Monday, March 11, 2013

Fire-fighting capability better 
23 fire stations now in Bohol 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, March 11, 2013 (PIA) –Fire prevention in Bohol just got a little better with almost half of the towns acquiring fire-trucks. 

But for Bohol Fire Marshall Esmael Codilla, fire prevention goes beyond acquiring fire-trucks and fire suppressing equipment, a good deal of its comes from active community vigilance and preparedness. 

At the recent Kapihan sa PIA Thursday in commemoration of March as Fire Prevention Month, Fire Superintendent Codilla and his group of fire inspectors manning key fire stations in the towns admit that engaging communities is still more effective in fire prevention over buying equipment to suppress a fire that has already started. 

Earlier, Supt. Codilla reported that for Bohol’s 47 towns and a city, about 23 fire stations have been activated, and they are hoping more fire stations could be activated in the next few years. 

Giving a score of 8 for Bohol’s fire prevention awareness, F/Supt. Codilla also hinted that there is more room for Boholanos to improve in their fire prevention and readiness. 

Fire prevention functions of the Bureau of Fire in Bohol has been brisk, especially with the new calendar year where businesses have to comply with their fire safety requirements, said F/Inspector Bongabong. 

A law mandates that before business operator’s permits are issued by local government, a fire safety permit needs to be secured, Insp Bongabong, added. 

There might be times when, because of the LGU set up one stop-shop for business permits, establishments needing fire safety inspections may not be covered on a day, but he assured these are certainly inspected within the next few days. 

Their “for inspection” marks in their fire safety requirements for business applications are cleared as soon. 

To engage communities into the fire awareness mode, BFP Bohol has accordingly strengthened its Junior Fire Brigades, one that it believes would be preparing the school kids into the proper thinking of fire prevention. 

BFP also supervises fire drills and renders technical assistance for communities without fire escape plans, according to F/Inspector Raul Bustaliño, chief of the Jagna Central Fire Station. 

With acute lack of manpower, the BFP also considers the help of LGUs in supplementing the organic personnel with LGU-paid fire aides, he reported. 

These fire aides get the same inputs firemen get so that they can also be considered technically capable of assisting organic personnel in fire suppression operations, Bustaniño shared. 

Towns then struggling to equip themselves with fire engine equipments have now seen that they can use their disaster funds to secure equipment, and Carmen, Antequera, Pilar, Batuan and Cortes are just some of the towns BFP named who recently bought fire trucks based on provisions of law. (30/sjp)

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2-foreign funded projects 
On environment in Bohol 
Rey Anthony H. Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, March 11, 2013 (PIA) –Two foreign-funded projects are now implemented in Bohol, both of them helping address Bohol’s environment and sustainable development in line with the provincial vision. 

German Development Corporation GIZ) funds one project, the Promotion for Green Economic Development (ProGED) implemented by the Department of Trade and Industry and The United States Agency for International Development (USAid) funds Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (EcoFISH). 

EcoFISH is a project implemented by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government and the Local government Units, according to Anecita Gulayan, project site coordinator for Bohol. 

While ProGED is piloted in Bohol and builds on the gains of an earlier project called Small and Medium Enterprise Development for Sustainable Employment Program (SMEDSEP), EcoFISH is in other areas across the country where there is a need for communities to promote growth and profitability of fisheries. 

EcoFISH also builds on the platforms established by an earlier FISH project that ably showed that fish decline can be arrested and reversed and that effective governance are keys to the success and sustainability of fish management. 

EcoFISH does this by conservation of the health of ecosystems and the sustainable and efficient management of the fisheries areas of Danajon Reef areas in Bohol, Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan, Verde Passage in Mindoro, Calamian Group of Islands in Palawan, Lagonoy Gulf in Bicol, South Negros Islands, surigao Sur and Norte as well as in Sulu Islands, Gulayan explains. 

We have the most productive fishing grounds in Bohol but our demands are exceeding the supply so that even fishing communities are submerged deeper in poverty as more and more fishermen catch fewer fish, EcoFISH presentation showed. 

“Fish stocks are dwindling and fish catch are declining due to overfishing and unsustainable/ illegal fishing practices…., Gulayan, who worked with FISH pointed out. 

And just as ProGED uses its Green Value Chain Promotion, Green Local and Regional Economic Development Approach and Green Market System Development, EcoFISH on the other hand uses a tested Eco-systems approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM). 

Despite tremendous gains in management, the country is losing about US$120 million in economic benefits per year, half of which due to unsustainable fishing practices. Clearly there is a need for more interventions designed to address unsustainable fishing through the ecosystem approach that builds on what the country has already been doing, she reasoned why EAFM. 

Coral reefs, seagrass, mangroves, estuaries, play a critical role in the life cycle of fishes. Maintenance of healthy ecosystems is imperative to fishes’ natural regeneration and recruitment. Fishes’ migratory nature calls for wider collaborative governance and institutional arrangements, Gulayan added. 

Ecofish is an integrated approach to address the intertwined problems of marine ecosystem degradation, fish stock depletion and poverty and it integrates biological, socio-economic and governance perspectives in fisheries management, taking into account local contexts and needs, according to Gulayan. (30/ed)

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GIZ/DTI ProGED proj 
Piloted in Bohol, Cebu 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, March 11, 2013 (PIA) –Bohol and Cebu gets to be piloted again for phase 2 of a German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) project in green tourism. 

Already pre-identified as a tourism region in the country, Cebu and Bohol’s successful implementation of the Promotion for Green Economic Development (ProGED) strategies could soon be scaled up to other regions and even national offices, Department of Trade and Industry Regional Director Asteria Caberte explained during the start-up event held at the Mansion February 25. 

The gathering also invited Bohol’s champions of green economic development, tourism sector industry leaders 

ProGED aims to build on the gains and experiences of the earlier government and private sector engagements in Small Medium Enterprise Development for Sustainable Employment Program (SMEDSEP), according to Volker Steigerwald, ProGED project manager. 

The project then, improved the environment for government and private sector engagements especially to micro, small and medium enterprises hoping to strike a balance on their business impacts to people, planet and profit, also adds Ma. Elena Arbon, whose agency is also into the joint undertaking. 

Arbon, who is provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Bohol showed the effects of climate change in businesses and also shared the concept of green economy which was the identified win-win solution to the question of business sustainability. 

The next challenge is for these MSMEs, government institutions and other interested sectors to increasingly implement environment friendly, climate smart and inclusive strategies and measures in mitigation, adaptation, competitiveness, green jobs provision and even preserving or improving nature’s capital. 

With the concept already tackled and multi-sectoral engagements laying out plans during the first project, the next follow on activity is to go big on Green Economic Development, using the same tools like Green Value Chain Promotion, Green Local and Regional Economic Development Approach and Green Market System Development, explains Steigerwald during the Start-Up event held in Bohol February 25. 

With ProGED piloted in Bohol and Cebu, the initial focus would be on the tourism sector with its high potential for investment, employment and poverty reduction due to its linkages with the upstream and downstream industries in other economic sectors, GIZ officials also stress. 

Mirriam Bacalso, ProGED regional Coordinator also shared the project’s intervention in its initial phase include information and awareness building of GED, Green service facilitation and match making, as well as working for green framework conditions. (30/ed)

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Feature… 
Agri-heritage tourism 
New Bohol product? 
Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, March 11, 2013 (PIA) –What is common among ube and its weird rituals, organic lubang rice farming, humay tapow, humay puwa, hungos, sustainable agriculture and the Sierra Bullones and Duero Rice Terraces? 

They will soon be part of a rich agricultural heritage tour which Bohol could offer after these generated an unusual interest among tourists and environment advocates, according to non-government organization authorities here who have seen the potential for a niche tourism market for this. 

NO TO GMO 

Distinguishing itself among very few provinces which have churned out an official stand against genetically modified organism (GMO), Bohol looms as among the leaders. 

Keeping Bohol environment unadulterated by “tinkered” food is a sublime responsibility of a people which looks forward to a healthy and safe future generation, admits former vice governor Julius Ceasar Herrera during the historic passing of the band on GMO ordinance. 

With a sturdy group of sustainable agriculture advocates and armed with Bohol Initiators for Sustainable Agricultural Development (BISAD) master plan, tourists looking at replicating Bohol can pore at its legislation and pluck salient points they can possibly replicate, Herrera said. 

UBI 

Food given by the gods to feed a drought stricken people, the ube is so revered crop here that there are weird tales about how farmers go insane lengths to make the rootcrop grow lush and retain its sweet aroma. 

Regarded as among the most important crops in Bohol, ubi kinampay and baligonhon (aromatic purple yam) are prized plants by locals who have sworn the crops trace back to a long line of generations in their family. 

Early Spanish priest and chronicler Fr. Ignacio Alcina SJ has noted the crop upon the arrival of the Spanish missionaries here, and modern farmers believed the product could have been brought with the galleons to Acapulco where it would be later brought to Spain. 

Ubi should not be dropped, people here believe. When a child carrying it trips, there is a huge chance that the child gets a spanking, while the ubi gets a kiss. 

Modern farmers say, a dropped ubi develops bruises which rots the crop while in storage. This makes it not viable for travel to Spain, which also infuriates the traders who lose potential profits from this, they explain. 

Tales abound here saying that the crop should be planted on moonless nights by bare women who are “well endowed,” this assures that the rootcrops grow as large as fat breasts and crack like “it is, down there.” 

Before that, a male farmer would do the palihi, a ceremonial planting when he puts in a triad of holes prepared broken pots, sea shells, olive palm leaves as parts of the ritual which also includes paganist thanksgiving and supplication. 

HUMAY LUBANG/HUMAY PILIT TAPOW 

Another interest for tourists and environmentalists, including sustainable agriculture farmers is the traditional organic rice and the black glutinous rice. 

Still a hit among Boholanos for it deals a different fill to those who consume them, the tapow varieties have remained unchanged and are grown on organic ricefields. 

Bombarded already by a slew of commercial and mixed breeds of rice, lubang and tapow have survived the onslaught keeping their distinct characteristics and their low susceptibility to climatic changes, Dr. Marina Labonite of BISU research center shared. 

These are varieties that have been proven to survive the heat, knowing them as traditionally bred upland rice varieties, a traditional organic farmer from Cansumbol Bilar confessed. 

These too are best cooked when husked using the traditional wooden mortar and pestle. 

Husking the lubang and tapow always evokes that painting of the a rice field bathed in golden light and the rustic feel, which a tourist would certainly remember for long, he said 

He was referring to a Filipino painter Amorsolo. 

GENE BANK 

One of the potentially great contributions Bohol farmers can share to the country is its rare stock of rice accessions, shares Dr. Marina Labonite of the Bohol Island State University 

The accessions are local breeds of rice from those varieties which were introduced for their noted high yielding characteristics, which farmers have interbred to test their survivability in the drastic changes of climate brought about by global warming. 

Conceived to find the most cost efficient rice breed that could translate to profits, the project to seek out the traditional varieties and bank them became a hit as newer breeds demand so much inputs that often go to eat up the farmer’s profits. 

Now stockpiled at a room in the sprawling BISU compound, the rice seeds are in both panicle and threshed form while some other 200 accessions are also in cold storage on refrigerators in the room. 

The objective is to make sure that any farmer can get seeds for test planting and the produce, he can use for his production in the next cropping season, she explains. 

From here, farmers can also get a choice of other accessions to vary the rice varieties in their farms for cropping, this breaks their susceptibility to pests and other diseases, she adds. 

What is more stunning is that farmers here in Bilar have been planting their bred rice accessions without the use of inorganic fertilizers, which makes their harvests really organic. 

But the accreditation and the authority to let them use the term rests in scientists who study rice breeding, she summed. 

RICE TERRACES 

Unknown to many, the urge to adapt to the environment in Bohol happened long before campaigns for climate change adaptation became vogue. 

In Sierra Bullones for example, farmers from at least five barangays continue to till rice from age-old rice terraces, carved from sloping hills which were otherwise inhospitable to rice. 

Now with the rice paddies carved and built on the hill slopes, the spectacle of green rice neatly arranged and sprouting from rice terraces could not just be claimed by provinces way up north. 

These rice terraces have been here even before my grandfather who farmed some of them, admits a farmer in Malinao, Sierra Bullones. 

There is this heartening contrast of carved hills and an unadulterated forest rising in the distance, one can note while standing on a highway cutting across the hectares of rice terraces. 

More than these, Bohol farming traditions sometimes vary from town to town, but there are common elements, most of them center on adaptation, and the reverence to a being which would exercise control over the community. (30/hd) 

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