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07 June 2017

Betten beats ’em all again for 3-peat in Regent 5150

Subic Bay Freeport - Sam Betten came through with a hot performance on a cold, rainy Sunday to complete a golden treble in the Regent 5150 Triathlon here.

Pouncing on the relatively cooler conditions on a turf he’s familiar with, Betten left his challengers playing catch-up throughout the 1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run and reached home unmolested for his milestone three-peat.

Sam Betten winning his third Regent 5i50 title (photo from Regent 5i50 Facebook page)

Betten covered the wet course in 1:55:58, checking in nearly five minutes ahead of compatriot Mitch Robins (2:00:27), who settled for No 2 again. American Iain Alexandrinis (2:01:46) took third.

“I’ve never won a race three times in a row and to come here and do that, it’s pretty amazing,” said Betten, getting a loving hug from girlfriend Rebecca Ohlwein after crossing the finish line.

The 6-foot-4 Betten emerged from the waters of Acea Beach after 19 minutes, 57 seconds with Robins (21:30) and Alexandrinis (21:34) on his wake. Notwithstanding the rains that made the roads slippery, the Aussie out-pedaled his rivals and even added two minutes to his lead as they headed into the culminating run towards Remy Field.

“I felt really good out there. The heat wasn’t too bad so I didn’t have to push quite hard (than usual), which was really advantageous to me. If it were really, really hot, it would have been a different story,” said Betten, who’s developed a fondness for Subic, where he’s raced five times overall.

“Subic Bay is one of my favorite places in the world to come race in. I was lucky this year I was able to bring my girlfriend along to watch the race and enjoy Subic. For me, this is such a great triathlon location and it’s a dream come true to be able to dominate for three years in a row,” he said. (Olmin Leyba, Philippine Star)

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06 June 2017

President Duterte visits Japanese escort Flotilla in Subic

President Rodrigo Duterte visited on Sunday, June 4, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Flotilla One comprised of helicopter carrier JS Izumo and guided missile destroyer JS Sazanami berthed here in Subic Bay Freeport for a four-day port visit to the Philippines.

In an interview with media, President Duterte said he was happy to board the JS Izumo, noting the state-of-the-art ship that can respond to both conflict and humanitarian missions.

Duterte added that he is the first head of state to board the JS Izumo, which was commissioned in 2015.

Japan has been a historical friend of the Philippines helping the country in different ways particularly through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Japan is also providing the Philippines with defense assets such as ships and trainer planes, he said.

"Our ties with Japan is historical and I know that we will be with them for all time. They can count on our gratitude for helping us and also our friendship to fight with them," he told reporters.

"We have so many problems in this world and I said we are friends, historical ones. We have a lot to say thank you to you. And I’d like Japan to know that we are a people of gratitude," he added.

Aside from visiting JS Izumo, the President also met Katsuyuki Kawai aboard the Japanese helicopter carrier. Kawai is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's special adviser.

The Japanese contingent is headed by Rear Admiral Yoshihiro Goka, the commander of the JMSDF Escort Flotilla One. The JS Izumo together with several patrol helicopters and 800 officers and crews are here for a goodwill visit to the Philippines prior to its participation to the Malabar Naval exercise in India.

The four-day visit includes a series of confidence building activities between the Philippine Navy and the JMSDF personnel.

The Escort Flotilla One's port visit is expected to enhance the strong relationship between the Philippine Navy and the JMSDF. (PND/PNA)


[1] President Rodrigo Duterte is escorted by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Martin Diño and Administrator Atty. Wilma Eisma during the chief executive's tour aboard the biggest Japanese helicopter carrier JS Izumo docked at the Alava Port in Subic Bay Freeport Zone. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)

[2] President Duterte poses with his officials and the visiting officers and crew of the JS Izumo. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)

[3-4] The helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) (top) and the Japanese destroyer JS Sazanami (DD-113) (bottom) of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Flotilla One, both docked in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone for a four-day visit to the Philippines. (RBB/MPD-SBMA)

Subic, Clark affirm partnership in regional growth, nat’l development

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) reaffirmed on Wednesday their partnership as global gateways to boost development in the Central Luzon region and to propel national economic growth.

Speaking during the CIAC 2017 Roadshow here, SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma and CIAC President and CEO Alex Cauguiran expressed their continuing commitment to work hand-in-hand towards regional growth and outlined their vision for a more effective partnership.

“President Duterte has always emphasized that he wants to connect Clark and Subic free ports in order to turn Central Luzon into a major logistics hub,” Eisma said in a message read by SBMA Chief Marketing Executive Ronnie Yambao. “And this is how it really should be.”

“As world-class gateways, Clark International Airport and the Port of Subic can and should serve as the twin turbo-engine of growth for Central Luzon, a super duo – if I may call it – that can help alleviate urban blights like vehicular traffic and port congestion in Metro Manila,” Eisma added.

Eisma also pointed out that by coordinating the operations of Clark airport and Subic seaport, CIAC and the SBMA can serve the needs of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMs), as well as large manufacturing industries in the region; spur growth in tourism and the MSMEs and big industries through the efficient movement of people, goods, and services to and from Central Luzon and other parts of the country; and create more employment and livelihood opportunities in the region.

“So as you can probably surmise, our only option is to work effectively, efficiently, and harmoniously together if we are to support and fulfill the President’s agenda for Subic and Clark,” Eisma added.

For his part, Cauguiran emphasized the need for a common development platform between Clark and Subic, as well as the nearby communities, so that they may fulfill their roles in the national development agenda.

“We are promoting not only Clark, but also Subic Bay and the provinces of Bataan and Zambales,” Cauguiran said, adding that this is in line with the vision of President Duterte to decentralize development and disperse growth to different regions in the country.

Cauguiran, who served as member of the Philippine panel that negotiated air service agreement with other countries in the world, said that as early as six years ago, he was already batting to maximize the use of the airports in Clark and Subic because the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila was already overloaded.

“I said that we should open other airports,” Cauguiran recalled saying. “We should make (the Clark and Subic) airports night-rated, give them entitlement, develop their terminal, and develop their runway.”

“And I believe that the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) has entitlement to develop and fully utilize its airport because I always make sure that what will be put in the proposal will include not only Clark but Subic and other airports outside NAIA,” he added.

The Subic Bay Freeport and the Clark Freeport are now considered the prime catalysts of economic progress in Central Luzon and the biggest generators of livelihood opportunities for residents of communities devastated by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 and the subsequent withdrawal of US military forces the following year from the former Subic Naval Base and Clark Airforce Base.

Because of this, Eisma likewise stressed that Subic and Clark “are not competitors, but members of the same national team.”

“As separate entities, we are no doubt expected to accomplish a lot, but together we are also expected to do much, much more,” the SBMA official said. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)


[1] CIAC President Alex Cauguiran (right) and SBMA Chief Marketing Executive Ronnie Yambao give “thumbs up” signs to show unity between the Subic and Clark free ports in undertaking their joint development roles for the Central Luzon region. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

05 June 2017

Importance of environment in tourism stressed in Subic forum

Senator Cynthia Villar and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Wilma Eisma both expounded on the importance of protecting the environment to sustain the growth of the tourism industry in the country, as the three-day 2017 Subic Ecotourism Festival opened here on Monday at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.

The two women leaders told festival participants that tourism cannot be sustained without caring for the environment, and that sustainable development needs commitment from the people.

According to Villar, protection of the environment is at the heart of sustainable tourism. Without environmental preservation and protection, tourism is not sustainable.

She cited her project, the Las Piñas-Zapote River Rehabilitation Program, which gave birth to several livelihood projects where water lilies, plastics and other used materials that clogged rivers were turned into handicrafts pieces and even furniture.

Meanwhile, SBMA Administrator Eisma recalled how the more than 8,000 volunteers of the Subic Bay Freeport cleaned up and safeguarded the former Subic Naval Base after the US Navy left in 1992.

Calling them heroes of local ecotourism, Eisma said the volunteers showed their “malasakit” (caring) and “kusang-loob” (initiative) without being paid for their work, thus helping in transforming Subic into what it is today.

She said that malasakit and kusang-loob are the benchmark of ecotourism in Subic Freeport. Like when you put your foot forward without expecting any in return, because at the end of the day, this is your home.

The 2017 Subic Ecotourism Festival was organized by Subic International School for Sustainable Tourism headed by Dr. Mina Gabor, in celebration of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)

Clockwise from top: [1] Dr. Mina Gabor, president of the Subic-based International School of Sustainable Tourism, sounds a native gong to formally open the 2017 Ecotourism Festival at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center; [2] SBMA Administrator Wilma T. Eisma welcomes participants to the 2017 Ecotourism Festival; [3] SBMA Administrator Wilma T. Eisma chats with Senator Cynthia Villar during the opening of the 2017 Ecotourism Festival at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

SBMA places Subic Freeport on security alert

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has placed the entire Subic Bay Freeport Zone on heightened security alert on Friday (June 2) to protect workers, business locators and residents and to ensure an atmosphere of safety in the area.

SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma said the security alert has been implemented “only as a precautionary measure to ensure everyone’s safety.”

With this, she said the SBMA has placed members of its SWAT Team at the Freeport gates, and augmented by personnel from the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP-SAF).

“At this stage, and taking into consideration what has been happening in certain parts of the country in recent days, we have to make certain that Subic remains safe as there is a large concentration of people here, including a lot of foreigners,” Eisma explained.

“We cannot err on the side of caution. We now have SWAT and SAF teams, but mainly to show everyone that we are ready for any eventuality. These officers are there to ensure public safety,” she added.

At the same time Eisma asked public cooperation in the enforcement of stricter security measures.

She also called on all stakeholders in the Subic Bay area to be vigilant and to help Subic authorities ensure a peaceful atmosphere that is conducive to business.

“Subic is our home, so let us help one another in keeping it safe for everyone. As always, we need your malasakit so that we may continue to make Subic a better place for everybody,” Eisma also said. (HEE/ MPD-SBMA)

01 June 2017

SBMA chair warns smugglers: ‘Heads will roll’

Subic Bay Metropolitan (SBMA) Chairman Martin Diño warned crooked businessmen not to use the Subic Bay Freeport for their smuggling operation, adding that the Subic agency will not spare anyone in its campaign against corruption.

Diño issued the warning as he announced the seizure of a 10-wheeler truck (RNK 394) loaded with 36 units of used industrial sewing machine and other office equipment with an estimated total value of P2.65 million.

The cargo was declared as assorted scrap materials from the Subic Bay Apparel Corp., a company which has closed at the Naval Magazine area here. The cargo was declared as worth only P10,000.

Diño said that SBMA law enforcers and personnel of the Bureau of Customs (Port of Subic) stopped the cargo truck last Friday, May 19, after its driver Roel Taloban, 24, of New Cabalan, Olongapo City, failed to show a clearance from the Bureau of Customs (BoC).

Diño added that because of the incident, BoC CIIS Lt. Gino Minguilian asked Subic authorities to review the documents and CCTV footages of haulers exiting the Freeport gate at Tipo Road.

From these it was found that on May 11, 12 and 15, five other hauling trucks loaded with 109 heavy duty sewing machines, computers, office chairs, 300 rolls of fabric and other materials, have passed through Tipo Road. The cargoes were reportedly transported to the San Simon Industrial Park in Pampanga.

“We will know who were involved in this, where it passed, or whether this was happening regularly,” Diño also said. “This time we are sending a clear signal to all businessmen, as well as our people at the gate, that the SBMA is serious in stopping smuggling here.”

The SBMA official further said that he is consulting now with the agency lawyers to find ways on how to run after smugglers.

“Definitely, like what we are doing at the VACC (Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption), there will be heads rolling here,” he assured the media.

Meanwhile, Minguilian said that he has already relieved BoC personnel who were assigned in Tipo at the time when the trucks in question passed the Freeport gate. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)

27 May 2017

Rescued ‘pawikan’ released in Subic Freeport on World Turtle Day

The Ocean Adventure Marine Theme Park here celebrated World Turtle Day last Tuesday (May 23) by releasing “George,” an Olive Ridley sea turtle that was found by a fisherman in Olongapo City eight years ago.

George was released at the Camayan Beach Resort under the supervision of animal experts from the Ocean Adventure Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (OARRC).

According to OARRC personnel, George was brought to Ocean Adventure in 2010 by Olongapo fisherman Rodrigo Poblete, who found the turtle at a beach when it was still a juvenile that weighed only two kilos.

Poblete kept the sea turtle as a pet for over a year until it eventually outgrew the kiddie pool where it was kept. Then Poblete turned over the sea turtle to the local government unit of Olongapo, which then referred him to the Wildlife In Need (WIN) Rescue Center.

WIN brought George to Ocean Adventure where he was rehabilitated and fed with the proper nourishment, and where veterinarians conducted monthly physical examinations to ensure his health.

And after several months of close monitoring, George was moved to a large natural lagoon where other rescued sea turtles were rehabilitated.

SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma lauded the effort in saving the sea turtle, pointing out that it “certainly makes a huge difference in the preservation of the pawikan, which are known to lay their eggs in beaches at the Subic Bay Freeport.”

Eisma added that the SBMA has been working hand-in-hand with local government units and private organizations in rescuing endangered animals such as sea turtles.

The OARRC had so far accepted 62 sea turtles that were rescued in the Freeport and various towns of Zambales and Bataan. These included 19 Hawksbill sea turtles, 16 Green Sea turtles, and 27 Olive Ridley sea turtles.(JRR/MPD-SBMA)


“George,” a sea turtle rehabilitated at the Ocean Adventure Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is released to the sea on Tuesday by Ocean Adventure OIC Robert Gonzaga, Community Environment Officer Marife Castillo and SBMA public relation manager Armie Llamas. The release coincided with the celebration of World Turtle Day, which aims to provide awareness for turtles and tortoise and to encourage human involvement for their survival. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

Gordon opens PRC training center in Subic Freeport

Senator Richard Gordon presided over the inauguration here on Sunday of a training center that would provide vocational education to residents from disaster-stricken areas in the country.

Gordon, who is also chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), said the training center is a joint undertaking of PRC and the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Royal Charity Organization (RCO).

Gordon, along with RCO Secretary General H.E. Dr. Mustafa Alsayed, led the ribbon-cutting and turnover ceremony for the facility located at the former Naval Magazine area of this free port.

The PRC has previously established its logistics center for local and international disaster-response operations in the same area.

According to Gordon, the vocational training center will help ensure sustainable growth through education to victims of disaster-stricken areas in the country.

“The center will provide people with market-driven skills and training so they can secure steady, well-paying jobs,” Gordon said.

He added that the center is part of the recovery projects that Bahrain’s RCO had promised to fund to help improve the lives of victims of Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, which devastated several parts of the country in November 2013.

Alsayed, meanwhile, was ecstatic over the opening of the Subic vocation training center and expressed hope that it will produce students who will use their education to uplift their calamity-stricken community.

Gordon and Alsayed also inaugurated a similar vocational training center in Tacloban City a day before the Subic launch. Tacloban was the community worst-hit by Haiyan.

Gordon said these centers will offer training courses in electrical installation and maintenance, plumbing technology, carpentry, masonry, commercial cooking, bread and pastry production, seafarers rating, and a finishing course for call center agents.

The training centers each have four rooms that consist of two workshop rooms, an equipment storage area and one administration office. They both have a capacity to seat 30 to 40 students at a time, or from 15 to 20 students for laboratory sessions.

According to PRC Secretary General Oscar Palabyab, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will also play a big role on the project, since the agency will be accrediting the students who will graduate from the vocational courses.

“This is also an expansion of our humanitarian service, as well as our relationship with different partners,” Palabyab added.

Palabyab said the PRC training center in the Subic Bay Freeport was constructed at around P7.8 million, while the facility in Tacloban costs around P5.3 million. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)


[1] Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, receives a symbolic key to the PRC Training Center in the Subic Bay Freeport from Dr. Mustafa Alsayed, secretary general of the Royal Charity Organization (ROC) of the Kingdom of Bahrain, during the recent inauguration and turnover ceremony of the facility that was financed by the RCO. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[2] Officials of the Philippine Red Cross headed by Sen. Richard Gordon, and the Royal Charity Organization (RCO) of the Kingdom of Bahrain headed by Dr. Mustafa Alsayed, link arms in a symbol of unity following the recent inauguration and turnover ceremony of the Philippine Red Cross Training Center in the Subic Bay Freeport, which was financed by the RCO. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

25 May 2017

Huge field gears up for Regent 5150 in Subic Bay

Organizers of the Regent 5150 Triathlon brace for a record field clashing for top honors in the local version of the world’s largest Olympic distance triathlon series, which stages its third edition on June 4 in Subic Bay.

Six hundred forty entries have so far entered in the main event while around 300 have registered for the side event Sunrise Sprint, a short distance race series put up by the organizing Sunrise Events, Inc. last year, with the roster expected to swell 10 days before the event.

For details and listup, visit

Sam Betten headlines the elite field in the men’s pro division with the top 6-4 Australian triathlete gunning for a three-peat against the likes of fellow Aussies and veterans Ben Allen, the 2016 Australian ITU Cross Triathlon champion and a former XTERRA As-Pac titlist, Mitch Robins and Dan Brown.

American Iain Alexandridis, a consistent top 10 Ironman 70.3 finisher, is also in the hunt in the 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run event sponsoored by the country’s leading snack manufacturing company.

Focus will also be on the women’s pro side with veteran campaigner and be-medalled triathlete Dimity-Lee Duke, also of Australia, Hungarian Anna Eberhardt, and Kerry Mulholland and Annelies Jeffries, also both from Down Under, disputing the crown won by absentee Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand last year.

The event will also feature the Alaska Ironkids Philippines, featuring the country’s future triathlon stars on June 3 at the WOW Recreation and Activity Center/Remy Field.

Inspired by its successful inaugural last year, the Sunrise Sprint, a 750m swim, a 20k bike and a 5k run, will again be held for beginners wanting to immerse themselves into triathlon racing, a tri warrior who has been off the circuit and out to make a comeback or simply a triathlon enthusiast.

Backers of the event are Dept. of Tourism Region 3 and Tourism Promotions Board as presentors, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority as host venue and Acea Subic Bay as host hotel, along with 2GO Express, Powerade and Wilkins Pure, TYR, Hoka One, Active Network, Philippine Star, Trilife,, Finisher Pix, HyperHD on Cignal, AlcoPlus, Autohub, Cetaphil, Daylong, Devant, Omega, PLDT Subictel, Sanicare, Storck, Garmin, Alaska, David’s Salon, GU, Intercare, Pioneer Insurance and Sante Barley, the Lighthouse Marina Hotel, Court Meridian, Subic International Hotel and Active Network.

Aussie triathlete Sam Betten flashes the No. 1 sign as he celebrates after crossing the finish line at the Remy Field during last year's 5150 triathlon held at Subic Bay Freeport. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

21 May 2017

Subic eyed as distribution hub for ultra-light flying boats

An Italian company which manufactures ultra-light aircraft has relocated its base of operation in this premier free port to take advantage of Subic’s ideal position as product distribution center.

Ramphos Corporation, owned and operated by Italian designer Enos Gaiga, has been in the business of making ultra-light aircraft in Italy since 1998. However, seeing the huge potential of Subic in transhipping product to other parts of the world, Gaiga brought the business to Subic in 2015 and made his first ultra-light flying boat here last year.

“The reason we relocated here is the potential of transhipping our product to other parts of the world without much hassle,” Gaiga explained. “Moreover, Filipinos are great craftsmen when it comes to manufacturing boats and vehicles.”

Gaiga said the firm’s first ultra-light flying boat, which was called Ramphos amphibious, was made in 1998 for recreational use. The next year the model saw commercial production.

According to Gaiga, Ramphos flying boats are easy to fly and can be used for sight-seeing tours, fishing, adventure trips, search and rescue operations, sea and river patrol, light cargo delivery and even special military operations.

In 2003, Ramphos won the best trike of the year award at the Sun and Fun air show in Florida.

So far, Ramphos products have been sold in 32 countries worldwide, with the Ramphos amphibious priced at around P1.9 milion.

The flying boat has been certified under different civil aviation authorities, among them in Europe, United States, Australia, China, Canada and Mexico.

As a registered investor in the Subic Bay Freeport, the Ramphos Corporation plans to sell its ultra-light flying boats to resort owners and sports enthusiasts here.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the company is a welcome addition to the growing number of investors in Subic, and expressed optimism that more ultra-light flying boats are made in the Subic Bay Freeport. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)


A Ramphos amphibious ultra-light flying boat takes off in Subic Bay last week, demonstrating the versatility of the leisure craft. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)

19 May 2017

Another white lion born in Subic Freeport

Another white lion was born at the Zoobic Safari animal theme park here recently, the third time that such birth was recorded in this free port.

Zoobic Safari owner Robert Yupangco said the white lion was born last April 3 and is now one and a half months old.

The lion cub was named Christian Amando as a tribute to former Zoobic Safari staff Christian Hon, who died before its birth, and Australian ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely, who visited the theme park recently.

Currently, Christian Amando consumes some 72 ounces of kitten milk replacer (KMR) every day to complete the prescribed food for nursing kittens.

Yupangco said that lion cubs need supplemental feeding after being breastfed by their mothers for the first three days. They also need colostrum for strengthening of their immune system.

“If ever, Christian Amando will be the first white lion bottle-feed survivor,” said Noe Pasilan, the park’s zoology supervisor, who helped deliver the cub at Zoobic Safari.

Amando’s parents, Tisay and JB, both came from a white lion family imported from the Middle East.

The white lion is a rare color mutation of the lion. They were thought to have been indigenous to the Timbavati region of South Africa for centuries, although the earliest recorded sighting in this region was in 1938.

White lions in the area of Timbavati are of the same subspecies as the tawny Southeast African lion (Panthera leo krugeri) found in some wildlife reserves in South Africa, and in zoological parks around the world.

Until 2009, when the first pride of white lions was reintroduced into the wild, it was widely believed that the white lion could not survive in the natural environment. It is for this reason that a large part of the population of white lions now reside in zoos. (Camille Pelagio/MPD-SBMA)

Christian Amando, a white lion cub born at Zoobic Safari in the Subic Bay Freeport and the first white lion cub to be bottle-fed by animal keepers at the park, sucks on the finger of a visitor. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)

SBMA welcomes hosting of int’l ecotourism meet in Subic

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has welcomed the scheduled staging here of the Subic Ecotourism Festival, which will bring together a powerhouse cast of international experts in the field of ecotourism to discuss global best practices.

SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma said the festival is slated on May 29 to June 1 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center under the aegis of the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) and the Department of Tourism.

“We’re very much delighted in hosting this event, because we take pride in the Subic Bay Freeport being one of the few remaining places with very high biodiversity in the country today,” Eisma said.

“We will be happy to share with the participants in this forum the challenges and successes that we have experienced in the field of ecotourism since Subic was established as a free port in 1992,” she added.

According to ISST president Mina Gabor, the event will be biggest of its kind in the country as it will bring together the leaders of the Global Ecotourism Network (GEN) and its regional subsidiary, the Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN).

“The event will be a rare opportunity for delegates to learn from and network with the best practitioners in the industry,” said Gabor, a former Tourism Secretary who pushed ecotourism during her tenure, making it a byword in the industry years later.

“Given the fact that the Philippines’ tourism industry is driven largely by its natural attractions, it is important to balance economic benefit, conservation and respect for local communities which the GEN board members are greatly recognized for,” she added.

The festival has been scheduled here in line with the declaration by the United Nations World Tourism Organization of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

The event will gather together ecotourism experts like Glenn Jampol and Tony Charters, GEN chair and vice-chair respectively, and general board members Robert Holmes of Australia, Hitesh Mehta of Kenya, Masaru Takayama of Japan, Nabil Tarazi of Jordan, and Albert Teo of Malaysia.

Other foreign speakers are Lizzie Corke of Conservation Ecology Center Australia, Paul Niederer of ASSOB International, Tan Thi Su of Sapa O'Chau (Vietnam), Imtiaz Muqbil of Travel Impact Newswire, Kaetwa Muangasame of Mahidol University International College, Greg Duffel of Bond Asian Ventures Limited, Ary Suhandi of Indecon Indonesia, and Randy Durband of Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Meanwhile, local speakers will include DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau director Teresa Mundita Lim, National Commission on Culture and the Arts-School of Living Traditions executive director Rico Pableo Jr., National Commission on Indigenous Peoples socioeconomic and special affairs director Marie Grace Pascua, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity executive director Roberto Oliva, Cebu provincial tourism officer Boboi Costas, Philippine Airlines SVP for operations Ismael Augusto Gozon, and El Nido Resorts head of sustainability Mariglo Laririt.

Gabor said the event is designed for government policy-makers, infrastructure development executives, tourism, travel and hospitality professionals, and faculty and students. Festival participants also conduct a case study for the development of an ecotourism project in the Subic Bay Freeport area.

The Subic Bay Freeport, which sits on a large portion of the Subic Forest and Watershed Reserve, is touted to be one of the few places in the Philippines with high biodiversity. It has a total of 745 plant species belonging to 429 genera and 122 families, and a total of 122 wildlife vertebrates from 99 genera and 57 families.

The Subic Freeport is also home to several rare animals that include seven bird species like the Philippine Fairy Bluebird (Irena cyanogaster), two mammal species like the Striped Shrew Rat (Chrotomys minbdorensis), one reptile specie, and two amphibian species. (HEE/AMD/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS (clockwise):

[1] Sailboats romp on fresh breeze at the Subic Bay Freeport, a leading eco-tourism destination in the country today, which will host the 2017 Subic Ecotourism Festival on May 29-June 1.

[2] Long-tailed macaque monkeys play at a housing area in the Subic Bay Freeport, a leading eco-tourism destination in the country today, which will host the 2017 Subic Ecotourism Festival on May 29-June 1.

[3] Fruit bats roost on trees at the Subic Bay Freeport, a leading eco-tourism destination in the country today, which will host the 2017 Subic Ecotourism Festival on May 29-June 1.

18 May 2017

SBMA vigilant against entry of illegal drugs

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is closely working with law enforcement agencies to strictly monitor incoming vessels here against the possible entry of illegal drugs in the country via the Port of Subic.

This is in consonance with the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs, said SBMA Administrator Wilma T. Eisma.

Just recently, elements from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region III, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Immigration (BI) in Olongapo City, SBMA Seaport and SBMA Law Enforcement Department (LED) conducted a joint operation following intelligence reports that a ship arriving here was carrying illegal drugs.

According to a report from the SBMA Law Enforcement Department, the ship in question was a Panamax vessel carrying a cargo of soya from the United States. It arrived at the port of Subic early in May and anchored outside the limits of the SBMA Seaport.

Upon its arrival, government law enforcers led by PDEA, PCG and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group boarded and search the vessel using K-9 drug sniffing dogs, with SBMA Seaport and LED representatives observing the operations.

The search turned out negative and the operation was terminated on Tuesday, authorities here said.

Administrator Eisma said the recent inter-agency operation was a clear sign that the agency will not tolerate the entry of illegal drugs through the Port of Subic.

She said there are strict procedures and safety nets in place to ensure that no contraband, especially illegal drugs, could enter the country through the port of Subic.

“The SBMA is also implementing random checks for illegal substance that might be on board any of these incoming vessels,” Eisma added.

The administrator also issued a stern warning against those who are even thinking of shipping illegal drugs into the country and using Subic Bay as the port of entry, saying they will be harshly dealt with the full force of the law. (RBB/MPD-SBMA)

16 May 2017

Subic Freeport eyes more cruise ships

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is looking forward to the arrival here of more cruise ships under its “Tourism Star” development agenda to promote Subic’s tourism potentials and maximize its attractiveness as a world-class tourist destination.

SBMA Administrator and CEO Wilma Eisma made this announcement on Monday following the arrival here of MS Bremen, an expedition ship operated by the German tour giant Hapag Lloyd Cruises.

“With the recent port call of the MS Bremen, we have proven once again that the Subic Bay Freeport can easily be a preferred destination for cruise ships,” Eisma said.

“This is really fortuitous for us, because under our Tourism Star program, the SBMA seeks to promote Subic as the next cruise ship playground, alongside other objectives like creating a Subic tourism brand and expanding existing tourism programs,” she added.

The 111-meter long MS Bremen docked at the Alava Wharf last Friday, bringing more than 150 tourists, as well as a complement of ship crew that included some naturalists.

The visitors were welcomed at the dock by the SBMA brass band, as well as tourism staff waving flaglets. SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma was also around during the reception and gladly received a ship memento from Ship Captain Roman Oprist.

“This is the first time that we had docked in Subic Bay Freeport,” Oprist told Eisma. “We have already travelled to Java and Borneo, and this is our next stop.”

Oprist said the MS Bremen is a cruise ship operated by Hapag Lloyd since 1993. He said the ship is an expedition ship of a special kind because it was designed to navigate where other cruise ships fail — on thick ice or in shallow waters.

He added that the four-star vessel carries only a maximum of 160 guests during its cruise.

During its Subic Bay visit, some passengers of MS Bremen visited the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail where they witnessed demonstrations of jungle survival techniques by the local Ayta tribe, while others went to the Zoobic Safari theme park.

Eisma said that with plans to upgrade the ports and wharves inside the Subic Bay Freeport, the Agency is working to attract more cruise ships to this premier Freeport and tourism center.

“Subic has got what it takes to be a cruise ship playground. And the arrival of Bremen is a good sign,” Eisma added. (JRR/MPD-SBMA)

PHOTOS: (Clockwise)

[1] The Bahamas-registered MS Bremen cruise ship is moored by dock hands at the Alava Pier during its arrival on Friday at the Subic Bay Freeport. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[2] A brass band welcomes the arrival of the MS Bremen cruise ship at the Subic Bay Freeport on Friday, signalling a warm welcome to this tourist destination that aims to become the next cruise ship playground in Southeast Asia. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[3] SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma receives a ship memorabilia from MS Bremen captain Roman Oprist, following the arrival of the Bahamas-registered Hapag Lloyd Cruises vessel at the Subic Bay Freeport on Friday. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

[4] An Ayta elder at the Pamulaklakin Ayta Village in the Subic Bay Freeport demonstrates tribal bushcraft to tourists from the MS Bremen following their arrival in Subic Bay on Friday. (AMD/MPD-SBMA)

200 Subic volunteers join new ‘Protect the Bay’ project

Members of the Subic Bay Freeport community have again answered the call for community cooperation and banded together for another initiative to protect the coastal environment.

Some 200 volunteers from various community groups and government agencies joined the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. (RP Energy) for a one-day coastal cleanup project at Sitio Kinabuksan in Barangay Cawag, Subic, Zambales held recently.

The volunteers included students from Kinabuksan, members of the Calapandayan Fisherfolks Association, personnel from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Olongapo City, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), SBMA Ecology Center, SBMA Public Relations Department, and representatives of RP Energy.

RP Energy CSR Officer Jason Gavina said the project was the first installment of the power firm’s “Protect the Bay” initiative that seeks to promote environmental awareness, establish sustainable livelihood for fisher folks, and to protect Subic Bay.

“This is part of our social responsibility. We believe in supporting our community and not just making profit. We believe in environmental awareness, preservation and sustainability,” he said.

“I’m sure that if we’re going to do this three times this year, mahihiya at mahihiya na tayong magkalat sa ating kapaligiran,” Gavina added.

Aside from the cleanup, RP Energy will establish sustainable livelihood programs for the fisherfolk in Subic Bay, he said.

For the second coastal cleanup activity, Gavina said the RP Energy will implement on May 27 the “Basura Palit Gamit Eskwela” project, whereby children in the Cawag community could bring recyclable waste and exchange them for school supplies.

Meanwhile, Community Environment Officer Marife Castillo lauded the “Protect the Bay” project for its contribution to the government’s environmental protection campaign.

“We appreciate the initiatives of RP Energy in doing this kind of activity for the community,” Castillo said during last Saturday’s cleanup project.

RP Energy, which is developing a state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant at Subic’s Redondo Peninsula, will be using environment-friendly technology for its 600-megawatt power plant. (Jyssilee Marcillano/Tin Fortuna/MPD-SBMA)

Volunteers led by (from left) SBMA Public Relations Officer Amie Llamas, RP Energy CSR Officer Jason Gavina, Olongapo Community Environment Officer Marife Castillo, and Philippine Coast Guard’s George Cosme segregate garbage collected from the beach during a coastal clean-up held recently at Sitio Kinabuksan, Barangay Cawag, Subic, Zambales. (AMD/EVS/MPD-SBMA)