Ships carrying passengers and cargo are continually afloat in the sea lanes of the world. These behemoths of transportation need crews to service and maintain them and their passengers and cargo. Filipinos have historically filled a large contingent of these marine seafaring positions throughout the world. In fact, Filipinos account for the largest assembly of seafarers in the world.
Philippine Transportation Secretary Authur Dugade recently said: ?It is my hope for the Philippines to become a major international hub for crew change.? In the last four months alone, 734 ships have set anchor in the Port of Manila for the purpose of crew change. The Philippines is looking at becoming the largest international crew change player in the world. Besides Manila, the country has added three additional ports to help see this dream to fruition. Panila, Capinpin and our beloved Subic Bay are all included in the government?s designation as crew change ports. Additional ports that include Cebu, Davao and Batangas are also on the list for future consideration.
It is hoped that the hospitality industry along with the maritime and seafaring industries will be advanced by embracing the crew change port concept.
There is one problem though, for this hope to come to fruition, the Philippines had to change the way it did things. As it turned out, the country has had one of the strictest and longest running lockdowns for the coronavirus pandemic.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, 300,000 ship crew members were stranded at sea. To speed up crew change and to help minimize the spread of the disease, the Philippine government created the Green Lane guidelines. Senior government officials signed the agreement in July of 2020 in Manila. Green Lane provides guidelines for safe and quick disembarkation for thousands of Filipino and foreign sailors within its framework. This framework applies to both inbound and outbound sailors.
Japan counts on Filipinos for about 75% of its shipping crew requirements. Numerous Japanese-controlled ships have been sent to the Philippines to carry out crew changes during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Japanese have quickly adopted the Philippines Green Lane protocols for crew change.
Officials in the maritime industry are calling for a global approach for seafarers from around the world by adopting a common digital quarantine pass system using blockchain to implement a high-tech contact tracing system for the seafarers. Once all the countries agree on and implement this common protocol, it will help instill confidence in airlines and ports for allowing more fluid and certain crew changes. Qatar Airways stated it has capacity to fly three times daily to destinations in the Philippines. It is currently awaiting approval from the Philippines aviation authorities for the extra flight slots.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed all our lives and caused us to make drastic changes in the way we live life. This is a learning process for all of us. The implementation of governmental and personal policies is crucial not only for the control of this pandemic, but also for the control of the next one that could quite possibly be right around the corner.
Viral infections seem to be on the rise. Since the beginning of the century, we have lived through SARS, Bird Flu, MERS, H1N1, Ebola and now Covid-19. As we continue to learn and grow through these, let us not forget what we have learned as we are build on our previous lessons in our approach to the viral infections of the future.
Besides the new crew change designation, Subic Bay is becoming increasingly crucial to the economy of our country in a myriad of ways. The ability for us to maintain a vibrant economy during pandemics is directly tied to governmental policy, protocols, and procedures. We as investors, are thankful for the government?s implementation of these standards as we grow towards the future.
COVID-19 has changed everything! The niceties that helped take the sting out of the monotony of life, such as going on weekend trips to distant resorts, eating out at restaurants or dancing the night away at clubs have been stripped from our lives. We have spread our wings and opening gradually, but then find ourselves closing-up society again when the infection starts to overload our medical system. Tragically, an insidious and dangerous contagion continues to destroy our way of life.
We find ourselves in the midst of the worst pandemic since the Spanish flu of a hundred years ago. With the inability to move freely and conduct commerce, we are paralyzed. Not only is the health of our people in jeopardy but our delicate economy we all depend on is threatened.
Even after the Coronavirus has eventually subsided, whether by way of an effective vaccine or other means, the possibility of new (novel) viruses like COVID-19, which we have no group immunity to, is a very real and continuing threat to our worldwide societies. Rapidly growing world populations and climate change are just a couple of the contributing factors to new contagions spreading and reaping the same if not worse scenario on our country and world.
Given what is at stake, the Philippines government has recently and proactively stepped in to plan for the inevitable outbreak of future contagions. Our government has designated New Clark City as the location for the new Philippines Virology Center of the Philippines. What better place to locate a state-of-the-art infectious disease control center than in the modern, disaster-resilient zone of Clark New City.
The administration has approved the establishment of this virology center as part of its growth in infrastructure program known as Build, Build, Build. The project is the joint work of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). Vivencio Dizon, Presidential Advisor for Flagship Programs and Projects for the DBCC and president and chief executive officer of BCDA stated on Thursday, August 5, 2020, that the new Virology institute will indeed be located in the New Clark City zone.
This is good news for the nation and more specifically for our local region as it continues the move forward in building-out this major new hub of commerce and government administrative offices in the area, bringing additional jobs and growth of this new national capital region of Central Luzon.
New Clark City is a fast-growing track of land designated at 9,450 hectares (23,400 acres). Of this enormous chunk of land, only 3,500 hectares of this parcel are to be developed. The remaining land will be green, open spaces for a cleaner, greener, and more ecologically desirable city environment to live and work. This area was formerly part of the U.S. military base Camp O’Donnell. The sparkling new city is located within the municipalities of Capas and Bamban of the Tarlac Province. Administration offices for New Clark City are in Angeles, Pampanga as part of the Clark Special Economic Zone.
The government?s actions are indeed commendable. During this exceedingly difficult life lesson we are all living through, we must learn from it, stay focused, work collaboratively and intelligently and with a set purpose of defeating this pathogen and future ones that will be lurking around the next corner. We must do everything we can to find our way back with a new proactive perspective. We must look to the successful mitigation strategies of other countries around world and consult with and imitate their measures. After all, our entire way of life is at stake.
Remdesivir, is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug, originally created in 2009 for the treatment of hepatitis C, then later tested for treatment of the Ebola virus. Although it was ineffective in treating Ebola, as of this writing, it is the only approved drug to treat COVID-19. Remdesivir has presented promise in studies showing up to a 63% decrease in the risk of death when compared to standard care without the drug. This finding needs further confirmation, as noted by Gilead, the creator, patent holder and maker of the drug.
Recent reports that the U.S. has bought up the entire current 500,000 dose supply of the drug has caused fear that the drug will not be available to other nations including the Philippines.
However, the Directory of the Philippines Department of Health (DoH) informed the public that there are other suppliers in Asia that could provide the drug to our country. While we wait for further word of these sources, hope abounds for the therapeutic to become available sooner that later.
Meanwhile, Gilead recently signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with pharmaceutical companies in three countries, India, Pakistan, and Egypt to allow companies in these countries to make the drug for mass distribution throughout 127 countries around world, including the Philippines. These designated distribution countries represent those in the low to middle-income category, along with some other high-income countries. The countries also represent those with populations having substantial difficulties with healthcare access.
These licensing agreements will allow the companies to utilize the intellectual property rights for production of a generic form of the therapeutic drug remdesivir. This will allow these licensed generic drug companies to ramp up production more quickly for distribution to healthcare facilities and those suffering with COVID-19. These licenses will extend royalty-free until an approved vaccine is approved or up to the end of the pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). This advanced licensing agreement extended to the generic drug companies will allow the companies to set their own discounted prices for the drug.
We hope to keep you informed in this blog of issues effecting the Clark and Subic Bay Freeport Zones, and, when appropriate, the entire Country of the Philippines. Given the fact that COVID-19 and its resultant extreme public health, economic and tourism impact have presented a difficult challenge to us all, we feel we must examine and relay any positive news to help alleviate the suffering and pain brought on by this pandemic.?
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The Japanese Clark locator Company Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc, (YTPI) was recently commended for being able to maintain continuous operations of its Philippine factory throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Permission was recently given to continue their operations due to the company?s adherence to strict operational prevention and safety protocols.
Local leaders from communities surrounding the plant and the greater Clark Freeport have praised this company?s efforts. These local community leaders were from the townships of Angeles City, Pampanga, Mabalacat, Pampanga and Bamban, Tarlac. Mabalacat City Mayor Crisostomo Garbo gave the ok recently for the company to continue its operations. Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin, Jr. also expressed support for the company, offering to help in any way he can to maintain jobs during this crisis.
YTPI is currently maintaining 80 percent production capacity. The company was able to utilize advanced safety equipment and safety measures to adequately mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their work environment. The policies and actions of YTPI?s executives allowed the company to continue operations, preserving the majority of the 2500 jobs at the plant thus far. A remarkable accomplishment for any manufacturing company with that number of employees.
The above case is one example, and proof that we are not rendered hopeless in the grips of a pandemic. If, we are diligent and careful, utilize technology and are diligent, using learned measures to mitigate infectious spread, we can gain control over an otherwise uncontrollable enemy. In the process we can continue our economy while minimizing the virus?s nefarious effects on our populous and economy.
We can also view other countries as models, while looking deeply at their methods used to minimize infections and deaths while maintaining their economies. Countries that have been able to bend the curve substantially include, New Zealand, Australia, and Norway. However, most noteworthy, given its proximity to the China where the outbreak occurred, is the example of South Korea.
As of this writing, this technologically advanced nation of almost 52 million people has managed to keep their total COVID-19 deaths down to approximately 300, with a total of almost 14,000 confirmed cases. As of this writing, compare this to countries such as the U.S. showing 146,000 deaths with 4.1 Million cases with ongoing deaths of over 1,000 per day. While the U.S. has a population of approximately 328 million, the per-capita infection rate for the U.S. is 1.25%. Compare this to the South Korean infection rate of .027% which is a small fraction of a percent of the U.S. rate. If you do the math, this works out to South Korea experiencing an infection rate of around 2% of the United States? rate.
Even though South Korea experienced one of the world?s worst initial outbreaks early in the pandemic in mid-February 2020. A single person transmitted the virus to many of the approximately 1,000 other worshipers in attendance that day at a mega-church Daegu, South Korea. The South Korean authorities were however vigilant, jumping on the task of interviewing approximately 230,000 members of the entire church members. They found several thousand exhibiting symptoms of the virus. By the end of February, to a large extent, the result of this single infection, Korea had the most COVID-19 patients outside of China.
The above the action of the government jumping on the threat of further infection was quite remarkable. Essentially, most of the members of the church were contacted and in cases of infection, self-isolated or hospitalized depending on the severity. Cell phone location data was used to investigate additional contacts outside of the church?s congregation. Many of those with milder cases, were sent to government converted, corporate training facilities, to isolate and obtain more limited medical attention. Within only a few days, government officials ensured that thousands of people in Daegu, the city where the outbreak occurred, were tested for the virus. Mask wearing became the mandated norm, with few if any people seen without a mask. Within a month, the outbreak in South Korea was essentially contained. Since the early weeks of March 2020, the daily rate of new daily cases fell from 800 to only in a few dozen and even in the single digits up until this writing in late July 2020.
Korea managed to curtail and contain the virus much better than most of the rest of the world. What did they do right? In a sentence, strict, accurate, quick-result virus testing, diligent and advanced contact tracing, governmental involvement in the isolation of people at all levels of infection, and the implementation and compliance with rigorous, prevention measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing. Credit must also be given to the people of the country, whose diligence in conforming to governmental mandates and guidelines for mask wearing, social distancing and isolation were outstanding.
In conclusion, we must ask ourselves, what we can learn from employers such as Yokohama and counties like South Korea??? What aspects of their processes and procedures can we implement in our work environment and throughout our country? Our health, economy and quite literally our survival may just depend on it.
CLARK FREEPORT 7/22/2020 ? What is an aerotropolis? Well, according to the website aerotropolis.com, it is ?a new urban form where cities are built around airports speedily connecting time-sensitive suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and businesspeople to distant customers, clients, and marketplaces.? You may ask, what does an aerotropolis have to do with Clark International Airport (CRK)? If the Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corporation (LIPAD) has anything to say about it, everything!
Big plans lay head for the Clark International Airport in the coming years. This airport site projected to become the central focus of growth and development in the Central Luzon area. LIPAD is the current contractual management company for the Clark airport, including the management of a massive 800-hectare parcel of land surrounding the airport within the Clark Civil Aviation Complex.
Yet another acronym in this story for you to remember is ADPI which stands for Aeroport de Paris Ingenierie. So, what is this French sounding acronym? This is simply a master plan and feasibility study accomplished in 2013 through a grant from the French government. Just recently, the organization that is LIPAD said it is planning on updating its own master plan to include the ADPI airport development study.
So, where will this take us regarding an aerotropolis future for Clark? Well, LIPAD, in accordance with the ADPI study proposal, is planning for Clark to become the next premier mixed-use township destination in Central Luzon. Think of NAIA on steroids. The plans are for Clark International Airport to be the very center of it all. The mega-facility will integrate general aviation, commercial logistics, tourism, employment/work, lifestyle/living, along with leisure, all combined in the Philippines new, premier mixed-use world-class aerotropolis.
LIPAD Corporation team members are currently meeting with government officials to fast track this plan. Some of the companies comprising LIPAD include the following:
Filinvest Development Corporation, a publicly listed holding company focused on the hospitality, real estate, and transportation markets.
JG Summit Holdings Inc., with business interests in air transportation, banking, food manufacturing, hotels and more.
Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc., an airport operations and passenger handling company.
Changi Airports Philippines (I) Pte. Ltd., whose parent company is a leading consultant, manager, and investor in the aviation market, growing world-class airports around the planet.
So, hang onto your hats as development of the Clark International Airport continues at an unprecedented rate. See you at the aerotropolis.
The Philippines offers More to Explore than Clark and Subic
So, you are looking for unspoiled beauty, fun and adventure in the Philippines huh? Well, there is no better place to experience Mother Nature?s wonder than the nation of over 7000 islands. There are so many wonderful beaches, jungles and forested areas that will keep most backpackers busy for a lifetime. The choices are so vast for Philippine backpack adventurers that the biggest problem you will have is deciding which areas to visit.
In this article we are going to focus mainly on the pristine beaches of the Philippines as launching grounds for fantastic backpacking adventures. The numerous and world-famous beaches of the Philippines are cherished summer refuges for hardworking and exhausted city folks. The summer season for Filipino?s means laying in a hammock, drinking some beer and falling asleep under the balmy summer air while listening to the ocean waves.
Individuals from around the world have transformed otherwise remote and unknown places 20 years ago such as Boracay and Palawan into well-known tourist havens. Many Incredible white sand beach areas and turquoise blue lagoons now have mega resort facilities that include bustling hotel complexes, bars and restaurants.
Since we are going to be profiling mostly remote and pristine beaches, it is best to be aware of some preparatory points prior to making your trip. Below we have compiled a list of what we have found to be important considerations to make your trip more enjoyable and safe.
If you are a backpacker, I?m sure you are used to hauling in the necessary survival items and realize the limitations of remote islands and beaches. If you are a newbie, then you?ll want to carefully consider the following. Most of these beaches are remote and are not close to an SM Super Mall or even a sari-sari store. It is always best to take along all of the basic amenities you will need. A well planned trip is always a nicer experience.
Always remember the camping and backpacking essentials including but not limited to: swimsuits, snorkeling gear, high SPF sunblock lotion, insect repellent, flashlights, portable radio, cellphone, Sterno, canteen, water purification tablets, portable ultraviolet filter system, high-energy snacks.
Figure out the available accommodations in the area such as rental huts/bungalows, hostels or other basic shelter from the elements. Do this prior to leaving in order to know if you will need to bring a lightweight tent, hammock and sleeping bags or not. While these items will add weight and bulk, if your chosen Philippine beach is dozens of kilometers from even the simplest of facilities, you?ll be glad you have the added items.
Many first time backpackers don?t prepare adequately for the disposal of their cans and bottles, food wrappers, paper towels and other trash items. Remember, we are all guests on this planet and need to pass it on to the next generation in the same or better condition we found it. Never litter and always haul your trash items out with you.
There may be local indigenous people or others peddlers in some of these remote areas simply trying to make a living. They may offer food items or handmade items for sale. While some backpackers may find these people a source of irritation, they can also prove to be lifesavers for ill-prepared backpackers. They also are great to help you find your way back to civilization if you get lost. It usually is a good idea to patronize these individuals in order to help them maintain their livelihood and ensure they are there to help the next group of forlorn backpackers.
Lighting large and out of control bonfires can be very dangerous on a remote beach where you are away from medical services. While it is not recommended to set a fire directly on the sand, it is generally recommended to contain the bonfire in some sort of tray or within a boundary of stones and rocks.
If you will be using land or sea transportation for travel to your backpacking spot, we have found it is very important to do some research prior to leaving. Public transportation in these remote areas is very limited and many times non-existent. Try to figure out bus, boat, jeepney and tricycle availability and/or schedules and routes prior to your trip. It is always better to actually talk with someone who has made the same trip you are planning to get a better idea of available transportation means.
Meteorologists can literally be lifesavers when making a trip to a remote location. As much as possible review weather forecasts from PAGASA for the area you?ll be backpacking in. The internet is very helpful nowadays in this regard. Never follow-through on a remote backpacking adventure if a typhoon or tropical storm is on the horizon.
A Few Incredible Backpacking Beaches of the Philippines
Below you will find a list of some great, pristine beaches that provide eye-popping scenery, clear waters and fantastic hiking experiences. Venture forth and explore the wealth of Philippine beaches.
Camarines Norte’s Calaguas Island
As far as remote beaches go, this is one of our favorites with wonderful fine white sand and crystal clear waters. Electricity on this remote island is limited to generators and there is no cell reception nor internet 4G data. Load up your phone or MP-3 player and don?t forget the ear buds if you must be connected to media during this trip. There are plenty of tour services and guides offering day tours, and multi-day excursions. If you prefer the guided excursion over trekking it yourself, then these companies are ready to take you and your friends exploring for an experience you?ll not soon forget. Besides your hiking activities, you can also island-hop, bird-watch, fish, play active games such as Frisbee or or just lay in your hammock dreaming away the day. If you are going to be on a self-exploring adventure without a tour company, you?ll need to bring lots of your own food and supplies as the sari-sari stores on this remote island are limited and the supplies are not well stocked.
Getting to Calaguas Island
If leaving from Manila it is an 8-hour bus ride to Daet, Camarines Norte. From there, take an approximate 20 minute jeepney ride to Vinzons. Where there ask your driver to drop you off at the port area. There you?ll find boat service to Calaguas, approximately a 2 hour trip.
Palaui Island, Anguib Cove (also known as Cagayan Province?s Boracay of the North)
Palaui Island is at the extreme north end of the island of Luzon along the eastern side. The island is relatively close to the Luzon shore only requiring a 30 minute boat ride. But Palaui is relatively untouched and simply fantastic for its rugged, remote beauty. It is reminiscent of a Hawaiian island with its fantastic white sands and volcanic rocks. The blue/green waters will enchant you as you prepare to go diving in the coral gardens immersed in the wealth of rich marine reserves just below the surface. Palaui is truly raw, unadulterated beauty. No one said it was going to be easy though. Getting to some of the island?s more remote spots such as Anguib Cove require extra effort as you need to trudge through muddy terrain, thorny grass, and even a mangrove forest. If you are looking for comfort and amenities you are in the wrong place. Here you will NOT find fancy resorts and hotels. In fact there are no lodging facilities as of the writing of this article. The only options on the island are to bring your pup-tent, sleep under the stars or arrange a stay at a local?s home. But once you are setup you can snorkel to your heart?s content, sunbath, fish, hike and visit Cape Engano on the extreme north end of the island where you?ll find an old Spanish lighthouse. There are several coves to explore, these include Siwangag Cove, Engano Cove and Anguib Cove that many compare to Boracay?s White Beach. Bask on the incredible white sand beach while you recharge as you relax, explore and soak-in of the beauty. If you plan on staying overnight you will need to ask permission from the tourism officer located at San Vicente port area prior to leaving Luzon.
Getting to Palaui Island:
As Palaui Island is in the extreme north of the country, it is best to take a plane from Manila to Tuguegarao City. This is as close as you can get to Palaui by commercial plane. The flight will take approximately 1 hour. Then you will need to take a bus or van from Tuguegarao City to Santa Ana. You?ve still got a ways to go so you are looking at approximately 4 hours of bus ride from Tuguegarao City. Be cautioned that typically the last van going to the Santa Ana, Cagayan area leaves Tuguegarao at around 5pm. So plan accordingly. You will need to take a boat from the Santa Ana area to Palaui Island. As mentioned above, this is only a 30 minutes trip. Once on the island, if you want to go all the way to the extreme north area of Cape Engano, it will take you approximately 3.5 to 4 hours of hiking from the boat drop-off point at Punta Verde which is located at the southeast tip of Palaui Island. Guides are available for a reasonable price to help you find your way to the northern parts.
Pandan Island and the Apo Reef of Mindoro
For the full-fledged dive enthusiast there are few places that compare to Mindoro?s Pandan Island. The nearby Apo Reef has gained worldwide acclaim as a dive spot extraordinaire. You can swim with giant sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, barracudas and many variations of colorful and unique fish and coral reefs; you?ll think you arrived in heaven. Even if you are not an avid diver, the rock formations along the coast are some of the most interesting you?ll find anywhere. Colorful exotic birds are singing their songs of beauty as you rest from the hustle and bustle of city life. Ditch the car, cellphone and computers and get in touch with nature in a way you may have never experienced. You can also explore the Jungle Rivers of nearby Mindoro by kayak and take a trip to the coastal village of Sablayan where fishermen and the town-people are always friendly and love to greet visitors. You may be able to leave the tents behind on this adventure as you?ll be able to find bungalow accommodations starting at some very reasonable rates at the Pandan Island Resort. There are numerous beach resorts in the Sablayan area on the large island of Mindoro prior to taking the boat to Pandan Island. Rental boats and camping gear is available at the municipal tourism office in Sablayan. They will even arrange for food and beverage for groups while on Pandan Island. Do your Internet homework on this one prior to embarking on a trip and make necessary arrangements.
Getting to Pandan Island
It?s most convenient for most to take an aircraft when traveling to this magical island. Once you land you?ll need to take a tricycle from the San Jose Mindoro Airport to Sablayan. When you have arrived in Sablayan, you?ll need to coordinate your trip with the municipal tourism office to go to Apo Reef. If you are going to stay at Pandan Island, once in Sabalayan you will need to take a tricycle to the ?Punta in front of Ludi’s place.? There you?ll find an outrigger boat for the island waiting. The prices are reasonable and the boat ride is fun and not too lengthy.
The Island of Coron is the general area where you?ll find Malcapuya Island, an out of the way little jewel of the archipelago that is known as the Philippines. You need to do some island hopping to get to Malcapuya. Expect an hour and a half trip by boat after landing in the municipality of Busuanga on the Island of Coron. The boats arrive on the north side of the island where you will disembark on your backpacking adventure. The island is not very big; it will only take a few minutes to get to the south side where your eyes will be treated to a fine, white, powdery sand beach of impeccable quality. Expect wonderful shallow waters for a significant distance from shore before you get to the deeper water areas. Crystal clear waters lend themselves to some really awesome snorkeling while at this paradise. Get ready to enjoy the many numerous and colorful fish species swimming all about the shallow waters without fear or trepidation of humans. Some neighboring land-masses to include on your island hopping/backpacking adventure are Bulog Island and Banana Island. The Coron Island area is brimming with little lslands such as Malcapuya. So get into your rented boat and explore away while at this tropical island paradise. The tourist crowds here are non-existent; this is one island you can pretty much have to yourself most of the time. There is a tour company called Kawil Tours based on Culion Island that does tours of Malcapuya Island to help you navigate the terrain and feed you great cooked meals if you?d like. There is a simple enclosed thatched hut cottage by the beach with and electric fan and a floor mattress for rent at a reasonable price. These not so luxurious accommodations include an outdoor shower a few meters away from the hut. There is no electricity on the island other than that provided by generator at the hut at night for lighting and such. You are provided with outlets for running electric fans and charging your cell phones. Other than this choice for lodging, you can stay at a house for rent away from the ocean shore. This house is only a single room affair but a little better equipped than the hut with a decent restroom and a decent bed. A small sari-sari store is on the island but it is limited to very basic drinks, chips and beer. You need to bring your own food if you are going to eat something filling and nutritious while on your island adventure of Malcapuya.
Getting to Coron and Malcapuya Island
Arrange an aircraft flight from Manila to Busuanga. From Busuanga Airport, get on a van bound for the town of Coron. This be about a 45 drive after landing. Boat rentals and boat operators for island-hopping and trips to Malcapuya Island are available at the town proper of Coron.
Remote Island of the Sorsogon Region: Calintaan?s Subic Beach
Found towards the far southernmost tip of Luzon Island is the Sorsogon and Matnog region. Go a little further south and you?ll find the remote islands of Calintaan and Tikli Islands. The Matnog/Bulusan region of Luzon features many great tourist spots including the majestic Mount Bulusan volcano, Bulusan Lake, Miliga-biga Beach, San Benon hot springs, Masacro mineral springs and more. Calintaan Island has a total land area of 363.6 hectares with beach area in about the 19 hectares range. There is a lagoon with a total area of 20 hectares on the west side. The lagoon will accommodate small yachts and sailboats. On Calintaan Island you?ll find a pretty pink sand beach called Subic Beach. No, not anything like the Zambales Subic Beach, this one is much more remote and without all the tourists and commotion. Because of its extreme southern Luzon proximity, the area is considered by many to be the springboard to the Visayas and to the rest of the Southern Philippines. The pink color of the sand on this beach is due to the pulverized red coral particles mixed with the white sand. The pink sands beach of Harbour Island in the Bahamas and Elafonisi Beach in Crete are additional examples of other pink sand beaches elsewhere in the world. The Philippines can be proud that Subic Beach enjoys such a rare display of nature?s uniqueness. This island offers a great backpacking adventure with lazy nights under the stars laying on a truly unique pinkish beach. Besides the beach, a can?t-miss experience on Calintaan Island is the Juag Fish Sanctuary. This is a private fish breeding project with a few surprises. You will get to see a 10-year-old aggressive milkfish and a huge lapu-lapu amongst many others at the sanctuary. Visitors to the fish sanctuary can participate in and enjoy feeding schools of colorful fish and experience exotic marine life of all types. This hatchery is used for export by the owners for exotic fish buyers worldwide. You can also hang-out at the sanctuary in little native shanties on bamboo stilts in the middle of the lagoon surrounded by the many fish, gorgeous hills and ocean views. Prior to staying on Calintaan or visiting Subic Beach, you are required to register at the Municipal Tourism Office in Matnog and pay a small entrance fee for each person plus an even smaller environmental cleanup fee per group. There is a Municipal Tourism Code to be enforced while traveling in the region and on the island. Be sure you know the rules prior to your adventure. This island actually has electricity and even a mobile signal, so you won?t feel so isolated and out of touch with the civilized world. Small nipa huts are available for overnight stays from the island caretakers. You?ll be able to get away with a night?s stay including the electricity and toilet usage for under php 1000.
Getting to Matnog, Sorsogon, Calintaan Island, Subic Beach
You can either take a very long bus trip (13 to 15 hours) or fly a Cebu Pacific plane for under an hour to Legazpi City. Once in Legazpi City, you have to take another bus to Daraga-Matnog, which will take 4 hours. Be prepared, there is no air conditioning on this bus service. The bus drops you off at the Matnog public market. You can usually get a tricycle to take you to from the Daraga-Matnog bus terminal to the Port of Matnog. From Matnog?s port, Calintaan Island is just 30-40 minutes away. You can charter a small outrigger boat that will take you directly to the island. Rates will vary depending on whether you want to go island hopping or if you?re going to be staying overnight or not.
Posted 07/09/2020 ? Clark growth and development is in the news again with a new Department of Agriculture (DA) plan to construct a 30-hectar Agri-Industrial Business Corridor (ABC) at the New Clark City location. This project is consistent with the concept of a green city as was one of the original aspects of New Clark City (NCC). The entire NCC project will eventually encompass almost 10,000-hectares.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is partnering with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), the lead in charge of the NCC area.
It is anticipated that the project will encourage additional investments in agriculture in not only Clark but 12 other ABCs designated throughout the country?s economic zones. The ABC project at New Clark City however is designated to be the initial and potentially most significant one because of the Clark?s agriculture resources and central location in Luzon.
Some of the advanced facilities are to include an agribusiness multipurpose area and a national seed technology park that will utilize advanced science to ensure the Philippines is an agricultural leader for years to come. Included in this project is multiple other high-tech agricultural production technology, value-added facilities, and access to capital for farmers agricultural ventures.
Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables are also integrated into the master plan for NCC. At the Clark Civil Aviation Complex a project called the Clark Fresh Market (CFM) which will become a launching point and cater to specialized agricultural markets such as organic produce, halal-certified (Muslim consumable certification) and other high-quality food markets. This facility should significantly help improve the health of our nation?s people by making more readily available clean and nutritionally superior foods available to a wider cross-section of our populous.
Economically, the combination of the ABC and the CFM is expected to create thousands of new jobs. Additionally, the economic growth of the central and northern Luzon regions of Pampanga and Tarlac should feel the significant effect on their economies.
These projects provide a means of joining the entire central and north Luzon regions along with providing for the advanced food needs of the nations new center of business and commerce that will become New Clark City. It is also anticipated to help foster a nationwide renewal of the agriculture sector. It is also a progressive and proactive means to help shield the country from the ravages of pandemics in the future. The Philippine government is committed to improving the food and agriculture stability in the country. They anticipate a budget of over P284 billion for the year 2021, significantly surpassing the 2020 budget of only P80 billion.
Posted 07/09/2020 ?The Clark Freeport has been granted advanced approval to transition into phase 1 of opening. The President has maintained General Community Quarantine (GCQ) measures to remain in effect for Manila and the myriad of businesses and casinos in that region but the Pampanga region is under Modified GCQ measures allowing it to open ahead of its more populated counterpart. The National Capital Region of Manila will have to wait until July 15th for operations to resume to some degree of normalcy.
Regarding casinos in Clark Pampanga, they are at a two-week advantage to those in Manila?s Entertainment City. These include Widus Hotel and Casino, D?Heights Casino, Royce Hotel and Casino and Fortunegate Casino. While the Clark casinos, leisure and hospitality venues are getting a jump start to the economy, there are conditions to go along with their new-found freedoms of operation as these openings are subject to the restrictions for casino operations by the Modified GCQ limitations.
If the Manila public maintains its compliance and the contagion numbers for positive tests, hospitalizations and deaths continue on a downward trajectory, then the government plans to loosen the GCQ rules for Manila down to MGCQ sooner than later as detailed by the President.
The President mentioned recently that Cebu is the new hotspot for CODIVD-19 cases. He said the reason was that many of the people there were not following the contagion prevention guidelines to mitigate the disease.
It is important to develop and attitude that these contagion procedures and precautions will be the ?new normal? for us for a long time. At least until there is an effective and long-lasting vaccine to protect the populous. Whether its GCQ or MGCQ implementation, the important thing has always been, and will continue to be, unfaltering cooperation of the public in following the well-established preventative measures. These include avoiding crowds, minimizing socializing, maintaining social distancing, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, washing hands often, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and making sure individuals who are feeling sick stay at home and not report to work or interact with individuals from other households. The days of showing up at work or visiting grandmother with a cough or fever are gone for the foreseeable future.
We are all watching the news, hoping, and praying for a vaccine, treatment, and end to this pandemic, but until them, it is incumbent on all of us to do our part. We all want to get back to normal, but the thing we often forget is the more we follow these well-founded scientific precautions, the sooner we can get back to a functioning society.
Each day in the Philippines our motor vehicles consume tens of millions of liters of gasoline.? An estimated hourly output of 2,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide is pumped into the air we breathe each hour.? Our country is spending the equivalent of over PHP 50,000 each and every hour to compensate for the treatment of pollution-related diseases and work-related productivity losses. Perhaps the worst statistic is that each hour of each day, four Filipinos die from the effects of air pollution.
Electric Trikes to the Rescue
Motorized tricycles produce an astonishing amount of pollution.? Perhaps more than you ever imagined.? ?Just one tricycle in the Philippines is producing as much pollution equivalent to 50 modern automobiles.
With tricycles being a major transportation medium in the country, the Philippines is attempting to make strides in clean and pollution-free tricycle transportation solutions with the help of a new Japanese start-up company called Terra Motors who is producing a new electric tricycle.? The vehicle making noteworthy strides is a new all-electric three-wheeled tricycle (otherwise known as an e-trike) that is poised to help clean-up the air quality.? The new vehicle is a sleek and modern space-aged design that holds 6 passengers travels a distance of 31 miles (50 km) on a charge and takes two hours to charge the battery pack.? It is relatively affordable for an electric vehicle at only $6300 per unit.? In order to concurrently help the economy, the vehicle will be made in the Philippines and sold here and throughout Southeast Asia.
E-trikes already operating in Several Philippine Cities
These e-trikes are already operating in certain areas of the country including Puerto Princesa, Makati City, Surigao and in Taguig.? Thanks to some forward and progressive thinking by President Aquino and his staff, along with a $300 million loan from the Asian Development Bank, these new clean and carbon- free vehicles will be seen amass throughout Metro Manila and other cities over the next few years.? This progress can be attributed to a lease-to-own program recently announced that will eventually replace 100,000 gas-powered tricycles with clean and efficient, cost-effective electric powered e-trikes by the year 2016.? This is a substantial effort but more than likely simply a beginning step to the Philippines enormous air pollution problem and ongoing imported fuel demands.
Cost Savings of e-Trikes for Drivers and Society as a Whole
The e-trike will save owner/drivers $5 a day in fuel costs.? From a tricycle owner/drivers perspective whose current salary is only $10 a day, this is a substantial improvement in profit.? Currently, the engines in many of the standard tricycles found in the Philippines are two-stroke units that are some of the most polluting power sources allowed on the streets of our country. ?Not only are there no emission control systems on these vehicles but they burn excessive amounts of crankcase oil in addition to the hydrocarbons from the burning of the gasoline to power the vehicles. After the majority of these vehicles are replaced, the potential the substantial improvements in the driver’s health over time by reduced exposure to exhaust fumes, and the resultant health savings are also an important factor.? In fact, in the end, health-related expenses will bring health and financial savings to all of us Filipinos.
Modular Battery Design
These vehicles should lend themselves nicely to a modular battery-pack design that could be removed when the vehicle when the battery’s charge is extinguished and then replaced with another fully-charged battery-pack providing an additional 31 miles of travel.? If the owner has two removable battery packs, the out-of-service pack could be charged at a base location while the e-trike driver is out making his rounds.? The e-trike driver could theoretically provide his service almost uninterrupted and continuously by swapping-out battery packs in this manner.
The government could initiate a loan program to allow these drivers to purchase additional battery packs.? The government could also include the extra battery packs in the lease-to-own program.
Additionally, adding quick charging stations throughout an urban area to improve operating distances may also be a way to help extend e-trikes ranges.? Given the fact the Philippines has a tremendous abundance of sun exposure throughout the year, the charging stations should be provisioned with extensive arrays of solar panels for free energy to charge our new transportation network. This would take the burden off of our power infrastructure and avoid us building new power plants for the transition to electric transportation.
Thanks to new manufacturing processes and the Chinese flooding the market with product, Solar panels have become much more affordable over the last few years; in some cases one-half the price of only a couple of years ago.
The e-Jeepney Movement
Additional environmental and sustainable energy progress is being realized in the e-jeepney movement currently ongoing in the country’s financial district of Makati City.? Twenty one e-jeepneys are currently hitting the streets of this Makati with charging stations strategically placed throughout the district. E-jeepney owners are currently franchised to cover a certain route in the city.
At PHP 700,000, these e-jeepneys are approximately twice the price of the e-trikes but still comparatively reasonable considering the electric technology and prices of most electric cars currently on the market. Besides the obvious benefits in fuel savings air pollution reduction and owner profits, these e-jeepneys are locally produced helping promote and grow our countries economy.? The first ones were produced in 2008 and now are growing in popularity and availability.? Additional measures are needed similar to the e-trike program so as to provide an impetus to massive implementation of the e-jeepneys nationwide.
Senate Passes Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act
The e-movement momentum is alive and well in the halls of our legislature.? The Philippines Senate just passed the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act in the first quarter of 2013.? This bill is expected to lower the cost of electric vehicles and hybrids by offering tax exemption schemes.? Since the price of electric vehicles (EV’s) is a substantial factor in limiting their widespread use, the Senate wants to do whatever they can to help reduce the price of EVs.
The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act will extend fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for the importation and manufacture of electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles sources.? Some of the alternative fuels that will qualify for the tax breaks include solar, wind, hydrogen fuel cell, compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Manufacturers of these vehicles in the country will be exempted from paying duties and value-added tax for purchase and importation of assembly components, raw materials, spare parts, and equipment used in the manufacture of alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) for nine years.? Additionally, a nine year exemption of excise tax will be granted to importers of fully completed AFV. The owners of AFVs will not have to pay the usual Road User’s Tax when registering their alternative fuel vehicles. AFVs used as Public-Utility-Vehicles (such as e-jeepneys and e-trikes) will be given priority in the registration process and issuance of plate numbers, along with prioritizing their applications in franchise process.
In Conclusion – Hope for a Clean and Bright Future
Once again, we would like to encourage and give kudos to the administration and the Asian Development Bank for taking this course of action to do something extremely far-sighted to address the issues of pollution, health issues, energy independence and climate change.? ?We would also like to thank the businessmen in Makati for pushing the e-jeepney movement and the efforts of the Philippine Senate in passing incentive bills to make alternative fuel vehicles less expensive.
Our country has some momentum now; the technology is becoming increasingly affordable, let’s keeps our thinking caps on and moves forward into the 21st century with vim and vigor and a mindset of progressive change.? Our future generations are entirely dependent on us making the right decisions at this juncture in history!? Since we are blessed with abundant solar resources, ever-increasing efforts should be made by the government, NGO’s, and the many businessmen this country has made millionaires out of, that will entirely transform the Philippines into an all electric and solar transportation country. ?Filipinos are innovative, smart and resourceful people.?? Research and development work should be focused on ongoing and continuous efforts for a clean and modern society.? With the political will and adequate funding, we can become the alternate/green energy transportation example for the rest of the world.
New highs are being experienced at the Clark International Airport, otherwise known as DMIA, and we are not talking aeronautical elevations here.? We are referring to the volume of airline passenger traffic at the countries now fastest growing airport.? ?Clark is experiencing a phenomenal growth period due to the abundance of budget airlines and the desire for affordable travel by an increasing populous with spendable income.
The airport experienced an impressive 71 percent growth in passenger volume last year.? Clark tallied a record 1.3 million passengers in 2012.? This was 533,000 passengers greater than the 767,000 recorded in 2011. Last Nov. 21, the Airport hosted its five-millionth passenger since beginning commercial flight operations in 2003.
Besides the standard carriers, there are now a total of eight budget-type airlines offering great deals for resource-limited travelers through the gateway.? As it turns out, 77 percent of all travelers or 1.013 million people used these budget carries for their travel needs last year. Clark airport’s achievement of impressive growth has encouraged the arrival of passengers to the airport from as far away as Northern Luzon, Metro Manila and Southern Luzon to experience Clark’s great rates to exciting domestic and international destinations.
With 2013 expected to be another year of GDP growth figures in the 7.5 to 8 percent rate, other nations would be enviable to be in the Philippines position.? ?These rates of GDP growth are helping the country progress and eventually inch-out of third world status.? Add to this the record-low interest rates, low inflation and a strong stock market, and we see the Philippines as the bright shining star of Southeast Asia. ?The increase in Clark air travel is but one indicator of the Philippine’s turnaround on the world economic scene.
All of these factors are combining to help create a larger middleclass and offering families the chance to move out of abstract poverty. ?Individuals previously unable to afford airline travel to foreign destinations have skyrocketed.?? Additionally, the affordable pricing of these Clark Airport carriers is additionally causing a compound effect, adding to the phenomenal growth of the facility and the ability for more individuals to afford airline travel.
Big things are on the horizon for Clark International Airport.? The existing passenger terminal is scheduled for a P360 million expansion to help accommodate the continual growth expected throughout this year.? Add to this a proposal by CIAC to build a P12 billion terminal that would allow for at least 10 to 12 million passengers a year.? The proposal submitted to the Department of Transportation and Communications is looking to build an international terminal similar to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia.
Additional support is expected for Clark Airport in the coming months and years.? Already an executive order was signed by President Aquino encouraging local carriers to use Clark as an alternative airport to Metro Manila’s NAIA facility in order to help traffic and congestion at the metro airport.
In order to assist in the easy use of Clark by Manila travelers, a new dedicated first-class bus service is being launched on January 15, 2013 in order to ferry passengers back and forth to Clark.? Three separate bus companies are going to be participating in the service. The service will depart Trinoma Mall in Quezon City, offer a designated lounge area as passengers wait for the bus, and only cost P200 for a direct, non-stop trip to Clark.
While Metro Manila will most likely always remain the main core capital city and gateway for the Philippines, Clark is quickly becoming the de-facto, less-congested, easier and more affordable alternative travel gateway that will only continue to set new heights of quality and offer individuals more options for their travel experience.