Palawan News October 2016

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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

Contents

DOWN SOUTH / The Allure of El Nido, Palawan

By Jona Branzuela Bering ·

At exactly seven, I heard a knock on my door. A staff informed me my breakfast is ready.

They were punctual, something I did not expect from a fellow Filipino. A day prior to that, a different staff asked me to choose my breakfast from their menu and the time I wanted it served. This must be a little custom at Marygold Beachfront Inn, a midrange beachfront resort in El Nido’s Calle Hama, Brgy Masagana.

Watching the people on the beach and the limestone rock formation adorning Bacuit Bay were as enjoyable as my breakfast. The bay remained populated with docked boats, which one by one, would leave the shore to ferry travelers to some of Palawan’s well-received secret lagoons, beaches, and islands around 9 or ten in the morning. By eleven, a certain serenity claimed this part of El Nido once again.

I still had two hours to kill before someone from Northern Hope Tours picks me up for my Nacpan and Maremegmeg day trip.

With no other travel companions to consider, I picked up my two cameras, left the phone in the room, and headed to the beach. Barefoot. I decided to go for an hour walk.

Decisions as random as this are one of the little joys of solo travels: there are no other sensibilities to think of but your own, you go and do whatever you desire to do.

And walking alone has always been a respite, a necessity to know the place I am in a bit more, beyond the constraints of a travel brochure or magazine.

At quarter to eight, the crowd trickles in. They must be somewhere, enjoying their breakfast before joining a boat tour to some secret lagoons, beaches, and islands. While I intend to know if the little clams wriggling on the spot where the waves ends and retreats are eatable. If so, why there is nobody hunting them? There are a lot of them, and I etched to gather them in a basket and make a good soup out of them like what I did in South Kuta, Bali (Indonesia) much to Tobias’ fascination back then.

And what is beyond Bacuit Bay? What’s behind the green hill to the right?

So I walked to look for answers. Most of the people I asked do not know if the clams can be eaten. These people are employed here in El Nido for the past two or three years. And for them, perhaps, there is a fine distinction between living in a place and being employed in a tourist attraction.

But eventually I found a local who got the answer.

“Marumi ang mga yan (Those are dirty),” informed a man who was about to get on his outrigger. “Kumakain ng dumi ng tao (They eat human waste),” he added with a certain mischief in his lips.

Perhaps he is right. Perhaps the clams are dirty. After all, Masagana beach whom tricycle drivers called Aplaya, is where most tourists dine and meet for their tour. Except for some kindred kids, it is rare to see travelers swimming by Masagana. But beyond that little barangay hall at the edge of the crescent-shaped bay—a good twenty-minute walk from Marygold Beachfront Inn—is Caalan beach, a more serene place that has an awesome view of Cadlao Island.

Taking refuge in an everyday scene remains a favorite pastime: a mother wading through the knee-length waters with her toddler; two men repairing a big boat that can accommodate 15 people.

RJ, a blogger friend, said that Bacpacking with a Book, my blog, pursues the unfamiliar. Does it? I asked myself. Is my pursuit of the so-called unfamiliar deliberate? Or it is a mere consequence of being a fluid traveler, of letting the place unfold in its own terms, of arriving without an itinerary in mind, of letting the feet lead the way?

I wanted to believe it is the latter.

Even Tobi was somewhat surprised that I would be joining tours in El Nido. “That’s so un-Jona, no?” he said.

It is not the first time that I joined tours, and I am definite it is not the last. I could not afford to rent the whole boat to myself. And I enjoy the comforting company of strangers.

In retrospect, I would not enjoy the tour without the company of a gay couple from Cebu, a middle-aged couple from Czech Republic, a young couple from France, and another solo traveler from Bicol Region. It was a fun group made more exciting by a sunny weather, clear waters, and great lunch.

Plus, a boat tour is a necessity in this part of the Philippines. El Nido alone has “45 islands with over a hundred white-sand beaches, lagoons, and limestone cliffs.” Not to mention the mainland El Nido has already a lot of beaches such as Nacpan and Maremegmeg.

The purpose of solo travels is not to be alone. Just like great affairs, to travel solo is to meet and know other people’s lives, to share snippets and stories of one another’s travels, of one another’s many lives.

And the purpose of solitary walks is to process all movements, all thoughts, all sceneries gathered in the span of the trip.

And from thereon, filter through everything. Then sit. Think. And write.


Quick travel guide to El Nido

From Puerto Princesa, it is a six- to seven-hour bus ride to El Nido. Buses leave from San Jose Bus Terminal (Puerto Princesa) every hour from 4AM to 10PM. An AC bus costs Php480, a non-AC at Php380.00. For a faster yet cramped ride, there are vans available for Php500.00 a person.


Where to Stay in El Nido, Palawan

Midrange Hotel: Marygold Beachfront Inn is one of the few midrange resorts in Masagana beach that has a relaxing lounging area. They still preserve all their ees. Their rooms are spacious enough. AC rooms come with complimentary breakfast.

- Address: Calle Hama, Bgy. Masagana, El Nido, Palawan
- Phone: Globe, (+63) 917-6247722; Smart, (+63) 908-8843711, Sun, (+63) 925-7222777
- Website: http://www.mgelnido.com

Budget Accommodation: Northern Hope Inn is a newly opened Filipino-owned budget inn located in the town proper. Its rooftop has an amazing view of Bacuit Bay and Cadlao Island.

- Address: Serena St, Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
- Phone: +63 927 735 3221
- Website: http://www.northernhopetours.com/


Travel tips:

• Book your tours through Northern Hope Tours. Tour C, Tour A, and a land trip Nacpan Beach and Maremegmeg Beach are highly recommended. Phone: (+63) 927-7353221. Website http://www.northernhopetours.com/

• While Taraw Peak is closed, Canopy Walk is an alternative to have a sweeping panorama of Bacuit Bay.

• Walk your way to Calaan Beach and have an unrestricted view of Cadlao Island as your background.

• Try their interesting take on barbecue. Locals do not serve their barbecue with a soy sauce! Only vinegar. Only Filipinos can understand my fascination, perhaps.

• Kayak your way through the secret beaches on the nearby Cadlao Island.

• Scuba-dive in Matinloc Island.

• Camp on a remote island


Where to eat:

Big Mama, a beachfront restaurant in Masagana, offers affordable Filipino favorites such as adobo with rice for Php125

Artcafé, a midrange restaurant and café, is a favorite of many foreign travelers, so expect the price to be tad higher than usual.

When in Nacpan Beach, have fresh seafood at Kyla’s Cocina.

DOLE’s NCMB Region IV-B, Labor Communications Office launch ‘Book Corner’ at Palawan State University

(DOLE)

MANILA, Oct. 30 - Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III lauded the DOLE Regional Conciliation and Mediation Board (RCMB) Region IV-B (MIMAROPA) and Labor Communications Office (LCO), through the DOLE Library, for establishing another DOLE-NCMB Book Corner at Palawan State University in Puerto Princesa City.

“I commend the NCMB and the LCO, in partnership with Palawan Industrial Peace Advocates and Palawan State University, for working together to realize this information and reference hub, which will help in raising the level of awareness of library users and other researchers on DOLE programs, services and projects,” Bello said.

The DOLE Secretary added that with the establishment of the reading corner, students, faculty and other researchers will have a wider and easy access to labor and employment information (LMI) and other references and reading materials which could broaden their knowledge and insights on various labor and employment related issues.

RCMB IV-B Officer-in-Charge, Julia P. Peleo said since 2013, the NCMB Region IV-B and the LCO, through the DOLE Library, have been establishing Book Corners in selected educational institutions in the MIMAROPA Region to serve as hub for various DOLE publications, references, and reading materials on employment, alternative dispute resolution processes, labor management cooperation schemes, livelihood, productivity, and other information pertaining to labor and employment and other labor related issues.

The project, OIC Peleo added, aims to establish strong linkages with identified educational institutions in the MIMAROPA Region as partner-beneficiaries through the Book Corner. It also aims to provide a wider and easy access to labor and employment information, reading materials on labor and employment and other labor-related issues to the constituents of MIMAROPA Region, especially to the students who are a future labor force.

The Book Corner at Palawan State University is the fifth book corner established in the MIMAROPA Region by the DOLE’s NCMB Region IV-B and LCO through the DOLE Library.

Book Corners have also been established at the Divine Word College (DWC) in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro as partner-school beneficiary on 12 September 2013; at the Southwestern Institute for Business and Technology (SIBTECH), Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro on 27 February 2014; Romblon State University-San Fernando, Romblon on 27 March 2014, and at the Romblon State University-Odiongan, Romblon on 28 October 2014.

To formalize the partnership, the OIC of the Office of the University President, Dr. Lorna C. Gelito, and NCMB Region IV-B Officer-in-Charge, Ms. Julia P. Peleo, Palawan Industrial Peace Advocates President, Mr. Erwin L. Galleon, and DOLE Librarian Maria Teresa M. Cabance, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on 20 September 2016. The MOA signing was witnessed by DOLE Palawan Field Office, Ms. Ma. Socorro U. Marquez, other university officials, staff and students.

The turnover of library materials was held at the Palawan State University Conference Room and the DOLE-NCMB-PSU-PIPA Book Corner located at the University Library.

Pope Francis names new Palawan bishop

(PNA), RMA/FGP/SSC

MANILA, Oct. 29 (PNA) -- Pope Francis has named the seventh bishop of the Palawan vicariate since its establishment in 1910.

The appointment of Fr. Socrates Mesiona as the new bishop of Puerto Princesa was announced at 12 noon (6 pm, Manila time) on Friday at Vatican, according to an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

He replaced 77-year old Bishop Pedro Arigo after the Vatican accepted his resignation. The retired prelate served in the diocese for 20 years.

Mesiona, a known missiologist, is currently the executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Mission and national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in the Philippines.

The bishop-elect was born in Tagbilaran City, Bohol on Sept. 17, 1963.

After his secondary school studies, he studied Philosophy at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Bohol and Theology at the Divine Word School of Theology in Tagaytay City.

He was ordained a priest on April 14, 1989 as a member of the Mission Society of the Philippines, where he also served as its former Superior General.

The new Palawan prelate obtained a Licentiate in Missiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1996.

Mesiona had also served as Rector of the Mission Society of the Philippines in Tagaytay City and parish priest of the Our Lady of the Abandoned in Mandaluyong City.

He is also a member of the International Association of Catholic Missiologists (IACM).

PHL, US forces conclude mine search, underwater search-and-retrieval training in Palawan

(PNA), BNB/PFN

MANILA, Oct. 28 (PNA) -- Philippine Navy (PN) special operations operatives and their US counterparts recently concluded another exercise called the "Humanitarian Mine Action Assistance Training" which was held last Oct. 17 to 26 in Palawan.

This was confirmed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo Thursday.

The nine-day training activity took place at the Western Command's Tide Pool Pier at Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoon, in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

"It was a small unit subject matter expert engagement that has long been prior scheduled and participated in by only eight PN Special Operations personnel and four US counterparts," Arevalo said.

The AFP official added training aims to give PN personnel proficiency in the use of "side scan sonar".

"(During the training) we (also learn to use the equipment) for mine search and also (for) humanitarian underwater search-and-retrieval operations.

Western Command head Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado said other training exercises that took place include dive planning, emergency dive procedures, sonar operation and practicals on sonar operation.

Anti-infectious disease health program for transport groups launched in Puerto Princesa

By Catherine Santos

A comprehensive health program for transport groups in Puerto Princesa was officially launched on Thursday, October 27, by Project H4, a community-based organization in the City, in partnership with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. (PSFI) and the Department of Health-MIMAROPA. Dubbed as ‘TODO na to’, the program seeks to promote health and safety awareness, including knowledge on preventing infectious diseases such as HIV, among public transport drivers—tricycle/multi-cab/jeepneys—in the city, according to Marvi Trudeau, Program Manager of PSFI.

“Ang objective talaga nito ay mabigyan ng isang programa na pangkalusugan at pangkaligtasan ang mga public transport drivers. Gusto natin matuto sila ng mga health hazards na nakukuha nila at to give them preventive measures,” Trudeau added.

According to Dr. Emerose Moreno, Cluster Head for Infectious Disease of DOH-MIMAROPA, transport groups can be considered as a vulnerable population in terms of risk to infectious diseases. “There are target populations for specific diseases. For infectious diseases, [the] target population ay urban poor. Kasama doon ang mga TODA, inmates, those residing in squatters’ area, kasama ‘yun sa vulnerable group,” Dr. Moreno explained.

Meanwhile, Dr. Louie Ocampo, Ospital ng Palawan’s Chief of Medical Professional Staff, said that the program is timely because of the high HIV incidence rate in Puerto Princesa, although he clarified that the program does not intend to invoke any stereotypes. “Kasi in the past mayroon kasi sa industry na ito (transport) na nag-positive, nagkaroon ng HIV. It’s more on the risky behavior. Again, I don’t want to stereotype na porke driver ganun. Again, I want to reiterate that everyone is at risk kung mag-iengage sila sa high-risk sexual behavior,” Ocampo pointed out.

Today’s launching featured several medical services including a TB screening/check-up, HIV orientation and testing, and general medical check-up with free medicines. An orientation on road safety and city traffic rules and regulations was also conducted.

Currently, there are 65 people living with HIV that are undergoing treatment at Ospital ng Palawan’s Redtop Center.

Establishment of regional centers in Palawan pushed

By Catherine Santos

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan have approved a resolution today, October 25, that urges the province’s three Congressional representatives to pass a legislation establishing the regional government center of MIMAROPA Region in Palawan, preferably in Puerto Princesa City.

“In terms of area and population, tayo [Palawan] naman ang pinakamalaki [in the region],” Board Member Roseller Pineda said in his sponsorship speech.

Pineda underscored the importance of establishing a centralized regional center as MIMAROPA have already earned its regional identity thru the enactment of Republic Act 10879 in July 2016.

Pineda solicited the advice of Palawan Representative Gil Acosta who coincidentally appeared before the Provincial Board in today’s session.

Acosta said he fully supports the said legislation and that he is actually pushing to establish a regional medical center in the province. He explained that it could also be possible that, aside from the medical center he was originally aiming for, the regional government center might as well be established in Palawan. He echoed Pineda’s claim that Palawan is the biggest province in the region.

Acosta assured the board members that he will discuss the matter among the other congressional representatives of the region.

Presently, MIMAROPA regional offices are located in different areas, such as Batangas, San Pablo, Calapan, Manila, and Quezon City, among others.

Astoria Palawan: The Newest Business and Leisure Resort in Puerto Princesa

(Blog Feature,Starmometer

Astoria Palawan, the newest ‘WorkPlays’ in Puerto Princesa, finally opened its doors to those who are looking for the perfect venue for business meetings, leisure/recreation or both.

The seamless integration of business and leisure is Astoria Palawan’s newest philosophy as it celebrates the completion of two facilities: the much awaited 1-hectare Palawan Waterpark and the world-class Mangrove Convention Center. These developments usher Astoria Palawan’s bid to become Palawan’s top-of-mind venue for business travelers who seek a balance between work and play.

Located in the heart of what has been dubbed as one of the ‘World’s Best Islands’ by international magazine Travel and Leisure, Astoria Palawan is the latest addition to Astoria Hotel and Resorts’ growing portfolio of properties. Situated on a sprawling 5-hectare mango orchard in Brgy. San Rafael, Puerto Princesa, Astoria Palawan presents an eco-sanctuary experience that reflects the distinct charm of Palawan and the lifestyle of Palaweños.

“Astoria Palawan is your newest playground in Palawan’s “Forest City”. We want to be the preferred destination where work and play mingle for a truly productive getaway,” shares Astoria Palawan Resorts Manager Liza Arbis. “We believe that business trips are so much more rewarding when you take the time to enjoy and unwind, and we want Astoria Palawan to be an exceptional destination featuring a well-rounded lifestyle,” she added.

With its strategic location and leisure activities meant to complement Palawan’s eco-sanctuary experience, Astoria Palawan is evolving more and more into an ideal choice of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) travelers. Just a stone’s throw away from the famed subterranean river and other must-see destinations, Astoria Palawan encourages travelers to have a soothing experience that enhances creativity.

Newest Developments

The Mangrove Convention Center, along with 72 spacious and well-appointed private accommodations housed in 13 leaf-shaped wooden cabin villas, will accommodate the increasing demand for off-site meetings, conferences, team building sessions, and exhibition venues in the country.

Meanwhile, Astoria Palawan’s Palawan Waterpark has majestic water geysers, bamboo water cannons, splash pads, wave pools and stunning artwork of Palawan’s endemic flora and fauna and high corkscrew slides, which will surely provide endless fun for adults and children of all ages.

A musical welcome from the Batak Tribe, one of the last remaining aboriginal tribes in the Philippines, await guests. This gives them the chance to truly connect with the heart and history of the island.

Astoria Palawan also offers a wide array of in-resort activities for travelers, like swimming in Honda Bay, snorkeling in the house reef, soothing in-room massages, movie screenings underneath the stars, beach volleyball, golf cart rides, and mountain bike rides. It also has a game room with local Filipino board games and a karaoke room. Astoria Palawan truly espouses the natural interlacing of business and leisure as a premium ‘WorkPlays’.

Astoria Palawan is the latest addition to Astoria Hotels and Resort’s portfolio, with a presence in well-loved Philippine destinations: Boracay, Bohol and Palawan. It is located in Kilometer 62 North National Highway, Bgy. San Rafael, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines. For more information, please visit Astoria Palawan website at www.astoriahotelsandresorts.com, follow us on Facebook, or contact us at (+632) 687-1111 loc. 8302 and sales@astoriapalawan.com

Puerto Princesa to celebrate Breast Cancer Consciousness Month

By Aira Genesa Magdayao

In today’s session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, Councilor Nancy Socrates announced that the City Government of Puerto Princesa will be celebrating ‘Breast Cancer Consciousness Month’ on Thursday, October 27.

Socrates said she wants to pass a City Ordinance to make October a ‘Breast Cancer Consciousness Month Celebration’ in the City. “Inaayos pa natin ang iba pang data para maisama ito sa agenda. Importante kasi ang pagpapahalaga sa kalusugan partikular sa mga kababaihan na prone sa breast cancer,” she said.

The legislator also added that the celebration will be a way to increase awareness among Palaweños, including the risk factors of the cancer.

In connection with the said celebration, a motorcade will be held and will start at 11 a.m. with Mendoza Park as assembly venue. The said activity will be opened to everyone. As of press time, organizers for the event are still working with the City Traffic Management Office for the motorcade route, which will be announced the soonest time possible.

City gov’t installs new traffic lights

By Alliae Alexie Garcia

The City Traffic Management Office (CTMO) has installed three new traffic lights in several areas in Puerto Princesa, including the intersection at PSU National Highway, Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) and the corner of Valencia Street and Rizal Avenue.

The new lights, which have an approved budget of Php3.5M per area, are expected to go fully operational within a month. “Hinihintay na lang natin yung mga connections ng ilaw/ kuryente na gagamitin sa traffic lights dahil inaayos pa ng PALECO,” Allan Mabella, Special Operations Officer of CTMO, said in an interview when asked on the current status of the said project.

The CTMO is also preparing the modules and system that will determine the light’s timing of electrical flow. The said modules are still undergoing programming in Manila but the CTMO expects them to be returned by next week. “By next week, babalik na yung module para maikabit sa traffic lights. Okay naman na ‘yung supply ng kuryente, ‘yun yung magdidikta ng timing ng patay/sindi ng ilaw sa isang area,” he added. Unlike the older traffic lights, the new ones are highly upgraded in terms of timing of the electrical flow, design (from bulb-LED) and system performance.

In an interview, Mabella said that aside from the three traffic light systems installed, three more will be added which will be placed in the intersections of Baltan-Malvar, Malvar-Lacao and Valencia-Malvar. These future additions already have a standby budget and are ready for proposal this year; a study is also being conducted concerning the installment of the additional lights in relation to the expected opening of SM Hypermarket.

Lastly, Mabella clarified that the performance of the old traffic lights will catch up with the new ones since they are also upgrading its system. “Kasi hindi naman hahayaan na ‘yung lumang system pa rin ‘yung gamitin kasi pag nag upgrade nawawala rin talaga sa mga supplier ‘yung mga luma, kaya ‘pag nag-upgrade ng ilaw, kasabay yung mga luma,” he said.

The local government has also scheduled and approved a budget for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the lights, including changing/re-installment and upgrades.

Mobile birth certificate registration to be implemented in the City

By Aira Genesa Magdayao

Following the mandates of Proclamation No. 1106 which declared the years of 2015-2024 as Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Decade (CRVS), the local government of Puerto Princesa, in partnership with the Office of the Civil Registrar, will initiate a mobile birth registration program in all schools in the city.

The said program will bring the services of the Civil Registry to public schools in Puerto Princesa and will allow free registration for birth certificates, as well as conduct other activities such as information dissemination and consultation.

According to Civil Registration Officer Raul Manuel Blas, the mobile registration program will help the government achieve its goal of giving everyone access to birth certification. “Maganda itong programa ng gobyerno na ito dahil ngayon tayo ang lalapit sa kanila dahil karamihan hindi nakakaparehistro dahil sa layo ng lugar nila,” he explained. Blas also said it has come to their knowledge that most of those who remain unregistered are from rural barangays in the city.

As of press time, the Office of the Civil Registrar is due to conduct a pilot test of the program in Barangay Maoyon on November 9, 2016, with around 150 estimated beneficiaries. The mobile registration for schools is expected to be fully implemented next year.

DOH awards Palawan Php1M as filariasis-free province

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

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 21 (PNA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) recently awarded Palawan with PhP1 million as prize and recognition for being a “filariasis-free” province.

The Provincial Information Office (PIO) said Friday, the announcement of the award was informed to Governor Jose Alvarez through a letter dated October 11, 2016 sent by DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Eduardo Janairo.

Based on Janairo’s letter, Palawan was declared filariasis-free in February 2015, and it was the reason Palawan received PhP1-million as performance-based incentive from the DOH.

The amount is only given to provinces that qualify because of the declaration as filariasis-free.

Elino Mondragon, treasurer of the provincial government of Palawan, said he was informed that the amount is ready for transfer. It will be used as additional fund for programs and projects of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) next year.

Palawan produces 10 new CPAs

By Muzzamil Salleh

[Developing Story] Palawan produced 10 new Certified Public Accountants (CPA) in the recently concluded CPA Licensure Examination held in Manila and other major testing centers around the Philippines last October 1, 2, 8, and 9, 2016.

Out of 14,300 examinees, 5,249 passed the said examination given by the Professional Regulation Commission, garnering a national passing rate of 36.47%. Both Palawan State University and Holy Trinity University were able to produce CPAs, 8 and 2, respectively.

The CPA Licensure Examinations happens twice a year, October and May. Palaweños are starting to mark a name in the field of Accountancy in the country.

PRC released the result today, October 20.

Census: Puerto Princesa records 255K population; Brgy San Pedro “most populous”

By Catherine Santos

Puerto Princesa City’s population has reached 255,116 based on the latest national census of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), more popularly known as NSO, this according to Maria Lalaine Rodriguez, Provincial Statistics Officer of PSA-Palawan.

Based on the said statistics, Barangay San Pedro has the highest number of population with 22,089 residents, followed by Bgy. Sta. Monica with 20,094 and Bgy. San Miguel with 19,649. Barangay Mabuhay has the lowest population with only 206.

According to Rodriguez, the actual census of population or enumeration (data gathering) took place last year from August 10-September 24, 2015. Data were disclosed at the local level thru a PopCen Information Dissemination Forum last October 7, 2016. PSA is bound to do more information dissemination this October, she added.

“Pagkatapos ng enumeration, nagkaroon ‘yan ng processing yung mga survey returns. Nagkaroon pa ng machine processing, data validation. Nagkaroon din kami ng saturation. Kapag validated na ‘yung data, nagkaroon na tayo ng official release na ganito ang population na tinanggap naman ng dating Presidente (Aquino) nitong May 2016,” Rodriguez further explained.

Rodriguez also underscored the importance of the said figures in terms of IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment). “Basehan din sya para magkaroon ng benchmark para sa mga policy users, sa mga government planners. Nakadepende siyempre sa dami ng population ‘yung basic services na ibibigay sa ating mga kababayan,” she said.

The population of the city is a parcel of the province’s total population of 1,104, 085.

‘Access to Justice Network’ program to strengthen in Palawan

By Catherine Santos

The Access to Justice Network (AJN), a non-government program dedicated to extend legal aid particularly to poor and disadvantaged citizens, have recently established three centers in Palawan, particularly in Pulot Shore in Sofroñio Española, Aramaywan in Narra and Rio Tuba in Bataraza.

According to Atty. Jose Maria Mendoza of the European Union-Philippines Justice Support Programme, the establishment of the said centers supports their understanding that it is about time to strengthen the program from the grassroots level. He also underscored the importance of the support of local government units.

Aside from the three established centers, there are seven other communities in the province with existing AJN programs. According to General Estino Jaire Ayobbie, an AJN volunteer and Chairman of United Muslim and Christians for Peace and Progress, these others communities, despite not having a physical center yet, are already “active” in the program.

The AJN falls under the EP-JUST II project, a partnership involving Palawan’s provincial government, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and the United Muslim and Christians for Peace and Progress, and specifically aims to promote equitable access to justice and its efficient enforcement for all marginalized individuals.

AJN was launched through a memorandum of agreement in 2015 to provide Muslim-Filipinos the ability to take up legal issues through access to referral pathways and to harmonize justice delivery instruments to guarantee fair dispensing in communities, chiefly to impoverished residents. Palawan is the program’s first pilot area in the Philippines.

Community Media gird for 21st National Press Congress

By Jessica M. Bacud (Palawan News)

Preparations are now well underway for the 21st National Press Congress, mandated under Presidential Proclamation No. 1187 and slated December 2-3 this year at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City.

The 2-day annual media event under the auspices of the Publishers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PAPI), will on issues related to the contemplated shift to Federalism from the present presidential form of government. Its theme is “The Stakes and Prospects of the Community Media under a Federal Government Set-up.”

Among the topics up for discussion by experts are: Types of Federal Governments: Which model best suits the Filipino orientation?; Significant differences in structural organization and political dynamics between the Presidential and Federal government systems; Inclusive growth prospects in a Federal government set up; and 4) Opportunities for the Community Media under a Federal government regime.

PAPI president Nelson Santos said they have opted to hold this year’s media congress at the DAP in Tagaytay City to provide its participants a good and absorptive learning atmosphere and ensue conviviality among them since the event is also a cherished delightful homecoming among community media players.

Santos pointed out that Tagaytay City is a haven for vacationists and tourists on account of its cool air and breath-taking sceneries, with Taal Lake and Taal Volcano in Batangas seemingly just a stone’s throw away.

Tagaytay’s other inviting tourism assets include its People’s Park in the Sky situated on top of Mt. Sungay, Cavite’s highest elevation point; Tagaytay Picnic Grove, Tierra de Maria which is famous for its 50-foot tall giant statue of the Virgin of Manaoag; Museo Orlina; and Paradizoo which combines the charm of a farm and a mini-zoo.

Regular participants in PAPI’s annual National Press Congress are its regular and associate members including community newspaper publishers, media executives, editors, broadcasters, reporters, public information and media relations officers, campus journalists and other communicators

For Inquiries pls call 5251990, 5274252 loc. 18, 09178498730 or 09278566977 email phpublisher74@gmail.com

City gov’t conducts child-based emergency and disaster preparedness program

By Aira Genesa Magdayao

In coordination with the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, the City Government of Puerto Princesa is currently hosting the first ever Junior Rescue Camp at the Ramon V. Mitra Sports Complex. The said activity, which runs from October 14 to 16, aims to train student participants in the areas of first aid, road safety, fire safety and disaster risk reduction management.

“I’m really thankful that the City Government helped us make this activity bigger,” said Marvi Rebueno- Trudeau, Program Manager of Pilipinas Shell Foundation.

Aside from the said organization and the city government, other government agencies are also participating in the event, including the City Traffic Management, Department of Education, Red Cross, JCI, Bureau of Fire and Protection and City Disaster Risk Reduction Management.

One of the potential results of the activity will be the formulation of DRRM coordinator for each school in the city, with the ultimate goal of making efficient coordination towards a safer environment in Puerto Princesa City.

Puerto Princesa LGBT community to strengthen gender equality in the city

By Nikki Aquino-Watt

The LGBT community of Puerto Princesa will hold an assembly at the City Coliseum on Saturday, October 15, to fully discuss the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of the local government and promote gender equality in the city.

“Kailangan kasi magsasama ang lahat ng mga LGBT sa Puerto Princesa para mas lumakas ang puwersa sa pagpapatupad ng gender equality,” says Joey Odtohan, founder of the LGBT movement in the city.

The issue on equality for LGBT members was again highlighted after news of an LGBT person who suffered physical abuse from a group of men surfaced last Monday, October 10.

“Hindi dahil bakla pwede na laitin at saktan kasi basta nasa tama kami, lalaban kami,” Odtohan said.

The Anti-Discrimination Ordinance was passed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod on July 1, 2015. Odtohan considers the said ordinance a stepping stone in pushing the fight for gender equality in Puerto Princesa.

Otdohan claimed they have around 600 members in the city.

City Gov’t conducts disaster preparedness training

By Aira Genesa Magdayao

In a bid to raise disaster preparedness in Puerto Princesa, the City Risk Reduction and Management Office conducted a ‘Basic Incident Command System Training’ on October 10-13, with four speakers from the Office of the Civil Defense leading the activity.

Around 60 trainees participated in the training, mainly from government agencies such as Kilos Agad Action Center (KAAC), the Philippine Navy, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Philippine Coastguard.

Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer Earl Timbancaya said the activity was conducted to standardize incident command systems in the City, as well as to emphasize the importance of response systems during natural calamities. “This activity needs to be done first and foremost as mandated by law to standardize the City at the same time this is the critical component in case of natural calamity scenario,” Timbancaya said.

$1M conservation fund established for Palawan area

By BEN KRITZ (TMT)

A “sustainable conservation trust fund” with initial funding of $1 million was established for the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape in Palawan, the first such fund in the Philippines, environmental group Conservation International (CI) Philippines announced last Friday.

Established by Conservation International’s (CI) Global Conservation Fund (GCF), the fund ensures conservation efforts can continue across the 120,000-hectare landscape, Palawan’s largest terrestrial protected area, the group said.

CI Philippines Executive Director Enrique Nunez said in a statement, “This innovative fund will provide sustainable financing for the long term maintenance, protection, and enrichment of the biodiversity within the protected area. Essentially, investing in this fund supports livelihood diversification for the indigenous Palawan people, improving their well-being, and ensures the watershed can continue to provide freshwater to all residents of southern Palawan.”

With over half its original forest cover remaining, Mt. Mantalingahan–the highest peak in Palawan–holds vital habitat for over 1,000 species, 23 of which are identified as globally threatened including the Palawan pangolin (Manis culionensis), Palawan flying fox (Acerodon leucotis), the Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), the Palawan peacock pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis), and the Palawan hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei). |

New species are still being discovered upon its slopes, highlighting the landscape’s outstanding global value and the importance of maintaining this protected area in the face of constant timber-cutting and mining pressures, CI explained.

“This is yet another great step for the MMPL which is already recognized as a highly successful model of conservation. In 2013 it won the first national Best Protected Area–Showcasing Partnership with Civil Society Award, and it is our hope that in time its nomination to become a World Heritage Site will be successful giving it the international recognition it deserves,” Nunez added.

CI Philippines first moved to establish the protected area in southern Palawan began in 2004 with financial support from the GCF. It was formally designated by virtue of a proclamation by then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in June 2009, increasing the area of Palawan under formal protection by 20 percent. Since then, management and business plans for the landscape have been completed leading to the establishment of the trust fund, the group said.

CI Philippines disbursed the grant of $1 million to the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation, the endowment manager, as initial capital for the endowment on October 7. The capitalization target is at least $2.7 million, so further investment is needed, CI added.

“The trust fund is the first step. Now the challenge to secure a better future for Mantalingahan and the people that depend on it rests on garnering further contributions to increase the endowment capital so that we can ensure this effort endures into the future.” Nunez said.

Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, Director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said, “We welcome the creation of an endowment fund for Mt. Mantalingahan. 60 percent of the budget for managing our protected areas comes from the national government, which is certainly very limited. Additional funding from other sources can go a long way in protecting the last remaining biodiversity-rich areas in the country.”

Palawan to host two international boat races next month

By Jean T. Malanum [(PNA), CVL/JEAN T. MALANUM/EDS]

MANILA, Oct. 12 (PNA) -– Palawan’s capital city of Puerto Princesa will be the venue of two major international boat tournaments next month.

The Asian Dragon Boat Championship is scheduled on Nov. 11-12, while the Puerto Princesa International Club Crew Championship will be held on Nov. 12-13.

In an interview with Sports Radio on Wednesday, national coach Len Escollante said the office of the city mayor is giving its full support for the successful hosting of the tournaments organized by the Philippine Canoe Dragon Boat Federation (PCDF).

An estimated 1,000 paddlers are expected to join the two tournaments, which the Philippines is hosting for the first time.

Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Iran, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore have confirmed their participation in the Asian Dragon Boat Championship while teams from Germany and the United States will lead the participants in the International Club Crew competition.

Technical officials from the PCDF are already in Palawan while the boats to be used by the participating teams have been shipped.

PCDF President Jonne Go said that aside from the competitors, top officials of the Asian Canoe Confederation (ACC) will come over for the ACC Congress which will coincide with the holding of the Asian Dragon Boat Championship.

The national women’s team is currently training in Puerto Princesa while the men’s squad will leave for Palawan next week.

The Philippine teams are coming off a successful stint at the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships in Russia last month. They won three golds, one silver and two bronzes.

Escollante said the Asian Dragon Boat Championship will gauge the performance of the Filipino paddlers, who will see action in the 2018 Asian Games scheduled from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia.

Environmental advocates reiterate campaign towards coal-free Palawan

By Catherine Santos

In a nationwide celebration of Reclaim Power Campaign yesterday, the Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) reiterated its campaign for a coal-free Palawan.

In a press conference yesterday, the Palawan NGO Network Incorporated (PNNI) cited three reasons why they are again alarmed on the issue of coal in the province. First is the news that Semirara Mining and Power Corporation, a supporter of the previously lobbied coal project in the province, was able to pass DENR’s recent mining audit. Second is the presence of President Rodrigo Duterte in the recent inauguration of a coal project in Mindoro, and third is the increasingly frequent power outage in Palawan.

Early this year, DMCI Power Corporation has also pursued its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) application for a coal-fired power project in Narra, Palawan. The said application is currently pending in DENR.

It can be recalled that DENR Secretary Gina Lopez made a pronouncement when she visited Palawan in July that no ECCs will be issued for coal-fired projects. Atty. Grizelda Mayo Anda of Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) said that while they are happy with the Secretary’s announcement, they cannot simply be complacent. “Eh hindi lang naman kasi DENR ang kausap natin dito, may PALECO, may DOE,” she pointed out.

Anda further explained that they can only be assured of a coal-free Palawan if the power service agreement (PSA) of PALECO with power providers will be revised to particularly omit coal as power source option in the province. She also underscored the importance of formalizing the pronouncement of Secretary Lopez by issuing a moratorium order for the non-issuance of ECCs to coal-fired power plants that are currently in the pipeline, including those that might be established in Palawan.

Meanwhile, some residents of Iraan, Aborlan are worried that the existing construction of a bunker C power plant by DMCI in their area may be converted into a coal project, said Tomas Kutat of SAFE or Save Aborlan from Evils. He said that the project did not go through a public consultation and hence was able to escape their scrutiny of its real nature and status.

Frontliners of PACE joined the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMJC), along with other advocates, communities and civil service groups in the country, in asserting the right to development using clean and affordable energy.


Large MPAs set in Palawan to rebuild fish stocks

(BusinessMirror)

A whopping 1,013,340 hectares covering both the coastal and offshore waters of Cagayancillo, plus 80,000 hectares of Aborlan in the Philippine province of Palawan were recently declared as marine-protected areas (MPAs).

This is part of a two-country initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Fondation Segré to rebuild the fish stocks of the Coral Triangle by changing the way people view protected areas. MPAs are portions of the sea which are protected by law. According to MPAtlas, the Philippines hosts 1,557—more than any in Southeast Asia.

Established largely through local government initiatives and administered by coastal communities, these undersea enclaves provide vital safe havens for marine life, while also attracting droves of tourists.

Sadly, many MPAs are plagued by a lack of funding. Perhaps, just over 100 MPAs are properly administered. Many are negatively viewed by coastal people as deterrents to their ability to fish in front of their homes.

This is because most MPAs have been designed to protect marine biodiversity rather than to replenish fish stocks and support local economies. “Fishermen were initially concerned that they would no longer be allowed to fish,” Aborlan Barangay Captain Zabalo recalls. “But proper zoning allocated areas for fishing.”

Over the past decade, WWF has been trying to put people’s needs first by focusing on the value of MPAs to maximize fisheries production instead of merely protecting biodiversity. So effective has the move been that the people of Cagayancillo clamored to have their waters protected because they benefited from the bounty of the nearby Tubbataha Reefs plus their own marine conservation efforts in Cagayancillo.

“Since WWF introduced marine conservation in early 2000, we have been vigilant. The reefs sustain our need for food and income. For years, we have had an abundant fish supply. I really believe some of them come from Tubbataha, especially the big ones,” Cagayancillo-based conservationist Nison Abados said. Though composed of both offshore and coastal zones, Cagayancillo is now the largest MPA in the country—due mostly to an ordinance under Republic Act 7611. Collaborative management is the key to effective and sustainably funded MPAs.

Roles, responsibilities and benefits are shared between national and local authorities, communities, the private sector and other resource users. Realizing that sustainability means business viability, the initiative works with the local seafood and tourism sectors to finance and manage MPAs and sustainable fishing initiatives.

“The ease and speed by which Aborlan protected its waters was due to a three-year initiative by local provincial, municipal and village governments, the Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Western Philippines University and WWF,” WWF-Philippines President and CEO Joel Palma said. The move heavily involves local fishermen and communities in the management of marine resources by helping them gain exclusive rights to fisheries located in or near MPAs and by working with them to improve the health and productivity of their fisheries.

An example would be Seven Lines, a coral reef system in Aborlan. “Seven Lines supplies fish to smaller coral reefs in the region. This means fisherfolk don’t need to travel far for fishing,” said Aborlan Municipal Agriculture Officer Cacatian. This means that even if certain areas are off-limits to fishers, the spillover effects of protection will seed large areas with life.

The project aims to expand the network of critical marine areas that are protected, effectively-managed and sustainably financed in the Coral Triangle. “Through well-managed MPAs, coastal communities can realize that conservation is the surest way to secure tomorrow’s fish,” concludes Palma.

As of 2016, the projects of WWF and its allies are protecting 904,000 hectares of MPAs in the Philippines.

FEATURE: ​​Young Filipino doctor to the barrio becomes first Southeast Asian on the '120 Under 40' list

(The FORUM)

MANILA - Twenty-seven year old Dr. Marvin Masalunga is in the United States for a series of training and orientation on Reproductive Health.

Masalunga is one of the recipients of the 120 Under 40 Campaign of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute. This project recognizes persons who champion the cause of reproductive health. A native of Cavite, Masalunga, whose nomination was initiated and recommended by the Forum for Family Planning and Development, is the only Southeast Asian individual to receive the citation. He joins nine other selected awardees in a string of talks on ways to improve maternal and child care among locals of their respective countries.

Masalunga will discuss about the state of reproductive health in the Philippines in Baltimore, Maryland. The next sessions will take place in Washington D.C, and New York where talks on the use of contraceptives, and the future of reproductive health will take place respectively.

When asked about how he feels with the recognition, he says “it’s a validation of what I, and our group of rural health workers in Palawan, do for the people. Aside from that, it speaks that I am probably doing something right in my service.”

The Challenge of medical work in Palawan

Masalunga works in the district hospital of Coron, Palawan as a deputy municipal health officer. In his work, he meets and treats local patients day in and day out.

The latest figures show that among all the provinces in the Mimaropa region, Palawan has one of the highest maternal mortality rate (MMR) – or the number of women dying due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.

Records from the Provincial Health Office reveal that Palawan’s MMR rose to 182 in 2014 from 125 MMR per 100,000 live births in 2012.

While the municipality of Coron is one of the popular tourist spots in Northern Palawan with its pristine waters and captivating landscapes, little do most people know about the plethora of health issues that beset its locals, especially the women and the youth.

Coron has a total land area of 689.1 square kilometers – making it bigger than Metro Manila (which is at 613.9 square kilometers.). Coron is made up, mostly of coastal villages. And out of its 23 barangays, seven are flourishing, while the rest are far-flung and underdeveloped.

“Some areas don’t even have electricity and access to health facilities. Tara, the farthest barangay, can be reached from Coron via a three-hour boat ride.” Masalunga shared.

He further talked about a couple from Tara, whose statements on hoping to improve their life’s conditions struck him. Masalunga shared the story of a 23-year-old pregnant mother who was very compliant with her monthly checkups and procedures. But when she was about to give birth, she still found it difficult to get the baby out of her womb. After this experience, she said: ‘I would not have undergone a difficult delivery if only I’ve been aware of the things I need to do.’ To this, her husband remarked: ‘It’s so difficult to become impoverished. We don’t have enough access to health care.”

Other reproductive health issues

Teenage pregnancies, aside from risky and complicated ones, are also health issues that need to be addressed in Coron. According to Masalunga, “one out of ten pregnant women in the municipality are teenagers.”

Culture may be one of the factors for this increasing rate. The young doctor cites the story of indigenous peoples – those who come from the Tagbanua ethnic group, in particular believe that any woman who gets her first menstrual period is free to marry and have children, regardless of age.

The Tagbanua people have what they call the ‘kasal sa banig.’ In this ceremony (that’s symbolic of marriage), the man will have to pin a woman down, and lock her by the ankle. After this, the latter is left with little choice but to marry the man.

Addressing RH issues

Aside from regular medical assistance, Masalunga, together with his team of rural health workers in Coron carry out talks on the importance of reproductive health and family planning. Just last year, they helped organized the ‘Buntis Congress’ that gathered expectant mothers together for discussions, and counseling as well as provision of free health services such as laboratory, pre-natal checkup, and ultrasound.

Masalunga also led talks among the youth, especially to members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Through these proactive efforts, Coron’s medical team is seeing improvements in providing maternal and child care among locals. According to Masalunga, “80% of our woman now give birth in the hospital, and are assisted by a health care provider and a midwife. This is a good number because we are really pushing for facility-based delivery services, and not just in the home, where the lackof medical resources puts the mother and the child’s life on the line.”

The 120 Under 40 Campaign

It was during one of the RH orientations that Masalunga met several members of the Forum for Family Planning and Development.

Masalunga further explained “In my involvement with the rural health community, I brought along with me three causes that are close to my heart – the disabled people, reproductive health, and mental health. To re-echo the voice of Vice President Leni Robredo, these are the people who are at the laylayan (the outskirts of society). And they are the ones who need medical attention, the most.”

In talks about pushing for the full implementation of reproductive health, Masalunga says we are facing a huge battle in the form of religious and cultural beliefs.

Masalunga asserts that reproductive health is not just about promoting the use of contraceptives, nor does it recommend abortion. Rather, it emphasizes the need for couples to space births and plan for their family – as doing so means planning for the future of their children.

Masalunga’s future plans

This young doctor’s work in Coron is about to end in October. After this, he plans to take up Pathology as specialization as he further pursues his medical career.

With the experience he has gained out of working in a far-flung area, plus the recognition that allowed him to go places and develop a global perspective on the state of reproductive health, he can confidently embark on a project that will allow him to push for his advocacies a notch higher.

He reveals his plan for next year, that is to come up with an adolescent forum (in partnership with different groups). This activity will aim to empower the youth to know more about their reproductive health rights, and how they can take care of themselves better. (The FORUM)

Bimp-Eaga to finalize Vision 2025 blueprint

By Ace June Rell S. Perez

THE Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga) Vision 2025 is set to be finalized within this month, an official said.

Romeo Castañaga, country’s focal person for the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development Working Group of Bimp-Eaga and Davao del Sur Provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) told reporters Thursday at the sidelines of the National Banana Congress 2016 at the SMX Convention Center that the blueprint will be finalized on October 12 and 13 in Makassar, Indonesia.

He said that it will be in preparation for the launching of the document during the 12th Bimp-Eaga Summit, which will be hosted by the Philippines on November 28, 29, and 30 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

The Bimp-Eaga Vision 2025 will serve as the successor document to the Implementation Blueprint 2012-2016. It also eyed “to support and complement the Asean 2025: Forging Ahead Together roadmap recognizing the sub-region's strategic role in the Asean community encouraging greater synergy between the regional and sub regional's sectoral bodies”.

“The Vision 2025 has pillars namely connectivity (transport), trade facilitation covering the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS), SME Development, Socio-cultural and environment,” he said. It also anchored the tourism, agribusiness, education, among other sectors.

He added that for the SME Working Group, the Growth Corridor Roads integrates the value chain approach.

In a recent 19th Bimp-Eaga ministerial meeting in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia last December 10, ministers from the member countries said in a joint statement emphasizing that the ministers urged all Bimp-Eaga stakeholders, especially the private sector and the local governments, to share their views, inputs, and projects that will generate economic growth and development in the sub-region.

"We welcome the formulation of the Bimp-Eaga Vision 2025 to develop a resilient, inclusive, sustainable and economically competitive sub-region. We endorse the guiding framework for BIMP-Eaga Vision 2025 and direct our senior officials to finalize it in time for the 12th BIMP-Eaga Summit," a statement, signed by six ministers, three representing Malaysia and one each from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and the Philippines, said.

Meanwhile, Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) Deputy Executive Director Romeo Montenegro said earlier that the transport and connectivity cluster of the Bimp-Eaga) is crucial for the vision’s realization of the sub-economic region.

Montenegro said that transport and connectivity is among the priority clusters being looked at by the multi-sectoral technical officials and private sector representative of the four member-countries of Bimp-Eaga.

“We have already identified our direction with the BIMP-Eaga Vision 2025 and we consider the transport and connectivity cluster as among the essential area because how can other projects and programs be achieved if we (four countries) are not that connected, the transport and connectivity is indeed the common denominator in the discussions,” Montenegro said.

The sub-economic region’s clusters are agribusiness, environment, information and communication technology, socio-cultural and education, power and energy infrastructure, tourism and transport.

Large marine protected areas established in Palawan to rebuild fish stocks

(PNA), FPV/WWF-PR/EDS

MANILA, Oct. 7 (PNA) -- A whopping 1,013,340 hectares covering both the coastal and offshore waters of Cagayancillo, plus 80,000 hectares of Aborlan in Palawan were recently declared as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

This is part of a two-country initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Fondation Segré to rebuild the fish stocks of the Coral Triangle by changing the way people view protected areas.

MPAs are portions of the sea which are protected by law. According to MPAtlas, the Philippines hosts 1557 – more than any in Southeast Asia. Established largely through local government initiatives and administered by coastal communities, these undersea enclaves provide vital safe havens for marine life, while also attracting droves of tourists.

Sadly, many MPAs are plagued by lack of funding. Perhaps just over 100 MPAs are properly administered. Many are negatively viewed by coastal people as deterrents to their ability to fish in front of their homes.

This is because most MPAs have been designed to protect marine biodiversity rather than to replenish fish stocks and support local economies. “Fishermen were initially concerned that they would no longer be allowed to fish,” recalls Aborlan Barangay Captain Zabalo. “But proper zoning allocated areas for fishing.”

Over the past decade, WWF has been trying to put people’s needs first by focusing on the value of MPAs to maximize fisheries production instead of merely protecting biodiversity. So effective has the move been that the people of Cagayancillo clamored to have their waters protected because they benefited from the bounty of the nearby Tubbataha Reefs plus their own marine conservation efforts in Cagayancillo. “Since WWF introduced marine conservation in early 2000, we have been vigilant. The reefs sustain our need for food and income. For years, we have had an abundant fish supply. I really believe some of them come from Tubbataha, especially the big ones,” shares Cagayancillo-based conservationist Nison Abados.

Though composed of both offshore and coastal zones, Cagayancillo is now the largest MPA in the country – due mostly to an ordinance under Republic Act 7611.

Collaborative management is the key to effective and sustainably-funded MPAs. Roles, responsibilities and benefits are shared between national and local authorities, communities, the private sector and other resource users.

Realizing that sustainability means business viability, the initiative works with the local seafood and tourism sectors to finance and manage MPAs and sustainable fishing initiatives.

“The ease and speed by which Aborlan protected its waters was due to a three-year initiative by local provincial, municipal and village governments, the Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Western Philippines University and WWF,” says WWF-Philippines President and CEO Joel Palma.

The move heavily involves local fishermen and communities in the management of marine resources by helping them gain exclusive rights to fisheries located in or near MPAs and by working with them to improve the health and productivity of their fisheries.

An example would be Seven Lines, a coral reef system in Aborlan. “Seven Lines supplies fish to smaller coral reefs in the region. This means fisherfolk don’t need to travel far for fishing,” says Aborlan Municipal Agriculture Officer Cacatian. This means that even if certain areas are off-limits to fishers, the spillover effects of protection will seed large areas with life.

The project aims to expand the network of critical marine areas that are protected, effectively-managed and sustainably financed in the Coral Triangle. “Through well-managed MPAs, coastal communities can realize that conservation is the surest way to secure tomorrow’s fish,” concludes Palma.

As of 2016, the projects of WWF and its allies are protecting 904,000 hectares of MPAs in the Philippines.

Prov’l Board officially supports declaration of Pag-asa Island as special eco-tourism zone

By Catherine Santos

The Palawan Provincial Board passed a resolution recently to officially express the province’s support to Senator Juan Edgardo Angara’s bill which declares Pag-asa Island in Kalayaan as a Special Ecological Tourism Zone.The said resolution, which was authored by Board Member Roseller Pineda, is a reiteration for a previously passed resolution, in support to the re-filing of the bill in the current Upper House.

According to Pineda, the clamor for passing the resolution came from the people and officials in the said municipality. “Ito talaga nag-emanate sa mga mamamayan, sa mga opisyales natin, noon pang panahon ni dating Mayor Bitoon-on, noong last set of government officials pa, doon nagsimula at humingi nga ng support sa amin,” Pineda explained.

The local legislator also cited what he sees as the undeniable ecotourism potential of Pag-asa Island, including the adjoining islands of Parola, Kota and Panata, which are all within the disputed area of West Philippine Sea. “Very potential diba? Nakita natin ang Palawan as tourist destination, number 1 island in the world. Ideal talaga na tourist destination,” BM Pineda said in an interview.

Another notable provision of the resolution is the proposal to declare the Spratlys as an international marine park and protected area, which the document said originated from a Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice who served as a member of the legal team that prepared the country’s case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Meanwhile, AFP Chief of Staff General Ricardo Visaya, in his visit to Western Command on Wednesday, October 5, expressed support to the proposed legislation. “Alam niyo ang ating Armed Forces [] we will always support the government programs. Basta pagdating sa kabutihan ng ating bansa, nand’yan ang ating armed forces,” Visaya said in a media interview.

SB 944 also aims to declare Parola, Kota and Panata as protected areas under NIPAS or National Integrated Protected Areas System.

Puerto Princesa records highest solo parents in MIMAROPA

(Palawan News)

The Department of Social Welfare and Development through ‘Listahanan’ recently disclosed that Puerto Princesa has the highest number of solo parents in the MIMAROPA region, recording 1,700 cases. The city is followed by the municipality of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro with 1,036 solo parents and the town of Narra, Palawan with 672 solo parents. Republic Act No. 8972, also known as the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, defined a ‘solo parent’ as an individual left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood or providing parental care and support to a child or children.

According to the 2015 Listahanan database, there are 69,646 individuals, or 2.7 percent, of the total 2,573,992 assessed population in the region who claimed as solo parents. The figure comprises 19,722 (28.3%) males and 49,924 (71.7%) females. There are 6,057 poor solo parents in Oriental Mindoro; 3,478 poor solo parents in Occidental Mindoro; 1,661 solo parents in Marinduque; 2,813 solo parents in Romblon; and 8,595 poor solo parents in Palawan.

Moreover, the top barangays with the highest number of solo parents are Barangay Panaytayan, Mansalay in Oriental Mindoro with 155 poor solo parents; Barangay Bancalaan, Balabac in Palawan with 152 poor solo parents; and Barangay Sicsican in Puerto Princesa City with 124 poor solo parents.

The database further revealed that in terms of marital status of poor solo parents, 9,755 (43.2%) are widowed, 6,000 (26.5%) are separated, and 4,296 (19%) are single. Also, most of the solo parents are in the age bracket of 35 to 44 years old.

Listahanan is a mechanism of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that identifies who and where the poor are nationwide. From the 569,000 households assessed region-wide, about 207,863 were identified as poor in MIMAROPA.

According to DSWD, qualified solo parents may avail the following benefits from the government: parental leave, educational aid from the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education, livelihood training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, as well as allocations in low-cost housing projects and medical assistance.

DSWD calls for solo parents to get their ID valid from the office nearest them. The card is renewable after a year and will entitle the parent to the said government benefits.

-with excerpst from Press Release of DSWD-Mimaropa

Puerto Princesa launches ‘Hanging Library’

By Catherine Santos

The Department of Education Puerto Princesa (City DepEd), in partnership with the Rotary Club of Makati Olympia, launched the ‘Hanging Library’, also tagged as “Cocoon of Knowledge”, on Sunday, October 2 at Sittio Tuod, Bgy. Montible. The said library, which featured a reading area hoisted on treetops, was made to mainly benefit members of the Tagbanua tribe, out-of-school youth (OSY) and other students of Alternative Learning System (ALS) in the area, all with ages ranging from 12 to 62 years old.

Ferlison Moore Yanson, a mobile and ALS teacher, said the concept started in 2013 but construction only started May this year.

“Pinagsama namin ang edukasyon at kalikasan. Yung puno kumakatawan sa kalikasan, hindi natin sisiraain, aalagaan. Tapos nilagyan natin ng library sa ibabaw,” Yanson shared. He admitted that funding the first phase of construction came from his personal pocket, until the concept was adopted and supported by the DepEd under its ALS program.

“Ang nag-inspire talaga sa akin [ay] si former chieftain Melino Baquiao. Ang sabi n’ya sa akin, matututo lang ako bumasa at sumulat masaya na ako. Kumpleto na ang buhay ko. So, mas lalo ako na-inspire, nagsikap na talagang gawin ang hanging library na yan,” Yanson explained.

The Indigenous group, along with the other students, will take charge in managing and maintaining the area. The hanging library is for free; visitors will only be asked for some donations for maintenance and sustainability of the project.

The Rotary Club of Makati Olympia donated books and instructional materials for the said hanging library.

The PTA Federation of Puerto Princesa also extended support to the Hanging Library. According to Felisa Acosta, PTA Federation President, “Ang mga IPs po talagang nangangailangan ng tulong. Nakita ko na dapat magkaroon sila ng identification. Kaya nag-offer po ako, kami po ay magbibigay ng mga uniform.”

According to Mariflor Musa, Regional Office Chief of ALS Program, the DepEd already have many mobile libraries but the concept of a hanging library is unique. That’s why on the next National Literacy Award under “Literacy Program”, the hanging library of Puerto Princesa will be the official entry of the MIMAROPA Region.

Yanson is 2015 MIMAROPA regional awardee for Best ALS/Mobile teacher.

Puerto Princesa breaks ground on cherry blossom park

By Catherine Santos (Puerto Princesa-based journalist)

Puerto Princesa (CNN Philippines) — The Puerto Princesa city government broke ground Thursday on a park that will feature Palawan's version of Japan's cherry blossom "Sakura" trees.

The 5.8-hectare "Balayong Park" gets its name from Palawan's cherry trees, known locally as "balayong." These are endemic in the province and are recognized for their white and pink flowers that adorn the balayong trees when in full bloom.

City Information Officer Richard Ligad said fully-grown balayong trees were transplanted to the park using Korean technology.

Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron said it has been his dream to build a park that will cater to almost all events in the city.

"Kapag natapos ang Balayong Park na ito, dito na natin gagawin ang Balayong Festival at iba pang aktibidad sa lungsod," he said.

[Translation: We will hold the Balayong Festival and other city activities in Balayong Park once it is completed.]

Aside from a 'tunnel' of balayong trees, the Balayong Park will also host an ecumenical chapel and meditation garden, water park, fitness and recreational park auditorium, and amphitheater, among others.

Bayron said finishing the park would cost around ₱100 million. This will include renovation and upgrades on existing buildings at the City Sports Complex.

The mayor said in June the Balayong Park is part of the local government's plan to boost tourism.

The first Japanese cherry blossom park in the country is in Atok, Benguet. The sakura trees planted in June are expected to bloom in three years.

City Gov’t conducts Tourism Forum in Palawan

By Alliae Alexie Garcia

As part of the celebration for the 9th Tandikan Festival, the City Government conducted a program entitled “Tourism Forum 2016” with the theme “Tourism for all, promoting universal accessibility” at the City Coliseum on Friday, September 30.

The event was a whole-day forum divided into two plenary sessions, the first one focusing on ‘current tourism development initiatives’, while the second one discussed ‘infrastructure support’.

The guest speakers for the first session were from the City Tourism Office (CTO), Provincial Tourism Office (PTO), Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) Office, DLSU J. Robredo Institute of Governance, Palawan Tourism Council (PTC) and USAID.

The second half saw speakers from the Puerto Princesa International Airport, Traffic and Transport Management, PPC Water District and Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO), the body led by City Mayor Lucilo Bayron who also graced the said event.

The event primarily highlighted the updates within the tourism industry of Palawan as a whole. Puerto Princesa’s position as a gateway to the province was also particularly discussed, especially its role in generating economic growth and tourism.

“Ang pagiging gateway ng Puerto Princesa is a very big advantage,” Prof. Eddie Nuque, Sr., Fellow on Tourism and Governance, said as he highlighted the strategies that will benefit the tourism industry of the City. City Mayor Lucilo Bayron expressed agreement with Nuque’s statement, saying, “we should take advantage of it.”

“Sayangin mo na ang panahon, ‘wag lang ang pagkakataon,”said City Mayor Lucilo Bayron in appraising the opportunities within the tourism industry. He also added that tourism is the future of the City in advancing the local economy.

Aside from that, the event also covered the City Government’s proposed additional tourism destinations that will help the City in its future growth and development.

“Let’s work together as a team. By working together as a team, we can transform PPC,” Bayron said.

In the second half, the forum underscored issues and current plans concerning infrastructure projects in the city. This included the on-going plan for the “Puerto Princesa International Airport” which will be launched on March 16, 2017. Updates were also given by the PPC Water District and the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO).

After the plenary sessions, the City Gov’t answered queries from the participants regarding the discussions. City officials also sought the people’s participation in the upcoming events which include the 2nd MIMAROPA Festival, Mr and Ms MIMAROPA 2016, a street dancing competition and the popular ‘PPUR Day’. Aside from this, the public is also especially encouraged to witness the Dragon Boat Race Asian Championships to be held on November 10-13.

Prov’l hospital celebrates Civil Service Month for the first time

By Nikki Aquino-Watt

For the very first time, the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) is participating in the celebration of the Civil Service Month and held a Food Bazaar at the hospital premises on Friday, September 30.

The ONP bazaar showcased local food products that passed the criteria of the hospital’s nutritionist and was approved by the hospital’s Human Resource Officer. HR Officer Melba Cos confirmed that it was the hospital’s first time to hold an event for the annual Civil Service Month celebration. “Previously hindi nagcecelebrate ng Civil Service Month ang ONP due to heavy workloads ng mga empleyado,” she said.

The hospital’s administration came up with the Food Bazaar to let patients and their watchers get easy access to food without having to go far. Cos added that the bazaar was hosted to offer a variety of food to the employees themselves. “Yung canteen kasi ng ospital hindi pa fully operational kaya maganda rin ito para sa mga empleyado, marami silang choices ng pagkain habang nasa shift,” Cos said.

Aside from the food bazaar the organizers also invited a Zumba instructor for a one-hour zumba session and promotion of healthy lifestyle.

The hospital’s employees expressed gratitude to Medical Center Chief Dr. Melecio Dy for extending support to the said event. The ONP is looking forward to celebrate the civil service month next year.