anything goes

because change is inevitable

The Pianist and Me

Friends come and go. But time and space will bring you back together in a manner you least expect it. Who would have thought that while walking along Taft Avenue this morning, I would chance upon this billboard? After paying much attention on the words written on it, I was so surprised to recognize the pianist and friend, Ms. Belinda Salazar! Her Monaliza smile took me back down memory lane.

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I met ethnomusicologist, Ms. Salazar, while we were job hunting in East Wood, Libis back in 2009. Our encounters were short yet intellectually enriching as she was able to impressed on me the value of music to our cultural heritage. Once, she invited me to the Global Music Forum sponsored by the Philippine Women’s University where I met other musical geniuses like her.

A press release from the Philippine Star dated 25 January 2014, says:

In a recital billed as “An Evening of Romantic Piano Music,” this at the Sta. Isabel College auditorium, Belinda Ma. Salazar will render on Feb. 27, 6 p.m., Brahms’ Rhapsody in E flat Major, Schumann’s Sonata No. 2 in G Minor, Mendelssohn’s Rondo Capriccioso Op. 4, Chopin’s Etude Op. 25 No. 7, Schubert’s Impromptu No. 2 in E flat Major and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapso No. 6… Salazar, after 20 years as a Franciscan religious missionary, returns to the concert stage with her concert marking the 150-year presence of the Daughters of Charity in the Philippines.

I’m excited to meet her again and see her perform for the first time. Surely it will be an awe-inspiring musical night. If you happen to be anywhere near Sta. Isabel College, join me! Admission is FREE! #excited

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CEZA’s sustainable practices benchmark ecotourism sites nationwide

By Joyce Jayme

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 Palaui Island in Sta. Ana, Cagayan is a 7,415 hectare island that has been declared as a Marine Reserve under the NIPAS Law and categorized as a Protected Landscape and Seascape. The island boasts a rich biodiversity, including primary and secondary forests, mangroves, coral reefs, caves, grasslands, inter-tidal zones and seagrass meadows, among others. It is part of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP), which is managed by the Cagayan Economic  Zone Authority (CEZA).

 The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) now benchmarks 55 ecotourism enterprises in 22 sites of the provinces of Cagayan, Cebu, Davao Oriental, Masbate, Siguijor and Zambales. This can be attributed to CEZA’s best practices with its community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) program, which has launched the Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape (PIPLS) as its pioneer site in 2006.

 CEZA, being a government-owned and controlled corporation that manages the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) including the magnificent Palaui Island of Sta. Ana, Cagayan, has implemented this pioneer CBST program as part of Lingkod-CEZA and advocated on grassroots campaign and integrated tourism promotions, respect to indigenous people’s rights and environmental protection and preservation. The Palaui Environmental Protectors Association (PEPA), which consists of island residents, was initially formed by CEZA to provide various services for guests and tourists going to Palaui.

 These practices are in line with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau’s (DENR-PAWB) Integrated Coastal Resource Management (ICRM) Component C Project that seeks to provide sustainable livelihood for marginalized stakeholders and to protect the natural environment at the same time. Chen Mencias, a consultant specializing on sustainable tourism development planning among others, has highly recognize the value of CEZA’s CBST program and later regarded it as an excellent model for PAWB’s ICRM ecotourism sites.Image

 Mobilizing community for ecotourism promotions, among the valuable concepts replicated from CEZA’s CBST embrace (1) inclusive growth through the Chain of Prosperity model where the value chain has been strengthened and extended from the private sector to community micro enterprises, (2) capacity building to establish the community members as major players in the delivery of various ecotourism services, (3) institutional development to enhance a  community tourism industry where primary and secondary micro enterprises are established to support each other, and (4) unified ecotourism interpretation, integrating the natural environment, the community and the tourist and bringing a sense of connectivity between and among nature and people.

 Two Lingkod-CEZA beneficiaries were awarded of “Inang Kalikasan” awards by the PAWB during its ICRM Project Component C Forum on July 16, 2013 at La Breza Hotel, Mother Ignacia Street, Quezon City. Palaui Island camp manager Charlie Acebedo was recognized for his dedication in the promotion of Palaui Island and his devotion to the development of the island’s Bayanihan Hall. A post humus award was also given to the late Joni Gagote for his continued support and dedication to the island’s ecotourism undertakings. His award was received by his son Isabelo Gagote.

 ICRMP Component C beneficiaries are trained as reef rangers or snorkeling guides, paddling guides, trek guides or birding guides, among others. The training program aims to capacitate the community and to provide life-enhancing experiences to visitors of their communities. It also includes secondary enterprises, such as catering, arts and craft, community spa and nature village, among others, to supplement the tourism needs.

 CEZA CEO and Administrator Jose Mari Ponce says that this ecotourism campaign has allowed them to hit three birds with one stone – to capacitate the grassroots society and eventually make them economically self-reliant, to participate in the protection and preservation of the environment, and to promote Palaui Island as a tourism and educational site. “We are proud to be the ecotourism model of the country and gladly impart our expertise to promote an environmentally sound and inclusive approach to tourism”, Ponce adds.

 PAWB Assistant Director Nelson Devanadera echoes Ponce and stresses that the establishment of ecotourism enterprises promotes inclusive growth as the organized groups of farmers, fisher folks, housewives and out of school youth become part of the tourism value chain and earn supplemental income. PAWB Director Theresa Mundita Lim adds that each of the 22 ICRMP sites nationwide that has mirrored CEZA’s CBST program has its unique characteristics that make it a potential ecotourism heritage.

 Being a protected area and a marine sanctuary, under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Law, Palaui Island has maintained a rich biodiversity of both flora and fauna. The island’s trails cover thick forests, a number of natural waterfalls, caves, mangroves, seagrass, a magnificent landscape and seascape view and a century-old Cape Engaño Lighthouse, among others. Coral reefs and marine lives thrive in this sanctuary. Environmentalists and scientists alike always get astounded upon exploring the excellent state of the ecosystems and the rich biodiversity of the Island and see it being potential for recreation, adventure and education.

 CEZA Deputy Administrator Geoffrey Cabalza is optimistic that the magnificent beauty of the island, together with continued community intervention through Lingkod-CEZA’s CBST program, will put this untamed beauty into the international tourism industry.

 Today, PEPA has expanded and created five sub-groups dedicated to cater specific services such as tour guide, catering, reef rangers, spa and to complement tourism-related ventures such as manufacturing souvenir items like the organic Dorsata Honey endemic to the island and hand-woven crafts made of pandan and nito also endemic to the area. CEZA is continually working with the DENR and other agencies for its Lingkod-CEZA and community-based sustainable tourism undertakings.

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Group calls for safer disposal of mercury in hospitals

By Angelica Pago

Ban Toxics renewed its calls for better storage and disposal of mercury-containing devices in hospitals and other health care facilities, following the recent mercury-spill incident at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident, and especially that it happened in a maternity and newborn maternity hospital as big as Fabella,” said Atty. Richard Gutierrez, executive director of Ban Toxics.

“It’s not enough that we phase out mercury in hospitals, we should device a plan and create a mercury storage facility that is safe and away from the people.”

While the Department of Health (DOH) has been working to phase out mercury-containing medical devices since 2008, a systematic mercury disposal and storage system is yet to be implemented.

Fabella was one of the hospitals that implemented the ban, but the mercury-containing devices were kept in the supply room while awaiting collection and disposal by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

At present, the country is yet to have a national collection and storage plan for discarded mercury and mercury-containing devices.

News reports said the spill happened last Thursday after 18 vials of mercury amalgam broke in the supply room of the hospital. Although the DOH said the supply room is separate from the hospital, Fabella moved 40 patients from the pediatric ward, which lies adjacent to the supply room.

The DOH is now closely monitoring 30 individuals who came in close contact with the spill, including the personnel who first discovered the incident.

“We call on the government to act in a concerted manner with regard to its approach on mercury,” Gutierrez added.

For their part, Ban Toxics is now working on a national collection and storage of mercury, which aims to have a centralized, knowledge-based and sustainable approach in collecting, storing and eventual disposal of mercury.

“We have to act quickly. Mercury is a very poisonous and lethal when it comes in contact with people, especially infants and children,” said Gutierrez.

“The government should act immediately to stop importation of the toxic metal, pursue strong customs checks, phase mercury out of dental clinics, and provide capacity building to LGUs so they can handle the mercury issues in their jurisdictions,” he added.

Mercury is a heavy metal occurring in several forms, all of which can cause toxic effects to humans, plants and animals.

Poisoning can result from vapor inhalation, ingestion, injection, or absorption of mercury through the skin.

Symptoms include sensory impairment, disturbed sensation and lack of coordination. It can cause permanent neurological, gastrointestinal, and renal damage, as well as cancer and several other diseases, including acrodynia, Hunter-Russell syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and Minamata disease.

Founded in 2006, Ban Toxics! (BT) is an independent, non-profit organization that is devoted to preventing toxic-trade and upholding the rights of developing countries to environmental environmental and social justice. Working closely with government agencies, partner communities and other NGOs in both the local and international levels, BAN Toxics endeavors to reduce and eliminate the use of harmful toxins through education campaigns, training and awareness-raising, and policy-building and advocacy programs. ###

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Pamana ng Lahi: A Tagaytay Get-Away

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Good food. Good memories. Good laughs. Pamana is a Filipino-Spanish inspired restaurant in Tagaytay owned by the Ongpauco’s. yes, same old clan who happened to own the famous Barrio Fiesta. Food is a bit affordable considering the ambiance and homey recipes they offer. A must-try!

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First Pacific Leadership Academy

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Formerly the Meralco Training Center, the Fist Pacific Leadership Academy is a host to numerous trainings and seminars.

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Participants are not allowed to eat in the function area. Coffee and snacks are served at the lobby, while main meals are served at the food hall. To reach the lodging area, participants will either walk or ride this electric jeep (which is environment-friendly by the way!)

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