The Philippine Navy has embarked on an intensified maritime operation to secure the central Philippine seas through its sail missions to different regions in the Visayas.

Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) public affairs officer, Ensign Maria Amanda Precious Zamuco, said the “Naval Task Group (NTG) 50.1 Stingray” started its operation on March 1 at the Captain Veloso Pier, Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Lapu-Lapu City.

“NTG 50.1 Stingray” is a multipurpose task group that can perform both combat and non-combat operations, and includes a fleet of Navy ships intended for maritime patrols and security, Zamuco said.

The task group’s most recent mission was in the eastern seaboard. The naval vessels departed from Lapu-Lapu City and sailed for Catbalogan City, Samar on February 1. They also visited Allen and Dalupiri Island in Samar, Naval Biliran, Palompon, Ormoc, Maasin and Limasawa in Leyte, and the island province of Siquijor.

Mayors from coastal municipalities all over the Philippines, along with the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), recently converged in Cebu City for the 2019 National Coastal Fisheries Summit.

The two-day summit—organized by the BFAR with the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP), and Rare, an international conservation organization—aims to promote responsible fishing behavior and address the challenges of managing nearshore fisheries.

The key issues discussed revolved around preferential rights for municipal fishers, marine protected areas, illegal fishing challenges, sustainable financing, and climate resilience in coastal areas. Municipal waters serve as the main source of livelihood for some 1.8 million small-scale fishers across the country.

Barangay Balangkas in Valenzuela City now has its own Sentro ng Sama-samang Serbisyo or 3S Center. It is a two-storey building with facilities that include a Health Station, Barangay Hall, Daycare Center, Rescue Satellite Office, Alternative Learning System (ALS) community center, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Office, and a Multipurpose Hall. The 3S Centers, also called “The City Hall Annexes,” allow efficient delivery of services and disaster response to the barangays, says Mayor Rex Gatchalian. Towards the end of the year, five more 3S Centers will be opened, bringing its total number to 23.

A decades-old brass church bell has found its way to its original parish, after being away for 65 years. Last March 3, a simple turnover and consecration rite was held at the Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Dumaguete City, where officials of the Motong Parish who had the bell in their chapel for years, formally returned the bells to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C.Ss.R), commonly known as Redemptorists. The simple ceremony was led by Msgr. Julius Perpetuo S. Heruela, head of the Commission on Church Cultural Heritage of the Diocese of Dumaguete.

“Our bell is not as famous as that of Balangiga, but for us, the bell is an important part of the history of the Redemptorists in Dumaguete,” said Fr. Sean Purcell, a Redemptorist priest assigned in this city for many years. He noted that the bell, with the inscription markings “Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel,” “Dumaguete City,” “October 13, 1954,” was rang to “call the Redemptorists and the people to prayer and worship, liturgy and masses.”
It was first put up in a steel tower next to the then Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel at the Manuel L. Teves Memorial Hospital compound in 1958 when the Redemptorist missionaries started their foundation in Dumaguete, Purcell said. In 1970, the new Redemptorist parish church was inaugurated and the Redemptorists acquired a new bell from Holland, he added. Thereafter, the old bell was transferred to the Motong Parish chapel.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) paid tribute to Filipino boxing icon and Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao for his victory over American challenger Adrien Broner, and his other outstanding achievements.

AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana awarded the AFP Meritorious Achievement Medal to Pacquiao for his triumphant defense of the WBA Welterweight World Title against Broner in Las Vegas, Nevada last January 20.

The AFP also granted the senator an honorary membership in the Philippine Army Scout Ranger. The military leadership believes that the “Pambansang Kamao” embodies strong will, gallantry, and willingness to offer one’s life for the sake of mission accomplishment, which are the characteristics of a Scout Ranger.

The eight-division World Champion was also accorded with a Manifesto Plaque in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the field of sports, furtherance of the welfare of veterans and reservists, and for being a source of inspiration to the Filipino nation.

The Province of Apayao hosted its second annual sports meet dubbed “CARAA 2019” last February 27 to March 3. Highlighting this year’s theme “One Team, One Vision,” the event showcased the athletic prowess of students from the different provinces and cities in the region. Governor Elias Bulut Jr. led the province in welcoming the more than 7,000 delegates of the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association.

The meet was also an opportunity to showcase Apayao’s improved sports facilities, and its rich culture and ecotourism sites. Among the ecotourism destinations being promoted are the underground river of the Lasso Cave, the Marag Valley, the Dupag Rock Formations in Luna, the Nagan River (dubbed as one of the cleanest rivers in the country and home to the Philippine Eagle), the church ruins in Pudtol, and the Bacut Lake in Santa Marcela.

Three years behind schedule, the construction of the LRT-1 Cavite extension will finally start in April, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced. The project will connect to the existing Baclaran station and will have eight new stations: Redemptorist, NAIA Avenue, Asia World, Ninoy Aquino, Dr. Santos, Las Piñas, Zapote, and Niog. The LRT-1 Cavite Extension project will extend the existing 20.7km metro line, and will also increase the line’s capacity to 800,000 passengers a day from the current 500,000.

The DOTr and Light Rail Manila Corporation are eyeing to finish the project by fourth quarter of 2021.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) recently inaugurated the first Bangsamoro Museum at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex (SKCC) in Cotabato City.
A facility established under the Executive Order No. 32 s. 2019, the Bangsamoro Museum serves as a repository of artifacts, works of art, as well as textual and iconographic records relevant to the cultural memory of the Bangsamoro people in the ARMM.

Marian Pastor Roces, an independent curator and institutional critic, conceptualized and organized the museum. “This is about the people, how they managed to survive,” said Roces. “Most of the things you’d see in this museum are not expensive. But what’s important are the stories behind it.”

The exhibits included textiles produced by Maranao women during the Marawi siege, recordings of the Tausug Kissa-chanting of the Bud Dajo massacre, archeological artifacts of Kulaman plateau, mostly burial urns, and documents related to the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Alongside the opening of the museum was the formal launch of the ARMM Regional Library. The museum is open to the public from Monday to Friday.

Compostela Valley, also known as “The Golden Province,” celebrated its Bulawan Festival on the occasion of the province’s 21st founding anniversary on March 3. The weeklong twin celebrations highlighted the progress attained by the province as the second Most Competitive Province in 2018, awarded by the Regional Development Council, DILG, and DTI.

Carrying the theme “The Gold One. Ang Bulawan sa Tanan,” the festival kicked off with a “Prosperity Run.” Other activities include blog/vlogging, photography, and feature writing contests, the search for the Bulawan Queen, and the launching of the campaign for “Yes to Davao de Oro.”

According to Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy, this year’s Bulawan Festival is special because the province is welcoming its new name, “Davao de Oro,” which will be proposed to residents via a plebiscite. “If we win in the plebiscite, this will be the last Bulawan Festival under the old province’s name,” said Uy.


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