FDA issues Exemption Certificate for local SARS CoV-2 PCR Detection Kit

Harnessing the ingenuity of Filipino scientist and doctors with the full backing of the DOST, Dr. Raul Destura and his team were able to create the Lab-in-a-Mug device.
(Photo from the Philippine Genome Center).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a Certificate of Exemption for the locally developed and manufactured SARS CoV-2 PCR Detection Kit that will make it much cheaper for Filipino health professionals to test for the coronavirus.

The project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).

The SARS CoV-2 PCR Detection Kit technology is developed by local scientists led by Dr. Raul V. Destura from the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UP-NIH). 

Dr. Raul V. Destura

The kit will be used for field testing coupled with gene sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center. The DOST also helped Dr. Destura in forming his spin-off company Manila Health Tek and will make available test kits at a fraction of the cost of imported text  kits.

The COVID-19 kit costs PhP28,000 per 25 tests and the RNA extraction kit costs PhP10,000 per 50 reactions. The RNA extraction kit is for extracting the virus from the specimen. 

The cost for each test is P1,120+200 = P1,320 or only 16 percent of the current cost of imported test kits at P8,500.

Researchers at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine prepare to load reagents into a real-time PCR machine as they check their testing kits for the Zika virus. RITM

Around 200 kits can be manufactured in a week but is currently limited by the supply of raw materials. The present inventory is enough for 6,000 tests with another 20,000 on order and expected to be delivered in two weeks.

Manila Health Trek has not yet maximized its production capacity because of some uncertainties with the Department of Health, but DOST reports it has already started today upon receiving the FDA certificate. The firm will deploy 1,000 tests this week by Friday, another 2,000 next week, to be followed by another 3,000 the week after. #

RAC-X endorses P900B reg’l agency priority projects for 2021

RDC-X Advisory Committee members review FY 2021 RLA and SUC budget proposals for endorsement to the RDC-X Full Council.

The Advisory Committee of the Regional Development Council in Northern Mindanao will support the budget proposals of government agencies, state universities and colleges for Fiscal Year 2021 amounting to P900 –Billion.

The Advisory Committee of Northern Mindanao (RAC-X) consists of congressional representatives from the region, RDC-X officers and sectoral committees.

“How can we give the right services if we do not have the right funding? We have to connect the missing links and the missing gaps. There are many things that we can do for the region. We can make a plan we can call our own, that each of us can support,” challenged RDC-X Chair and Misamis Occidental Gov. Philip T. Tan during the council’s 1st Quarter Meeting held 6 March 2020 at a local hotel in Cagayan de Oro City,

NEDA-X Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño, CESO III stressed that it is important for the region to harmonize its development interventions with its priorities in order to realize local goals and aspirations.

RAC-X reviewed and accepted majority of the proposed programs and projects with their additional recommendations and endorsed for the approval of the RDC-X Full Council on 16 March 2020.

Approved programs and project would be subsequently endorsed to the respective agencies’ central offices.

The body also approved the priority legislative agenda of the Regional Development Plan 2017-2022 Midterm Update and committed to lobby for 115 regional catalytic projects for inclusion in the following fiscal year.

These projects are identified as having: a) high potential to cause corresponding and complementary development impact on surrounding geographic areas particularly for Convergence Areas for Peace and Development (CAPDev), b) totaling budget costs of  P1 billion and above, or c) existing RLA and SUC projects pending completion.

Also endorsed was the establishment of a regional government-run TV station, to be housed in the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army at Camp Evangelista.

“This will serve as a platform to promote government services, programs, policies and accomplishments, and to address the communication needs of our people in NorthMin,” explained Regional Director Franklin P. Gumapon of the Philippine Information Agency-X. 

“It is about time the region has its own TV station,” remarked Committee Convenor and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus B. Rodriguez as he pushed for the PhP126M-project for funding.

Rep. Ma. Lourdes Acosta-Alba (1st District, Bukidnon) cited the creation of the country’s first Government Communication Academy, planned to rise in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, which the RAC-X also endorsed.

The One: The Magical Aerial Oddysey of Capt. Patrick Roa, Garbo sa Cagayan de Oro

Capt. Patrick Roa, Garbo sa Cagayan de Oro.

Patrick Roa flies A320 and A321 airliners, and calls himself an accidental airline pilot. But was it really accidental?

Patrick hails from Cagayan de Oro. Like many young boys, he dreamed of becoming a pilot. But he didn’t really know why.

His grandfather died when Patrick was just 5. (You will meet the grandfather later in this tale.) Even today Patrick remembers holding a Matchbox toy, a green and white Cessna 421, during the funeral services at Xavier University.

His grandmother, a Cebuana, left him a trust fund when she died ten years later. The money was for his higher education. Today Patrick considers his grandmother the primary enabler of his aviation career.

The day they opened the new Laguindingan Airport in MIsamis Oriental.

Only later did he learn the other half of the story.

Patrick first immersed himself in aviation at old Lahug airfield in Cebu, where the storied hangar denizens infected him with the passion for General Aviation.

After Lahug closed, Patrick took his training at Archie Po‘s flying school at the AirSpan hangar at NAIA, where the high tempo of non-stop General Aviation operations exhilarated him. He soloed in a Cessna 152XP with a 150-horsepower engine, the equivalent of putting a BMW engine in a Volkswagen.

In 1993 a close cousin flew a Pacific Airways Grumman Tiger into IMC between Cotabato and Lebak, and was lost at sea. Patrick has lost other friends in aviation, but that first loss was a wake-up call, like a railroad switch that rechanneled him with the knowledge that mistakes and misfortune in aviation are paid for in blood.

Flying in the Piper Seneca I, checking out the guy in the left seat. I recall we flew to Ilo-Ilo and landed in the old Mandurriao Airport before it closed. This was in 1997.

After multi-engine training with Meynard Halili (also featured in Clear Prop), Patrick acquired a Piper Seneca, and with that and another pilot’s Cessna 421 he began what can only be described as a mix of “Air America” and “American Made” missions that will not be described here (NO, he wasn’t carrying poppy leaves or paratrooper pigs).

Night flights, uncontrolled airstrips, Islanders, DC-3s, a pressurized Beech 88 Queen Air with generators instead of alternators – he was young, charged with adrenalin and flying with one of the legends of Philippine General Aviation. Patrick began to build the 13,000++ hours he now has in his logbooks, which also record an astounding 40+ different types and models of aircraft that he has flown.

With Capt. Pat Neri, building experience in a Beech 18 Volpar. Cloud seeding back in the day, I’m forever grateful to Capt. Neri and
Capt. Roque Loquias Balaba for letting me fly with them.

In 1996, Patrick visited the Asian Institute of Management to ask about its famed Airline Transport Management Course. The course was run by Professor/Capt. Roberto Lim, an Annapolis graduate who trained pilots in B-17s and B-29s during World War II.

Capt. Lim pushed PAL into the jet age with the Douglas DC-8. Lim also established the Aviation Safety Foundation Philippines after his wife was lost in the PAL HS748 CFIT accident on approach to Baguio in 1987.

Bobby Lim met with Patrick, as he did with all the applicants for the course. Looking Patrick straight in the eye, he asked about Patrick’s goals. Then Lim leaned back then asked, “Are you in any way related to the tall Olympian Pio Roa from Cagayan de Oro?”

The question surprised Patrick. Pio Roa was Patrick’s grandfather, an Olympian athlete, an Ateneo Hall of Fame sportsman, and a basketball coach for the pre-war Blue Eagles. Patrick was just 5 years old when his grandfather died.

Now Capt. Lim of PAL/AIM was asking a grown-up Patrick if he was related to the elder Roa.

“Yes sir, I happen to be his first grandson.”

Lim smiled warmly and leaned back. “So, you’re the one.”

It turned out that whenever Capt. Lim flew VIPs and ex-Presidents to Cagayan de Oro, grandfather Pio Roa would be Lim’s host, wanting to talk about airplanes and aviation.

With CDCP’s Baron 55 at Lumbia Airport around 1977-78. The crew chief the late Kid Zosa, was later crew chief for A. Soriano Corp. Aviation Dept’s fleet and the Amanpulo Dornier Do-228s.

The elder Roa often told Lim that he wanted his grandson to be a pilot, an aviador. When Patrick was a toddler, his grandfather took him to the Camp Evangelista Army airfield. Army officers made the tiny Patrick sit in Cessna 180 cockpits. His grandfather also took Patrick to Lumbia Airport to watch the C-123s, YS-11s, F-27s and the loud BAC-111s. His grandfather didn’t say much. He just carried his toddler grandson in his arms as the airplanes thundered in and out.

Now the grandson WAS a pilot, and was beginning to understand where all the influence and passion for aviation came from. His grandfather was an aviation nut who had purposely infected his tiny toddler grandson.

When Patrick heard these stories, his aviation career took on a deeper meaning and purpose. Patrick owed his aviation career to his grandmother AND his grandfather, after all.

With CDCP’s Baron 55 at Lumbia Airport around 1977-78. The crew chief the late Kid Zosa became my good friend, teacher, and godfather to my daughter Patricia.

Even today, Patrick continues to read anything he can about aviation. He credits a lot of his aviation knowledge to reading, and labels himself an aviation nerd. As we’ve said before in Clear Prop, a good pilot never stops learning.

Can the aviation passion bug jump across generations? One day, out of the blue, Patrick’s daughter proclaimed her desire to become a pilot. Patrick played it by ear to see how badly infected she was.

Today Regine has a commercial pilot license and is closing in on her instrument check ride. Her next step is multi-engine training in the Baron that Meynard Halili used to own. Full circle.

Accidental pilot? At Clear Prop, we don’t believe in accidents.

Patrick Roa With BGen. Levanza, the late Col. Garcia, and Capt. Fernando R Erny (now flies a G-IV)

Founded in 2018, Clear Prop we will inspire and motivate professionals and enthusiasts in Philippine aviation, by sharing knowledge and insight from the best aviation professionals in the country.

If you haven’t listened to Patrick’s advice to pilots and aspiring pilots, you can listen to him in all the episodes of Clear Prop. https://www.facebook.com/clearpropph/

Clear Prop is committed to sharing aviation knowledge and expertise without bias or endorsements. We will always feature the best pilots and aviation experts available to us, and we will always choose them thoughtfully and deliberately. Our video series is entirely free.

Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss a single episode.

Clear Prop
Inspiration for Pilots, by Pilots

Oro Residents: Time is right for refilling stations for consumer products

Nutri-Asia’s BYOB refilling staton at The Mind Museum, BGC, Taguig City is open Mondays thru Sundays 12NN to 8PM. (photo courtesy of orangemagazine.ph)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Local environment and consumer groups have hailed the inspiring initiative of refilling stations for consumer products in Metro Manila, saying “the time is right” for similar initiatives in Mindanao’s fastest growing city.

The local governments of Taguig and Quezon City recently launched their environmental initiatives that aim to reduce plastic waste and improve solid waste management in their localities.

In Taguig, the city government aims to attain an 80-percent solid waste diversion by 2023 through joint efforts of LGUs and the public and private sectors.

Mayor Lino Cayetano unveiled Taguig’s Zero Waste Plan during a recent quarterly meeting with some 150 barangay and city leaders.

Under the plan, the city government will establish a Sustainable Livelihood Office, require all future infrastructure projects to have a materials recovery facility, support a “no single-use plastic” drive, and implement an information dissemination campaign focusing on proper waste segregation.

“We are pledging our full support to the Zero Waste Plan. We will make sure all the barangays implement everything in it. We will also onboard experts and build all the required hardware to make our beloved city truly green,” Cayetano said.

NutriAsia’s Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) refilling station was built with eco-bricks that use plastic discards as components. These came from the Arca South Eco Hub, a project of Arca South, Green Antz, and Ayala Land Inc. The store also serves as a drop-off point for donated plastic materials to be used for repurposing. BYOB was launched last July 30 and runs until September 12, Mondays through Sundays, 12NN to 8PM at The Mind Museum in BGC. (photo courtesy of orangemagazine.ph)

Nutri-Asia Inc. first launched a pop-up store at The Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) last August dubbed Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) that remained open until September 12.

The store encouraged visitors to bring their own clean plastic or glass bottles to the pop-up store to get a refill of condiments, sauces and cooking oils at discounted prices.

Products offered at the refilling station included Datu Puti soy sauce, Datu Puti vinegar, UFC Banana Catsup, Golden Fiesta Palm Oil, Golden Fiesta Soya Oil, Golden Fiesta Canola Oil and Golden Fiesta Corn Oil. These items were sold 5-15% cheaper than their suggested retail prices. The store also gave a 40% discount to buyers of locally-blended juice drinks.

The BYOB booth was frequented by working moms, young professionals and residents of the area who got a minimum 200 grams of their desired products and a maximum of 2 liters.

According to NutriAsia staff, customers brought at least two empty bottles for refill; others just dropped by their store to donate plastic containers.

NutriAsia has partnered with the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a series of refilling activities across Central Luzon since last year.

Jerome Manangkil, one of the visitors, expressed his appreciation and support for NutriAsia’s initiative, saying: “Iyong mga ganitong event, okay siya. Mas mura na, same quality pa ng mabibili mo sa mga supermarkets. At good siya sa environment.”

For returning customer John Allan Adriatico, the BYOB campaign was good news to practical consumers like him. “Actually, second time ko na rito. Mas affordable at makatutulong ka pang mabawasan ‘yung mga plastic na basura,” Adriatico said.

Carenderia owner Vanjie Esperanza also found the campaign beneficial to small business owners. “Malaking menos sa gastos at tulong sa araw-araw. Kasi may maliit na carinderia kami sa amin, kaya noong nabalitaan ko ‘to, hinanda ko na agad yung mga bote-bote rito sa bahay. Mas maganda kung magkakaroon nito malapit sa amin,” she explained

Meanwhile, Quezon City started its ban on single-use plastics in hotels, restaurants and other establishments last month.

QC Mayor Joy Belmonte said she has been pushing for the plastic ban since she was vice mayor.

Belmonte saw the urgent need to implement such ban after the Philippines ranked high in the list of the world’s biggest plastic polluters.

In support of LGUs’ sustainability efforts, NutriAsia Inc. set up its “Bring Your Own Bottle” stores in Taguig and Quezon City.

NutriAsia incentivizes consumers who reuse their plastic bottles by giving them big discounts on its condiment and sauce products.

Belmonte said that their partnership with NutriAsia shows the city’s strong commitment to environmental sustainability.

“We are glad that NutriAsia chose us to be the first local government unit to engage with in this eco-friendly initiative,” Belmonte added.

Encouraged by these initiatives, consumers clamored for similar refilling stations to be set up around Cagayan de Oro city.

“When we had a sari-sari store long time ago, I remember people bringing their soft drink bottle to buy kerosene, no plastic was used during those days,” recalls Mel Francisco C. Cucueco.

“We do not have much choice but to bring our own bottles. Ban single-use plastic bottles now,” said environmentalist Bencyrus Ellorin, former executive director of environment watchdog Task Force Macajalar.

“Timely and environmentally friendly,” said Ronilo Ravanera, a founding member of the local consumer group Konsumanteng Kagay-anon, Inc.

“Yes yes kaayo! We at the Council can help them also disseminate,” said Dr. Hilly Ann Roa Quiaoit, executive director of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council

“Dapat. Kung hindi ngayon kailan?” said Raoul T. Geollegue, a former DENR Regional Executive Director who is now a consultant of the environment group Hineleban Foundation which is engaged in the reforestation of the mountain ranges of Mindanao by partnering with Indigenous Peoples living in the buffer zone areas, introducing Arabica coffee as a source of livelihood, and  transforming the IPs to guardians of the forest.

Still other consumers are encouraged by the refilling stations, coming as they do on the heels of the city government’s strict implementation of the ban on single use plastics in supermarkets and public markets.

“Seriously, I practice bring-your-own-container when I buy fish from the street vendor,” said Elson T. Elizaga. “He puts a cellophane of fish on a weighing scale. Then I transfer the fish to our bowl and return the cellophane to him.”

The Philippines throws away 60 billion sachets every year, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) estimates based on its five-year waste audit. These wastes remain in our environment for thousands of years, polluting our lands, seas, and air.

A total of 48 million shopping bags were used per day, adding up to more than 17.5 billion a year, GAIA said. 

A 2018 study by the United Nations Environment Program showed that the Philippines is among the top five countries that produce the most plastic waste in the world. The world produces 300 million tons of plastic waste annually, 99 percent of which are non-renewable chemicals like high-density polyethylene mostly used in shampoo bottles.

Other companies such as Unilever and Human Heart Nature also launched earlier similar refilling stations for personal care products and cosmetics, and home cleaning products.

Unilever PH All Things Hair Refillery Station

Unilever’s  All Things Hair Refillery Station pilot ran in March -April 2019 in Trinoma, Glorietta 3, and Alabang Town Center.

Consumers brought their empty, clean shampoo or conditioner bottles to the refilling station, refilled these at the matching product pumps, and paid for their products based on the weight of their refill. Even those without empty bottles were able to buy refillable bottles for only P10 each, thus minimizing plastic waste from their households, and got their products at a much cheaper price.

Similarly, eco-friendly advocate Human Heart Nature (HHN) also rolled out 2 refilling stations in its flagship store in Commonwealth and in a Quezon City mall last March, 2019 for its “fast-moving” home care products such as liquid detergent, dishwashing liquid and baby bottle and utensil cleanser which were sold per gram. 

HHN founder Anna Meloto-Wilk said consumers just needed to bring empty, clean, dry and sanitized bottles for product refills, and they are now working with designers to come up with simpler versions for nationwide implementation. 

HHN is also lobbying with the government to allow refilling for cosmetic products to further reduce waste.

Refilling Home Care Products at HHN Ph Refilling Station (credit nolisoli)

Together with environmental advocates and nonprofits like Save the Philippine Seas, Mother Earth Foundation, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines, and WWF Philippines, Meloto-Wilk has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the existing rules to be more responsive to refilling setups.

They also have an ongoing online petition where they raised three opportunities that deal with safety, traceability, and adaptation of the products for the agency to enhance the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 9711 (The Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009).

Meloto-Wilk argues that that if water refilling is allowed provided refillers comply with set standards, a similar setup for cosmetics and home products should also be accommodated.

“We seek to bridge the policy gaps and promote a sea change in the way responsible Filipino companies and ordinary citizens use plastic—not just temporary measures, but permanent and lasting policies, structures, and systems,” the proponents argued in their petition.

Besides Unilever and HHN, other brands such as Lush, Ecobar and Suds have starting selling shampoo bars to minimize the use of single-use plastic containers.

For more information about BYOB, visit https://nutriasia.com/bring-your-own-bottle/

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Towards a Decarbonized & Regenerative World – 3rd PH Envi Summit calls for paradigm shifts in Sustainability and Regeneration

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Green Convergence Pres. Nina Galang, EDC Chair & CEO Federico Lopez and Living Laodato si’ ED ROdne Galicha lead the launching of the Laodato si’ and SDGs Handbook (RMB Photo)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The 3rd Philippine Environment Summit closed here Friday afternoon with calls for paradigm shifts in Sustainability and Regeneration focusing on three key themes in Laudato si’, the second encyclical of Pope Francis subtitled “On care for Our Common Home”

Laodato si’ critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action.”

In his closing address at the three-day summit, Xavier Ateneo President Roberto Yap, S.J. stressed the three key themes of the pope’s encyclical: The conviction that everything in the world is connected; The value proper to each creature; and, “Intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet.”

“Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another,” Fr. Yap quoted.

“We are called to a companionship with Christ the Reconciler to participate in the Father’s work of reconciling humanity with Himself, of human beings with human beings, of humanity with creation. We are called to collaborate in the care of our common home.”

In attributing the value proper to each creature, Yap again quoted from Laudato si’ 69 and Psalms 104:31.

“We are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes: “by their mere existence they bless him and give him glory” and indeed, “the Lord rejoices in all his works,” Yap quoted.  Creation has a broader meaning than nature, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. (LS 71)

Quoting the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Yap said Pope Francis emphasizes that “there is need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage”; we are called to acknowledge “our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation”.

Yap noted how the Pope has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins”.

For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”. (LS 8)

Not the least, Yap again quoted Laodato si’ 139 to describe the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet.

“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.” (LS 139). We need “to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS 49)

He noted how most of the poor live in the ecologically fragile areas, the peripheries, where they are the main victims of environmental destruction.

“The poor have harder time coping and adapting to environmental disasters,” Yap said.

The three key main themes of Laodato si’ run through many of the 37 resolutions generated in the12 breakout sessions held over the summit’s three days: 

“Unlearn to learn” from the indigenous people’s sacred tradition, knowledge and practices that protect and preserve the environment” (On Indigenous People’s Eco-Governance); “Promote sustainable, affordable, and regenerative agriculture” (on Organic Agriculture); “Promote Zero-Waste as a way of life in the household and barangay levels” (On Sustainable Barangays and Community Co-Governance); “Uphold Fair Trade that puts people and planet before financial profit” (On Non-Timber Forest Products); “Promote traditional practices that respect the integrity of the forest ecosystems” (On Ecosystems Protection); Speak of and Love the Truth in defense of The Environment’ (On Education & Research); and,  “Reclaim our intimate connection with nature, deepen our collective spirituality of inter-relatedness and inter-dependence, and live it out through life-long commitment to preserve the environment that sustains life” (On Spirituality & Sustainability).

Summit participants pose for a groufie with local officials and summit organizers

Little Daily Actions

Fr.  Yap said the degenerating state of the global environment is a call to two-fold action at the Micro (Personal) and Macro (Structural) levels.

“There is nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle,” he stressed. “Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices.”

“All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity,” he added quoting from Laodato si’ 211.

“We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread. Furthermore, such actions can restore our sense of self-esteem; they can enable us to live more fully and to feel that life on earth is worthwhile.” (LS 212).

Organizers of the 3rd PH Environment Summit led by Green Convergence Pres. Nina Galang take a bow onstage with Xavier Ateneo Pres. Bobby Yap SJ (RMB Photo)

The call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress

Yap, who is an avowed fan of Pope Francis, noted how the Pope calls for economic solutions that have regard for human life, our natural environment, social equity and justice.

“Pope Francis invites all of us to help create a new and courageous culture that finds new ways to do business, promote human dignity and protect the environment,” he noted. “He writes, “We need to correct models of growth incapable of guaranteeing respect for the environment, openness to life, concern for the family, social equality, the dignity of workers and the rights of future generations.”

We need to build and promote a different kind of economy: “one that brings life not death, one that is inclusive and not exclusive, humane and not dehumanizing, one that cares for the environment and does not despoil it.”

Mayor Oscar Moreno, DENR Usec Juan Miguel Cuna, Archibishop Tony Ledesma & Green Converence Pres. Nina Galang cut the ribbon to the summit exhibit. (photo by Aye Navarro, Professional Organizers)

Commitment

The summit resolutions acknowledged how “every sector has to do it part with openness, right paradigm and outlook.”

“Standing firm on our commitment to heed nature, to protect and preserve the environment; resolutely adhere to the aforesaid resolutions, synergize our actions that are socially inclusive, economically sustainable, and environmentally beneficial; and forge pathways toward a decarbonized and regenerative world.”

In closing, Yap acknowledged the partners who made the 3rd Summit possible: Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Energy Development Corporation, Forest Foundation Philippines, Foundation for the Philippine Environment, Kamayan Restaurant, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, Liceo de Cagayan University, Local Government of Cagayan de Oro, Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Eco-Business, Business Week Mindanao, Mindanao Daily and the Metro Cagayan de Oro Times, and most of all to the organizer and host of the 3rd Philippine Environment Summit, Green Convergence.

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The Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman

The Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors showcase their individual pieces, with their trainers from the Banglos Community Artists

Sometimes serendipity can lead you to paths you never dreamed you would be passing through, but the future often holds surprises which more often than not, exceed your expectations.

Thus, when Smart Telecommunications began the process to secure the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from the Higaonon community in Sitio Malasag, Barangay Cugman in Cagayan de Oro to renew the lease on their cell site located within the tribe’s ancestral domain, it triggered what has turned out be a most rewarding experience for both parties involved in the transaction.

By virtue of Republic Act 8371 (Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997  or IPRA) which recognizes and promotes the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, Smart was required to secure the consent of the IP community which hosted their 1,000 sq. m. cell site area since it falls within the tribe’s ancestral domain.

Following the initial consultation last February, 2019 with the Malasag Higaonon Tribal Council represented by Datu Ireneo Jabiniar (tribal chieftain), Smart signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the renewal of the cell site lease for another 25 years.

“As part of the terms and conditions, our council requested Smart to conduct a training in wood carving for our members, as a livelihood project,” said Datu Masikal “Jude” Jabiniar, who site as the appointed 9th kagawad representing IPs in the Cugman Barangay Council.

Barangay Cugman has two rivers which provide them with a constant supply of driftwood as raw materials. More driftwood could also be sourced from the barangay’s seashore.

Wilfredo Durano (center), one of the trainers from Banglos Community Artists, demonstrates proper carving techniques.

After conducting appropriate rituals at the cell site area requesting permission from resident spirits to approve the agreement, 15 Higaonons started training with expert wood carvers Arnel Rebate, Wilfredo Durano and Marichu Calzado from the Banglos Community Artists of General Nakar, Quezon, last May 28-30 for basic skills and assignment of projects; then again on June 27 for finishing and polishing of the completed works. Smart also donated to the community tools such as grinders and sanders.

 The Banglos wood sculptors were themselves recipients of Smart’s livelihood assistance, being trained by famed sculptor Rey Paz Contreras who taught them the art of sculpting forest wood as an alternative source of income after their homes were devastated by flash floods following heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Winnie in 2004, killing over a thousand people in  General Nakar, Infanta and Real. 

The Banglos sculptors’ works have been featured at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Furniture Festival at Megatrade Hall, Go Negosyo fair at Market! Market! in Taguig City and in various Smart functions.

The Higaonon artists were taught the basics of driftwood sculpture, how to use the tools of the trade, and how to bring out art from driftwood, based on its natural shape and textures. Aside from being a source of livelihood, the sculptures also aim to showcase Higaonon culture.

“A lot of the pieces here have come from wood that no longer had any use – maybe only to be burned for charcoal. The artists have been taught to see the beauty in them and bring this out. We Filipinos, we the katutubo, can also ask ourselves: “Are we charcoal, or are we works of art?””, said Darwin Flores, Head, Community Partnerships Department, Smart – Public Affairs. 

One of those who underwent the training was Datu Masikal’s cousin Jeffrey  C. Alia, an industrial electrician by trade, who lives along the seashore of Cugman with his fisherman father.

While he has no formal training in the arts, he learned drawing basics from his father Pedro B. Alia whose latent artistic skills enabled him to earn additional income through drawings and printed signs on the side.

“I won artistic competitions as grade school student and did automotive drafting in high school but shifted to GRCO due to lack of financial means to finish my automotive,” Alia recalls.

Eventually he became a licensed industrial electrician for commercial/industrial buildings, and joined the training during a lull between his projects.

Jeffrey Alia’s Fisherman Sculpture inspired by the Recto Bank incident

“The training revived my interest in the arts, and I was inspired to carve  many wood sculptures,” Alia said.

Among the wood sculptures he finished was a  fisherman in his baroto (dugout canoe) inspired by the Recto Bank incident where a Filipino fishing vessel was rammed by a Chinese one.

“This shows the fisherman was free to carry on his trade without fear,” Alia explained. Turning to another  of his works, he said the  bird’s nest signifies that birds are still abundant within their ancestral domain. “Every one of my works has a story.”

Setting up the exhibit on the Sky Park at the 5th floor of SM CDO Downtown Premier

From July 1-6, 2019, the Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors held the Malasag Sculpture Exhibit at the Sky Park at 5th floor of the SM Cagayan de Oro Downtown Premier in partnership with SM.

A  constant partner of Smart for past projects like Earth Hour, SM  provided the exhibit venue, lights and fixtures for the group’s first exhibit.

Next, the group plans to display some small sculptures at Ginama, the pasalubong center of LGU Cagayan de Oro at Gaston Park.

A portion of the exhibit held at SM CDO Downtown Premier last July 1-6, 2019

“Smart plans to continue supporting the tribe by providing capacity building trainings such as social media marketing, mobile photography and ideography,” said Judee Dizon Chaves, Smart Communications Public Affairs Manager for North-West Mindanao.

 Meantime, interested buyers who wish to commission or order some of their works can visit and contact them through their Facebook Page Malasag Indigenous Driftwood Sculptors of Cugman (URL: https://www.facebook.com/Malasag-Indigenous-Driftwood-Sculptors-of-Cugman-472330183554427/Photos by Mike Baños & Smart Communications Public Affairs for North-West Mindanao.

Ecosystems Protection – Cagayan de Oro Port wins laurels for sustainability practices

The Development Academy of the Phils conferrs the Government Best Practice Recognition plaque & certificate to the PPA PMO-MOC on 17 December 2019.

The Port of Cagayan de Oro at Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City is one of only two seaports in the Philippines to have been awarded a Green Port badge by the Green Port Award System (GPAS) program, a green evaluation system for ports in the Asia-Pacific Region developed by APEC Port Services Network (APSN) to promote the green growth and sustainable development of the APEC port industry.

It has also been cited by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) under its Government Best Practice Recognition (GBPR) for Fostering a Green Culture for Port Operations and Management with Best Practices in environmental protection, conservation, and sustainability through the employment of technology; issuance and compliance with environmental policies and mandates; and inculcating environmental awareness among port stakeholders.

The Port of Cagayan de Oro was recognized as one of the APSN Green Port Award System (GPAS) winners for 2018 among candidate ports from 18 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). GPAS serves as a platform for sharing of best practices among ports in the APEC region, to raise the profile of ports committed to green practices, and to improve their capacity for sustainable development.

 “This GPAS recognition gives the Port of Cagayan de Oro a seal of reliability and integrity which will help improve the port’s image locally, nationally, and internally, and open new potential commercial opportunities for the port, PPA, and the port operators through increased ship calls and cargo volumes that directly translate into revenues,” said Port Manager Isidro V. Butaslac, Jr.

Cagayan de Oro Port has earned the right to exhibit the APSN GPAS Badge as one of only 2 certified green ports in the Philippines.

Green Initiatives and Practices

Among the CDO Port’s best practices are measures aimed at energy conservation, noise reduction, protection and preservation of the water, land, and air, and promotion of environmental awareness among the stewards of nature—the people.

CDO Port replaced its High-Powered Sodium (HPS) Lamps with solar powered LED streetlights, and Mast Towers with LED bulbs to attain 46% and 40% energy savings, respectively; upgraded cargo handling equipment to rubber tired gantry cranes and rail mounted gantry cranes to improve productivity and efficiency, minimizing energy and carbon emissions; and adopted smart lighting which automatically provide lights only when needed.

To sustain the water ecosystem, the PMO’s Scuba Diving Team duly certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) regularly conducts underwater garbage collection/cleanups, underwater/underdeck surveys, flora and fauna inventory, and restore detached lighted floating navigational buoys at ports.

PMOs PADI-certifeid Scuba Diving Team regularly conducts underwater garbage collection called Scubasurero.

So far, over 10,000 mangrove propagules have been planted within a total area of over 30 hectares at Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro; Pangayawan, Gitagum, and in the PMO adopted area of Taytay in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental as a hatchery for indigenous fishes.

To improve air quality, the Port reduced carbon dioxide emissions and air pollutants 50% by replacing cargo handling units, using Shore-Based Power Supply (cold-ironing) as charging stations so docked vessels won’t have to use their own engine; and established three carbon sinks/greenbelt areas with 255 trees of various species which has enabled it to pass the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Most recently, it acquired two emission measuring equipment in compliance with the Clean Air Act and to improve air quality within the port premises.

PMO also maintains an organic vegetable and flower garden to grow vegetables and legumes on used car tires which are harvested for feeding programs.

Solid Waste Management (SWM) based on the 4Rs (Reduce, Recover, Reuse, Recycle) has helped reduce residual waste in the port area by 20%, increase collection of recycled paper by 20%, and plastic containers by 31%.

To promote environmental awareness, PMO employees, port stakeholders and residents of adjacent barangays join various forums like Climate Change, Solid Waste Management, Clean Air Act of the Philippines, Clean Water Act of the Philippines.

To comply with its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) requirements, PMO MOC submits regularly to DENR Self-Monitoring Reports under the Republic Act No. 9275 (Philippine Clean Water Act); Republic Act No. 8749 (Philippine Clean Air Act); and Republic Act 6969 (Hazardous Waste Act).

It annually conducts Ambient Air Quality Monitoring, Stationary Source Air Emission Sampling, Emission Testing for PPA and Oroport Cargo Handling Equipment, Water Effluent Quality Monitoring of the port’s oil and water separator facilities, and Ambient Water Monitoring.

PPA PMO-MOC acquires emission measuring equipment in compliance with the Clean Air Act and to improve air quality within the Port of Cagayan de Oro.

Opportunities and Challenges

“By taking responsibility for clean air, land and water, port stakeholders work together to meet more stringent environmental standards and deliver excellent business results,” Butaslac said.

As a Green Port, the Port seeks to: double efforts to encourage ocean-going vessels/ships to reduce emission of pollutants by using clean fuel and use shore-based power supply; improve performance to sustain a green and eco-friendly port; continue professionalization of operations; increase use of bio-based renewable energy such as LNG and bio-fuels, circular economy and transition energy; initiate more environmental-friendly programs/projects to reduce the port’s carbon footprint, and mitigate the effects of climate change particularly on engineering, e.g. more solar panels, improved water treatment facilities, etc.

Since last year, the PMO has sustained the its green port operations further improving SWM by targeting the further reduction of non-recyclables by 10%, by regulating the use of plastic utensils and food packaging within the ports. 

A month after its GPAS win in Singapore, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) recognized the PMO-MOC for its environmental protection and conservation initiatives during the 2018 Government Best Practice Recognition (GBPR).

Its entry titled, “Philippine Ports Authority—Port Management Office of Misamis Oriental/Cagayan de Oro (PMO MOC): Fostering a Green Culture for Port Operations and Management as successfully was hailed as one of the top five (5) best practices among the 11 entries from various government agencies for 2018 and among the five (5) winners to receive Best Practice trophies during the awarding ceremony on 17 December 2019.

The DAP is a government owned and controlled corporation which develops solutions to address development  problems; upgrade institutional capacities of  institutions to more effectively pursue their respective roles and mandates more efficiently and effectively; promote partnerships, and facilitate the integration of policies, plans, programs, and systems in a holistic perspective.

GBPR is one of DAP’s strategies to help public sector organizations further enhance their quality of service by recognizing agencies with successful and validated practices.

The Academy believes that “best practices are the building blocks and the solution formula in the attainment of organizational outcomes—relevant policies, quality services and organizational effectiveness.”

A key criterion for the evaluation of best practices is the replicability (how best practices can be adopted by other PMOs).  The PPA is institutionalizing the programs for environmental protection and sustainability to its ports nationwide.

For instance, PPAs Top Management has approved the procurement and adoption of the Shore-Based Power Supply (SBPS) in the terminal ports such as the Port of Benoni in Camiguin Province.

PMO personnel planting mangrove propagules in a mangrove site in Taytay, Misamis Oriental

Overview of PMO-MOC

PMO MOC administrative jurisdiction covers the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Camiguin with 7 government and 11 registered private ports (bannered by the Port of Cagayan de Oro, one of 10 gateway ports under PPA port system).

It facilitates the transport of passengers and the input of raw materials and export of the region’s products through bulk, break bulk and RORO. It also provides ancillary services such as pilotage, tug assistance, bunkering, trucking, and porterage; supply of fresh water, and passenger related services.

Evidence of Best Practices

Overview of the Best Practices

PMO-MOC’s Fosterage of Green Culture is described as “inculcating environmental consciousness and sensitivity among stakeholders to achieve synergy with the environment towards sustainable development.”

As an Integrated Management System (IMS) certified, it integrates three systems into one—ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management, ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management and BS OSHAS 18001:2007 Occupational Health and Safety.

It has also been consistent with its emergency preparedness by conducting regular drills especially for sea oil spill in compliance with the risk-based ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management.

“This is in compliance with the PPA Environmental Policy which mandates PPA as a government agency tasked to administer the ports in the country including the development of the ports to spur regional and national growth, adhere to the concept of ensuring that port activities are focused on minimizing the adverse or negative impact to the environment and ensuring that all aspects of port operation and port development are geared towards the protection and preservation of the environment for the maximum utilization of port facilities,” noted Butaslac.

It has also organized continuing education aimed at enhancing environmental awareness through seminars / trainings, information campaigns and site visits. PMO MOC Environmental Specialist Core D. Suan is a DENR-accredited Pollution Control Officer who oversees and ensures compliance with environmental laws.

A Green Track Record

Besides the Green Port Award 2018 given by APEC Port Services Network – Green Port Award System, PMO-MOC has also been certifiedby TUV Rheinland Philippines for its Integrated Management System (2018) and Quality Management System (2012 & 2015).

It has been granted a  Certificate of Recognition bythe Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) for the Port Safety, Health and Environmental Management System (PSHEMS) (2015); Certificate of Recognition by the Government Quality Management Committee for compliance to EO 605 (2017); International Ships and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code Certificate of Compliance from DOTr-Office of Transport Security (2018) and was recognized by the  DENR for implementation of Environmental Programs (2018) and   Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation its continuing partnership in environmental program and joint oil spill response (2018).

The new Passenger Terminal Building with its own in-house carbon-sink.

Sustaining the Green Culture

To sustain its Green Culture, PMO-MOC will fully implement its green programs with continuous improvements like: additional stations for Shore-Based Power Supply and their installation in Terminal Ports; additional Powerhouse with energy-saving devices/features; rainwater collection and water treatment systems, and green buildings.

The new Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) of the CDO Port is a green building, which houses a carbon sink and utilize solar power through the roof top solar panels. It is the biggest and most modern PTB in the Philippines today.

 “Fostering a Green Culture drives the PMO-MOC to gear for more eco-friendly initiatives, bearing the ethos that ports can still do business while still being friendly to Mother Nature, and be hazardous to anyone. Fostering green culture has come a long way and there’s no more turning back, only moving forward,” Butaslac stressed. (With reports from Irish Maika R. Lam)

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Ecosystems Protection: STEAG State Power Inc. CSR Program empowers beyond merely providing power

STEAG State Power Inc. (SPI) goes far beyond providing efficient and reliable electric power to Mindanao.

Besides sustainable business operations and adhering to the ethical standards of safety, environment, and good corporate governance, SPI actively contributes to the achievement of sustainable development goals by undertaking social development programs aimed at helping address a wide array of local community concerns.

For over 13 years SPI has shared its time, resources and expertise in helping secure more prosperous and developed communities.

SPI helped foster greater community collaboration by partnering with various development institutions.

SPI’s commitment to helping bring about the development of its host communities is expressed through its various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, focusing on Improving Education through the Social Empowerment through Education (SEEd) Program; Improving Income through the Livelihood and Economic Enterprise Development (LEED) Program;  Improving Health through its Water, Sanitation, and Health (WaSH) Program; Improving Governance through the Enhancing Governance in Local Development (EGoLD) Program;  Improving Access to Electricity through the Fostering Rural Electrification and Energizations (FREE) Program; Improving Quality of the Environment through the Environmental Conservation (ECo) Program; and Inspiring people to excel through a continuing Information, Education and Communications (IEC) Program.

SPI works with various government and non-government organizations to help address the priority development needs of its communities. The company is grateful for being part of these development endeavors.

STEAG State Power Inc. 210MW coal-fried power plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental

Environmental Conservation (ECo) Program

SPI, together with its partners in the private and public sectors, is undertaking a comprehensive environmental conservation program. For more than a decade now, it has sustained the efforts through its flagship projects including the 1,200-hectare Mapawa Carbon Sink Project; 1,000-hectare Urban Forestry Project, and 16.4hectare Mangrove Development and Rehabilitation Project.

In 2019, over 90,000 seedlings were propagated and distributed in various villages in Misamis Oriental.

Since the program launch more than a decade ago, over 490,000 trees have been grown. SPI’s target is to bring 1.2 million trees back to the forest by 2031.

Water, Sanitation, and Health (WaSH) Program

Some 3.4 million children in the Philippines have been found to be stunted, with over 300,000 underweight. Stunting can impair physical and mental development and is irreversible after the age of two.

SPI helps local efforts in addressing these problems by improving the capacity of domestic nutrition workers in child stunting and malnutrition monitoring.

In 2019, SPI equipped five municipalities with salter scales to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of community-based assessments of the affected children’s nutritional status.

In addition, some 110 parents attended the SPI-led Seminar on Responsible Parenting, Maternal Child Care and Nutrition conducted in partnership with local health workers.

Mapawa Nature Park hosts SPI’s 1,200 hectare carbon sink project.

Enhancing Governance in Local Development (EGoLD)

SPI is helping build and strengthen the local government and organized groups’ capabilities in community development, environmental conservation, and disaster-preparedness efforts.

Program milestones in 2019 includes 70 local emergency responders trained in fire prevention, firefighting, and rescue; 450 public utility vehicle drivers trained on defensive driving and basic electrical safety; 55 barangay leaders from eleven barangays trained on community development planning; 200 community-leaders in five barangays trained on Solid Waste Management.

Information, Education and Communications (IEC) Program

SPI has been recognized by the community as one of its partners in acquiring valuable knowledge, understanding, and inspiration in a wide array of topics and learning discussions on energy, social responsibility, and environmental conservation.

Moreover, SPI has now become one of the most preferred learning destinations for institutional benchmarking in Mindanao. Over 1,000 people have attended SPI’s Community Learning Sessions to learn about the company’s operational, social, and environmental practices.

For the last 14 years, SPI has been conducting the annual Steag Energy Quiz to encourage young people to excel in science and energy. In 2019, 26 junior high schools in the region joined this much-anticipated competition. Similarly, SPI has also organized the 15th Mapawa Environmental Youth Campattended by some 50 youth representatives from the local communities.

Thirty-Five senior high school and college  power students scholars from Villanueva and Tagoloan participate in SPI’s Eco Youthcamp 2019. The camp aims to inspire students to be actively engaged in environmental conservation and protection. The power students are beneficiaries of an SPI award program  which encourages academic performance to help ease financial burdens associated with the rising cost of education. The activity was held at the Mapawa Nature Park, the site of an on-going 1,200 hectares Carbon Sink Project also funded by SPI.
Power Students’ Eco Youth camp 2019

Social Empowerment through Education (SEED)

SPI believes in the power of education to transform lives. For over a decade now, SPI has been working with various community stakeholders in helping improve the quality of public education to provide young Filipinos with the opportunities realize their potentials.

SPI’s continuing advocacy for accessible quality education covers not only granting scholarships and direct assistance to students but also the overall improvement in the quality of learning by implementing programs and projects that benefit public schools and educators.

Together with its partners in the government and non-government sectors, SPI continues to plant and nurture the “seeds” of quality education by investing material, financial and technical support in a wide array of projects and activities designed to help improve access to quality education.

Among its beneficiaries are 286 Steag power scholars, 65 recipient of Project Aklat (school supplies for indigent children,) 215 out-of-school youths assisted through the Alternative Learning System (ALS); 65 public schools teachers trained on public service excellence; and  15 public schools assisted for various school improvements.

Aside from these community-based projects, SPI has also offered its workplace as a venue for the continuous learning and skills improvement of young Filipino engineers through its Cadet Engineering Training (CET). As of 2019, 126 Cadet Engineers have been trained, with 100% employment, 24 of who now work with SPI.

Female workers make fire bricks from the ash by-product of the Steag State Power 210-MW power plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. (MindaNews- Froilan Gallardo)

Livelihood and Economic Enterprise Development (LEED)

SPI has helped organized local women sustain their livelihood through the SPI-assisted Villa Kusina Multi-Purpose Cooperative and the San Roque Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

San Roque Multi-Purpose Cooperative expanded customer market base from only 5 groups in 2014 to 16 groups until 2019 ; Attained over P1-million gross sales; created 35 jobs and had their products cited and promoted in national and international markets and exhibitions.

Similarly, VK Multi-Purpose Cooperative attained over P10-million gross and combined sales (upcycling projects and manpower for power plant ancillary services; created 80 new jobs and had their products cited and promoted in national and international markets and exhibitions

Fostering Rural Electrification and Energization (FREE) Program

Around 2.8 million households are still without electric power, with over half from Mindanao. Without electricity, communities become literally and figuratively powerless, thus isolating them from the benefits of mainstream socioeconomic development.

SPI contributes to the solution of this problem through its FREE program. It works closely with the power utility companies and the country’s Department of Energy in bringing about development in the rural areas. SPI believes that provision of services will yield more opportunities for improved quality of life, greater access to essential services and better infrastructure for rural development.

As of 2019, the FREE program achieved a 100% village-level energization of its host communities in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.  More villages are up for energization in the coming years as SPI lines-up more electrification projects in the nearby towns.

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Seven Seas Waterpark & Resort: Mindanao’s Showcase of Sustainable Tourism

Seven Seas Waterpark & Resort (image courtesy of Project LUPAD)

The Seven Seas Waterpark and Resort in Barra, Opol, Misamis Oriental is slowly but surely carving a niche in the world tourism map for its nearby cities and Northern Mindanao, but there’s more to it than its famous slides and crystal blue water pools.

For one, history teachers and professors can bring their classes on field trips to view the replicas of the Dutch privateers which are the centerpieces of the pirate themed water park, as first-hand references of the Eighty Years War between Spain and the Netherlands in the 1600s. Local historians would be more than happy to conduct history buffs and students through the pages of the back story behind the park’s theme.

Or environmental planners, government executives and students have a first-hand look at just how sustainable tourism is actualized in the design, engineering and operation of the waterpark.

The signature crystal clear blue waters of Seven Seas Waterpark & Resort are recycled, treated, and filtered for the safety of guests and the environment. (Copyright to Project LUPAD-8)

 Sustainable Tourism

 Sustainable tourism is defined as an industry committed to making a minimal impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate future employment for local people.

Sustainable tourism ensures that development is a positive experience for local people; tourism companies; and the tourists themselves.

The environment is obviously important to tourism – without it, tourism would not exist. Both the natural environment (such as beaches, forests, and waterways) and the built environment (such as historic buildings and ruins) must be managed conservatively for an area to be environmentally sustainable.

The 12 aims of sustainability in tourism have been defined by the UNWTO as: economic viability, local prosperity, employment quality, social equity, visitor fulfillment, local control, community well-being, cultural richness, physical integrity, biological diversity, resource efficiency, and environmental purity.

“The preservation and sustainability of the environment is a rising trend among theme parks abroad,” said Engr. Elpie M. Paras, president and CEO of UC-1 Corporation which owns and operates Seven Seas in an interview with the CDO Bloggers at the waterpark. “Seven Seas is one of the first theme parks in the Philippines to employ sustainable solutions.”

Seven Seas initial deployment of solar panels produce some 250 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in the parking lot, function room and landing pool, helping reduce monthly electricity costs by up to 30%.
(photo by John Malolot)

 Solar energy

Paras cites Seven Seas’ initial deployment of solar panels producing at least 250 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity daily in four locations in the parking lot, function room and landing pool.

“These are just the start. We intend to cover the entire parking lot with solar panels to help us reduce our P1 million monthly electric bill. If we can save 30% a month that’s a lot of money we can use elsewhere.”

Seven Seas sewage treatment plant overhead tank treats water effluents into grey water rich in nitrogen and phosphates used to irrigate its lush greenery. (photo by John Malolot)

Closing the Loop

 Another sustainability feature of the waterpark is its treatment of used water to make it safe for recycling.

“To be able to reuse water that comes from our toilets, washrooms and food establishments, it goes to a tank and is processed by our sewage treatment plant (STP). All of this is collected, processed and impounded. Nothing is thrown into the sea.”

“The processed water is not yet potable but it’s very good for our plants because it’s full of phosphates and nitrogen so you can see how our greenery is all blooming despite the dry spell.”

Besides treating its wastewater, Seven Seas also uses Bio engineered enzymes to break down fats and organic materials coming from the restaurant kitchen sinks, reducing the clogging of its sewage pipes and use of detergents which may contaminate the grey water.

Paras said the waterpark spends some P300, 000 a month just for chemicals to ensure the clarity of the pool water that guests will experience.

“You will notice our crystal clear blue water in our pools. We spent money to make our pool water not only safe, but its clarity is at par with what you see in water parks abroad, in fact we are the first resort in the country which uses industrial grade UV (Ultraviolet) technology to kill bacteria and pathogens in our pool water,” he noted.

The Tsunami Pool showcases the crystal clear blue waters of the Seven Seas Waterpark & Resort in Barra, Opol, Misamis Oriental.
(Copyright to Project LUPAD-8)

 Carbon footprint

“Five Million Liters Daily (MLD) of water is processed and recirculated by our filtration systems. For most of the day we use solar energy to reduce our cost of electricity and minimize our carbon footprint because it’s mostly electric pumps that do the work for us.”

Paras said the waterpark further reduces its carbon footprint by using a deep well to replenish the water lost due to evaporation in the pools. Well water is filtered and treated before it is distributed to the park’s water laden features.

Variable Frequency DrPive (VFD) controls systems convert AC into DC electricity enabling motors to soft start and adjust RPMs, helping save up to 30% in power costs. (photo by John Malolot)

Energy Efficiency

 In its effort to reduce its usage of electricity, Seven Seas invested heavily on energy efficient Inverter Drive Controls for its pump and process motors. Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) motor control systems convert the more common (Alternating Current) AC into DC (Direct Current) electricity enabling motors to soft start and adjust their RPM depending on their application.

“We have reduced our electrical consumption monthly by at least 30%,” Paras disclosed. Our bill for April 2018 was around P1.6M, but in 2019 our bill went down to below P1M,” says Paras.

These plastic recycling bins are part of Seven Seas onsite garbage segregation facility. (photo by John Malolot)

 Solid Waste Management

 The six hectare waterpark generates almost one truckload of waste each weekend. Seven Seas used to bring the segregated solid waste to the Opol Municipal dumpsite every few days.

“We are soon bringing sustainability to the next level, by segregating the organic/food waste for composting and gathering the plastic cups, containers and water bottles for recycling.”

Biodegradable material like paper wrappers and food containers will be packed and bound for sale to local recycling outfits. Used cooking oil will be collected and sold to recyclers.

“We are now building an onsite garbage segregation facility which will also include a composting bin.”

Paras dreams that one day even the garbage can be repurposed to generate electrical energy within the park premises.

For field trips to Seven Seas Sustainability Programs please contact Ms. Eva Jamis at mobile # 0917-677-7678, 0917-777-6795 or email eva.jamis@sevenseaswaterparkresort.com for further details.

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Mysticism and Eco-Spirituality

St Francis of Assisi

Franciscan alternative orthodoxy emphasized mysticism over morality.

Moralism is the task of low-level religion, concerned with creating an ego identity that seemingly places us on moral high ground. But moralism is normally not a primary concern for love, the focus of mature spirituality.

Scripture, Jesus, the mystics, and the saints recognized that the goal of religion is not a perfect moral stance, but union with God. Mysticism is about connection not perfection. [1] Perfectionism always leads to individualism—as if the individual could ever be perfect.

Prayer of St Francis of Assisi for Peace

The single biggest heresy that allows us to misinterpret the scriptural tradition is individualism, revealed now in the problems we are facing with climate change, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and the extinction of many species.

We became so anthropocentric and self-referential that we thought God cared not about “every living creature” or about the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1), but just about “us people” and not even very many of us. That’s what happens when we go down the track of individualism and lose the mystical level of perception.

Eco-spirituality could be considered another gift of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy.

Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of ecology because he granted animals, elements, and the earth subjectivity, respect, and mutuality.

Saint Francis of Assisi, Coyoacan, Mexico

In his Canticle of the Creatures, Francis the mystic describes a participatory universe in which God loves and cares for us through Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brothers Wind and Air, Sister Water, Brother Fire, and “through our sister, Mother Earth.” [2]

At the same time, God receives praise, honor, glory, and blessing through each of God’s creations. On the mystical level, Francis could see the transformational power of Love’s presence within all creation.

I often wonder if the one thing we all share in common—our planet—could ultimately bring us all together.

We stand on this same “sister, Mother Earth” and we look up at this same Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Could it be that the Mystery of God is already hidden and revealed here? I believe so.

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Naming the universal Christ helps us to recognize the inherent sacrality, holiness, goodness, and value of the whole material world. For those who see deeply, there is only One Reality; there is no distinction between sacred and profane. [3] Humanity is becoming capable of a truly global spirituality which is desperately needed for the common good to be realized.

God has come to save us all by grace. No exceptions. The mystics have no trouble surrendering to such fullness. For Bonaventure, God is a “fountain fullness” of outflowing love, only flowing in one positive direction, always and forever. There is no wrath in God. There is only outpouring love.

Richard Rohr