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BY BUDDY GOMEZ: SAMAR TRAVEL NOTES FOR INVESTORS, RETIREES AND RETURNEES


FEBRUARY 3 -It is not the usual point of view by which a tourist might expect from a particular destination. That is not to say that Calbayog City and Samar province do not possess awe-inspiring vistas, endowments from Mother Nature, and comfortable visitor facilities.In fact, they do. And outstanding hospitality, I might emphatically add.We have more than an ample share of such bounties. These have always been there, undiscovered by heretofore scant stream of visitors; almost inert and unminded by potential local business interests; and developmental prospects even taken for granted by local gentry. Welcome change has, however, crept in. Change is now in vibrant crescendo. Observing, seeing and feeling such a third world community rising to meet the opportunities and challenges of economic growth, partaking and enjoying 21st century accoutrements has its own particular tourist allure. It is an altogether different visitor point of view that I will hazard to say is in need of calibrated promotions both by local government as well as by the dominant commercial interests. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Manolo Quezon - Is it really time to revive the Philippine Constabulary?


FEBRUARY 1 -Malacanang has floated plans of reviving the Philippine Constabulary to aid the drug campaign, following the disbandment of the Philippine National Police's anti-drug unit. READ: Philippine Constabulary may be reactivated for anti-drug ops: Palace| But as historian Manolo Quezon tells Mornings@ANC, there was a reason why the Constabulary of the old was abolished and why resurrecting it may not be a good idea.WATCH INTERVIEW ON VIDEO...

ALSO: By Ellen Tordesillas - Tourism and peace and order


FEBRUARY 1 -Congratulations to the people who made the staging of the 65th Miss Universe in the Philippines a rousing success.
The publicity that the Philippines got from the pageant and the goodwill generated from the 86 beauties were a bonanza for Philippine tourism.
Last Monday’s pageant financier former Ilocos Sur Chavit Singson said the $14 million shelled out for the event will return in terms of more visitors to the country that are expected to fill up hotels, resorts airline seats, restaurant and other tourism-related businesses. The more visitors, the more Filipinos would be employed for a more vibrant Philippine economy. Now, when visitors come, will they feel safe and leave the Philippines with beautiful memories of the country to share with others? Or will they return to their country with harrowing stories like what the Koreans who came to play golf last December 30 but were victimized by policemen who raided the house they were staying in a subdivision in Angeles City? READ MORE....

ALSO: By Amir Mawallil - Bangsamoro youth and shared narratives


FEBRUARY 5 -Amir Mawallil
As a child, I grew up with the stories of my parents and grandparents, and their stories are far from the usual bedtime stories other children grew up with. Coming from a place that was far from the city, and all the more from the country’s capital, it was the stories of my family that shaped my consciousness as a young Tausug and helped form my identity as a citizen. These stories were my families’ lived realities and the truth in these stories cannot be denied. These stories are essential to my people’s history, in the same way the stories written in books and taught in schools are essential to the national narrative. In a country where the stories of my people are often erased from mainstream narratives, my education as a youth leader and, now, as a public servant has always consisted largely of stories shared among friends and family. Sharing these stories has become a responsibility especially during times of conflict and despair, and sharing these stories with the youth has become imperative especially because claiming our identity requires more than an ounce of depth and understanding. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE BELOW
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Samar travel notes for investors, retirees and returnees

MANILA, FEBRUARY 6, 2017 (ABS-CBN) Buddy Gomez Posted at Feb 03 2017 03:58 AM - It is not the usual point of view by which a tourist might expect from a particular destination. That is not to say that Calbayog City and Samar province do not possess awe-inspiring vistas, endowments from Mother Nature, and comfortable visitor facilities.In fact, they do. And outstanding hospitality, I might emphatically add.We have more than an ample share of such bounties. These have always been there, undiscovered by heretofore scant stream of visitors; almost inert and unminded by potential local business interests; and developmental prospects even taken for granted by local gentry.

Welcome change has, however, crept in. Change is now in vibrant crescendo.

Observing, seeing and feeling such a third world community rising to meet the opportunities and challenges of economic growth, partaking and enjoying 21st century accoutrements has its own particular tourist allure. It is an altogether different visitor point of view that I will hazard to say is in need of calibrated promotions both by local government as well as by the dominant commercial interests.

READ MORE...

Indeed, it becomes better and best when a pleasure trip is mixed with a search for venues of investment, for new business opportunities, and for retirement relocations. It is to be noted that new wealth created in and for the Calbayog community was spurred by entrepreneurs who some fifty years ago were pioneering risk-taking new comers, themselves. There is still much more that awaits the bold and the imaginative entrepreneur.

How do you spell PROGRESS?

Calbayog and the province fronting the western coast of Samar island are now in readiness, offering economic opportunities to investors and managers of businesses in search of new wealth.

My annual pilgrimage to the good old, beloved hometown and home grounds (usually exclusively devoted to visiting kin and recharging emotional batteries) has failed to give due notice to the sights and sounds of pulsating commerce. This time around, however, pieces of evidence abound that are truly unmistakable. You simply cannot miss them.

They all spell P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S !

All of a sudden, hotels and inns are opening for business. Both in town and in resort areas. These are sure signs of an in flow of visitor interest. For international tourist grade accommodations, there is the seaside ‘Ciriaco,’ and the smaller, recently opened BayPark.

Both equipped for conferences as well. For a seaside retreat and hideaway, there is the seven-suite Coral Reef Resort (Barangay Ba-ay) about 25 kilometers north of Calbayog proper. Another venue to watch out for is a small natural cove, some half a kilometer wide endowed with a pebble beach and crystal clear waters. This in Barangay Ba-ot, under construction. I regard Ba-ot to be superior to Punta Baluarte in Calatagan, Batangas, which I have frequented in the past long, long ago.

The western coastline of Samar Island is not known for its beaches. If one is in search of Boracay-like or Palawan-like nature’s wonders, we do not have them. But there are sea dive sites and fishing action with actual fishermen doing their nightly runs. Calbayog is also known for its waterfalls, caves and undeveloped hot springs. These are areas that deserve the attention of development entrepreneurs. Serenity retreats, physical and spiritual wellness enclaves, perhaps, may just be waiting for investors.

For the casually curious as well as the seriously serious, there is a wealth of useful information, in various websites, available through the Internet. I urge you folks to browse, learn and be enticed.

Points of Investor Attraction

A 12-km diversion concrete road bypassing the principal poblaciones of the city and barangays along the Maharlika Highway is now open to traffic. Along its stretch, inevitably there will be real estate developments as the city mandates public transportation, not requiring a poblacion pit stop, to utilize the diversion (Tacloban is 180 kilometers to the south) for its passage through. Along the stretch of the Maharlika Highway traversing the north-south length of the city are roadside hillocks being carved out for construction aggregates such as gravel, boulders, sand and soil. Visual tell-tales that there is a construction boom, apart from highway widening and rebuilding/retrofitting of bridges.

Samar is said to have the most navigable rivers in the Philippines. Moving ‘iraya’ (rowing inwards towards the hills--the opposite, seaward, being ‘ilawud’ ) are exotic rivers still pristine, without the godawful detritus and flotsam of the world’s longest and largest septic tank, the Pasig river!

The extension of the airstrip, finally, will now proceed in order to be able to land and service jet aircraft, thus increasing visitor traffic via air travel. Utilities (electricity and water) and health services (4 hospitals ) are all reliable.

Aside from a dozen banks already in operation, both BDO and China Banking will be opening branches soon. A Toyota dealership with a huge building housing a show room and service facilities is now in its finishing stage at the south end of town.

Visible from the air as well as from the sea is a concrete monolith that will house the Gaisano Grand Mall. It occupies what used to be two commercial blocks, traversed by the old provincial road and bridge, where the public market and other city-owned retail store structures used to be. This is in addition to another Gaisano Metro

Supermarket / Department Store now in operation. Robinson’s also has a huge undeveloped commercial land. That Gaisano Grand Mall structure is most probably the single largest structure in Region VIII. It will stand as the monument to the Calbayog community’s capacity for economic growth.

Climate Change & Development

Samar island in terms of commercial opportunities and economic growth has been underrated. In fact, it just might be possible, not exactly hyperbolic, that there might now be more original Samarenos away from Samar than there are remaining. And those who have been away as expatriates in foreign climes may just be irresistibly attracted to the changes and transformations now happening back home.

Basically, it is undeniable that Samar did have, once upon a time, a reputation for being within the archipelago’s ‘typhoon belt.’ Happily, over many decades since the 1950s, this climatic fame is now passe. Parts of Northern and Eastern Samar may still be buffeted during unseasonal occasions but for Samar province itself, climate re-direction has become a boon that awaits economic enterprise.

Yolanda footnotes
From a reasonable perspective, the devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda upon Tacloban and environs on November 8, 2013 may have enhanced the potential commercial attraction that has benefited Calbayog, as a happy aftermath.

You see, in the morning after Yolanda/Haiyan blew bedlam, wreckage and chaos over a wide swath of land a 180 kilometers to the south, when Calbayog was declared to have been irreversibly spared from nature’s wrath, a Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated in the plaza fronting City Hall. Forthwith, under the leadership of Mayor Ronald Aquino, all the disaster relief supplies that were in total readiness to be harnessed for local succor, had it come to that because Calbayog’s City administration was totally prepared in compliance with national mandate, were dispatched to Tacloban. At least four truckloads were sent off along with civilian volunteers and police personnel to assist and secure Tacloban wherever they could.

Calbayog City was truly the very first responder to Tacloban’s disaster, contrary to press release claims by a Bicolano governor.

Corollarily, well-off Tacloban families seeking temporary refuge ‘discovered’ Calbayog to be the nearest hospitality haven. Of course, there were those fled to Cebu and Manila but Calbayog hotels and inns experienced full occupancies for weeks.

I like to tease my Cebuano friends. Ribbing them that they killed their first ‘tourist!’ Remember Magellan? Slain by Lapu-lapu! On the other hand, Samarenos have been engaged in the happy practice of hospitality since 1521! A few days after March 16, Magellan (and chronicler Pigafetta) were feted with friendship and coconut wine (tuba!) before sailing on to Limasawa and Cebu.


Is it really time to revive the Philippine Constabulary? ABS-CBN News Posted at Feb 01 2017 08:27 PM

Watch also in iWantv or TFC.tv

Malacanang has floated plans of reviving the Philippine Constabulary to aid the drug campaign, following the disbandment of the Philippine National Police's anti-drug unit.

READ: Philippine Constabulary may be reactivated for anti-drug ops: Palace|

But as historian Manolo Quezon tells Mornings@ANC, there was a reason why the Constabulary of the old was abolished and why resurrecting it may not be a good idea.

WATCH QUEZON INTERVIEW

 
Is it really time to revive the Philippine Constabulary? ABS-CBN News ABS-CBN News Subscribe2,812,375 Add to Share More 1,165 views 18 1 Published on Feb 1, 2017 Historian Manolo Quezon tells Mornings@ANC, there was a reason why the Constabulary of the old was abolished and why resurrecting it may not be a good idea.

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OPINION: Tourism and peace and order Ellen T. Tordesillas Posted at Feb 01 2017 01:52 PM



Congratulations to the people who made the staging of the 65th Miss Universe in the Philippines a rousing success.

The publicity that the Philippines got from the pageant and the goodwill generated from the 86 beauties were a bonanza for Philippine tourism.

Last Monday’s pageant financier former Ilocos Sur Chavit Singson said the $14 million shelled out for the event will return in terms of more visitors to the country that are expected to fill up hotels, resorts airline seats, restaurant and other tourism-related businesses.

The more visitors, the more Filipinos would be employed for a more vibrant Philippine economy.

Now, when visitors come, will they feel safe and leave the Philippines with beautiful memories of the country to share with others?

Or will they return to their country with harrowing stories like what the Koreans who came to play golf last December 30 but were victimized by policemen who raided the house they were staying in a subdivision in Angeles City?

READ MORE...

The video of the raid was presented by Senator Panfilo Lacson during a Senate hearing and it showed a Korean running scared from a pursuing policeman.

The investigation revealed that seven police officers assigned to Angeles City Police Station 5 participated in what turned out to be a case of robbery and extortion. They took the three Koreans' shoes, golf clubs, jewelry, and cash amounting to P 450,000, including the P300,000 that the visitors had to borrow from a friend, who had to withdraw from his ATM.

Nothing could top in gall the murder by police officers of Korean shipping executive Jee Ick-Joo last October but was known publicly only recently.

Jee was abducted from his house and was brought to Camp Crame where he was strangled to death inside a vehicle owned by the wife of the arresting police officer, Senior Police Officer Ricky Sta. Isabel, a few meters away from the office as well as residence of PNP Chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa.

Being implicated as mastermind of the contemptible operation is Police Superintendent Rafael Dumlao III, a ranking member of the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drug Group, the banner unit in President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs that has so far claimed the lives of some 7,000 people almost all of them did not have the benefit of due process.

Surely there are members of the police force who have remained honest and true to their sworn duty as protectors of the people but the perversity of some (Duterte said 40 percent of the police force are corrupt) have severely tainted the image of the institution.

Many analysts attribute the impunity of rogue policemen to the President’s blanket assurance to the police that he will protect them and will not allow any of them to go to the jail in executing his war against illegal drugs.

This policy has created a monster that they now have to tame. The PNP chief has suspended the anti-illegal drugs operation while they embark on a purge of rogue policemen.

The President knows fully well that all the gains generated from Monday’s Miss Universe pageant would be wiped out by a breakdown of peace and order.

During the election campaign, in an assembly of travel operators led by now Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo, Duterte explained that his promised crusade against illegal drugs stemmed from his belief that it’s the root of many crimes. He said that no tourist will come to the country if they feel they won’t be safe.

He gave as an example Mexico where we read a lot about drug cartels.“Bakit pupunta ka ba sa Mexico ngayon? (Why would you go to Mexico now?) Are you going to Mexico with all the kidnappings and killings there?” he said much to the consternation of Mexican Ambassador Julio Camarena Villaseñor, who, just a few minutes before Duterte arrived, was enjoining everybody to visit Mexico.

Tell that to the Koreans.


Bangsamoro youth and shared narratives Amir Mawallil Posted at Feb 04 2017 05:22 AM


Amir Mawallil

As a child, I grew up with the stories of my parents and grandparents, and their stories are far from the usual bedtime stories other children grew up with.
Coming from a place that was far from the city, and all the more from the country’s capital, it was the stories of my family that shaped my consciousness as a young Tausug and helped form my identity as a citizen.

These stories were my families’ lived realities and the truth in these stories cannot be denied.

These stories are essential to my people’s history, in the same way the stories written in books and taught in schools are essential to the national narrative. In a country where the stories of my people are often erased from mainstream narratives, my education as a youth leader and, now, as a public servant has always consisted largely of stories shared among friends and family.

Sharing these stories has become a responsibility especially during times of conflict and despair, and sharing these stories with the youth has become imperative especially because claiming our identity requires more than an ounce of depth and understanding.

READ MORE...

The Bangsamoro as an identity was borne out of the need for survival, and the stories we carry as a people speak of our shared struggle to survive. At a time when Moro communities faced extinction due to mass murders, attacks on their Muslim faith due to prejudice, and a slew of injustices due to being minorities, the Bangsamoro emerged as a united front with a shared faith in Allah and united with the Ummah.

Our youth today is blessed to live in less troubled times. The peace process has made considerable progress, a number of clan wars that have once lasted for decades have ended, and basic social services are now available in communities that once knew nothing but conflict and grief.

However, with a semblance of peace has come a sense of complacency. When our generation is asked about the Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination, it seems our elders’ stories have been lost to the times. When asked about the fight for justice, it seems the stories of our mujahideens have become mere anecdotes. When asked about the peace negotiations, it seems decades of narratives have been drowned out in social media.


Now, more than ever, we need to engage each other in conversations not only about our future but also about the past that has brought us to where we are and pushes us forward to where we should be. We take comfort in the progress we have made towards peace, but we need to remember to account for the many injustices that are yet to be resolved and how genuine peace can only be achieved when we have claimed justice for our people.

We need to remember how the massacre in Jabidah sparked a revolution, and how past massacres throughout our region have forcibly taken away a future from many of us. We need to remember how lands that have given us life have been reduced into mere property and have been stolen from our people. We need to remember how Martial Law ravaged our communities, how a dictator deemed our lives less valuable, and how we must resist every indication of going back to those dark days of our history.

It is easy to forget when grief feels far away and the conflict seems over, but the grief of our people is never truly far away from us and the conflict we’ve managed to live through is far from over. The grief and conlifct will always be there, threats lying in wait and nipping at our heels, ready to overtake us as soon as we forget the lessons our people have learned through years of suffering and struggle.

It seems our stories are now only shared whenever the threat of grief and conflict is closest to our shores and our homes, when these stories must be shared everyday if only to remind ourselves of what we have gained, what we have lost, and what still needs to be done.

Our shared identity thrives on shared histories and narratives. Our shared identity as Bangsamoros remains synonymous to shared struggle across generations, and a struggle that is far from over – a struggle for safe spaces, a struggle for mutual respect, and a struggle for genuine self-determination.
--
Amir Mawallil is the executive director of the Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). He is also a member of the Young Moro Professionals Network, the country's biggest organization of Muslim professionals.


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