"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Monday, June 30, 2008

Back to Iloilo

PNRC Chairman Dick Gordon returned to Iloilo last Sunday with U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney for relief operations. The U.S. government through Jon Lindberg of USAID donated US$100,000 to the PNRC.

Prioritize Aklan

Senator Richard J. Gordon, the principal volunteer and Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), distributed 1,035 packs of relief supplies to the citizens of Aklan last Saturday, June 28 which were airlifted by US Navy helicopters. Each relief supply contained 4 kilos of rice, 4 cans of sardines and 4 packs of noodles.

“The 1,035 packs of relief goods we distributed last Saturday, with the help of the US Navy, were just the initial supplies out of the 7,000 relief supplies we will be sending to Aklan. We’ve sent an additional 5,965 packs of relief goods through a Sulpicio Lines vessel bound for Aklan which departed 7am, Monday morning,” Gordon said.

“We are continually working to get support from here and abroad to provide our countrymen ravaged by Typhoon Frank with the necessary supplies they need. We will not rest until we are sure that those needs are met,” he said.

“So far we have already raised P7,322,294.21 from foreign donations, P2,870,000.00 from local donations and P557,000.00 from individual donations. This brings it to a total of P10,749,294.21,” he said.

“We have already talked with USAID, AUSAID and the IFRC for relief donations. USAID has already approved a $100,000 donation. We are just waiting for its release. The proceeds will be used to purchase Jerry cans, blankets and mosquito nets. USAID boxes will also be given to the victims of the calamity,” he added.

Give dignity to the dead, closure to the living

MANILA, Philippines -- Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday appealed to local officials in whose municipalities the bodies of victims of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) have been found not to bury the remains “until we have properly identified each and every one of them."

In a press conference Wednesday, Gordon said the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), of which he is chairman, would pick up the bodies and transport these to Manila.

“Properly identifying the bodies will help give closure to families of victims,” Gordon said.

Earlier, relatives of missing passengers of the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars, which capsized and sank with more than 800 passengers and crew off Sibuyan Island, Romblon Saturday, at the height of Frank’s rampage, appealed for bodies that had washed up on shore not to be buried.

However, in San Pascual town in Masbate province, Mayor Zacharina Lazaro ordered 19 bodies recovered on Tuesday buried for fear of an outbreak of disease. However, Colonel John Estoesta, chief of the Air Force Tactical Operations Group-4, quoting town, who had relayed the information, said pictures of the remains, including identifying marks, had been taken before burial.

Gordon said he has requested Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to help secure court orders for the exhumation of buried bodies.

Red Cross data shows a total of 44 bodies buried in the provinces of Quezon and Masbate, although not all of these were confirmed to be casualties from the sinking of Princess of the Stars.

Local government units that continue burying recovered bodies despite the notice the PNRC has issued will face civil suits since they are “desecrating” the dead, Gordon said.

The PNRC has also asked the International Red Cross to assist victims of typhoon “Frank” because the local chapter’s supplies and resources might not be enough to provide relief to victims in the 24 provinces affected.

In Iloilo alone, some 250,000 residents are in evacuation centers after flashfloods hit the province.

“While the Red Cross continues to accept donations in kind, we would prefer to receive cash so we can buy needed supplies,” Gordon said.

Gordon urges local execs not to bury washed up bodies
‘Red Cross to transport remains to Manila’
By Katherine Evangelista
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:07:00 06/25/2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How to Help Typhoon Frank Victims

MANILA, Philippines -- Donations to the Philippine National Red Cross to augment its relief and rehabilitation efforts can be made in person, by delivery, through banks and credit cards, online, and via text messages.

Senator Richard Gordon, PNRC chairman said, the most urgent needs of typhoon "Frank" (international codename) victims were: food items like rice, noodles, canned goods, sugar, iodized salt, cooking oil, monggo beans, and potable water;

Medicines like paracetamol, antibiotics, analgesic, oral rehydration salts, multivitamins, and medications to treat diarrheal diseases;

Non-food items like bath soaps, face towels, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, plastic mats, blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, water containers, water purification tablets, plastic sheetings, and laundry soap; and for its rehabilitation programs, shelter materials for house repair.

Gordon listed the ways the Red Cross would accept donations:

Cash or check donations, which are the preferred donations of the
PNRC, can be sent to the national headquarters of the Philippine
National Red Cross in Manila. "We could also arrange for donation
pick-up," he said.

Bank deposits can be made at the following accounts of Philippine
National Red Cross:

• Metrobank, Port Area Branch
Peso account number: 151-3-041-63122-8
Dollar account number: 151-2-151-00218-2
Swift Code: MBTC PH MM

• Bank of the Philippine Islands, Port Area Branch
Peso account number: 4991-0010-99
Type of Account: Current

• Bank of the Philippine Islands, UN Branch
Dollar account number: 8114-0030-94
Type of Account: Savings
Swift Code: BOPI PH MM

To properly acknowledge donations through banks, donors are advised "to fax the bank transaction slip at nos. +63.2.527.0575 or +63.2.404.0979 with your name, address and contact number," Gordon said.

Those who want to donate using their credit card are advised to fax to +632.404.09.79 and +632.527.0575 the following information: Name of card member, billing address, contact numbers (phone and mobile), credit card number, expiration date, CCV2/CVC2 (last three digits at the back of the credit card), billing address, amount to be donated.

Online donations may also be made at
http://www.redcross.org.ph the PNRC website.

For SMS or text donations, just text REDAMOUNT to 2899 (for Globe) or 4483 (Smart);
For G-cash, text DONATEAMOUNT4-digit M-PINREDCROSS to 2882.

Local in-kind donations could also be sent to the PNRC national headquarters in Manila or donation pickups may be arranged.

For international in-kind, the following are required:
1. Send a letter of intent to donate to the PNRC
2. A letter of acceptance from PNRC shall be sent back to the donor
3. Immediately after shipping the goods, please send the (a) original
Deed of Donation, (b) copy of packing list and (c) original Airway
Bill for air shipments or Bill of Lading for sea shipments to The
Philippine National Red Cross–National Headquarters c/o Secretary
General Corazon Alma de Leon, Bonifacio Drive, Port Area, Manila 2803, Philippines.

Gordon said the PNRC would not accept rotten, damaged, expired or decayed goods. "Though we appreciate your generosity, the PNRC also discourages donations of old clothes as we have more than enough to go around," he said.

For questions, Gordon also gave out the PNRC hotline 143 or 527.0000.

Red Cross information, contact nos. for 'Frank' donations
By Veronica Uy
First Posted 14:20:00 06/25/2008

Surviors conquered themselves

For 23-year-old Jose Mari Garbo and company, their training and experience as seafarers equipped them with the necessary skills that helped them survive the ordeal which they went through after their ferry Princess of the Stars capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon last Saturday.

Garbo, one of 10 seafarers who survived typhoon "Frank" over the weekend, was among the 28 passengers of the ill-fated ship who were treated at the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) head office in South Harbor, Manila.

"We (seamen) were more organized because we knew what to do. We knew how to balance. There were times that the raft would be forced to fold because it was being battered by the strong waves. We would then put our feet on the edge of the raft to keep it from folding," recalled Garbo of their experience in the lifeboat.

"Unlike other passengers who jumped into the sea at a high elevation, I decided to wait for the ship to get closer to the sea before I decided to jump because I remembered in the movie 'Titanic' that some of the passengers who jumped at a higher elevation hit the ship's railings. It was safer if I jumped closer to the sea," Garbo said.

Garbo shared that whenever their raft would be filled with sea and rainwater, they would use their shoes and plastic bags to remove the water, adding that this was necessary so their boat would not sink.

They spent 22 hours at sea before they finally saw land.

PNRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon commended the 10 seafarers and other survivors for their heroism.

"One by one they rescued other passengers and they helped each other get through the harrowing experience," Gordon said.

He added that the "wounds they (survivors) sustained were caused by their desire to survive. It was man against nature, men against themselves and in the end they conquered themselves in order to survive," he said.

Gordon said that despite the economic difficulty in the area, the residents gave the stranded passengers slippers, clothes and food.

"We took down their contact numbers. Hopefully, when we have returned home and have money we would be able to repay them for helping us," said Garbo.

Gordon said that he was supposed to join President Arroyo on her trip to the United States where he would discuss the Veterans Bill with US legislators.

But he decided to stay behind to attend to the victims of the passenger ship.

Philippine Star Headlines
Seafarers on ship: We knew what to do
By Evelyn Macairan
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

‘We are needed here’

MANILA, Philippines -- Senator Richard Gordon called off his scheduled trip to the US with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to provide immediate relief to the victims of Typhoon “Frank” (international code name: Fengshen).

“Mas kailangan tayo ditto [We are needed here more],” Gordon, who also chairs the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), said.

At least 25 survivors from the sunken ferry MV Princess of the Stars trooped to PNRC in Manila at 2 a.m. Tuesday to seek shelter and immediate relief.

The survivors, who came all the way from Lucena, Quezon, were immediately provided medical assistance, stress debriefing, food and change of clothes, an official privy to the incident said.

The MV Princess of the Stars, owned by Sulpicio Lines, sunk off the shores of Romblon on Saturday evening, leaving hundreds still missing.

The official, who requested anonymity, said that as of posting time, some of the survivors have gone home to their relatives in Metro Manila and in the provinces.

Although the survivors were physically strong, some refused to talk about the incident.

“Gusto na lang nila makalimutan [They just want to forget],” the official said.

Gordon assured that PNRC would continue to help the victims but said that rice, food, and water were needed.

“We have been spending all our resources to provide for victims in 20 provinces. And we need to replenish our supplies,” he said in a separate interview.

Gordon noted that about 250,000 people in evacuation centers in Iloilo also need sanitation equipment.

“We also need medicines for diarrhea and respiratory infections. We need cough syrups, and also medicines for children, who are more prone to getting sick,” he added.

Gordon said that while donations in kind were welcome, the Red Cross preferred money donations so that it could buy the supplies in the areas concerned to spur the local economy.

‘We are needed here’ -- Gordon
By Abigail Kwok, Veronica Uy
First Posted 15:05:00 06/24/2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Official: Some passengers may be trapped under capsized ferry - CNN.com


Official: Some passengers may be trapped under capsized ferry - CNN.com*

*This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.

http://edition. cnn.com/2008 /WORLD/asiapcf/ 06/22/philippine s.ferry/index. html

33 survivors rescued from Philippines ferry - CNN

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Rescuers have found at least 33 survivors and at least six dead among the nearly 750 aboard a ferry that capsized in a typhoon that battered the southern Philippines, a Red Cross official said Monday.

Fishermen found 30 survivors from the ferry Princess of Stars, which rolled over early Sunday morning, said Richard Gordon, the head of the Philippines Red Cross and a member of the country's Senate. One person died after being picked up, and another was lost during rescue efforts, he said, but the remaining 28 have been delivered to police.

And Filipino troops found five more survivors and five dead, Gordon said.

The Princess of Stars carried 749 people.
"There's quite a few people out there that are still missing," he said. "We are trying our best to find them, and I hope we could get some help."

Filipino Coast Guard rescuers knocked on the overturned hull of the capsized ferry Sunday evening, hoping to hear signs of life among the missing passengers, a Red Cross official said.

No sounds were returned, and the Coast Guard wrapped up their rescue mission for the night. Rough seas, spawned by Typhoon Fengshen, prevented divers from swimming under the capsized vessel.

"It's a race against time," said Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the Philippines Red Cross.

The typhoon has killed at least 141 people in the Philippines, he said. Another 255 people are missing as a result of the storm, most of them fishermen.

The massive ferry -- built to hold about 2,000 people -- flipped over about a mile off the shore of Sibuyan Island early Saturday as Typhoon Fengshen pummeled the Philippines.

The MV Princess of Stars began its daylong journey from Manila to Cebu City around 8 p.m. Saturday, when the typhoon was a Category 1 storm with winds up to 95 mph. The storm gained strength and created dangerous conditions during the southern half of the vessel's voyage.

Gordon said the families of the ferry passengers are "very bitter about the situation." They are upset not only that the ferry was cleared to leave during the tumultuous weather conditions, but also about the way Sulpicio Lines, which operates the ferry, has handled the situation.

"People are upset that they were allowed out," Gordon said. "Also, the owners don't have a good record. They've had a lot of accidents in the past, and people are pouncing on them right now."

Gordon said he was able to speak to the ship's janitor.

"He said the seas were so huge, they were like mountains," Gordon said. "The ship's captain ordered everyone to abandon ship at 12:45 a.m. Saturday morning."

The first Coast Guard ship arrived just before 2 p.m. Sunday, and divers immediately began searching for survivors.

33 survivors rescued from Philippines ferry

Sulpicio Lines: Be honest with passengers' kin

MANILA, Philippines - An administration senator chided owners of the ill-fated "Princess of Stars" Sunday to be honest with relatives of the craft's missing passengers.

Sen. Richard Gordon said he had talked to officials of Sulpicio Lines and told them to face the relatives instead of "hiding" from them.

"Kinausap ko ang may-ari at sinabi ko diretsahin nila ang tao. Kung wala silang alam sabihin nilang walang alam, huwag paasa ang mga tao (I told the owners to be frank with the relatives of the passengers. If they don't know what happened, they should say so. They should not just clam up and give the relatives false hopes)," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

Besides, he said the relatives had been racked with worry over what happened to their loved ones since the vessel capsized Saturday noon.

"Naghihinagpis sila rito (They have been agonizing over what happened to their loved ones)," he said. - GMANews.TV

Gordon to Sulpicio Lines: Be honest with passengers' kin
06/22/2008 | 09:05 PM

Don't let NAIA-3 go to waste 'Use facility to boost domestic tourism'

MANILA, Philippines -- In a bid to boost local tourism, Senator Richard Gordon toured the mothballed Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA 3) on Tuesday to check on repair and completion work in the facility and encourage airport officials to pursue plans to partially open it for domestic operations.

During his hour-long inspection, Gordon got a peek of a trial run of the terminal set for July, where the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) aims to host flights of local carriers Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines' budget brand PAL Express.

While designed for international operations, NAIA-3 is being configured to partially open for a few domestic flights as a test run, according to MIAA officials. During Monday's tour, monitors at the check-in counters sported logos of PAL and Cebu Pacific Air.

MIAA is set to hold Friday a simulation of passenger processes -- check-in, security screening, baggage claim -- at the terminal with the participating airlines, said airport development and corporate affairs chief Tirso Serrano.

"Let's open the terminal, and then investigate. Let's not leave it like this -- useless. If we don't use it, it will just waste away," Gordon told reporters on Tuesday.

"With rising fuel prices, I anticipate that international tourism will lessen, airlines are now charging for baggage, so we have to focus on domestic tourism. The opening of this terminal for domestic flights will be good for domestic tourism," he said.
Air-conditioning was still off, and heat and humidity worse than outside temperatures when Gordon was taken around NAIA 3 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the fifth time MIAA opened the terminal for outsider inspection in 2008.

Congress' oversight and transportation committees earlier visited NAIA 3 several times, and the Joint Foreign Chambers visited the terminal most recently for a private tour.

During the tour, MIAA General Manager took Gordon through both the departure and arrival routes. The senator saw the check-in counters, the yellow immigration counters, and boarding gates where seats have been arranged.

At the ground level, MIAA officials showed Gordon the arrival route from the tube to baggage claim. There, workers were seen plastering minor cracks on walls, atop scaffolding while fixing the terminal's collapsed ceiling, and unloading trucks filled with other construction materials.

"That's almost finished, 85 percent complete," said Serrano when asked about the collapsed ceiling.

MIAA twice postponed planned openings of the terminal in 2006 and 2007 because of structural defects traced to the March 27, 2006 incident, where a ceiling at the terminal's arrival area collapsed.

The agency's private engineering consultants advised against 2007's planned partial opening because of "life safety risks" found around the terminal, a concern that MIAA officials said were being remedied.

Gordon: Don't let NAIA-3 go to waste 'Use facility to boost domestic tourism'
By Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:35:00 06/17/2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Text's 20-centavo-cut is a poor bargain

WHY SETTLE FOR A 20-CENTAVO discount, when you can push for a 50-50 split on telecommunication companies’ text revenues?

This was the question posed by Sen. Richard Gordon upon learning about the bid of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) to reduce telco charges.

According to Gordon, the NTC’s circular ordering telcos to reduce their interconnection or access fee from 35 centavos to 15 centavos per call or text message would be hardly felt.

“Considering the leverage the government has, the 20-cent average reduction in the interconnection fee is a poor bargain. Who saves money 20 cents at a time?” Gordon pointed out.

“What we need is a means of pooling together the savings created by reduced charges and using this fund to make gigantic improvements on our peoples’ lives,” he said.

Gordon said eliminating charges on text messaging could either maim or kill the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg. Instead, he proposed that text charges remain at P1 but only 50 centavos should go to the telcos.

The remaining 50 centavos, he said, “will be given to government and pooled in a special fund that will be used in overhauling the public education system, funding public health programs and improving benefits for senior citizens.”

He said telcos would agree to his proposal which will be filed as a bill to create a special education tax fund.

“There is a real justification for them (telcos) not to charge the whole P1, because texting is really just a value added service. What I am proposing is that they keep 50 cents to maintain or expand their systems but give government the remaining 50 cents. We will do away with the promos on texting and keep the charges at P1 per text all the way. In this way, the people will be contributing to their children’s education,” the senator said.

According to Gordon’s computation, 9,958,000 mobile phone subscribers sending 10 text messages a day at 50 centavos for every text message sent could generate as much as P98.4 billion a year or P492.3 billion in five years.

(Actually, the correct computation is P18.17 billion a year or P90.87 billion in five years.)

“There are 400 million text messages sent a day. What we are proposing to collect from telcos is about half of this amount and target it towards programs that will have a long- term impact on our people’s ability to achieve a greater measure of asenso (progress) or meaningful socioeconomic upliftment,” Gordon said.

He added that with just one year’s worth of the special education tax fund amounting to P P98.4 billion, telcos could help the government:

• Wipe out the existing classroom backlog at the cost of P6.95 billion

• Provide desks and textbooks for all students at the cost of P4.17 billion

• Hire 12,733 teachers and pay them an additional P15,000 a month for 7 months plus 13th month pay. The total cost would be P3.81 billion

• Hire 24,709 principals at the cost of P4.43 billion

• Feed 12,202,297 school children in all grades for 120 days at the cost of P58.5 billion.

20¢ cut in text fees poor bargain--Gordon
By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:08:00 06/08/2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Family reunited after 30-year separation

MANILA, Philippines -- A mother was recently reunited with her three children -- after 30 years of being separated through the help of the Tracing Service Program of the Philippine National Red Cross.

Adelaida Bicar could not find the words to express her happiness and gratitude when she finally hugged and kissed her long lost children, who by now were adults themselves. Adelaida wept and her children wept along with her, but this time the tears were out of joy instead of loss and longing.

The PNRC’s Tracing Service Program helps reunite families separated by tragedy, disaster and life circumstances, and over the years has helped bring together so many broken families in the country.

Adelaida was working as a housemaid in Tacloban 30 years ago where her three children -- eldest daughter Jocelyn and two sons, Rogelio and Arnel -- were born. Due to a family problem, Adelaida was separated from the siblings while they were still very young.

Through the years, Adelaida desperately searched for her children but efforts by a radio station, a TV network and the DSWD did not bear fruit.

Recently, Jocelyn -- who had already married to become Jocelyn Bicar Casas -- with the help of her husband, approached the PNRC national headquarters to ask for help in tracing her mother Adelaida Bicar.

Following a standing directive from Senator Richard Gordon, who is also PNRC chairman and CEO, PNRC-NHQ immediately took action. The case was instantly referred to Red Cross Samar chapter for tracing assistance.

PNRC Western Samar initiated a search. The chapter coordinated with its networks in the municipal welfare offices and the different local barangays. Project 143 volunteers, at the barangay level, were instantly mobilized.

On the first week of May 2008, Adelaida was traced to a remote barangay in Basay, Samar, 100 kilometers away from the Samar chapter, by Androk Artetche, a Project 143 volunteer in Basay, Samar.

Adelaida was then visited by Azucena Flor, a detailed staff of PNRC Western Samar chapter, and told about her missing children who were looking for her. After that, the family was finally reunited at the PNRC national headquarters in Manila.

"Truly, the family is the building block of society and nowhere is this more true than in the Philippines, where strong, intimate and long-lasting family ties are the bedrock of our culture.

"When Filipino families are broken, Filipino family members lose hope, dignity and the capacity to dream and build on those dreams. It's like a wound that refuses to heal, and will only attain closure through reunification.

"Thus, it is our goal to reunite and integrate family members who have been separated due to disasters, armed conflicts or insurgencies, migrations, and difficult situations. In doing so, we also ensure the strength, hope and progress of our nation," Gordon said.

Family reunited after 30-year separation
First Posted 16:33:00 06/03/2008

TV ad is a legitimate advocacy

MANILA, Philippines -- Senator Richard Gordon on Friday defended his appearance on a TV advertisement, saying that the campaign of the commercial soap Safeguard, called “Laban sa Limang Banta,” was a legitimate advocacy of public health, hygiene and safety.

Gordon said he had been with the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) for over 30 years, from the time when he enlisted as a volunteer at the age of 17.

He also used to be a brand manager of Procter and Gamble, the company behind Safeguard.

“The intent and core message of the Safeguard advertising campaign was to teach the general public the benefits of proper hand washing and its importance in preventing the spread of communicable diseases,” Gordon said.

Gordon, Pia Cayetano defend TV ads
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Cynthia D. Balana
First Posted 22:43:00 05/30/2008

Subic execs lauded for big shabu bust

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines -- Senator Richard Gordon has commended operatives of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) for the major drug bust that foiled an attempt to smuggle P4.62 billion worth of shabu into Subic.

In a congratulatory message relayed through SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza on Monday, Gordon extolled SBMA law enforcers who first intercepted the drug shipment, saying they personified the “true spirit of Subic, which has been forged through vigilance and volunteerism.”

“Without the diligence of these brave men, the menace of illegal drugs would have spread further and eroded the society more,” Gordon said.

Gordon had earlier commended operatives of PASG and the SBMA in a privilege speech on May 28, specially citing the SBMA Law Enforcement Department (LED) for being instrumental in foiling the smuggling of drugs in Subic, despite bribe attempts by the suspect.

“We can see how profitable this operation is,” he said. ‘‘If somebody can offer P50 million, it is so difficult for somebody who is out there to refuse such an offer.”

“The seizure of this massive amount of illegal drugs at (Subic) should deter other would-be smugglers from using our ports and sea routes to ply their evil trade,” Gordon added.

Arreza, meanwhile, said that the SBMA board of directors had also approved step promotions and commendations for members of the SBMA LED, who first intercepted the eight boxes offloaded by primary suspect Anthony Ang from the Taiwanese vessel F/B Shun Fa Xing.

In a press statement, he said that SBMA officials recognized the critical role of Subic law enforcers in intercepting Ang on Sunday night at Subic’s SRF compound.

“This interception eventually led to the discovery by joint PASG and SBMA operatives of a total of 714.6 kilos of shabu, some of which were stashed in a warehouse and others loaded onto another vehicle,” Arreza said.

Arreza also said the alertness of SBMA law enforcers was equaled by the swift response of PASG, which led a joint raid of a warehouse rented by Ang, who was a registered Subic locator.

Subic execs lauded for big shabu bust
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:40:00 06/03/2008

Go online, vote for Philippine tourism sites in www.new7wonders.com

Cheering Filipinos on to vote for all four Philippine tourist destinations listed in www.new7wonders.com, Senator Richard J. Gordon said that this is one contest where Filipinos all around the world can participate in and where victory is practically assured. The senator noted that the odds are stacked strongly in the country's favor, having more than seven thousand beautiful and tourist friendly islands.

"We are quite happy to have learned today that two Philippine tourist destinations are currently among the top rankers of the online campaign for the 7 New Wonders of the World and we have two more tourist destinations just a few votes outside the top seven. We urge every Filipino everywhere to go online and vote for all four of our tourist destinations in the 7 New Wonders of the World. Let's make it four for four!" Said Gordon, who as Tourism Secretary from 2002 to 2004, led the country to attain tourist arrivals of two million a year through various promotional efforts – one of the more popular being the Wow Philippines campaign.

"This is certainly one more way to help speed up the growth of Philippine tourism, which is our surest hope of providing our people with the means to raise people out of poverty and give them back their pride. We can beg oil and power companies for lower prices all day or argue for the scrapping of taxes, but the real way solution for our people's consumer price woes is to focus on creating more income earning opportunities. Tourism has the capacity to provide such a wealth of opportunities directly to our countrymen and we've seen many times over that where tourism advances, poverty retreats," said Gordon.

Gordon also underscored the importance of ensuring the passage of his Tourism Bill, which along with the establishment of Tourism Enterprise Zones throughout the country, also provides funding support and incentives for the development of tourism related industries.

"Along with the enactment of the tourism bill, we must revive efforts to open the NAIA 3 terminal as well as ensure funding support for the upgrading of our country's airports. Particular attention must be given to provinces like Palawan, especially now that it has caught the world's eye through the 7 Wonders Campaign," said Gordon.

According to its website, the New7Wonders Foundation, which is behind the New7Wonders campaigns, has the express aim of undertaking documentation and conservation works of monuments worldwide under the motto: "OUR HERITAGE IS OUR FUTURE” The foundation hopes that through film, television, the Internet and books, people shall be sensitized to the beauty of the world's heritage, both man-made and natural, and be alerted of its destruction and decay.

As of June 1, 2008 the top seven rankers in the campaign included Tubbataha Reef which occupied third place followed by Bohol's Chocolate Hills in fourth place. Palawan's Puerto Princesa Subterranen River National Park ranks 8th and Bicol Region's Mayon Volcano