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Monday, September 25, 2006

SBMA to unveil ‘Waterfront Strip’

By Bebot Sison Jr.
The Philippine Star 09/23/2006

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is set to unveil this month the "Waterfront Strip," a beachfront area providing a scenic view of Subic Bay and boasting of the best restaurants, hotels and bars in town.

SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga, who will lead the inauguration of the new tourism district during the National Tourism Week, said the SBMA is developing the area to attract more tourists to the Freeport.

"We have observed that the Waterfront Road has become the most ideal venue for sports and entertainment events here. Complemented by the scenic view of the bay and tourism establishments of all sorts, it has now become a favorite hangout of visitors of all ages," Salonga told The STAR.

The Waterfront Strip, which starts near Building 229 where most SBMA offices are located, now boasts of several hotels and restaurants, including the Subic Diamond Restaurant, Subic Park Hotel, Vista Marina Hotel and Resort, Pista sa Barrio, Scuba Shack, Legenda Resort Hotel, Gerry’s Grill, El Centro, and Boardwalk Inn.

Found at the end of the kilometer-long strip is the Moonbay Marina complex where visitors can go to the Pier One Restaurant, Sibil Bar and three other hotels.

"There is everything in it that any tourist group would ever want. There is entertainment, there is water sports, and there is fine dining," Salonga said.

SBMA officials also announced a "merrier and louder" month-long tourism festival this September as a follow-up to last month’s "Rainy Day Tourism Promo."

SBMA administrator and chief executive officer Armand Arreza said the SBMA is taking a more aggressive tourism campaign as it is eyeing bigger tourism revenues this year.

He revealed that because of the rainy day promo where hotels and other tourist facilities offered discounted rates, the Freeport experienced a full occupancy rate last month.

"That was quite surprising in the face of heavy rains and typhoons. We are hoping to get the same or better feedback as we celebrate the Tourism Week this month," he added.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Lanao del Sur receives P75M worth of projects

ASSISTED by the European Union (EU), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), through the Support to Agrarian Reform Communities in Central Mindanao (Starcm) program, has approved projects worth P75 million in Lanao del Sur.

The projects are aimed at transforming the lives of farmers in conflict-vulnerable agrarian reform communities in the province.

Some of the projects, like in the town of Bubong, Lanao del Sur, had already been completed while the others that are distributed to the other parts of the province are still ongoing.

The projects consist of rural infrastructure facilities, inputs for farm diversification, enterprise development, and capacity building to improve agricultural production and increase the income of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Bubong town and six other municipalities of Lanao del Sur province.

At the turn-over of infra and livelihood facilities last week in Bubong town, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman announced the approval of an additional P4.6 million to fund the second phase of the communal irrigation project extended to farmers in the area.

The present irrigation project will supply water to 400 hectares and the extension phase will serve an additional 120 hectares of rice paddies covering barangays Rogero, Bubonga-Didaagun, Carigongan and Basingan in the town of Bubong.

"The irrigation is well constructed. Our rice productions have improved because of the irrigation facilities," Rogero Barangay Chairman Amanola Sarip said.

European Union Co-Director Glynn Patrick Baker said in a statement that EU is investing in projects that provide permanent benefits to the poor.

Baker lauded the efforts of the local government and the people of Bubong town for successfully implementing 10 projects of Starcm.

"Bubong is a showcase that a development project can be successfully implemented in Lanao del Sur," Baker added.

Starcm National Project Director Oscar Mama said in a phone interview on Wednesday that there are already a total of P23 million worth of projects completed in the town of Bubong, Lanao del Sur.

Mama said Starcm also distributed two sets of cultivation machinery, consisting of hand tractor with engine, mud boat with engine, trailer and thresher to Lalawan and Basingan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperatives.

Members of the cooperative underwent training on proper handling, operations, record tracking, storing and safekeeping of the machineries, and business planning to ensure proper management of the projects.

"These projects are better than money. These will be added to the resources of our children and the generations to come," Bubong Mayor Yusoph Munder said.

According to its former Mayor Hadji Ali Munder, Bubong is the most peaceful place in Lanao del Sur because the residents participate in local governance by taking care of the projects given to them.

Starcm is a seven-year rural development program that assists in bridging the economic disparities of 50 agrarian reform communities (ARCs) in Central Mindanao.

ARCs are groups of barangays where sustainable activities through convergence of development initiatives from various agencies are introduced to improve the lives of poor farmers.

Over 51,000 farming households in Mindanao have accessed assistance from the project.

(September 14, 2006 issue)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Alegre improves facility for Asean summit

The expected influx of foreign visitors in the province for the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) summit prompted owners of some beach resorts to upgrade their facilities and services.

“We are continuously doing major renovations for our rooms and installing wi-fi (Internet) connection,” said Fritz Kahler, general manager for Alegre Beach Resort.

The nine-hectare beach resort located in Sogod, Cebu is an hour-and-a-half drive to the north from the city proper.

In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu during the re-launching of its satellite office in Nivel Hills, Lahug, Cebu City last Friday, Kahler said Alegre has an estimated 30 hectares of property ready for any possible expansion.


He added that the shortage of rooms in the region’s tourism industry poses as a major challenge for them but reassures that “we are looking into adding more rooms soon.”

“We are renovating one cabana at a time so as not to disturb our guests,” Kahler said.

Apart from renovated rooms and a new kitchen, they are also adding an open-air beach bar.

Alegre beach resort has 38 rooms available, and the entire resort could accommodate between 80 and 100 guests.

Koreans, Japanese and local tourists are among the resort’s top visitors who stay at an average of three days, Kahler said.

However, he said the European visitors are the ones that “spend more” since they “stay longer” or approximately one week the least.

Meanwhile, Kahler said Alegre’s new set of spa menu now incorporates the Filipino-style massage called “hilot.”


Earlier, Spa and Well-ness Association of Cebu (SWAC) president Johnie Lim said the industry will start to “aggressively” promote this authentic Filipino massage to boost the spa and wellness tourism market of Cebu.

Lim said “hilot” is a more complete wellness process as it involves both physical and spiritual aspects.

He added that industry players will bring the “hilot” service in a “re-constructive, spa-like ambience.”

A five-day “hilot” workshop will be held in the last week of the month.

It will be conducted by Victor Dunayre, who holds a doctorate in hilot from the Philippine Holistic and Wellness Institute in Manila. (MMM)

(September 5, 2006 issue)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

PGMA's Speech during the 39th ASEAN Foundation Day Celebration and Launching Ceremony of the 12th ASEAN Summit theme, logo and website

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Rizal Hall, Malacañang

Thank you, Secretary Romulo.

Speaker De Venecia, President of the ASEAN Parliamentary Organization; His Excellency Archbishop Filoni and the excellencies of the diplomatic corps; officers of ASEAN; members of the Cabinet; fellow workers in government; ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Happy ASEAN Foundation Day to all of us!

The Philippines is proud to be the chair of ASEAN this year and host to the ASEAN and East Asia summits in December, also president of the ASEAN Parliamentary Organization in the person of our Speaker of the House of Representatives.

All these underscore our commitment that it's in the interest of the Philippines to be regionally and globally engaged politically, economically and diplomatically.

As we celebrate 39 years of ASEAN, we celebrate how with collective wisdom and resolve, we in ASEAN have broken free from the chains of colonialism to seek the blessings of peace, prosperity and progress for all our peoples.

We have faith that we will continue to find the full promise of a region known for its rich diversity and panoply of races and creeds.

Our leadership in ASEAN this year, as Secretary Romulo has said, carries the theme of "One caring and sharing community." Through the years, we've seen and felt the reassuring presence of ASEAN's humanitarian power in countries devastated by natural disasters -- be it a tsunami, earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption.

We will push for initiatives that will make ASEAN a shining institution that cares for its peoples, for its environment, and one that truly shares resources for uplifting the disadvantaged, integrating the marginalized and realizing the common good.

We will work for the protection of the rights of migrant workers in all corners of the earth. There are many ASEAN workers in the Middle East including two million Filipinos, 30,000 in Lebanon. In this time of crisis, we will share with our ASEAN neighbors our government apparatus. It keeps track of our overseas workers and takes care of their needs. We have moved thousands of our people to relative safety from the most harmful areas of South Lebanon.

We ask our ASEAN neighbors to join us in calling for peace in the Middle East and a secession of violence by all parties.

Starting today, the Philippines will host the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity in Los Baños. That was what we signed this morning. It's only fitting. Our Sulu sea is the biodiversity hot spot of the world, and we are one of the 17 megadiverse countries that account for the most of the terrestrial, freshwater and marine species on earth.

We will push for greater cooperation in energy security including a joint energy project with our neighbor Indonesia in the southern Mindanao- Sulawesi border.

Peace and security is at the center of the ASEAN Regional Forum. Only peace and security can enable free and fair trade on sea and land inhabited by almost 600 million people producing almost one trillion U.S. dollars.

By pushing for a convention on counter terrorism, we will advance teamwork in the fight against evil. By engaging our neighboring region, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Nations, we will widen our reach.

At the apex of our dreams, as Secretary Romulo said, is an ASEAN charter -- a legal organization with a juridical personality -- bound by institutional rules and standards, empowered to engage the world in more constructive and powerful ways.

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters in ASEAN, let us work together.

Fellow Filipinos, to make the country's leadership of ASEAN this year a success, let us help make our dream of "One caring and sharing community" come true.

Thank you.

Mabuhay! Welcome to the Philippines!