MANILA, APRIL 15, 2008 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - Bohol’s Chocolate Hills and Palawan’s Tubbataha Reef are now in the Top 10 of the worldwide search for the new “Seven Wonders of Nature.”

Sen. Pia Cayetano said in a statement yesterday that Chocolate Hills was already ranked seventh while Tubbataha Reef was ninth in the Top 77 Live Rankings of the worldwide on-line poll as of April 13.

She acknowledged the growing support from Filipinos here and abroad for boosting the rankings of the two tourist spots.

“I hope this show of support by Filipinos is a true reflection of our growing concern for the environment and a deeper understanding of our responsibility to protect our natural resources,” Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, said.

But there is still a long way to go, and environment advocates urged Filipinos to continue to rally behind the country’s natural wonders and keep their position in the on-line poll search.

“The voting (for this initial round) will be until the end of the year (Dec. 31, 2008). So, it is still very easy to fall out of the Top 10. That is why this is the challenge for everyone, every Filipino, to continue to support and keep on voting more,” Angelique Songco, manager of the World Heritage site Tubbataha Reef,” told The STAR in a telephone interview.

According to Songco, additional votes are imperative to make the two natural wonders of the country remain in the Top 10, and be able to fall within the shortlist of 21 nominees because come January 2009, another round of voting would ensue, from which the Top 7 natural wonders of the world would be selected.

“This is a positive thing because we were actually expecting our candidates to enter the Top 10 by the third quarter of this year, but it came early because Filipinos appeared to have banded together to support this cause,” Songco said.

“For all those who have not voted yet, please vote now. We need to be united in this and contribute to the conservation of our natural wealth,” Songco said.

As of 2:30 p.m. yesterday, Chocolate Hills and Tubbataha Reef remained in their rankings.

Last week, April 6, the two were on the 13th and 14th slots in the live rankings.

The two natural wonders of the Philippines share the Top 10 list with other natural wonders across the globe, namely: Lake Atitlan in Guatemala (10th); Angel Falls in Venezuela (8th); Mount Fuji in Japan (6th); Cocos Island in Costa Rica (5th); Mount Everest in Nepal (4th); Amazon River in South America (3rd); Ganges River in Bangladesh/India (2nd); and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam (1st).

Aside from the Chocolate Hills and Tubbataha Reef, a third Philippine candidate, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, also in Palawan, is currently ranked No. 270.

The “Seven Wonders of Nature” search is organized by the non-profit New Seven Wonders Foundation, which also undertook the “New Seven Wonders of the World” search which was rounded up last year.

The aim of the search is to create public awareness and contribute to the protection of the world’s natural heritage and foster respect for cultural diversity.

The list of nominees and the mechanics for voting are posted on the poll’s official website while the live rankings can be viewed at

Filipinos can still vote for the Philippine candidates until Dec. 31, after which the top 77 nominees will be submitted to a panel of experts that will put together a shortlist of 21 finalists by January 2009.

A second round of popular voting for the 21 finalists will then follow until the end of 2009 – with the top seven nominees being officially declared the “New Seven Wonders of the World” by the year 2010. - With Katherine Adraneda

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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