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Showing posts from 2011

Marked Growth in Domestic Tourism

MANILA, Philippines — There has been a marked improvement in domestic tourism, mainly due to the efforts of municipalities in promoting their tourist destinations. League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) National President and Bacoor Mayor Strike Revilla cited statistics from the Department of Tourism (DoT) showing a 12.28 percent increase in domestic tourism, to 16.56 million in 2010. Local leaders in the municipalities are one with the vision of the LMP in increased tourism, he said, as he lauded municipalities for intensively promoting the best spots for tourists, both local and foreign. Revilla said increased tourism means increased spending. Thus increased income in the municipality and of course increasing the economy of the municipality. It goes hand in hand. Aside from the efforts made by the municipalities, Strike also lauded airline companies who through their promo fares are making it possible for every Filipino to fly and visit tourism spots in the count…

Education As the Great Equalizer

Benjie Pantino, Benjames Go and Jerwin Rendon are just as ordinary as the students yousee hurrying to school. Their families are just as struggling to keep their collective heads above the tide of increasing cost of basic commodities and services.

No wonder then that with their mothers left at home to tend to younger siblings and manage the house, their fathers do all they can to provide food on the table three times a day, pay for electricity and other basic needs, and still have some extra to pay for the children’s schooling.

Some people may describe the Pantino, Go and Rendon families as enjoying a quality of life better than them. Surely, Rafael Pantino has a small tractor that he uses to plow the fields for a fee, a small furniture shop to keep him busy and a tricycle that can use in case there are no fields to plow or furniture to make. Jerry Go earns P370 a day as foreman while Redencio has a tricycle paid for by his eldest son.

But for a family that has only one earning in…

ICC Welcomes the Philippines As a New State Party

On 8 November 2011, the International Criminal Court (ICC) welcomed the Philippines as a new State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC in a ceremony held at the seat of the Court in The Hague. The Philippines is the 117th State Party to the Rome Statute and the 2nd country within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ratify the international treaty. The Rome Statute took effect for the Philippines on 1 November 2011.

In a symbolic act, the President of the Court, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, presented the Ambassador of the Philippines, H.E. Ms Lourdes G. Morales, with a special edition of the Rome Statute of the ICC.

This video was produced in 2011 by the Public Information and Documentation Section of the ICC, for non-profit and educational purposes. The ICC encourages its use, reproduction and distribution for the same purposes. Sale or commercial use is strictly prohibited.

More information:

Typhoon Watching Can Be Tourism Attraction - Jimenez

MANILA, Philippines - Typhoons in the Philippines can attract foreign tourists, newly appointed acting Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said Thursday. Jimenez also believes the Philippines can pull off a successful tourism campaign despite a limited budget. He told ANC's The Rundown Thursday that the Philippines' next tourism campaign should focus on the country's uniqueness. We have to be absolutely different. I'm a firm believer in making an offer people can't refuse, said Jimenez, an advertising industry veteran. He said a slogan and campaign to promote the country will be ready before the end of the year. - ANC, The Rundown, September 8, 2011 Source: - 08 Sep 2011

Cong. Sarmiento Files Bill Declaring Catanduanes a “Mining-Free” Zone

Congressman Cesar V. Sarmiento has filed House Bill No. 4915 that seeks to declare the province of Catanduanes as a mining-free zone and prohibiting all mining operations therein.

Google Earth tour of Taganito mine in Claver, Surigao del Norte. For educational and visualization purpose only.

The solon clarified that under the proposed Act, mining shall refer to the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth and shall include such mining activities as exploration, feasibility,development, utilization and processing and large-scale quarry operations involving cement, raw materials, marble, granite, sand and gravel construction aggregates.

However,the proposed law exempts from coverage the quarrying of gravel and sand for projects directly undertaken by national agencies or by the provincial government for basic services, subject to the requirements of existing mining and environmental laws. Under the proposed measure, vi…

2 Towns Launch Eco-Park Projects

The establishment of ecology parks in the towns of San Andres and San Miguel was formally launched last week as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) held out hope that six other municipalities would be able to qualify for similar projects.

DILG assistant regional director Elouisa Pastor told the Tribune that the Agencia Española Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID), through Technical Cooperation Office program officer Gonzalo Serrano, had assured that the Spanish agency would stay longer beyond the Dec. 31, 2011 termination. This guarantees that the towns of Pandan, Bagamanoc, Panganiban, Viga, Bato, and Gigmoto has a chance to avail of the multi-million peso grants for environmental management projects under the Strengthening Local Governments in the Philippines (SLGP) program of the DILG.

In lauding the two recipient towns for their efforts, DILG Regional Director Blandino Maceda said that the two projects are proof of how local government executi…

Linking Cultures: UNWTO launches World Tourism Day 2011

World Tourism Day 2011 will be celebrated under the theme Tourism – Linking Cultures, an opportunity to highlight tourism’s role in bringing the cultures of the world together and promoting global understanding through travel (27 September 2011). The message on this World Tourism Day is that, thanks to tourism, millions of people from different cultures are being brought together around the world like never before, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. This interaction between people of different backgrounds and ways of life represents an enormous opportunity to advance tolerance, respect and mutual understanding. In 2010, 940 million tourists travelled to a different country, coming into direct contact with tangible – art, monuments – and intangible – music, food, traditions – culture. World Tourism Day 2011 is a celebration of this unique interaction and aims at furthering understanding of the values of cultural diversity. World Tourism Day 2011 will also draw attenti…

Abaca Set for Export Boom

CEBU CITY, PHilippines — The strong advocacy in the use of environment-friendly materials is set to benefit the Philippine abaca industry in the following years especially stakeholders in the export market, a report from the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) said. Eco-friendly materials like abaca are utilized by industries for products like home furnishings and housewares, fashion and its accessories, packaging of food, apparels and other items, read the FIDA statement. Abaca as a renewable resource can be an excellent part of the overall solution to climate change, as the plant absorbs more carbon dioxide than its emission and is 100 percent biodegradable that cannot harm the environment, it said. By MALOU M. MOZO
June 10, 2011, 4:06pm

Rehabilitation of Road Sections Along Catanduanes Circumferential Road Completed

VIRAC, Catanduanes, June 1 (PIA) -- The repair and rehabilitation of the damaged portions of the national road along San Andres to Virac and Virac to Viga Section under the Catanduanes Circumferential Road Improvement Project- Contract Package I and under the expenses of China Road and Bridge Corporation which was recently undertaken was finally completed.

Department of Public Works and Highways Project Director Virgilio C. Castillo of PJHL-PMO (Philippine Japan Highway Loan –Project Management Office) issued a letter directing China Road and Bridge Corporation to commence the repair works at the defective portion of Catanduanes Circumferential road last March 30, 2011.

The repair works as recommended consisted of six (6) locations of the Catanduanes Circumferential Road at Km. 28+300 (Binagasbasan, San Miguel), Km. 33+500 (Sumit, Viga), Km. 34+026 (Sumit, Viga), km. 45+300 (Sagrada, Viga) and km. 191+280 (Lictin, San Andres).

DPWH Catanduanes District Office express its sincere grati…

Bicol Express Making a Comeback

MANILA, Philippines—The train service that can take travelers from Metro Manila to Naga City in under 10 hours is set to make a comeback in the next few months, promising to help the Bicol Region maximize its immense potential for economic growth.

The state-run Philippine National Railways (PNR) has been working on the Manila-Naga rehabilitation since the start of the Aquino administration.

Following a test-run earlier this month, the PNR on Wednesday declared that the dream of reviving the fabled “Bicol Express” could soon be a reality.

“In my assessment, the Bicol test-run we conducted was 95-percent successful and we are nearing our objective to put back in operation the commercial PNR trips to the Bicol region,” PNR General Manager Junio Ragragrio said.

“We were delighted to reach Naga City from Manila in less than 10 hours. We were even more in high spirits on our return trip to Manila the following day since it only took us nine hours going back,” he said.

Ragragrio said the 1…

Resilient and Raw in Catanduanes

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos are known for having positive attitudes. Whether they play their cards right, or when they are dealt with the wrong cards, they pick themselves up and move on. No one best exemplifies this resiliency than the Catandueños, natives of Catanduanes, a province situated in the eastern tip of the Philippine peninsula. The constant battering the island gets from the monsoons coming in from the vast Pacific Ocean spawned the nickname The land of the howling wind. Despite having to brave through one calamity after another, Catandueños have not only survived but thrived, and are living harmoniously with their rich land. Ironically, it is because of this environmental conditions, that the island is blessed with arguably some of the most pristine beaches and unspoiled terrains in the Philippines. Surf the turf The only sure thing that comes out from a collision between strong tides and land are powerful waves. And when wave after wave start to batter the shore…

Aquino Launches National Greening Program

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - President Benigno Aquino III launched yesterday the National Greening Program (NGP) that aims to recover the country's depleting forest areas and ensure self-sufficiency in its timber needs.

The launching of the program at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was in relation to an executive order that Aquino issued earlier this year for a nationwide reforestation initiative.

The President issued Executive Order 26 in February this year designating the DENR as the leading agency in carrying out the program in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform.

In his speech at the launch of the NGP, the President called on the people to join him in the greening program saying that the country is now starting to realize its dreams for the benefit of the Filipinos.

Under the NGP, the government targets to plant 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares of lands in public domain from 2…

PPA Chief Launches CamSur Ferry Service

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Atty. Juan C. Sta. Ana led the launching recently of the “Roll-On, Roll-Off” (RO-RO) service along the route connecting the port of Nato to the port of Caramoan in Camarines Sur, and eventually to Codon in San Andres, Catanduanes.

His visit to the Bicolandia last March 16, marked his third out-of-town sortie since he was appointed PPA GM. He was accompanied by Hector E. Miole, assistant general manager for corporate affairs and special projects Port District Director for Southern Tagalog.

The maiden voyage of MV Calixta III for that route was a triumph of determination and optimism among PPA, Partido Development Administration and Catanduanes.

In the same speech, Sta. Ana said, “this ferry service in ports around Lagunoy Gulf will lure bus operators, haulers, traders and tourists as they will find land travel from Metro Manila to Codon, San Andres, Catanduanes via Nato Port to be shorter by at least “two hours” t…

Retracing the Footsteps

Holy Week is only a few days away and many possibly are thinking of vacation spots, reunions and beaches. While other will just opt to confine themselves at home to avoid the rush or for whatever reasons. Attending the church services is also a must for us Catholics during this season. But what could be more compelling than any other is, visiting the Holy Land.

Since many of us could not visit Jerusalem in our lifetime, I created an interactive map to point the landmarks where the Last Supper took place (Cenacle on Mount Zion), the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where He was sentenced ( now The Church of Condemnation) to Via Dolorosa (Way of the Suffering) and end to Golgotha or Cavalry now the Church of Holy Sepulcher.

Visually, you can make a rough estimate of the distances Jesus Christ have walked. From the Garden of Gethsemane where He was arrested, to the place where He was sentenced and to Cavalry where He was crucified. You can also see on the map important places mentioned i…

Time to Push the Moribund Tourism Industry

Since the late Governor Severo Alcantara coined "Sulong Catandungan!" as the Capitol rallying cry, not much has been accomplished in the development of the local tourism industry.

At best, the record of the past administrations in trying to lure domestic and foreign tourists to this island paradise has been spotty and limited to just a few weeks or months of the year. Baras’ famed Majestic surf is supposedly fit for professional surfers and the waves attain their majestic size only during the "habagat" season from July to September.

While Governor Joseph Cua and his family has certainly made visiting Twin Rock beach resort a must, with added attractions such as a zip line and climbing wall, half of the way to Igang remains a first-class rough road.

There are at least two travel agencies but there is not one offering regular tours of the island that would take a visitor through destinations as diverse as old churches, historical places, refreshing waterfalls, surf…

Quick Tour Around the Philippines

This is a quick tour around the Philippines, from the beaches of El Nido in Palawan, to Makati Avenue, to Rizal Park, to San Juanico bridge in Leyte, to Mayon Volcano in Albay and many more.

This tour requires you to install a Google Earth Plug-in to your browser. To start the tour, press the play button located at the lower left of the window.

This tour will open 30 geo-located panoramas wherein you can pause the tour to view it. You can zoom-in or out the panoramas or rotate it by using the navigation feature found at the upper right of the window. To continue with the tour, press the play button again. Enjoy!

If you want to view it on a wider page, click here.

Tourism Groups Hail 'Open Skies'

MANILA, Philippines - The Federation of Tourism Industries of the Philippines (FTIP) yesterday welcomed the signing of two executive orders allowing a partial open skies policy in secondary airports.

In a statement, FTIP president Alejandra Clemente said Executive Orders 28 and 29 signed by President Aquino last March 14 were aimed at liberalizing the entry of foreign airlines with a view to increasing air traffic into the country.
Clemente said connecting the Philippines to the network of countries in Southeast Asia will also create livelihood opportunities in the countryside.“There are four billion people in the Asia-Pacific Region and at least 151 million outbound travelers per year,” she said.“There will be increase not only in air seat capacity but room capacity which will generate jobs and foreign exchange receipts which will help pump prime the Philippine economy.”EO 28 is for reorganizing the Philippine Air Negotiating Panel (PNAP) and the Philippine Air Consultation Panel (PAC…

Operation of 2 Hydropower Plants in Catanduanes Now in Full Swing

LEGAZPI CITY, March 10 (PIA) — Two hydro power plants are now fully operational and are supplying the entire island province of Catanduanes with 3.6 megawatts (MW) of clean and renewable energy.

The two hydro facilities operated and owned by the Sunwest Water and Electric Co. Inc. (Suweco), an independent power producer (IPP), are among the three hydro power plants included in the pipeline projects that Suweco will put up in Catanduanes.

Suweco, a Bicolano-owned IPP, has put up the Hitoma power facility in Barangay Obi in Caramoran town with a rated capacity of 1.5 MW and the Solong plant in San Miguel town with a rated capacity of 2.1 MW.

The Hitoma plant has been operational since October last year while the Solong became in operation in January this year.

The third hydro power plant is being constructed in an upland village in San Miguel town in Catanduanes.

With an investment of P800 million, the two hydro power plants supply power to the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative (Fi…

Bb. Pilipinas Press Presentation

The search officially kicked off last Tuesday at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza with the press presentation of 40 gorgeous ladies all vying for the prestigious titles of Ms. Universe and Ms. International.

Bb. Pilipinas 2011 Press Presentation at the Sofitel Philippines Plaza Luzon Ballroom. The girls included in this group are:

16. Sabrinne Al-Tawil, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
17. Girlie Lero, Catanduanes
18. Teresa Pamela Ludovice, Manila
19. Wendy Lucas, Jones, Isabela
20. Jenette Mieko Noguchi aka Jet Noguchi, Palo Alto City, California

CMAS Ties-Up with CSC in Promoting Scuba Diving in Catanduanes

VIRAC, Catanduanes (PIA)- The World Confederation of Underwater Activities – Philippines (CMAS Philippines) partnered with Catanduanes State Colleges in conducting an orientation on the prospects of establishing scuba diving not only as water sports but also as an avenue for promoting tourism, rescue operations and marine conservation in the province of Catanduanes.

CMAS Philippines initially briefed CSC students and employees on March 1 about the confederation’s services and advocacy and later co-organized with the CSC administration in holding an information dissemination program with key officials from local government units, national and line government offices and NGOs on March 3 at Kemji Resort.

The team is composed of Philip P. Rodriguez, CMAS – Philippines President; Noel L. Pura, CMAS Philippines Course Director; Reymonte Bienes, CMAS Philippines staff.

Rodriguez informed during the briefing that they have already established tie-ups with state colleges and universities in Z…

Capitol Radio Program on DZVC Tackles Environmental Issues

Leaving no stone unturned in its resolve to address the burgeoning issues and problems besetting the natural environment of the island, the Cua administration has launched its first ever environmental radio program, aiming to awaken the consciousness of every Catandunganon and rally their support for environmental programs and projects.

The program, Ikaw at ang Kalikasan, began airing Feb. 17, and will be aired regularly from 7 to 9 A.M. every Saturday. To be anchored by Forester Mar Donato of the Provincial ENRO, the two-hour program will be a mix of entertainment, general information, public service, and interaction with the listening public through Short Messaging System (SMS) and other modes. However, it will focus on local environmental issues and problems affecting the general well-being of Catandunganons.

Everyone is encouraged to share his or her thoughts and brilliant ideas on how the environment and natural resources of Catanduanes are better protected and preserved. Messa…

NGO Urges PNoy to Convert Watershed Forest Into a Natural Park

VIRAC, Catanduanes - The Catanduanes Sustainable Development Inc., a non-government environment petition letter recently petitioned President Noynoy Quino His Excellency President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to convert a watershed reservation in the province of Catanduanes into a Natural Park.

The petition paper states the alarming scenario affecting the vast flora and fauna, the life support system which are now in degenerative state due to uncontrolled human activities to the gradual decline in the quality and quantity of the ground water, surface water, and other essential ecosystem services.

The group also appealed to Gov. Joseph C. Cua and Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento, for the immediate establishment of a natural park in the Island province.

The members of the ECODEVI advocates the establishment of the Catanduanes Natural Park through the expansion of the Catanduanes Watershed Forest Reserve (CWFR) under Presidential Proclamation 123 date June 23, 1997, to include large portion of Ca…

17th Century Old Pandan Church

The 17th century old church is located in the northernmost town of Pandan, Catanduanes. There is not much available information online except for a brief article on Wikipedia.; The Pandan Church was built in 1874. The roof was completely razed by fire in a great conflagration of the town in the 1920s. This was repaired within five years during the incumbency of Father Jose Magno. The roof of the church was again blown completely in December 1940 by a super typhoon considered as the strongest typhoon that ever passed Catanduanes. The typhoon left 60 dead and 75,000 homeless. It took many years to repair it; Again, the church was destroyed by typhoon Jean in December 1947. And completely repaired under the management of Father Orias done near the end of 1953. What is interesting about the wiki article is the mention of the strongest typhoon that hit the island province. I was wondering how strong it was, compared to today's howlers, since there is no record as to its intensity.…

Heavy Rains in the Philippines

Heavy rains, flash floods, and landslides in the Philippines had affected more than 450,000 people and killed at least 18 by January 5, 2011, the United Nations reported. The Associated Press reported that nearly 13,000 residents had sought refuge in emergency shelters. Casualties resulted from drowning, burial by landslides, and electrocution.

This image shows rainfall over the Philippines from December 30, 2010, to January 5, 2011. The heaviest rainfall—more than 900 millimeters or 35 inches—appears in dark blue. The lightest rainfall—less than 100 millimeters or 4 inches—appears in light green. The heaviest precipitation is concentrated along the eastern coasts, southeast of Manila.

In early September 2010, the United Nations reported that the Philippines could face a strong storm season resulting from La Niña conditions. La Niña generally intensifies rainfall over the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and northern Australia.

This image is based on data from the Multisatellite Prec…

All National Roads Concreted by 2015

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has disclosed that, based on the current pace, the concreting of the national road network in Catanduanes will be achieved before the end of 2015.

Catanduanes DPWH District Engineer Ignacio Odiaman made the statement to the Tribune last week while engineers were finalizing the programs of work covering the P682 million budget of the district for 2011.

"Of the amount, about P673 million will be spent for the concreting of the circumferential road network in Viga, Gigmoto, Baras, Gigmoto and Pandan." Odiaman said, adding that P9 million will be used as counterpart of the Philippine government for the Spanish-funded construction of Sicmil bridge.

Congressman Cesar V. Sarmiento, for his part, expressed elation at the report that the Philippines and Japan have already signed and exchanged notes covering the grant of a P21.4-billion loan for the for the repair and maintenance of roads in various parts of the country, including Cata…

Inauguration of Solong Mini Hydro, Set This February

VIRAC, Catanduanes (PIA)- The inauguration of the Solong mini hydro power plant with a 3.6 power generation is scheduled this February, 2011 after almost two years of construction. According to project manager G. FLoro Barrameda of Sunwest Water and Electric Company (SUWECO), there’s still no exact day set for the inauguration because it will depend on the availability of the schedule of the guest speaker. Hitoma 1 and 2 of Barangay Obi, Caramoran will also be inaugurated on the same date. According to Barrameda, since last week of January, they already started supplying with FICELCO from 1.6 to 2.6 megawatts power generations depending on the request of the Cooperative. If operation will be full-blast, according to the contract they can supply up to 3.6 megawatts from the two sources from Hitoma 1 and 2 with 1.5 and Solong with 2.1 megawatts. At present, the power plant is still under dry run and will be stable this year. The mini hydro power plant is also expected to help in sol…

PCARRD Supply Chain Program Assists in Improving Agriculture Competitiveness

“In other countries, supply chain management application in agriculture is very much popular. Here in the Philippines, it is used mostly in the manufacturing industry”, said Dr. Ernesto O. Brown in an interview over “Bago Yan Ah”, a DZMM teleradio program.

Brown is PCARRD’s Socio-Economics Research Division assistant director and coordinator of the program “Supply chain improvement (SCI) for selected commodities in AFNR (agriculture, forestry and natural resources)”.

“The Philippines is basically an agricultural country. However, the agriculture sector of the country is generally not competitive because of the weak supply chains”, Brown added.

Supply chain is a chain of different players and processes of the industry, from the source of raw materials to production, marketing, and consumption.

The weak supply chain is a development issue that the SCI program is addressing. The program conducts a thorough examination of every stage and process along the supply chain in relation to the var…

ASEAN Eyes Becoming World Class Tourist Destination

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) - The 30th ASEAN Tourism Forum opened here on Tuesday evening, aiming at promoting ASEAN as the world class tourist destination by 2015.

The event under the theme of "ASEAN: A World of Wonders and Diversity" was attended by about 3,000 participants, who are government's top officials, ASEAN tourism ministers, tourism delegates from China, Japan, Korea, India and Russia, diplomatic corps, exhibitors and buyers from around the world.

Speaking during the opening ceremony on Tuesday evening, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the ATF 2011 will not only help promote tourism products of Cambodia and ASEAN to the whole world, but also show the importance of tourism in contributing to socio-economic development and in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and poverty alleviation of the people in the region and the world.

"ASEAN is seen as a captivating and highly competitive tourist destination for development, based on the un…

Residents from 11 Catanduanes Towns Plant 11,000 Trees for 1.11.11

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Jan. 11 (PNA) -– Thousands of school children, barangay residents and town officials from 11 municipalities in this province went out in the field and to plant 11,000 trees during the 1.11.11 Catanduanes Synchronized Tree Planting Project on Tuesday.

Local offices of national government agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Environment and Natural Resource s (DENR) were mobilized in the undertaking organized by Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of the province’s lone congressional district.

The DPWH and the Catanduanes Contractors Association were tasked in the hauling and deliveries of the planting materials to the planting site in 11 selected school grounds across the province. On the other hand, the DepEd has directed all public elementary and secondary schools to extend full support to the project.

The Catanduanes State College (SSC) the lone higher education institution run by the government in t…

Gigapan: Metro Manila, Philippines 2011

Here is a sample of a Gigapan photo I mentioned on my previous post. This was taken in Antipolo city, overlooking the metropolitan area last January 1st (New Year) of this year. To navigate on the photo, just double click on the spot where you want to zoom-in, drag to move the photo or just click the navigation keys on the left.

Below is the (geolocated on Google Earth) spot where the photo was taken, on the info window you can see the attribution tags (photographer, links etc.).

By the way if you want to contact the author of the featured photo or wanting to view more Gigapan photos, just click here.