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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


Palawan youth fight for reefs, forests through stories

By Lourdes Margarita Caballero (

'Allowing the youth to become front-runners of environmental conservation through story-writing is a good way to empower them'

PALAWAN, Philippines — From Balabac, a remote coastal village in Palawan, came rich stories about fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and endangered wildlife species. These were written by high school students who want to help protect the ocean by telling their stories.

“I am an ordinary ethnic Molbog who (was born) into a hard life like that of a water buffalo,” Elnah Basala, a student from Balabac National High School, said in Filipino.

Molbog is an indigenous group in the Balabac Island that has acquired a Visayan-Islam culture.

Basala’s story was about how her father, a respected tribe leader and former dynamite fisher, has adopted better fishing practices after a bungbong or homemade bomb, accidentally exploded in his hand.

“I was 13 when it happened. I can never forget it,” Basala said.

Dynamite kills not just the fish

Illegal fishing practices, such as those that use cyanide and dynamite, are common in Balabac. Some dynamites are homemade, fashioned out of highly combustible plant fertilizer mixed with gasoline and sulfur, and stored in an empty soda bottle.

The shock waves from the dynamite quickly kill schools of fish, making it easier to collect them. It also destroys reef ecosystems and greatly reduces fish yield over time.

In cyanide fishing, fishermen crush cyanide tablets into plastic squirt bottles of sea water and use the solution to stun and capture high-value live reef fishes, including the endangered mumphead wrasse or Mameng, and the coral trout or lapu-lapu.

But these illegal fishing practices pose great danger not only to the environment but also to the safety and health of fisherfolk and their families.

Dynamites can explode prematurely and can end up blowing off arms or legs, and even killing the fishermen.

Anti-hero turned hero

“My father is still a fisher, but he does so legally. He doesn’t need to put his life on the line to feed us. We have started to farm seaweeds, and father has volunteered to be an Ocean Patroller,” Basala said.

Basala hopes that her life story will become an inspiration for fishing families and encourage them to pursue sustainable fishing practices.

“Even if I live in an island, I have not seen these beautiful creatures under the sea. Maybe it’s because the Balabac waters have been damaged. I feel regret for the things we’ve lost in our island,” said Roozie Quea Idlana, another student who participated in snorkeling activities in Honda Bay.

The young authors participated in a two-day coastal resource management camp and eco-adventure tour in October 2014. The camp ushered realizations from the students about real-life environmental challenges, and their key part in helping to resolving these.

“The reefs are really so beautiful and now I’m determined to protect them,” added Idlana.

A unique learning experience, the camp focused on peer-review of the stories, exploration of ideas on how the youth can take lead in environmental stewardship, and first-hand familiarity on sustainable eco-tourism.

The eco-adventure tour consisted of 4 key sustainable and locally managed tourism sites in Puerto Princesa City: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Iwahig Firefly Watching Ecotourism and Wildlife Park, and Pambato Reef and Pandan Island in Honda Bay.

Women, children, IPs

The children’s narratives provided insights on how they view the role of the youth, women, and the community in coastal resource management.

The stories discussed issues such as destructive fishing practices, illegal trade of endangered wildlife, importance of upland and mangrove forests and coral reefs, and climate change adaptation, among others.

All protagonists or narrators were young people, which included indigenous people and young girls and boys.

The stories will be published in a storybook entitled, Tales of the Coral Triangle in 2015, and will be distributed to networks in the Coral Triangle region spanning Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and the Solomon Islands.

The stories were the best 10 submitted to a story writing contest, which is part of the Bayani ng Kalikasan (Heroes of the Environment) campaign designed by the Coral Triangle Initiative-Southeast Asia project. The activity aims to enhance awareness, strengthen involvement, and mobilize the youth and the community in the management of coastal and marine resources.

Malaysian traders eye port investment in Palawan

By Catherine N. Pillas

Malaysian investors are eyeing business opportunities in ports, especially in Palawan, to boost connectivity in the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), according to the Malaysian trade office.

A news statement released on Monday by the Malaysian Trade Office in Manila (Matrade), the Labuan Liberty Port Management Sdn. Bhd., the port operator of Labuan port on Malaysia, has been in talks with local government units in Davao del sur and Palawan to possibly engage in port development and management in the area.

“We want to establish linkages and strengthen relations we have with the Philippines and explore business together,” Matrade Manila Trade Commissioner Nyaee Ayup said.

Labuan Liberty Port Chairman and CEO Dato’ Sri Mohd Alias Haji Abd Rahman said they are targeting to open a linkage with Labuan port from Puerto Princesa, to serve as a gateway with BIMP.

“We’re in the proposal and discussion stage. We’re a management team and we will find a joint-venture partner for this project. What we’re looking at were port facilities, cargo and vessel,” Rahman said.

Rahman added that both ports in Puerto Princesa and in Labuan can work together to increase two-way trade between the gateways.

Palawan is rich in agriculture and livestock products that can be shipped Labuan while Malaysia offers manufactured goods for consumers in Palawan.

Labuan Liberty Port is the only commercial port in the Federal Territory of Labuan.

Tubbataha, Mt. Hamiguitan in Asean heritage parks list

By Virgil B. Lopez (Sunnex)

MANILA -- Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) in the Philippines were added to the prestigious list of Southeast Asia’s most treasured parks.

“The designation of TRNP and MHRWS as regional heritage parks is long overdue, both having been named earlier as Unesco World Heritage Sites,” said Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, who took part in the 15th Informal Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Ministerial Meeting on the Environment held last October 29-31 in Vientiane, Laos.

Lawyer Roberto Oliva, executive director of the Asean Centre for Biodiversity, said the two nature parks are now part of the AHP Program, which aims to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment and conservation of Southeast Asia's rich biodiversity.

The 6,834-hectare MHRWS is shared by seven barangays, including Macambol and Cabuaya of Mati; La Union, Maputi and Talisay of San Isidro; and Osmena Sr. and Tandang Sora of Governor Generoso, all in the province of Davao Oriental.

Established in 2004, the sanctuary is known for its "pygmy" forest of century-old trees and is dominated by Mt. Hamiguitan, which stands at 1,637 meters. Trees within the area have an average height of only 1.4 meters with a diameter of eight centimeters.

One of the dominant species that can only be found in this forest type is tinikaran or red fig tree and Wendlandia nervosa.

Other rare plant species found on Mt. Hamiguitan include the slipper orchid, nepenthes, staghorn fern, rhododendrons, and Philippine hardwoods such as yakal and tangile.

The Philippine eagle has been recorded in the park, as well as endemic bird species, including the Philippine glossy starling, Philippine flowerpecker, Philippine turtle dove, Philippine coucal, Philippine hawk-eagle, Mindanao bleeding-heart, Philippine cockatoo, and the Philippine dwarf kingfisher.

A world-famous diving destination, Tubbataha, on the other hand, is said to be site of almost 80 percent of all coral species in the Philippines, green sea and hawksbill turtles.

The park, located 181 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reef and more than 86,000 hectares of surrounding waters, lying at the heart of the Coral Triangle, which is the center of global marine biodiversity.

Rays and sharks are common in the reefs, which also host tuna, mackerel, jacks and barracudas.

"TRNP’s isolation has ensured that the rich marine resources of the park has remained relatively intact, and thus provides the dream diving experience for those lucky enough to visit the park," the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.

An American Navy ship ran aground in the natural park last January 2013, damaging reefs and other marine life.

The United States has pledged to pay P87 million for the incident.

The latest recognition brings to seven the total number of Asean heritage parks from the Philippines.

The five other AHPs in the country are the Mt. Apo Natural Park, Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, and Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park, all in Mindanao; the Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park in Occidental Mindoro; and the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve in Laguna.

Miss Universe Organization helping Yolanda survivors

By Don Tagala (ABS-CBN North America News Bureau)

NEW YORK CITY - The Miss Universe Beauty Pageant is the “Superbowl” to many Filipino fans.

Having recognized that the Philippines is home to their biggest and most passionate fans, Miss Universe Organization (MSO) President Paula Shugart said helping the victims and survivors of typhoon Yolanda is their way of giving back to Filipino supporters.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking, and you felt helpless and we all looked at each other and we have to do something, and especially because we [have] a strong tie to the Philippines, we can't put this off, we got to do it now,” said Shugart.

The MSO partnered with Dutch development agency Cordaid to create a global fund that raised awareness and money for the devastated areas in the Philippines, particularly in Coron, Palawan and Guian, Samar.

Cordaid assisted vulnerable communities not only to build safer homes, restore water and sanitation facilities, but to build back smarter and become resilient with emergency preparedness plans.

“Haiyan is not an incident, it's going to happen more often, and let's spend our money wisely and investing capacity of communities,” Cordaid's Dutch Economist Jan Willem Wegdam said.

Wegdam added, “So go bottom up, train people, make people aware, empower people, that's the way to go and that's the best investment we can make.”

Spending a good amount of time in the Philippines, Wegdam said he has learned not only that toilets are known as comfort rooms in the Philippines, but these typhoon resilient comfort rooms make a strong shelter from the storm.

Wegdam said, “It has been shown that a lot of people during the typhoon were actually seeking refuge in their comfort room because that was the strongest building, building a comfort room is cheaper than building a house.”

Reigning Miss Universe 2013, Gabriela Isler said she committed herself to give back by using her title to bring much needed awareness to the causes she believes in, including typhoon Yolanda relief and recovery.

“We cannot forget the people who still need our help, even after a year, there are still people trying to become resilient, become stronger and maybe we can support it, we can do something,” Isler said.

MSO and Cordaid said they will remain committed for the years to come to help and ensure that the affected Filipino communities be rebuilt with an eye to self-reliance.

DSWD commends continuous rehabilitation of Coron, Palawan


Coron, Palawan – One year after Typhoon Yolanda ravaged this island, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman lauded the convergent effort made by the local government unit for sustained rehabilitation.

Sec. Soliman together with Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Governor Jose Alvarez visited Coron on November 12, to attend a short program to commemorate the first anniversary of ‘Yolanda’

Over 200 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who were victimized by TS Yolanda attended the program. “Patuloy po na magbibigay ang DSWD ng karagdagang tulong para sa tuloy-tuloy na pagbangon muli, at mabilis na pag-unlad ng mga sinalanta ng bagyong Yolanda,” Sec. Soliman was quoted saying.

Fifty-five families received livelihood capital assistance while over 150 residents each received a sack of rice as part of the ‘pabaon pack’ project. “Malaki na ang ipinagbago ng Coron, sa tulong ng iba’t-ibang ahensya, lalo na ang DSWD, naging madali ang ating, pag-ahon,” said Gov. Alvarez during his welcome message.

Junewind Sigano, 51, whose house was wiped out in the onslaught of Yolanda received a ‘pedicab’ for livelihood along with 13 beneficiaries. “Malaking tulong po ito para maipag-patuloy ko ang hanapbuhay kong maglako ng isda,” said Junewind. DSWD focuses on providing livelihood to increase economic capacity of Yolanda victims. Aside from provision of pedicabs, 47 DSWD-funded motorized bangkas will be given to further support income-generation of the victims.

A newly constructed Day Care Center, through the DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS program has also been turned over to Barangay Poblacion One during the program.

Roxas Lauds Quick Rehabilitation of Palawenos


CORON, Palawan—Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas likened the Yolanda rehabilitation efforts of the government to a boat with two katigs (outriggers).

For Roxas, a boat has two outriggers - the national government and the local government units (LGUs) - and the latter's participation is key to the quick recovery of Yolanda affected areas such as Coron.

“Nakaalalay po ang buong pamahalaan ninyo, ang pamahalaang nasyonal at ang pamahalaang lokal, na nakatututok sa pangangailangan ninyo (Your government is ready to help, both national and local authorities are focused on your needs.),” Roxas stressed.

“Pero nasa liderato ng pamahalaang lokal ang bilis para makatayo kaagad ang isang lugar, para makabangon kaagad dahil hindi magiging epektibo ang national government kung wala ang pamahalaang lokal (But it depends on the leadership of the local government whether a locality is able to recover quickly or not because without it, the national government will not be effective.),"he added.

He admired the residents of Palawan under the leadership of Governor Jose Alvarez, who instead of blaming the national government, showed full cooperation and helped in the overall rehabilitation efforts through concrete actions.

“Kung sama-sama, tulong-tulong ang lahat, lahat nagbubugsay sa isang direksiyon, lahat nagkakaisa sa iisang layunin ay mabilis na makababangon ang isang lugar, ang isang komunidad kung nagtutulungan ang lahat (If we help each other sail towards one direction with one goal, any community can easily get back on its feet.),” Roxas said.

“Umuusbong, bumabangon na ang Palawan dahil sa inyo. Kayo ang mga boss ng buong pamahalaan ninyo---pamahalaang nasyonal at pamahalaang lokal. Nariyan kami noon at narito ngayon kaya asahan ninyong lagi kaming handa na tumulong sa inyo (Palawan is blooming and rising because of you. You are the bosses of your government - both national and local. We were there before and now we are back so you can expect that we are fully prepared to help you out.),”he added.

The secretary also clarified that in times of disasters like storms, earthquakes and other calamities, the national government is always ready to assist all citizens.

“Hindi namin kayo pababayaan, walang iwanan, sama-sama, tulong-tulong tayo para sa pagbangon uli hindi lamang ng Coron kundi ng buong Palawan at lahat ng lugar na sinalanta ng bagyong Yolanda. Narito kami kasama ninyo, kabalikat ninyo tulong-tulong tayo sa pagbangon (We will not abandon you. No one gets left behind. Together, we will help each other out so not only Coron but the whole of Palawan and all the other Yolanda-affected areas can recover. We are here with you until you are able to rise again.),” Roxas added.

Aside from Roxas, Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin, Social Welfare and Development Sec. Dinky Soliman, and NDRRMC USec. Alex Pama also went to Coron where they inquired about the conditions of the indigenous people and fisherfolks in coastal villages affected by the super typhoon.

Palawan newest destination for international cruise

By Grace Gonzales

The 13-storey ocean cruise liner M/V Superstar Aquarius of Star Cruises, top cruise line in the Asia Pacific, made its maiden port call in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan November 11. During the port call, an event was organized to inaugurate Star Cruises’ new 3-night destination sail package to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

The event was attended by City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, Department of Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison and Star Cruises Senior VP for Sales Michael Goh.

“During this deployment, Superstar Aquarius will make 14 port calls to Puerto Princesa, each time bringing travelers to this beautiful city. We are committed to promoting Puerto Princesa and the Palawan island province to travelers across the region and the world,” Goh states.

Puerto Princesa is one of the new destinations for Superstar Aquarius.

“Your maiden voyage here is very important to our tourism industry. We only have two industries here, tourism and agriculture with fishing. In behalf of the people of the city, we thank you for your patronage as we heard you will have 14 port calls,” Puerto Princesa’s mayor said.” We are positive that the Star Cruises will help spread that ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’.”

Palawan Archived News

The older news reports are kept here.

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