Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Connecting Bohol Province and Camiguin Island

Written by Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine News Agency - Bohol

After almost a year when people thought the one-liner was just plain and simple empty political ego-trip, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo again came to prove doubters wrong. 

On her Bohol trip April 29, the facing image of PGMA still waving along with a flank of government officials on board the Super Shuttle Ferry 12 to Mambajao in Camiguin, is enough proof that nautically connecting Bohol to Camiguin can be done.

The president, in possibly her briefest engagement here, led the caravan of tour buses and coasters through Bohol's coastal highways to fulfill the remaining legs of a journey that spans Luzon to Mindanao. The journey is through the ambitious project of uniting country's archipelagic divide with one Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH). 

Last May 9, 2007, PGMA also came to this southeastern town to inaugurate the P60.39M port. She also taped the SRNH infomercial with Radio TV Malacanang. The television commercial was to mark the 4th year after the government set the SRNH on sails.

Now, to realize the infomercial, at the Jagna port, she witnessed the turning over of the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) by MARINA Administrator Vicente Suazo to Asia Marine Transport and Shipping (AMTS) President Paul Rodriguez shortly after the caravan rolled to a stop here.

AMTS new CPC would be its franchise using its Super Shuttle Ferries to operate the Jagna-Mambajao route. 

"AMTS would be fielding a regular daily ferry schedule to Mambajao starting next week, in time for the fiesta month in Bohol," AMTS Business Development manager Lowell Elim said.

First, it would be missionary types of trips, but we have earlier studied its feasibility and with tourism in Bohol and Camiguin, it may not be long when the route would be a money-maker, he hinted.

To complete the infomercial, two Roll-On Roll-Off (Ro-Ro) ferries moored at the port acted as background to the route opening ceremonies and the turn-over rites.  

As PGMA completed the taping in full air of professionalism last year, she so led the rites deftly in a little over ten minutes.

At that window of time however, the people here saw "full threshold of infinite possibilities for tourism, trade and commerce with Camiguin and the whole of the land of promise: Mindanao," Boholanos said.

"The President took her entire cabinet into an inauguration run for the Central Seaboard of the SRNH to let her key advisers see the realization of a project that she calls "the backbone of trade from Mindanao to the Visayas to Luzon," said Secretary Eduardo Ermita in an press conference a few minutes before the caravan came. 

She, who was joined by her cabinet, has kept on encouraging people to take the Ro-Ro as it is dependable and affordable. This she has been saying since her infomercial started coming out May 12 of last year. 

The Ro-Ro, which she claimed is "dependable and affordable" can bring down the costs of transport of goods and facilitates fast movement of services. 

The President also claimed that the Ro-Ro "is the backbone of trade from Mindanao to the Visayas to Luzon" as it has kept the cost of food down as well as improved the lives of farmers.

The Jagna engagement however is just another of the caravan's stop in Bohol.

Earlier, the President joined the SRNH caravan from Cebu when she boarded the lead bus after landing via a helicopter in Tubigon and leading the caravan welcome rites there.

Bohol leg is just part of the Central Seaboard nautical route which started in Bulan, Sorsogon through Masbate, Cebu and took a turn to Tubigon, Bohol two days after it took off from Legazpi in Albay.

"The SRNH caravan is proving to us that greater inter-island transport mobility and accessibility can be done but only after leaders can cast politics aside in favor of service," a Jagna port vendor said while showing a new Ro-Ro for GMA white cap. 

PGMA landed in Tubigon at 11:45 and joined the caravan of tour buses testing the nautical route.

Clad in navy blue t-short and dark pants, the President looked confident as she got off the yellow and white Ceres Tour bus in the Jagna Port at 2:55 PM. 

As this happened, more of the residents here believe that the new route may not be much of economic but tourism booster in the Visayas.

The Central Visayas, is considered as the country's "tourism center" in the Administration's super regions economic development plan. 

The SRNH was conceptualized to interconnect by land and sea the island provinces of the country through Ro-Ro and cargo vessels, ferry boats, fastcraft and other modes of land transportation.

In Bohol too, the SRNH punctuates the Administration's effort to spur development by investing in key infrastructure to make small economy work and sustain itself.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cebu Pacific Airline Supports Philippine Tourism

Cebu Pacific (CEB), the country's leading domestic airline, is pushing for the inclusion of three Philippine tourist spots in the current online search for "Seven Wonders of Nature".

CEB has created a link in its website to the Seven Wonders of Nature voting site, so that Filipinos worldwide can easily cast their votes for the Philippine entries: the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, and the Tubbataha Reef and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Underground River), both in Palawan.

Candice Iyog, CEB vice president for marketing and product, said, "This is in support of the government's efforts to promote our country in the global market. Just by joining this search, we are making the world aware of the natural wonders our country has to offer."

CEB will also launch an email blast endorsing the Philippine natural wonders to its database.

"As the No. 1 e-commerce website in the country, we hope we can help invite all the Filipinos to go online, vote and make the Philippines part of the New 7 Wonders of the World because this is something we should be very proud of.  Let's all do our part in making this happen."  Iyog emphasized.

As of yesterday's Live Top 77 ranking at, Tubbataha Reef is ranked No.8 and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is at No. 53.  Chocolate Hills is below the top 77 cut-off mark.

"With this search, we hope to entice more foreign and local tourists to come see the Philippines' natural wonders and contribute to the development of our tourism industry," Iyog stated.

Now in its 13th year, CEB continues to have the youngest fleet in the Philippines. CEB flies to 14, soon to be 16 international destinations, with the addition of Kaohsiung in June, and Kota Kinabalu in July. CEB also operates flights to 21 domestic destinations.

Job Priority Given To Philippine DOST Scholars

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus has ordered school officials to give priority the hiring of scholars from the Department of Science and Technology-Science and Education Institute (DOST-SEI).

"This is the best way these scholars can give back to the country---by teaching in their own communities and inspire a new generation of students who will have passion in science and technology," Lapus said.

Of the 147 DOST-SEI scholars this year, 41 came from Region V (Bicol Region) and 30 came from the National Capital Region (NCR).

Since school year 2002-03, there have been 957 teacher items allocated to DOST-SEI scholars. In 2007, DepEd created more than 16,000 teacher items, the highest number in years.

DOST-SEI scholars go through a stringent selection process and are required to maintain good academic standing. They are encouraged to work in the science industry and serve the country after their graduation by teaching for four years.

To qualify to teach, the scholar-graduates are required to pass the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) within the school year.

The Science and Education Institute spearheads direct investment in scientific training through programs that address the increasing science and technology manpower requirements of the country.

One of the goals of Science and Education Institute is to improve the pre-service and in-service education of science and mathematics teachers at all levels. It assists schools and other educational institutions to improve science and mathematics instruction. - Philippine News Agency

Monday, April 28, 2008

Palarong Pambansa in Palawan. Was it Successful?

Philippine News Agency

Palawan Mayor Edward Hagedorn credited the success of the Palaro to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and different sectors who extended financial support and did respective responsibilities in the duration of the week-long Palaro.

Hagedorn said the city has spent more than P100 million, wherein P50 million was chipped in by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's augmentation fund while the remaining P25 million came from Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Department of Education (DepEd).

He said he received several messages from sports officials from country's 17 delegations expressing their gratitude to him.

He also thanked to the police and military personnel who provided maximum security to the 18,000 Palaro delegates in their billeting and playing venues.

During Monday's flag-raising at the City Hall, he likewise aired his gratitude to the Vice Mayor Lucilo Bayron, city council members and city department heads and employees for their full cooperation during the Palaro.

"Thank you, Puerto Princesa", Secretary Jesli Lapus said, as he commended the "invaluable support of the city government, especially the personal attention of Hagedorn" in the staging of the Palaro.

Vietnam Will Supply Rice to the Philippines

The Philippine government announced Vietnam won the bid of being its primary rice provider. Vietnam will ship 102,000 tons at 1,200 per ton, the highest rate ever in the country's export history.

The shipment will be sent by June this year, according to the Viet Nam Food Association, saying the country will only export 3.5 million tons, a year-on-year decrease of one million tons, following Government instructions to ensure food security domestically.

The current volume of rice exports contracted by the Philippines has reached 2.4 million tons. So far, 1,380,000 tons have been delivered bringing in US$ 566 million. - Philippine News Agency

English Movie Titles Translated Into Bisaya-Cebuano

From my email inbox today. I don't know who started this translation. Enjoy reading!

1. Black Hawk Down - Naay Kabog sa Silong
2. Dead Man's Chest - Atngal sa Laki nga Namatay
3. Million Dollar Baby - Anak ni Lee Majors
4. Mary Poppins - Nibuto si Maria
5. Snakes on a Plane - Nag-eroplano ang Akong Traydor nga Higala
6. The Postman Always Rings Twice - Tao Sa Poste Nabagtingan ug
7. Sum of All Fears - Pundok sa Kahadlok
8. Swordfish - Suwangon nga Isda
9. Pretty Woman - Akong Asawa
10. Robin Hood, Men in Tights - Robin Hood ug ang mga Kuyog, Bugdo
ug Gisul-ob
11. Four Weddings and a Funeral - Kaupat Nagpakasal sa Patay
12. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Ako, Ikaw,
Kamong Tanan
13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Adik si
Harry ug shabu
14. Click - Gipislit
15. Brokeback Mountain - Buktot sa Bukid
16. The Day of the Dead - Kalag-kalag
17. Waterworld - Tubig-tubig
18. There's Something About Mary - Naay kuan si Maria sa iyang kuan
19. Employee of the Month - Ang Sipsip
20. Resident Evil - Akong Ugangan Niipon Namo
21. Kill Bill - Patya ang Bayad
22. Nightmare Before Christmas - Giorum sa wa pay Pasko
23. Never Been Kissed - Batig Nawong
24. Gone in 60 Seconds - Daling nagawsan, nidagan
25. The Fast and the Furious - Nabitin, nasuko
26. Too Fast, Too Furious - Nabitin na sad, Nisamot Kasuko
27. Beauty and the Beast - Ang akong Asawa ug kong Ugangan
28. Die Hard - Gahi Mamatay
29. Die Hard, With A Vengeance - Wa mamatay, Nanimaos
30. Lost In Space - Wa Katugpa
31. Paycheck - Sweldo
32. What Lies Beneath - Namakak sa Silong
33. Superman, The Return - Si Superman Nibalik,
nahabilin ang dyaki
34. Cinderella Man - Bayot si Cinderella
35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Charlie ug ang iyang
Pabrika sa Lapuk
36. Blade Runner - isnatsir ug labaha
37. Schindler's List - Listahan sa utang ni Schindler
38. Men In Black - Mga Laki nga Itom ug Bugan
39. X-Men, The Last Stand - Mga Laki Nabayot Kay di na Utgan
40. Wedding Crashers - Bag-ong naminyo, nadisgrasya
41. The Day After Tomorrow - Balik lang Sunod Ugma
42. Catch Me If You Can - Gukod!
43. A Bug's Life - Ang Kinabuhi sa Kuting
44. Die Another Day - Basin Ugma pa Siya Mamatay
45. The Rock - Ang Shabu
46. Jaws - Panga
47. Back to the Future - Tuas likod ang Kaugmaon
48. In the Line of Fire - Nilatay sa Alambri nga Nagkayo
49. Saturday Night Fever - Sabado sa Gabii, Gihilantan
50. Stepmom - Tumbi si Mama
51. Police Academy - Iskwelahan sa mga Buaya
52. The English Patient - Ang Pasyenteng nga Di Kahibao Magbinisaya
53. Man on Fire - Laki nga ni Tongtong sa Kayo
54. The Horse Whisperer - Dunay Gihunghung sa Kabayo
55. Dante's Peak - Ang Alimpo ni Dante
56. Legends of the Fall - Ang Istorya sa mga Nalamba
57. The Forgotten - Nakalimtan nga utang

Is Bohol, Philippine Rice Sufficient?

By Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine Information Agency - Bohol

Contrary to the belief that Bohol is rice sufficient, the province still needs P13.786M to attain full rice sufficiency in two years, a technical working group (TWG) tasked to make develop Bohol agriculture said. 

  For this, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan led by Vice Governor Julius Caesar Herrera Tuesday passed the appropriations to satisfy a request from Governor Erico Aumentado for Bohol to put up key mobilization fund for Bohol's Rice Accelerated Enhancement Response (RacER).

  RacER is recommended by the TWG. 

  The TWG, composed of former Department of Agriculture regional technical director Dr. Jose Quitazol, Provincial Agriculturist Liza Quirog, Agricultural Promotions Center Manager Eugene Cahiles, National Food Authority's Nestor Rey Alcoseba, Bohol Poverty Reduction and Management Officer Antonieto Pernia, Provincial Environment Officer Eduardo Inting, Irrigation Officer Modesto Membreve and still some unnamed technical men recommended the amount to be taken from the Provincial Government cash boxes to improve agriculture here.

  Of the amount however, only the P1400 revolving fund subsidy for each bag of hybrid of rice seeds that go to irrigators associations and technical trainings, seminars would go directly to the farmers. The rest covers incentives to technologists, rice technicians, municipal agriculture officers and coordinators. 

  Many critics and farmers openly said "this is disheartening."

  "While the technicians get salaries from the government, it is us who are asked to produce so the best farmers should be the one's getting the incentives, not them," a farmer who asked not to be named, complained. 

  The complaint also goes in line with Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) stand on subsidies which it said is perhaps politically opportune, [are] but hardly the answer to the current rice woes. 

  On subsidies, HSBA said "it would have perverse impacts, by prolonging the adjustment process that is required." The bank recommended instead, for farmers to be given more incentives for improved production.
About Racer

  RAcER, as adopted by Bohol, sets to motion multi-component approaches to food sufficiency, reports said.

  Racer attempts to address the remaining 17% gap in the province's rice sufficiency, which now only amounts to a little over 82%, data from form the Office of the Provincial Agriculture stated.

Bohol's Chocolate Hills Sabotaged in New 7 Wonders?

Written by Rey Anthony Chiu of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) - Bohol

Why Bohol's Chocolate Hills was deleted off the list of nominees in the current search for new seven wonders of the world, local officials and tourism stakeholders here want to know.

  To compound the problem, not only is the Chocolate Hills off the list of nominees, it also could not be re-nominated either. 

  Several Boholanos presumed that it could be a nasty job of a computer hacker. 

  A hacker intentionally gains access to a secure internet website, navigates and controls any information therein as he taps into the system website. 

  But Boholanos, again united in campaigning for votes to finally put the wondrous hills into the top seat were all speculations about the de-listing, as of Tuesday.

  The Chocolate Hills was just recently nominated and saw a dramatic climb from nowhere to number 6th last week. 

  But just how fast it rose, was how it got off the list Monday, when online voters and noted the sudden disappearance of the hills from the list.

  "The thing is, we could probably understand if the nominee loses its place in the top seven in a day, but to be totally out of the list is unthinkable," claimed an web-surfer who was about to cast his vote.

  He also confirmed that, attempts to re-nominate the Chocolate Hills also prove to be another problem as online nominations seemingly get bounced out.

  Wanting answers, Bohol Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) Tourism Committee Chair and Board Member Ester Corazon Galbreath prodded the provincial lawmakers to launch an appeal to the search organizers. She said the organizers should explain how Bohol's marvelous Chocolate Hills and Mayon Volcano were deleted from the list. 

The New Brand of Bohol Tourism

Reported by Rey Anthony Chiu of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) - Bohol

Stamping Bohol identity and character into its built heritage and infrastructure puts up an added value to Bohol tourism, hints heritage icon and architect Augusto Villalon, during the recent conference at the Metro Center Hotel.

  The conference, which gathered Bohol's leading architects, engineers, builders, contractors and artists is billed "Architecture of Place, Putting Bohol in its Tourism Infrastructure and Facilities."

  As such, "it tends to lend to the Bohol tour a new vigor as Bohol now could be seen at a new facet: in the light of how local history and milieu contributes to the robust and complex system which the people showcase in their built heritage," adds Arch. Rosario Encarnacion-Tan during a presentation. 

  "Beset with the recent sprouting of Swiss chalets, Spanish villas, American homes, Boholano vernacular architecture seem to cower in humble submission that a tourist or visitors fail to fully discern the local spirit," conference organizers said. 

  Now, acting promptly on the observation that the present Bohol architecture is hardly reflective of its culture, the conference moved Ayala Foundation, Filipinas Heritage Library, Bohol provincial government and Holy Name University to expose participants to the traditional and the vernacular architecture as a common fiber to which new designs can develop.

  Encarnacion, along with Villalon took turns at the conference in detailing the need to instill the gist of Philippine if not Boholano Architecture in the built structures to showcase the Boholono soul.

  According to Encarnacion, the Philippine concept of space surrounding a space is an interesting theme prevalent in almost all old heritage structures. 

  Encarnacion, who has had a long list of veritable Filipino architecture designs fitted into modern structures now off her drawing boards said "spacing means putting up balconies that gaze out to gardens, emphasizing visual layers and sectional walls that open to create more spaces."

  Moreover, its is always a Boholano penchant to build their houses on stilts, one that allows more space and adds value to a unique ventilation, she said.

May Labor Day Issue in the Philippines

Regional Wage Boards (RWB) who are yet to go through deliberations for the new wage levels in their respective regions before May 1, Labor Day, may have to go overtime, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has instructed recently. 

  This as the rest of the country's labor force takes a breather Thursday, one of the country's few unmoved holidays.

  While some of the country's holidays have been moved for reasons of "holiday economics," Proclamation 1463 has earlier noted that "May 1 has been a long and cherished tradition of workers.

  It added that the "holiday has trade unions [fighting] very hard to institutionalize in the country and in international events, [so] that the workers want to celebrate on its exact date,"  

  Moreover, in the stalemate, the President has also enjoined private firms to extend to their employees non-wage benefits.

  She pointed out that the non-wage benefits that include rice, canned goods and shuttle services would go a long way to augment workers' take-home pay in the face of rising prices of basic commodities. 

  Stressing the urgency of the situation for the RWBs to present new wage scales, the President personally instructed them to work overtime to reach a decision on the new wage levels in their respective regions, said Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye.  

  Bunye, who also sits as concurrent Press Secretary said the President issued her directive to Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, in efforts to ensure that the RWBs get cracking on the wage issue "even if it means they have to work on May 1, a non-working day for the rest of the country."

  Earlier, Roque said that officials of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will meet on Friday "to discuss the means on how we can fast-track the wage discussions and deliberations."

  But the President, apparently worried that the RWBs won't be able to come up with agreements by Labor Day, said they must continue working on proposed new wage levels through May 1. 
  "The President reminded the Regional Wage Boards of the urgency of setting new wage levels, taking into account the rising cost of commodity prices," Bunye said.

Philippine Troops Fighting Communist Rebels

Government forces backed by attack helicopters and armored vehicles pressed their offensive against a big group of communist rebels who fled to the forested area of Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur as fighting entered its third day Sunday, a military report said.

A report from the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMincom) said four soldiers were killed and three others wounded. Their names were withheld pending the notification of the next of kin.

But the military said New People's Army (NPA) suffered heavy casualties during the air strikes by MG-500 helicopter gun ships of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

The choppers unleashed air-to-ground rockets and .50 caliber machine gun fire at the fleeing rebels in Palina area, Barangay San Isidro Monkayo, Compostela Valley on Saturday.

Ground forces supported by armored vehicles also clashed with the fleeing rebels, killing or wounding several of the insurgents.

The rebels from the Guerilla Front Committee 3 who split into two fled to Mapason area, Barangay San Roue, New Bataan, but they were intercepted by elements of the 25th and the 28th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army.

Maj. Gen. Leo Joggy Fojas, commanding general of the Army's Southern Mindanao 10th Infantry Division odered Col. Florante Martinez, commanding officer of the Army's 1003rd Infantry Brigade, to press the offensive.

An additional unit, the 72nd Infantry Battalion was also dispatched to reinforce pursuing government forces against the big band of NPA rebels under Commander Jinggoy of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Strong Republic Nautical Highway

Malacanang on Sunday said the mini-Cabinet/National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) meeting to be held on Tuesday on-board the roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) in Mambajao, Camiguin is expected to discuss the impact of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) project, the proposed one-stop shop for housing development, and assessment of "food-poor" areas in the country.

In his weekly View from the Palace, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be launching on Monday the Central Nautical Highway through a ro-ro caravan, that signifies the completion of the SRNH.

The project, which is part of her eight-point development agenda, was being implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), together with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

As a start of the caravan, Bunye said the President will light the route map of the Central Nautical Highway in Bulan, Sorsogon, which includes ports in Bulan, Sorsogon; Masbate City; Cauayan, Masbate; Bogo, Cebu; Tubigon, Bohol; Jagna, Bohol; Mambajao, Camiguin; Benomi, Camiguin; and Balingoan, Misamis Oriental.

"Most of the members of the Cabinet will join the Jagna-Mambajao leg of the ro-ro on Tuesday," he said.

While on board, Bunye said the President will conduct a mini-Cabinet/National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) meeting "where important stakeholders will help conduct an impact assessment on the Nautical Highway project."

Combat Rice Shortage, Go for High-yielding Rice Variety

Written by Rey Anthony Chiu of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)

Shifting to high yielding varieties of rice from the traditional varieties can spell so much difference for farm yield, assures a top agricultural technology promotion officer in Bohol.

  "Once a farmer uses the high yielding varieties in his seeds, there would be an incremental increase in his production per unit area" Engr. Eugene Cahiles, of the the Bohol Agricultural Promotion Center bared at the weekly Kapihan sa PIA Thursday. 

  This as he underscored that the seed shift alone raises rice production dramatically so Bohol could quickly respond to the goal of rice sufficiency.

  "Even without altering production factor other than a shift to either high yielding hybrid or at least certified rice seeds, a farmer can get more than half his usual yield, he claimed. 

  The difference, Bohol Provincial Agriculturist Liza Quirog pointed out is a matter of 72 bags of rice per hectare compared to his usual 48 bags yield per hectare for hybrid rice.

  The two top agriculture officials in Bohol appeared at the weekly forum aired live over DYTR to elucidate on the government initiatives in responding to the rice shortage, which the country feels at present. 

  Both also agree that the problem is not that alarming in Bohol, which is able to produce almost 80 thousand metric tons and continuing to reap some 99 thousand metric tons by June of next year. 

  Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics bared that Bohol's rice sufficiency is still about 83%, meaning the province's farmers have been able to produce about 83% of its total rice consumption.

  The data also pushed Governor Erico Aumentado to issue a rice shipment regulation so as not to deplete local rice stocks and therefore allow the province to keep a buffer for local consumption. 

  The regulation, Quirog explained is based on the data from the previous bulk of the province's regular trading, not more than that. 

  To quickly recoup the production setback, Cahiles added that "by expanding the production area using certified seeds and hybrid seeds, Bohol could be more rice sufficient.

  From 1900 bags of hybrid rice planted by farmer adoptors last year, Cahiles said the APC is on to a 5,000 bags distribution target for irrigated as well as rain-fed lands this year.

  Bohol has about 47, 376 hectares of ricelands, only about 21,000 hectares are irrigated while most at 26,000 are rainfed. Now we are also focusing on how to make rainfed areas productive as well, he said. 

  Quirog quickly followed on as she pointed that land development in areas covered by Bayongan Dam is ongoing. 

  She reported that 2,000 hectares would be operational this year, while the rest [of the areas would be operational] in the near future.

  This as the national and the provincial government has poured in roughly P37M and P13.786M to sustain the goal of making Bohol 100% rice sufficient by 2010, Engr Cahiles added.

Peace Offering for Philippine Rebels

By Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine Information Agency - Bohol

Just as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pressed anew Congress to affirm the government's amnesty proclamation, communist rebel returnees in Bohol also urge the government to continue localized peace talks.

With Congressional concurrence, communist rebels who are still hopelessly clinging to their lost cause can rejoin mainstream society and live in peace soonest.

On the other hand, with localized peace talks, the government can isolate top communist leaders to reconsider the government peace offer.

Former Bohol red fighter Bernard Banal has formally asked Presidential Assistant Felix Guanzon to keep the government's offer for peace talks open to the rebels who are still fighting a lonely war.

Banal, now a government partner in reform is echoing the sentiments of his former comrades who have finally decided to walk the way of peace.  

The Banal formula defies the Communist Party of the Philippines New People's Army National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) official stand of rejecting localized peace talks while only the top communist leaders are to negotiate with the government of the Republic of the Philippines on matters of peace agreements. 

Guanzon, the President's assistant for the Visayas accompanied the Royal Norwegian Government Facilitation Team in a visit to Bohol recently to visit rebel returnees and assess the localized government's initiatives of peace for the communist rebels. 

Banal, who has touted as key movement propagandist and indoctrinator said top communist leadership could be left without influence if disgruntled fighters leave them and start talking peace in their levels. 

Isolating the top leaders would render them powerless and without the support of the local movement anymore, they would be forced to accept the government's terms, he explained to Guanzon in Cebuano. 

This as the President continued to press for the Congressional nod to the government amnesty proclamation while visiting Negros recently.

"(Kaya) nanawagan tayo sa Kongreso na sana i-confirm na nila itong ating amnesty proclamation na magkakaroon ng pagkakataon na makabalik muli sa lipunan itong ating mga kapatid na galing sa loob ng kilusan," the President said in her brief message.

Congressional confirmation of her amnesty proclamation would enable the communist rebels to rejoin society and live with their loved ones again, the President said.

She pointed out that aside from the rebel returnees she has met, many more rebels in Negros Oriental and other parts of the country have expressed their willingness to surrender their arms and end their rebellion but are waiting for Congress to affirm the amnesty proclamation.

In Bohol alone, some 185 rebel returnees have risked getting hailed in court for acts committed while in the movement. The decision to peaceably settle for good and avail of the informal offer for peace at the local levels ahs finally allowed them to rejoin society.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Philippine President's Time in Bohol Island

Reported by Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine Information Agency - Bohol

After setting up P278M port links in the last seven years for Bohol alone, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) comes Thursday, April 29 to personally lead the caravan that would make history by uniting Cebu, Bohol, Camiguin and Cagayan de Oro in one nautical highway.

  By opening the Central Seaboard (CS) of the country's Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH), inter-island travel and transport in the Visayas and Mindanao becomes one step away.

  In Bohol, the two key ports, the one in Tubigon and another one in Jagna have been upgraded with roll-on roll off (RORO) ramps and corresponding back up areas and lighting systems to better serve vessels cruising to and from Cebu City and the different ports of Mindanao, says a report from the Tagbilaran Port Office of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

  At the Tubigon Port, where PGMA inaugurates the improved facility, she would meet the RORO caravan with the rest of the country's top officials and accompanying media taking the run through the newly opened CS of the SRNH.

  The country's top executive arrives however on a helicopter to meet the caravan she sent off in Cebu earlier as the RORO docks at the port facility which has seen P144M improvements since 2002. 


  According to reports by Engr. Rogelio Gambuta, Tagbilaran ports operations manager, the port of Tubigon has had P42.2M rehabilitation in its reinforced concrete pier in 2002, P69.8M causeway reclamation and widening in 2004, P10.76M causeway repairs and improvements in 2005 and improvement of the old reclamation site costing P10.94M completed last year. 

  The improvements also include 2 ramps that can together accommodate 2 RORO vessels at any given time. Moreover, the port also has a truck holding area of 1,300 square meters that can hold a maximum of 15 units of rolling cargoes, his reports stated.

  He also added that since the implementation of the SRNH, his office noted an increasing trend in RORO shipcalls and a corresponding number of rolling cargoes passed through the port.

  Gambuta too explained that recent statistics his office gathered could only mean that a wider business sector acceptance of the roro transport system as a mode of economic inter-island activity has come.

  The PPA observation, Tubigon port laborers pointed out, is only as far as Cebu-Bohol is concerned. 

  Hopes however ignite with the President personally signaling the full operation of yet another RORO route, one that makes inter-island shipping to Camiguin in Mindanao a reality.

  After the ceremonial port inauguration and briefing on the SRNH in Tubigon, the President leads the caravan's land trip segment to an exit port in Jagna, about 117 kilometers from Tubigon via Tagbilaran City.


  The port of Jagna has also received a total of P144M since 2003.

  The port went through a total rehabilitation, got a terminal office, passenger terminal building, warehouse, guardhouse and deflector wall in 2003 via the government's P15.02M fund, Gambuta said.

  In 2005, a P19.53M RORO ramp, back up area, lighting system and fences were installed, while phase I of the port improvement project was started with aP54.6M project in 2006.

  Now, the port has an ongoing phase II of its improvement with P55.27M fund.

  Its RORO port equipped with a truick holding area of 3,000 square meters can hold a total of 35 rolling cargo units, would be serving vessels from various ports in Mindanao, PPA said. 

  In Jagna, the country's cabinet secretaries meet the President's caravan and join her on board another RORO sailing to Mambajao, Camiguin, the seaboard's next port in the link to Mindanao.

President GMA visits Bohol Province

By Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine Information Agency

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (PGMA) breezes through Bohol on Tuesday, April 29 to fill a leg of journey that would finally connect key ports in the country's central seaboard.

This happens as she leads the inauguration rites of the Central Seaboard of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH).

The SRNH, the Administration's brain child involves funding the putting up of Roll-on, Roll-off (RoRo) ports system aimed at perking up inter-island farm trade.

The SRNH also hopes to improve flow and distribution of basic goods and services, reduce travel time and transportation costs as well as promote domestic tourism.

Set in the Central Philippines, thus Central Seaboard, the government funded key improvement projects on intricate network of roads and ports in various regions in Luzon and the Visayas to Mindanao to finally unite the country's three main islands groups.

While the country has a backbone Maharlika highway that connects Luzon to Mindanao, travel of unprocessed farm goods by land has put up huge losses, one that makes it not as economically viable option for farmers, shippers have complained.
With the SRNH opening up its Central seaboard, the delivery of basic goods and farm produce like vegetables and livestock is easier, more economical and efficient as travel time and costs to and from destinations are considerably reduced, government sources said.
With the Central Seaboard opened, travelers and farm produce from the north going to the south can now take the Bulan Sorsogon to Masbate City ferry, then motor to Cawayan, Masbate where a ferry is again available for Bogo, Cebu. 

From Bogo, it would be a land trip to Cebu City where the port has a ferry to Tubigon, Bohol.

In Tubigon, Bohol, one can take the land trip to Jagna Bohol where one exits Bohol to Mambajao Camiguin, and then to Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental. 

In Bohol, the Presidential convoy would be met by well wishers by the roadsides, banners, streamers with the famed presidential brands "Labanan ang Kahirapan" and "Ramdam ang Kaunlaran."

As early as Saturday, April 26, posters have been noted along Bohol's coastal roads where the caravan is slated to pass. 

The president's party would be passing through Tubigon, Calape, Loon, Maribojoc, Cortes, Tagbilaran, Baclayon, Alburquerque, Loay, Lila, Dimiao, Valencia, Garcia-Hernandez to Jagna, while going through about a little more than a hundred kilometers of highway also known as the Bohol Circumferential Road Improvement Projects.  

The President in her previous speeches had pointed out that aside from the convenience of shorter travel times offered to travelers with the routes of the SRNH, spoilage of farm produce has been lessened which in turn has translated to larger income for farmers.
She also said that the increase of visitors to the various tourist spots around the country is also a by-product of the SRNH. 

She noted that local and foreign tourist have been enticed to take the "scenic" route on their way to the country's numerous tourists destinations.
According to the President, the SRNH is a good example of where increased revenue collections from the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) Law has gone to good use.
Meanwhile, just as the President takes the inaugural run, sectors especially in the transport industry have openly lobbied for support to the SRNH.

"There is great investment opportunity and potential in the Road RoRo Terminal System component of the SRNH," a President of a key government financial facility said. 

"I would like to encourage our stakeholders; the shipbuilders, local government units, and private sector investors; to avail of financing opportunities, he pressed.

Moreover, the Development Bank of the Philippines is putting up its Sustainable Logistics Development Program (SLDP) which is intended to modernize the processing, storage, delivery, and the distribution of grain harvest and perishable goods of traders and farmers from Mindanao and Luzon.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cebu Pacific Air Brings Down Airfare

press release - Cebu Pacific (CEB), the country's single largest airline to the ASEAN region offers P1 seats for Cebu-Bacolod, Cebu-Butuan, Cebu-Iloilo, and Cebu-Cagayan. The promotional seat sale run from April 26, 2008 to June 30, 2008; and is good for travel for the same period.

The airline is also offering P888 seats for its direct Cebu-Macau and Cebu-Taipei services. Passengers can avail of the seat sale from April 26 to 30, 2008. This is good for travel from May 1, 2008 until June 30, 2008.

Fare is non-refundable and exclusive of surcharges and government taxes.

Candice Iyog, CEB spokesperson said, "We are positive that many will take advantage of this limited offer. We want the public to realize that it is now very affordable to travel by air. We encourage passengers who are used to take bus and ferry rides to experience the convenience of flying."

Iyog added, "We also hope that our very low fares will spur interest to visit the non-stop international destinations of Taipei and Macau, among others, which we recently opened from Cebu."

CEB is the biggest airline operating domestic and international flights from Cebu. From Cebu, it currently flies to seven non-stop international destinations and also operate ten inter-island domestic routes.

For flight schedules and bookings, passengers can visit, or call its call center at (032) 230-8888, (02) 70-20-888 or its ticketing offices and accredited travel agencies.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cebu Pacific Flight Rebooking Enhanced

Booking or rebooking a flight on Cebu Pacific will be faster and more convenient starting this month.

CEB will also go completely ticketless. The airline now issues a travel itinerary which passengers can refer to for flight details and present upon entry into the airport prior to checking in.
"The Navitaire system will allow CEB to offer more functionalities and options.  Passengers can now change their flight details or cancel their bookings online.  The new system also has the flexibility to adjust to our growing requirements as the leading low fare airline,." said Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific President and CEO.
Navitaire is an end-to-end solution that provides CEB with effective revenue management & accounting tools. It has a user-friendly booking process that allows us to accommodate more passengers online.
Navitaire is the leading host reservations system provider for majority of the low-cost carriers in the world.
He explained, "We are happy to use a host reservations system that is compatible with our airline's business model. We hope that we will be able to provide better service to our passengers with this initiative."
"Navitaire will provide us with the ability to offer more options to our passengers, it is an open system that will increase our efficiency and reduce our distribution costs.  This will allow us to continue offering the lowest fares possible," Gokongwei concluded.

KALAHI-CIDSS Making A Difference in Bohol, Philippines

By the Philippine Information Agency

Poor still, but Boholanos have now found a tool to fight poverty off their backs.

  All it took was converging otherwise scant resources,  empowering people to grapple and improving local governance and the chances of pinning down poverty gets better.

  At least residents of Hagbuyo, in San Miguel, about 88 kilometers along the interior route from Tagbilaran, have seen a glimmer of hope

  Hagbuyo is an ordinary traditional farming community. Here, residents have barely manage to reap enough to cross the lines out of poverty.

  But, San Miguel is an identified Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) site, and through it, local officials saw a way.

  Short of funds to implement poverty denting projects in the barangay, local officials now partner and pool with fund sources, while spurring committed participation from the community.

  KALAHI-CIDSS, recognized by the World Bank as among the worlds top community driven development (CDD) approaches to project implementation has also elated government workers who can link and partner with the local community in decisions and resources, says Kathee Sanchez of the regional Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Cebu.

  KALAHI-CIDSS is also the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration's flagship anti-poverty project implemented by DSWD.

In Hagbuyo, residents implement a project they planned and decided, one commonly needed among all of them: small water impounding systems (SWIS) projects.  

  With the 10 SWIS, and an aid from the government's agriculture agency, residents double their productivity by making farm irrigation possibile while harvesting fish, added Annalyn Lumactud, Kalahi San Miguel coordinator. 

  The projects cost P681,532,000 but the DSWD only put up a little more than P413T, the rest is shared by the municipal, barangay governments and the residents in the communities where the project is implemented, Lumactud added in a phone interview. 

  According to her, after countless coordinations and consultative meetings, the residents put up impoundings systems, managed and maintained by them.   

  The SWIS projects, one of the many KALAHI community managed projects meritted the credits of an American  intern who hailed the implementation of the government's poverty-alleviation through the CDD approach. 

  Liz Fleshman, who integrated herself in Hagbuyo did a comprehensive perspective of the impact of World Bank-funded projects, which also brought her to Pilar, in Bohol

  In San Miguel, she stayed with the community for three days, interviewing Area Coordinating Teams (ACT), municipal and barangay leaders as well as the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committees. She also talked to implementing agencies, non-governmental organizations, community associations and local people.

  Among all projects she saw, the rain water collector which doubles as a fish pond in Hagbuyo was what she called "innovative". 

  "The rain water collector was the most creative project I visited in the Philippines," she said. 

  Built as a sprinkler system for rice which needs regular water supply, the community put up their labor equity to build 20 x 20 water impounding systems, 10 of them at slightly elevated levels and installed drains to let water out to be distributed to nearby rice fields. 

  Before the water collector, farmers harvested five sacks of rice per average field. Now the fields yield 26 sacks. Furthermore, they purchased 500 tilapia fingerlings for each water collector, creating a sustainable supply of fresh fish for project beneficiaries, she said. 

  She also noted that the community put up rules at the site, instructions against swimming, catching  fish with nets, putting carabaos to dip, Fleshman narrated in her report to the World Bank.

  Meanwhile Sanchez said, volunteers dared local leaders to provide more Community driven development (CDD)-oriented programs at the grassroots level during the recent simultaneous inauguration of four KALAHI-CIDSS-funded sub-projects in Mabini.

  In Central Visayas, KALAHI-CIDSS is implemented in 14 municipalities, 12 of which are in Bohol, while the other two are in Siquijor. 

  In Bohol, the KALAHI-CIDSS areas include Danao, CPG, Talibon, Bien Unido, Buenavista, Getafe, Carmen, Pilar, San Miguel, Mabini, Trinidad and Ubay, she said. 

  Now, as to the question, is the bottom-up Kalahi startegy enough to unlock the grip of poverty, it may yet need a long reply. 

  But for residents, just as long as the government bottom-up approach is  approach in its implementation strategy, community volunteers of four barangays in Mabini, Bohol clamor for more CDD programs.

Celebrating Bohol Earth Day

By the Philippine Information Agency

Marchers wearing green t-shirts bringing the more environmentally friendly kites, instead of balloons and a collage of environmental quilted patches would be the day's colorful statement highlights as a lead sustainable farming group spearheads the Bohol Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, 2008.

  "The group is organizing activities in the hope of ardently reminding everyone of their fitting obligation to make Mother Earth safer, healthier and cleaner place to live in," says Bohol Initiators for Sustainable Agriculture Development (BISAD) President Engr. Vicente Loquellano.

  Picking the theme, "Mga Kamatuoran sa Nagka-init nga Kalibutan," environmentalists led by BISAD bared series of activities, which is underscored by two relevant fora on bio-fuels and rice crisis. 

  On the weighty side of things, two relevant issues are up for discussion: Food for People of Fuel For Cars, a taunt on the recent government policy and support to biofuels production which may keeping food production on the sidelines.

  On the other hand, a rice crisis forum is again deemed relevant to the times, one which is set as the afternoon food for thorugh highlight, the program bare.

  The day starts with groups converging at the Plaza Rizal, and then picking up a walk of cycling off to the Office of the Provincial Agriculture Conference Hall in Dao, where the day's program of activities is centered, bared Engr. Loquellano.  

  Creativity and honest to goodness love for the environment is also up for the day as participants bring in environmental patches, all of the depicting ways to preserve, conserve and protect nature and Mother Earth.

Preserve and Secure Philippine "Mojons"

By the Philippine Information Agency

Standardized mapping reference for the country could be jeopardized if the reference monuments continue to be excavated as treasure markers or buried by site development. 

  To secure these monuments or "mojons, the government takes efforts to enjoin all local government units, organizations and the general public to help in adopting these markers and secure its integrity. 

  By enjoining the public to support Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Adopt a Mojon program, they help inventory, preserve and secure the mojons, claimed Ernesto Quiamco, RDC Economic Development Committee Chairperson. 

  Also, he added, that the government's job of installing more mojon points become a lot easier, a thing environment and natural resource authorities agreed during the latest full council meeting held in Bohol

  The "mojons" are set up as the official Philippine Reference System of 1992 (PRS 92), Global Positioning System marked homogeneous network of geodetic control points now recognized as standard reference for all surveys and maps in the country, a recent presentation at the Central Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC) stated.

  The country's network of prime physical evidence of boundaries to peg a standardized mapping reference in PRS 92 will standardize the mapping system so that a particular point of the ground will have a only one location in any official Philippine map, the RDC draft resolution of support bared. 

  By that, it addresses overlapping or gaps between adjoining parcels of land, added the draft resolution for approval by the RDC.

  Citing on the need to secure these markers and ensure a highly accurate geodetic control network of points in all surveys in the country, the RDC sees to it that supporting the Department of Environment and natural Resources in their "Adopt a Mojon" program is in order.

  The DENR and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority is accordingly conducting PRS 92 implementation activities in the region, and a memorandum of agreement between the LGUs and the lead government agencies may be needed, officials said.

Call for Food Stability in the Philippines

By the Philippine Information Agency

Bohol farmers belonging to the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL) claimed the streets of Trinidad, Bohol Thursday April 10, 2008 for hours to dramatize their demands for serious government steps to prop up the dream of food stability, just as rice supplies tightening is felt across the country. 

HUMABOL, an organization under the auspices of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) braved the streets, to demand immediate government action to actualize the country's food security.

For these, the farmers asked the government to strengthen its agencies, particularly the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to immediately solve the rice (and corn) crisis, states a signed press statement by Ruben Sabior, HUMABOL chairperson.

The farmers want the government to dismantle the cartels and upset the big rice traders by direcly buying in volume from the farmers at a higher farmgate price than what the traders are offering. 

They aslo want the government to immediately "go after and punish the rice hoarders" and "corrupt officials including those who are involved in government project" kickbacks.  

For the national government, the Bohol farmers rights advocacy group pointed out its 3-points policy changes to facilitate Bohol's transition to secure and stable food supply.

HUMABOL demands the country's immediate pull out from World Trade Organization policies on agriculture particularly the rice trade liberalization, the immediate cancellation of the  land use conversion programs and the re-alignment of the debt-servicing and military budget to agricultural services and food production.

"Sa pagsulod sa gobyerno sa World Trade Organization (WTO) ug pag-implementar sa liberalisasyon sa pamatigayon sa bugas, unang nabundakan sa maong kalamidad ang mga mag-uuma.  Mas misandig ang pangagamhanan sa importasyon sa bugas inay palambuon ang atong lokal nga agrikultura," Sabior claimed.  

Meanwhile, economists in the country said a Philippine pullout from the WTO policy on rice trade liberalization means only sourcing out our rice supplies from local sources. This would be so, even if it would cost more for the country, as production costs here is expensive. 

HUMABOL farmers however hope that by this, farmers can sell their rice at a higher price compared to ones with the cheaper imported rice in the markets. 

However, there is no Philippine commitment to trade liberalization, PhilRice online website declares.  

On land conversion, the group claimed, "dakong bahin sa kayutaan ang gihimong commercial, residential ug sonang industrial inay tamnan og bugas."  

It also slammed conversion of lands into oil palm plantations and the policy  that opens up agricultural lands to industrial zones and the plantations of jathropa for bio-fuels.  

Over all these, Boholano rice farmers ask the government to implement genuine land reform law (GLRL) through the immediate approval of HB 3059. 

The GLRL is their corrective version of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which is slated to expire in June 2008, after a 10-year extension following its expiry in 1998.

The bill for GLRL calls for the repeal of Presidential Decree No. 27 and Republic Act No. 6657, including all laws, decrees, presidential proclamations, executive and administrative orders, ordinances and other issuances that are inconsistent with the proposed law. 

The bill aims to break up land monopoly and distribute the lands within five years, and to eliminate all forms of oppression and exploitation in the countryside and thereby usher the advent of genuine social justice.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Maja Salvador Shines in Sun Cellular's TV Ad

"A dream-come-true," this was how Maja Salvador described her latest endorsement as the fresh and vibrant face behind Sun Cellular's current television commercial (TVC) for the new Sun P10 Call & Text Combo.  "I'm so happy that Sun got me as their endorser!" enthused Maja, undeniably one of the today's prettiest faces and most talented young actresses in local show business.
Maja is excited to promote this unbeatable deal from Sun which offers 10 minutes of Sun-to-sun calls, 40 sun-to-Sun texts and 10 inter-network messages all for only P10.

A much sought-after celebrity, Maja stars in highly-rated TV shows and blockbuster movies.  Her face can be seen in giant billboards and print ads in major newspapers and magazines.  She is a regular performer in ABS-CBN's ASAP '08 and has appeared in  Your Song,  Pangarap na Bituin, and the Star Cinema film, One More Chance, to name a few. And she has proven her versatility through the varying roles she has portrayed in her different projects. But in Sun Cellular's latest TVC, Maja did not have to play a role other than her real life character because this 30-seconder commercial, was " Majang-Maja " as the teen celebrity herself excitedly described.  "Sa Sun commercial na ito, naka-package na lahat.  It showed my being a teenager, an actress and an endorser.  I had fun shooting the commercial."

Maja said she uses the products she promotes like Sun Cellular.  She was already a Sun subscriber even before the latter approached her to be its newest endorser.  So when the opportunity came for her to join the Sun Cellular family, it was indeed an answered prayer.  She didn't have to think twice when the offer came.  "At ngayon, talagang proud ako na maging Sun endorser," she enthused.  "It has always been my dream to have an endorsement like this."
"Maja personifies what Sun is all about. Not only as a celebrity but also a teenager who leads a fun and active lifestyle, she values communication with her family and friends.  She loves texting, talking on the phone and being in the loop as to the latest happenings with people who are important to her.  And Maja has a  warm and friendly personality.    She exudes so much life and energy and has great promise. These qualities complement Sun Cellular's image," says Assistant Vice President for Prepaid Business Joan DueƱas.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Famous Speech of Patricia Evangelista

When I was little, I wanted what many Filipino children all over the country wanted. I wanted to be blond, blue-eyed, and white.

I thought -- if I just wished hard enough and was good enough, I'd wake upon Christmas morning with snow outside my window and freckles across my nose!

More than four centuries under western domination does that to you. I have sixteen cousins. In a couple of years, there will just be five of us left in the Philippines, the rest will have gone abroad in search of "greener pastures." It's not just an anomaly; it's a trend; the Filipino diaspora. Today, about eight million Filipinos are scattered around the world.

There are those who disapprove of Filipinos who choose to leave. I used to. Maybe this is a natural reaction of someone who was left behind, smiling for family pictures that get emptier with each succeeding year. Desertion, I called it. My country is a land that has perpetually fought for the freedom to be itself. Our heroes offered their lives in the struggle against the Spanish, the Japanese, the Americans. To pack up and deny that identity is tantamount to spitting on that sacrifice.

Or is it? I don't think so, not anymore. True, there is no denying this phenomenon, aided by the fact that what was once the other side of the world is now a twelve-hour plane ride away. But this is a borderless world, where no individual can claim to be purely from where he is now. My mother is of Chinese descent, my father is a quarter Spanish, and I call myself a pure Filipino-a hybrid of sorts resulting from a combination of cultures.

Each square mile anywhere in the world is made up of people of different ethnicities, with national identities and individual personalities. because of this, each square mile is already a microcosm of the world. In as much as this blessed spot that is England is the world, so is my neighborhood back home.

Seen this way! , the Filipino Diaspora, or any sort of dispersal of populations, is not as ominous as so many claim. It must be understood. I come from a Third World country, one that is still trying mightily to get back on its feet after many years of dictatorship. But we shall make it, given more time. Especially now, when we have thousands of eager young minds
who graduate from college every year. They have skills. They need jobs. We cannot absorb them all.

A borderless world presents a bigger opportunity, yet one that is not so much abandonment but an extension of identity . Even as we take, we give back. We are the 40,000 skilled nurses who support the UK's National Health Service. We are the quarter-of-a-million seafarers manning most of the world's commercial ships. We are your software engineers in Ireland, your construction workers in the Middle East, your doctors and caregivers in North America, and, your musical artists in London's West End.

Nationalism isn't bound by time or place. People from other nations migrate to create new nations, yet still remain essentially who they are. British society is itself an example of a multi-cultural nation, a melting pot of races, religions, arts and cultures. We are, indeed, in a borderless world!

Leaving sometimes isn't a matter of choice. It's coming back that is. The Hobbits of the shire travelled all over
Middle-Earth, but they chose to come home, richer in every sense of the word. We call people like these balikbayans or the 'returnees' -- those who followed their dream, yet choose to return and share their mature talents and good fortune.

In a few years, I may take advantage of whatever opportunities come my way. But I will come home. A borderless world doesn't preclude the idea of a home. I'm a Filipino, and I'll always be one. It isn't about just geography; it isn't about boundaries. It's about giving back to the country that shaped me.

And that's going to be more important to me than seeing snow outside my windows on a bright Christmas morning.

Mabuhay and Thank you.