All posts by CJ Olive Virador

Nuclear Energy Set for Infrastructure

Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) supports the integration of nuclear energy for commercial use during the 7th Annual Meeting of Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network (NEC-SSN) at Sofitel Hotel on April 19.

Department of Energy Undersecretary Jess Posadas, who represented Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that with the upcoming infrastructure projects, the country would be needing energy geared to power economic development with the P8.9 trillion worth of investments in infrastructure in the next five years.

Posadas also said that nuclear energy would last longer than other fuels as it has a long-term option for power generation that will provide supply, stability and reliability. He added that this diversifies the existing generation comprised of coal, natural gas, geothermal, hydropower, oil, wind, biomass and solar energies.

“Owing to its base load characteristics, nuclear energy will be in support of the thrust of the Philippine government, which is the realization of the Philippine Development Plan’s (PDP) drive for industrialization and urbanization. It is central for a country towards the path of development to have the available and required capacity to meet the nation’s increasing demand requirements “ Posadas said.

Resource persons suggested that ASEAN governments must come up with clear-cut policies, legal and regulatory framework, infrastructure and unstinting support for it through capacity build-up.

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Impossible to Halt ASEAN Summit

Hosting the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings, Philippines Ambassador Marciano Paynor guaranteed that meetings will commence despite the lack of time.

“We had more time preparing for the APEC Summit as early as 2012 as the previous administration had already created the National Organizing Council at that time. So all through that time, preparations for the meetings which were held from December 2014 to November 2015, 36 meetings altogether.”

Paynor added that preparations for ASEAN started in 2014 but due to turnover of administration, they lost a bit of time. He also said that despite the long bidding process for the 137 meetings – two summits, 17 ministerial meetings, 42 senior senior official meetings and 76 technical working group meetings, they will push through no matter what.

The Office of the Director General for Operations is now busy with the 56th meeting – the 30th ASEAN Summit and Related meetings to be held on April 26-29 in Bohol despite the recent encounter between the government and Abu Sayyaf Group.

He also said that the ASEAN Summit will concur with the bilateral visits of His Majesty Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on April 27 and 28 respectively that would focus on specific issues relating to both countries.

Robespierre Bolivar, Acting Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said that the issue on South China Sea will be raised by other ASEAN leaders and are hoping a significant progress with the establishment of the Code of Conduct for the commitment of the ASEAN states and China.

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DO 174 : Regularize 45,000 Workers

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that 45,605 contractual employees have been regularized under the department order 174 about contracting and subcontracting work on March 20.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed D.O. 174 prohibiting labor-only contracting and other contract arrangements under President Duterte’s movement to stop the contractualization or end of contract scheme (ENDO) that is practiced by some companies to save fundings.

“We managed to increase the number of workers whose employment were regularized following our assessments and massive information drive on contractualization. With our new department order which bans labor-only contracting and other forms of illegal contracting practices, we hope for more contractual workers to become regular this year,” Bello added.

DoLE also recommended the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. to regularize 10,000 of their workers after a special assessment on the telecommunications company. He said that the proposal resulted with the department’s Special Assessment/Visit of Establishments (SAVE) that found workers performing jobs directly connected to the company’s business but are under subcontracting or contracting settlements.

SAVE, the department’s mechanism to validate, assess and verify compliance with the labor laws of companies and their contractors/subcontractors; monitoring the general labor, occupational safety and health standards violations including underpayment of wages, overtime pay, service incentive leave under general labor and no valid safety inspection and officers.

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4.8% Projected Growth for ASEAN in 2017

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prepares to grow faster amidst uncertain political and global environment than advanced economies.

The region is projected to grow at 4.8 percent this year which is above the predicted growth rate of 3.4 percent among advanced economies. ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Lim Hong Hin said that this must be viewed contrary to the emergence of populism and protectionism that pose a challenge to the region’s integration agenda.

During the ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Investor Seminar (AFMIS), ASEAN-member finance ministers tackled the various investment opportunities for the region and as well as the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) that aims to create a single market and production base that was executed two years ago.

The AEC Blueprint 2025 outlines to transform the bloc to keep up with global trends and enhance the electronic commerce, global value chains, financial inclusion, global practices and sustainable development of the countries. As ASEAN upgrades to a productivity-driven economy, investment in research and development, commercialization and human resources would be heightened as they sustain the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as they are the backbone of the regional economy.

Philippines being the host for the 50th ASEAN Summit, pushed for greater partnerships as this year’s theme “Partnering for change, engaging the world” – referenced President Duterte’s campaign slogan “change is coming”.

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P3.6 – Trillion Unveiled for BUILD! BUILD! BUILD! Project

Cabinet secretaries outlined infrastructure projects under the Build! Build! Build! Program amounting to P3.6 trillion during the “Dutertenomics” forum held in Pasay City on April 18.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that the allocated budget would cover projects for water resources, sewerage and sanitation, solid waste management, maritime, transportation, flood management, social infrastructure, information communications technology, and energy among the many proposed projects including some flagship projects under the Duterte administration.

Pernia said that the number of projects to be covered is still not identified but added that P1.13 trillion would be allocated for 2018, P1.18 trillion for 2019 and P1.29 trillion for 2020 under the three-year rolling infrastructure program (TRIP) remarked as the golden age of infrastructure.

As part of the Build! Build! Build! Project, The North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harbor Link Segment 10 is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Once completed, travel time from Metro Manila to NLEX would be reduced to 10 minutes and will ease congestion in the Capital Region and as well as promote commerce between Central and North Luzon.

In relation, the P1.5 billion Runway Manila pedestrian bridge connecting Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 to Newport City in Pasay was also launched during the forum. It is the first air-conditioned pedestrian bridge to accommodate up to 2,000 people.

Talks about the Mega Manila Subway is under wraps as the administration waits for Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe and President Duterte to sign the project costing up to P227 billion that would cater to around 370,000 passengers per day upon its completion by 2024.

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Holy Week 4

Semana Santa “ala Pilipinas”

The Lenten Season is celebrated worldwide, but why is the Philippines’ celebration so unique?

With Philippines having one of the biggest percentage of Catholic devotees in the world, Filipinos have integrated their devotion to the church into their culture.

So what is the Lenten Season and how do Filipinos’ commemorate this festivity?

The Lenten Season or in layman’s term, Holy Week or “Semana Santa” is a festivity or a series of events where the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated and re-lived.

1. With the span of the week, it stretches into different days of celebration starting of with Palm Sunday where parishioners wave their palm fronds or palaspas to be blessed by the priest and is believed to symbolize prosperity and luck. Next is Maundy Thursday which commemorates “The Last Supper”, Good Friday pays homage to Jesus’ walk to the station, the Black Saturday then Easter Sunday with his resurrection.

2. Comes this Holiday, aside from the normal church visits, some Filipinos have taken their own twist to celebrate. One of these is the Senakulo. This is a play about the sufferings of Christ and this play are often organized and participated in by the locals. Apart from this there’s a Filipino tradition in rural areas called the Pabasa. This is an uninterrupted chanting of the narration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Philippines is a diverse and creative country which is why some places celebrates the Holy Week in unique ways.

One of which is the Penitensya which is done in Pampanga.

During Good Friday, Filipinos from the province of Pampanga go to the extreme and what some would call taboo.

3. The Penitensya or self-flagellations and crucifixions. Devotees re-enact the sufferings by some of them carrying life-size crosses around the town the entire day and being crucified after. This Kapampangan tradition attracts thousands of local and foreign tourists every year to see this extreme exhibition. But do take note that not all regions in the country have that tradition, take the people of Marinduque for example.

For non-catholics and for anyone who just generally wants to enjoy the Holy week, the people of Marinduque brings you the Moriones Festival.

The Moriones Festival commemorates the miracle of the Roman Soldier Longinus. Longinus was blind in one eye and his vision was restored when a drop of Jesus’ blood fell into his eye and made him a believer in Christ. The word ‘Morion’ is of Spanish descent meaning masks which was a standard part of a Roman soldier’s helmet, ergo the colorful Roman costumes and masks. Asides the processions and morion parades, the locals would re-enact Longinus’ story. He runs around town, hiding in houses, markets and the crowd of tourists to escape the Morions in pursuit of Longinus.

Filipinos certainly are passionate and dedicated when it comes to festivities. The massive number of tourist both internationally and locally who supports the country’s celebration of the various festivals around the country is a validation of this. Yes, it is true that the traditions are unique and interesting but Filipinos keep it to heart that these are done in accordance and proof of their faith.

According to:

1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity”

And the Filipino people truly live up to this bible verse which reflects with their belief in God no matter what occasion it may be.

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JPN – PH Funds 3 Railway Project

$8.8 Billion will be committed by the Japanese Government in financing three rail projects among 11 other infrastructure projects confirmed by Socioeconomic Planning on connecting FTI in taguig City to SM March 30.

The National Economic and Development Authority said that the Japanese give priority to the three biggest proposed projects namely the $4.3 billion Mega Metro Manila subway system connecting FTI in taguig City to the SM North Edsa and Trinoma Malls in Quezon City; a $2.7 billion commuter line extending the line of the North-South railway to Los Banos, Laguna and a $1.9 billion high speed rail to the soon-to-rise Clark Green City connecting to Tutuban in Manila and Malolos, Bulacan.

NEDA Chief, Ernesto Pernia said that most of the projects to be funded by Japan were to deliberately disperse development away from the metropolitan center because of its congestion. He added that the other 11 projects included proposals on irrigation and flood control outside the capital region.

The initial phase of the subway would be completed by September and the commuter rail in Los Banos and Clark will be completed April next year.

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Climate Change Incorporated in Academic Curriculum

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) partnered with 16 international agencies have created a master course in climate change and food security.

The Master of Science in Food Security and Climate Change or MS FSCC plays a crucial part in food security, national survival and disaster preparedness as international experts on agricultural scholastics have level up climate change in a higher educational pursuit.

This project pushes the internalization of higher education in institutions in Southeast Asia specifically for Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Climate change is a global issue that exacerbates existing threats to food security and livelihoods. As Southeast Asia remains dependent on the climate-sensitive sectors of agriculture and forestry, it is now in an even more vulnerable position.” said SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. in an interview.

The company aims to produce graduates who can fit the professional profile needed to tactically answer to the concern on climate change and food security. Alumni’s will be able to act in the different social, institutional and cultural environments across countries by globalizing their studies. Some of the universities that will be offering this course are the University of the Philippines Los Baños and the Central Luzon State University to name a few and have started accepting applications for July 2017.

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VIRGO Cruise line

PH New Harbor Point for Big Cruise Line

Star Cruise SuperStar Virgo made Manila as their homeport and is expected to increase revenue this year with the anticipated hike in job offerings from the boost in the cruise tourism.

The Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said that the cruiseline choosing Philippines as their homeport would generate tourist in the country and promotion of the local products would be heightened.

It is also in the cruise line’s’ best interest to provide job opportunities to Filipino’s considering that most of the cruises’ manpower mainly comprises of Filipino workers.

Philippines operating as the harbor to a big cruise line in five years, auxiliary revenues would be collected for pre- and post- cruise activities which include provisioning, bunkering, garbage disposal and sludge removal.

Star Cruise President, Ang Moo Lim said that this plan would support the Asia Cruise Cooperation (ACC) project to boost promotion of existing tour programs and develop ties with other cruise companies.

DOT’s marketing director Ma. Corazon Jorda-Apo stated that the completion of the Philippines National Cruise Tourism Strategy with its membership with ACC would be a new direction to achieving the long-term goal to improve the economy and boost the Filipino capability for recreation accommodation.

“Our ultimate goal is to be as seamless as possible and gain competitiveness as a major cruise hub in Asia.”

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AirAsia returns to Clark with Kalibo flight

Philippines AirAsia returns to Clark International Airport (CRK) and launches flight to Kalibo,Aklan operative on March 27, 2017.

AirAsia CEO Captain Dexter Comendador re-affirms the company’s commitment to make travel more accessible, and affordable to the citizens and passengers.

“AirAsia believes in Clark. We established our base operations here and launched commercial flights with only two planes – now we have 14 jets and we are aiming to expand and grow operations here in the next five years,” Commendador said.

The celebration of the airlines comeback, together with Clark International Airport personnel and staff hosted a send-off ceremony with passengers and guests where AirAsia gave away novelty items and round trip tickets bound for Davao.

The flights will be operating three times a week and will soon add flights from Clark bound to Davao, Palawan, Cebu and Catiklan/Boracay and has announced expansion in Cebu International Airport starting on April 22.

In 2012, AirAsia launched their commercial flights in CIAC and has since grew to be one of the leading airlines in domestic and international networks in the country.

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