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No Major Drop in Number of Tourist Arrivals in Central Visayas Despite Travel Warnings

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Tourists continue to visit Central Visayas despite the recent encounter between security forces and a terror group in Bohol and several travel warnings issued against the Philippines.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) assured this Thursday, noting that any minor decline in tourism numbers in the coming months would not affect the target of acquiring 6.5 to 7 million foreign tourist arrivals by yearend.

Travel agencies earlier reported a number of cancelled trips from Japan, US, Europe among other countries. However, the DOT explained that this had little effect on overall tourism numbers.

DOT Secretary Wanda Teo said that cancellations were “minimal” and assured that the agency coordinates with law enforcement authorities to assure the safety of tourists.

Every time there are travel advisories, tourism numbers lie low for a while. But after a month, tourists return. Cancellations are minimal,” Teo said in a press conference in Makati City.

Though privy on details, DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. also revealed that a high-profile Japanese TV production team from Kansai is pushing through with its plan to shoot in the Cebu despite concerns on tourism safety.

Meanwhile, several foreign tour operators, including an 80-member English as a second language (ESL) group, also push through with their familiarization tours in Cebu, Bohol, and Iloilo.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings in Bohol will also push through as scheduled this week.

These are good indications that the confidence of the overseas traveler is (still) very high,” Bengzon said.

Despite recent canceled trips from around 150 Korean tourists, Bengzon said that still other Korean tourists decided to push through with their visit.

Every day, we get about 3,600 Korean tourists on average. We received a report of 150 cancellations. I think it’s easy enough to conclude whether that has had a significant effect on the flow of arrivals,” Bengzon said.

We are not brushing this off. We take this matter very seriously. But it is very clear that there are a lot more tourists that decided to push through with their travel to Philippines,” he added.

Fair Advisories

Teo said that she had also coordinated with UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Taleb Rifai to renew her call to encourage foreign counterparts to issue “fair” travel advisories and eventually lift them.

Every time there’s kidnapping, we immediately get travel advisories that it’s not safe to travel in the Philippines. This is not exactly true,” Teo said.

She expressed hope that Rifai would help compel Foreign Affairs ministries in other countries to eventually rethink or lift the travel advisories against the Philippines.

The Secretary said that this way, the department could also safeguard the local people who are dependent on tourism. (PNA)

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10 Schools in Cebu Chosen for Japanese Disaster Management Program

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Ten schools in Cebu Province will benefit from a Japanese disaster management program.

SEEDS Asia, a Japan-based non-government organization, partnered with the Department of Education (DepEd) for the school-based disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) program.

There are 10 pilot schools in Cebu province under the program of SEEDS Asia.

The schools will receive trainings, equipment and manuals on disaster management.

The 10 schools are found in the cities of Bogo, Carcar, Danao, Lapulapu, Mandaue, Naga, Toledo and Cebu Province –Daanbantayan.

Dr. Theron Aranas, Division DRRM Coordinator of DepEd Cebu City, said the program, which started in March last year, had made significant reformations in the disaster management of Cebu City Central School.

The teachers at the City Central School underwent trainings and other capacity building workshops.

“The school initially had only one exit gate, after the initial trainings they now have a specific plan and another alternative exit,” Aranas said.

This April, there will be 120 teachers who will undergo a five-day training on DRRM in schools.

Yo Kunieda, Philippine Country Representative of SEEDS Asia, said the program covers preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery.

“Management is very important because it is a matter of life and death. We want to impart what we know in Japan here in the Philippines,” Kunieda said.

She mentioned that three tiers are needed to achieve comprehensive safety: safety building, school disaster risk reduction management, and risk reduction education.

SEEDS Asia received the project funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-Kansai International Center.

The other schools include Beatriz D. Durano Memorial National High School in Danao City, Daanbantayan Central Elementary School, Marigondon National High School in Lapulapu City, City of Bogo Science and Arts Academy, Uling Elementary School in Naga City, Paknaan National High School in Mandaue City, Carcar City Central Elementary School, Talavera Elementary School in Toledo City, and Tabunoc Central School in Talisay City. (fcc/PIA7-Cebu)

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DOH Opens Slots for Medical Scholarship in the Visayas

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Image Source: desiringgod.org

The New Year brings good news to the Cebuanos as the Department of Health (DOH) reopened its scholarship program for would-be doctors and midwives.

In today’s Kapihan sa PIA Cebu, Mario Natividad, Nurse II, DOH 7 said the scholarship program for medical courses are now being offered in partner schools in Cebu and Visayas.

“This means that DOH is offering all in free education, the scholar will not pay for anything while enrolled in the program,” Natividad said.

Image Source: pia.gov.ph

Initially, two courses are open for the scholarship program – medicine and midwifery – and so far, these are offered in three partner schools in the Visayas.

For medicine course, two slots are available at the University of Cebu Medical Center (UCMED) in Mandaue City and four slots at the Southwestern University in Urgello, Cebu City.

For midwifery, it is offered at the University of Bohol in Tagbilaran City.

The requirements to avail of the scholarship, Natividad said, will depend on those set by the partner schools.

For those who are accepted in the Medicine scholarship program, they are entitled to receive more than P30,000 package which include allowances for books, uniform, miscellaneous, transportation, lodging, living subsidy, and an annual premium for PhilHealth.

For midwifery, the scholar is entitled to a book allowance worth P10,000 for every semester and uniform allowance at P2,500 annually.

Aspiring scholars will have to apply directly to the partner school which has their own set of requirements.

After graduation, the scholars will have to take the Professional Licensure Examination within the year.

If they fail to pass, the scholar will have to shoulder the expenses for the succeeding licensing exam.

Furthermore, Natividad said the scholars are also required to render a “return of service.

“For every year of the scholarship program, multiply that by two and that is the required return of service obligation years,” Natividad said.

They shall render first three years in Public Health Care Services through the Doctors to the Barrio Program.

The remaining years shall be in government service, either in national or local public health institution, academe, residency training, and research and development.

The aim of the program is to draw more medical professionals to work in the public health sector to address the inequitable access to quality health care services prioritizing the depressed, hard to reach communities, the marginalized, and vulnerable population in the country. (fcc/PIA7-Cebu)

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Cebu Province Gives P500,000 for Devotee City

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Image Source: cebucity.gov.ph

For the first time, the Provincial Government of Cebu budgeted P500,000 for the mounting and operations of the Devotee City for this year’s Sinulog season.

Baltazar Tribunalo, Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer (PDRRMO), said Governor Hilario Davide ordered the assistance considering that majority of the beneficiaries of the Devotee City are from the province and nearby islands.

The Devotee City caters to revelers and devotees from Carcar City and beyond in the south and Danao City and beyond in the north as well as those from other provinces.

All they have to do is to present a boat or a bus ticket to be accommodated in the Devotee City.

Tribunalo said that other than the budget, members of the disaster teams from the different local government units are also around to augment the emergency responders of Cebu City.

Last year, the PDRRMO participated for the first time as responders in the Sinulog festivities and church observances.

Cebu City Councilor Roberto Cabarubias, who had been assigned to oversee the Devotee City in the last 10 years, said this year the facility can accommodate lesser number of people after a portion is already designated as a commercial area.

“From 120 container vans, there are now just 88, but they still have the basic amenities such as cooking area, washing and bathing area, plus the 10 gig Wifi offered by PLDT,” Cabarubias said.

“There is also an assigned house parent for every container to ensure safety and order in the facility,” Cabarubias added.

There are also policemen assigned 24/7 in the area.

The Devotee City started during the time of the late Cebu City Councilor Fe Mantua Ruiz.

It was then called as “Tent City” set up at the Plaza Independencia.

In the olden times, revelers and devotees from far-flung areas would bring with them pigs and chickens and other food which they will cook for everybody after paying homage to Señor Santo Niño. (fcc/PIA-Cebu)

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Fiesta Señor and Sinulog 2018 Goes Digital

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Image Source: www.cebu.gov.ph

Amid the digital era, organizers of the Sinulog festival have decided to tap social media to help deliver the message on the real essence of the celebration, which is the devotion and gratitude to the Holy Child Jesus, Sto. Niño.

Sinulog Foundation Inc. has launched the Sinulog 2018 app, where users can plot their own Sinulog route and schedule, as well as take a good look at various Sinulog activities, parade contingents, and the official route maps.

The app also enables the user to vote for this year’s Sinulog festival queen of their choice.

“One of the goals for the Sinulog 2018 is to bring back the essence of Sinulog to the Sto. Niño, especially to the younger generation who generally just wants to party,” said Stephanie Villarica, Sinulog Foundation Inc. Marketing and Promotions head.

In coordination with the social media teams of the Cebu Provincial Government and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the organizers are also exerting efforts in expanding social media presence.

Both government institutions will serve as reliable sources and will provide real-time updates during the celebration.

Aside from downloading the Sinulog 2018 app, Sinulog head secretariat Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes also encourages the public to download prayer apps.

Sinulog activities

Dubbed as “Kalingawan sa Plaza,” nightly activities are held at the Plaza Independencia for free. Fresh farm produce are also sold around the area.

The organizers also stressed that there will no longer be booths and Sinulog activities held along the Fuente Osmeña circle.

The Cebu City Government recently banned all parties and sale of liquor within 300 meters of the route.

www.cebu.gov.ph

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