TPLEX to boost tourism, trade in Northern Luzon – PNoy

President Benigno Aquino III expressed confidence that the 88.85-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) will not only boost tourism in picturesque locations in Northern Luzon but would also stimulate further economic activity in this part of the archipelago.

“(With TPLEX), areas like Hundred Islands suddenly become that much more accessible. Baguio and the surrounding areas in Cordillera suddenly seems like but a short trip away,” Aquino said during Monday’s official opening of the Tarlac City-Gerona-Paniqui part.

“Projects like these opened up more and more possibilities for our countrymen to engage in gainful productive and progressive livelihood. Government can do all of these at some point in time, but that some point in time might take 10 generations to accomplish something like this. Together with private partnership, who believe in the same vision that we have, then we will achieve the dreams sooner rather than later, and to that, really, it is truly a splendid Christmas gift,” the Chief Executive added.

The opening of Paniqui portion in Tarlac brings to 23 kilometers the total length of the TPLEX that is operational following the opening of the 17-kilometer Phase 1A from Tarlac City to Victoria, Pura, then Gerona initially for free to the public.

At present, diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) through its subsidiary and TPLEX concessionaire- Private Infra Dev Corporation, Inc. (PIDC) is working on the 27-kilometer stretch from Paniqui to Moncada in Tarlac then Carmen in Pangasinan including the construction of the 950-meter Agno viaduct.

PIDC eyes an April 2014 completion of this section, ahead of its December 2014 estimate.

By then, the two-hour travel time from Tarlac to Carmen will be cut to only 30 minutes.

Moreover, the remaining 25.83-kilometer part from Urdaneta, Pangasinan to Rosario, La Union will be completed by 2015.

From end-to-end, TPLEX will traverse 17 towns and two cities in the provinces of Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Nueva Ecija.

It connects the Northern and Central provinces of Luzon to Metro Manila via the North Luzon and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressways.

Originally designed as a two-lane road, SMC decided to upgrade the infrastructure to four lanes to ensure road safety and in anticipation of future traffic growth.

Once completed, it will cut travel time from Tarlac to La Union to only an hour from the present three and a half hours.(CLJD/PIA)

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A commander’s legacy: To bolster NOLCOM’s thrust

To be remembered, one shall act upon something worth remembering – a living legacy.

Five months after assuming his post as the new chief of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has put the unified command’s thrust in his top priorities.

Giving emphasis to NOLCOM’s adherence, Catapang has continuously strengthened its battle cry, “Kawal ay disiplinado. Bawal Abusado. Dapat asintado” to cement his term’s legacy.

This statement, noted Catapang, shall serve as a guide of the armed forces on how shall they behave, deliver and grow in the military profession.

“This guidance was disseminated down to our lower Air Force, Army, and Naval units. This simple, clear and concise statement has deeper meaning, which greatly affects the entire profession of men and women in uniform,” he said.

Anchored on the genuine purpose of military service, the conception of Disiplinado, Abusado and Asintado is significant in realizing NOLCOM’s mission and vision.

“Disiplinado” refers to traits and characters that must be depicted by the troops inside and outside the camp.

This means that a responsible military man and woman shall be disciplined, initiative-driven, service-oriented, intelligent, progressive, likeable, innovative, nature friendly, agile, dedicated and obedient.

Moreover, “Abusado” summarizes schemes on how the armed forces can effectively execute their functions during operations.

As instructed, they are to avoid indiscriminate firing, suppress enemy fires, identify priority targets, negate distraction and maintain focus, trade speed for accuracy, apply fire and maneuver, deliver maximum effect and ensure a “one shot-one casualty” action.

“Asintado”, on the other hand, pertains to wrongdoings armed forces shall stay away from.

These include being drunkards, womanizers and arrogant; use of prohibited drugs; and involvement in gambling, extrajudicial killings and human rights violations. (CLJD/LGCC-PIA)

There is life after the tragedy

The vicious rage of ‘Yolanda’.

Whose heart would not be broken, after witnessing peculiar scenarios we usually see on the mainstreams of fictional movies and films? Whose tears would not fall, after having a glimpse of death and nightmare, depicted on the realms of reality? Whose feelings would not be wounded, after hearing stories of transience and melancholy?

With the superior strength of this tropical cyclone, super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) is one of the strongest storms in the world, based on maximum windspeed and wide range, walloping and washing out large portions of Leyte, especially Tacloban.

Ravaging the central part of the Philippines, Yolanda, with maximum sustained winds of 275 kph, produced a deadly storm surge and brought to major parts of Visayas torrential rainfall, causing widespread flooding and massive mortality.

Accordingly, based on the latest statistics made by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), there are at least 2, 000 people included in the updated death toll, with the lying possibility that this number might still grow in the succeeding rescue operations of the government.

Unlike any other environmental adversary Philippines has encountered, Yolanda’s aftermath, perhaps, is one of those which are primarily described as severe, deadly and fatal.

Due to its indescribable force, many lives were put into a mournful closing stage. The profound future and superb dreams of the aspiring generation were enclosed in the corners of broken hopes. Pictures of happy homes were scattered in devastated premises, like pieces of puzzle thrown in the midst of nowhere.

Beyond doubt, the tickling hours, when Yolanda is ravaging the country is undeniably agonizing, leaving everyone restless and hopeless.

Nevertheless, there is life after the tragedy – a chance to start anew, a moment to restore everything that has been destroyed and a possibility to get back into life, even after the threats, which once afflict our course of survival.

Notwithstanding the fact that Yolanda is the strongest typhoon we have encountered over the course of time, we shall never let go of the ideology that Filipinos are the strongest people on Earth. Thus, Philippines is the strongest nation in the universe.

In the long run, Filipinos are resilient and manage to be still, despite prolonged sufferings and shortcomings.

Even people from all over the world believe in our ability to survive and get back into life.

CNN, believing in the Filipino spirit, shares its belief towards Filipino’s utmost resiliency:

“At the end of the day, the Filipinos will just shake off dirt from their clothes and go about their business – and SMILE. They do not complain much, they will bear as long as they can. Maybe this is why they were given the ‘privilege’ of bearing the burden of the strongest typhoon ever recorded. The indomitable human spirit at its finest.”

It is of no doubt that beyond the recent catastrophe lies stories of hope. Truly, there is life after the tragedy. (LGCC/PIA)

Beyond voting process: PNoy’s sincerity brightens Tarlaqueño’s fate

It might have been an ordinary judgment day for everyone. A date filled with common scenarios like the traditional election days, where people rush and get a swift move to find their names in the congested precincts.

However, Tarlac City witnessed a different and far from the usual election scene, when President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, along with her sisters Maria Elena “Ballsy” Cruz and Aurora “Pinky” Corazon-Abellada, entered the grounds of Central Azucarera de Tarlac Elementary School and portrayed the “genuine” role of being the topmost government official and the prime servant of the country.

At exactly 11:01 a.m., President Aquino arrived at Precinct 175-A, where he was listed as voter number five. Without any trace of difficulty, PNoy had a trouble-free and smooth barangay poll experience, letting him to cast his vote in less than five minutes.

Beyond the voting process, what stood out during his five-minute stay inside the assigned precinct was a remarkable encounter and conversation between him and Domingo Simon, who happened to vote along side with PNoy himself.

Simon, a 78-year old resident of Brgy. Central Tarlac City, immediately became the center of the crowd, after coming across and having a worthwhile dialogue with the Chief Executive.

Diagnosed with gallstones, the ailing man shared his ill condition to the President, who instantly offered him medical assistance and vowed to help him in fixing his pension benefits, which happened to be forbidden due to one and a half year lack of eligibility.

Simon, along with her wife Lourdes, expressed his gratitude to the President.

“Ito ang pinakamaswerte kong eleksyon, dahil nakasabay ko si Noynoy. Napakasaya. Pakiramdam ko ay nadugtungan ang buhay ko dahil sa naibigay na pag-asa ng Pangulo, (This is my luckiest election as I was able to vote alongside Noynoy. I am happy. I felt that my life was extended as the President gave me hope),” Simon said during an interview.

Simon shared that Aquino told him to have him taken to the hospital today, October 29, for his first check-up, where officials from the Malacañang Palace will assist him.

Coming across with the feeble old man Simon, a former sugarcane grower and a father of six children who has been sick for several years, has changed the conventional picture of the typical election days into an exceptional moment of heroism, genuine leadership, good governance, and hope for humanity. (LGCC/PIA 3)

Gawad Kalinga begets the spirit of bayanihan

The power of bayanihan.

The power of bayanihan.

Jammed and caught in the edge of several social dilemmas, poverty has been described as a fatal syndrome of the society. Due to its bugging fretfulness, many have lost the optimism of ending this phenomenon.

Nevertheless, on the bright side of life, one group seems to contradict with this discouraging idea.

Unified by the aspiration of serving the Filipino people and shaping the future of the Philippines, a throng of nation builders and change-makers from all over the country unified themselves to establish a noble organization dedicated to let the underprivileged experience the dignity and comfort of life.

Tony Meloto’s dream for a poverty-free world triggers his passion towards nation building. Thus, dedicating him to embark on community service and establish Gawad Kalinga.

Meloto, as the frontliner of GK aspirations, has inspired millions of families and has encouraged young volunteers to work towards building model communities, where deprived families can thrive and attain their fullest potentials.

Looking forward to a better future of the succeeding generations, GK signifies the Filipino culture of caring and sharing.

Since the essence of “Gawad Kalinga” is paramount to the idea of giving care, each member of GK’s “kapitbahayan” (residence) believes that building a prosperous community means leaving no one behind.

The “Walang Iwanan” kind of thinking paves the way for the naissance of the true spirit of service and companionship. As the whole community acts as brothers and sisters, GK is certain of helping each member by giving the best for the least and by doing more for others and less for self.

Yearning to let the underprivileged go through a prosperous life, GK aims to build communities of mutual respect and reverence (Faith Community); higher principle of neighbourly love and the common good (peace zone); dignified human dwelling (Tourist Spot); dynamic human and natural resources (Productivity Center); proper utilization and preservation of environment (Environmentally Healthy Community); engaged citizenry (Empowered Community); and a well-prepared residence in times of sudden calamities (Secured Community).

The faith of Gawad Kalinga is to build a nation, which drives each volunteer and villager to achieve an empowered populace with faith and patriotism, an archipelago of caring and sharing communities and modern ‘bayanis’ dedicated to eradicate poverty and relieve human dignity.

If only we start asking ourselves, “What simple acts can we do to contribute to the mission of ending poverty?”

Perhaps, the spirit of “bayanihan” will start pouring in the mainstreams of our beings. If only we aspire and hope the same way GK does, we can end poverty and set the closing stage of sufferings and living in miseries.

Like Gawad Kalinga, let us all aspire to accomplish a mission of ending poverty for five million families by 2024.

Let us all work together to provide land for the landless; home for the homeless; and food for starving stomachs.

Through the undying spirit of bayanihan, let Gawad Kalinga be an epitome of the country’s hope.

More than anything, let the GK mission and vision be as viral as a social infection positively disturbing the sleeping consciousness of many Filipinos. Let this dream, which for some is impossible to reach, a stepping stone to completely realize the profound tomorrow of the Pearl of the Orient Sea.

Let us instill in our hearts and minds that impossibility is nothing. In the long run, together, we can end poverty. (PIA/LGCC)

Kaya Natin! builds an island of hope

In a third world country, where societal conflicts and pressing issues arise, it is a rewarding moment to witness with our naked eyes how modern heroes aspire in building a better and more hopeful tomorrow for the Philippines.

Looking back through the days when I was still in the midst of my college years, I was one of the few lucky servant-leaders of the country, who were chosen to be a part of a summer youth convention on good governance and ethical leadership.

For three days, aside from re-strengthening the hero in me, I was blessed to come across with people who have spent their lives working for the country – the ones I have always looked up to, the Kaya Natin! Movement.

Kaya Natin MovementThe KN builders

Kaya Natin!, a non-partisan movement composed of Filipinos from different sectors of society established in July 30, 2008 at Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government, aims to build a strong foundation of effective, ethical and empowering leadership in our country.

Harvey Keh, the man behind the brainchild of the Kaya Natin! mission and vision, believes that servant-leaders in the country must know their jobs and do it well, carry out their duties and responsibilities with integrity and involve their constituents in governance and create opportunities for the people to participate and be heard.

Through these values instilled in the core group of the movement, the aspiration and noble dream to  make our government more responsive to the needs of the Filipino people have continuously become stronger.

The KN Builders, known as the Champions of Good Governance, grasped a hold to the belief: Kaya ng Pinoy maging magaling at mabuting pinuno; kaya ng Pinoy pumili ng tama. Kaya Natin!

 As for the KN Champions, Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, and Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio, there is a big need to change the phase of leadership in the country and provide a worthwhile avenue to awake the sleeping consciousness of the public in addressing the country’s concerns.

A step closer towards a better PH

Aside from keeping the fire of making positive reforms alive, KN does various activities to reach a wider populace and produce more change-makers in the country.

Highlighting the goal of encouraging the youth to be the focal point of this transitory period, the movement share and spread their advocacies in various universities and communities in the country by doing the Kaya Natin! Caravan of Good Governance.

Aside from that, KN is also upholds the provision of assistance to the deprived and indigent sector by executing a program like the Karapatan at Kalusugan Kaya Nating Pangalagaan Medical Mission and Vaccination Drive.

More so, the movement has produced the Kaya Natin! Youth, which pioneers the youth sector in participating and being involved in building the nation.

Primarily, KN hopes to build a future led by people, who value, among any other things, the general welfare of the public.

Reflecting back to ourselves Rizal’s faith on youth as our Fatherland’s hope, the realization KN! Movement has brought in the minds of everyone is a big help in establishing a profound future of the country.

By discovering young leaders and motivated Filipinos, who have the heart to sacrifice a significant piece of them for the country, each one of us will always be reminded of the fact that there is a great future for every Juan dela Cruz.

In the realms of reality, we are surrounded with many afflicting concerns and distressing complications. But, never stop striving towards our goal – to change the situations we are into now and create a better place for living.

Like Sir Harvey, let’s all believe in this simple yet meaningful statement:

If bad people in our government can join forces to wreak havoc in our country, then why can’t the good people join forces as well and promote good governance in our country? (PIA/LGCC)