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The National Geographic Channel (NGC) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) recently gave 50 portable solar lamps to the Taw’Buid – an indigenous Mangyan group inhabiting the remote mountains of Mindoro. Park rangers protecting the Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park also received new hammocks, raingear and all-weather patrol uniforms from the Primer Group of Companies.
The deployment is part of NGC’s Earth Day Run, which has been supporting WWF projects since 2013. Race proceeds reforested Isabela forests with 20,000 fruit-bearing trees in 2013 and deployed fibreglass bancas for Palawan fishermen in 2014.
Proceeds from NGC’s 2015 race funded the solar lamp deployment, which was held inside the Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park last 3 September. About 15 million Filipinos lack regular access to electricity and Mindoro’s Taw’Buid tribesfolk are no exception, relying on kerosene and firewood to light their homes.
“We gave portable solar lamps because burning fossil fuels accelerates climate change,” says WWF-Philippines President and CEO Joel Palma. “Solar energy is an economical and safe power source because there are no emissions to trigger respiratory ailments. Our goal is to cover basic Filipino needs while fighting climate change.”
The reclusive, forest-dwelling Taw’Buid or Batangan tribe is the most numerous of the eight Mangyan subgroups, with approximately 20,000 members. Most live in simple thatched huts, few of which have been seen by outsiders, owing to the traditional fear harbored by Taw’Buid for outsiders, called Siganon. Many still wear Amakan loincloths made from pounded tree bark and smoke potent tobacco in pipes called Bakto.
As very few have access to electricity, most cut trees for firewood, used to both light homes and provide heat in fire pits, where families congregate and talk each night. The solar lamps will help ease the strain on Mindoro’s forests while giving tribes both light and a means to charge what few electronic gadgets they have. “No longer shall our people rely on fire for light. Thank you for the gift of eternal light,” said Taw’Buid Overall Tribal Chief Fausto Novelozo during the deployment.
The 24-strong corps of Park Rangers were equipped by the Primer Group of Companies with all-weather khaki uniforms. “With the proper clothing, our rangers will be better able to protect themselves from the elements to more vigorously fulfill their tasks. We’re glad to be part of the project,” adds Primer Group of Companies Program Manager Kristine Villaflor.  
“Each of our park rangers patrol around 1000 hectares of land. Constantly pelted by both sunrays and raindrops, they need proper gear such as all-weather uniforms, boots, hammocks and rain ponchos to help dispatch their duties. Thank you for the help as it will help us better protect the park,” says Mt. Iglit-Baco Park Superintendent Rodel Boyles.
Since 2012, WWF has been working with the Tamaraw Conservation Programme (TCP), Far Eastern University (FEU), Banco De Oro Unibank (BDO), local government of Occidental Mindoro and the Taw’Buid people to restore the forests of the Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park, which hosts the world’s largest population of Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) a critically-endangered dwarf buffalo and one of the country’s national icons.  
A pressing objective is to double the number of wild Tamaraw from 300 to 600 by 2020. From 327 heads in 2012, the wild buffalo’s numbers soared to 413 by April 2016. The project, dubbed ‘Tams-2’ or Tamaraw Times Two by 2020, aims not just to conserve Tamaraw, but to protect the cultural identity of the Taw’Buid people while protecting upland forests and ensuring a steady flow of water for the people of Mindoro. The Philippines celebrates Tamaraw Month each October.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to gift Mindoro’s Taw’Buid tribesfolk with economical lighting solutions like solar lamps. The Nat Geo Earth Day Run raises awareness on sustainable environment solutions and helps as many people as possible. We hope the solar lamps will make a positive impact on the lives of the Taw’Buid and contribute to keeping Mindoro’s forests intact,” says FOX Networks Group Senior Vice President and General Manager Jude Turcuato.  
Held last April, NGC’s Earth Day Run 2016 will next fund WWF’s marine conservation drive for Apo Reef in Mindoro, the largest coral reef in Asia.

Accessible tourism pushed

Saturday, 01 October 2016 13:45 Published in ETC

The Philippines’ tourism sector banded together this week to press for reforms and make travel and tour a more accessible and enjoyable experience to persons with disability (PWD).
Sectoral representatives gathered for a forum at the Diamond Hotel in Manila to celebrate World Tourism Day and Philippine Tourism Week, themed “Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility.”
At the Department of Tourism (DoT) main office on G. Puyat Ave., Makati City, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo led a weeklong celebration with a trade exhibits, bazaar sale, cultural presentation, parlor games, and recognition of outstanding and long-time DoT employees.
The “Accessible Tourism Pilipinas Forum,” jointly-sponsored by the DoT and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), was highlighted by the recognition of 10 hotel establishments found to be “barrier-free” or “PWD-friendly.”
There was also a strong consensus among the participants to push for amendments to Batas Pambansa 344 of 1983, known as Accessibility Law.
Architect Jaime Silva of United Architects of the Philippines, one of the resource speakers, stressed the need to make the law more suitable to the needs of PWDs in the age of high-technology.
The DoT in 2011 partnered with NCDA, an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), to advocate tourism for all to make tourism sites and establishments more accessible to PWDs, the elderly, pregnant women and families with small children.
Other resource speakers representing PWD groups were universal design expert Adela Kono and Dr. Jeana Manalaysay, who both noted the PWDs as a growing market for domestic tourism.
Also on hand to tackle accessibility issues were PWD advocates Margaretha Gloor of Circle of Friends Foundation, Inc. and Christian Pirodon of InterContinental Hotel Group.
At the “Breaking Barriers: Tourism Stakeholders Conference” held in Lyceum of the Philippines, Cavite, DOT Assist. Sec. Gwen Javier, spoke about the extreme difficulties that PWDs and the handicapped have to go through as a tourist.
“Every day, wheelchair-bound PWDs suffer from the unavailability of mechanical lifts on bus services, absence of access ramps and inaccessible bathrooms. Ironically, such hardship that they have to put up with, in many instances, defeats the purpose of the trip of having an enjoyable experience,” Javier said.
She urged the tourism sector to work hand in hand to provide a wholesome “total tourism experience” for PWDs, handicapped and elderly.
Photo shows Arlene Alipio (center, standing) of DoT Standards and Regulations Division gives token of appreciation to Adela Kono of Universal Design Expert (holding plaque), while Arch. Jaime Silva of United Architects of the Philippines (2nd from left), Christian Pirodon of IHG Group (partly hidden), National Council on Disability OIC Carmen Zubiaga (on wheelchair, left) moderator Monette Hamlin, and Dr. Jeana Manalaysay of Perio-Dental Clinic (on wheelchair, right) look on.   

Bloomberg launches new forex solution in RP

Sunday, 02 October 2016 00:00 Published in ETC

Bloomberg recently announced that it has launched its tri-party ticketing system for the interbank community in the Philippines, providing real-time access to brokered foreign exchange (FX) forward transactions to market participants. The new system allows brokers to seamlessly trade with clients and report their trades, hence improving operational workflow and enhancing market transparency.  
This adds to a previous milestone when Bloomberg was selected by the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) to be the official calculating agent for the Philippines interbank reference rate (PHIREF) and provider of the FX forwards trading platform.
The foreign exchange community in the Philippines comprises 28 member banks of the BAP, central bank Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and four interbank brokers. According to the 2016 Bank for International Settlements Triennial Central Bank Survey, the daily average foreign exchange market turnover for the Philippines is approximately $3 billion.  
Marcel Ferreria, Director of FX Swaps, Tradition Financial Services Philippines Inc. said, “We are excited that the tri-party ticketing system is now available on Bloomberg.  Instead of having to manually confirm each trade, I now have complete visibility of trades captured electronically with the necessary confirmations sent to counterparties and relevant trade reporting authorities, which significantly enhances our workflow.”
Previously, any FX transactions conducted through brokers were reported to BSP and the market sometime after the trade was done.  The delay meant that transactional data was not available in a timely manner, hindering price discovery and execution of trades at fair value.  The Bloomberg tri-party ticketing system solves this by capturing the trade and sending confirmations to all three parties involved (bank-broker-bank) in real-time, in addition to the BSP.
“The tri-party ticketing system will be an integral tool for the FX community in the Philippines as it allows real-time reporting of trades to all counterparties in an efficient and transparent manner,” said Grant Coombe, APAC FX Sales Strategy, Bloomberg LP. “It is also a testament of our commitment to providing solutions that fit within local market conventions, so our clients can attain best execution.”  
An added advantage of the system is its integration with the Bloomberg Professional service, which allows market participants to access, analyze, trade and report seamlessly and in real-time on a single platform.  

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