Palawan News September 2018

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Palawan - Archived News

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Dietary supplement is a product that contains vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and/or other ingredients intended to supplement the diet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has special labeling requirements for dietary supplements and treats them as foods, not drugs.

Manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and dietary ingredients are prohibited from marketing products that are adulterated or misbranded. That means that these firms are responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products before marketing to ensure that they meet all the requirements of DSHEA and FDA regulations.

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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?


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 tourism sector urged to scale up crisis management foresight

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A security and business continuity expert is urging Palawan's tourism sector to get trained on crisis management to ward off threats of natural and manmade calamities and terrorism.

"Dapat mayroong (There should be) proactive planning. We are not reactive. We have to plan ahead, come up with concepts on how to avoid this crisis or risk that may happen. If we cannot avoid those things, at least we might be able to mitigate the impact," said Henry Teodoro Hernia, security and business continuity manager of Fluor Philippines, during the Tourism Crisis Management Symposium of Department of Tourism (DOT) here on Tuesday.

Hernia said there should be a proactive plan with local government units (LGUs) against threats of terrorism and the unrelenting power outages to sustain the tourism industry.

The proactive plan, he said, should have focused concern for municipalities in Palawan that have tourist spots and regularly get the largest share of visitors.

Hernia said terrorism is a factor that both tourists and investors consider whenever they go to a place or make investments.

"Dito sa (Here in) Palawan, I think power [is one of the crisis] and as far as I know, there have been incidents of kidnapping. Palawan has a lot of beautiful places, but you have to ensure the security and safety of everyone. What if investors find out that this province doesn't have a security plan, then they will have a second thought to invest," Hernia said.

Sheila Marie Reyes of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Region 4-B (Mimaropa), which covers the island-provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan, said tourism industry players should upgrade their capacities too, to handle other natural and manmade disasters.

This is because Palawan is no longer free from experiencing weather disturbances, such as storm surges, flooding, landslides, and human-induced calamities like fire, and others.

"Kaya ang tourism sector, dapat alam nila kung paano mag-responde sa mga calamities. Pagdating naman sa mga armed conflicts, dapat kung mayroon suspicious activities or tao, dapat i-report kaagad, since sila ang frontliners. Dapat mayroon at patuloy ang kanilang mga trainings (That is why the tourism sector should know when or how to respond to calamities. When it comes to armed conflicts, if there are suspicious activities, they should help report immediately, since they are the frontliners. Training on these should continue)," Reyes said.

Waste management training held to protect Palawan waters

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Village leaders in this city attended an ecological solid waste management (ESWM) training session to prevent garbage from polluting marine protected areas.

Bonifacio Tobias, project manager of the Candis 3 Marketing Cooperative (C3MC), told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday that the implementation of the ESWM at the barangay level is essential to prevent the destruction of marine areas due to accumulated plastic waste.

The first session was held in Barangay Maryugon on Sept. 18, covering 50 participants from eight barangays in Puerto Princesa City, Tobias said.

Two more training sessions covering 12 more barangays with 175 participants were held in Barangays Santa Monica and Napsan on Sept. 19 and 20, respectively.

The training was organized by C3MC as part of a biodiversity conservation project to control and manage “plastics introduction in marine environment” or PINE.

It is supported by the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Municipal Waste Recycling Program (MWRP) that is aimed at “identifying and scaling innovations to improve municipal waste recycling in Asian countries that generate that largest amounts of ecological solid waste – Sri, Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.”

Tobias added the training program is in collaboration with the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health group that advocates zero waste and toxics-free society.

“We have gathered our community leaders in the hope of assisting them in identifying gaps, as well as solutions in the way discards are currently managed by our barangays,” he said.

Tobias said it is part of the C3MC’s project on “Mitigating Threats to Marine Protected Areas through Reducing and Recycling Solid Waste Materials.”

He said through the strengthened implementation of ESWM at the barangay level, they hope to prevent garbage, particularly plastic waste, from being carelessly dumped into rivers and seas and causing harm to the marine ecosystems.

Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said in a separate interview that the ESWM training is relevant amid the plan of the city government to erect a waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration facility in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, where Puerto Princesa’s landfill is also located.

She said the energetic enforcement of ESWM at the barangay level will result in greater environmental awareness and responsibility among residents and will lead to the decreased generation of garbage through enhanced segregation of waste materials at the source, recycling and composting.

“With the least amount of garbage being generated by households, institutions and business establishments, who would need a quick-fix incineration-based disposal technology?” she asked.

Rey Palacio, also of the EcoWaste Coalition, underscored the need for barangays to constitute functional Barangay Solid Waste Management Committees and for them to have adequate Barangay Solid Waste Management Plans to achieve “zero waste” under Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“Simply put, zero waste means materials get reused, recycled and composted instead of being thrown away, dumped, burned or wasted,” he said in the statement.

Small group discussions helped the participants reflect on gaps in current waste management policies, practices and to identify solutions that will avoid the generation of waste at the point of generation while improving waste diversion.

Waste diversion, as defined in RA 9003, refers to activities that reduce or eliminate the number of solid wastes sent to waste disposal facilities, such as landfills and incinerators.

Activities contributing to a higher percentage of waste diversion include segregation at source, “no segregation, no collection,” reusing, recycling, re-purposing, composting, and other waste prevention and reduction regulations and techniques, including clean production, Palacio said.

Astoria Palawan offers luxurious amenities, curated tours

(Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Palawan is home to two Unesco World Heritage sites: the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

Astoria Palawan is a resort strategically located midway between the popular tourist sites in the northern and western portions of the province, but conveniently within the city of Puerto Princesa. Originally an eight-hectare mango orchard fronting the Sulu Sea, it was transformed into a tranquil escape for urbanites and travel junkies.

Guests can use the hotel as a jump-off point to tick items off their Palawan bucket list.

Explore the Underground River on the western side of the island.

Head north to El Nido for island-hopping and snorkeling in saltwater lagoons.

Hop on to the northwestern side for Astoria Palawan’s curated Port Barton Tour.

Companies planning a company outing, seminar or workshop will find everything they need in the resort.

Amenities include the luxurious beach and pool area, a bar, restaurants, comfortable and beautifully designed rooms, and the eclectic ambiance of the common areas that make the resort a perfect base for most Palawan adventures.

The Palawan Waterpark, located next door from the Astoria hotel, features giant slides, a wave pool, a lazy river ride and splash pods. Guests billeted at the resort can avail of a free one-time entrance to the waterpark during their stay.

The Port Barton Tour includes island-hopping, snorkeling and sightseeing, plus a kayak ride amid fireflies.

Scattered rains over VisMin, Palawan

By Ma. Cristina Arayata (PNA)

MANILA -- Cloudy skies with scattered rain showers and thunderstorms will prevail over Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan on Sunday due to the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) that continuously affects southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers due to localized thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, moderate to strong winds will blow over the eastern section of the archipelago. Coastal waters along this area will be moderate to rough.

Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate with slight to moderate seas, PAGASA said.

5 Vietnamese poachers nabbed near Tubbataha marine park

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Five Vietnamese poachers were nabbed Wednesday near the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) in Cagayancillo, northern Palawan by a patrolling multi-role response vessel (MRRV) of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Ensign Allison Tindog of the Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDP) said Thursday night that the crew of the fishing vessel with bow number “RD 97623TS” were arrested by BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) at 11:55 p.m. on September 19.

The arrested Vietnamese fishermen are Cao Van Linh, 30, the boat captain; Phon Van Tae, 51; Truong Van Lac, 38; Dinh Cong An, 41; and a 15-year old, who was not named.

“They were apprehended in the vicinity of Bancuran Island. The Coast Guard in Palawan received an intelligence report and to verify the veracity of the report, it directed BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) to conduct patrols in the area,” Tindog said.

He said the fishermen were nabbed after a 30-minute chase east of Bancuran Island in the Sulu Sea, where the TRNP is located.

The Vietnamese fishing vessel has an assortment of sharks and other marine species that might have been poached in the Bancuran Island area, he added.

Tindog said Bancuran Island is in southwest Palawan, where green sea turtles have always been sighted and is a rich fishing ground.

“When we launched the anti-terrorism boat, Commodore Allen Toribio of the CGDP also announced that another white patrol ship will be sent to Palawan by Admiral Elson Hermogino of the PCG,that is BRP Cabra, which has already made an accomplishment by apprehending the Vietnamese fishing vessel. We are thankful to Admiral Hermogino for keeping this promise so we can better guard Tubbataha, and generally, Palawan’s marine environment,” he added.

He said the BRP Cabra was particularly sent to Palawan by Hermogino to support the Western Command and the provincial government in “security, safety, and environmental protection.”

Tubbataha Reefs is a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Lawyer Lovely Rose Catayen, legal officer of the CGDP, said cases for violation of Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, Republic Act 7611 or the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) law, and illegal entry may be filed against the foreign fishing crew.

The content of the Vietnamese fishing vessel is still being inventoried by environmental authorities as of this writing.

Last May, 20 Vietnamese poachers using two large commercial fishing vessels were also arrested off Mangsee Island in Balabac by the Philippine Navy’s Patrol Craft 375.

The boat contained over 175 assorted species of sharks and manta rays. The 20 Vietnamese poachers are currently detained at the Palawan Provincial Jail.

Solar, hydro power, suitable for Palawan: environment official

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Solar and hydropower are alternative sources of energy that are suitable for Palawan's need for reliable, cheaper, and environment-friendly power supply, a ranking official of the local environment office said Thursday.

Provincial environment and natural resources officer Felizardo Cayatoc said in an interview that both solar and hydro projects are suitable, especially in remote villages on the mainland and in the island-municipalities.

"Ang kailangan natin dito sa Palawan ay itong solar and hydropower, which are renewable energies. Sa solar farm ay kailangan mo nyan ng malaking space talaga na mapaglalagyan ng solar panels at syempre yung mga batteries or generators nyan sa pag-capture nyan o storage ng energy. Sa solar farm ay wala pang nag-operate pero sana magkaroon tayo (What we need here are solar and hydropower, which are renewable energies. In a solar farm, we need a big space to put up the solar panels and for the batteries or generators to capture or (which can serve) storage for energy. There is no operator of a solar farm here yet. That's why, I hope we can have one)," he said.

Cayatoc noted that the rising cost of fuel used in other modes of power generation makes renewable energy projects viable and acceptable in the province.

"Ang krudo natin ay mahal. Kung genset naman ay gumagamit din ng krudo. Sa renewable energy kasi ay mas mura ang kuryente dahil sa araw lang kukunin (Crude oil is so expensive. If we use generator sets, they also use crude oil. In renewable energy, power is cheap since it is sourced from the sun)," he said.

Cayatoc explained that solar power projects will help fill in the needs of the residents in the island-towns.

“Itong solar ay akma ito doon sa mga island municipalities, sa isla ng Cuyo, Cagayancillo, at maging dito sa mainland. Kung ma-in place ang solar mas maganda ito kaysa sa diesel (This solar energy is suitable for island municipalities and also in the mainland. If we can put it in place, it is better than diesel)," he said.

Cayatoc further said that another renewable energy power prospect in Palawan is the 6.8-megawatt mini-hydro power project of Langogan Power Corp. (LPC) in Langogan River, Barangay Langogan, Puerto Princesa City.

He said all the documents of the LPC have already been approved at their level and forwarded to the regional environment office for approval. The LPC has also entered a Forest Land Use Agreement with DENR for its project site.

It has already forged a power supply agreement with the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO), making it the first renewable energy technology in Palawan.

Drone captures fishing vessels dumping suspected used oil in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Drone photos captured by a foreign lawyer and videographer showing two large commercial fishing vessels and three smaller boats dumping suspected used oil near a hot spring and a marine protected area (MPA) in Coron have gone viral.

Atty. Sergei Tokmakov’s photos posted on the Facebook page of the Philippine Tourism Commission Group last September 15, indicated the vessels were ditching what seems to be used oil near Siete Pecados marine protected area.

Tokmakov, a lawyer from San Diego, California, said his drone captured the scene around 500 meters from Maquinit Hot Spring, “one of the very few natural saltwater springs in the world”.

“I was just shooting a video about the hot spring and nearby stuff. But after I got home and looked at the footage on a big screen, I realized that… (expletives), this looks like oil,” he said in his post.

One drone photo shows a commercial fishing vessel tugging a rubber boat behind and discharging a large amount of “used oil” within the 15-kilometer municipal waters of Coron, northern Palawan.

Reacting to this, Coron Mayor Jerry Barracoso on Wednesday told the local media the incident had been reported to the Coast Guard Substation (CGSS) in their town.

He said it was an “isolated case,” and the vessels just took shelter in Coron to avoid being caught by strong winds and waves due to Typhoon Ompong.

Large fishing vessels are prohibited within municipal waters per Philippine Fisheries Code. The smaller fishing boats, accompanying the bigger vessels, are responsible to haul the fish and return to the mother ships with their catch.

“Parang nagtago lang sila doon (They just probably hid in the area),” he said.

Barracoso said his office is waiting for the incident’s full report from CGSS Coron.

“Sa initial na report, na-identify na nila yong pangalan ng fishing company. Yon pa lang, wala pa silang final report (In their initial report, they have identified the fishing company. That’s all, no final report yet),” he said.

Felizardo Cayatoc, provincial environment and natural resources officer of the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in a separate interview said no large oil discharge was found in the area by the investigating team of CGSS and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Coron.

“Kung merong oil spill ay hindi naman yan mag-se-settle, makikita ‘yan. Very visible ang mga ganyan. Makikita mo rin ang signs sa mangrove areas pero dito ay it turned out na negative (If oil was spilled in the area, it will not settle and it will be seen. They are very visible. You will also see signs in the mangrove areas, but here it turned negative),” Cayatoc said

Meanwhile, Coron CENRO chief Eriberto Saños reminded the CGSS and the local government to be vigilant to prevent any similar incident.

He said they should strengthen efforts to ensure that strict monitoring is implemented within the municipal waters.

“Ang dapat diyan talagang maging attentive ‘yong Coast Guard at saka ‘yong local government unit (What should be done is for the Coast Guard and the local government unit to be attentive all the time),” said Saños.

Tokmakov’s photos have been shared more than 350 times and liked by over 660 followers.

Puerto Princesa commits to ending AIDS by 2030

By Gerardo Reyes, Jr. (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The city government signed Monday a declaration of commitment to end the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic in the here by 2030, and to step up the delivery of services to patients afflicted with the lentivirus.

The Paris Declaration on “Fast-Track Cities: Ending the AIDS Epidemic by 2030” commitment being advocated by the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) was signed among Miss Universe-Philippines 2018 Catriona Elisa Gray, UNAIDS Country Director for the Philippines Dr. Louie Ocampo, Mayor Lucilo Bayron, and other partners.

Bayron said the signing of the declaration means the city government is pledging to put Puerto Princesa City in the mainstream of the world initiative to fast-track the elimination of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The commitment is a strategy by the UNAIDS that targets the reduction of the annual number of new annual HIV infections to 500,000 by 2020 and to less than 200,000 by 2030.

To this end, Bayron said the city government will increase the PHP3 million current budget for the year 2019 for strengthening of the implementation of the City HIV/AIDS Council programs and activities.

“Sa buong MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) ay tayo ang topnotcher [sa HIV cases] kasi tayo rin naman ang pinaka-progresibo. Meron tayong programa at gusto natin magkaroon ng mas masigasig na detection services (In the whole MIMAROPA we are the topnotcher in HIV cases because our development is aggressive. We have a program and we want it to have a stepped-up detection services),” he said during the event.

His statement is based on the report of Regina Villapa, the coordinator for the local health office’s Sexually Transmitted Infections Human Immunodeficiency Virus Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (STI HIV AIDS) Prevention and Control Program, which indicates that half or 295 of the total 590 HIV cases in MIMAROPA are from Palawan, with the city contributing the highest.

Villapa said their records show that as of August this year, 198 patients are enrolled in the treatment hub and 139 of them are from Puerto Princesa City.

She did not name the barangays where the HIV patients are currently residing to protect their identities.

UNAIDS’ Ocampo said the strategy aims to increase the support of patients with HIV/AIDS.

“Meron na tayong retroviral therapy na maiinom na gamot at within three to six months ay manumnumbalik na ang pasyente sa kanyang normal at healthy life (We now have retroviral therapy that is patients can take the medicine and within three to six months, their health will become normal and they will have a healthy life),” he said.

He added that HIV patients prefer not to seek available treatment services fearing “workplace discrimination, public humiliation and being stigmatized.”

“Marami ang hindi nag-a-access ng treatment dahil sa stigma at discrimination. Ang ating ginagawa ngayon ay to fastc-track and scale up ang mga serbisyo at mas iIapit sa mga communities (A lot of patients are not accessing the treatment services because of fear of the stigma and discrimination.

“What we’re doing right now is to fast-track and scale up the delivery of treatment services to communities),” Ocampo pointed out. He expressed optimism that by 2030, “the country’s major cities, including Puerto Princesa City, will eliminate the feared disease.”

“Ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Philippines by 2030 is achievable if major cities like Puerto Princesa [will] act immediately to fast-track case responses,” he added.

Ocampo further said the commitment signing will hopefully establish the services delivery network with the help of different partners.

The initiative is a multi-sectoral approach, where the city government should formulate a Local Investment Plan for HIV/AIDS that will have an allocation for five straight years to ensure the sustainability of programs and services, he said.

Part of the commitment is the city government’s absorption of the community outreach workers hired by the Global Fund to help in speeding up the delivery of treatment services to HIV patients.

Gray underscored the need to support and help the institutions and organizations that work to eliminate the HIV challenge.

“It is an amazing step that we are making today. I can help the city by promoting to remove the barriers because there is medication available that will lead us to healthy and normal lives. We will slowly break down the stigma. (HIV) is just like diabetes and can be treated,” she said.

Gray said every individual should not fear routinely subjecting himself/herself to HIV/AIDS testing, just like checking their blood sugar and blood pressure as early prevention and detection.

Meanwhile, the other partners are Save the Children, Global Fund, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., Love Yourself, Roots of Health, Ospital ng Palawan, and Project 4H Tandikan.

NFA guarantees enough rice supply in Palawan during ‘Ompong’

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The office of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Palawan province assured Friday there is enough rice supply to meet the needs of local government units affected by Typhoon Ompong in the province.

Ma. Lewina Tolentino, NFA-Palawan manager, said they have set aside 5,000 bags of rice for Puerto Princesa City and the mainland municipalities of Palawan in case of calamities and emergencies.

She said their buffer stock at the NFA warehouse in the city was from the first shipment of 20,000 imported bags of rice.

"May available kaming stock sa warehouses for calamities or emergencies, tapos sa Coron meron tayong ample stock (We have available stocks in our warehouses for calamities or emergencies and in Coron we have ample stocks too)," Tolentino said.

She said just recently, a mainland municipality withdrew 80 bags of rice from them. They are open 24/7 when there are weather disturbances and other emergencies.

Tolentino said they should have a buffer stock of 3,000 rice bags during calamities.

In island municipalities, the NFA allowed the towns of Coron, Busuanga, Cuyo, and Culion to withdraw 40 bags of rice each as additional allocation for their 55 accredited retailing outlets.

She said the second shipment of Thailand rice imported by the NFA central office will arrive this Sunday to supply the province's mainland area.

It was supposed to arrive earlier, but the vessel with the shipment to Palawan was prohibited from leaving the port of Batangas due to the typhoon.

Tolentino said if the weather condition turns better, the vessel will resume the loading of rice bags within four days and might arrive in the city in the third week of September.

An update from the Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) as of Saturday morning said the Busuanga island-municipality in the Calamianes Islands Group was already experiencing strong winds.

Linapacan was experiencing heavy rains, while light rains and strong winds were occurring in Culion. Coron, surprisingly, has good weather, according to the update.

PDRRMO chief Jerry Alili said no untoward incident has been reported from the municipalities.

Out of nine municipalities in southern Palawan, only Balabac and Bataraza were experiencing heavy rains and strong winds.

Balabac is where Barangay Mangsee is located, which experienced Typhoon Vinta’s wrath in December 2017.

Aborlan, Narra, Quezon, Brooke’s Point, Rizal, Sofronio Española, and Kalayaan have good weather condition.

In the northern part of the province, Agutaya, Cuyo, and Magsaysay were experiencing strong winds, while Araceli, Cagayancillo, Dumaran, El Nido, Roxas, Taytay, and San Vicente were experiencing good weather if not light rains.

Alili said no preemptive evacuation has been implemented so far in any of the municipalities.

Countryside: A hidden gem in El Nido, Palawan

By Frank Cimatu (

Once upon a time, an overnight stay in El Nido cost a mere P20

El Nido is the ultimate diving resort but the price is anything but – a stay in the posh resorts in the islands can be had for as much as P26,000 per night.

But as early as 1985, when the resort town was known to only a few people, the price for a room in the first lodging area was cheaper than a cup of instant coffee.

“Twenty pesos a night,” Teodora Marcelino Austria sheepishly told us.

That was in 1986 when El Nido was virtually unknown.

"But that was when tourists started trickling in," she said.

Austria knew only one foreign traveler at that time, an Australian named Murray, who was so mesmerized at the place that he just wandered around.

Today, about 2,750 tourists, mostly foreigners, come to El Nido and try the different tour packages to the islands and islets off the town.

There are hundreds of inns and hotels for them to stay, with more and more being built today.

Austria, together with her late husband Prospero, started Countryside in 1985. They only had 5 rooms then and a full view of the beach.

Countryside has since become Austria’s Place. It is still a quaint place, favored by foreign backpackers and dwarfed by taller structures along Real Street, which had become the second road parallel to the beachfront.

Even as the neighborhood has become rowdy, Austria’s Place has a notice for those staying there to keep the videoke until 10 pm in respect to the elders in the place.

Austria was 20 years old when she first came to Palawan in 1959. She was born in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte and came to Palawan to look for the family of her cousin whose boat sank in the area and drowned the whole family.

Teodora met Prospero and stayed in El Nido. Her husband belonged to the pioneer of the place, Jose Rios, who brought three boatloads of people from San Jose, Antique in 1900 in this place called Cabigsing.

The town was then known as Bacuit until it was changed to El Nido in 1955.

Andres said that the chief income of El Nido came from copra, beeswax, sea cucumber, lumber, marine products and, of course, el nido, the nest of swiftlets (balinsasayaw) which they wove by regurgitating their saliva into strands.

“My husband decided not to go into the business because it was so dangerous,” she said.

The gatherers known as bociadores would gather the nests on the side of the limestone caves sometimes a kilometer up.

She remembered when those nests were sold for P200 a kilo. Now they sell for almost P200,000.

She said that her husband would often trade dried squid which he then sold for two pesos a kilo back then, although he sold them by the tons to Manila.

Prospero died in 2010, but he kept his family to live within their compound in El Nido. One of his sons has since become a noted realtor in the town.

But Teodora hardly left her home, caring for her apos and watching her old town grow much faster than her memories.

Taking a closer look at the Green, Green, Green Program

By Ragene Andrea L. Palma (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

We always hear about the government’s “Build Build Build” drive, but did you know there’s also a “Green Green Green” Program?

According to the Department of Budget and Management, the Green, Green, Green Program is a “unique assistance program that aims to make cities more livable and sustainable through the development of public open spaces.” It was given a P2.58-billion funding under the 2018 national budget.

Balayong Nature Park
Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Named after the Palawan cherry blossoms, which will be a main attraction and feature of the project, the Balayong Nature Park will be the biggest among the program’s parks and open spaces. At 897,518 sqm, it will be located within the Puerto Princesa City Government Centre and Nature Park.

Balayong Nature Park is designed for sustainability and biodiversity resource. It is foreseen to provide ecological services to the government center, and to serve as a refuge for insects and birds, as well as exotic forest flora and native plants.

Its design encourages passive and recreational activities, as complemented by green infrastructure that is integrated with a high-quality aesthetic landscape. The park is also strategically placed to create a greenbelt in the area.

Gora Lane in Quezon City

Wittily embodying the essence of mobility in slang talk is Quezon City’s Gora Lane, which in Filipino means “Let’s Go.” This is a pedestrian corridor that will connect three transportation hubs—the MRT GMA Kamuning station, MRT Quezon Avenue station and LRT Gilmore stations —through the go-to streets of Dona Hemady, Mother Ignacia, Scout Tobias, Scout Chuatoco and Scout Madrinan.

Utilizing a walkability radius strategy, the Gora Lane will create better sidewalks; install parklets and way-finding features; establish pedestrian crossings and intersection treatments; and add shade elements and public art installations to the streets.

Quezon City will also develop a program for Gora Festival, which aims to feature artists through street painting and art demos. The program will generate revenues to sustain the street features of Gora Lane.

Public Park
Lamitan City, Basilan

Open spaces play a great role in creating both identity and safety for the environment, and this is something that Lamitan City in Basilan wants to incorporate in its proposed public park.

The city government aims to recreate a 3,092-sqm institutional space into a green park that is estimated to serve at least 3,000 commuters and passersby who walk along the government complex.

The public park is seen to help promote peace, safety and a sense of security within an area of conflict, thus helping improve the image of the city. Its features aim to improve social and cultural connectivity among citizens as well.

The Public Park of Lamitan, Basilan aims to promote peace, safety, and security within an area of conflict. —Design (c) City Government of Lamitan

Plaza Lucero
Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija

Since “Heneral Luna” became a critically successful film in 2015, there has been a growing interest to visit the location where Gen. Antonio Luna was betrayed and killed

But when tourists go to the exact site in Cabanatuan City, they are left with a disappointing experience. What they find instead are parked cars.

This is why the Cabanatuan City Government plans to redevelop Plaza Lucero, where that important historical site is located. To give proper respect to our hero, designs for the plaza improvement will include landscaping, creation of walkways, a grotto with a pond and installation of lights.

The Mangrovetum Extension
Masbate City

The Mangrovetum of Barangay Nursery is a mangrove area with an elevated walkway located along JM Robredo Boulevard, Masbate City.

To increase the appreciation of the environmental benefits of mangroves, including the proliferation of species that use mangroves as their habitat, the city government aims to strengthen the wooden walkway by replacing it with concrete, and to strategically place benches along the stretch as part of the Mangrovetum extension.

The project also aims to connect locals with the space, encouraging them to use that area more often.

Franklin Bridge
Dagupan City, Pangasinan

Once a connector of Dagupan and Lingayen, the Franklin Bridge stood strong until the World War II, and was destroyed in 1935. But the people of Dagupan City value its history and heritage value, and have left the remnants since.

Dagupan aims to redevelop the parking space surrounding the Franklin Bridge into an integrated area consisting of an esplanade, a plaza and a boat terminal. The open space will also promote coastal resource management, and address climate issues experienced in the locality: urban heat and greenhouse gas emissions.

The 4,610-sqm space will not only help shift the space from being car-centric, but will also help boost tourism in the province.

City governments are expected to begin implementing projects upon receiving funding from DBM. A website will be put up for all the cities’ design concepts and proposals, and for progress tracking.

The author is an environmental planner and an advocate for better public open spaces in cities.

‘Ompong’ forces suspension of classes in 3 Palawan towns

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Three towns in Palawan suspended their classes Friday due to possible effects of Typhoon Ompong, which is expected to aggravate the southwest monsoon.

San Vicente and Balabac towns have suspended classes in all levels while Taytay declared no classes only at the elementary level, said Grace Estefano, information officer of the Department of Education (DepEd) Schools Division Office in Palawan.

Estefano said the suspension of classes in the three towns was declared by their municipal chief executives.

A DepEd memorandum order she sent to the media from their regional office did not suggest any cancellation but only “precautionary measures to be undertaken” regarding “Ompong”.

Signed by Benjamin Paragas, DepEd director III and officer-in-charge regional director, the memorandum is addressed to schools division superintendents, information officers, and disaster risk reduction focal persons.

It identified precautionary measures, such as the safekeeping of school books, pertinent files and other important materials; securing weak parts and electrical wirings of their schools; monitoring schools in landslide-prone areas; and closely coordinating with local government units (LGUs).

In the province, Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Jerry Alili said so far, “no municipality has implemented any preemptive evacuation."

“Ang report sa atin ng sitwasyon ay cloudy with light rains lang sa mga mino-monitor na municipalities (The situational reports we are getting said the skies are cloudy with only light rains),” he said.

In Calamianes, composed of the island towns of Coron, Culion, Busuanga, and Linapacan, he said the weather has been observed to be "cloudy with no untoward incident so far."

In southern Palawan's nine municipalities, the weather is "cloudy with light rains."

In the northern area, he said it is "sunny" in the municipality of Roxas, but cloudy with light rains in nine others.

A statement released Wednesday by the Provincial Information Office said the PDRRMO and the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) have prepared 5,430 food packs; 256 rice bags; 523 gallons of mineral water; and other non-food relief items.

Kalayaan island town in the disputed West Philippine Sea waters, where “Ompong” is expected to traverse, has not suspended classes, said Joy Gabinete, assistant in the municipal DRRMO.

“Wala pong suspension ng classes kasi di naman ganoon kalakas ang ulan. Occasional rainfalls lang at yong dagat moderate-to-rough na occasional lang din (There is no suspension of classes because the rains are not that strong. Only occasional rainfalls and the sea waves are moderate to rough, which are also occasional),” Gabinete said.

She said there are currently 47 households in the island municipality composed of less than a hundred residents who can "immediately evacuate to their training center just in case."

Gabinete noted they also have enough rice and other food supply stocks.

“We prepared early in the municipal DRRMO in case Ompong will bring us strong winds and waves,” she added.

Palawan braces for ‘Ompong’

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The provincial government of Palawan said Thursday it has readied food and other relief goods to respond to the needs of its residents who may be affected by Typhoon Ompong.

Palawan provincial information officer Gil Acosta Jr. said they distributed food supplies and relief goods to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) as early as last week.

Acosta noted they do not want a repeat of what happened in December 2017, when severe Tropical Storm Vinta hit the province and they had difficulty transporting supplies and goods to Mangsee Island in Balabac town, southern Palawan.

He said it is still better for the province “to always be prepared than sorry”, as “Ompong” is seen moving toward central and northern Luzon.

“Ang pinaka epekto sa atin nitong bagyo ay yong pag-intensify ng hanging habagat dito sa bandang western ng ating lalawigan (The effect of the typhoon is the intensification of the southwest monsoon in the western part of the province),” he said.

Acosta also assured that rescuers and front-liners are prepared for “Ompong”, particularly in the towns along the west coast of Palawan.

“Ang tinitignan natin ngayon at binabantayan No. 1 is yung storm surge, second is yung landslide, at saka yung malakas na pag-ulan (What we are monitoring right now, first is the storm surge, second is landslide, and then strong and heavy rains),” he said.

Acosta said they have increased their monitoring in all municipalities facing west of the province, such as Rizal, Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, San Vicente, Taytay, and El Nido.

“Ompong” is now moving west northwest at a speed of 25 km. per hour (kph).

As of this posting, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office has not recommended any area for preemptive evacuation, he said.

Meanwhile, the DRRMO of Puerto Princesa City has activated “Oplan Listo”, the city government’s incident monitoring system, in line with the directive of Mayor Lucilo Bayron and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

"Ito ang sinusunod natin na protocol pag-may bagyo, ang Oplan Listo (This the protocol we follow when there are typhoons, the Oplan Listo),” CDRRMO chief Earl Timbancaya said.

Chaired by Bayron, the CDRRMC is composed of city key officials; offices like health, planning, agriculture, environment, social welfare and engineering; national agencies like the Philippine Red Cross, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, DILG, and others, as well as civic groups and first responders.

DOH urges LGUs to replicate Palawan’s CELP to help drug dependents

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Department of Health (DOH) urged local government units (LGUs) in the country to emulate Palawan’s implementation of the Community Enhancement and Livelihood Program (CELP) to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign and to help recovering drug dependents. Dr. Ma. Vilma Diez, DOH director of the Dangerous Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program (DDAPTP), said Wednesday the province’s CELP was hailed by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) as the “best model” in community-based treatment and rehabilitation program for persons who use drugs (PWUDs).

The other best model in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) is in the municipality of Gasan in Marinduque, she said during a Health Summit press conference in this city.

Diez said CELP is among the community-based treatment and recovery programs they are promoting to other provinces and municipalities, providing immediate and accessible interventions for PWUDs, particularly those who submit themselves voluntarily.

“Nandoon na siya sa ini-exhibit natin na isa siya sa best practices. Kaya in-exhibit natin yong CELP para tularan ng ibang LGUs. Sinasabi natin na ito na yong magandang programa para sa mga komunidad na base na sa pag-aaral, evidence-based, and may research. May rason tayo na tularan siya. CELP is very good (We are already exhibiting it as one of the best practices. The reason is so that other LGUs will copy the program. What we’re saying is that this is it, this is the most applicable program in your communities because it underwent studies, it’s evidence-based, and it was researched. We now have a reason to emulate it),” she added.

Palawan’s CELP was born out of the provincial government’s compassion for more than 4,200 drug users and pushers who voluntarily surrendered at the onset of the administration’s “Oplan Tokhang” and “Double Barrel Reloaded.”

It is a 16-week community-based outpatient recovery program that would provide the essential support for recovering drug addicts to get back to mainstream society.

Program team leader, Ma. Teresa Acda, said CELP aims to channel help to them to allow their re-entry into the mainstream of society.

"The number of those who surrendered was one of the reasons for the creation of CELP. But for Governor Jose Alvarez, when he gave us the order in July 2016 to come up with this, it was also compassion and sympathy for the families of those who surrendered voluntarily and understanding them. The governor's simple instruction was for us to help," Acda said in a previous interview.

As part of Duterte’s overall response to the ongoing drug abuse prevention initiatives, the DOH started in Puerto Princesa a four-day summit to share experiences and best models on the effectiveness of community-based drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers called “recovery clinics.”

The recovery clinic, which began in Pasay, is also one of the best models of community-based support to PWUDs.

The DOH hopes the recovery clinic model would be implemented soon on a nationwide scale.

Meanwhile, the summit slated to be held on Sept. 11-15 serves as the dissemination forum of the guidelines, as it also showcases the other best models in community-based treatment and rehabilitation program that were developed in other LGUs.

The initiative is guided by Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, that mandates the state’s policy to provide sustainable mechanisms to reintegrate into the society the individuals who have fallen victim to drug abuse and dependency.

Dr. Ivanhoe Escartin, program manager of DDAPTP, said the setting up of recovery clinics signifies “political will” to support the nationwide campaign against drugs and help the PWUDs.

“If we pull together all our experiences, we will be able to fight the scourge of illegal drugs that is affecting people in our communities,” he said.

BFAR maintains red tide alert for Eastern Samar, Bohol, Palawan

(BM, GMA News)

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Monday said that paralytic shellfish poison is detected in waters off Eastern Samar, Bohol, and Palawan.

The BFAR shellfish bulletin covered the coastal waters of Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol, and Puerto Princesa and Honda Bays in Puerta Princesa City, Palawan.

The public is prevented from harvesting, selling, buying, or eating any shellfish caught in these areas.

"All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang gathered from the area are not safe for human consumption. Fish, squids, shrimps and crabs are safe for human consumption provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking," the BFAR said.

On the other hand, the BFAR declared the Lianga Bay in Surigao del Sur free of red tide.

250 Bilibid inmates transferred to Palawan detention

By Llanesca T. Panti and Mariz Umali (BM, GMA News)

At least 250 inmates from New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa have been safely transferred to Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan, Bureau of Corrections Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Monday.

The inmates arrived in Iwahig on Sunday, September 9.

“This is part of the ongoing effort of the present leadership to decongest the Bilibid in Muntinlupa City which is heavily congested and lacking in facilities for ideal security and effective implementation of the reformation program [for inmates],” dela Rosa said in a statement.

In June, the BuCor transferred 500 Bilibid inmates in five batches to Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm.

The BuCor described the transfer of the medium security category inmates to Sablayan a successful and a boost to BuCor's work and livelihood program for the detainees.

SAP Go leads launch of ‘Malasakit Center’ in Palawan

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – A one-stop-shop health facility called “Malasakit Center” was inaugurated Sunday at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) to provide medical and financial assistance to poor Palaweños.

Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who said he would see how he can help speed up the modernization of health and medical facilities and services in local government hospitals, led the unveiling of the center and turned over a cheque for PHP5 million as an initial fund.

Go said once the amount has been consumed, it will be replenished by funds that will be drawn from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), PhilHealth, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

"Programa ito para mapabilis ang proseso ng mga medical services hanggang maging zero balance billing sila [mga pasyente]. Tuloy-tuloy ang pondo nito at kapag naubos ay replenishable. Pera ninyo ito ibinabalik lang namin (This is a program to speed up the delivery of medical services to the patient until his bill becomes zero balance. This will continue and when it is consumed, it will be replenishable. This is the money of the people, we are just returning it)," he said.

Go said the center is a national government initiative to make all health agencies accessible to patients confined in government-run hospitals.

Private hospitals can also request to have the same center but Go said the priority to have the Malasakit Centers are government-owned hospitals.

“We will speak to hospital authorities on how we can help modernize the hospital itself so patients here don’t need to go to private hospitals,” he said.

The financial assistance was received for the ONP Malasakit Center by 47 patients in the male medical ward.

Go said the center will be “immediately operational,” adding that the memorandum of agreement had been signed earlier with the concerned agencies.

He said it “ought to relieve indigent patients of the hassle of providing and submitting the documentary requirements in order for them to access various medical assistance and services at the provincial hospital.”

Go said altogether, the departments can help lessen the medical bill of a patient to a price he can afford, and even up to zero bills.

The main priorities of Malasakit Center are Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.

“Especially po, prayoridad din namin ‘yong mga PWDs, ‘yong mga disabled, at ‘yong mga senior citizens. Kailangan ang mga senior citizen, dito na pumapasok ‘yong mga sakit at ayaw na natin bigyan ng mga burden ‘yong mga anak nila (Our priorities are the PWDs, those who are disabled, and the senior citizens. This should be relevant to our senior citizens to lessen the burden of their families),” Go said.

There are five Malasakit Centers in the Philippines: one in Manila, one in Davao, and three in Visayas.

Dr. Melecio Dy, ONP chief, said they will implement all the mandated Malasakit Center policies, including the “No Balance Bill.”

"Pipilitin natin na ma-implement lahat ng mga policies hanggang mawalan ng balance lahat ng mag-a-avail na patients. 'Yong pondo naman [na five million] ili-liquidate lang namin tapos ire-replenish ng national government. Kaya kailangan lang mabilis kami sa liquidation (We will try to implement all the policies until patients here leave without balances. We will liquidate the fund so it can be replenished. What we need to do is just to speed up our liquidation processing)," Dy said.

He added that the center will temporarily operate for eight hours until such time they have enough personnel to manage a 24-hour operation.

Go arrived here on Saturday night and was welcomed at the Puerto Princesa City International Airport by Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, Mayor Lucilo Bayron, members of the City Council, heads of other public and private offices, and his supporters.

He met with Sangguniang Kabataan leaders at the Provincial Capitol, where he had a dialogue with them on current issues.

Experience the soul of El Nido at Lagùn

By Tessa Prieto-Valdes (Columnist / @Inq_Lifestyle, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Lagùn Hotel, strategically located at the heart of El Nido in Palawan, is a premier boutique hotel with its distinct style, first-class amenities, and warm Filipino service.

According to the hotel’s interior designer Cecil Ravelas, the inspiration for the interiors of the Lagùn evolved from the concept of “The Nest,” which is the English translation of El Nido. Nido is the Spanish word for the nests of the swiftlets which are found in the limestone crevices of the town. Nest harvesting in El Nido, Palawan, has been recorded as far back as pre-Spanish colonization time.

She explained that the nest, as a visual handle, was maintained in the Lagùn Hotel design development. Nests are built in different shapes and forms in various materials depending on what’s available to the bird. Hence, all throughout the hotel, one would find a nest in various forms of lamp and furniture pieces in wire, metal or rattan skin, Ravelas further noted.

As soon as one enters the lobby of Lagùn, one will find a reception desk shaped like a bowl nest but done in layers of cut-out light colored wood. In some parts of the hotel, one can find the weaving texture of the nest and created hand railings of woven metals in linear patterns. Most lamps were woven, too, while the lounge chairs showed varying weave patterns.

To create visual variation for each area of the hotel, Ravelas said bright accent colors were used, derived from the undersea palette that one experiences during snorkeling. This was applied in the dining area and one of the guest rooms.

One of Palawan’s treasures is its rich marine environment and hence, in some rooms, Ravelas introduced bright yellow and turquoise colors and the pattern of the Palawan peacock. It was adapted in a graphic accent wall covering. In another guest room, they introduced shades of red, purple and orange.

Ravelas said these colors depict the woven mats found in Palawan and is also reminiscent of the town fiesta banderitas. The idea, she explained, was to reintroduce to the guest the adventure they experienced in Palawan by memory triggers from colors and patterns they see inside the hotel. Ravelas felt it was important for the guest to experience the soul of the town.

To balance out all the elements, patterns and textures, the floors, walls and ceilings were done in muted tones. The floors were kept beige similar to the colors of the beach sand, muted greys on the walls like the limestone cave walls, white ceilings to neutralize the canvas.

The Lagùn Hotel features 37 spacious and well-appointed rooms, with three themes namely the Coral Room, Fiesta Room and the Peacock room.

Guests can dine at an all day dining restaurant called Habi, which offers an intercontinental menu. Guests can likewise relax on the roof deck where one can find the infinity pool, the spa and the Talusi bar overlooking the limestone mountain and sweeping view of the sea. While lounging by the poolside, one may even chance upon the Talusi (Palawan hornbill) which flies to and from its home.

Lagùn Hotel is strategically located at the heart of El Nido—conveniently close to the town’s hubs and shoreline, yet just the right distance from the busy downtown street.

With service that speaks of authentic family hospitality, you can come home to the comfort and style at the Lagùn Hotel again and again.

10 Palaweño scholars now in China

By Teri Acda

Hainan Normal University in the City of Haikou, Hainan, China is now the new home of the 10 Palaweños who were granted full scholarship by the Provincial Government of Hainan, China and whose scholarships were made possible by the Provincial Government of Palawan.

The ten scholars, on the first Monday of September, formally started their studies. The first subject the ten scholars have to attend is the Chinese language which will last for one year. The scholars were given books and other materials as part of their Chinese subject curriculum.

Gabriel Obrique, one of the scholars from the Municipality of San Vicente said, “I was surprised that there are so many foreign students here. There are different nationalities mostly from Asia – Laos, Indonesia, Pakistan, and there are some Caucasians, as well. It inspires me to study more and be proud that I am from Palawan, Philippines.”

According to Dave Servanez, another scholar from the Municipality of Brooke’s Point said, “We, Filipinos, having a hospitable nature allows us to get along well with other nationalities. We already have friends and so far we are doing okay here.”

When asked on how they communicate with their relatives in Palawan, Kate Adrianne Sy, another scholar from the Municipality of Narra said “Wechat is life”. Wechat is an application similar to that of messenger and Facebook however developed and widely used in China.

Prior to the ten scholars going to China, Vice Governor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates and Board Member Marivic Roxas met the ten scholars with their parents and guardians. In the gathering, the Chairman for the Hainan Scholarship of the Province of Palawan, Ma. Teresa A. Acda, presented an 80-page compendium containing information on the scholars and their journey to the scholarship. A video prepared by the Province was also shown to the parents. The Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez also provided pocket money for the ten scholars.

With the overflowing concern and love of the parents to the scholars, the gathering has become emotional. Vice Governor Socrates and BM Roxas assured the parents that the Province will have constant communication with the Government of Hainan to ensure the wellbeing of the ten scholars. To further assure the parents of the safety of the scholars, Vice Governor Socrates and the Chief of Staff of the Province Ceasar Sammy A. Magbanua accompanied the scholars to Hainan, China.

Upon arrival in Hainan, China, the scholars with the Officials from Palawan were met by the Officials from the Hainan Normal University. Immediately, the scholars were given dorm accommodation where they will be staying for the entire duration of their studies in China.

The formal endorsement of the ten scholars to the Government of Hainan happened on the 30th of August 2018 where a ceremony was prepared by the Hainan Provincial Government.

The event was attended by Vice Director of International Cooperation and Exchange Section of Hainan Provincial Education Department Mr. Huang Lianping; Vice Head of Hainan Provincial Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office Mr. Kang Baiying; Director of Sisterhood City Department of Hainan Provincial Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office Mr. Han Jinglei; Director for the Academic Affairs Office of Hainan Normal University Mr. Liang Guang; Deputy Director of International Cooperation and Exchange Department from HNU, Geng Juan; the Secretary of Party Committee of International Education School from HNU, Chen Yundi; and Dean of School of International Education Mr. Chen Jiang. During the endorsement, Vice Governor Socrates expressed the Province appreciation to the scholarship provided by Hainan Province and iterating that this is but a beginning as 40 more Palaweños will be able to avail of the scholarship in the following years. Mr. Han Jinglei of Hainan also expressed their desire to forge a sisterhood agreement with the City of Puerto Princesa.

Probe sought on quarrying in Puerto Princesa tribal community

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- A City Council member here has called for an investigation of questionable quarrying and extraction of mountain resources and construction aggregates for road widening projects.

Councilor Nesario Awat, chairman of the City Council’s legal matters committee, called the inquiry Tuesday against Ivy Michelle Construction (IMC), which has been hauling gravel and sand in Barangay Napsan, a village where Tagbanua indigenous peoples (IPs) dwell.

The construction aggregates are allegedly being supplied by IMC to road widening and riprapping projects in Barangays Irawan and Iwahig.

Awat said the Tagbanua IPs in Napsan have complained against the quarrying activities, which they said have already caused irreparable damages to the environment in the area.

"Ito ay lumalabas na quarrying at dapat na ipahinto kaagad para malagay sa tama. (This appears to be quarrying that should be stopped and corrected immediately). We should investigate this," he said.

Tagbanua IP leaders in the Napsan area are crying foul, claiming they were not consulted when quarrying was allowed in their area.

Napsan residents John Mark Salunday, Sinto Torse, Rodulfo Pulages, and Armand Ganancial told the City Council the degree of environmental destruction in their place has become alarming due to the uprooting of important trees and what seems to be an uncontrolled extraction of aggregates.

"Maraming puno ang natumba, nasira at patuloy na kumukuha ng aggregates mula sa taas ng bundok ang mga equipment. Ito ay hindi dumaan sa barangay, at kaming mga katutubo ay dapat meron kaming malaya at naunawaang pag-sang ayon tungkol dito (A lot of trees have been felled, and the heavy equipment continues to get aggregates on top of the mountain. This did not pass through the barangay, and there was no conduct of free and prior informed consent)," Salunday said.

Salunday also lamented the fact that the IPs in the area, who only collect pails of gravel and sand, are being arrested but large construction companies like IMC are allowed to quarry by the truckloads.

"Sino ngayon ang mananagot sa mga pinuputol na kahoy? Kaming mga katutubo kung balde-balde lang kinukuha namin (na graba) ay hindi pwede, huhulihin kami tapos ito ngayon ay ilang trak na at maramihan na. Bakit ganito? (Who will be accountable for the trees that were cut? IP residents here who only collect buckets of gravel and sand are being arrested, but look at this they’re hauling them by trucks. Why has it become like this?)," he asked.

Councilor Peter Maristela, who supports Awat’s call for an investigation in Napsan, said an ocular inspection regarding the report should be immediately made by the City Council’s indigenous peoples, legal matters, and environment protection committees.

They should be joined by representatives from the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The IPs are not convinced the quarrying in their place is for their “best interest” because it has become more frequent and more trees are being cut, leaving destruction behind.

They said they do not believe that some of the gravel and sand being hauled is going to be used to riprap an eroding gradient in their area.

"Kung e-riprap nila bakit hinuhukay at sinisira sa taas ng bundok? Kung ito ay para sa pag-improve ay hindi natin ito tinututulan pero ang nangyayari ay hindi na po ito para sa rehabilitation kundi ay pagsira na ito. Sinisira pa lalo (If the intention is to riprap, then why are they destroying the top of the mountain. If this is for improvement, we will not disagree, but what’s happening is no longer for rehabilitation; it’s destruction. They’re causing more destruction)," said Pugales, another IP leader.

IMC representative Maricel Hermoso, on the other hand, defended their quarrying projects in Napsan at the City Council.

Appearing during the session, she said IMC has been granted quarrying rights after applying at the City ENRO and paying PHP301,000 for around 10,000 cubic meters of gravel and sand aggregates.

She said the aggregates are for ongoing road widening and slope protection projects in Napsan, while some are transported to Irawan and Iwahig.

The area in Napsan where they are quarrying is an identified landslide prone zone that also needs slope protection.

Both the City Mining Regulatory Board and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office certified that the construction of safety walls will stabilize the slopes and will avert any loss of lives in Napsan.

Councilor Modesto Rodriguez II is supportive of the move to suspend the activities until the issue is resolved.

He said quarry resources and aggregates are sold at PHP6,000 per truck, yet only PHP30 pesos is paid to the city per cubic meter. He said that irregularities like this should be stopped.

"Ito ay naging hanapbuhay na at dapat mapatigil. Pati bundok ay masyado nang sinisira dahil dito. Effective today dapat ay ipatigil na ang lahat ng iyan. Hangga't maari ay magkaroon muna ng pag-uusap (This is becoming a livelihood that should be stopped. Even the mountain is destroyed. Effective immediately, the quarrying should be stopped. There should be dialogue first)," he said.

Palawan ‘turtle sanctuary’: Nominee in ‘World Luxury Hotel’ awards

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The Arena Island Turtle Sanctuary (AITS) in the municipality of Narra in southern Palawan has been nominated again for the 12th Annual World Luxury Hotel Awards 2018.

The international luxury hotel search gives awards and celebrates service excellence, bringing confidence and status to industry players, which are voted for by the public across 99 different categories.

The turtle sanctuary resort is located on a four-hectare island area in Narra, which is home to more than 16,000 hatchlings that have been released into the sea, said campaigner Carmelo Cortes.

Arena is nominated under the category of Luxury Private Island Resort.

“Arena Island Turtle Sanctuary Resort ensures a safe place, turtle hatchling survival has increased from 5 to 90 percent, it is a resort that educates the guests by allowing them to release turtles into the sea with supervision,” Cortes said.

Designed as an eco-tourism destination in southern Palawan by the Narra municipal tourism office, Arena contributes to the “green print” through its commitment to preserve and conserve the sea turtles (pawikan).

It espouses sustainable practices, providing modern amenities made with careful thought for the environment.

Last year, the turtle sanctuary island was also nominated in the Luxury Private Island Resort (regional level) and Luxury Honeymoon Resort (country level) categories.

World Luxury Hotel Awards was established in 2006 and has more than 90 award categories, which over 300,000 international travelers are voting for each year.

Arena Island Turtle Sanctuary Resort won the Luxury Honeymoon Resort and Luxury Private Island Resort awards in 2017.

DENR-Palawan collects 140 sacks of trash in El Nido beach

(Politiko Bicol)

The local office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Palawan has collected a total of 140 sacks of garbage during a joint clean up operations in El Nido.

The cleanup drive was held last August 20.

According to DENR-MIMAROPA Director Henry Adornado, the pile of garbage, believed to have originated from other countries based on the markings on the plastic bottles, was reportedly seen drifting at the Secret Lagoon in Miniloc Island, and was washed up to the shores of El Nido by the strong current amid heavy rains in the province recently.

“A waste classification report issued by the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA) indicated that majority of the garbage or 70% consisted of plastic bottles while 30% were a mix of Styrofoam, rubber scraps, plastic wrappers, nylon and other trash,” the Department said in a statement.

Adornado mobilized additional teams to scour the beaches of Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon in Miniloc island, Natnat Beach in Cadlao Island, including the farther islands of Matinloc and Tapiutan during the joint operations.

“Since it is already rainy season, let us expect the accumulation of marine debris in the shorelines of Palawan and its islands. This should remind us that whatever we dumped in the oceans, will come back to us,” the DENR executive said.

Adornado also called on the public to diligently practice the 3Rs of ecological waste management or reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Adornado said that the success of the clean-up operations was due to the cooperation extended by representatives of other government offices and the private sector, notably the Philippine Coast Guard, the local government unit of El Nido, the El Nido Chamber of Commerce, El Nido Resorts, El Nido Travel and Tours Association and other private organizations.

NCIP in Palawan to build new office

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- The local office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) here will soon have a bigger office at the government center in Barangay Sta. Monica.

Engr. Roldan Parangue, the provincial head of the NCIP, said Monday though they have a 48-square meter two-story building office, it is no longer enough to provide accommodation to their indigenous peoples (IP) guests from far-flung barangays and to service their other clients.

He said the transfer to the government center, which is also in Sta. Monica, was encouraged by the PHP1 million fund provided by 2nd Palawan District Rep. Eric Abueg.

The construction of the new office building, targeted to start within this year, will be managed by the Department of Public Works and Highways, but the problem is that the proposed area given by the city government has not been prepared yet.

“What we are worried about is that we cannot implement the construction yet because the area is not yet ready. When the city gave us the area, its processing was not completed,” Parangue said.

Parangue said in 2016, Mayor Lucilo Bayron granted his request for the use of a 500-square meter lot property at the government center, allowing them to process a contract of usufruct or the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property.

However, the processing of the agreement was halted due to the problem the city government faced when Bayron was suspended by the Ombudsman’s Office and an acting mayor was placed.

He admitted not returning to complete the contract process as he was afraid it might get invalidated in the long run and if the decision against Bayron is overturned.

"Hindi ko binalikan ang usufruct noong merong acting mayor, baka mas maging mahirap ang proseso at isa pa baka ma-invalid, magka-problema pagdating ng panahon. Pero noong nakabalik na si Mayor Bayron, I was informed na may nabago sa rules and regulations ng city sa pag-grant ng lupa sa government center, (I did not return for the usufruct when there was an acting mayor, thinking processing would be more difficult and it would be invalid, and it would become a problem in the future. But when Mayor Bayron came back, I was informed there were changes in the city’s rules and regulation in the granting of land at the government center) " he said.

One of these conditions was the granted property must be utilized and developed within a period of one year, he said.

"Ang mag-de-desisyon nito ay si Mayor Bayron at hihilingin ko muna na e-exempt kami sa bagong policy para mapadali ang proseso, (The decision will be up to the mayor and I will ask for us to be exemplted from the new policy so the processing (of the usufruct) will be expedited) " he said.

Solar Philippines eyes mini grids in 12 towns

By Victor V. Saulon

TWELVE remote towns in the Philippines, including four municipalities in popular tourist destination Palawan, are the possible sites for mini grids to be developed by Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings, Inc.

In a statement on Monday, Solar Philippines said its “Solar Para Sa Bayan” project is bringing 24/7 power to 12 towns “for the first time in their history” in response to the government’s call for the private sector to contribute to ending “energy poverty” in the country.

“Our aim is not to make the most profit, but to help the greatest number of our fellow Filipinos,” said Solar Philippines President Leandro L. Leviste.

He identified six towns in the statement, namely: Paluan and Lubang in Occidental Mindoro province; Dumaran in Palawan; Claveria in Masbate; Calayan in Cagayan; and Dingalan in Aurora.

He did not enumerate the other six, but in a Senate hearing earlier this month, he identified 12 towns, including Busuanga, Coron and El Nido in Palawan; Divilacan and Maconacon in Isabela; and San Pascual in Masbate.

Sought to validate the names of the 12 towns, Mr. Leviste said via e-mail: “For others on your list, I can confirm these are also on our list.”

He added the 12 towns indicated in his statement “have already energized or will energize within the next 30 days (weather permitting).”

Around 200,000 residents are expected to benefit from these projects, the first time a private company will energize a big number of households at zero cost to the government, he said.

“In terms of what will be completed by end of 2018, however, we [are] targeting at least double as many towns to benefit a total of 500,000 Filipinos, which is much more than existing rural electrification efforts, and at zero cost to government,” Mr. Leviste said via e-mail.

In March 2018, “Solar Para Sa Bayan” installed a solar-battery mini grid for Paluan, Mindoro to bring 24-hour power to the town for the first time. The company described the project as Southeast Asia’s largest using the technology and the first in Asia to feature Powerpacks from Tesla, a leading supplier of batteries and electric vehicles.

Solar Philippines said it was building hybrid mini grids in line with a plan by the Office of the President to issue an executive order to encourage private investment in rural electrification.

Mr. Leviste said he was hopeful that other stakeholders would also support such initiatives and help the Department of Energy achieve total electrification target by 2022.

The entry of private entities in some remote areas is a contentious issue for electric cooperatives that hold the legislative franchise to serve them.

The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the planned mini grids, or small-scale power grids that can be operated independently from the country’s interconnected network of power transmission facilities.

Fishing ban around Snake Island in Palawan pushed

By Jonathan L. Mayuga

The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) is pushing to declare a fishing ban in certain areas around Snake Island in Palawan to allow the marine ecosystem to recover and the important fish species to repopulate the area and replenish the fish stock.

The ERDB, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), believes that declaring a fishing ban around the Snake Island is necessary even as an effort to rehabilitate the area hit by coral bleaching have shown an initial success.

The fishing ban “in identified areas” will save the coral reefs in the fringing and winding 7.5-hectare island, the ERDB believes.

Closed in 2012 from the public, the Snake Island is found in a cluster of islands around top tourist destinations El Nido and Puerto Princesa City.

Coral bleaching

The DENR has ordered the closure of Snake Island after finding evidence of coral bleaching—or the turning the color of corals to white as they lose the greenish-brownish color of organisms called Zooxanthellae of the Alveolata group that reside in coral surfaces.

These photosynthetic organisms are destroyed as a result of global warming, or the increase in temperature of oceans, sea-level rise and acidification, overfishing and destructive fishing, such as of dynamites.

After the 2012 closure, a 2016 review of DENR-ERDB discovered that significant portions of the reef have started to provide spaces for settlement of young coral colonies.

More bleaching effects

In May of the same year, another team of experts doing orientation and photo documentation on Snake Island, locally known as Kalumpang, in Honda Bay, Palawan, however, were alarmed by the massive coral bleaching in the area.

The massive coral bleaching was reported in a BusinessMirror exclusive in June 2016, when the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) revealed that as much as 90 percent of the corals in three different sites around Snake Island were severely affected.

Ironically, the discovery of the dying corals came after Snake Island was declared as the national marine research station of the DENR.

Specifically, the activity conducted from May 10 to 13, aimed to showcase the three major coastal ecosystems in the area, including coral reef, seagrass beds and mangroves.

The team—composed of representatives from the DENR-BMB through the Coastal and Marine Division, DENR-Palawan Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Studio H2O and the UP Marine Science Institute—dived in the three sites around Snake Islands to take photos, but was surprised to see the bad condition of the corals.

The coral bleaching, according to the report, could be an effect of El Niño.

The same sites were assessed by another team from the DENR-ERDB just two weeks before the DENR-BMB team went to dive in the sites, and found the corals to be still in good condition.

Algal bloom

The ERDB’s findings, meanwhile, revealed that some parts have been found to have a high algal cover (algal bloom) which is known to hinder the recovery of affected corals.

According to ERDB experts, algal-feeding fish, such as the parrotfishes, siganids, acanthurids and wrasses, among others, were observed. But they must be constantly protected from fishing to increase their meager numbers.

The rapid succession of algae on reef structures might be caused by the reduced population of herbivors or plant-eating fish species, coupled with an influx of excess nutrients from nearby tributaries, according to Jose Isidro Michael Padin, ERDB supervising science research specialist.


The assessment found out that exhaustive fishing in the area resulted in the decline of algae-feeding fish, leaving no natural control measure for the increasing algal bloom.

Delineating “no-fishing zones” on the island will help coral-reef rehabilitation, the ERDB expert concluded.

“In order to protect the island and to help in the recovery of the corals in the area, there is a need to delineate areas for fishing and nonfishing. This will allow the coral reefs to recover,” said ERDB Director Dr. Sofio B. Quintana in a statement released through Growth Publishing.

Padin explained that ERDB’s effort to restore corals on Snake Island is worth it.

“Hard corals can survive a bleaching event and return to their normal state unless the unfavorable conditions continue for a prolonged period,” he said. Sea star infestation

According to the ERDB, another factor which can hinder the recovery of the coral reef is the growing population of sea stars.

Sea stars belong to a species which feed on healthy coral polyps leading to the bleaching of some Acroporid corals. The outbreak of sea stars may be caused by increased nutrients in the water or the removal of its predators, or both.

The ERDB research team is continuously monitoring the sea stars’ population and is looking at the possibility of resorting to necessary control methods, such as manual removal or induced death.

Preliminary findings of the ERDB team have been presented in January to concerned stakeholders, which included the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), DENR-City Environment and Natural Resources Office of Puerto Princesa City, DENR-Penro Palawan, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Puerto Princesa City Tourism Office, and the Puerto Princesa City Environment and Natural Resource Office. Science-based solutions

Among the solutions proposed were science-based coral transplantation, restocking of herbivorous fingerlings and the continuous monitoring of water and other marine resources of the island.

A fishing moratorium to increase fish population on Snake Island has been raised. This is also seen as a long-term solution for the reported decline of fish stocks in Honda Bay.

Quintana gave assurance that ERDB will continue to provide science-based information in order to help protect the natural beauty of Snake Island.

Popular tourist spot

Snake Island has been among the most popular tourist spots in El Nido due to its S-shaped sandbar, where adventurers walk on low tide, as they appear to “walk on water.”

The sandbar connects Snake Island to other islands in Palawan.

Snake Island has been envisioned to become an exhibition area for three ecosystems—coral reef, sea grass beds (from monocotyledon plant group of grasses, lilies and palms that form underwater meadows) and mangroves.

With the DENR’s rehabilitation, the Snake Island has been replanted with 17 hectares of nine species of mangroves.

Fishery stocks, including caesionid (dalagang bukid) and jacks (talakitok), have been restored as surface fishes, and groupers (lapu-lapu), acanthurids (labahita), siganids (danggit) and damsel fish (palata) as bottom dwellers.

The rehabilitation of Snake Island is part of a larger program of the DENR to restore the health of natural resources in degraded ecotourism sites, including the entire El Nido.

The DENR also ordered in April the closure of almost 80 establishments in El Nido that were violating the 30-meter “no-store” area from shoreline policy.

Palaweños learn ‘fair and sustainable tourism’

By Celeste Anna Formoso (PNA)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – A tourism capacity building workshop was held here Friday (August 25) to familiarize Palaweño travel and tour operators about the Korean travel market and understanding “fair and sustainable tourism.”

With the theme “Discovering Palawan as an Attractive Natural Heritage Destination,” the workshop was in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN), local governments, and stakeholders.

ASEAN Korea Centre Secretary General Lee Hyuk said the goal of the capacity building workshop is based on the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s Tourism Strategy 2015-2025, which states that “human resources development is central to enhancing tourism competitiveness.”

“ASEAN Korea Centre has been conducting tourism capacity building workshop since 2009 to be of some help in enhancing the capabilities of tourism professionals all over ASEAN and deepening their understanding of Korean tourism,” Lee said.

The workshop, he said, is focused on the sustainable preservation and conservation of Palawan’s amazing natural heritage sites to promote them as attractive destinations for tourism and learning about Koreans.

These sites in the province are the Underground River at the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) at Sitio Sabang, Brgy. Cabayugan, and the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park (TRNP) in Cagayancillo municipality.

Lee said tourism is becoming an increasingly important and vibrant industry in the Philippines, which accounts for more than 21 percent of the gross net domestic product.

Furthermore, the country has long enjoyed the title of being one of the most favorite tourism destinations of Koreans, which has been increasing every year.

He said “it amounted to 1.6 million visitors or one fourth of the total number of international travelers” to the Philippines. In Palawan, Korean travelers have numbered to 20,000 to date out of 550,000, which he thinks is still “too few.”

“With the exceptional beauty and hospitality of the Palaweños, I think… I strongly believe that Palawan has a great potential as one of the most favored tourism destinations not only for Koreans but also for all international travelers,” he said.

The tourism capacity building program, Lee added, is their help to increase Palawan’s competitiveness in the international tourism industry, emphasizing the importance of its attractive natural heritage destinations.

“At the end of the workshop, you will gain useful information and knowledge about Korean travelers. You will be given insights on how you can promote your province as a tourism destination such as about Korean tourism market trends, business opportunities, and strategic partnerships. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity,” he said.

He said in addition to capability building workshops, the ASEAN-Korea Centre has been making efforts to strengthen the mutually beneficial partnership between the Philippines and their country.

In October, he said they will be hosting the ASEAN-Korea Tourism Development Workshop on Sustainable Tourism for Natural Heritage Destinations in Jeju Island with 10 ASEAN countries.

He said Elizabeth Maclang, park supervisor of the PPSRNP, has been invited to be one of the presenters.

Maclang’s presentation will be about “The Sustainable Tourism Development: Using and Preserving UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Natural Heritage.”

She said her talk will benefit the PPUR and Palawan province because of the wide scope of the audience from different countries.

“This overwhelming on my part and the PPUR management because it is encouraging that our efforts have been recognized to represent the country. We will not be recommended if they didn’t know what we’re doing for the sustainable preservation of the underground river as a World Heritage Site,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kang Mi Hee, director of the Asia Pacific Global Sustainable Tourism Council, said “sustainable tourism” for national heritage sites matters because “unchecked tourism growth can lead to negative impacts, such as loss of local identity and values through commodification of cultures and unwanted changes to meet tourist demands.”

Natural heritage sites to Korean travelers are interesting due to the preservation of the oddity of culture and their outstanding universal value.

Kang said tourism should not be treated as a “mere commodity” if the locality wants it to contribute to economic development.

Among the negative impacts of tourism that should be watched out for is the exhaustion of resources, pollution (on land and in water), and physical impacts that can degrade the ecosystem in the name of infrastructure development.

She said Palawan should manage “standards for sustainable tourism” by having a set of criteria that would be complied with by hotels and tour operators, and as a destination.