Category Archives: Environment

“Tree tunnel” in Sorsogon lost to road widening

  Yahoo South East Asia Newsroom  by Kim Arveen Patria

Trees in this portion of the highway in Bulan, Sorsogon, have grown big enough that their branches meet, as if creating a tunnel. The so-called tree tunnel is threatened by clearing operations for road widening projects. (Photo from Bulan's Facebook page)
A tree-lined portion of the highway is among the most photographed spots in Bulan, Sorsogon, but some fear the so-called “tree tunnel” will soon be seen only in photos.

Hundreds of almost century-old trees are set to be cut down to make way for wider roads in the coastal town, which is among the busiest and richest in the province.

Angry locals have questioned the government’s road widening projects. An online petition has been launched to stop the tree-cutting. Others have taken to the streets.

“Bulanenos should unite now to save the trees that have yet to be cut down by the Department of Public Works and Highways,” a Change.org petition read.

Bulan resident Ramil Agne, who posted the petition, told Yahoo Philippines that the DPWH has temporarily stopped the cutting of trees, pending a consultation.

He noted that the move came too late, however, as about 185 have already been cut from May 14 to 21. A total of 235 trees would be cut for the road work.

Officials have claimed that the roadside had to be cleared of trees to expand the highway to 20 meters from 15 meters, by adding 2.5 meters to each side.

“The traffic volume on our highway does not warrant a road widening project,” Agne said. He added that the 5-meter expansion “is not enough to call progress versus cutting trees.”

Many residents have also wondered why the road will be expanded when the local airport it leads to has been idle for decades. DPWH has not responded to requests for comment.

“I don’t want the trees to be cut down for the sake of useless road widening project. Road widening project will benefit only few people specially in terms of corruption,” said Andrew Zuniga, who signed the petition.

A “selfie campaign” has also been launched against the project, with netizens posting photos of themselves holding up appeals to save the town’s “tree tunnel.”

More than 100 trees have already been cut to make way for wider roads in Bulan, Sorsogon. (Photo by Karl CK)

Bulan’s case is the latest in what netizens have taken to calling a tree-cutting rampage by the DPWH, most of them tagged unnecessary by the areas’ locals.

Earlier this month, locals in Los Banos, Laguna, protested the cutting of trees for a widening project covering a 5.6-kilometer stretch of road near Mt. Makiling.

Local officials in Iloilo City have meanwhile asked the DPWH to explain why so-called “heritage trees” have been cut down along the city’s General Luna highway.

In Naga City, the local government is also leading efforts against a plan to cut down at least 650 trees along the Maharlika Highway in Camarines Sur province.

“Thousands of trees all over the Philippines, many of them century-old, have been cut for road widening… Many more trees face the same fate,” a separate Change.org petition said.

The petition, posted by Ivan Henares, called on the DPWH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop cutting trees and review the policy.

“This review should provide a mechanism for genuine public consultation and a detailed scientific assessment the cutting of trees may have on the environment,” Henares said.

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Bulan Developments, Crime, Environment, Nature, News

THIS BACMAN IS NO HERO

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – In his diary, Philippine national hero Jose Rizal described Missouri River as twice the size of Pasig River in its widest part. Missouri is just the second largest tributary of the Mississippi, the largest river system in North America.

In my youth, I considered Kawayan (spelled with a “k” since there is no “c” in Tagalog nor Bikol alphabets) River in Basud, Sorsogon in the Philippines just as big as the Pasig River if not half as big in its narrowest part.

When I was in grade school, I always cherished the days when we visited our relatives living near Kawayan River so we could swim in the white water the whole day.

If we could leave early in the day, we would even walk upstream of Kawayan River called “Rangas” for a picnic to visit one of my uncles, Felipe Lariosa, who would guide us to a pool of water which was so clean it was safe to drink. We did not care if we took on water while we bathed.

Today, Kawayan River is like a swamp that may soon become a dry and barren land.

Thanks to what Los Angeles, California activist and former Sorsogon resident Bobby Reyes describes as an “ecological rape” of Kawayan River perpetrated formerly by the Philippine government when it was operating the Philippine National Oil Company, which later became National Power Corporation. The NPC ceded its interest to Energy Development Corporation after submitting the complying bid for the 150-MW Bacman (Bacon-Manito) geothermal plants last year for 1.2-billion pesos (US$26-million) during an auction hosted by PSALM (Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp).

While geothermal is considered “cleaner energy” than coal- or oil-fired power plant because each kilowatt-hour of electricity it generates only emits about 5 percent of carbon dioxide, along with the area’s “rotten-egg” smell as well as ammonia and methane that it emits, geothermal still raises environmental issues such as air and water pollutions along with safe disposal of hazardous waste, silting, and land subsidence.

 FACEBOOK REVOLUTION

One of the residents near Kawayan River, Sonia Lariosa, a cousin of mine, informed Mr. Reyes that in her Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150294889948968.379581.720778967, everyone can see the effects of how huge power companies bring ecological nightmare to the rivers like Kawayan and nearby farm lands when these powerful companies disregard environmental safeguards as they go about with their business.

Sonia complains that Kawayan River is now a very small tributary and from the photos, it seems it is no longer empties into the Sorsogon Bay.

She said her small rice fields are no longer irrigated with water from up streams but with muds “with cement” that can only come from nearby “Bacman II, a geothermal facility that operates two 20-Megawatt-unit turbines “commissioned in 1994.”

The word “Bacman” was taken from the towns of Bacon, Sorsogon and Manito Albay in the Bikol region. It has a steam plant (BacMan I) located in the boundary of Bacon and Manito.

“When my father was alive (Cerelo Lariosa, a World War II veteran), these PNOC people had been bulldozing our small patch of land. My father protested but because nobody can sue the government without its consent, my father gave up and let them do what they wanted,” Sonia recalls.

While the PNOC was building their facility, quarrying of the river went into high gear. Today, when there is rain, there are no more stones to hold the soil and there are mudslides all over the place.

Sonia is not the only one affected. Her neighbors about 200 of them have signed up a petition to put into stop to the unmitigated exploitation of their natural resources that used to irrigate their rice fields, which are the main sources of their livelihood. “We can no longer grow palay in our rice fields,” she wailed.

BANTAY SALAKAY (PROTECTOR-PREDATOR)?

She said she could not get the cooperation of her Barangay Captain so their complaints will reach the higher government authorities (the local “representathieves” of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources), who are conniving with the Energy Development Company people.

They are now enlisting the help of senior law students from Aquinas University in Legazpi City so they can file complaints.

They have formed a group called “Bacman Geothermal Multi Monitoring Task Force,” which will file a complaint against EDC before the United Nations for violating the KYOTO PROTOCOL, an environmental treaty, of which the Philippines is a signatory.

The Task Force realizes that they are up against a behemoth in the industry in EDC, a geothermal leader whose Chair Emeritus is Oscar Lopez of the powerful ABS-CBN international conglomerate. Last May 15, EDC reported a net income of 1.45 billion pesos (US$31-Million) for the first quarter of the year alone. Thru its subsidiaries Green Core Geothermal, Inc. (GCGI) and Bacman Geothermal, Inc. (BGI), EDC acquired the geothermal power plants owned by National Power Corporation, which sources steam from Company’s steam field assets.

Oscar Lopez is a sister of Gina Paz L. Lopez, the managing director of ABS- CBN’s Foundation, Inc.’s Bantay Kalikasan (nature protector) that “envisions a responsibly protected and preserved Philippine environment where children can live safer, healthier and more bountiful lives.”
Sonia said she wrote Gina about her complaints against EDC. But Sonia is afraid Gina is going to be placed in a “conflicting role.”

EDC remains the largest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines, accounting for 62 percent of the total country, the largest integrated geothermal power company in the world.

Last year, Bacman plants generated 1,199 MW. To appreciate better the power of an MW, a 3-MW plant can supply electricity to Ormoc City, which has a population of 177,524 people and Ormoc’s nearby towns. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Filed under Commentary, Environment, Friends and Opinions, Joseph Lariosa, Nature, Views and Concern

The Missing Bridge Of Inararan

by jun asuncion

I grew up in Bulan but I have never been in barangay Inararan yet, and perhaps I’ll never  be there since I’m hearing news that its bridge is missing! The Inararan folks are complaining about the missing bridge for a quite a time already. But now they suspect, this bridge will soon be within Giming De Castros’ property. Again?

They said that, at the beginning, they were told by the De Castro administration that there were no funds to replace the damaged bridge. And lately they heard that funds are there but now Giming De Castro plans to build the bridge no longer in the original place but over his own fish ponds. This to the frustration and indignation of the Inararan people.

The De Castros have a history of using public money to develop their own properties. One  case is the Bulan Central Bus Terminal in Fabrica, built with government loans on their donated one hectare piece of land with the option of re-acquiring the said land donation in case the Terminal failed to function as such and /or generate income. The second case is the Bulan Eco-Park in Calomagon where they used public funds for its development, each single tree planted in their property in Calomagon was acquired with people’s money. Students, teachers, volunteers and  school children helped in planting the trees there and in many other kinds of  labor for that Eco-Park. All free labors. “And who will earn the fruits in the future?”,  a concerned friend from Bulan once asked me.

Now the Inararan Bridge! What comes next? The new cemetery of Bulan??? Grotesque-sounding achievements of our local dynasty: The De Castro Bus Terminal, the De Castro Eco – Park, the De Castro Bridge in Inararan and perhaps next to it the De Castro New Cemetery of Bulan, all bearing their name but financed by the people.

The De Castros wish to be remembered by the people of Bulan as philanthropists. But if they use this term just  to trick the people and to advance themselves materially, I think the right term for that is opportunism because of using public office to their advantage. The people of Bulan deserve a serious and corruption-free local government!

We now ask the people of barangay Inararan to update the world on this issue. Send us your opinions, photos or any material about this missing Bridge of Inararan.

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The MEAO Heard ‘Round The World

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

  

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The Matnog Environmental Advocates Organization (MEAO) is a very tiny group named after the obscure municipality of my mother in Sorsogon province in the Philippines but its advocacy is getting notice in this part of the world.
MEAO’s advocacy is to be more conscientious with environmental disaster waiting to happen. It got a boost last week when an indigenous villager Maria Aguinda in Rumipamba, Ecuador won a blockbuster $9.5-billion judgment and brought to its knees U.S. giant Chevron for leaving behind an environmental damage for polluting the villager’s rain forest.
The multi-billion dollar judgment should send shockwaves to upstart mining companies in the Philippines, which ventured into this labor-intensive business fraught with environmental pitfalls.
One such debacle in the Philippines that escaped notice was the massive environmental hazards left behind by the United States in the early nineties when the Philippine Senate shut down the bases without first requiring the US to rid the bases of their hazardous materials.
Recently, the multi-national joint $45-Million investment from Lafayette, Philippines, Inc. (LPI) of Australia and the LG Group of South Korea whose contract to mine 18 out of 180 hectares, (not 5,218 hectares that I inadvertently wrote in my previous column), that straddle within Barangays Malobago, Pagcolbon and Binosawan in Rapu-Rapu, Albay province, north of Sorsogon province, was unceremoniously scrapped four months into the six- to seven-year operation following cyanide poisoning that triggered massive fish kills in the adjoining Pacific Ocean.

GRAVEL-AND-SAND MINERS

Now comes a little-known venture capitalist named Antonio Ocampo and/or Antonio Comersiase Jr. who appear to be backed up by a gravel-and-sand delivery truck company euphemistically named Alexandra Mining & Oil Ventures, Inc. based in Quezon City in the Philippines advertising Matnog Ore Project as one of its “on-going mining projects.” The Matnog Ore Project covers 19.840 hectares (not 19,840 hectares that I earlier mentioned in my column).
May I ask these venture capitalists if they have capitalization that comes close to the $45-million put up by the LPI and LG Group and be ready to lose that kind of money when disaster strikes?
Are they ready to operate without PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) so that they will be paying 54 percent national and local taxes and they get only 46 percent of their ROI (return of investment)?
Do they have money held in a screw so that authorities can draw from it to be given away to victims of calamities and disasters that could be caused by mining operation in Balocawe in Matnog?
Do they have money that will be sourced from fine against them “for pollution” to solve among others the “Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) problem” and for “decommissioning” expenses after the mining operation and replanting of trees that were cleared prior to the mining operation?
“Rehabilitation and environmental mitigation measures” are expensive propositions.

DISASTER INSURANCE, ANY ONE?

Without escrow account, do they have a surety bond or disaster insurance to cover future victims of disaster that may result in the mining operation?
Do they have an ownership structure that will publicly show that the incorporators of the mining permit holder have capability to pay in case of damages by showing their previous statements of assets and liabilities? Are they ready to follow the recommendations of the Presidential Rapu Rapu Fact Finding Commission Report (PRRFFCR) and/or the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Assessment of the Rapu Rapu Polymetallic Project (DARRPP) issued in 2006?
To avoid the multi-billion dollar fine in Ecuador against Chevron, are these mining permit holders ready to establish “baseline average health condition” by conducting medical tests and “blood work” of the population around the mining area free of charge so that they can show that the population has pre-existing medical health condition prior to and after the mining operation?
Can DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje certify that it has now re-trained its personnel following the 2006 Rapu-Rapu debacle, which according to PRRFFCR exposed its personnel as having “dysfunctional monitoring system”?
And is there now an oversight mechanism that can oversee the operation before, during and after the mining operation?
If the answers to all of the above questions are “yes,” then, by all means, this mining permit holder should be allowed to mine the Matnog Ore Project.
Its approval should stop Governor Raul R. Lee from “politicizing” this project to harass the members of the Sorsogon provincial board, who are opposing the mining operation in Matnog.
Provincial board member Vladimir Frivaldo has complained that ever since he opposed the mining project of Matnog and the STL (small town lottery, the legalized jueteng), Governor Lee has been giving him a hard time.

LEE SHOULD BE RECALLED?

The governor refused to give him detailed information where the previous and existing loans of the province went before he could support another request of the governor to obtain 350-million pesos loan (US$8.1-Million).
If the new loan is approved by the rubber-stamp provincial board, the loan of the province will balloon to 1-billion pesos (US$23-M) if the previous loan obtained by his predecessor, his wife, Gov. Sally Lee, is added to it. He said a new slogan “Utang Sorsogon” will be added to “Bangon Sorsogon.”
Frivaldo also questioned the poor judgment of Gov. Lee for appropriating his office with the third highest budget at more than 65-million pesos (US$1.5-M) when the most important offices like the Provincial Agriculture Office, Provincial Cooperative Office, Provincial Nutrition Council, Provincial Social Welfare and Development are only getting P22.0 million (US$.5-M), P700,000.00 (US$16,279), P500,000.00 (US$11,627) and P2.7 million (US$72,790), respectively. Support to education and social services is only P1.9 million (US$44,186).
Frivaldo also urged Governor Lee to build a new three-story Sangguniang Panlalawigan building because in the existing SP building when it rains outside, it also rains inside, soaking the Vice Governor, SP Members and secretariat staff.
Another complaint of Mr. Frivaldo is Governor Lee’s disapproval of the six staff appointments in his office that is required under the Department of Interior and Local Government Code while Lee’s wife, Lee’s son, then incumbent Sorsogon City Vice Mayor and Lee’s grandson, SK Federation President are “suppressing opponents/critics of your administration policy.”
If Mr. Frivaldo cannot charge Governor Lee with administrative violation of DILG Code before the Office of the President for grave abuse of discretion, he should initiate a preparatory recall assembly or by registered voters to recall Governor Lee as provided for by the Philippine Constitution.  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)    /

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Filed under Environment, Joseph Lariosa, The Matnog Environmental Advocates Organization (MEAO)

Stop Mining In Palawan

By GINA LOPEZ

Managing Director

ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc.

My dear friends,

On January 24 a very dear friend and colleague Gerry Ortega was shot in the head dead. I was just with him that weekend – and a few minutes before he died what we were discussing over the phone was an anti-mining campaign in Palawan – given that on December two huge mining applications were railroaded – and they were to be near protected sites.

Gerry is dead but we will not let go of his dreams – and mine – and probably yours too.

Palawan has 17 key bio diversity sites – which means it is part of the 70% bio diversity sites which are essential for sustaining life in the planet. It has 2 world heritage sites, 8 protected sites. Yet if you see Palawan on the map you will note that it is a very thin island – which is 82% mountain. It means that if the forest gets denuded and the minerals excavated – the tailings seep directly into the sea affecting the coral reefs. The top soil is thin – and the island eco system is fragile.

Mining is not the way to go for Palawan. I have five eco tourism sites wherein the communities involved can now send their children to school, can dream bigger dreams. Mayor Hagedorn in Puerto Princesa has banned mining and logging – and focused on tourism and agriculture. From 2 flights a week, Puerto Princesa now boasts 10 flights a day. His revenues have gone up from several million to several billion.

Mining as an economic path in a magnificent “Last Frontier” is based on a paradigm of economic growth that is myopic and archaic . In this age of climate change and global warming any economic development that does not recognize and revere the web of life should be thrown in the dustbin.

Please please support the ten million signature campaign to Stop Mining in Palawan. The richness of Palawan is the wealth and pride of the country, it is the wealth of the world. Log in to www.no2mininginpalawan.com  .. register your vote and please please send it to thousands others. You can also include your household by downloading the form printing it – and faxing it t 4152227 or you can scan it and send it to signatures@no2mininginpalawan.com. Questions can be sent to signatures@no2mininginpalawan.com.

Palawan

 Palawan contains part of the 70% biodiversity in the planet. It has 17 key biodiversity areas, 2 world heritage sites and 8 protected sites.

Its topsoil is thin and island eco system is fragile.

There are currently 354 mining applications in Palawan. Mining in Palawan is a myopic, archaic view of economic development.

We need to respect the web of life.

Please, please help me gather 10 million signatures now. We need laws enacted to save our VIP diversity.

Register at http://www.no2mininginpalawan.com / and vote NO TO MINING.

This is for our country, this is for the future.

  Gina Lopez                                                              

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Carpetbaggers Back Off My Boyhood Town!

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Joseph Lariosa

(© Journal Group Link International)

C HICAGO (jGLi) – When I was a young boy vacationing in the native town of my mother, Consolacion G. Garra, in Matnog, Sorsogon, Luzon’s gateway to Southern Philippines, I always wondered why its white beaches had sprinklings of black sands.

It turned out those black sands are called “margahas,” which I later came to know as magnetite sands.

With no money to buy toys, we used these margahas to entertain us. We would put a trickle of these black sands on top of a small piece of grade school pad paper and put a magnet or magnetite stone (bato balani) below the paper and we would run the magnet in different directions.

Because the margahas is attracted to the magnets, these black sands would stand up on end, like soldiers, if we moved the magnet or bato balani below the paper. The margahas would follow the magnet like dutiful soldiers.

And it gave us a kick because it put matters under our control.

I had no idea that these margahas and bato balani abundant in Matnog and the whole of the Bicol region were iron oxide minerals that are often mined as an ore or iron. It is commonly used as abrasive in water jet cutting, as toner in electrophotography and as micronutrient in fertilizers, as pigments in paint, etc.

These magnetic minerals attracted nationwide attention in November 2005 when two sacks of dead fishes were allegedly buried in Barangay Binosawan in Rapu-Rapu, an island town of Sorsogon’s neighboring province of Albay to the north.

For these margahas and bato balani to be of commercial use, they have to be mined. During their mining, they would give off toxic discharges, like cyanide, that emptied into Albay Gulf and into the Pacific Ocean that flowed south to neighboring towns of Prieto Diaz, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan and Bacon (now part of the capitol town of Sorsogon City), all in Sorsogon province.

GLORIA ARROYO’S SHINING MOMENT

The cyanide poisoning caused massive fish kills in the area prompting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to create the Presidential Rapu Rapu Fact Finding Commission Report, and a separate DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Assessment of the Rapu Rapu Polymetallic Project, both in 2006.

In one of then-President Arroyo’s rare shining moments, she approved the Commission’s report to junk the “$45-million in capital investments from Lafayette, Philippines, Inc. (LPI) of Australia, as well as $10-million investments from LG Group of Korea” that were jointly mining in Rapu Rapu. Ms. Arroyo learned that LPI’s Country Manager Mr. Roderick Watt “inadvertently stated in his letter” to her that LPI’s PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) application did not need the Mayor’s (Rapu Rapu’s) concurrence.

More damaging, however, was the forgery of Rapu Rapu Sangguniang Bayan Secretary’s signature in the SB resolution that granted “ecozone” permit to LPI for tax-exemption.

As a PEZA registrant, LPI certified that it would not endanger public safety or public health or violate anti-pollution requirements by installing pollution-control devices.

As a result of the fish kills, the National Economic Development Authority recommended the LPI’s “tax-free status” revoked. While the DENR ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue to investigate possible tax fraud as a mere two percent was paid in excise tax for the year 2005 for PhP 2,065,511.54, out of the $2.4-million ore exported.

But the most damning information issued by the Commission is the finding that the “DENR, its bureaus, i.e., MGB (Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau) and EMB (Environmental Management Bureau), its regional offices, including its monitoring team, (are) to be so dysfunctional as to be unable to prevent the occurrence of the October (fish kills) incidents. They simply did not have the sufficient capability of monitoring mining operations in Rapu-Rapu. Worse, though, is that if they had the capability, then, they utterly lacked will.”

“UNWARRANTED AND UNTOLD SUFFERINGS”

I wonder if my friend, Sorsogon Gov. Raul R. Lee, ever read these reports. He was quoted in the report as saying that in Sorsogon, the fish scare caused “unwarranted and untold sufferings” to fisher folk families, fish traders and the fish consuming public. Did the good governor ever sue the LPI for damages to assuage the “unwarranted and untold sufferings” of his constituents?

A registered mail sent me by Gov. Lee justifies the approval of a similar small-scale mining operation, like Rapu-Rapu’s, in a small barangay of Balocawe in Matnog consisting of 19,848 hectares.

The lucky mining permit holder is one Antonio Ocampo and/or Antonio Comerciase, Jr. of No. 3 Barangay Tomolin, Ligao, Albay. He was given a permit on “Sept. 23, 2009, to extract 25,000 metric tons of iron ore from Sept. 23, 2009, to Sept. 22, 2010, with an option to renew for the same length of period.”

Writer’s Note: Rapu-Rapu’s mining operation covers only 5,218 hectares and was able to extract 67,693 metric tons of gold ore mined in 2005 and exported $2.4-million worth of ore.

Governor Lee was prodded to send me a letter after I e-mailed DENR Secretary Ramon J. Paje that he should listen to the petition of “Save Matnog, Stop The Iron Project.” Secretary Paje, in turn, forwarded my e-mail to Regional Director Reynulfo A. Juan of Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau in Bicol. Mr. Juan sent me a registered mail, informing Governor Lee about my complaint.

In his letter to the Governor, Director Juan said, “(M)ay we recommend that the Provincial Government conduct the necessary validation on the issues being raised and to inform Mr. Lariosa directly on the actions taken by your office”?

 THIS CABINET SECRETARY IS E-MAIL-FRIENDLY

 Governor Lee told me, the “Permit Holder (on Balocawe mining) was issued with an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) dated Aug. 13, 2009, by the DENR Environment Management Bureau (EMB V) on the basis of the submitted Project Study and Initial Environmental Examination Report after thorough evaluation of that Office who (sic) has the authority and capacity to undertake environmental assessment of projects within their area of jurisdiction.”

Mr. Governor, the permit was issued in August 2009, three years after the scathing Commission Report. My question to you is this: Did you get an assurance that remedial measures have now been undertaken since the Commission’s report in 2006 that indicted the “DENR, its bureaus (i.e. MGB (Mines and Geo-Sciences) and EMB (Environmental Management Bureau), its regional offices, including its monitoring team, (as) to be so dysfunctional as to be unable to prevent the occurrence of the October (fish-kill) incidents? They simply did not have the sufficient capability of monitoring mining operations in Rapu-Rapu. Worse, though, is that if they had the capability, then they utterly lacked (the) will”?

Does the mining permit holder have the LFI’s and LG’s of Korea combined resources in capital investment of $55-million to operate a much-bigger “small mining” operation that will ensure the public safety or ensure public health and not violate anti-pollution requirements by installing “control devices”? If so, who are his business partners?

In the event of a disaster, like a massive fish kills, or loss of the threatened Philippine Eagle owl (Bubo, Philippines), whose nest will be displaced by the clearing of the biodiversity area and occurrence of mudslides, is the permit holder capable of buying disaster insurance from Lloyds of London to appropriately compensate future victims, who in your words, may run into “unwarranted and untold sufferings”?

If you can answer, “yes” to all these questions, I will be behind this permit holder.

Meanwhile, I am appealing to President Noynoy Aquino and the Commission on Appointments to keep and confirm Mr. Paje as DENR Secretary and keep or promote Director Juan just for responding to my e-mail. Any other Cabinet Secretary or Bureau Director would have just deleted my e-mail complaint from their junk e-mails. 


Happy New Year to all! # # #

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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Filed under Environment, Graft and Corruption, Views and Concern

A Man Named Omar

   

  

by Michelle Dayrit- Soliven*  

I had never known the joys of the ocean until I came across a man so at ease with the earth’s most awesome sea creatures. His persistence led me to a deeply moving encounter that gave me a richer appreciation of the gifts of God to Mother Nature. I arrived with a fearful heart and left with an electrified spirit, courtesy of our newfound family friend, a man named Omar.  

Omar Nepomuceno

 

God equips His children with specific talents and abilities in order to pursue their purpose in life. It is therefore no coincidence that Omar Nepomuceno was born in the seaside town of Donsol in Sorsogon, a blessed haven where the world’s largest concentration of butandings (whale sharks) abound.  

A strong self-taught swimmer, Omar’s fondest childhood memory is that of his grandfather Isidoro taking two styrofoam ice chest covers used in his ice candy business. Using rope made of straw, he securely tied one onto his grandson’s back, the other onto his stomach. Then he would say to his apo: “O, sige na hijo, maligo ka na.”  

His parents Rosalina and Isidoro Jr. watched over their fearless little son joyfully swimming around the river.  

He describes himself as “taong dagat” because he adores, protects and  

respects the ocean and everything in it. Omar completed a Marine Engineering course at Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation in Legaspi City. When the Department of Tourism and the WWF conducted training for butanding interaction officers (BIOs) in Donsol, Omar emerged on top of his class. He loves butandings and he loves his job with a passion!  

I felt this when I met Omar last month in Donsol. I had been hearing his name from my younger sea-loving sisters Yvonne and Christine who had gone several times before me. For a very safe and enjoyable experience, they highly recommend Omar as my guide. Indeed they were right, but I experienced much more than they prepared me for.  

All butanding encounters are different and everyone has his or her own story to tell. Mine began on the morning of March 27.  

Incidentally, we were in Sorsogon the day before to attend the first graduation rites of The Divine Healer Learning Center. This is a school that provides quality education for underprivileged but deserving students founded by Father Gerard.  

It was a perfect day. Clear blue skies and glorious sunshine accompanied us on the scenic drive to Donsol. Upon our arrival on Vitton Beach, we received an enthusiastic welcome from a man named Omar, introduced as our BIO. He accompanied us to watch the orientation video in the registration office. “So it is you my sisters were talking about,” I told him as we walked into the boat and set off into the azure waters of the bay.  

He asked if we had with us some snorkeling gear. My son and husband nodded and showed it to him. He checked on them and seemed satisfied. Then he looked at me. The moment I dreaded came and I felt I just had to tell him: “Omar, there is something you need to know. I have never ever in my life used a mask and snorkel. This will be my very first time.” Instinctively he probably felt the fear I had because he immediately assured me that it was very easy. “Kaya mo yan, ma’am. Don’t worry, I will teach you now,” he told me.  

He put the mask over my face and adjusted it comfortably. Then he gently inserted the snorkel into my mouth and showed me how to breathe. “Now, remember, do not worry. When I say jump, just jump in and hold on to me when you get into the water,” he said. I nodded, trying to keep a brave front. Suddenly, I heard the boatman pointing and excitedly saying: “Ayan na! Nandyan na yung butanding.”  

I froze in fear! So soon! My sisters told me that they had to wait an hour or two to find a whale shark. I thought I would have more time to get used to the use of a mask and snorkel. They stopped the boat. I watched in horror as my hubby and my son jumped in. Omar was looking at me. “Ma’am, it’s time to jump. Let’s go!” I panicked! My heart was pounding as I hoisted myself unsteadily onto the edge of the boat. I was shaking while the boat bobbed up and down. I fought to keep my balance. Like a rag doll I was awkwardly teetering back and forth, so afraid to hit the water and almost fell back into the boat instead. I was trying to open my mouth to say, “I’m backing out! I changed my mind! I cant do this!” Suddenly I felt Omar’s strong hand taking mine as he jumped in pulling me into the water with him.  

I wanted to scream but the snorkel was in my mouth. I closed my eyes. Terror gripped me as we hit the water. But I heard Omar saying, “Ma’am relax ka lang. Just hold on to me and do not be afraid.” He readjusted my mask and snorkel and said, “Ready? Let’s go!” He held my hand firmly and swam away, not giving me time to think.  

“Look down,” Omar told me. “Just put your head down.” I obeyed… put my head down. And opened my eyes… and gasped! The sun’s rays penetrated the waters revealing a humongous blue gray figure with round white spots swimming gracefully beneath me. I was right smack on top of the butanding and the water was so clear I could see it breathing. Omar swam and supported my elbow lightly so that I could interact with this gentle being. As the silence enveloped me under water, a sudden peace pervaded my soul. I felt a deep spiritual connection between the whale shark and Omar as we all swam together side by side, basking in joyous tranquility.  

It was a successful conspiracy. These two soul mates (Omar and the whale shark) sensed my fear of the sun and the ocean kept me with them for a blissful 30 minutes, emptying me of all my fears.  

That was only the first of the six butandings I would encounter that day. We all emerged triumphant and invigorated. Omar was elated. BIO Florante Trinidad did such a good job with Lucy Lee’s new underwater camera that we each had a video of our interaction with these colossal yet amiable beings.  

We then enjoyed a sumptuous lunch courtesy of Sorsogon’s very gracious Gov. Sally Lee. Over succulent seafood and the best ginataang langka, Omar shared his stories.  

Very protective and caring in nature, Omar wants his visitors to make the most of the time and money they spend to come to Donsol. “I want everyone to be comfortable in the water and go home with wonderful stories to tell.”  

His most unforgettable experience in the ocean was the day in 2001. He had some American guests who flew all the way from Pittsburg wishing to see a whale shark. They didn’t just see one but a whole school of them, about 50 on a feeding frenzy. They were ecstatic!  

Another glorious moment was the day Omar and Florante successfully rescued a trapped butanding in Batangas. Asked how they did it, when several others before them failed, he humbly said, “I prayed for God’s assistance.”  

He takes every opportunity to share his insights to protect the precious butandings. “If a group of six fishermen kill a butanding, six families may have enough to live on for six months. But in exchange the rest of the other families in the community will all go hungry for years to come. Why? Because this brutal act could scare the butanding population away. And what do you think will happen to the van drivers who pick up guests, resort owners and restaurant owners, their employees, souvenir stall owners, boatmen, BIOs? With their livelihood gone, their families will go hungry,” he said.  

He prays often for the safety of his wife Yvette, a nurse in the Middle East, and is most grateful that his daughter Rayven graduated grade school at Aquinas School in Legaspi with honors. This nature lover feels God’s presence in the sunshine, the calmness of the sea, the magnificence of the gentle butandings. “I always ask God to please let my visitors see the butanding.” He is happiest when he sees his guests enjoying.  

“I always want to spread the sunshine,” he says of his motto in life. “Whatever blessings and gifts I receive from God, I must share.”  

To Omar, this means teaching others the skills he has mastered like swimming, being a good BIO, training others who want to be guides of other natural attractions, giving talks to the fishing community on the importance of not harming but preserving their environment, finding new activities and exciting destinations that guests to his beloved province of Sorsogon can enjoy and his fellowmen can benefit from. /  

——————————————–  

*Asking Michelle to publish her article in Bulan Observer, she replied :  

“Sure Andres! ( Andres?- that’s me, jun!) That was one experience I will never ever forget. Omar is the best. I am so glad you did not drown (she’s referring to my story of almost drowning in the sea of Donsol when I was 8). You must have a mission in life to fulfill. I am sure it is something that will be most rewarding. Be blessed in all you do.” MICHELLE DAYRIT-SOLIVEN  

Thank you Michelle!  

 Omar is my first cousin (mother’s side), he lives and works in Donsol. I have good memories of Donsol as I also partly spent my childhood there. The beautiful sceneries with Mt. Mayon against a lovely sunset, the quiet sea and the loving people and of course my dear grandparents Doro and “May” (mother) Nepomuceno with whom I used to go for a walk along the sea after dinner. I met Omar  last April 2009-  in Bulan!   

 jun asuncion  

————————HELP PROTECT THE WHALE SHARKS!————————–  

                     

 

  

  

———————————end——————————  

1 Comment

Filed under Environment, Nature, Views and Concern

BULAN TOWN GIRDS FOR PISTA SA KABUBUDLAN 2009

by Tonyboy-PIO

September 1, 2009 at 10:22 am

Bulan, Sorsogon – In what appears to be the biggest gathering of participants thus far, the Local Government Unit, through the Office of the Mayor and the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) are now preparing for the forthcoming Pista sa Kabubudlan 2009 to be held at the Bulan Ecological Park (Ecopark) on the first Friday and Saturday of October.

Several thousands of participants from all walks of life, especially from the youth sector, the schools, the barangays and from different organizations and sectors, will once more troop to Barangay Calomagon where the Ecopark is located to participate in different ecological activites, to be highlighted by a massive tree planting event in the 14.5 hectare-area.

This will be the fifth consecutive time this event is held since it was first launched in 2005 by the incumbent Mayor Helen C. De Castro, one of whose programs was on Environment Preservation and Protection.

The event will feature several festive activities which include environment film-showings, ecology seminars on recycling and re-use, concerts, disco-dancing, overnight camping, a Holy Mass and other religious activities, a Mutya ng Kalikasan Search, Laro ng Lahi, games and funfare, and the Tree-planting activity.

This year, several government agencies outside of Bulan, including Mayors from other towns will come to observe the Pista.

The Pista sa Kabubudlan and the Ecopark are part of the Mayor’s Environment Programs. The Ecopark was once a garbage site and the mayor was responsible for converting it to an Ecopark. Now it is part of the DILG Replication Program or GO-FAR Program for other LGUs to follow.

Bulan Town has been a consistent recipient of many awards and recognitions for its novel and trailblazing environment programs, among them the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran, as National Finalist from 1996-1999, Saringgaya Awards in 2007, Outstanding LGU for Solid Waste Mangement Program in 2008 and as GO-FAR Model LGU in 2008.

The MENRO is responsible for preparing all the activities for this year’s Pista. (PIO-Bulan)

8 Comments

Filed under Announcement, Bulan Eco-Park, Environment, Mayor Helen De Castro - LGU Bulan

The Way To Bulan Eco-Park

By: jun asuncion +* LGU- Bulan Mayor Helen De Castro and Tony Boy Gilana

 

We have taken all these photos by ourselves on that sultry summer morning last April 2009.  As I was sorting out the photos for this documentary article, I realized that I couldn’t provide myself  the necessary informative captions for each photo.  So I called up Mayor Helen De Castro and asked her if she could help provide the needed information. I caught her right in the middle of a meeting about H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu) but she was really  kind enough to listen to my concerns and promised she would send Bulan Observer the materials. I also knew how busy her team was at this point because of the upcoming town Fiesta. So it took awhile, but we have patience for good things.

The purpose of this little documentary is to give readers of  Bulan Observer especially those who are away from home a visual tour of the Bulan Eco-Park so that they will have a concrete image of it. Interestingly enough, my own mental picture of the Eco-Park before my visit did not diverge far from the real picture of it – at least as far as I could roam around and shoot photos and videos of it. Lack of a guide and time prevented me from exploring the whole park for it is really big.

Now, with the additional captions written in our Bulan dialect and other article-related substantial information in English sent by LGU-Bulan, it is practically a guided tour as you go from one photo to the next. The added facts and updates  at the end of the report will  round up your knowledge about the park. So enjoy your way to Bulan Eco-Park!  jun asuncion

———

It was a nice April morning when we drove to  Calomagon  to visit the BulanEco-Park. It’s not far from the center of the town. After Somagonsong  we found the signboard on the left side. We were excited and took photos along the way to -and from the Eco-Park. (For your sound as you travel, click the first photo and then minimize your media player)

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 A local Kiosk with young bystanders just passing the time, curios-looking eyes to passing strangers.

 

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  Yet friendly and smiling faces.

 

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 Turn left again to a long and winding – and rough road, naturally.

 

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 Here’s the road in front of us, looking  quite and deserted, windless day, indeed a calm before the storm.

 

 

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 (A quarry pit over there?)

Photo No. 6:

*Mao tabi ini an inkukuwaan ta baras na pangtahob ta sa mga basura saato dumpsite. Regular (weekly) tabi na in-uusong, hinuhulog san heavy equipment unit an basura sa bangin. Pakahulog tabi, tatahuban ini san baras (soil cover).

 

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Looking like a natural gate marking the border to another town.

 

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 Coconut plantation, an almost magical ambiance, like an oil painting from afar, palm leaves silvery and shining.

 

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 Here we are, the Welcome signboard.

 

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The certiicate of recognition to our Mayor De Castro  for excellence in environmental governance on Solid waste Management.

 

 

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 A symbol for natural harmony- at least the way I see it.

 

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Photo No. 12:

*Mao tabi ini an demo garden para saurbanagriculture o container gardening. Laom tabi sini na maipaimod sa mga tawo na sa halip na itapok an mga old containers o butangan (plastic, empty milk cans, platic cups, sako, nan iba pa) sa basurahan, pwede pa tabi ini gamiton bilang plant pots para sa mga ornamentals nan gulay). Intended/designed tabi ini lalo na sa mga urban areas o poblacion areas kun haen limitado o wara na tabi lugar para pagtanuman.

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Photo No. 13:

*Parte tabi ini san kampanya san Lokal na Gobyerno sa pag-implementar san waste segregation

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 A cow discretely resting beside a bahay kubo, seems to be observing us.

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Photo No. 15:

*Mao tabi ini an istruktura kun haen tabi naka locate an Materials Recovery Facility. Pagsakat tabi sin trak para magtapok basura, didi muna tabi ihuhulog an mga basura na puede pa pakinabangan nan ipabakal. Ini tabi na istruktura, hinati sa tolo na kuwarto (Lecture Room, Materials Recovery Facility, Ecology Center).

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Photo No. 16.

*Lecture Room. Didi tabi inhihimo an briefing o orientation sa mga bisita (LGU, estudyante, empleyado, o grupo na interesado maaraman an programa san Municipio sa Solid Waste Management) sa Ecopark. Didi man tabi inhihimo an demo san paghimo san mga manalaen-laen na activators para sa composting.

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Photo No. 17.

“An sulod tabi san Lecture Room

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Photo No. 18.

*Mao tabi ini an section para sa Materials Recovery Facility.

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Photo No. 19:

*Mao man tabi ini an section para sa Ecology Center. Showcase room tabi ini para sa mga recycled products, information, nan mga pictures/documentation san programa sa Solid Waste Management.

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Photo No. 20:

*An nasa left side tabi na structure, sayo po sa mga rest areas o cottages sa Ecopark. An sa right side tabi, mao an vermiculture nan vermicomposting facility. Sa sulod man tabi sini nafacility an shredding area kun haen naka takod po an shredder.

An vermiculture nan vermicomposting facility tabi, sayo na proseso san composting kun haen an ginagamit tabi ulod. Sa Ecopark tabi, an species tabi na may-on, mao an African nightcrawler. Pinapakaon tabi ini na mga ulod sin shredded na mga nabubulok na basura (market waste, grass clippings, etc.), an manure tabi nira, mao an produkto san composting. Mao man tabi ini an ginagahoy na vermicompost na pwede gamiton bilang soil conditioner o fertilizer sa mga tinanom.

An kulay blue tabi, mao an sayo sa duwa na tanke tabi san tubi sa Ecopark na ginagamit pangsaribo sa mga tinanom nan sa operation san MRFnan composting facilities.

An kahiwasan tabi na nasa letrato, mao an inkokonduktaran san mga programa sa Ecopark pareho san Fiesta sa Kabubudlan (film showing, games, concert, disco, nan iba pa).

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Photo No. 21:

*Mao tabi ini an tanke san tubi sa Ecopark. Ini tabi na inguguyod na tanke, mao tabi an nagdadara san tubi sa Ecopark

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Photo No. 22:

*Mga nakasako tabi ini na mga nabubulok na basura (balat nan iba pa na parte san prutas nan gulay, dahon, buto, nan iba pa) na hale sa Public Market. Ini tabi kukuwaon san in-charge sa composting facility para darahon sa shredding area para gilingon, paaguihon sa 2 weeks na anaerobic decomposition saka ipapakaon sa mga ulod.

Maiimod tabi sa upper left side san letrato an shredder. Sa upper right side naman tabi, an mga composting beds o vermi beds.

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Photo No. 23:

*Mao tabi ini an mga tanom na puno san gmelina (about 2 years old). Sa likod tabi ini san vermiculture nan vermicomposting facility.

May-on man tabi didi sin hukay (0.75m x 0.75m x 0.50m) na pag nag-uuran, nabubutangan tubi. Ini tabi nakukuwaan man tubi pangsaribo sa mga tinanom nan compost piles sa likod..

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Photo No. 24:

*Mao tabi ini an vermiculture nan vermicomposting beds. Kapag an shredded na basura tabi na binutang sa bed, halos puro manure na tabi san ulod, ibubutang na tabi ini na mga sako na may laman na fresh (although nag-agui na tabi ini sa 2-week na anaerobic decomposition process) na pagkaon para sa mga ulod. Mao tabi ini an paagui para makuwa an mga ulod nan mabalyo sa iba naman na beds.

Ini tabi na mga manure na, hahayaan mun-a tabi for 1 month sa lugar para maka-recover pa sin mga baby worms sa bed. After 1 month, pwede na tabi ini sakuhon nan i-stock sa bodega.

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Photo No. 25:

*Mao tabi inian shredding machine na ginagamit sa shredding process. Sini-shred tabi an mga basura para mas madali malupa nan makaon san mga ulod.

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Photo No. 26:

*An inkukuwaan tabi letrato san photographer mao tabian tree planting site san naka-agui na Fiesta sa Kabubudlan 2008. Sa left side tabi sini na lugar, mao man an campsite.

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Photo No. 27:

*Mao tabi ini an close up picture san demo garden para saurbanagriculture o container gardening. An bubong tabi sini mao an pakanapan para sa ampalaya, karabasa, nan iba pa na nagkakanap na tinanom. Maiimod tabi an mga lata, sako nan plastic cups.

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Photo No. 28:

*Sa sulod tabi ini san urban agriculture demo garden. Talong tabi ini na nasa sako. Pina-paimod lang tabi na an mga sako san semento, pwede man gamiton na patubuan san gulay/tinanom.

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Photo No. 29:

*Sa sulod man tabi ini san urban agriculture demo garden. Mga kamatis tabi ini na nasa sako man san semento. An kawayan tabi sa taas san tinanom, mao an pakanapan.

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Photo No. 30:

*Sa sulod man tabi ini san urban agriculture demo garden. Manlaen-laen tabi na gulay an nakatanom didi sa mga sako.

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Photo No. 31:

*Tanuman man tabi ini na kawayan. Naka-design lang tabi siya na A-Frame. An mga irog tabi sini, pwede ibutang sa mga roof top san balay.

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Photo No. 32:

*Signage tabi ini san Opisina.

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Photo No. 33:

*Mao tabi ini an Ecopark Office. Nagsisirbi man tabi ini stock room san Ecopark.

 

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Photo No. 34:

*Signage tabi pakadto sa Campsite. Kaupod tabi sa letrato an mga Acacia mangium trees (about 1 ½ years old).

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Photo No. 35:

*Pathway pakadto tabi sa rest areas o cottages. Maiimod man tabi an mga puno san Gmelina arborea nan Acacia mangium sa palibot.

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Photo No. 36:

*Pathway pakadto tabi sa campsite

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Photo No. 37:

*Sayo sa mga rest areas/cottages. Kada rest area tabi, may signboard manungod sa solid waste management / waste segregation to inform the park goers about the policy of the LGU.

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Photo No. 38:

*An sayo pa tabi sa duwa na tanke san tubi sa Ecopark. Naka-locate man tabi ini harane sa bungad san Ecopark. Inbubutangan man tabi ini tubi para pangsaribo man sa mga tinanom na nakatanom sa parte na ini san Ecopark.

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 Driving back after a relaxing time inside the park.

 

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A good segment of the road, smooth driving.

 

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 This time a quintet of Calomagon boys. I’m very happy to see them as they look very natural, uncontaminated and safe from the dangers of  too much civilization.

 

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Towards the end of our journey before the exit to the town, a nipa hut  surrounded by flowering birds of paradise! They would cost a fortune in Europe.

 

If you would see the Eco-park as it is, it is surely a big accomplishment for our local government knowing that it is also a place where environmental agendas are being held every year. I would be very glad to see the Feast Of the Mountains, or to attend a lecture or workshop on solid waste management or global warming. How about a Music Festival- or a Jazz Festival? My own fantasy, as I walked on the ground of  Bulan Eco-park with my mind filled with ideas on how it could be improved  with time as Bulan progresses.

I would have wished it was a guided tour when I was there so that I could ask questions about things that were not clear for me. Maybe next time I would have this privilege. One thing that would make you happy are the young trees planted all over the Campsite and the well-kept paths. I wanted to know the names of the trees so I suggest that they’d be written in their local and scientific names. Included would be short information about each specific tree like distribution, importance to Bulan ecology, status ( endangered or not yet), etc.

I haven’t seen a source of drinking  water like a faucet , a well, water pump or  a grilling area , a multi-functional pavilion, garbage cans, a toilet and wash room for Park visitors. And I haven’t seen anybody there- except for a cow behind the signboard which says “Waste Segregation Suportado San KadaBulaneño”. Was that cow segregating also her waste? Cows by the way are one of the biggest culprits of this global warming. /  jun asuncion

—–

*LGU-Bulan Mayor Helen De Castro and Tony Boy Gilana

ANSWERS TO OTHER QUERIES OF MR. ASUNCION:

1. SPECIES OF FOREST TREES PLANTED AT THE ECOPARK:

Gmelina arborea (Gmelina) – exotic

Acacia mangium (Mangium) – exotic

Acacia auriculiformis (Acacia auri) – exotic

Swietenia Macrophylla (Big Leaf Mahogany) – exotic

 

Tinanom tabi ini na species maski aram ta na exotic tabi ini sa dahilan na ini tabi, fast growing kaya sa panahon tabi na nagbabatog pa lang an pag-develop san Ecopark, kaipuhan tabi shade. Although exotic tabi, widely distributed naman na tabi siya sa Pilipinas for how many years.

Pterocarpus indicus (Narra)

Albizia saman (Acacia, Rain Tree)

Leucaena leucocephala (Ipil-ipil)

Fruit trees:

Artocarpus heterophyllus (Langka)

Mangifera indica (Mango)

Carica papaya (Papaya)

Annona squamosa (Atemoya)

Canarium ovatum (Pili)

Cocos nucifera (Coconut)

Theobroma cacao (Cacao)

Ornamentals:

Gumamela

Mac Arthur Palm

Yellow Bell

Bougainvillea

Senyas

Santan

2. SOURCE OF DRINKING WATER / FAUCET / WELL / WATER PUMP /

GRILLING AREA

None yet, pero may plano na.

3. MULTI-FUNCTIONAL PAVILION SA ECOPARK

Sa niyan, an ginagamit lang tabi na area para sa mga activities, an kahiwasan san lugar na kahampang san vermiculture nan vermicomposting facility. Nagbubutang tabi stage nan big tents kun may mga lecture, demonstrations, programs, etc.

4. Garbage cans

Dire tabi kami nagbubutang san basurahan sa mga rest areas o cottages dahilan sa ini-encourage namo na paghale san mga park goers sa cottages, dara tabi nira an basura nira para ibutang sa garbage receptacles na naka-locate sa gilid san tinampo.

5. Toilet

Dire lang tabi siguro nakuwaan letrato an mga toilet rooms. May 3 sets (one cubicle for men, one cubicle for women) tabi na toilet strategically located tabi sa Ecopark. Pa-triangle tabi an location san mga toilet since masyadong malaki ang lugar. An sayo sa may campsite banda, an sayo sa may durho na cottage, an sayo sa may centro san Ecopark.

 

 BULAN SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

The “Bulaneño Ako, Basura Ko, Sini-segregate Ko!” Program is one of the priority thrusts of the Local Government Unit of Bulan. It was first conceptualized in 2004, launched in 2005 and strictly implemented in 2008. The program encompasses the whole solid waste management program of the LGUandwas designed for: a.) sanitation and environmental protection, b.) sound solid waste management systems, c.) provision and enhancement of livelihood opportunities through intensive resource recovery and recycling, and d.) minimization of public expenditures.

Prior to the program implementation, there were clear violations of RA 9003 which were really detrimental to the environment and lives of the people. Rampant burning of solid wastes in the household and in the municipal dumpsitewas prevalent. Throwing garbage at the different waterways seemed to be a normal scenario. Moreover, dumping of unsegregated wastes at the municipal dumpsite posed hazards not only to the environment but also to more than thirty (30) scavengers in the dumpsite seekingfor possible resources. Although Republic Act 9003 mandating all LGUstoimplement waste segregation and close all the existing open dumpsites was passed into law in 2001, implementation was difficult to materialize.

In 2004, the call for the execution of the mandates of the Act was very intense. It is the time when incumbent Mayor Helen C. De Castro decided to include Solid Waste Management (SWM) as one of her priority thrusts. To immediately act and address the existingsituation, Mayor De Castro formed a Technical Working Group (TWG). A plan of action was made and a series of multi-sectoral meetings, orientations and seminars for LGU key implementers and other stakeholders followed.

On June 30, 2005, the “Bulaneño Ako, Basura Ko, Sini-segregate Ko!” Program was officially launched. A month after, Mayor De Castro spearheaded the launching also of the Bulan Ecopark, with an aim of transformingthe existing open dumpsiteinto an ecological park. However, the first implementation of the program had not been successful. The problems were eventually traced to lack of regular monitoring and evaluation coupled with some operational deficiencies on the part of the LGU. Mayor De Castro realized the problem and tried to address it.

On November 2005, the Municipality of Bulan was enrolled to the DILGGO-FAR Project. In 2006, Mayor De Castro along with four (4) members of the TWG went to Linamon, Lanao Del Norte to attend the Replication Inception Workshop (RIW) on SWM. The good practices to be replicated then were the operation of Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and the preparation of two (2) compost activators. On the same year, Mayor De Castro spearheaded the replication process. Relevant facilities were established and more intensive IECs on RA 9003 and Municipal Ordinance on SWMwerere-packaged. Finally, on March 24, 2008, the program was strictly enforced givingemphasis on the following; a.) strict implementation of waste segregation-at-source, b.) collection of segregated wastes-at-source, c.) application of waste treatment (4Rs) / alternative technologies, d.) implementation of segregated waste disposal system, and e.) conversion of waste disposal facility into an Ecological Park.

With the efforts of the LGU and the massive participation of the community, the program earned various awards and recognitions both from the local and national levels. In 2007, the municipality was an awardee of the prestigious DENR Saringaya Awards, LGU Category for excellence in Local Governance and Environmental Protection on the field of SWM. In 2008, the DILG through its Secretary, Hon. Ronaldo Puno declared the Municipality of Bulan as Model Town on SWM. In view of being a Model Town, Bulan was expected to host RIWsfor interested replicating LGUs all throughout the country. At present, four (4) LGUsfromfour (4) provinces and two (2) schools including the U.P. Diliman – National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) have already visited Bulan for its SWM Program. In 2008 also, Mayor De Castro reaped the Punong BayanAward of Excellence for championing the program. No less than the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, Hon. Noli De Castro and LMP National President Hon. Ramon Guicogavethe award at the Manila Hotel during the LMP General Assembly.

At present, the program is workingand regular monitoringand evaluation is being observed. The Bulan Ecopark, a brainchild project of Mayor De Castro is continuously building a big space of hope in the big wide face of Mother Earth.

 

The program since has been enrolled and awarded by the DILG as Model Town on Solid Waste Management on October 2008 caters LGUs, barangays, schools, and other groups interested to visit, observe and replicate the program. Some of the LGUs and groups who have already visited Bulan for its SWMProgram are the following:

a. Personnel from Cataingan, Masbate

August 2008

b. Students from U.P. National College of Public Administration and

Governance (NCPAG), Diliman Campus

September 19-20, 2008

c. Youth for Environment in Schools Organization (YES-O)

Division of Sorsogon

October 28, 2008

d. Sorsogon National High School Students

November 20-21, 2008

e. Liga ng mga Barangay, Tigaon, Camarines Sur

December 15,. 2008

f. Barangay Officials of Poblacion, Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte

December 22, 2008

g. LGU Officials of Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon

January 9, 2009

h. South East Asia – Urban Environmental Management Application Project Executives

March 2, 2009

i. Members of Provincial Solid Waste Management Board (PSWMB), Sorsogon

March 20, 2009

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Video Of BulanEco-Park coming soon.

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Part II: The MDCC And The Bulan Rescue Team

The Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council or  MDCC and the Bulan Rescue Team deserve once again the highest respect for their selfless efforts and efficient performance in saving the lives of many Bulaneños and of coordinating the whole disaster management at the height of  typhoon Dante last May 1 and 2.

Under the leadership of  Vice-mayor Gogola and the young  and competent Municipal Administrator Luis De Castro, Jr., the dangerous risks  to the lives of our town people had been maintained to the minimum. I’ve observed these men at work in a situation where I know would also have triggered the highest emergency alarm and stress even among most advanced cities in the world. Our men worked with the serenity of spirit, bravery and heroism of a real Bulaneño amidst the chaos in the whole of  Bulan and the limited technical resources they have at their disposal. And I approached them and talked with them to know more about the disaster from their own perspective-  with Vice-Mayor Gogola as he inspects the evacuees in Bulan South Central School and with Mr. Luis De Castro in the MDCC office which is  housed in the old Municipal vicinity as he instructs the men of the rescue Team.

Mr. Luis De Castro has retained this  attitude of thankfulness in the midst of a disaster for the very little effort our Canipaan Team has done to the very first wave of evacuees that occupied the Bulan North Central School in the early hours of May2. I sensed also a deep sincerity in him when he told me ” sana walang maging casualty” (we pray that there will be no casualty).

These words had warmed my wet body and wearied soul for actually I came to bury my sister this very day- and not to roam around in the flooded streets of Bulan, an experience I never had for the last decades. Bulaneños still care for Bulaneños is the insight I have learned in my short exchange of words with Mr. Luis De Castro, Jr. I also somehow felt rewarded in return for the indignation and caring that I felt when as a young boy our then mayor Mr. Luis de Castro, Sr. met his tragic end. I think this inter-connectedness-in some-ways- in -a -deeper -level is the essence of being one people.

Our Kudos then to our competent young leaders who can practically manage the town on their own and who are present not only in peaceful and joyful times but in times of great calamities that even reached international news reports. Born good leaders seem to be always  at the right place and time and are there when the whole town is in distress and when  the padabas need them the most.

I violated my argument that if pictures speak louder than words, then let them be, which means words are unnecessary. My defense is that I cannot photograph my thoughts and feelings so again, I used words to convey them in this short tribute to our leaders.

For now let these following images speak louder than me:

 

 

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Municipal Adninistrator Luis De Castro, jr.  instructing his men.

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 The silhoutte of Vice -mayor Gogola (middle figure) as he inspects the evacuees in Bulan South Central School.

 

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Some of the rescue men having their briefing.

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Getting set…

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One of the rubber rescue boats.

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Rescue men in action.

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Hold on tight, children! The water is wall-high.

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A race against time.

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Clearing the waters from dangerous objects.

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Push…..

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and pull…

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Young boys on the look out,  ready to help.

 

These are some of images of Bulaneños’  fight for survival on that stormy days.

 

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer                                 (photos by jun and mila asuncion)

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Be A Responsible Bulan And Earth Citizen

 

Bulan Observer congratulates the LGU- Bulan under the leadership of  Mayor Helen De Castro for joining this year’s Earth Hour campaign! Your post have been read throughout the world and is now one of the most viewed posts.

It’s a good sign of solidarity and of  an ever  increasing global consciousness of Bulan community to join this Earth Hour event. One hour without carbon emission, electronic smog or electric consumption for millions of people around the globe- and also one hour of lesser noise pollution when many motors and machines are switched off . It is said that the United Nations building will participate this year for the first time and for an hour it “will save 102 dollars”. Not a big deal really but with all the other millions of buildings participating this year, it would be a saving in billions of dollars for an hour.

But the main thing in this Earth Hour is not saving the dollars but saving our environment- and life on Earth. Many critics of this event claim that it is “too late for such a campaign to have a meaningful impact”. Another critic Andrew Bolt opined that the total savings in Sydney, Australia for instance during  the 2007 Earth Hour event was  “A cut so tiny is trivial – equal to taking six cars off the road for a year”.

I think these critics have missed a very important aspect that is at the root of this Earth Hour campaign and that is the development of consciousness in each individual of environmental protection in general and of a wise and economical use of electricity in particular. Here is the long range effect of this one hour campaign: it could change the attitude of  millions of individuals for a lifetime, that when they go home after this event, they would for instance switch on one instead of three or more light bulbs in their houses, would switch off  TVs, stereos, computers. etc., that have always been left on a standby mode for years. It is said that in Switzerland, if people would not let their electronic gadgets on standby mode for a year, it would lead to the closing of one of their nuclear reactors. A big deal of saving and environmental relief.

So it’s not really late to repair the damage if each individual would combine all the strategies he or she has learned in conserving the environment like using the car less, using  energy-saving light bulbs and avoiding standby modes, segregating household wastes, avoiding chemicals and synthetic materials, not dumping your wastes in the nearby river or sea, planting trees, etc. There are many ways an individual can do to help conserve the ecosystem and contribute to a better quality of life for all  humans, animals and plants, cleaner air, soils, rivers and seas. In short, a happy planet Earth.

So why not give it a try, it’s never too late, join the Earth Hour today and be a responsible Bulan and Earth citizen for a lifetime.

 

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer

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LGU Bulan Joins the Earth Hour Movement

Submitted on 2009/03/26 at 8:37am
 By: PIO-LGU Bulan

Bulan, Sorsogon, March 26, 2009.

 

 Bulan Town in the Province of Sorsogon, in the Philippines is joining the Earth Hour movement!

Mayor Helen C. De Castro of the Local Government Unit of Bulan leads her community in joining the Earth Hour event on March 28, 2009 from 8:30-9:30 in the evening of Saturday.

In her communications sent to all sectors of the Bulaneno Community – the media, youth, business, labor, religious and academic sectors – Mayor De Castro is exhorting every Bulaneno, young and old alike, to wholeheartedly join and support this event by sacrificing one hour on the evening of March 28 by switching off their lights, electricity, the use of cell phones and the internet.

The three local radio stations -One FM, Veritas FM, and Padaba FM are now airing her taped Earth Hour message every two hours until March 28. These stations will have a countdown to the Earth Hour.

The local cable station, BSTV, is now airing a round-the-clock environment film showing featuring the Earth Hour, the Panahon Na! presentation on Climate Change and the Bulan Environment Program until the Earth Hour event.

The local parish church will be pealing the church bells as a countdown to Earth Hour and will be ringing the bells ten times every tenth minute until the Earth Hour is concluded. The local fire department will sound its sirens to signal the start of the Earth Hour.

One innovation started by Mayor De Castro is that since this is school graduation and closing season, all schools, even after the Earth Hour on March 28, will shut off their lights ten minutes before the start of their graduation ceremonies, as a show of solidarity to the Earth Hour movement-and they will hold numbers to dramatize concern for the environment.

A Texters’ Brigade has been organized to send “Pass an Earth Hour message” to friends and texters around.

In its own little way, the Bulan Community is one with the world in helping Mother Earth.

In the Province of Sorsogon, Bulan Town has been in the forefront of protecting and preserving the Environment. In 2008, Bulan Town was declared a DILG GO FAR Model Town for Solid Waste Management in the whole country. The Local Government Unit also conducts an annual Feast of the Mountains every first Saturday of October and has converted its dumpsite into an ecological park.  (PIO)

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The Woman Warrior Of The Philippines

by: jun asuncion

 

It’s astonishing that Senator Loren Legarda and Jing Magsaysay still manage to write me personally in spite of their very tight schedules. These are small gestures that tell  a lot about the character and professionalism of these two super busy people. That in spite of Loren being a national and international figure, her no non-sense legislative duties, her works for her environmental and educational foundations, all the representations that she does, the many visits to her constituents across the country and the many invitations she’s receiving from them and- last but not least-  her children who also occupy a great portion of her time, she still has the time to swift scan Bulan Observer and even write her replies personally. A big honor, indeed.

This tells us that sincerity is part of her natural character, her strength manifesting  in each single action she does which ultimately has carried her up to where she is now. Sincerity is earnestness, seriousness in intent and purpose. In German it is called Aufrichtigkeit, a word which also connotes straightforwardness, singleheartedness and veracity. Aufrichtigkeit is one of the the seven virtues of Bushido- The Way Of  The Warrior- a Samurai code which also emphasizes frugality(simplicity), loyalty and honour- and martial arts mastery. 

A warrior? Little is known of the fact that Senator Loren Legarda, while working as a broadcast journalist, “obtained a master’s degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines, where she emerged as topnotcher (NDCP awarded her gold medals for Academic Excellence and Best Thesis) and where she was the youngest in the class. She is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve Corps!” A woman warrior, not in a violent sense, but in a progressive moral sense. And a high-performance senator.

I thank Loren and Jing for their support for our little efforts here in Bulan Observer and wish them more power in their daily fight for progress.

Here are some little concrete samples attesting to their professionalism, earnestness and Aufrichtigkeit of character:

-Re: Thank you for your works and visions! Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:21 AM
From:  “Jing Magsaysay”
jingmag@yahoo.com  To: junasun05@yahoo.com, loren_b_legarda@yahoo.com.ph

Greetings Jun,

Please tell us which photos you would want to use so we can send you HiRes versions of the photos.

best,

Jing Magsaysay

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On Wed, 2/11/09, Loren Legarda <loren_b_legarda@yahoo.com.ph> wrote:

From: Loren Legarda <loren_b_legarda@yahoo.com.ph>
Subject: Re: Thank you for your works and visions!
To: junasun05@yahoo.com
Cc: “jing magsaysay” <jingmag@yahoo.com>, “honeyrose mercado” <hnyrosemercado@yahoo.com>
Date: Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 2:13 PM

Dear Jun:

 I am endorsing your concerns and propositions to my staff, namely, my press relations head Jing Magsaysay, and Luntiang Pilipinas in-charge of day-to-day activities Honey Rose Mercado, whose respective emails are indicated in this letter. You may directly coordinate with them.

Thank you for your support.

 Loren

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From: Loren Legarda <loren_b_legarda@yahoo.com.ph>
Subject: Re: Thank you for your works and visions!
To: junasun05@yahoo.com
Date: Saturday, January 31, 2009, 1:04 AM

Dear Jun:

Thank you for your enlightening words of encouragement. There is really hope in the Filipino. Together, we must give our share in our moral crusade.

Best regards,

Loren

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Loren Legarda: Avenue Of Green Trees, Poetry And Dreams

by: jun asuncion                                                                           

 

 

Loren Legarda, Joyce Kilmer and The Sniper – What connects them together? It’s their love or need for trees.

loren1Loren Legarda, a  Filipina senator. Loren’s love for trees is known,  a love which manifested itself early in childhood. She claims to have had a happy childhood “climbing trees and playing jackstones” in that Malabon compound where she grew up. She took this love for the trees with her all her life. Last year,  her “Luntiang Pilipinas” (Green Philippines), the urban forestry program founded by Loren which has already planted millions of trees across the Philippines, celebrated its 10th Anniversary launching at the same time the 10 million trees campaign. It’s a plus for all of us Filipinos, for nature and for  the other species dependent on trees. Indeed, it’s much more pleasant to imagine to have 10 million trees more, than to have 10 million trees less in the few years to come.

 

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kilmer_joyceJoyce Kilmer, an American writer, poet and soldier, a man from another place and time. He was born on December 6, 1886 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Joyce Kilmer wrote the famous poem  “Trees” on February 2, 1913, in the Kilmer home in Mahwah, New Jersey. Every pupil on earth taking up American literature  knows this poem- or has to memorize this poem at one point in his elementary years. Let’s visit this poem again: 

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                  –  Trees –

   I think that I shall never see
   A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

        

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sniperThe Unknown, a German sniper.

He, too, was sent to France probably the same year as Kilmer. The training of a sniper was hard and demanded precision in all kinds of situations. Imperial Germany was the first to use snipers in war and they were dreaded by their enemies for their deadliness and efficiency because of their training and their high-quality manufactured scope lenses mounted on their equally high quality rifles. Yet snipers were taught not only to pick off their targets but above all to respect and be one with the environment that conceals them, with the stones, grass, vines and green trees.

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 A Filipina legislator between an American Poet and a German Sniper. Three for the road, three kinds of trade, three nationalities that met in the avenue of green trees, poetry and dreams.

The End. The poet and soldier Kilmer fought for the United States during the First World War against Germany and was killed in France on July 30, 1918 at the age of 31-  by this  unknown German sniper who probably was himself on a tree or beside it when his scope spotted the scouting Kilmer somewhere  on a hill. His bullet pierced through Kilmer’s soft, poetic head, killing him instantly.

“It was a dirty way to die!
To put a bullet through your head
And make a silly woman cry!”

The irony of fate never dies. These lines above were authored also by Kilmer before he went to war, from his poem “To a Young Poet Who Killed Himself”. Time  and space transcending, this German sniper would have  cried out himself:

“It was a dirty way to kill!
To shoot a bullet through your head,
Oh, poor poet Kilmer.
And make a woman senator cry!”

Three events in history, three people doing their duty- and a love that connects them, the love for the tree. The poet Kilmer immortalized the tree with his poem, and if the target in his scope shared his love or need for the trees, that German sniper had no way of knowing it. He was  just doing his duty.

The Beginning. And so is Loren until now, just doing her duty as she keeps on planting trees. For her, it’s a sacred duty, a homage to that old love for the trees in Malabon compound that gave her coolness and shades during those hot summer vacation days, trees that she climbed and in whose bosom she perhaps dreamed of the possibilities that life would offer her once she gets to Manila to study- and to work.

Dreams came true but this was no reason to stop working for long ago she was saddened by the fact that Kilmer’s Trees were disappearing, landslides and floods were taking the lives of farmers and that  the global warming has now come to take its toll.

But now is no time for tears but is high time to act,  to resort to the power of the pen by writing legislation and to take up the shovel and help plant trees. Loren authored a number of legislation including those for our environment which have been passed into laws and her Luntiang Pilipinashas been building urban parks for years already. As she admits, her greening campaign is not aimed at competing the tree planting program by other organizations from other sectors or the annually held Arbor Day but to supplement them by focusing on restoring green in cities and municipalities by developing Forest Parks and planting trees along roadsides.

Sincerity is seen in the constancy of action over long period of time, a moral value that is scarce in a ningas-cogon infested political landscape. We all know that politics is never an easy arena in the Philippines and it is virtually impossible, if not naive, to expect to find a spotless, angelic public servant. For no matter how a politician tries to stay honestly to his belief and good principles, there are just moments in a politician’s life where principles and values collide with each other, where one has to make compromises even between two or more good arguments that seem to contradict each other at a given point in time and situation. But what counts is that the politician stays by his  duty and good intentions for his constituents- which he cannot always please- and that he  is aware that he is sacrificing a good principle for a more higher one. This is not always easy to explain to the conditioned public mind. For man’s perception of things around him is greatly influenced by the past and current events and that man even tends to re-interpret the past differently depending on the current events, also the reason behind why Luntiang Pilipinas is becoming more and more of a necessity than just a style and why Kilmer’s poem- which turned ninety-six years old this month-  is gaining popularity again because of current destruction of trees and the life threatening effects of global warming.

Be that as it may, today’s Filipinos should free their mind from the myriad of trivial things that divert it from the most essential in Philippine politics. Our judgment should never be based upon trivialities that we hear and see that only muddle our mind but on the essence and substance of a political argument or result. Loren’s legislative achievements, the laws and pending  Bills which she authored for us and her staunch engagement to ecological preservation and restoration are solid facts that attest to the essence and substance of this lady senator. These facts should simply guide our judgement when we contemplate about our future.

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 Bulan Observer

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Note: Official photos provided to Bulan Observer by Senator Loren  Legarda through her press relations head Jing Magsaysay. / jun asuncion

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  For The Record:

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Loren seeks Senate probe on relief aid for Bicol folk.

 
Publication: Manila Bulletin
Date: Sunday, August 12 2007
Senator Loren Legarda said the other day she would call for a Senate investigation into complaints by Bicol victims of last year’s disastrous typhoons and floods that the foreign relief assistance intended for them had not been sufficiently distributed.
Loren was reacting to an interview
over radio DWAR in which she was asked to react to the report of Bicol Bishop Lucilo Quiambao that many victims of the previous year’s typhoons and floods in Bicol had complained that foreign and local relief assistance intended for them did not reach them.
“I think this calls for a Senate investigation,” Loren said.
In the same interview, Loren also urged the government and civil society to step up the program of reforestation and dredging of rivers to prevent floods that cost heavy damage to lives and properties during the rainy season.
Loren said that more trees should be planted in urban and rural areas, as well as in deforested localities, to control floods during the rainy season.
She also declared that the national and local governments, as well as the barangays, should conduct sustained and intensified efforts to clean canals, rivers and other waterways of garbage and other debris so as to enable rainwater to flow smoothly.
Loren said she would intensify the activities of her Luntiang Filipinas (Green Philippines) Foundation which has already planted two million trees throughout the country to improve the environment and prevent floods.
Informed about complaints by Bicolresidents that millions of pesos in foreign and local financial assistance given to them in connection with last year’s disastrous floods have not reached them in adequate amounts, Loren agreed that there is indeed need for a Senate investigation on the matter.
Loren said that the Department of Welfare and Social Development and other government relief agencies should see to it that relief assistance to victims of typhoons, earthquakes and other natural or man-made calamities should be fully and immediately given the victims to accomplish the desired relief.
“I think Congress should pass legislation that would ensure that disaster and emergency relief aid should be totally and properly distributed to calamity victims by providing for penalties for fraud and negligence in the distribution of relief goods,” Loren explained.
Asked to react about the latest survey finding of Pulse Asia that she was the “most trusted” public figure in the Philippines, Loren declared that she was indeed thankful to the people for giving her this distinction. “I consider this a great responsibility and a further obligation to work harder for the good of our people in order to fulfill their expectations,” Loren told radio station DZAR.
Informed that the survey could encourage moves to make her run for president in 2010, Loren said that she is not at present thinking of the presidential elections.

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7  of 30 measures passed by Senate penned by Loren                                                                      

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Sen. Loren Legarda authored seven of the 30 bills that had been passed on third reading by the Senate, just one year into the 14th Congress.
“I’m inspired and elated considering the number of my colleagues who are all pushing for the passage of their respective pet bills,” said Legarda.

She stressed that the passage of her bills and the veritable adoption by the House of bills for which she had filed counterpart measures at the Senate are motivating her to work doubly hard.

“It’s work, work, work for me, in and out of the Senate session halls. If it’s not physically impossible, I’d like to be a 24/7 senator since there’s no end to what we can do, in and out of the Senate, to fight poverty and improve the quality of life of our people,” Legarda said.

Legarda is also an environmental advocate, being the chair and founder of Luntiang Pilipinas. Likewise, she’s been working to alleviate poverty, improve education, and push women’s health and empowerment through foundations she had established.

Her seven bills that had been passed by the Senate are the Batas Kasambahay Act, the Cheaper Medicines Act, Environmental Awareness through Education Act, Decriminalizing Vagrancy, Strengthening and Expanding the Special Program for the Employment of Students, the Pre-Need Code, and Act Lowering the Amusement Tax on the Film Industry.

Of the 52 bills passed on third reading by the House, seven have Senate counterparts that Legarda also authored.

Theseare House Bill 375 or the Billion Trees Act, HB 3293 on amendments to the Bureau of Food and Drugs Act, HB 4114 amending the Provincial Water Utilities Act, HB 4253 creating the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, HB 3956 or the Career Executive System Act, HB 4193 or the Renewable Energy Act, and HB 1387 creating the Disabilities Affairs Office.

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RP’s Sen. Loren Legarda: The first to be appointed “Champion” for disaster risk reduction
December 2, 20086:44 pm by pna
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec. 2 – The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) secretariat has appointed Senator Loren Legarda of the Philippines as the first “champion” for disaster risk reduction.
The is the first time UNISDR, the UN body which promotes disaster prevention, is engaging a high level parliamentarian to champion and support its advocacy work.

UNISDR Director Salvano Bricenoannounced the appointment at a news conference in conjunction with the Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which began here today at the Putra World Trade Centre.

Speaking to reporters, Legarda said, the appointment would inspire her to work harder.

“There is no more fitting time to say that reducing disaster risks is a moral imperative, a social responsibility, than in these times of growing vulnerabilities and persistent poverty and suffering caused by disasters,” she said.

She said now was the time to translate political commitment into concrete actions at national and local government levels, as countries were still far from achieving the goals of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

Legarda, a former broadcast journalist, among other things, founded the “Luntiang Pilipinas” (Green Philippines) in 1998 to promote public awareness on various issues concerning the environment and had also received the Philippines’ Ten Outstanding Young Men and Women Award.

More recently, in October this year, Legarda, together with UNISDR, convened the first consultative meeting with parliamentarians on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in Manila.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. (PNA/Bernama)

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People urged to remain vigilant on Cha-cha drive

 
Sen. Loren Legarda called on the people yesterday to be vigilant in discerning the true intentions of those pushing to amend the Constitution.
Legarda said Filipinos have reason to be wary that the government may be floating the idea of Charter change anew to extend the term of the present administration.

She lauded the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines led by its president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, for taking a stand against tampering with the organic law of the land to serve ulterior motives.

“Charter change per seis not bad, but because of the seeming underhanded intention of the government, people are left wondering why Charter change is being pushed,” Senator Legarda said.

The senator was among the first to question the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on Ancestral Domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). She said the Arroyo administration may have seen it as an opportunity to revive the call for Charter change when constitutional issues were raised on certain provisions in the MoA.

“Now that the MoA is scheduled for a thorough review, there is no apparent necessity to revive the call for Charter change at this time” Legarda said.

…..

Manila Bulletin Online

Loren wins Indian environmental award

Former senator Loren Legarda will be conferred the prestigious Global Award in the Field of the Environmentby the Priyadarshni Academy of India during its 20th anniversary celebration at the Hotel Oberoi Towers in Mumbai, India on Sept. 19.
Listed in 2001 in the Global 500 Honor Roll of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Legarda was recognized by the Indian organization for leading a successful environmental conservation program and helping craft Philippine conservation laws while serving as senator.

“It affords us great pleasure to inform you that the Priyadarshni Academy has decided to confer upon you its prestigious Global Award,” said academy chairman Nanik Rupani and Global Awards advisory committee chairman Dr. Ram Tarneja in their letter to Legarda.

“The Academy�s awards function is an opportunity for us to accord acknowledgment and felicitate outstanding achievements of distinguished individuals in their respective disciplines like literature, fine arts, athletics, environment protection, science and technology and such endeavors that promote social welfare and contribute to national and global development,” they said.

Legarda would be joining the ranks of Priyadarshni honorees like Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri, former British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Sir Adrian Cadbury of Cadbury Schweppes, and Sharp Corp. Japan President Katsuhiko Machida, among others.

The academy is a sociocultural organization founded in 1985 to promote internal relations, national integration and brotherhood, adult and children�s literacy, nutrition, and care for the handicapped and to raise awareness about drug addiction and diseases like AIDS.

Like the UNEP, the Priyadarshni Academy has decided to make Legarda its honoree for the protection of the environment for her highly successful environmental campaign that includes planting over a million trees all over the country through her Luntiang Pilipinas Foundation.

She was also cited for her active participation in the enactment of significant environmental legislation like the Philippine Clean Air Act (RA 8479), Mt. Kitanglad Protected Area Act (RA8978), Batanes Protected Area Act (RA 8991), and the Integrated Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003).

Among her priority measures when she was a senator were the Clean Water Bill, Sustainable Forest Management Act, and the National Landmarks Conservation Act.

 

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Loren tops Pulse Asia survey on RP’s most trusted public figures
By HANNAH L. TORREGOZA

Senatorial candidate Loren Legarda, a consistent survey topnotcher, is also the most trusted public figure in the country, according to the latest Pulse Asia nationwide poll conducted from April 21 to 25.
The Genuine Opposition candidate garnered 65 percent of the votes of 1,800 respondents.

Legarda is followed by Senator Manny Villar, 57 percent; Representative Francis Escudero 54 percent; Senator Francis Pangilinan, 52 percent; Representative Noynoy Aquino, 51 percent; Senator Panfilo Lacson, 50 percent; Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, 48 percent; Senator Edgardo Angara, 48 percent; Senator Mar Roxas, 47 percent; and Senator Joker Arroyo, 44 percent.

“I am honored by this survey result as it is not easy to earn someone’s trust, much more the trust of the entire nation,” Legarda said.

Like Legarda, Villar, Escudero, Aquino, Lacson and Cayetano are running under the opposition slate.

The former senator also topped the Pulse Asia survey held on the same dates getting a 59.6 percent acceptance rating.

In the same trust rating survey, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo only got 26 percent while former President Fidel V. Ramos was two points lower with 24 percent.

On the other hand, former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Joseph Estrada got 42 percent, and 38 percent respectively.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) scored 32 percent, but Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. got a measly 18 percent.

The election watchdog National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) got 33%.

Independent senatorial candidate former Senator Gringo Honasan and 1990 bar topnotcher Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III have trust ratings of 43% and 39%, respectivel

For more Facts about Senator Legarda, please click here  for the Archives of Manila Bulletin Online

or here  for the Senate Press Release Archives.

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Filed under Environment, Nature, Politics, Views and Concern

The Margaja Problem And Political Ping-Pong In Bicol

 

by jun asuncion

 

In keeping with our task to focus on unresolved issues concerning our town Bulan, I gathered here some news articles related with the margaja mining along the coasts of Bulan and in other Sorsogon towns. These are not the latest news, but still maybe some of you haven’t read these yet. The purpose is to help spread the news so that more and more people become aware of what’s going on around them.

We ask the people who know more to help update Bulan Observer with the newest developments in connection with these controversial mining operations. It is interesting to observe how the law takes into effect only when there are “misunderstandings” among our politicians. Suddenly somebody begins to work properly, accuses some people but nobody wants to accept responsibility, as each one of them is  playing safe and clean, accusations after accusations. Hence, it is a Ping-Pong match among our public servants which, although a garbage in itself, is worth watching for our environment is at stake here.

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-DENR pushed to probe illegal black sand mining in Sorsogon
November 19, 2008 3:44 pm by pna

By Danny O. Calleja
SORSOGON CITY, Nov. 19 – The provincial legislative board of Sorsogon has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to conduct investigations on the massive illegal extraction of magnetic sand from the coastlines of the province to determine who are responsible for it amidst nagging exchanges of accusations among local politicians.
“We are fed up by the exchanges of accusations over responsibilities involving this multi-million peso illegal activity among local political leaders so that the DENR should once and for all put an end to these by way of a thorough investigation to find out who really are to be made answerable,” Vice Governor Renato Laurinaria said on Wednesday.
Sorsogon second district Rep. Jose Solis has condemned the wide-scale magnetic sand quarrying along the coastlines of several barangays of at least four municipalities of the province and instigated a legislative inquiry by the House committee on environment and natural resources headed by Rep. Ignacio Arroyo.
Massive operations of magnetic sand quarrying have been reported in about 10 barangays covered by the municipalities of Sta. Magdalena, Bulan, Matnog and Magallanes, all coastal towns along the coastlines of Ticao Pass, San Bernardino Straits and the Pacific Ocean.
Provincial administrator Manuel Fortes said complaints against these illegal activities have reached his office and he tossed it up to the DENR being the proper forum for it.
“We in the provincial board are not in a position to resolve the issue but the DENR,” he said.
Laurinaria stressed that quarrying and extraction of coastal resources particularly within areas immediately within the coastlines are prohibited.
These areas belong to the prohibited zones for these activities so that it should not be given permit by the provincial government, he added. (PNA)
LAP/LQ/DOC/

– Solon wants magnetic sand mining in Sorsogon stopped

November 17, 2008 6:44 pm by pna

SORSOGON CITY, Nov. 17 – Rep. Jose Solis (KAMPI-2nd District, Sorsogon) said here Monday he is initiating moves to stop the widespread quarrying and transporting of magnetic sand from several coastal villages of at least three towns of the province.
“These activities are destructive to the coastal resources and expose the lives and properties of thousands of beachfront dwellers to extreme danger during severe weather incidents,” Solis said.
Massive quarrying and extraction of magnetic sand that is being transported in huge volumes by giant cargo vessels to unknown destinations started in late 2006 under a permit granted by the provincial government of Sorsogon to a concessionaire said to be a business partner of a former provincial official.
These activities have been going on in several villages within the coastal towns of Bulan, Magallanes and Sta. Magdalena.
Solis said he has brought the matter to the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources headed by Rep. Ignacio T. Arroyo for an inquiry to determine legislative measures towards putting an end to the destructive form of coastal resource usage.
The quarrying operations have already extracted a huge volume of magnetic sand from at least 10 kilometers of shoreline in the three municipalities and this is still going on even as several sectors have already expressed apprehension over its bad effects to the natural resources, Solis said.
The Magallanes town council headed by Vice Mayor Tito Ragrario has passed a resolution asking appropriate actions from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) but there is no action yet as of late, Solis said.
Mayor Arsenio Arambulo said the municipal government has no authority over quarrying activities even as it operations are taking place within areas covered by the municipality. “It is a responsibility of the provincial government that is mandated through the PENRO to supervise and regulate it then collect fees from its operator,” the mayor said.
In Bulan, Mayor Helen Rose de Castro shared Arambulo’s position. “Quarrying activities are beyond the scope of the local government unit (LGU) and compliance by its operators to requirements necessary to obtain permits is a look-out of the provincial government,” she said.
De Castro said the operator of the magnetic sand quarrying activities within at least five barangays of her municipality was given permits by the provincial government in late 2006 and renewed last August.
Sta. Magdalena town Mayor Amadeo Gallanosa said his LGU is helpless against the quarrying operations within four coastal villages along the coastline of Pacific Ocean within the municipality.
The operations cover over five kilometers from where hundreds of thousands of tons of magnetic sand locally called “margaja” have already been extracted and transported outside of the locality, Gallanosa said.
Solis said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should find means to stop such operations for the sake of environmental protection.
“By all means, these activities should be stopped given its destructive effects to the villagers affected and the natural resources,” he stressed.
Solis said he has requested the provincial office of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to initiate actions against these activities such as establishing checkpoints to prevent the transport of magnetic sand. (PNA)
LAP/LQ/DOC/

-POSITION PAPER OF THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF BULAN

Note: from PIO-Bulan to Jun Asuncion

Hereunder is a copy of the Position Paper of the Municipal Government of Bulan on the issues you raised regarding Margaja mining in Bulan.

November 8, 2008

Honorable Iggy T. Arroyo
The Committee Chairman

The Honorable Committee Members
Committee on Natural Resources
House of Representatives
Metro Manila

POSITION PAPER OF THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF BULAN, SORSOGON ON HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 177, ” RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES TO CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, INTO THE ILLEGAL EXTRACTION/QUARRYING/MINING OF MAGNETIC SAND IN THE PROVINCE OF SORSOGON PARTICULARLY IN THE MUNICIPALITIES OF SANTA MAGDALENA AND BULAN, SORSOGON”.

Section 138, Chapter 2, Book II of RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 states, ” xxx . The permit to extract sand, gravel and other quarry resources shall be issued exclusively by the provincial governor, pursuant to the ordinance of the sangguniang panlalawigan…”

We respectfully submit to the Honorable Committee that the issue on the granting of approval and permits to prospectors of and operators on quarry resources is beyond the jurisdiction of the municipal government.

What the municipal government does, upon application by the quarry operation applicant, as part of the application procedure, is to issue a certificate of endorsement that it interposes no objection prior to the securing of the necessary permits and license from the concerned DENR agencies and the provincial government.

It is up to the concerned DENR agencies and the provincial government to judiciously decide whether the necessary requirements have been complied with. Given their technical expertise, which is beyond the scope of this local government, the former can very well determine and decide on the granting of permits on these resources.

As far as the Municipal Government is concerned, we were informed that there was a permittee of magnetite sand quarrying in our locality, first in late 2006, and then the permit was renewed in August of 2008.

On the matter of taxation, it will be up to the provincial government to remit the share to our municipal government and to the concerned barangays where the quarrying is taking place, for the utilization of our local resource.

As to the matter of operation, while it is within our territorial jurisdiction, we are of the presumption that the supervision on compliance to standards set forth by law rests with the agencies concerned who have issued the permit to such an activity.

(Sgd.) HELEN C. DE CASTRO
Municipal Mayor

– Or visit Nonong Guyala’s own investigation  Bulan’s Blood Sand  in Sorsogonnews.

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Position Paper of the Municipal Government Of Bulan Regarding Margaja Mining In Bulan.

Note: from PIO-Bulan to Jun Asuncion

Hereunder is a copy of the Position Paper of the Municipal Government of Bulan on the issues you raised regarding Margaja mining in Bulan.

November 8, 2008

Honorable Iggy T. Arroyo
The Committee Chairman

The Honorable Committee Members
Committee on Natural Resources
House of Representatives
Metro Manila

POSITION PAPER OF THE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT OF BULAN, SORSOGON ON HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 177, “ RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES TO CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, INTO THE ILLEGAL EXTRACTION/QUARRYING/MINING OF MAGNETIC SAND IN THE PROVINCE OF SORSOGON PARTICULARLY IN THE MUNICIPALITIES OF SANTA MAGDALENA AND BULAN, SORSOGON”.

Section 138, Chapter 2, Book II of RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 states, “ xxx . The permit to extract sand, gravel and other quarry resources shall be issued exclusively by the provincial governor, pursuant to the ordinance of the sangguniang panlalawigan…”

We respectfully submit to the Honorable Committee that the issue on the granting of approval and permits to prospectors of and operators on quarry resources is beyond the jurisdiction of the municipal government.

What the municipal government does, upon application by the quarry operation applicant, as part of the application procedure, is to issue a certificate of endorsement that it interposes no objection prior to the securing of the necessary permits and license from the concerned DENR agencies and the provincial government.

It is up to the concerned DENR agencies and the provincial government to judiciously decide whether the necessary requirements have been complied with. Given their technical expertise, which is beyond the scope of this local government, the former can very well determine and decide on the granting of permits on these resources.

As far as the Municipal Government is concerned, we were informed that there was a permittee of magnetite sand quarrying in our locality, first in late 2006, and then the permit was renewed in August of 2008.

On the matter of taxation, it will be up to the provincial government to remit the share to our municipal government and to the concerned barangays where the quarrying is taking place, for the utilization of our local resource.

As to the matter of operation, while it is within our territorial jurisdiction, we are of the presumption that the supervision on compliance to standards set forth by law rests with the agencies concerned who have issued the permit to such an activity.

(Sgd.) HELEN C. DE CASTRO
Municipal Mayor

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Filed under Announcement, Environment, Legal Corner, Mayor Helen De Castro - LGU Bulan

CNH (Central Nautical Highway) – An Opportunity (And A Challenge…)

 

by rudy bellen

 

Attached is an excerpt from a news article of Manila Bulletin last April 29, 2008 during the launching of the Central Nautical Highway by no less than Pres. Gloria Arroyo seeing off roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) three day sea caravan plying the maiden route taking off from Bulan port. This is the last leg that completes a sea route connecting Bicol and Mindanao, the final component of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) via the central seaboard. The other two are : 1.) Western Nautical Highway (western seaboard) via Batangas port linking Manila and Dipolog, and  2.) Eastern Nautical Highway (eastern seaboard) via Matnog connecting Samar/Leyte to Surigao City. The CNH is an intermodal transport system offering a safe, affordable transport alternative to travel across the central Philippines or the Visayas. It links Sorsogon, Masbate, Cebu, Bohol, Camiguin, and Misamis Oriental in Mindanao, it also seeks to reduce travel and trade costs and consequently boost economic development in the countryside.

 

–> see Manila Bulletin Online for the original of the following report:

 by Genalyn D. Kabiling

“Filipinos can now enjoy a safe, affordable transport alternative to travel across the central Philippines or the Visayas. President Arroyo yesterday launched the Central Nautical Highway (CNH) that seeks to reduce travel and trade costs and consequently boost economic development in the countryside.

 

The Central Nautical Highway is an intermodal transport system linking Sorsogon, Masbate, Cebu, Bohol, Camiguin, and Misamis Oriental. It completes the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) composed of 17 ports across the country, inaugurated by the President in 2003.

Accompanied by Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro R. Mendoza, transport officials, and local executives, Mrs. Arroyo kicked off a three-day sea caravan in Bulan, Sorsogon, where she switched on the lights showing the ports in the central seaboard.

Under the Central Nautical Highway, the ports are located in Bulan, Sorsogon, Masbate City, and Cawayan in Masbate; Bogo and Cebu City in Cebu, Tubigon and Jagna in Bohol, Mambajao and Benoni in Camiguin, and Balingoan, Misamis Oriental.

The President later sent off the RORO (roll on, roll off) caravan, boarded by passengers mostly members of the media, in Bulan.  From Sorsogon, Mrs. Arroyo boarded a helicopter and travelled to the two ports of Masbate for similar send-off ceremonies.

The President first inaugurated the port of Masbate City, the first national port in the island province. The port exclusively handles containerized cargo among the Bicol terminals, aside from bulk commodities. Its fastcraft operations connect Bicol main with the port of Pilar, Sorsogon.

 

 

So what does it means for us? For me, I can see a great opportunity and benefits that Bulan would gain as the main gateway to one of the most dynamic regions in the Visayas and northern Mindanao. This nautical highway has put Bulan as the most strategic location linking directly to the tourist famous destinations of Cebu, Bohol and Camiguin. It also links us directly to Misamis Oriental in northern Mindanao – site of the biggest Hanjin Heavy Industries’ (HHI) investments (a staggering US$2B), together with the other HHI facility at Subic, these investments when completed would propel the Philippines as the 3rd biggest

shipbuilder in the world just behind South Korea and Japan even surpassing Spain.

 Just imagine, if the enterprising Cebuanos – comparable to Japanese, with no mango plantations yet they are best known for their dried mangoes, guitars, and other famous Cebuano products, would be directly passing Bulan, they might as well discover our native products and services which they can probably help us market through out the world. Or, help us develop our beautiful natural sites not only in Bulan but at the other places in Bicol as well, by putting up and developing tourism oriented facilities. Germans in Bohol are only confined today in their sanctuary in Panglao and other Bohol beaches but once they started to discover the beauty of Bicol they might change their mind. I was once surprised to find in the internet spectacular photos of the Butag bay and sunset at Sabang beach taken by no less than German adventurers!

  This direct “contact” is not feasible before as there’s no alternative land/Ro-Ro transport to offer, Cebuanos, Boholanos and other Visayans prefer to fly or take ferries direct from Manila to their final destinations thereby bypassing Bicol. But now they have the choice and option increasing the chances of more regional trades and tourism activities subsequently capital movements that would boost economic developments. This will also open up intra regional migrations, both for Bulan and the greater Bicol area vis a vis Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao.

  Let us not forget foreign tourists as well, with the big Hanjin investment at PHIVIDEC, Misamis Oriental, expect a throng of Koreans and other nationalities excitingly discovering this part of the country – and what does it means for us? Well, this is another opportunity to take advantage of, for us to globalize our products and services catering to international customers and so on. There is a never ending prospect for us!

 This is exactly what I told Letty in my response to her Kabatas’ blog on her gripes about the status of Bulan today, that there are now lots of strangers and “invaders”. I informed her that this is the strength of our town – a local melting pot, naturally and strategically situated at the crossroads of an important, very dynamic region, they know there is an opportunity. That this is a challenge for the local leadership to hasten, tap and reap the benefits of the blended talents of the local and “migrants” and transform our town to be one of the most vibrant, prosperous and flourishing trading post in our region.

 What should be done? There are lots of things to do if we don’t want to miss this once a in a lifetime opportunity. First we must get our acts together. We need to apply the three C’s of progress – Collaborate, Complement and Cooperate.

· Collaborate – Team up, this call for the public and private sector to work together in partnership. Be proactive. Put first things first and begin with the end mind – no place for lapses, blunder and oversight.

· Complement – Harmonize and supplement, make up for the weakness of the other. Seek first to understand then to be understood. Instead of opposing and rivalry that would create hostile environment, identify strength and niche products or services specific to a place that would give rise to specialization and originality.

· Cooperate – Assist, pool resources, do your part, synergize.

 Another C to watch out is competition, be prepared and organize ourselves for a tough and challenging competition from other contenders. Though Bulan is the official designated CNH Ro-Ro port, Pilar town is aggressively gearing up themselves as an alternative route of the CNH, its fastcraft operations connect Bicol main with the ports of Masbate city or Aroroy town. While they have fastcrafts Bulan has nothing to speak of.

 Second, we must educate our people and make liquid clear the importance of being a tourist or stranger friendly citizens. This negative trait of some of our folks has been with us ever since. I remember one time on one of my occasional break when I went home together with my wife and daughter; we took a bus and upon arrival at the Bulan bus terminal the usual boorish “baggage” boys were banging each other to get first and grabbed our luggage. My wife and daughter were so shocked and afraid so I have to step up and threatened them; coincidentally I was sporting a short cut hair then, they thought I was a military man and they backed off. But the experience doesn’t stop there, after several days of our stay; there was news of a man from Masbate who ran amock at the market. The poor man was “pushed to the wall” by successive depressing events that happened to him – he is traveling back home because his wife passed away, he and his daughters did not catch the last trip to the island and was forced to sleep and wait for the next day trip at the bus terminal, when they woke up, their belongings were nowhere to be found. He reported the incident to the police but instead of helping him, he was passed around and worst of all his young daughters were harassed and molested by the ill mannered “baggage” boys. So there he goes, he went wild and stab every person in his way.

If you have spent some vacation trip at Bohol, there you’ll discover the true meaning of tourist friendly phrase. Hotel staff would politely refuse any form of tips; folks are so friendly and always ready to assist any stranger in their community.

 What do we have to offer? I think we have ample natural and human resources readily available for development and advancement. Butandings (whale sharks) is not exclusive to Donsol alone; we have plenty of it in our waters too. These gentle giants are not confined at Sorsogon bay for their food requirement, in fact they are grazing outside of the bay and most are in Ticao Pass because their food (planktons and small shrimps) are carried upstream by the converging Pacific Ocean and China sea in San Bernardino Strait. Many of our fishermen can attest to this phenomenon. We also have the giant Pasa-pasa (Manta Rays) and plenty of it is right in our waters.

 We have beautiful and unique (margaja sand) beaches from Danao all the way to Marinab, there are exciting diving sites, too, especially in the Butag bay. Possibly under our waters were old age shipwrecks – from Spanish to WWII eras which are a main draw for the diving enthusiasts. Maybe we can convince tours and travel agencies to put Bulan (and Sorsogon province) in their radar maps for their tourist promos as an alternative to other known and crowded beaches of the country.

 We have an airstrip that should have been fully maximized instead of being a grazing place for the carabaos (some portions were already converted to rice paddies). This is one asset that other towns doesn’t have aside from Bacon, and should be an enticing factor for those who don’t want to travel overland from Manila all the way down to Bulan. Small aircrafts and STOL (short take off/landing) crafts can easily be accommodated by this facility. I can still remember when Air Force can even land their cargo planes on it. Maybe some enterprising entrepreneurs can start a chartering business for this purpose.

 Other things to remember. We should also learn from the experience of other towns, like Matnog – it is one of the first municipalities to have the Ro-Ro facility and has been there for some time now, but no significant progress has been achieved by the town. Why? We should gain knowledge and be taught from their failures, acquire and leverage from the know how and technology of the progressive ones.

 As a logistics person, I recognize and see a need for support facilities for the Ro-Ro port to operate efficiently. I think the controversial Bulan Central Terminal (BCT) has its function and purpose after all. But from my point of view, I cannot see the relevance – in any way I look at it, how it would best support the Ro-Ro port from its current site. It is too far! The ideal site should be right beside the port so the arriving and departing passengers would not be inconveniently shuttling or going back and forth. This will irritate the exhausted travelers, besides being time consuming additional expenses would be incurred by the passengers just to catch up with connecting rides. It can be also a temporary holding area for the cars and buses that are waiting for their turn to board Ro-Ro ships, eliminating long queues and crowding of vehicle thereby resulting to a smooth and efficient port operation.

 Lastly, I see a need to relocate the port in five years time or less with an assumption that there would be an unprecedented growth in the number of travelers. The port should be relocated outside of the town proper with enough provisions and support facilities to encourage and promote continued usage. The current road leading to the facility is too narrow and not adequate enough to sustain the volume of vehicles that would be traveling to and from the docks. This would create congestions and gridlock

I know this is only a fraction of a long list of what to do and what do we have and may have forgotten other things that should be done to make our town an organized, equipped and a prepared community for the forthcoming progress. You may add other relevant infos and suggestions that would be of help.

I firmly believe that our town has a bright future and it is starting to manifest now.

 

Bless us all.

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Environment, Rudy Bellen's Column, Town Agenda, Views and Concern