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Province of Palawan - Archived News

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Contents

Newly-built high-speed RORO vessel to make maiden call in Coron port soon

By Lyle B. Coruña [(PNA), FPV/CARF/LBC/EBP]

CORON, Palawan, March 25 (PNA) -- A new player in the roll-on, roll-off (RORO) ferry business that has been giving a lot of attention to providing safe transport for inter-island sea travel of people and goods docked at Coron port for the first time Tuesday.

Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation (APFC), which was founded in 2002 and now owns and operates the Philippines’ first and only catamaran RORO ferries, as well as a few modernized ports and terminals in the eastern and western Philippines sea route, plans to operate the Manila-Coron-Linapacan-El Nido route.

Mayors and board members of Bukidnon province together with Governor Jose Alvarez, arrived in Coron on board the RORO vessel via El Nido.

The MV FastCat 1, which also left in the afternoon of the said day, also offered free rides to Coron residents to Manila.

At present, FastCat 1 regularly travels between Batangas-Calapan, Bulalacao (Oriental Mindoro)-Caticlan, Matnog (Sorsogon)-Allen (Samar), Iloilo-Bacolod, Liloan (Leyte)-Lipata (Surigao), at Dumaguete-Dipolog.

It can accommodate 275 passengers, and includes facilities for differently-abled and elderly passengers.

She also has a capacity of approximately 300 lane meters for trucks, cars, and other land vehicles. She can hold 30-34 cars, and 6-7 trucks or buses.

FastCat 1 provides discounts on fares. Infants below 2 years old are free. Children between ages 2-11 years old 50% discount; students 15% discount; and Senior Citizens enjoy 20% discount.

A typical RORO being used in the Philippines has only one hull. Unlike them, FastCat 1 is a catamaran with two hulls and 10 water tight compartments. Its twin-hull design makes her more stable because her center of buoyancy and gravity is wider than a monohull.

The APFC was founded to provide a vital maritime link between the Philippines' 7,107 islands. Since its incorporation in 2002, it has become a trusted shipping company that owns and operates the Philippines' first and only catamaran Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) ferries, as well as modernized ports and terminals in the eastern and western Philippine sea route.

In support of the government's Strong Republic Nautical Highway Project, and to facilitate the economical movement of people and goods, APFC offers safe, fast and convenient ferry service to the islands using state-of-the-art RoRo vessels.

These new vessels are the first ferries designed specifically for Philippine water conditions.

With its focus on ensuring its passengers' safety, welfare and comfort, APFC embarked on an ambitious re-fleeting program in 2010. In a bold and unparalleled move, it partnered with Sea Transport Solutions of Australia, the leading designer and builder of mid-speed Ropax/RoRo vessels built for freight vehicle transport along with passenger accommodations.

This partnership brings to the Philippines, for the first time ever, 10 brandnew, custom-crafted, cutting-edge Ropax vessels fitted with world-class amenities and fully compliant with international standards for lifesaving, fire fighting, and damage-stability.

These catamarans are making waves in the local industry, not only because they have arguably safe, fast, and convenient ferry service that are seen in six busy routes in the Visayas and Mindanao, but also because of the reportedly huge -million investment package covering the acquisition of the 10 brand-new catamarans.

There had been guarded talk about the inherent financial risk of having brought in these vessels at such a major cost, and especially since it needs its own specific docking mechanism at the piers.

Archipelago, captained by Christopher Pastrana as company chairman, however, is no newcomer in the industry, and his bold vision needs our support, more so because he had realized that the old fleet his company had been operating before is no longer acceptable.

DOH-MIMAROPA conducts first leg of health and tourism summit in Palawan

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), LGI/LSJ/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, March 24 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) MIMAROPA (provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) conducted Tuesday its First Provincial Summit on Health to make the region achieve a status of “safe destination tourism spot” both for its population and the tourists.

The first leg of the summit which was dubbed as “Usapang Lokal Para sa Kalusugan” was held at the Hotel Centro in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

According to DOH MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo, the summit was organized with the goal to gather stakeholders support and coordination in the promotion of Health and Tourism Program in the province of MIMAROPA.

Janairo said that a total of three summits are scheduled for the MIMAROPA regions.

The first part of the summit was scheduled for Palawan and Batangas province while the second leg will be in Romblon and Marinduque and the third leg will be for Occidental and Oriental Mindoro.

Janairo said that since MIMAROPA has been fast building the recognition as the country’s “Destination of Choice”, there is a need to focus on strengthening the health and safety of both the community and the tourists visiting the island provinces seeking vacations and leisure.

He added that through the summit they are expecting to create better understanding on the proper reporting of emerging "infectious diseases" and establishment of better referral system in case that there will be possible cases to prevent further spread so as not to affect the local tourism.

He further said that it is important that necessary precautions are taken to prevent easy spread of diseases due to the country’s high population density and entry of tourists/local citizens like returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that will arrive from endemic countries.

Among the infectious disease are MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Influenza A (H1N1) and others.

He said that having a positive case has the potential to destroy the tourism industry as well as the economy in general not only in the region but also of the whole country.

The summit was participated in by hotel, resort and leisure establishment representatives, Regional Inter-Agency Committee local government unit (LGUs), city health officers, Bureau of Quarantine, Department of Tourism (DOT), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Philippine Coast Guard personnel.

Promotion of hygiene/sanitation in every tourist destination, accreditation procedures from DOT, role of quarantine on tourism, coordination to ensure health security and occupational safety for workers were among the topics highlighted in the summit.

According to the Regional Director of MIMAROPA, there will be eight program components that they are targeting to be implemented and subject for continuous monitoring as an output for the summit.

These are: Vermin control and disinfection, maintenance and cleanliness in ports and vessels, installation of health signages in strategic places, creating a network of medical clinics, training of lifeguards and emergency responders, provision of buoys, lifeguard towers or posts, water testing for bacteriological and minerals/solutes and proper sewerage disposals.

Lime producer opens $24-M Palawan plant

By JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ (REPORTER)

Unichamp Group, the leading producer of industrial lime products in the Asia-Pacific region, will officially open its very first fully integrated modern lime manufacturing facility in Palawan on Wednesday.

Unichamp Executive Chairman Daniel Lim told reporters that the $24 million facility will produce high quality lime milk to meet the specifications and demand from the hydrometallurgical processing plant of Coral Bay Nickel Corp. (CBNC), a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co.

Lim did not give details about the full operating capacity of the facility, but stressed that its local subsidiary, Unichamp Mineral Philippines Inc., could provide CBNC “hundreds of thousands” of metric tons of lime milk annually.

Based on government data, the plant is designed to produce about 135,000 tons of quicklime and 170,000 tons of lime milk per year.

The raw materials in the form of limestone will be sourced to the existing Gotok Limestone Quarry operated by the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp.

“Conveniently located at the Rio Tuba Economic Processing Zone (RTEPZ) in Brngy. Rio Tuba, our world-class facility will be responsible for supplying the CBNC with milk of lime, which will be used for the treatment of its waste water making it safer for disposal,” Lim said.

“Since the raw materials are sourced locally, our client could have a 15-20 percent cost saving, compared with importing slaked lime from overseas suppliers,” he said, adding that this will help eliminate reliance on imports and reduce the corresponding foreign currency outflow.

2 more facilities worth $20-$30M Meanwhile, Lim said the company is now scouting for other business opportunities outside of Rio Tuba. He added that they are considering putting up two additional facilities worth $20-$30 million each.

“Our Palawan operations will just be a springboard. As long as there is a long-term contract, then we are open to building more plants,” the executive said.

Unichamp Mineral Philippines President Rommel Ibuna said they have already presented the technology to Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. and Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.

“Right now, every thing is under initial discussions. But we have expressed readiness to provide them with the technology, should they put up their own nickel processing plants,” Ibuna said.

The executive also expressed a desire to meet with major water concessionaires for possible partnerships for wastewater treatment, as well as agricultural companies for soil rejuvenation programs.

Quicklime and milk of lime products are widely used by various industries in the neutralization process for environmental treatment, soil treatment in agriculture industry, soil stabilization for road construction, water treatment for production of potable water (drinking water), steel production, sugar refinery, and paper industry, among others.

Besides the Philippines, Unichamp Group has regional presence and operations in Malaysia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. The majority of its clients are from the mining and water treatment businesses.

Seda Lio in El Nido

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Just over two years since it inaugurated its first city hotel, Seda hotel by AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts Corp. (AHRC), unveiled its flagship resort in the 325-hectare Lio Tourism Estate in Palawan. The 150-room Seda Lio will be the first major facility to cater to global and local tourists in the vast community in El Nido town masterplanned to showcase the biodiversity and natural attractions of surrounding Bacuit Bay. The new hotel-resort project will be distinguished by its location, architecture and facilities for both local and global tourists.

At its joint ground breaking ceremony with Ayala Malls’ The Shops at Lio, Junie Jalandoni, group head of AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts and Ayala Malls, said, “We launched Seda Lio to make the world-famous attractions of El Nido more accessible to both foreign and local travelers.”

To be completed in 2017, the beachfront resort is only a few minutes from the airport and can even be accessed by foot. Guests can take a leisurely stroll along the white sand beach leading up to the resort that offers breathtaking views of the Cadlao lagoon and surrounding mountains.

Seda Lio expands the current accommodation options consisting of luxury resorts on the adjacent islands and bed-and-breakfast types in town. The low-rise resort is on the Palawan mainland and offers numerous facilities catering to various markets.

AHRC chief operating officer Al Legaspi explained that Seda Lio hopes to attract families, corporate clients in need of meeting and event facilities, as well as couples planning destination weddings.

“We have more than 500 square meters of function space with the largest room able to accommodate 150 guests. This is expandable to over 300 guests with our spacious landscaped decks. At the same time, we understand the need of families for kid-friendly activities such like swimming and board and video games,” Legaspi added.

Seda Lio will have a dedicated children’s game room and expansive outdoor play area, and a 1,500-sq.m. swimming pool and deck. Seda Lio covers a four-hectare property that opens out to the Lio Tourism Estate’s main centerpiece, a four-kilometer stretch of beach with fine sand. Like the four other Seda properties in Bonifacio Global City, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City and Nuvali, Seda Lio will also be distinguished by its location within an Ayala Land community with easy access to restaurants, retail and other amenities.

A short stroll from the resort is Ayala Mall’s Shops at Lio. This low-rise development will offer daily essentials, basic services and home-grown dining concepts fronting the beach to serve both tourists and residents of El Nido. It will be completed towards the end of 2015.

“Seda Lio will serve as a model for sustainable construction and management to other future locators of the Lio township. The sprawling Seda Lio will only have three floors — deliberately designed not to jut above the coconut treeline. It will also maintain over 75 percent of the site as open area that will be landscaped with Palawan’s endemic plants. These features are in keeping with the sustainable masterplan of the entire Lio estate,” Jalandoni added.

Palawan province donates 10 fish-attracting devices to Puerto Princesa City

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), LAM/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (PNA) -- This city’s undertaking to increase fish catch received a major boost recently from the Palawan provincial government which donated 10 floating fish-attracting devices or artificial fish sanctuaries, called “payao.”

The City Information Office (CIO) in a release said the donation of the fish-attracting devices was made by the provincial government through Governor Jose Alvarez in support of the Puerto Princesa government’s objective to provide livelihood to small fishermen in surrounding coastal communities.

“Mayor Bayron is determined to push this fish project forward under the “Apuradong Administrasyon” (Prompt Administration) because it can sufficiently benefit our fishing communities,” the statement said, like what happened in Bohol and Cebu.

It furthered that the project will not only benefit the fishermen but also residents of the city because premium fish prices will go down.

Payao, a fish aggregating device (FAD), is placed in the water for the purpose of facilitating the accretion and attraction of fishes for harvest, which has long been associated with Filipino fishermen.

Launched in October 2014 at the Puerto Princesa City Port (PPCP), Bayron with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) installed 50 FADs to help the fishermen of coastal barangay Bagong Silang and other nearby areas that depend on fishing for livelihood.

He said the FADs are either floating or submerged devices that can bring the fishes to abound, like bushes, logs, and others that are safe for them.

Two types of FADs are popularly used in the country. One is the artificial reef, and the other the common “payao” that is like a floating buoy made of steel or bamboo with coconut leaves underneath and affixed on the sea ground with “considerable depth.”

He explained that when the FADs are placed in the water, algae form by attaching to anything that is floating and attracts smaller fishes that consume them. In turn, they attract large fishes that can be harvested by fishermen.

World Food Expo mobile university opens in Puerto Princesa

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro [(PNA), RMA/CARF/KASF/SGP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 20 (PNA) – - It is no secret that Palawan has many world-class destinations to offer travelers. But what are these to holidaymakers if not complemented with superlative services that would charm them to come back for the nth time.

This is the advocacy of bringing the World Food Expo (WOFEX) University to this city and the province of Palawan that opened Friday until March 22 at the Legend Hotel.

It's a "mobile university" that offers advanced learning from industry professionals, specifically for the food service industry.

"Palawan has lots of captivating places to offer, but as the locals and property owners testify, the service we're offering here needs improvement," said Joel Pascual, Event Organizer and President of Professional Event Managers (PEP) Group.

"The horrible thing is when they come home, they would say: ' You know, I went to Palawan, and it's excellent but the service is terrible’," he added, stressing the importance of tourist services in general.

WOFEX's Tabletop Show is a series of training-workshops that is designed to "uplift the quality of service of the professionals, as well as the establishments," said Pascual, encouraging local restaurateurs, hoteliers, chef and bakers to attend the training.

"We bring the Tabletop Show to places we consider as emerging markets, and for us Palawan is just on its way in terms of tourism boom," he adds.

The three-day seminar is divided as follows: Digital and Social Marketing for Hospitality, Hotel, Restaurant and the Food and Beverages Industry; Food Series that includes baking and restaurants retail branding; and Operation Series that tackles controlling of food cost, creating signature kitchen design, as well as effective housekeeping management.

Since it is the first time WOFEX came in Palawan, PEP Group hopes to deliver more trainings in the years to come to further upgrade the operation of the establishments here.

"This training series are not just good for their establishment but for the province as a whole, because the world is looking at Palawan now," said Pascual. "At the end of the day, the service really counts and that's where we come in."

WOFEX’s visit also features a trade show of supply solutions, like showcase of advanced equipment such as cold storage and coffee maker, packaging and various products from all over the country that would expose Palaweños to the trends in the food service industry.

This is the 15th Year for WOFEX, and it made it big in some key cities in the country, like Baguio, Boracay, Cebu, Davao, Ilo-ilo and Manila.

Expert confirms presence of scalloped hammerhead shark in Tubbataha

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), RMA/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 19 (PNA) -- After identifying the previously unrecorded Mobula japonica, a manta ray look-alike in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), the Large Marine Vertebrates (LAMAVE) Project Philippines confirmed Wednesday the sighting in the marine park of the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) .

Also known as bronze, kidney-headed or southern hammerhead, the shark species was documented using the remote underwater video (RUV) deployed at the Wall Street, a dive location at the North Atoll of Tubbataha, by LAMAVE Project Director Ryan Murray and park rangers on March 16.

The scalloped hammerhead shark, according the Tubbataha website posted statement Wednesday, was documented some 30 feet below for nearly two hours reportedly accompanied by 19 individual sharks – seven blacktips, seven whitetips, and four gray reefs.

“Interestingly, the presence of the scalloped hammerhead shark in Tubbataha was previously unconfirmed. The video proves without a doubt that this species thrives in park waters as well,” the statement said.

Studies of the scalloped hammerhead shark state that it is “a coastal pelagic species that occurs over continental and narrow shelves and in nearby deeper water.”

It is reported that as of 2008, the shark is on the “globally endangered species list.”

Shark and manta research is being conducted in Tubbataha as a partnership with LAMAVE, “a consortium of national and international NGOs with the aim of promoting conservation through scientific research and education. A shark expedition is in the offing in May 2015.”

Earlier, LAMAVE and the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) jointly announced the identification of Mobula japanica – a first in the history of the protected reefs –“from hundreds of video footages taken since October last year.

Mobula japonica is classified under Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays).

WWF sets solar lamp-giving

(PNA), LGI/CJT/PR/EDS

MANILA, March 18 (PNA) -- To help families in Palawan safely and economically light up their homes, Earth Hour, a global movement led by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), shall give solar lamps to hundreds of families in need.

This year, Earth Hour shall fund the Gift of Light project.

“Solar lamps rely on power of the sun, eliminating the need to buy fuel. We’re teaching communities to veer away from fossil fuel, the burning of which contributes to climate change,” explained WWF Climate Change Unit and Earth Hour Philippines head, Atty. Gia Ibay.

She said the Gift of Life will run for at least a year.

"We hope money its beneficiaries will save can buy basic needs like food, books and clothes,” she said.

After Beton in Palawan, the project will provide lamps for the Mangyan people and forest rangers protecting Iglit-Baco Mountain Range in Occidental Mindoro, the last holdout of the critically endangered Tamaraw, an endemic dwarf forest buffalo.

Climate change caused Arctic sea ice to shrink to its lowest winter extent since 1880.

Philippine effects range from more powerful typhoons to massive floods.

Held every last Saturday of March and originally envisioned as an hour-long switch-off to show unity against climate change, Earth Hour became one of the world’s largest crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing movements in 2014.

It funded dozens of projects including construction of fiberglass bancas in the Philippines.

Since 2008, the Philippines has been championing the switch-off event.

A growing number of allies pledged to support this year’s efforts.

Among such allies are government partners like Quezon City local government, Climate Change Commission, departments of energy, environment, education, transportation, public works and labor, Leagueof Provinces, Municipalities and Cities as well as Metro Manila Development Authority.

The event's corporate champions are led by Philips, ArthaLand, Alveo Land, Banco De Oro, First Gen Corporation, Smart Communications and McDonald’s.

Media champions include ABS-CBN, BusinessMirror, BusinessWorld, ClickTheCity.Com, Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, FleishmanHillard, FocusMedia, Far East Broadcasting Corporation, Globaltronics, Jack TV,Knowledge Channel, Leo Burnett, Net-25, Orangemagazine, Pelicola.TV, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, QCreativs, Radyo Pilipinas, Radyo Agila, Radyo Veritas, TV5 and Wheninmanila.Com.

WWF is seeking more corporate and media support for the event.

Palawan to beef up LGU power to win battle vs illegal logging

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro and Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), LAP/CARF/KASF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 17, (PNA) -– To win against the seemingly relentless illegal logging challenge in Palawan, the provincial government recognizes that there is a need to strengthen the power of local government units (LGU) and reconsider their role in the protection and conservation of the environment.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Tuesday that with the recent large-scale illegal logging incident on Naglayan Island, Barangay Baldat in Culion involving Sunlight Eco-tourism Island Resort owned by Chinese businessman Ricardo Brito, the LGUs in the province need to beef up their position to end the environment challenge.

“There is evidently an urgent need to re-think the position of the LGUs in the province; to strengthen them anew in the fight against illegal logging,” Acosta said, particularly now that they suspect the seized illegally cut lumbers in Sunlight would reach more than 100,000 board feet.

He added however, that the environmental cluster of the provincial government is continuously tapping barangay leaders to become watchful of illegal environment activities in their respective areas of jurisdiction to speed up apprehension.

“If the provincial government remains relaxed, definitely, illegal logging activities will continue and eventually, we’ll have no trees left in the future,” he said, adding he cannot even mental-picture it.

In 2014, a total of 69 illegal logging apprehensions were recorded by the Bantay Palawan, and the recent raid conducted by Bantay Palawan is now deemed to be the largest in a single operation in the province.

Meanwhile, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta, also in an interview with the PNA Tuesday, said that the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) headed by environment officer Juan dela Cruz is now verifying the claim of Sunlight owner Ricardo Brito that he owns Naglayan Island.

The verification process is being undertaken by the DENR following March 12’s raid on Naglayan Island.

Matta said that Brito presented an ownership document that said he obtained in 1972 an agricultural sales patent of Naglayan from the government under an original certificate of title (OCT) which became transfer certificate of title (TCT) in 2013.

“Most likely the title is phony, but we are waiting for the confirmation of the local DENR,” Matta said.

Meanwhile, a document from the DENR-4B MIMAROPA dated March 5, 2013 showed an order sent to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Coron, directing him to file a complaint in court against the owner of Sunlight for illegal occupation of Public Forest Land without necessary tenurial instrument in violation of Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.

Another letter showed that in September 2014, the regional environment office also wrote Brito informing about his illegal occupation of the said island which falls under Unclassified Public Forest and a government property.

Dela Cruz told Brito that upon verification, he has not been issued a Forestland Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes, or FLAgT, and should therefore, “stop and refrain from introducing further developments in the area until such time appropriate tenurial instrument shall have been granted.”

According to Matta, until the Bantay Palawan raid, Sunlight did not stop from doing further improvements and from partially operating.

In the raid of the island, Bantay Palawan seized stockpiles upon stockpiles of illegally cut lumbers, mostly endangered Ipil and Narra trees, whose assessed value has not yet been completed by the provincial DENR.

A Chinese national, Alvin Lim, who claimed to be the manager of the island resort, has been held in custody as an alleged illegal alien and for violating the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines. Commercial logging is outlawed in Palawan since the '90s.

Acosta said the PGP will continue to work even more closely with concerned government agencies, particularly the DENR that has the mandate specifically in forest protection.

He added Governor Jose Alvarez has ordered the Bantay Palawan to bring the illegally cut lumbers to Puerto Princesa by “all means” to be used in the filing of illegal logging case against Brito.

On the other hand, Dela Cruz, told a local radio station also Tuesday that there might be lapses on the part of his “colleagues” in their sub-office in Calamianes Islands on monitoring.

This is difficult, he said, since the sub-office only has six personnel to take care of monitoring the whole Calamianes Islands.

Dela Cruz vowed to help fast-track the filing of the case by conducting an investigation of the alleged falsification of tree-cutting permits the owner-suspect reportedly obtained from the DENR.

Sunlight continues to advertise itself on the web as a classy eco-tourism island resort “designed to be the forefront of luxury, environmental conservation, and self-sustainability” in Palawan.

It claimed that while “located off the electric grid,” it lavishes accommodations “with three generators, and a complete water desalination and waste treatment system facility.”

The Naglayan shores have been lined by it with 55 water cabanas that are all equipped with “modern conveniences, such as Wi-Fi accesses, 42-inch flat-screen TVs with cable channels, and toilets and baths with hot and cold water.” It is around 18-hectare in size.

Upon checking, the island resort management has disabled its booking system on the web.

Revisiting the Philippines' first croc farm

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro [(PNA), FPV/CARF/KASF/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 16 (PNA Features) -- If there’s one more thing Palawan is known for aside from its world-class tourist attractions like the secret lagoons and white sand island coves of El Nido, the cleanest Kayangan Lake of Coron, and the extraordinary Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) to name a few, it is its haunting but beguiling large aquatic reptiles – the crocodiles.

Unfortunately, this creature of rare beauty, which once freely subsist in the marshy inlets of the province is now at the brink of extinction. But thanks to the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC), there is still a chance for survival for this endemic Philippines crocodile species that the next generations could see.

For 28 years now, the PWRCC remains committed in the conservation of this reptilian wildlife; particularly finding and making ways to multiply its population.

A week ago, with the theme “Wildlife Conservation, Today for Tomorrow,” the PWRCC celebrated its 20th Crocodile Conservation Week, which was spearheaded along with the launching of some new facilities in the farm in Barangay Irawan, some 30-minute cab ride from the center of Puerto Princesa.

Look back

Puerto Princesa’s crocodile breeding farm is the first of its kind in the Philippines. It is also the first that obtained registration from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement that ensures longevity of threatened flora and fauna.

Created in 1987 under the technical cooperation between the governments of Japan and the Philippines, the then Crocodile Farming Institute (CFI) was envisioned to prevent the decline of the Philippine’s two crocodile species – the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and the freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis).

CFI which was once under the management post of late veterinarian-turned-environmental broadcaster Dr. Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega, also became the Wildlife Rescue Center (WRC) after the collaboration with Japan ended in 1994.

To accommodate the need for growth, it renamed as PWRCC in 2000 and thus, incorporated under its management and supervision a wildlife rescue center, a training center, and eventually, an eco-destination park.

“In the past years, the PWRCC was observed to be overlooked in the province’s tourism industry agenda, but lately… I wish and I hope… and I believe that indeed we now belong to the timetable of tourist destinations that this industry boasts,” PWRCC Director Veronica De Guzman, who took over the post only in January 2013, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) over the weekend.

Challenges

De Guzman’s two years in the management of the PWRCC wasn’t smooth and persuasive, and she already expected it. But this woman behind the crocodile conservation now isn’t fainthearted.

Upon her appointment, and totally driven by the state of the PRWCC, such as unkempt and deteriorating crocodiles pens which caused a decline in hatchling production, De Guzman said that with the staff, she just pushed to ensure that the reptilian wonders of Palawan do not continue to survive in worsening condition.

Under the management of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the PWRCC in 2014 succeeded in breeding over 300 of both two crocodile species for commercial purposes.

“That’s a quite good number,” she added, “compared to an average of less than a hundred, or having nothing at all.”

Overcrowding in pens has been a problem at the PWRCC since 2005, according to a news report. “If a pen is overpopulated,” explains De Guzman, “these species will not be able to produce hatchlings.”

The PWRCC now houses around 1,605 crocodiles of both species. To address potential problems due to their growing population, the Center is currently undergoing its first massive rehabilitation of almost all pens, including the developing of one-fourth hectare of burrowed pens, trying to simulate the natural habitat of the reptiles, she said.

"For them to have a conducive place for breeding, the pens have to be spacious, or with less confinements for them to be able to stretch out, bask, and ran freely."

'Better service'

The PWRCC under De Guzman’s management leadership has been trying to live its service mantra that is "Cleanliness and Orderliness," which was the very content of complaints of visitors, who have visited in the past.

She narrated that tourists who came to view the crocodiles complained about malodorous enclosures, and farm grounds that seem to have not seen the tips of “walis tinging,” or besom made of the thinnest sticks out of coconut fronds tied around by rattan.

”There’s a need to create and develop one perception of the things we needed to execute here for the survival of our reptilian residents, as well as other wildlife species being rescued and brought here for rehabilitation,” De Guzman said, adding further that in her two years, they have never failed so far.

Somehow, progress can already be seen at the wildlife rescue center, and the flow of visitors never stop.

“Travelers, who blog about their experiences after visiting here, are no longer complaining unlike three, four years ago. They have become our mouthpieces. They have become our free public relations people,” she averred.

Annually, the wildlife haven continues to lure an average of 200,000 visitors not only from the Philippines, but also those who travel from Asia and Europe.

"It is our moral, social obligation to continue improving this place by trying to provide better services and facilities that will conform to the standards of the city tourism and [generally] the tourism industry. And of course, we want to be one of the places that the DENR would be proud of. This is because this is our humble contribution to the DENR management," De Guzman furthered.

Upcoming features

In 45 days or so, De Guzman disclosed that the PWRCC will open a man-made waterfalls that will bring down water to a pond of Philippine forest turtles, another critically endangered reptile being protected under the wildlife act.

An aerial deck, resembling like path walk, where visitors can view the enclosure of Palawan bearcat (binturong), wild boar (baboy damo), and python (sawa) will also be put up as additional attraction.

The conservation center has also set its focus to seize the Guinness Book of World Records’ “Largest Crocodile in Captivity” title, which was held before by “Lolong” at 20 ft. 3 in (6.17 m).

Although she is not sure, the title is apparently back to “Cassius,” a male saltwater crocodile that measures 5.48 metres (18 ft. 0 in) in length, weighs 2,200 pounds (998 kg) and is estimated to be more than 100 years old. It is kept at the Marineland Melanesia, a zoo on Green Island, Queensland, Australia.

To regain the title accorded to the Philippines before Lolong’s passing, De Guzman said they now have “Surigao” that measures 19-feet. The male crocodile was caught 26 years ago in Siargao, Surigao del Norte.

She said they are now preparing a pen near the farm entrance, where all visitors can see it. It is also in preparation for the Guinness visit.

The conservation center has never ran out of things to offer. There, one could also find nice buys from thrift souvenir stalls, or be adventurous by daring themselves to consume exotic crocodile dishes prepared at their newly put up food counters.

Jokingly, the PWRCC director said they are also thinking of hoisting a zipline that would cross a sea of prime breeder crocodiles in their breeding pens.

" Well, it's a big plan... in the guise of a joke!" she laughs, supplying "Actually, it's diagnostic; I'm trying to feel your feeling.”

Out of around a hundred, she divulged she has asked, 99 agreed that “it’s a positive, and would be sheer thrill.”

”Of course, we would not do it without ensuring that people will be safe,” she said.

While the conservation center commits itself to conservation, it also never forgets to play its socio-economic role by providing their better half – the locals – with employment opportunities. Today it employs 40 people.

(Feature) DOH issues prevention tips on summer skin problems and diseases

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), SCS/LSJ/SSC]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, March 15 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) regional office for MIMAROPA has issued preventive tips in addressing common skin problems and other diseases during the coming summer season.

According to DOH-MIMAROPA or Region IV-B Director Eduardo C. Janairo, aside from the common skin common problems during summer which are sunburn and boils or "pigsa," there are other skin irritations and diseases that deserve attention too.

MIMAROPA or Region IV-V is composed of the twin provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

In an interview here, Dr. Janairo told the Philippines New Agency that some diseases usually develop during the summer months, like sore eyes, coughs and colds, and diarrhea.

In addition, Janairo said that dog bites and heat strokes are also something that should also be watched out.

“With regards to sunburn, it is preventable -- one can get it from exposing the skin during swimming or other outdoor activities under excessive heat of the sun — and the degree of sunburn depends on the length of exposure,” he added.

He said that as a precaution, using higher SPF (sun protection factor) against the high ultra violet rays of the sun can help for the skin protection.

Dr. Janairo explained that it is good to seek protective shades when exposing oneself outdoors or avoid the heat of the sun from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On boils, he said that proper hygiene is the key because boils are brought about by excessive heat of the sun, dust, dirt and sweat combining together.

“It is best to take a bath… but be sure the water is clean. If the water is contaminated, the bacteria (staphylococci) can enter the open hair follicles of the skin,” he said.

As the bacteria enter the skin, it can lead to appearance of bumpy, red, pus-filled lumps around a hair follicle that is tender, warm, and very painful which is called boil. The boil ranges from pea-size to golf ball-size.

A yellow or white point at the center of the lump can be seen when the boil is ready to drain or discharge pus.

Sometimes, a patient with boil also suffers fever due to excessive pain.

He said that the use of antibiotics is recommended but it is best to seek a doctor's advice about what medicine to take and avoid self-medication.

He also said that since dirty water causes some skin problems and irritations, it is important to really take a clean bath after swimming in public pools or other dirty water sources like rivers.

Dr. Janairo said that in treating sore eyes, it is best to seek an eye expert because the redness of the eye can be caused by other factors, therefore applying anything on the eye can cause infection or other accompanying problems.

For cough and colds that may occur, it will be helpful if senior citizens can be vaccinated against the flu while children are dressed comfortably to strengthen their immune system.

The DOH official also advised the public to be cautious about street foods and even those prepared for out-of-town trips because food spoils easily during summer months.

On heatstroke, he said it is important for the patient to take immediate rest upon experiencing dizziness.

“It will help if the clothes will be loosened as the patient takes a rest, and of course, drinking plenty of water is important to replenish the lost ones,” he added.

“Ideally, water intake should be eight glasses a day," he said.

He also said that it is best to seek protective shades of trees instead of the shades made of walls or aluminum.

“The shade offered by a tree is cold, soothing and relaxing compared with the walls or aluminum,” he explained.

Regarding dog bites, he said it is very important to immediately wash the wound with running water and soap and then visit an animal bite center for proper management.

He added that pet owners should ensure that their pets are properly fed, cared, bathed, immunized and leashed to prevent them from biting any person and causing rabies infection.

Six home-grown Med Techs to be deployed in Palawan, other areas of Mimaropa

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), RMA/LSJ]

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, March 14 (PNA)--The Department of Health (DOH) Region IV-B Mimaropa (Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidentas, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) is expecting to have new six medical technology (MedTech) graduates that will be spread in Southern Palawan and in other areas of the region.

“A total of six new “home-grown” graduates of MedTech will be spread here in Palawan and in other areas of MIMAROPA by next year to address the gaps in the needed number of Med-Techs,” said DOH Region IV-B Mimaropa director Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo.

Janairo said the DOH gave attention to the awarding of scholarship among the batch of the incoming graduates after results of assessments showed a shortage of numbers of med tech in the hospital health facilities.

“As we all know, one of the requirements for accreditation of a health facility is presence of a med-tech. Seeing that gap, we worked it out by pushing a scholarship program for the nurses and midwives graduates in the MIMAROPA provinces to take the second course on Med. Tech.,” said Janairo.

He said that he expected the first batch, consisting of six scholars, to graduate by next year while another 11 scholars, who were also “home-grown” in Mimaropa, were hoped to fill-up the other areas in the region.

The on-going Med Tech scholarship is a two-year studies that will enable the nursing and midwifery graduates to step-up their capacity and their positions as well as in serving the constituents of Palawan and other provinces of Mimaropa.

He also said that other areas of Mimaropa needing doctors were also given priority in a scholarship tie-up with the local government of Palawan, through the Palawan State University.

He also said that they were also coordinating with the congressmen of Palawan for the full support in converting the Hospital of Palawan into a medical center.

He also said that if the proposal to make Palawan Hospital a medical center, enough budget for the improvement of facilities and equipment would benefit not only the health of its populations but also those coming from nearby provinces of the region.

Palaweño farmers girded with drought-buster technologies

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro [(PNA), LGI/CARF/KASF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 13 (PNA) -- The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) is continuously introducing mitigating measures to Palaweño farmers should “El Niño” strike Palawan this year.

Provincial Supervising Agriculturist Narciso Neri said though the province is not always affected with much drought, their office have been training local farmers long before with techniques on surviving it.

Among these technologies, he said, is modified rapid composting that is a process of spreading the rice hay back into the field thus, enriching the organic content of soil.

"If we increase the organic content of soil, its water-holding capacity would also be improved," explained Neri.

He said, unlike the traditional, long process of composting, the technique is rapid in a way that it would be decomposed easily after showering down with nitrogen-contained urea.

Neri said their office is always encouraging farmers to break away from the mono cropping method, and instead embrace new ones like mixed and inter-cropping, respectively, that would yield them varieties of crops aside from palay.

An example of this multiple cropping is the "three sister technology," which Neri explained as “farmers first planting corn, then when it reaches knee high, plant string beans next that would eventually vine through corn stems. Afterwards, squash will be planted underneath; its wide leaves would maintain the soil moisture."

Such technology has gained popularity among Palaweño farmers, he said.

The provincial supervising agriculturist, meanwhile, ensures that irrigations put up by the Department of Agriculture (DA) throughout the province are in good condition.

On Tuesday, the weather bureau PAG-ASA announced that the country is at the onset of a mild El Niño. As of press time, the intensity is undefined and classified as still weak. However, international climate monitoring agencies said there is a 50-60 percent chance that the El Niño episode will last until October as per news reports.

The phenomenon occurs every three to five years when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific become warmer than normal. It may last up to nine months, causing a reduction in the amount of rainfall.

Last year, Palawan was listed as one of the provinces that were moderately affected by the dry spell, but it was almost never felt since local farmers had prepared for the onslaught, said Neri.

DOH eyes conversion of Ospital ng Palawan into a medical center for the entire MIMAROPA region

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), SCS/LSJ/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, March 12 (PNA) -- In line with the government's goal to give the people enough access to quality hospitals and health facilities, the Department of Health (DOH) regional office for Region IV-B or MIMAROPA is undertaking efforts toward the conversion of the Ospital ng Palawan into a medical center to serve the entire region.

DOH-MIMAROPA or Region IV-B is composed of the island provinces of Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

The Ospital ng Palawan is located on a 1.6-hectare compound in Puerto Princesa City.

“In cooperation with Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez, the DOH (under the leadership of acting DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin) is moving toward achieving the goal by institutionalizing some efforts like addressing the human resources gaps,” DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo said.

In an interview here on Wednesday with the Philippines News Agency, Dr. Janairo said that to overcome the existing human resources gaps in the hospital, scholarship grants are given to enable graduates of nursing and midwifery courses to seek specialization as medical technologists.

“The program is being implemented in cooperation with the Palawan State University,” he added.

The DOH regional director said that giving the nurses and midwives of Palawan and other MIMAROPA provinces the chance to seek medical specialization and growth is a move in inspiring them to serve for the benefits of the MIMAROPA region people and be not enticed to seek greener pastures or form of employment in other places.

Janairo explained that aside from fixing the gaps in human resources, continuous provision of orientations and trainings are also provided among local government unit officials and health workers to educate them on the implementation of an improved health delivery system.

He also said health workers who pass the rigid training are given “android tablets” that they can use in the effective and reliable monitoring and recording of patient's conditions.

He added that the tablets are also being utilized in the recording of data in the Watching Over Mothers and Babies (WOMB) project of the DOH where maternal and infant death rates are also monitored and recorded.

He explained that from the data that will be gathered and collected through the WOMB program, a more synchronized and enhanced health care system will be developed.

DOH-MIMAROPA, Palawan gov't to hold health summit for tourism stakeholders

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), FPV/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 11 (PNA) -- A health summit with tourism stakeholders will be jointly hosted on March 24-25 by the Palawan provincial government, the Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA and the Department of Tourism (DOT) to come up with a protocol that would prevent the entry of fatal infectious diseases in the province as a tourism hub.

DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo Janairo told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Wednesday that the health summit was an offshoot of a meeting with Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez and other local government officials involving the vacation stint in a resort in the province of two foreigners, who were with the Filipina nurse, who returned to the country and was diagnosed to be positive with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

“If you have a tourist who is ill, let the health workers know immediately. Whatever the ailment is, what is important is that you make a report especially if you know they are from countries that have positive cases of deadly infectious diseases,” Janairo said, such as MERS-CoV, Ebola, bird’s flu, and others.

The setting up of protocol regarding this matter, he said, is what the health summit hopes to achieve, particularly now that Palawan is active in the BIMP-EAGA, and is expecting to open a regional tourism highway/link that would increase visitor arrivals.

“We experienced a lot of difficulties at first in contacting these resorts. None of them would answer our calls, especially the private ones. They do not want to be disturbed, but when we confirmed that the tourists, who were with the MERS-CoV positive Filipina nurse were already there, that was when they started reacting,” he stated. Janairo did not mention the name of the resort.

The health summit, the regional health director added, will also be an opportunity to get tourism-related businesses in the province be acquainted with the laws that govern how they should conduct their operation when it comes to taking care of the health of their clients.

“Hostels, lodging inns, big or small accommodations facilities, they all have responsibilities when it comes to the health of their clients. Of course, while here, they live in them… then they have responsibilities,” he stated.

Janairo said that for example, if resorts are distantly-located from government or private health care facilities, it should take into consideration at the construction phase the setting up of an isolation area for patients, who will show symptoms of infectious diseases.

Janairo said that if a warning has been issued by the DOH regarding the entry of a person with positive infectious disease, local government units (LGUs) should immediately be pro-active to ensure that the transfer is prevented.

The summit also targets to put in place compliances for hotels and other tourism-related businesses before they operate, such as clean sources of water, safe swimming areas, presence of clinics for emergency health issues, and others.

He said the partners for the health summit all agree that there is a need to extend “stringency on tourism-related establishments and other businesses to ensure that both the health welfare of the tourists visiting and the residents are protected in Palawan.”

Other partners are the Department of Education, the Philippine Coast Guard.

Palawan Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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