Argao, Balamban, Dalaguete given Seal of Good Education Governance

Three towns in Cebu are among the 24 local government units recognized for their outstanding efforts in delivering basic education to their constituents.

The inaugural batch of recipients of the Synergia Foundation’s Seal of Good Education Governance will get incentive packages from PLDT and Smart Communications worth up to P1.5 million each.

The winners from Cebu include Argao, Balamban, and Dalaguete.

The 24 local government units (LGUs) are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Alimodan, Iloilo
  2. Argao, Cebu
  3. Bacnotan, La Union
  4. Balamban, Cebu
  5. Bongao, Tawi-Tawi
  6. Cabatuan, Iloilo
  7. Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental
  8. Concepcion, Iloilo
  9. Dalaguete, Cebu
  10. Dao, Capiz
  11. Datu Paglas, Maguindanao
  12. Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya
  13. Diffun, Quirino
  14. Ivisan, Capiz
  15. Lambunao, Iloilo
  16. Miagao, Iloilo
  17. Mina, Iloilo
  18. North Upi, Maguindanao
  19. Santol, La Union
  20. Simunul, Tawi-Tawi
  21. Solano, Nueva Vizcaya
  22. Valenzuela, Metro Manila
  23. Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya
  24. Tuba, Benguet

Established in 2002, Synergeia is a coalition of individuals and organizations working closely with about 400 LGUs to improve the delivery of basic education to Filipino children. The foundation intends to award the Seal of Good Education Governance to deserving LGUs every year. It received 250 LGU nominations through its website this year.

Synergeia Awardees
AWARDEES. Synergia Foundation’s Seal of Good Education Governance awardees with PLDT and Smart executives.


Criteria for judging

Determining the list of seal recipients was a board of judges composed of representatives from Synergeia and the Department of Education. To receive the seal, LGUs must have broadened the membership and functions of their Local School Board. Most of their schools should have functional School Governing Councils.

As an indicator of performance, the average National Achievement Test score of elementary school children must be higher than the national average of 66%, or must have increased by at least two percentage points. Alternatively, the LGUs must have reduced the number of poor readers by at least 15%.

Moreover, their cohort survival rate (the percentage of first graders who go on to complete sixth grade) must be higher than the national average of 70%, or must have increased by at least two percentage points.

Education governance scorecard

Finally, the LGUs must have recorded a decrease in non-readers and frustrated readers by at least 15 percentage points.

“We put together an education governance scorecard to focus on the results of their work. While anecdotes and feel-good stories about education initiatives are helpful, the scorecard enables us to objectively evaluate the performance of LGUs,” said Synergeia chief executive officer Milwida Guevara.

“We are happy to recognize these outstanding LGUs, and hope that the Seal of Good Education Governance would inspire them to keep making children’s education a priority in their governance agenda,” she said.

Incentives for seal recipients

To boost the capability of seal recipients to improve education in their localities, PLDT and Smart will provide technology packages suited to the LGUs’ respective circumstances and needs. Among the incentives are the installation and maintenance of Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas, and the provision of InfoCast, a web-based solution that will allow the LGUs to broadcast announcements and receive feedback via text message.

LGUs in remote areas will get a satellite-based communication solution that provides voice and SMS services.

Another incentive for LGUs in far-flung areas is the Smart School-in-a-Bag, which contains a solar panel to serve schools without electricity, mobile devices, curriculum-based educational content, teacher training, monitoring, and evaluation.

Also included in the incentive package are personal development trainings for LGUs.

“We strongly support Synergeia’s efforts to encourage local governments to efficiently and effectively deliver basic education to Filipino children. Through the technology tools and digital educational content included in the incentive packages, these LGUs can further enhance learning among their young constituents,” said PLDT and Smart chief revenue officer Eric Alberto.

“The PLDT Group will continue to work hand-in-hand with organizations like Synergeia and local governments to achieve our goal of building a smart nation,” he added.

Community Feature Food Places

Eats Meets West showcases the best of Midwest Cebu towns

Crabs simmered humba style, skewered squid cubes turned golden brown on a clay grill, and native chicken cooked in fermented coconut juice as five towns in midwestern Cebu prepared their entries for the Eats Meets West culinary competition held in Tabuelan.

It was a flurry of mincing and slicing, grilling and frying, and food arrangements on long tables turned makeshift kitchens and set up in the open grounds of the Durhans White Beach Resort last November 13.

Eats Meets West is one component of the community-based ecotourism workshops organized for Midwest Cebu towns by Boboi Costas of Grassroots Travel. Costas initiated the culinary competition, with the support of Smart Communications, in the third leg of the workshops as a way of teaching business planning and operations.

Westy Minty Lemonade of Balamban
ALL ORGANIC. The Westy Minty Lemonade of Balamban is a refreshing all-organic drink of kalamansi puree, mint leaves, ginger extract, and lemon blended together.


Talema juice Tabuelan
BEST WELCOME DRINK. Talema Juice is named after the main ingredients tanglad (lemongrass), lemonsito concentrate, and mango. It won for Tabuelan the Best Welcome Drink.


“Food is an important component in travel and an integral part of local tourism initiatives. When the food is good, the vacation is good,“ he said.

According to Costas, another objective of the activity is to discover, develop, and enhance local cuisine. One criteria of the food competition was for Alegria, Aloguinsan, Balamban, Asturias, and the host town of Tabuelan to put a new twist to local dishes.

Alimangong humba Eats Meets West
ALIMANGONG HUMBA is a new twist to cooking crabs, preparing it ala humba, a popular Cebuano braised pork dish. It was prepared by a high school student from Tabuelan using a recipe handed down by his grandmother. The dish was picked Best Main Course during Eats Meets West earlier this month.


New twist to local food

There were some excellent turnouts but Tabuelan outdid itself and swept all contended dish categories except for Best Dessert, which went to Aloguinsan.

Tabuelan’s alimangong humba or crabs cooked in the manner of the popular Cebuano braised pork dish was picked Best Main Course, Talema Juice named after the main ingredients tanglad (lemongrass), lemonsito concentrate, and mango was Best Welcome Drink, Korntik Cookies made out of finely ground corn came out as Best Food Pasalubong, with Best Packaging thrown in for good measure.

Other noteworthy submissions were grilled dishes: skewered squid cubes by Aloguinsan and Balamban’s deboned chicken pieces accompanied by sauce made out of basil and pesto.

Another Tabuelan recipe called the Tubisnok, though not an entry, was well received by the judges. The Tubisnok is native chicken cooked in fermented coconut juice locally known as tuba.

Balamban deboned chicken
BALAMBAN CHICKEN. Balamban prepared deboned chicken pieces with sauce made out of basil and pesto.


Eats Meets West Aloguinsan
SQUID KEBAB. Aloguinsan submitted as main course entry this tasty diamondback squid kebab. The diamondback squid, locally known as dalupapa, is a large squid that could grow up to 7 kilos, community members said. At left of the photo are taro balls, a dessert made of gabing tuod and served in a thick syrup of coconut milk and sugar. The taro balls were chosen as Best Dessert.


Drinks and desserts

From Alegria’s moringa bibingka and Balamban’s kamote krispies to Tabuelan’s budbud cassava with choco, there were exceptional entries for desserts as well.

Aloguinsan ruled this category, however, with its taro balls served in thick syrup of coconut milk and sugar. The taro balls are made from an abundant town plant known as gabing tuod.

Moringa bibingka from Alegria
MORINGA BIBINGKA is Alegria’s new and healthy take on the native rice cake.


Korntik Cookies Tabuelan
KORNTIK COOKIES from Tabuelan was picked as Best Food Pasalubong. It’s made from finely ground corn.


Balamban Kamote Krispies
KAMOTE KRISPIES from Balamban for the desserts category.


Showing a lot of promise are the welcome drinks by Balamban and Aloguinsan. The Westy Minty Lemonade of Balamban is a refreshing all-organic drink of kalamansi puree, mint leaves, ginger extract and lemon blended together.

Aloguinsan extracted juice from kamote leaves boiled for 10 minutes and flavored this with kalamansi and sugar for its Kamote Juice. Alegria used the same process on a local medicinal flower to come up with the Butterfly Pea Drink.

Tubisnok native chicken in tuba
TUBISNOK is native chicken cooked in tuba or coconut wine. The dish, which was well received by the judges, was prepared by Tabuelan but not submitted as an official entry.


Cebu ecotourism initiative

Aloguinsan also garnered the non-food awards, including Best Table Setting with its dining implements made from a native vine as well as Best Welcome and Take Home Souvenirs.

Eats Meets West
CULINARY CONTEST. Community members from Aloguinsan prepare their dishes for the Eats Meets West culinary competition.


Eats Meets West Tabuelan
TEAM TABUELAN. The team from host town Tabuelan won most of the categories in the Eats Meets West cooking contest.


Atty. Maria Jane Paredes, Smart Communications, Inc. public affairs senior manager, said the competition was timely because companies are looking for local products as Christmas giveaways.

For souvenirs, the towns presented handcrafted home accessories, necklaces, and bracelets made out of local wood, shell, or plant fiber.

She lauded the initial output of the ecotourism initiative in the food and souvenir products that came out of the Eats Meets West culinary event.

Eats Meets West Aloguinsan
RECYCLED PLASTIC. Aloguinsan presents decors made from recycled or “upcycled” plastic wrappers of junk food.


Costas said the activity seeks to discover signature food and drinks and local products that the towns can showcase when they collaborate to come up with tour circuits next year. The goal is to offer two-night, three-day tour packages that showcase the best of Midwest Cebu towns and begin these in March 2016.

Eats Meets West Cebu
VENUE. The Eats Meets West culinary competition and workshop was held in Durhans White Beach Resort and the nearby La Familia resort (shown above).

Tsuneishi launches its 1st ‘eco-ship’ in Balamban

Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu), Inc. (THI) launched in December a premium class vessel that features higher fuel efficiency and a design that reduces wind resistance.

THI said in a press statement that the SC-220 is its first “eco-ship.” It is a 58,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) bulk carrier that features the higher fuel efficiency design of the TESS58 and the new Aeroline technology for reducing wind resistance.

THI TESS58 Aeroline launching
LAUNCHED. The SC-220 launching ceremony last December at the Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu), Inc. Slipway No. 2 in Balamban, Cebu. (Contributed photo)

The ship is designed for low fuel consumption. It also has a technology that collects exhaust heat from the generator engine that is then converted into energy for the auxiliary boiler. It is also equipped with TOP-GR (Tsuneishi Optimized Propulsive Gear) propellers for lower vibration and higher propulsion efficiency.

The ship also has a Fresh Air Intake System (FAIS) that boosts engine fuel efficiency. The SC-220, according to the company, will be delivered this March.

“Our shipbuilding business led by Tsuneishi Shipbuilding is continuously seeking ways to build ships that are competitive in quality, price, delivery lead time and with an eco-friendly performance. We are building Tsuneishi flagship products, and therefore we are united to deliver excellent ships. Tsuneishi Heavy Industries has maintained and always will have ‘Only the Best, World-Class Tsuneishi Quality.’” — Akihiko Mishima, THI’s new president

THI said it delivered two vessels last January 9 and 22; a 82,000 deadweight metric ton type Kamsarmax bulk carrier, SC-226 M/V Capricorn Trader, and a 58,000 deadweight metric ton type Handymax bulk carrier, SC-231 M/V Kellet Island respectively.

M/V Kellet Island is en route to Hongkong, while M/V Capricorn Trader is bound for Singapore for bunkering then cargo loading in Australia. Both ships are owned by Japanese nationals.

THI, a joint venture between the Tsuneishi Group and Aboitiz Group, has delivered 191 ships since it started building vessels. IT delivered 20 ships in 2014. This year, THI is set to deliver 18 ships.