TOURISM officials are exploring the possibility of offering unique packages like farm, ecology and faith tourism as viable options to make the country’s tourism industry more competitive than our Asian neighbors.

In a recent press briefing, Tourism Undersecretary Silvino Tejada pointed out the potentials of farm, economic and faith tourism and that they are planning to link the three sectors to a viable economic foundation for their agency.

“Why not make our farms a tourist spot?” he asked.

Since ecotourism has had a head start compared to farm and faith tourism, Tejada said that he has already started meeting regional directors and would eventually want to see the sights personally.

“I want to see exactly what is happening in the ground. I will be visiting all the regional offices after Holy Week and from there I will be able to come up with a concrete plan for faith tourism, agri-tourism and farm tourism rolled into one,” he said.

The DOT official envisions the tourism industry in the country to be the “lead catalyst” of a climate resilient, robust and vibrant by 2022.

Aside from meeting regional directors, he had also coordinated with Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture on proposals to establish farm schools in every town. (With reports from PNA)  

 

 

By Tracy Cabrera

DID you know that yoyos, banana ketchup, Erythromycin, 16-Bit Microchip, and Quick Ink were all invented by Pinoys?

Truth is, we Filipinos are smart and most of us are very creative. But more than that, we show extreme resourcefulness, adaptability, entrepreneurship, and resiliency. 

Filipinos can be placed anywhere in the world and they’ll always find a way to survive—and even thrive—on whatever condition they’re in.

And it’s also these traits that have allowed us to improvise and think of ways to make things from scratch—even better. 

Unknown to some, our inventiveness does not only include small items like the yoyo and banana ketchup. Truth is we did manufacture our own vehicles so we’ve decided to list some of the ingenious car innovations and inventions we can proudly stamp as Filipino-made.

 

The jeepney

A true testament to Filipino ingenuity. The iconic jeepney is one of those images that the country is identified with.

Jeepneys are actually U.S. military jeeps that were left in the country after the Second World War. When American soldiers started to leave the Philippines after the war, Harry Stonehill was reportedly responsible for getting rid of the surplus by selling it in the black market.  Filipinos then stripped the jeeps depending on the local needs and turned them into makeshift buses.

 

The E-Jeepney

They are just like standard jeepneys but with the only difference that it runs on electricity instead of diesel fuel. The e-jeepney is the brainchild of Green Renewable Independent Power Producers (GRIPP), and in partnership with Solar Electric Company.

E-jeepneys don’t create noise nor do they emit excessive carbon dioxide. This is the reason why many advocates say it will not only help preserve the environment, but will also lessen our dependence on oil.

 

A Self-Charging Electric Car

So what’s special about this self-charging car, aside from running electric? What’s mind-boggling is that it only uses a single 12-volt battery. The truth is, it isn’t really running on battery but merely using it to deliver the energy taken from an unseen yet free energy harnessed by its specially-designed integrated circuits.

Filipino inventor Ismael Aviso has been working on his self-charging electric car for more than a decade, and it’s quite promising. He only used a Motolite battery for his prototype, although he’s still in the process of refining his system.

 

The Bangkarwayan Amphibious Vehicle

Considered as a unique car not only because it runs on electricity, the Bangkarwayan is amazingly made from indigenous materials like bamboo and banig matting. 

This amphibious vehicle was invented by UP Professor Benjamin Mangubat. Its body is made of bamboo, with a retractable roof made of banig. Adding more to its novelty is its hubcaps that are made from bilao basketry.

The car uses solar panels, plus an added windmill to act as back-up energy. Interestingly, Mangubat recruited an unconventional team when he created the car, so instead of hiring engineers, he asked the help of electricians, aircon technicians, and carpenters to build the Bangkarwayan.

 

The Sinag Solar Powered Car

The word sinag is the Filipino term for ‘sunray’. The car named after it is the work of faculty and students from De La Salle University Manila‘s Mechanical Engineering and Electronics and Communications Engineering Department. Its body is made from carbon fiber and aramid fiber (Nomex), and the solar panels used are made by Sun Power.

This vehicle boasts of using moncoque solar cells, which is considered the most efficient commercial solar cells in the world. It’s made entirely in Laguna.

 

The ClimaMobility Electric Sedan

Climamobility is the brainchild of Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Adonis Lagangan, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering at the Mapua Institute of Technology. It has always been Lagangan’s dream to build and design his own electric car. Armed with his experience as a project-based commissioning engineer, he was able to fulfill his wish by creating Genius EV, an electric mini sedan model.

 

Aurelio Supercar

Europeans are not the only ones who can build supercars? Meet the Factor Aurelio Automobile. This car manufacturer’s name takes after the surnames of its founders: Brendan Aurelio, the car’s architect and builder, together with owner of Pacita Fibertech Kevin Factor, an engineering student at Adamson University. Based in Laguna, they created two of the first Philippine-made supercar prototypes named Aurelio.

Both cars are made from carbon fiber and fiberglass, with VR4 front and rear suspensions and 18-inch Rota wheels. Their yellow supercar prototype is powered by a Honda B16A engine, while the orange one–which is also being looked at for production–has a Mitsubishi 4G63T turbocharged engine.

 

By Rose de la Cruz

NOW that President Duterte has named eight judges; 44 incumbent mayors; five ex-mayors; three vice mayors; an incumbent congressman; an ex-congressman; an ex-partylist representative; a former board member and about 93 police and military men and officers in the drug trade, people are looking with eagle eyes if he would treat his friends among them with kid gloves.

For one, it pained him to see and mention that some of them were close friends as he advised them to just surrender and present themselves for investigation. Better yet, he said, they must resign, like honorable men.

With hundreds of people dying since the war on drugs was waged—some of them innocent victims of vigilantes—people are confused whether to keep on supporting the war against drugs or push deeply for human rights and the right to life, which are being overlooked or ignored.

There is also the persistent complaint that those being slaughtered and savaged are small users and pushers while the “big fish” is given the due course under the law, which is denied to the small ones.

The President insists repeatedly that there is no big fish in the country as they operate from abroad by remote control through the auspices of cellphones and the internet.

He explains that those being caught, named (including the five police generals) and humiliated are the “facilities” and “machines” who allow themselves to be used by the drug cartel in exchange for windfall profits.

Narco politicians

Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno said many Cabinet secretaries were shocked when they found that some of the President’s close friends, including a few of his campaigners, were in the list.

But the President only said “what can I do, I have to do my job,” Sueno quoted the Chief Executive.

He said the President’s love of country and his desire to abolish the drug rings took precedence.

"Kaunti lang talaga ang tumulong sa kanya sa kampanya... Masakit sa loob niya na tumulong sa kanya tapos andyan sa listahan pero he cannot do anything. Talagang napakabigat," he said during a review interview.

"Ganyan talaga ka-patriotic ang Presidente natin.Basta sa kanya love for the Filipino people, love for the country -- para malinis lang niya, bahala na kung sino ang maapakan. Talagang ganyan katindi ang passion niya to eliminate drugs ditto sa Pilipinas."

Among those he named were his friends, Maasin, Iloilo Mayor Marciano Malones and Marawi City Mayor Omar Solitario Ali.

In his speech, the President said his duty to the country outweighs his friendship with the drug-linked officials.

Sueno said some of the officials have already submitted themselves to investigation by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

The local officials have been stripped of authority over police forces in their jurisdiction, he said. The DILG is also preparing administrative cases against them.

Sueno said the National Police Commission (Napolcom) will also file administrative cases against the policemen in Duterte's list.

Camps as rehab centers

In a previous speech, the President announced that he directed camp officials to allocate and construct buildings inside the camp that would serve as rehabilitation centers for those who surrendered and volunteered for rehabilitation.

He acknowledged the fact that existing rehabilitation centers could not cope with those needing rehabilitation from the scourge—with some being asked to be treated like “outpatient” cases.

But more than facilities, the rehabilitation centers are running on shoestring budgets—as drug abuse was never really appropriated funds by previous administrations which did not consider this a menace that required national action and appropriation.

A doctor interviewed on radio said the cost of rehabilitating a drug patient not only involves feeding and lodging him but the cost of medicines (against depression or aggression) could run to thousands of pesos per patient.

Add to that the lack of psychologists and psychotherapists and psychiatrists who would attend to the patients as this field of medicine and social science was hardly considered a lucrative practice.

Next, MM mayors

Metro Manila mayors with alleged links to the illegal drug trade would be the next target of President Duterte’s "narco-politicians" expose’, Sueno averred.

Sueno said investigating agencies are still gathering evidence against Metro Manila officials who have alleged links to drug rings.

Sueno said Duterte will not spare anyone, noting how even some of the President's friends were named in his list of narco-policians.

By Roger Bantiles

DOES President Rody Duterte (PDu30) still have time to sleep, or even to eat?

The problems and issues facing the country today march endlessly before the President’s eyes, just to name a few: crime, drugs, corruption, stranded OFWs who have been laid off in Saudi Arabia.

Also, the West Philippine Sea row with China, lack of jobs in the Philippines, secession and insurgency, the call for federalism and how to go about government re-structuring, weather extremes disrupting agriculture, and widespread poverty.

Likewise, staring at him is a very expensive IT service that shamefully compares with war-torn Afghanistan in speed and quality of service, an incompetent energy industry that is not only the most expensive in this part of the world but also chronically unable to comprehend the desirability of scheduling repairs and maintenance in such a fashion as not to disrupt power supply.

Choose any three of these problems in random fashion and it would already be too much for any administration to face.

If PDu30 were the blaming type, it would be easy to do, and he would be justified considering that he is into the Presidency for only 45 days as we go to press.

Only the issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea cannot be blamed on any of his predecessors. Others were already rampant long before he plunged his hat into the presidential derby.

Observing him from afar in action in Davao, you can conclude that PDu30 does not waste his time finger pointing. He comes forward and does what he has been summoned by the people to do.

Come to think of it. Blaming anyone just waste precious intellectual energy that could have been spent with gain in dissecting, understanding and solving a problem.

The act of blaming betrays a lack of understanding of the problem at hand and serves as a convenient escape route away from responsibility.

Today is the time – and the problems that we are facing are the type – that tries men’s souls.

Many of the problems earlier enumerated are beyond many men’s capacity, working collectively to anticipate, plan for and solve.

The traffic problem in Metro Manila is a case in point. People in other parts of the country consider this as a problem impacting only on Metro Manila.

In reality, economic analysts say that the traffic mess bleeds the country of lost income and opportunity to the tune of P3 billion a day.

In US Dollars at P46.995 exchange rate, multiplied against 365 days in a year, the total hemorrhage from the traffic mess is equal to US$23.3 billion a year.

To compare, OFWs remitted US$25.8 billion last year. Since when has this traffic mess been going on, and how much cumulative income went to the wind?

In any case, PDu30’s campaign resonated because the Filipino people have seen that he is the only one equipped with the intellectual capacity and proven executive ability to solve the various problems enumerated.

He is also respected – and feared – by the various fractionalizing if not destructive forces of society. So, whether he likes it or not, PDu30 has to dig in and advance and fight back, all at the same time, like a good foot soldier.

PDu30 should go back to the Filipino People – perhaps again and again –for inspiration and appeal to them to participate in solving problems that can be done at local levels.

He has a good precedent for this. President John Kennedy fired up a whole nation, especially the young, with the challenge, “ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."

PDu30 can do the same to mobilize the whole country.With a trust rating of 91 per cent, perhaps all that the people are waiting for is to be asked and to be correctly guided on what to do.

With all the problems enumerated above, there is no shortage of what to do.

(A short version of this article appeared in the Mindanao Journal.)

By Bernard Badilla-Toledo, Reporter

HAD it been a fistfight, it ended abruptly with one knockout punch.

For 15 years PhilWeb Corporation, an online gaming firm owned and operated by former Trade Secretary Roberto Ongpin had enjoyed the blessings and protection of the past regimes despite obvious violations that it has been committing in the conduct of its business.

This is not to mention the social costs and damages that it incurred on many families that found themselves dislocated and in poverty after being hooked on online gambling.

It took however President Rodrigo Duterte just 45 days to shut down the gambling firm’s operations and less than 12 hours before Ongpin packed up and leave his post after the Chief Executive called him a shining example of what an oligarch is.

His daughter, Anna Bettina Ongpin, also immediately resigned as vice-chairman of the firm. The Ongpins opted not to confront Duterte’s strong accusations, at least in public.

Pres. Duterte recently said oligarchs like Ongpin enrich themselves through their sheer political connections at the expense of the country’s resources and who “while sitting inside their planes or their mansions everywhere, are raking in money like taxi meters.”

He said Ongpin benefited so much from the government through his close connections with the powerful people from the previous governments, including that of Marcos’ administration.

The father and daughter perhaps realized that Duterte was completely different from the previous leaders they dealt with, thus, they preferred to just leave and fade into the backgrounds.

As a result, PhilWeb’s stocks plunged spiraling down to the dustbin.

The closure was in accordance with the policy of the Duterte administration to stop the proliferation of what many believe is destructive online gambling business in the country.

On August 10, PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes met Pagcor Chief Andrea Domingo and attempted to extend the online gaming company’s license.

According to Valdes, “PhilWeb is merely a software provider to Pagcor for its network of e-Games outlets and cannot be played on home and offices.

But as expected Domingo did not believe him as she stood firm on her decision not to renew PhilWeb’s license to operate.

Government data showed that the PhilWeb Corporation is officially listed as a gaming technology company and has 268 operating e-Games stations across the country.

PhilWeb claimed that its e-Games contributed more than P16 billion in revenues in the past 15 years to the Pagcor while providing around 5,000 employments as of August 11.

Most of its customers however are children of rich and middle class individuals, who are addicted to online gambling that include baccarat, blackjack, various slot machine games, video poker and sports betting.

 

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