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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

CBMS data collection in Palawan, now hi-tech with use of Android tablets

(PNA), LAP/CARF/UTB

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 24 (PNA) -- The Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS), a tool for gathering, collecting and processing information for social monitoring, and for gauging effectiveness of programs and projects, that is implemented nationwide and in Palawan, is now hi-tech.

Through the initiative of CBMS Network and Micro Impacts of Macroeconomic Adjustment Policies (MIMAP) Project headed by Dr. Celia Reyes, a web-based platform known as CBMS Portal, has been developed for the storage and management of databases in the province.

Likewise a software for data collection known as CBMS Scan is now available via android tablet.

The Provincial Information Office (PIO), in a media release said that the use of Android tablets were made familiar to employees of the provincial government during a five-day Trainers Training on the new CBMS android applications held in Palawan from April 7 to 11, 2014.

Josephine Escano, head of the Research, Statistics and Evaluation Division (RSED) of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) was quoted as saying that the workshop was held to orient and train the Municipal Planning and Development Coordinators with their CBMS focal point persons from their respective municipalities on the new tablet-based system.

“This tablet-based data collection for CBMS replaces the old paper and pencil system of gathering, collecting and processing household information,” she explained.

The workshop was held in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Region 4.

According to Escaño, the implementation of the CBMS is now under the technical supervision of the DILG and all provinces are mandated to use and implement it.

Likewise, the CBMS Network Team and the DILG Bureau of Local Government and Development are working together for the effective implementation of CBMS.

As a household-based information system, CBMS was first piloted in the province of Palawan in 1999.

Since then, the province has become a model for CBMS implementation to other provinces. Palawan is also the first province to publish the Human Development Report based on the CBMS data. It has published two HDRs, the first was in 2000 and followed by the 2006 HDR.

Escaño, who is said to have seen the growth and progress of CBMS from its infancy to its development as a recognized and accepted tool for social monitoring, expressed excitement and enthusiasm over the upgrading of the CBMS.

She said that with the new CBMS portal and CBMS Scan, the gathering, encoding and processing of data will now be faster and more efficient compared to the traditional method.

“The CBMS enumerators will now be able to enter the required information using the tablet. Any error in the entry will be automatically checked by the system because it has a built-in editing capability,” she enthused.

Meanwhile, Jackie Manalon, Local Government Operations Officer V, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Region 4, noted in her presentation during the workshop, that with the CBMS Accelerated Poverty Profiling, the new system has security features to ensure that only the person/s who are registered in the account will have access to information in the CBMS of the municipality or the province.

“The tablet-based CBMS is more efficient and validation of data is easier and faster compared to the manual data collection,” the media release quoted Manalon.

She added that field editors, who will be assigned to check the data collected by the enumerators will have more time to assess and scrutinize the data entered in the system.

For every four enumerators, one field editor will be deployed and there will be one coordinator for every 10 enumerators.

The municipalities will have to provide their own android tablets and the number of tablets would depend on the required number of enumerators per barangay.

Another interesting feature of the CBMS application is the availability of GPS that would automatically provide the location of the households.

“This feature fast tracks the creation of digitized spot maps which are important in poverty profiling and social monitoring,” she furthered.

As a social monitoring tool, the CBMS provides a very realistic picture of the poverty incidence.

It also provides information on the availability or non-availability of basic services in the barangay, municipality and province namely water, electricity, health and sanitation facilities such as toilets, sewerage.

It offers too, information on labor, employment, underemployment, number of children in elementary school and secondary school as well as housing situation and other indicators.

The CBMS would also be a reliable tool for the current leadership in the province of Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, especially in the implementation of his IHELP development agenda.

IHELP stands for Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood and Protection of the Environment.

To fast-track the implementation of the tablet-based CBMS data collection, the office of Ms Escaño has been tasked to echo the trainers training held in Puerto Princesa to the different municipalities.

The trainings will be held during last two weeks of April and the whole month of May. From April 21 to 25, the staff will conduct two separate trainings in the municipalities of Dumaran and Rizal; the training for the municipalities of Narra and Kalayaan and in Espanola is from April 28 to May 2.

The group will conduct separate trainings in Linapacan, Magsaysay and Cuyo from May 5 to 9; Agutaya, Busuanga and Aborlan from May 12 to 16; Roxas from May 18 to 24; Balabac and Quezon from May 26 to 30.

Based on the timetable of the PPDO, the CBMS data collection and processing must be completed before the Annual Investment Plan in August. The data collected from the barangays will serve as database for the planning and direction setting for 2015.

MIMAROPA-Civil Defense donates 6 rain gauges in Taytay, Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 23 (PNA) – - In a bid to help Palawan prepare for any man-made and natural calamities, and in consonance with the implementation of the act strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System (PDRRMS), the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) recently donated six rain gauges in several barangays in the northern town of Taytay.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Tuesday that the rain gauges were donated to barangays Abongan, Bato, Busy Bees, Pancol and Paglaum from April 8 to 11 by the OCD in support of Governor Jose Alvarez’ aim for early preparations against calamities.

Each rain gauge, he said, costs Php 7,000-Php 9,000. It is an instrument used to gather and measure the amount of liquid precipitation over a set period of time.

Along with the devices’ distribution was also an orientation in the said barangays on their use with representatives of the municipal and Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (BDRRMO) and officials.

They were oriented too, on the importance of preparation before any calamity strikes.

Acosta said the barangay officials whose areas were given the rain gauges were made responsible to maintain the devices.

“These rain gauges can greatly help in monitoring the water level in times of typhoons,” said Acosta.

The barangays in Taytay, where the distributions were made have been identified by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) as prone to hazards, like landslide and flooding.

Tabon cave access road seen to boost tourism in historical town in Palawan

By Geraldford P. Ticke [(PNA), FPV/CARF/GPT/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 22 (PNA) -- The tourism industry in the historical municipality of Quezon in southern Palawan is expected to grow for the local residents once construction of the seven-kilometer access road to the “cradle of civilization” Tabon Caves Complex begins.

Quezon Municipal Information Officer Engr. Noli Laurio said Monday that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Palawan 2nd Engineering District has already announced the bidding for the Php 123 million project, and they are “just waiting for the construction to commence within the second quarter of the year.”

“We expect the construction to start anytime soon. We are just waiting for the DPWH,” Laurio said.

He added that the budget came from the Department of Tourism (DOT) as assistance to tourism development in Quezon.

Tabon Cave which is considered the cradle of Philippine civilization is one of the top tourist attractions in southern Palawan.

Tourists who want to visit the place have to endure around 30-minutes of boat ride to reach the entrance of the caves.

Aside from the road construction, Laurio likewise said that the National Museum (NM) has also allotted Php 14 million for the establishment of an extension office near the Tabon Cave Complex, as well as a Botanical Garden beside its current office also in Quezon.

“With these developments, we expect tourist arrivals to rise as well as other business establishments in the municipality,” Laurio said.

The Tabon complex is a set of caves north of Quezon municipality, in the south western part of the province of Palawan.

It was named after a scrubfowl that can be found in the caves. The complex has 29 explored caves with seven open for public viewing. However, 215 caves are known to exist in Lipuun Point.

Maintained by the National Museum, the Tabon Man was discovered in the cave complex by Dr. Robert Fox.

Palawan governor studies final proposal for cacao, coffee farming

(PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez is making a final study of the project proposal for cacao and coffee farming in the province submitted by a Technical Working Group (TWG) tasked to put it together, the Provincial Information Office (PIO)here said over the weekend.

Information officer Gil Acosta said the project proposal was prepared following a two-day Capacity Building Workshop for the TWG on April 15 led by consultant Caesar Ventura.

Participants were from the Provincial Agriculturist Office, Provincial Cooperative Development Office, Provincial Economic Enterprise and Development Office, PIO, Provincial Planning and Development Office, Provincial Assessor’s Office and the IHELP Livelihood Sector.

In writing the final proposal for Alvarez’s consideration, Acosta said the TWG considered the production involved in the farming of the crops, materials and facilities that would be needed for the project, orientation for intended beneficiaries, livelihood benefits in the areas being eyed for the project in southern Palawan, and the lands where the farming of the crops will be done.

Also discussed were the memorandums of agreement that will be signed by the provincial government with the proponents of the crop farming and their beneficiaries, specifically the indigenous people communities that are included in the Listahanan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“There is a need to speed up the writing of the project proposal so that Gov. Alvarez can study it for approval, and so that the people who stand to benefit can already gain from cacao and coffee farming like what was committed by the present provincial leadership,” Acosta said. The communities that stand to benefit from cacao and coffee farming are in the municipalities of Aborlan, Quezon, Brooke’s Point, Rizal, Bataraza and Sofronio Española—all of southern Palawan.

Acosta said that as soon as Alvarez approves the proposal, the TWG will start the orientation and validation of beneficiaries to start the planting of cacao and coffee seedlings.

In November last year, Alvarez challenged and encouraged Palaweños in southern Palawan to take the chance to benefit from cacao and coffee farming to have more livelihood opportunities after signing a memorandum of agreement with Rocky Mountain Arabica Coffee Co. and Kennemer Foods International Inc.

In the agreement, the parties agreed to plant cacao and coffee in seven municipalities in the southern part of the province, where each would find 1,000 hectares to be devoted to the crop farming projects.

Palawan takes the 'Bayani Challenge'

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, April 20 (PNA) -- “No one is too poor to contribute and no one is too rich that he cannot help,” is the rallying cry of this year’s organizers of the Gawad Kalinga 2014 Bayani Challenge, which aims to build 50 houses in Yolanda-devastated northern Palawan towns.

The Bayani Challenge is embarking on a journey to build and transform families, homes and communities and thus contribute to nation-building.

The challenge, uniquely launched in Palawan as “Mula Araw ng Kagitingan hanggang Araw ng Kalayaan”, will be conducted from April 9 to June 12 in Culion, Busuanga and Coron towns.

The aim of the 2014 Bayani Challenge is to gather one million volunteers to aid in nation building efforts for disaster stricken provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The summer event will have the following activities: building of homes, repair of classrooms, mangrove planting, coastal clean-ups and health missions.

In Palawan, organizers expect some 2,000 volunteers to work on 50 houses. They will work in batches for a period of nine weeks that started April 9.

The organizers say that at least 1,000 of the volunteers will come from outside Palawan, including 100 from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Lordman Monforte, GK Coordinator of the province of Palawan, said Sunday that this year’s national build is also unique, he said, because for the first time, GK bought land for the resettlement areas.

Not only houses would be built during the Bayani Challenge. The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) has committed to refurbish 21 more classrooms in Busuanga. Children’s parks or Paraisong Pambata in these schools will also be rehabilitated. The school level activities will be tied up with the yearly Brigada Eskwela, Monforte said.

A two-day tree and mangrove planting and coastal cleanup will be held in Coron on April 22-23.

For his part, Western Command chief, Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda said WESCOM is very much prepared to accept the challenge.

“Through the Gawad Kalinga, we will show the world that we are helping each other”, Deveraturda said, as he committed support to the GK Bayanihan Challenge and at the same time assured Palaweños that WESCOM will help maintain the area as a peaceful community.

Where to go beach bumming this summer

Compiled by Dayanara Cudal (ABS-CBNnews.com)

If you’re tired of the usual summer hotspots, there are many more beaches in the Philippines worth exploring. Some of them are still unspoiled by commercial development and less crowded. They boast of long coastlines, gentle waves, clear waters and some even have pink sand beaches perfect for a relaxing summer.

1. Pangasinan's 'Mini Boracay'

In the town of Dasol in Pangasinan, tourists flock to see the gentle waves kiss the white sand along Osmeña beach. Just a five-hour trip from Metro Manila, beach lovers will surely enjoy the "mini Boracay" experience that also includes beautiful rock formations along the beach.

2. Beach bumming at Laiya

San Juan, Batangas is proud of its 32-kilometer coastline boasting of clear waters and fine, white sand. Just three hours from Manila, Laiya Beach is a good spot for sunbathing, snorkeling and bonfires.

3. Puerto Princesa's Isla Puting Buhangin

Enjoy peace and quiet in a hidden paradise in Puerto Princesa, Palawan for free. Isla Puting Buhangin, an island of white sand beaches and crystal clear waters will surely take your stress away. Just a reminder, because the island has yet to be touched by commercial development, don't forget to bring your own food.

4. Northern Samar's pink beach

Tired of white sand beaches? Here’s something new: Sila Island in San Vicente Northern Samar boasts of pink sand beaches. It got is hue because of corals. Spared by super typhoon Yolanda, the pink beaches of Northern Samar also hosts activities such as diving, snorkeling and island hopping.

5. Compostela Valley escapade

Known for its gold mines, Compostela Valley also boasts of white sand beaches and man-made wonders. There are various resorts in the province that offer affordable rates for both daytime and overnight visits.

We celebrate World Heritage Day

(Tempo)

World Heritage Day is observed around the globe, including in the Philippines, on April 18, 2014, with the theme “Heritage of Commemoration.” Institutions and communities as well as children and young people are encouraged to take part in efforts to protect, preserve, and conserve historical monuments and sites that add to the unique and diverse global cultural landscape.

World Heritage Day focuses on the need to protect monuments and sites worldwide by working collectively at national and international levels. On this day, there are tours of monuments and sites, conferences, photo/painting exhibits, awarding of prizes to companies/individuals who contributed to local heritage.

By highlighting the outstanding universal value of masterpieces and unique parts of the natural environment, the event promotes the need to preserve valuable assets for future generations and to protect them from physical and aesthetic damage.

International Monuments and Sites Day was celebrated in Tunisia on April 18, 1982. This later became World Heritage Day, and was approved by United Nations Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference on November 26, 1983. While UNESCO lists 962 World Heritage Sites, including five in the Philippines, the celebration of World Heritage Day is not only about listed sites, but also about cultural heritage places and landscapes of international, national, and local significance.

The five Philippine Heritage Sites are: Historic City of Vigan in Ilocos Norte; Rice Terraces in Cordillera; Subterranean River in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; Baroque Churches in Manila, Santa Maria, Paoay, and Miag-ao; and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

We congratulate the United Nations Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization headed by Director General Irina G. Bokova and UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines Secretary General Dr. Virginia A. Miralao, for their partnership in protecting and conserving monuments and sites of universal value that help commemorate people, places and events globally for our Filipino people in our Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!

Otto eyes new SC55 partner by mid-2014

By Riza T. Olchondra (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Australia’s Otto Energy Ltd., which has taken control of the oil and gas venture in Service Contract 55 (SC 55) off Palawan, hopes to find a new exploration partner by mid-year.

The former operator of SC 55 BHP Billiton Petroleum (Philippines) Corp. left the venture last year, citing difficulties in securing permits at the local government level.

Otto Energy wants a partner with deepwater experience to drill the Hawkeye-1 exploration well in SC 55, the Australian company said in a regulatory filing.

“Several suitable companies with Southeast Asia operations have commenced technical due diligence reviews of the available data. Completion of the farm-out process is anticipated to be completed and a new partner secured by mid-2014,” Otto said in its report.

As operator of the service contract, Otto has lodged its budget and Sub-Phase 4 work program, which includes the drilling of the Hawkeye-1 well, with the Department of Energy (DOE).

Otto said it started drill planning preparations, including well design and procurement reviews.

“Otto has also invited expressions of interest from rig owners … to ensure Hawkeye-1 is drilled within the required timeframe,” the company said.

Meanwhile, production continued throughout the first quarter following the successful completion of Galoc Phase II commissioning in December 2013. There were four cargo liftings for the quarter, all sold to South Korean refineries, Otto said.

Earlier, the DOE approved the reassignment of 60-percent equity in SC 55 from BHP Billiton to Otto Energy, bringing Otto Energy’s interest in the service contract to 93.18 percent.

Last Jan. 21, Otto Energy announced that it had executed agreements with BHPB to terminate the farm-out agreement for SC 55. Under the agreements, BHP Billiton would have to pay $3 million to Otto Energy following the DOE’s approval.

BHP Billiton will also need to settle another $24.5 million to Otto Energy upon drilling the first exploration well in SC 55, which is touted to be the country’s next Malampaya field.

LPA to bring rains to Bicol, parts of central, southern PH

(ABS-CBNnews.com)

MANILA -- The low pressure area (LPA) spotted east of the Philippines is forecast to bring rains over parts of Bicol region, Visayas and Mindanao in the next couple of days, state weather bureau PAGASA said.

As of 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, the LPA was estimated at 80 kilometers southeast of Surigao City.

Visayas will have cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms which may trigger flashfloods and landslides.

Bicol Region, MIMAROPA, Zamboanga peninsula and Northern Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with scattered light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening.

The LPA, which is expected to have already crossed the landmass of Visayas, will be in the vicinity of Palawan by Thursday (April 17). Gradual improvement of the weather is expected over Eastern and Central Visayas.

However, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, MIMAROPA, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Aurora, Quezon and Metro Manila will be cloudy with scattered light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms.

The rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

From April 18 to 20, Palawan will continue to experience cloudy skies with scattered light to moderate rainshowers and thunderstorms.

The rest of the country is also expected to have partly cloudy to cloudy skies mostly in the afternoon or evening with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

The LPA is expected to dissipate after crossing the Palawan area.

However, the general public is still advised to monitor for the weather advisories and daily weather forecast issued by PAGASA.

Island Hopping in Honda Bay

By Gael Hilotin (Pinay Solo Backpacker)

Puerto Princesa has long been a magnet of sun-worshippers and pleasure seekers. Gratefully, despite the crowd it brings, it has managed to preserve its splendor over the years.

Resting on the eastern coast of the green city is Honday Bay, where outriggers boats used for tours mingle. Its sun-sparkled threads of turquoise and emerald waters exude affordable water activities. A visit to this region will not be complete without island hopping and basking in its cerulean beaches.

To get to Honday Bay from the city center, you can charter a tourism-accredited tricycle to Honday Bay for around Php 600 (one tricycle good for 4 pax). Alternatively, you may also charter a van. Our Honday Bay island hopping tour was arranged by Go Hotels Palawan, you can also inquire from your hotel, local tour companies or head to the tourism office.

Tour packages would usually include van transport from the city to the wharf, boat and guide for island hopping, environmental fees, entrance fees to the islands and lunch. Snorkeling and free diving gears can be rented from the shops near the port or you may stop over at one of the shops along the highway. If you are on a DIY tour, you can pay for the fees and boat rental at Sta,Lourdes Wharf in Honda Bay. Each boat can accommodate a maximum of 10 passengers.

First stop is Pambato Reef, known for its floating cottage crowned by a pawikan-inspired roof. This structure contains information about the reef and the staggering variety of marine life inhabiting the area. It is an interesting spot for snorkeling where you can spot rainbow-hued fishes, colors and other marine animals.

Like a lovely gem emerging out of the sea when the tide gets low, Luli Island is another interesting stop during the Honday Bay Island hopping. The place is riddled nice-looking mangroves and open cottages, a good spot to feast on your packed meals. Take a dip in its clear azure waters or go kayaking within the area marked with colorful flags.

Arguably, the best place for picnic is Cowrie Island, with clear turquoise water and powdery whit sands, just wear footwear when swimming because some sea urchins dwell here. The island fringed by coconut trees and the portion that is open to public has been developed for the convenience of tourists. Soothe your tired muscles and relax at the massage area. Cool down at the bar and restaurant that offers refreshments, try their best-seller buko halo-halo. Enjoy your lunch at the open pavilion or the cabanas dappled near the shore.

Undoubtedly, Honday Bay is just one of the many reasons to visit Puerto Princesa. The green city exudes with gorgeous beaches, natural wonders, and thrilling adventures for travelers.

Smear drive vs Hagedorn

By Paul M. Gutierrez

THE return of gambling through “jueteng” and the Small Town Lottery (STL) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, is allegedly the reason behind the “smear job” against former city mayor Edward Hagedorn by his long-time nemesis, retired police general, Eduardo Matillano.

This, according to Sandra Cam, the “whistleblower” in the “jueteng payola” scandal that rocked the country in 2005 and where she revealed the alleged involvement of the family of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a talk with this reporter, Cam alleged that another “GL” (gambling lord) informed her that a meeting took place “two weeks ago” in Manila between Matillano, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron and one “Nora de Leon Co,” to discuss the return of gambling in the city through the STL.

“You can quote me because my source is ‘very reliable’ as he is also a gambling lord,” Cam said, adding she is not “afraid” to be sued by Bayron or Matillano.

It was Hagedorn, during his term, who eliminated all forms of illegal gambling in Puerto Princesa.

“Nora,” Cam added, is also known as the “Queen of the STL” who is “personally very close” to Matillano.

She said Nora’s “closeness” to Matillano dates back to his days as director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), one of whose mandates is the elimination of illegal gambling.

In the same period covered by the alleged meeting, Matillano, using a 3-year old report by the Commission on Audit (CoA), filed a graft and corruption case against Hagedorn at the Ombudsman.

Right after Matillano filed the case against him, the still popular former mayor expressed confidence the Ombudsman would dismiss the case for lack of merit.

Cam quoted Hagedorn as saying that “there is nothing” he can do with the proposed return of gambling in Puerto Princesa allegedly under the “sponsorship” of Bayron.

Hagedorn, however, said that he would stop its operation once he gets elected back into office.

Bayron is facing a recall election approved by the Commission on Elections en banc last April 1 under Comelec Resolution 9864. The recall process however is temporarily on hold pending the issue of funding.

The proponents, led by businessman Al Babao, told the Comelec that they have “lost” their “trust and confidence” in Bayron for alleged graft and corruption, mismanagement, rising criminality, especially the use and trafficking of illegal drugs and, a drop in tourists arrival, which is the city’s main source of income.

They noted that most tourists now visiting Puerto Princesa find it worth their while to proceed to El Nido and other destinations instead of deciding to spend their time in the city, which was the case during the term of Hagedorn.

“Hindi na nagtatagal ang mga turista sa Puerto Princesa,” they lamented.

“Dumadaan na lang sila dito dahil sa narito ang airport pero ang karamihan diretso na sa ibang lugar katulad ng El Nido”.

Johnny Depp wants to visit El Nido, Palawan

By Janet Nepales

Los Angeles – Three-time Academy Award Best Actor nominee Johnny Depp expressed his desire to visit El Nido in Palawan after we showed him a travel magazine photo of the vacation resort when we interviewed him recently for the sci-fi action movie “Transcendence.”

The 50-year-old, who owns the 45-acre Little Hall’s Pond Cay Island in the Bahamas he renamed Lilly Rose Beach after his daughter, is an outdoorsy kind of guy who loves spending his free time on the beach with his family. JOHNNY DEPP

JOHNNY DEPP and (inset) his engagement ring (Photo by Ruben Nepales)

The actor openly talked about his love for actress Amber Heard to whom he has been engaged since Christmas Eve last year. The two have been dating since 2012, after meeting on the set of “The Rum Diary.” Johnny announced his separation from Vanessa Paradis, the mother of his two children (Lily-Rose Melody and John Christopher III), in June 2012.

Johnny disclosed the reason he has decided to marry Amber. “Well, I think that every day, every year that you get a little older, you get a little wiser. You have an easier and a better look at what’s going on in life.”

It wasn’t easy as “she’s everything that I wouldn’t want to be with, ’cause actors and actresses, it’s not an easy deal,” he said.

“But she has a very good perspective on her career and one of the first times I sat down with her, just talking after we met, I was astonished at how smart she is, and she is very, very smart. There’s a real strong brilliant woman in there that has a lot to say. And she has the ability to bring up the names of old blues guys, like Slim Harpo or Tampa Red or any of these somewhat obscure blues guys, and she has a great knowledge of that and country music. There was no way around it.

“It’s an interesting thing when you realize that you are at a point in your life where you are able to dedicate your life to one person. To love that person as you do your children. So, yeah, I guess it’s a little combination of everything, but she’s a wonderful girl and I am very lucky.”

Then Johnny showed us the engagement ring. “I picked the ring,” he confessed. “That’s why I am wearing it. I don’t want to give it to her. I kept this one. She got the good one. I got the subtle one.”

Who knows, Johnny and Amber may consider spending their honeymoon at El Nido, Palawan.

• • •

Johnny is not the only one who loves El Nido, Palawan.

Both Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner, who filmed “The Bourne Legacy” at El Nido Resorts’ Lagen Island in Palawan, could not stop talking about the place.

Rachel said, “Palawan is like a paradise island. It is more like the Emerald City. It is like a fantasy. Maybe it’s real to you, but to me, it looked like a fantasy place. I definitely would love to go back to Palawan.”

Jeremy, for his part, said, “It seems spawned from the heavens. It is one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen. It’s gorgeous!”

“The Bourne Legacy’s” award-winning producer Frank Marshall who earned five Oscar best picture nods for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Color Purple” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” also loved Palawan.

He said, “It was the most beautiful place I had ever been to. It is just staggeringly beautiful. Unfortunately, I was in Palawan for only two days. I wish we had spent six weeks there.”

Palawan is home to the exquisite El Nido Resorts’ Lagen Island that has water cottages and gives visitors the opportunity to engage in all kinds of water sports activities. Other breathtaking El Nido Resorts developments there are located at Miniloc, Pangulasian and Apulit. The resorts there were not affected by typhoon “Haiyan.”

Lawmakers asked to probe construction of US bases in Palawan

(Pamalakaya-Pilipinas)

MANILA, Philippines – Palawan fishermen identified with the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday appealed to lawmakers to conduct an investigation on the alleged construction of a mini-naval base in Oyster Bay in Palawan.

In particular, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) put to task members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Senate Committee on National Defense, and the upper house counter part committees at the House of Representatives to undertake separate probes on the alleged plan of the US government and the Aquino administration to transform Oyster Bay in Palawan into a mini-naval base for visiting American forces.

Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France asserted that if the report is true on the construction of mini-naval base, then it will constitute a joint Washington-Manila crime against national sovereignty and wholesale destruction of natural resources and marine environment in the name of US war of aggression in East Asia and the Pacific.

“The Senate and the House of Representatives should be compelled to act in accordance with the collective interest of the people and must do their constitutional and moral duty duty to uphold and protect the country’s sovereignty and national patrimony from American aggressors,” the Pamalakaya leader noted.

In October 2013, Pamalakaya’s France noted that Commodore Joseph Rostum Peña, commander of the Philippines’ western navy, confirmed that the plan would be a mini-Subic Naval Base, where a future port here would extend the reach of the navy’s two frigates, both former US Coast Guard cutters, over the disputed Spratly Islands, which is about 160 kilometers from the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Pamalakaya said the plan to convert Oyster Bay into a mini-Subic Naval Base was revived under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in response to Washington’s gesture to donation of frigates in 2011 and 2012. “We will contest this grand mockery of Philippine sovereignty in the parliament of the streets, in any appropriate court or forum and in the court of public opinion. US President Barack Obama and the puppet president in Manila should be held accountable for this grandslam crime against national sovereignty and patrimony,” Pamalakaya’s France said.

The Pamalakaya official said the construction of mini-naval base in Oyster Bay for US military pivot and terror activities in Asia and the Pacific is grossly unconstitutional and would put extreme danger to the lives and livelihood of the people and their environment. France argued that the purpose of the mini-naval base in Oyster base is not only to check China and the long-running tension in West Philippine Sea but also to maintain the military hegemony of Washington all over the region.

“The US appears like building another Pearl Harbor in preparation for more wars and more crimes of wars of aggression and terrorist campaigns against people struggling for justice and liberation. This mini-launching pad for imperialist war, colonialization and neo-colonialization must be exposed and opposed to the highest order,” said France.

Pamalakaya called the attention of Philippine senators and congressmen to be extra vigilant on the plan to build a mini-Subic Naval Base in Oyster Bay, hinting that the construction is in preparation for the signing of framework agreement between the United States and executive officials of the Aquino administration regarding the “increased rotational presence” of American forces, that would allow the latter access to local military bases and even construction of new US military facilities.

“The Philippine Senate –the ratifying authority of any PH-US military agreement in the country is completely ignored here and the new military pact between the master and the puppet is secretly being finalized by Washington military chiefs and their grand slaves in Malacanang,” said Pamalakaya. 
Pamalakaya said the Senate and the House of Representatives with their respective committees should investigate the Oyster Bay project and summon officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of National Defense ( DND), compel them to report on the current status of the US naval base plan and the outcome of the talks between Malacanang and the US government and score a giant kill against the Oyster naval base plan and the new US-PH military basing pact. 

Last year, Foreign Affairs undersecretary Carlos Sorreta said the Aquino government sees no problem with the construction of US military facilities as long as it would be approved by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and that ownership would be turned over after every joint military exercises.

Usec. Sorreta admitted that the possibility of construction of US military bases is there, only if we approved it and only on a temporary basis. At the end of the exercise these will be either removed or transferred to us either through an existing process granted by the US Congress in terms of transferring equipment or through our Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) mechanism.
Pamalakaya asserted that planned relocation of AFP air force and navy camps inside the former American Naval Base in Subic, Zambales is also part of the grand design that would justify Washington’s unlimited access to Philippine bases, which the group said, was previously announced by local military officials is part of new basing agreement between PH and the US.
” It’s the game plan with the puppet government of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the puppet reactionary officials of the AFP performing the front act for the grand reversal of the September 16, 1991 reversal of the military bases agreement by the Philippine Senate and the grand return of US occupational forces in the country. The current AFP leadership under Chief of Staff Voltaire Gazmin is rewriting and revising the historic victory against the US bases by putting these US bases back at Subic Bay for unlimited edition,” said Pamalakaya.

Philippine military officials argued the transfer of air force and navy in Subic will allow local troops to gain faster access to waters being contested by China in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) according to AFP. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin announced that as soon as relocation funds, the AFP will transfer air force and naval forces and their fleets of aircraft and warships to Subic Bay.

Pamalakaya theorized that instead of utilizing the Sangley Naval Base in Cavite, a formerUS military bases, the US military command prefer the former Subic Naval Base, which Washington said can accommodate more warships compared to Sangley.

The group said the US military command wants Subic because its’ location will cut reaction time by fighter aircraft to contested West Philippine Sea by more than three minutes compared with flying from Clark airfield where some air force planes are based. 
A confidential report says Subic will provide the armed forces of the Philippines strategic location, direct and shorter access to support West Philippine Sea theater of operations,” the document said.

The report said the cost of repairs and improvements for an air force base in Subic would be at least 5.1 billion pesos (about $119 million). It said that compares with an estimated 11 billion pesos ($256 million) that it would cost to build a new air force base, because the vast Subic complex about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Manila already has a world-class runway and aviation facilities.

Relocating about 250 air force officers and men to Subic, along with “increased rotational presence of foreign visiting forces” would bolster business and trade at the port, the military document said.

The Philippines plans to grant visiting US forces, ships and aircraft temporary access to more of its military camps to allow for a larger number of joint military exercises than are currently staged each year.

Coast Guard rescues 48 from boat grounded off Coron

(Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News)

At least 48 passengers were rescued after their vessel ran aground off Coron in Palawan last Wednesday, the Philippine Coast Guard said Friday.

The Coast Guard said the MB Princess Emilei, carrying the 48 passengers and six members of the crew, accidentally ran aground about 2km west of Coron Pier.

It said a Coast Guard team sent to the area reached the passengers and transferred them to the MB Bunso 2A, which brought them to Coron.

MB Princess Emilei was removed from its grounding position on Thursday, the Coast Guard said. An underwater inspection showed the MB Princess Emilei had no hull damage.

Citing MB Princess Emilei's records, the Coast Guard said the vessel weighed 36.09 gross tons, and is owned and operated by Jayvee de Vera and skippered by Romy Mazo.

Palawan Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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