Palawan News February 2018

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Palawan - Archived News

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How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
Vitamin C 220 mg Oranges: 30 mg
Calcium 440 mg Cow's milk: 120 mg
Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
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Undergroud River in Palawan
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Underground river in Pureto Princesa, Palawan
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Baracuda Lake, Coron, Palawan
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A Barangay Clearance is NEEDED in order to get a Business License.
So why is the barangay name not in most business addresses?
Ask your Barangay Captain/Chairman to create a Resolution to make it mandatory to put the barangay name in all Business addresses.
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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

House help from Palawan wanted in 4 countries


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The employment and services offices of Palawan are looking for more than 200 applicants for domestic helpers needed in four countries.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr. in a statement Monday said the Provincial Employment Services Office (PESO) is holding a two-day special recruitment activity for overseas employment in cooperation with MichaelAngelo Manpower Exponent, Inc.

“The recruitment activity will start today until tomorrow at the office of the PESO to look for domestic helpers willing to work abroad,” he said.

Of the target number of domestic helpers, 100 are needed in Jordan, 88 in Hong Kong, 50 in Malaysia, and 50 in Cyprus.

Qualified applicants are females between the ages of 23-42 and have at least reached secondary level of education. Those with no prior experience can also apply.

The recruitment of domestic helpers in the province is part of the Palawan leadership’s goal to reduce poverty among the residents, he said.

He said more recruitment for jobs abroad will be offered in the following months this year.

CARP land distribution in Palawan nearly complete

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The local agrarian reform office here said Thursday it is nearing the completion of distribution of an estimated 62,140 hectares of land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Fedeleo de Guzman, Agrarian Reform Officer 1 of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-Palawan, said as of December 21, 2017, they had distributed 57,720 hectares of CARP land since it started in 1998.

He said the remaining 4,420 hectares are still being processed due to some issues which he failed to elaborate.

In 2017, around 76 hectares were distributed, higher than their target of only 66 hectares, he said.

The program covered a total of 35,900 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in the entire province.

Another accomplishment of their agency in 2017 was the subdivision of collective Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) into individual titles involving some 970 hectares of land with an estimated beneficiary of more than 300.

“Ito yung buong CLOA na iisa lang ang titulo, pero ngayon ay na-subdivide na ito, o nahati-hati na (This CLOA only has one title, but now, it has been subdivided),” he said.

He said that in order for an Agrarian Reform Community (ARC) to prosper, the DAR needs to work closely, and coordinate with various government agencies like the Departments of Agriculture, of Environment and Natural Resources, and of Trade and Industry, and other related agencies.

There are also infrastructure projects funded by their agency like the Agrarian Reform Communities Development Projects (ARCDP), which is implemented with the funding support of the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, he said.

He added that there are also areas with less than 500 hectares covered and less than 300ARBs, but they are considered as part of the ARC because the areas have indigenous people, and have the high potential for eco- and agro-tourism.

Among these special ARC areas are El Nido, Bacungan in Puerto Princesa and Berong in Quezon. Palawan has 24 agrarian reform communities and three special ARCs.

De Guzman said majority of the agrarian reform beneficiaries are from Narra and Aborlan towns in southern Palawan.

‘Green Hour’ urged in Palawan government offices

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan here has called on Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez to implement her proposed “Green Hour” inside provincial government offices to promote cleanliness among employees.

The said hour was proposed this week by Board Member Marivic Roxas, who said Friday that her goal is for employees of the provincial government to participate in a 30-minute a month cleanliness drive inside their offices.

“We are not the first to implement this Green Hour. If ever the governor allows this, this is in support of the anti-littering campaign in the province,” she said.

Roxas said it is a simple way for offices in the Capitol Building to contribute to the cleanliness of their immediate environment.

“This will enable all employees to participate without the need to go outside the building to cleanliness and orderliness. It will also encourage everyone to live a greener lifestyle and spread awareness on keeping our surroundings cleaner and healthier,” she said.

Roxas added employees can participate in the activity 30 minutes before office dismissal time at 5:00 p.m.

“It is proposed to be during the last Friday of each month. The activity will also work on improving office dynamics among employees,” she stated.

Palawan gov’t showcases poverty reduction projects to Landbank

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Palawan government showcased its poverty reduction to Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) executives in a bid to elicit its funding support.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr. said in a press statement Friday that the meeting between Governor Jose Alvarez and Landbank chief executive officer Alex Buenaventura happened on February 13 at the Capitol Building.

“Layon ng naturang pagpupulong na makuha ang suporta ng naturang bangko sa mga programang pangkabuhayan na ipapatupad ng pamahalaang panlalawigan para mabawasan ang kahirap sa Palawan (The meeting aims to get the support of the bank for the livelihood projects of the provincial government that are meant to reduce poverty in Palawan),” his statement said.

These priority poverty reduction projects under the Direct Poverty Alleviation Program (DPAP) are livestock raising and planting of hybrid Napier grass as feeds for them and water supply development projects.

Napier grass is a fodder grass that produces a lot of high-protein forage. It is also known as “elephant grass,” “Sudan grass” or “king grass”.

The beneficiaries will be mostly indigenous peoples (IP) as they have been found out to be the biggest contributors to Palawan’s poverty incidence rate.

In the statement, Nimfa Rubio of the Provincial Planning and Development Office, was quoted that currently, the provincial government is surveying 62,178 households in 112 barangays relating to IP profiling.

These barangays are located in the southern Palawan towns of Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, Rizal, Quezon, Sofronio Española, Narra, and Aborlan.

Once profiling has been completed, Rubio said the provincial government will begin the implementation of the livestock livelihood project for them in a bid to help improve their lives.

“Mahalagaang pagkakaroon ng maayos at tamang pagtukoy ng mga pangangailangan ng mamamayan at ang pagpapatupad ng angkop na proyekto para sa kanila (It is important to have proper knowledge of what particularly projects should be given to them that will suit their profile),” she added.

After their meeting in the city, Acosta said the governor and the Landbank CEO went to Bataraza town to meet the peoples’ organizations that had been created for the purpose.

“Landbank can be assured that these projects and programs will have good results under the leadership of our governor,” he said.

Palawan to improve poverty reduction policies with data

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Focal persons for the community-based monitoring systems (CBMS) of Palawan’s 23 municipalities are up for training to assist in evaluating the province’s accomplishments on poverty reduction.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr. said the training would be done on February 19-23 to 70 CBMS focal persons with their municipal planning and development coordinators.

“Those who will undergo the training will, in turn, teach those who will become enumerators for the survey that will be carried out in 433 barangays all throughout the province,” his statement said.

“The CBMS survey will be synchronized to obtain household data and information on health, nutrition, food, water, sanitation, peace and order, livelihood, education, types of home, and others,” said Acosta, in a statement, released Saturday.

The survey, which will be done in two months, is important for municipalities and the province that need baseline data to be able to address potential gaps in Comprehensive Land Used Plan, Gender and Development, and Comprehensive Development Plan.

The results will become the basis of the local government units in the improvement of their policies and decisions that can help reduce Palawan’s rate of poverty.

The activity will be led by the provincial government’s Provincial Planning and Development Office in close partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government.

This came after the municipalities were able to complete the documents that the DILG required, such as memoranda of agreement that can prove the authority of the mayors to implement the synchronized CBMS survey, its timeline, and its financial plans.

Robredo's ‘Istorya ng Pag-asa’ highlights 23 Palaweño tales of hope

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan --Vice President Leni Robredo’s stories of hope traveling photo gallery gave the spotlight here Friday morning to 23 personal tales of courage and optimism of Palaweños.

Labeled “Istorya ng Pag-asa” or INP (Stories of Hope), the itinerant photo exhibit was unveiled by Robredo herself on the Upper Ground Floor of SM City Puerto Princesa.

It features the narratives of Palaweños whose previous struggles in life became source of inspiration for them to succeed in various fields.

“Hope is really a very powerful thing. This is what we can use to fight the darkness that seems to shroud many of us today. This started because we realized too many are angry today, too many are incensed, so we said why don’t we change the negative with stories that are positive,” Robredo said.

Among the stories of hope featured were the stories of Lawyer Grizelda Mayo-Anda, the founder and executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC); Bobby Castro of the Palawan Pawnshop and money remittance center; Cuyunon folk songwriter Fe Tria Fernandez; the Brooke’s Point Public Elementary and Secondary Teachers Multi-Purpose Cooperative; pineapple farmer Virginia Dureza; local artist Jonathan Benitez; restaurateur Eric Yayen, owner of Ka Inato; nurse Rochelle Viray, and the late Palawan governor Salvador Socrates, among others.

“While I was reading their stories, it’s like crying and laughing – a mixture of happiness and sadness. But in the end, you will smile because all of them succeeded. All of them went through hardships, but all of them also succeeded,” the Vice President said.

ELAC’s Anda is included in the list of INP champions due to her more than 25 years of experience in defending the environment and assisting the indigenous peoples (IPs), not only in Palawan but in the whole country.

Palawan Pawnshop’s Castro is also highlighted because of his commitment and generosity as a successful businessman to provide scholarships to deserving students in the province.

“At his young age, Bobby already knows how to handle business, so he started a small one with the help of his family. But when he decided not to depend on them anymore, he started his own and he didn’t expect it will turn out to be one of the biggest chains of pawnshops today,” she said.

Posthumous recognition was also given to Socrates, the former governor of Palawan, who died in a plane crash in 2000 in Cagayancillo. His humble beginnings as the longest-serving governor of Palawan for 21 years, according to Robredo, were in total contrast to the years he had worked as a janitor to earn a college degree.

All 23 Palaweños received plaques of recognition from Vice President Robredo, which she said, are the attestation of their triumphs against poverty, and their unselfish dedication to serving other people in the communities despite hardships.

Palawan’s rehab program to help 2 Kalayaan drug surrenderers

By Celeste Anna Formoso

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Palawan government’s rehabilitation program for drug surrenderers is set to help two reforming addicts in the island municipality of Kalayaan in the West Philippine Sea.

Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo and Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez on Thursday afternoon signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that would bring the Community Enhancement and Livelihood Program (CELP) to serve two residents who surrendered under “Double Barrel Reloaded” in 2017.

“I hope that this program would continue to reach out to the drug surrenderers even if they’re one or two only. Our goal is to reach out to them no matter how small their number is, whether they are on the mainland or in distant island municipalities,” the governor said during the agreement signing.

Alvarez said the 16-week drug rehabilitation initiative is the province’s answer to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s call for local governments to help those who had voluntarily surrendered under the nationwide anti-illegal drug campaign.

Under the MOA, Kalayaan is expected to support its two drug surrenderers after they graduate from the CELP by providing them livelihood assistance.

Del Mundo assured the governor and the implementors of CELP that his administration is sincere in its desire to help the two reforming drug addicts renew their lives and be back into mainstream society.

“We are very thankful in Kalayaan because even if they are only two, CELP is willing to help them. This is a great demonstration of the principle of ‘no one is left behind’,” he said.

CELP, a drug rehabilitation initiative that began in 2016, is a program of the provincial government to support Palaweños, who voluntarily surrendered under the Philippine National Police’s “Oplan Tokhang” and “Double Barrel Reloaded”.

Since its implementation, it has already graduated 432 persons from the municipalities of Brooke’s Point, San Vicente, Roxas, Araceli, and El Nido.

Kalayaan is a third-class municipality located in the West Philippines Sea. Its center of government is situated on Pag-asa Island. (PNA)

BIMP-EAGA RoRo dry run from Palawan to Malaysia slated Feb. 18-21

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area’s (BIMP-EAGA) Palawan-Kudat roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) sea trade link has been scheduled to have a dry run on February 18-21.

Gil Acosta Jr., Palawan Provincial Information Officer, said in a statement on Friday that the voyage rehearsal will be participated in by officials of the Department of Transportation, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Ports Authority, the provincial government of Palawan led by Governor Jose Alvarez, and other line agencies and stakeholders.

“Its purpose is to review the sailing procedure that the vessel company will undertake to service the route,” said the statement.

The test run will also transport officials from Kudat, Malaysia, to see the town of Balabac, southern Palawan, where Buliluyan Port is located, said Acosta’s statement.

FastCat, a fleet of catamaran-type roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) by Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation, will be servicing the trade route between the Philippines and Malaysia.

Its RoRo vessel has the capacity to ferry 275 passengers; 35 vehicles and 12 lorry trucks on the car deck; has an elevator for persons with disabilities; and a ramp where vehicles can drive down the port.

The travel between the Buliluyan Port, Bataraza and Kudat in Malaysia is estimated to take six hours.

In December, Alvarez took a trip to Kota Kinabalu, where he announced the readiness of the sea link to Datuk Seri Teo Chee Kang, Kudat Assemblyman and Special Tasks Minister, and BIMP-EAGA Regional Chairman Datuk Roselan Juhar.

The RoRo sea trade link is expected to boost both countries’ tourism industries, with Palawan vying to have a share of Kota Kinabalu’s tourist arrivals which is at least three million.

Smoking ban strictly enforced in Palawan jail

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The management of the Palawan Provincial Jail (PPJ) said Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s nationwide smoking ban was good for the health of its 1,258 detainees.

Jose Sany Rabago, Assistant Provincial Warden of the Provincial Jail Management Division (PJMD), said the strict enforcement of the “no smoking ban” inside the PPJ had helped in their aim to ensure that all their “persons deprived of liberty (PDL)” were healthy while inside the province’s jail facility.

Of the total number of detainees in the PPJ, 67 are female, 12 are Vietnamese nationals, one Japanese and one Korean.

“Our foremost priority in the PJMD is the health of the detainees who are here. We ensure they get the best quality of life they can get despite what offenses they committed,” Rabago said.

He said that initially, the detainees had a hard time quitting from smoking, but eventually got accustomed to not lighting up due to strict implementation of the policy.

“To ensure they do not think about smoking in their boredom, we engage them in sports activities, and regular exercises that can help them,” he said.

The Technical Education Skills and Development Authority is also helping provide livelihood skills training to the detainees that they can use once their cases are resolved, he added.

The “no smoking” policy is strictly enforced in and outside the perimeters of the provincial jail, and visitors are banned from bringing cigarette packs for the PDL when they visit.

Barge runs aground in El Nido, Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A barge transporting construction aggregates ran aground in the shallow waters off Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido town in northern Palawan Wednesday morning.

Seaman 1st Class Jobert James Borja, Coast Guard Substation El Nido’s (CGSS) duty gangway, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the barge, LCT OMS 6, got beached on the sandy area of Buena Suerte.

He said the incident was reported to the CGSS by its crewmen shortly before 11 a.m., just several meters away from the pier of El Nido.

“The captain of the barge had already been called to the CGSS, but until now, he has not appeared here,” Borja said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Calixto Vargas, also of the El Nido CGSS, said the landing craft tanker arrived in the bay of El Nido at about 11:30 a.m. on February 4.

However, on Wednesday morning, the vessel’s captain reportedly conducted a “sea trial”, a maritime jargon that means “measuring the performance and general seaworthiness of the boat”.

“Ang sabi, nag-conduct daw ng sea trial ang crew para sa steering wheel nila, pero nag-accidentally malfunction daw, kaya sila nasadsad sa buhangin (It was said that the barge’s crew conducted a sea trial to test its steering wheel, but it accidentally malfunctioned. That’s why they hit the sands in the shallow water),” Vargas said.

He added that contrary to fears that the barge may have already leaked oil or fuel, Coast Guard personnel had said that so far, none had been detected.

“Wala pong oil or fuel leak. Pupuntahan na din ang barge para malaman kung anong nangyari at bakit sumadsad (There is no oil or fuel leak. Our personnel will go to the barge to determine how the incident happened),” he added.

U.S. Defense turns over modern 'coast watch’ building to Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A state-of-the-art coast watch building facility intended to have nautical electronic eyes over the Philippines’ maritime territory were turned over by the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to Palawan on Tuesday.

The building facility called the “National Coast Watch Station Palawan,” is part of the DTRA’s USD50-million support package for inter-agency maritime surveillance to address current and future maritime safety, security, and environmental protection challenges in the province.

“A couple of years ago, we completed the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC), which is in Manila, this center and this building and another in Cebu – those three facilities, together with the training facility (in Sta. Lourdes in Puerto Princesa) for the maritime police – have been about USD50 million in the Philippines,” said Dr. Robert Pope, director of DTRA's cooperative threat reduction program. The capabilities of the building facility include modern radio communications, radar, automatic identification system, day and night surveillance cameras, operational fixture system to relay data to the National Coast Watch System (NCWS) in Manila, and training means to support the personnel who will handle its daily operations.

“(This is for) the purpose of our government having maritime electronic eyes in our maritime domain. It aims to provide us what we call in maritime domain awareness in all aspects, not just security, but economic as well,” said Rear Adm. Joel Garcia, director of the NCWC.

He said the coast watch station would be instrumental for Palawan and the country to have a maritime domain awareness tool to understand what is happening around maritime areas.

“We are basically talking here about the totality of our maritime domain pertaining to protecting our pristine and precious maritime environment,” Garcia said.

In talking about the facility, it was designed to be an operation center of the members from all the agencies of the NCWS that was established in 2011, Pope said.

“Together with the NCWS, this facility and the professionals operating it will form a system that will make the Philippines and the world safer from illegitimate commerce and navigation,” he stated.

It’s a robust facility that would match the country’s target of eliminating theft and smuggling, threats of weapons of mass destruction, prevent trafficking, and the likes, in its territorial waters, said Pope.

Meanwhile, CGDP commander Commodore Joselito dela Cruz and Vice Governor Dennis Socrates both said the donated facility matched the provincial government’s peace and security objectives within its borders.

“To achieve the goal of bringing Palawan from out of the forest and into the 21st century, we need all the help we can get from all quarters that is why we are especially grateful to the government of the United States – the DTRA – for having selected Palawan as the site of this national coast watch station,” he said.

“It is very timely as it coincides with the ignition point of a rapidly growing province, where safety and security, and protection of the people and the environment have become a primordial concern,” said Socrates.

Dela Cruz, who will be in charge of the building facility, said he was thankful to accept the challenge of leading the inter-agency professionals who would handle its operations towards a maritime safety and security.

He said they would be working closely with the local government units, the Western Command, and other law enforcement units in the province to ensure maritime safety and security.

Maritime police rescues stranded whale in Puerto Princesa

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Maritime and environment authorities here rescued a suspected pilot whale that nearly got beached on the Honda Bay shoreline in Barangay Sta. Lourdes on Thursday (February 1).

The whale, which measured around 12-feet long, was reported seen on the shallow waters of the bay at around 6:00 a.m. by the Bantay Dagat, said PO2 Primrose Flores, information officer of the 2nd Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group (SOU-MG) on Thursday night.

“It was reported to us very early by personnel of Bantay Dagat. Then per instruction of our commander, Police Superintendent Greg Togonon, we went to the area where it was. In fact, the place is just very near our wharf,” she said.

She described that the whale had difficulty returning to the deeper part of the water when their personnel approached it.

“It was a low tide that’s why the whale had difficulty returning to the deeper part of the water,” she further said, adding it had to be slowly towed to nearby Pandan Island, where the water is deeper.

“If we don’t take it away from near our wharf, it has the possibility of being trapped and really beached on the shoreline,” she said.

With the help of environment rescuers of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), the whale was released at 11:00 a.m. same day.

Flores said Myla Adriano of the City ENRO thought the whale was a pilot whale. But clarifications had to be made to know if it’s short-finned or long-finned. “But if we look at it, it’s likely a short-finned one. Long-finned whales are only commonly seen in cold places,” she said.

Feature: Planning for your summer get-away? Palawan is the ultimate place to go

By Lyndon Plantilla (LP/PIA-MIMAROPA)

Looking for your summer getaway this year? Maybe 2018 is the best time to take a dive in Palawan.

Vacationers who read the New York-based Travel+Leisure Magazine raved about Palawan's natural gems midway through 2017.

Gathering a score of 93.15 at Travel+Leisure World Best Survey last year, writer Rebecca Ashcer -Walsh reported readers have been describing Palawan as ‘”rustic, romantic, affordable, and relaxing” and "It’s the single, most beautiful place on earth.”

Nobody says it better than third party commentaries.

"For the second year in a row, the Philippine paradise Palawan wins first place as the best island in the world, thanks to its hidden lagoons, teeming ocean life, and rustic-luxe resorts," said Ascher-Walsh in her article on Travel+ Leisure mag.

The magazine's World’s Best Islands survey, Ashcer-Walsh explained, is where readers were asked to "weigh in travel experience around the globe... readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value."

Palawan is known for its Puerto Princesa City Underground River, the blue waters of El Nido, Coron's Kayangan Lake and World War II shipwrecks and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park of Cagayancillo.

Accessibility is also accelerating in Palawan: Puerto Princesa City International Airport has been expanded for a bigger volume of passengers and a cruise service between Palawan and Kudat, Malaysia is set to open in the coming months.

With the consistent pouring of positive reviews from travellers, the chief of Provincial Tourism Promotions and Development Office (TPDO), Maribel Buñi, expressed delight over good feedback, which she says are proof of the drawing power of Palawan's natural beauty.

She urged fellow countrymen to help protect and maintain this paradise in southwestern side of the Philippines.

BFAR: Galunggong makes comeback in Northern Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Good-sized and matured round scads, commonly known as “galunggong,” are making a comeback in northern Palawan seas, as well as the Mindoro Strait, according to the fisheries and aquatic bureau in the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region.

The return has been notable in the waters of Ulugan Bay here, El Nido, Coron, and Taytay, in the northern part of the province, and also in the southern Palawan town of Quezon, said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Mimaropa Assistant Regional Director Roberto Abrera on Friday.

“After three years of seasonal implementation of the commercial ban, many fishermen are now telling us that their catches have improved, and they are already catching good-sized round scads,” he stated.

The round scads being caught are now 16.4 to 19.4 centimeters after the imposition of Joint Administrative Order No. 1, series of 2015, consistent with the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

Although they still need to verify reports, it looks like the fish had also made a return to Mindoro Strait, which connects the West Philippines Sea to the Sulu Sea, and separates Mindoro Islands to the Calamian Islands, Abrera said.

“We’ve also received reports that say big species of fish like yellow fin tuna, blue marlin, and tanigue are now being caught anew by fishermen in the straight. We need to still verify this, but what’s interesting is that it’s like there is a restaurant underwater, where these fishes go to feed,” he said.

He said these observations indicate that conservation efforts are succeeding in ensuring that the population of the round scads will flourish again.

“Of course, three years are not enough to guarantee that the threat against the population of round scads is already over in northern Palawan,” Abrera said.

He warned that if pressure is put on the removal of the galunggong commercial fishing ban, there is a chance that its population would seriously diminish in a few years.

“We need more years to recoup the population loss of round scads,” he said, reminding, too, that it does not affect sustenance fishing, only commercial fishing.

“Municipal fishermen with less than three gross tonnage boats are allowed to still catch the galunggong. However, we hope they’re not fishing the juveniles,” he said.

The closed fishing season of round scads had ended on January 31 after it was imposed a third time last November.

Palawan catches eyes of Chinese investors

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A Chinese hybrid rice investor wants to venture into the techno-demonstration trial of 20 varieties of mixed breed rice seeds in Palawan.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr. on Thursday told the media that the visit hopes to help rice farmers in Palawan increase rice productivity and also boost the province rice sufficiency.

“We welcome their interest to venture into hybrid rice in the province, which could really help our farmers,” he said.

He named the investors as Dr. Changxiang Mao and Director Xiao Langmu of AirFarmer Co., Ltd, which promotes and develops hybrid rice varieties based in Sichuan, China.

They visited Palawan on January 30-31 and were welcomed by officials of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturists (OPA) at the office of Governor Jose Alvarez.

The techno-demonstration trial helps determine what hybrid rice seeds are appropriate to Palawan’s climate and soil condition.

No specific date had been identified when it would be done but Acosta said it was related to Palawan’s rice sufficiency target, and to also uplift available livelihood opportunities for farmers.

If it happened, it would most likely be done with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and Bureau of Plant and Industry (BPI), he said.

Palawan town steps up infra program to boost tourism

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The island town of Culion, which used to be a leper colony under the American commonwealth of the Philippines, is investing PHP18-million for tourism development this year to boost its economy.

Municipal administrator Maxim Raymundo said late Wednesday that the amount was for various infrastructure-related projects designed to put the island at par with thriving municipalities due to tourism.

“If you’ve noticed, we’ve fallen behind other municipalities in the Calamianes in terms of infrastructure projects,” he said, adding they hope to catch up based on analysis that they needed to put a premium on their tourism industry development.

Among the tourism-related infrastructure projects up for implementation this year are improvements of community pools at sea called “Paliguang Bayan,” a people’s park with view deck and recreation area, improvement of the Balanga Falls area facility, and rehabilitation of the Aguila statue among others.

“The community pools are at sea, where people frequently go to relax and enjoy. We will improve it to have more pools,” Raymundo said, adding the project would cost around PHP4 million.

The Aguila statue that is situated on an outcrop will also be rehabilitated to include the name of the town. It is Culion’s trademark, and anyone who travels to the town sees it first.

An estimated PHP6 million had also been earmarked for the construction of a people’s mark in Barangay Pulang Lupa for guests and visitors, he said. It would have a lodging area and a forest park among other development plans.

“We expect to improve this along the way because we target Pulang Lupa to be a potential amusement park,” he added.

These projects, he added, would be funded by 20 percent of their municipality’s PHP136-million annual budget.

The two projects would get the bulk of the PHP18-million budget as Raymundo did not elaborate on what other development projects would be taken up.

“The projects we have lined up give us hope that despite falling behind, we will be able to catch up, and our own tourism industry will grow,” he stated.

Culion is gaining traction as a favorite destination too, in the Calamianes islands, not only because of its turquoise blue waters and pristine environment but also because of its history as a leprosarium during the American colonization.

The leprosarium is now home to a museum and a municipal district hospital that caters to residents not only to the town but other neighboring municipalities in the area.

Another attraction in the town is the Immaculada Concepcion Church that used to be a fortress by the Augustinian missionaries against the Moro raids in 1740. It was reconstructed in 1933 and transformed into a place of worship.