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277 Out-Of-School Youth In Balanga City To Graduate From ALS

A number of out-of-school youth in the city and some individuals above 50 years old, totalling 277, have passed the Accreditation and Equivalency Test of the Alternative Learning System (ALS).

Ernesto Robles, ALS supervisor, said that after meeting with parents they have set the graduation of 268 test passers in high school and nine in elementary on March 27, 2014.

The city supervisor said those who passed attended ALS classes on Mondays and Wednesdays in different barangays in Balanga from January to October last year.

“This is in line with the desire of Mayor Jose Enrique S. Garcia, III to eliminate illiteracy in the 25 barangays of the city and for them to be able to pursue higher education,” Robles said.

Graduates in the Alternative Learning System have the same privilege as graduates in any public or private secondary and elementary school.

“ALS graduates in high school can enroll in any college or university as long as they satisfy the requirements of the school,” Robles said.

He said the ALS program started in 1998. In 2013, some 267 graduated.

Perla Esconde and Ernie Esconde

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Asec. Tayag, Mayor Bistik, Other City Mayors Attend “Hataw” Morning Exercise In Balanga City

Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag and Quezon City Mayor Herbert “Bistik” Bautista led a big crowd in the “Hataw” morning Exercise at the Balanga City plaza in Bataan at dawn on Friday.

Balanga City Mayor Jose Enrique S. Garcia, III and other members of the National Executive Board of the League of Cities of the Philippines participated in the dance exercise at Plaza Mayor de Balanga.

The plaza is bounded by the Galeria Victoria, the Plaza Hotel, Center Plaza Mall and City Hall/Library, all sharing a similar façade and color, and the St. Joseph Cathedral.

Tayag, Bautista, other city mayors and the big crowd, all wore yellow t-shirts marked “Ako ay World Class” which is the slogan of Balanga City.

Elementary school pupils cheered loudly as they joined their teachers in the dance exercise. High school and college students, senior citizens, police officers, city and provincial government employees and other groups started the “hataw” at 5:00 in the morning.

Tayag, Garcia, Bautista and other city mayors, with some elementary school pupils, walked some 400 meters before joining the crowd.

School children carried a streamer saying “Tara na’t lakad na.”

The city mayors, officers of the National Executive Board of the League of Cities of the Philippines, were on a two-day strategic planning session.

Perla Esconde and Ernie Esconde

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Bistek Leads LCP National Executive Board In Strategic Planning In Bataan

The National Executive Board of the League of Cities of the Philippines on Thursday led by its President, Quezon City Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista, opened its two-day strategic planning in Balanga City.

About 40 city mayors from all over the country started their day in Bataan by visiting the Bataan Tourism Center where they were entertained by the Banda Kawayan and served native delicacies like suman, kalamay and buko juice for their merienda.

Some of the city executives even tried the bamboo instruments of the band. Balanga City Mayor Jose Enrique S. Garcia, III welcomed the group and presented a diorama of events in the province during World War II.

“Strategic planning ito kung ano mangyayari sa loob ng Liga for the next three years, kung ano puwedeng maitulong sa kanya-kanya naming lugar at sa kabuuan ng bansa,” Bautista said.

“Other issues to be taken up are disaster management, how to help city residents and mayors’ leadership capacity building,”the former actor said.

Bautista, now 45 years old, reminisced his days in Bataan when at age 17 he joined stage shows during fiestas. “Ang laki na ng ipinagbago ng Bataan, lalo na ng Balanga. Kitang-kita ang pag-unlad.”

Garcia said for the LCP to choose Balanga as site of the planning session was a humbling experience. “This is an opportunity for us to showcase best practices like our ‘No Smoking’ policy and the beautiful tourist spots not only in the city but in the province,” said the mayor who is also LCP vice-chairman.

After the strategic planning at the Crown Royale Hotel, on Thursday afternoon, the mayors visited GN Power Plant and the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific, both in Mariveles after which they had a taste of scenic view at the roof deck of the new EBA Hotel adjacent to the Plaza Mayor de Balanga.

On Friday early morning at the Balanga plaza, the mayors will be joining DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag in “hataw,” and bird-watching with breakfast at the wetland and nature park.

They then continue their second day of strategic planning. In the afternoon, they will go to historic Mt. Samat and in the evening at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac town where Gov. Albert Garcia will welcome them.

Perla Esconde and Ernie Esconde

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Smart, Balanga City Gov’t Hold Training To Develop Apps

A three-day training to develop applications or apps, the first in Bataan, started on Tuesday at the new library in this component city.

Ronald Ramos, Smart trainer, said the project is a partnership between Smart Communications, Inc. and the City Government of Balanga.

“This is to provide basic skills to develop applications using new technology. In short, to teach people kung paano gumawa ng applications,” the trainer said.

App or application is a piece of software that can run on internet, computer or phone or other electronic devices.

Jennifer Suerte Felipe of the City Management Information Service Office said that the trainees are using computers donated to Balanga Mayor Jose Enrique S. Garcia, III. New Star donated 10 sets of MacBook Air while the League of Barangays of the Philippines gave 10 sets of Ipad air.

“After a few months, the training will be continued for more advanced concept,” Ramos said.

There were 20 participants coming from the city and provincial governments and from computer schools like Microcity, Eastwoods and Asia Pacific College, all in Balanga City.

“We hope to learn more about developing applications,” said Cheryl Sacdalan, Microcity instructor and one of the trainees.

Perla Esconde and Ernie Esconde

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COB to host League of Cities-National Board Meeting

The City of Balanga plays host to some 40 mayors from all over the country who will attend the strategic planning meeting of the League of Cities of the Philippines on February 20 & 21.

The session will be headed by National Chairman Oscar S. Moreno of Cagayan de Oro and National President Herbert M. Bautista of Quezon City.

Welcoming the delegation is Mayor Jose Enrique S. Garcia III of Balanga who is also the current National Vice-Chairman of the League.

Participants will also visit some of the popular destinations in the province like the Maritime Academy of Asia & the Pacific and GNPower Coal Plant in Mariveles, The Plaza Mayor & Wetland and Nature Park in Balanga, Mt. Samat Shrine in Pilar and Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac.

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Asian Waterbirds Census in Balanga Begins

BALANGA City, Bataan - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in coordination with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and the city government of Balanga on Saturday began the census of migratory waterbirdsin five birdwatching sites in the component city of Bataan.

Bird count was made in Sibacan, Lote, Tortugas,  Puerto Rivas Itaas and Puerto Rivas Ibaba, seaside villages in Balanga along Manila Bay.

Terns, Plovers, Black-winged Stilt, Sandpipers and Little, Intermediate and Large Egret were among the migratory birds seen as early as 5:30 in the morning flying from mangroves and settling on dry fishponds.

A Chinese Egret was suspected to be seen for the first time in the wetlands of Balanga. “Bihirang makita ito dahil kakaunti na ang bilang sa buong mundo. Halos maliit lang ang pagkakaiba nito sa karaniwang Egret,” said WBCP founding member Amado Bajarias.

Bajarias said the Asian Census of Waterbirds is done every January in all countries in Asia to determine the population of water birds. The census began in the Philippines in 2004.

“Ang mga ibon ay indicator kung may problema sa environment tulad ng maraming basura. Bagama’t ang mga ibon ay may iba-ibang requirements, may mga ibong ayaw sa maraming basura. Kapag maraming basura, kakaunti ang mga ibon,” the WBCP member said.

Bajarias said the Philippines is the wintering area of migratory birds that leave Mainland Asia and some Mainland Russia, Mongolia and Siberia during winter and come back to their country of origin when summer begins for their breeding.

“Pinakamagandang gawin, huwag hawakan o lapitan ang mga dayong ibon para makaiwas sa bird flu,” he cautioned.

Mila Rarmirez, head of the provincial Protected Wildlife Office of DENR, said the count last January 2013 was 26,000 birds for a day. “Mas maramiang bilang na ito kesa noong 2011 at 2012,” she said.

“Nawiwili sa Balanga ang mga ibon dahil maganda ang panahon at maraming pagkain dito. Hindi naman nakakaperhuwisyo at nakakatulong pa sa turismo,” said David Baluyot, kagawad of Puerto Rivas Itaas.

PerlaEsconde/Ernie Esconde

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More Mangroves Planted In Balanga

Balanga City Administrator Rudy De Mesa said more mangroves were planted in this city, particularly in the seaside village of Tortugas.

The mangrove area in the village serves as the natural habitat of wintering wild birds in the city.

He said the City Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (CFARMC) planted more mangroves in Tortugas adding that the council has an existing project from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that requires the planting of the tree.

Billy Santos, city consultant on fishery and who acts as adviser to CFARMC, said that the council is doing silvi culture in the mangrove area of the village.

He said silvi culture involves propagating mangroves and culturing saline crabs and fishes. He said CFARMC is culturing good species of crabs.

De Mesa noted that with the further propagation of mangrove areas in the city, the number of migratory birds in the city will likely increase. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) conducted a preliminary bird census in Balanga City last Saturday.

He said the official bird census in the city will be conducted by DENR, probably by first week of February. Santos works as coordinator in the annual official bird census in the wetlands and swamplands in this city. He also leads CFARMC in assisting the yearly bird census. City Mayor Joet Garcia has initiated harnessing the tourism potential of the yearly arrival of thousands of migratory birds here promoting the city as a premier bird-watching destination in the country. The city mayor built Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park in Tortugas. He also launched, four years ago, the Ibong Dayo Festival which was nationally awarded last year as a Best Practice in tourism in terms of environmental conservation.

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Balanga Wetland Park, A Favorite Stop For High School Educational Tours

The Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park is turning out to be a favorite stop for high school students from exclusive schools who conduct educational tours in the city.

Lolit Del Rosario, city assistant tourism officer, said students very much enjoy the surroundings of the park which is located in Tortugas, a seaside barangay.

The park is along the beach of the village. A thick mangrove area, which serves as habitat for migratory birds, is also found in the park.

Years ago, City Mayor Joet Garcia built a beautifully-structured Wetland Park Information Center in the park itself. A bird-watching deck was also built for better bird appreciation by bird lovers.

On the inside walls of the center hang pictures of wild birds seen in the park.

Del Rosario said touring high school students undergo a brief orientation at the center about bird-watching activities in the city.

She said eight buses of male high school students from Ateneo de Manila University, and 7 buses of female high school students from St. Scholastica’s Academy toured the park on Friday.

A week ago, 7 buses of male high school students, also from Ateneo, visited the park.

She said since 2012, high school students from Don Bosco Technical Institute-Metro Manila, De La Salle University High School Department- Manila, Living Stone International School- Angeles City, and St. Paul College- Ilocos Sur have conducted educational tours in the city, giving praise particularly to the park.

She said the exclusive high schools that came to the city for their educational tour have already signified their intention to return regularly.

Del Rosario said the educational tour of high school students to the city started in 2012 when a travel agency discovered a lot of historical and good places and things in the city that educate and inspire.

She said aside from the park, touring students also visit St. Joseph Cathedral, City Hall, the Spanish-themed Plaza Mayor de Balanga, veggie noodle makers in upland Barangay Tuyo, fish processor Amanda’s in Barangay Puerto Rivas Itaas, and Barangay Tanato River Park.

In his recent State of the City Address, Garcia announced the surge in the number of tourists and excursionists who visited the city last year.

Butch Gunio

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