Majority of Metro Manila Mayors support shift to MGCQ status by March 1, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte will have a big decision to make that will affect millions of residents and businesses in Metro Manila as a majority of the mayors voted to shift the metropolis from general community quarantine (GCQ) to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) status by March 1, 2021, as based on a news release on Philippine News Agency (PNA) that got published just last night.

Here’s an excerpt from the PNA report:

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), composed of Metro Manila mayors and national government officials, has voted to support the proposed shift to the less restrictive modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) in Metro Manila.

“Ang karamihan po ng alkalde ng kalakhang maynila ay bumoto na MGCQ na po ang magiging posisyon nila pagdating sa Metro Manila (Most of the mayors in Metro Manila voted for having MGCQ as their position in Metro Manila),” Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. said in a press conference on Thursday.

This, he said, will be sent to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and to President Rodrigo R. Duterte who will make the final decision on whether to implement eased quarantine restrictions by March 1.

He declined to provide the actual number of votes the proposal received but said that all Metro Manila mayors will support the decision.

Indeed, Abalos did not reveal the number of Yes and No votes but the Manila Bulletin reported that the score among Metro Manila mayors was 9-8 in favor of MGCQ.

To put things in perspective, Metro Manila still has yet to adjust to MGCQ status. Metro Manila is the hot spot of multiple cities where a lot of residents as well as business entities of varied sizes are located at. Right now, the nation needs a major boost to its economy even as there is still the need to be vigilant to avoid new COVID-19 infections. Lots of people in the metropolis remain unemployed and badly need income, and having Metro Manila shift to MGCQ status will help revive other businesses and pave the way for more people to get back to work.

It would be nice to see the Metro Manila Council research more and observe closely how other cities and provinces are doing while maintaining MGCQ statuses for months already.

On a grander scale, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) supports the recommendation to have the entire nation placed under MGCQ status by March. The said recommendation was made by Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua in recent times. Below is an excerpt from the PNA report:

“It is about time we move to MGCQ after a year of lockdown,” Lopez told reporters in a Viber message Tuesday. “Lockdown was supposed to buy us time to prepare our health system and improve contact tracing and ‘Trace-Test-Treat’.”

Since June 2020, the National Capital Region (NCR) has not graduated from GCQ status, a stricter community quarantine measure than MGCQ.

It even went back to much stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to 18 last year as health care facilities in Metro Manila were overwhelmed due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases during that period.

“As the Philippines recovers, Metro Manila has a very weak recovery, worse in employment and hunger recovery, and that means more urban poor. The damages to malnutrition and other health and social issues will be irreversible,” Lopez said.

NCR accounted for around 40 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP).

But Lopez added the reopening of more economic activities should depend on the Covid-19 statistics.

As pointed out by Trade secretary Lopez, Metro Manila is lagging behind in terms of recovery from the pandemic. Apart from joblessness and lack of income, poverty in the National Capital Region is an important problem to solve. The more people fall under poverty, the more local government units (LGUs) need to exert and spend their limited resources to support them.

Right now, the Metro Manila Council’s approval of shifting to MGCQ status will soon be dealt with by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and President Duterte.

In ending this, here are some videos about combatting the China virus.

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Skyway Stage 3 opened to motorists

After long years of waiting and a lot of hard work done mainly by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and its strategic partners, Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway here in the Philippines has officially been opened to motorists as confirmed by SMC’s president and CEO Ramon S. Ang.

“All access points and seven lanes in select areas will be available to motorists starting January 15 still for free—extended until February 1—so that our motorists can experience and enjoy seamless driving along this engineering marvel over Metro Manila’s congested streets,” Ang posted on his official Facebook page on January 13, 2021.

An official photo of a specific stretch of Skyway Stage 3 released by San Miguel Corporation.

Yesterday, the inauguration ceremony of Skyway Stage 3 was held and was graced by many government officials and special guests, including President Rodrigo Duterte. Ang expressed hope for the future as Skyway Stage 3 will benefit a lot of people traveling between north and south of Metro Manila.

Ang issued the following statement: I celebrate this special day with a full heart, knowing that we have delivered another game-changing project that will make a difference in the lives of so many Filipinos for many generations to come. With the official opening of our 18-km Skyway Stage 3, traffic in Metro Manila will be significantly reduced. It will no longer rob our kababayan of precious quality time with their families. After bridging the north and south of the Metro, we will begin work next month to realize another dream: to link Manila and Rizal in the east and eventually provide seamless land travel on all four corners of Metro Manila.  Thank you to all our partner-stakeholders past and present, and to the Duterte Administration for the unwavering support in helping us deliver this vital infrastructure project! Maraming, maraming salamat po!

As mentioned before, Stage 3 of Skyway is a stretch of about 18 kilometers that connects the northern and southern parts of Luzon with an elevated highway that results much faster travel for motorists. Not only does it connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) with the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), it also allows motorists coming from both highways to reach their destinations in Quezon City, Manila and Makati City via designated exits. Skyway Stage 3 also has seven lanes.

In addition, anyone traveling from the north, let’s say the province of Bulacan, who has to travel all the way to Cavite province can do so by traveling along Skyway Stage 3 (to bypass EDSA and all the congested Metro Manila streets below), reach the older Skyway that connects to the NAIAX (Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway) and connect to the CAVITEX (Cavite Expressway). Motorists from Cavite on the other hand can go north much faster than before through the same route of expressways.

People from Laguna province who need to visit far destinations in the north like Subic Bay or Clark can do so by entering the Skyway from SLEX, go through Skyway Stage 3 and enter the NLEX. From NLEX travelers can go to Subic Bay via the SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway). To reach Clark, travel further north via NLEX.

The potential benefits of Skyway Stage 3 makes travel between north and south much easier and more efficient. This also means avoiding losing precious time in traffic jams in Metro Manila’s old roads below the Skyway, and this should translate into much less stress traveling. As such, San Miguel Corporation and Ramon S. Ang deserve a lot of thanks and admiration. Also, never forget to thank God that this incredible achievement of Philippine infrastructure happened in our lifetimes. For sure, Skyway Stage 3 will contribute a lot to the socio-economic development of not only Luzon but the Philippines as a whole.

In ending this, posted below is the January 5, 2021 official video of Skyway Stage 3 (which was partially opened weeks ago) for your viewing pleasure and learning.

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Gold Delight’s Coffee Crumble and Cocoflan ice cream

Like anyone else, I enjoy consuming ice cream especially when it is very well prepared, finely formulated, has a great mix of ingredients and delivers a really great taste. Here in the Philippines, there are these three major brands of ice cream that are often available around through the groceries, the convenience stores, the community store and the like. Frankly speaking, I have grown tired of the ice cream products of those three major brands.

Fortunately and thanks to the Lord, a great alternative was realized in October 2016 when Ice Cream House opened its branch along Presidents Avenue, Barangay BF Homes, Parañaque City. On my first-ever visit at Ice Cream House, I easily noticed their wide selection of ice cream products and frozen delights under the brand called Gold Delight. Subsequently, I revisited Ice Cream House BF Homes branch again and again taking home pints or half-gallons of their ice cream which are all delicious. Members of our household as well as some friends and guests all found Gold Delight ice cream tasty and nice.

The BF Homes branch of Ice Cream House unfortunately shut down as a result of the pandemic and the community quarantine that followed which brought down the economy. The same thing happened also to the Ice Cream House branch along CAA Road in Las Piñas City. Fortunately for ice cream enthusiasts of South Metro Manila, there is one vendor selling Gold Delight ice cream and frozen delights in Las Piñas City (call 0915-4606505) located across a certain college there. And here is the real deal on acquiring Gold Delight ice cream products – the Ice Cream House company is accepting orders online and they actually deliver the products to the customers! Visit their Facebook page to see the steps and details.

This brings me to the topic of this article. Thanks to the Ice Cream House company for fulfilling my orders and successfully delivering all the way from Quezon City to Alabang, my family enjoyed the Gold Delight ice cream in HGs and pints. For this article, the spotlight is on two notable flavors of Gold Delight ice cream – Coffee Crumble and Cocoflan.

Coffee Crumble

Coffee is very popular here in the Philippines, specifically in its hot form. Coffee also made its way into ice cream locally although there is not much variety of it. There is one particular major ice cream brand that has offered coffee crumble ice cream for a long time and I personally got tired of that. That being said, Gold Delight’s coffee crumble ice cream is so much better than that of the major brand!

Firstly, the coffee blended by Gold Delight alone has stronger flavor compared to that of the major brand. Secondly, there is a sufficient amount of chocolate chips which not only add to the already good coffee flavor, but also ensures crunches for each bite. In other words, the chocolate chips really add to the crumble factor of Gold Delight’s coffee crumble ice cream! Thirdly, the sweetness of it all is pretty satisfying to my taste. Gold Delight’s coffee crumble ice cream is very delicious and I highly recommend it!

Cocoflan

What is Cocoflan? Literally speaking, it is the combination coconut milk and the Philippine delicacy of leche flan. This is, in my opinion, the most unique ice cream ever made by the Ice Cream House company and the good news here is that it is very delicious.

For one thing, there is not enough ice cream products here in the Philippines that make good use of coconut milk. Coconut milk is unique with the way it is sourced and prepared, and has nutritional benefits. That being said, coconut milk gives Cocoflan a unique and nice flavor. Adding more flavor in the same ice cream are pieces of leche flan which are spread randomly from the top to the bottom. Cocoflan is not only very delicious, but also has a very unique taste that really makes it stand out among all ice cream being sold here in the Philippines. As such, it is highly recommended.

Conclusion

If you love ice cream with the taste of coffee or coconut milk or leche flan, or if you simply love very delicious ice cream regardless of brand, you should go for Gold Delight’s Coffee Crumble and its signature Cocoflan. Take note that these are just a few of the many flavors of ice cream that the Ice Cream House company is offering

If you are curious for more or if you really want to order Gold Delight ice cream from Ice Cream House, contact them at mobile phone number 09190091543 or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/icecreamhouseph

Be aware that they are accepting orders through their Facebook page via FB Messenger and you can avail of their order form for you to fill up. Payments can be done by GCash, Pay Maya or bank transfer through BPI, BDO or PNB. Orders successfully processed can be delivered to you within 1 or 2 days.

If anyone of you reading this love ice cream, let me ask you the following key questions: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream right now? What do you look for in ice cream? When was the last time you switched from a major ice cream brand to a lesser-known ice cream brand? You may answer in the comments section below.

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Soft Opening of Skyway Stage 3 this December, Northbound Extension on track for Year-end Completion

Hey fellow South Metro Manila residents and motorists! Do you plan to go to other parts of Metro Manila and further north soon?

Be confident because Skyway Stage 3 (AKA Skyway 3) is set for a soft opening this December and as of this writing the northbound section of the Skyway Extension project is at 70% completed and it should reach 100% by the end of this year. This is not to be confused with Skyway Stage 3’s completion which was in reference to the linking of the northern and southern parts of Luzon. Right now, the people behind the project are working to finish the northbound section for the soft opening. The exact December date for the soft opening still has yet to be revealed.

A portion of the northbound extension of the Skyway within Muntinlupa City. (source – Ramon S. Ang Facebook page)

“We are on track to deliver the northbound section of the Skyway Extension project by December, and with this, motorists from the south can easily access Makati, Manila, San Juan, Quezon City, and the North Luzon Expressway,” said San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and chief executive officer (CEO) Ramon S. Ang in a press statement.

To put things in perspective, SMC fully funded the project with P10 billion and it is designed to extend the Skyway from Susana Heights on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to Sucat and back, and provide direct access to the elevated section of the Skyway. The South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Muntinlupa Cavite Expressway (MCX) will get connected to the Skyway at Susana Heights which will bypass Alabang and should result seamless and shorter travel from south to north via the Skyway system.

“Under normal Metro Manila conditions, you will be lucky if you can get from SLEX to the North Luzon Expressway in under three hours. You would have to pass through traffic gridlocks in Alabang, Magallanes, practically the whole of EDSA, or various areas through Manila. With the Skyway Extension and the completed Skyway 3, you can get there in 30 minutes without stopping,” Ang further elaborated.

In addition, motorists coming from the provinces of Cavite, Laguna and Batangas will be able to bypass Alabang which should also ease traffic in Muntinlupa as well as along Alabang-Zapote road.

At this point of time, things are really looking very good as far as Luzon highways and Metro Manila travel are concerned. Being able to travel from Alabang to north of Metro Manila and back with much faster speed and much less stress is something I have always dreamed of. That old dream will soon be realized! Keep an eye on the Skyway and the completion of the extension.

In ending this article, watch and enjoy this very recent Skyway update video.

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the FB group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

Muntinlupa City is among 2019 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) awardees

Muntinlupa City is among 2019 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) awardees

Today the City Government of Muntinlupa announced that they have been feted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as one of the 2019 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) awardees for its excellent delivery of public service. This latest development continues to show why Muntinlupa is a standout city among South Metro Manila’s cities.

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DILG Sec. Eduardo Año turns-over the 2019 Seal of Good Local Governance award to Mayor Jaime Fresnedi during an awarding ceremony at Manila Hotel last November 4. SGLG is the DILG’s progressive assessment and reward system that gives LGUs distinction for their remarkable performance across various assessment areas in governance. Also attending the program were Muntinlupa City Administrator Engr. Allan Cachuela and DILG Muntinlupa Field Office chief Bernadette Ferino. (source – Muntinlupa PIO)

The prestigious SGLG award was received by Mayor Jaime Fresnedi from DILG Sec. Eduardo Año during the awarding ceremony held at the Manila Hotel yesterday. With the mayor were City Administrator Engr. Allan Cachuela and DILG Muntinlupa Field Office chief Bernadette Ferino.

Despite having a more stringent assessment criteria for the award, the City of Muntinlupa has passed “all-in” seven assessment areas in governance namely: Financial Administration; Disaster Preparedness; Social Protection; Peace and Order; Business Friendliness and Competitiveness; Environmental Protection; and Tourism Culture and the Arts.

To put things in perspective, Muntinlupa City was among the three hundred and eighty local government units (LGU) in the country conferred with the coveted award in governance. In the National Capital Region or NCR, only eight LGUs received this year’s Seal including the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Navotas, Pasay, Quezon City, and San Juan.

Fresnedi thanked the DILG for its recognition of Muntinlupa’s commitment in improving local administration and service delivery for Muntinlupeños.

“We are honored to receive this award as it validates our efforts towards local governance reforms and development. This recognition is an outcome of the collective efforts of dedicated city officials and employees who tirelessly worked in facilitating a transparent, caring, and accountable government for the people,” the mayor said.

As an incentive, 2019 SGLG recipients are set to receive Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) to finance local development projects and capacity development assistance from the DILG.

To be clear, SGLG is the DILG’s progressive assessment and reward system that gives LGUs distinction for their remarkable performance across various pillars. This year’s award is the second SGLG award conferred to Muntinlupa City after receiving the same recognition in 2015.

Furthermore, Muntinlupa City was also awarded with three major awards from the Department of Health (DOH) last November 4 at the Metro Manila Center for Health Development’s “Gabi ng Parangal” held in Crowne Plaza Manila.

The DOH conferred the City Government with Best in Rabies Prevention and Control Program, Best in National Voluntary Blood Services Program, and Plaque of Appreciation for the implementation of the Universal Health Care.

Previously, Muntinlupa became the only South Metro Manila city to make the Top 10 of the Most Competitive Highly Urbanized Cities when the results of the 2019 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) were revealed.

Parañaque City Government officials silent

More about the NCR city governments and the DILG’s organizing of the 2019 Seal of Good Local Governance awards, I reached out to my contacts at the City Government of Parañaque and asked what was their reaction about their city NOT receiving the prestigious SGLG award. They did not reply at all today.

Those same Parañaque City officials did not reply to my previous inquiry regarding their city’s failure to make the Top 10 of the Most Competitive Highly Urbanized Cities of the entire Philippines as per the results of the 2019 CMCI.

I guess it’s more comfortable for them to remain silent than answering tough questions about competition with other city governments. Now I’ve got to check with one other South Metro Manila city regarding the SGLG awards.