Archive for the ‘Libmanan’ Category

Bishop Rojas named as head of new diocese in Camarines Sur

March 28, 2009

The prelature of Libmanan, Camarines Sur which was canonically created by the late Pope John Paul II in March 19, 1990 had been designated a new diocese by Pope Benedict XVI and appointed Jose Rojas, Jr. as its bishop. This was announced by the pontiff’s envoy to the Philippines, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams. —CBCP News (03/25/09, Lagarde, R)

Together with 51 priests, Bishop Rojas, 52, who is from Naga City serves the new diocese with about 500,000 Catholics in 27 parishes.

For this significant milestone, UP Ibalon Bicol and its members joyously congratulate Bishop Rojas and the entire Libmanan Diocese. (Photo Credit: Libmanantowards20decade)=0=

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New Congressional Districts in Camarines Sur: Is The Great Joker Arroyo Losing Some Of His Faculties?

November 27, 2008


Is the great Joker Arroyo losing some of his faculties?

This question first cropped up when he questioned the impeachment moves against Madame Gloria. In the process he impugned the motives of the movers which included progressive elements to which he was formerly part of. But this was quickly forgotten and forgiven as an aberration to which someone of his stature is entitled to. In the great pantheon of civil libertarians, the great Joker Arroyo probably stood just a shade below the libertarian icons Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tanada.

Then Senator Arroyo ran again under the banner of Gloria’s coalition in the 2007 elections. He neatly reasoned that under Gloria he won’t have to raise his campaign expenses. This drew chuckles and raised eyebrows given the unpopularity of Gloria’s regime. He was lucky to scrape in but just barely. His remaining admirers heaved sighs of relief. And they were hoping that the great Joker will flash again his old righteous self.

But lately, disappointments are creeping against Joker. An Edong Angara is able to maintain some distance from the hated couple but it seems Joker can’t when from all expectations he probably can. After all, he didn’t bow to Marcos. Nor did he kowtow to anybody before. But here he is, clearly identified with the first couple. And we all thought that unlike two incumbent senators who think highly of themselves, Joker was not the opportunist kind.

Recently, he had a run-in with Sen. Aquino who was chairing a committee discussing the addition of more congressional seats to Camarines Norte and Cavite. When Joker insisted on including in the calendar the reapportionment of the 1st and 2nd districts of Camarines Sur, Sen. Aquino called off the committee hearing and asked Joker why he was rushing it when it was not on the agenda. He also said that the reapportionment of Camarines Norte and Cavite districts had already undergone thorough discussions.

In the Philippines, a minimum population of 250,000 is needed to form a legislative district. When a certain district’s population exceeds 500,000 a bill can be submitted to Congress for its division. It is not normal practice to create a new congressional district from two or more old districts. To do this is almost tantamount to gerrymandering.

There is no district in Camarines Sur where the population has already exceeded 500,000. New districts can only be created in this province through gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the redistribution of electoral district boundaries for political advantage.

In the cases of Camarines Norte and Cavite gerrymandering cannot be easily charged since it will simply divide districts that has already exceeded the double of the minimum population required for a congressional district. In Camarines Norte it will probably involve separating it into the east and west districts with the west composed of Labo and all the towns west of it.

In Camarines Sur, no legislative district population exceeds 500,000 as of the 2007 Census. The 1st district has only 417,304 inhabitants; the 2nd, 474,899; the 3rd, 372,548; and, the 4th, 429,070. With a population growth rate of only 1.86% it is only in 2010, the next censal year, when the 2nd district will probably exceed the 500,000 mark.

The talk in Camarines Sur is that reapportionment is being pushed so that Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. and incumbent Congressman Dato Arroyo can both run in 2010. Currently, Madame Gloria’s son is occupying the seat used to be held by Nonoy Andaya and his late father. But on this Joker Arroyo has this to say:”That is malicious, tell them that is bullshit”. But I think one can hardly find an adult in Camarines Sur who will not believe such talk.

I remember Joker Arroyo called Sen. Antonio Trillanes as “the poster boy of rebellion”. But I didn’t hear him call Gen. Angelo Reyes as the “poster boy of mutiny”. I bet he would rather pin that monicker on Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin.

I am beginning to suspect now that Joker Arroyo is beginning to lose some of his faculty of sight.

PNR South Line Is No More

November 8, 2008



The Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Line which services Bicol stopped operations in November 2006 after Typhoon Reming (Durian) damaged many of its infrastructure. It was a sad end to an era of train journey but barely noticed in Bicol since bus travel already completely overshadowed it.

I was lucky enough that I was still able to take a train trip just before it shuttered. It was my first trip in over 20 years and I was raring to find out what changed. Arriving in Naga station I noticed how forlorn-looking and dilapidated the once-vibrant place has become.

The train was much shorter compared to the trains of my college days. We left at past 10am. I was expecting a fast clip over the flatlands and straight tracks of Pamplona and Libmanan. But we were barely making 50kph because the train was buckling like a horse.

I learned that there was no more maintenance work being done for the tracks. They said the PNR was just being given by the national government a subsidy of P10 million a month. Added to the paltry revenues, the amount it handles barely covers the salaries after fuel was paid. Many of the stations and offices of PNR no longer has electricity. Units are being run by just cannibalizing the old units. And retiring personnel are no longer replaced.

Along the way I saw stations no longer in use and many don’t have roofs anymore. Bridges were beginning to corrode and communication lines were no longer working.
In most places we were running at an average of 40-45kph because of the condition of the tracks. In Gumaca I even feared there would be a derailment.

I noticed that at each station a new set of train vendors sporting another set of uniform identifying them will board the train. Since they won’t get off until the Bicol line ends in Hondagua, the midway point, they became too numerous till they outnumbered the passengers (and we were full!). It was getting hot though the skies were generally overcast. My only consolation was our coach was the newer Japan-donated so it was more comfortable than the coaches I rode when I was in college (but not the tracks!)

I was hoping to see much of the line but dusk overtook us in Agdangan, Quezon. But I still saw how small the place was. I was seeing the countryside I knew before from another vista so it was sad that daylight was no longer available.

We chugged along and getting nearer to Manila the warning of our conductor regarding bad elements in the train stations became more strident. Reaching the Espana station at Quezon Avenue at 2am there were admonishions to just walk straight and fast and not to bother to look at the characters inside the station grounds.

I learned that although the trains are no longer running the employees still get their pay. The only hope being bandied about is a “National Railway Authority” will be passed as law so that the line and the stock could be rehabilitated. But with the damage I saw I knew it would take a lot of money.

The Stonehenge’s Secret Revealed, A Lost Amazon Tribe Discovered, & A Burial Urn Found To Bind The Ibalon Epic to Bicolanos

May 30, 2008


The Stonehenge’s secret was revealed, said the British archeologists who studied the prehistoric rock-edifice which baffled the world for centuries. Based on carbon dating of cremated human burial remains found in the site, the prehistoric relic served as cemetery 500 years before the rock monument was erected in 3000 B.C, about 300 years earlier than once thought. Yorkshire Post (05/30/08, Harvey J.)

The finding clarified some controversies surrounding the Stonehenge which carried myths including that one which told of the circularly arranged sarsen stone as a prehistoric outpost for extraterrestials in the British Isles.

Just as the Stonehenge’s report came out, in the forested border of Brazil and Peru where Amazon jungle’s vegetation grew sparse, was a sighting of scantily-clad primitive tribesmen believed to have no contact with civilization. According to Survival International, a London-based organization which defends rights of indigenous people worldwide, the discovery of the jungle-dwellers bolstered the need to protect the Amazon from the interferences of developers, loggers, and oil prospectors. Bloomberg.com (05/30/08. Brasiliero,A)

Such concern for human beings and history was shown in Naga City, Philippines as well. An ancient burial urn with a serrated border shed clues to the Ibalon epic, a mythical tale of Bicol’s past which the people hungered to know about. The 32 cm. rounded urn cover on which was carved a depiction of the Ibalon story (see top photo,) had been kept in the Museo Conciliar de Nueva Caceres, housed in the old Holy Rosary Minor Seminary building.

In the Ibalon epic, Handiong was the king of Libmanan who sent 1,000 warriors under the leadership of Bantong to kill half-man, half-beast giant monster Rabot. Bantong slew Rabot while asleep in a cave dwelling.

The epic narrates that Handiong and his warriors came to Ibalon (Spanish colonizers once called Bicol as Tierra de Ybalon) to “clear” the place and start planting but he was challenged by a serpent called Uryol who later became a close ally in building the civilization in the region.Bicol Mail (11/22/07, Escandor, J Jr.)

Anthropologist-professor Zeus Salazar of the University of the Philippines thought part of the Ibalon story was etched on the celebrated urn cover which was crafted somewhere in 5,000 BC to 10 AD. It placed the age of the urn to be two thousand years older than the Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

The one-of-a-kind pottery was part of the antique collection of Dr. Ermelo Almeda who went places to beef up his treasure-trove of Stone-age tools, historic artifacts, old ornaments, animal eggs, and earthen wares.

The urn’s authenticity was however doubted by Dr. Jesus Peralta, a retired archeologist of the National Museum for the “unscientific” way it was retrieved in Bigaho, Libmanan, Camarines Sur back in 1982. A minaret-like portion of the of the urn’s design, the lack of carbon-dating and documentation made him suspect the piece was bought from Mindanao.


But Dr. Salazar who traced the Ibalon epic from a fragmented five-part story published by Spanish Friar Jose Castano in the 1800s wove an interesting interpretation of the urn cover whose depiction of the Ibalon folklore might enrich the understanding of the myth which Bicolanos seek to know. The paucity of information about Ibalon made it all the more significant and intriguing.==0==

More of this burial urn in: http://www.bicolmail.com Vol. XXIV, 11/22/07.