Cebu Pacific Returns To Calbayog

For several months now, Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) has not been flying between Manila and Calbayog. I do not know why this happened, only that they cancelled all of their flights. Their website still showed the route, and Calbayog continued to be included in their promotional offers, even though no flight dates were available. Now that appears to be changing.

According to the current CEB Domestic Flight Schedule, they will renew service beginning on June 10, 2011. (see picture below)

CEB - Domestic Flight Schedule of 4/11/2011

CEB - Domestic Flight Schedule of 4/11/2011

Bebeng/Aere: Calbayog Update

As promised, here is an update on Tropical Storm Bebeng, now internationally known as Aere.

Now that the storm has moved north, all is calm in Calbayog City, Samar. There was a limited amount of damage, mostly trees and fences being blown down by high winds. Our house experienced some leaking through upstairs windows, as the winds were driving the rain at nearly a 45 degree angle. I also noticed some nipa roofs being blown up by the high winds, surely causing rain to go inside. As mentioned in my previous article, at least one road, in Matobato, was flooded by overflowing drainage ditches. In places the water was about 6 inches deep. Later, that same day, work crews braved the storm to clean out a drainage ditch, which put an end to the road’s flooding. I apologize for the quality of these photos. Due to weather conditions, and my camera not being water proof, it was difficult to get good images.

We experienced a blackout of electric power (locally known as a brownout) beginning on the afternoon of May 7th. Once the winds and rains subsided, the local power company, Samelco, had their crews out repairing the damages. Power was restored the next day, May 8th.

In an unrelated utility problem, Calbayog City Water District (CCWD) is experiencing problems with one of their pumps. This is causing low water pressure through out the city. Yesterday we did not have any water, at our house, during the entire daylight hours. Today has been a little better, with intermittent water.

Elsewhere, there was more severe damage cause by Bebeng. The Sun.Star has reported the “death toll (rose) to 15″, mostly in Bicol. Over 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. At least 50 flights have been cancelled or re-routed. Even President Noynoy Aquino had to delay his return to the Philippines by one day. He was in Indonesia for an ASEAN summit.

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Bebeng is expected to leave the Philippines and pass close to Taiwan before heading towards Japan.

Additional news stories on Bebeng/Aere:

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/breaking-news/2011/05/10/bebeng-death-toll-rises-15-154589

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/philippine-storm-kills-17philippine-storm-kills-17-939815.html

http://gulfnews.com/news/world/philippines/twelve-killed-as-tropical-storm-moves-north-1.805567

Bebeng: Calbayog: Rain, Wind, Flooding

Several hours ago I went for a walk, and took some pictures of flooded road conditions here in Brgy Matobato, Calbayog City, Samar. Since then the situation is only getting worse. here are some of the pictures I took then:

The rains started several hours after President Aquino’s visit to Calbayog City on Thursday, May 5. At that time, according to PAGASA, it was only a low pressure system. The surface winds, at that time were about 25 knots. Since then it has been upgraded to Tropical Depression “BEBENG”. The US Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) has issued a “TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING”, as the surface winds have reached 35 knots, gusting to 45 knots. PAGASA is currently saying maximum winds of 55 kph near the center of the storm. PAGASA is also expecting the storm to intensify, as it heads towards Manila. Here is a link to a JTWC graphic showing the US Navy’s expected path of Bebeng.

Samar Sea travellers, returning from Almagro Island on friday morning, informed me that the seas were quite rough then. Interrestingly, they were returning from a festival that Mayor Uy had been scheduled to attend, prior to his being shot and killed.

This is rather unusual weather for May, which is considered to be the dry season. Earlier in the year, PAGASA had declared this year a La Niña, or wet year, but they had expected La Niña to end in March.

There is more I plan to write, however the power has started flickering. Already my computer has been “turned off” once by lack of good voltage, so I will have to update this later.

Aquino Honors Slain Mayor

Amidst heightened security, President Benigno S. (Noynoy) Aquino III visited Calbayog City today. The purpose of his visit was to pay his final respect to slain Calbayog Mayor Dr. Reynaldo S. Uy.

Mayor Uy was shot last saturday night, while attending the town fiesta in Hinabangan, Samar. He died several hours later at Divine Word Hospital in Tacloban City. Samar board member Eunice Babalcon was also shot, and is now recovering.

Dr. Uy was a former congressman and political ally of President Aquino. He was also the provincial chairman of the Liberal Party, and had initiated a recall election of the governor and vice governor of Samar province. Had that recall election taken place, Mayor Uy and board member Babalcon were expected to be gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial candidates.

In his Labor Day speech, President Aquino said regarding the murder of Mayor Uy: “I pressed Raul Bacalzo to ensure a speedy investigation, the arrest of the people behind this dastardly act. They were shot, I understand, while their heads were bowed in an invocation.”

Many believe this shooting was politically motivated, including Mayor Uy’s oldest daughter Rosa Jessica Uy-Delgado, who said the killing of her father was a “political murder” perpetrated by a “highly corrupt politician.” She did not, however, identify who she thought was responsible for the murder of her father.

President Aquino has ordered the police to “clamp down” on Samar Province to prevent any further violence. Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary, Jesse Robredo has also suspended gun permits for the province.

A total of P1.2 million has been offered in reward moneys for anyone who can help identify and arrest those responsible for the murder of Mayor Uy. The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has even released sketches of the suspected killers. Pictures of the sketches, and more information is available on inquirer.net

The Governor of Samar Province, Sharee Ann Tan, has urged police authorities to hasten their investigation. She has also denied their family’s involvement in Mayor Uy’s killing.

Additional resources used to write this article:

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=682552&publicationSubCategoryId=67

http://www.pia.gov.ph/?m=1&t=1&id=30706

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20110504-334596/Aquino-to-visit-wake-of-slain-Calbayog-mayor

http://www.examiner.com/philippines-headlines-in-national/government-suspends-gun-permits-samar-after-uy-slaying

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/cebudailynews/visayas/view/20110504-334508/Politics-eyed-in-Calbayog-mayors-slay

Brownouts return to Calbayog City

Capoocan, Calbayog City

Last night the electricity was off in Capoocan from 6pm to 9pm local time. When I called the Samelco substation, they said it was a “rotating” brownout from Napocor. This morning, the power is out in Brgy Central of Calbayog City. I contacted Samelco’s Capoocan substation again, and was told this is a national problem, and maybe it’s Napocor sending our power to Luzon.

A search in Google indicates the lack of power is because the water levels are still low in the nations hydro-electric dams. Even though we have been getting some rain in June, we are still feeling the effects of the El Nino. You can read more about the situation in Luzon at this ABS-CBN article, and for Cebu there is more info at this globalnation.inquirer.net article.

Calbayog Diocese Centennial

The Diocese of Calbayog City, Samar, turned 100 years old today. The Diocese was created in 1910 by Pope Pius X, making it the oldest Diocese in Samar Province.

Papal Ambassador, Archbishop Joseph Edward Adams, the Papal Nuncio, led the Centennial Thanksgiving Mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The Mass, which was closed to the public, was attended by Archbishops, Bishops, and Priests from Cebu and Bicol, as well as the 31 parishes of the Diocese of Calbayog. Several important politicians, and military personnel were also on hand. I personally saw Congressman Reynaldo Uy, Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, 8th ID Commander Major General Arthur I Tabaquero, and Lieutenant General Hilario Atendido of the AFP Joint Staff. At the end of the Mass, messages were read from Pope Benedict XVI and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who were unable to attend.

Brownouts for Valentines

The visayas are currently experiencing a shortage of electricity. This is due to various power plants being down for maintenance. Here in Western Samar, we will be experiencing rotating brownouts at least until February 16th. I visited Samelco II’s Capoocan sub station, where I was shown a copy of the brownout schedule.  The scedule lists three time slots per day, with brownouts alternating between two areas.

The first area includes:
Calbayog City Proper & Barangays,
Capoocan to Minlawaan Bridge
Capoocan to Sta. Margarita Proper

This area has brownouts scheduled for the following time slots:
February 10, 2010: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM; 5:15 PM – 8:00 PM
February 11, 2010: 1:00 PM – 5:15 PM
February 12, 2010: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM; 5:15 PM – 8:00 PM
February 13, 2010: 1:00 PM – 5:15 PM
February 14, 2010: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM; 5:15 PM – 8:00 PM
February 15, 2010: 1:00 PM – 5:15 PM
February 14, 2010: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM; 5:15 PM – 8:00 PM

The second area includes:
Talahib to Lonoy
Oquendo District, Tinambacan District
Sta. Margarita Barangays
Gandara, San Jorge, Pagsanghan, Matuguinao, Tarangnan

This area has brownouts scheduled for the following time slots:
February 10, 2010: 1:00 PM – 5:15 PM
February 11, 2010: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM; 5:15 PM – 8:00 PM
February 12, 2010: 1:00 PM – 5:15 PM
February 13, 2010: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM; 5:15 PM – 8:00 PM
February 14, 2010: 1:00 PM – 5:15 PM
February 15, 2010: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM; 5:15 PM – 8:00 PM
February 16, 2010: 1:00 PM – 5:15 PM

For those living in other area’s, you should be able to contact your local power supplier for a list of scheduled outages.

You can read more about these brownouts in the following articles:
Visayas to suffer week-long brownouts
Brownouts in Cebu to intensify starting Monday
Leyte-Samar endures power curtailment since February 1
Visayas grid deficit due to shutdowns

Cebu Pacific Adds Flights

Cebu Pacific Airlines will soon be increasing it’s flights to two Samar Island cities. Starting August 16, 2009, flights to Calbayog City (Western Samar) and Catarman (Northern Samar) will become daily flights. Currently there are 4 flights per week to Catarman, and 3 flights per week to Calbayog. According to a Cebu Pacific Press Release, “The lowest Go Lite fare for both destinations is P888.”  All of these flights will be between Samar and Terminal 3 of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

I’m still wondering why there is no service between Samar and Cebu?

Calbayog Airport Update

With 3 airlines now flying through Calbayog, I thought I would take another trip out to the Sabang Airport, to see what changes have been made. I went out there on February 17th, the day before Cebu Pacific’s first flight.

The first change I noticed was the control tower, which has been rennovated.

Here is how the check in area looked. I was told Cebu Pacific was bringing their banner with them, on their flight the next day. Cebu Pacific will be right next to Zest Air. I guess PAL Express get’s the bigger area, since they fly daily.

Other changes that have been made include new sections of perimiter fence and parking lot improvements. An extension to the runway is also in the works, but waiting for funding.

You can read more about Cebu Pacific’s first flight at the Calbayog City blog article: “Cebu Pacific flies to Calbayog“.

Zest Air grounded.

If you were planning on flying Zest Air between Calbayog and Manila today, you were out of luck. There was a last minute cancellation, due to maintenance issues. Apparently, the plane did not pass a pre-flight inspection, or was otherwise not ready in time for boarding in Manila. About 11 AM the representatives in Calbayog were making a mad dash to contact all the locally ticketed passengers.

If you remember, Zest Air purchased Asian Spirit late last year. There was a short period of no flights, as the planes had to be detailed for the new airlines. On December 26, 2008, Zest Air started their flights to Calbayog. Then, on January 11, 2009, a Zest Air plane crashed at the Caticlan airport. Three people were injured in that crash, when the plane undershot the runway.

While Zest Air will make refunds to passengers of todays cancelled flight, people with connecting flights, or scheduled events, may be out of luck.

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