Ang Dabawenyo » Community The DAVAO blog -- from the islands to the highlands! Sun, 04 Nov 2012 12:43:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Talikud island scubasurero Mon, 20 Feb 2012 13:40:49 +0000 Blogie Davao Reef Divers ClubThe Davao Reef Divers Club had its first club dive of the year yesterday, with 28 members taking part in the day-long activities. The main objective of the event — as is the tradition of the Club — was to give back to the marine environment, which needs our protection more than ever. This was also the first club dive that I put together as the club’s new president.

We did a clean-up dive of a portion fronting the eastern coast of Talikud Island, near the ferry terminal in Barangay Sta. Cruz. We split up into five teams and swept an area probably covering a square kilometer, at a maximum depth of 20 meters. At the end of the dive, we were able to remove 102kg of garbage from the sea. Collected were plastic wrappers, cellophane bags, old clothing (even shoes), bottles, discarded fishing nets, and other junk.

Here are a few underwater pictures taken yesterday, courtesy of Shauming Lo.

It's more fun diving in Talicud Goofing around Nephew and uncle Doc Fred Banzai! Time out Underwater bag Saving coral from a net Scubasurero

The Davao Reef Divers Club conducts club dives once a month. This month’s was in collaboration with Talikud Island’s Bgy. Sta. Cruz. Together with the barangay councilors, Barangay Captain Fidencio B. Matro expressed his desire to educate his constituents regarding the marine environment and the need for conservation efforts.

Post-dive at Leticia by the Sea

Post-dive at Leticia by the Sea

Davao businessman Ray de la Paz was instrumental in bridging the divers’ club and the barangay, and making more joint activities possible. Mr. & Mrs. de la Paz graciously hosted the club members, the barangay officials and members of the media for lunch at the Leticia by the Sea Resort. Divers themselves, the couple believe that keeping the marine environment clean and protected is essential for Talikud Island’s tourism industry.

Talikud Island is a favorite destination for scuba diving in the Davao Gulf. It is home to several dive sites: Coral Gardens, Angel’s Cove, Dizon Wall, Dayang Beach, among others.

The club event was sponsored in part by Casa Leticia and Carabao Dive Center.

The Davao Reef Divers Club is open to all scuba divers of any skill level. If you’re interested to join, please see our Facebook group page or call (82)300-1092.

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Blog Contest for Araw ng Dabaw 2012 Fri, 10 Feb 2012 06:22:59 +0000 Blogie In a laudable effort to promote the city’s foundation day this March, Duaw Davao Festivals Foundation is running a writing contest among local bloggers. The theme is based on the tagline launched by the City Tourism Operations Office last year — Davao: Life Is Here!

Davao City will be celebrating her 75th Araw ng Dabaw festival in the middle of March 2012.

Davao: Life Is Here

Here are the mechanics covering the competition:

  1. The 75th Araw ng Dabaw BLOG COMPETITION is open to all Dabawenyo bloggers. Registration will commence on the kick-off event at SM City Davao, 11 February 2012, at 1:00pm.
  2. Each participant can only submit 1 blog entry. In the event that more than 1 entry is submitted, only the latest entry will be considered. The blog can be published in any blog website. The participant is required to send an email to this address after the blog post has been published. The email should contain the following:
    • Subject : Official Entry to 75th Araw ng Dabaw Blog Competition
    • Content : URL of the Blog Entry and Name of Participant
  3. The blog article should be written guided by the theme of the current Davao Tourism Campaign, “Davao : Life Is Here!”. The blog entries should be tagged with the following keywords: Davao, Araw ng Dabaw, Davao Life is here, Davao Tourism, and Araw ng Dabaw Blog Competition. The following footer is compulsory to identify it as a blog entry:
  4. The blog can be written in English or Tagalog or Cebuano or a combination of the three.
  5. The competition will start on 11 February 2012 and will end at midnight of 29 February 2012. Winners will be announced on 13 March 2012 during the Mayor & Vice-Mayor’s Appreciation program.
  6. The blog entry must have a minimum of 400 words and a maximum of 1,000 words. Images can be added to accentuate the blog article.
  7. The blog entry, including accompanying images, must not in any way violate any intellectual property right. Anyone found to have violated this right in his/her blog entry will automatically be disqualified and will be required to delete the blog article.
  8. The blog must have a feedback/comment module. Part of the criteria for judging is the total number of unique feedback/comments received by the blog article.
  9. The decision of the board of judges is deemed final.
  10. All blog entries shall become the property of Duaw Davao Festivals Foundation,Inc. As such, the foundation has the right to copy, adapt, transmit, distribute, publish, and display the blog entries in part or as a whole.
  11. Blog entries must always be in published mode in the duration of the competition.
  12. The criteria for judging are as follows:
    Relevance to the theme: 40%
    Content: 25%
    Organization, Flow of Thought, “Easy Reading”: 25%
    Unique Count of Comments & Feedback received: 10%
  13. Winners will receive the following:
    1st Prize ₱20,000
    2nd Prize ₱15,000
    3rd Prize ₱10,000
    Consolation Prizes (5) ₱5,000 each
  14. The Duaw Davao Festivals Foundation and the City Government of Davao or any of the institutions/agencies involved in the implementation of the Blog Competition shall not be held liable for any copyright infringement committed by the participant. Any other negative results coming from the participant’s failure to follow the rules and regulations will not be the responsibility of the foundation.
  15. Duaw Davao Festivals Foundation employees are not eligible to participate in the competition.
  16. All inquiries should be addressed to Duaw Davao Festivals Foundation. Please call 286-4103 or email them here.

(Now, item #10 above might raise a few eyebrows — including mine — because blog entries, being published in the bloggers’ sites, are naturally owned by the bloggers. Maybe what the contest organizers should have stated was that they reserve the right to make use of the blog competition entries without the need for prior consent from the bloggers. But, that’s OK. I’m sure this blog competition is being conducted in good faith.)

Bloggers of Davao! Let’s support this initiative by our city government to promote tourism and business. We should be happy that more and more people in the administration are becoming aware of the power of our voices.

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Going the extra (nautical) mile for Davao Gulf Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:07:41 +0000 Blogie It is one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world and thus has been identified by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as one of the priority areas within the Coral Triangle. It is the Davao Gulf — a 308,000-hectare body of water surrounded by Davao City, the 3 Davao provinces and Compostela Valley.

World Wide Fund for Nature

Unfortunately, it is also under threat from such activities as destructive fishing and improper waste disposal.

Last July, thousands of runners came to the aid of the gulf, converging in Davao City for the PLDT-Smart 10-Miler Run. Organized by the country’s leading telecoms provider, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), the event — consisting of 3k, 5k, 10k and 10-mile categories — sought to raise awareness of the conditions at the gulf.

In addition, Smart has also partnered with WWF-Philippines to launch the international environmental group’s first-ever SMS-based micro-donation service called Text to Donate (TTD). Smart subscribers anywhere in the Philippines can use their cellphone and airtime load to make a donation by simply texting WWF <amount> to 4483. Valid amounts (in pesos) are 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500 and 1000.

Smart Communications

Funds raised through this service will be used by WWF-Philippines to rehabilitate and preserve the fisheries within the Davao Gulf and to protect its endangered dugongs and sea turtles.

In its website, the Davao Gulf Management Council notes the variety of mangroves, seaweeds, sea grasses and coral that enrich the gulf’s ecosystem and sustain several marine species, especially tuna. Dolphins, whales, and shorebirds are also found in the area.

The gulf is best known as home to rare species of sea turtles and sea cows, more popularly known as dugong.

Thousands of people living along the Davao region shoreline benefit from the gulf. Its coast runs from the southernmost tip of Davao del Sur through to Davao City and Davao del Norte and continues on to Compostela Valley and Davao del Sur.

Certain activities of marine-related industries, however, have caused the degradation of the gulf, threatening its marine life and its ecosystem in general. (Please read this article — and others on that site — to see some of what’s been happening in the Davao Gulf.)

The council has cited the incidence of illegal and destructive fishing, biophysical deterioration of mangrove, seagrass and coral habitats, as well as the presence of domestic and agro-industrial wastes among other threats.

The WWF further reiterates that ports, oil depots, factories and other industries are perceived to put pressure on the quality of the water, the natural habitats and the productivity of the gulf’s fisheries.

Thankfully, local government units, non-governmental organizations and even private entities are joining hands to protect and preserve the gulf.

“We are glad to have led this event that rallies not only Davao residents but anyone from all over the country to combine their passion for running with their desire to help protect one of the country’s richest yet highly threatened marine ecosystems. Participants gladly did it for a worthwhile cause.”
Atty. Jane Paredes
Public Affairs Senior Manager (Visayas & Mindanao)
Smart Communications

The advocacy run and the TTD project are part of the environmental initiatives of Smart’s corporate social responsibility and community service program, Kabalikat sa Kalikasan.

Remember, you can do your part anytime, anywhere! Text WWF <amount> to 4483 today and help secure the future of the Davao Gulf.

Text to Donate

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Why the new Kadayawan logo? Sun, 31 Jul 2011 15:22:41 +0000 Blogie Kadayawan festival logo 2011 The Kadayawan sa Dabaw festival logo shown here is a let-down — to say the least — for about 300 respondents who answered a survey I ran via the Kadayawan Festival facebook page from last week. (Click here to see the poll — and feel free to chime in.) I held off writing about it until I got the pulse of the people, so to speak.

This year’s festival director, Lisette Marques, showed the logo to me a few days before it was publicized, and I told her right then and there: it’s going to get a lot of negative vibes. And it seems I was right. Like many later on, I asked her then why the logo needed to be changed. In her best estimation, she said the decision to change the logo came “from the top” and most probably had to do with the city’s current branding efforts.

Kadayawan logo 2008 I remember back in 2008, the original logo was modified to give it a more updated look — but even that failed because the result looked like a half-baked effort at making the festival branding fly.

The aforementioned branding efforts, unfortunately, might suffer a major blow if Kadayawan 2011′s festivities are tainted by an ill-received symbolic image. Many of those who answered “I don’t like it” in the facebook survey lament the logo’s lack of festiveness, its bland appearance, the complete departure from its purpose of making the Kadayawan sa Dabaw a recognizable event in the country. Others expressed disillusionment, and still others conveyed confusion over the unexpected mutilation of the 20-year-old festival’s banner.

Sun•Star Davao, in its 29 July 2011 editorial, brands the switcheroo an unnecessary political gambit by the local powers-that-be. “How insecure to paint an already popular festival with the color of politics as if the present mayor needs the popularity of Kadayawan to prop up her own.” The paper was alluding to Mayor Sara Duterte’s notoriety (or popularity, if you think the mayor’s violence was acceptable), acquired from the very start of this month.

I personally have no knowledge whether the new logo’s particular hue of green simply coincided with the Duterte campaign color, or it was intentional. Either way, “the logo sucks,” to quote a Dabawenyo facebook user.

And what about the new tagline?

Kadayawan sa Dabaw used to be tagged “the festival of festivals”. Now it’s being touted as “the king of festivals”. Several people seem to like it, possibly because they believe Dabawenyos should aim high. On the other hand, some feel that the claim is a bit too much. Especially with a new logo that’s far from being kingly.

My personal view, which was formed and has not changed since I saw the logo for the first time, is this: It is completely unacceptable as a representation of the Kadayawan sa Dabaw festival. It lacks creativity and fails to inspire pride among Dabawenyos. I’m afraid it’s not one that will attract visitors to celebrate the festival with us at all.

* * *

Allow me to say, however, despite my deep disappointment, I trust that the vibrant colors of this year’s festivities will more than make up for the drabness of this monochromatic logo.

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A creative recycling project for Samal Wed, 08 Jun 2011 19:59:15 +0000 Blogie Yesterday was Blog Action Day to Save Philippine Seas, an Internet-wide activity that galvanized local and foreign netizens into a concerted call for marine environment protection. Coincidentally, it was also World Oceans Day. As my contribution, I wrote about Davao Gulf yesterday here and over at my personal blog.

I’ve mentioned that there are individuals in Davao (and organizations as well) who are pouring energy into conservation efforts. Two more of them are Mia Dragon-Floirendo and Maej Villanueva, who are involved in a creative recycling project with a two-pronged goal. These two ladies have adopted Barangay Adecor in Kaputian, Samal, as the recipient of a comprehensive livelihood program and an in-depth awareness-building seminar on environmental protection.

These are the objectives of the creative recycling project:

  • To be able to create marketable products made from recyclables as additional livelihood income;
  • For the women to embrace creative recycling in an effort to create an environmental impact on the island (in Bgy. Adecor and its neighboring barangays);
  • To inculcate the habits of household waste segregation among residents;
  • For the women participants to be able to re-echo their training on creative recycling to others in the barangay.

Plarn (plastic yarn)

In April 2011, pre-workshop activities included site visits to assess community preparedness, available skill sets, and to document the type of recyclable material present in the area. Workshops were held in May to teach 23 participants how to bead paper, crochet “plarn” (plastic yarn), fuse plastics, and the like. Plarn is made out of recycled plastic grocery bags and such. (Maej happily mentioned to me that, due to the apparent success of the program, the barangay is now running out of plastic bags!)

After the initial training phase, the participants were asked to create household and decorative items out of the raw material they had produced. Here are samples of their work:

Bracelets A dainty hat Doilies and such Necklace Purses Christmas Star

I was there to witness the graduation of the 23 participants, an event they shared with their families and the barangay officials who were present. It was quite heartening to see how committed they were to the whole deal: they were in it for making extra money, but also for the environment.

One woman thanked Mia and Maej for having been given the skills training, which she said has increased her earning potential. Another woman expressed amazement at the concept of recycling, that it could in fact bring livelihood to their community. So much so that those who were trained to become trainers themselves became excited about echoing their new-found skills.

The graduates

Creative Recycling Project family

This environment-friendly livelihood project is a hopeful one because it finds support from the entire community: from the barangay captain (who happens to be Mia’s husband, Vicente Floirendo), to the barangay councilors and other concerned citizens. Even little children, according to one of the participants, are now helping them by collecting plastic bags and other recyclable trash.

Mia and Maej

Mia & Maej and the barangay ladies

Mia is the project director of this undertaking, and she has resolved to make this a profitable venture for the barangay. She stressed, however, that it should not fall into a charity situation, but as a well-run business. She made sure to not give the participants any impression that, apart from the free training that the community received, there would be no dole outs. The barangay, however, would still continue to benefit from Mia’s support, in terms of business advice and marketing assistance.

Maej was the main resource person of the project. She conducted the assessments and the actual training. She is also in it for the long-term desired effect, which is for the health of our natural environment. Through this advocacy, the plastic and paper wastes of Pearl Farm Beach Resort (which is right beside Bgy. Adecor) are recycled for use in the livelihood project.

Maej is behind Loud Plastics Creation. It is actually a business, but the raw material are sourced from communities where she has imparted skills training in plarn creation. She also carries jewelry and women’s purses made out of pull rings.

I hope that what the indefatigable Mia Floirendo has started in Adecor will spread to the other barangays of Samal Island (a.k.a. Island Garden City of Samal). Also, that the waste segregation practices of Pearl Farm and Leticia by the Sea will become standard operating procedure among all businesses on the islands. Then, Davao Gulf’s marine ecosystem may just stand a chance!

Kudos, Mia & Maej! May we see more conscientious and generous people like you.

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Save our eagles! Save our national symbol! Thu, 28 Apr 2011 18:10:37 +0000 Blogie Press Statement – 27 April 2011
Philippine Eagle Foundation

Four Eagles in Five Months:
A Statement of Alarm Over the Rate of Eagle Retrievals

The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) expresses alarm over the spate of captures of Philippine Eagles in the last five months. The PEF team has retrieved four Philippine Eagles since December 2010, making up one of the highest rate of retrievals since the year 2000. More alarming is that two of these four eagles were rescued with serious injuries, and that a third eventually died from fungal infection.

Philippine Eagle

In December 2010, the PEF rescued a female eagle estimated to be about 5-6 years old in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte. The eagle was missing two out of three toes on her right foot.

A month after, on 31 January 2011, DENR – Region 11 personnel turned over a one-year-old male eagle which originated from Sitio Biasong, Don Salvador, Mati, Davao Oriental. Details are still sketchy about the history of the bird.

Then on 4 April, a juvenile Philippine Eagle was retrieved from Sen. Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat. PEF staff believe that the eagle had already been held captive for over a month by the time it was in PEF custody. It was to be released back to the wild, but the bird died on the 24th of the same month, from stress leading to multiple organ failure due to extensive fungal infection.

Finally, on 19 April 2011, an eagle about a year old was brought to the Philippine Eagle Center by residents of Sitio Biha, Bgy. Tambobong, Baguio District, Davao City. Only two primary feathers remained on its right wing.

What we gather from this wave of retrievals is that:

  • The eagles continue to be harmed and poached. We have no doubt that the Sibuco eagle’s missing toes and the Tambobong eagle’s missing wing feathers were injuries inflicted by humans. Without the ability to grab prey or fly, the chances of survival in the wild for these eagles are practically zero.
  • The eagles are being taken away from their natural habitats. The best place for an eagle is still the forest. Many of the eagles we retrieved were reported or brought to us by individuals or groups who had good intentions for the birds. We appreciate their concern. However, this concern often translates to the incorrect thinking that we should “care” for the eagle by taking it and keeping it in human care. What has been happening is that the eagles, although perfectly healthy when they were found, instead suffer major injuries during the untrained and unauthorized “rescue” attempts of even the most well-meaning of individuals. Eagles who have been held captive also get stressed, acquire diseases, and develop abnormal behaviors (such as becoming imprinted to humans) while they are in human custody. A fungal infection, like the one that killed the Sultan Kudarat eagle, takes months to develop and is closely associated with human activity. Thus, we believe that the eagle had been kept captive for a very long time.
  • People have brought Philippine Eagles to us and the DENR, expecting incentives or rewards for their effort, as if to make the retrieval and transport of eagles away from their natural habitats seem like a profitable venture. It is not. What we reward instead are nest-finders — individuals and communities who provide us with information about active nests, breeding eagles, and/or newborn chicks. Communities hosting these eagle nests are rewarded at each milestone showing that the eagle family is thriving (new egg, new chick, etc.). What we want to reward are human actions that ensure the eagles flourish in their natural habitats.

We are extremely distressed about these events. We call on all local government units and the media to advise their constituencies on the appropriate response when a Philippine Eagle is found. The PEF offers the following guidelines:

  • Observe the Wildlife Resources and Conservation and Protection Act (R.A. 9147) at all times. The law prohibits the killing, collection, possession, and maltreatment of wildlife, their by-products, and derivatives, as well as activities which threaten critical habitats such as dumping of waste, burning, logging, quarrying, and mineral exploration and extraction.
  • Never touch or approach the eagle. It could harm you as much as you could harm it. Never approach its nest, eggs, or chicks, as the eagle could be threatened by you and attack.
  • Just observe the bird. Take note of any apparent injuries. Take photos if cameras are available.
  • Always call the authorities. Only the Philippine Eagle Foundation and the DENR are authorized to intervene and coordinate a rescue and retrieval operation if any Philippine Eagle is in imminent danger.

Further, we call on the Philippine government and its law enforcement and judicial agencies for stronger enforcement of Republic Act 9147. Crimes committed against nature have effects of a much bigger impact than we can imagine (deforestation; the landslide of Guinsaugon, Leyte) and can reach generations beyond our own (global warming).

Philippine Eagle

The Philippine Eagle is important not just because it is our national bird and therefore a symbol of our country, but more so because the abuse and harm caused on Philippine Eagles illustrate our recklessness in managing our natural resources. If the Philippine Eagle, which is already perhaps the most prominent and recognizable of Philippine wildlife species, suffers a fate as grim as the above four eagles have experienced, how much more other species?

What bigger injustices could possibly be happening to the rest of the Philippine environment?

We condemn these acts of violence against nature and call on our fellow Filipinos to adopt more sustainable paths towards progress. Our economy is built on natural resources — the indiscriminate killing and plunder of these resources is not development. This will only bring us several steps backward.

@ @ @

For more information, and to find out how you can help, please contact:

Philippine Eagle Foundation
Ms Tatit Quiblat
Manager for Development, Philippine Eagle Foundation
Mobile: +63(917)712-2895 • Email

Philippine Eagle Foundation
Malagos, Baguio District, Davao City
Tel. +63(82)271-2337 • Fax +63(82)301-1033 • Email

* Philippine eagle photos by, and used with permission from, Alain B. Pascua.

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In memoriam, Roger G. Layson Mon, 04 Apr 2011 19:27:33 +0000 Blogie Jojie Alcantara and Roger Layson

Jojie and her Kuya Roger

In 1992, after four years in Manila, I returned to Davao with a renewed appreciation for my hometown. One of the first things I got myself into was an outdoors club that was also a forum for instilling in young people’s minds a love for everything Davao. In the Sandawa Apo Mountaineering Club I met its indefatigable father-figure, Roger G. Layson.

Sandawa Apo was a vibrant organization and it thrived under the tutelage of the late Mr. Layson. It had members from many colleges and universities (and high schools, too, I think) in Davao. I found it very inspiring that Roger was able to bring youths from tremendously variegated backgrounds together into one cohesive club. There were members from exclusive schools and those from public institutions — there was even a chapter for out-of-school youths — but when we were all climbing or hiking or swimming or learning survival techniques, all differences were set aside. And I believe it was Roger’s constant presence and motivational spirit that made all of it possible.

Roger Layson was a moving force in the tourism scene of the Davao Region, having served with the Department of Tourism for many, many years. His love of Davao was unmistakable: in the dedication he put into his work, in his writings at the Mindanao Daily Mirror, in his dealings with fellow Dabawenyos and everyone around him. In spite of his humility, he has certainly left an indelible mark in Davao tourism.

He was always very engaging, ever ready with a smile. He never put on airs and never expected anything in return for kindnesses rendered. I shall always remember him as a big influence in the way that I love my hometown.

Roger G. Layson† passed away on the 4th of April, 2011. May the Lord grant his soul eternal peace.

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Preparing for major disasters Fri, 11 Mar 2011 21:21:42 +0000 Blogie Yesterday, the world’s attention was on Japan, upon the disaster wreaked by a magnitude 8.9 temblor that ruptured off the northeastern coast of Honshu island, and by the resultant tsunami that inundated Sendai and other parts of the archipelago. The latter, the mega-tsunami, caused more devastation than what brought it on. The Japanese call it ôtsunami (大津波).

I expect that the major news wires will soon publish damages amounting to tens of millions of dollars. Infrastructure damages alone, such as reported in the video here, could spell financial difficulties for the Japanese government. (More videos of the devastation in Japan on this site.) And what about the costs in terms of ruined lives, serious setbacks in all types of businesses, disrupted international trade…?

There is, however, a silver lining. People died due to the earthquake and its after-effects, but not in staggering numbers as might have been expected. The decades-old diaster-readiness preparations by the Japanese people and their government saved countless lives yesterday.

As The New York Times reports:

Had any other populous country suffered the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on Friday, tens of thousands of people might already be counted among the dead. So far, Japan’s death toll is in the hundreds, although it is certain to rise.

Over the years, Japan has spent billions of dollars developing the most advanced technology against earthquakes and tsunamis. The Japanese, who regularly experience smaller earthquakes and have lived through major ones, know how to react to quakes and tsunamis because of regular drills — unlike Southeast Asians, many of whom died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami because they lingered near the coast.

In Davao City, we have a number of emergency-response mechanisms supported by various organizations: from the Filipino-Chinese volunteer fire brigade to Central 911. Dabawenyos feel safe because, besides the presence of these life-saving organizations, the city is well-protected from natural calamities by Mt. Apo and its attendant mountain range to the west, and by Samal Island to the south. Mt. Apo shields Davao City from typhoons, and the island in the gulf serves as a buffer against the southwest monsoon (“habagat”) and a possible tsunami onslaught.

We mustn’t be too sure of ourselves, though. This year-round even weather and agreeable climate are like sirens soothing us into complacency. On the one hand, we have these (presumably) well-trained emergency-response teams standing ready to be deployed in times of need. But on the other, it’s doubtful that the general population itself is prepared for disaster.

Residents of the city now number close to 1.5 million people, if my estimates are correct. That does not yet take into account the huge number of transients coming into the city by day. If a major disaster strikes, this population could turn into a hysterical mob — a frenzied swarm that could exacerbate any dangerous situation. I doubt that a handful of professionals, no matter how hard they’ve trained to face calamities, could handle a panicked, confused mass of people.

What saved the day for Japan was the manner in which her citizens responded to the situation. On Twitter and other online services, I saw reports about the Japanese calmly evacuating affected areas, helping out their less fortunate neighbors, and generally responding in a composed and thoughtful way. That doesn’t come naturally to people being threatened by the volatility of Mother Nature. It’s clearly borne out of a keen awareness of the possibility of danger happening anytime, coupled with unremitting emergency drills.

Of course, it helped that the resource-rich Japanese government has long established preventive infrastructure to mitigate the ravages of nature (dikes, sea barriers, etc). We don’t have those here. But we could, in our way, emulate the Japanese people’s discipline and sense of community. The second is already innate in us: our value of bayanihan, which we only need to hone by training for disaster preparedness.

We need to be aware of what to do in times of peril, and how to do it right so that we all do it as a community. That way, the weak are carried through to safety and the strong are able to give more for the benefit of all. The alternative: mass hysteria.

@nerveending on Twitter remarked:

Everytime there’s an earthquake story, we wring our hands about how unprepared we are: and then we go on our merry way.

The local government of Davao — and those of other cities and town across the country — would do well to enforce preventive measures as soon as humanly possible. And do it sustainably. Our emergency-response teams could be tapped to conduct information drives covering earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions (Mt. Apo is active, and Mt. Talomo could be as well). Safe zones could be identified and fortified, then barangays could conduct drills with those zones in mind. I am sure the people behind Davao’s disaster coordinating council have already worked out plans for such community drills and more. All it takes now is for the government and community leaders to get their acts together and get the ball rolling.

Since Davao City (mistakenly shown as being part of Davao del Sur, as always) was listed as one of the tsunami watch areas yesterday, I was asked by a friend who lives in Thailand: “Is Davao prepared for a major tsunami?” What do you think?

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Save our forests! Tue, 08 Feb 2011 06:09:02 +0000 Blogie When I was a child, my father would sometimes take me and my brother to the forests of Bukidnon. Among the gigantic trees we would play hide-and-seek, explore ravines and cliffs, spy on small animals such as squirrels and birds… To get back to camp, we would listen for that piercing sound of steel biting against wood. The music of chainsaws used to be a comforting sound for me, because it always showed me the way back.

My family used to be loggers — logging fed us, clothed us, educated us. But now, I know that the business of logging is destructive, and no matter how much reforestation is done by responsible loggers, it would take many, many generations to regenerate the primary growth my brother and I once played in. My grandfather told me a long time ago, right before the family withdrew voluntarily from logging, that the narra and other hardwood trees that he had replanted would not be suitable for harvesting even by my own grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Our forests aren’t just places we can visit. They are the homes of countless flora and fauna, many of which are now endangered due to the destruction of their natural habitats.

To put things into perspective, here’s a gallery of excellent photographs by Alain Pascua, who recently went to Bislig to document endemic avian beauties. The widespread illegal logging he witnessed and photographed is heart-wrenching: more lost trees means less and less living space for our birds and other wildlife.

A Team of Wild Bird Photographers were invited by Bislig City Vice Mayor Conrad Cejoco to once again document the wild birds in the former Picop Timber Concession area. The Vice Mayor knows too well that time is running out for the protection and conservation of their forest, wild birds and wildlife as illegal logging, slash-and-burn clearing, illegal settling, etc. are slowly eating their way into the former timberland, which is supposed to be under DENR jurisdiction but seems to be ruled by lawlessness. Our mission was to photograph wild birds that has been attracting hundreds — nay, thousands — of foreign birdwatcher tourists in that part of Mindanao, and to show to the people of Bislig and all Filipinos the Avian Treasurse that we have… that we have to protect and conserve. The Team was composed of Rey Sta. Ana, Nilo Arribas, Tonji and Sylvia Ramos, Dr. Chito Limchiu and Alain Pascua. Nicky Icarangal and Zardo Goring guided the team.

Here are the pictures that Alain Pascua took. Click on a photo to view it in larger size and to see Alain’s descriptions.

Striped-Headed Rhabdornis Silvery Kingfisher Scarlet Minivet Purple-Throated Sunbird Philippine Falconet Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker Logs Dwindling forest Fallen trees Illegal logging Logs Freshly-cut logs Little Egret Handsome Sunbird Buzzing Flowerpecker

Other pictures, in bigger sizes, with camera settings and with comments from Alain’s fellow bird photographers, are posted at the Philippine Bird Photography Forum.

If you care about our environment and our natural resources, please share this with your family, friends and colleagues.

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Palamantasan nutrition drive Wed, 21 Jul 2010 11:22:30 +0000 Blogie Cheez Whiz PalamantasanIn an effort to bring attention to a serious social problem in the Philippines, Kraft Foods Phils. has undertaken a worthy corporate social responsibility project called Cheez Whiz Palamantasan ng Sarap, Sustansya at Saya. In coordination with the Department of Education, this nationwide campaign was launched in Davao City last 17 July 2010 to help address the problem of under- and malnutrition among Filipino children.

Palamantasan ng Sarap” — a witty play of words, don’t you think? The idea, according to Cheez Whiz senior brand manager, Paolo Serrano, is to make an educational campaign more fun so that kids will take to it and, thus, learn from it. If you take a look at the Palamantasan website, you’ll know what they mean by engaging kids in a way that’ll get their attention.

At the launching of Palamantasan in Davao, which was held at the Buhangin Central Elementary School, several local grade schools participated in competitions that were designed to create awareness of nutrition issues. There were the usual contests, such as the Sabayang Pagbigkas (group speech contest), cheering, and essay-writing. There was also a unique event called “Jarchitecture“, where participating pupils unleashed their creativity in crafting buildings or robots made of empty Cheez Whiz bottles and caps.

The contest that I liked, though, was the Mom & Child Sandwich-Making Contest. There were three teams that competed at Buhangin Central, and it was fun to watch the pairs (two mom-and-daughter and one mom-and-son teams) concoct fancy- and yummy-looking healthy snacks.

Buhangin Central Elementary School Grade schoolers Palamantasan registration table Palamantasan judges Sabayang Bigkas Sabayang Bigkas Sandwich-Making Contest Cheering Contest Palamantasan

“These schoolchildren are at the stage of developing a sense of responsibility,” explains Serrano. “This is why we want them to realize the significance of proper nutrition themselves — through a series of fun, creative and learning activities.”

Studies by the Philippine government have shown that millions of Filipino children are malnourished. That’s why, among the poorer sectors of society, it’s not uncommon to see ten-year-old kids looking like they were barely six. This could stem from the lack of education about proper nutrition in many Filipino families. What Kraft Foods has started, therefore, is worthy of praise.

I hope that many more big corporations, especially those involved in the food industry, will take it upon themselves to help eradicate the country’s nutrition problems. Better yet, it would be great for other companies to get on board and make a pledge to theh Palamantasan initiative. It will ultimately benefit them, too, because they would be ensuring a healthy workforce for the future.

As for schools that aren’t yet part of the program, they would do well to urge their students to join Palamantasan. I remember when I was in Grade School, it was always fun to take part in those fun-filled activities that involved food. Little did we know that we were in fact learning from the experience already! As Palamantasan has reminded me, the best way to get kids interested is to get their attention through exciting and challenging activities — and with a full stomach in the mix, the Cheez Whiz Palamantasan program certainly concocted the best formula!

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