Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

Despite conservation effort, 1/3 of world’s coral reefs face danger of extinction

October 22, 2008

Palawan’s Tubbataha National Marine Park is designated by the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as one of the World’s Heritage sites. It is being considered among the planet’s 7 new natural wonders. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) vice chair Lory Yap (Philippines) said the fish biomass in the reef practically doubled from 2004-2005 through regulated tourism and wildlife management.

Yet, in a separate report, 45 poachers were recently nabbed by marine park rangers in the area. The poachers attempted to bribe their way to gather an endangered sea-shell called samung (Tochus noliticus.) used to make commercial buttons and jewelry, sought for by traders in Cebu.

Conservation proponents continue to face an uphill battle against people who disregard efforts to protect and save the environment. More than 200 samung collectors this year have been apprehended in Tubbataha Reef in violation of an international agreement which penalizes violators to up to 12 to 20 years in prison.

In spite of such effort, about a third of the world’s coral reefs still face extinction because of climate change, sedimentation, and human intrusion. The ominous environmental changes and build up of pollution have hampered the reefs to rebuild, preventing fish and other marine life to thrive. Philstar (10/22/08, Ercheminada, P)

According to WWF spokesman, Gregg Yan, a kilometer square of undamaged coral reef can produce as much as 30 tons of seafood yearly for the sustenance of the people, but it depends on how much the reef is preseved and kept healthy.

Meeting in Manila, government officials and wildlife experts from countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands seek ways to save the world’s richest marine region which encompasses parts of Sulu-Sulawesi, South China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. Obviously, in terms of wildlife conservation, a lot has still to be done. (Photo Credits: melhins; courtneyplatt; mikebond) =0=

UPDATE: 10/24/08: The US government pledged a total of $39.45 million to save the world’s greatest coral reef (Coral Triangle) which borders six countries, including the Philippines. This was announced by US Ambassador Kristie Kenney putting the total pledges to $450 million from collective contributions from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, US Agency for International Development and the Australian Agency for International Development. =0=

RP’s 40% drop in med school enrollment & the foreign doctors

August 27, 2008

It seems a good thing that doctors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN,) a group of sovereign states in partnership with the Philippines, are coming to the country for study. This development is timely when at least 5,000 doctors have left the country since 2004 and about 6,000 have shifted to study nursing for jobs abroad. In the last three years, a staggering 40% drop in medical enrollment is noted. Asian Journal Online (08/26/08)

An uncertain number of foreign doctors who come from Iran, India, Malaysia and Indonesia and other neighboring countries have sought training in Philippine hospitals, many in the provinces, even if no Department of Health (DOH) guidelines are existent to regulate them.

According to Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Reynaldo Santos, M.D., the arrival of these foreign medical trainees attests to the high quality of education in the country. But this is doubted in the wake of a sharp decline of the number of hospitals, a marked rise in patient load for doctors and nurses, a low passing rate of Filipinos in the United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE,) an over-crowding of patients and trainees, lack of budget, equipment upgrade, and medical facilities in many hospitals. See related article on medical diploma mills below.

If the Department of Health (DOH) and the Education Department (CHED) don’t act fast, it will not be long before foreigners will be able to judge for themselves the quality of education and healthcare in the Philippines compared to that of their countries of origin. It is deleterious for the country to rely on foreigners to solve the shortage of physicians or seek them to shore up dwindling medical enrollment. Without infringing on the physicians’ rights, measures to reverse the brain-drain of local doctors must be high in the priority. (Photo Credit: Doctian) =0=

MEDICAL SCHOOL DIPLOMA MILLS

A disturbing article entitled Medical School for Sale? was written by Emil Jurado of Manila Standard on July 26, 2007. It’s unclear whether the Department of Health (DOH) and school authorities (CHED) took satisfactory remedial action to prevent further erosion of credibility with the alleged proliferation of diploma mills in the country.

In concordance with the requirement of ASEAN’s Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)mandating to honor medical licenses and credentials among member nations, this highlights the need to write the long-overdue guidelines needed for the regulation, hiring, and training of local and foreign doctors in the Philippines. Here’s a part of Jurado’s riveting piece that needed verification plus action from the government:

The Times of India, a very prestigious newspaper, published an article, “Now showing: Manilabhai MBBS*.” The article is very derogatory about our kind of medical education. The latest MBBS scam to appear on the medical scene in India is based in the Philippines. “And this one’s even less complicated than the others.”

The article says: “There is no entrance test for admission, now, will you need to attempt the screening test in return?” says Upveen Harpal, accounting executive, HCMI, which is sending students abroad.

The article adds, “So, anybody with 40 percent in Class XII examination and who could pay Rs 16 lakhas (about P1.6 million) upfront could head for the Philippines for an MBBS and come home to practice. No questions asked, and Harpal claimed that this was a three-party tieup among HCMI, a medical school in Manila and a medical school in Tamil Nadu, India.”

To add insult to injury, Yogesh Sharma of Gujarat Global News Network, Ahmedabad wrote an article entitled, “The Philippines dangles carrots to Gujarat students: Be doctor for Rs 20 lakh.” The article implies that there are no more requirements to enter an MBBS program in the Philippines since the title gives the impression that all one needs is Rs 20 lakh or P2,000,000 to become a doctor, courtesy of fly-by-night or spurious Philippine medical schools, and diploma mills for sale. “ *N.B. M.D. in the Philippines is equivalent to MBBS in India. Manila Standard (07/25/08, Jurado, Emil; Photo Credit: PaulCooperBland)

Beacons of hope & exemplars of the soul’s triumph

August 25, 2008

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The pessimists in us are not happy about 15 Filipino athletes coming to the Beijing Olympic Games. They think it’s a waste of time, money and effort sending the delegation with a dismal chance of winning. Yet considering the support we have for sports, it’s a wonder that we have a contingent of brave competitors willing to sweat it out for the glory and edification of the country.

Like Laos, Kiribati, Uruguay, Myanmar, Liechtenstein, Yemen, Zambia, and many others, Philippines went home wanting of an Olympic medal. But for sure all these countries are richer in experience and hope. To be part of a world where cultural differences is transformed into a gesture of friendly competitiveness is an accomplishment by itself.

To be the best in the field isn’t everything. By our participation in the games, we affirm the universal aspiration for excellence and our desire to connect with people. By cooperating with China’s hosting of a tantalizing “coming out” party which wowed the world, we bouy up cooperation and friendship among nations. We demonstrate that winning and losing are life-realities that all of us must contend with.

We salute the cash-strapped people of Zimbabwe whose hyperinflation and economic hardships didn’t deter their athletes to bring home 4 medals. We admire Malaysia and the small West African country of Togo which brought a silver and bronze respectively.

Turbulent Georgia, which nurses wounds from separatist South Ossetia and suffers border conflict with neighbor Russia, won 6 medals. Moslem Iran, threatening Israel and the world with its nuclear program basked in victory with two well-earned medals. Our southern Asian partner Indonesia celebrates success from 5 impressive wins, one of them gold in badminton.


Amidst the dominance and superiority of the United States with 110 medals (eclipsing China in total number but not in the count for gold,) the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain with barely a million people produced for the first time a gold medal winner in track in field. Jamaica, a Carribean country of 2.5 million brought home a spectacular win of 11 medals, 6 of them gold. War-torn Afghanistan with a population less than half of the Philippines, won a taekwondo bronze in the 17-day grueling competition.

With 85 million of us, how come we’re lagging behind these countries? How come winning an Olympic medal seems to be so unreal— a pipe dream for us? The answer probably lies in our attitude, endurance, and value judgment. We need to trust ourselves more. We must support and appreciate the sportsmanship of our athletes. We must believe in our capacity to win, stirring us to fight as a team and as an individual for our own self-fulfillment and survival.

The aspiration of humanity to excel and be part of a cause greater than its own is part of the Olympic tradition. In a time when we doubt ourselves if we can go beyond what others expect of us, our athletes stand as beacons of hope and exemplars of our soul’s triumph. Even if our athletes didn’t win, in the field of dreams, their hearts shine as bright as the torch and the gold of the Olympics.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FILIPINO OLYMPIC ATHLETES!

Eric Ang—Shooting; Ryan Paolo Arabejo—Swimming;
Daniel Coakley—Swimming; Henry Dagmil—Track & Field; Hidilyn Diaz—-Weightlifting; Rexel Ryan Fabriga—Diving; Tshomlee Go—Taekwondo; Mark Javier—Archery; Miguel Molina—Swimming; Sheila Mae Perez—Diving; Mary Antoinette Rivero—Taekwondo;
Christel Simms—Swimming; Harry Tanamor—Boxing;
Marestella Torres—Track & Field; JB Walsh—Swimming. (PhotoCredits: AFP/NicolasAsfouri; Reuters/OlegPopov; Reuters/MikeBlake)=0=