Regional Updates (12/02/20)

German government gives grant for project to protect Manila hospital from flooding

THE German government will provide a grant that will protect the state-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH) from flooding by April 2021. “It is already a bad situation during COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), but what if the hospital housing COVID-19 patients would be flooded at the same time, and cannot take care of the patients anymore,” Flood Asia Control RS Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Andreas Klippe said during the launching at PGH on Wednesday. Mr. Klippe said construction of the flood control project will begin on Dec. 3 and is targeted for completion by April 30, in time for the rainy season starting May. “The benefit for the hospital is of course that the hospital will be flood proof, not the full hospital but essential paths, depending on the findings of the engineering assessment,” he said. The German firm, based in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, said the grant money will still vary on the engineering assessment. The Philippines is located in the typhoon belt and an average of 20 storms enter the country annually. Also present during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding were Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel, PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi, and Manila Rep. Cristal L. Bagatsing. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Tollway operators ordered to add offsite installation areas for RFIDs

THE Transportation department on Wednesday asked toll operators to add more offsite installation areas in shopping malls and gas stations to accommodate motorists who have yet to get radio frequency identification (RFID) stickers. Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran said the main cause of traffic on Dec. 1, the deadline for toll operators to go fully cashless, was the number of users who needed to have their RFIDs reloaded, apart from the volume of vehicles. “To help address the problem on long lines for RFID sticker installation in toll gates, the Department of Transportation calls on toll operators to add more offsite installation areas in malls, gas stations, and other strategic locations, so that people will no longer have to go to the toll gates just to have their RFIDs installed,” Ms. Libiran said in a statement. She said the government is keeping the Dec. 1 deadline, with a transition period of up to January 11. “The government has been giving considerations. That is precisely the reason why, on top of the 3-month transition period we gave from August to November, and the extension we granted from November 2 to December 1, we have decided to implement a transition period from December 1 to January 11, and to still maintain RFID stickering lanes even after that.” During the transition period, motorists with no RFID stickers will not be penalized. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Bagobo Village Museum in Sta. Cruz now open for culture-nature immersion

A VISIT to the Bagobo Cultural Village includes a taste of their culinary traditions with a meal of nilotlot na manok (native chicken cooked in bamboo) and salad with vegetables from the community garden, and a nature trek through the Baruring River and Balusong Waterfalls. — BW/MAYA M. PADILLO

STA. Cruz in Davao del Sur, a coastal town at the foot of Mt. Apo, has reopened to tourists, offering choices for outdoor activities as well as cultural immersion at the Bagobo Cultural Village. The town’s tourism officer, Julius R. Paner, said visitors can now go on organized trekking trips, stay at the beach, or have a taste of the life of the Bagobo indigenous group at their living museum. “We intend to make the Bagobo Cultural Village a flagship project on cultural tourism in Region 11 (Davao). A tour here is an encounter where one appreciates the life, existence and survival of the Bagobo-Tagabawa, a dominant tribe in the ancestral domain of Mt. Apo Natural Park,” Mr. Paner said in an interview. Part of the village experience is a tour of the surrounding Baruring River and Balusong Waterfalls, visit to their vegetable farm, and bird watching, among others. The Bagobo Cultural Village was a recipient of the 2016 ASEAN Award for Community-based Ecotourism. The village is managed by the Tribal Council of Tibolo with support from the local governments, National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, the non-government organization Kapiid Ka Banua, and Department of Tourism. — Maya M. Padillo

For guidelines, other information and booking a day tour or overnight stay, contact the Sta. Cruz Tourism Office through mobile number 09465690015, or visit or

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