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Showing posts from July, 2009

From Paradise to Wasteland - CT

Ever since I was a young boy I have always considered our beloved Catanduanes as a paradise island. Wherever I go, I keep in mind a vivid image of our province as an idyllic place where one would be so happy to spend the rest of his life eating fresh fish and enjoying the green sceneries. Thus, when word went around that a mining permit was awarded to a certain Policarpio Torres who is allegedly connected to the Monte Oro Resources and Energy, Inc. (MOREI), a large coal-mining company, I suddenly got bothered. I was born in 1968, a year before the Marcopper Mining Corporation started its explorations in Marinduque, another island within the Philippine territory with rich natural resources, very much like our own pastoral haven. In 1996, Marinduque made global news when Marcopper’s concrete dumping pit of toxic waste was fractured and caused significant leaks into the Makulapnit-Boac river system. Almost 1.6 million cubic meters of poisonous tailings were released into the 27 kilomet…

First Half of 2009 Tourist Destinations

Catanduanes made it to the top 15 tourist destinations in the Philippines with a whooping 115.0% growth rate in the first half of 2009 second only to Camarines Sur with 194.0%. Camarines Norte came in third with 63.9% and Legaspi with 10.9%, while Sorsogon and Masbate with negative growth of -14.0% and -7.5% respectively. Destinations Foreign Domestic Total Change Camarines Sur
147,504754,698202,202 194.0% Cebu 321,116509,433321,1162.3% Boracay112,315271,498383,8136.0% Baguio*20,677350,528371,205
-14.5% Davao
29,691300,556330,2472.7% Puerto Galera**

215,75520.2% Bohol45,995114,619160,61415.6% Negros Occidental*
32,780113,724146,504-55.2% Negros Oriental
22,72995,069117,79811.1% Ilocos Norte
6.5% Masbate*
10,25771,63081,887-7.5% Camarines Norte
1,71179,46681,17763.9% Puerto Princesa
11,38069,37680,75663.0% Legaspi
7,89259,73267,62410.9% Catanduanes
9,95355,18865,141115.0% Sorsogon*
26,25127,95254,203-14.0% TOTAL
808,3892,965,1283,989,27216.5% The developing El Niño in the eq…

Stop the Buying and Illegal Cutting Will Stop Too

Reports of illegal cutting and smuggling of this endemic species of narra hardwood found in Catanduanes is no longer new. And this has been going on for so many years and can no longer be ignored. While many likes to have it as a wooden furniture and for home furnishing, many of these buyers, perhaps, are unaware of the consequences or some simply ignore it.

Narra was recorded as "vulnerable" in the Philippines, "threatened" in Indonesia, and considered "endangered" in India. It is probably now extinct in Peninsular Malaysia because of exploitation - of its few known stands. In the wild of Vietnam, on one hand, it has been extinct for 300 years.

Narra is very attractive because of its flowers. "The flowers are yellow, fragrant, and borne in large axillary panicles. When flowering, the buds do not open in daily sequence. Instead, as the buds come to full size, they are kept waiting to be triggered into opening. The opened flowers last for one day. Afte…

Cassava + Organic Waste = Charcoal Briquettes

In January 2008, I wrote about charcoal briquettes as an alternative cooking fuel and as a way to solve our mountain of organic debris in the aftermath of typhoons. Now, we are delighted that the provincial government is taking the initiative to introduce the technology to barangay levels. Last week was favorable for those who believe that the solid waste problem could be addressed through low-cost programs. Congressman Joseph Santiago and Governor Joseph Cua had a chance to see first-hand how waste can be transformed to fuel using cheaply manufactured equipment. The province’s two leaders were with visitors from the Department of Agriculture, who were to speak on the cassava industry in Panganiban town the next day, when they went to the sprawling farm being managed by DPWH assistant district engineer Gil Balmadrid in Palta Small, Virac. There, they saw how a set of charcoal briquetting equipment costing P85,000 in Manila had been re-engineered into one costing just P5,000 per s…

AsSec. Sarmiento Launches “Share-a-Computer” Project - CT

Department of Transportation and Communication Assistant Secretary and former Catanduanes Vice Governor Atty. Cesar V. Sarmiento recently launched the distribution of computers to different barangays and public schools in the province. Dubbed as “share-a-computer”, the project which kicked off last June 15, was initiated by Sarmiento as his personal share in helping Catandunganons, particularly students and pupils, be aware of the benefits and the advantages offered by the information technology, specifically, to help provide technological facilities like computers in the sector of education and local governance. This project aims foremost to give opportunity to students and pupils to experience hands-on the use of computers. Unfortunately, some of our teachers also share the same proportion of apprenticeship on it, especially for those who are assigned in remote areas. If there would be enough supply, which we are currently working out, we also consider providing for community o…

Mamangal Beach

The whole stretch of Balite and Mamangal continues to beguile visitors with its unspoiled beauty, an asset which the locals within the area are guarding zealously. The sprawling beach is covered with cool and shady trees and blessed with fine white sand, both in the shorelines and in the swimming area. Provides an alternative area for recreation, fun, relaxation, skim boarding and picnics.

PAGASA Urges Concerned Gov't Agencies to Prepare vs El Niño

MANILA, JULY 15, 2009 (STAR) The state weather bureau urged yesterday concerned government agencies to come up with appropriate measures that can mitigate the possible effects of the developing El Niño phenomenon, particularly in the agriculture sector. El Niño is the abnormal warming in the equatorial Pacific and is usually characterized by below normal rainfall. Nathaniel Cruz, deputy administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said that as of yesterday, there is “90 percent” chance that the El Niño would develop this month based on monitoring of several international weather agencies. Cruz said this would have an effect on sectors that depend on or are affected by water like agriculture, energy and even health. Cruz said although the intensity of the El Niño has yet to be predicted, the government, particularly the Department of Agriculture, must prepare for its possible effects on crop production. He said India…

DOE Allows Mining of Rich Coal Deposits in Catanduanes - BM

VIRAC, Catanduanes—The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved the mining of this island province’s estimated 1.2 million metric tons of high-quality coal deposits under the fourth Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR) of 2009. Based on the prevailing world market price of coal, this volume is worth $200 million (P9.4 billion), a recent report citing a US geological survey said. The Catanduanes coal district covers 8,000 hectares in 14 upland barangays within Panganiban, San Andres and Caramoran, all major abaca and coconut producing municipalities sitting at the heart of the 1,511.5-square-kilometer island. Monte Oro Resources and Energy Inc. (Morei), a private Philippine company formed in 2005 to engage in mining and energy investments, holds a mining contract for the area awarded by the DOE under the second PECR that year. Morei is chaired by Walter Brown, also a chairman of Philex Mining Corp. Wilson Sy, former chairman of the Philippine Stock Exchange, is also reported…

Int’l TV Channel to Produce Documentary on Catanduanes - CT

Living Asia Channel (LAC), a cable/satellite television channel that features the best travel destinations of Asia and the Pacific, its fascinating people and their unique lifestyles, is currently conducting this week a video footage for a high-end production about Catanduanes as an eco-tourism destination. This yet another intensive promotion of the island as ‘a place to be’ comes on the heels of the Provincial Government’s renewed drive to bolster its natural attractions and position the island as an ideal destination for local and international tourists. It starts its video footage here in the province this Thursday, July 9 and will end on Sunday, July 12. The production will be a 12-24 minute travel and lifestyle program that will focus on prime tourist spots, culture and heritage, local cuisine and products, local industry & business opportunities. Part of the production is the release of two DVD complimentary copies of the edited material for non-broadcast use which can…

Area 10: Coal Block

The 2009 Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR) offered 30 new coal areas including Catanduanes coal district, designated as Area 10, covering 8,000 hectares in the town of Caramoran, Panganiban and Viga. I was thinking how big the (red) block is, so I embedded the coordinates from the Philippine Department of Energy on Google Earth. I also included the Watershed Forest Reserve (green) to give viewers a better understanding. If we are to examine areas nearby our island (not included in the photos), there two more marine protected areas located aside from our Watershed Forest Reserve. In the west, a national park in Caramoan, Camarines Sur and in the south, Bacon in Sorsogon, a no-take zone. Even with today's advanced coal mining technology, there is no fool-proof guarantee that mine tailings would not reach those protected areas, particularly during typhoons and heavy rainfall. The swamps and mangroves in the town of Viga and Panganiban could be wipe-out including the livel…