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Naga SMILES Magazine

Apé Taxicles: Modernizing Transportation for Ordinary People

By Jason B. Neola

THE exponential economic growth of the city requires modern mass transport vehicles that are efficient and appropriate to the changing needs of the people.

This was the gist of the message delivered by the late secretary Jesse M. Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), who was then the city mayor, during the annual general assembly of the Pinag-Isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper ng Traysikel at Operators sa Naga (PISTTON) in 2009.

PISTTON General Manager Rafael Duque recalls that Robredo, popularly regarded as an icon of good governance, dared the leadership of the transport cooperative to “be ready to act in response to the challenges that a growing Naga has been asking.”

Duque, who is also the chairman of the Bicol Transport Cooperative Federation in the region, said “the late secretary challenged us to think of a novel idea that would enable the transport sector to go with what is happening in our progressive city.”

Now, five years later, Robredo’s bid has become a reality after PISTTON and D’ Marillac Multipurpose Cooperative purchased 10 units of Piaggio Apé, which were converted into 9-seater taxicles, with a temporary franchise granted by the Sangguniang Panlungsod to boot.

Michael Javellana, president of Piaggio Apé Naga, said the arrival in the city of his units, which come in different types, is his company’s response to the needs of Nagueños for low-priced but presentable transport vehicles.

“The product will provide Nagueños with an alternative option between taxi and trimobile. We brought in the Piaggio Apé to be able to add more color to the group of public utility vehicles plying the city, and with the hope of improving the transport system as well,” he said.

Powered by a 435 cc diesel engine with one year warranty, Piaggio Apé, which runs about 30-36 kilometers for every liter of diesel gasoline, is a cost-effective
commercial vehicle with a very low maintenance and operational cost.

THE MAYOR, with members of PISTTON, tries the ease and comfort of a taxicle on a test drive inside the City Hall grounds.

PHOTO BY xeres ramon gagero

THE MAYOR, with members of PISTTON, tries the ease and comfort of a taxicle on a test drive inside the City Hall grounds.

The purchase of “taxicle” was inspired by Mayor John G. Bongat. The name itself, which is a contraction for taxicab and tricycle, was coined by the mayor who said “its operation will definitely improve further the image of existing trimobiles and are expected to provide additional mobility for the public which is attuned
to the requirements of the Clean Air Act.“

New king of the road

Pio Samonte, president of Concerned Taxi Transport Services and Chairman of Naga City Integrated Jeepney Federation, said taxicles are safer than trimobiles as they can accommodate a bigger number of passengers, unlike in the traditional types wherein their drivers have to sit on the motorcycle gas tanks to maximize capacity but prevents them from driving freely and effectively.

A taxicle measures 3 m. in length and 1.5 m. in width, which is not too far from the size of a trimobile. It has a feature that allows the driver to shift gear to be able to drive backward, and has a maximum loading capacity of 535 kilograms.

The taxicle is a customized model of Apé (pronounced ah-peh), Italian for “bumblebee” to connote hard work, which the makers of Apé vehicles want to portray. It is manufactured under license from Italy’s Piaggio which became popular in the automobile business in that country in 1948.

Samonte, who is an auto mechanic by profession and runs the automobile shop of the Naga City People’s Council, said the taxicles are environment-friendly because of their EURO 2 engines. These are compliant with the standards of being environment-friendly with their catalytic converters that suppress carbon emission.

He also said the operation of taxicles is a welcome development, not only because they boost the transportation capability of public utility vehicles, but also provides commuters analternative to overcharging PUV drivers.

Taxicle driver Domingo Porlaje, Jr., vice chairman of PISTTON Development Transport Cooperative, said that he is happy about driving a taxicle that will allow him to earn a bigger income. “Imagine, ordinary trimobiles can only accommodate three to four passengers at the limit while each of these taxicles can carry 8 to nine passengers,” he said.

Efifranz Health & Well Spa company driver Joel Oliquino said that aside from being economical, as he only spends P150 for 3 days of diesel fuel, Piaggio Apé is a very dependable service vehicle. “What I am more impressed in is the after-sales service of its branch office here in Naga City na talagang maasikaso,” he added.

The unit can also be converted into stainless expandable mobile store, composite expandable mobile store, closed van, patrol car, mobile food shop, calessino locale, jeep, roving ad, florist van, water delivery van, bakery shop, and soft drink carrier.

By September, this year, a tour around the city will be held to showcase the Piaggio Apé City Callesino, a variant that can be converted to “top down” with white interior. It will provide passengers, especially tourists, a new way to travel and enjoy the city’s sites.

Caalim Sisters win 3 silvers in Asean chess tournament

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Two young sisters from this city took home three silver medals in the recently-concluded 15th ASEAN+ Age Group Chess Championships held last June 2– 12, 2014 at Sands Cotai Central, Macau, China. Candace Faye Caalim won the silver medal in Standard Chess, while her sister Arianne Pearl Caalim bagged two silver medals in Rapid Chess and Blitz Chess, all in the Under 8 Team Category. Together with the Caalim Sisters in the Team Event were Precious Day Yecla and Casey Manlosa.

The competing countries in the 15th ASEAN+ Age Group Chess Championships are Vietnam (Over All Champion), the Philippines (Over All 1st Runner Up), Singapore (Over All 2nd Runner Up), Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Russia, Mongolia, India, Laos and New Zealand.

The homecoming Caalim sisters were roundly applauded and given due recognition by Mayor John Bongat and the members of the Sangguniang Panglunsod headed by Vice Mayor Nelson Legacion during the flag ceremony at the Naga City Hall on June 23.

For each of the medals,the sisters received P5,000.00 earned as cash incentives as provided for by Executive Order No. 2012–003. Under the EO issued two years ago, winners in international competitions are entitled to P6,000.00 cash incentive for each gold, P5,000.00 for silver and P4,000.00 for bronze.

The Caalim sisters started to shine in the 2013 National Age Group Chess Championships in Manila. Their supportive mother, Maureen Iraula–Caalim always provides her children (including the eldest, Hadji Ray) encouragement and inspiration whenever they join local and national chess competitions such as the Naga City Selection Meet, Palarong Bicol, and Batang Pinoy Leg.

It was during the 2014 National Age Group Chess Championships Luzon Leg held here in Naga City that their winning moment begun when they finished 2nd and 3rd places, respectively, in the 8 and Under category and qualified for the 2014 National Age Group Chess National Championships in San Andres, Quezon Province.

They will represent Naga City and the Philippines in the World Youth Championship to be held in September 2014 in Durban, South Africa.

Naga Titans National 3×3 Cage Champ; to represent PHin Asia – Pacific Championship

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Four young student-athletes from this city, after successfully trouncing their rivals in the national finals, will see action anew to represent the Philippines in the 2014 Asia Pacific Championship slated on July 19-20, 2014.

Playing under the team Naga City Titans, Jude de Vera (Naga City Montessori HS), Ken Estrada (University of Nueva Caceres) and Joshua Ayque Ayo and Christian Nismal (both of the Ateneo de Naga University), along with Coach Brian Ayque Ayo breezed through the 3×3 national basketball finals at the Pearl Sports Complex in Harrison Plaza Manila last May 24-25, this year. Athletic Coordinator Francis Barja of the Naga City Mayor’s Office said the Asia Pacific championship will be held at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.

Barja earlier acted as tournament commissioner of the Bicol-South Luzon elimination of the Talk N Text-SBP, under 18, 3×3 “tatluhan” competition that sent the Naga young cagers to the quarter finals where they trounced teams from Cagayan de Oro, Taguig City, Ormoc City, and Baguio City. Undefeated throughout, the Naga City Titans routed Zamboanga City in the finals and took away P35,000 in cash prize, medals, and the championship trophy.