Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras removed from List of World Heritage in Danger!

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras is officially removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger at the 36th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Saint Petersburg, Russia! This good news was texted to me by Archt. Joy Mananghaya of the UNESCO National Commission (UNACOM) who is currently at the meeting.

According to UNESCO, "The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines) was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995 as an outstanding cultural landscape that evolved over two millennia. It was placed on the Danger List in 2001 because of threats to its essential values which required the development of better management and planning. The Philippines sought danger listing as a way to raise national and international support and cooperation in the preservation of these remote high rice fields maintained thanks to the transmission of traditional knowledge from one generation to the next."

In his e-mail to me, ICOMOS Philippines President Archt. Augusto Villalon said, "All committee members were effusive in their compliments of the great work done by us for the terraces. We are the new examples for community based heritage conservation success!"

Congratulations to the Philippines and most especially to the Ifugao community who have worked so hard to remove the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras from the List of World Heritage in Danger! Congratulations as well to UNACOM and ICOMOS Philippines for the great work that was done!

But the work to conserve the rice terraces does not end there. We should continue to be vigilant and join in the efforts to safeguard the site. Removal from the list does not mean it is no longer in danger. One reason for the removal is that we have complied with the difficult process of producing infrastructure guidelines and cartographic maps. It is important to understand the context of the removal. It recognizes that we are moving towards the right direction, eleven years after it was first included in the danger list in 2001. And this is the good news we celebrate today!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stop logging in Mindanao! Save our forests!

Let's play a game! How many logs can you count? These are photos I took within a few hours I was traveling through the Caraga Region. It represents just a small part of the trucks that we actually saw as we drove through (I also took cat naps on the way). Now imagine this happening on a daily basis, and that it happened for years and continues to happen.

I remember seeing this in 2010. So imagine how much of our forest cover we've lost in Mindanao. No wonder Sendong floods hit Mindanao! How many more Sendongs do we need to realize what needs to be done? I call on President Beningo Aquino III to implement his total log ban.

I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Oriental Mindoro: Things to do in Puerto Galera

Just a few hours from Metro Manila, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro is a favorite for weekend travelers looking for a beach close enough to the city; but one that offers many options to fit your ideal beach destination. Be it a party, food adventure, a cultural encounter, an underwater paradise or a deserted stretch of white sand, Puerto Galera has something to offer. Here are some things you could see and do in Puerto Galera:

1. Experience some of the most diverse coral reefs in the world
It seems that most foreigners visit Puerto Galera to dive. Sabang Beach is teeming with dive resorts. The beach itself is nothing really. But many stay in Sabang Beach because it is the jump-off point for the wonderful dive areas of the coast of Mindoro. Remember that the waters in between Batangas and Mindoro are said to be the center of the center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world! You won't be disappointed when you choose Puerto Galera as your dive destination, definitely a diver's paradise!

2. Visit the many beaches
White Beach is of course the most popular. There are many places to stay, a lot of food options, and an active nightlife. So if you are looking for the party, then White Beach is the place. But since almost everyone is there, peace and quiet might be difficult to find. But don't fret, with over forty kilometers of coastline, Puerto Galera has other beach options.

We stayed at Aninuan Beach, a few minutes away from White Beach. But among the top five beaches are Bulabod, Aplayang Munti, Bayanan, Haligi Beach on Boquete Island, and Long Beach on San Antonio Island. Beach hopping tours are available at Minolo Port.

3. Meet the local Mangyan community
We got to visit the Talipanan Mangyan Village near Aninuan. They have a very active basket weaving venture and you can buy good quality baskets and other products, or have some made to order to your specifications. There is another Mangyan village further up the mountains in Baclayan where you can also arrange a cultural immersion.

4. Visit its many waterfalls
Tamaraw Falls is of course the most popular, being the most accessible. But if you're a fan of waterfalls, you can visit Tukuran, Aninuan and Talipanan Falls as well.

5. Drive up to the Ponderosa Golf Club
If you're a golfer, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one. But non-golfers will definitely enjoy the view of Puerto Galera Bay. And yes, they are constructing a zipline there as we speak.

6. Attend the music festivals
Mark your calendars for the Malasimbo Arts and Music Festival which happens early in the year. It's a chance to celebrate music, arts and nature in an outdoor natural amphitheater at the foot of Mount Malasimbo. Every Black Saturday, you can catch the Summer Music Festival to enjoy a night of reggae.

7. Go on a food adventure in Sabang Beach
Because of the many international tourists it caters to, Sabang Beach is host to many really great restaurants serving international cuisine. I definitely enjoyed dinner at Toko's in Atlantis Dive Resort. Aside from their really diverse menu, they have daily specials and serve really good pizza!

How to get to Puerto Galera
Please check out this detailed post on how to get to Puerto Galera (White Beach, Sabang and Muelle). It includes options for getting to Batangas Port and to Puerto Galera.
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