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Showing posts from August, 2009

The Hidden Costs of Clean Coal

Down in Washington, Pennsylvania, an hour’s drive southwest from Pittsburgh, one message can be found plastered on billboards, newspapers, even diner placemats. It reads: "Coal, Pennsylvania’s #1 Fuel for Electricity. Now Clean and Green."


Those last words probably don’t spring to mind for citizens in the coalfields of northern Appalachia, where longwall mining thrives. A highly productive method, longwall mining yielded 176 million tons of coal in 2007—15 percent of total U.S. production. An estimated 10 percent of all U.S. electricity now depends on coal from longwall mines, which have grown in Appalachia and in Illinois, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

But longwall mining is the most brutal technology yet employed to extract coal from underground quickly and cheaply. A hulking shearer, the longwall machine chews the coal seam and leaves the ground to cave in what the industry calls “planned subsidence.” Residents living above mines describe the effect differently. Says Re…

Getting and Moving Around Catanduanes

Catanduanes is accessible by air and on land. Domestic flights from Manila to Virac airport is available daily as well as ferry service from Tabaco port in Albay to Virac and San Andres seaports. Check out the weather advisory from PAGASA if you plan to visit the island.

If your coming from Manila and opted to travel by land, you can book your ticket in any of these major bus terminals in Cubao, Pasay and Alabang. And if you opt to travel by air, you can place your reservation online to three domestic carriers a week earlier.

For lodging and accommodation, there are hotels in Virac as well as inns for budget travelers. There are no taxi cabs in Catanduanes and the best way to move around is either by tricycle, and public transport for distant places. Minimum fare within the town limits. You can also hire a private vehicle or a motorized outrigger boat to move around the island.

Visiting Pandan

If you traveled by boat northward from Bagamanoc, you'll hit the town of Pandan. The northernmost town in the island and the least discovered part of Catanduanes, obviously because of its sheer distance.

Pandan boasts the finest beaches in the island aside from deep-sea fishing, and can be considered one of its economic assets. It also has a thick jungle and many of the sights here are still waiting to be discovered.

Pandan is accessible both by land and water, telecommunication network from major telcos and homestay is available in this place. If you want to explore Catanduanes, don't miss out this place.

Visiting Bagamanoc

The town of Bagamanoc is often associated to cheap fresh fish primarily because of its location, facing the Pacific ocean. But this town is also a favorite hang-out among locals during weekends, to picnic and relax in the private resorts of Barangay Bacak.

Roughly five kilometers away from the town of Panganiban and accessible by public transport, in water and on land.

If you love the sea, you surely will enjoy visiting Bagamanoc, not only to snorkel in crystal clear waters and enjoy seafoods, but to view offshore the small villages along the coast.

So don't forget to bring goggles, binocular and cameras. You may also bring a tube of Wasabe and Kikkoman soy sauce just in case, freshly catch tuna and blue marlin is available during your visit.

Visiting Panganiban

If you plan for an extended holiday vacation in Catanduanes, and if you seek adventure, nature and fun, don't miss out in your travel itinerary the northern towns of Panganiban, Bagamanoc and Pandan.

Panganiban right now is in the national broadsheets because of a controversial coal exploration and development project in one of its remote barangays located in the mountainous northwestern part of the municipality.

Travel time from the capital town, Virac, is roughly an hour by private vehicle and more by public transport. The sights along the road going to north would definitely not bore you, don't forget to bring your cameras and hiking shoes.

There are no hotels or lodging houses in this place but you can arrange for a homestay. For the adventurous, you can bring a sleeping bag or a tent and don't forget a mosquito repellant. Locals are friendly, can understand and speak tagalog or english. Mobile communication from major telcos is available including GPRS signal.

You can …

Now It's A Fact: Money Doesn't Buy Happiness - Forbes

Those who study the link between cash and contentment come up with much the same answer -- and a few surprises about why income matters at all.
By Matthew Herper, Forbes.

It's official: Money can't buy happiness.
Sure, if a person is handed $10, the pleasure centers of his brain light up as if he were given food, sex or drugs. But that initial rush does not translate into long-term pleasure for most people. Surveys have found virtually the same level of happiness between the very rich individuals on the Forbes 400 and the Maasai herdsman of East Africa. Lottery winners return to their previous level of happiness after five years. Increases in income just don't seem to make people happier -- and most negative life experiences likewise have only a small impact on long-term satisfaction.

"The relationship between money and happiness is pretty darned small," says Peter Ubel, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.

That's not to say that increased incom…

Saving Our Mangroves for Future Generations - CT

It is heartwarming to learn that a handful of private organizations and local government units have taken it upon themselves to augment the national government’s woeful effort in preserving and protecting mangroves in this island paradise.


Discarding the decade-long practice of planting trees along roads where most of the mature trees would be cut down by Ficelco linemen, the administration of Mayor Santos "Doc" Zafe has embarked on a mangrove reforestation program that has so far planted 35,000 propagules in nearly eight hectares of swampland in five coastal barangays.

Similarly, the Rotary Club of Virac is pursuing its "Rota Tree Mangrove Planting" campaign to educate coastal residents and fishermen in Bato town on the importance of mangroves and the vital role they play in the global environment. Recently, they were assisted by FICELCO, 905th Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary Squadron, Kabalikat-Civicom, barangay and municipal officials and the DENR in planting p…

Bro. Mike Velarde Says Odds of Running Now Down

El Shaddai spiritual leader Mariano “Bro. Mike “Velarde remained non-committal about his supposed political plans during the charismatic group’s 25th anniversary celebration at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, which was attended by around 170,000 at its peak Saturday night and the affair stretching until early Sunday.

Velarde explained that, so far, the most compelling reason why he is still hesitant about entering politics is his family, who is apparently against it.

"Hati sila. May gusto, may ayaw," Velarde said. - MB

Born in Caramoran, Catanduanes, he attended University of the East, Manila where he received a degree in geodetic engineering. With a company bonus, he started buying land and developing residential subdivisions south of the city. He did well until 1983, when political turmoil sent the Philippine economy into a tailspin and went bankrupt.

By 1986 his debts, which he had used to finance land purchases, had grown to $8 million. After a recovery from a heart ailme…

Behind the Catandungan’s Inherent Inclination to the Art

IT MUST BE THE WIND! I could think of nothing else that can have a more profound effect on the person and character of the native Catandungan than the wind. This unseen force is so much a part of the household in this beautiful island that blending and bending with it has almost become their way of life. Constantly and relentlessly ravaged by its rage, their well-being challenged and threatened repeatedly through the years. I guess, the threat itself, is what makes them unique. Or it might be the fear attendant to it that makes them spew talent in the various aesthetic inclinations they so naturally display. I’ve read some of their writings’ their prose and poetry. I have listened to many who are impressively articulate. I would even venture to say: "they dance well too". On the many social occasions I have personally witnessed, I have never seen the most graceful and meaningful interpretation of the Pantomina, a pre-Hispanic dance (most probably) so expressively mimicki…

DOE Sec. Angelo T. Reyes Answers Concerns Raised Against Coal Operating Contracts

Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes answers concerns that have been raised against Coal Operating Contract (COC) 143 that was awarded to Monte Oro Resources & Energy, Inc. and the small-scale coal-mining permit (SSCMP) (no. 2008-018) issued to Policarpio M. Torres.

According to Sec. Reyes, “these contracts were well above board. Monte Oro’s exploration project, which was initially awarded in 2005, was specifically for exploration only. I think these activities were misinterpreted to be actual mining.

“A COC which is at the exploration stage does not require an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) yet. The ECC will be issued before actual commercial extraction begins.

“On the other hand, on the matter of Mr. Torres’s application for the small scale contract, it is patently false to say that he didn’t secure or consult with local officials. In fact, he was issued a certification in connection with his application for a SSCMP by San Miguel’s Barangay Chairman (Jose J. Rima) on July…

Senators Press Probe of "GMA Crony" Coal-Mine Contract - BM

SENATORS are pressing for an independent inquiry into a controversial coal-mine contract awarded to Monte Oro Resources Energy by the Department of Energy (DOE) without consultation with residents and local officials of at least three towns to be affected by the mining operations in Catanduanes province.


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. backed a proposal by Sen. Panfilo Lacson for a joint congressional oversight committee on environment to conduct an immediate investigation of the Monte Oro mining deal based on complaints aired by concerned Roman Catholic Church leaders that the DOE awarded the contract without public consultations.

“Yes, I support that [Lacson proposal for an inquiry] wholeheartedly,” Pimentel said, adding the congressional investigation should not be limited to Catanduanes but should cover other mining operations to ascertain their compliance with environment-protection laws. “I support any attempt… to make sure that our laws are being followed.”

Lacson to…

Monte Oro: ‘We Have Abandoned Coal Project’ - INQ

MANILA, Philippines—Monte Oro Resources & Energy Inc. abandoned its search for coal in Catanduanes province as early as last year, the company said Tuesday.

“Based on our exploration program which has been completed, we do not consider the potential sufficient to our proceeding with the next phase which is development and underground mining” Monte Oro said in a statement.

The company issued the statement amid a campaign launched by the Catholic Church, local government officials and civil society to oppose the plan of Monte Oro to extract coal in the province.

But Monte Oro’s statement that it was ending its search for coal in the province was a turnaround from what Monte Oro Resources & Energy Inc. chair Walter Brown said on Monday.

Still exploring

Brown said the company was still exploring prospective coal areas in Catanduanes, which were seen to yield high grade coal.

As Monte Oro was still in the exploration stage, Brown said it had yet to decide whether to push through with th…

Church Hits Big Coal Mine Project - INQ

VIRAC, CATANDUANES—The Catholic Church and other groups are objecting to a plan by a firm linked to business tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. to extract coal worth P6.2 billion in the province, saying mining would destroy its forest cover and biodiversity, cause flooding, and pollute its waterways. The groups also claim that the Department of Energy awarded 7,000 hectares of land in the province to Monte Oro Resources Energy Inc. in 2005 for coal exploration without public consultation. The large swathe of land assigned to Monte Oro in the towns of San Andres, Caramoran and Panganiban is equivalent to the land area of 132 Luneta Parks or three times bigger than Makati City. Razon has an interest in Monte Oro Grid Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of Monte Oro Resources Energy, a company formed in 2005 to invest in mining, oil and gas, and infrastructure in the Philippines. Monte Oro Grid is a leading member of the consortium that won the bidding for the power grids of National Transmi…

To Mitigate Effects of Climate Change: Virac LGU Shifts Focus to Mangrove Reforestation - CT

The municipality of Virac has planted 35,000 propagules on 7.5 hectares of mangrove areas in five coastal barangays so far this year as it shifted its regular tree planting activity to mangrove reforestation and coastal management.


Last Friday, Mayor Santos V. Zafe led municipal officials and employees in planting 22,000 propagules in five hectares of mangrove swamps in barangays Balite, Batag and Marilima. They were joined and assisted by volunteers from the Regional Fisheries Training Center, the Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils, the 905th Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary Squadron, and barangay officials.

The mayor kicked off the current campaign to replant mangrove areas on Julty 14, with 5,000 planted in the Palnab del Sur swampland, followed by 8,000 more in Magnesia del Sur. He said that the project, including the establishment of eucheuma (seaweed) test plots in barangays Batag, Marilima, Magnesia del Sur and Magnesia del Norte beginning August 23, i…

What is Ecotourism?

Ecotourism is: "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." (TIES, 1990). Principles of Ecotourism: Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following ecotourism principles:
Minimize impact.Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people. Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate. Ecotourism Facts & Statistics:Size of Global Tourism: - As the largest business sector in the world economy, the Travel & Tourism industry is responsible for over 230 million jobs and over 10% of the gross domestic product worldwide. - In 2006, Travel & Tourism (consumpti…

Bernabe Concepcion Guns for World Title Saturday

This Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada, Filipinos all over the world will again witness another round of exciting boxing matches featuring two of its home-grown fighters, but they don’t include the name of the country’s “national hero,” Manny Pacquiao.


But no doubt Pacquiao has had a big influence on Nonito Donaire and Bernabe Concepcion, who are also trying to make it big in the world of boxing. So far, Donaire has been more than just a struggling pugilist, especially after knocking out previously unbeaten Vic Darchinyan, who boxing aficionados thought was invincible for knocking out opponents 23 times out of only 27 fights, back in July 2007.

Donaire, already a celebrated boxer, is the featured fighter against Panamian Rafael Concepcion for the interim World Boxing Association Super Flyweight Title at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas on Aug. 15. That fight will take place after the match between World Boxing Organization Featherweight Title holder and Los Angeles native Steven Luevano an…

Lorong Point Lighthouse on Panay Island

Constructed in 1997 and finished in October 1998, the Lorong Point lighthouse was one of the many Philippine lighthouses constructed or rehabilitated under the Maritime Safety Improvement Project, Phase B, funded by a P3-billion loan from the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) of the Japanese government. Located in Panay, a small island northeast of Catanduanes. It is often confused with the much larger Panay Island in Western Visayas. The island is politically under the province of Catanduanes and subdivided between the municipalities of Bagamanoc and Panganiban.

New Catandungan Association Will Be Formed says Manlangit

The New Catandungan Association Canada - Ontario (CACO) will be formed according to Ignacio Lopez Manlangit.


Manlangit, a former student leader during his university days at the Manila Luis Quezon University, said that the eleven (11) municipalities of the province of Catanduanes will be represented in the association and automatically become members of the board of directors which will be headed by a Chairman.

He said that the eleven (11) towns of the island province of Catanduanes are Bagamanoc, Baras, Bato, Caramoran, Gigmoto, Pandan, Panganiban, San Andres, San Miguel, Viga, and Virac.

Manlangit said that several natives of Catanduanes in Ontario said that the new organization of natives of Catanduanes aimed to help Catandunganons not only in Ontario but other parts of Canada who need help and at the same time will be helping towns in the province which need help considering that the province is a typhoon belt.

For more information, kindly contact Mr. Manlangit at 647-274-2566 or wr…

57-Meter Statue of Jesus to Rise in Catanduanes - MB

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Bayani F. Fernando has thrown his support behind the ambitious plan to build a 57-meter statue of a smiling Jesus Christ on Mount Cagmasoso, San Andres, Catanduanes.


The project, a brainchild of San Andres Mayor Leo Mendoza, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Catanduanes chapter, is said to be the first not only in the Philippines but also in the world, due to the size of the religious icon which is taller than the 30-meter statue of Christ in Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is expected to put Catanduanes in the international map as a tourist destination.

Mendoza and the 10 other mayors of the province who are supporting the project launched the "Smiling Risen Christ Monument" project over the weekend at the Catanduanes State College Gym in Virac, provincial capital, and immediately gained the approval of the Diocese of Catanduanes.

Fernando joined Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua, Cata…

Sen. Noynoy Aquino’s Rumored Girlfriend

Pretty Shalani San Ramon Soledad is the rumored girlfriend of Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. Shalani is 29 years old and was born in Catanduanes on April 20, 1980. She's been a councilor of Valenzuela City since 2004.


Shalani holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources Management from De La Salle University, College of St. Benilde. She worked as executive staff in the Office of Senator Panfilo Lacson from 2002 to 2003.

DOE Awarding 25 Coal Contracts Soon - INQ

The Department of Energy is considering awarding to investors all the 25 contract proposals it received for the exploration and development of 18 prospective coal areas in the country, according to a senior government official.
“We intend to award contracts to all the areas that those companies had applied for,” said Energy Undersecretary Ramon Allan Oca.

The DOE received the 25 contract proposals from at least 13 companies under the fourth Philippine Energy Contracting Round (PECR) 2009 for coal, wherein a total of 30 coal contracts were offered between May and June.

Oca said in an interview that the DOE was planning to start awarding the contracts this month or in September.

“We have made the evaluations and we are reviewing and finalizing these. We will submit (the evaluations) to Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes for final screening and evaluation,” Oca added.

Oca earlier said the proposals for the coal block systems that were offered under PECR 2009 were in Cebu, Quezon, Masbate, Sors…

CSC Ranks No. 1 in Bicol, No. 8 Nationwide in NDLE

For producing 26 new licensed Nutritionist-Dietitians (ND), the Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC) here ranked first in Region V and ranked eighth nationwide in the July 2009 licensure examination given by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

In the Performance of Schools in the ND licensure examination, the PRC report indicated that the CSC garnered the highest passing percentage in Bicol region and ranked eighth nationwide with 10 or more examinees category.

Thirty-nine (39) schools all over the country were evaluated in the said licensure examination.

While PRC only listed the top five schools with exemplary performance, it also reported the performance of all schools nationwide in the ND licensure examination where CSC placed eighth overall.

According to Prof. Elena G. Tasarra, chairperson of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department, the passers from CSC are: Abichuela, Michele G., Alcantara, Lady-Ann T., Alcantara, Margaret R., Aliño, Lorraine A., Bernal, Giselle Rose A., Besa,…

Requests Flood "Share-a-Computer" Project

Requests and solicitations for computers coming from various schools, barangays, civic organizations and NGOs, and even government agencies in the province have literally engulfed former Catanduanes Vice Governor and now DOTC Assistant Secretary Cesar V. Sarmiento since the launching of "Share-a-Computer" project last month.

Sources close to AsSec. Sarmiento disclosed to Tribune that he remains confident that used but working computers would keep on coming as friends who have given theirs have called on other friends to also help.

The project, initiated by Sarmiento to help provide access to computers and the advantages of information technology to schools as well as to communities and organizations, has already benefited more than thirty recipients to date. The sources said that even Sarmiento himself was overwhelmed by the clamor for computers, particularly by schools.

According to Assec. Sarmiento, "Share-a-Computer" was conceived when friends who had refurbished …

P200-M Panay Lighthouse Needs P50-M Repair Job - CT

To the first-time visitor, the Lolong Point Lighthouse is a sight to behold, especially in the early morning.

Perched on a promontory that looks like the back of a monstrous whale when seen from the sea, the lighthouse thrusts its 30-meter length into the blue sky, from where anyone can look out into the Pacific Ocean and see big ships passing by miles away.

However, it is doubtful whether any seaman on board such ships could see the weak, red light now issuing from the Japanese-made lighthouse’s remaining navigation aid: a pilot light going by on solar power.

Former lighthouse keeper Florenio Angeles, 65, still remembers how his brother-in-law, a member of the Philippine Coast Guard, plucked him off his security guard job at the Catanduanes Agricultural and Industrial College in 1990 and brought him to Lolong (Lorong to native Panganibanons) to oversee a small lighthouse that stood just a few meters away from where the rocket-like but useless high-tech version now stands.

He said he was …

Catanduanes Remains Top Abaca-Producing Province - BM

Abaca-fiber production in the country’s top abaca-producing province from January to May 2009 went up by 22 percent to 8,646.32 metric tons (MT), said the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA). FIDA noted that in January to May 2008, abaca farmers in Catanduanes produced 7,084.23 MT. The attached agency of the Department of Agriculture said a total of 16,231 farmers were involved in abaca production in the province in 2008. FIDA said the island province of Catanduanes is renowned as the “abaca capital of the Philippines.” The province is now the top producer of abaca fiber, has the largest area planted to abaca and has the biggest number of abaca farmer-producers in the Philippines. Joining Catanduanes as the country’s top 10 abaca-producing provinces are Southern Leyte, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Northern Samar, Davao del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Samar, Sulu and Sorsogon. FIDA said the province also adjusted its production for the year due to the projected slowdown in demand for …

CSC Cited Bicol's Eco-friendliest School - PIA

The Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC) here notched the top place in this year's Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools in the Bicol region for carrying out various institutional initiatives on environmental protection and conservation.
In an effort to promote the crab industry in Panganiban, Payonhons staged the first crab festival last July 23, 2009, two days before the town's fiesta.

Engr. Gilbert Gonzales, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR) Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Bicol chief, announced that the regional screening committee has chosen thee CSC as the regional winner in the tertiary school category of the awards program.

Gonzales also informed Dr. Asuncion V. Asetre, CSC president, for this achievement, adding that the same state college will represent the Bicol region in the national finals in time for the National Environment Awareness Month on November, this year.

Annual Manok-manok festival in Bagamanoc now became a platform …

What Does the Name Cory Means to You?

I was a sophomore in a university in Manila when the snap elections was called by the then late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. During that time, the atmosphere in the university belt was chaotic, street protests were a common sight, suspension of classes and student activism was very much in the air.

When Cory Aquino finally forged an alliance with UNIDO party candidate, Sen. Salvador "Doy" Laurel, to run against President Marcos and Sen. Arturo Tolentino, I thought of registering as a new voter, but was having second thoughts because I see no reason to be compelled to exercise my right. The economic and political structure in that year alone had gone from bad to worst, and as a student, I felt that there was no bright future that awaits my generation. In the end, I decided to boycott, simply because of my belief that elections is a meaningless exercise under a dictatorial regime. And as expected, the Marcos-Tolentino tandem prevailed with a wide margin, but not for long.

The…