Palawan News November 2014

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Palawan - Archived News

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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

Wars of ancient history were about possessions, territory, power, control, family, betrayal, lover's quarrel, politics and sometimes religion.

But we are in the Modern era and supposedly more educated and enlightened .

Think about this. Don't just brush off these questions.

  • Why is RELIGION still involved in WARS? Isn't religion supposed to be about PEACE?
  • Ask yourself; What religion always campaign to have its religious laws be accepted as government laws, always involved in wars and consistently causing WARS, yet insists that it's a religion of peace?

WHY??

There are only two kinds of people who teach tolerance:
  1. The Bullies. They want you to tolerate them so they can continue to maliciously deprive you. Do not believe these bullies teaching tolerance, saying that it’s the path to prevent hatred and prejudice.
  2. The victims who are waiting for the right moment to retaliate. They can’t win yet, so they tolerate.
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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

Palawan is world’s most beautiful island–US website

By Azer N. Parrocha (Philippines News Agency)

AFTER being named as the top island in the world by the readers of the renowned United States travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler in October, the province of Palawan once again received recognition from well-known American news website Huffington Post.

In an article titled “Palawan, the most beautiful island in the world, is sheer perfection,” which was published on the website last week, HuffPost Travel writer Carly Ledbetter described the Philippines as an “underappreciated” tropical travel destination, especially since it is home to “a hidden piece of paradise”, like Palawan.

She wrote that the province’s “beautiful blue water mixes with emerald green”, and noted its “jungle-filled mountains that appear to rise up from the ocean”.

Ledbetter listed island-hopping around the Bacuit archipelago (for the cliffs, sinkholes and lagoons); traveling to Puerto Princesa City (for its culinary delights); and staying in one of Coron town’s “otherworldly” luxury hotels as some of the province’s high points.

She also cited the province’s incredible and rare wildlife—from purple crabs and the Philippine mouse-deer to the Philippine pangolin, butterflies and the Palawan bearcat.

Ledbetter suggested to her readers to try scuba-diving in Palawan, since it is one of the “best spots to scuba-dive in the world;” tour Puerto Princesa’s underground river; or take a boat to travel between the islands.

“We’re pretty sure that after all the biking, swimming and exploring you’ll do—you’ll never want to leave,” the writer said.

“Many say the ideal time to head to Palawan is between about October and May, so we suggest booking tickets ASAP,” she added.

Palawan is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Philippines, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

In fact, the island is featured in the DOT’s official television commercials that are aired internationally and can also be viewed on the video-sharing website YouTube.

El Nido Resorts continue to reap global awards

(ABS-CBNnews.com)

MANILA, Philippines - From the current 70,000 visitors a year with foreigners making up the majority, the number of tourists to El Nido municipality in Palawan is expected to more than double to 150,000 by 2018.

They are drawn to the destination’s biodiverse and pristine surroundings and the responsible tourism practiced by its biggest business entity, El Nido Resorts.

The international awards on sustainability won by El Nido’s iconic resorts in the past few years has brought global attention to this protected area in the Philippines’ westernmost province, according to Laurent Lamasuta, president of the Ten Knots Group, which developed the brand.

This year, the resorts have received six major awards topbilled by the Sustainable Hotel Award in the Sustainable Communities category awarded in October in Hongkong by the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific, and Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award from the World Tourism Association.

Also this year, the Association of South East Asian Nations gave El Nido Resorts’ Pangulasian property the Green Hotel Award in recognition of its compliance with the ASEAN Green Hotel Standard.

Lamasuta said El Nido Resorts has been reaping global awards since 2006 when its inclusion on Conde Nast’s Green List catapulted the brand to the world stage.

“We have been exposed to international markets because of these awards and we are seeing more online reservations from foreign guests and interest from travel agents abroad," Lamasuta said.

He noted travellers will not choose a destination just because of its sustainable practices, but also because of the product and location.

Lamasuta said El Nido Resort’s distinct advantage is that it is located amid razor-sharp limestone cliffs, pristine coves and beaches populated by close to 900 species of fish, over 110 species of birds, and five out of seven species of known sea turtles.

Ten Knots embraced a nature-based, low-impact approach to all its activities as early as the ‘80s, according to Lamasuta.

Management also realized early on that operating in fragile island ecosystems called for a holistic approach to solid waste management, water conservation and energy conservation. They also hired and trained locals who now make up 90 per cent of the work force.

“That has helped us keep good relations with the community. We’ve also established programs to ensure that the community would grow alongside with us while sharing our commitment to responsible tourism,” Lamasuta said.

Lamasuta pointed out that 90 percent of visitors to the El Nido municipality just 10 years ago were guests of the resorts.

Today only 30 percent of all visitors head for the island resorts, with the rest staying in bed and breakfasts and other facilities put up by the locals in El Nido town.

Most of the El Nido town operators received their training as employees of the El Nido Resorts or through programs developed by the firm for the community.

Meanwhile, Pangulasian island and Lagen island, two of the four El Nido island resorts, took the first and second spot in Green Fins’ list of Top 10 Dive Centers in Asia. Established by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Green Fins encourages dive centers and snorkel operators, local communities and governments to reduce their environmental impacts.

Pangulasian was likewise named the 2014 Best New Hotel by Five Star Alliance, while the Asia CEO Forum most recently named El Nido Resorts as the Hospitality Destination of the Year.

“By all indicators, it is clear that sustainability is no longer just a trend. Many forces and influential organizations are pushing that it becomes a way of life, which it is in the El Nido Resorts," Lamasuta said.

Palace to poachers: Pay imposed fines and leave

By Madel Sabater - Namit

The nine Chinese fishermen who were found guilty by a Palawan court of poaching and taking endangered species from the waters of Palawan should pay the fine imposed by the lower court before they could return to China, Malacañang insisted yesterday.

This, after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying urged the Philippines to unconditionally release the Chinese fishermen and their boat arguing that “China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands (Spratlys) and the adjacent waters.”

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the Chinese poachers had violated Philippine laws and that paying a fine would be needed for them to be able to return to China.

“According to the Department of Justice, through Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, they have already served the penalty of subsidiary imprisonment for the offense of poaching and for the offense pertaining to possession of endangered species,” Coloma said.

“The court imposed a penalty of payment of fines. Upon payment of the fines, they are deemed to have served the penalty fully, and there is no further impediment for them to leave the country,” he said.

Judge Ambrosio de Luna of the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court Branch 51found the nine Chinese fishermen guilty of poaching and harvesting sea turtles from Hasa-Hasa shoal within PH territory.

But while the court did not impose a prison term for the accused, Judge de Lune ordered each of the accused to pay a fine of $100,000 or P4.3 million for poaching plus P120, 000 each for harvesting endangered species from PH waters.

The court, however ruled that in case of non-payment of the imposed fines, each of the accused shall be penalized with six months jail term for poaching and a maximum jail term of 20 years for taking endangered species.

The nine Chinese fishermen found guilty of poaching by the Palawan court were boat captain Chen Yi Quan, chief engineer Chen Ze Hao and crews Shi Xian Xiong, Shi Liang Duong, He Chuan, Huang Ji Xuan, He Sheng Bao, He Yuan Cheng, and Lu Chuan Fang.

They are currently detained at the Palawan Provincial Jail.

Palawan provincial prosecutor Allen Ross Rodriguez said “the dollar amount of the fine was brought by the fact that the Philippines has adopted the provision of the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Seas or UNCLOS when it comes to poaching.”

Seacem acquires shares in two companies for $80 million

By Roderick L. Abad

SOUTHEAST Asia Cement Holdings Inc. (Seacem) has entered into a deal to acquire stakes in Ferrochrome Resources Inc. (FRI) and Southeast Palawan Nickel Ventures Inc. (South Palawan) at a combined price of $80 million.

The company disclosed on Thursday that its board of directors authorized its execution of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with GHGC Metallic Ore Resources Inc., Jose Roy Borromeo, Dante R. Bravo, Kirby Erin Ng, Ceferino S. Paredes Jr., Arnulfo S. Santiago, Joseph C. Sy, Gu Zhi Fang and Xin Jun Xun.

As per the pact, Seacem is buying a total of 126.5 million common shares of FRI collectively owned by the sellers at a price of $30 million.

In a separate agreement it signed with Giantlead Prestige Inc., Alpha Centauri Fortune Group Inc., Antares Nickel Capital Inc., Huatai Investment Holding Pty. Ltd. and Wei Ting, the listed firm is purchasing from them a total of 500,000 common shares and 6.25 billion preferred shares of South Palawan for $50 million.

The number of shares of both FRI and South Palawan subject for acquisition by the cement holding firm represents 100 percent of their respective outstanding capital stock.

Otto Energy gets DOE nod to extend permit to drill off southwest Palawan

By Lenie Lectura

OTTO Energy Ltd. of Australia has secured from the Department of Energy (DOE) an extension of its permit to drill the Hawkeye-1 exploration well in southwest Palawan.

“Otto Energy is pleased to announce that the Philippines Department of Energy has granted an extension of Sub Phase 4 of Service Contract (SC) 55 for a period of 12 months,” it said on Wednesday.

The extended contract is set to expire on December 23, 2015.

“Securing the Department of Energy extension of Sub Phase 4 is an important step in progressing our exploration program in this high impact area. The combination of the excellent prospectivity of SC55 and the funding arrangement secured enables Otto to offer a very attractive exploration opportunity as part of a farm-out campaign. We look forward to providing an update on these discussions in the near term,” Otto CEO Matthew Allen said.

Otto Energy earlier said there are a number of companies with operations in Southeast Asia that are interested for a joint venture partnership in the drilling of the Hawkeye-1 exploration well.

“The company continues its farm-out process to secure quality joint venturers to participate in the drilling of the Hawkeye-1 exploration well and looks forward to being able to provide an update on these discussions in the near term,” it said, adding that planning and preparation for drilling of Hawkeye in 2015 has commenced.

Otto is taking over the BHP Billiton Petroleum (Philippines) Corp.’s (BHPB) 60-percent interest in SC55. This will bring Otto’s equity interest to 93.18 percent.

The DOE has already approved the reassignment of BHPB’s stake to Otto. Last January Otto has executed agreements with BHPB to terminate the farm-out agreement for SC55. The key terms of the agreements include the re-assignment approval by the DOE and the payment of $3 million, representing the reassignment, and $24.5 million to Otto, upon completion of the first exploration well in SC55.

Solon commends Palawan for being 'Top Island in the World'

By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com)

MANILA, Philippines – A party-list solon has filed a resolution at the House of Representatives commending Palawan for recently being declared as the "Top Island in the World" in the 27th Annual Readers' Choice Awards of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine.

"This small island—one of the Philippines’ 7,107—shot to the top of our list this year with a recent claim to fame: It’s now home to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River," Conde Nast Traveler writer Jenna Scherer, said.

1-CARE Party-list Rep. Edgardo Masongsong authored House Resolution 1611 which seeks to reignite the enthusiasm to protect and preserve the natural charm of Palawan, which was named "Land of Beautiful Safe Harbor."

"Being awarded the Top Island in the World, Palawan brings honor and pride to the country. Such recognition is also a major boost to the Philippines' abundant potentials in eco-tourism," Masongsong said.

The lawmaker noted that Palawan, a narrow archipelago of 1,700 islands, take pride in its rich and diverse ecosystem with vast rainforests, beautiful coral reefs, majestic mountains, primeval caves and pristine beaches.

Being voted as Top Island in the World, Palawan bested 147 other islands, garnering a rating of 88.750.

Palawan provincial board discusses registration of indigenous marriages

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 24 (PNA) — The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) or provincial board has asked the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the municipal registrars of two towns in southern Palawan to clarify issues concerning the registration of marriages of indigenous peoples (IPs).

The SP, according to the Provincial Information Office (PIO), called the PSA and the municipal registrars of the towns of Aborlan and Narra to clarify issues that the marriage certificates of IPs are not being recognized.

Called in during the Question and Answer, said the PIO, were Benjamin Quintero of the PSA, Antonio Cervancia of the Municipal Civil Registrar of Narra, and Nellie Mauricio of the same office of Aborlan.

The PIO explained they were called following the privilege speech of ex-officio Board Member Noel Jagmis, representatives of the IPs in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, who stated that the NSO and the local civil registrars of the said municipalities apparently do not recognize IP marriages.

Mauricio of Aborlan denied the issue saying they recognize the authority of the chieftains and leaders of the IPs, who officiate marriages. However, before they accept any document, they inspect them thoroughly.

She said that any marriage they officiate needs authority from the NSO, and they make sure that all information in the documents is true and valid.

Quintero also said they support the IPs and their traditional wedding practices, but there is a process that must be followed.

He assured that they will perform everything to ensure that rights of the IPs are not violated, and that they are given the proper services they deserve.

The PIO added that Board Member Leoncio Ola suggested too, that a seminar be held for the chieftains and leaders of the IPs on what documents are needed to be able to solemnize the IP marriages.

Ola reportedly emphasized that there are policies and procedures to follow, and IP chieftains and leaders must adhere to them to ensure that the IP marriages they conduct are valid.

Jagmis agreed to this, and said that a seminar has to be conducted to further clarify them on their roles in officiating IP marriages.

Palawan, You’re the One!

By Franz Josef D. Bulan (The Freeman)

CEBU, Philippines - Palawan, as surveyed by the international travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler, bested other 30 islands worldwide, pushing the white sandy beaches of Boracay to the 12th spot. Thanks to Puerto Princesa’s Subterranean River, Palawan has earned the votes of over 76,000 readers but – sorry to burst your bubble – this article won’t be about the said attraction.

On a clear-sky day last month, on October 20, we touched down at the Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Busuanga Island, Coron, Palawan. The scars from last year’s typhoon Yolanda were still visible around the airport. A welcome band tried to cover up the traces of the devastation by playing festive music.

After checking in at the Coron Westown Resort, we wasted no time in exploring the town. A trip to a place would not be complete without souvenirs to bring home. Ate Lenny, our tour guide from Green Earth Tours and Travel, took us to a souvenir shop, to the plaza – and to Mt. Tapyas.

It was no joke climbing up more than 700 steps to get to the summit. Perhaps what kept us on was the breathtaking panoramic view of the town that awaited everyone at the top. Well, not to mention the health benefits to gain from such good exercise.

Tired from the climb, we headed off next to Maquinit Hot Spring, which was a 30-minute bumpy ride away from Mt. Tapyas. It was already dusk when we got to the place, so there was not much to see anymore. But, curiously, the local people would suggest that tourists go there at night, citing that the water temperature is down and, thus, more tolerable. By day, the water temperature would go up to 43 degrees Celsius such that one would need to be really tough to be able to stand it.

The second and third days of our trip were the highlight! We basked in the pristine waters of Coron’s beaches and at nearby islands. One could see fish swimming by the shorelines of Malcapuya and Banana islands. Fishes would even gather close to someone who feed them, which we did.

Other interesting sites to visit are the famous Twin Lagoon and the Kayangan Lake. Like at Mt. Tapyas, one has to climb up a mountain to reach the lake, although – thank God – it doesn’t take another whooping 700 steps to get there.

Kayangan Lake, the natives told us, is named after a big bird which used to live there. But hunters have scared the bird away. The natives believe that the bird still lives in nearby mountains or lakes that are out of the reach of people. There is also a folk belief that mythical birds and spirit entities dwell in tranquil lakes and virgin forests.

Coron is definitely a great travel destination. And a one-of-a-kind experience in the grandeur of nature!

Mercado in US with Senate, DOJ knowledge for ‘family matters’

By Perseus Echeminada, Edu Punay, Janvic Mateo, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado is in the United States with the knowledge of the Senate and the Department of Justice (DOJ), ostensibly to settle family matters.

In a radio interview from the US yesterday, Mercado admitted that his family owns the Coron Underwater Garden Resort in Palawan.

But Vice President Jejomar Binay’s nemesis said the property is only a 1.2-hectare “islet,” not an island of several hundred hectares as Binay’s camp claims.

In the same interview with dzBB, Mercado admitted that Ariel Olivar, whom he exposed as the alleged dummy of Binay, is his first cousin.

Mercado denied owning any property or bank account in the US, or any knowledge of bank accounts or property registered in the name of his ailing wife, who has been staying in the US for years.

He said he is in the US to settle some family matters, and that it had prior approval from the DOJ, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

The resort, among the top tourist destinations in Palawan, is described in www.asiatravel.com as: “A vast water park giving a pleasurable encounter with water in all its richness, enjoy several activities together with your family and friends. Take a peek at the beautiful marine life with our top of the line snorkeling gadget, enjoy the ride and try our jet ski, speed boat, family motor boat, kayak and our 2-seater boat.”

Mercado said he allowed the organizers of Miss Earth International to use the resort for free as sleeping quarters for candidates starting tomorrow until Nov. 25 upon the request of “close family friend” Coron Mayor Clara Reyes.

Allowing pageant contestants to stay in the resort would promote Coron as premier tourist destination, he added.

Earlier, Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim president and spokesman, asked the organizers of the Miss Earth International pageant to reconsider their arrangement with the Coron Underwater Garden Resort, saying the resort was a fruit of Mercado’s ill-gotten wealth.

“While I fully support initiatives to showcase the beauty of the Philippines, specifically that of the islands of Palawan, and help promote responsible tourism in the area, I have second thoughts over holding an international event in the 100-hectare Coron Underwater Garden Resort in Palawan,” Tiangco said in a letter to Carousel Productions’ Ramon Monzon and Lorraine Schuck Thursday.

However, Mercado said his ownership of the “islet” was fully documented by the Coron municipal government.

Mercado was placed under the DOJ witness protection program after he exposed alleged anomalies in Makati City when the Vice President was still mayor. He said he left Manila on Nov. 18 and is expected back on Nov. 30.

Nothing wrong

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima sees nothing wrong with Mercado’s US trip.

“Without confirming or denying (the flight), let me just state that there is nothing in the WPP law that prohibits a witness from leaving the country. We are not jailers,” she told reporters in an ambush interview.

De Lima explained that while witnesses covered by the WPP are discouraged from traveling abroad, they cannot be prevented from doing so – especially if the trip is necessary.

“I don’t want to give any information on that because we all know that there is confidentiality provision in the WPP law, essentially because of security reasons,” she explained when asked for details of Mercado’s trip. She also declined to say if Mercado had been provided security escorts.

Mercado reportedly left the country for Los Angeles on Philippine Airlines flight PR 102.

De Lima told senators during the budget hearing last Thursday that they were not ruling out investigating Mercado on allegations of corruption raised by the camp of Binay.

El Nido seeking P259-M loan for sewage facility

By Redempto D. Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines—The municipality of El Nido in Palawan has admitted dealing with a recurring problem of coliform contamination of its public beach because of the absence of a sewage treatment facility big enough for the entire town.

El Nido Mayor Edna Lim told Inquirer the town is negotiating a loan with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to finance the construction of a main water treatment facility that would service the tourist town.

She said the town is “in the final stages” of obtaining a P259-million loan from DBP.

Town officials said the facility would be set up in the town center to treat waste discharge from commercial establishments and residential units and prevent contamination of the beach.

Lim said ordinances had been passed to regulate the discharge of wastes into the sea. One such measure requires all commercial establishments to have waste water treatment facilities.

Nereus Acosta, presidential adviser for environmental protection, drew attention to the pollution in the coastal beach of Bacuit Bay.

Acosta had warned officials that the pollution is threatening to set back tourism in the area.

Acosta said he found that waste water passing through storm drainage and pipes from houses and establishments is being discharged directly into the sea, causing coliform pollution and lowering water quality.

Joel Gomez, municipal information officer, said coliform contamination had affected only a portion of the public beach.

He said the town had passed a new land and water use plan that requires establishments on the beach in the town center to keep a distance of at least 20 meters from the high tide line.

Speaking before the Palawan Chamber of Commerce on the threats of climate change on Saturday, Acosta said results of recent tests on water samples in El Nido showed the popular beach resort town being contaminated with coliform, or organisms forming from human and animal wastes.

“The sewer lines from houses and establishments are directly emptying into the beach of El Nido. I was literally jumping over stench-filled canals,” Acosta said.

Tests on water samples from Bacuit Bay exceeded tolerable limits of pollutants, he added.

“BOD or biochemical oxygen demand is at levels 3,000 percent higher than what the Clean Air Act, which I principally authored in Congress, allowed,” said Acosta, a former representative of Bukidnon province.

The Philippine Water Code provides critical indicators of water quality, including measurements of dissolved oxygen in water important in the process of dissolving biological organisms in it.

The evident cause of beach pollution in El Nido, Acosta observed, is the absence of a proper drainage system in the municipality.


Palawan youth fight for reefs, forests through stories

By Lourdes Margarita Caballero (Rappler.com)

'Allowing the youth to become front-runners of environmental conservation through story-writing is a good way to empower them'

PALAWAN, Philippines — From Balabac, a remote coastal village in Palawan, came rich stories about fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and endangered wildlife species. These were written by high school students who want to help protect the ocean by telling their stories.

“I am an ordinary ethnic Molbog who (was born) into a hard life like that of a water buffalo,” Elnah Basala, a student from Balabac National High School, said in Filipino.

Molbog is an indigenous group in the Balabac Island that has acquired a Visayan-Islam culture.

Basala’s story was about how her father, a respected tribe leader and former dynamite fisher, has adopted better fishing practices after a bungbong or homemade bomb, accidentally exploded in his hand.

“I was 13 when it happened. I can never forget it,” Basala said.

Dynamite kills not just the fish

Illegal fishing practices, such as those that use cyanide and dynamite, are common in Balabac. Some dynamites are homemade, fashioned out of highly combustible plant fertilizer mixed with gasoline and sulfur, and stored in an empty soda bottle.

The shock waves from the dynamite quickly kill schools of fish, making it easier to collect them. It also destroys reef ecosystems and greatly reduces fish yield over time.

In cyanide fishing, fishermen crush cyanide tablets into plastic squirt bottles of sea water and use the solution to stun and capture high-value live reef fishes, including the endangered mumphead wrasse or Mameng, and the coral trout or lapu-lapu.

But these illegal fishing practices pose great danger not only to the environment but also to the safety and health of fisherfolk and their families.

Dynamites can explode prematurely and can end up blowing off arms or legs, and even killing the fishermen.

Anti-hero turned hero

“My father is still a fisher, but he does so legally. He doesn’t need to put his life on the line to feed us. We have started to farm seaweeds, and father has volunteered to be an Ocean Patroller,” Basala said.

Basala hopes that her life story will become an inspiration for fishing families and encourage them to pursue sustainable fishing practices.

“Even if I live in an island, I have not seen these beautiful creatures under the sea. Maybe it’s because the Balabac waters have been damaged. I feel regret for the things we’ve lost in our island,” said Roozie Quea Idlana, another student who participated in snorkeling activities in Honda Bay.

The young authors participated in a two-day coastal resource management camp and eco-adventure tour in October 2014. The camp ushered realizations from the students about real-life environmental challenges, and their key part in helping to resolving these.

“The reefs are really so beautiful and now I’m determined to protect them,” added Idlana.

A unique learning experience, the camp focused on peer-review of the stories, exploration of ideas on how the youth can take lead in environmental stewardship, and first-hand familiarity on sustainable eco-tourism.

The eco-adventure tour consisted of 4 key sustainable and locally managed tourism sites in Puerto Princesa City: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Iwahig Firefly Watching Ecotourism and Wildlife Park, and Pambato Reef and Pandan Island in Honda Bay.

Women, children, IPs

The children’s narratives provided insights on how they view the role of the youth, women, and the community in coastal resource management.

The stories discussed issues such as destructive fishing practices, illegal trade of endangered wildlife, importance of upland and mangrove forests and coral reefs, and climate change adaptation, among others.

All protagonists or narrators were young people, which included indigenous people and young girls and boys.

The stories will be published in a storybook entitled, Tales of the Coral Triangle in 2015, and will be distributed to networks in the Coral Triangle region spanning Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and the Solomon Islands.

The stories were the best 10 submitted to a story writing contest, which is part of the Bayani ng Kalikasan (Heroes of the Environment) campaign designed by the Coral Triangle Initiative-Southeast Asia project. The activity aims to enhance awareness, strengthen involvement, and mobilize the youth and the community in the management of coastal and marine resources.

Malaysian traders eye port investment in Palawan

By Catherine N. Pillas

Malaysian investors are eyeing business opportunities in ports, especially in Palawan, to boost connectivity in the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), according to the Malaysian trade office.

A news statement released on Monday by the Malaysian Trade Office in Manila (Matrade), the Labuan Liberty Port Management Sdn. Bhd., the port operator of Labuan port on Malaysia, has been in talks with local government units in Davao del sur and Palawan to possibly engage in port development and management in the area.

“We want to establish linkages and strengthen relations we have with the Philippines and explore business together,” Matrade Manila Trade Commissioner Nyaee Ayup said.

Labuan Liberty Port Chairman and CEO Dato’ Sri Mohd Alias Haji Abd Rahman said they are targeting to open a linkage with Labuan port from Puerto Princesa, to serve as a gateway with BIMP.

“We’re in the proposal and discussion stage. We’re a management team and we will find a joint-venture partner for this project. What we’re looking at were port facilities, cargo and vessel,” Rahman said.

Rahman added that both ports in Puerto Princesa and in Labuan can work together to increase two-way trade between the gateways.

Palawan is rich in agriculture and livestock products that can be shipped Labuan while Malaysia offers manufactured goods for consumers in Palawan.

Labuan Liberty Port is the only commercial port in the Federal Territory of Labuan.

Tubbataha, Mt. Hamiguitan in Asean heritage parks list

By Virgil B. Lopez (Sunnex)

MANILA -- Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) in the Philippines were added to the prestigious list of Southeast Asia’s most treasured parks.

“The designation of TRNP and MHRWS as regional heritage parks is long overdue, both having been named earlier as Unesco World Heritage Sites,” said Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, who took part in the 15th Informal Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Ministerial Meeting on the Environment held last October 29-31 in Vientiane, Laos.

Lawyer Roberto Oliva, executive director of the Asean Centre for Biodiversity, said the two nature parks are now part of the AHP Program, which aims to generate greater awareness, pride, appreciation, enjoyment and conservation of Southeast Asia's rich biodiversity.

The 6,834-hectare MHRWS is shared by seven barangays, including Macambol and Cabuaya of Mati; La Union, Maputi and Talisay of San Isidro; and Osmena Sr. and Tandang Sora of Governor Generoso, all in the province of Davao Oriental.

Established in 2004, the sanctuary is known for its "pygmy" forest of century-old trees and is dominated by Mt. Hamiguitan, which stands at 1,637 meters. Trees within the area have an average height of only 1.4 meters with a diameter of eight centimeters.

One of the dominant species that can only be found in this forest type is tinikaran or red fig tree and Wendlandia nervosa.

Other rare plant species found on Mt. Hamiguitan include the slipper orchid, nepenthes, staghorn fern, rhododendrons, and Philippine hardwoods such as yakal and tangile.

The Philippine eagle has been recorded in the park, as well as endemic bird species, including the Philippine glossy starling, Philippine flowerpecker, Philippine turtle dove, Philippine coucal, Philippine hawk-eagle, Mindanao bleeding-heart, Philippine cockatoo, and the Philippine dwarf kingfisher.

A world-famous diving destination, Tubbataha, on the other hand, is said to be site of almost 80 percent of all coral species in the Philippines, green sea and hawksbill turtles.

The park, located 181 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reef and more than 86,000 hectares of surrounding waters, lying at the heart of the Coral Triangle, which is the center of global marine biodiversity.

Rays and sharks are common in the reefs, which also host tuna, mackerel, jacks and barracudas.

"TRNP’s isolation has ensured that the rich marine resources of the park has remained relatively intact, and thus provides the dream diving experience for those lucky enough to visit the park," the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.

An American Navy ship ran aground in the natural park last January 2013, damaging reefs and other marine life.

The United States has pledged to pay P87 million for the incident.

The latest recognition brings to seven the total number of Asean heritage parks from the Philippines.

The five other AHPs in the country are the Mt. Apo Natural Park, Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, and Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park, all in Mindanao; the Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park in Occidental Mindoro; and the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve in Laguna.

Miss Universe Organization helping Yolanda survivors

By Don Tagala (ABS-CBN North America News Bureau)

NEW YORK CITY - The Miss Universe Beauty Pageant is the “Superbowl” to many Filipino fans.

Having recognized that the Philippines is home to their biggest and most passionate fans, Miss Universe Organization (MSO) President Paula Shugart said helping the victims and survivors of typhoon Yolanda is their way of giving back to Filipino supporters.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking, and you felt helpless and we all looked at each other and we have to do something, and especially because we [have] a strong tie to the Philippines, we can't put this off, we got to do it now,” said Shugart.

The MSO partnered with Dutch development agency Cordaid to create a global fund that raised awareness and money for the devastated areas in the Philippines, particularly in Coron, Palawan and Guian, Samar.

Cordaid assisted vulnerable communities not only to build safer homes, restore water and sanitation facilities, but to build back smarter and become resilient with emergency preparedness plans.

“Haiyan is not an incident, it's going to happen more often, and let's spend our money wisely and investing capacity of communities,” Cordaid's Dutch Economist Jan Willem Wegdam said.

Wegdam added, “So go bottom up, train people, make people aware, empower people, that's the way to go and that's the best investment we can make.”

Spending a good amount of time in the Philippines, Wegdam said he has learned not only that toilets are known as comfort rooms in the Philippines, but these typhoon resilient comfort rooms make a strong shelter from the storm.

Wegdam said, “It has been shown that a lot of people during the typhoon were actually seeking refuge in their comfort room because that was the strongest building, building a comfort room is cheaper than building a house.”

Reigning Miss Universe 2013, Gabriela Isler said she committed herself to give back by using her title to bring much needed awareness to the causes she believes in, including typhoon Yolanda relief and recovery.

“We cannot forget the people who still need our help, even after a year, there are still people trying to become resilient, become stronger and maybe we can support it, we can do something,” Isler said.

MSO and Cordaid said they will remain committed for the years to come to help and ensure that the affected Filipino communities be rebuilt with an eye to self-reliance.

DSWD commends continuous rehabilitation of Coron, Palawan

(DSWD)

Coron, Palawan – One year after Typhoon Yolanda ravaged this island, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman lauded the convergent effort made by the local government unit for sustained rehabilitation.

Sec. Soliman together with Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Governor Jose Alvarez visited Coron on November 12, to attend a short program to commemorate the first anniversary of ‘Yolanda’

Over 200 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who were victimized by TS Yolanda attended the program. “Patuloy po na magbibigay ang DSWD ng karagdagang tulong para sa tuloy-tuloy na pagbangon muli, at mabilis na pag-unlad ng mga sinalanta ng bagyong Yolanda,” Sec. Soliman was quoted saying.

Fifty-five families received livelihood capital assistance while over 150 residents each received a sack of rice as part of the ‘pabaon pack’ project. “Malaki na ang ipinagbago ng Coron, sa tulong ng iba’t-ibang ahensya, lalo na ang DSWD, naging madali ang ating, pag-ahon,” said Gov. Alvarez during his welcome message.

Junewind Sigano, 51, whose house was wiped out in the onslaught of Yolanda received a ‘pedicab’ for livelihood along with 13 beneficiaries. “Malaking tulong po ito para maipag-patuloy ko ang hanapbuhay kong maglako ng isda,” said Junewind. DSWD focuses on providing livelihood to increase economic capacity of Yolanda victims. Aside from provision of pedicabs, 47 DSWD-funded motorized bangkas will be given to further support income-generation of the victims.

A newly constructed Day Care Center, through the DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS program has also been turned over to Barangay Poblacion One during the program.

Roxas Lauds Quick Rehabilitation of Palawenos

(DILG)

CORON, Palawan—Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas likened the Yolanda rehabilitation efforts of the government to a boat with two katigs (outriggers).

For Roxas, a boat has two outriggers - the national government and the local government units (LGUs) - and the latter's participation is key to the quick recovery of Yolanda affected areas such as Coron.

“Nakaalalay po ang buong pamahalaan ninyo, ang pamahalaang nasyonal at ang pamahalaang lokal, na nakatututok sa pangangailangan ninyo (Your government is ready to help, both national and local authorities are focused on your needs.),” Roxas stressed.

“Pero nasa liderato ng pamahalaang lokal ang bilis para makatayo kaagad ang isang lugar, para makabangon kaagad dahil hindi magiging epektibo ang national government kung wala ang pamahalaang lokal (But it depends on the leadership of the local government whether a locality is able to recover quickly or not because without it, the national government will not be effective.),"he added.

He admired the residents of Palawan under the leadership of Governor Jose Alvarez, who instead of blaming the national government, showed full cooperation and helped in the overall rehabilitation efforts through concrete actions.

“Kung sama-sama, tulong-tulong ang lahat, lahat nagbubugsay sa isang direksiyon, lahat nagkakaisa sa iisang layunin ay mabilis na makababangon ang isang lugar, ang isang komunidad kung nagtutulungan ang lahat (If we help each other sail towards one direction with one goal, any community can easily get back on its feet.),” Roxas said.

“Umuusbong, bumabangon na ang Palawan dahil sa inyo. Kayo ang mga boss ng buong pamahalaan ninyo---pamahalaang nasyonal at pamahalaang lokal. Nariyan kami noon at narito ngayon kaya asahan ninyong lagi kaming handa na tumulong sa inyo (Palawan is blooming and rising because of you. You are the bosses of your government - both national and local. We were there before and now we are back so you can expect that we are fully prepared to help you out.),”he added.

The secretary also clarified that in times of disasters like storms, earthquakes and other calamities, the national government is always ready to assist all citizens.

“Hindi namin kayo pababayaan, walang iwanan, sama-sama, tulong-tulong tayo para sa pagbangon uli hindi lamang ng Coron kundi ng buong Palawan at lahat ng lugar na sinalanta ng bagyong Yolanda. Narito kami kasama ninyo, kabalikat ninyo tulong-tulong tayo sa pagbangon (We will not abandon you. No one gets left behind. Together, we will help each other out so not only Coron but the whole of Palawan and all the other Yolanda-affected areas can recover. We are here with you until you are able to rise again.),” Roxas added.

Aside from Roxas, Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin, Social Welfare and Development Sec. Dinky Soliman, and NDRRMC USec. Alex Pama also went to Coron where they inquired about the conditions of the indigenous people and fisherfolks in coastal villages affected by the super typhoon.

Palawan newest destination for international cruise

By Grace Gonzales

The 13-storey ocean cruise liner M/V Superstar Aquarius of Star Cruises, top cruise line in the Asia Pacific, made its maiden port call in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan November 11. During the port call, an event was organized to inaugurate Star Cruises’ new 3-night destination sail package to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

The event was attended by City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, Department of Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison and Star Cruises Senior VP for Sales Michael Goh.

“During this deployment, Superstar Aquarius will make 14 port calls to Puerto Princesa, each time bringing travelers to this beautiful city. We are committed to promoting Puerto Princesa and the Palawan island province to travelers across the region and the world,” Goh states.

Puerto Princesa is one of the new destinations for Superstar Aquarius.

“Your maiden voyage here is very important to our tourism industry. We only have two industries here, tourism and agriculture with fishing. In behalf of the people of the city, we thank you for your patronage as we heard you will have 14 port calls,” Puerto Princesa’s mayor said.” We are positive that the Star Cruises will help spread that ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’.”


Coron celebrates recovery after Yolanda’s destruction

(PIA-MIMAROPA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Nov. 10 (PIA) – A year after typhoon Yolanda’s widespread destruction, Coron municipality celebrates its fast recovery with a simple ceremony dubbed “Tindég! Coron’s Story of Courage, Hope, Unity & Resilience A Year After Yolanda.”

“In just few weeks, we have risen. The very fast recovery can be attributed to our people’s cooperation and immediate support from outside of Coron. In the local government, we were hands-on. We hardly sleep to make sure all efforts in the relief and rehabilitation phases will be in order and effective,” says Coron Mayor Clara “Fems” Reyes.

Vice Mayor Jim Gerald Pe, the lead person for the anniversary program, said that the commemoration program will also highlight the importance of disaster preparedness and heeding alert and warning of authorities seriously.

A photo exhibit and video viewing booths were set up at the municipal plaza through the assistance of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, Municipal Information Office, Philippine National Red Cross, International Labour Organization, PHILSSA, TESDA, and CordAid.

The Calamianes Association of Tourism Establishments (CATE) spearheads the candlelight walk from the St. Augustine Cathedral to Lualhati’s Park at the Coron Bay reclamation project, where the participants will float candles at the Coron Bay.

Coron also joined the nationwide ringing of the church bell at 6:00 p.m. tonight, followed by an inter-faith prayer during the program at the Lualhati Park.

DOH vaccinates Mimaropa elderly

By Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco

To help them stay healthy, prevent illness and even prolong their lives, the Department of Health (DOH) in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) the local government of Pinamalayan in Oriental Mindoro conducted a pneumococcal vaccination for elderly people recently.

Health Regional Director Eduardo Janairo and Pinamalayan Vice Mayor Aristeo A. Baldos Jr. led the kick of ceremony of pneumococcal vaccination at the municipality as a way also to express gratitude for the elderly.

“Pneumococcal vaccine is the safe and effective way to help elderly people stay healthy, prevent illness and even prolong their lives. As we age, we are at higher risk of complications from pneumonia but once vaccinated, we can be protected from the virus from up to five years,” Janairo said.

Janairo said the elderly have been “keeping our generation safe and healthy as we also give them health and protection as they enjoy a more fruitful journey through life and a possible return to mainstream economic society.

According to health experts, pneumonia is an infection of the lungs which affects thousands of Filipinos yearly. Pneumonia infections can be prevented and treated through proper vaccination.

As the body grows older, its natural defense systems tend to decrease, which places older people at greater risk of flu and pneumonia. Pneumoccocal vaccines weaken the severity of these viruses.

The DOH provides free pneumococcal vaccination to seniors and are available in municipal health centers.

According to Janairo pneumococcal vaccine prevents serious blood, brain, and lung infections from the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

Gov’t distributes detailed geohazard maps of ‘Yolanda’-hit towns

(News Bytes PH)

One year after super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ ravaged Eastern Visayas, the government is now distributing larger scale and more detailed geohazard maps of majority of the towns affected by the disaster.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that so far, 131 out of the 171 municipalities in nine Yolanda-hit provinces now have geohazard maps with a 1:10,000 scale.

The DENR, through its Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), is also finalizing the same high-resolution maps for the remaining 40 towns covering five provinces.

DENR secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the geohazard maps, which indicate areas vulnerable to floods and landslides, are an important tool in disaster risk reduction and management.

“With the 1:10,000 scale geohazard maps, the degree of vulnerability to floods and landslides can be determined in these areas. These maps, which are more detailed and more precise, will enable national and local authorities to see clearly what’s on the ground,” Paje explained.

The completed maps cover towns in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Cebu, Iloilo, Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Dinagat Island and Palawan.

The MGB has yet to complete the detailed geohazard maps for towns in the provinces of Masbate, Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Negros Occidental.

Paje said all LGUs, down to the barangay level will, be provided copies of new maps, complete with recommendations.

“The LGUs bear the principal responsibility for disaster response, and we hope they will use the maps as an evaluation tool to plan their resettlement and rebuilding efforts,” Paje said.

He added: “With these maps, local executives, their barangays and other concerned agencies are now in a better position to craft their disaster management plans and programs.”

He said the new maps would replace previous ones with a scale of 1:50,000.

“The new maps are more precise than those with 1:50,000 scale, thus fast-tracking rehabilitation and development efforts, including proactive measures on disaster prevention and preparedness, especially by LGUs,” Paje pointed out.

The DENR launched the detailed geohazard mapping program in 2011 following the completion of the initial nationwide mapping at a scale of 1:50,000.

Paje said the detailed maps identify the vulnerabilities of LGUs to threats like landslide, flooding, sea-level rise, and storm surge.

The DENR had allocated some P354 million for the detailed geohazard mapping in various disaster-prone areas in the country as part of the agency’s efforts to enhance the preparedness of LGUs and the implementation of various mitigation measures against natural disaster.

Farmer bitten by 7-ft croc

By Ephraim Canoy (ABS-CBN News)

PALAWAN - A farmer escaped with his life after being bitten by a crocodile in Bataraza, Palawan Monday afternoon.

Junny Baldad said his children were catching mud fish (dalag) and tilapia when they felt something heavy weighing their net down.

Baldad said he was surprised to see a crocodile caught in the net.

The farmer tried to bind the crocodile's legs but the animal bit him on the leg.

Baldad said his leg is still numb. Due to the deep wounds, he might not be able to work in the farm for some time.

The seven-foot juvenile crocodile was already weak when officials of the barangay and the coast guard came.

Baranagay Kagawad Francisco Talazon said the natural habitat of crocodiles is being disturbed due to the decreasing number of mangroves in the area.

In the meantime, residents have tied the crocodile to a tree.

The Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Conservation Center will get the crocodile soon and take care of it until it can survive on its own in the wild.

49 rescued marine turtles released back to sea

By Redempto Anda (Inquirer Southern Luzon)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Philippines–Endangered marine turtles believed to be ready to be sold live to Chinese traders were found in an abandoned mangrove enclosure in Balabac on Monday, authorities announced Thursday.

Forty-nine turtles, mostly adults with some of them weighing over 200 kilos, were released Thursday morning in Puerto Princesa Bay after they were turned over to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.

The poached green sea turtles, classified as endangered species and have long been banned from trade, were found by a combined team of Philippine Navy and Bantay Palawan, the environmental enforcement arm of the provincial government, in an enclosed mangrove area in Barangay Ramos, Balabac last Monday.

Randy Suelo, head of Bantay Palawan, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Thursday that they had gathered information that the marine turtles were being readied for transport “possibly in the area around Hasa-Hasa which is the known trading post for turtles.”

Hasa-Hasa, known internationally as Half Moon Shoal, is part of the disputed Spratly Islands claimed jointly by China, the Philippines and Vietnam. Philippine law enforcement officials have also identified it as a regular trading point between Chinese traders who buy marine turtles from local illegal fishers.

In May, 11 Chinese nationals were caught there by the PNP Maritime in possession of over 300 dead marine turtles and have since been detained at the provincial jail while facing charges for poaching and illegal possession of endangered species.

Navy Spokesman Ariesh Climacosa said they have estimated the value of the marine turtles in the latest illegal wildlife trade to be around P1.7 million.

He said no suspect has been arrested so far, as the turtles were found abandoned inside two enclosures in the mangrove swamps.

Eco-friendly El Nido getaway

(Manila Bulletin)

Travelers these days no longer just go for luxury — they also call for opportunities to commune with nature in the places they go to.

As such, more eco-friendly amenities, such as organic gardens, a desalination plant, and community-based projects now figure in the itinerary of a number of guests at the El Nido Resorts (ENRs) in northern Palawan.

Mostly in their 20s and 30s, environmentally conscious visitors ask to gaze at the lettuce and tomato gardens fertilized by compost from kitchen wastes and the plant where freshwater is extracted from seawater.

“These types of travelers don’t go for grand lobbies and high-end shopping,” ENRs’ Sales and Marketing Director Joey Bernardino said. “They now equate luxury with destinations that allow them to keenly appreciate nature, to highly participate in conservation and environmental projects, [and] to experience and respect local culture.”

Since its establishment in 1982, the first ENR on Miniloc Island has been a haven for sustainable travelers. All four resorts, with the other three found on Lagen, Apulit, and Pangulasian Islands, were envisioned to “promote harmony between nature and local communities.”

On environmental conservation, the resorts have embarked on their program “Guard, Respect, Educate [the] El Nido Community” (Be GREEN), where every ENR employee undergoes regular training using environment-friendly modules that cover food service, housekeeping, and nature guiding.

Be GREEN has also launched bellhops who can quickly point out a Palawan hornbill, and has inspired maintenance men to replace the Styrofoam component inside resort kayaks with more eco-friendly used water bottles.

5 illegal fishers nabbed

By Raymund F. Antonio

Coast Guard authorities arrested five fishermen for illegally fishing off the shore of Daram, Samar and found two motor boats with maritime violations at Cuyo Port in Palawan, in separate operations.

The fishermen, all residents of Catbalogan City, were aboard a motor boat when caught by joint maritime patrol operatives allegedly gathering shell fish in the waters off Owacon Island.

Coast Guard Station Catbalogan reported the arrest of 40-year-old Lanian Ilao, skipper of the boat and crew members Boboy Hernandez, Renz Dacalos, Joel Dacalos and Tomy Dacalos.

“They were caught in the act of illegal fishing,” PCG said. Seized from the fishermen were the unregistered boat, a compressor and 100-meter roll hose.

Joint elements of Coast Guard Mobile Team, local government unit and the local police in Daram, Samar conducted the operation following a report that the illegal activities are prevalent in the area.

Environmental governance key to Palawan's 'best island' title

(DENR)

QUEZON CITY, Nov. 3 -- Palawan's latest title of "best island in the world" is but a fruit of a strong environmental governance that is worthy of emulation, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said.

Paje in a statement said that the island province, dubbed the "Philippines' last ecological frontier," is fast becoming the benchmark for environmental best practices and sustainable tourism development in the country.

He described the citation from the world's premier travel magazine, Condé Nast, as “resounding testament” to Palawan's successful environmental governance, which includes not only the local government but also the business sector, the civil society and the community.

Environmental governance is a concept in political ecology and environmental policy that advocates sustainable development as the supreme consideration for managing all human activities—political, social and economic. Under this concept, the management of the environment is a shared responsibility among the stakeholders.

"The Palawan model is a sterling example that protecting the country's biodiversity and natural wonders are key elements of effective local governance," Paje said.

Paje said that Palawan's strength as a unit of local governance “resides in the alliances forged between the local government and the people to develop a system of best practices that they can undertake within their jurisdictions without harming nature.”

“Behind Palawan’s wonders are its main actors -- its citizens. This recognition bears testimony to the level of environmental maturity and leadership displayed by its people and local executives. They are truly deserving of our commendation” Paje said.

The environment chief said other local governments in the country could draw inspiration from Palawan, which he described as a "living laboratory of sustainability."

Being named as the world's best island, Palawan edged some of the most popular international destinations like the Great Barrier Reef, and the Kangaroo and Whitsunday Islands in Australia; Maui, Kauai and Big Islands in Hawaii; and Santorini and Cyclades in Greece.

The main tourism activities in the island province are primarily centered on its splendid natural resource.

Palawan is home to many important ecological sites, including El Nido, Coron Islands Cave, world-renowned Tubbataha Reef and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park, which has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of Nature.

End the year at Microtel Boracay & Puerto Princesa

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Gather your family and friends and take advantage of some hot year-end promos at Microtel by Wyndham Boracay and Puerto Princesa.

Located on the clean, clear waters of Emerald Beach, Microtel Puerto Princesa is the only beachfront hotel in the area, offering dazzling waterfront views at any time of the day. Just seven kilometers away from Puerto Princesa Airport, Microtel provides easy access to some of Palawan’s finest attractions, such as Honda Bay and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Microtel Puerto Princesa offers an amazing three-day-and-two-night Palawan Adventure Package for as low as P4,400 per person in a quad-sharing room; P4,570 per person in a triple-sharing room; and P4,900 per person in a twin-sharing room. Included in the cost are room accommodations in a Standard (Lagoon View) Double Room, daily buffet breakfast, round-trip airport transfers, an island-hopping tour, and a half-day city tour.

Meanwhile, at the most famous destination in the Philippines and counted as one of the world’s most beautiful islands, Microtel Boracay offers peace and quiet right on the crystal waters of Diniwid Beach just north of Station 1. This Mediterranean-inspired hotel is the best option for guests, with many establishments just a short walk or shuttle ride away.

Ending the year on a high, Microtel Boracay presents an adrenaline-charged adventure package for three days and two nights for four persons. For P3,750 per person in a quad-sharing room (two-queen bed room), the hotel includes hotel transfers via Caticlan, breakfast, welcome drink, and option to choose one activity from the following: Island hopping, banana boat, Zorb ride, parasailing or an ATV Ride.

After all of the exciting activities are done, take some time to relax. Both hotels have their own swimming pool, free WiFi at their lobby areas and free-flowing 24/7 coffee.

All Microtel rooms are a decent-sized at 25 to 30 square meters big, enough space for guests to stretch and breathe in quiet luxury. The hotel is also known for its queen-sized beds with chiropractor-approved mattresses, rated on American Chiropractic Association standards, ensuring a relaxing night’s sleep. For deails, go to www.microtel-palawan.com or e-mail puertoprincesa@microtel.ph; and www.microtel-boracay.com or e-mail boracay@microtel.ph.

Nearly 90 mynah birds rescued in Palawan

By Joel Locsin / VC (GMA News)

Nearly 90 mynah birds allegedly to be sold for high prices in Metro Manila were "rescued" in an operation in Palawan province Saturday.

Members of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development also arrested at least one person during the operation, RGMA's James Viernes reported on dzBB radio.

But one of the mynah birds died during the operation in Barangay Alfonso 13 in Quezon town in Palawan, the report said.

Initial investigation showed the birds were to be sold to a trader who would allegedly bring the birds to Metro Manila where they can be sold for a large profit.