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Province of Palawan - Archived News

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U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney and USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief Daniel Moore witness the safe and sustainable collection of ornamental fish by certified Marine Aquarium Council collectors in Palawan

Contents

Puerto Princesa bats for 20% discount on land tax for senior citizens

By Geraldford P. Ticke [(PNA), LAM/CARF/GPT/JSD]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 29 (PNA) – Aiming to encourage payment of real property taxes, among others, the Sangguniang Panglunsod has proposed an ordinance granting 20% discount to senior citizens who will promptly settle their tax payments.

The proposed Ordinance 134-2014 authored by Councilor Peter Q. Maristela will grant the 20% discount on tax payments on residential and agricultural lands. Lands used for commercial purposes are, however, not included in the ordinance.

Maristela said Friday that the proposed ordinance, if passed, will provide additional savings for the elderly that they can use for health maintenance and other daily needs.

The ordinance likewise, will encourage their families and the communities of the city to reaffirm the Filipino tradition of caring for the elderly.

He said the proposed measure will also add to the benefits that senior citizens have been receiving aside from the monetary allowances being given by the government.

Palaweño wins 2014 Search for The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers

(PNA), LAM/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 28 (PNA) -- A Palaweño, who is an enlisted personnel of the Philippine Army (PA), is this year’s winner of the 2014 Search for The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) jointly organized by the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MFI) and the Rotary Club of Makati Metro (RCMM).

The army soldier is Master Sergeant Aladin S. Dacayanan assigned at the Western Command (WESCOM) in this city.

The news of his inclusion in the 2014 TOPS was informed by the Rotary and MFI President Aniceto Sobrepeña personally through a letter sent early this week to Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez and the WESCOM.

According to WESCOM Thursday, TOPS is a prestigious award for soldiers, recognizing their dedication, integrity, gallantry and love for their profession.

This year, among the judges of the search are Sen. Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ Angara and Governor Mujiv Sabbihi Hataman, Regional Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Dacayanan, on the other hand, said that it has been his dream to become a soldier of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

He added his interest in serving the country as a soldier was due to his father, who was an officer in the Philippine Army.

Dacayanan was chosen to receive the award because of his advocacy to keep young people away from the ill-effects of drugs and other depravities.

According to Sobrepeña, Dacayanan encourages young people to focus their energies and time to their studies, and engaging in meaningful community activities.

When he was assigned in Casiguran , Aurora, he distributed sports equipment in a barangay in the area for the youth to take interests in sports. Every time his group makes a round of the barangays, he brings with him canned goods, noodles and candies to give to the young people and even the elderly.

Dacayanan has been serving the AFP for 26 years. At present, he is part of the Military Intelligence Group 22, Intelligence Service of the military at WESCOM.

He will formally receive his award on September 5, 2014 in a special ceremony dubbed The Outstanding Filipinos in Manila. His award includes P400,000 from the MFI and the RCMM.

Trans-Asia Petroleum exercises option to buy into Calauit oil field

By Euan Paulo C. Anonuevo (InterAksyon.com)

MANILA - Trans-Asia Oil & Energy Development Corp has exercised its option to acquire a minimum stake in Frontier Oil Corp's exploration block in offshore Busuanga, Palawan.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Trans-Asia said that subsidiary Trans-Asia Petroleum Corp signed a memorandum of agreement with Frontier Oil Corp for the acquisition of a 10 percent participating interest in Service Contract (SC) 50.

The company did not disclose the terms of the agreement, which was an offshoot of a deal inked in 2005 that gave Trans-Asia the option to purchase the said amount of interest in SC 50.

SC 50 is a 5,000 square meter exploration block that covers the Calauit field in offshore Northwest Palawan.

Citing initial studies undertaken in the contract area, Frontier earlier said the Calauit field has an upside potential to contain in excess of 14 million barrels of oil.

The company targets to start commercial production from the field in April 2015.

Besides SC 50, Trans-Asia Petroleum has interests in four oil and gas service contracts: a 6.82 percent interest in SC 55 West Palawan, 6.67 percent interest in SC 51 in northwest Leyte, 6 percent interest in SC 69 in the Camotes Sea and a 2.334-percent stake and 14.063-percent stake in SC No. 6 Block A and Block B in offshore northwest Palawan, respectively.

Trans-Asia Petroleum will list 250 million shares on the local bourse in August 28 at an initial listing price of P4.60 per share, valuing the company at P1.15 billion. It will carry the symbol "TAPET."

Palawan SP files measure for province-wide campaign on biometrics registration

(PNA), LAP/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 26 (PNA) -– Believing there is not enough campaign with regard Republic Act 10367 for mandatory biometrics voter registration in Palawan, a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan here filed Tuesday a measure that calls for the law’s massive campaign in the province.

Board Member Cherry Pie Acosta of the 1st Palawan District filed Tuesday at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution 364-2014, which calls for the Provincial Information Office (PIO) to help conduct a province-wide campaign on mandatory biometrics voter registration to encourage more registered voters to go to their local Commission on Elections (Comelec) offices.

She also called on various media offices in the city and province to also help to encourage people to take on the new mandatory voter registration.

Entitled “A resolution earnestly requesting the PIO and the media network in the province to conduct an extensive information dissemination regarding Republic Act 10367,” Acosta said there seems to be not enough information about the law, particularly in distantly-located barangays of Palawan.

Biometrics is a new method in obtaining information regarding voters, such as voice, photo, signature, and finger prints, using the Data Capture Machine or DCM.

Registered voters, who have not had their biometrics taken since the last election for barangay officials are required to go to the Comelec in their localities to validate their voter’s records.

Those who will not get their biometrics obtained by October 31, Acosta said, can be grounds for their disqualification as voters and cannot participate in 2016 elections.

According to the Comelec Provincial Field Office, many Palaweños have not yet gone through their validation using the biometrics. At present, only 70 percent of voters in Palawan have completed their biometrics record.

Preserving paradise: Three pillars of sustainable ecotourism

(Rappler.com)

The growing tourism industry in El Nido presents tremendous opportunities for this first-class town to be a model of sustainable ecotourism

MANILA, Philippines – The turquoise waters of Bacuit Bay and the limestone karst islets are great sights to behold. Above the lagoons, swiftlets make their way to the hidden caves and crevices to build their nests, from which the famed Philippine paradise got its name.

Located at the northern part of mainland Palawan, the municipality of El Nido is a dream destination to many. Tourist arrivals rose from about 10,000 in 1994 to around 65,000 in 2014 – a dramatic 550% spike within two decades. What was once Palawan’s secret gem is now a hotspot for mainstream tourists who can now visit this picturesque town for the cheap.

Roderick Moralde, who heads the town’s association of licensed tour guides, worries that El Nido might follow Boracay’s road to ruin.

“El Nido has taken off, but if we fly too high and too fast, we'll burn our wings and risk paying the price of unmonitored and uncoordinated development. The question is not whether to refuse change, but how to manage it. What we need is careful, balanced development,” Moralde said. He was born and raised in El Nido.

Roderick aired his sentiments during a gathering of seasoned ecotourism front-liners organized by top environmental solutions provider World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) last June in his town.

Set against the gentle coast of Bacuit Bay, the meeting was the third time WWF-Philippines’ Ecotourism Community of Practice (ECOP) gathered to report on progress attained and challenges experienced in their respective banner ecotourism sites. The organization convened the conference to help ensure that the tourism industry’s growth provides an experience that encourages repeat visits, is equitable for local communities, and does not trespass on environmental boundaries.

Members of the ECOP include key tourism operators and stakeholders in the national and local government sharing the common goal of developing Philippine ecotourism within the limits of acceptable change. Aside from El Nido, the other case studies covered for 2014 are Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR), the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park, Donsol town in Sorsogon, plus Peñablanca town in Cagayan province.

Thee pillars of sustainable ecotourism

The Aquino administration’s National Development Plan for Tourism seeks to establish the Philippines as Asia’s must-experience destination, while building an environmentally and socially responsible tourism that delivers more equitable income and employment opportunities.

Environmentally responsible tourism is one of the new growth poles of a green economy – providing sustainable infrastructure, business opportunities, jobs, and income. A well-managed tourism industry can contribute to economic development and poverty reduction.

“Pursuant to the Tourism Act of 2009, we want to develop this industry as one that is ecologically sustainable, responsible, participative, culturally sensitive, and ethically plus socially equitable for local communities,” Ms. Rica Bueno noted. Bueno is the DOT’s Director for Standards and Regulation, the national government’s representative to the ECOP.

When WWF-Philippines first convened the Ecotourism Community of Practice in July 2012, it outlined the three pillars of sustainable tourism, namely: Natural Asset Protection, Enhanced Visitor Experience, and Direct Community Benefit.

“A Community of Practice is especially valuable in creating new knowledge for sustainable ecotourism advancement, maximized through partnerships and networking. The three pillars are enumerated not according priority. They must remain balanced for the sustained survival of an ecotourism operation,” Joel Palma, WWF-Philippines Vice-president for Conservation Programs, said.

Using the case study method, ECOP participants spent an entire day of open discussions on best practices plus roadblocks that weaken the attainment of the three pillars.

Anton Carag, professional ecotourism developer based in Cagayan, discussed Donsol’s need to diversify its tourism product mix to address the decline in tourist arrivals despite the increase in sightings of whale sharks, the main attraction of this hotspot in the Bicol region.

Carag himself is hard-pressed to break the impasse between his hometown of Peñablanca and the Cagayan provincial government when it comes to increasing the funding for the Callao Cave Tourist Zone. Cagayan’s tourism budget is only PHP 1.5 Million annually, which covers all 28 municipalities. All collections from the Zone’s measly PHP 20.00 entrance fee per person goes to the province’s general fund. Profits cannot be used to improve deteriorating facilities in the Zone.

Robert Alabado, former city planner of Davao, advised Carag that reinventing the user’s fee system plus sharing profit between the provincial government and the Peñablanca LGU may enhance visitor experience at the Zone.

“You have to know your product proposition and have a full tourism menu so you can stay ahead of the curve. The sign of a successful tourist destination is repeat visits," WWF-Philippines Vice-chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan said.

Angelique Songco, Park Superintendent of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park, highlighted the successes of the new management of the Puerto Princesa Underground River Natural Park (PPUR), whose operations were once beset by an outdated and disorganized booking system.

Tourist arrivals breached the Park’s carrying capacity when it was voted among the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012. Mayor Lucilo Bayron, who was elected the following year, installed new management led by Park Superintendent Elizabeth Maclang.

As a first step, the new Park administration installed a more credible computerized booking system designed to allow bookings of no more than 900 guests per day. To pro-actively prevent the Park’s ‘point-of-sale’ from becoming a ‘point-of-anxiety,’ transparency was highlighted. The real-time status of each day’s bookings was made visible to all visitors and tour operators. A board displayed this constantly updated information in the Park’s booking office for all to see.

Among the case studies discussed in the conference, only PPUR emerged as the sole financially self-sustaining ecotourism site.

“We wanted to champion transparency to all stakeholders so we can preserve the Underground River’s prestige as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, due to increased revenue flow, we can target the funding of PHP 1 Million per year to four indigenous communities in Puerto Princesa,” says a beaming Maclang.

ECOP participants ended the day with heated discussions on El Nido’s Tourism Master Plan, which WWF-Philippines is helping the local government develop. Key problems include illegal tour boat operations, traffic congestion, plus an inadequate water supply.

This hubbub of activity echoes the experience of tourism areas such as Boracay and Puerto Galera. Some units of the LGU, the tourism sector, and non-governmental organizations apparently seem intent on proceeding with their own projects, even before a Tourism Master Plan is finalized and approved.

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. In the Philippines, many of our tourist sites are famous for their outstanding natural beauty. Because tourists come for the scenery and for memorable experiences, it makes sense for the tourism sector to look after its lifeline—its natural environment and its people.

The benefits of responsible tourism are not far-off and unclear. They are tangible, and in several cases, can be perceived immediately. In contrast, it may take years before the negative impacts of neglect are felt.

WWF-Philippines convened the Ecotourism Community of Practice so that the country’s developers and front-liners can help one another identify solutions and opportunities, plus learn from mistakes and success stories.

“This is about thinking beyond our fences; this is about building bridges. We have to develop a constituency for what we are doing. There has to be a sense of ownership and local stewardship,” concludes Tan. – Rappler.com

WWF-Philippines’ Ecotourism Community of Practice is an annual gathering of seasoned ecotourism front-liners, plus representatives from the tourism sector in the national and local government.

Palawan lawmaker backs term extension

(Tempo)

Palawan Rep. Douglas Hagedorn said yesterday that Filipinos have the right to extend the term of a good president.

They have also the right to remove a bad president, said Hagedorn, among the growing number of legislators who support the move to extend the term of President Aquino to ensure that the reforms he has initiated will be sustained.

In a statement, Hagedorn said the right to rebel or to take up arms against a despotic leader is one of the most basic rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, in Section 1, Article 2.

According to him, Filipinos have exercised this basic right twice – in 1986 and in 2001 – overthrowing two presidents whose administrations were marked by despotism, human rights violations, and graft and corruption.

If the Constitution recognized and enshrined this right, more so, Hagedorn said, the 1987 Constitution did not prohibit any term extension in favor of a good president.

Any term extension, he said, can only be realized and exercised through a constitutional amendment process, which is peaceful and legal.

“If majority of the members of Congress, who represent the people, believe that the President deserves another term, we, the people’s representatives, should freely express this forthright and do our job, and not be intimidated by the noisy minority. Responsible leaders of the Liberal Party should not repress or stifle us,” Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn said Filipinos can show their gratefulness to the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino and President Corazon C. Aquino by rewarding their son with a term extension.

Malaysia parliament member loves Palawan; expresses interest to support trade link

By Celeste Ann R. Formoso [(PNA), CTB/CARF/PJN]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug 23 (PNA) -- Datuk Marcus Mojigoh, a member of the parliament of Malaysia for the Putatan constituency in Sabah for the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, is so smitten by Palawan province, which he calls “a land of promise that is so beautiful.”

“We love Palawan, and we want to come back,” Mojigoh told Governor Jose Alvarez at the dinner the provincial government hosted Friday night to welcome him and over 90 delegates of the 3rd Quarter Board of Directors Meeting of the Association of JCI Senators of Southeast Asian Nations (ASSEAN), which is being held in Puerto Princesa.

Mojigoh, who is the chief of delegation, lauded Alvarez for the warm welcome the provincial government showed him and the other delegates, who came from Indonesia, Singapore, and his own country, Malaysia.

In his speech to thank Alvarez and the people of Palawan for their warm hospitality, the Malaysian politician of the UPKO party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, said he has heard that MASwings will temporarily suspend its regular flights to Puerto Princesa starting “September 1 until further notice.”

MASwings by MASwings Sdn. Berhad “is a regional airline operating the Rural Air Services (RAS) in East Malaysia, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines.

Mojigoh said Palawan should not lose hope that the regional air trade link will come back; all that needs to be done is for Alvarez to write to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to request him not to suspend the MASwings flight but to just reduce its frequency per week.

“I want to help. I heard about MASwings, and what your governor is doing in Palawan, and I told Governor Alvarez to write to Prime Minister Najib Razak about it. He can mention my name to the Prime Minister so this problem can be resolved. Maybe reduce the number of flights from five times a week to twice a week,” Mojigoh told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an exclusive interview.

He added that the news about Palawan “being so beautiful, where food is cheap, and people are kind and hospitable should be spread not only in Kota Kinabalu but the whole of Malaysia” since many in the country already love to travel regionally.

“I went out to try your street food, and I like it; fish here is very affordable and fresh You're all kind to your visitors -- all of us love Palawan, we love Palawan. My whole family is coming next month to visit and see the Puerto Princesa Underground River,” Mojigoh furthered.

In July, the Malaysian regional flight carrier sent a notice that it will reduce its flights to Puerto Princesa from five flights to three regular a week due to requirements it still need to fulfill, according to Doreen Padilla of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

In a separate interview with Alvarez, he told the PNA that he knew about the cancellation of the MASwings flight beginning September 1.

But on Monday, Alvarez will be writing to Prime Minister Najib Razak to ask for his help regarding MASwings.

“We will do as he suggests, we will write if it’s possible to just reduce the flights and not entirely removed it because we need the trade link,” he said.

Palawan high school students tour military camp

(PNA), SCS/CARF/CIC/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 22 (PNA) -- High school students from the Palawan Adventist Academy (PAA) in the southern town of Narra were given the unique opportunity of touring the Western Command (WESCOM) camp Thursday afternoon.

The tour of the facility was conducted as part of an ongoing educational trip of the students together with 12 of their teachers and principal, Elvira R. Tamparong.

"Our soldiers gave us a tour to their military facility, which allowed us to get a glimpse of their activities, plus letting us know that our role in nation building is important," said Tamparong. “It was very nice to have this opportunity.”

After the guided tour, the students and their teachers were given a lecture showcasing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), while the 6th Civil Relations Group provided an audio-visual presentation and information drive.

At the end of the film showing, the students were encouraged to raise questions.

"They always asked interesting questions. The teenagers’ hunger for knowledge is inspiring," said Lt. Cherryl Tindog, chief of Wescom’s Public Affairs Office.

A former teacher, Tindog said she hoped the visit would enable the students to expand their horizons in the field.

Gov. Alvarez urges greater vigilance, action in fighting vector-borne diseases

By Clarinda I. Catimpo [(PNA), CTB/CIC/UTB]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, August 21 (PNA) -– Palawan Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez on Thursday called on residents of the province to exert greater vigilance and action in tackling a range of vector-borne diseases.

“Vector-borne diseases affect billions of people globally, including millions in all 37 countries and areas in our Region,” Alvarez said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

“While we’ve made significant strides against some of these diseases, malaria in particular, we need much more national, regional and global political commitment, resources and multi-sectoral collaboration."

Alvarez made the call at the onset of the Chikungunya outbreak in Quezon town, Palawan late last month.

Malaria remains the vector-borne disease with the highest death toll in humans, estimated to have caused about 207 million infections globally in 2012 and to have claimed 627,000 lives, according to a World Health Organization report.

He said the world’s fastest growing vector-borne disease, however, is dengue, also spread by mosquitoes, with a 30-fold increase in incidence over the past 50 years, topping 100 million cases across 100 countries in 2013.

Some diseases, such as dengue and its close cousins Chikungunya and Zika virus, are fast emerging in areas where they were previously not seen.

Alvarez said protection from bugs and bites is key: repellents, bed nets treated with insecticides and window screens can all help, as can making sure there’s no standing water in or around the home.

"We also need much more public awareness about these diseases, as people need to know how to protect themselves better, para din hindi na ma-spread pa ang sakit na ito," he said.

Alvarez cited WHO dengue control initiative assessment that introduced larvae-eating fish such as guppies into water storage containers that can also control mosquito breeding.

PPUR Day celebration to further promote New 7 Wonders subterranean river

By Geraldford P. Ticke [(PNA), LAM/CARF/GPT/JSD]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 20 (PNA) -- To further promote the New 7 Wonders of Nature Puerto Princesa Underground River at Sitio Sabang, Barangay Cabayugan, the Sangguniang Panlungsod is requesting Palawan 3rd District Rep. Douglas Hagedorn to file a bill in the House of Representatives declaring November 11 as a special non-working holiday in the city.

The move came after confirmation from City Councilor Matthew Mendoza that November 11 was declared as Puerto Princesa Underground River Day through a Presidential Proclamation.

“Last week, I received a letter from the Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Rebecca Labit, informing me that indeed, Presidential Proclamation 816 has been signed by President Benigno Aquino III,” Mendoza said.

But even before the presidential proclamation, the Sangguniang Panlungsod has likewise passed a resolution declaring the same, according to him.

Mendoza added that after the declaration of PPUR Day, a series of activities will be held annually at Sitio Sabang as another promotional event for PPUR.

“We also took notice that during the months of September to November, we do not have activities that promote our tourism industry compared to other months. So, once we institutionalize this, we will have added activities, where our constituents and guests have something to look forward to in the future,” he said.

Park superintendent Elizabeth Maclang, in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), on the other hand, said that her office is currently thinking of an activity already to celebrate the PPUR Day.

“Yes, we are preparing for November to celebrate the PPUR Day based on the presidential proclamation,” Maclang confirmed.

She said they are looking at a week-long preparation that would highlight the culture of the indigenous peoples (IPs) in the area, the abundant flora and fauna collection, and others.

November 11 became a significant day for PPUR for it was during this date in the year 2011 that it was proclaimed as a New 7 Wonders of Nature. PPUR was included in the N7W list after years of internet voting around the world.

Palawan gov't distributes food packs to Chikungunya victims in Quezon town

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), CTB/CARF/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- The Palawan government recently moved to help patients and families in a barangay in the southern town of Quezon afflicted with the Chikungunya disease by distributing food packs to them through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).

Norma Medina of the PSWDO said Monday that since the weekend, they have been distributing food items to Chikungunya-affected residents of Barangay Alfonso XIII in what is also known as the “cradle of civilization” municipality in southern Palawan.

The distribution of food support was also in close cooperation with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) upon orders of Governor Jose Alvarez.

Medina said at least 500 food packs were distributed starting August 17 to individuals, who have contracted Chikungunya, as well as over 400 residents of Alfonso XIII.

Each food pack, she added, will last for two weeks. It consists of 10 kilos of rice, canned goods, ready-to-eat meals, noodles, and coffee.

Along with the distribution, she said they conducted further validation of reported cases in order to provide immediate intervention with the help of tropical diseases experts in the province and Manila.

Medina also said that per direction from the provincial government leadership, relief operations should not only be done when there are natural and man-made calamities.

Even residents, who experience health problems should be helped for they cannot work to put food on the table.

On Monday, Sangguniang Bayan Councilor Zaldy Lolo confirmed that results from the blood samples they sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (ROTN) have returned with 14 out 35 patients turning positive of Chikungunya.

The patients are now being treated with interventions being provided by the Quezon Municipal Health Office (MHO) and the provincial government through the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

Maintaining a clean environment, he said, can prevent the Chikungunya affectation, which is said to have the same symptoms as dengue if misdiagnosed.

Environment authorities seize 78 live, 2 dead green sea turtles in Palawan

(PNA), LAP/CARF/RTR/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) -– Environment cops in the northern Palawan town of Dumaran confiscated Sunday evening two dead and 78 live critically endangered species of green sea (pawikan) turtles from two abandoned fishing boats.

Senior Police Officer Mariano Dacillo, chief of the town police, said the green sea turtles were confiscated from fishing boat PETA Express and another, which was not immediately identified, around 8 p.m. in Isla Cabugawan.

Concerned residents tipped off the authorities of the boats' arrival.

Unfortunately, Dacillo said that when they got to the boats 45 minutes later, the crewmen had abandoned them, possibly after having been warned.

The municipal policemen tried to look for them in the island, but Dacillo said they failed to locate their whereabouts. They also did not know how many crewmen were responsible for the poaching of turtles.

Residents of the island also do not know the identities of the crewmen, he said, because they have not seen them before.

“More or less, we confiscated around 80 critically endangered green sea turtles, and two of them were dead. We have already coordinated this to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) for proper disposition,” he said, adding it shall also handle measuring the green sea turtles.

He said the turtles will be returned to the sea as soon as their measurements have been recorded by environment experts.

Dacillo suspects that the green sea turtles were from residents in the surrounding islands, who catch them to sell them to buyers.

“In our assessment, it looks like they bought the turtles from other fishermen, who now go around poaching them from parts of Dumaran to sell them to buyers,” Dacillo said.

The Palaweña’s ‘tubig’ export business

By Roger Pe (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Palawan used to be known as a dumping ground for lepers (Culion) and prisoners (Iwahig). Throughout the ’50s, nothing much changed.

Then, only a single propeller Fokker plane visited the capital town. In the ’70s, things began to change. Puerto Princesa, the capital, became a city, and toward the new millennium, an envy to many. Palawan wakes up every day to the sound of progress. Today, almost 20 Airbus flights from Manila fly back and forth to the province.

Palawan’s rich flora and fauna, abundant marine life, stunning white beaches, incredible geographical formations and vast hectares of oil fields under its seabed are magnets to businessmen and tourists alike.

El Nido

In this paradise by the bay, hidden among limestone cliffs gatherers of “white gold,” most commonly known as swiftlet’s nests (hardened saliva of the bird), highly prized by the Chinese as a delicacy and aphrodisiac.

Traders from Manila and Hong Kong frequent the place for the bounty local foragers collect from mountains jotting out straight from the sea. Gatherers earn quite a sum. The demand would always outweigh the supply and the burgeoning business made enterprising families.

From one of these families emerged a shy little girl who dreamt of being successful some day and came back exactly what she wanted to be.

She is Emilie Palanca Pe-Shi, great granddaughter of Don Juan Palanca Pe Tuan of Coron, Palawan.

“I always dreamt of becoming a very successful business woman,” Shi says from an overseas chat with Global Pinoy. She was able to travel the world, own a real estate chain abroad, given the honor to become an honorary consul general for the Philippines in New Zealand, and finally, exporter of premium bottled water to several countries.

Beginnings

She was born in El Nido and moved to Puerto Princesa where she attended elementary and high school at Holy Trinity College (now a university). “I needed to be in the city so I packed my bags, took up entrance exams and went to a business school.”

Shi enrolled in the University of the East and majored in finance, marketing and sales.

Focus

“If I can focus on what I really wanted, I knew I would make it, she says. While on her senior year in college, Shi was taken in as an intern at White House Automotive Supply, then Manila’s largest importer of auto parts from Japan and the US. While attending night school to finish college, she took charge of the import department of the company.

Being active in university activities gave her rewards and just like what she wanted after graduation, her entrepreneurial spirit gave her passport to bigger things. Shi joined a travel agency—Travel and Tours—and stayed for over three years, and was given the privilege of flying to several cities in Europe, US and most of Asia.

The travel business became Shi’s bread and butter, hitting the jackpot soon enough and bagging the biggest travel account her company ever handled—a Chicago tour group for which she organized tours in Manila and other Philippine cities.

“We did not have much competition back in the ’60s and ’70s,” Shi recollects. “Customers were very loyal and they left everything to us to arrange their itinerary and hotel accommodations. I truly enjoyed that part of my career, including my stint with the Philippine Travel Bureau,” she says.

Honorary consul general

She left the country in 1969 right after getting married to a Hong Kong Chinese citizen who studied dentistry at the University of the Philippines. The couple settled in Hong Kong, her husband opened a clinic to practice dentistry while she worked for a Japanese government entity.

About to give birth to her first child, Shi migrated to New Zealand initially doing property business, buying land and developing them. In a span of 10 years until 2007, she has built more than 750 homes with single housing and townhouses in Albany, worth over $100 million in development.

A year after, Ambassador Bienvenido Tejano invited her to be the Philippine honorary consul general in New Zealand.

As the Filipino population grew to almost 50,000, Shi took office in July 2008 in Auckland.

On her first year as consul general, Shi says: “It was like going back to school. It was hard for me to understand all the ropes of the business. I was lucky the embassy had a lot of attachés I could call on to ask for help. The full diplomatic manual was so thick, I fell asleep reading it chapter by chapter.”

“My time was not enough. I devoted four hours of consular time in the morning, the rest of the afternoon, for my own private business,” she recalls.

Love for country

The reason why Shi accepted the job as an honorary consul was “my love for the country and the Filipino people,” she says. It was not an easy job, you have to be a people person or you will lose your patience when people start complaining about consular service.”

The voluntary job for Shi was a sacrifice. “Not many people know we do not receive salaries. I accepted it so that the government can start a consular office for Filipinos who do not need to spend a large sum of money to go and fly to Wellington to get a visa, passport, etc. Today, I believe we have simplified a lot of things.”

What has she observed about Filipinos living in New Zealand? “Filipinos in NZ are quite regional and clannish, very much family-oriented. During my five-year term, I have not heard of bad press about Filipinos. I received a lot of commendations for our nurses, IT engineers, architects, doctors and dentists. The most number of comments she got: “Filipinos are hardworking, and they took care of their families.”

After her tenure, Shi ventured on an ambitious water production business. She tried making the best water in the whole of Antartica available in bottles. After several months and many name studies after, Shih’s KVella brand was born and got the Ministy of Primary Industries’ approval.

KVella

Shi’s KVella premium bottled water is sourced from the Southern Alps of New Zealand, pure water with essential minerals from vapors of ice shelves and drawn from natural artesian system.

The word “KVella” means fantastic in Italian, but actually an acronym of two of her companies joined together (Kesco/Vision) with an added nice sounding word: Ella. The trademark is registered in the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States.

She currently ships to four countries and will soon add India and France to the growing list. “We are hoping that we should be able to export more as our prices become very competitive,” she says.

Asked what advice she would give to her kababayan who wish to live in New Zealand or anywhere in the world, Shi says: “Prepare yourself, and ask yourself this question with sincerity: “Will this be better for my country and my family? Will I be able to pursue all my dreams? Shi says one must work hard, take some insults sometimes. Though language could be a problem to some, it could all be overcome. “If you have confidence, you’ll be able to better yourself.”

Lastly, Shih says the government has helped many Filipinos in New Zealand, allowing them to enter with very little money. “Filipino immigrants could apply for housing and job opportunities are plenty. There are so much work at the moment but our kababayan must have qualifications and should be willing to learn,” she says.

Ultra-rare crocs survive in Palawan ‘Noah’s Ark’

(AFP, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

PUERTO PRINCESA—A chorus of chirps filled the room as one of the Philippines’ top crocodile breeders checked on his wards in an overcrowded “Noah’s Ark” for one of the world’s most endangered animals.

The chick-like cries came from metal tanks holding the baby Philippine crocodiles, artificially hatched by incubators from eggs that Glenn Rebong and his team had poached from their mothers’ nests.

“We’re producing so many but there are few opportunities to release them in the wild. So they get stuck here and you get overcrowding,” Rebong told Agence France-Presse at the two-hectare Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.

Crocodylus mindorensis once lived in large numbers in freshwater lakes and rivers across the Southeast Asian archipelago, and are endemic to the Philippines, but were decimated by illegal hunting for the fashion industry.

Fearful humans mistaking the timid creatures for their man-eating saltwater cousins and killing them, as well as a loss of habitat, have contributed to their demise.

By the time the Philippine government launched its captive breeding program in 1987, a survey found only about 250 were estimated to be in the wild.

Today there are likely fewer than that, as the areas they have been seen in recent years have got steadily smaller, according to Rebong.

The International Union of Conservation and Nature lists them as “critically endangered,” one step away from extinct in the wild.

The largest collection of the species now live at the center, while two smaller private breeding operations elsewhere in the Philippines and some small sanctuaries in the wild are also key to the crocodiles’ survival.

Meager budget

Built with Japanese development aid, the now financially struggling center in the city of Puerto Princesa is home to about 500 crocodiles, about half of them freshwater and the rest “salties.”

The center augments a meager government budget by putting some of the baby and adult crocs on display for tourists, who are warned not to stick their hands or feet into the enclosures.

The annual revenue of P12 million from the tourists’ entrance fees is just enough to pay for the fish that the reptiles are fed, as well as to cover the salaries of 45 staff.

Selling some of the saltwater crocodiles for their leather provides another source of revenue.

Selling them illegal

However, it is illegal to sell the freshwater crocodiles, because of their critically endangered status, and the center offers sanctuary for them.

The breeding adults are kept inside grassy pens segmented by low concrete walls, where females build mounds of mud and weed for nests.

The staff periodically raids the nests to transfer the eggs to the incubators, increasing their chances of hatching and ensuring an “insurance population” of at least 100 adults is maintained, Rebong said.

Shy animals

The species was hunted close to extinction even though the rougher skin on its flanks is inferior to those of Crocodylus porosus, the larger saltwater crocodiles that are a mainstay of the fashion industry.

Growing to not more than 3 meters (10 feet), the freshwater crocodiles are shy animals that eat smaller prey than their bigger cousins.

Unlike large crocodiles that defend territory, they tend to slink away from humans. Rebong said there was no record of any member of the species ever killing a person.

However, few Filipinos make the distinction between the aggressive salties and the freshwater crocodiles, wanting to kill either if seen.

This has been a big factor in so few having been released into the wild, as has been their relentlessly diminishing natural habitats.

Education program

Freshwater swamps that are their favored homes are rapidly being converted into farms, housing, or ponds for commercial fish culture.

In the nature parks where they have been released, the government has had to run education and incentive programs to try and ensure they are not hunted down out of fear or for their lucrative skins.

“You can’t simply release them anywhere. We have to make sure they are secure in a particular area, otherwise they could end up getting killed,” Rebong said.

“People moving into a crocodile habitat kill them mostly out of fear. To them, a crocodile is a crocodile.”

Protecting their habitat

In the biggest and most successful release, 50 freshwater crocodiles were let go over the past decade in the Northern Sierra Madre National Park, a sprawling 1,000-hectare spread of tropical rainforest in the north of Luzon.

Communities in the Northern Sierra Madre went along with the scheme in exchange for jobs and skills training, said park superintendent William Savella.

“They asked for incentives,” Savella told AFP, and 10 locals were eventually hired as forest rangers, helping the government protect their habitat as well as monitor the crocodiles’ progress.

Another 25 were set free last year at a nature park on the southern island of Siargao, but Rebong said there were no plans to release more into the wild anytime soon because of the habitat restrictions.

“The ultimate measure of success is, they will breed and become a viable adult population (but) even if you breed a million here, they are still considered endangered if you cannot find any in the wild,” he said.

Palawan farmers train on cacao farming

(PNA), FPV/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 15 (PNA) -– Kennemer Foods, Inc. (KFI) and Mars Cocoa Development Center (MCDC), two known names in cacao growing and farming, recently conducted a cacao farming training for Palaweño farmers for almost a week.

In a media release from the Provincial Information Office (PIO) Thursday, information officer Gil Acosta said the Cacao Doctors Candidate Training is part of Palawan’s preparation for cacao farming and production as a livelihood support activity under IHELP.

He said it was conducted from July 29 to August 1 at the Palawan Agricultural Center, Barangay Tiniguiban, Puerto Princesa.

The first batch of participants was composed of 21 farmers from barangays Culasian, Candawaga, and Ransang in the southern town of Rizal; Culandanum, Ocayan, Sandoval and Tarusan in Bataraza.

The second, on the other hand, was composed of 24 farmers from barangays Panalingaan, Candawaga, Taburi and Ransang, also in Rizal, and Sandoval in Bataraza town.

“Palawan has a huge potential in the farming and production of cacao as its soils are just appropriate, and there are vast tracks of land that can be utilized particularly for this. Lands that have coconut trees can be good for cacao growing through intercropping,” said Peter Cruz, cacao master and training facilitator from the MCDC.

The Cacao Doctor Candidates were taught on the proper technology in the planting of cacao, selection of proper cacao clones, where UF 18 clone has been recommended by experts as appropriate for Palawan soil; measurement of proper distance or staking; holing of areas to be planted; proper basalt application; and fronding, or planting cacao under shades of trees.

Acosta said those who graduated from the training will become trainors themselves for other farmers, who want to take up cacao frming in their barangays. The graduates will also be called cacao doctors.

AFP chief mulls cruise tours in PHL-owned features in Spratly Islands Group

(PNA), SCS/PFN

MANILA, Aug. 14 (PNA) --- In a bid to show to the world how beautiful and exotic the Philippine-owned features of the Spratly Islands Group, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said on Wednesday the military is planning to set up cruise tours which will sail around six of such islands.

"Hopefully, we will be able to put up a cruise ship going around the six islands," he said.

However, Catapang could only give the names of four Philippines-owned areas which the proposed cruise tours would cover and these are Patag, Lawak, Pagasa Islands and Ayungin Shoal.

Aside from the four features, the Philippines also occupies Parola, Likas, Kota, and Panata Islands and Rizal Reef.

As this developed, Catapang urged the Palawan provincial government to make their area more prosperous.

"I challenge them to make Palawan as the next most prosperous province, to showcase it. Palawan has a lot of potentials, especially if we can develop the islands that we now posses as tourism destination," he said.

Catapang said he expects investors to come in for the project.

"It can be a public-private partnership if we are able to develop the area," the AFP chief stressed.

Mt. Cleopatra in Puerto Princesa protection finds ally in Center for Sustainability

(PNA), LAM/CARF/GPT/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 13 (PNA) –- Mount Cleopatra, also known as Cleopatra’s Needle, which is said to be a mystical woodland promontory that is teeming with a variety of wildlife in this highly-urbanized city, has gained various interests in terms of protection and conservation.

At the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the move to declare Mount Cleopatra as a protected area in Puerto Princesa just gained strength recently after non-government organization Center for Sustainability (COS) presented a proposal to the members to declare it a forest reserve.

Kyra Hoevenaars, executive director of COS, along with proposed Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve Project Manager Jessa Garibay, appeared before the Question and Hour of the Sangguniang Panlungsod on Monday to explain the environment and ecological gains of declaring the said mountain a forest reserved.

In an interview, Hoevenaars said Tuesday that Mount Cleopatra, which earned the nickname Cleopatra’s Needle because of the obelisk-like rock structure on its peak, needs to be protected and conserved for it is “home to numerous biodiversity, majority of which are endemic to Puerto Princesa and the province of Palawan.”

She said her team has scaled Mount Cleopatra a number of times to conduct research and studies, and found it heaving with innumerable flora and fauna treasures that are important and can only be found in the city, where it is located.

Garibay, on the other hand, explained that their project proposal has legal means, and that it is a must to do the protection since the “remaining forests” on Cleopatra “is for future generations.”

“Existing protected area network (in the province does not) include many vital forest areas,” Garibay said, adding that among the main concerns is the diminishing number of Batak tribe living in the mountain. As of last count she said, there are around 200 Batak indigenous peoples (IPs) left.

Among the threats that the mountain faces include “conversion for farming and forestry, and unregulated tourist activities and land development related to tourism,” she said.

Cleopatra’s Needle being near the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which is a protected area, UNESCO World Heritage Site, and among the New 7 Wonders of Nature, also brings the need for the mountain to be also protected, she further explained.

A few weeks back, City Councilor Rogelio Castro delivered a privilege speech calling for the declaration of the mountain as a nature park. At 1,593 meters above sea level, Cleopatra’s Needle is this city’s highest peak.

DOH conducts computer literacy course to health workers in MIMAROPA

(PNA), LAM/SDT/UTB

MANILA, Aug.12 (PNA) –- The Department of Health (DOH) in MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque,Romblon, Palawan) is conducting computer literacy courses to various health workers all over the region to keep them up-to-date with the latest software applications and health information systems of the Department of Health (DOH).

“Being the front liners in health, health workers should be well equipped not only with their duties but in maintaining a well-organized reporting and recording system of all health indices and storing the data in the health information system as this will be the basis for the regular evaluation and assessment of health situations in the country”, Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo said in a statement.

At present, nurses, dentists, doctors, provincial and municipal health officers, hospital staffs and barangay health workers in the region undergo five-day training on the Computer Literacy Course on Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint and using the Internet.

The objective of the Computer Literacy Course for health workers is to provide fundamental concepts necessary to facilitate the collection, recording and evaluation of reports. “It will also make them globally competitive and techno savvy”,Janairo said.

Among the various health information systems currently in use by the DOH are the MNDRS (Maternal Neonatal Deaths Reporting System), iTIS (Integrated Tuberculosis Information System), NOSIRS (National Online Stock Inventory Reporting System), SPEED (Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergencies and Disasters), WOMB (Watching Over Mothers and Babies),iClinicSys, RxBox and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Health Facility Mapping.

“We are also in the process of connecting all island provinces of the region via internet. An interconnection system is currently in the stage of development and will be completed after all health workers are trained and all the needed equipment and personnel are ready and in placed,” Janairo said.

Palawan vet office conducts another orientation on artificial insemination

(PNA), JBP/CARF/RTR/JSD

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Aug. 11 (PNA) -- Veterinaries from the Palawan Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) recently concluded another breeding program orientation for farmers in a bid to help them in their livelihood.

According to a Monday release from the Provincial Information Office (PIO), the orientation for the Artificial Insemination Breeding Program was completed on August 6 for farmers in the southern towns of Aborlan and Narra.

Conducted by doctors Carla Limsan, Darius Pe Mangcucang and Benito Del Rosario, the orientation is said to be in preparation for farmers who own carabaos for the conduct of artificial insemination in their areas.

The orientation also aims to show and make the farmers understand the importance of artificial insemination, what breed of carabao will be the source of spermatozoa, the benefits that can be gained from taking care of mixed breed carabaos, and what will be the AI program’s impact to municipalities where it is implemented.

Initially, the same orientation was conducted too, in the towns of Brooke’s Point and Sofronio Española in southern Palawan, and Dumaran and Taytay in the north, where 102 carabaos underwent artificial insemination.

The AI breeding program is being implemented in Palawan in cooperation between the provincial government and the Philippine Carabao Center under the development agenda IHELP.

Aside from the said program, the PVO is also active in conducting immunization of cattle and carabaos in Brooke’s Point against hemorrhagic septicemia.

The PVO was able to provide immunization to 997 domesticated animals in six barangays in Brooke’s Point. Of this number, 159 are from Calasaguen, Maasin (133), Barong-barong (214), Aribungos (174), Ipilan (169) and Mambalot (148).

Palawan Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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