Archive for the ‘Pilar’ Category

Baby whale shark (butanding) found in Sorsogon

March 10, 2009

The World Wide Fund (WWF) –Philippines, a nature conservation group, reports the rescue of a baby whale shark in Pilar, Sorsogon. The 15-inch sea creature locally called butanding was captured on Friday, March 6, 2009.

After documentation and making sure the animal wasn’t hurt, the baby butanding was released in deep waters by marine conservation officers. They said the encounter of the young for the first time in the area suggests Sorsogon is a breeding and birthing place for this animal.

At certain months of the year, tourists visit Sorsogon to watch adult friendly whale sharks interact with people. (Photo Credit: WWF)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “More of Andy’s Whaleshark (Butanding)” Posted by mesiamd at 9/15/2008; “Encounter With Whaleshark (Butanding) at Pasacao, Camarines Sur” Posted by Andygimpaya at 9/15/2008

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Two Boat Sinkings, A New Year Ferry Suspension in Bicol, Wave Height and Gale

January 3, 2009


For thousands of Bicol ferry passengers the forlorn walls of the ferry terminals in Tabaco (Albay), Pilar and Matnog (both in Sorsogon) was their New Year’s eve sight. This came about because government authorities, on the advice of the weather bureau, suspended small crafts from sailing citing forecasts of waves of up to four meters high.

This suspension is probably a reaction to the recent sinking of the motor boat MB Mae Jan which plies the Calayan island to Aparri, Cagayan route in which about half of its 100 passengers died. It was said that the weather was fine when the boat left Calayan but it turned bad before the boat reached its destination. The incident highlighted the disregard of PAGASA (the Philippines weather forecasting bureau) advisories which warned of big waves for that day.

Maybe the suspension is only correct. Forecast of wave heights should be the governing factor in ferry trip suspensions rather than wind speeds which is the basis for typhoon forecasts. It is waves that primarily swamp and capsize ships and not the winds per se. People should probably start to understand now that ships can meet sinking incidents even without a typhoon warning (and I am glad PAGASA now uses the term ‘gale’ to describe stormy sea conditions). I hope that government will stress more the importance of heeding wave height forecasts and educate people accordingly.

Sometimes I wonder if we need MB Mae Jan incidents for us to learn these things. But with the new system I hope the lives lost in that incident and in the MB Don Dexter Cathlyn sinking off Dimasalang, Masbate which killed about 40 people would not have been in vain.

This day, this change had a new twist. Ferry trips in Bicol were again suspended but this time the reason for the suspension is the refusal of the ship captains to venture out to sea combined with the barring of sea travel by the the Coast Guard. I hope this development augurs a new era of more pro-active observance of sea safety. I think we have needlessly lost enough lives in sea tragedies over the years because of the bahala na (leaving things to providence) attitude.

However, I hope this will not augur a new era of over-cautious sailing when ships are grounded when a storm is still far away and it so happened only that there is already a typhoon warning. Economic oppurtunies are lost this way. There is no need to automatically suspend ships when it is still shining and wave forecast is still moderate.

For prudence, maybe a finer distinction between small ships is needed. Old sea travellers know that outriggers and motor boats which are wooden are more vulnerable than steel ferries and there are bigger ferries that can handle waves better. The should not all be lumped under the category of ‘small sea craft’.

More passengers will be stranded in the future, for sure. But maybe it will also teach them how to read weather forecasts especially those that are available on the Net which is numerous enough and is up-to-date.

[photo credit: freewebs]

RO-RO Politics In SRNH And Bulan

November 6, 2008

A RO-RO (abbreviation for Roll On-Roll Off) ship are ferries designed to load vehicles using its wheels to roll onto the vessel and roll off the moment it hits port.

Last April, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inaugurated the Central Nautical Highway (CNH) of her Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH). This “highway” is supposed to connect Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao thru the central portion of the country.  From Bulan, Sorsogon, supposedly one can load a vehicle to a RO-RO bound for Masbate City. From Masbate City one should drive to Cawayan, Masbate to board a RO-RO for Bogo City, Cebu. Driving to Cebu City it could board a RO-RO for Tubigon, Bohol. Then driving to Jagna, Bohol, a RO-RO should be available for Mambajao, the capital of Camiguin. Then driving south to Benoni, Mahinog, Camiguin a RO-RO is available for Balingoan, Misamis Oriental. The final leg is a drive to Cagayan de Oro City, the terminus.

Complicated? Yes.  A pipe dream? Partly.  Some of the routes are simply not existing (maybe for show, yes) and will not exist for sometime because of lack of traffic, notwithstanding government lending programs.  There are better ways to get around inter-island and for the uninitiated, loading vehicles aboard RO-ROs is not cheap and for shippers it means a truck not rolling (no pun intended).

Obsession? I think so. Her father dreamed the Pan-Philippine Highway but Marcos appropriated it and renamed it after his fetish word, Maharlika.  No way to appropriate it back, she must leave a mark to replace what her father lost. Is it a wonder that some of the ports are named after her mother, Eva Macaraeg Macapagal?

But why is the northern terminus Bulan when the actual gateway to Masbate is Pilar, Sorsogon? Scuttlebutt is it is her way on getting back to the Escuderos who lord it over the 1st District of Sorsogon who are her political enemies.  The congressman of the 2nd District to which Bulan belongs is a long-time ally. 

Will this succeed? Fat chance. Passengers and shippers will always take the shorter and cheaper route. Decades ago Bulan was the gateway to Masbate but people and carriers shifted to Pilar even though it has no good port. But woe to all those that use Pilar. I do not know how to judge the IQ of decision-makers in the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) who would rather finish a port in Castilla, Sorsogon, a place that has no RO-ROs. Hmmm! Anyway, isn’t it known that we have “bridges to nowhere”? After all, as they say, everything in government is politics. I begin to wonder now what is the mortal sin of the mayor of Pilar against the powers-that-be.

Comparative examples? Plenty. San Isidro, Northern Samar is the official port opposite Matnog, Sorsogon. But since it is farther Allen, Samar got developed by private enterprise and now nobody uses San Isidro port anymore.

Same case with Maasin City, Southern Leyte. It is the official port of entry of Southern Leyte from Cebu. But when the port was finished upgrading only one ferry company remained using it. More ferries were using Bato (pronounced Baaato, not like the Bicol variant which is pronounced hard like the object it represents), Leyte though it is not part of Southern Leyte, all for the simple reason that it is nearer, cheaper and the travel is faster.

Is it any wonder why people cut across lawns rather than go around it?