Palawan News June 2018

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Herbal remedies for diabetes.JPG
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

PAL readies direct flights from Korea to Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The local office of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said its Airbus A321 will start bringing direct flights in this city with an estimated 6,000 visitors monthly from Seoul, South Korea starting this weekend.

An estimated 800 passengers are also expected to arrive directly and weekly from Busan beginning July 26 until October 27 at the Puerto Princesa City International Airport.

Palawan PAL sales and services agent Daniel Vincent Gabuco said Wednesday that the first direct flight on June 23 will come straight from Incheon International Airport serving the Seoul capital area.

The flights from South Korea will be the first direct international journeys that will be catered by PAL, he said in an interview.

“The Korean passengers are those who were rerouted from Boracay. Since Palawan is a prime destination, the rerouting here can be the start of the continuous entry of Korean market in the province,” he said.

Of PAL’s 86 total aircraft fleet, Gabuco said around 30 Airbus A321 with 199 seating capacities will bring Koreans and other nationalities from Seoul to Puerto Princesa and vice versa.

Those that will fly in directly from Gimhae International Airport in Busan will only be four times a week until October. PAL will use the same Airbus to bring them to Palawan.

With this development, Gabuco said there is really a need now for Palawan to improve its tourist destinations, as well as tourism front-liner services to cater to passengers brought in by international flights. “Our hope is that for our city government to develop another attraction that can cater to the incoming international markets like the Koreans or any other foreign market,” he expressed.

Puerto Princesa prepares 10K seedlings for ‘Pista Y Ang Kagueban’

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The city government on Wednesday said it started preparing 10,000 seedlings of various tree species for the June 30 celebration of the annual mass planting festival called “Pista Y Ang Kagueban” (Feast of the Forest).

Puerto Princesa senior environmental management specialist Larry Martinez said they will be planted in a five-hectare area at Kilometer 31 and 32 in Barangay Montible.

He added it will help revive the lowland forest in Montible for the critically endangered Philippine Cockatoo or katala that dwell there.

“The seedlings that will be planted in the ‘Pista Y Ang Kagueban’ are narra, red and white nato, and kapok,” Martinez said.

“We will start bringing the seedlings today in the area until June 29 in time for the Pista the next day,” he said.

The ‘Pista Y Ang Kagueban’, a Cuyuno dialect which means “Pista ng Kagubatan” was conceptualized by the Palawan Integrated Area Development Project Office in 1991.

It was to institutionalize the protection and conservation of the environment for the youth. The Irawan watershed in Barangay Irawan was selected as the primary area for the tree-planting site.

The first mass planting celebration was held in June 1991. It was in that same year the United Nations declared the month as Environment Month.

DA holds investment forum on cashew and cacao in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – The regional field office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) conducted here Tuesday an investment forum on current market trends in the production of cacao and cashew, hoping to expand and develop their production in Palawan.

Randy Pernia, senior agriculturist of the DA-Agri Marketing Assistance Division in Mimaropa, said in an interview that one of their agency’s current focuses is to further develop the local cacao and the cashew industry since Palawan produces a large quantity of these crops.

“This is part of the DA’s drive to develop the tree crops, and in this forum, there are various government and non-government agencies that can help the cashew and cacao industries. We have the Department of Trade (DTI), which can help us expand them,” he said.

Pernia added that cacao and cashew farmers should be equipped with knowledge about the value chain of the tree crops, or the process of activities by which they can add value to both, including production and marketing.

He said the investment forum is part of ASPIRE or Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Expositions, a partnership project of the DA, DTI, and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) aimed at converging key players in agriculture business and industry.

“When we went to the farms, we saw that efforts are only commonly given to the production of the kernel or the nuts. It would be good if they would also have value chain so we can raise the potential of cashew so we can produce other products out of them,” he said.

Palawan has an estimated 24,000 hectares of land planted with cashew trees in Roxas, Dumaran, and El Nido – municipalities that are top producers of cashew nuts. (PNA)

This Palawan tourist site uses bamboo–not plastic–straws

(BusinessMirror)

Reusable drinking straws made of bamboo, rather than the usual plastic, are quickly becoming the gifts visitors to the Lio Tourism Estate in idyllic northern Palawan bring home to friends.

The items, which come with a cleaner, are not only novel and affordable, their availability also signals the transformation of this thriving Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) community toward being a plastic-free tourist destination.

Along with the plastic straws sold at Lio’s artists’ village, the ubiquitous disposable plastic water bottles favored by travelers can no longer be found there or in the neighboring sitios of El Nido municipality following the implementation in December 2018 of an ordinance banning single-use and other plastics.

Mariglo Laririt, director for sustainability of ALI subsidiary Ten Knots Development Corp. (TKDC), said that respecting the natural environment has always been a cherished value of the company since its founding in the 1980s. Ayala Land acquired the subsidiary in 2010.

She says: “Implementing the ordinance was a natural progression of our other eco-friendly initiatives. These have included creating awareness among TKDC staff and the surrounding community the dire need for conservation, water recycling, sewage treatment, solid-wwzwaste management and related topics.”

Waste management is such a serious business in Lio and the island resorts that the company consciously measures its gains in this area.

Joey Bernardino, TKDC group director for sales and marketing, said that by the end of the year, its properties will have cut back on the annual use of 20,000 pieces of plastic straws and 65,000 pieces of disposable plastic bottles.

The straws have been replaced with paper ones; and the plastic bottles, with reusable water flasks guests may refill in water stations throughout the resorts. In the guest rooms, plastic containers for shampoo and soap have been exchanged for refillable pumps that hold the cleaning agents.

Bernardino relates that employees in the four El Nido Resorts and the four boutique hotels in Lio have also been banned from bringing sachets or plastic bottles of shampoo.

“This and other measures have drastically limited our output of single-use plastics into the ecosystem.”

Single-use plastics are not biodegradable, Laririt pointed. They end up in landfills where they are buried or, through waterways, find their way into the ocean.

“As much as 90 percent of all trash in the oceans are made of plastic,” she said citing a study.

Moreover, plastic waste in the ocean do not respect geographic or national boundaries. “Even if Bacuit Bay, which hosts seven of our eight resorts, has been a protected area since the 1980s, its 855 species of fish, over 400 corals and five of seven marine turtle species have remained at risk because of plastics mindlessly strewn into the oceans.”

Besides prohibiting the use of plastic disposables, TKDC has been actively protecting its immediate environment by creating awareness for the unique ecosystem of Bacuit Bay, “a huge slab of ancient reef from the Asian mainland.”

Its island-hopping tours and other activities have been supervised by guides carefully schooled in the different aspects of biodiversity, geology and geography.

“Our tours to the Big and Small Lagoons and other iconic spots raise our guests’ aspiration to see Bacuit Bay remain a showcase for biodiversity for decades to come,” she said.

This Palawan tourist site uses bamboo–not plastic–straws

(BusinessMirror)

Reusable drinking straws made of bamboo, rather than the usual plastic, are quickly becoming the gifts visitors to the Lio Tourism Estate in idyllic northern Palawan bring home to friends.

The items, which come with a cleaner, are not only novel and affordable, their availability also signals the transformation of this thriving Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) community toward being a plastic-free tourist destination.

Along with the plastic straws sold at Lio’s artists’ village, the ubiquitous disposable plastic water bottles favored by travelers can no longer be found there or in the neighboring sitios of El Nido municipality following the implementation in December 2018 of an ordinance banning single-use and other plastics.

Mariglo Laririt, director for sustainability of ALI subsidiary Ten Knots Development Corp. (TKDC), said that respecting the natural environment has always been a cherished value of the company since its founding in the 1980s. Ayala Land acquired the subsidiary in 2010.

She says: “Implementing the ordinance was a natural progression of our other eco-friendly initiatives. These have included creating awareness among TKDC staff and the surrounding community the dire need for conservation, water recycling, sewage treatment, solid-wwzwaste management and related topics.”

Waste management is such a serious business in Lio and the island resorts that the company consciously measures its gains in this area.

Joey Bernardino, TKDC group director for sales and marketing, said that by the end of the year, its properties will have cut back on the annual use of 20,000 pieces of plastic straws and 65,000 pieces of disposable plastic bottles.

The straws have been replaced with paper ones; and the plastic bottles, with reusable water flasks guests may refill in water stations throughout the resorts. In the guest rooms, plastic containers for shampoo and soap have been exchanged for refillable pumps that hold the cleaning agents.

Bernardino relates that employees in the four El Nido Resorts and the four boutique hotels in Lio have also been banned from bringing sachets or plastic bottles of shampoo.

“This and other measures have drastically limited our output of single-use plastics into the ecosystem.”

Single-use plastics are not biodegradable, Laririt pointed. They end up in landfills where they are buried or, through waterways, find their way into the ocean.

“As much as 90 percent of all trash in the oceans are made of plastic,” she said citing a study.

Moreover, plastic waste in the ocean do not respect geographic or national boundaries. “Even if Bacuit Bay, which hosts seven of our eight resorts, has been a protected area since the 1980s, its 855 species of fish, over 400 corals and five of seven marine turtle species have remained at risk because of plastics mindlessly strewn into the oceans.”

Besides prohibiting the use of plastic disposables, TKDC has been actively protecting its immediate environment by creating awareness for the unique ecosystem of Bacuit Bay, “a huge slab of ancient reef from the Asian mainland.”

Its island-hopping tours and other activities have been supervised by guides carefully schooled in the different aspects of biodiversity, geology and geography.

“Our tours to the Big and Small Lagoons and other iconic spots raise our guests’ aspiration to see Bacuit Bay remain a showcase for biodiversity for decades to come,” she said.

Palawan festival showcases enjoyable Bonsai art

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – The annual convergence festival, Baragatan sa Palawan, showcased here Friday afternoon the consistently admired but rarely understood art of Bonsai cultivation and Suiseki natural stones, hoping to persuade residents to make them relaxing interests and hobbies.

Now on its third year, the Bonsai and Suiseki Show and Competition started during the official opening of Baragatan in celebration of the province’s 116th Civil Government founding anniversary.

The show is currently featuring 55 miniature pieces of trees grown in small pots and Suiseki viewing stones that signify longevity and immortality.

Generoso Frago, president of the Palawan Bonsai Society (PBS), said their continuing participation in the annual convergence festival is to teach the public about both arts, which tell stories through living illusions.

“We want to teach Palaweños about the proper basic bonsai and to spread throughout the province its enjoyable art,” he said.

Getting into bonsai makes a person strive to find possibilities for personal expression within the limits of worthy horticultural practices as the art is a cheery blend of thoughts, forms, and styles in a petite sphere, he said.

Frago explained that like other forms of art, Bonsais endure if good practices are employed in the creation.

“We also will display miniature natural stones to encourage people to value what they stand for. We have natural stones that we sometimes see on the streets that we can collect or mount in a special rack,” he added.

Frago said the PBS will have a Bonsai 101 workshop on June 18-19, where residents can join for PHP300 to learn the art from experts they have invited.

He added that what is notable about Bonsai art is its ability to instill discipline and patience in a person who wants to delight in its creativity.

“Bonsai art is not something one does overnight. It takes years to make it. What they need is to motivate themselves to learn the art and have patience. They have to be willing to wait to see their tree come to life in a miniature setting,” he said.

Bonsai is composed of two Japanese word phrases “bon” and “sai,” which stand for “pot” and “potted planting” in a pint-sized setting.

The show will last until June 23 in Baragatan from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Provincial Capitol.

The PBS is a member of the Philippine Bonsai Society, Inc., a well-known group of bonsai growers in the country.

Palawan entomological study to pit larvae-eating mosquito vs. dengue

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Department of Health (DOH) has announced that Palawan’s current efforts in entomological research may have found a large larvae-eating mosquito that has the potential of destroying the immature dengue-carrying Aedis Aegypti mosquitoes.

DOH Mimaropa OIC Regional Director Mario Baquilod said on Thursday that this type of mosquito is now being bred and studied to feed on the larvae of the dengue-carriers.

“There is a mosquito they found here in their Insectarium that can feed on the larvae of other mosquitoes. It is one finding that we learned about early this morning,” Baquilod said.

The announcement was made at a press conference held here as part of the 8th ASEAN Dengue Day celebration in the province.

He said researchers working on the study of large mosquito are proud of it because it was an achievement of the satellite laboratory of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), which is also a training center for vector control.

Baquilod added the output of the study on the said mosquito will be seen soon upon its completion.

“This is part of the studies that RITM is conducting. Hopefully, in the future we can use this to control the spread of the dengue mosquito,” he added.

Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle, who represented Health Secretary Francisco Duque in the event, described the mosquito as looking like the “lamok kalabaw” (carabao mosquito) and subsists on the “kiti-kiti” (mosquito larvae).

“It feeds on the larvae, and this is a bigger mosquito like a carabao mosquito, and it does not bite humans, according to the experts. It’s a very promising intervention. Although it’s still being studied, eventually it seems logical that we can use this as a vector control. It’s very good work at the entomology center,” he said.

Both Baquilod and Valle, who visited the Insectarium are unable to say the name of the mosquito.

Noting the sustained presence of dengue cases in the country, the DOH has stepped up anew its awareness campaign on the “4S Strategy” to fight the mosquito-borne tropical disease.

Valle said the commemoration’s theme, “Kung Walang Lamok, Walang Dengue Mag-4S Kontra Dengue,” aims to give emphasis on vector control as a strategy to prevent and control dengue.

“Our goal to prevent dengue starts within ourselves by maintaining cleanliness in our surroundings by emptying containers of stagnant waters to eliminate breeding places of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes,” Valle said as he read a statement by the health department.

The DOH’s 4S Kontra Dengue, he reiterated, is a useful approach to prevent cases and deaths. The 4S are Search and Destroy mosquito breeding places, Secure Self-Protection, Seek Early Consultation and Support Fogging/Spraying only in hotspot areas where increased cases have been registered for two consecutive weeks to prevent the impending outbreak.

Since its declaration in July 2010 during the ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting in Singapore, different regions in the country have rotated as host of the ASEAN Dengue Day.

Palawan already has 581 dengue cases since January, 236 were recorded in Puerto Princesa.

From January 1 to May 26, 2018, dengue cases nationwide decreased by 7 percent or 37,959 compared to last year’s 40,993 cases for the same period. The number of deaths is 195.

The most affected group is the 10-14 years old age bracket with males comprising 52 percent of all cases.

The areas with the highest number of cases are the National Capital Region with 6,493 cases; Calabarzon, 6,296; Central Luzon, 5,997; Northern Mindanao, 2,540; Western Visayas, 2,314; and Central Visayas, 2,241.

Baragatan sa Palawan 2018 festival officially opens

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Baragatan sa Palawan 2018 was officially opened in this city to mark the province’s 120th Civil Government foundation day on Friday.

Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan , and department heads of the provincial government led the opening of the annual convergence festival with a Eucharistic Mass held at the Pavilion of the Provincial Capitol early in the morning.

Alvarez’ speech during the opening centered on the alleviation of poverty in Palawan as it is his administration’s primary objective.

“Our objective is to really help the poor residents of the province. We have just completed our inventory of southern Palawan. We have 62,000 families, and also in the north, and they are the ones we want to give full attention in the remaining three years we have,” he said.

The governor said it is the next thing on his development agenda after constructing roads, hospitals, and other vital infrastructure.

Alvarez said his leadership will not put to waste the trust it was given by the national government that provides funds for what the province needs.

After the opening, a “Parada ng mga Palaweño” was held, featuring officials of the 23 municipalities, and the 10 Mutya ng Palawan candidates riding colorful floats.

The festival, which will last until June 23 at the Provincial Capitol, will also showcase the Caraenan sa Palawan food fair; agro-trade fair featuring Palawan-made food products, and Mutya ng Palawan 2018 search.

Juvenile mynahs, blue-naped parrots seized in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Environment enforcers in Palawan have recovered 47 hatchling and juvenile mynahs and blue-naped parrots from suspected illegal wildlife trading operation in the southern Palawan municipality of Quezon.

Jovic Fabello, spokesperson of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff, said in an interview on Tuesday afternoon that the birds were seizedon Monday at Sitio Sumil, Barangay Suwangan, Quezon town by operatives of the 2nd Special Boat Unit (SBU) of the Philippine National Police Maritime Group and the Bantay Palawan Task Force.

The 35 mynahs (kiyaw) and 12 blue-naped parrots (pikoy) were confiscated from the two suspects identified as Ariel Bustamante and Ariel Rapana.

Cases of violation of the RA9147 or the Philippine Wildlife Act or An Act Providing for the Conservation and Protection of Wildlife Resources and their Habitats have been filed against the two suspects.

“We received a tip about the birds, that’s why we were able to confiscate them. This goes to show that our community listening posts are working with the municipalities. We use this enforcement plan to strictly implement the wildlife act,” he said.

They were kept in small improvised cages by the suspects in the remote area of Sumil, where the possibility of detection was almost nil, said Fabello.

He said the suspected illegal bird traders kept the cages behind a small waterfall behind a house in the distant village. The strong sound of the cascading waters concealed the noise made by the birds.

“It’s sad because they are still newly-hatched and the others are juvenile. We learned that they’ve made their first shipment we just were not able to stop them. Thankfully, we stopped the second,” he said.

Palawan power coop appeals for final DENR decision on coal project

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) here on Wednesday appealed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to finally decide on the proposed 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant by DMCI Power Corporation.

The coal project, which local officials are pursuing to supposedly end Palawan’s constant power outages, has been left pending before the DENR since 2016 due to opposition from non-government organizations.

Jeffrey Tan-Endriga, chairman of the board of directors of the Paleco, said in a media conference that since 2015, the DENR has failed to decide if the power giant has committed violations or not.

“When it comes to the process of the coal plant, it’s no longer at the level of Paleco; it’s now with the DENR. If they are going to be given the permit, it’s up to the DENR. If they will not be given, that’s the time to revisit their contract because their major technology is coal plant. If they cannot construct their plant, then we will have to study their contract,” he said.

As of now, there is no confirmation that the DMCI has been given a permit by the DENR to construct and operate its coal plant in Narra town, southern Palawan, he said.

Endriga said that the DMCI remains hopeful that its project will be approved because the DENR has not issued any decision about violations.

“In our meeting with DENR, we appealed for it to make a decision if DMCI has violations or none so that we won’t be left hanging. If the DENR will not approve it, then it should come out with a final decision. But the DENR cannot decide until now and I don’t know the reason. This is what’s happening, and we have no control over it,” he said.

On the constant power outages, Endriga said the DMCI should not be entirely blamed for the poor performance of the generating sets (gensets) in its fossil fuel-fired plant since they are only meant for interim operations.

The DENR’s failure to come up with a decision is encumbering Paleco to make a decision regarding DMCI’s pitiable provision of the power supply as an independent power producer, he said.

“The small gensets are supposed to operate temporarily, but what’s happening now is they are already functioning long-term. The problem is not Paleco, it’s not DMCI but the government. I hope they already decide if the DMCI has violations or what. Once and for all, give the decision already,” Endriga added.

He added the issue should already be resolved following the issuance by the Department of Energy of Executive Order (EO) 30 creating the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EIC) to streamline the regulatory procedures affecting energy projects.

The EO, he said, states the “simplified approval process, and harmonize the relevant rules and regulations of all government agencies involved in obtaining permits and regulatory approvals, to expedite the development and implementation of Energy Projects of National Significance (EPNS) and others.”

“Within 30 days there should be a decision under this EO. This will become a challenge to the DENR if they will not decide. In general, if we talk about it, 40 percent of our supply in the country comes from the coal plant. This is the challenge to the DENR, what is going to be its basis in disapproving the DMCI project in Palawan?” he said.

He related that as far as DMCI is concerned, its coal project had been approved by the barangay council in Narra, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan and the provincial government, and had been issued a Strategic Environment Plan clearance by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.

Puerto Princesa to declog sewers in flood-prone areas

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Mayor Lucilo Bayron on Monday directed the City Engineering Office here to remove waste and debris from all drainage systems in flood-prone areas due to the onset of the rainy season.

Bayron said that although the city is still waiting to establish an across-the-board sewage system, it does not mean that nothing can be done to abate flooding.

“I instructed the engineering office to keep an eye on flood-prone areas now that it’s rainy season,” he said. “This is not a hundred percent solution to the problem, but it will at least help ease the situation. If there’s flooding, they should act on it fast so it will not last for a week.”

The mayor said he gave the order during a meeting with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council last week, after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration announced the start of the rainy season.

Flooding is seasonal, if not a recurrent problem, affecting the city.

Last year, the urgency to solve the problem emerged after heavy rains triggered flooding in Puerto Princesa’s low-lying areas.

“We can’t have the drainage system for now because it’s a system that can’t be done in just a year or two. It will take years to complete,” he said.

DOH to hold 8th ASEAN Dengue Day in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Department of Health (DOH) will be holding the 8th ASEAN Dengue Day in Palawan as a nationwide advocacy event to increase public awareness and to call on all sectors to join forces in the fight against dengue.

Mario Baquilod, DOH Mimaropa Officer-In-Charge regional director, said in a letter, received by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday, that Puerto Princesa will be the host city for the event.

“The aim of this celebration is to raise awareness among the general public on the preventive measures and the burden of dengue,” he said.

To emphasize this, he said, this year’s observance theme is, “Kung Walang Lamok, Walang Dengue: Mag-4S Kontra Dengue.”

The 4s stand for search and destroy possible breeding areas in the surrounding; self-protection measures by using insect repellents and avoiding short skirts and other attires; seek early consultation by going to the doctor immediately after two days when rashes start to manifest on the skin; and say no to indiscriminate fogging, which means it should only be done when there is an outbreak.

Different activities, he said, have been lined up for specifically targeted individuals to highlight the theme, such as the forum on the dengue program implementation, a documentary film competition for school children, and the ASEAN Dengue Walk.

Last April, Romalyn Racho, DOH Mimaropa Health Education and Promotion Officer, said "with 129 cases of dengue recorded in the first quarter mostly in Puerto Princesa, Palawan remains to be the province in the entire region with high dengue prevalence.”

Racho attributed the trend to the failure of many communities and households to maintain cleanliness of their surroundings, allowing them to be breeding grounds of dengue-carrying mosquitos.

Palawan airport ordered closed after plane mishap

By Joel E. Zurbano

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has ordered the temporary closure of Francisco Reyes Airport in Palawan after a Skyjet plane with 80 passengers and six crew on board overshot the runway late Friday afternoon.

The closure also resulted in the cancellation of eight flights of Cebu Pacific Air’s sister airline CebGo and six flights of Skyjet to and from Manila on Friday and Saturday.

Initial reports from CAAP showed that the Magnum Air Skyjet Inc. flight M8-717 that left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 overshot the runway after landing at the Francisco Reyes Airport around 4:40 pm Friday.

CAAP chief information officer and spokesperson Eric Apolonio said the passengers and crew on board were all safe and were transferred to the airport terminal upon landing. He added the agency also issued a notice to airmen (Notam CO423/18) announcing that all flights to and from Busuanga have been cancelled on Saturday.

“The aircraft was stalled 150 meters at the end of Runway 08 and had to be removed while awaiting the arrival of the equipment that will tow the aircraft to a remote parking bay,” said Apolonio.

Apolonio added that the CAAP has sent Aircraft Accident Investigation and Inquiry board investigators led by Col. Aberto Dulay and Reineer Baculinao to conduct an investigation and determine the cause of the accident.

The Francisco Reyes Airport handles at least 16 domestic flights daily from carriers, CebGo, Philippine Airlines Express, Skyjet and Air Juan.

Formerly known as Busuanga Airport, the facility is an airport serving the general area of Coron, located on Busuanga Island in the province of Palawan.

On Nov. 10, 2008, the airport has been named after Francisco B. Reyes, the mayor of Coron from 1936 to 1939 who donated the land that forms the current airport complex.

Meanwhile, the Manila International Airport Authority also announced the cancellation of Skyjet flights (Manila-Basco-Manila) and CebGo flights (Manila-San Jose-Manila) because of the bad weather condition brought by Tropical Storm “Domeng” on Saturday.

Swimming with the mermaids in Northern Palawan

By Gregg Yan (Rappler.com)

'This gentle marine mammal living the simplest of lives is one of the best caretakers of our seagrass habitats and the animals that live in them,' says dugong conversationist Dr Teri Aquino

PALAWAN, Philippines – My too-tight wetsuit’s turning into a sauna but I don’t mind. We’re aboard a double-decked dive boat in Calauit Island in oh-too-sunny Northern Palawan and today might finally be the day. Over the years, I’ve met some of the sea’s most amazing residents – from macho tiger sharks to playful dolphins – but one creature has been more elusive than others.

With underwater photographer Danny Ocampo and expert guides from the Tagbanua tribe, we’re finally hoping for some downtime with a dugong.

Dugongs are legendary sea creatures, having inspired lonely seamen’s "sightings" of mermaids (being out at sea for months or years, who can blame them). Their last relatives were Stellar’s sea cows (Hydrodamalis gigas), which were wiped out by hunters just 36 years after being discovered by scientists.

“It’s still early so we have a fairly good chance of sightings. Look for splashes or shadows near the surface,” explains our guide, Dodong Valera. We gaze at our swim-spotter swimming a hundred feet away, homemade plastic fins slapping the sea’s surface. “There are around 30 dugongs in this area. If we’re lucky, we’ll see the largest and friendliest of them all, Aban.”

My brain’s baking from the heat, so I nod absentmindedly and slop seawater inside my wetsuit, trying to cool down. Twenty minutes and a pound of sweat later, the spotter finally gives the signal: target sighted!

Excitedly, we become one with fin and rig and slide gleefully into a vast expanse of seagrass.

Sirenians

Dugongs (Dugong dugon) are distant cousins of elephants, growing up to 3 meters and weighing about 400 kilograms. Also called sea cows, they inhabit shallow waters of the Coral Triangle, wherever seagrass is most abundant. They are the fourth member of the order Sirenia, alongside the three manatee species. A fifth, the gigantic 8-meter long Steller’s sea cow, was completely wiped out by 1768. Dugong comes from the Malay word duyung, which means "lady of the sea."

Sizeable herds of dugongs once plied the Philippine archipelago until hunting and habitat destruction reduced numbers. Populations still hold out in Isabela, Mindanao, Guimaras and Palawan, but encounters are extremely rare.

Dugongs are thought to live as long as humans (about 70 years), but give birth to just one calf every 3 to 5 years. They are globally classified as vulnerable and are considered critically endangered in the Philippines because of their sparse numbers. Prior to our Coron trip, I’ve spent 20 years looking for one – they’re just that rare.

Says dugong conservationist Dr Teri Aquino: “We can learn a lot about sustainable use and responsible stewardship from the dugong. It consumes a lot of seagrass yet leaves the seagrass bed even healthier than before. When feeding, they help release micronutrients from the seabed, making nutrients more accessible for small fish – and this is why we always see fish swimming with dugongs."

"This gentle marine mammal living the simplest of lives is one of the best caretakers of our seagrass habitats and the animals that live in them," Aquino adds.

A famous dugong

After 20 years of waiting, I’m finally face-to-face with a dugong. It’s not like a whale that steals your breath because of sheer size, nor a shark that inspires more than just a hint of fear, no matter how small it is. Dugongs are huge but friendly, just like a mermaid Hodor.

Dodong signals us to keep at least 5 meters away from the obliviously grazing bull, crunching on clumps of Halophila ovalis which, unlike most types of seagrass, has small round leaves instead of flowing grass blades. Dugongs wolf down up to 40 kilograms a day, keeping hectares of seagrass pruned and productive. Danny starts shooting.

Magical minutes pass, then we fin up to leave the meditative mammal be. Incredibly, Aban says goodbye, circling around us on the surface. I wave adios as he dives and disappears into the teal waters. As the animal ambles closer, I notice fighting scars on his hide. This is Aban, confirms Dodong with a nod. Owing to his good nature and natural curiosity, generations of divers have swam and photographed the scarred, 3-meter long dugong, who seems perennially surrounded by colorful golden trevally. I notice his skin is brown and not grey (dugongs only look grey in pictures because they’re usually photographed below 3 meters), his beady eyes and his serene, Siddhartha Gautama-level expression.

Though dugongs are protected by law nationwide, they still get accidentally entangled in fishing gear and drown. The once-vast seagrass meadows they depend on for food are being destroyed by coastal reclamation and pollution. By protecting not just dugongs – but the seagrass meadows that support them – tomorrow’s Pinoys might too get a chance to come face to face with the real mermaids of the sea. (READ: Critically-endangered dugong found dead in Palawan)

We climb back on our boat, exchanging high-fives and fresh tales to share with other environment-lovers. The boat revs its engines and we’re off with big smiles etched on our faces.

Palawan proposes to regulate use of fake cultural accessories, props

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A provincial board member here has filed a proposed ordinance to regulate the use of fake accessories and props in the performance of cultural dances of tribal communities to protect their traditions.

The ordinance was proposed Tuesday by Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR) and ex-officio board member Joel Lumis following a sponsorship speech at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

He said the authenticity of the customs and mores of indigenous peoples’ cultural communities (ICCs) should be preserved and secured by avoiding inappropriate alterations.

“The cultural dances being performed use attires that are not appropriate for our tradition that is why what we want is for them to use original or customary clothes,” he said in an interview.

He said doing so will show that the performers respect and protect the indigenous peoples’ culture, tradition, and literature, which are considered sacred.

“Napakahalaga sa kultura namin na mga katutubo ang mga sinusuot sa tuwing may mga ipini-perform (It is very important for us to see that what the performers are wearing are our traditional attires),” Lumis said.

Under the proposed ordinance, non-authentic accessories and attires should not be used during tribal dance competitions, dance recitals in public, theatrical plays portraying the culture and traditions of the IPs, and films or video recordings posted on social media.

The fines are PHP2,000 for first offense; PHP3,000 for the second; and PHP5,000 for third.

The proposed ordinance has been referred to the committee on tourism and cultural heritage for deliberation.

Natural seaweed farming pushed in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved here a resolution urging municipal agriculture officers to promote and encourage the natural farming of seaweeds and avoid the use of fertilizers.

The measure, approved on Tuesday, was authored by Board Member Marivic Roxas, who claimed that a recent Seaweed Industry Summit she attended made it known that organically growing seaweeds is always better than using chemical substances to increase fertility.

“The summit held last March discussed that the use of fertilizers in seaweed farming may result to decreasing demand for export,” she said in an interview.

Roxas added that the practice of natural farming “must be strengthened” for Palawan to continue to produce high-quality seaweeds.

“Seaweeds are natural products, therefore, they should grow naturally without the need for any fertilizer, which may affect their natural components,” she added, claiming not using chemicals will also lessen their costs.

Roxas said municipal agriculture officials are in a better position to encourage seaweed growers to “go natural” since they are familiar with their farming practices.

Free cleft surgery to 100 patients in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Two large mining companies in Palawan will partner with “Operation Smile Philippines” (OSP) to provide a six-day free corrective surgery mission to 100 indigent residents with cleft lip and palate deformities in July.

Roberto Manzano, country director of development of the OSP, said it will be held at the Aborlan District Hospital in southern Palawan on July 1-6 as a collaborative effort with Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) operating in Bataraza town towards rendering new smile and hope to cleft lip and palate patients.

He said the OSP will be mobilizing a 36-man all-volunteer multi-specialty team composed of plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, dentists, and other personnel to treat children and young adults with cleft lip and palate problems.

“The goal is to reduce or eliminate the backlog of cleft lip and palate cases in Palawan. We will focus more on younger cases because if it’s children, there are fewer problems in patients. One realization that we had in our partnership with RTNMC and CBNC is that it’s anchored on a common vision of transformative change. Our mission is that we mobilize generous hearts to heal children with cleft lips and transform their lives,” he said Monday at a media conference in Puerto Princesa City.

The Operation Smile mission will be the third partnership of OSP with RTNMC and CBNC. In 2016, 112 indigent Palaweños with the same deformities also received free reconstructive surgeries in Taytay and Brooke’s Point municipalities.

Former Palawan board member Ernesto Llacuna, now the community relations manager of CBNC, said helping cleft lip and palate patients in Palawan is a project that is “very important” under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) targets.

“We have seen its good results, and we believe it is a worthy program endeavor to continue, and the CBNC management is willing to support it,” he said.

RTNMC community relations manager Reynaldo dela Rosa, on the other hand, said since the 1980s, one of their mining company’s top priorities has been taking care of the health of not only the immediate communities in Bataraza where they operate but also in other parts of Palawan.

“Our partnerships in health had been diverse; we’re also in malaria and dengue eradication because one of RTNMC’s top priorities is healthcare. This is why in 2016, we supported this to extend the benefits to other municipalities – there is an opportunity here for Palaweños who are far from Bataraza. We are thankful to the OSP for this,” he said.

He said the mission allows them, too, to extend their other outreach programs in day-care centers for free school supplies, as well as their tree planting project.

Dr. Mary Ann Navarro, chief of the Palawan Provincial Health Office (PHO), said the project is important in helping find children and young adults with cleft lip and palate problems to provide them corrective surgeries.

“If you will look at statistics, there are so many who are already adults that we just accessed and given free surgeries because there are no means since no one comes here. If there were surgical missions before, they were mixed and not purely for cleft lip and palate,” she said.

One difficulty in Palawan that makes it hard to reach those with the deformities are the distances of their homes since they do not have the means to pay for travel expenses and food.

“With OSP, our target is how to mobilize our 1,000 community health workers to find these patients, especially if their newborn, so we can provide the remedy,” she said.

An oral cleft is a deformity that severely disfigures the afflicted and impairs his/her speech. An estimated 5,000 Filipinos are born with the deformity every year, said Manzano.

Since 1982, the OSP has treated an estimated 31,904 Filipinos with an oral cleft, where most cases were born to poor families that cannot afford the cost of commercial surgery, he said.

“Left untreated, they will be bullied, lose their self-esteem and grow uneducated with hardly any chance of finding gainful employment later in adulthood. The free surgery will change their lives dramatically,” Manzano said.

The cleft surgery mission will be done in the Aborlan District Hospital also in partnership with the provincial government of Palawan.

US Navy 7th Fleet band to do musical outreach in Puerto Princesa

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Far East Edition (FEE), the high-energy, eight-piece show band of the US Navy 7th Fleet, is coming to this city for a public show and musical outreach program in schools and children’s shelters.

A US Embassy official said FEE is scheduled to do two major shows on June 9 - at 10 a.m. at the People’s Amphitheater in Mendoza Park and at 6 p.m. at the SM City Puerto Princesa premier hall.

Free musical workshops will also be done by the band in three different venues for students and music enthusiasts: June 7 at the Palawan National School (PNS) in the morning, and June 8 at the Palawan State University and the San Jose National High School.

Each of the outreach workshops will be capped by a performance of the band in the workshop venue.

Created in 1943 with the establishment of the US 7th Fleet, the 7th Fleet Band has performed for millions of people throughout Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The 7th Fleet Band is stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, along with the US 7th Fleet flagship, the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). FEE is known for its amazing versatility in rock, pop, ska, soul, jazz, and rhythm and blues.

It has been a featured attraction at major events throughout the Indo-Pacific region, entertaining hundreds of thousands of people over the years.

PCSO-Palawan branch tops clients’ satisfaction rating

(The Manila Times)

The Palawan branch of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in Puerto Princesa City received the highest ratings from the 2017 Customer Satisfaction Survey by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).

PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said the branch office was adjudged best for medical assistance (4.60 percent) and prize claims (4.69 percent).

“I would like to congratulate the men and women of our Palawan branch office headed by Rolando ‘Orly’ Batislaong for a job well done. I hope this will serve as a good example and inspiration to all other branches and a challenge as well to step up their performance and delivery of services,” he said.

Batislaong said they are encouraged by the observation. He has been with PCSO for 20 years, 17 years as Palawan branch manager.

“With all humility, we are not yet at our best when it comes to our full service. Since our allocation is not sufficient to sustain and/or serve all our clients in full and in a day, we try to compensate through our services. We do not allow clients to wait in line for more than an hour. We try to deliver our services fast so they won’t feel annoyed,” Batislaong said.

The branch has a daily Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) allocation of P200,000 and caters to 30-40 patients a day.

In 2017, the Palawan branch assisted in 8,167 cases for a total of P49 million. The top three cases served include hospitalization with 3,812 cases at P30 million; laboratory/diagnostic procedures with 3,043 cases at P10 million; and dialysis (peritoneal/hemodialysis)with 455 cases at P4 million.

For the first quarter of 2018, the branch served 2,304 cases at P12 million, an 11.6-percent increase compared to the same period last year when there were 2,064 cases at P12 million.

“There is no significant increase since the allocation is almost the same. Most of our clients belong to Class C, D, and E who are into agriculture, fishing and tourism industries,” Batislaong said.

Palawan is the largest province in terms of land area. The distance from the PCSO office to the city from north to south is approximately 300 kilometers.

“Our top priority is clients coming from the northern and southern part of Palawan, and persons with disability (PWD). Our office is in the heart of the city. We are inside the City Coliseum and it is very accessible and near the hospitals,” Batislaong added.

Creation of local ENROs in all Palawan municipalities pushed

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) is pushing for the creation of local environment and natural resources offices (ENROs) in other municipalities in Palawan to improve the delivery and implementation of environmental programs.

PENRO officer-in-charge Felizardo Cayatoc said the creation of local ENROs is vital in localities to manage natural resources, particularly in towns that have high tourist arrivals, where there is an urgent need for regulation and enforcement of environmental laws.

“Sana ay aktibo ang mga municipal ENROs nila kasi sila ang tututok sa environment plans and programs sa kanilang mga bayan. Ang kailangan talaga ay mayroong visible na office at permanent na tao kasi marami ng na-devolved sa local government unit (LGU) na environment and natural resources functions (I hope their municipal ENROs are active because they are the ones that need to focus on environment plans and programs in their towns. What is needed is for them to be visible and permanent personnel as a lot of responsibilities and functions have been devolved to the local government unit and natural resources),” he said.

Among the LGUs in Palawan with ENROs and permanent officers include Puerto Princesa City, Rizal, Brooke’s Point, Narra, Quezon, Aborlan, Roxas, and Taytay. El Nido has its municipal ENRO but its officer's status is designated, Cayatoc said.

The towns of Coron, Culion, Linapacan and other smaller towns still have no local ENRO and officers.

“Hindi pa alam kung maka-create ba ang Linapacan LGU kasi titingnan pa kung kaya, kasi napakaliit ang kanyang internal revenue allotment (We don’t know yet if the Linapacan LGU can create one because its internal revenue allotment is limited),” he said.

The local ENRO is responsible for the execution and implementation of programs like solid waste management, water quality monitoring, reforestation, forest protection, and conservation of natural resources.

Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 is among the laws that LGUs have to strictly implement or face sanctions.

These involve the management and operations of the town's final disposal facility, which is a sanitary landfill for its residual wastes, the establishment of the materials recovery facility for recyclable wastes, and other waste reduction measures.

BFAR, Land Bank to develop mariculture parks in Palawan

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Three mariculture parks are up for development in Palawan by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in partnership with Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for fish culture and other products in the open sea.

BFAR Palawan chief Mario Basaya said Tuesday that mariculture parks will be established in Puerto Princesa City Bay and the municipal waters of Narra and Quezon in the southern part of the province.

Mariculture is the farming of aquatic plants and animals in salt water. The major categories of mariculture species are seaweeds, mollusks, crustaceans, and finfish. Philippines is among the top mariculture-producing -- algae, shrimp, milkfish -- countries in the world.

“This will encourage investors to engage in fish culture because it has a credit assistance component. On the technical side, the BFAR will assist, and on the financial, it will be through the LBP,” Basaya said.

He said investors can venture into culturing milkfish (bangus) and grouper (loba, lapu-lapu) via the use of modular fish cages in the mariculture parks.

Depending on the agreement, the LBP may require collaterals from borrowers, such as forfeiture of the fish cages if he/she fails to pay the amortizations.

He said that earlier this month, a one-on-one consultation with prospective investors was done by the LBP.

Basaya explained that a fish cage with a size of 10 x 10 x 5 meter can be stocked with around 15,000 fingerlings which is equivalent to three to four hectares of fishponds inland.

Bangus and lapu-lapu culture is a profitable venture and can be harvested after four months. But if an investor has four or more fish cages, they can do the monthly rotational harvest.

Basaya added that investors may also fabricate smaller fish cages like 5x5x4 meters, and for this, the LBP can release loans amounting to PHP700,000.

A fully grown bangus, he said, can fetch PHP160-PHP180 as gate price and is sold at the market for more than PHP200 per kilo. Lapu-lapu, on the other hand, is PHP300 per kilo while live lapu-lapu is PHP100 per 100 grams or PHP1,000 per kilo.

The BFAR can assist a prospective investor in the design of the fish cages, as well as the formulation of the program of work (POW).

The amount that will be released by LBP is based on the POW. Their office can assist in other technical aspects of the project. For the project site selection, an investor needs to approach the local agriculture office to submit the application and other documentation requirements.

DAR to consult stakeholders on Yulo King Ranch land distribution

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A public consultation will be conducted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in Coron and Busuanga, northern Palawan towns, on the plan to distribute 1,000 hectares of land at the Yulo King Ranch (YKR) to landless farmers.

The YKR is an 8,000-hectare alienable and disposable land property between Coron and Busuanga that is in the center of an appeal for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) coverage by a federation of farmers called Pesante Pilipinas, Inc. (PPI).

Currently, it is under the management of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Forest Management Bureau (DENR-FMB).

Fedeleo de Guzman, agrarian reform officer and information officer-designate of DAR-Palawan, said Monday that the consultation with the informal settlers in the YKR, municipal government officials, and other stakeholders, hopes to discuss and settle the matter.

“As of today, we don’t know yet if it’s DAR or the DENR that will implement this; it will really depend on who will be tasked by President (Rodrigo) Duterte to the distribution of government-owned lands, including YKR,” he said.

De Guzman said, however, that there is no definite date yet when the consultation will be done.

He said although a large portion of the YKR is alienable and disposable, he also said it has timberlands that are being occupied by informal settlers.

“There are informal settlers there and some of them are occupying areas that are ineligible for distribution because they are timberlands. If the distribution starts, what will be selected for distribution are the alienable and disposable lands,” he said.

The YKR is a property sequestered in 1986 by the Presidential Commission on Good Government from Luis Yulo and Peter Sabido, alleging it was part of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses. Afterward, its management was turned over to the Bureau of Animal Industry and then to the DENR-FMB.