Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bohol tourism gets help 
From Dutch GIZ expert 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, February 24, 2012 (PIA) – Wanting always to go right in its sustainable eco-cultural tourism destination dream, Bohol gets every help it can get, this time, from an international assistance group. 

The German Technical Cooperation or Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) lends to Bohol the technical expertise of Nanda Ritsma, a Dutch national who has been assisting eco-tourism projects in Netherlands and in Bhutan where she worked for the tourism value chain in the Himalayas in the last six years, said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Provincial Director Maria Elena Arbon. 

At the tourism core group meeting held at the DTI Conference Hall Thursday, Director Arbon presented Ritsma to the core group members who gathered to review the outputs of the earlier tourism strategic planning workshops. 

Ritsma is the latest foreign worker lending her technical assistance following a help the provincial tourism program got from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through couple David and Fiona Aaron. 

The Aarons worked with PROCESS, a Non Government Organization largely involved in implementing AusAID projects on community development and eco-tourism. 

At the meeting attended by tourism, government and business sector representatives, Ritsma, who admitted she still has to immerse herself in the communities here, said she is excited especially when she finds a new kind of sectoral partnership which may be different from her past experiences. 

During the meeting also, representatives sifted through the tourism strategic planning workshop outputs and pegged its next steps to advance Bohol eco-tourism industry into its dream of a sustainable industry that works out for the improvement of the people’s lives but also retaining the communities’ cultural identity. 

For starters, everyone in the core group agreed that the province needs a massive Information Education and Communication program which should center on the new National Tourism Law and the Access Law (Republic Act 9442). 

According to the group, IEC would also delve into the issues on Culture of Tourism, Environment Conservation, National Tourism Law and the National Tourism Development Program, Culture and Heritage Preservation, Product Development for Local Government Units and Eco-tourism. 

Also, with a little more than 3,000 rooms available for Bohol and faced with an ever increasing tourist arrivals, stretching stay average, the lack issue of rooms surfaced as a sore issue the core group first tackled from the workshop outputs. 

Next steps, according to the group include Training Needs Assessment (TNA) for front office, housekeeping, kitchen staff and stakeholders interested in a home-stay program in Bohol. 

Aside from these, also tackled were future eco-tourism directions in Culture and Heritage tourism as well as Sports and Recreation tourism, emerging new products for Bohol. (30)

Bohol progress aces 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb. 25, 2012 (PIA) –Other than its Business One-Stop-Shop (BOSS) attaining a record P1.4B new investment in 2011, Bohol still keeps two more aces in getting its people the needed economic uplift-ment. 

According to Bohol Trade and Industry Specialist Blair Panong, besides the BOSS showing an efficient business enabling environment, the Business Permits and Licensing System (BPLS) and its Electronic Tax Revenue Assessment and Collection System, also accounted to record increases in new investments here, which may indicate brighter future for Boholanos. 

At the Kapihan sa PIA, Panong also stressed that Bohol’s “exceeding the expectations” in its P1.6 billion investments to date, (including the new investments in the first two months of the first quarter) can only mean that a trickle down effect to decrease the poor and the jobless in Bohol could not be far behind. 

Records from the BOSS showed that while the office gathers investment data, it shows minimum capitalization average of P3,000 for micro-business and P200 million for medium enterprise in 2011. 

“Even then, each of these would demand workers, which could significantly cut Bohol’s unemployed,” he said. 

“And by receiving pay, their purchasing power improves, and the economy ultimately rises with it,” he adds. 

“All of this for streamlining the business processes and showing that the government is serious in generating funds for its service delivery,” Panong said. 

“Beyond the relative ease in starting business at the BOSS, a parallel BPLS is being set in 26 out of 47 towns,” pointed Governor Edgar Chatto, during his last week’s State of the Province Address. 

The BPLS is a government led intervention for responding to the high cost of making business in the country on account of bureaucratic red-tape. 

Seeing this as a constraint to competitiveness, a move to standardize the processes in acquiring business permits was pushed to significantly cut time and nip on corruption by reducing the number of signatories and potential grease money needed. 

“Bohol targets getting the BPLS adopted in the remaining 21 more towns,” according to Chatto. 

Sources said breaching the P2 Billion new investments mark in 2012 could not be as far-fetched for Bohol. 

On the other hand, Boholanos believe the Enhanced Tax Revenue Assessment and Collection System (eTRACS) could hand in more impressive revenue generation records this year. 

Implemented through the partnership of the Provincial Treasurer’s Office (PTO), Provincial Assessor’s Office (PAssO) and the Bohol Information and Communications Technology Unit (BICTU) under the Office of the Governor, the eTRACS in pilot towns resulted in increases in municipal revenues, at an average of 32% among all pilot municipalities, and even as high as 59% in some cases, Chatto shared last week. 

According to the governor, “this increase in revenue, of course, can only redound to the improved delivery of basic services,” Chatto said. (30)

Batuan stakeholders avail of 
PIA ecotourism lecture series 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb. 24, 2012 (PIA) – Better understanding of eco-tourism and its diverse activities came to Batuan tourism stakeholders during a two-day Eco-tourism Orientation Seminar and Bohol Eco-Tourism Situationer workshop last February 20-21 at the Balay sa Humay. 

Training coordinator Chona Digamon of the Batuan Colleges said the gab is part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency approved action plan she proposed during a 2010 Eco-Tourism Management Training held in different venues in Japan. 

She said the training series she proposed centered on Human Resource Development includes a series of capacity and skills building workshops for local tourism stakeholders within the Batuan Tourism circuits. 

Set in a place literally strewn with a generous amount of Chocolate Hills, “Batuanons and its tourism stakeholders have been hearing the term eco-tourism, but most of them do not really understand the complexity of the term and its underlying philosophy, the outspoken Digamon admits. 

The training inputs include Carlos M. Libosada’s Ecotourism in the Philippines, the Making of Bohol as a prime Eco-tourism Destination with a strong agro-industry, as presented by Philippine Information Agency in Bohol. 

The training also immersed the local stakeholders in activities like identifying eco-tourism destinations in the province and then assessing their readiness to go full blast on eco-tourism. 

Training participants for the two-day activity include 14 tourism officers, hotel and restaurant management students as well as the pool of local tour guides based at the Balay sa Humay rice boutique. 

Balay sa Humay is part of a new eco-tourism product of Batuan which has attempted to open as a venue for tourist immersion into a rice-producing community. 

The Batuan community life tour includes a guided tour at the Balay sa Humay: rice museum and a rice production walk at the ground floor of the Balay sa Humay Training Center. 

Also integrated in the training is basic community tour-guiding where Philippine Information Agency shared inputs based on national standards. 

Other relevant inputs were also given by Gaudencio Dumapias, ship captain and owner of a now emerging destination in town: the Shiphaus. 

The two day activity also incorporated the usual mock tours, with stakeholders planning out their spiels and going through the oral skills of conveying the key eco-tourism concepts and applying them in Batuan destinations. (30)

Trinidad gives raincoats 
Boots at BHW Congress 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Feb. 24, 2012 (PIA) –Come hell or high water, out of sheer dedication, most barangay health workers (BHWs) go absurd lengths to deliver much needed government health services to the grassroots, said Trinidad Mayor Roberto Cajes. 

At the recently concluded Trinidad Barangay Health Workers Congress, Cajes pointed out that “health workers sometimes go out in the dead of a stormy night, pursue mountainous trails when summoned for much needed health services.” 

“This deserves appreciation,” he said. 

For that, Trinidad, through its local officials handed in rubber boots and raincoats to each of the towns’ 162 BHWs to help get them to where those needing their services. 

This is our small gesture of thanks and appreciation and this could even motivate our grassroots health advocates to work harder to keep the health and welfare of their co-barangay residents at their prime, he said, according to information officer Jojeline Ruiz-Buendia. 

At the recent BHW Congress held at the Trinidad Gymnasium last February 21, town BHW coordinator Alicia Balonga said 157 of the town’s 162 attended the gathering to update the health volunteers of the recent developments in the provincial health and nutrition programs. 

The BHW Congress adopted the Theme: “Nagkahiusang serbisyong Panglawas alang sa Himsug ug Malipayong Trinidadnon, Buendia said. 

These 162 workers all come from the 20 barangays of the town and have been assigned to take care of the health conditions of people in a cluster of houses or puroks, she added. 

Congress guest speaker Machiavelia Caliao, BHW provincial Coordinator hailed Trinidad for its gesture and heaped praises upon the town leaders for their clear gesture of unwavering support to the network of barangay pro-health teams. 

He also cited the town’s successful implementation of the purok system, which facilitates the delivery of government health services. 

“This is consistent with the provincial ordinance on the establishment of the purok system,” she said. 

The purok system, according to Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto could be the smallest political unit and with such a small coverage, a well organized response system in the puroks would largely increase the chances of preventing diseases and illnesses as well as facilitate quick response, should any be needed. 

Caliao also pointed out that even the task of assisting midwives, the BHWs do so well that Bohol has slowly cut its infant birth mortality rate. 

In a town where health services can not be easily had, the BHWs ably fill in the void by dispensing effective and efficient health services, Caliao cited, correctly assuming that several towns in Bohol still need to pick the habit of getting proactive health care. 

In his message, Mayor Cajes also explained that just as the town has organized its puroks, part of the BHW tasks would be to keep records so that the local leaders can attack the health service problem properly. 

He also engaged BHWs into striving some more to improve the town’s place in the province’s list of outstanding municipal nutritional councils. 

To highlight his administration’s support to the BHWs, Cajes also asked the people to get to the local Rural Health Unit and confer with authorities in problems relating to their tasks as health workers. 

All of this, Cajes said because the town does not want to generate data which may be useless in the end. (30)

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