Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ivan About Town goes to China

Remember I said I had exciting travel plans coming up? I had to cancel the whitewater rafting trip in Kalinga as well as the bus ride to Samar and Leyte just for this. Hehe! I'm one of the delegates selected by the National Youth Commission to represent the Philippines at the China-ASEAN Youth Camp 2006.

We left for Guangzhou today via China Southern Airlines. Although I've been on several flights this year, all of them were on low-cost carriers. So I completely forgot they served meals on board which was good since I wasn't able to eat breakfast. Our flight left NAIA at 12 noon and landed at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport at 2:40 p.m.

It took quite a while for us to get out since lines were long at the health screening and immigration counters. After getting our luggage, we were met by representatives of the All China Youth Federation. We had to wait for a few more minutes since the delegation from Laos was arriving that afternoon as well. So we took a stroll around the airport in the meantime.

By the time we got back to the meeting place, the Lao delegation was already there so we boarded the coaster which took us to our residence for the next three days, the Grand View Hotel in Hongmei Town, Dongguan City which was was in between Guangzhou and Shenzen.

After resting for an hour, we had a sumptuous traditional Chinese dinner at the restaurant at the ground floor. Several dishes were served on the table which included duck, chicken, fish, squid, mushrooms, and vegetables. No pork was served since there were Muslim delegates.

We took a stroll outside the hotel after dinner but weren't able to see much since we we're not close to the city center. There was a convenience store close by so I bought my supply of dried fruits and water for the night. Since we were tired, we went straight to bed. Tomorrow is a free day while we wait for other delegates to arrive. The camp officially begins on October 24.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Batangas: Verde Island Passage recognized as center of marine biodiversity in the world

I have never tried diving yet although I have always wanted to. And obviously, with so much marine biodiversity in the Philippines, I'm missing a lot. The closest thing I've ever done was walk a few meters from the shore in full scuba gear during a high school class outing in the Eagle Point Resort in Batangas. We also got to snorkel off the coast of Anilao, close to Maricaban and Sombrero Islands. But that was it.

Which is why I was encouraged further when I found out that the Verde Island Passage, which was just a few kilometers away, is now recognized by scientists as "the center of the center of the center of the world's marine shore fish biodiversity."

Just to give everyone a backgrounder on the title, the Sulu-Sulawesi Seascape is recognized by the scientific community as the center of the highest concentration of marine biodiversity in the world. Occupying an area of 900,000 square kilometers in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, it is "at the heart of the coral triangle which accounts for 50 percent of the world’s coral reefs," a Philippine Daily Inquirer article reported.

Comparative studies of marine concentration in the Indo-Malaya-Philippines archipelago show that central Philippines, which includes the Tubattaha Reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the center of that center of marine biodiversity. It was American marine biologist Kent Carpenter of the World Conservation Union, and fellow researcher Victor Springer of the Smithsonian Institution who discovered in 2004 that the center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity in the world was the Philippines, and not Indonesia.

And it was determined that the center of the center of the center of that marine biodiversity was the Verde Island Passage corridor, which was found to have the largest concentration of marine life in the world with a recorded 1,736 overlapping marine species in a 10 by 10 kilometer area. Verde Island is thus dubbed by scientists as "the world’s blue water version of the Amazon River basin."

For more information, check out the article RP world center of marine treasures. Looks like I'll consider diving in the near future. Hehe! (Photos from Scott Tuason; Diving in the Philippines and Yvette Lee, PDI)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pampanga: San Fernando heritage program recognized anew

I was elated to find out that the "Preserving Heritage for Progress" program of the City Government of San Fernando, Pampanga which I initiated in 2001 won its third award last October 6! The Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) selected the program as the winner of the Heritage Tourism Award of the Best Tourism Practices – Special Award Category "in cognizance of the innovative and valuable effort, passion and commitment of the City Government to ensure the protection and promotion of the City's priceless architectural heritage by restoring and preserving the same for the benefit of the future generation of Fernandinos and the Filipino people."

Mayor Oscar S. Rodriguez and City Tourism Officer Ching Pangilinan received the award in behalf of the local government from Tourism Secretary Joseph "Ace" Durano and Tarlac Representative Gilbert Teodoro at awarding ceremonies held during the 7th ATOP National Convention in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. There were only two winners for the Special Award category, the other being the Environment and Sports Tourism Award given to Benguet's "Mount Pulag Climb."

The "Preserving Heritage for Progress" program was recognized in 2004 by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) as one of its" Top 10 Best Practices" and by the Galing Pook Foundation as one of the "Trailblazing Programs" of the year. (Photo on the right by Karlo de Leon)

Updates: The Pyestang Tugak - 4th Annual San Fernando Frog Festival was postponed to October 23 and 24. I was supposed to blog about it today. Oh well! For information on schedules, contact the City Tourism Division at (045) 9615684.

I also had to cancel all my local travel plans this month. And to think I was already looking forward to some whitewater rafting in Kalinga! Sayang! But the reason behind the cancellations are even more exciting travel plans. Hehe! So watch out for it in the coming week or two.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Seminar on Philippine towns and cities

The Heritage Conservation Society (HCS), in collaboration with the Urban Partnerships Foundation, and the University of the Philippines History Department, is organizing Philippine Towns & Cities: reflections of the past, lessons for the future, a seminar which aims to promote heritage conservation as a strategy for urban development and revitalization that will redound to local socioeconomic growth.

A strategic starting point for this is to document the history and evolution of Philippine human settlements – how and why they were established, planned, developed, and grew in the manner that they have and in the places where they are.

From this documentation, lessons can be extracted that can help guide policies and approaches for the planning and management of future urban development and revitalization with a strong heritage conservation component.

For registration and further information, please contact:
Ms. Dorie Soriano (Heritage Conservation Society; Tel.: 521-2239; Email:
Mrs. Virginia R. Rodriguez (The Urban Partnerships Foundation; Tel: 895-1812/896-1902; Email:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Architect Pablo S. Antonio to be given state funeral

Here is a press release for the state funeral for National Artist for Architecture Pablo S. Antonio. Everyone is invited to attend the ceremonies at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani which will begin shortly before 12 noon on Friday, October 20, 2006.

Update: The widow of Pablo S. Antonio passed away October 10, 2006. The state funeral has been postponed to next month and is tentatively scheduled for November 24, 2006.

State funeral for National Artist Pablo S. Antonio
Pablo S. Antonio, who was posthumously awarded National Artist for Architecture in 1976, will be given a state funeral on Friday, October 20, 2006 and his remains transferred to the Libingan ng Mga Bayani on that day. His widow, 96-year old Marina R. Antonio, will be the recipient of the flag in the formal military ceremony.

The remarkable life of Antonio is one of determination triumphing over adverse circumstances. Born on January 25, 1902 and orphaned at an early age, the young Antonio worked at the Bureau of Public Works while still in high school in order to put himself through school. Dropping out of college for the opportunity to work on the construction of the former Legislative Building (now the National Museum), his brilliance was noted by Engineer Ramon Arevalo who paid for him to study architecture at the University of London. Having worked while studying for many years, Antonio was so adept at the practicalities of construction that he completed the five year course in just three.

Upon returning to Manila he immediately embarked on a career spanning four decades, with many of his greatest works built from the very beginning—the old Ideal Theater, the Far Eastern University buildings, the beautiful Ramon Roces Publications building (still standing on Soler corner Calero, Quiapo) and the White Cross Orphanage on Santolan Road where it has been recently confirmed that the relief in front of the building is by Italian sculptor Francesco Monti. Post-war, his works include the Manila Polo Club, original Manila Golf building, the first houses of Forbes Park and many more.

A book on his life and works has been completed and is beginning to go into production. Being published by Vibal Publishing, it is slated to be launched on January 25, 2007, Antonio’s birth anniversary. The book will share with the public the inspiring story of his life and works. In order to cover manuscript costs, advance orders for the book are being taken. Those who prepay for their copies now get their names printed in the book as supporters of the project. For inquiries contact project editor Vicky Veloso-Barrera at 4102279, (0916) 5165035 or at

It is the hope of the Antonio family and other avid conservationists that with the release of the book more awareness would be created of our country’s cherished landmarks, and that those under threat, including Antonio’s Manila Polo Club, be preserved and protected.
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