the animal from local hunters. “It’s really unfortunate because just as we were to retrieve the cat from Manabat, he informed us that it had died along the way,”

He insisted that the cat, known here as mutit, was not butchered to become an appetizer (pulutan) by soldiers.

“It would be a type of pulutan that is very dear,” he said. “Besides, we raise chickens here (in the camp) which we can have as pulutan if we want to.”

Calimag said he was sure that none of his men, who were among those who tried to buy the wild cat and a 10-foot python (sawa), were drunk “because my instructions were very clear: I do not allow drinking inside the camp.”

The wounded cat, which became the object of a virtual custody battle between soldiers and local reporters, was bought on Feb. 28 for 250 pesos from farmer Ernesto Abangan.

The animal, caught in the forests of Sitio Akkon in Barangay Malasin, Dupax del Norte town, was chanced upon by reporters as it was being bargained off to the soldiers.

After striking a deal with the farmer, Manabat, with the prodding of fellow soldiers, refused to yield to the suggestions of Inquirer’s correspondent that the animal be first turned over to the Department of Environment of Natural Resources.

Manabat reportedly wanted to bring home the cat to have it live among his chickens because of the old belief that the musang can drive off evil spirits.

But while in transit, the animal apparently died of suffocation after it was stuffed inside the baggage compartment of a bus that Manabat took on his way home to Nueva Ecija.

It was not made clear what disciplinary actions await Manabat.

“While it is true that ‘ignorance of the law excuses no one,’ he (Manabat) might not have known that there was such a law (Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2001),” Calimag said.

He urged the DENR to be more aggressive in its information drive over the law, especially in areas where the hunting of wildlife is said to be prevalent.

The musang and other exotic animals found in the country’s forests are protected by RA 9147, which prohibits the killing, wounding, collection or possession of wildlife, classified as “critical,” “endangered” and “threatened.”

Violators can face a maximum imprisonment term of 12 years, and a fine of as much as one million pesos.

According to Abangan, aside from the musang, the forest of Akkon is still home to a number of wild pigs (baboy damo), lizards (bayawak) and deer.

I still remember the “Cali” soring the sky, gliding the rising heat searching for chicks but I will probably never see the Monkey-Eating Eagle except from the National Geographic video clips.  The Sierra Madre on the east of Nueva Vizcaya is just  few remaining habitats where these world re-known aerial predators nest.




A one-woman 'Green Army'
Posted:9:23 PM (Manila Time) | December 25, 2001
By Melvin Gascon
Inquirer News Service

LUDIVINA Amador found her one true love at age 15. She had, however, decided not to take the marriage vow for the rest of her life. Today, she continues to live with her "loved one" and she's happy.

Until today, at 60, Amador, Manang Luding to many, never tires of scaling the mountains of Sitio Malong in Barangay Salinas, about 10 km from the town proper of Bambang.

Every day, she never misses to visit the trees in a nearby forest she tenderly brought up like a child through all these years.

She offers our group a hike to the mountain. We obliged, because we wanted to see for ourselves the forest that this lady had built.

As far as she could remember, Amador has, all by her lonesome, planted around 1,000 gmelina seedlings, 200 mango trees and around 500 seeds of various tree species on a 20-hectare land in a mountain in Salinas.

And she isn't stopping. Neither is she awaiting any help from the government. She spends her own money planting and taking care of the forest. Yet, the area she plants on is not even one that she can call her own. But still, she loves what she's doing.

The area, which falls under the care of the Protected Area Management Bureau (PAMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, surrounds the once-famous Salinas Salt Springs.

The Amadors were among the first settlers in Salinas, coming from Barangay Ineangan in Dupax del Norte town. In 1956, they were given a one-hectare farmland just below the mountain in Sitio Malong.

"We were given a parcel of land by then President Ramon Magsaysay because of my late father, who was a World War II veteran," Amador explained.

At age 16, and a girl at that, she was helping her father attend to their small rice field, while her brothers and sisters went to school.

Amador's mother Rufina, now 82, attests to her daughter's dedication for work, especially in her "mission" of helping bring back the earth's forest cover.

"(Planting trees) was practically what she did all the time," Lola Rufina said of Amador, the second eldest of her eight children. "I think that may have also been the reason she has forgotten all about getting married."

Councilor Rachel Magday, whose father's rice farm lies beside the Amadors', affirmed the admiration village folk have for Amador.

"That is the reputation she has here because she's really very hardworking. When I was still a child, I remember seeing her personally plow her farm," Magday said.

Amador said: "Sometimes people laugh at my style of planting which, they noted, violated the principles of agriculture because the plants are often too close to one another. But I tell myself not to mind my critics. What is important for me is I get to fill this whole area with trees."

While she spoke, Amador leisurely climbed the mountain, clearing with her bolo felled branches that lay on our way. Behind her, we desperately gasped for breath, and struggled to match the pace of her ascent.

But Amador vows to protect her beloved forest against any intruder who may just be coming in for vested interest.

"I am not afraid of anyone because I know what I am doing is right and I don't get to step on the heels of anyone," she said matter-of-factly.

She remains a picture of firmness, despite constant "harassment" from people who claim ownership of the area she had re-forested.

She revealed that she had been charged before the barangay government with trespassing and illegal entry to a private property.

"But the case did not push through because they did not have the documents. I may just be an elementary graduate but I know you have to have documents to own a piece of land," she said. "They (claimants) always failed because all along, their motive was devilish."

Amador sees to it that the surroundings of the trees are regularly pruned for grasses, because these often caused forest fires. She does the cleaning, or pays for one, at least three times a year.

In late October, she had to hire the services of 10 women from nearby Barangay Barat to clear the woods. She butchered a pig she raised in her backyard for their meals and paid the laborers P100 a day.

She also bought several sacks of fertilizer for her gmelina trees. "When rainfall is scarce, they need this," she explained.

It's just a pity, she said, that many of the trees she had planted got burned by forest fires that hit the area. She blamed kaingeros for starting out the fires.

In kaingin or slash-and-burn farming, mountain farmers set the forest on fire to clear the land of shrubbery and then go on to felling the forest trees or anything that's left with it.

Also, burning is the easiest means for farmers to clear the grasslands and convert them to vegetable farms.

However, wildfires often crawl to other areas, and sear anything in their path, including young trees like mangoes and other fruit trees that Amador used to plant.

The exploits of Amador caught the attention of environment officials during a recent meeting called for by the PAMB to explain to occupants of public lands in Salinas on the government's forest management program.

During the meeting, Amador pleaded that she be not ejected from the forest she fell in love with through the decades. She detailed her efforts and clarified her intention of planting trees in the forest and caring for them, without any intention of claiming ownership of the land.

This amazed DENR officials.

Regidor de Leon, provincial environment officer, was so overwhelmed by admiration that he offered her to be his foster mother.

"This woman is remarkable," De Leon said of Amador. "I was so happy to discover that there are still people like her who have this level of concern for our environment."

The Nueva Vizcaya earthquake
of 1881 (Part II)

Posted:7:39 PM (Manila Time) | September 17, 2001
By Bambi Harper

THE RANGE on either side of the Cruz del Caraballo rose 1,195 meters above sea level in a great solid bulk addressing itself in the southwest toward the Cordillera Central of Luzon and in the east to the Sierra Madre.

Descending on the opposite side of the Caraballo to Nueva Vizcaya, the same rock formations as those surrounding the Camarin de Salazar were seen without any variation in the diorite rocks.

Upon reaching Aritao, the horizon broadened a bit although still limited by the sides that formed the great valley of the province and the landing of the waters into the Mingolin River in the east and west.

The principal valley from Aritao widened to form a plain of muddy clay to the end of the province in the north.

This was the only land under cultivation despite the fertile mountainsides that could have been planted advantageously to coffee or cacao. Mt. Palali, one of the most important masses of the Sierra Madre, rose in front of Bayombong, the capital of the province.

On horseback, crossing the barrio of Tanibong from Aritao to Dupax, Abella and his party heard a thunderclap emanating from the north. Abella raised his sight to the cloud formation that crowned the mountaintops surrounding them.

Not even five seconds passed when their horses stopped and took a more stable position by separating their legs as though balancing.

As the horses glanced nervously from left to right, the party felt a brutal and almost vertical movement of the earth followed by a horizontal one so considerable that the road appeared to move a meter and a half.

The earth seemed to puff up and open and close in a continuous manner and a multitude of cracks measuring one to two meters appeared through which water gushed out and formed puddles.

These frightening phenomena were accompanied by the sound of the waves of movement. Shrubs and stalks along the barrio yards swayed and crashed into each other.

All this lasted 50 to 55 seconds, and then everything returned to normal and an ominous silence settled, interrupted only by the drone of prayers and the trampling of horses’ hoofs as they continued on their march.

The distinctive character of those shocks, especially toward the center of the province, was their vertical movement of great intensity though of short duration. However, there were moments of prolonged seismic activity when the jolts continued without interruption.

The epicenter was believed to have been close to the center of the province, near the town of Bambang, to judge from the clarity of the thunder and as well as the fact that the time that transpired between the sound and the movement was much less in that town and its surroundings.

Bambang also suffered the most damage in its structures. The tribunal building was destroyed, one school practically quartered and the other leveled, the convent crushed and the church damaged. All these structures had wooden roofs covered with cogon.

It was observed, according to the parish priest of Bambang, that some time toward the end of July the River Aboat, a tributary of the Magat in the neighborhood of the town, became repeatedly dry and remained so for some two hours after which the waters reappeared in considerable volume with a red color and then normalized.


Reading Abella’s account more than 100 years later, it is difficult not to remember the damage of the 1990 earthquake that brought down all those buildings in northern Luzon and killed so many people.

Most of the structures did not of course meet safety standards and one cannot help but wonder whether the type of muddy soil Abella mentioned was taken into consideration by the engineers and architects when the structures were built.

As a matter of fact, Baguio again resorted to high-rise construction and structures on the denuded hillsides continued to be built. Seeing that the country is situated in the so-called earthquake belt, do the poor whom officials profess to love with such intensity not deserve some consideration?

The rain alone brings mudslides and buries them alive every year. What more another earthquake of the same magnitude as the last?

There appears little effort to actually relocate the masses from the Baguio hillsides and to replant these with fir saplings. It may of course be that officials find all these symbols of poverty a better tourist attraction than the smell of pine and the sight of green forests. Anything is possible these days.

You must have noticed that we are often described as a poor country and people have begun to believe that this is so. Yet for a poor country, the amounts stolen by officials are in the hundreds of millions.

Even retirement benefits for government workers are in the millions. Are we poor because of the lack of resources or are we poor because the money ends up in official pockets?

The Philippines in 1881 was lucky because the area where the epicenter of the earthquake took place was sparsely populated. What will we do when the next one hits?


Dupax, Nueva Vizcaya: Parish church of San Vicente Ferrer, built in the second half of the 18th century by the Dominicans. This is the best-preserved church complex in Nueva Vizcaya. The baptistery and narthex pillars are covered with carved stucco of a fineness unmatched in the country. The convento still preserves slits in the outer walls for archers to fire their arrows against raiders.