PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

CHINA SENDING NUCLEAR SUBS ON PATROL TO WEST PH SEA


JUNE 13 ---Yes, Yes We Could be Wrong: Military historian Jose Antonio Custodio (left) gestures as he stresses a point to journalists at Saturday’s media forum in Quezon city as former Beijing bureau chief of ABC News Chito Sta. Romana listens. Photo By Mike De Juan
Undersea patrols in West Philippine Sea may roll out by yearend.
China is reportedly aiming to secure air superiority over the West Philippine Sea to enhance its ability to thwart military maneuvers, especially surveillance flights by the US Navy, in the disputed areas, a Japanese newspaper report quoting security experts say. According to a Yomiuri Shimbun report quoting Hideaki Kaneda, director of the Okazaki Institute and a former admiral in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), China will deploy at least two Jin-class nuclear-powered submarines on patrol missions to the West Philippine Sea from its base in the Hainan island in mainland China before the end of the year. The Chinese submarines are armed with JL-2 ballistic missiles which are estimated to have a range of 7,000 kilometers. Yoji Koda, a former commander in chief of the JMSDF, said: the US will try to contain the Chinese submarines within the West Philippine Sea but if the entire South China Sea totally comes under Chinese control, it will dramatically change the military balance in the area. The Yomiuri Shimbun quoted security experts as saying China’s “covert purpose” is for it to be able to advance its nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines from the West Philippine Sea into the Pacific Ocean in the future. READ MORE...

ALSO Chinese envoy at UN: Philippines will not get its way


JUNE 14 ---In this October 2013 photo, Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, speaks at a United Nations-hosted high-level dialogue on international migration in New York. FMPRC/Released, file 
MANILA, Philippines — A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Friday addressed accusations by the Philippines over China's land-filling activities in the South China Sea.
"The Meeting of States Parties to the UNCLOS is not the venue to discuss the South China Sea issue," China's deputy permanent representative to the UN Wang Min said at the meeting Friday. "Nonetheless, one country just now made unwarranted accusations against China in its statement. I can not but respond," he added. Wang was responding to the Philippines' statement at the 25th Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), held at the UN headquarters in New York from Monday to Friday. The Chinese official insisted that the Philippines did not have reason to accuse Beijing of illegal maritime activities. "China's construction activities on her islands and reefs are conducted in the Chinese territory, falling entirely within the scope of China's sovereignty. It is legal, justified and reasonable," he said. The Philippines' diplomatic delegation earlier questioned at the meeting Beijing's expansionist policy and its increasing militarization in the maritime area. Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre, Manila's permanent representative to the UN, said China's actions threatens the integrity of the UNCLOS and the environmental constitution of the ocean. "To undertake this […] ocean filling or reclamation, [China] […] has had to dredge out and pulverize entire systems of coral reefs that took many centuries to grow, reducing them into landfill, and thus devastating the already fragile marine ecosystem and biodiversity of the region by irreparably destroying the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other forms of marine life," she said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Japan’s involvement in S. China Sea harms improving ties — China


JUNE 14 ---Abe and Xi's infamous icy handshake. Photo: Reuters China said Japanese actions regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea threaten recent improvements in the bilateral relationship which has begun to relax after several years of heightened tensions. The comments were the sharpest tongue-lashing Beijing has delivered to Tokyo in months, following an effort by Japan to rally Group of Seven members against China’s land reclamation projects and muscle-flexing in the South China Sea, also referred to by the Philippines as the West Philippine Sea. Regional alarm is growing at moves by China aggressively to stake its claim to most of the sea, including a large-scale island-building program. China’s claim over almost the entire South China Sea overlaps with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. China and Japan are separately embroiled in a longstanding dispute over a Japan-controlled island chain in the East China Sea. “The Chinese side expresses severe concerns and indignation about the negative moves taken by the Japanese side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said during a regular press briefing in response to a question from Chinese state media. “Japan is not a party to the South China Sea issue,” Hong stressed, adding Tokyo has been acting “quite strangely” and “hyping up” tensions in the region. READ MORE..

ALSO: Paradise from the ashes of destruction; Lake Pinatubo is a story of resilience, survival, and the triumph of hope


JUNE 14 -----breathtaking landscape on the way to the peak
It is a place that could make believers out of atheists. Not because it is the most beautiful place in the world, or the grandest, but because it points to a higher, more benevolent power, one that could create a paradise of such splendor from hellfire and destruction. Lake Pinatubo is an extraordinary story of survival and triumph, one that mirrors the Filipino resilient spirit. Every escarpment, every crag is proof that death can give birth to life and that beautiful things can come out of the ugliest of circumstances. Up close, the lake at the crater inspires such peace and comfort it’s hard to imagine that it was a place of total devastation. Its water, aquamarine blue, is so unbelievably calm that the touch of a feather could write ripples on its surface. Yet, 23 years ago, molten rocks and lava burned in its place, burying surrounding towns with lahar and shrouding the whole world in ash-filled air. The lake was created from the caldera that formed when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. As the long dormant volcano spewed out the seething wrath it held for over a thousand of years, the land split up to form a shallow crater that, through the years, gathered heaven’s regretful tears. READ MORE...

ALSO: 117th Philippine Independence Day rites around the nation; Corruption, poverty still hounding PH


JUNE 14 ---FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY — Ceremonies commemorating the 117th Philippine Independence were held all over the country yesterday with President Aquino (upper right) leading the rites in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo and other top government officials joining the festivities. Santa Barbara, Iloilo – While the country was freed from foreign colonizers 117 years ago, it continues to struggle to combat corruption and poverty, President Aquino said yesterday at the celebration of Philippine Independence Day here. READ MORE...

ALSO Uninhabited island in Antique: Not for faint-hearted


JUNE 14 ---IN THE RAW Off the beaten path, uninhabited Seco Island in Antique attracts tourists who look for raw, Zenned beauty. NESTOR P. BURGOS JR./INQUIRER VISAYAS
SECO ISLAND, Antique—Local officials themselves will tell you that visiting this uninhabited island off Antique, the province that forms the west coast of Panay Island, is not for the regular tourist. The crossing to Seco, 38.8 kilometers off the coastal town of Tibiao, takes two and a half hours and can be especially difficult during the southwest monsoon. And because of its isolation, the island offers virtually no amenities for the visiting tourist. Moreover, local authorities are not especially keen to promote commercial tourism, wishing to focus on preserving the island’s rich variety of marine life. Seco has been declared a marine protected area (MPA) by a municipal ordinance passed in February 2014. But for the intrepid, a visit to Seco, whose name derives from the Hiligaynon word siko (elbow) because of its bent-arm shape, is off-the-beaten-track travel at its best. The 4-km island offers white, powdery sand beaches amidst clear waters and a profusion of underwater life. For kiteboarding enthusiasts, Seco has the right wind velocity & other conditions that are ideal for the water sport. For these reasons, local and foreign tourists have been coming to the island despite the lack of facilities and the distance. “It has become one of the top kiteboarding spots in the country,” said Karmila Rose Dimamay, who chairs the Tibiao municipal council’s tourism committee. Tourists typically stay for a few days, said Dimamay, who is also vice chair of Seco Island Development Council (SIDC) composed of elected officials, people’s organizations, nongovernment organizations and representatives of the Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (MFARMC). READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Yolanda’ brings out beauty of Mararison, Culasi town


MAY 17, 2015 ---GROWING number of travelers are flocking to Mararison Island in Culasi town, Antique province, after media reports on the devastation showed the island’s beauty. NESTOR P. BURGOS JR. 
CULASI, Antique—Supertyphoon “Yolanda”¯ may have brought devastation to many parts of the Visayas. But there is also a flip side. An unknown island in Antique province has become a tourist destination after the media reports on the destruction caused by Yolanda also showed the beauty of the island—pristine beaches and clear waters. “We were among the worst affected by Yolanda so many media outlets came here to cover our place. Fortunately, their reports also showed how beautiful our island is,”¯ said Narciso Santiago, information officer of the 54-hectare island-barangay of Mararison in Culasi town, Antique.
A family in Tanauan town, Leyte province, is now enjoying their new house made of concrete to replace the shanty that was destroyed during the supertyphoon. “Here, we are assured of safety from any possible rise of water during a typhoon. Of course, we now live in a house that is far better than our old house and big enough for us,”¯ said fisherman Leonardo Campo, a father of five children. Culasi, 90 kilometers north of the capital town of San Jose, was among the northern Antique towns severely affected by the supertyphoon.READ MORE...

ALSO: Embassy in Saudi says Pinoy has MERS virus


Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV)
MANILA, Philippines - Another Filipino has been infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia, the Philippine embassy in Riyadh has confirmed. With the latest case, the embassy is reiterating its advisory to Filipinos – especially workers in the healthcare sector – to continue taking all necessary precautions and observe health guidelines issued by the Saudi Ministry of Health and the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) to prevent the spread of the disease, which has already killed 10 Filipinos since 2012. The identity of the latest Filipino MERS victim has been withheld. “Filipino workers in the healthcare sector should strictly follow infection control protocols in their workplaces,” the advisory posted on the embassy website said. “Despite the considerable decrease in MERS-CoV incidence in Saudi Arabia in recent months, maintaining high vigilance and caution against all types of infectious diseases (including Ebola Virus Disease) is necessary to ensure the safety of loved ones, friends and colleagues, both here in the Kingdom and in the Philippines,” the advisory read. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

China sending nuclear subs on patrol mission to West Phl sea


Yes, Yes We Could be Wrong Military historian Jose Antonio Custodio (left) gestures as he stresses a point to journalists at Saturday’s media forum in Quezon city as former Beijing bureau chief of ABC News Chito Sta. Romana listens. Photo By Mike De Juan

MANILA, JUNE 15, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) June 13, 2015 11:14 pm by ARES P. GUTIERREZ MANAGING EDITOR AND LLANESCA PANTI REPORTER - Undersea patrols in West Philippine Sea may roll out by yearend

China is reportedly aiming to secure air superiority over the West Philippine Sea to enhance its ability to thwart military maneuvers, especially surveillance flights by the US Navy, in the disputed areas, a Japanese newspaper report quoting security experts say.

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun report quoting Hideaki Kaneda, director of the Okazaki Institute and a former admiral in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), China will deploy at least two Jin-class nuclear-powered submarines on patrol missions to the West Philippine Sea from its base in the Hainan island in mainland China before the end of the year.

The Chinese submarines are armed with JL-2 ballistic missiles which are estimated to have a range of 7,000 kilometers.

Yoji Koda, a former commander in chief of the JMSDF, said: the US will try to contain the Chinese submarines within the West Philippine Sea but if the entire South China Sea totally comes under Chinese control, it will dramatically change the military balance in the area.

The Yomiuri Shimbun quoted security experts as saying China’s “covert purpose” is for it to be able to advance its nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines from the West Philippine Sea into the Pacific Ocean in the future.

READ MORE...
“China will establish an ADIZ (air defense identification zone) along the area it claims as its territory and call for the aircraft of other countries to comply with its directives when flying in the ADIZ, as it does in the case of the East China Sea,” a Japanese defense ministry official said.

Raw nerve In a media forum in Quezon City in the Philippines on Saturday, a Filipino expert on China affairs said Beijing touched a “raw nerve” when it embarked on a massive island-building in occupied territories in the West Philippine Sea.

“China’s island-building was to just undermine the arbitration case filed by the Philippines and circumvent the future UN ruling, but they have now touched on a raw nerve, a strategic nerve that greatly affected the US,” Chito Sta. Romana told journalists.

“If they finish their various protective structures in the islands and put military facilities there, how will we drive them out even if we win the UN case?”

Sta. Romana, former chief of the Beijing bureau of the American network giant ABC news, said China “miscalculated” Washington’s reaction on the massive land reclamation.

He said the Chinese were only expecting another diplomatic protest from Manila – which they could easily brush aside — but the discovery of the massive land expansion sounded alarm bells in Washington.

“The were not expecting the US would react this way. So the Chinese made a tactical and strategic miscalculation,” Sta Romana said.

The Pentagon is expecting the Chinese to complete its island-building by 2017 or 2018.

When completed, Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, which will feature a 3,000 meter runway, would serve as a forward operation and supply base of the Chinese military.

The Kagitingan installation could also serve as an air detachment where mid-to-long range bombers and fighter jets would be pre-positioned. “Possessing a 3,000-meter-class runway in the vast South China Sea would be very significant. If operated in combination with port and fuel storage facilities, the runway could serve as an operation and supply base for bombers.

“The entire area of the South China Sea could be covered by operating China’s military mainstay Su-30 fighters and H-6 bombers, which have operational ranges of about 1,500 kilometers and 1,800 kilometers respectively. This would make it easier to secure air superiority. If the artificial island were to become a base for fighter jets, China would be able to increase pressure on the US military, among others,” the Yomiuri Shimbun report said.

Topographical reasons The report added that aside from being an important sea-lane, Beijing gives more importance to the West Philippine Sea because of topographical reasons, in addition to its interest in securing natural gas and other resources.

“The South China Sea is characterized by its depth. In contrast to the East China Sea, which has a depth of about 200 meters up to the Okinawa trough, the South China Sea has a complicated topographical formation with a maximum depth of about 4,000 meters. This helps enhance ‘the degree of freedom of action’ for submarines, indispensable for offshore military operations when seeking to evade the enemy,” the report said.

Hideaki Kaneda, director of the Okazaki Institute and a former admiral in the Japanese Self-Defense Maritime Force, said topographical conditions in the West Philippine Sea make it a ‘sanctuary’ from possible military attacks.

“Submarines on a mission can quickly submerge in deep waters,” he said.

The US Navy has been conducting surveillance missions in the West Philippine Sea using various means including the use of P-8A Poseidon aircraft which is equipped with state-of-the-art undersea detection systems.

The aircraft gained prominence when it recently allowed a CNN news crew to join a surveillance mission that was repeatedly challenged by the Chinese navy.

The same aircraft was spotted on a low-level flight when the Chinese coast guard attempted to block a Philippine supply boat with journalists on board that was on its way to the Ayungin Shoal to bring supplies and provisions to the nine Philippine Marine troopers stationed in a grounded navy ship in 2014 Both incidents escalated tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

Security experts said that because of this, the Chinese aims to secure air superiority to interrupt aerial surveillance activities by US forces as well as resupply and reprovisioning flights conducted by the Philippine Air Force.

Caught in a bind Sta. Romana said the elevation of the dispute from a purely Manila-Beijing issue into a Washington-Beijing concern has made China furious.

“They are caught in a bind. China will continue with the reclamation but they might moderate their moves because if the Chinese would bring in anti-ship missiles or anti-air missiles, this would be a different story,” he said.

Sta. Romana said China is not seeking full-blown confrontation with the US because the Chinese —which is yet to attain a middle-income country status— does not have the capability to beat the Americans militarily.

“If China will go on a full-scale confrontation over the West Philippine Sea now, they will lose, and a defeat could take them another century to overcome. What they are really doing is like slicing salami in small pieces…a short and sharp conflict. But the problem is, they sliced it too big this time with an airstrip and huge infrastructure and the US was ready to retaliate,” he pointed out.

Military capabilities Jose Custodio, a military historian, agreed, noting that Chinese military would really be pale in comparison with that of the United States and that Beijing’s actions are only determined by its capabilities.

“China’s military is not really powerful. In fact, it’s so far from the US. We saw that they were building structures. They are making a push, but their military capabilities are not yet there. They won’t push it too hard. There are limitations on what they can do for the time being,” he said.

“There is only one country that gets confused with China’s military capabilities, and that is the Philippines. The Americans are battle tested, while China’s military reputation is just hype—a hype that could also be created by the Americans to justify their actions in the West Philippine Sea,” Custodio added.


PHILSTAR

Chinese envoy at UN: Philippines will not get its way (philstar.com) | Updated June 14, 2015 - 4:12pm 32 1360 googleplus0 0


In this October 2013 photo, Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, speaks at a United Nations-hosted high-level dialogue on international migration in New York. FMPRC/Released, file

MANILA, Philippines — A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Friday addressed accusations by the Philippines over China's land-filling activities in the South China Sea.

"The Meeting of States Parties to the UNCLOS is not the venue to discuss the South China Sea issue," China's deputy permanent representative to the UN Wang Min said at the meeting Friday.

"Nonetheless, one country just now made unwarranted accusations against China in its statement. I can not but respond," he added.

Wang was responding to the Philippines' statement at the 25th Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), held at the UN headquarters in New York from Monday to Friday.

The Chinese official insisted that the Philippines did not have reason to accuse Beijing of illegal maritime activities. "China's construction activities on her islands and reefs are conducted in the Chinese territory, falling entirely within the scope of China's sovereignty. It is legal, justified and reasonable," he said.

The Philippines' diplomatic delegation earlier questioned at the meeting Beijing's expansionist policy and its increasing militarization in the maritime area.

Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre, Manila's permanent representative to the UN, said China's actions threatens the integrity of the UNCLOS and the environmental constitution of the ocean.

"To undertake this […] ocean filling or reclamation, [China] […] has had to dredge out and pulverize entire systems of coral reefs that took many centuries to grow, reducing them into landfill, and thus devastating the already fragile marine ecosystem and biodiversity of the region by irreparably destroying the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other forms of marine life," she said.

READ MORE...
The Philippines claims jurisdiction over parts of the South China Sea it believes fall within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and territorial waters.

China, however, lays claim over most of the sea lanes, extending beyond 900 miles from its shores and constructing what appears to be military outposts on disputed reefs despite international opposition.

Wang claimed the reclamation activities will not undermine other countries' lawful right to the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, but will facilitate their joint response to challenges on the sea and provide more guarantee for navigation safety.

While not directly mentioning the Philippines, Wang said the claimant state intended to deceive the international community and pressure China into compromises and concessions on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"Let me make this very clear to that country here: its calculations are totally wrong. China's will to safeguard her sovereignty and territorial integrity is rock firm. No matter what and how much they say at this meeting or any UN venues, they will never get their way," he said.

China will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, Wang said.

"China urges that country to correct its erroneous actions and return to the right track of resolving the disputes through bilateral negotiations as soon as possible."

Wang also reaffirmed the "dual track" approach on the South China Sea issue, which calls for solving disputes through dialogue and consultation between parties directly concerned, and asks China and ASEAN countries to work together to maintain peace and stability.

UNCLOS is an international agreement that defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, and establishes guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. - Camille Diola with reports from Xinhua


TRIBUNE

Japan’s involvement in S. China Sea harms improving ties — China Written by AFP and Tribune Wires Sunday, 14 June 2015 00:00


Abe and Xi's infamous icy handshake. Photo: Reuters

China said Japanese actions regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea threaten recent improvements in the bilateral relationship which has begun to relax after several years of heightened tensions.

The comments were the sharpest tongue-lashing Beijing has delivered to Tokyo in months, following an effort by Japan to rally Group of Seven members against China’s land reclamation projects and muscle-flexing in the South China Sea, also referred to by the Philippines as the West Philippine Sea.

Regional alarm is growing at moves by China aggressively to stake its claim to most of the sea, including a large-scale island-building program.

China’s claim over almost the entire South China Sea overlaps with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

China and Japan are separately embroiled in a longstanding dispute over a Japan-controlled island chain in the East China Sea.

“The Chinese side expresses severe concerns and indignation about the negative moves taken by the Japanese side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said during a regular press briefing in response to a question from Chinese state media.

“Japan is not a party to the South China Sea issue,” Hong stressed, adding Tokyo has been acting “quite strangely” and “hyping up” tensions in the region.

READ MORE...
The Chinese spokesman also called on Tokyo “to stop provoking conflicts among different parties for self-serving interests, genuinely maintain the momentum of improving Sino-Japanese relations and respect the efforts by China and Asean countries to safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea.

The official’s comments come on the heels of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces announcing it will hold a joint military exercise with the Philippines in the South China Sea later this month.

President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in Tokyo last week that the two governments would start negotiations for the transfer of defense technology and equipment.

The agreement may include the export of Japanese hardware to the Philippines, including anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft and radar technology.

The two leaders also expressed “serious concern” over China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, which they said violated a 2002 regional agreement.

Aquino is one of China’s most outspoken critics in the region. His government has asked a United Nations-backed tribunal to rule on its territorial disputes with China.

Manila and Tokyo will also hold fresh joint naval drills this month as the World War II foes swiftly ramp up security ties while China develops islands in disputed waters.

The June 22-26 joint maneuvers with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force would be only the second ever, after an unprecedented one-day exercise in the flashpoint South China Sea last month, according to the Philippine Navy.

It, however, would not say where the new exercises would be held or which ships would take part.

But Japanese media, quoting unnamed official sources, suggested the second maneuvers will also take place on the South China Sea.

Last May 12, two Japanese destroyers and one of the Philippines’ newest warships held historic maneuvers less than 300 kilometers from the Philippine-claimed Scarborough Shoal, which is now under Chinese control.

“This navy-to-navy engagement envisions to share new tactics, techniques and procedures as well as best practices to further maritime operations,” the Navy said, referring to the planned drills.

These will involve “maritime domain awareness”, search and rescue, and disaster response, it added.


MANILA BULLETIN

Paradise from the ashes of destruction; Lake Pinatubo is a story of resilience, survival, and the triumph of hope by Amyline Quien Ching June 14, 2015 Share409 Tweet7 Share0 Email0 Share419

It is a place that could make believers out of atheists.

Not because it is the most beautiful place in the world, or the grandest, but because it points to a higher, more benevolent power, one that could create a paradise of such splendor from hellfire and destruction.

Lake Pinatubo is an extraordinary story of survival and triumph, one that mirrors the Filipino resilient spirit. Every escarpment, every crag is proof that death can give birth to life and that beautiful things can come out of the ugliest of circumstances.


breathtaking landscape on the way to the peak

Up close, the lake at the crater inspires such peace and comfort it’s hard to imagine that it ever was a place of total devastation.

Its water, aquamarine blue, is so unbelievably calm that the touch of a feather could write ripples on its surface. Yet, 23 years ago, molten rocks and lava burned in its place, burying surrounding towns with lahar and shrouding the whole world in ash-filled air.

The lake was created from the caldera that formed when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. As the long dormant volcano spewed out the seething wrath it held for over a thousand of years, the land split up to form a shallow crater that, through the years, gathered heaven’s regretful tears.

READ MORE...
But the road toward the peak is anything but apologetic. If anything, it is a test of resilience as if the mountain gods seek to sanction only those deemed worthy. Mud, dust, heat, and a rock-strewn path await the willing at the starting line.

Ravaged by lahar, the land that leads to the base of the mountain now resembles a Gobi, a vast tract of nothingness. Except for a few trees and several carabaos bathing in shallow watering holes, no vegetation, like there was in the past, is within sight.

To get to the base, tourists ride 4x4s that go up and down the steep, jagged roads, across waterways, against a wind that carries fine-grained soil that grate on your skin.

The 30-minute trek to the peak, where Lake Pinatubo is located, isn’t a stroll, either.

It’s one littered with protruding rocks and brooks that you have to cross without slipping off. Though not an arduous climb compared to other trekking sights, the difficulty as well as the danger lies in crossing these waterways.

So many would, in fact, slip that halfway to the peak, people would just walk through the water when crossing, never mind if they had to walk the rest of the way with wet, soiled feet.

The trail has been so tough on rubber soles that many a pair (and we’re not just talking about brands sold for R200 at the city market) have died on the way.

The group I was with going up the Pinatubo had two shoe casualties (one sole broke; the other completely fell off) but the extremely low “body” count was perhaps due to the fact that we were all wearing (except for maybe five to six pairs) Ecco rubber shoes that day, a line that started out upon the request of no less than the Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, who, in 2000, was on a haunt for a pair that would see him through a dog-sledge expedition in Greenland.

While everyone in the group all tried, oh so bravely at first, to balance like tightrope artists on rocks that serve as makeshift bridges across waterways, a few near slips (and the fear of losing life and limb) prompted some to just ramrod their way through the waters in their Ecco O2 pairs.

The shoes were, after all, waterproof, not just water resistant, which meant they were not just built to survive a few splashes but also a full-on dunk.

The climb to Lake Pinatubo is sweaty, and exhausting, and grubby.

But for every step that has your muscles screaming for reprieve, every irritating fleck of dust that gets stuck in your eye, there is a flashbulb moment, even just the possibility of it, waiting at the next corner—a crag the shape of a woman, rocks the color of ruby and topaz, an Aeta with a gap tooth—that’ll tide you over for the next hundred-meter walk.

And the same, perhaps, is true of real life.

Filipinos survive not because their hard, arduous lives have taught them to expect and endure the worst; they are survivors because they have learned to live for those slivers of silver lining, knowing in their hearts that a better day is just right around the corner, as represented by the crater at the end of this arduous trek that makes everything worth it.


INQUIRER

Island in Antique: Not for faint-hearted SHARES: 1 VIEW COMMENTS By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas 03:59 AM June 14th, 2015


IN THE RAW Off the beaten path, uninhabited Seco Island in Antique attracts tourists who look for raw, Zenned beauty. NESTOR P. BURGOS JR./INQUIRER VISAYAS

SECO ISLAND, Antique—Local officials themselves will tell you that visiting this uninhabited island off Antique, the province that forms the west coast of Panay Island, is not for the regular tourist.

The crossing to Seco, 38.8 kilometers off the coastal town of Tibiao, takes two and a half hours and can be especially difficult during the southwest monsoon. And because of its isolation, the island offers virtually no amenities for the visiting tourist.

Moreover, local authorities are not especially keen to promote commercial tourism, wishing to focus on preserving the island’s rich variety of marine life.

Seco has been declared a marine protected area (MPA) by a municipal ordinance passed in February 2014. But for the intrepid, a visit to Seco, whose name derives from the Hiligaynon word siko (elbow) because of its bent-arm shape, is off-the-beaten-track travel at its best.

The 4-km island offers white, powdery sand beaches surrounded by clear waters and a profusion of underwater life. For kiteboarding enthusiasts, Seco has the right wind velocity and other conditions that are ideal for the water sport.

For these reasons, local and foreign tourists have been coming to the island despite the lack of facilities and the distance. “It has become one of the top kiteboarding spots in the country,” said Karmila Rose Dimamay, who chairs the Tibiao municipal council’s tourism committee.

Tourists typically stay for a few days, said Dimamay, who is also vice chair of Seco Island Development Council (SIDC) composed of elected officials, people’s organizations, nongovernment organizations and representatives of the Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (MFARMC).

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The trip by motor banca to the island starts at 4 a.m. when the sea is calm, hence visitors should be in Tibiao the night before.

For those seeking to escape the urban jungle, starting out of Tibiao at dawn and seeing the coast illuminated by the moon and stars, is already a delight. As the boat goes farther out to sea, one looks back to shore to be treated to the sight of the rising sun lighting up the Madja-as mountain range.

After two hours of sailing, Seco Island emerges as a white strip of land in the middle of blue-green waters. Except for the Bantay Dagat team of volunteer environmental watchmen and fishermen stopping by to rest, no one lives on the island.

There are no structures except for a makeshift sleeping quarters for the watchmen. A makeshift toilet was constructed last year for visitors. There is no crowd of tourists, vendors and businesses, nor hotels or resorts or blaring music, perfect for those wanting to bask in the sun and take in the rawness of the island.

For them there is only the long stretch of uninhabited powdery white sand beach and fish life practically by the shoreline. Tourists on a day trip have to leave the island by noon as the sea can get rough in the afternoon.

Authorities generally discourage sleeping on the island and visitors wishing to do so have to secure a special permit from the municipality, according to Dimamay.

They will have to bring tents, sleeping bags, food, potable water, flashlights and other basic necessities. Tourists should also protect themselves with wide-brimmed hats and sunblock, especially if traveling on the small motor bancas without overhead covers.

As the crossing can be rough, visitors should expect to get wet. Electronic gadgets and other belongings should be secured in waterproof cases. Authorities allow only limited activities on the island because of the absence of amenities and the local government’s desire to focus on rehabilitating and protecting its marine resources, said Dimamay.

While promoting the island as a tourist destination, SIDC is also focusing on rehabilitation and preservation of Seco because the island and its rich marine resources play a significant role in the fishery industry of Tibiao and the other towns of northern Antique.

Six Bantay Dagat volunteers guard the island from illegal fishing, receiving only token remuneration from the municipal government. One of them is Jenny Barrientos, 52, the MFARMC chair, who said fish catch has improved since the Bantay Dagat team was deployed to guard the island from illegal fishers.

How to get there

A visit to Seco starts in Tibiao in northern Antique, about 172 km from Iloilo City and 93 km from Caticlan in Aklan province, the jump-off point for Boracay Island.

Tibiao is about four hours by bus from Iloilo City and about two hours from Caticlan. From Iloilo City, the bus fare to Tibiao is about P180 and from Caticlan, about P80.

Basic sleeping accommodations are available at University of Antique hometel in the town proper and Kasa Raya Traveller’s Inn along the national highway. Rates range from P800 to P1,000 per night for a room for two.

The two-way motorboat rates are from P2,000 for a boat that can accommodate two passengers and P10,000 for a 10-person capacity boat.


MANILA BULLETIN

117th PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY RITES AROUND THE COUNTRY ----

Corruption, poverty still hounding PH PNoy calls on Filipinos to unite and address these social challenges by Genalyn Kabiling June 13, 2015 Share930 Tweet10 Share0 Email2 Share1.1K

Santa Barbara, Iloilo – While the country was freed from foreign colonizers 117 years ago, it continues to struggle to combat corruption and poverty, President Aquino said yesterday at the celebration of Philippine Independence Day here.


FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY — Ceremonies commemorating the 117th Philippine Independence were held all over the country yesterday with President Aquino (upper right) leading the rites in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo and other top government officials joining the festivities.

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In a speech to mark the 117th anniversary rites of the proclamation of Philippine independence, the President rallied the nation to unite to address these challenges, reminding them of a shared responsibility in finding solutions to shared problems.

“One hundred and seventeen years have passed since we declared independence. We have truly freed ourselves from the bonds of colonizers. On the other hand, we now face a new challenge: Combating corruption and poverty in our country,” the President said in Filipino.


Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City “It is clear: It is through unity that our heroes won our freedom, and it is also through unity that we will likewise overcome the challenges of today,” Aquino added.

While taking pride in the country’s positive transformation driven by reforms, Aquino said his government remains committed to the straight and righteous path that has reestablished a government that “truly works for its people, and that truly represents their concerns.”


Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay at the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument in Manila

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice President Jejomar Binay at the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument in Manila “Our promise: Our growth will leave no one behind, whether in Luzon, Visayas, or in Mindanao. Each Filipino will benefit from our development. We cannot have a situation where only those at the top can improve their lots in life, while others are left to fend for themselves,” he said.

Aquino then appealed to the public to do its part in resolving the country’s woes while sustaining the fruits of the reform agenda.


Senator Grace Poe at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City

Senator Grace Poe at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City “In this period of evolving technology and social media, we have the greater wherewithal, and the deeper responsibility to contribute in finding solutions to our shared problems,” he said.

“It is my hope that, instead of being a burden to our fellowman, we would do our utmost, contribute what we could to the best of our abilities, so that we may collectively uplift our whole nation,” he added.


Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. (Malacańang Photo, Michael Varcas, KJ Rosales, John Jerome Ganzon, and Russell Palma)

Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. (Malacańang Photo, Michael Varcas, KJ Rosales, John Jerome Ganzon, and Russell Palma) This was the first time the President celebrated Independence Day in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, to highlight the contribution of Visayas to the fight for freedom over a century ago.

It was in Sta. Barbara where the Philippine flag was first raised by Filipino revolutionaries outside Luzon in 1898.

Previous Independence Day celebration was held in some areas in Luzon.

“As President, I have chosen to go around the country because I am fully aware that the freedom we now enjoy was won by the actions of our countrymen from all over the Philippines,” Aquino said.

“In 1898, despite these limitations, the Filipino people stood in solidarity and, together, declared independence as one Philippine nation. This serves as proof that, even back then, Filipinos could clearly tell right from wrong, and that their response to such a situation is to choose the side of right,” he said.

In 2011, Aquino celebrated Independence Day in Kawit, Cavite. He was in Malolos, Bulacan, in 2012, Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila in 2013, and Naga, Camarines Sur, in 2014.

“Next year, we plan on heading to a province in Mindanao to gaze upon our flag there and remember the heroism of our ancestors,” Aquino said.



Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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