Invest in Naga
Wanting to learn from this city’s good governance practices, some 600 solo parents converged at Naga Regent Hotel here April 25-26 to discuss problems that solo parenthood faces, such as poverty, lack of employment, children deprived of education, and juvenile delinquency.
The participants tackled points seeking to amend the Solo Parent Welfare Act of 2000, otherwise known as R.A. 8972, which they said should give them more benefits and privileges as mandated by the said law.
Addressing the solo parents, majority of whom (about 96%) were women, City Mayor John G. Bongat dubbed the event as “historic”. It was the first time that a national convention of single parents was held since the enactment of R.A. 8972 on Nov. 7, 2000, and after its implementing rules and regulations approved in April 2002, or 12 years ago.
Mr. Lito D. Alcaraz, national president of the Solong Nanay at Tatay (Sonata) Confederation of the Phils., said they have chosen Naga to be the venue of the national convention because in the entire country, only Naga City, under its Ordinance No. 2012-049 (later amended as Ordinance 2013-003), has so far created a solo parents office that looks after the interest and welfare of solo parents and their children.
Solo parents, under R.A. 8972, are unmarried, separated, annulled, and widowed individuals. They also include women who give birth as a result of rape and those whose spouse is detained or serving sentence for criminal offense. It also includes or any family member who assumes the responsibility of head of family as a result of death, abandonment, and disappearance, or prolonged absence of the parents or solo parent.
Section 4, Article 3 of the Naga City Ordinance 2013-003, states, “Notwithstanding that the mandate under Republic Act No. 8972 is given unto the national government, its agencies and instrumentalities, by this local legislation the City of Naga formally imposes upon itself the obligation to provide the solo parents and their children the welfare services and special privileges and benefits that the law has enumerated such as livelihood assistance, counselling, parent effectiveness, critical incidence stress debriefing, among others.”
Some of these benefits include the allocation of 10% of the city’s tertiary scaholarship assistance to children of Naga’s solo parents and P2,000 burial assistance.
This city’s Solo Parents Ordinance was jointly authored by then City Councilors Nelson S. Legacion (now city vice mayor) and Raoul T. Rosales.
Shirley Bandola, a single mother in Barangay Sabang in Naga City, said through the city government’s assistance, she was hired as janitress in a public school where she earns P270/day. She said all her children are enrolled at public elementary and high schools.
According to Ms. Liezel N. Po, corporate secretary of Sonata, the total number of solo parents nationwide has now reached 13 million, an alarming figure that the government has to seriously look into. Po is also the chairperson of Nain Foundation which is one of the organizers of the national convention, along with Sonata and the city government of Naga. Participants came from as far as Cebu and the Visayas (Regions VII and VIII) and other parts of Luzon (Regions III, IVA, and IV-B) and the National Capital Region (NCR),with representatives from the DSWD Central Office in Manila, and the Office of the Solicitor General, also from Manila. The Bicol delegates came from the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Masbate, Sorsogon, and Catanduanes.
Indeed, Naga treats all constituents as both partner and beneficiary. Because of this, what Naga is now, is not only the sum total of what its people have become; rather, it is the product of what its people have contributed to the city’s development. Of course, the solo parents are always part of the city’s various inclusiveengagements for development, the city mayor pointed out.
Bongat told the participants that single parents in Naga, like the other sectors that compose the community’s stakeholders, have always been part of the city’s well-known inclusive governance. “The enactment of R.A. 8972 came as a bonus to them; and yet, they are fully aware that with the benefits and privileges provided, also comes the responsibility to sustain and nurture such law and even improve on them especially when faced with changing challenges in the future,”the mayor added.
The participants at the conclusion of the convention vowed to petition their respective legislators to look into possible amendments to the solo parents’ welfare law and ask the national government to replicate Naga City’s initiatives on solo parents in other local government units throughout the country.
Expanding and formalizing the partnership between the academe and the city government on the efficient and effective implementation of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Student Participation Program (SP-SPP), nine schools, from 5 universities last year, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the City Government of Naga during the 47th Regular Session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Naga held last June 17, 2014.
Naga City Vice Mayor Nelson S. Legacion, with Mayor John G. Bongat, led the signing of the MoA with the heads of the school partners, namely: AMA Computer College (AMA), Ateneo de Naga University (ADNU), Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology (BISCAST), Computer Communication Development Institute (CCDI), Naga College Foundation (NCF), Philippine Computer Foundation College (PCFC), Universidad de Sta. Isabel (USI), University of Nueva Caceres (UNC) and Worldtech Resources Institute (WRI).
On November 19, 2013,the Sangguniang Panlungsod first launched SP-SPP with five universities– AMA, ADNU, BISCAST, NCF and WRI. The addition of AMA, CCDI, PCFC, STI and WRI in the program is another milestone.
Prior to the formal MoA signing, Legacion and Edwin Nacianceno, School Director of CCDI Naga, gave their respective messages.
In his sponsorship speech, Legacion shared that the expansion was due to the positive reactions and recommendations made by the representatives from the first batch of SP-SPP academe partners.
“Through the course of the implementation of SP-SPP, we received positive feedbacks, especially from our partners in the universities and colleges of Naga, that indeed the program advanced the common goals of the academe and the city government. Aside from the fact that, through their (WRI, AMA, PCFC and CCDI) participation, we are widening the reach of the program and making it more inclusive and more comprehensive, their commitment to join us also signifies the Nagueños’ willingness to H2ELP our city,” stated Vice Mayor Legacion.
Legacion also underscored that there has been a revision in the MoA to include a provision that states the schools’ commitment to conceptualize and conduct an evaluation and post SP-SPP activities, for instance, submission of recommendations to a proposed ordinance within 5 days after the students’ visit to the SP or conduct of trainings or outreach programs.
“This provision was suggested to us by our partners in the academe themselves as they really desire to have a follow-through to the program and translate the acquired knowledge of the students to something tangible and beneficial to the community,” the vice mayor said.
Nacianceno, on the other hand, expressed his appreciation to the SP-SPP and articulated the academe’s commitment to continually support the City Government of Naga in coming up with and implementing sound programs that will be instrumental to the full attainment of transparency and peopleempowerment in local governance.
“SP-SPP will not only expose the students to the legislative processes of the city government and provide opportunity for them to air their sentiments and insights, but, through the post SP-SPP activities that the academe has committed, the program will also make the youth truly involved in nation-building,” said Nacianceno.
The MoA signing was witnessed by City Mayor John G. Bongat and the respective administrators of the different schools.
SP-SPP generally aims to educate the students in the city on the legislative functions and processes of the city government, enhance their awareness on various developmental issues, as well as engage and empower them as proactive stakeholders and development partners of the city. It has two mechanisms– 1) SP Watch and 2) SP Forum.
SP Watch provides students the opportunity to observe the proceedings of the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s regular session by allowing one class per week per university to sit as an audience of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.
SP Forum, meanwhile, serves as an interactive feedback mechanism between the students and the city officials. Under SP Forum, a 15- to 30-minute open forum shall be conducted for the students to clarify procedural measures of the Sanggunian, provide their thoughts and comments on certain developmental issues being faced by the city and are presently being deliberated by the SP, and/or offer suggestions on how to improve city mechanisms and projects.
Residets and visitors of Mangayawan, a coastal barangay of Canaman, Camarines Sur some eight kilometers west of Naga City, witnessed with fun and excitement the launching of the First Dragon Boat Camp last May 15, 2014. In his remarks during the brief program, this author as member of the Sanggunian Bayan of Canaman recalled the history of the Dragon Boat and the humble beginnings of the Bicol River Hot Paddlers of Mangayawan.
These paddlers who worked as farmers and fishermen gained attention when their team joined the dragon boat races in Manila a decade ago where they fought with well-trained and well-oiled rowing boat teams based in Manila, including the teams from the Philippine Navy and De la Salle University.
The team also competed in Boracay International Dragon Boat Race where they emerged winners and crowd favorite. The Hot Paddlers continued their winning streak in the Camarines Sur International Dragon Boat Race in October 2010. Some of them became members of the Camarines Sur Dragon Boat Team that won honors in the competitions in Singapore and China.
During the ensuing race here, 6 teams, each composed of twenty members, competed in the 300-meter boat race. LGU Canaman Employees fielded one team, PNP Camarines Sur PPO hadanother and the remaining four teams including, an all-female team, came from Mangayawan. Sitio Maalsom served as starting line while the barangay’s wharf served as the finish line.
Amidst the loud cheers of the spectators who lined up the boulevard in front of Mangayawan Elementary School and National High School, the competing teams paddled their way against the strong current towards the finish line. In the end, two teams got eliminated and only four teams moved to the finals.
Declared winners in the 300-meter Dragon Boat Race were PNP PPO Team 4th Runner–Up; Bicol River Hot Paddlers Melba Team, 3rd Runner- Up; Bicol River Hot Paddlers Arvy & Jeffrey Team, 2nd Runner–Up; Bicol River Hot Paddlers Kiki Team, 1st Runner – Up and Bicol River Hot Paddlers Maong Team, Champion.
Each winning team received a specially-crafte wooden paddle courtesy of Delovino Wood Products of Canaman town.
BarangayMangayawan is seen as the base of Canaman’s Dragon Boat Camp where trainors are members of the home- grown world class Bicol River Hot Paddlers, who are mostly farmers, fishermen and housewives.
Along the contiguous coastal barangays of the neighboring towns of Camaligan and Gainza, the town of Canaman is part of the Bicol River Cruise Circuit, an eco-tourism activity that both local and foreign tourists can enjoy.
Along that circuit, one can witness the laidback and traditional life along the coastal villages where people are involved in fresh water fishing, nipa shingles making, planting and harvesting rice while their children go swimming, or simply crossing the hanging bridges to get to the opposite side of the river.
One can also enjoy riding or staying overnight in prototypes of “Kayang,” a boat that is transformed into an overnight floating home of Peñafrancia devotees from coastal barangays during the fluvial procession along the Naga River every September.
LGU Canaman, in collaboration with other towns along the Bicol River and the Metro Naga Development Council, is finalizing plans to normally put into motion the town’s eco-tourism plan which is mainly anchored on the potentials of the river.
It is foreseen that motor boats christened as Beth, Joy, Melynza, Ronnie, Vangie and others that used to transport passengers from these coastal barangays to and from Naga City would soon resurface, this time, as floating boat restaurants or tourist boats.