Hot spots

Jakarta was named in a study as the “most vulnerable” to climate change in southeast Asia.

Metro Manila ranked 7th in the list of hot spots.

Southern Mindanao or the Davao Region was 103rd among 341 districts surveyed in 7 countries in the region.

The study was based on five climate related risks – tropical cyclones, floods, landslides, droughts and sea-level rise.

But this is not a reason to celebrate even if Davao ranked low among the hot spots.

We need to care for the environment and help fight climate change.

Big bang on May 9


Local fair trade advocates opened a mini-fair at the Matina Town Square yesterday to prepare for the big bang on May 9 to mark the World Fair Trade Day.

Activities for the mini-fair includes a forum, product exhibits and demonstrations and an evening concert.

Thanks to Katakus, an award-winning micro-enterprise NGO and volunteers of the UK-Philippines Global Xchange for organizing the mini-fair.

Join the big bang on May 9 by beating drums against poverty, against the global economic crisis and against climate change.

One down, 2 shouldn’t go

Hedcor has decided to scrap one of three hydro power plants it intends to build in Marilog District due to delays in the project.

Rene Ronquillo, president of the Aboitiz “cleanergy” firm was quoted by the Philippine Star saying its board has decided to scrap the Suawan plant, part of the 34.5 megawatt Tamugan-Panigan-Suawan hydropower project estimated to cost P7 billion. The Suawan plant has a capacity of 7 mw.

The reason for the delay is the opposition of the local water utility, Davao City Water District. The delay is already two years. For us lay people, the dispute is easily resolvable as it pertains mainly on elevation, where water would be tapped by either Hedcor or DCWD, and not on a fundamental issue on the use or misuse of water resources. Technical solutions can certainly fix the problem and both parties have plenty of good engineers.

Further delays in the plans to build the hydro electric facilities to meet local energy shortage by 2010 might altogether scrap the two remaining plants. God forbid.

If the water utility continues to dilly dally, as I have shown in Septage the post below, here’s what I see in the future. Two years down the road, the water district will have to fend off two public anger – poor water service and the dreaded brownouts. Yup, I would squarely put the blame on DCWD if the city suffer from power shortages starting in 2010.

Related posts – Water wars

5:52 a.m.


Thank God, the internet service in our house was back yesterday afternoon.

The Philippine Sanitation Alliance will hold a seminar-workshop today on “Developing a Comprehensive Program for Septage Management in Davao City.” The program is organized by the Davao City Water District with fund support from the USAID.

Septage? Check this entry at wikipedia.

About a decade ago, the water utility firm was also a recipient of fund support from foreign aid agencies on the sewerage system for the city. Nothing, unfortunately, came out of it. The same can be said of its plans for the Tamugan River as source of surface water. The National Water Resource Board granted it permit ten years ago, but nothing has been done about it.

I’m attending this seminar today but I’m crossing my fingers where it would lead us to … given the track record of DCWD, which is long on plans but short on action.

6:40 a.m.

SONA form and content

The Malacanang occupant has been bitten by the pink bug of Bayani Fernando, Metro Manila’s czar who has painted the metropolis with pink colors for his beautification drive.

Short on good things to say on her State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) today, GMA would highlight the event instead by what she would be wearing for the joint opening of Congress.

The SONA has long been a fashion show for the rich, the famous and the mighty. But this time it would be more than just a cat walk on the corridors of power. The pink gown of the Palace resident would appear to be the main feature of the SONA – State of the Nation, A dress. Philippine media is abuzz with it noticeably turning broadsheets into fashion mags.

This is how my friend Jess Dureza, now the Press Secretary, justified why GMA is wearing such a pink gown:

The President wants to capture the theme of her SONA—the Filipino’s self reliance, care for the environment, concern for the poor and vulnerable as well as the country’s stability as a nation to become a First-World country.

Har har har har!

On Second thought, bar her height I believe GMA could indeed be a fashion star. In fact, in the league of Naomi Campbell – famous models with attitude. (Foto credits – and

GMA’s address is reported by the Philippine Star “to offer hope” to the suffering Filipino people. Did I correctly read it right, HOPE?


H – hunger


O – oppression


P – patronage, and


E – ecological disasters?

Tsk tsk! Same Old Nonsense from the Administration (SONA)!

Almost every SONA, colleagues in the media ask for my assessment. Here’s a preview: for Jess Dureza – I give 100 %; for Speaker Prospero Nograles, who will introduce GMA along with the Senate President – for such a simple ceremonial task – 95%; finally for GMA – hmmm … Abangan!

5:43 a.m.

Water wars

It is said that the next major world conflict or future wars will be about water.

Well, actually one is already raging in our city. But thank God, this war uses no bullets or bombs.

The war pits the government-owned water utility, the Davao City Water District, against the privately-owned clean energy firm Hedcor. DCWD wants to tap the surface water of the Tamugan River for its future supply; Hedcor wants to use the same river to generate hydropower to answer the expected power supply shortage by 2010-11.

A number of battlefronts have been opened in their war over the Tamugan and other rivers in Marilog District, some 50 kilometers northwest of the city.

Front 1 – among the indigenous peoples in nine affected barangays (villages). Hedcor has undertaken community prep work to win over the IP communities; – Hedcor has the upperhand;

Front 2 – at the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) in Manila which grants permit for water use. DCWD was granted permit for Tamugan as early as 10 years ago but has not done any concrete project to tap surface water. DCWD is currently extracting almost 100 percent of its supply from underground water like in Dumoy. Hedcor has a pending application; DCWD has the upperhand;

Front 3 – Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) which grants environmental permits; EMB has put the application of Hedcor for ECC on hold; – DCWD has the upperhand

Front 4 – City Council – The committee report of the Committee on Energy is ready and just awaiting the counterpart committee report of the Committee on Environment; majority of the members of the city council believe that both DCWD and Hedcor can use the same water; Hedcor has upperhand

Front 5 – media – both have their PR campaigns; However, DCWD is embroiled in a number of controversial issues such as poor service, non-payment of taxes, and alleged agency corruption; due to skyrocketing cost of fossil fuel and climate change, many people seek clean alternative energy; Hedcor has the upperhand;

Front 6 – you! – the people, the ultimate consumer of both water and power.

Which side are you in favor?

Or are you like me who believes that they can co-exist?

Your views are valuable, as in the case of the many comments on our Ayala Center Davao post. Please send them and be part of the water war.

5:08 a.m.

Cash in trash

Davao City Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Simeon Marfori (2nd right) tests the weight of scrap tin cans at Saturday’s Recycling Fair at the parking lot of SM City Davao.

Aside from household reusable wastes, over 30 firms in the city sold their scrap to 10 recyclers as part of the city’s and the chamber’s solid waste management program to turn trash into cash.

Joining him during the opening were myself (right), Councilor Edgar Ibuyan (center), Mila Teves, president of the Soroptimist International Davao (partly hidden), and my wife Evelyn (left) who is a Board of Trustee member of the Chamber of Commerce and environment committee head of Soroptimist International Davao.

Photo courtesy of Bing G.

6:24 a.m.

Collection Day

See you at SM City Davao today for the 8th Recyclable Collection Day spearheaded by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Go turn your wastes into cash.

Acting Mayor Councilor Mabel Acosta will be the guest at the opening rites.

Chamber President Simeon Marfori expects today’s activity will attract three times the participants and sales over last month.

6:12 a.m.

Oldest living tree

Guess how old is the world’s oldest living tree?

Hmmm. Give up?

Click here for the answer.

Earth Day walk and a hop

I walked my way to the office yesterday to fulfill one of the suggestions I made on what-to-do to mark Earth Day.

It took me almost an hour to cover about five kilometers from my home at Matina to the City Council. I left shortly before 8 and was at the session hall in time for its opening.

It was a worthy walk for a worthy cause in calling attention to help Mother Earth fight abuse.

Coming down from GSIS Heights, my walk was immediately noticed by curios onlookers. Many who recognized me must have asked themselves why was a City Councilor walking and not riding on his way downtown.

Along MacArthur Highway, it became obvious to me the stench of vehicle smoke that has polluted our city. Vehicles of all types whisked by me as I descended the Sabungan area down to the old Venees Hotel.

Something was terribly wrong with our vehicle emission tests. Many vehicles that were inching their way up to Matina opposite my way to the city were belching black smoke.

My disappointment was quickly forgotten when I reached Karasia. It has no vehicle on display. Not a single car or truck to sell?!! I thought to myself this was a victory in our efforts to lessen polluters in our streets.

After Tulip Drive, as I passed by the rows of establishments from the Baptist Church to the old Palayok Restaurant, I recalled efforts in the past by the Matina Barangay Council to develop the front of this area into a park. It is presently used as a park indeed, but as a parking lot, including one by a van terminal.

Our city needs more parks with trees to help fight global warming.

A new gas station just opened near the Albay Compound. I chuckled when I noticed the coconut juice vendor in front of it had four customers lining up; the gas station had only one.

At the Davao City Water District office, the old Coca-Cola bottling plant, a banner proclaimed April as “environment month.” It is one of the most active entities in the city advocating for the environment, particularly protecting our water resources.

As I was crossing the narrow street after the DCWD, an old truck sped my way to turn right. It forced me to hop for a safer distance. It was the only hop I made in this hour-long walk.

Traffic started to build up as I progressed in front of the NCCC Mall. On occasion, my pace was faster than some vehicles picking up passengers. I motioned to a number of them to walk.

I made my first stop in front of the Ateneo de Davao Grade School. Teachers near its gate recognized me. I told them I was walking my way to the office to mark Earth Day. They clapped and cheered me on!

I made my second stop at No. 77 MacArthur Highway, in front of the University of Mindanao.

I saw a taxi stopped in front of it and its passenger dropped off two sacks. I immediately know that they contained metal scraps. Three other fellows were lining up in this place to sell their metal scraps.

This junk yard does a very good job in collecting metal wastes, and recycling most of it. Our staff at the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and barangay officials should study why our Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) are a big failure when private scrap metal yards like this are making a killing.

I went on to pass the busiest of this long stretch of the highway – the Sandawa Junction just before the Bankerohan Bridge. Near it, a security-conscious policeman caused my third stop. He greeted me good morning and asked why I walking alone without a bodyguard in tow. I replied that I was walking for Earth Day and added that I do not have a bodyguard.

At the bridge, I was lucky to chance upon two sand barges at the Davao River with people cleaning up to commemorate this Earth Day. I waved at them, wondering whether anyone of them recognized me.

I made my fourth stop at the old Coop Bank along Magallanes when a group waiting for some jeepney greeted me with “Nganong nagbaktas man ka Konsehal?” I again explained to them my day’s mission.

In front of the Grand Men Seng Hotel, I made my fifth stop to buy fried sweet potato. As the world grapples with galloping prices of food, here I am holding three sticks of what could be one of the solutions to world hunger.

I gave my thumbs up to the vendor who placed the sweet potato on a paper bag. Little did he know that this was a big thing for me! One of the ideas I listed in my what-to-do list today was to avoid using plastic bags!

No one seemed to notice me as I approached the final leg of my walk. At the City Hall grounds, no one surprisingly greeted me. However, as I walked near the City Council building, a group of television crew and photojournalists were waiting for one of the “news” of the day.

Seeing them indeed made my day. I know that this walk, a single step in “a journey of a thousand miles,” was a “giant leap for mankind.”

Earth Day clean-up

City Administrator Wendel Avisado is organizing two activities for the 38th Earth Day celebration:

Tree-planting at Eden, Toril on April 19; and

Coastal clean-up on April 22.

City Hall employees, members of the armed forces and civil society groups are expected to participate to help mark Earth Day with the theme “Tubig at Buhay, ating Pagyamanin at Linisin”

More suggestions

Here are additional suggestions on what-to-do on Earth Day next week:

7) Recycle bond papers by using the other side for printing;

‘8) Do not use our laptops during the session;

9) Minimize the use of paper by limiting the circulation of documents during the session;

10) No softdrinks please;

11) Drink tap water instead of bottled water

(7:20 p.m.)

Earth Day

The celebration of Earth Day on April 22 falls on a Tuesday, our City Council session day.

So, I am forwarding this suggestion to my colleagues to help mark this worldwide event:

1) Walk or bike our way to the office;

2) Minimize the use of electricity on the SP Building;

3) Give priority to pending proposals on environment, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, among others during our deliberations;

4) Allow civil society groups to use the SP lobby for Earth Day activities;

5) Serve organic food during our lunch break; and

6) Avoid the use of any plastics or non-biodegradable materials;

Any more suggestion?

(5:35 a.m.)

Sinking Manila

I am flying to Manila today for the Philippine Councilors’ League convention. The Davao City delegation will stay at the old Philippine Plaza by the Manila Bay.

This would give me a close look to check the story that Manila is sinking. Scientific studies trace the “sinking” to the drying up of ground water.

In a privilege speech I delivered September 25 last year at the City Council, I asked the opposite. Could Manila be not sinking but rather the Manila Bay is rising?

One consequence of global warming is clear … tides are rising and will sink lowlying islands like those in the South Pacific, Indian Ocean and in the archipelagic nations of Indonesia and the Philippines.

(3:27 a.m.)

Davao and the World Ocean Conference

After its successful hosting of the international Climate Change Summit in Bali last year, Indonesia will again host one of the world’s biggest environmental conferences next year – the World Ocean Conference in Manado, North Sulawesi on May 11-15, 2009.

Davao City should take advantage of this very important event and cash in on its ripple effects across the Celebes Sea.

One, Manado is a sister-city of Davao and we should extend our assistance to it in hosting this conference.

Second, Davao may be considered as the “northern gateway” to Manado. North Sulawesi’s Sam Ratulangi Airport can be reached through Jakarta and Bali to its south, via Singapore to its west and Davao to the north.

Thousands of participants to the conference – heads of states, top scientists and academicians, environmentalists, NGOs, media, etc. will be flying to Manado. Davao can offer itself as its northern passage. By then, Davao has direct flights from Hongkong and Taipei (Cebu Pacific) which could play as the hub for participants flying in from Europe, north Asia and North America.

Third, there would be plenty of opportunities for pre and post conference activities around the month of May. Davao can hold or host a number of these to take advantage of the presence of eminent personalities.

Davao can also offer special tours and exposure trips to the participants to the city showcasing its best practices in marine conservation like the turtle sanctuary, mangrove forest, and the Davao Gulf Development initiative.

Fourth, an ambitious event could be the holding of a sort of Davao-Manado Yacht Race or Davao-Manado fluvial parade in time of the opening of the conference. The Celebes Sea is the future Caribbean and a Davao-Manado cruise trip could be developed out of this idea.

I propose that the city take advantage of this big event. It would be a coming out party for Manado, and we should not miss this opportunity to play a supporting role.

(8:29 a.m.)