Thursday, March 12, 2020

Classes In All Levels In Baguio City Suspended From March 13 To March 22

All classes in all levels for both public and private schools in Baguio City have been suspended from March 13 to March 22 by virtue of an executive order issued by the city mayor, Benjamin Magalong. The order was dated and issued on March 12 (Thursday). The order aims to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the city.

City Hall came up with the decision after a dialogue with officials from the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

The executive order partly reads:

Section 1: Classes for all levels in public and private schools in the City of Baguio are hereby suspended for the period of 13 March 2020 until 22 March 2020, subject to further guidelines and directives that may be released by the National Government, DOH, or upon assessment of the Covid-19 Inter-Agency Task Force.

Section 2: School officials and administrators are instructed to immediately sanitize and disinfect their classrooms and facilities in order to prevent transmission of Covid-19.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

All Hiking Activities In Mt. Ulap Suspended Until Further Notice

The officials of barangay Ampucao in Itogon, Benguet have decided to suspend all hiking and tourism activities in Mt. Ulap and its various eco trails. The temporary suspension is a preventative measure against the current corona virus threat.

The barangay announced the closing of the mountain today (Tuesday). Organizers and hikers who are scheduled to climb the mountain in the coming weeks are advised to follow the directive. There's no definite date on when the mountain will be reopened. Given the increasing number of corona virus cases in the country, it will probably be a while before the barangay allows hikers to enter the area.

It can be recalled that Mt. Ulap was closed a couple of weeks ago, also because of the corona virus threat. It was reopened in the last week of February. The local officials decided to close it again today for the safety of the residents. A lot of the hikers climbing Mt. Ulap often come from the NCR. As of this writing, more than a dozen cases of the corona virus have been recorded in the NCR.

Friday, March 6, 2020

The End of Your Life Book Club: Reading Literature As A Respite From The Inescapable

Learning that you are going to die in a few months’ time has got to be the worst dark gift a human being can ever receive. At least for someone that still has the penchant for life. It would be a completely different story for someone who is more than happy to meet his or her maker. An out-of-his-luck convict for example.

But for someone wishing to see the sun rise a few more times, hearing the news that death is waiting around the corner will be soul-crushing. Once you are dealt with the card, you have no choice but to play it. The end will come sooner or later.

But the good news is - if you can call it that – you can play the card any way you want. Your hour will come, sure. But you can do anything you want before that hour comes. You have the choice on how you are going to spend those remaining days, weeks, or months.

So if you are given a few months to live, how are you going to make those last months bearable and productive? This is the question that Will Schwalbe answers in his memoir, The End of Your Life Book Club. However, in this case, Will isn’t the one dying. It’s his mother, Mary Anne.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and with zero to little chances of beating the illness, Mary Anne knew exactly where she’s headed. All that’s left to do is make the most out of her remaining days. That means starting a book club with her son Will. Among other things, of course.

It’s a book club with just two members, Will and Mary Anne. They would exchange books when they meet. They would talk about books as they wait for Mary Anne’s chemotherapy sessions. They turned reading into a weapon in battling the onslaught of cancer on Mary Anne’s physical and mental well-being.

Will also takes the time to introduce the reader to Mary Anne. Mary Anne wasn’t just a mother. She wasn’t just Will’s mother. She was a mother to hundreds if not thousands of people. Mary Anne made selflessness a career. She has worked with charities and foundations that helped less privileged people in Africa and Asia. She has been to war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Sudan. A tough and courageous woman with a heart of gold. That’s who she was.

At its core, The End of Your Life Book Club is about acceptance, love, hope, and touching lives through selflessness and tolerance. Will painted these themes with books and literature as his paint brushes. Knowing that you are going to die is harsh. Knowing that your mother is going to die is heart-breaking. But amidst all that darkness, there is light. Follow that light, make the most out of it, and the final hour won’t hurt that much.

In many ways, The End of Your Life Book Club is a love letter to book lovers. As Will and Mary Anne discuss the books they’re reading or books they’ve read in the past, you’ll feel like you are discussing the books with them. That is if you’ve read the books yourself. You are almost forced to compare what you thought about the books to what they are saying about the books.

If you haven’t read the books they were discussing, you can take these as recommendations. Titles to potentially add to your reading list.

Note: The book comes with an appendix which alphabetically lists all the titles mentioned in the book. It’s an eclectic list (i.e. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Purgatorio, The Great Santini, the Bite of the Mango, etc.).

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Bakun Cancels Town Fiesta As Precaution Against COVID-19

The town of Bakun in Benguet has decided to cancel their upcoming municipal fiesta as a precautionary move against the ongoing threat of COVID-19. According to a public advisory released by the local government unit, the management committee of the town has unanimously agreed with the decision.

The town fiesta was supposed to be held on March 13 to 15. The public advisory dated February 17 was signed by the Bakun municipal mayor, Mr. Bill Raymundo.

Photo by Daniel Ted C. Feliciano / The Cordilleran Sun
Other towns in Benguet have imposed the same precautionary measure during the last several weeks. Kabayan, Kibungan, and Atok discouraged tourism activities in their domains. The town of La Trinidad cancelled their annual Strawberry Festival. The events for the Pabagbenga Festival have been moved to March. Mt. Ulap, a very popular hiking destination in Itogon has also decided to close its doors for the time being.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Kabayan To Close All Tourism Sites As Preventive Measure Against Threat Of Novel Coronavirus

In an advisory dated February 12, 2020, the town of Kabayan in Benguet announced that they are closing all tourism sites as well as suspending all tourism activities within the town as a preventive measure against the threat of the Novel Coronavirus. The shutting down of tourist sites will take effect on February 24.

Tourism activities within the town are still allowed until February 23. However, all tourists and tour organizers/coordinators are requested to abide with the executive order which urges them to declare that they haven't traveled to countries wherein there were confirmed cases of the virus. They will only be allowed to enter the town with the proper disclosure.

A week ago, the town cancelled their Date with the Peak event which was supposed to happen on February 25 to 27. This trek was supposed to take trekkers to Mt. Pulag via the Tawangan Trail.

Photo by Daniel Ted C. Feliciano
Aside from Mt. Pulag, other tourism sites in Kabayan include Mt. Tabayoc, the four Mystical Lakes, and a few ancient burial caves.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

208 Dengue Cases Recorded In The Cordillera Region In The Month Of January (2020)

According to the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH), 208 cases of dengue were recorded in the region during the first four weeks of 2020. The cases were recorded from January 1 to January 25. Of these cases, one died from the illness.

The province of Benguet recorded the most number of cases with 92 while Mountain Province recorded the least number of cases with just one case. Apayao recorded 36 cases, Kalinga 27 cases, Baguio City 26 cases, Abra 4 cases, and Ifugao 4 cases. 18 of the cases came from non-CAR provinces. They came to the Cordillera region for treatment and recovery but they caught the illness outside of the region.

The total number of cases for the first four weeks of this year is much lower compared to the number of cases from the same period last year. The same period last year recorded 759 cases. This means that there's a 72% decrease in dengue cases region-wide. However, on a province by province basis, Benguet recorded a 13% increase this year. All the other provinces and Baguio City recorded significant decrease in cases.

Quick summary of the dengue virus (Source: MedLine Plus):
Dengue is an infection caused by a virus. You can get it if an infected mosquito bites you. Dengue does not spread from person to person. It is common in warm, wet areas of the world. Outbreaks occur in the rainy season.

Symptoms include a high fever, headaches, joint and muscle pain, vomiting, and a rash. In some cases, dengue turns into dengue hemorrhagic fever, which causes bleeding from your nose, gums, or under your skin. It can also become dengue shock syndrome, which causes massive bleeding and shock. These forms of dengue are life-threatening.

There is no specific treatment. Most people with dengue recover within 2 weeks. Until then, drinking lots of fluids, resting and taking non-aspirin fever-reducing medicines might help. People with the more severe forms of dengue usually need to go to the hospital and get fluids.

To lower your risk when traveling to areas where dengue is found:
1. Wear insect repellent with DEET
2. Wear clothes that cover your arms, legs and feet
3. Close unscreened doors and windows

Friday, February 7, 2020

African Swine Fever Virus Has Reached Benguet; Ban On Entry Of Live Pigs Ordered By Governor

Earlier this week, it was announced that the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus has reached the province of Benguet. This was confirmed by Dr. Miriam Tiongan, the Benguet Provincial Veterinarian. The disease was detected in pig farms located in the towns of La Trinidad and Tuba. Samples from the farms were collected for testing and analysis by the Animal Disease Diagnostic Reference Laboratory of the Bureau of Animal Industry.

The laboratory confirmed that the samples were indeed infected by the virus. Authorities are still in the process of investigating how the virus entered the province.

The samples were taken from pig farms in Camp 1, Tuba and Beckel, La Trinidad. More than one hundred pigs in Tuba were culled after confirmation that these were indeed compromised by the virus.

Photo by Gilles Sabrie

To prevent the further spread of the ASF in the province, Governor Melchor Diclas issued an order that temporarily bans the entry of live pigs into the province. The lockdown will be in effect until such time that a "declaration is made by the Bureau of Animal Industry - Department of Agriculture of the assurance of the safety of the swine industry". The order was issued on February 5, 2020.