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Palawan News November 2015

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Palawan - Archived News

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How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
Vitamin C 220 mg Oranges: 30 mg
Calcium 440 mg Cow's milk: 120 mg
Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
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Undergroud River in Palawan
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Underground river in Pureto Princesa, Palawan
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Baracuda Lake, Coron, Palawan
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A Barangay Clearance is NEEDED in order to get a Business License.
So why is the barangay name not in most business addresses?
Ask your Barangay Captain/Chairman to create a Resolution to make it mandatory to put the barangay name in all Business addresses.
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U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney and USAID/Philippines Environment Office Chief Daniel Moore witness the safe and sustainable collection of ornamental fish by certified Marine Aquarium Council collectors in Palawan


DMCI beefs up power capacity for Palawan

By Myrna Velasco

The distress of Southern Palawan on power interruptions may soon be eased with the decision of DMCI Power Corporation to beef up its capacity for the area by 4.42 megawatts.

The company, in a statement to the media, has announced that it is already scheduled to build the planned diesel power plant in the town of Brooke’s Point.dmci power

According to DMCI Power President Nestor D. Dadivas, the electricity to be generated from the plant will satiate the requirements of at least three towns – Brooke’s Point, Bataraza, and Sofronio Espanola.

He added “this business decision is meant to ensure that these towns will enjoy stable and dependable power.”

Dadivas further noted these southern portions of Palawan are considered “underserved areas”, thus, this would relatively be part of the company’s missionary electrification commitment.

He stated that under current circumstances, “these towns have to endure power instability due to line connection problems and insufficient supply in the entire province.”

The DMCI Power executive expounded this would be “a satellite facility that aims to augment the capacity of the company’s plant in Irawan, Puerto Princesa City.”

DMCI Power previously won a bidding to supply the electricity needs of Palawan’s main city, but opposition to its proposed coal technology had delayed implementation timeframe on its proposed facility.

With the intervention of the Department of Energy (DOE) on an “Augmentation Plan”, the company was earlier prompted to deploy seven (7) new generating sets to provide 27 megawatts of power that shall cater to the needs of Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) consumers.

DMCI Power has noted that it inked an agreement with state-run National Power Corporation and PALECO on the provision of the required base-load and peaking power to meet the island grid’s demand.

Dadivas added in the event that there will be line outage, the three towns to be served by the new diesel plant “will continue to have power, as they will no longer have to wait for power to become available from Puerto Princesa.”

DOH trains El Nido boatmen, tour guides on water safety and rescue

By Keith Anthony Fabro

Ensuring tourists’ safety is a serious thing as keeping the thriving tourism industry alive in the picturesque El Nido town.

Towards this end, the Department of Health-4B (DOH-4B) in cooperation with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Department of Tourism (DOT) in Palawan mentored 35 individuals on Water Search and Rescue (WASAR) Training.

This five-day training program was concluded on Friday, November 27. It was aimed at providing immediate first aid care and basic life support service to tourists and locals alike in case water incident such as drowning occurs during island tours and deep sea diving.

“Having these newly-trained WASAR personnel will surely help our town recognize not only as a world-class destination, but also as a world-renowned destination that places the safety of tourists above all. I believe these two distinctions must go hand in hand or else we might lose the former,” said El Nido Vice Mayor Nieves Rosendo during the graduation ceremony.

Municipal Tourism Officer Arvin Acosta said these trained individuals will be of great help in making El Nido as one of the safest tourist getaways in the world. He said his office is also mulling over the possibility of regularly conducting WASAR course refresher and training for newbies in preparation for the peak season.

“We’re thinking of conducting regular trainings and refreshers every month so we can send at least one WASAR trained personnel for every tourist boat venturing into the sea for island hopping,” said Acosta.

Trainees, comprised of boat men, tour guides and divers from different resorts and tourist establishments, undergone rigorous exercises to assure they are physically fit for water search and rescue operations.

“In times of emergencies, most especially during disasters or calamities, we are also expecting you all to be one with us in serving as the first line of defense,” said Jimmy Rubite, PCG El Nido Chief Petty Officer.

The WASAR training starts at 5 a.m. with warm–up exercises and jogging to keep the body fit. The five-day course includes water safety, swimming strokes, rescue techniques (non-swimming and swimming rescue), survival techniques, basic life support, mass casualty incident operation and endurance swim.

It is the first part of a series of trainings that will lead to the certification for a full pledged lifeguard.

El Nido was the third and final leg of WASAR trainings that were previously held in Puerto Princesa City and northern town of Coron in the last months.

A total of 115 individuals initially benefitted for free from the program, which is part of DOH’s campaign called “Health in Tourism.” To further raise the distinction of MIMAROPA as a “Destination of Choice,” it will soon be replicated in other provinces in the region.

The DOH-4B said select pool of trainers from among the successful WASAR trainees will be the ones to train the remaining tour guides and boatmen in their respective area. These select individuals, on the other hand, will undergo two-week lifeguard training with the PCG at the first quarter of 2016.

DOH-MIMAROPA continues surprise random drug testing in Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 26 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH)-MIMAROPA conducted Monday a surprise random drug testing activity on 220 personnel and staff of the Ospital ng Palawan in this city as part of its aim to ensure that government and non-government institutions are safe to the public.

DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo explained that the unannounced random drug testing at the ONP ensures that it is a drug-free medical institution that people in Puerto Princesa and the province can trust.

“We would like to ensure a drug-free workplace for the health and safety of staff and also of patients in health facilities in provinces. Drug abuse in general, may cause physical, mental and social dysfunction that affects not only the user but also the persons around him/her including co-workers,” Janairo stated.

The random drug testing is not only being done in Palawan, he said, but also in other MIMAROPA provinces on employees in food establishments, waste management personnel, tour guides, and boatment.

“We have also included random drug testing among food establishment and waste management personnel, tour guides and boatmen in the region to ensure the well-being of the public,” he added.

DOH-MIMAROPA started its random drug testing activities in Palawan apparently on November 5, 2015 in Lubang, Occidental Mindoro with 215 health personnel tested; November 10, 2015 in Culion Sanitarium with 224 hospital staff; and 436 in Coron, including municipal health personnel, waste management staff, waiters and boatmen.

According to 2008 National Household Survey conducted by the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB), there are 1.7 million drug users in the Philippines and 1,700 of them die yearly. Most users are male, in their 30s, single, unemployed and high school graduate and are found in urban areas.

Republic Act 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 mandates the development of drug free policies, programs and enforcement of penalties for drug related crimes.

Drug abuse has been one of the major concerns in the country. Marijuana and shabu continues to be the main cause of drug abuse. According to Janairo, urine testing is being used to detect drug users because it is easy to administer, cost efficient, publicly accepted and proven effective.

The drug testing activity is done in coordination with the Dangerous Drug Abuse Program (DDAP) of the Department of Health. “We will continue to be doing unannounced visits in all the health facilities in the region to remove drug users in the health service, protect the health and security of personnel and maintain a drug free workplace,” Dr. Janairo stressed.

Employment office in Palawan conducts special recruitment activity

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (PNA) -- The Palawan Provincial Employment and Services Office (PESO) started Monday its special recruitment activity (SRA) for residents, who are in need of good-paying jobs in the country and abroad.

The SRA, which is scheduled until November 28, hopes to benefit unemployed Palaweños with work opportunities in the Philippines and abroad to reduce unemployment rate in the province, explained Wednesday PESO Officer-in-Charge Armando Batul.

Batul said the recruitment activity is for the Philippine-Nippon Technical College (PNTC), “an institute that aims to organize, establish, maintain and conduct a progressive institution of learning technical skills with high standards” that is accredited by the Technical Education Skill Development Authority (TESDA).

It is also for Midol International Manpower Services, MMML Recruitment Services Inc. and Overseas Professional Achievers Inc. that are looking for workers for Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai and Oman.

The applicants particularly targeted are Palaweños between the ages 23-35, serious in being employed here and abroad, with good work ethics, and who are patient enough to withstand challenges.

With or without passport, has or has not worked abroad, he said applicants may bring their resume with 2x2 ID picture, and a photocopy of their passport to the PESO.

In October, the PESO also implemented a SRA, he said, for agencies like R.V Tria Inc., Asia World, Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Midol International Manpower Services.

The PESO expects that the SRA will continue as a program next year for unemployed Palaweños.

Palawan gov’t welcomes 1st batch of over 2,000 technical-vocational graduates

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 26 (PNA) -- The provincial government welcomed recently the graduation of its first batch of over 2,000 technical and vocational scholars at the Palawan Technical and Vocational School (PTVS) in the southern town of Aborlan.

A statement released by the Provincial Information Office (PIO) Thursday quoted Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez in telling the technical and vocational graduates that the provincial government is continuously coordinating with countries like Malaysia and Japan to look for employment possibilities for them.

The governor also encouraged the graduates to help themselves by not wasting the opportunities and look for temporary work while waiting to go abroad.

Doing this will give them additional experiences in the technical and vocational courses they availed, he said.

Out of the total number of graduates, the PIO said 10 received the Outstanding Student Awards and 13 received Leadership Awards.

By 2016, Alvarez said the construction of additional classrooms in the PTVS in Barangay Plaridel, Aborlan will be completed with necessary facilities to accommodate more scholars.

A technical and vocational school in northern Palawan, particularly in the town of Taytay, will also be started next year.

The school will give opportunities to residents of the northern part of the province, who live far from southern Palawan, where Aborlan is located.

The scholarship is a program pushed by the provincial government in cooperation with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Asian Business Cabletow Cooperative Academy (ABCCA).

Its goal is to provide the Palaweño youth the opportunity to study, especially those who are only able to complete their secondary education.

In the technical-vocational course Driving NC II, 533 graduated; Heavy Equipment Operation (On-highway Dump Truck NC II)-349; Computer Systems Servicing NC II-258; Heavy Equipment Operation (Backhoe Loader NC II)-216; Housekeeping NC II-158; Food and Beverage Services NC II-164; Bookkeeping NC III-96; Front Office Services NC II-87; Local Guiding Services NC II (Tour Guiding Servicing NC II)- 84; Bartending NC II-69; Massage Therapy NC II-61; Heavy Equipment Operation (Motor Grader NC II)-32; Heavy Equipment Operation (Wheel Loader NC II)-58 and Bulldozer NC II-24.

Tubbataha management in Palawan seeks int’l maritime org protection vs growing shipping activities

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 25 (PNA) -- The management of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) is mulling on seeking the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) special protection against the growing shipping activities that threaten the marine park.

Angelique Songco, chief of the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) in Palawan, said protecting the marine park from increasing shipping activities is attainable once the London-based IMO is able to identify and designate Tubbataha as a particularly sensitive sea area (PSSA) in the Philippines.

She said the PSSA is a “special protection” accorded to places with global significance in terms of marine ecology.

The IMO is important in the purpose, she explained, as it is a distinct agency of the United Nation’s (UN) that holds a role in the “shipping safety and security, and the marine pollution caused by ships and other sea transports.”

Since 1992, the worldwide shipping traffic reportedly went up by 300 percent.

The IMO established the PSSA program to preserve sensitive marine areas to be able to conserve resources living therein to sustain food for the planet.

This mechanism could save a lot of things that are at stake, such as fragile ecosystems, local tourism, fisheries and sites of historical importance, IMO noted further.

The TRNP was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It is a 97,030-hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA) located 150 km southeast of Puerto Princesa City, lying at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the global centre of marine biodiversity.

The park sits at the junction of the two shipping routes that traverse the Sulu Sea – the north-south and the east-west routes – connecting the West Philippine Sea to the Celebes Sea in the south and to the Pacific Ocean on the eastern border of the Philippines, according to TMO.

Recto wants to tap P170-B Malampaya fund for SALt lamps mass production

By Ernie Reyes (

MANILA – Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday urged the government to bankroll the development and mass production of the Sustainable Alternative Light or SALt lamps with the P168.8-B Malampaya funds sitting idle at the National Treasury.

“If you look at government finances, there should be no problem in finding money for these saltwater lamps,” Recto said of the lanterns pitched by a Filipino engineer whom US President Barack Obama put on the world stage, in a conversation with Chinese Internet billionaire Jack Ma, at the recent APEC CEO Summit.

Recto pointed out there is even no need “to seek a budget from Congress because some of these funds are off-budget, meaning they can be tapped without having to go through the annual appropriations route, like the Malampaya royalty remittances.”

Recto was referring to the government share in revenue from the Malampaya natural gas field off the coast of Northern Palawan. Under the law creating the fund, it was primarily meant to bankroll energy-related projects, especially renewables that require bigger funding before they reach economies of scale and cost efficiencies.

The fund posted an outstanding balance of P168.9 billion as of May 31, 2015.

Since 2002, the government has received a total of P210.9 billion from the consortium operating the production well. Releases from this fund reached P42 billion, Recto said, citing an official Bureau of Treasury report.

Next year, Malampaya remittances are projected to hit P34.7 billion. “This means on a daily basis, Malampaya is pumping P91.7 million into the government coffers,” Recto said.

Government’s “daily windfall alone is more than enough” to finance the development of SALt’s full potential, Recto said.

“If reports are true that P20 million is what the developers initially need to jumpstart the lamp’s production, then just six hours’ worth of Malampaya would be enough,” Recto said.

One saline solution-powered lamp, which can produce up to 90 lumens of light, is said to cost $20, plus $3 every six months for the replacement anode.

Its developer, engineer Aisa Mijeno, said her group would welcome financial grants so they can mass produce it.

Recto said the government should approach Mijeno and offer her joint-venture engagements. “Lack of funds cannot be invoked as a reason because clearly they’re available.”

Aside from Malampaya proceeds, Recto said the Department of Science and Technlogy’s (DOST) P19.1-billion budget for 2016 features “grants to technology startups, assistance to inventors.”

He said the Senate has called the attention of the DOST “to immediately reach out to Mijeno for the possibility of her project being given support.”

The Department of Energy (DOE) will also receive P2.84 billion to bring electricity to 3,150 hard-to-reach households, according to a Department of Budget Management (DBM) briefer.

On top of this, the DOE would also energize 5,400 households in off-grid sitios.

“Baka dito pwede nila maimbita si Engineer Mijeno para makatulong. Yung off-grid areas usually mga isla iyon. So kung napapaligiran ng dagat, nandoon na mismo ang power source,” Recto said.

Recto said the SALt project would qualify for Malampaya funding under Presidential Decree No. 910, which states that government share from the exploitation of energy resources can be used to finance energy programs.

City Fire Dep’t advises public to buy quality Christmas lights

By Archie Barone

The City Fire Department advises residents of Puerto Princesa City to buy quality Christmas lights now that everybody is busy buying different kinds of decors for the Yuletide season.

Fire Officer Rud Mark Anticano warns public on the proliferation of sub-standard Christmas lights as it did not pass the safety standard of the government. He said that consumers should always look for ICC sticker and seal of DTI approval.

Based on the record of the Bureau of Fire, most of the fire in the previous Christmas seasons were caused by fire crackers and Christmas lights.

“Tiyakin natin na hindi mga sub-standard na mga Christmas lights ang ating mga binibili at ikinakabit sa ating mga bahay para maiwasan na pagmulan ito ng sunog,” Anticano said.

He also advises to always unplug all the appliances and gadgets when not in use or if the power is already full, in the case of gadgets. These equipment he said, easily heat up which may cause fire. He also discourages “octopus connection” in houses because this is very dangerous.

Octopus wiring is pacing a lot of extensions to a wall socket. This is dangerous because if the total current that passes through the wires exceeds the indicated rating, it could create too much heat and start a fire (The maximum current rating is usually at 10 Amperes for household units).

DAR, DTI partners for farmers

By Ellalyn De Vera

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in its efforts to help farmers produce quality products that would meet the safety standard of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The DAR and DTI has conducted a three-day synchronization planning workshop in Palawan where participants from both agencies presented the current status of food safety and discussed issues and concerns of each agency.

Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Conrado Guevarra, said “the department deals with a lot of food products that are processed and produced by our agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).”

He added that since these products are sold in the market, it is a must that they are guaranteed for consumption.

“The quality of the products of our ARBs must cope-up with the highest standard in preparation for the ASEAN integration. That’s why the DAR and the DTI are joining hands to assist farmers’ organizations and eventually win the nod of the FDA for product licensing and accreditation,” Guevarra added.

“As development partners, we will facilitate trainer’s training for DAR and DTI technical staff so that they will be accredited as deputized food safety inspectors. Sooner or later, we can also include some staff of our local government units,” DTI Regional Director Joel Valera said.

DAR Chief Agrarian Reform Program Officer Ferdinand De Gala emphasized the importance of the activity to further strengthen convergence efforts among stakeholders.

“We should see to it that all our efforts complement with each other in order to provide the needed support for our beneficiaries,” he said.

The planning-workshop was done with the DTI-CARP partners.

The DAR and the DTI agreed for the conduct of planning and threshing out issues and concerns every semester.

Palawan board member seeks landmark bridge restoration in historical town

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) -- A member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan is seeking the restoration and rehabilitation of a dilapidated bridge in the northern town of Taytay as a significant landmark of its centuries-old cultural and historical past.

Palawan 1st District Board Member Roseller Pineda, in a resolution, asked Governor Jose Alvarez to appropriate funds for the restoration of the Langayan (also known as Taytay) Bridge as part of the town’s historic development into a first class municipality.

“It is the sublime aspiration of the people of Taytay who value their history and perpetuate the essence and existential symbol of their town to initiate the restoration of this bridge not only for the utilitarian purpose but most especially for the transcendent sense of history,” Pineda said Friday after filing his resolution to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

The resolution was approved in the first and final reading on Nov. 17.

Taytay, as the Palawan’s first capital, has rich cultural and historical treasures rooted from the Spanish colonial era, the American regime, and Japanese wartime occupation and liberation.

“Some of the most significant historical relics and landmarks (in Taytay) are in need of restoration for posterity and as legacy of the past for the succeeding generations of Taytayanons,” Pineda said.

Aside from the old Spanish fort of Sta. Isabel, other remaining symbols of colonial antiquity in the town are the limestone water wells (pasuelos) and brick walls of the site of Spanish officials’ residence, he added.

It is said that before Spain colonized the Philippines, Taytay was ruled by a monarch noted as followed everywhere at any given time by 10 scribes.

The crew of Ferdinand Magellan held the Taytay king and queen for ransom after escaping the Battle of Mactan, where he was slain. They intended to secure more supplies as they plan to cross into the Moluccas, where the Portuguese could sought help.

The native king and his subjects complied with the demands and even added more food supplies than what they asked for. This was reportedly recorded by Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's chronicler, who was on board in one of the ships when these events took place.

Provincial gov’t to strengthen corn production in Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 20 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Palawan’s Livelihood Project Management Unit (LPMU) will focus on strengthening the farming of corn on the belief that it has the potential to develop the local agriculture.

Dr. Myrna Ordinario-Lacanilao, program manager of the Livelihood Cluster of the IHELP (Infrastructure, Health, Education, Livelihood and Protection of the Environment), said increasing the farming and production of corn in Palawan is among the major sources of revenue that the administration of Governor Jose Alvarez is supporting in order to help indigent families.

“It is not a secret to us that the traditionally harvested products by our farmers are rice, banana, vegetable crops, and occasionally, corn,” Lacanilao said.

This fact, she explained, was what compelled the IHELP Livelihood Cluster to re-introduce corn again to farmers in Palawan as a “high-value crop” that they can try.

Lacanilao said corn is the second most abundant cereal grown for human consumption aside from the fact that it is a versatile crop because what are in its plant are utilizable.

“Just like the coconut, all parts of the corn are useful like its stalks that become food for the animals,” she said, stating additionally that it is the basic ingredient in the production of feeds.

The provincial government, she furthered, will be introducing the Bt-corn variety to achieve the target production of seven tons per hectare of land in the demonstration farm that can be found in Barangay Iraan, Rizal town in southern Palawan.

The demo farm is under the management of Len Valera, program coordinator of the LPMU Corn Program.

Lacanilao added that in the feasibility study that Valera made, one hectare of land for the planting of corn will need a capital of PHP40,000 for a possible corn harvest that could earn PHP84,000.

If the cost for fertilizer, seedlings, and others will be deducted, a corn farmer could earn around PHP44,000.

Cloudy Friday for Palawan, E. Visayas, Mindanao


An intertropical convergence zone is affecting Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – It will be a cloudy Friday, November 20, for Palawan, Eastern Visayas, and Mindanao, according to state weather bureau PAGASA.

In its 5 pm bulletin Thursday, November 19, PAGASA said these 3 areas will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms in the tnext 24 hours.

An intertropical convergence zone is affecting Mindanao.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

Moderate to strong winds will blow from the northeast over the extreme Northern Luzon, causing moderate to rough seas. Elsewhere, coastal seas will be slight to moderate as light to moderate winds blow from the northeast.

3 Palaweño senior citizens qualify as nominees in ‘7th Regional Nakatatanda Awards’

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 18 (PNA) -- Three senior citizens from Palawan are nominated in the 7th Regional Ulirang Nakatatanda Awards of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

This was confirmed Wednesday by Helen Bundal of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).

According to Bundal, nominated under the Individual Category of the search are senior citizens Virginia J. Agpao and Benida O. Paala of Aborlan town, and Antonio T. Gorecho, Sr. of the municipality of Bataraza – all in southern Palawan.

The three finalists, she explained, underwent meticulous examination and verification by the Regional Inter-Agency Committee led by the DSWD.

The PSWDO official in Palawan said there was a big chance that any of the three would win the award because of their admirable achievements.

Bundal said the annual award intends to salute and appreciate the contributions of the elderly citizens to the development of Palawan, and the Philippines as a whole.

More importantly, the award is to inspire the Filipino people to continue to value the elderly citizens and the contributions they can still deliver to their communities despite their old age.

It also strengthens the Filipinos’ respect and care for the senior citizens, who are an important part of what the Philippines is today.

The awarding ceremony for the 7th Regional Ulirang Nakatatanda Awards will be on Nov. 26 in Metro Manila. The winner will receive a plaque and a Php 8,000 cash prize.

It is being supported by the DSWD in partnership with the Coalition of Services for the Elderly, Inc. (COSEI) that aims to give recognition and honor to the elderly people of the society, who still have the capacity, capability and interest to help in bringing solutions to issues that happen in communities, and to contribute to the society’s general welfare.

The first award was given in 2009 in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro under the initiative of the Regional Inter-Agency Committee –Philippine Plan of Action for Senior Citizens (RIAC-PPASC).

In 2012, Anastacio Villapa, a resident of Bataraza, won the top award in the said search.

Power coop to provide electricity to 7 villages in town in Southern Palawan


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 17 (PNA) -- Seven villages in Sofronio Española in southern Palawan will finally find their homes illuminated this Christmas following the Palawan Electric Cooperative’s (PALECO) announcement Monday that they will have electricity before end of November.

The villages (sitios) are located in Barangay Labog, Sofronio Española, according to PALECO spokesperson Vicky Basilio.

Speaking to the local media, Basilio said however, that the realization and speed of providing electricity to the seven villages depends on how many residents will apply for connection in their municipal office.

“We encourage residents of the seven sitios to apply for electric lines, prepare the documents you need to present so, that when it’s already there, all of them will have power,” Basilio said.

The seven villages are Calatunan, Tumagas, Gimba, Silangan, Naltep, Agis-Agis, and Kiyatan.

Sofronio Española, a second class municipality in the southern part of the province that has a population of 29,997 according to a 2010 census, is actually a new municipality in Palawan.

It was officially established only on June 5, 1995 after Republic Act 7679 divided the town of Brooke’s Point, also in southern Palawan.

Since its declaration as a new municipality, its population grew to over 29,997 but the census has not come out with a fresh count.

Basilio said that in 2014, the PALECO set up power lines in Sofronio Española under the Barangay Electrification Program (BEF) of the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

However, the provision of electricity did not push through allegedly because of problems in the lines which she did not elaborate.

The BEP of the NEA has benefited residents in 47 enclaves (sitios) in Puerto Princesa City, the town of Roxas in northern Palawan, and Barangay Punta Baja, Rizal in the southern part.

Aside from the seven, more than 70 villages are being prepared under the BEP for electrification, Basilio added.

President Benigno Aquino III’s administration is giving priority to the BEP in compliance with his “social Filipino contract with the Filipino people.”

This is on the belief that when more communities are energized, jobs will be created and investments will be generated to improve the lives of particularly those who live in far-flung locations in the country.

Double protection at last for Palawan’s protected areas

By Roger Pe (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Semirara’s photos taken from space look bizarre. Defaced, the island looks like a geological Frankenstein, grotesquely scarred by coal mining pits.

How would you feel if the same thing happens to the Last Frontier? Indignation, outrage, fury, anger, unless you can’t see.

Would you just sit there and watch the unabated environmental plunder?

At the foot of Mt. Mantalinggahan, Palawan’s highest peak, are hectares and hectares of forest trees, breathing life to one of the most diverse flora and fauna species in the world. Imagine if they are burnt to ashes to give way to palm oil plantations?

Picture endemic animals fleeing from wildfires as their habitats are razed to the ground. Imagine if the already endangered “Pilandok”(Mouse Deer), “Tandikan” (Pheasant Peacock), “Balintong” (Armadillo), “Kiyaw” (Mynah), “Pikoy” (Blue-Naped Parrot), “Katala” (Cockatoo), “Binturong” (Bear Cat) and many more continue to diminish in number. Can we all withstand the horrific sight?

Indonesia’s recent forest inferno can also happen in Palawan. We all know the catastrophic effect: the health-damaging haze can blanket an entire town and spread across the country. Can the impending environmental apocalypse happen? No, if we are doubly vigilant. No, if we are wide-awake and say yes to doubly protecting Palawan’s protected areas from further damage.

Case-in-point: West Papua. Last October, the Indonesian paradise with stunning rainforests and the world’s epicenter of marine biodiversity, boasting more species than anywhere else on the planet, became the world’s first conservation province by declaring it as a “conservation area.”

Symbolically important, it sealed the future of the province’s irreplaceable ecosystems.

“The honor could have been owned by the province of Palawan, but sadly, people who profess love for the province just pay lip service to it. They are busy milking our natural resources not knowing that someday they will all be depleted,” says Art Ventura, an environmentalist by heart and former director of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).

Coral Triangle, the environmental bible says of the West Papua move: “It created a legal framework for conservation efforts in one of Indonesia’s most beautiful regions, a role model for more effective conservation efforts.” The bold vision was initiated upon consultation with the provincial governor, Abraham Atururi.

Conserve Palawan now

Concerns about Palawan’s natural resources continue to surface. On social media, the sentiment is becoming more pronounced.

The deletion of five important Palawan protected areas (El Nido Managed Resource Protected Area, Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape, Mt. Mantalinggahan Protected Landscape, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Park and Rasa Island Wild Sanctuary) from the expanded Nipas (National Integrated Protected Areas System) house bill sparked a heated debate, prompting many concerned citizens and environmentalists to question the motives of those responsible for the act.

El Nido was recently voted as World’s Best Island by Conde Nast Travel Magazine for the second consecutive year. Malampaya Sound is the Philippines’ richest fishing ground.

Mount Mantalinggahan is a vast mountain range that covers four towns. It is home to indigenous Palaw’ans and one of 11 important bird areas in the province, as well as one of only 10 sites of the Alliance for Zero Extinction sites where various species are in imminent danger of disappearing in the Philippines.

Puerto Princesa’s Subterranean Park, a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the world’s seven wonders of nature, is where the Underground River flows.

Rasa Island is home to the Philippine cockatoo, now facing extinction with only around 1,000 remain. The island, of all places, has been chosen for a coal-fired power plant.

Expanded Nipas Law

For the benefit of the uninitiated, the reinforced Nipas is a congressional bill under Republic Act 7586, which aims to replace, expand and strengthen the 23-year-old Nipas Law. Once enacted into law by Congress, it will provide greater protection for the environment, especially protected areas in the Philippines.

In Congress’ executive committee meeting held last November 11, Rep. Douglas Hagedorn of Palawan disputed the exclusion of five Palawan protected areas from the bill saying the deletion was anomalous as it did not have the committee’s approval.

Hagedorn had earlier discovered the deletion and argued that groups with ulterior motives or otherwise, can go around PCSD and open these areas to environmentally damaging activities like “regulated mining” in protected areas, an activity banned by the Enipas. Rep. Franz Alvarez and groups identified with Governor Jose Alvarez, however, asserted that Palawan does not need to be in the Nipas, as the province already has its own Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) under Republic Act (RA) 7611. Governor Alvarez is currently pushing for construction of a coal-fired power plant in the province, a move being heavily opposed by environmentalist groups.

Pro-environment advocates Tony Oposa, Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN, Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth, GerthieAnda of Environment Legal Assistance Center, Gerry Arances of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Dante Lagman of Sanlakas, Isagani Serrano of Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Voltaire Alferez of Philippines Earth Day Network, Cynthia Sumagaysay of Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy, Jhunette Buenviaje of Greenpeace, Anne Larracas of Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives, Thony Dizon of Ecowaste Coalition, who were all present at the meeting disagreed.

They said inclusion of five Palawan protected areas to the expanded Nipas Law would give double protection for the province’s ecologically critical sites.

“If the Alvarezes are really interested in environmental protection and preservation as they claim to be, why object to Palawan’s double-barreled protection?” Hagedorn asserted.

Puerto Princesa environmentalist groups also put up a united front to oppose business groups out to exploit the country’s “protected areas,” especially in Palawan.

Former Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, led the environmentalists and declared their “united and unequivocal support.”

Pro-environment Senator Loren Legarda, vowed no exclusion of 5 Palawan protected areas from the rest and has also urged the committee to fast track the approval of the new Nipas.

Earlier, Puerto Princesa City Council passed an ordinance in July, declaring two coral reef sites, the Tangdol Reef in Barangay Bancao-Bancao and the Tagkuti Reef in Barangay Simpokan as “marine sanctuaries”, where any human activity, except approved scientific research, is prohibited.

Without the vigilance of Rep. Hagedorn, the House Committee on Natural Resources would have passed a bill favoring coal and non-renewable energy, mining and other business interests.

At the end of the session, five Palawan Protected Areas were restored in the original list and R. A. 7611 (Strategic Environmental Palawan) was made consistent with the new Enipas.

Social media gives El Nido Resorts an unexpected boost

Philippine Daily Inquirer

LOOKS count a lot when marketing a destination in the age of social media, according to El Nido Resorts operations manager Marc Cerqueda.

Owing to its location in one of the most biologically diverse regions in the globe, the four resorts named after the islands that host them is a photographer’s dream. Even with a point and shoot, the images of Bacuit Bay (where Miniloc, Lagen and Pangulasian are located) and the Sulu Sea (where Apulit is located) are distinct and highly shareable. Thus, the resorts are exponentially winning a global following with little effort.

Take the posts by Los Angeles-based style icon and fashion blogger Aimee Song about her two-day stay in Pangulasian. They achieved results similar to what an ad in a top global fashion magazine could have done. She named the Philippines “one of my favorite places I’ve ever travelled to so far.” She also encouraged her 2.2 million Instagram followers and close to 500,000 Facebook followers to try Palawan in the Philippines “if you’re looking to go on vacation with a limited budget.”

The awareness song created for El Nido dubbed one of the most “outrageously photogenic places in the world” was remarkable. Another travel blogger, Bianca@itsallbee based in London, commented: “Absolutely stunning pictures. This has me wanderlusting about heading to the Philippines.” Danika Maia shared a similar view: “Wow it looks gorgeous there! Never really thought about going to the Philippines but it is very tempting now.”

Facebook posts of El Nido from influential fashion blogger Alexcloset who is based in Paris and Montreal have also made a similar impact on her 30,000 followers. “No big deal,” she wrote with irony below an El Nido photo. “Just chilling in one of the best places I have seen in my little life.” In another top shot of Pangulasian, she writes: “Can’t wait for vacay to begin. That’s not just a photo. I booked this place for real.”

The likes as well as shares and reposts do not immediately translate to bookings for El Nido Resorts, but it does effectively create buzz about the extraordinary biophysical features of the islands. Social media experts have pointed out that most, including Filipinos, generally affiliate themselves with a brand to “associate themselves with something cool,” or “to feel part of a like-minded community,” among other reasons.

These reasons are likely explanations for the popularity on Facebook of El Nido Resorts which is highly recognized as “the last ecological frontier” of the world by today’s highly environment-conscious media audiences. Moreover, those engaged with brands are more likely to recommend it to others, to feel loyal to the brand, and of course, to purchase its products and services.

“Without the benefit of digital advertising, visitors to El Nido Resort’s highly visual Facebook page have been growing organically,” according to Cerqueda. In 2012, when FB was still a channel associated mostly with those below 30 years or younger, its followers registered at 12,000.

Now that Facebook has gone mainstream with close to 90 percent of Philippine Internet users indulging in social media as of 2014, ENR’s followers doubled, then tripled to over 83,000 visitors today. The number is expected to reach the 100,000 mark by year end.

Better yet, of those 83,000 followers, a significant number re-posted, shared, commented or liked the post—activities that make up a brand’s “engagement rate.”

Engagement is viewed as a more superior measure of a social media platform’s effectivity versus just having a following.

Among all Filipino brands, El Nido Resorts got the highest engagement rate in the first quarter of 2014, according to website Socialbakers, a global social media analytics and publishing company that counts half of the Fortune 500 as its clients. El Nido Resorts competed for that distinction against other media brands without the benefit of a hefty digital advertising and promotions budget.

Cerqueda relates that 10 years ago, Filipinos and Japanese made up the majority of the resorts’ visitors.

“Now the whole world has come including Russians, Israelis, Australians, Americans other Asians—who can’t help but post photos of themselves in this part of Paradise and getting the response: “Where is that place,” he says. With the continued popularity of social media, El Nido Resort’s visitors from around the globe are predicted to increase.

“Our goal is to make El Nido a part of everyone’s bucket list of things to do in their lifetime,” Cerqueda says.

He admits that most guests need to save up for an El Nido vacation. It does, after all, take a lot of planning and logistics to fly in guests to this remote part of Palawan still to be serviced by the commercial airlines. Moreover, it takes even more vigilance, manpower and resources to keep these Paradise islands sustainable while meeting El Nido’s room, food and service quality standards.

“We hope to continue offering our brand of eco-luxury—a combination of luxurious amenities and eco-friendly practices,” he said.

Three major events feature Mimaropa Festival 2015


MANILA, Nov. 14 (PNA) -- Three major events make up the Mimaropa Festival, a festival being held in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro which meant to encourage more tourist to visit the region and celebrate the festivity.

The three events are the Mimaropa Agriculture Tourism and Trade Fair which began last Nov. 9 and will run until Nov 15; the Dance Parade Competition, and Festival Queen Pageant Night, both events held on Nov. 14.

The Mimaropa Festival will be a regional level invitational event with stand-in programs showcasing the festivals of Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan in one grand setting.

The event is being supported by the Department of Tourism (DOT) Mimaropa (Region IV-B), with a strong commitment and vision to promote the five provinces of Mimaropa into one destination.

It also coincides with Oriental Mindoro’s 65th founding anniversary week-long celebration.

According to Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr., the Mimaropa Festival also intends to boost the tourism industry and provide promotional scheme to advertise tourism-related events and destinations in the region.

Umali further said that the goal was to make Mimaropa “The Next Big Thing in the Philippines”.

DOT IV-B director Atty. Minerva Morada earlier said that Mimaropa was expecting an increase in tourist arrivals of five percent by year-end to approximately 1.3-million visitors compared to the 1.2-million visitors last year.

Currently, Palawan generates the biggest bulk of tourist arrivals as recent data showed that an estimate of 900 thousand tourists visited Palawan in 2014, which is 75 percent of the total arrivals in Mimaropa.

DOTC rolls out port expansion projects


The Department of Transport and Communications (DOTC) has rolled out ports widening, expansion, and construction projects valued at P862 million.

DOTC called out for interested bidders for the development of four ports under the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), namely, Manila South Harbor, Port of Javier in Leyte, Port of Bataraza in Palawan, and Iloilo Commercial Port Complex in Iloilo.

The DOTC is allocating P49.769 million million for the widening of wharf in the South Harbor in Manila. The widening project entails the construction of 768-square-meter reinforced concrete wharf.

Bid documents for the Manila South Harbor project is priced at P25,000. Issuance of bid documents is from November 1 to December 8, 2015. Bidding opens on December 8.

Approved budget for the construction of 990-square-meter rock causeway and stair landings at the Port of Javier in Leyte is P51.92 million.

Bid documents for the said project cost P50,000, while issuance of bid documents is from November 10 to December 9, 2015. Opening of bids is on December 9, 2015.

For the construction of wharf in Port of Bataraza, some P125.26 million have been allotted for the port expansion project.

Bid documents will be issued on November 10 to December 8, 2015 and sold at P50,000. Opening of bids will be on December 8, 2015.

The construction of a 4,200 square-meter wharf in the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex is valued at P635.51 million.

Bid documents priced at P75,000 will be distributed on November 10 to December 9, 2015. Bidding opens on December 9, 2015.

Palawan’s most wanted falls

By Alfred P. Dalizon

THE 10th most wanted person in Palawan is now in jail after being captured by the local police during an operation in Taytay town last week, officials announced yesterday.

Norlann Acebuche, a 26-year old resident of Sitio Arado in Barangay Poblacion, Taytay municipality was tracked down in his residence by members of the Palawan Police Provincial Office’s Intelligence Office headed by Superintendent Vicente Cabatingan past 6 a.m. last Friday.

Cabatingan said Acebuche did not resist arrest after being shown a copy of the warrant for his arrest issued by Judge Ambrosio de Luna of the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court Branch 51.

No bail has been recommended for the temporary liberty of the suspect who was accused of raping his cousin in 2009, said Cabatingan.

Palawan joins 1st MIMAROPA Festival in Oriental Mindoro

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 11 (PNA) -- A delegation from the Palawan provincial government is currently in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro to actively participate in the 1st MIMAROPA Festival to actively promote the province’s tourism and agriculture.

In a local radio interview, Caesar Samuel Magbanua, the provincial government’s chief of staff who is currently in Oriental Mindoro, said Palawan’s participation in the event is an opportunity to showcase and promote exciting tourism destinations to other residents of the MIMAROPA Region, and agricultural products that are truly Palaweños.

Tourism promotion will be taken care of by the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) led by tourism officer Maribel Buñi.

“This is event is truly one of the most exciting developments in the MIMAROPA because of the cooperation of the governors of the provinces and the two highly-urbanized cities that compose the region,” Magbanua said Wednesday.

The four governors of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan reportedly agreed that it is time to strengthen the connection of tourism, agriculture, and trade in their provinces and mutually support their progresses.

“The potentials here are big when combined, and to do that, they came up with this festival which is the first-ever in any other region,” Magbanua said.

The holding of the festival coincides with the 65th Founding Anniversary of Oriental Mindoro this month. It was formally opened Monday by Governor Alfonso Umali.

Palawan and Puerto Princesa set up booths in the festival, where tourism packages are being offered, as well as agricultural by-products like cashew, dried fish, and others.

“Governor (Jose) Alvarez ordered full support to the first festival in the MIMAROPA because it will also be to the advantage of Palaweños,” he stated.

Aside from the agri-trade fair, there will also be a dance festival featuring the street dancers from each province.

The dance festival, one of the event's highlights, aims to showcase how the people of the four provinces celebrate life and good fortune through street dancing.

The festival would be a regional display of talents that residents of the provinces possess.

The performers will come from the historical town of Quezon in Palawan that won in the Baragatan sa Palawan’s street dancing competition last June.

Palawan provincial board approves measure seeking declaration of Kalayaan as ‘eco-tourism destination’

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 10 (PNA) -- The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) here approved Tuesday a measure seeking the declaration of the island town of Kalayaan in the disputed West Philippines Sea as an “eco-tourism destination.”

The measure was filed by Board Member Roseller Pineda of the 1st Palawan District under Resolution No. 337-2015, who hopes that it would be supported by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and the three congressmen of Palawan – Frederick Abueg, Douglas Hagedorn, and Franz Josef George Alvarez.

Pineda said his resolution in a way supports Sen. Sonny Angara’s Senate Bill 2938, “An Act Declaring Pag-Asa Island Cluster in the Municipality of Kalayaan, Province of Palawan as an Eco-Tourism Destination and Protected Area.”

Accordingly, before the bill moves, it needs the support of the three Palawan congressmen.

Pag-asa Island, the lone barangay of Kalayaan, is only one of the other islands occupied by the Philippines in the West Philippines Sea. The others are Parola, Kota, Likas, Lawak, Patag, Panata, Ayungin Shoal and Rizal Reef. (PNA) LAP/CARF/EDS

Culture and Arts Division to do educational tour in Tau’t Batu indigenous community in Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 9 (PNA) -- In a bid to have a detailed study of the traditional life and culture of the Tau’t Batu (people of the rock) of Palawan, the provincial government's Culture and Arts Division (CAD) is set to hold an educational tour.

The educational tour will be led by CAD head Maryrose Caabay on Nov. 26 to 28 with representatives from the Municipal Tourism Office (MTO) of Rizal at Rizal town located in the southern part of the province.

Caabay said the educational tour aims to know more about the cultural and traditional life of the Tau’t Batu, an indigenous community of elusive people who live in caves occupying the bowl-shaped valley of Singnapan Basin in the southwestern part of Palawan bounded by the Mantalingahan Range.

Caabay said that among indigenous communities in Palawan, the Tau’t Batu is by far the most interesting since there is little information known about their daily life, and many things that are yet to be discovered about them.

Aside from the Tau’t Batu community, the CAD group will also try to look for other possible tourism destinations in Rizal to be included in the list of sites for probable tours.

Rizal tourism officer Rodney dela Torre said that Rizal could be a first class municipality with a strong economy if developed.

Dela Torre added the tourism industry in Rizal needs attention, especially in infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals, water, and others are underway.

Last August, the first ever tourist reception and guiding techniques seminar was done in Rizal, assisted by the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) and the Department of Tourism (DOT)-Region IVB MIMAROPA.

The Tau’t Batu indigenous community in Singnapan Valley is one of the most interesting tourism activities.

Another is a trek to Mount Mantalingahan Range for tourists who get the thrill out of conquering mountain ranges. Mount Mantalingahan has an elevation of 2,087 meters above sea level.

Other places of interest in the town are the Rizal Public Market that sells products made in the traditional way of weaving of the indigenous peoples, the log pond, the rubber tree plantation that is an ideal farm tour activity, and the live fish of Rizal fishing village.

Tubbataha official confident corals will bounce back from El Niño bleaching

By Lara Tan (with stringer Keith Anthony Fabro as contributor, CNN Philippines)

Puerto Princesa, Palawan (CNN Philippines) — Bleached corals were still seen this November despite the efforts to mitigate El Niño's damaging effects, but the head of the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) is positive that the coral reefs will recover.

Angelique Songco, head of the TMO, said on Thursday (November 5), that although the agency has no power to control the hot and dry weather, keeping the corals healthy helps in mitigating its effects.

"We are mitigating its effects by keeping the corals strong. Make sure they have a healthy body to resist and fight disease. We can avoid exposing them to human pressure. All we can do is make sure that no one is conducting illegal fishing and other acts that are not consistent with conservation," she said.

Observations revealed that coral bleaching was developing in some areas since last July. Coral experts attributed the bleaching to the El Niño phenomenon experienced across the globe. The phenomenon is seen by weather experts as one of the strongest and is expected to last until 2016.

The bleaching of corals happen when it starts ejecting the algae, the organisms on which they depend not only for food but also for their brilliant colors, said Jeric Dejucos, research assistant at the TMO. As the corals eject the algae, it becomes undernourished. However, the bleaching of corals doesn't mean that it will die immediately.

Songco added that last 2008, around 21 percent of the coral reefs in Tubbataha were also bleached by the El Niño, but when compared to the bleaching in other sites, the corals in the Tubbataha Reefs showed faster recovery.

She attributed the faster recovery to the mitigation efforts and to the geographical location of the Tubbataha Reefs located in the center of Sulu Sea in the municipality of Cagayancillo, Palawan. To reach the reef, you have to travel 10 to 14 hours by sea from Puerto Princesa.

"Kasi nga healthy; we flush it with water. We are in the middle of nowhere. The other parks, which are near the urban areas, there were illegal fishing, people throw garbage, kaya ang tagal mag-recover," Songco said.

The isolation is both a blessing and a curse, she added.

"I am positive it will recover as long as we keep this level of protection, perhaps even increase it because ang challenges dumarami. We will prevail; we have prevailed in the past. Also, we have a new partner, so how can we fail?" Tubbataha Reefs' ASEAN recognition 'a challenge'

The Tubbataha Reefs National Park was officially launched as the 35th ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP) on Thursday. It is also the first marine park in the Philippines to be part of the AHP.

Songco said that all of the TMOs efforts to protect the Tubbataha Reefs in the last 15 years is paying off with this distinction from the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity.

But she added that receiving the recognition is not merely a title to be paraded, but a challenge to continue protecting marine life.

"The title means that you have to keep it. You have to deserve and continue to prove that you deserve it. You have to continue to be vigilant. It is also a challenge for us to keep doing better," she said.

As part of the AHP, the Tubbataha Reefs will be one of the first in line for available international funding. Other benefits include the promotion of ecotourism and participation in joint research and management, facilitating of information sharing, and the enhancement of the capacity of key stakeholders.

The 97,030 hectares of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is home to 84 threatened and 97 near-threatened species of marine life.

Red Cross donates motorboats to 'Yolanda' victims in Coron, Busuanga


PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 7 (PNA) -- The Philippine Red Cross (PRC)-Palawan Chapter donated nine fiberglass motorboats Friday to fishermen affected by super typhoon "Yolanda" in the municipalities of Coron and Busuanga in the Calamianes Islands Group off the province’s mainland.

Victor de Leon of the PRC chapter in the province said funds for the motorboats that are made of fiberglass came from the Carewell Foundation that gave PHP500,000 in October 2013.

The construction of the fiberglass motorboats, De Leon explained, was only completed this year.

What is special about the fiberglass motorboats is that they can also be used to rescue residents -- who are in danger during calamities.

De Leon also said the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) donated to them a new Hi-lux service vehicle that they can use to respond to any emergency event.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), on the other hand, gave them a new rescue boat that they can use to transport relief goods in distantly-located barangays, where the seas need to be crossed.

“The fiberglass motorboats will benefit nine families in Coron and Busuanga and we hope they can also be used for sea rescue whenever someone is in trouble during calamities,” he said.

In November 2013, super typhoon Yolanda’s sixth landfall in Coron displaced over 10,000 residents, including those in Busuanga, Culion and Linapacan.

Of the total number of displaced residents, only eight were reported to have died. Mayor Clara Reyes said if preemptive evacuation was not implemented two days before Yolanda, many could have died in Coron and the other towns.

144 children benefit from DOH-MIMAROPA’s ‘Oplan Kain Sigla’ in Palawan

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 6 (PNA) -- The three-month “Oplan Kain Sigla” (OKS) feeding project of the Department of Health (DOH) in the MIMAROPA Region (IVB), which culminated Thursday, benefited around 144 severely malnourished children in different barangays in the southern municipality of Sofronio Española in Palawan.

The anti-malnutrition project, which aims to improve the nutritional condition of underweight children in the said town, was implemented by the DOH-MIMAROPA in close coordination with the barangay nutrition scholars (BNS) and the Sofronio Española municipal government unit, according to Glenn Ramos, the regional health office’s community affairs and media relations officer.

Ramos said OKS started its implementation in the said town in July and ended in September. The culmination event was done only this month because of the need for evaluation and appraisal after the feeding project implementation.

He stated 30 (or 20.83%) of the 144 beneficiaries improved from severely underweight to normal; 106 (or 73.61%) remain “unchanged” in the list; and eight “failed to grow.”

Ramos explained the eight children, who “failed to grow” will have to be re-evaluated to determine how many more days they need to undergo the OKS.

“For the 106, who remain in the unchanged list and the eight, who failed to grow, Dr. Eduardo Janairo is proposing to continue the feeding project early next year in Sofronio Española,” Ramos said, adding some of the children belong to the indigenous Pala’wan communities.

Ramos noted that many of the families, where the beneficiaries came from, barely eat three times a day.

“There was one family who apparently said they only eat twice a week. But this has to be verified, of course,” Ramos stated.

The beneficiaries were selected from barangays Isumbo, Labog, Punang, Panitian, Iraray, Pulot Center, Pulot Shore, and Pulot Interior in Sofronio Española. The feeding project was managed by the BNS in the barangay health centers.

The good news, he further said, is that from being the No. 1 town, where most severely underweight children can be found in the whole of MIMAROPA Region IVB, Sofronio Española has improved and already fell to the No. 3 spot.

“This is actually a good development since we started the feeding project,” the community affairs and media relations officer told the Philippine News Agency.

In his speech, Mayor Marcito Acoy of Sofronio Española thanked Janairo and the DOH-MIMAROPA for helping improve the health of the identified severely underweight children, and hopes that the second round will still be implemented next year.

The town mayor called on parents to do their best in ensuring that their children are healthy by making use of their backyard to plant vegetables and other crops that can be used for nutritional meals.

ADB combines conservation, profit in Palawan coral project

By Marvyn N. Benaning

TAYTAY, Palawan—This town in Northern Palawan can earn up to P180 million annually, including income for resort owners, once the Coral and Taklobo Gardening project takes off the ground, according to a University of the Philippines (UP) expert.

Dr. Lope Calanog, who used to head the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the project has the support of the local government unit, the fishermen as well as resort owners fascinated by the new concept developed in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Calanog, in a recent presentation before development specialists at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture in Los Baños, Laguna, expressed hope that the project—part of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security—will redound to the best interest of the people of Palawan.

He said the project, implemented under “ADB-RETA 7813: Coastal Marine Resources Management in the Coral Triangle-Southeast Asia,” is being pursued by the Pacific Rim Innovation and Management Exponents Inc.

Officially, Calanog told the Searca seminar participants, the project is entitled “Coral and Taklobo Gardening: Merging Sustainable Financing and Reef Conservation in Taytay, Palawan.”

Calanog said the coral reefs surrounding the islands of Apulit, Pabellon, Noa Nmoa and Talakanen could be protected while five beaches, namely, Dinamayan, Denot, Quimbaludan and Sader could be developed to lure more tourists, in addition to the dive spots in Nabat, Pabellon Grande, Lopez Reef and Black Rock.

Tubbataha reefs in Palawan to be launched as 'ASEAN Heritage Park'

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso (Philippines News Agency)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY -- The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park (TRNMP), a marine protected area in the Philippines located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, will be launched as an ASEAN Heritage Park (AHP) on Nov. 5.

Karen Lapitan, the development communications consultant of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, said in an invitation letter to the media that Tubbataha will be launched as a heritage park after its nomination was approved by the 12th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment in Oct. 2014.

She said the world-famous marine park shall be the seventh AHP in the Philippines.

The other AHPs are Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve (Laguna), Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (Davao Oriental), Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park (Mindoro), Mt. Apo Natural Park (Davao), Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park (Bukidnon), and Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park (Misamis Occidental).

The AHP Program is a flagship initiative of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The program is a network of ASEAN’s best protected areas with high biodiversity and conservation values.

On Dec. 18, 2003, the ASEAN Ministers of Environment signed the ASEAN Declaration of Heritage Parks “in an effort to conserve areas of particular biodiversity important or exceptional uniqueness throughout the ASEAN member states.”

Palawan gov’t saves PHP1.4B in its water dev't program

By Jesus M. Ustares [(PNA), JMC/CARF/JMU/EBP]

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 3 (PNA) -- The provincial government of Palawan was able to save PHP1.4 billion in its water systems projects in municipalities that have no access to potable drinking water.

Engineer Michelle Cardenas, who is in charge of the provincial government’s Water Development Program (WDP), said that out of a total of PHP3.6 billion for 183 projects in different municipalities, they were able to save around PHP1.4 billion.

Cardenas explained that in each project they implement, they are able to save around 40 percent of the total cost because they no longer pay for the conduct of feasibility study, engineering design, heavy equipment, and fuel because of the cooperation between the provincial and municipal governments.

The funding that was saved, she added, can be used to support and implement other projects of Palawan such as school building construction, livelihood, health, and others, where residents could benefit from.

Cardenas said that currently, the provincial government has seven water system projects that are waiting to complete constructions in Narra, Rizal, Brooke’s Point, and Aborlan towns.

Only recently, Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with large-scale mining corporations Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation in Bataraza in the southern part of the province for the development of a water systems project that costs PHP140 million.

It is estimated that 10,000 households of 13 barangays in Bataraza will benefit from the program.

Angara files bill declaring Palawan’s Pag-asa Island as ecotourism destination

By Jelly F. Musico [(PNA), FPV/JFM]

MANILA, Nov. 2 (PNA) -- Senator Sonny Angara has filed a bill seeking to declare the Pag-asa Island Cluster in the Municipality of Kalayaan in the province of Palawan as a special ecological tourism zone to promote and develop the area as a tourist destination while protecting its natural resources.

In his Senate Bill No. 2938, Angara explained that the Pag-asa Island, located 480 kilometers off southwestern Palawan, is the second largest island in the whole of Kalayaan Island Group (Spratlys) in the West Philippine Sea.

He said it is the only island in the Spratlys that is effectively occupied by the Philippines.

The Kalayaan Island town is a fifth-class municipality of Palawan and is home to around 300 civilian residents.

“With its impeccable beauty, the island is an ideal tourist destination. The rich biodiversity and Filipino heritage of the island truly reflects the beauty of a paradise that our country should be proud of,” Angara said.

Recently, the island of Palawan was hailed the top island destination in the world for the second straight year by Conde Nast Traveler, an award-winning US travel magazine, in its Readers’ Choice Awards 2015.

“While Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr., who has been leading the far-flung island for six years now, is dreaming to add the Pag-asa Island Cluster among Palawan’s top tourist destinations, various development projects on the island are still being deliberated. Thus, our proposed measure seeks to provide the necessary support for such efforts of the municipal government of Kalayaan by declaring it an ecological tourism area,” Angara, vice chairman of the Senate tourism committee, said.

The bill mandates the creation of the Pag-asa Island Ecotourism Cluster Governing Board that would rationalize all efforts pertaining to environmental protection and making the tourism industry a major source of livelihood and an avenue for employment generation.

The Board shall be composed of the Governor of Palawan as Chairperson, the Congressional Representative of the First District of Palawan as Co-Chairperson, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director for Region IV-B as Vice Chairperson, the Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director for Region IV-B as Co-Vice Chairperson, the Mayor of the Municipality of Kalayaan, the Barangay Chairperson of Pag-asa, the commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command, a member of a nongovernment organization whose advocacy is environmental preservation, a member of the academe, a representative of the business sector, and a representative of the private sector.

In addition, the proposed measure also seeks to declare the islands of Parola, Kota and Panata as protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

“The Board, in coordination with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), is mandated to prepare, develop and implement an ecotourism master plan to ensure environment and ecosystem protection and preservation, and to promote tourism and job generation to boost the economy of Kalayaan,” Angara said.

Mindanao, Palawan products at BIMP-Eaga Ecofusion

By Jenny Molbog-Mendoza

ECOLOGICAL balance. Eco-tourism. Economic development.

These are the things that the newly-opened Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) Ecofusion facility is anchored on.

With the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Davao Ecocrafts Association Inc. (DEA) on top of it, the Ecofusion, which was formally launched last October 6, is aimed at promoting trade, tourism and investment opportunities within the sub-region.

The facility, which is located at the 3rd level of Abreeza Ayala Mall in Davao City, serves as a platform to promote greater trade opportunities for products that highlight the beautiful culture and natural endowments of Mindanao and Palawan.

As stated in its website (, Ecofusion is home not just to various products from Mindanao and Palawan, but also to investment projects and tourism destinations in line with the objective of the BIMP-Eaga Trade and Investment Facilitation Cluster.

And as explained by its website, the name Ecofusion was named after “eco” which represents the three major development principles of BIMP-Eaga commitments, which are the ecological balance, eco-tourism and economic development. The word “fusion,” on the other hand, depicts the integration of initiatives on trade, tourism, environment and investments of the four member-countries.

As a trade and tourism facility, both DTI-Davao Regional Director Maria Belenda Q. Ambi and DEA president Mary Ann “Baby” Montemayor are optimistic about the good things that the Ecofusion will bring about in the coming months.

For more information about the facility, anyone interested may contact them at (082) 3271564, or send them an email at