Balikbayod: Sharing surfboards for the Filipino Youth

12/12/10 - USUALLY when we think about surfing, we don’t necessarily put the Philippines on top of the list.  However, professional surfers and surfing enthusiasts would tell you that one of the best waves to ride is at Siargao Island, which is on the eastern shoreline of the Philippines.  Also known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, Siargao is home to Cloud 9, one of the best surfing destinations in the province because of its thick, perfect, hollow tubes that international surfers call it a special wave.   And in this surfing paradise, two Filipino-American surfers found their calling to help.

Lynn Bryant and Victoria Fabella, not only fell in love with Siargao Island, but with its people.  Lynn initially went to Siargao for a vacation, while Victoria first learned to ride the waves in Siargao.  During their trips, they realized that most residents don’t have access to surfboards, as no surfboards are made there.  Most have even never surfed at all.  Thus, Balikbayod—or Returning Wave—was born.
But what does surfing have to do with helping kids in Siargao?  Lynn and Victoria explained that the Balikbayod program is an effective way for kids to stay in school or go back to school.  
After talking to teachers in the local schools, they found out that if children are given boards to keep (usually from visiting surf tourists), they would rather go surfing than to school.  Some hope to win in tournaments for money and see surfing as a possible career.
With Balikbayod, kids can borrow boards provided that they are currently attending school or in an Alternative Learning System (ALS).  Because of these parameters, local teachers support their program.  A partner in Siargao, also known as “the surfboard librarian” checks with the teachers that the kids follow the requirements of the program.  Balikbayod is also purposely made as an after-school-program wherein boards can only be borrowed after school hours, school holidays and weekends.
The Balikbayod program has been running for almost 3 years now, and started with a group of 10 kids or so.  At present, there about 30 plus kids with the project—all done through personal funds by the founders and volunteer work.  Since starting the program, Balikbayod also have had high school drop outs return to school to get their diplomas through the ALS.
But like most good intentions, challenges are always in the way.  Aside from the lack of funding, there is hardly any support from the Philippine government.  In spite of this, Lynn and Victoria look ahead to more future trips with an increase of the number of boards shipped by sending a shipment at least once a year.  They also would like to expand in the Philippines and other countries.
Balikbayod continued success in promoting education first for the youth through the love of surfing is dependent on the support of people through donations and volunteer work.  Immediate needs are monetary for shipping costs, shipping sponsorship, old surfboards, materials and volunteers for their repair parties. (asianjournal)

Siargao Island in blackout since Sunday

11/18/10 - Philippines - Regions, Electricity Production & Distribution

Philippines -- Siargao Island has been in total darkness since Sunday after lightning struck a power station, which has beem supplying electricity on the island.

Sergio Dagooc, general manager of the Siargao Electric Cooperative (SIARELCO), said power has not been restored in the entire island since its main Cagdianao power station was hit by lighting on Sunday evening.

“The lighting was so powerful that it severely destroyed our main power station, which supplies power on the entire island,” Dagooc told the Inquirer.

He said he already sought help from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and other electric cooperatives to help them repair and restore power supply.

He said it could take them a month to restore electricity on the island’s nine towns and its 21,000 power consumers due to the severity of the damage.

Dubbed as the surfing capital of the Philippines, Siargao is home to the Cloud 9, a world renowned surfing  spot and is host to a number of fine white beaches.

The influx of foreigners and domestic tourists into Siargao serves as its drive engine, which brought economic growth and opportunities on the idyllic island which faces the Pacific Ocean.

Leticia Tan, Caraga tourism director, said although power has been vital in every tourist destination, the blackout posed no serious threat to the island’s vibrant tourism industry.

Tan said the sooner power could be restored, the better it would be for Siargao’s tourism industry.

“The blackout has no impact on the tourism industry so far, I hope power would be restored soon,” Tan said. (Inquirer)

Coin toss decides winner

10/27/10 - SURIGAO CITY, Philippines – A political greenhorn on Siargao Island in Dapa, Surigao del Norte unseated an incumbent barangay captain through a time-tested method – the toss of a coin.

Newcomer Godofredo Sajol garnered 198 votes together with Barangay 8 captain Apple Tiu.

But rather than hold a run-off election, both Sajol and Tiu agreed to a toss coin to determine who between them should be the next village head.

The toss coin was witnessed by the town’s election officer Apolinario Asilo, residents of Barangay 8 and representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Commission on Elections.

Sajol won the coin toss, becoming the new chieftain of the populated but progressive Barangay 8 in the coastal town of Dapa.

The DILG and Comelec personnel stressed that tossing a coin in cases of a tie during elections is considered legal.

In another barangay, this time in Quezon City, the question as to who will be the next chairman will be answered by the drawing of lots.

Following the end of canvassing for Barangay Mariblo at past midnight yesterday, Oliver Algas and Jerome Taeza each got 511 votes.

Comelec lawyer Ronald Allan Sindo explained that the drawing of lots to determine the winner is prescribed under Comelec rules, specifically Section 71 of Resolution 9030.

“There’s a condition that allows such procedure so we just have to follow it,” Sindo said.

Sindo said the drawing of lots will be done on Saturday, or five days after the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Algas and Taeza are among the five candidates who vied for the position of barangay captain in Barangay Mariblo, the first congressional district of Quezon City which has a voting population of less than 2,000 people.

Sindo said the chairman of the board of canvassers will be the one to facilitate the drawing of lots to determine the winner on Saturday. (philstar)

Spanish Mariculture Parks Benefit Siargao Fishermen

10/03/10 - DAPA, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte (PNA) – A big number of fishermen on this island and in Barobo town, Surigao del Sur have started to reap the fruits of the two Mariculture Park projects of the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional (AECI).

Dapa Mayor Peter Ruaya and Barobo Mayor Arturo Ronquillo said the AECI projects also started to attract investors, and in return provide more income and livelihood to the local fishermen.

The two town chief executives said they are now pushing to adopt advanced technology to make Dapa and Barobo a livable place.

The two mariculture projects were launched in Barobo on April 8, 2008 and in this town on May 10, 2008. (Manila Bulletin)

“This is a big help to our local economy,” said Ruaya.

The Barobo Mariculture Park is the second in the region but the first one to be launched under the Sustainable Management of Coastal Resources in Bicol and Caraga Regions (SUMACORE) program of the AECI in partnership with the local government unit (LGU).

The establishment of mariculture parks is part of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) program in transforming the local fisherfolk from hunters of the seas to fish farmers.

This is one of the measures to adapt to the fast-changing times and the inevitable global warming, officials from the DA-BFAR said.

These two mariculture parks will serve as showcases of fishery technologies to encourage more to invest on mariculture.

It was gathered that yield per cropping of one cage could equal to the yield of a two-hectare fishpond.

DA-BFAR officials also foresee the region to be the “grouper capital” of the country since the local waters abounds with rich fishery resources.

They said the two mariculture parks would redound to poverty alleviation, job generation and food security in the coastal areas.

Rep. Francisco T. Matugas (1st District, Surigao del Norte), Rep. Florencio Garay (2nd District, Surigao del Sur), SUMACORE project director Jessica Muñoz, Ruaya, and Ronquillo encouraged the local residents to support and protect for a sustainable livelihood and improved quality of life.

Australian Officials Open Php 44-M Prov'l Road Projects in Siargao Island

10/03/10 - GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte – Tourists, both foreign and domestic and island residents continue to feel the scenic-beauty and atmosphere of economic development as Australian officials on Saturday opened the Php 44 million provincial road projects in this so called “paradise island” of Surigao del Norte province in Northeastern part of Mindanao.

Australian officials led by Australian Deputy Ambassador Andrew Byrne and Minister Councelor Tito Mitra of the Australian Embassy in Manila spearheaded the ground breaking ceremony of the road projects at two barangays of General Luna town leading to other island resorts .

During the ground breaking ceremony, the Australian officials were also accompanied by provincial and island municipal officials led by Surigao del Norte solons Rep. Francisco T. Matugas (1st district) and Rep. Guillermo Romarate, Jr. (2nd district), Gov. Sol F. Matugas, General Luna Mayor Jaime Rusillon and Del Carmen Mayor Junior Coro.

The Php 44 million road construction project is part of the 5-year Php 250 million Australian grant for the province of Surigao del Norte’s Road Improvement Project (RIP), said Rep. Matugas.

The ground works of the Barangay 5-Catangnan road (Php 14-M) and Sta. Monica road (Php 30-M), Libertad, both of this island province will immediately commence to hit the target timeline of completion, Rep. Matugas said.

“This is really a big help by the Australian government. Also, a big boost to our growing tourism industry in this island,” said Rep. Matugas.

He also said the Australian assistance will also add economic livelihood to island village folks, increase local revenues and employment.

In their separate messages during the ground breaking ceremony, the Surigao del Norte solon, provincial and municipal officials expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Australian grant to the province of Surigao del Norte, especially this island’s tourism destination in the country.

Meanwhile, in that same visit of the Australian officials in this island, Ambassador Byrne, also unvield the Php 2.6 million high school building at Barangay Consuelo here.

The high school building that set to rise at Barangay Consuelo is also funded by the Australian government under the Support 2 Philippine Education Reform (SPHERE) project, said Rep. Matugas.

He added the school building is equipped with chairs and comfort rooms.

Officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) was elated of the educational assistance by the Australian government. (Manila Bulletin)

RP's surfing capital Siargao holds int'l tourney

09/30/10 - SIARGAO ISLAND, Surigao del Norte – It’s the time of the year again when locals and tourists find another reason to converge on the beach and watch some of the most awesome stunts executed by the world’s best surfers.

A total of 36 top surfers from 8 countries are competing in this year’s 16th Siargao International Surfing Cup in Siargao Island.

Fifteen surfers are from Japan, Sweden, France, Australia, New Zealand, China and Israel while the 21 others are Filipinos.    

The Siargao International Surfing Cup, which is now on its 16th year, is the longest running surfing competition in the Philippines.  
Philippine pride Edito “The Tuberider” Alcala, a native of General Luna who championed last year’s tournament, is set to defend his title. 

Last week, Alcala won first place in the 12th National Surfing Cup and bagged P100,000.

Alcala’s friend and fellow General Luna native, Jerson Pagado, is in his second bid to top the tournament.

Regarded as one of Siargao’s top surfers, Pagado will attempt to get the glory of winning using a 6-foot board that a foreign surfer gave him.

“Ang surfing kasi pag ang board mo hindi saktong sukat sayo mahirapan ka paggawa ng tricks,” Pagado claimed. 

Australian surfers are his tough opponents this year, he said.

Among world’s best surfing sites
Deputy Ambassador of Australia Andrew Byrne and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) Minister Counsellor Titon Mitra joined Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas in opening the event.
“We want to reaffirm our status as one of the world’s best surfing sites,” said Matugas.

A local band from Bukidnon played beat drums. This provided the event a parallel to the atmosphere of the Caribbean. 

The tournament, which will end on September 30, offers a total pot prize of P300,000. (Abs-cbn)

The Cloud Nine Night Surfing opens in Philippines

Cloud 9: 'hey, turn off the lights!'
Cloud 9, one of the best surf spots in the world, will be available for surfing during 365 nights a year.
In October 2010, the Cloud Nine Night Surfing - a fifty foot tower with floodlights - will illuminate the wave everyone is looking for.
The construction project is underway and includes safety boats, life guards and surfing lessons for those interested.
The official opening ceremony is scheduled to the 24th September.
Philippine Vice-President Makati Jejomar Binay will light up the wave spot, known for its perfect barrels and 300 meter ride.
Cloud 9 is located in Siargao Island, Philippines, Asia.

courtesy: surfer today

Siargao Island losing tourist visitors due to high fees, says Tourism Council prexy

Surigao Del Norte (9 August) -- The island of Siargao is losing the would-be visitors because of its high fees of tourism activities in the surfing capital.

Newly inducted president of Provincial Tourism and Development Council (PTDC) Johann Jake Miranda said he received a number of complaints by some resort owners regarding the unregulated fees of tourism activities such as pump boat, van, tricycle, and habal-habal rentals in the island.

"There have been a number of complaints of the local and foreign tourists regarding these exorbitant fees."

At present, van rentals in Siargao cost P500, tricycle rental is P250, P30 each riding individually in tricycles and P200/person for habal-habal motorcycle.

Miranda said that resort owners were also dismayed because some of their fellow resort owners are paying commissions to van drivers who will bring guests to their resorts. "It's an unfair practice because not all of them can afford to give that kind of commission."

According to Miranda, there's also a report from some resort owners that "some homes in Gen. Luna accept lodgers which should not be allowed since their homes are not accredited by the Department of Tourism and it robs the accredited inns and resorts in the business." Miranda emphasized that the municipality of Gen. Luna does not have a home stay program because there are "sufficient number of resorts in the town to accommodate these tourists."

Miranda also revealed the exorbitant fees in going to the famous Sohoton Cove that discourages the local and foreign tourists.

"You have to rent a boat for P500 and on that boat you have to pay the guides which are at the minimum of two (2) guides per boat at P165/person. There's also this silly fee that if you want to dive in that lagoon where the non-toxic jellyfish is located, you'd have to pay P100/person for a dip in that lagoon," said Miranda.

"All in all, a group of four or six tourists going to Sohoton will first pay for the boat rental from Gen. Luna to Sohoton which should only be charged with P4,000 but some resorts charged about P6,000 to P8,000 just to go there," he added.

According to Miranda on average for a group of four to six tourists, they will have to shell out P2,000/person, "which for a lot of tourists, they find it very exorbitant? very expensive."

Miranda said that Sohoton Cove being such an enchanting place losses its luster and appeal because of these fees by some local entrepreneurs and has so far become unregulated by the government.

Tourism council action

"We now have a plan to establish a uniform rates, aside from that, the resort owners would also like to establish the uniform rates for the popular 3-island tour, which is the island tour of Guyam, Daku island and Naked island to be pegged at only P1,500," said Miranda who now heads the re-organized PTDC and currently the outgoing President of the Surigao Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).

"For a trip to Guyam itself, it should only be P500," Miranda added.

In anticipation of the influx of tourist arrivals in the island, Miranda also revealed that they are now planning to post the tariff rates right at the port of Dapa and in Gen. Luna, "so that everyone will get informed and that there will be no haggling of fees."

With these regularization and uniformity of fees, Miranda is hopeful that it will definitely help both the resort owners and the tourists in the island.

As for the problem in Sohoton, Miranda said there's now a proposal to dismantle these local entrepreneurs currently operating in the area. "We'll have to talk to the LGU (Socorro) and the barangay captain and if they failed to address the problem or regulate the fees, we have the mandate to dismantle these groups who are apparently creating a cartel there." (PIA-Surigao del Norte)

Siargao Island - Cloud 9 Surfing Cup 2010

07/08/2010 - The Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational surfing cup is the most anxiously awaited international surfing sports event in Asia. It will be held this year also in Siargao Island. It is a pleasant steamy island site with its peaceful life style offering a wonderful place for this surfing event. Surfers from the countries like Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand, Hawaii, Philippines, Indonesia, and Bali etc will represent their countries for this surfing cup event at Club 9. The participation from the viewers will be much greater if the storm occurrence will be reported earlier. It is famous for having world’s top surfing waves, so nick named clod nine.

The invitational surfing cup of 2010 is scheduled from 24th to 30th September. It is offering surfers to display their talent. Spectators from around the world are expecting that it would be a superb event and wishing to enjoy it with typhoon flavour. In the last 2009 surfing championship of Siargao Island conducted from October 21 to 27, Garrett beat Hawaiian in the final surfing cup challenge. Now 2010 surfing event in Siargao will attract the world top surfing players and champions. Nick Vasicek, Jay Quinn, Jamie O’Brien, Makua Rothman and Ryan Hipwood from Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii will be among the top contestants of this coming event.

It is considered as the most striking island destinations of the Philippines presenting opportunities for surfing photography. Siargao is closest to the Philippine Deep which is the second deepest ocean trench. The slanting structure on Siargao’s East coast is besides General Luna Town making it exceptional. Barrelling, empty and perfect waves of Cloud 9, ranging from 1-1.5 meters high to 2-3 meter high barrels have made this part of Pacific Ocean more attractive for surfers. This part of Pacific Ocean is under the typhoon-belt so typhoon waves don’t hit Siargao Island directly. Siargao Island offers great atmosphere during monsoon season which is loved by all enthusiastic surfers. What makes this event special and different from standard surfing style is that the challengers will be deciding under which conditions they would like to surf.

If you have any interest in watching surfing challenges, action sports photography and living at steamy Island sites, then Siargao would be the best site for you to visit and enjoy with 2010 Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational surfing cup. Direct flight can be taken from Mactan Cebu International Airport or Manila to reach Siargao airport. You can even take ferryboat daily before noon to take view of this island and to get pleasure from its aquatic wildlife.

Siargao Island adventure tour can be the luxurious adventure of your life with your friends, sailing boat, drinks and delicious food. It has atmosphere for day/night fishing adventure. You can enjoy swimming at low tide and even in natural swimming pools. Caving discoveries in this island also bring a new look to your adventurous tour. Island also has some caves yet not discovered by men. Jungles enriched with wildlife have their own beauty. You can’t find much exciting stuff for shopping but while visiting island you can buy some local made products. Communicating with the people of different back grounds came with different objectives is a good source of sharing experiences. In Siargao Island Lovers Lane was established in 2005 to attract tourist. Disco clubs and snack bars are opened late night to entertain visitors. You can also find some bar girls who offer you a little more than just conversation. Rent a kayak or paddle boat to explore the cost line completely.

Accommodation and hostelling services in Siargao Island vary in price and form. Islands adjacent to Siargao are offering wonderful environment to enjoy other sports. Beautiful hotel nights and splendid sea shore have couple of entertainment facilities. To attract more visitors no spectators’ fee will be charged and other water sports activities will also be held. Above all visitors from different part of the world will built an outstanding multicultural and diversified community for sharing experiences and ideas. (Sam Willis)

93 rescued from sinking wooden ferry in Surigao

06/10/10 - At least 93 passengers and crew were rescued after an inter-island ferry ran aground off Southern Philippines, coast guard officials said today.

Swift current and strong waves swept the wooden-hulled MB Pilar to the shallow and rocky coast off Bintaogan village in Mindanao’s Surigao City at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, prompting distress calls and a rescue operation by local coast guard personnel and local fishermen, said Philippine Coast Guard Petty Officer 2 Josue Saba.

The sea-craft was carrying 86 passengers and seven crew members from Del Carmen town in Siargao Island and was bound to Surigao City when it encountered huge waves two hours after departure, Saba said.

The victims were brought to shore by pump boats from local fishermen and Coast Guard crafts and are now safe.

Sea accidents are common in the Philippines as sea vessels ranging from outrigger boats to ships are among the frequent mode of transportation around the archipelago.(Philstar)

Mindanao a potential investment hotbed for abalone, says expert

05/31/10 - DAVAO CITY—The abalone industry could flourish in Mindanao due to locations suitable for growing the tropical shelled species, a high-value aquaculture product.

“Mindanao could potentially produce a lot of abalone due to favorable sites, weather, and availability of seaweeds,” said Vincent Encena II, an abalone specialist from the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC-AQD) a research and development institution based in Tigbauan, Iloilo.

Considered a delicacy in Asia, the abalone is a single-shelled, herbivorous marine mollusk found under rocks and coral rubble and is known for its sweet, firm meat.

Encena said Misamis Oriental, Surigao del Sur and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) particularly Tawi Tawi and Sulu group of islands, where tropical abalone wild stocks may be found, are potential areas for prospective abalone farms.

Encena also mentioned that Siargao Island, Sarangani province and Gen San, with its numerous tuna canning facilities, have the biggest potential areas for abalone growing and processing, respectively. The average abalone production capacity of the identified potential Mindanao areas range from 10 to 50 tons per year, Encena said.

According to Encena, these potential abalone sites have available areas for sea-based farms and access to processors and major abalone markets. These areas are also rich in seaweeds, the staple feed to abalone.

The tropical abalone species found in Southern Japan to northern Australia is the donkey’s ear abalone, Haliotis asinina, locally known as “lapas” in Cebuano or “sobra-sobra” in Ilonggo.

Encena said that canned abalone is one of the preferred product forms in the Chinese market, which is the biggest market for abalone in the world. Each can of abalone may be sold for 750 to 800 pesos per can in the local market and more if sold in the export market, he added.

He said that while a container load of canned tuna is valued at 40,000 US dollars, the same container load of canned abalone would value at around 390,000 US dollars.

However, Encena said that wild stocks of abalone in the Philippines are in decline, due to unregulated harvests and overfishing. He said abalone needs to be farmed or cultured for the future need of the processing industry.

Since most of the tuna canneries in GenSan are not operating fully due to the lack of raw material for canning like tuna, a processing line for abalone may be incorporated in the tuna cannery line with minimum investment, Encena suggested. He added that it was a way for overhead expenses on tuna canneries to be reduced and a high-value canned product, other than tuna, to be produced.

“Mindanao must conduct a more thorough assessment of sites with potential for abalone culture,” he said.

Encena said commercial-scale abalone hatchery and commercial-scale abalone demo-farm must be established for prospective abalone sites in Mindanao to succeed. He added that value-added products from abalone meat should be studied.

The Philippines, in 2006 was the top exporter of frozen abalone to Hong Kong, with around 30 percent, while Australia got around 23 percent of the frozen market. Philippine abalone products are also exported to Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Singapore.

In a presentation made by Encena during the Bimp-Eaga High Value Aquaculture Business Conference held in General Santos City last month, Encena showed the value of world abalone market is pegged at 1 billion US dollars. However, demand for abalone has temporarily decreased due to global economic downturn.

The business conference was aimed at increasing and expanding private enterprises on high-value aquaculture in Bimp-Eaga through the active promotion of joint ventures between and among Eaga members, investment and trading, and export of high-value seafood to target markets.

Encena said that Bimp-Eaga must adopt a unified approach in terms of abalone development in the region through stock assessment of abalone and seaweed, assessment of suitable sites, abalone breeding and culture centers.

He recommended a Bimp-Eaga marketing strategy for various product forms of abalone such as abalone congee and abalone in different sauces and look at non-traditional markets like Europe and the US. (MEDCo)

Mindanao potential top abalone producer

05/30/10 - DAVAO CITY -- Abalone, an edible mollusk lined with mother-of-pearl, could flourish in Mindanao due to its warm seas and could potentially become its high-value aquaculture product.

Vincent Encena II, specialist of Iloilo-based Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC-AQD), said Mindanao could cultivate abalone due to favorable sites, weather and availability of seaweeds.

He identified Misamis Oriental, Surigao del Sur and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), particularly Tawi-tawi and the Sulu group of islands, where tropical abalone wild stocks may be found and are potential areas for prospective abalone farms. Encena also mentioned that Siargao Island, Sarangani province and General Santos City, with their numerous tuna-canning facilities, have the biggest potential areas for abalone growing and processing.

Abalone, a shallow ear-shaped shell and pierced with respiratory holes, is considered a delicacy in Asia. It thrives under the rocks and coral rubble and is known for its sweet firm meat.

Encena said canned abalone is one of the preferred product forms in the Chinese market, which is the biggest market for abalone in the world. Abalone may be sold for P750 to P800 per can in the local market and more if sold in the export market, he added. He said while a container load of canned tuna is valued at $40,000, the same container load of canned abalone would have a value of around $390,000. (Manila Bulletin)

Arroyo inaugurates new road providing link to Siargao airport

05/23/10 - DEL CARMEN, Surigao del Norte - A new road project that links to a newly-constructed airport has been inaugurated in Siargao island on Friday, helping boost tourism in what is considered as an international surfing and fishing hub in the country.

The P152 million Dapa-Del Carmen road project was inaugurated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was accompanied by a small entourage of officials, including Surigao del Norte Congressmen Francisco Matugas and Guillermo Romarate Jr.

The inauguration took place after the President, onboard a Philippine Air Force helicopter, visited the P92-M Sayak International Airport Development Project in the area.

During the visit, the chief executive held a discussion with local officials about the Sayak International Airport building whose construction is still ongoing.

Arroyo and her entourage were also welcomed at the Sayak airport by mayors of the island’s nine towns, some Caraga regional directors and spouses of Congressmen Matugas and Romarate who both won the recently concluded May 11 polls as Governor and Board Member respectively.

Caraga is a special administrative region composed of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.

After the Sayak airport visit, President Arroyo and entourage proceeded to Del Carmen town proper to inaugurate the almost eight kilometer road construction and concreting of Dapa-Del Carmen road at Barangay Cancohoy as part of the airport road connection.

The President also did an inaugural drive-thru near the Cancohoy-Sayak Airport road with some cabinet and DPWH officials headed by Secretary Victor Domingo, DPWH Regional Director Evelyn T. Barroso, among others.

Barroso claimed that some of the Siargao Island Infra projects started late 2008 and are targeted to be completed before President Arroyo steps down in June.

After lunch, President Arroyo and entourage is expected to fly to Zamboanga for official visit and inauguration of vital projects there. - (GMANews)

PGMA set to inspect, inaugurate P152-M Sayak Airport development project

Dapa, Siargao Island (14 May) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to inaugurate and inspect today the P152-million Sayak Airport Development Project (SADP) at Dapa town, Siargao Island.

Surigao del Norte solon Rep. Francisco T. Matugas said the Chief Executive will inspect some of the facilities at the P92-million Sayak Airport and inaugurate the 7.397-kilometer Dapa-Del Carmen road that also connects the new airport, with a total project cost of P152 million.

He also said Mrs. Arroyo, accompanied by nine municipal mayors and their respective local officials, will have an inaugural drive-thru near the Dapa-Cancohoy Road-Section part of the Sayak Airport.

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Regional Director Dr. Evelyn T. Barroso said the Sayak Airport Development Project was funded under the DPWH regular infrastructure fund.

Some of the projects started late 2008 and are targeted to be completed before President Arroyo steps down in June.

Rep. Matugas said in the inspection and inauguration of the SADP projects, the President will also be accompanied by some Cabinet officials led by Public Works and Highways Secretary Victor Domingo.

Mrs. Arroyo will be welcomed here by Dapa Mayor Peter "Boy" Ruaya and Del Carmen Mayor Bully Navarro.

Matugas said this SADP project is a big boost to the tourism industry in the province. "More tourists, both foreign and domestic mean more income and employment to our locality," he said.

This Siargao Island is already known as the "international surfing and "international fishing hub" the past five years, it was gathered. (MUC/PIA-Caraga)

Siargao hosts international gamefishing tournament

Canadian angler Richard Sharpe proudly shows a sailfish he caught 
off the fishing village of Pilar on Siargao Island during the ‘3rd 
Siargao Gamefishing Tournament 2010’ where anglers from at least 14 
countries participated. (AFP)
Canadian angler Richard Sharpe proudly shows a sailfish he caught off the fishing village of Pilar on Siargao Island during the ‘3rd Siargao Gamefishing Tournament 2010’ where anglers from at least 14 countries participated. (AFP)

BUTUAN CITY – At least 41 anglers across the globe, 18 of them Filipinos, challenge the seas of Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte for the big catch during the “3rd Siargao Gamefishing Tournament 2010” that started Thursday.
Leticia Tan, Caraga Region office of the Department of Tourism (DoT) director, said the participating anglers came from Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States (US), and the Philippines.
“The anglers will challenge the seas of Siargao for the big catch, their ticket to take home as much as P30,000 to P50,000 cash prize under the five contest categories,” said Tan.
According to Tan, the Siargao International Gamefishing Tournament proved to be a very successful tourism promotional initiative.
She also said that for its 3rd year, the tournament has continued to gain popularity among anglers across the globe making Siargao a favored destination.
During the almost week-long international gamefishing tournament in Pilar town on Siargao Island, the local government units (LGUs) in that so called “Paradise Island” in Northeastern Mindanao, will also present several cultural shows and other prepared programs.
The big international event will close on Saturday where top national, regional, provincial and municipal officials are attending.
DoT Undersecretary for Sports and Wellness Cynthia Carreon was named as guest of honor to grace the affair, Tan added. (ManilaBulletin)

Siargao experiencing power outage for a week now

Siargao Electric Cooperative, Incorporated

04/09/2010 - SIARGAO, Surigao del Norte – Siargao Island is suffering in the dark for a week now. The blackout, however, might continue up until the May elections.

Siargao Electric Cooperative (Siarelco) general manager Sergio Dagooc said the power outage is due to a damaged underwater electric cable.

Dagooc said the cable, located at the vicinity of Barangay Doña Helen in Socorro town, was damaged Thursday last week.

Siarelco has already dispatched divers from Davao City to check the cause.

Dagooc admitted that blackouts may possibly last up to the May 10 elections as they have more than 9 kilometers of cable to check.

Francisco Pobe, regional director of the Commission in Elections (Comelec) in Caraga, meanwhile, said he already informed the central office about the problem.

Pobe has requested power generator sets to address the issue.

The Comelec office in Surigao del Norte, meanwhile, is also working on printing the voters’ list. (abs-cbnnews)

Central Philippines now a world class tourist destination

The Central Philippines Super Region is now a world-class tourist destination, thanks to the various projects which the government has implemented to develop and promote tourism.
The super region comprises Regions IV-B, V, VI, VII, VIII, Camiguin and Siargao Island that derives its allure from its natural wonders, cultural heritage and the hospitality and warmth of their people.
These projects are consistent with the primary variables that drive tourism competitiveness including regulatory/policy framework, business environment and infrastructure, and human, cultural and natural resources that are based on the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.

Regulation and Policy

In terms of regulatory and policy framework, the government has pursued tourism as an economic driver under the updated Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) capable of attracting 3.27 million tourists, generating US$3.31 billion in visitor receipts and 3.99 million jobs, and contributing US$17 billion or 13.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product this year.

It also has formulated a comprehensive national strategy and sustainable management plan for tourism in the super region.
As with the whole country in general, visa requirements have been reduced and business processes simplified and government services improved in the area.

For example, processing time for business registration at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been reduced from45-60 days to five days. Also, the Import and Export Application process was cut from four days to 30 minutes and the Environmental Compliance Certificate from 1 year to 20 days.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has implemented the National TOP COP (Tourist-Oriented Police, Community-Oriented Police) to ensure the safety of foreign and domestic tourists and dignitaries.

Notably, a total of 179 tourist desks/assistance centers, or 60 percent of 297 such centers established nationwide, were established in Central Philippines through a memorandum of agreement among the Department of Tourism, Department of the Interior and Local Government and PNP.
The DOT developed tourism stimulus packages abroad to encourage travelers to visit the Philippines especially islands in Central Philippines. There are also 44 hospitals and health facilities in the country accredited for medical tourism. The country’s retirement industry is another potential growth area in tourism.

Business Environment and Infrastructure
The government also has built transport and tourism infrastructures and facilities to support the industry.

It will be recalled that in her first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2001, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has said that the Philippines, with its natural wonders and warmth of its people, has an edge over its neighbors.

She added then that she would provide roads to those wonders and the means to take the tourists there.
Since 2001, there have been massive investments in tourism-related infrastructures in Central Philippines including airports, ports and roads, or the so-called primary transport infrastructures, connecting these to make key destinations more accessible to tourists.

A total of 42 costing P27.31 billion airports are being implemented in the super region, four of which have been completed including two new airports built to international standards. In addition, 35 airports are being upgraded across the region.

The two new airports built to international standards are the New Bacolod-Silay Airport costing P4.07-billion and New Iloilo Airport costing P8.76 billion.

The Kalibo Airport in Aklan is being upgraded to international standards, although it is already catering to charter flights from China, Taiwan and South Korea.
The Caticlan Airport, another gateway to the world-famous Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan, is being developed by the Caticlan International Airport Development Corporation, a private company, through the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme to the tune of P2.507 billion.

A total of 108 seaports costing P8.76 billion was constructed and rehabilitated by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) from 2001 to 2009, of which 96 have been completed and 12 are ongoing.

Alongside the PPA ports, the government also constructed 145 municipal ports costing P1.23 billion. Of this number, 107 port projects have been completed from 2001 to 2009 while 38 are still being constructed.

The government also promoted the expansion of the shipping industry and the Roll On-Roll Off (Ro-Ro) system through the Strong Republic Nautical Highway, which enabled tourists to visit the islands of the tourism belt super region and cut shipping costs of food and other goods by almost one-half.

Fourteen port projects costing P1.003 billion have been completed in the central super region as part of the nautical highway.

From 2001 to 2009, the government constructed, improved and rehabilitated 8,783.07 kilometers of roads and 18,741 linear meters of bridges costing P54.14 billion.

Alongside the development of primary transport infrastructures, the government also paved the way for the development of other tourism support infrastructures and services.

These consist of power, water supply systems, tourism facilities, banks and ATMs, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure.

Maintaining and Protecting Natural Resources, Culture and Human Resources

Another driving force behind the competitiveness of Central Philippines tourism comprises its natural resources, cultural heritage, and human resources.
The government has implemented programs to maintain and protect the super region’s natural resources and cultural heritage as well as invested in education, health and other basic services to support the tourism industry’s need for quality human resources.

All of these efforts in the three primary variables to push tourism in Central Philippines have helped make the country a very competitive and resilient tourism market despite the downturn in the global tourism industry marked by declining tourist arrivals - 8.5 percent worldwide and 6.7 percent in the Asia Pacific region in 2009.
The country posted a 6 percent growth in tourists in the top 16 destinations the first half of 2009.

In 2008, data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) showed that the country cornered 0.5 percent of 922 million international tourist arrivals and 0.3 percent of US$944 billion world tourism receipts.
In that year, foreign visitor volume reached 3.14 million compared to only 1.99 million in 2000. From January to September 2009, total local and foreign tourists in the country’s top destinations reached 5.2 million, a 17 percent increase from the 4.5 million level in 2008.

A windfall from this surge in tourism is the improvement in the economy of the super region in terms of massive investments, more jobs and better lives for its people.
Recognizing tourism as a driver of economic growth, the President has ordered then as a follow through of her first SONA the revision of the country’s 2004-2010 Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) to include tourism as one of its areas of focus.

For its part, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in January this year identified tourism as one of the "21st century industries" to be included in the legislative agenda of Congress because of their potential in boosting the country’s competitiveness.

Director Dennis Arroyo of the National Planning and Policy Staff (NPPS) has said that these industries utilize the country’s natural and human resource advantages that are either untapped or need further development through government support

A further boost to tourism in Central Philippines is the staging of the 2nd One Visayas, One People One Destiny involving the three Visayas regions (Regions VI, VII, VIII) from March 11 to 14 in Roxas City and hosted by the provincial government of Capiz.

Conceptualized by the Regional Development Councils of the three Visayan regions, the event supports President Arroyo's tourism super region development plan for Central Philippines that intends to focus development and investments on tourism related projects.

The first edition of the event, which was initiated to underscore the cultural bonds that unite the Visayan islands, was held in Cebu City in 2008.

The development of Central Philippines as a tourist destination hinges on the potentials of the fast growing global tourism market, which is said to equal or event surpass that of oil exports, food products or automobiles.

With the expected recovery of the global economy this year and the increasing demand for new and more price-competitive destinations, greater opportunities are expected for Philippine tourism. (PIA 6)

Arroyo to go shark seeing in next super region trip

Shark seeing will be among the highlights of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's trip to Central Philippines this week as part of her Super Regions tour.

A Malacañang statement said President Arroyo would be in Donsol, Sorsogon on Monday for a glimpse of the world famous butanding (whale shark), which is a major tourist attraction of the province.

On Wednesday morning, the President will go scuba diving near Malapascua Island in Cebu to see thresher sharks or banderahan. The island is reportedly the only place in the world where one can have daily sightings of the thresher sharks.

The thresher shark is called such because of its huge tail which is about half of its four-meter-long body. It feeds on sardines, cattle pods and crustaceans and can live up to 28 years if left undisturbed.

Other sharks President Arroyo hopes to see are the white tip and hammerhead sharks, which frequent the waters of Malapascua Island from January to March.

The other fish that could be seen in the island are devil and manta rays, barracuda, batfish, tuna, flutemouths, mantis shrimps, lionfish, pipefish, Moorish idols, scorpionfish, squid, bannerfish, octopus, unicornfish, moray eels, seahorses, frogfish, and seamoths.

The Central Philippines Super Region is the fourth in the five-growth region development strategies of the President. She had initially inspected and visited projects sites under the Cyber Corridor Super Region, Luzon Urban beltway Super region, and the Mindanao Agribusiness Super Region in the last three weeks.

Aside from Sorsogon and Cebu, President Arroyo will also visit Bohol and Palawan as part of the Central Philippines Super Region tour.

The Central Philippines Super Region covers Regions 4B (Mimaropa), 5 (Bicol), 6 (Western Visayas) , 7 (Central Visayas), and 8 (Eastern Visayas) and other top tourist destinations like Romblon, Palawan, Camiguin and Siargao.

Press Secretary Cris Icban Jr. said Mrs. Arroyo's travels are meant to underscore her milestone achievements over the past nine years which she intends to turn over to the next president “who will build on them further."

After Sorsogon, President Arroyo will fly to Palawan on Tuesday to convene a Cabinet meeting in Puerto Princesa. On Tuesday evening, she will fly to Cebu where she will stay overnight and proceed the following day to Bohol. - KBK, GMANews.TV

Fishing boat from East Visayas capsizes off Dapa in Siargao Island; 11 crew safe

Eleven crew members of a fishing boat from Eastern Visayas were rescued on January 17, from the waters near the vicinity of Dapa Island off Surigao, after their boat capsized due to inclement weather.

Mr. Leo Lacaba, the Disaster Coordinator of the Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council of Guiuan informed the Philippine Information Agency to contact a fish dealer in Tacloban City who was the one contacted by the crew members of the ill-fated fishing boat.

When contacted by PIA, the fish dealer, Mr. Marion Rodrigo said that he was contacted via his cellphone by one of the rescuers of the crewmembers informing him that the 11 survivors were safe and were being taken cared of by the local fishermen at the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte in Siargao Island, about three hours by motorboat to Surigao City.

He said that one of the survivors remembered his cellphone number because he usually buys the fishing boat's catch. The fishing boat does not have a name printed on its hull but he said that it is known by the call sign “Cebu Pacific.”

Mr. Rodrigo intimated that he sent money via LBC in the morning of January 18, as requested, for the transportation of the survivors from Surigao City to Tacloban.

At about 11:00 o'clock in the morning of January 19, the 11 survivors left Dapa Island for Surigao City. They were expected to arrive in Surigao City at about 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon. From there, the survivors will proceed to Tacloban.

The fishing boat which is owned by a couple who are residents of Suluan Island, in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, left Tacloban City for a fishing expedition on January 4, Mr. Rodrigo said.

Mr. Rodrigo believes that the fishing boat is on its way back to Tacloban when it capsized off Surigao due to bad weather. (PIA)

NPA warns politicians about ‘illegal’ campaign funds

MINDANAO - Politicians deriving their campaign funds from illegal activities will be the target of "tactical offensives" by the New People’s Army, a rebel spokesperson said.

Jorge Madlos of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao did not say specify the nature of the "tactical offensives," only that they will be applied against politicians “whose source of funds is illegal drugs, illegal logging and illegal mining.”

He did not say how the NPA will determine which politicians are engaged in illegal activities.

Speaking to reporters on the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Madlos said the party was so serious about its campaign against illegal activities that even his brother, who is running for an elective post in Siargao, “would not be spared from retribution if he too will be caught getting... funds derived from illicit trade.”

He said the communist movement has heightened its campaign against illegal logging and illegal mining to help address environmental degradation, especially in many areas of Mindanao.

“Global warming is going to be worse in 10 years. We have to act to put a stop to illegal logging,” he said.

Madlos said the NPA’s anti-drugs campaign was also intensified.

He said last year, they raided a police station on Siargao Island because authorities were not doing anything against drugs there.

Madlos said the NPA will also “fight all private armies this election.”

He said atroocities such as the Maguindanao massacre in which at least 57 people, mostly journalists, were slaughtered in the municipality of Ampatuan in Maguindanao last Nov. 23.

The killings were triggered by the political rivalry between the family of the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu families.

Meanwhile, Madlos claimed many politicians have started seeing him to ask for “permit to campaign” in rebel-influenced areas. He did not identify any of the politicians. (Inquirer)

About Siargao

Siargao is composed of 48 islands and islets-politically divided into nine municipalities: Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, Gen. luna, Pilar, San Benito, San Isidro, Santa Monica, and Socorro. Read more...

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