MANILA, May 17, 2004 (STAR) By Marianne V. Go  -  Trade and Industry Secretary Cesar V. Purisima is proposing the development of the University of the Philippines (UP) campus in Diliman, Quezon City into an information technology park. Purisima envisions the development of the UP campus into the "Sillicon Valley" of the country where the country’s leading educational institution can work closely with IT firms. As an initial step, a portion of the UP campus comprising 50,035 square meters has been declared an IT Park by President Arroyo.

An IT park enjoys certain fiscal incentives for both the developer and locators. Purisima pointed out that the UP campus is an ideal location for an IT park since it could provide locators with a pool of trained and skilled IT workers. UP faculty members cold also serve as consultants to IT firm locators. As an IT park, UP would have a new source of income. UP had earlier announced plans to develop 35 hectares of its 98 hectare property into an IT park. UP had tried, in the past, to develop part of its campus into a commercial area.

However, the commercial development of the campus was opposed by the student body.

DENR leads celebration of International Day for Biodiversity By Benny G. Enriquez (STAR)

On May 22, 2004, the Philippines will join the global community in celebrating the "International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD)." This year’s event focuses on the theme "Biodiversity: Food, Water and Health for All" and seeks to celebrate the richness of life on earth. The Philippine celebration under the local theme "Pagkain, Tubig at Kalusugan, Biyayang Mula sa Samut-Saring Buhay", will be for four days with a variety of activities.

The Philippine celebration is being organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA), ASEAN Regional Center for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC), Conservation International Philippines, Haribon Foundation, Philippine Sustainable Development Network (PSDN), World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines, My Zoo Foundation and other partners in biodiversity conservation.

May 22 was first designated as International Day for Biological Diversity by the Second Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 to concentrate public awareness efforts on biodiversity issues on a single day around the world. The date also commemorates the date of entry into force of the Convention of Biological Diversity in 1999 wherein the Philippines is a member-country. Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Elisea G. Gozun says: "We have much to celebrate. Life is mega-diverse in our islands and seas. On the immense diversity thrive the 127 cultures or our indigenous peoples. We, 80 million Filipinos, depend on this biodiversity for our most basic needs: food, water, air, shelter, and medicine. With all the benefits we derive, one wonders why the International Day for Biological Diversity had not been enshrined a long time ago."

On May 20 a symposium on products derived from biodiversity will be held at Filipinas Heritage Center, Makati City. On May 21-23 products derived from biodiversity will be featured in a biodiversity fair at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center, Quezon Ave. Diliman Quezon City. The fair cum exhibits is part of this year’s celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity with the Theme "Biodiversity: food, water and health for all."  The fair aims to provide a venue for the general public to appreciate the value uses and products derived from biodiversity. The business sector will also have a chance to promote their products, which can be availed at factory price. The three-day fair is open to the public from 8 a.m. — 6 p.m.

In the evening of May 21, the park visitors will be treated to a night of rainforest acoustic music. Various artists through their songs will bring the message across that biodiversity conservation a concern of all. This event is spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (PAWB, FMB, FRDB, EMB) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA), Haribon Foundation, ASEAN Regional Center for Biodiversity Conservation (ARCBC), Philippine Sustainable Development Network (PSDN), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) — Philippines, Conservation International (CI) —Philippines, Association of Organic Producers in the Philippines, Traditional Medicine Producers, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and other NGO and companies involved in biodiversity conservation.

On May 22, the Conservation International-Philippines in collaboration with the DENR will sponsor an Environmental Arts Workshop for Children on May 22, 11;00 a.m. at the Visitor Center, Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), Quezon Avenue, Diliman Q Open to children aging 7-12 years old, the workshop aims to motivate biodiversity appreciation and increase awareness among children through creative activities such as painting and drawing. Workshops activities include the introduction of basics of drawing and painting, a lecture on Philippine Biodiversity focusing on wildlife resources as well as Dalaw-Turo Nature Conservation Outreach Program and video viewing on clips produced by Conservation International and Knowledge Channel.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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