DOT all-out support for Manila tourism development

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso speak to the media after their ocular inspection of the major tourism destinations in the capital. 

MANILA— Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the national government stands ready to assist the City of Manila in improving its tourism industry as she lauds the initiatives of Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso in cleaning the capital.

“For us, in any way that we can help the mayor, we are ready to extend help,” the Tourism Secretary said during an interview at the Rizal Park last Tuesday.

“Mayor Moreno is for heritage tourism, maintaining the old-buildings, and having a clean city. Indeed, we can have sustainable tourism in the city,” she said.

The Tourism chief joined Domagoso for an ocular inspection of major areas in the Manila “tourism circuit” including the Bonifacio Shrine, the Plaza Roma in Intramuros where the two officials rode the iconic bamboo bikes, and the Rizal Monument in Luneta.

For the remaining three years of the administration’s term, Romulo-Puyat vowed that DOT attached agencies such as the Intramuros Administration will focus on addressing the problem of informal settlers and developing a hub for the creative industry inside the walled city.

The National Parks Development Committee along with Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) will also lead in the redevelopment of Rizal Park, particularly the Esplanade and the Children’s Playground to attract people anew to visit Rizal Park.

Romulo-Puyat said she sees the potential of increasing arrivals in the capital as Manila serves as a “drop-off point” to a number of foreign and local tourists.

“With the help of Mayor, we toured around Manila, I’m impressed, it’s very clean now. Tourists can visit more places now,” she said.

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Tourists to enjoy Manila Bay beach walk soon

MANILA — Tourists in the metropolis may soon indulge in a walk by the beach once the famous Manila Bay is officially opened to the public.

“The national government will build a 50-meter beach and water treatment facilities wherein the water coming from the inland will be cleaned once it lands to Manila Bay,” said Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso during an interview at the Rizal Park on Tuesday.

On January 27, the national government kicked off the rehabilitation of the famed area, where people flock to watch the sunset, due to tons of waste that have been collected.

At present, the bay’s clean-up efforts led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are ongoing, said Domagoso.

“The Department of Public Works and Highways, the DOT, MMDA, and the DENR asked us for a space near the Yacht Club to put up a water monitoring system,” Domagoso said.

“Now, I visited them a week ago, they’re laying now the pipes for the water treatment facility so this thing is going on. I think ang sinabi sa akin, kung hindi ako nagkakamali, by first quarter of next year or latter part of this year bubuksan na siya (I’m told, if I’m not mistaken, by first quarter of next year or latter part of this year, it will be opened),” he said. 

DOT welcomes lifting of US public notice at NAIA

MANILA — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday welcomed Washington’s rescission of notice regarding the security conditions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), saying this sits well with the government’s bid to attract more tourists to the country.

“We, at DOT, are very elated and encouraged by this development as we renew our commitment to extend to the public, particularly our international visitors, the highest potentials of the Filipino brand of service,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

“This development also augurs well for the DOT’s efforts to increase tourist arrivals and for the development of a culture of resilient, inclusive, and sustainable tourism in the country,” she added.

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided to clear the NAIA of “security defects”, leading the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to rescind its public advisory concerning security concerns there.

The DOT said efforts to improve NAIA’s security measures were exerted by the government since the DHS issued its advisory in December 2018.

“The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) implemented security improvements and enhancements to upgrade to international aviation security standards with the assistance of the TSA experts,” the DOT said.

Although the notice had been lifted, the DOT said the TSA would continue conducting an analysis of NAIA’s security operations, maintenance, and infrastructure.

Romulo-Puyat lauded the DOTr and MIAA for undertaking corrective measures to seriously address security issues raised by the TSA leading to the DHS advisory.

DOST-assisted herbal supplement vs. dengue now out in the market

MANILA — A herbal supplement developed through a loan from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is now available in the market.

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, said the supplement was made from “tawa-tawa” (Euphorbia hirta), but instead of drying the leaves, the manufacturer focused on its extracts.

The supplement was developed by Herbanext, a company that specializes on natural products such as vegetables and fruits. “They prioritize plants or fruits that are known to be associated with illnesses based on folkloric literature,” he said.

Dela Peña added that Herbanext conducts studies on herbal plants that may cure headache, fever, problem in urination, among others.

“Tawa-tawa was proven to have anti-viral properties. They (Herbanext) made this into capsule or tablet,” he continued.

The DOST chief emphasized that this is just a supplement, and not a medicine.

Herbanext have yet to conduct clinical trials for this supplement, which means testing this on humans.

“They’re done with the pre-clinical trial. They used a mice to see (the supplement’s) effect, and they found out that it has caused the platelet count to increase,” dela Pena shared.

The product was already registered and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a supplement.

“It is not considered a medicine until it’s not tested on humans. A supplement, if you talk about safety, is something that may not cure but would not cause harm. It is safe (to use),” Dela Peña explained.

Herbanext’s supplement fights the dengue virus, and increases the platelet count. This should not be used to prevent dengue, he noted.

Meanwhile, Dela Peña confirmed that the DOST spent PHP8.3 million for the equipment used by Herbanext. He clarified, however, that the equipment was used also to develop other products, and that the company would return the money.

The supplement can be bought under the brand name Daily Apple.

According to dela Peña, Herbanext sells products under this brand, and indicate the plant used in the packaging. Thus, buyers should look for Daily Apple, with “tawa-tawa” written on the packaging.

This will be available initially at the Daily Apple stores in Quezon City, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, and General Santos.

Dela Peña said Herbanext is currently coordinating with other drug stores to make this product available to more people.

FNRI: Children must eat more healthy and nutritious food

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña leads the bi-monthly Technology Media Conference featuring the stakeholders and implementors of health and nutrition. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) with its Director, Dr. Mario V. Capanzana introduces to the media, four of the agency’s reliable partners in promoting and advocating a healthy Filipino. Present during the media conference are Mr. Racky D. Doctor-Nutridense Food Manufacturing Corporation, Pangasinan; Ms. Eufemia S. Dampil-CFPC, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; Mayor Mary Jean D. Feliciano-Brooke’s Point, Palawan; and Ms. Milagros Kilayko-Negrense Volunteers for Change(NVC) Foundation, Inc., Bacolod, Negros Occidental.LABREZA23July2019

Biotech success story continues to captivate kids in Davao City

The animated version of the only children’s book in the country which attempts to explain agricultural biotechnology to young kids continues to captivate public elementary school children from Magallanes Elementary School and Bolton Elementary School in Davao City.

More than fifty students recently trooped to the Department of Education (DepEd) Library Hub in Davao City to watch the said animation which talks about a town in Mindanao that was totally devastated by a typhoon but recovered and prospered when the town folks started planting biotech corn.

The story which was authored by Legacy Monsanto Philippines Corporate Affairs Lead, Chat Garrido-Ocampo, was inspired by the true story of Aling Conching Reyes from Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat. Aling Conching lost everything to Typhoon Frank  in 2008 but still stuck to farming and was able to recover and succeed in life.

When Ocampo met Aling Conching, she was moved to write about the latter.“ I really felt Aling Conching’s inspiring story had to be told because not only did she get herself out of the claws of poverty through farming but she was also able to help an entire town transform from a life of poverty to that of prosperity,” Ocampo said.

Meantime, DepEd Library Hub Librarian Rosalie Antipuesto said that the animation is a creative way of helping children have a basic understanding of agricultural biotechnology while stirring them to look at agriculture as an interesting and promising field.

“By listening to the story, the kids were able to appreciate better the work of our farmers.” Said Antipuesto. “The kids were also inspired by how Aling Conching became successful through hard work and because her unfailing faith in God. The story effectively shared a lot of important lessons to guide these kids.”          

It has been eight years since Legacy Monsanto Philippines first conducted story-telling sessions based on Aling Conching’s story. “When the book came out in 2011, we started our story-telling activities and we have already reached more than 10,000 kids since then,’ said Ocampo. ‘Hopefully, Aling Conching’s story will find it’s way in classroom discussions as an excellent example of how people and communities can prosper through modern agriculture.”

Gardenia in Pampanga – a distribution gateway to the North Luzon region By: Mrs. Eight

Gardenia in Pampanga Ribbon Cutting led by its President Jun “Simplicio” Umali with Ms. Tina Domondon the Gen. Manager of Vita Food Products Inc., in charge of bread production and Marketing Manager Nestor Constancia of Gardenia Bakeries Philippines ensures the marketing and distribution of finished Gardenia products all over the nation. (Photo by Lito Ochotorena/NSD-PAPI)

Mabalacat, Pampanga – Gardenia president Jun Umali highly assures Gardenia is bringing the future of breadmaking here in Central Luzon and excited to embrace the limitless possibilities in the North Luzon region as they officially open a completely new and automated bread plant in Pampanga.

Gardenia Bakeries inaugurates a fully-automated bread manufacturing facility inside  TECO industrial estate in Mabalacat, Pampanga strategically situated near two major expressways, the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). It offers an efficient trade and distribution gateway to the North Luzon region all the way to Ilocos and Cagayan Valley as well as Central Luzon provinces.

Umali explained the plant inauguration’s theme ‘Bake to the Future 2.0’. “For the first time in Gardenia’s history in the Philippines, Gardenia Bakeries opens two huge factories with sophisticated technologies in a span of four months. This is truly a significant milestone for Gardenia in its 21 years in the Philippine bakery industry,” Umali stresses.

He also described how Gardenia applied the best technologies on its new production line. “The whole plant is computer-controlled starting from the use of an upgraded concept in the ingredient handling and makeup systems, proofing, use of robotics in handling baking pans and a unique technology in the depanning process which promises to be gentle to the bread, completely untouched by human hands,” Umali said.

“The use of tumbler to check all four sides of the loaf bread and the presence of tornado cleaner to ensure all baking pans are clean and free of crumbs were also incorporated in the process,” Umali added.

The oven baking system will continue to use environment-friendly liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) like in the other Gardenia factories.

Umali highlighted, “all equipment, machines and baking technologies are sourced from the best baking equipment suppliers from all over the world including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and the USA. We also added new equipment suppliers that will enhance the whole baking process.”

“The expertise in making advanced equipment from different sources operates as one integrated and a fully automated system is a proprietary technical capability developed by Gardenia in its factories in Asia. This fusion of technology differentiates us from the competition,” Umali asserted.

The sophisticated technology partnered with a proprietary manufacturing process and combined with premium and finest ingredients all contribute to the freshly – baked aroma, softness and delicious taste of world class Gardenia breads Filipinos love.

Umali also shared that the plant is designed to allow consumers to visit and witness the modern baking process through a catwalk plant tour especially for consumers from North Luzon.

Wide array of high quality breads

Umali further noted that the new plant will be Gardenia’s second largest facility, next to its Laguna plant. “This new factory has a white loaf production line, a flavored loaf line, a bun and pandesal line and a snack toast line. With these four new production lines, the Pampanga factory will be able to produce nearly 400,000 loaves and buns every day ready for delivery to supermarkets, groceries and convenience stores,” he said.

Vitabread Food Products Inc handles bread manufacturing for the North and Central Luzon bread needs, and support Metro Manila markets; while Gardenia Bakeries Philippines ensures the marketing and distribution of finished Gardenia products.

Tina Domondon, Vitabread General Manager, explained that wide selection of Gardenia products will be produced in the Pampanga bread facility, including white breads, health bread selections, flavored loaf offerings, buns or pandesal, and Neubake loaf and bread rolls.

Strategic bread factory location

The P 2-billion plant is located adjacent to major transportation hubs of Subic Sea Port, Clark International Airport and the newest business district, Clark Global City. Umali explained that the new [bread] plant is accessible for direct logistics connections, “All of our plants are strategically located. For instance, in case of breakdowns or natural disasters, our plant in Pampanga can supply Metro Manila up to South Luzon. Same is true for our bread factories in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro. Our Cagayan de Oro manufacturing facility can serve the Visayas market, or the Cebu plant can be a backup for the Mindanao plant, in case of unforeseen events.”

Meanwhile, Domondon revealed current logistics and distribution capabilities, “Gardenia is reaching Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Isabela, Kalinga and as far as Cagayan. With Vitabread in place, we will be able to reach even the smallest stores in these regions and nearby areas. Gardenia bread in every corner of the community, we will make it possible,” she said.

When asked about the pollution effect of the coal-fired power plant where TECO is one  and the recent home of Gardenia in Central Luzon, Umali explained prior entering into contract with TECO, Gardenia Philippines visited the entire area within the plant to inspect any leak of emission the plant might exposed . Fortunately TECO is a compliant of all the permits needed to operate particularly the ECC from the DENR. And their location is almost 2km away from the TECO plant compound.

Increased bread supply all over the country

“With the two new bread factories, the Mindanao and the North Luzon plants, Gardenia now has a combined capacity of producing more than 1.8 million loaves and buns per day, serving the bread requirements of Filipino consumers nationwide. The increased production capability and expanded operations require more extensive market saturation, new area penetration and wider distribution coverage to reach more Filipino consumers in the farthest north and farthest south of the Philippines,” Umali explained.

Filipinos are now assured of increased and sufficient supply of freshly baked Gardenia products every day and especially during peak demand seasons like Christmas and New Year.

“As the market leader in the industry with more than 60% market share, we can contribute in ensuring food security and continuous supply of breads, not only during long weekends or when there are special occasions, but also even when there are typhoons, flooding or earthquakes,” Umali asserted.

Umali also cited the importance of its logistics and distribution capabilities to ensure wider reach and market coverage. “As we bring our fresh, great-tasting quality products to more and more Filipinos, we will definitely expand our fleet of trucks all over Luzon and Metro Manila to distribute across various distribution channels,” Umali said.

Gardenia’s rapid sales growth makes it necessary to add more plant facilities to cater to the increasing bread demand in the Philippines.

“While we are a rice-eating country but due to lifestyle changes and increased health consciousness of Filipinos, bread consumption is growing,” he explained. Umali added that the Philippines’ consumption of bread per person is still lower compared to its neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Singapore, which is about three to five times more per capita. With increased supply and availability of quality and great-tasting bread, consumption is expected to grow faster.

Also Umali happily announced their office is willing to coordinate with government and non-government agencies when it comes to the aspect of their community social services.

Gardenia President Jun Umali shows how their Pampanga plant operates all equipment, machines and baking technologies as sourced to enhance their whole baking process, coming from the best baking equipment suppliers from all over the world including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and the USA. (Photo Courtesy of Lolito Ochotorena/NSD-CLMA)

The Gardenia Cooling Tower inside the new and automated bread plant in Pampanga, the whole plant is computer-controlled starting from the use of an upgraded concept in the ingredient handling and makeup systems, proofing, use of robotics in handling baking pans and a unique technology in the depanning process which promises to be gentle to the bread, completely untouched by human hands. (Photo Courtesy of Media Blitz)