LB showcases agri produce in the Laguna organic agri congress

by Nykyle Patricia Buenviaje, Renz Louie Celeridad, and Victorena Diesta

The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, in partnership with the Region IV-A Agricultural Training Institute, held the first Laguna Organic Agriculture Congress at the Cultural Center of Sta. Cruz on October 28-30.

The organic agriculture congress, themed “Sa Organiko Panalo Tayo, Kaya’t Lagunenyo para sa iyo ito,” was open to all offices, departments, organizations, and individuals who were interested in organic agriculture — a “natural” way of growing crops, vegetables, and other agricultural products.

According to Lydia Estrada, the Laguna assistant provincial agriculturist, organic agriculture aims to create a farming system that will grow various chemical-free crops. The promotion of organic agriculture, such as holding the congress, is in line with Republic Act (RA) No. 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, which mandates the state to “promote, propagate, develop further, and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the Philippines.”

The organic agriculture congress also aimed to help address gender awareness issues, recognizing the need to change the traditional belief that farming is only for men and to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor through technology transfer.

Los Baños GAD Office staff help farmer cooperators sell their produce during the three-day organic agriculture congress. (Photo courtesy of the GAD Office)

Laguna cities and municipalities took part in the provincial congress on organic agriculture. The local government unit (LGU) of Los Baños was represented by the Gender and Development (GAD) Office, the implementing agency for the organic agriculture component of the gender-sensitive livelihood project between the LGU Los Baños and the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

From the PhP 4.6 million project “Enhancing Gender-Sensitive Sustainable Agriculture and Aquatic Science and Technology (S&T)-based Livelihood Enterprises in Los Baños”, PhP 2.2 million was allotted for organic agriculture projects.

The implementation of the organic agriculture component started in March and covered five barangays, namely:  Bagong Silang, Timugan, Maahas, Tuntungin-Putho, and Lalakay. According to Karen Lagat-Mercado, head of the Los Baños GAD Office, their unit started the project implementation by conducting seminars about organic agriculture in the five  barangays in partnership with PCAARRD. These seminars were followed by trainings for the farmer cooperators.

According to Mercado, the organic agriculture project not only provided additional source of income for the cooperators, it also helped the women – especially the housewives – develop greater confidence, build their self-esteem, and become more independent. With their own earnings, the women now depend less on their husbands’ income.

Through the congress, Los Baños was able to showcase organic produce from the farmer-cooperator and present the LGU Los Baños-PCAARRD collaboration to representatives of various cities and municipalities in Laguna.

For more updates on the LGU Los Baños-PCAARRD project, visit the Gender Sensitive Organic Vegetable Prod’n for Low-income Communities of LB Facebook CommunityPage.

KASAMA nagsanay sa vermiculture

ni Ma. Emily P. Alforja, KASAMA President

Nag-organisa ng pagsasanay sa vermiculture ang local na pamahalaan ng Los Baños na isinagawa ng Gender and Development Office at ng Department of Agriculture para sa mga miyembro ng Kapisanan ng mga Samahan ng Malinta (KASAMA) noong October 18 sa Brgy. Malinta.

Sa pamamagitan ng pagsasanay sa vermiculture, natutunan ng mga kalahok na napakadaling mag-alaga ng bulate gayundin ang paggawa ng vermicast o organikong pataba. Maliit lamang ang kailangang puhunan at hindi nangangailangan ng mahabang oras o panahon para sa pag-aalaga.

Ang pagsasanay ay bahagi ng proyektong vermiculture kung saan tinuturuan ang mga kalahok sa tamang pag-aalaga ng mga bulateng African night crawlers at pag-ani ng vermicast na nagsisilbing organikong pataba.

Natutunan ng mga miyembro ng KASAMA ang pagpapabulok ng tira-tirang pagkain, iba’t-ibang klaseng gulay, tuyong dahon, suha ng saging, at dumi ng baka o kalabaw bilang bahagi ng proseso ng paggawa ng vermicompost.

Ang vermicompost ay ginagamit bilang organikong pataba para sa mga pananim ng mga miyembro ng KASAMA at maaari ding mapagkuhanan ng karagdagang kita.

UPD team tops in the nat’l genetics quiz contest

by Dianne Carmie Basilio and Jean Andrea Galang

The University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) bested 13 universities and colleges during the 5th National Intercollegiate Genetics Quiz Contest (NIGQC) of the UPLB Genetics Society held on November 8 at the Umali Auditorium of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in Los Baños, Laguna.

The UPD team took home PhP 15,000 cash prize, a plaque, certificates of participation, and medals. Runners up DLSU and ADMU received certificates of participation, medals, and cash prizes worth PhP 7,500 and PhP 5,000 respectively. (Photo courtesy of the UPLB Genetics Society)

The UPD team was composed of Ardea Licuanan, Clinton Tang, and Tiffany Cheng Uy; all fourth year BS Biology students. Dr. Ian Kendrich Fontanilla, an assistant professor and UP scientist at UPD’s Institute of Biology was the winning team’s coach. Uy of the UPD team said that the time the team spent studying together helped the members bond and prepare for the competition.

Securing the second place (1st runner up) was the De La Salle University Manila (DLSU) and in third place was Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), last year’s champion.

Patricia Albert, committee head of NIGQC 2014, said that the UPLB Genetics Society is planning to hold the national genetics quiz contest yearly with the increasing number of participating schools and universities.

LB opens a Friday organic market

by Johanna Marie Drece, Joie April Lanuzga, and Yunika Ysa Lasic

On October 24, the Los Baños launched its Friday organic market at the Los Baños Municipal Hall Activity Area. The organic market manageed by the Gender and Development (GAD) Office opens at 9am and closes at 3pm.

The establishment of the organic market was part of the project entitled “Enhancing Gender-Sensitive Sustainable Agriculture and Aquatic Science and Technology (S&T)-based Livelihood Enterprises in Los Baños” between the Los Baños LGU and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD). The project aimed to empower the local farmers of all genders to take on organic farming as a livelihood option, as well as to enhance community entrepreneurship and marketing.

The Friday organic market provided farmer-cooperators an integrated and accessible venue to sell their organic produce. Karen Mercado explained that the Friday Organic Market has helped the farmers gain additional income from selling their products.

The organic produce from the farmer cooperators are also sold at Herb Republic along Lopez Avenue every second and fourth Friday and Saturday of the month.

Since its launch in October, the Los Baños Friday organic market has gained patrons from the municipal employees. Joyce Del Valle of the Los Banos Budget Office said that purchasing organic produce assure her the vegetable her family would be consuming is healthy and free from harmful chemicals. “Kesa pumunta sa palengke at bumili ng mga di-pesticide na gulay, dito ka nalang,” she added.

Adelaida Castillo, an 85-year-old farmer from Brgy. Maahas, explained that aside from being chemical-free, the produce sold at the Friday organic market is relatively cheaper since the products are directly delivered to the market and no middleman is involved. Farmer cooperators also take home higher earnings. Shifting to organic farming also reduced the cost of farm inputs on pesticides and fertilizers. “Sadyang malaki ang ipinagbago dahil hindi na kami bumibili ng pang abono. Sariling compost na namin ang ginagamit namin,” Castillo shared.

Nestor Pamulaklakin, a farmer from Brgy. Maahas said, “Maganda ang kita ko ngayon. Lamang kaysa noong dati na hindi ako gumagamit ng mga organic. Saka dati, kailangan ko pang bumili ng pesticide. Ang ginagamit kong spray ngayon ay sili at kung anu-anong herb. Hindi na ako gumagamit ng mga pesticide na binibili.” Mang Nestor also said that vegetables grown with the aid of chemical pesticides are hazardous to the health of the consumers so they have stopped using them.

Communities involved in Friday oranic market include Barangays Tuntungin-Putho, Lalakay, Timugan, Maahas, and Bagong Silang. The GAD Office staff regularly visits farm sites to get updates and to hold farmer consultations. The farm visits also ensure that farmers are provided the resources and technical assistance needed and that the crops are grown organically.

The farmer cooperators were provided with technological knowledge through a series of trainings before they were granted the resources for setting up an organic farm. The farmer cooperators underwent trainings on vermicomposting, organic methods and pest control, organic vegetable crop production, as well as postharvest, packaging, and marketing skills. Farm materials, seeds, and planting materials were provided as part of the LGU Los Baños-PCAARRD livelihood project.

Karen Mercado (rightmost) and Ellen Ramos of the GAD Office in a posterity shot at the organic produce booth manned by farmer cooperators and GAD Office staff during the first Friday Organic Market at the Municipal Hall. (Photo courtesy of KLMercado)

The organic produce from the farmer cooperators are also sold at Herb Republic along Lopez Avenue every second and fourth Friday and Saturday of the month.

For more updates on the LGU Los Baños-PCAARRD project, visit the Gender Sensitive Organic Vegetable Prod’n for Low-income Communities of LB Facebook Communtiy Page.

LB LGU to hold Kasalang Bayan 2014

by Natasha Mae Arañez, Czarina Joy Arevalo, and Renee Marsha Babao

This coming December 12 at 4pm, 88 Los Baños couples will tie the knot – for free.

The local government of Los Baños, through the Gender and Development (GAD) Office, will hold the Kasalang Bayan 2014 General Paciano Rizal Park in Los Baños, Laguna.

The Kasalang Bayan is a free mass civil wedding ceremony for the residents of the municipality held every February and December. The event coincides with the quadrocentennial celebrations of the municipality.The brides will be wearing the Filipiniana dress while the groomsmen will wear their barong tagalog or camisos de chino.

According to Nanet Saldaña from the GAD Office, the Kasalang Bayan is part of the municipality’s implementation of Act No. 2013-1240, also known as Kasalang Bayan Act, which was first enacted in 2013.

Eighty-eight out of the 100 slots were secured during the October 30 registration for this year’s Kasalang Bayan. Saladaña shared that aside from enjoying a free wedding and reception, the 88 couples will benefit from a joint Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) that is extended to their children.

The future couples’ age ranged from 18 to 60 years old. The youngest bride and groom for this year’s Kasalang Bayan are both 18 years old. Saldaña noted that applicants who are below 26 years old were required to secure their parents’ consent. Most of the couples come from Brgy. Bambang, with 15 pairs.

A Collaborative Work

According to Saldaña, this event will be a product of the collaboration of municipal offices.  She further noted that this is an activity of almost every staff of the municipal office. The flow of the program will be handled by the Kasalang Bayan Core Group, which is composed of sub-committees, will be led by Atty. Genalyn Bagon-Soriano, the Municipal Administrator of Los Baños. Municipal Accountant Lolita Leviste heads the project’s sub-committee on finance. The total cost for the Kasalang Bayan, including the required seminars, amounts to an estimated PhP 460,000. Engr. Ricky Estopace, the municipal engineer, will oversee the event’s physical arrangements.

Dr. Fe Banasihan, the municipal agriculturist, will be in charge of event decorations. Banasihan’s committee is envisions a traditional ambiance, in accordance to the quadricentennial theme. The decoration committee is also responsible for the entourage and the photo booths.

Dr. Alvin A Isidro, the Municipal Health Officer, will lead a medical team consisting of at least 15 nurses and two doctors to stand by in case of emergencies. No serious injuries have taken place in the previous mass weddings. The medical team is preparing for cases of dizziness, heatstroke, hypertension, anxiety attacks, minor wounds, and other accident-related injuries. An ambulance will also be on standby.

Los Baños Police Chief Insp. Ricardo Dalmacia will be in charge of traffic and security. Police Chief Dalmacia said the event is unlikely to cause heavy traffic in the area and that there will be no need to close or block any roads however, the Los Baños PNP will deploy 60 policemen to implement the security plans for the event.

Each couple is entitled to a reception table which accommodates up to eight persons – for the bride, the groom, the parents of the bride, the parents of the groom, and a pair of principle sponsors. Aside from the food and catering during the reception, the municipality will also shoulder the couple’s wedding pictures, give-aways, invitations, bouquets and the video coverage. However, the couples will shoulder their respective wedding rings, which are optional.

The municipality scheduled the event orientation on November 4, followed by the mandatory seminars on November 11. The marriage license application will start by the third week of November, and the general rehearsal is set on December 10.

The holding of the biannual Kasalang Bayan aims to give couples who are unable to afford the requirements of a marriage ceremony the opportunity to get married. By helping couples with the costs of their certificate of no marriage (CENOMAR), marriage license, wedding ceremony, the reception, invitations, souvenir items, and pictures, Saldaña believes that they are able to deal with the barrier of poverty that hindered them from this process.

LB OSCA leads Filipino Elderly Week celebrations

by Emanuelle Dominique Mendoza and Neil Arwin Mercado

Over a hundred senior citizens from various barangays benefitted from the free medical check-up, aerobic exercise sessions, and pampering during the Los Baños week-long celebration of the Filipino Elderly Week. Themed “Ang Nakatatanda ay Yaman, Katuwang sa Pag-unlad ng Bayan, Pangalagaan Kanilang Kapakanan” October 29 in Los Baños Municipal Covered Court.

According to Baby Escobin of the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA), the idea of celebrating the Filipino Elderly Week for the first time in Los Baños is in line with Presidential Decree 470 Series of 1994 when the first week of October was declared as Linggo ng Katandaang Filipino or Filipino Elderly Week. OSCA sought to recognize the importance and value of the elderly in the community. The office also started meeting with each barangay’s Senior Citizen Association (SCA) head to identify the needs of the elders in each community.

Dr. Alvin Isidoro, the municipal health officer, led the free consultation and medical check for the Los Baños elderly during the concluding activity of the Los Baños Filipino Elderly Week celebrations. (Photo courtesy of the Municipal Health Office)

The free medical check-up was facilitated by the Municipal Health Office (MHO) headed by Dr. Alvin Isidoro. Free medications and vitamins were also given to the Los Baños elderly. According to Erlinda Darvin, one of the participants from Brgy. Timugan, she was pleased to join the event because she is really excited about the idea of the Los Baños honoring the elders in their community. She added that, even at the age of 77, she received vitamins and cough medicines  from the medical mission since she does not have any lifestyle-related diseases.

The medical mission also served as an opportunity for the Los Baños elderly from different barangays to build new friendship. “Masaya ako kasi marami akong nakita, marami akong nakasalamuha (I am happy because I was able to see and mingle with many people)” says Beatriz Cruz.

The medical mission concluded the weeklong celebration of the Filipino Elderly Week in Los Baños. Other activities included the following the:

  • (October 20) flag raising ceremony where the municipal office honored key senior citizens with special awards
  • (October 21) Lakbay Aral at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) where the Los Baños elderly were oriented on the different rice varieties as well as various rice cultures and cultivation
  • (October 22) Zumba and Tai-chi Sessions where the representatived fro the UP Los Baños Department of Human Kinetics facilitated exercise routines for the senior citizens; sports olympics where the elderly played chess, dama, sungka, and basketball free throws, and pampering day.

“Masaya ako kasi nakikilala nila [ng mga tao], at hindi lang kilala kasi nbibigyan din nila ng panahon ang mga matatanda (I am happy because people get to know and eventually give time to the elders),” Beatriz Cruz said when asked about how she feels about the celebration of Elderly Week.Erlinda Darvin shared that “Ngayon lang nangyari yan dito sa Los Baños yun. Natutuwa kaming lahat, kaming mga matatanda.”

Through the coordination among the barangay SCAs, the list of activities in the four-day celebration of the importance of the elders was finalized. OSCA partnered with the local government unit of Los Baños, which provided the venue and food for the activity. Other partners for the elderly week celebration included the UPLB DHK, MHO, and IRRI.

Dr. Federico Cruz, the OSCA director, shared that they were overwhelmed with the turnout of elderly participants as over 150 people gathered to join the flag raising ceremony and the inauguration of the elderly week celebration.

Most of the senior citizens who joined the program were from Brgy. Timugan with 33 elders, Brgy. Lalakay with 21 elders, and 19 elders from Brgy. Bagong Silang. The big turnout of participants was credited to the combined efforts of OSCA and the barangay SCAs. OSCA and the barangay heads meet every first Thursday of the month to orient the heads on the dissemination of information about the event. Beatriz Cruz, vice-president of Senior Citizen’s Association of Timugan (SeCAT) explained that in their barangay, she paid a visit to every senior citizen’s residence to distribute printed letters regarding the activity.