Planning to Visit the Philippines Soon?

There are hundreds of tourists attractions in the Philippines. But as a lover of the Island of Marinduque (Home of the Morions and Heart of the Philippines), I am indeed partial to its beauty, charm and its friendly and hospitable residents. Therefore, help me achieve my dream of seeing this island becomes a world tourist destination, by telling all your friends and relatives about this site. Welcome, to you all, new readers and faithful followers of this site! The photo above is Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos, Marinduque with beautiful and majestic Mt Malindig in the background. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing your copyrights. Please do not forget to read the latest National and International news in the right side bar of this blog!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is Manila Ready for an Earthquake?

YouTube and CNN posted this video on April 21, 2010. It is indeed scary, since the government appears to withhold this information from the public. Our government officials are too busy "politicking". About three days ago, 3 earthquakes of magnitude from 4.5 to 6.5 were felt in southeast Taiwan and Northern Luzon. If you are a resident of Manila and its suburbs, are you really prepared for a major earthquake of a magnitude of 7 or greater? Let us hope this will not happen soon, but view this video and judge for yourself. In the case of Marinduque, The LUBANG fault in Mindoro should be monitored for recent activity. Here's the video!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Are the political dynasties, Source of corruption in the Philippines?

Now that we have a new president who wanted to be called P-Noy ( short of president Noy-Noy Aquino), the talk about graft and corruption has somewhat stopped. P-Noy has reiterated that ending corruption in the Philippines is one of the top priority of his administration. But will he ever be successful in his goal since no one in the Philippines could end the rule of the political dynasties, unless the masses and the voters do it in the future elections. Here's a short article about political dynasties, I found interesting as I was surfing in the web recently.

"For generations, political dynasties have dominated politics and governance in the Philippines. They are prominent and moneyed clans, like that of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whose father was also president and whose son is a congressman. s.

Experts say that dominance of Philippine politics by such dynasties has grown more pervasive in recent years.

There are an estimated 250 political families nationwide, with at least one in every province, occupying positions in all levels of the bureaucracy, according to the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, a nonprofit group that advocates more grassroots participation in politics. Of the 265 members of Congress, 160 belong to these clans, the group says.

"These are the same families who belong to the country's economic elite, some of them acting as rule makers or patrons of politicians who conspire together to amass greater economic power," said Bobby Tuazon, director of the center.

Analysts say members of the dynasties have developed a sense of entitlement regarding public positions, while many ordinary Filipinos accept the arrangement as inevitable, which makes it difficult to change the situation.

Political dynasties were an offshoot of the country's colonial experience, in which the Filipino elite was nurtured by Spanish and American colonizers. Even after the country gained independence, in 1946, the largely feudal system persisted, as landed Filipino families sought to protect their interests by occupying public offices.

When he was president in the 1970s and 1980s, Ferdinand Marcos blamed the political dynasties for what was wrong with the country and promised to dismantle them. He did, but then replaced them with new ones that he controlled. These families persist to this day.

Because Filipinos tend not to vote according to class, ethnicity, religion or even ideology, the Filipino family has become "the most enduring political unit and the one into which, failing some wider principle of participation, all other units dissolve," Brian Fegan, an American anthropologist and historian, wrote in the book "An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines."

Analysts say the dominance of the clans has prevented the flowering of genuine democracy in the Philippines.

"Continuing clan dominance is a product of the seemingly immutable and unequal socioeconomic structure, as well as the failure to develop a truly democratic electoral and party system," said Julio Teehankee, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila.

The system is a vicious cycle, one that prevents the expansion of the base of aspirants and candidates for representation, Teehankee said. The result, he added, is a political system dominated by patronage, corruption, violence, and fraud.

Apart from violence, election fraud sparks the most concern during elections. According to the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, "fraud recycles the political dynasties and keeps them in power."

"It breeds generations of cheaters and manipulators, corrupt politicians, mediocre executives, bribe takers, absenteeism in Congress," the center said.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is Marinduque the next Travel Hotspot?

The Boac Cathedral Tower

This article was published on on March 19, 2010. It was written by Christine Pfeiffer. I assumed she is from Australia and is a guest of the Department of Tourism, Philippines. I found her article timely and realistic. We need more articles like this one so that Marinduque becomes a world tourist destination soon.

Is Marinduque Island the next travel hotspot?

"There are no sleek nightclubs, bars or tacky souvenir shops.

The few cars on the roads are vastly outnumbered by jeepneys (extended jeeps with two long seats behind the driver) and tricycles (three-wheeled motorcycles with passenger carriages).

All eyes are on our group of five as we walk through the streets of Boac, the capital. Western visitors in Marinduque are rare. Tricycle drivers stop by the side of the road to gawk, jeepney passengers crane their necks for a better look and shopkeepers run out to the street to stare. Shy children scuttle away when we try to take their photo.

Surrounded by Tayabas Bay, Mompoy Bay, Tayabas Strait and the Sibuyan Sea, Marinduque Island is only 170km south of Manila yet it's a world away from the traffic, skyscrapers and frenetic pace of the big city. The 959sq km volcanic island is a pristine natural treasure trove of sandy beaches, diving sites, caves, hot springs and waterfalls. The few local resorts on the island are simple and inexpensive. But this may not be the case for much longer because the local government has its sights on becoming the Philippines' next big vacation hot spot.

Change is coming

The ball is already rolling with new low-cost flights from Manila on Zest Air and SEAIR. A new luxury resort on a small private island nearby, Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa, has given the province a boost by building roads and employing local workers.

Most islanders are farmers or fishermen. But many are excited about the opportunities that a tourism boom could offer. Some have borrowed from money lenders to buy a jeepney (about $5000) or a tricycle ($1500). In a year or two, the more enterprising will catch on to the potential of operating souvenir stalls and cafes. The towns have Spanish names like Santa Cruz and Torrijos. And, with family names like Fernandez, Reyes and Gonzales, you could almost be convinced you're in South America, not Asia.

Our guide, Marie Diaz, grew up in Mogpog which was occupied by Japanese troops during World War II. On our tour, we pass bullocks working in rice fields and barangays (villages) where herds of goats and scrawny dogs roam the streets. Marinduque may be one of the poorer provinces in the Philippines but the people look happy. The streets are clean, homes are neat and children play with carefree abandon.

The town of Buenavista, Spanish for good view, lives up to its name with stunning ocean views, sandy beaches and swaying palms. Nearby Gasan is more prosperous, with bigger homes and concrete buildings. The shops are eclectic. The sign outside the local supermarket says "Glory to God, Sioland Supermarket, Gasan Branch". Next to the supermarket, in a space beneath a stairwell, is a fruit stall and a display of Western-style bridal gowns.

Island Highlights

The island's attractions include the WHS Butterfly Farm, near Gasan, where we chase a kaleidoscope of delicate butterflies fluttering among the flowers. The farm is a family enterprise that ships pupae as well as framed, dried and live butterflies around the world.

The Marinduque Museum in Boac is a good place to brush up on local culture and history. Exhibits include 16th-century porcelain recovered from the bottom of the ocean. Catholic culture on Marinduque has evolved in a unique way. Boac's main drawcard is the Gothic Boac Cathedral, which was built in 1666 to honour the Virgin Mary, introduced to the island by Jesuit missionaries. The Virgin Mary is known as Ang Mahal na Birhen ng Biglang-Awa or Blessed Virgin of Biglang-Awa Immediate Succor.

Back in 1807 the parish priest of Mogpog, Padre Dionisio Santiago, started a festival based on the story of Longinus, the one-eyed Roman centurion who pierced Jesus Christ while he was on the cross. Today people from all over the Philippines flock here at Easter time to watch the singing, chanting and street theatre. The main event is a parade that includes the Via Crucis, or way of the cross, in which "Jesus Christ" carrying a wooden cross is trailed by a group of barefoot devotees who whip themselves as penance for their sins. It ends with the beheading of Longinus.

Outside the Boac Cathedral we buy banana que (deep-fried bananas dipped in caramelised sugar), turon (banana jackfruit) and carioca (doughnuts) from a local woman. The snacks cost seven pesos each (18c).

It's a warm day so Diaz takes us on a short hike through the rainforest to Paadyao Cascades where we plunge into a cool pool beneath the waterfall. I spend the rest of the afternoon at my cliff-top villa at Bellarocca Resort sipping champagne in my private plunge pool while gazing at tranquil views of Sibuyan Sea.

Bellarocca's setting is stunningly Mediterranean. White-washed buildings are a stark contrast to green Mt Malindig and the turquoise ocean. Facilities include a nine-hole golf course, cigar room, gym and fitness centre, swimming pools and a spa. Rooms are luxurious and furnished with amenities such as L'Occitane and Aveda cosmetics, plasma television sets and iPod docks".


Getting there: Philippine Airlines flies from Sydney to Manila from $901. Zest Air and SEAIR fly from Manila to Marinduque; flights are about $70 return.

Getting around: Buenavista to the airport in a jeepney costs 20 pesos (50c); Gasan to Buenavista in a tricycle costs 120 pesos ($3).

Staying there: Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa's Dolce Vita package (valid until May 31) includes two nights' accommodation, brunch, afternoon tea and other extras from $350 a person.

Cebu Pacific Air plans on Flying to Marinduque

Cebu Air released this news on March 31, 2010. What is exciting is their future plan to add domestic flight to Marinduque. This will be good for the economy of the province and air fare will then be more competitive. Currently, SEAIR and Zest Airlines fly daily to Marinduque from Manila.

Cebu Air defers P25.7-billion stock offering until after May 10 elections

Cebu Air Inc., the airline unit of JG Summit Holdings (operating under the brand Cebu Pacific Air), has decided to defer its P25.73 billion initial public offering until after the elections.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Wednesday, the firm said “it has taken the view that, despite stong interest in the IPO at this time, it is in the better interests of the stakeholders to pursue the listing after the coming elections.”

Cebu Air had planned to launch its roadshow and IPO this month and list its shares at the PSE on May 3, 2010.

According to the PSE, Cebu Air is listing up to 728.22 million common shares of which 582.57 million are outstanding prior to the IPO while 125,25 million will be issued during the IPO and 20.4 million will be sold to the company’s executives and employees.

Cebu Air is planning an IPO consisting of 125.25 million new shares while current shareholder CPAir Holdings is selling 110.31 million shares plus 35.33 million shares under an over-allotment option.

The airline said 164.89 million shares will be sold overseas outside of the United States, 47.11 million shares are being sold through brokers of the PSE while 25.56 million shares have been allocated for local small investors.

Cebu Air has given an indicative price of P95 per share although the actual offer price will not be set until after a domestic roadshow and an international roadshow and bookbuilding process.

The IPO will start with the sale of shares via trading participants of the PSE which are to submit commitments from April 19 to April 22 with the domestic offer ending on on April 26, 2010.

The airline has tapped Deutsche Bank AG, Hong Kong Branch and J.P. Morgan (S.E.A) Limited to be the international lead underwriters for the issue while ATR KimEng Capital Partners is the domestic lead underwriter.

Net proceeds from the primary portion of the IPO, estimated at P10.11 billion will be used for pre-delivery or down payments for new aircraft, working capital and general corporate purposes including fuel and flying operations-related expenses, maintenance, passenger services, staff expenses and other related items.

Cebu Air intends to increase its fleet size to 47 planes by 2014 from the current 29 and has firm orders for 15 Airbus A320 aircraft, options for five Airbus A320, operating lease for two Airbus A320, and plan to acquire two more Airbus A320 through lease or purchase.

The firm said the additional planes will support its plans to increase frequency on current routes and to add new city pairs and destinations.

Over the next two years, the airline plans to add new international destinations such as Brunei, Beijing, Denpasar, Fukuoka, and Nagoya, and new domestic destinations such as Pagadian and Marinduque.

Let us hope this plan will turn into reality. Have a Good Day to ALL!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Philippine Tourism Videos

Chateau Du Mer Beach House, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines
If you are planning to visit the Philippines in the near future, you will enjoy this video made by the Department of Tourism. The month of April and May is not ideal to visit the Philippines, because of the heat and drought. Moreover,if May is a good time for you, I suggest you visit the Philippines after the May 10 election. The best time to enjoy the Philippines are the months of November, December, January and February. The climate is cool and dry. Stay away from big cities and spend more time in the provinces. I indeed recommend my small island-Marinduque, if you want less crowd, traffic and polluted-free air and true Filipino hospitality and cuisine. Enjoy the two videos and will appreciate your comments. I hope to see you in Marinduque soon!!

Viaje Tayo-Let us Travel to the Philippines

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Romulo Cafe-New Restaurant in Quezon City

Macrine and I were treated by Yong Nieva ( Macrine's first cousin) to his new restaurant in Quezon City last December. Yong's wife Ivy Almario, designed the restaurant. They are partners with the granddaughter( Sandie) of Carlos P Romulo, first Secretary General of the United Nations. Here are several short videos regarding this restaurant for your viewing pleasure. When you get a chance, visit the place, but be sure to get a reservation, unless you know Yong personally. The restaurant is located on the corner of Scout Tuason and Dr Lazcano streets in the Morato restaurant row district in Quezon City.

Happy Eating! Enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant. Macrine and I really did enjoy the cucumber drink, the chicken relleno and the crispy Pata!

Note: Yong Nieva is originally from Marinduque and has a vacation and retreat House called Amana Forest Reserve in Cawit, Boac. Cawit is only 2KM from Amoingon, where our beach resort and conference center, Chateau Du Mer is located.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pawikan ( Sea Turtles) Conservation Efforts in Marinduque

Here's the latest news on the Sea Turtles Conservation Project in Marinduque

Marinduque seeks ‘Pawikan’ Habitat by G Querubin

FREQUENT SIGHTings and efforts to rescue sea turtles or “pawikan” in Marinduque have prompted local environment officials and advocates to work double time to have the island-province declared a critical habitat of the marine creatures.

Efren de los Reyes, acting head of the protected areas, wildlife and coastal zone management unit of the province, said the declaration would enable those concerned to initiate measures to reduce or eradicate threats to the survival of the turtles.

In the past five years, 44 pawikan have been rescued in different coastal villages of Marinduque and eventually released to the sea, according to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro). Among them were green sea, Olive Ridleys and the rare Hawksbill turtles, the most threatened species.

Last year alone, 25 were rescued and set free, along with 157 hatchlings.

Rich biodiversity

The presence of the turtles indicates that the province’s coastal areas serve as their nesting grounds, foraging areas and path of migration, De los Reyes said.

It also means that these areas are rich in minute marine biodiversity, Danilo Querijero, Penro chief, said. He pointed out that Marinduque is one of the provinces comprising the Verde Island Passage/Triangle that marine scientists have described as “the center of the epicenter of marine biodiversity.”

“Everybody must be a stakeholder,” De los Reyes said in pushing for a declaration of critical habitat. “The primary beneficiaries of this advocacy will be the community. Village folk should be in charge of their communities’ sustainable development.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources defines a critical habitat of threatened species as that “designated based on scientific data, taking into consideration species endemicity or richness and the presence of manmade pressures and threats to the survival of wildlife.”

The known habitat is outside a protected area established under Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.

Quelling threats

Once a critical pawikan habitat is established, authorities can institute steps to protect the marine animal, such as prohibiting the dumping of waste products, squatting, mineral exploration or extraction, burning, logging and quarrying.

They can also punish violators.

Miguel Magalang, executive director of the Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (Macec), expressed concern that climate change was now taking its toll on the turtles.

Their “original habitat is getting warmer now, driving them to seek sanctuary in the coastal waters of the province,” he said.

Magalang said Macec had already intensified its pawikan protection and conservation program among the villagers. It has come up with an incentive program for fisherfolk who capture the turtles and report their catch to authorities.

“We give livelihood assistance to fishermen, P5,000 for the big pawikan and P2,500 for the smaller ones,” he said.

The Penro and the Macec are finalizing their action plans after undertaking a thorough survey mapping, assessment, focus group discussions and community consultations.

“The plans and recommendations that will be formulated will be the basis of the DENR (through an executive order by the secretary) or the local government units (through resolutions or ordinances) in declaring Marinduque a critical pawikan habitat,” De los Reyes said.

Help conservation efforts of the sea turtles by reporting to authorities, local residents, who had been searching/pouching for turtle eggs in your neighborhood.

Link within

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