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Palawan News March 2015

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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
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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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U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney and USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief Daniel Moore witness the safe and sustainable collection of ornamental fish by certified Marine Aquarium Council collectors in Palawan

Contents

Palawan completes 341 units of light-to-heavy equipment pool

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 31 (PNA) -- With all 341 light-to-heavy equipment facilities now completed by the Palawan government, infrastructure development in the province is expected to go full blast.

The Provincial Information Office (PIO) said Tuesday that the last batch of the infrastructure equipment facilities arrived on March 26. These include nine graders and 20 compactors to complete the total number 341.

It can be recalled that the first batch arrived in January this year. The whole fleet is composed of 50 excavators, 27-6-way dozers, 18-angle dozers, 23-straight dozers, 10-low ground pressure dozers, 26-boom trucks, 9-dropside truck, 9-self-loading trucks, 140-dumptrucks, 9- graders, and 20- compactors – the largest the provincial government has purchased in recent times.

Engineer Saylito Purisma, chief of the provincial government’s infrastructure program, said Tuesday that some of the new equipment are now being used in the construction of hospitals water system supply projects, school buildings, airports, and road constructions in the municipalities of Aborlan, Narra, Rizal, Brooke’s Point, Bataraza and Taytay.

Just recently, 15 heavy equipment units were transported to Coron, 13 to Busuanga and 9 to Agutaya for infrastructure developments there.

With the arrival of the infrastructure facilities, employment also opened for Palaweños, said Purisima, as they begin to hire operators.

He said those they have hired, and should and are still hiring, are from the municipalities where the equipment units will be used for them not to be far from their families.

Their number is also dependent on the count of the heavy equipment deployed in their towns.

PetroEnergy boosts stake in W. Linapacan oil

By RITCHIE A. HORARIO (REPORTER)

PetroEnergy Resources Corp.’s (PetroEnergy) participating stake in Service Contract 14C2 (SC 14C2) in West Linapacan oil field off northwest Palawan has increased to 4.137 percent.

This developed after the Department of Energy (DOE) approved the termination of the stake of Pitkin Petroleum Plc (Pitkin) and RMA West Linapacan Pte Ltd (RMA) in Block C2 of Service Contract 14.

At the same time, the DOE approved the re-assignment of the 58.29 percent participating interest previously farmed out by the SC 14C2 Farmors to Pitkin in May 2008.

Pitkin then farmed out 29.14 percent of the interest and the operatorship of the service contract in 2011 to RMA.

The DOE reverted the farm-in agreement to a consortium composed of Filipino and Australian companies.

In a letter released on March 27, the DOE informed RMA that because of its failure to complete its financial requirements for its committed work obligation to the department, RMA’s and Pitkin’s participating interests were now re- assigned back to the Filipino Farmors.

With the exit of RMA and Pitkin from West Linapacan, the remaining members of the SC14C2 consortium are: PetroEnergy, Farmors Cosco Capital Incorporated Philippines, Forum Energy Philippines Corporation, Linapacan Oil Gas & Power Corporation, Oriental Petroleum and Minerals Corporation, Phoenix Gas & Oil Exploration Corporation and The Philodrill Corporation, as well as Perth-based Nido Petroleum Limited.

Because of this, PetroEnergy’s stake in SC 14C2 now stands at 4.137 percent.

Prior to the re-assignment, PetroEnergy’s interest in the service contract stood at 1.03 percent and it was carried free of all exploration costs leading to the drilling of two exploration wells up to first commercial oil.

Nido, on the other hand, said it was not a party to these farm-in agreements and Nido’s existing 22.27 percent participating interest in the project is therefore not altered by the termination notices.

“Nido remains committed to progressing a West-Linapacan redevelopment project,” the company said.

Nido earlier bared plans to redevelop the West Linapacan oil field with production planned by the third quarter of 2015.

The company earlier estimated that redeveloping the West Linapacan oil field would cost around $100 million.

An independent assessment by Gaffney Cline and Associates showed that the West Linapacan field had a potential ranging from 11.6 million stock tank barrels (mmstb) to 22.8 mmstb.

The oil field has produced 8.5 million barrels from 1992 to early 1996 before it was shut-in.

West Linapacan A was discovered in 1990 and later reached a peak production rate of over 18,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd).

West Linapacan B, meanwhile, was discovered in 1993 and tests from the single well drilled on the structure flowed close to 2,900 bopd but it was never developed.

AirAsia Philippines eyes Puerto Princesa as 3rd leg to Davao-Kota Kinabalu

By Carmelito Q. Francisco , Carmencita A. Carillo

DAVAO CITY -- Low-cost carrier AirAsia Philippines, Inc. is considering offering a Davao-Puerto Princesa-Kota Kinabalu service, expanding on previous plans for the Davao-Kota Kinabalu route.

Josephine Joy D. Caneba, the airline’s chief executive officer, told BusinessWorld that passenger load on the Manila-Davao service, which resumed last week at thrice-daily frequency, as well as in the Manila-Kota Kinabalu flights are a good indication of the potential traffic.

“The route is very promising because, travelers from the city (Davao) can travel between Puerto Princesa (in Palawan) and Kota Kinabalu (in Malaysia) easier and I think based on our Manila-Kota Kinabalu experience, there really is traffic,” said Ms. Caneba in an interview at the sidelines of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce meeting last week.

Ms. Caneba also said that the company is looking at more Manila-Davao flights.

Other new international flights planned for launch this year are Cebu-Hong Kong and Cebu-Singapore by May or June and Cebu-Japan in July.

The airline launched its inaugural Cebu-Kota Kinabalu flight last Friday on four times weekly frequency.

Tourism Regional Director Roberto P. Alabado III, who joined other officials in welcoming Ms. Caneba’s all-female crew at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport last Friday for the relaunch of the Manila-Davao flights, expressed support for the company’s plans, saying: “We need more of these services to help our tourism industry.”

The Malaysian consul-general in Davao City, Abdullah Zawawi Tahir, urged the company to consider direct flights between Davao and Kota Kinabalu, not just for passengers, but for cargo.

“(Servicing the) Davao-Kota Kinabalu route will allow the faster flow of goods between the two destinations,” he told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Tahir also said flights between the two major cities in southern Philippines and eastern Malaysia will stimulate the tourism industry of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

The focus areas in the BIMP-EAGA sub-regional grouping, formed about 20 years ago, are: Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines; Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan in Malaysia; Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, West Papua and Papua in Indonesia; and Brunei Darussalam.

AirAsia currently has 15 aircraft and is planning to acquire three more to service routes outside of its hubs in Manila, Cebu and Kalibo.

DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes.

“Repair and maintenance is okay but before we can move construction materials to Pag-Asa, we have to build a port and doing so could change the landscape. It’s not allowed in the DOC,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in reference to earlier approved plans for the repair of Rancudo airfield in the island.

Rancudo airfield is a key supply line for the troops and 200 civilian residents.

Pag-Asa Island is the seat of Kalayaan town of Palawan that has jurisdiction over the Philipine-held territory in the disputed region, claimed in whole or in part by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

“We cannot repair the (airfield) because the construction materials will be coming from outside. Getting inside, if it will be by aircraft it will be very expensive and very impractical. So you have to bring in the boat but the boat cannot come in because there is no pier,” Gazmin said.

Security officials have been calling on the government to start immediate repairs of the Philippine facilities in the region, not necessarily to antagonize China and other claimant-countries, but to improve the morale and welfare of troops manning the outposts.

One security official noted that it is only the Philippines that is not doing anything to improve living conditions of the troops manning the outposts located in the middle of nowhere.

He said this is contrast to what China, Vietnam and Taiwan are doing in their respective controlled areas.

Marines are deployed on a three-month rotation basis in the disputed region but this is now being threatened by the increasing presence of Chinese warships and coast guard vessels in the area.

Ayungin Shoal, located within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is being guarded by Marines on board a grounded Navy supply ship, the BRP Sierra Madre.

China, despite being a party of the DOC signed in 2000, has become very aggressive in laying its maritime claim to almost the entire South China Sea, building artificial islets on four reefs despite protests by the Philippine government.

Six- and three-story buildings, as well as ports, helipads, runway with gun implacement, are now sprouting out from these Chinese-built and controlled artificial islets formerly known as Kennar Reef, Calderon Reef and Burgos Reef by Manila.

Aside from completing its reclamation of these former obscure West Philippine Sea areas, Beijing is also developing further the Panganiban or Mischief Reef, an area located within the territorial waters of Palawan.

‘Serious concern’

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern yesterday after the Philippines said it would resume repair and reconstruction works on disputed islands in the South China Sea, saying Manila was infringing on Chinese sovereignty.

The Philippines had halted activities last year over concerns about the effect on an international arbitration complaint filed against China.

Manila called on all countries last October to stop construction work on small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China.

China itself is undertaking massive reclamation works in the area, while Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam have also been improving their facilities.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said it was “seriously concerned” by the remarks of Secretary Del Rosario.

“On the one hand the Philippines makes unreasonable criticism about China’s normal building activities on its own isles, and on the other announces it will resume repairs on an airport, runway and other illegal constructions on China’s Spratly Islands, which it illegally occupies,” Hua said.

“This is not only a series infringement of China’s sovereignty, but it also exposes the Philippines’ hypocrisy,” she told a daily news briefing, calling on the Philippines to withdraw from the islands.

The Philippine foreign ministry said the works, including repairs to an airstrip, did not violate an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea because they would not alter the status quo in the disputed area. The 2002 code was signed by China and 10 Southeast Asian states in Phnom Penh.

In 2013, Manila filed an arbitration case at The Hague questioning the maritime boundaries claimed by Beijing. Del Rosario said Manila expects a decision in February next year.

PHP2-M local social pension for elderly distributed in Southern Palawan

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), FFC/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 27 (PNA) -- The Palawan Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) reported Thursday that the provincial government has already distributed around PHP2-million to 1,360 senior citizens in the southern part of the province under the Local Social Pension (LSP) program.

All recipients were from seven municipalities in southern Palawan, according to Helen Bundal of the PSWDO.

She said the amount was mostly distributed by Governor Jose Alvarez, whose administration, at the onset, made it clear to support the elderly in Palawan.

The distributions were made on separate occasions in the first quarter of the year during the Baragatan sa Barangay in Aborlan, Narra, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Española, Quezon, Bataraza, and Rizal.

Each beneficiary, she said, received a total pension of PHP1,500 for six months.

The LSP is provided to indigent senior citizens, who are between the ages 73-76.

Bundal said the program is the provincial government’s respond to Republic Act 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

The law aims to provide support to the daily needs of the elderly, particularly food and medicine.

With distributions completed in southern Palawan, she said the senior citizens in northern Palawan will also receive them through the Baragatan sa Palawan.

Bundal also reported that women from the northern town of Roxas gathered on Wednesday to celebrate the Women’s Month with Disability Day with the theme “Juanang may kapansanan, kapasyahan mo ay mahalaga sa bayan.”

Bundal said the PSWDO gave lectures about Republic Act 9442, or the Amendment of R.A. 7277 popularly known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

The law states the privileges and incentives that should be accorded to people with disabilities, including the 20 percent discount in hospital expenses and medicines. It also includes provisions about abuse of people with disabilities.

Go fishing

(Business World)

GOING BEYOND the limestone cliffs and the limpid blue waters of Bacuit Bay, Palawan, El Nido Resorts is now also offering unique experiences with local fishermen as another vacation high point.

The collection of resorts named after the islands that host them -- Miniloc, Lagen and Pangulasian in El Nido municipality, and Apulit in neighboring Taytay -- have been named among the world’s best destinations in the past few years by Conde Nast and other travel authorities.

Mark Cerqueda, Group Director of Operations for El Nido Resorts, emphasizes that the pride of place exhibited by the locals in their natural surroundings greatly add to the high customer satisfaction ratings of the four properties. Locals -- who are eager to point out to visitors species like the Palawan Hornbill -- make up 95% of the resorts’ employees and have become a key reason why visitors enjoy their stay.

Fishing -- which is outside of the usual menu offered guests -- means spending an early morning or late afternoon in a motorized banca with two to three fishermen from Bacuit Bay as they engage in bottom fishing.

Their tools are simple nylon lines with a hook to which bait is attached, and a weight at one end. With no sophisticated reels, the lines, which are wrapped around makeshift wooden spools, are flung into the sea until they find their way to the bottom.

Hold the line and when you feel a strong tug, it means a fish has snapped up the bait, the fishermen instruct guests. Then pull in the line quickly.

It seems easy enough until one actually tries it. How do you know it’s a fish biting and not just the current, guests ask. Questions like that lead to meaningful interactions with the fisherfolk freely sharing their experience and unique perspectives of Bacuit Bay.

When you spot little fish close to the top, for instance, it most likely means there are bigger fish below them. You don’t need a compass in the open sea even when you don’t have any landmarks to guide you. The current will tell you in which direction you are headed.

“Fishing brings people together and facilitates discovery,” according to Cerqueda. “At the end of the day, even when guests don’t catch anything, they gain a deeper appreciation for the trade and hopefully, empathize with the fishermen. Fishing is not easy.” Since fishing with the locals was offered as a special activity, few visitors have returned disappointed.

The activity was recently reintroduced after a hiatus of several years by El Nido Resorts as the number of guests seeking to learn about local ways of life increased.

Al Legaspi, president of El Nido Resorts, observes: “We’ve had more and more visitors in the past 15 years seek activities that generate greater economic benefits for locals and enhance the well being of the community.” They validate the global trend towards Responsible Tourism which uses environmental integrity, social justice and maximizing local benefits as key performance indicators.

For the fishermen, bottom fishing with guests means earning in a few hours the equivalent of what could take a whole day and even night to catch. At the same time, their first-hand encounters with guests make them appreciate the importance of tourism that places a premium on keeping Bacuit Bay as pristine and unscarred by development as possible.

The fishermen exhibit their understanding for the need to maintain the biodiversity of Bacuit Bay when they catch undersized grouper or lapulapu in expeditions with resorts guests. They throw the juvenile fish back into the sea to allow these overfished species to regenerate.

Newly-built high-speed RORO vessel to make maiden call in Coron port soon

By Lyle B. Coruña [(PNA), FPV/CARF/LBC/EBP]

CORON, Palawan, March 25 (PNA) -- A new player in the roll-on, roll-off (RORO) ferry business that has been giving a lot of attention to providing safe transport for inter-island sea travel of people and goods docked at Coron port for the first time Tuesday.

Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation (APFC), which was founded in 2002 and now owns and operates the Philippines’ first and only catamaran RORO ferries, as well as a few modernized ports and terminals in the eastern and western Philippines sea route, plans to operate the Manila-Coron-Linapacan-El Nido route.

Mayors and board members of Bukidnon province together with Governor Jose Alvarez, arrived in Coron on board the RORO vessel via El Nido.

The MV FastCat 1, which also left in the afternoon of the said day, also offered free rides to Coron residents to Manila.

At present, FastCat 1 regularly travels between Batangas-Calapan, Bulalacao (Oriental Mindoro)-Caticlan, Matnog (Sorsogon)-Allen (Samar), Iloilo-Bacolod, Liloan (Leyte)-Lipata (Surigao), at Dumaguete-Dipolog.

It can accommodate 275 passengers, and includes facilities for differently-abled and elderly passengers.

She also has a capacity of approximately 300 lane meters for trucks, cars, and other land vehicles. She can hold 30-34 cars, and 6-7 trucks or buses.

FastCat 1 provides discounts on fares. Infants below 2 years old are free. Children between ages 2-11 years old 50% discount; students 15% discount; and Senior Citizens enjoy 20% discount.

A typical RORO being used in the Philippines has only one hull. Unlike them, FastCat 1 is a catamaran with two hulls and 10 water tight compartments. Its twin-hull design makes her more stable because her center of buoyancy and gravity is wider than a monohull.

The APFC was founded to provide a vital maritime link between the Philippines' 7,107 islands. Since its incorporation in 2002, it has become a trusted shipping company that owns and operates the Philippines' first and only catamaran Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) ferries, as well as modernized ports and terminals in the eastern and western Philippine sea route.

In support of the government's Strong Republic Nautical Highway Project, and to facilitate the economical movement of people and goods, APFC offers safe, fast and convenient ferry service to the islands using state-of-the-art RoRo vessels.

These new vessels are the first ferries designed specifically for Philippine water conditions.

With its focus on ensuring its passengers' safety, welfare and comfort, APFC embarked on an ambitious re-fleeting program in 2010. In a bold and unparalleled move, it partnered with Sea Transport Solutions of Australia, the leading designer and builder of mid-speed Ropax/RoRo vessels built for freight vehicle transport along with passenger accommodations.

This partnership brings to the Philippines, for the first time ever, 10 brandnew, custom-crafted, cutting-edge Ropax vessels fitted with world-class amenities and fully compliant with international standards for lifesaving, fire fighting, and damage-stability.

These catamarans are making waves in the local industry, not only because they have arguably safe, fast, and convenient ferry service that are seen in six busy routes in the Visayas and Mindanao, but also because of the reportedly huge -million investment package covering the acquisition of the 10 brand-new catamarans.

There had been guarded talk about the inherent financial risk of having brought in these vessels at such a major cost, and especially since it needs its own specific docking mechanism at the piers.

Archipelago, captained by Christopher Pastrana as company chairman, however, is no newcomer in the industry, and his bold vision needs our support, more so because he had realized that the old fleet his company had been operating before is no longer acceptable.

DOH-MIMAROPA conducts first leg of health and tourism summit in Palawan

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), LGI/LSJ/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, March 24 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) MIMAROPA (provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) conducted Tuesday its First Provincial Summit on Health to make the region achieve a status of “safe destination tourism spot” both for its population and the tourists.

The first leg of the summit which was dubbed as “Usapang Lokal Para sa Kalusugan” was held at the Hotel Centro in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

According to DOH MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo, the summit was organized with the goal to gather stakeholders support and coordination in the promotion of Health and Tourism Program in the province of MIMAROPA.

Janairo said that a total of three summits are scheduled for the MIMAROPA regions.

The first part of the summit was scheduled for Palawan and Batangas province while the second leg will be in Romblon and Marinduque and the third leg will be for Occidental and Oriental Mindoro.

Janairo said that since MIMAROPA has been fast building the recognition as the country’s “Destination of Choice”, there is a need to focus on strengthening the health and safety of both the community and the tourists visiting the island provinces seeking vacations and leisure.

He added that through the summit they are expecting to create better understanding on the proper reporting of emerging "infectious diseases" and establishment of better referral system in case that there will be possible cases to prevent further spread so as not to affect the local tourism.

He further said that it is important that necessary precautions are taken to prevent easy spread of diseases due to the country’s high population density and entry of tourists/local citizens like returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that will arrive from endemic countries.

Among the infectious disease are MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Influenza A (H1N1) and others.

He said that having a positive case has the potential to destroy the tourism industry as well as the economy in general not only in the region but also of the whole country.

The summit was participated in by hotel, resort and leisure establishment representatives, Regional Inter-Agency Committee local government unit (LGUs), city health officers, Bureau of Quarantine, Department of Tourism (DOT), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Philippine Coast Guard personnel.

Promotion of hygiene/sanitation in every tourist destination, accreditation procedures from DOT, role of quarantine on tourism, coordination to ensure health security and occupational safety for workers were among the topics highlighted in the summit.

According to the Regional Director of MIMAROPA, there will be eight program components that they are targeting to be implemented and subject for continuous monitoring as an output for the summit.

These are: Vermin control and disinfection, maintenance and cleanliness in ports and vessels, installation of health signages in strategic places, creating a network of medical clinics, training of lifeguards and emergency responders, provision of buoys, lifeguard towers or posts, water testing for bacteriological and minerals/solutes and proper sewerage disposals.

Lime producer opens $24-M Palawan plant

By JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ (REPORTER)

Unichamp Group, the leading producer of industrial lime products in the Asia-Pacific region, will officially open its very first fully integrated modern lime manufacturing facility in Palawan on Wednesday.

Unichamp Executive Chairman Daniel Lim told reporters that the $24 million facility will produce high quality lime milk to meet the specifications and demand from the hydrometallurgical processing plant of Coral Bay Nickel Corp. (CBNC), a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co.

Lim did not give details about the full operating capacity of the facility, but stressed that its local subsidiary, Unichamp Mineral Philippines Inc., could provide CBNC “hundreds of thousands” of metric tons of lime milk annually.

Based on government data, the plant is designed to produce about 135,000 tons of quicklime and 170,000 tons of lime milk per year.

The raw materials in the form of limestone will be sourced to the existing Gotok Limestone Quarry operated by the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp.

“Conveniently located at the Rio Tuba Economic Processing Zone (RTEPZ) in Brngy. Rio Tuba, our world-class facility will be responsible for supplying the CBNC with milk of lime, which will be used for the treatment of its waste water making it safer for disposal,” Lim said.

“Since the raw materials are sourced locally, our client could have a 15-20 percent cost saving, compared with importing slaked lime from overseas suppliers,” he said, adding that this will help eliminate reliance on imports and reduce the corresponding foreign currency outflow.

2 more facilities worth $20-$30M Meanwhile, Lim said the company is now scouting for other business opportunities outside of Rio Tuba. He added that they are considering putting up two additional facilities worth $20-$30 million each.

“Our Palawan operations will just be a springboard. As long as there is a long-term contract, then we are open to building more plants,” the executive said.

Unichamp Mineral Philippines President Rommel Ibuna said they have already presented the technology to Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. and Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.

“Right now, every thing is under initial discussions. But we have expressed readiness to provide them with the technology, should they put up their own nickel processing plants,” Ibuna said.

The executive also expressed a desire to meet with major water concessionaires for possible partnerships for wastewater treatment, as well as agricultural companies for soil rejuvenation programs.

Quicklime and milk of lime products are widely used by various industries in the neutralization process for environmental treatment, soil treatment in agriculture industry, soil stabilization for road construction, water treatment for production of potable water (drinking water), steel production, sugar refinery, and paper industry, among others.

Besides the Philippines, Unichamp Group has regional presence and operations in Malaysia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. The majority of its clients are from the mining and water treatment businesses.

Seda Lio in El Nido

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Just over two years since it inaugurated its first city hotel, Seda hotel by AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts Corp. (AHRC), unveiled its flagship resort in the 325-hectare Lio Tourism Estate in Palawan. The 150-room Seda Lio will be the first major facility to cater to global and local tourists in the vast community in El Nido town masterplanned to showcase the biodiversity and natural attractions of surrounding Bacuit Bay. The new hotel-resort project will be distinguished by its location, architecture and facilities for both local and global tourists.

At its joint ground breaking ceremony with Ayala Malls’ The Shops at Lio, Junie Jalandoni, group head of AyalaLand Hotels and Resorts and Ayala Malls, said, “We launched Seda Lio to make the world-famous attractions of El Nido more accessible to both foreign and local travelers.”

To be completed in 2017, the beachfront resort is only a few minutes from the airport and can even be accessed by foot. Guests can take a leisurely stroll along the white sand beach leading up to the resort that offers breathtaking views of the Cadlao lagoon and surrounding mountains.

Seda Lio expands the current accommodation options consisting of luxury resorts on the adjacent islands and bed-and-breakfast types in town. The low-rise resort is on the Palawan mainland and offers numerous facilities catering to various markets.

AHRC chief operating officer Al Legaspi explained that Seda Lio hopes to attract families, corporate clients in need of meeting and event facilities, as well as couples planning destination weddings.

“We have more than 500 square meters of function space with the largest room able to accommodate 150 guests. This is expandable to over 300 guests with our spacious landscaped decks. At the same time, we understand the need of families for kid-friendly activities such like swimming and board and video games,” Legaspi added.

Seda Lio will have a dedicated children’s game room and expansive outdoor play area, and a 1,500-sq.m. swimming pool and deck. Seda Lio covers a four-hectare property that opens out to the Lio Tourism Estate’s main centerpiece, a four-kilometer stretch of beach with fine sand. Like the four other Seda properties in Bonifacio Global City, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City and Nuvali, Seda Lio will also be distinguished by its location within an Ayala Land community with easy access to restaurants, retail and other amenities.

A short stroll from the resort is Ayala Mall’s Shops at Lio. This low-rise development will offer daily essentials, basic services and home-grown dining concepts fronting the beach to serve both tourists and residents of El Nido. It will be completed towards the end of 2015.

“Seda Lio will serve as a model for sustainable construction and management to other future locators of the Lio township. The sprawling Seda Lio will only have three floors — deliberately designed not to jut above the coconut treeline. It will also maintain over 75 percent of the site as open area that will be landscaped with Palawan’s endemic plants. These features are in keeping with the sustainable masterplan of the entire Lio estate,” Jalandoni added.

Palawan province donates 10 fish-attracting devices to Puerto Princesa City

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), LAM/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (PNA) -- This city’s undertaking to increase fish catch received a major boost recently from the Palawan provincial government which donated 10 floating fish-attracting devices or artificial fish sanctuaries, called “payao.”

The City Information Office (CIO) in a release said the donation of the fish-attracting devices was made by the provincial government through Governor Jose Alvarez in support of the Puerto Princesa government’s objective to provide livelihood to small fishermen in surrounding coastal communities.

“Mayor Bayron is determined to push this fish project forward under the “Apuradong Administrasyon” (Prompt Administration) because it can sufficiently benefit our fishing communities,” the statement said, like what happened in Bohol and Cebu.

It furthered that the project will not only benefit the fishermen but also residents of the city because premium fish prices will go down.

Payao, a fish aggregating device (FAD), is placed in the water for the purpose of facilitating the accretion and attraction of fishes for harvest, which has long been associated with Filipino fishermen.

Launched in October 2014 at the Puerto Princesa City Port (PPCP), Bayron with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) installed 50 FADs to help the fishermen of coastal barangay Bagong Silang and other nearby areas that depend on fishing for livelihood.

He said the FADs are either floating or submerged devices that can bring the fishes to abound, like bushes, logs, and others that are safe for them.

Two types of FADs are popularly used in the country. One is the artificial reef, and the other the common “payao” that is like a floating buoy made of steel or bamboo with coconut leaves underneath and affixed on the sea ground with “considerable depth.”

He explained that when the FADs are placed in the water, algae form by attaching to anything that is floating and attracts smaller fishes that consume them. In turn, they attract large fishes that can be harvested by fishermen.

World Food Expo mobile university opens in Puerto Princesa

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro [(PNA), RMA/CARF/KASF/SGP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 20 (PNA) – - It is no secret that Palawan has many world-class destinations to offer travelers. But what are these to holidaymakers if not complemented with superlative services that would charm them to come back for the nth time.

This is the advocacy of bringing the World Food Expo (WOFEX) University to this city and the province of Palawan that opened Friday until March 22 at the Legend Hotel.

It's a "mobile university" that offers advanced learning from industry professionals, specifically for the food service industry.

"Palawan has lots of captivating places to offer, but as the locals and property owners testify, the service we're offering here needs improvement," said Joel Pascual, Event Organizer and President of Professional Event Managers (PEP) Group.

"The horrible thing is when they come home, they would say: ' You know, I went to Palawan, and it's excellent but the service is terrible’," he added, stressing the importance of tourist services in general.

WOFEX's Tabletop Show is a series of training-workshops that is designed to "uplift the quality of service of the professionals, as well as the establishments," said Pascual, encouraging local restaurateurs, hoteliers, chef and bakers to attend the training.

"We bring the Tabletop Show to places we consider as emerging markets, and for us Palawan is just on its way in terms of tourism boom," he adds.

The three-day seminar is divided as follows: Digital and Social Marketing for Hospitality, Hotel, Restaurant and the Food and Beverages Industry; Food Series that includes baking and restaurants retail branding; and Operation Series that tackles controlling of food cost, creating signature kitchen design, as well as effective housekeeping management.

Since it is the first time WOFEX came in Palawan, PEP Group hopes to deliver more trainings in the years to come to further upgrade the operation of the establishments here.

"This training series are not just good for their establishment but for the province as a whole, because the world is looking at Palawan now," said Pascual. "At the end of the day, the service really counts and that's where we come in."

WOFEX’s visit also features a trade show of supply solutions, like showcase of advanced equipment such as cold storage and coffee maker, packaging and various products from all over the country that would expose Palaweños to the trends in the food service industry.

This is the 15th Year for WOFEX, and it made it big in some key cities in the country, like Baguio, Boracay, Cebu, Davao, Ilo-ilo and Manila.

Expert confirms presence of scalloped hammerhead shark in Tubbataha

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), RMA/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 19 (PNA) -- After identifying the previously unrecorded Mobula japonica, a manta ray look-alike in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), the Large Marine Vertebrates (LAMAVE) Project Philippines confirmed Wednesday the sighting in the marine park of the scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) .

Also known as bronze, kidney-headed or southern hammerhead, the shark species was documented using the remote underwater video (RUV) deployed at the Wall Street, a dive location at the North Atoll of Tubbataha, by LAMAVE Project Director Ryan Murray and park rangers on March 16.

The scalloped hammerhead shark, according the Tubbataha website posted statement Wednesday, was documented some 30 feet below for nearly two hours reportedly accompanied by 19 individual sharks – seven blacktips, seven whitetips, and four gray reefs.

“Interestingly, the presence of the scalloped hammerhead shark in Tubbataha was previously unconfirmed. The video proves without a doubt that this species thrives in park waters as well,” the statement said.

Studies of the scalloped hammerhead shark state that it is “a coastal pelagic species that occurs over continental and narrow shelves and in nearby deeper water.”

It is reported that as of 2008, the shark is on the “globally endangered species list.”

Shark and manta research is being conducted in Tubbataha as a partnership with LAMAVE, “a consortium of national and international NGOs with the aim of promoting conservation through scientific research and education. A shark expedition is in the offing in May 2015.”

Earlier, LAMAVE and the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) jointly announced the identification of Mobula japanica – a first in the history of the protected reefs –“from hundreds of video footages taken since October last year.

Mobula japonica is classified under Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays).

WWF sets solar lamp-giving

(PNA), LGI/CJT/PR/EDS

MANILA, March 18 (PNA) -- To help families in Palawan safely and economically light up their homes, Earth Hour, a global movement led by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), shall give solar lamps to hundreds of families in need.

This year, Earth Hour shall fund the Gift of Light project.

“Solar lamps rely on power of the sun, eliminating the need to buy fuel. We’re teaching communities to veer away from fossil fuel, the burning of which contributes to climate change,” explained WWF Climate Change Unit and Earth Hour Philippines head, Atty. Gia Ibay.

She said the Gift of Life will run for at least a year.

"We hope money its beneficiaries will save can buy basic needs like food, books and clothes,” she said.

After Beton in Palawan, the project will provide lamps for the Mangyan people and forest rangers protecting Iglit-Baco Mountain Range in Occidental Mindoro, the last holdout of the critically endangered Tamaraw, an endemic dwarf forest buffalo.

Climate change caused Arctic sea ice to shrink to its lowest winter extent since 1880.

Philippine effects range from more powerful typhoons to massive floods.

Held every last Saturday of March and originally envisioned as an hour-long switch-off to show unity against climate change, Earth Hour became one of the world’s largest crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing movements in 2014.

It funded dozens of projects including construction of fiberglass bancas in the Philippines.

Since 2008, the Philippines has been championing the switch-off event.

A growing number of allies pledged to support this year’s efforts.

Among such allies are government partners like Quezon City local government, Climate Change Commission, departments of energy, environment, education, transportation, public works and labor, Leagueof Provinces, Municipalities and Cities as well as Metro Manila Development Authority.

The event's corporate champions are led by Philips, ArthaLand, Alveo Land, Banco De Oro, First Gen Corporation, Smart Communications and McDonald’s.

Media champions include ABS-CBN, BusinessMirror, BusinessWorld, ClickTheCity.Com, Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, FleishmanHillard, FocusMedia, Far East Broadcasting Corporation, Globaltronics, Jack TV,Knowledge Channel, Leo Burnett, Net-25, Orangemagazine, Pelicola.TV, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, QCreativs, Radyo Pilipinas, Radyo Agila, Radyo Veritas, TV5 and Wheninmanila.Com.

WWF is seeking more corporate and media support for the event.

Palawan to beef up LGU power to win battle vs illegal logging

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro and Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), LAP/CARF/KASF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 17, (PNA) -– To win against the seemingly relentless illegal logging challenge in Palawan, the provincial government recognizes that there is a need to strengthen the power of local government units (LGU) and reconsider their role in the protection and conservation of the environment.

Provincial Information Officer Gil Acosta told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Tuesday that with the recent large-scale illegal logging incident on Naglayan Island, Barangay Baldat in Culion involving Sunlight Eco-tourism Island Resort owned by Chinese businessman Ricardo Brito, the LGUs in the province need to beef up their position to end the environment challenge.

“There is evidently an urgent need to re-think the position of the LGUs in the province; to strengthen them anew in the fight against illegal logging,” Acosta said, particularly now that they suspect the seized illegally cut lumbers in Sunlight would reach more than 100,000 board feet.

He added however, that the environmental cluster of the provincial government is continuously tapping barangay leaders to become watchful of illegal environment activities in their respective areas of jurisdiction to speed up apprehension.

“If the provincial government remains relaxed, definitely, illegal logging activities will continue and eventually, we’ll have no trees left in the future,” he said, adding he cannot even mental-picture it.

In 2014, a total of 69 illegal logging apprehensions were recorded by the Bantay Palawan, and the recent raid conducted by Bantay Palawan is now deemed to be the largest in a single operation in the province.

Meanwhile, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta, also in an interview with the PNA Tuesday, said that the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) headed by environment officer Juan dela Cruz is now verifying the claim of Sunlight owner Ricardo Brito that he owns Naglayan Island.

The verification process is being undertaken by the DENR following March 12’s raid on Naglayan Island.

Matta said that Brito presented an ownership document that said he obtained in 1972 an agricultural sales patent of Naglayan from the government under an original certificate of title (OCT) which became transfer certificate of title (TCT) in 2013.

“Most likely the title is phony, but we are waiting for the confirmation of the local DENR,” Matta said.

Meanwhile, a document from the DENR-4B MIMAROPA dated March 5, 2013 showed an order sent to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Coron, directing him to file a complaint in court against the owner of Sunlight for illegal occupation of Public Forest Land without necessary tenurial instrument in violation of Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.

Another letter showed that in September 2014, the regional environment office also wrote Brito informing about his illegal occupation of the said island which falls under Unclassified Public Forest and a government property.

Dela Cruz told Brito that upon verification, he has not been issued a Forestland Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes, or FLAgT, and should therefore, “stop and refrain from introducing further developments in the area until such time appropriate tenurial instrument shall have been granted.”

According to Matta, until the Bantay Palawan raid, Sunlight did not stop from doing further improvements and from partially operating.

In the raid of the island, Bantay Palawan seized stockpiles upon stockpiles of illegally cut lumbers, mostly endangered Ipil and Narra trees, whose assessed value has not yet been completed by the provincial DENR.

A Chinese national, Alvin Lim, who claimed to be the manager of the island resort, has been held in custody as an alleged illegal alien and for violating the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines. Commercial logging is outlawed in Palawan since the '90s.

Acosta said the PGP will continue to work even more closely with concerned government agencies, particularly the DENR that has the mandate specifically in forest protection.

He added Governor Jose Alvarez has ordered the Bantay Palawan to bring the illegally cut lumbers to Puerto Princesa by “all means” to be used in the filing of illegal logging case against Brito.

On the other hand, Dela Cruz, told a local radio station also Tuesday that there might be lapses on the part of his “colleagues” in their sub-office in Calamianes Islands on monitoring.

This is difficult, he said, since the sub-office only has six personnel to take care of monitoring the whole Calamianes Islands.

Dela Cruz vowed to help fast-track the filing of the case by conducting an investigation of the alleged falsification of tree-cutting permits the owner-suspect reportedly obtained from the DENR.

Sunlight continues to advertise itself on the web as a classy eco-tourism island resort “designed to be the forefront of luxury, environmental conservation, and self-sustainability” in Palawan.

It claimed that while “located off the electric grid,” it lavishes accommodations “with three generators, and a complete water desalination and waste treatment system facility.”

The Naglayan shores have been lined by it with 55 water cabanas that are all equipped with “modern conveniences, such as Wi-Fi accesses, 42-inch flat-screen TVs with cable channels, and toilets and baths with hot and cold water.” It is around 18-hectare in size.

Upon checking, the island resort management has disabled its booking system on the web.

Revisiting the Philippines' first croc farm

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro [(PNA), FPV/CARF/KASF/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 16 (PNA Features) -- If there’s one more thing Palawan is known for aside from its world-class tourist attractions like the secret lagoons and white sand island coves of El Nido, the cleanest Kayangan Lake of Coron, and the extraordinary Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) to name a few, it is its haunting but beguiling large aquatic reptiles – the crocodiles.

Unfortunately, this creature of rare beauty, which once freely subsist in the marshy inlets of the province is now at the brink of extinction. But thanks to the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC), there is still a chance for survival for this endemic Philippines crocodile species that the next generations could see.

For 28 years now, the PWRCC remains committed in the conservation of this reptilian wildlife; particularly finding and making ways to multiply its population.

A week ago, with the theme “Wildlife Conservation, Today for Tomorrow,” the PWRCC celebrated its 20th Crocodile Conservation Week, which was spearheaded along with the launching of some new facilities in the farm in Barangay Irawan, some 30-minute cab ride from the center of Puerto Princesa.

Look back

Puerto Princesa’s crocodile breeding farm is the first of its kind in the Philippines. It is also the first that obtained registration from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international agreement that ensures longevity of threatened flora and fauna.

Created in 1987 under the technical cooperation between the governments of Japan and the Philippines, the then Crocodile Farming Institute (CFI) was envisioned to prevent the decline of the Philippine’s two crocodile species – the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and the freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis).

CFI which was once under the management post of late veterinarian-turned-environmental broadcaster Dr. Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega, also became the Wildlife Rescue Center (WRC) after the collaboration with Japan ended in 1994.

To accommodate the need for growth, it renamed as PWRCC in 2000 and thus, incorporated under its management and supervision a wildlife rescue center, a training center, and eventually, an eco-destination park.

“In the past years, the PWRCC was observed to be overlooked in the province’s tourism industry agenda, but lately… I wish and I hope… and I believe that indeed we now belong to the timetable of tourist destinations that this industry boasts,” PWRCC Director Veronica De Guzman, who took over the post only in January 2013, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) over the weekend.

Challenges

De Guzman’s two years in the management of the PWRCC wasn’t smooth and persuasive, and she already expected it. But this woman behind the crocodile conservation now isn’t fainthearted.

Upon her appointment, and totally driven by the state of the PRWCC, such as unkempt and deteriorating crocodiles pens which caused a decline in hatchling production, De Guzman said that with the staff, she just pushed to ensure that the reptilian wonders of Palawan do not continue to survive in worsening condition.

Under the management of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the PWRCC in 2014 succeeded in breeding over 300 of both two crocodile species for commercial purposes.

“That’s a quite good number,” she added, “compared to an average of less than a hundred, or having nothing at all.”

Overcrowding in pens has been a problem at the PWRCC since 2005, according to a news report. “If a pen is overpopulated,” explains De Guzman, “these species will not be able to produce hatchlings.”

The PWRCC now houses around 1,605 crocodiles of both species. To address potential problems due to their growing population, the Center is currently undergoing its first massive rehabilitation of almost all pens, including the developing of one-fourth hectare of burrowed pens, trying to simulate the natural habitat of the reptiles, she said.

"For them to have a conducive place for breeding, the pens have to be spacious, or with less confinements for them to be able to stretch out, bask, and ran freely."

'Better service'

The PWRCC under De Guzman’s management leadership has been trying to live its service mantra that is "Cleanliness and Orderliness," which was the very content of complaints of visitors, who have visited in the past.

She narrated that tourists who came to view the crocodiles complained about malodorous enclosures, and farm grounds that seem to have not seen the tips of “walis tinging,” or besom made of the thinnest sticks out of coconut fronds tied around by rattan.

”There’s a need to create and develop one perception of the things we needed to execute here for the survival of our reptilian residents, as well as other wildlife species being rescued and brought here for rehabilitation,” De Guzman said, adding further that in her two years, they have never failed so far.

Somehow, progress can already be seen at the wildlife rescue center, and the flow of visitors never stop.

“Travelers, who blog about their experiences after visiting here, are no longer complaining unlike three, four years ago. They have become our mouthpieces. They have become our free public relations people,” she averred.

Annually, the wildlife haven continues to lure an average of 200,000 visitors not only from the Philippines, but also those who travel from Asia and Europe.

"It is our moral, social obligation to continue improving this place by trying to provide better services and facilities that will conform to the standards of the city tourism and [generally] the tourism industry. And of course, we want to be one of the places that the DENR would be proud of. This is because this is our humble contribution to the DENR management," De Guzman furthered.

Upcoming features

In 45 days or so, De Guzman disclosed that the PWRCC will open a man-made waterfalls that will bring down water to a pond of Philippine forest turtles, another critically endangered reptile being protected under the wildlife act.

An aerial deck, resembling like path walk, where visitors can view the enclosure of Palawan bearcat (binturong), wild boar (baboy damo), and python (sawa) will also be put up as additional attraction.

The conservation center has also set its focus to seize the Guinness Book of World Records’ “Largest Crocodile in Captivity” title, which was held before by “Lolong” at 20 ft. 3 in (6.17 m).

Although she is not sure, the title is apparently back to “Cassius,” a male saltwater crocodile that measures 5.48 metres (18 ft. 0 in) in length, weighs 2,200 pounds (998 kg) and is estimated to be more than 100 years old. It is kept at the Marineland Melanesia, a zoo on Green Island, Queensland, Australia.

To regain the title accorded to the Philippines before Lolong’s passing, De Guzman said they now have “Surigao” that measures 19-feet. The male crocodile was caught 26 years ago in Siargao, Surigao del Norte.

She said they are now preparing a pen near the farm entrance, where all visitors can see it. It is also in preparation for the Guinness visit.

The conservation center has never ran out of things to offer. There, one could also find nice buys from thrift souvenir stalls, or be adventurous by daring themselves to consume exotic crocodile dishes prepared at their newly put up food counters.

Jokingly, the PWRCC director said they are also thinking of hoisting a zipline that would cross a sea of prime breeder crocodiles in their breeding pens.

" Well, it's a big plan... in the guise of a joke!" she laughs, supplying "Actually, it's diagnostic; I'm trying to feel your feeling.”

Out of around a hundred, she divulged she has asked, 99 agreed that “it’s a positive, and would be sheer thrill.”

”Of course, we would not do it without ensuring that people will be safe,” she said.

While the conservation center commits itself to conservation, it also never forgets to play its socio-economic role by providing their better half – the locals – with employment opportunities. Today it employs 40 people.

(Feature) DOH issues prevention tips on summer skin problems and diseases

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), SCS/LSJ/SSC]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, March 15 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) regional office for MIMAROPA has issued preventive tips in addressing common skin problems and other diseases during the coming summer season.

According to DOH-MIMAROPA or Region IV-B Director Eduardo C. Janairo, aside from the common skin common problems during summer which are sunburn and boils or "pigsa," there are other skin irritations and diseases that deserve attention too.

MIMAROPA or Region IV-V is composed of the twin provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

In an interview here, Dr. Janairo told the Philippines New Agency that some diseases usually develop during the summer months, like sore eyes, coughs and colds, and diarrhea.

In addition, Janairo said that dog bites and heat strokes are also something that should also be watched out.

“With regards to sunburn, it is preventable -- one can get it from exposing the skin during swimming or other outdoor activities under excessive heat of the sun — and the degree of sunburn depends on the length of exposure,” he added.

He said that as a precaution, using higher SPF (sun protection factor) against the high ultra violet rays of the sun can help for the skin protection.

Dr. Janairo explained that it is good to seek protective shades when exposing oneself outdoors or avoid the heat of the sun from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On boils, he said that proper hygiene is the key because boils are brought about by excessive heat of the sun, dust, dirt and sweat combining together.

“It is best to take a bath… but be sure the water is clean. If the water is contaminated, the bacteria (staphylococci) can enter the open hair follicles of the skin,” he said.

As the bacteria enter the skin, it can lead to appearance of bumpy, red, pus-filled lumps around a hair follicle that is tender, warm, and very painful which is called boil. The boil ranges from pea-size to golf ball-size.

A yellow or white point at the center of the lump can be seen when the boil is ready to drain or discharge pus.

Sometimes, a patient with boil also suffers fever due to excessive pain.

He said that the use of antibiotics is recommended but it is best to seek a doctor's advice about what medicine to take and avoid self-medication.

He also said that since dirty water causes some skin problems and irritations, it is important to really take a clean bath after swimming in public pools or other dirty water sources like rivers.

Dr. Janairo said that in treating sore eyes, it is best to seek an eye expert because the redness of the eye can be caused by other factors, therefore applying anything on the eye can cause infection or other accompanying problems.

For cough and colds that may occur, it will be helpful if senior citizens can be vaccinated against the flu while children are dressed comfortably to strengthen their immune system.

The DOH official also advised the public to be cautious about street foods and even those prepared for out-of-town trips because food spoils easily during summer months.

On heatstroke, he said it is important for the patient to take immediate rest upon experiencing dizziness.

“It will help if the clothes will be loosened as the patient takes a rest, and of course, drinking plenty of water is important to replenish the lost ones,” he added.

“Ideally, water intake should be eight glasses a day," he said.

He also said that it is best to seek protective shades of trees instead of the shades made of walls or aluminum.

“The shade offered by a tree is cold, soothing and relaxing compared with the walls or aluminum,” he explained.

Regarding dog bites, he said it is very important to immediately wash the wound with running water and soap and then visit an animal bite center for proper management.

He added that pet owners should ensure that their pets are properly fed, cared, bathed, immunized and leashed to prevent them from biting any person and causing rabies infection.

Six home-grown Med Techs to be deployed in Palawan, other areas of Mimaropa

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), RMA/LSJ]

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, March 14 (PNA)--The Department of Health (DOH) Region IV-B Mimaropa (Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidentas, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) is expecting to have new six medical technology (MedTech) graduates that will be spread in Southern Palawan and in other areas of the region.

“A total of six new “home-grown” graduates of MedTech will be spread here in Palawan and in other areas of MIMAROPA by next year to address the gaps in the needed number of Med-Techs,” said DOH Region IV-B Mimaropa director Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo.

Janairo said the DOH gave attention to the awarding of scholarship among the batch of the incoming graduates after results of assessments showed a shortage of numbers of med tech in the hospital health facilities.

“As we all know, one of the requirements for accreditation of a health facility is presence of a med-tech. Seeing that gap, we worked it out by pushing a scholarship program for the nurses and midwives graduates in the MIMAROPA provinces to take the second course on Med. Tech.,” said Janairo.

He said that he expected the first batch, consisting of six scholars, to graduate by next year while another 11 scholars, who were also “home-grown” in Mimaropa, were hoped to fill-up the other areas in the region.

The on-going Med Tech scholarship is a two-year studies that will enable the nursing and midwifery graduates to step-up their capacity and their positions as well as in serving the constituents of Palawan and other provinces of Mimaropa.

He also said that other areas of Mimaropa needing doctors were also given priority in a scholarship tie-up with the local government of Palawan, through the Palawan State University.

He also said that they were also coordinating with the congressmen of Palawan for the full support in converting the Hospital of Palawan into a medical center.

He also said that if the proposal to make Palawan Hospital a medical center, enough budget for the improvement of facilities and equipment would benefit not only the health of its populations but also those coming from nearby provinces of the region.

Palaweño farmers girded with drought-buster technologies

By Keith Anthony S. Fabro [(PNA), LGI/CARF/KASF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 13 (PNA) -- The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) is continuously introducing mitigating measures to Palaweño farmers should “El Niño” strike Palawan this year.

Provincial Supervising Agriculturist Narciso Neri said though the province is not always affected with much drought, their office have been training local farmers long before with techniques on surviving it.

Among these technologies, he said, is modified rapid composting that is a process of spreading the rice hay back into the field thus, enriching the organic content of soil.

"If we increase the organic content of soil, its water-holding capacity would also be improved," explained Neri.

He said, unlike the traditional, long process of composting, the technique is rapid in a way that it would be decomposed easily after showering down with nitrogen-contained urea.

Neri said their office is always encouraging farmers to break away from the mono cropping method, and instead embrace new ones like mixed and inter-cropping, respectively, that would yield them varieties of crops aside from palay.

An example of this multiple cropping is the "three sister technology," which Neri explained as “farmers first planting corn, then when it reaches knee high, plant string beans next that would eventually vine through corn stems. Afterwards, squash will be planted underneath; its wide leaves would maintain the soil moisture."

Such technology has gained popularity among Palaweño farmers, he said.

The provincial supervising agriculturist, meanwhile, ensures that irrigations put up by the Department of Agriculture (DA) throughout the province are in good condition.

On Tuesday, the weather bureau PAG-ASA announced that the country is at the onset of a mild El Niño. As of press time, the intensity is undefined and classified as still weak. However, international climate monitoring agencies said there is a 50-60 percent chance that the El Niño episode will last until October as per news reports.

The phenomenon occurs every three to five years when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific become warmer than normal. It may last up to nine months, causing a reduction in the amount of rainfall.

Last year, Palawan was listed as one of the provinces that were moderately affected by the dry spell, but it was almost never felt since local farmers had prepared for the onslaught, said Neri.

DOH eyes conversion of Ospital ng Palawan into a medical center for the entire MIMAROPA region

By Leilani S. Junio [(PNA), SCS/LSJ/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, March 12 (PNA) -- In line with the government's goal to give the people enough access to quality hospitals and health facilities, the Department of Health (DOH) regional office for Region IV-B or MIMAROPA is undertaking efforts toward the conversion of the Ospital ng Palawan into a medical center to serve the entire region.

DOH-MIMAROPA or Region IV-B is composed of the island provinces of Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

The Ospital ng Palawan is located on a 1.6-hectare compound in Puerto Princesa City.

“In cooperation with Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez, the DOH (under the leadership of acting DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin) is moving toward achieving the goal by institutionalizing some efforts like addressing the human resources gaps,” DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo said.

In an interview here on Wednesday with the Philippines News Agency, Dr. Janairo said that to overcome the existing human resources gaps in the hospital, scholarship grants are given to enable graduates of nursing and midwifery courses to seek specialization as medical technologists.

“The program is being implemented in cooperation with the Palawan State University,” he added.

The DOH regional director said that giving the nurses and midwives of Palawan and other MIMAROPA provinces the chance to seek medical specialization and growth is a move in inspiring them to serve for the benefits of the MIMAROPA region people and be not enticed to seek greener pastures or form of employment in other places.

Janairo explained that aside from fixing the gaps in human resources, continuous provision of orientations and trainings are also provided among local government unit officials and health workers to educate them on the implementation of an improved health delivery system.

He also said health workers who pass the rigid training are given “android tablets” that they can use in the effective and reliable monitoring and recording of patient's conditions.

He added that the tablets are also being utilized in the recording of data in the Watching Over Mothers and Babies (WOMB) project of the DOH where maternal and infant death rates are also monitored and recorded.

He explained that from the data that will be gathered and collected through the WOMB program, a more synchronized and enhanced health care system will be developed.

DOH-MIMAROPA, Palawan gov't to hold health summit for tourism stakeholders

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 11 (PNA) -- A health summit with tourism stakeholders will be jointly hosted on March 24-25 by the Palawan provincial government, the Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA and the Department of Tourism (DOT) to come up with a protocol that would prevent the entry of fatal infectious diseases in the province as a tourism hub.

DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo Janairo told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Wednesday that the health summit was an offshoot of a meeting with Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez and other local government officials involving the vacation stint in a resort in the province of two foreigners, who were with the Filipina nurse, who returned to the country and was diagnosed to be positive with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

“If you have a tourist who is ill, let the health workers know immediately. Whatever the ailment is, what is important is that you make a report especially if you know they are from countries that have positive cases of deadly infectious diseases,” Janairo said, such as MERS-CoV, Ebola, bird’s flu, and others.

The setting up of protocol regarding this matter, he said, is what the health summit hopes to achieve, particularly now that Palawan is active in the BIMP-EAGA, and is expecting to open a regional tourism highway/link that would increase visitor arrivals.

“We experienced a lot of difficulties at first in contacting these resorts. None of them would answer our calls, especially the private ones. They do not want to be disturbed, but when we confirmed that the tourists, who were with the MERS-CoV positive Filipina nurse were already there, that was when they started reacting,” he stated. Janairo did not mention the name of the resort.

The health summit, the regional health director added, will also be an opportunity to get tourism-related businesses in the province be acquainted with the laws that govern how they should conduct their operation when it comes to taking care of the health of their clients.

“Hostels, lodging inns, big or small accommodations facilities, they all have responsibilities when it comes to the health of their clients. Of course, while here, they live in them… then they have responsibilities,” he stated.

Janairo said that for example, if resorts are distantly-located from government or private health care facilities, it should take into consideration at the construction phase the setting up of an isolation area for patients, who will show symptoms of infectious diseases.

Janairo said that if a warning has been issued by the DOH regarding the entry of a person with positive infectious disease, local government units (LGUs) should immediately be pro-active to ensure that the transfer is prevented.

The summit also targets to put in place compliances for hotels and other tourism-related businesses before they operate, such as clean sources of water, safe swimming areas, presence of clinics for emergency health issues, and others.

He said the partners for the health summit all agree that there is a need to extend “stringency on tourism-related establishments and other businesses to ensure that both the health welfare of the tourists visiting and the residents are protected in Palawan.”

Other partners are the Department of Education, the Philippine Coast Guard.

DOTC likely to bid out P10.3-B Puerto Princesa airport separately

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is considering excluding the Puerto Princesa airport from the list of six provincial airport projects worth P128 billion that is being offered to investors under the public private partnership (PPP) scheme.

A source said the P10.3-billion Puerto Princesa airport would likely be excluded from the list as it is feasible to bid the operation and maintenance (O&M) separately.

“Puerto Princesa is likely to be temporarily excluded from the bundled project since it turns out that it may be feasible to bid out its O&M separately,” the source said.

Instead, the source pointed out that the Puerto Princesa airport project could be offered to private investors together with the airports in Coron and Busuanga as well as the new airport in San Vicente under a comprehensive airport development plan for the rapidly growing tourism zone of Palawan.

The DOTC and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) have decided to split the bidding for the O&M of the six provincial airports with three airports each to help ensure that all airports are awarded to competent players and ensure efficient tender of all airports.

Package A consists of the Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, and Bacolod-Silay airports worth P60.93 billion while Package B comprises of the Davao, Laguindingan, and New Bohol (Panglao) airports worth P66.9 billion.

The biggest project is the P40.57-billion contract to improve the services and enhance the airside and landside facilities at the Davao international airport followed by the P30.4-billion contract for the Iloilo international airport.

Other projects include the Bacolod – Silay international airport with P20.26 billion, the Laguindingan airport with P14.62 billion, New Bohol (Panglao) airport with P11.71 billion, and Puerto Princesa airport with P10.27 billion.

The airport projects would entail initial investments of up to P26.14 billion with the biggest amount going to Davao with P5.89 billion followed by Puerto Princesa with P5.81 billion, New Bohol with P4.57 billion, Iloilo with P4.01 billion, and Laguindingan with P2.26 billion.

The DOTC said the 30-year concession contract would be awarded through a competitive bidding following the rules and procedures prescribed under RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718 otherwise known as the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.

The DOTC through CAAP would enter into concession agreements for the expansion, operations and maintenance of the existing airports to private operators.

The private sector concessionaire for the Bacolod-Silay, Davao, Iloilo, and Laguindingan airports would take over the operations and maintenance; undertake immediate expansion of the passenger terminal buildings, apron, other airside and landside facilities; and any capacity augmentation to cater to future demand throughout the contractual term.

Likewise, the private proponent would also take over the operations and maintenance of the New Bohol (Panglao) and Puerto Princesa airports.

The DOTC pointed out that the traffic at the six provincial airports has either exceeded or is nearing their design capacity levels making the fast and proactive development crucial.

Palawan to be promoted as historical destination

By Amy R. Remo (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines–A coalition of government agencies and private sector groups is pushing Palawan as a historical destination.

This move is expected to boost tourist arrivals in the province by as much as 10 percent.

The coalition is composed of Rajah Travel Corp., the Department of Tourism, the Province of Palawan, the City of Puerto Princesa, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Palawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Palawan Tourism Council.

According to Rajah Travel chair Aileen Clemente, Palawan’s tourism goes beyond the underground river and its pristine beaches.

“We are trying to put together a tour package that will highlight lost historical pieces of Palawan and its contribution to the country’s liberation during World War II,” Clemente explained.

“While the United States army has recognized the importance of Palawan by naming one of the learning and training rooms in the barracks of its 41st Infantry Division in Oregon after it, a lot of Filipinos are still not aware of the heroism that happened there.”

Among the historical tourism destinations in Puerto Princesa that will be highlighted by the coalition are the World War II Memorial Museum, Plaza Cuartel, Mendoza Park, and the Iwahig Prison.

“The current efforts being done are toward refurbishing and restoring these places and improving the tourism infrastructure surrounding those areas. These are just places that are just waiting to be discovered,” Clemente said.

Clemente added that the group was expecting more American and Japanese tourists to flock to these historical sites.

In 2014, the total American tourist arrivals grew by 7.14 percent to 722,750 representing the biggest increase among the top five markets, while Japan, with its 463,744 tourists, accounted for close to 10 percent of total arrivals last year.

Combined, the American and Japanese tourists spent P52.11 billion during their stay in the country last year.

Outside of American and Japanese tourists, Clemente also sees potential for increases in visitor arrivals from the region given the new air and sea connectivity talks among Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Otto Energy to prove whether SC 55 will be the next Malampaya

By Juzel L. Danganan [(PNA), CTB/JLD/RSM]

MANILA, March 8 (PNA) -– Otto Energy Ltd. Director Rufino Bomasang said the company will prove through drilling whether Service Contract 55-Hawkeye in South West Palawan will be the next “Malampaya”.

"I've always believed that there must be another “Malampaya” somewhere out there in offshore Palawan... "Based on the very extensive 2d and 3d seismic already conducted by DST (australia's largest resource co.) and its partners Otto Energy and Transasia, there is potential to find sufficient gas resources in offshore SW Palawan covered by service contract 55," Bomasang said in a recent statement.

He added it could only be confirmed by drilling which is often the most expensive part.

Bomasang adds the gas resources in Service Contract 55 could even surpass Malampaya’s reserves, which depletes its oil and gas reserves in 2024.

For SC 55’s oil prospect, the Director said it might be the Philippines’s largest oil accumulation.

Bomasang, who is also the Otto Phils. Chairman, said Otto targets to drill a well in SC 55 by the third quarter of 2015 and is currently preparing for it.

He stressed the opportunity still remains even if its former joint venture partner BHP Billiton withdrew its investment in the project.

Bomasang said Otto will prioritize the oil prospect first, explaining that the Philippines has a huge market for it -- since it imports 98 percent of its oil needs.

Meanwhile, the Director invited other exploration companies interested to join their consortium and talk to their Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Matthew Allen, whose contact information are available at Otto’s website.

He mentioned Australian-listed Red Emperor has already agreed to invest in an oil well, while Philippine National Oil Corporation-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) has agreed to participate in the project but is still awaiting the deal’s finalization.

Otto Energy operates SC 55 at 93.18 percent, while Trans-Asia Petroleum Corporation’s subsidiary, Exploration and Production Corporation has a 6.82 percent participating interest in the petroleum block.

Otto Energy is an international oil and gas company, engaged in exploration, development and production. It has projects in the Philippines and Tanzania.

PBA meeting

By Waylon Galvez

Puerto Princesa, Palawan – The PBA Board of Governors is set to meet today to discuss the plans of re-organization for next season when a new commissioner steps in and take over from outgoing chief Angelico “Chito” Salud.

The delegation of the pro league is here for the annual All-Star Weekend, and the board – chaired by Patrick “Pato” Gregorio of Talk ’N Text – is also taking advantage of the gathering to convene in a special meeting.

The board is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. here at the Aziza Hotel.

On top of the agenda is the re-organization of the PBA Commissioner’s Office, with the possibility of placing a Deputy Commissioner, which would lessen the workload of the person that will take the place of Salud.

In the current set up of the PBA, Salud attends to all the activities of the league – from watching the games of the PBA five days a week and the PBA D-League that plays twice a week.

Robinsons Place Palawan becomes one of the world’s largest solar-powered malls

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 6 (PNA) -- Robinsons Place Palawan, the 31st in Robinsons Malls chain of shopping stores, became the world’s largest solar-powered malls following the ceremonial “switch on” recently of over 5,700 photovoltaic modules on a 15,000-square meter area on its roof to generate and supply electricity.

Solar Philippines president and founder Leandro Leviste said at the event that Robinsons Place Palawan’s renewable power project will deliver 1.3 megawatts of electricity that is enough for the mall’s escalators, elevators, lights, and others.

He said Robinsons Malls’ take in using renewable energy is not only to save money and 25% of electric consumption, but also an optimistic demonstration of its commitment to help Puerto Princesa and the province of Palawan in protecting the environment.

The young renewable energy executive, who is also the son of Sen. Loren Legarda, a known advocate of the environment, added that more than economizing in the business, the goal is to inspire other establishments in the country to undertake the use of environmentally-safe energy sources to help ease the imminent power crisis this year.

Meanwhile, Robinsons Malls Commercial Centers Division General Manager Arlene Magtibay told the local media that implementing the project with Solar Philippines is equal to planting 2,000 trees which act as carbon sinks, and is important in the production of oxygen.

With the solar power project, Magtibay said Robinsons Place Palawan will also effectively cut its carbon footprint.

Department of Energy (DOE) Undersecretary Raul Aguilos, on the other hand, said Robinsons Malls’ project in Palawan is a trailblazer, especially in a province that cares a lot for the environment.

“This is a very good start in Palawan, and we hope other companies that would invest here would follow the same example and also use solar power,” he said.

Mayor Lucilo Bayron of this city, and other local government officials were present at the event held at Robinsons Place Palawan in Barangay San Pedro.

Puerto Princesa celebrates 143rd Foundation with Balayong parade; fireworks

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), RMA/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 5 (PNA) -- Despite recall petition woes, this city culminated Wednesday its weeklong celebration of its 143rd Foundation Day with a vibrant Palawan Cherry-inspired parade in the afternoon, and a brilliant fireworks display at the bay walk at night.

Mayor Lucilo Bayron, whose leadership is being challenged by the verification process of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) involving the recall petition filed against him by a former city information officer, led the celebration with Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III and the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

The celebration commemorates the founding of Puerto Princesa as a settlement on March 4, 1872 by the Spanish colonizers, specifically the flatting of a precipitous land slant near the port, where the Immaculate Conception Cathedral stands.

Since it was founded, the city has become the midpoint of all kinds of activities in the province of Palawan, as well as the leadership bases of the city and provincial governments.

The foundation day started with the Talent Competition part of the search for Miss Puerto Princesa 2015 on Feb. 28. The main competition was won by Sandrine Stoelzaed, a resident of the city, who now works as a flight stewardess of the Philippine Airlines.

It was also marked by the holding in the city of the 1st Quarter National Board Meeting and Joint Conference of the Vice Mayor’s League of the Philippines-CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Region 9 with Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno on March 2-4.

On March 6, residents of the city were treated to a PBA All Star basketball game that featured Jimmy Alapag, Asi Taulava, James Yap, and other players at the Puerto Princesa Coliseum. One of the sponsors was Nickel Asia of the mining industry.

The Palawan Cherry or Balayong tree was featured as it symbolizes the city’s effervescent development in recent years that made it one of the top destinations to visit in the country today.

Former first lady Ellen Hagedorn, wife of former mayor Edward Hagedorn, was responsible for bringing back the glory to the Balayong supposedly to help improve the image of Puerto Princesa as the cleanest and greenest city.

Said to be the closest tree in comparison to the beauty of the cherry blossoms of Japan, the former first lady imagined Puerto Princesa then to go in bloom when those planted alongside major streets and areas in earlier years would yield beautiful white-pink flowers in clusters when they mature.

In his message, Bayron called on residents of the city to continuously support development programs for Puerto Princesa, particularly the tourism industry, for long-term economic gains.

Palawan-AirAsia Zest ink deal to launch ‘World's Best Island’ campaign

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), LAP/CARF/EDS]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 4 (PNA) -- Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia Zest (Philippines) and the Palawan government represented by Governor Jose Alvarez and the Palawan Tourism Council (PTC) signed Wednesday a partnership understanding agreement to launch the “World’s Best Island” campaign.

At the Governor’s Conference Room, Provincial Capitol Building, Alvarez said the campaign rides on the declaration of Palawan by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Award as 2014’s World’s Best Island.

The goal is for AirAsia Zest (Philippines), the PTC, and the provincial government to work together to bring around 1.4 million tourist arrivals by 2016 to Palawan, which “is home to natural wonders that are acclaimed globally.”

With El Nido being named as the “Most Beautiful Island Beach,” and Honda Bay Islands in Puerto Princesa as the “Best Island Beach for Swimming and Snorkeling,” Alvarez believes that the campaign can help reach the said target tourist arrivals.

“For years, Palawan seemed to be one of the country’s best kept secrets, with its idyllic destinations unknown to many. In recent years, the province has emerged as among the top tourist destinations not only in the Philippines but globally. Being named the world’s best island is truly an honor, and has presented to us both a challenge and opportunity to continue having this prestige. The island is usually known as the country’s last frontier – it is up to us to make Palawan to remain the first on every tourist’s list,” Alvarez said during the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU).

In the partnership understanding, the provincial government signed the MOU in a bid to also expand Palawan’s tourism potentials, develop tourism products and services, and organize monthly activities that would “entice the market.”

The PTC and AirAsia Zest (Philippines), on the other hand, will participate by fully supporting and cooperating with the province for the implementation of the Palawan Tourism Action Plan and Campaign.

The Palawan government further agrees to implement pro-active marketing and promotional efforts to inform the public and lure target markets to visit the province.

The three will also carry out media familiarization tours and other activities under the campaign.

The “World’s Best Island” campaign is supported by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the United States Agency for International Development under its Advancing Philippine Competitiveness project (USAID-COMPETE).

As part of developing the "World's Best Island" campaign, the USAID-COMPETE helped the province strengthen existing destinations and conceptualized new tourism products, including the promotion of heritage and culture.

Next month, Palawan will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation from Japanese colonizers.

Dubbed as “A Salute to Valor: Palawan-70 years of Freedom,” a cultural-heritage tour package will be launched to highlight not just the island’s beautiful beaches and landscapes but also its rich history and culture.

Meanwhile, the PTC agreed to coordinate between the province and tourism stakeholders in Palawan, as well as host the guests during the familiarization tours.

AirAsia Zest (Philippines) has committed to offer special low fares during travel fairs, and provide year-round affordable rates for its 3x/daily flights between Manila and Puerto Princesa City.

The airline will also give Palawan advance information on special promo rates for the province and all stakeholders to support it through marketing and promotional activities.

With the campaign, the Palawan provincial government, Palawan Tourism Council, and AirAsia Zest (Philippines) seek to actively promote the province’s renowned destinations.

Dubbed as a place where “every island is an adventure,” the province boasts of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been named one of the world’s best natural wonders.

Palawan also has another world heritage site popular for undersea adventurers – the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. It is also home to endangered species, including the Sunda tree squirrel and Calamian deer.

Palawan govt celebrates March as National Women’s Month

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso [(PNA), CTB/CARF/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, March 3 (PNA) -- “Juana: Desisyon Mo ay Mahalaga Para sa Kinabukasan ng Bawat Isa, Ikaw Na!” will be the month of March’ theme as the provincial government of Palawan celebrates the annual National Women’s Month.

In an expression of “oneness,” the Provincial Gender and Development (PGAD) of the province headed by focal point person Victoria Ladica, has lined up several activities for the celebration that will be participated in by female employees of the Provincial Capitol.

The month-long celebration, said Ladica, will commence on March 6 with a parade around the Capitol Compound. It will be followed by an opening program at the Telesforo Paredes Memorial Pavilion that will feature talks from invited guests on GAD.

Governor Jose Alvarez will be attending the event with Board Member Sharon Abiog-Onda, chairperson of the Committee on Women of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Provincial DILG Director Mario Daquer.

Following the opening program is a lecture on Violence Against Women by Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Teodoro Jose S. Matta, and in the afternoon Dr. Michael Castañeda, a urologist from the MMG-Cooperative Hospital will share about erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation for married employees.

Agricultural trade fair and garage sale will also be part of the celebration.

On March 11, 18 and 25, female employees can participate in a Zumba Dance Exercise to encourage them to be conscious and concerned about their health; March 13 and 27, weighing of recyclable bottles for the project “Junk to Cash of the PGAD, and March 13 will also be for the “Look Good, Feel Good” activity, where free good grooming services (manicure, massage, haircut) will be provided.

On March 20, Ladica said there will be a blood-letting activity, and other health services, such as fasting blood sugar and blood chemistry, a Health Expo, and on March 27, the Palarong Pinoy, which will lead to the closing of the celebration of the National Women’s Month.

Male employees, she said, are invited to attend the event to learn about topics that will be discussed by Dr. Castañeda.

Participating in the celebration is important, she said, because it highlights the exceptional contribution of women to events in Palawan's history and the modern society. International Women’s Day is March 8.

Otto Energy targets drilling in Service Contract-55 Hawkeye by Q3

(PNA), FPV/JLD/EDS

MANILA, March 2 (PNA) -– Otto Energy Philippines Inc. is targeting to start drilling on its first well in the Hawkeye fields by the third quarter of 2015, extracting its first barrels from the area.

”With drilling now to occur in Q3 2015, Otto shareholders will participate in this exciting and material opportunity,” Otto said at the Australian bourse Monday.

The firm noted completing the preparations for the drilling such as acquisition of long lead items which are stored in its yards in Labuan, Malaysia.

It has also signed a letter of intent with Maersk Drilling to secure the Maersk Venturer ultra-deepwater drillship – one of the most advanced drillships – to the drill Hawkeye’s first well.

Otto said contract arrangements will be finalized in the coming weeks.

The oil and gas company estimates the extraction at Hawkeye could produce a gross best estimate of 112 million oil barrels.

Meanwhile, Red Emperor will farm-in the Hawkeye-1 exploration well, automatically earning a 15 percent working interest.

In another disclosure at the Australian Stock Exchange, Red Emperor Managing Director Greg Bandy said the company saw promise in Hawkeye, especially with the advantage given by the depressed oil market as it helped lower drill rig rates.

The company will raise A$ 2.13 million from shares, coming from its investors in the United Kingdom and Australia for the project.

With more partners and more budget and resources coming in, Otto said the Hawkeye project is on-track.

”This farm-in, along with the US.5m funding committed by BHP Billiton and the expression of interest received in January 2015 from Philippine National Oil Company – Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) for a further 15% working interest, ensures that Otto is fully funded and has mitigated significant financial risk associated with the drilling of Hawkeye-1,” it said.

Service Contract-55 Hawkeye is controlled by Otto Philippines at 45 percent, Otto Energy at 33.18 percent, Red Emperor Resources NL at 15 percent and Palawan 55 Exploration and Production Company at 6.82 percent.

PNOC-EC’s 15 percent stake is still pending, with its potential investment awaiting approval from the Office of the President.

Otto Energy is an oil and gas company engaged in exploration, development and production. It has projects in the Philippines and Tanzania.

On the other hand, Red Emperor Resources NL is a natural resource exploration company with oil & gas interests in the frontier state of Puntland, Somalia and the Republic of Georgia.

PCG reminds Tubbataha divers of ‘no touch policy’

By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - With the diving season at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park about to start, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) recently reminded divers of the “touch me not” policy when it comes to the rich marine biodiversity found in this United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) protected area.

“The divers are not allowed to fish, use spears, touch corals or harvest sea clams and other marine creatures. These activities are really a no-no. The divers can only take pictures. Everything here are touch me nots,” said PCG Palawan district commander Commodore George Ursabia.

He added that there would be Tubbataha Park rangers who would conduct random inspections of the boats used by divers.

“The park rangers would reiterate to them the do’s and don’ts while they are in the Tubbataha area,” Ursabia said.

Before they leave the park, the divers have to inform the rangers who again would then make sure that no violation was indeed committed.

The diving season at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, regarded as one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world, often starts in late March and lasts until June.

Diving regulations

Ursabia said they would meet with other concerned government agencies and boat operators on Tuesday to further discuss the diving regulations.

The PCG, meanwhile, would lay down the vessel safety regulations to the boat operators including securing boat safety certificates, complete life saving equipment; and compliance with manning requirements.

The operators would also have to be reminded that while at the Tubbataha area, their boats would have to maintain a safe distance to make sure that their hull would not damage the corals beneath them.

Since they are also not allowed to drop their anchors in the area, Ursabia said the operators could tie their boats to the mooring buoys to make sure that these would not drift away.