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Tourism Budget for 2014 Targets 10 Key Clusters

THE funds for the P30-billion Tourism Development Program under the proposed P2.3-trillion national budget for 2014 targets 10 strategic tourism areas in the country, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. Dubbed “international tourism gateway clusters,” these are: Laoag, Ilocos Norte (including Pagudpud) and Vigan, Ilocos Sur (with 373,000 underemployed and 172,000 unemployed among the local population); Central Luzon, which covers Subic-Clark-Tarlac-Corregidor, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, the Zambales coast, Bataan coast and inland, and Aurora (505,00 underemployed/384,000 unemployed); Metro Manila and Calabarzon region—Metro Manila, Nasugbu-Looc-Ternate-Cavite Coast, Laguna de Bay, Batangas peninsula, Quezon coast and islands (894,000 underemployed/466,000 unemployed); Bicol—Camarines and Catanduanes, AIbay-Sorsogon-Masbate (780,000 underemployed/148,000 unemployed); Palawan, which covers San Vicente-EI Nido-Taytay, Princesa, Southern Palawan Busuanga-Coron-Culion (28…

Catanduanes Forest in German-Funded DENR Project

The Catanduanes Watershed Forest Reserve (CWFR) is among the 60 protected areas around the country that are covered by a German-funded environmental project aimed at improving the management of the Philippines’ natural resources. CENRO officer-in-charge Luvimindo Chioco recently told the Tribune that the Protected Area Management Enhancement (PAME) project is being implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), under a grant from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The funding was coursed through the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). The P450 million (€9 million) project is being carried out nationwide until March 2017 to ensure proper management of 60 existing protected areas by improving the technical competencies and capacities of staff of the DENR’s Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau. The PAME project will also see the establishment of at least 100 new terrestrial and mari…

New Tourism Dev't Plan to Think 'Beyond Beaches'

The Philippines must think “beyond beach vacations” when promoting its tourism industry, a Department of Tourism official said at the recent unveiling of the department's National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) at the Asian Institute of Management. Tourism Undersecretary for Tourism Development Daniel G. Corpuz said that along with sun and beach tourism, the industry must promote other things the Philippines has to offer: nature tourism, cultural tourism, leisure and entertainment tourism, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) and events tourism, health and wellness tourism, retirement tourism, cruise and nautical tourism, diving and marine sports tourism, and education tourism. The department has set a target of 10 million international visitors to the Philippines and 56 million domestic travelers by 2016. Corpuz said that increasing the tourist volume to the country can be achieved by developing and marketing competitive tourist products and destinations; i…

ABS-CBN’s Gina Lopez to Grace Opening of Linggo ng Kalikasan

The celebration of the 2013 Linggo ng Kalikasan celebration spearheaded by the provincial government of Catanduanes will take center stage this June 17-21, with ABS-CBN Foundation managing director Gina Lopez as the guest of honor and keynote speaker. Anchored on the theme, “Basura: Pangasiwaan para sa Kalikasan at Kabuhayan”, it will focus on the collective efforts to address solid waste management problems with emphasis on its environmental and economic dimensions. The week-long activities will kick-off at 5:30 A.M. of June 17 with the “Takbo para sa Kalikasan” Fun Run from Catanduanes State University to the provincial capitol. Prior to the opening program at the capitol grounds, the Catanduanes Mangrove Conservation Center will be launched at the former Catanduanes Crab Center at Palnab del Sur. At 1:30 pm, Ms. Lopez will be at a press conference at the conference hall of Catanduanes State University, after which she will proceed to the CSU gymnasium as sole resource speaker o…

Environment Projects to Receive P720-M from Germany

MANILA - Two environmental projects in the Philippines will receive a total of P720 million in grants from the German government. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) Regional Director Philippines and the Pacific Robert Kressirer signed the agreements for the National REDD+ System Philippines and the Protected Area Management Enhancement in the Philippines (PAME) on Wednesday. These projects support our commitments under various international environmental and multilateral agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Coral Triangle Initiative, Paje said. The projects, which will be funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety through the GIZ, will be operational until 2017. The National REDD+ System Philippines seeks to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from natural and human causes. REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest De…

Albay to Host 10 Events in 2015 APEC Summit

Legazpi City, Philippines – Albay Gov. Joey Salceda announced yesterday that the province will host at least 10 of the 63 events in the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held in the Philippines. Salceda said officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the lead agency in charge of APEC summit preparations, have allowed Albay to host at least 10 events because they are convinced that the province is ready, with in-place disaster risk reduction systems. It is also home of the iconic Mayon volcano. We are thankful to DTI for its confidence that Albay is qualified to host some of the APEC summit events, Salceda said. APEC activities will start in December 2014 and end in November 2015. The events that will be hosted by Albay are scheduled from March to September 2015. Salceda said the APEC events are expected to focus on trade, industry and investment issues, and concerns of the Pacific-rim countries. With this, we are expecting trade ministers…

TV5 Drama Set in Misibis

Misibis Bay — In the coming days, TV5 is not just about to present the results of its hard work but it is also set to display the magnificence of the luxurious Misibis Bay when the story of its latest primetime drama offering titled Misibis Bay begins to unfold in the small screen. Perched in the south-easternmost tip of Cagraray Island, Misibis Bay is a tropical hideaway in Bacacay, Albay. According to business unit creative head Mac Alejandre, several top tourist destinations were considered to be the backdrop of the sexy drama series that topbills Ritz Azul, one of the network’s teleserye princesses. “We searched for the most fitting location. We even looked at the possibility of going abroad like in Thailand for the show,” he shares. “Until the day came when the production team found Misibis (Bay) as the perfect setting for the sexy revenge drama. After several meetings with the management of the resort, a partnership was forged.” In the press conference, GM Ian Mayer Varona sa…

Albay Pitches Misibis for APEC

Legazpi City, Philippines – The provincial government of Albay wants to host the 2015 summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum at the world-class luxury island hideaway of Misibis Bay. Albay is officially bidding to host the APEC Summit 2015 principally at Misibis Bay. We will make a pitch during the presentations at Asian Institute of Management on May 27-28, Salceda announced yesterday. Salceda said Albay is the perfect host for APEC because the province has 592,616 persons or 45 percent of total population living on the Pacific rim. This is the highest concentration of population on the Pacific and the biggest aggregate number of people, he said. Salceda pointed out Albay has the two major cities of Tabaco and Legazpi that also has two international seaports fronting the Pacific Ocean. Albay truly is the only Pacific province of the Philippines, he said. Salceda is proposing the APEC summit to be held in Misibis Bay, a private tropical hideaway bui…

RDC to Highlight "Bicol Express" Modernization in Railway Summit

LEGAZPI CITY, May 16 (PIA) -- It will take only a travel time of six hours from Legaspi City to Manila with a railway service extending up to Matnog in Sorsogon where a roll-on, roll-off (RORO) sea port is located. According to RDC secretariat, the Philippine Development Plan and the Bicol Regional Development Plan identified the revival, rehabilitation and modernization of the railway system as a priority infrastructure development program. The train stations will also be developed as mix use commercial zones to spur economic growth in its environs. Amenities in trains and stations will also be provided such as internet connections, security cameras, clean toilets, medical services, amusement centers, online booking, inter-modal tickets, and modern passenger coaches that are senior citizen, women and person with disability (PWD) friendly, RDC secretariat said. There is also a recommendation for the revival of spur lines to Legaspi and Tabaco ports, construction of spur lines to…

1st Catanduanes Kite Fest Set

VIRAC, Catanduanes, May 6 (PIA) -- The first ever kite festival dubbed “Buradol Festival” in the province is set on May 18 at the Catanduanes Athletic Complex in Virac town. Buradol is a local term for kite. According to Cross Country Farms and Parks, Inc., one of the organizers of the event, the activity aims to make the province a tourist destination aside from being a gateway for Bicol’s tourism. Moreover, Atty. Evelyn L. Gutierrez, liaison for events of the said group said that the event aims to bring together local kite flying enthusiasts and celebrate the province’s beauty while competing with one another. Entries will be judged according to its creativity (15%), craftsmanship (15%), flying and handling (30%), in-flight aesthetic visual appeal (25%), audience impact (10%) and teamwork (5%). Kites must be handcrafted and not pre-fabricated. Teams must be composed of two members only and participants must be at least 18 years old. The design must contain unique feature…

US District Attorney Honors Catandunganon OFW for Heroism

VIRAC, Catanduanes, April 29 (PIA) -- “I felt happy because, as a Catandunganon, I was able to show to America that even if we come from a small province, we do have big hearts to help others; that it is an instinct on our part to help because God is always with us.” Still brimming with gratitude from her kababayan’s online praises for the recognition she got from the Unites States of America Los Angeles District Court Attorney, Nida Arjona Tapel, 52, of San Miguel, Catanduanes, Philippines, counts her resolute faith for foiling a criminal in defense of her 95-year-old client who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. She has been working in the United States for five years now as a teacher and a part time home-care provider. An alumna of the Catanduanes State Colleges, now Catanduanes State University (from undergraduate to post graduate studies) Tapel was honored by the Los Angeles District Attorney, USA, with the Courageous Citizens Award on April 12, 2013. She, along with three oth…

Time for the Local Business Community to Work as One

Three ranking members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and their staff were in Virac last week to meet a select group of local business personalities. Their objective: to establish a local chamber of commerce and industry, something that has been missing in the growing economy of Catanduanes. At this time when the local economy, in the very words of Governor Joseph Cua, is taking off, there is a need for local businessmen to work as one with the government in fostering a healthier business environment and helping improve the viability of various businesses. For years now, those who have established their own businesses have been content with counting their money, with nary a concern towards the issues of global competitiveness, high local taxes, and local laws that promote unfair competition. There was one group – the Virac Chamber of Commerce – that was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry provincial office but it has reportedly gone into hibe…

Skyjet Sets Maiden Flight to Catanduanes on April 16

LEGAZPI CITY, March 25 (PNA) -– Skyjet Airlines, a new player in the country’s aviation industry, will dispatch its maiden flight to Virac, Catanduanes, on April 16 to mark the beginning of its three-flight-a-week schedule in connecting the island province with Manila. Owned by Magnum Air, Inc., Skyjet will mount its 94-seater, four-engine British Aerospace 146-200 jet in servicing the route every Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule, Joel Mendoza, the airline’s chief executive officer, said in a statement here on Monday. The aircraft is specifically made for short landings and takeoffs and designed to operate even in unpaved runways. This jet, Mendoza said, is quieter and can load up to 3,000 kilograms of cargo. The fledgling airline, which now flies to Batanes and Busuanga, also allows seven kilos per hand-carried luggage and another 10 kilos free for accompanied cargo. Servicing Catanduanes is part of the company’s trust to operate underserved and unserved destinations in the c…

NPC to Energize Catanduanes’ Tourism Island of Palumbanes

CARAMORAN, Catanduanes, March 25 (PNA) -- Wooden poles interconnected by electricity lines now stand around the small community occupying Palumbanes Island, the fishing paradise that is emerging as a favorite tourist destination for its diving site gifted with rich marine life. Through this installation put in place by the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative (Ficelco), the island and the 249 households comprising Barangay Toytoy that covers the area will be provided with electricity to be produced by a 200-kilowatt diesel-fired generator set which the National Power Corporation (NPC) will deliver soon. Mayor Agnes Popa said here Saturday that a contractor of the NPC is set to begin this week the installation of the generator set and a 30-kVA power transformer that is expected to be completed in six months. This means that by August, Palumbanes will already be enjoying reliable power supply which would light up the island and the houses at least for six hours between six in the …

New Bicol Tourism Development Cluster Now Includes Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, March 15 (PNA) -- The South Bicol Tourism Development Area (TDA) headed by Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda has included the island province of Catanduanes in the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon (ALMASOR) cluster. “I believe we have made a strong case for the inclusion of Catanduanes in the South Bicol TDA, more popularly known locally and globally as ALMASOR, the rising star of Philippine tourism,” Salceda, concurrently the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) chair, said Thursday. Historically, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes belong to one administrative unit or province and this is one of the basis for the inclusion of the latter to the cluster, Salceda explained. Another basis, he said, is that it is socio-culturally given that Catanduanes has shared deeper and more long-standing linkages with Albay, including intermarriages or interrelationships. As of now, the principal trade and passenger flows of Catanduanes is with Albay, with its port in Tabaco City. …

WHO Pledges Help vs Endemic Cholera Problem in Catanduanes

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 15 (PNA) -– The World Health Organization (WHO) has vowed to help address the cholera problem in Catanduanes which the Department of Health (DOH) considers as already endemic in that island province of Bicol. Endemic means there is usually a number of cases in any given month that are attributed to the absence of established source of safe water distribution system, the DOH explained. Local residents, particularly those in rural villages, usually source their drinking water from deep wells that are prone to contamination from fecal material that, according to the DOH, develops Vibrio cholera, the bacteria that causes cholera. The latest outbreak of the killer disease in the province was in the first half of last year which killed at least 14 people and hospitalized nearly 3,000 others. The same occurrence also killed eight and hospitalized over 1,000 other people in 2011. WHO will help the province in addressing the problem based on the specific needs of local…

Delay in Bicol Airport Project Hit

Four months after a bidding was held for the Bicol International Airport construction in Daraga, Albay, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has yet to award the contract for the project. Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the airport project was three years behind and the province could not afford to wait any longer for the DOTC’s green light. “Our airports, roads and ports are bursting at the seams because our tourist arrivals have grown by 24 percent the last four years,” said Salceda in a text message. The DOTC bids and awards committee opened the bids submitted by two parties on Oct. 22 last year. The lower bid was for P718 million, or 20 percent under the DOTC’s floor price. Bicolano Sen. Gregorio Honasan, in a phone interview, said delays in the airport and other infrastructure projects was one of the reasons “most people had not felt the 6.6-percent growth touted by the government.” “This is just headline news. The government should not stop at crowing ab…

CamSur Takes Lead in Wind Energy Development in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 30 (PNA) -- There are various points across Bicol identified as perfect wind power resources, and the province of Camarines Sur is taking the lead to harness this natural power source. Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte over the week announced that works on the P5-billion wind energy farm had started with the construction of meteorological facilities at the project site in Libmanan town. When completed and put into operation, the energy generation facility could produce at least 60 megawatts of electricity which would be more than enough to meet the province’s requirements reaching only more than 20 megawatts, the governor said. The Department of Energy (DOE) last year awarded the franchise for the Bernacci Mountain Wind Power Project in Libmanan to Cornerstone Energy Development, Inc. This development is hoped to earn a reputation for the province as the greenest in the country in terms of energy use and generation, Villafuerte said. Earlier, the…

Gov't Pours in P6.6-B Worth of Infra Projects to Spur Bicol Economic Growth

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 23 (PNA) -- The Bicol region received about P6.6 billion funding this year for vital infrastructure projects that are expected to bolster the region’s economic growth, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said. Danilo Dequito, DPWH regional director, said this year’s infrastructure funding is higher by 20 percent or P1.1 billion over last year’s P5.5 billion expenditures. Dequito said the fresh funding came from the General Appropriation Act and some P5.3 billion will finance various projects by the different district engineering offices (DEOs) in the provinces of Bicol. Camarines Sur gets P1.6 billion, followed by Albay with P1.0 billion; Camarines Norte, P922.5 million; Catanduanes, P681.6 million; Masbate, P524.2 million, and Sorsogon, P520.7 million. Dequito said P1.3 billion worth of projects would be carried out by the regional office. Asked why some projects are being implemented by the regional office but are supposed to be done by the ag…

DENR: Nearly 1 Million Seedlings Planted on 1,212 Hectares in 2012

Nearly a million seedlings and mangrove propagules were planted on 1,212 hectares of forest and swamp land in the entire province in 2012, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provincial and community officers in Catanduanes reported last week. PENRO officer-in-charge Joaquin Ed Guerrero and CENRO officer-in-charge Luvimindo Chioco disclosed that the timber, fruit tree and ornamental seedlings totaling 574,290 were planted on 1,160 hectares in the towns of San Andres, Virac, Viga, San Miguel, and Bato under contract with respective farmers associations while 338,888 mangrove propagules were planted in 72 hectares of swampland in Panganiban and San Andres. These were undertaken pursuant to the National Greening Program (NGP)’s plantation development project. The timber and fruit tree seedlings consisted of Antipolo (88,888 pieces), Baligang (8,000), Dao (27,100), Gumihan (4,500), Jackfruit (2,220), Kupang (27,510), Marang (45,412), Narra (281,369), Cacao (5,740…

Magayon Festival 2013 to Feature Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Scenic Tourist Spots

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 9 (PNA) -- The Provincial Government of Albay plans to feature different scenic tourist spots in the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon (Almasor) during the month-long Magayon Festival 2013 in April. Albay Governor Joey Salceda, also Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) chair, announced that the Magayon Festival 2013 will no longer be limited to promoting Albay’s tourism pride and products. “This year’s festival will also help boost the tourism industry of the neighboring provinces of Masbate and Sorsogon,” he said. Last year, as RDC chair, Salceda initiated the Almasor tourism area. He said that tour packages will be offered to both domestic and foreign tourists during the Magayon Festival. The visitors may opt to start their adventure in Albay from Lignon Hill to Cagsawa Ruin, Daraga Church, Mayon Skyline Observatory, Mayon Volcano lava and all-trail-vehicle adventure, and end up buying Albay’s best souvenir products. The second leg of the tourism…

BFAR, Catanduanes School Join Hands in Fish Hatchery Project

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 7 (PNA) -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is working with the Catanduanes State University (CSU) in the operation of a fish hatchery facility designed to help the province of Catanduanes improve the performance of its fishery industry.

The hatchery is now functioning as a modern facility for aquaculture, stock enhancement and genetic conservation through trapping of adult and spawning fishes, crabs, shrimps and mollusks. It features ponds and tanks for egg and fry incubation and rearing juveniles before releasing them to their natural habitat in mangrove areas where stocks are assessed based on their function for ecosystem conservation services. Presently being reared in the hatchery are portunid crabs, siganids or rabbitfishes, epinephelids or groupers, cichlid fish (tilapia) and tiger prawn and shrimps. The hatchery will add bivalve and gastropod molluscs to its current stocks this year, BFAR regional director Dennis Del Socorro said here…