, JANUARY 3, 2007 (STAR) By Helen Flores - Koreans are becoming more ubiquitous in the country these days, and not just in the popular "Koreanovelas."

A ranking tourism official said South Koreans, for the first time, topped the tourist arrivals in the Philippines in 2006, surpassing those from the United States. The Philippines has no diplomatic or cultural ties with North Korea.

Rolando Canizal, director of the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Tourism Development Planning office, said arrivals from South Korea usually reached record levels only on month-to-month basis and that arrivals from the US were traditionally the biggest.

"Overall US remains the No. 1 in the list, but now Koreans did not only surpass Americans in November alone but from January to November," Canizal told The STAR.

"Koreanovelas" or Korean soaps dubbed in Tagalog are popular on primetime TV in the Philippines.

Canizal said Koreans visitors, mostly leisure travelers and tourists, increased by 16.5 percent to 511,277 from January to November 2006 compared to 438,822 in the same period in 2005. The DOT recorded more than 10,000 tourist arrivals from South Korea in November alone, as against the 3,000 US arrivals, he added.

US arrivals from January to November 2006 posted an eight percent increase at 507,169 from 469,494 in the same period in 2005.

"There are many Koreans looking for destinations. Philippines is really fit for the destination that they are looking for. Climate, beaches, and they have a lot of knowledge about the Philippines hearing it from their friends," Canizal said, adding that among their favorite destinations are Boracay, Cebu, Manila and Palawan and Cagayan de Oro.

He said Koreans usually play golf, shop, and go to the country’s pristine beaches.

Canizal said a Korean tourist usually spends an average of $115 a day compared to $90 to $110 an American tourist usually spends.

RP giant turtle migrates to Vietnam The Philippine Star 01/02/2007

The turtle’s pace surely helped.

The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) reported yesterday that its "tagging experiment’’ helped locate a giant sea turtle, which ended up in Vietnam after traveling for more than 1,700 kilometers from Subic, Zambales.

PAWB said the metal tag with inscriptions PH6854 was still attached to the green sea turtle (chelonia mydas) when the creature was found in Con Dao National Park in Vietnam.

"This tag recovery is doubly significant. Foremost, because it is due to biological monitoring of endangered species and, second, because it occurred during the celebration of the International Year of the Turtle – 2006," PAWB said in a statement.

"Green turtles are listed as endangered throughout the world and are a protected species in many countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines," the PAWB said in a statement.

PAWB said marine scientist Phan Hong Dung of Vietnam’s Research Institute of Marine Fisheries, reported the discovery during the Regional Meeting on the Progress of Research for Stock Enhancement of Sea Turtles held in Malaysia a month ago.

Daniel Torres, PAWB biologist and Philippine representative to the regional meeting, received the report.

PAWB said "tagging experiment" is one of the basic methods used by biologists in gathering vital information about sea turtles, such as their migratory routes and reproductive patterns.

The turtle got its encoded metal tag on Feb.7, 2006 after the creature became entangled in a beach net set up by fishermen in Matain, Subic. The fishermen immediately reported their find to the Olongapo office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which put the tag.

"This scenario shows that conservation and enhancement of sea turtles in the Southeast Asian region is achievable through the cooperation between and among neighboring countries," PAWB said.

Sea turtle experts in Southeast Asia regularly hold meetings in accordance with the 1997 Association of Southeast Asian Nations Memorandum of Agreement on the Conservation and Management of Sea Turtles.

During the meetings, sea turtle specialists exchange biological information about the endangered species. PAWB said the conservation of green sea turtles is a collaboration among fishermen, coastal communities and concerned government agencies. (Note:  another  article in PHNO Science & InfoTech section)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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