Archive for October, 2006

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Happy halloween folks!

October 31, 2006

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Petron oil spill (Editorial cartoon by Manny Francisco, from Cagle Cartoons.)

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Oil slick detected in El Nido

October 31, 2006

By Jofelle Tesorio
Inquirer, Oct. 30, 2006

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – Sporadic signs of oil slick have reportedly alarmed tourists in the town of El Nido, north of Palawan.

Due to fears residue from the Guimaras oil spill might have reached mainland Palawan’s northern tip, the El Nido Tourism Council and the town’s local government immediately asked help from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), an environment body in the province.

Visitors to Intatula beach in the town reported that when they stepped on the sand, there were traces of oil on their feet.

El Nido tourism officer Arvin Acosta informed the PCSD district office about the suspected presence of an oil slick in the area and sent a sample of suspected oil sludge to the environmental monitoring agency for proper verification.

The municipal government of El Nido has also sent a sample to the PCSD Manila office for testing in a certified chemical laboratory.

The PCSD immediately dispatched a technical team to El Nido town last October 26 to check and study the presence of the oil slick.

Signs of a suspected oil slick were reportedly first noticed on October 9 by residents who ply Bacuit and Corong bays. At the time, residents hoped the oil would eventually disappear and did not immediately report the sightings.

(For the full story, click El Nido.)

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The Visayan Sea: Wealth of the World

October 31, 2006

Routes

By Alain Russ Dimzon
The News Today, Oct. 30, 2006

Central Visayans should have more of that desired awareness to value and conserve their marine environmental heritage and wealth.

A study “The Center of the Center of Marine Shore Fish Biodiversity: the Philippine Islands” by Dr. Kent Edward Carpenter of Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia and Dr. Victor Springer of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC shows that the central Philippines and that includes the Visayan Sea, popularly knows as the “Alaska of the Philippines.”

Dr. Carpenter was palpably more concerned over the degradation of the Philippines marine habitats, the most diverse in terms of density. The Philippines, especially Central Philippines, has more species of fish per unit area than anywhere in the world. He compared the richness of Philippine marine life to the terrestrial Amazon River Basin. But he noted a common prevalent situation between the two: biodiversity loss.

After the Eco-Forum environmental program on Central Philippine University (CPU) Channel 8 aired over Sky Cable Network, with the hosts Ms. Lucy de la Fuente, Engr. Aurora Lim, and Mr. Jenier Militar, I found a meeting of causes.

Mommy de la Fuente was a key actor in the operationalization of the NGO Health Aid to the Needy for Development (HAND), which was funded by the German Brot Fur Die Welt (Bread for the World) and the Australian Baptist World Aid Relief Committee (ABWARC). HAND was holistic as it addressed the sectoral concerns of a current standard NGO such as health, education, environment an the other basic services necessary for a simple, decent and sustainable life and living.

Tita Au has been very active in the campaign for renewable energy. She has been a prime mover against the establishment of a coal-powered plant that will dispose by-products into the Visayan Sea, the “Alaska of the Philippines.”

I can only imagine how immeasurable the vigor of these two women, mothers and grandmothers if they would have been in their youth.

Also there during the show were Victor Prodigo (Touch), Fulbright fellow for International Sustainable Development, Joseph William Albaña (Joseph), foremost cultural and environmental worker, Jose Gerardo Deza (Gerard), encyclopedic and unheralded writer par excellence. I found a small group working on a huge concern.

Gerard’s plan to have Dr. Carpenter come over and help in the conservation efforts after the MT Solar 1 sinking that caused an oil spill off Southern Guimaras came before President Arroyo picked up that Philippine Daily Inquirer headline story on Kent (Dr. Carpenter) and her consequent order to DENR Undersecretary Trono organize a marine habitat summit in November this year.

Touch was consultant of Guimaras when the province won the “Galing Pook Award sa Kapiligiran.” He was also consultant of the Banate Bay Development Council, also a winner in another environmental contest.

Joseph is an institution of an advocate for a pro-Filipino culture, arts and heritage and that includes ecological heritage. An organizer of reputation, and an icon of the theater Arts Guild of the University of the Philippines Iloilo (TAGUPCI), he is a theater arts teacher, oration, declamation, and extemporaneous speaking tutor and trainer.

The following day, the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension sponsored a public forum at the UP Iloilo City campus.

After these actions, I expect a unified and organized results-oriented intervention to conserve a wealth of the world most proximate to us Central Visayans: the Visayan Sea.

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From the Center by Rolly Espina

October 29, 2006

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ANTIQUE Governor Sally Zaldivar-Perez must be happy over the fact that the oil spill in Semirara involved the oil from the National Power Corporation.

Now, she has nothing much to worry about. The firm, which is state-owned, recently paid a total of P8.2 million to the affected residents of Semirara Island.

Last Dec. 18, 2005, a Napocor barge ran around and spilled thousands of liters of bunker C fuel to the sea. It was considered the first and the worst ever of its kind until the Solar I sank off Guimaras province last Aug. 11 with some two million liters of bunker fuel.

Napocor had paid P6 million to some 187 claimants for damages to their livelihood caused by the oil spill.

The oil firm also provided livelihood assistance in the form of fishing boats and gear to the tune of about P2.2 million to the Semirara Cooperative Aqua Farmers and Folks Association.

Income generating projects implemented are deep-sea fishing and seaweed farming.

The turnover was spearheaded by Napocor president Cyril de Callar and was attended by Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Antique Governor Sally Zaldivar-Perez, Rep. Exequiel Javier, Semirara Barangay Captain Reynante Lim and Semirara Mining officials led by Isidro Consunji and George San Pedro.

An applause to officials of Napocor for rapidly processing the payment of claims to the affected Semirara residents.

On the other hand, we have seen on television some residents of a Guimaras barangay lodging their complaint against a municipal agricultural official for allegedly taking over the functions of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The complainants, of course, indicated a series of broken promises and even discrimination in the distribution of relief assistance. Including, worse, the conversion of their daily take of P300 to rice sans consultation with them.

I think it is time for Guimaras Governor Rahman Nava to take a direct hand in probing the questionable actuations of the aggie official. It may be also that the DSWD had not assigned a social welfare officer to the area. Then, Gov. Nava should remind the DSWD officials of the province that the assignment of the agriculture official to the assigned task be put down in writing and explained to the people of the barangay.

Guimaras folks have been chafing for sometime now about the slow pace of the decision-making process insofar as the siphoning of the remaining 1.9 million liters of bunker fuel out of Solar I.

They have a legitimate complaint also. It seems that the Petron had called a halt to the PR project of giving out P300 a day to affected residents for their part in the clean-up of the Guimaras shoreline.

That was apparently just a short-lived gesture that did not alleviate the loss of livelihood of the beleaguered residents.

More of a PR gesture rather than an exercise of social responsibility.

(For the rest of the column, click Rolly Espina, Visayan Daily Star, Oct. 28, 2006.)

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Slump in fish sales, joblessness haunt Guimaras

October 29, 2006

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer, Oct. 29, 2006

JORDAN, Guimaras – Residents of Guimaras province are reeling from joblessness and income loss after the August oil spill devastated their livelihood and the local economy, according to a report of a multi-agency team that assessed the impact of the disaster.

The worst hit are residents of coastal villages engaged in fishing, gleaning, beach resort operation, motorized banca (outrigger canoe) operation, salt-making and agriculture, said the 126-page report released on October 26 by the provincial government.

More than half, or 52, of the 98 barangays (villages) of the provinces were directly affected by the oil spill and have oil sludge near the shore or in their coastal waters. The remaining 46 barangays were considered to be indirectly affected.

The report said 69,162 individuals or 46 percent of the province’s population of 151,194 have been directly affected by the oil spill.

The oil spill heavily affected three of the five towns of the province: Nueva Valencia, Sibunag and San Lorenzo. Jordan and Buenavista were less affected but felt the impact of the loss of market confidence in fishery products from Guimaras waters.

The report said that 2,439 fishers who were previously earning an average of P239 to P300 per day were displaced due to the effects of the oil spill on their fish catch, seaweeds and milk fish production.

(For the full story, click Slump.)

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Mark this on your calendar…Dinig sa Guimaras 2

October 29, 2006

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The crowd enjoys a performance at the first Dinig sa Guimaras gig at Bela Bar, Sept. 30, 2006. Photo courtesy of paqs69

1 Fish Entertainment Productions will be holding another rock concert to raise funds for Guimaras on Nov. 11, 2006 at The Breakfast Club, located along Aguirre Street, Phase 3 BF Homes, Parañaque. For only P200, get a beer and an earful of Drt, Southerngrass, ERF, Flood, Kinkyhooters, and Hardboiled Eggs.

Funds to be raised from this gig will be distributed through Task Force Sunrise of the provincial government of Guimaras, and environmental group, Greenpeace Philippines.

This site will keep you posted on more developments regarding this fundraising effort.

-From Joseph C. Araneta of 1Fish Entertainment Productions

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From our mailbox…on Dr. Kent Carpenter

October 29, 2006

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DR. Kent E. Carpenter’s credentials speak for him. He has worked for more than five years in the field in our country, and has even taught the subject of Ichthyology at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas, a fact not mentioned in that Panay News article by Alain Russ Dimzon, a developmental journalist of unassailable repute and a revered and nationally-acclaimed poet of social consciousness in the medium of Hiligaynon poetry.

Ilonggo marine biologists and scientists are among the best and brightest in the country if not this part of Asia; these same scientists have accepted the research of Dr. Carpenter and welcomed it as a bright beacon in our otherwise all-too-often sullied efforts at marine conservation and protection.

The following are web sites covering the work and research done by Dr. Carpenter: www.oneocean.org; www.iucn.org; and
www.sci.odu.edu.

Simply put, using a scientific approach, together with a colleague who is even more renowned and respected in the scientific world, Dr. Carpenter in his study has posited the thesis that the epicenter of marine shore fish biodiversity is right here in central Philippines, nowhere else in the world. The central Philippines is the marine equivalent of the Amazon river basin rainforest in terms of number of species per unit area. This revelation, startling as it is, should be a source of pride for all Filipinos. This link directs you to the PDF file of said study, as published in the scientific journal Environmental Biology of Fishes last year. The paper itself understandably replete with technicalese, the http://www.oneocean.org page cited above will help in understanding the import of Dr. Carpenter’s study, and as correctly presented by Mr. Dimzon in that Panay News article, it is this:

Our marine resource is not only a national treasure and a national heritage; it belongs to the rest of the world as well. Dr. Carpenter is here and spending precious time and effort in letting us be aware of this heritage. The rest is up to us. This unique heritage is not forever, nor self-sustaining; the Philippines is after all number one among those countries with the most threatened ecosystems and the most threatened species. For our sake and the sake of our children and their children’s children, we must help each other in the effort towards protection and conservation of what has been so generously endowed to us. We must do our part in sharing our knowledge and education with those whom we feel such strong empathy for, as is evident in what you have repeatedly expressed not only in this comment but also in your comments on the the SEAFDEC findings on the state of Guimaras corals in the aftermath of this oil spill tragedy.

Together, let us look at our fisherfolk in the eye and say, “Unless you fish sustainably, you won’t have any fish left out there.” These are not my words. I am merely quoting Kent E. Carpenter.

Most respectfully yours,

JOSE GERARDO G. DEZA