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Palawan News July 2017

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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

'Cherry blossoms' park to rise in Puerto Princesa

By Keith Anthony Fabro (

Balayong, which is endemic to Palawan, is in full bloom in February up to summer

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines – A new eco-tourism attraction is on the rise in this city, where one can experience cherry blossoms that resemble Japan’s famous Sakura parks.

Over a thousand residents participated in the Balayong Tree-Planting Festival on Saturday, July 29. Balayong is the local name of the endemic Palawan cherry (Cassia nodosa).

The P250-million Balayong Park is one of the city government's priority projects to further boost tourism in this city, known around the world for its underground river.

Balayong Park, which covers an area of 73,461 square meters, has been planted with 1,200 balayong seedlings which are expected to be fully grown in 5 years. The balayong bears light pink and white flowers and are in full bloom from February up to the summer.

Once completely built, Balayong Park will also feature a restaurant with view deck, food complex, fitness and recreational park, children’s park, museum and library, artists’ pavilion for art exhibit, among other public facilities.

The three-year project is in line with the City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which recognizes the vital role of parks and open spaces in making Puerto Princesa more sustainable and attractive.

“The Balayong Park Project is man-made tourist destination within a tropical design envisioned to demonstrate the City’s strong commitment to creating green and organic architecture providing significant environmental, social and economic benefits to the local communities and all stakeholders,” the city government said.

Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron said that the balayong would “greatly help in absorbing air pollutants and excess rainwater.”

Bayron added: “Instead of planting exotic tree species, why not plant native species like Balayong that we can call our own?" The flowering tree is generally considered to be endemic to Palawan although some botanists have claimed that it is an introduced species.

“The next generation of Puerto Princesans will someday look back and celebrate this historical day when the people of Puerto Princesa united to establish this park,” Bayron said.

P30-B superhighway project to boost Palawan economy

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro (

The project, part of the national government priority program, will expand to 6 lanes the two-lane national highway that traverses El Nido town in the north to Bataraza town in the south

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has kicked off a P30-billion road-widening project here that is expected to boost economic growth in Palawan.

The project, part of the national government priority program, will expand to 6 lanes the two-lane national highway that traverses El Nido town in the north to Bataraza town down south, spanning 600 kilometers of the entire mainland Palawan.

With an initial P3 billion downloaded to Palawan’s 2nd engineering district, DPWH District Engineer Alejandro Ventilacion said they have started working in the southern town of Narra to the southernmost end in a port in Barangay Buliluyan, Bataraza.

The project aims to strengthen Philippine tourism trade with partner states in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a subregional economic cooperation initiative which recognizes “connectivity as vital for the seamless movement of goods, services and people.”

According to Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta Jr, the superhighway complements the sea connectivity from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, to Buliluyan in Bataraza, to San Fernando, El Nido to Coron.

In March, Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez announced that President Rodrigo Duterte approved his request to finance the big-ticket infrastructure project.

For decades, the two-lane national highway has provided accessibility to the municipalities in mainland Palawan. But “the narrow road,” the governor said, “ is an unwelcome sight for visiting tourists who trooped to the island to enjoy Palawan’s premier destinations.”

Palawan recorded 1,162,439 tourist arrivals in 2016, a 15% increase over 2015, according to the Provincial Tourism Office.

The provincial government believes that the wider roads would provide ease of travel and will boost the local economy, largely due to the thriving tourism industry.

The road expansion project, which is targetted for completion in 3 years, would also speed up the movement of agricultural and fishery products from the rural communities across the province.

“Its completion will accelerate the development and inclusive growth of Palawan in the coming years,” Alvarez said.

Clearing privately-held areas in the south, however, poses a stiff challenge to the speedy road expansion, said Ventilacion. But the district engineer said they would negotiate with affected property owners to get the project done smoothly.

DOH-MIMAROPA holds training on heavy metal poisoning

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 27 -- The Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA completed Thursday morning the three-day “Training on Identification Management and Referral of Patients with Metal Poisoning (HMP) for Medical Doctors and Public Health Nurses” for participants from the provinces of Marinduque and Palawan.

The said training was held at the Sulo Riviera Hotel, Quezon City on July 25 to 27.

“Because of the effects of mine tailings brought about by the 1996 marcopper incident in Marinduque, the health and well-being of residents have been greatly affected especially those residing near the mining area and we have to know how serious their condition is; if they really are contaminated or not,” Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo stated.

He said they have been neglected for three decades now, and yet no one knows the affected individuals who need immediate treatment.

"That is why we have initiated this training so that we can properly identify and monitor these individuals and establish a surveillance and referral system that will provide them the health care that they need,” he explained.

The training on the identification management of patient with heavy metal poisoning was conducted by the regional office in collaboration with the toxicology department of East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC).

It was attended by 24 health workers, including medical doctors, health nurses of Marinduque and Puerto Princesa City, and two engineers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB).

Janairo added that a second part of the training will include a practicum on the treatment and management of HMP cases in Marinduque.

Heavy metal poisoning is caused by the accumulation of certain metals in the body due to exposure through food, water, industrial chemicals, or other sources.

Toxic amounts of zinc, copper, chromium, iron, and manganese are harmful to the body.

Among the symptoms of HMP includes confusion, numbness, nausea, vomiting and even coma. Long-term exposure may cause headache, weakness, tiredness, muscle and joint pain and constipation.

Marinduque and Palawan are among the provinces of MIMAROPA where marcopper and mercury mine tailings can be found.

“It is time that we provide solution to this health concern not only in Marinduque and Palawan but in all areas of the country where mining activities exists so that we can prevent HMP contamination and protect the health of our countrymen,” Janairo concluded.

Balayong tree planting can get businesses in Puerto Princesa ‘one-time’ tax incentives

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 26 -- Businesses here can get “one time” tax incentives if they plant Balayong trees (also Palawan Cherry) in front of their establishments, open spaces, or backyards.

This, as the City Council here recently passed an ordinance that encourages planting of Balayong, a tree that blooms with beautiful white-pinkish flowers during summer.

City Councilor Modesto Rodriguez II, author of the resolution, said Wednesday morning that providing tax incentives to businesses will only be once, and after five years.

“If they plant, they will be given tax incentives that they can get after five years because they have to take care of them and ensure that they grow,” he said.

Rodriguez said the tax incentive that will be provided will be determined by the City Assessor’s Office (CAO).

The planting of Balayong trees (Cassia nodosa), according to the ordinance, is being encouraged to support the Expanded National Greening Program targets under Executive Order No. 193.

“This is not compulsory; this is only to further encourage the participation of all sectors to the expanded greening program, especially the private sector,” Rodriguez said.

Once fully-grown, he said the Balayong trees can help the country in also achieving carbon neutrality under Republic Act 8749, otherwise known as the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1991.

He said it is to support too, the city government’s plan to put up a Balayong tree park near the Ramon V. Mitra Sports Complex, which can be the future center of major events in Puerto Princesa.

“Imagine how beautiful this city would look with a Balayong park and trees that bloom with beautiful flowers during the summer. They can charm tourists like how the Sakura trees of Japan are attracting them yearly,” he said.

In the ordinance, all covered persons and institutions who and that will be interested to participate may request for seedlings from the City Agriculture’s Office (CAO) once the new law becomes effective 15 days after publication.

On July 29, Mayor Lucilo Bayron will lead here the mass planting of 1,200 Balayong tree saplings in an event called “Balayong Tree Planting Festival.”

The objective is to have a new tourist spot in Puerto Princesa that visitors can go to see.

DTI urges consumers to exercise rights

By Gerardo Reyes Jr.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has urged consumers to take advantage of existing mechanisms within their department designed to protect them from being victims of defective products and services being sold to the public.

Percival Narborita of DTI-Palawan observed that many consumers are not aware of their rights and what they can do when they fall victim to fraudulent products.

Narborita pointed out that under Article 100 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines, consumers may demand that the commercial establishment repair or replace a defective item or refund the money that they paid.

In addition, he said the affected consumer could directly file a complaint with the DTI in cases where the establishment concerned fails or refuses to act on their complaint.

“We do not want our consumers to suffer from substandard products and services,” he said. “Magreklamo lang po sila, para naman agad na maaksyonan din ng DTI,” he said.

Asked if they are monitoring the practices of business establishments who register with their office, Narborita said they presume the real existence of a company once they are issued a mayor’s permit.

Narborita however clarified that they have no primary role in addressing complaints such as the anomalous financial investment scams perpetrated by several groups in Palawan recently.

“Yun naman ay hindi saklaw ng DTI, pero kung involving the products na, ay papasok na po kami at aaksyonan na po natin,” he said.

Describing the procedure they undertake to handle complaints, he said that the DTI initially seeks to mediate the parties involved. If the parties fail to resolve a dispute within a prescribed window of five days, the complaint will be subjected to arbitration.

Palawan signs sisterhood pact with Hainan province

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 22 -- A twinning agreement to enhance and develop friendship, cooperation, and promotion of mutual understanding between the provinces of Palawan, Philippines and Hainan, China was signed here Friday afternoon.

The sisterhood pact was formally signed between Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez and Liu Cigui, the current Communist Party Secretary of Hainan province.

It was an event marked under the guiding principles of the China-Philippines Joint Communiqué, which is geared towards boosting harmonious and agreeable bilateral relations on shared global and regional concerns.

Alvarez and Cigui joined Chinese President Xi Jinping’s and President Rodrigo Duterte’s goal to unify efforts that would mutually benefit residents of Palawan and Hainan, promote people-to-people friendly ties, economic and trade inflows, and actively carry out exchanges and cooperation in the fields of tropical agriculture, tourism, marine fishery, and others.

Both leaders also agreed to strengthen education exchanges where Hainan will provide scholarships to 50 Palaweño students annually for five years to study and undergo Chinese language training course in Palawan.

In his message, Alvarez underlined the need to establish air connectivity between the two provinces through direct flights by Hainan Airlines.

Hainan Airlines is the largest civilian-run air transport company and the fourth-largest airline in terms of fleet size in the People's Republic of China.

The same airline company is operating flights in Hainan, Manila, and Cebu.

The governor also opened to Cigui the possibility of cruise tourism which can further improve the leisure industries of Palawan and Hainan.

He explained too, that Cigui’s visit is in reciprocity to the visit he made to Hainan during the first quarter of the year to express intention for the establishment of twinning relations.

Alvarez was joined in welcoming the communist party secretary of Hainan by Vice Governor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates, 2nd District Representative Atty. Frederick F. Abueg, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron and members of the Palawan Provincial Board.

The visiting Chinese delegation was composed of Cigui, Hang Jinglei, Ning Haihui, Wang Sheng, Fu Xuanchao, Lyu Yong, Zhu Hongling, Zhong Kin, Zhang Dongdong, Li Yingting and Liu Liu.

Agreement over coastal easement in El Nido forged

By Melba P. Daganta

Tourism establishments crowding the coastlines of El Nido have agreed in principle to abide by the municipal government’s appeal to retreat back inland to pave way for the municipality’s water and sewage system projects.

Town Mayor Nieves Rosento told Palawan News that based on a public hearing conducted last Friday, most of the affected establishments in barangays of Buena Suerte, Maligaya, Masagana and Corong-Corong, were amenable to the plan, but added they are still negotiating on the distance of the planned setback from the highway.

In 2005, there was already an existing ordinance for a one-meter setback to give way to some projects like the water system. However, during a public hearing, proposals had been raised for a 1.2, 1.5 or 1.7 meter easement.

Rosento said local government is determined to implement its water and sewage projects as soon as possible.

“Ito na ang solusyon sa isang dekada na nating problema sa bayan ng El Nido. Matutugunan na ang lagi na lang nating nababasa na reklamo sa Facebook, at ng iilan tungkol sa ating drainage system,” she said.

Since the final measurement is yet to be determined, figures as to how many establishments will be affected are not yet identified. Rosento nonetheless said it will only comprise around 10% of total establishments in the affected barangays.

Former SB Member Rico Fernandez also said he has nothing against the intention of the LGU, but insisted that there are things that need to be clarified first.

“Dapat malinaw, ano ba ‘yung pinapipirmahan para sa self-demolition? Sila ba ang gagastos sa pagsira sa sariling structure? Siyempre ginastusan nila ‘yan. Mababayaran ba sila sa kakainin ng gobyerno na part ng properties nila?” he explained.

Fernandez said the problem was created by the municipal government when it did not properly monitor the construction of business establishments before issuing business licenses or mayor’s permit.

Mayor Rosento said the municipality has no funds to undertake the demolitions and that the affected establishments need to initiate them voluntarily.

“But we can assist them sa demolition. Yung one meter naman nasa ordinansa ‘yan. Pero beyond one meter, hindi pa malinaw na napag-usapan,” she said.

Rosento said that she recognizes the concern of “just compensation” on the part of property owners, but pointed out that the issue “is also a matter of overall health concern”.

The municipal government is set to hold further public meetings on the matter.

Mangsee Island to receive power gensets

By Joy Tabuada

The provincial government is set to install two power generating sets to Mangsee Island, the province’s most remote territory in southern Palawan close to the maritime border with Malaysia.

The provincial government said that under its Village Electrification Program undertaken in partnership with the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), the facility will benefit more than 9,000 local residents, mostly fisherfolks and barter traders based in the island.

Governor Jose Alvarez had earlier sought the assistance of NAPOCOR in providing electricity service to the off-grid island barangays including Mangsee Island. The partnership was firmed up through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

The two electric power generators will have the capacity to produce 85 KVA base load each unit sufficient to address the needs of a medium-size community for electricity service on a controlled operating time of 10-12 hours daily.

Taking into account the limited financial capability of the recipient barangay, the provincial government said it provided some counterpart funding the project by allocating funds for the rehabilitation of the powerhouse, construction of the perimeter fence and the installation of the power distribution lines that will deliver electricity service to households in the island.

Alvarez underscored the importance of the project, stating during its turnover ceremony its importance in helping develop the economic potential of Mangsee Island, which is cited as an important transit point to other BIMP-EAGA destinations in Malaysia because of its proximity to the island of Sabah.

“I am asking the local residents to take care of this project so that you can maximize its use for longer period of time,” Alvarez said.

Study sought on railway system possibility in Palawan

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 18 -– A resolution to study and determine the potential positive and negative outcomes of the propositioned railway system project in Palawan has been filed Tuesday morning at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

The resolution, which was authored by Board Member Albert Rama, came a week after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s pronouncement that he is ready to back Palawan in the national government if its local leadership will consider the project in its transportation connectivity development agenda.

Specifically addressed to House Representatives Gil Acosta Sr. of the 3rd Palawan Congressional District, Frederick Abueg of the 2nd Palawan Congressional District, and Franz Josef Alvarez of the 1st Palawan Congressional District, the resolution seeks their help for the conduct of a study to determine the likelihood of a train/railway system and to look for funds for its implementation.

“This is because we want to pursue the hint that was given by Speaker Alvarez about having a railway or train system in the province. He said when he came from El Nido, he saw the length of Palawan and imagined the length of travel time for the people. Now, we’re pursuing it,” Rama said.

He explained further that what his resolution is aiming is for the three congressmen to pull efforts in the House of Representatives to see the possibility.

In his resolution to justify his request, Rama said the railway system can boost Palawan’s tourism industry and further increase its arrivals which had been 962,132 in 2014; 1,008, 908 in 2015; and 1,162,439 in 2016.

The increase, he noted, was 9 percent to 9 percent and 15 percent respectively, and with “a railway system to speed up the travel time between El Nido and Bataraza, tip-to-tip, the province will no doubt maintain its reputation as “Best Island in the World.”

With more tourists coming in, various businesses and other tourism-related investments can benefit, as well as the Palaweño people, according to Rama.

“Although there was a pronouncement from our speaker, this is dependent on the study that will be conducted. Under what scheme will it be implemented? With such pronouncement, strike while the iron is hot,” he said.

On July 12, Alvarez said here during a PDP-Laban event that he will suggest to the national government the construction of a railway system to improve Palawan’s tourism connectivity.

The speaker said the railway transportation project can be Official Development Assistance (ODA)-funded.

ODA as defined in Republic Act 8182 (ODA Act of 1996), “is a loan or grant administered with the objective of promoting sustainable social and economic development and welfare of the Philippines.”

More businesses sign up for mentorship

By Gerardo Reyes Jr.

More small and micro-enterprise businesses based in Puerto Princesa City and Aborlan have signed up under the Department of Trade and Industry’s mentoring program, a DTI official said Friday.

From an initial list of 36 individual enrollees, an additional 125 businessmen from Puerto Princesa and Aborlan will join the program, according to Percival Narborita, designated information officer of DTI-Palawan.

The program, called “Kapatid Mentor ME”, aims to assist micro and small enterprises sustain and improve their businesses through weekly coaching and mentoring by business owners and practitioners on different functional areas of entrepreneurship. It is a joint program of DTI and the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship – Go Negosyo.

“Next month, we expect 125 more business, mostly coming from the food processing sector from Puerto Princesa and Aborlan dahil po sa tulong ni Congressman (Gil) Acosta,” Narborita said.

Aside from the capacity building trainings, the program provides assistance to micro and small enterprises in developing their products and in marketing.

Narborita added they will still accommodate businessmen from outside of Puerto Princesa and Aborlan, but priority will be given to those based in Aborlan and Puerto Princesa City.

The 11-week program will have weekly modules such as Marketing, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Operations Management among others.

City to receive grants from USAID

By Gerardo Reyes Jr.

Puerto Princesa City has been included among the secondary cities in the country that will receive funding assistance from the United States Aid for International Development (USAID) to help propel local economic growth.

The program, dubbed Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth and Equity (SURGE), has a funding facility of $478 million to assist the selected secondary cities develop their economic potentials, according to SURGE city program coordinator Cecilia Isubal.

She said that the program aims to develop and provide conditions for broad-based, inclusive and resilient economic growth for cities outside Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

She added that the funding facility will support projects that address local economic growth, environment, energy and climate change, health, and education.

She also said that SURGE is focusing on on expanding economic connectivity, access between urban and rural areas, and strengthening multi-sectoral capacity.

Palawan to host Asian jr slugfest

By Kevin San Pedro

EXCITEMENT and expectations arise as Puerto Princesa welcomes the Asian Junior Boxing Championships on Aug. 1 to 8.

This marks the first time the Philippines will be hosting a major international boxing tournament since the Asian Youth Championships in 2013.

Preparations are already underway as event officials are expecting as much as 20 to 30 countries participating in the tournament, with Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Butch Ramirez ordering the PSC to allocate both financial and human resources to aid the organizers.

The tournament was originally planned to be held in Davao, but Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez and Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron insisted to play host to the event in light of recent events in Mindanao.

Boxers aged 15 to 16 will compete for the titles, with the country’s top athletes already undergoing rigorous training under veteran Ronald Chavez, according to the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines Executive Director Ed Picson during an appearance at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

“Ito ‘yung grassroots talaga and we know for a fact that our counterparts in other countries put a lot of emphasis on this age group,” said Picson.

With the Southeast Asian Games and World Championships also in the works, the ABAP is working full time to accommodate all the tournaments.

“This is as important to us (as the two),” Picson said. “Kasi dito lahat manggagaling lahat yan, ‘di naman pwede nasa elite ka kaagad.”

1,200 seedlings to bloom into ‘Balayong Park’ in Puerto Princesa

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 13 -- On July 29, returning Mayor Lucilo Bayron will get down on his knees to lead the mass planting of 1,200 Palawan cherry blossom tree seedlings to fulfill an all-time aspiration to build a “Balayong Park” that shall be one of the centers of events here.

Balayong (Cassia nodosa) is the popular name of the Palawan cherry blossom tree in Puerto Princesa.

Bayron said Wednesday afternoon during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN) oath-taking ceremony that the mass planting of the local cherry blossoms marks the establishment of the said park.

“Please allow me to take this opportunity to announce that on July 29, Saturday, we will have the biggest mass tree planting event of Balayong. We will be planting 1,200 seedlings, and it will begin the establishment of Balayong Park,” he said.

Expected to resemble the illustrious Sakura trees of Japan, the said park is going to be in a five - hectare area adjacent the Ramon V. Mitra Sports Complex and the Green City Hall.

When the Balayong trees are in full bloom during summer up to June, they display white and soft pink flowers to the delight of people who see them.

The city leadership believes that with a Balayong tree park, tourists will be more attracted to visit Puerto Princesa every year to have fun when the trees are in bloom.

Incidentally, an ordinance that seeks mall owners, building operators, school administrators, and the likes, to plant Balayong trees in open/vacant spaces in their properties within Puerto Princesa is now sitting at the Sangguniang Panlungsod waiting for approval.

Filed by Councilor Modesto Rodriguez Jr., Ordinance 124-2017 proposes the provision of tax incentives for them if they comply.

Under it, Rodriguez cited Executive Order 26 expanded by Executive Order 193, which are about the National Greening Program from 2016-2028.

“To ensure the proper implementation of the directives, all government agencies and institutions, including local government units (LGUs), are mandated to provide full support for the program in terms of developing a greening plan for urban and suburban areas, and mobilizing not only the government sector, but also the private sector, to plant trees,” Rodriguez’ ordinance stated.

The ordinance will be known as the “Urban Green Ordinance” and will provide tax incentives on real property taxes as determined by the City Assessor’s Office (CAO).

Palawan is 'Best Island in the World' for second year in a row

By Azer N. Parrocha (PNA)

MANILA, July 12 -- The island of Palawan has been named the Best Island in the World by US magazine, Travel + Leisure for the second year in a row now.

In a survey conducted by Travel + Leisure to its readers released Tuesday (July 11), Palawan got the highest score at 93.15. Meanwhile, another top Philippine destination, Boracay, placed third on the survey with a score of 89.67.

According to the magazine, Palawan won first place “thanks to its hidden lagoons, teeming ocean life, and rustic-luxe resorts.”

One reader even described Palawan as “…the single most beautiful place on earth.”

“There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in the natural wonders of this Philippine archipelago, which many of our readers described as ‘rustic,’ ‘romantic,’ ‘affordable,’ and ‘relaxing,’” Travel + Leisure said.

The magazine said that Palawan is a “repeat winner” on the list scoring the No. 1 spot for the first time in 2013.

“…With its verdant mountains, a five-mile-long underground river, limestone caves, and spectacular scuba diving, its appeal is as clear as its turquoise waters,” Travel + Leisure noted.

According to the magazine, readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.

Its World’s Best Awards survey also asks readers to weigh in on opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, and airlines among others.

The top 10 Best Islands in the World are as follows:

10. Bali, Indonesia

9. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia

8. Ischia, Italy

7. Kauai, Hawaii

6. Maui, Hawaii

5. Santorini, Greece

4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

3. Boracay Island, Philippines

2. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

1. Palawan, Philippines

Japanese volunteers to work in Cleopatra’s Needle

By Catherine Santos

A Japanese non-government organization has partnered with the Palawan-based Centre for Sustainability PH (CS) to promote the conservation of Cleopatra’s Needle, one of Puerto Princesa City’s proposed protected areas found in the City’s northern boundary.

Karina May Reyes-Antonio of CS said they have just formalized a “green partnership” with Tochigi Conservation Corps (TCC) based in Mashiko, Japan for an international exchange program to enhance the common objectives of both organizations.

“It will be a great opportunity for the learning of and integration between Philippine and Japanese experience and knowledge, and particularly incorporating the principles of indigenous knowledge systems and practices into sound trail restoration which is suitable to our tropical climate,” Reyes said.

Based on the program partnership signed by CS’ Reyes-Antonio and TCC’s Tatsuya Tsukamoto and Mai Okimoto, the non-profit group will send ts staff to a 3-month training in Japan in September. In return, in March 2018, 10 Japanese volunteers will conduct a 10-day work camp in CS’ project area, the recently declared Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat in northeast Puerto Princesa City.

Reyes-Antonio said they will facilitate the work of Japanese volunteers with indigenous and lowland coastal communities in conducting trail restoration of key tourist destinations that will improve access to the unique flora and fauna spots at Cleopatra’s Needle and enhance their community-based sustainable tourism partners.

Cleopatra’s Needle is one of the most biologically diverse mountains of Palawan and is considered as the highest peak of Puerto Princesa City.

Proposed Manila to Equator Tour seen to boost BIMP-EAGA

By Gerardo Reyes Jr

A tour package from Manila going to destinations in Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia and that will traverse the World’s Best Island of Palawan is seen to boost the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) sub-region.

Shellemai Roa, the provincial government’s project development officer for BIMP-EAGA, said the tour will contribute to the region’s economic activities, considering that many destinations in Palawan will be included in the package.

The tour will start from Metro Manila, proceeding to Batangas and Mindoro followed by Palawan before jumping off the province’s southern port of Buliluyan to other destinations in Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.

The Batangas roro port will connect the tour to Calapan in Mindoro province.

After Mindoro, Coron and El Nido in the northern part of Palawan will be the tourists’ next destinations. Both Coron and El Nido’s world class tourism jewels such as scenic islands, rock formations, beach resorts, and other natural riches in the northern part of the province could definitely draw more crowd and tourists, Roa said.

Roa pointed out that the provincial government has a port construction project in El Nido to address the influx of more tourists.

She said there are many places in the northern part of the province, and as well as in Puerto Princesa City, that the tourists will include in their visit, such as the Underground River, and the region’s numerous caves, beach resorts, and islands.

“It is indeed an adventure in the World’s Best Island. ‘Yun bang tour na sulit talaga para sa mga turista,” Roa said.

In the south, tourist can visit the Estrella falls, pineapple plantations, and many other farm destinations in the southern part of the province, specially in Bataraza.

Roa said they are promoting Farm Tourism in the southern part of the province, and the provincial government is doing its best help boost tourism activities in this area.

In exiting the province’s southern port, the tour will move towards Kudat, State of Sabah in Malaysia going to other destinations to complete the Manila to Equator tour.

DENR hosting July 10-14 BIMP-EAGA environment cluster meeting in Palawan


MANILA -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is hosting a meeting of the environment cluster of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) slated July 10-14 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

DENR senior officials led by Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio will comprise the Philippine delegation to the sixth BIMP-EAGA environment cluster meeting, which will focus on the best practices and guidelines for sustainable ecotourism, farming and fishing among member countries.

During the meeting, updates on the two BIMP-EAGA projects of the Philippines will be presented. Engr. Wilson Trajico, Environment Management Bureau Region 13 Director, will apprise the cluster on the Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Potential Entities while DENR Region 9 Director Felix Mirasol Jr. will take up Turtle Conservation and Ecotourism Development in the Turtle Island Heritage Protected Area.

There will also be discussions on the BIMP-EAGA Green Cities Initiative and the lessons learned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its implementation, and presentations on various projects adopted by each member country.

Other BIMP-EAGA projects include Indonesia's Sustainable Ecotourism Best Practice Contribution to Climate Resilience in Critical Ecosystem; and Malaysia's Mantanani Island-Integrated Low Carbon Island; and Development of Environmental Education Module and Board Games on Marine Environment for Communities in Sabah.

Some 15 delegates from four member countries are expected to attend the meeting together with representatives from the ADB, BIMP-EAGA Business Council and the BIMP-EAGA Facilitation Center based in Kota Kinabalu.

Ignacio is the environment cluster head of the Philippine-EAGA. Joining him in the delegation are his deputy, DENR Region 11 Director Ruth Tawantawan, the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) regional directors, assistant regional directors for technical services and chiefs of planning and management division in Regions 4B, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.

Representatives from the Mindanao Development Authority and the Palawan provincial government will also attend the meeting.

The BIMP-EAGA was formed in March 1994 with the goal of increasing trade, investment and tourism in the region. It consists of the entire Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; 10 provinces on the islands of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Irian Jaya in Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and Palawan province and Mindanao region in the Philippines.

In the environment cluster, the focus of cooperation includes sustainable management of critical ecosystems, climate change adaptation and mitigation, clean and green production technologies; addressing transboundary issues; and environment mainstreaming.

DOLE launches 3rd Jobstarter Program

By Hanna Camella Talabucon

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is scaling up its job training and matching program in coordination with private sector enterprises in a bid to assist job seekers from Puerto Princesa City to gain employment opportunities.

The labor department and its partner agencies launched on Thursday the third wave of its Jobstart Philippines Program, a scheme where an estimated 240 job seekers nominated by participating private enterprises will be trained for potential job placements.

The Jobstart Philippines Program aims to address the high rate of unemployment among Palaweño youth and fresh graduates through partnership and collaboration among DOLE, City PESO, and private business firms.

City PESO Manager Demetrio Lopez Jr said Palawan is the only province in the region of MIMAROPA that was included among the 14 provincial/city beneficiaries of the program in the whole country.

“Ang Palawan lang ang nag-iisang probinsya sa MIMAROPA na nabiyayaan upang pagkalooban ng ganito kagandang programa para sa kabataan,” said Lopez.

Funded by the Canadian Government and Asian Development Bank (ADB), the program was originally launched in Palawan in 2015 and was formally started in 2016, training some 220 registered job applicants among out-of-school youth, fresh graduates, and college level students.

DOLE said the registration for participants in the 3rd batch of the program will be on July 30, 2017.

DOLE-Palawan Field Officer Bernardo Toriano said the program will help equip the trainees for job placements in various participating companies.

“Malapit na po ang pagtanaw natin na ang manggagawang Pilipino ay magkakaroon ng matatag, disente, at kapaki-pakinabang na trabaho sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng agarang hanap-buhay para sa mga kabataan,” said Toriano.

Applicants must be at least 18-24 years old, either high school graduate, college level, vocational course graduates, fresh graduate, or individuals with less than one-year job experience in a private business firm.

Under the program, the potential employees will undergo several sets of training including technical training provided by the participating companies. The trainees are also given allowances and insurance coverage during their training.

DSWD to implement ‘twice-a-day’ feeding program in Palawan

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 6 -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office here is set to implement in Palawan a “twice-a-day” supplementary feeding program (SFP) this July.

Provincial Nutrition Action Officer (PNAO) Rachel Paladan said Wednesday afternoon that the SFP has a Php62-million budget from the DSWD, which will be directly downloaded to municipal government units.

She said its goal is to strengthen the campaign against malnutrition of children in Child Development Centers (CDCs) and beneficiaries of the Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP).

The SNP is a new program of the DSWD that is focused on children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old, who remain at home and do not go to the CDC.

Paladan said that with the eventual implementation, Consultation and Orientation on the Conduct of the said twice-a-day SFP had already been done, and attended by provincial and municipal nutrition action officers (MNAOs), municipal social welfare and development officers (MSWDOs) child development coordinators (CDCs) in June.

The MNAOs, MSWDOs, and CDCs, based on implementing procedures, are the ones tasked to implement the supplementary feeding program in their areas.

Her office, on the other hand, will take care of monitoring and evualating the implementation.

The SFP is implemented under the DSWD whose major target is to decrease the malnutrition prevalence rate (MPR) in the whole country.

City eyes strict waste segregation policy

By Gerardo Reyes Jr.

Starting July, the city government will start imposing fines and citation tickets against residents and establishments failing to properly segregate their waste materials.

The City environment and natural resources office (City ENRO) said the measure is part of the local government’s drive to strictly enforce a “no segregation, no collection” policy in accordance with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“Manghuhuli na tayo, at i-enforce na talaga ang batas tungkol d’yan,” Mary Ann Joylle Madriñan, senior environmental management specialist of the City ENRO, said.

Madriñan said they have already conducted an information and education campaign (IEC) and distributed reading materials about the RA 9003 in barangays in preparation for the law’s strict implementation.

“On the part of the garbage collection, they should refuse to collect unsegregated wastes, kasi ‘yan ang nakasaad sa batas,” she said.

She explained that non-segregation of wastes contributes to pollution of the environment and that mixed wastes in an open landfill is capable of emitting greenhouse gases, toxic fumes, and particulate matters which are harmful.

She added that mixed wastes likewise emit methane which is twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide and is very harmful to the environment.

She pointed out that the city collects garbage twice a day in all 35 urban barangays, and twice a month in rural barangays.

The city’s sanitary landfill (SLF) located in barangay Sta. Lourdes is the first SLF to operate in the country.

She pointed out that most of the city’s barangays already have their respective materials recovery facility (MRF) for recyclable resources that can still be useful such as bottles, plastic, used boxes, newspapers.

She added however that there are barangays especially the urban barangays whose MRFs are not functional.

She noted that the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) that collection of unsegregated wastes is a violation of RA 9003 and that the city stands to face face sanctions for failing to implement the law.

RA 9003 states that LGUs shall be primarily responsible for the implementation and enforcement of this Act within their respective jurisdictions.

The City previously tried to strictly implement its “no collection” policy in November last year but this was discontinued when there was a change in administration under Luis Marcaida III.

DTI to boost micro-enterprises in Palawan

By Gerardo Reyes Jr.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is intensifying its programs and intervention to support the business sector in the province, particularly micro-enterprises.

DTI recently held “Trabaho, Negosyo, Konsyumer Kabuhayan (TNKK)”, a seminar attended by various sectors and served as a convergence for employment, livelihood, entrepreneurs and consumers.

DTI Provincial Director Rosenda Fortunado said the activity tackled the rights of businessmen and consumers, and covered issues and concerns in the province’s business sector.

“It was an opportunity to know pertinent laws related to trading,” Fortunado said.

According to Fortunado, regional director Joel Valera of DTI MIMAROPA was present during the activity.

Fortunado said the DTI –Palawan will have a weekly mentoring and coaching session for businessmen through the “Kapatid Mentor Me” program of their agency.

She said the program aims to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enable them to scale up and sustain their businesses through weekly coaching and mentoring by business owners and practitioners on different functional areas of entrepreneurship.

The initiative is a joint program of DTI and the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship – Go Negosyo.

The Mentor Me program will be held every Friday at Palawan Hotel Centro. It will run for 11 weeks and the modules will cover various topics such as Marketing, Financial Management, Human Resource Management, Operations Management, among others.

“Our agency does not only monitor prices or give business names. We also endeavor to keep the businesses and the business sector vibrant and improving,” Fortunado said.

She admitted that among the challenges affecting the micro businesses is the lack of access to financing, new technology and limited access to market.

Travel list: Puerto Princesa in 48 hours

By Romsanne Ortiguero (InterAksyon Lifestyle)

From white sand beaches to endemic wildlife, Palawan has many attractions that continue to charm both local and foreign tourists alike.

The country’s last frontier, the island has been endowed with lush landscapes and pristine waters—paving the way for it to be named as the World’s Best Island by US-based travel magazines Conde Nast Traveler, among other recognitions.

Besides scenic and picturesque El Nido and Coron, Palawan’s capital, Puerto Princesa, is home to a number of must-visit destinations as well—including the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park or the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Make sure to experience the island’s boat tour and discover other attractions the city has to offer. Check our list of places to visit and things to do during a two-day visit in the city.

1. Explore Puerto Princesa’s new international airport.

Just this May 2017, Puerto Princesa International Airport has been inaugurated, and is now operational. According to reports, the project involved the construction of new passenger and cargo building, apron, taxiways and navigation facilities. Moreover, the airport is seen to boost the province’s tourism, and can accommodate about two million passengers annually.

2. Have a relaxing stay at newly opened Hue Hotels and Resorts.

If you haven’t decided yet on which place to stay, check out the newly opened Hue Hotel in Puerto Princesa. It boasts of amenities including a spa, a roof deck pool, and gyms among others.

A destination in itself, Hue Hotel stands out from the rest by allowing travelers to experience the local culture through interior design elements from the hotel’s lobby to each of the 122 rooms.

3. Satisfy your cravings at Matiz Restaurant and Tapas Bar.

Hue Hotels and Resorts-Puerto Princesa’s in-house restaurant, Matiz, is a worthwhile visit for some Filipino, Spanish, and Vietnamese fare. According to he hotel’s general manager, Chris Guballa, Matiz is currently the only Spanish restaurant in the city.

Must-try dishes include some comfort food like their thrice-cooked bagnet, boneless crispy pata, and ginataang santol. Chef Gabby Pratts’ paella is from a three generation recipe and one of the restaurant’s bestselling dishes.

4. Soak up the natural atmosphere of Pandan Island.

Local travel companies offer guided trips to Pandan Island. Legendary Tours, for instance, offers the use of speed boat, water activities such as snorkeling and helmet diving, a buffet lunch, and a side trip to Splash House, where one can learn from their aqua-culture educational tour.

5. Immerse yourself at the Vietnamese Village.

Puerto Princesa has become a home to Vietnamese refugees since the 1970’s after the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese Village was built in 1997 and since then has paved the way for the locals to discover and love Vietnamese cuisine.While many of the refugees have already moved out of the city, the place has become a tourist attraction for authentic yet inexpensive Vietnamese dishes.

After your island hopping tour drop by the Viet Ville Restaurant, and have a hearty meal of pho, banh mi, and coffee.

6. Book an Iwahig firefly watching and stargazing tour.

A highly recommendable activity, the tour does not only involve watching fireflies magnificently illuminating the riverbanks of Iwahig; it also features a stargazing activity, where your trained tour guide—along with some humor—will refresh your knowledge about constellations.

The experience was calming—slowly cruising the serene river through a paddle boat while surrounded by the dancing lights of fireflies, and blanketed by a mesmerizing sight of the night sky dotted by numerous sparkling stars.

7. Visit Baker’s Hill.

If you want instagram-worthy photos, head to this place. Like a mini theme park, Baker’s Hill has attractions that are photo-friendly, has relaxing spaces to pass your time idly, and has a bakeshop famous for its freshly baked hopia and other pastry treats that are perfect for pasalubong (souvenir).

One of my unique finds in their bakeshop is tuyo pastillas, which looks unlikely at first but was surprisingly a good treat. It is a sweet, chewy treat covered in dark cocoa powder with tuyo (salted, dried fish) filling at the center. For me, the sweet and salty flavors just like the familiar taste of tuyo and champorado (chocolate rice porridge) is satisfying.

8. Buy local goodies at Department of Agriculture-Palawan multipurpose cooperative

The cooperative sells delicacies like civet coffee, cashew nuts, tamarind candies, and other souvenirs that are all locally-made.

Rio Tuba Nickel Mining hailed as 'environment champion'


MANILA -- Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. (RTNMC) was honored as an “environment champion” by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) during the 25th year anniversary of the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) Act.

In accepting the recognition, Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC) President and CEO Gerard H. Brimo said the SEP has helped make the initiatives of RTNMC for environment sustainability become among the best practices in the industry.

"For a mining company to be honored as an ‘environment champion’, is such a great achievement," he said.

According to PCSD Executive Director Nelson Devanadera, the SEP champion awards are given to local government units and organizations embodying the SEP principles in their programs and projects.

RTNMC and Coral Bay Nickel Corp. (CBNC) were awarded for remarkable and positive development through partnership in the municipality of Bataraza.

In his message, delivered by Undersecretary Marlo Mendoza during the awarding ceremony last June 19, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu said the best indicator of local sustainable development is eradication of poverty.

"The best strategy that we can adopt is the eradication of poverty, the provision of livelihood, employment opportunities for the people and ensuring tha availability of basic services," he noted.

PCSD is a multi-sectoral and intergovernmental body mandated to enforce the Strategic Environmental Plan Law for Palawan that was signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino on June 19, 1992.