Second Negros Interior Biodiversity Expedition Underway

A team of environmentalists from the UK and the Philippines set off on Saturday on its second biological expedition to the interior of the North Negros Natural Park (NNNP).

The Negros Interior Biodiversity Expedition (NIBE) team, which includes scientists, biologists, mountaineers, teachers and logistics experts, first ventured into the park in April 2009.

NFEFI president Paul Lizares, Don Salvador Benedicto Mayor Marxlen dela Cruz, NIBE team leader James Sawyer, Dr. Neil D'Cruze, Dr. David Farrance, Ruth De Vere, Steven Megson, James Benares, Michael de la Peña, NFEFI trustee Robert Harland (l-r standing). Emerson Trinidad, Errol James Mallorca, June Rey Alib, Ernie Mallaoca (l-r front row)

NFEFI president Paul Lizares, Don Salvador Benedicto Mayor Marxlen dela Cruz, NIBE team leader James Sawyer, Dr. Neil D'Cruze, Dr. David Farrance, Ruth De Vere, Steven Megson, James Benares, Michael de la Peña, NFEFI trustee Robert Harland (l-r standing). Emerson Trinidad, Errol James Mallorca, June Rey Alib, Ernie Mallaoca (l-r front row)

Team leader, London-based James Sawyer, said the findings of the 2009 expedition clearly showed that the center of the park contains some unique habitats.

“These require further scientific study, and that’s why we are back,” said Sawyer. “We hope the expedition will provide us with more data and analysis that confirms the park is of major biological importance.”

The park is home to a multitude of rare and endemic species, while also playing a vital role in watershed protection for surrounding communities.

Among its many activities during the three week expedition, the team will position 20 remote cameras in strategic areas so any movements by rare and threatened species such as Visayan Spotted Deer and Visayan Warty Pigs can be recorded.

The team will also undertake a study of local dung beetles as they feed on the waste of certain animals and they will indicate the presence of those animals.

And using pitfall traps, the team will be able to ascertain which reptiles and amphibians are present in the park.

The expedition is partnered by the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation, Inc (NFEFI) which sponsored the permit enabling the expedition to enter the park.

Said Paul Lizares, president of NFEFI: “We are delighted once again to be working with the NIBE team.
We hope the results will be of further value in the management of this important park as well as help raise its profile even further.”

The expedition is also being supported by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of Oxford University, the University of Texas, the Philippines National Museum and the Natural History Museum of Oxford.

Adding support with logistics and security is Don Salvador Benedicto Mayor Marxlen dela Cruz who praised the collaboration between a team of foreign nationals and local mountain trek leaders in  working together to preserve the biodiversity of local forests, particularly in the area of DSB.

The expedition will end on April 19.

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Patrick Lacson to Defend Rotary Golf Title

Third District Board Member Patrick Lacson, winner of the 2010 Rotary ‘Golf for a Cause’ tournament, is to defend his crown in this year’s event to be held at the Negros Golf and Country Club, Bacolod City, Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1.

Patrick Lacson (left) receives the champion's trophy from Marapara Rotary past president Max Javelona

Patrick Lacson (left) receives the champion's trophy from Marapara
Rotary past president Max Javelona

Lacson was the 2010 champion with a net score of 86 points under the Stableford scoring system.  He has a handicap of 27.

Patrick Lacson at Marapara

Patrick Lacson at Marapara

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to defend my title”, Lacson said. “And it’s very satisfying knowing that all the proceeds from this event will go to help the less fortunate in our community.”

The tournament is organized by the Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara. Benefiting from the proceeds will be the many needy people, especially in rural areas, who take advantage of the club’s numerous medical missions each year.

“This event is a vital part of our annual fund raising activities”, said club president Rico Cajili. “It’s always a fun event, but more importantly, it’s helping us raise much-needed funds so we can continue with our numerous community programs.”

The tournament has once again attracted major sponsors including Coca-Cola, UCPB Insurance,  Bantug Realty, Silay City Mayor’s Office and Tanduay Distillers.

Players can sign up on the first day of the event at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club.  Registration is Php1,800 which includes a giveaway, green fees, the awards dinner and raffle. The tournament director is past club president Max Javelona.

Negros Marmalade Wins Silver

The silver medal winner

The silver medal winner

A locally-made marmalade has won a silver medal in the international category at the 2012 World Marmalade Championships held recently in England.

The calamansi marmalade with brandy was made by British chef, NDB writer and Bacolod resident Robert Harland. This is the first time the Philippines has been represented at the championships, now in its seventh year.

Harland’s citrusy concoction scored 19 points out of a maximum of 20. He was pipped at the post for the gold medal by an entry from Singaporean Sharon Lee Puay Ming.

Calamansi is not known in Europe and the judges noted the marmalade’s unusual taste, but they liked the flavor. Harland said he intends to enter the competition again next year, but perhaps with a slightly modified recipe using whisky rather than brandy.

The organizers received over 1,700 entries from all corners of the world – a 30 percent increase over 2011, clearly showing that marmalade is as popular as ever.

Robert Harland recently presented Governor Alfredo Marañon with  the first jar of the locally-made Calamansi marmalade with brandy

Robert Harland recently presented Governor Alfredo Marañon with the first jar of the locally-made Calamansi marmalade with brandy

The championships were part of a weekend-long marmalade festival held at the historic Dalemain Estate in England’s Lake District. Over 70,000 British pounds (Php4.7m) was raised for various charities.

Marapara mission cares for Bata residents

The Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara gave a helping hand on Sunday to residents of Brgy. Bata in Bacolod City with another of its popular medical missions.

A young patients has his BP taken by a volunteer nurse

A young patients has his BP taken by a volunteer nurse

A team of 30 volunteer doctors and nurses from Riverside and Doctors’ Hospitals plus two dentists from the Philippines Dental Association and four dental technicians provided medical care to some of the poorest residents in the area.

The mission, organized by the Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara, was held at the Antonio Chan Memorial Technical Center in Bata.

Marapara Rotary member and dentist, Dr. Selwyn Lloyd Baloyo looking after a patient

Marapara Rotary member and dentist, Dr. Selwyn Lloyd Baloyo looking after a patient

Some 350 barangay members and their children availed themselves of medical checks and dental work. The mission was held primarily for the benefit of Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club caddies and their families plus others in the barangay.

Said club president Rico Cajili, “An important part of our community programs is to provide basic medical and dental assistance to the less fortunate in our society whenever we can.

A volunteer doctor examines this baby boy from Bata

A volunteer doctor examines this baby boy from Bata

“Sunday’s mission marked our 20th year of organizing medical services and we were once again pleased to have the opportunity to be of service. Healthcare is vital to the community, and medical missions perform a valuable service especially for those who cannot afford to see a doctor.”

Adding support were 5th district provincial board member, Dr. Melvin Ibanez, who provided ECG-EKG services, the Sugar Tee Foundation, which provided medicines and the Rotaract Club of Bacolod Marapara which provided 13 volunteer nursing students.

“We are most grateful for the strong support and dedication shown by the doctors, dentists, nurses and other volunteers who gave up their Sunday to be of service to the needy residents of Bata,” added Cajili.

Apart from medical missions, the club undertakes many other community activities each year.  It’s main fund-raising event is the annual ‘Rotary-Golf for a Cause’ tournament held at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club in Bata, Bacolod. This year’s event will be staged on Saturday and Sunday, March 31 and April 1.

In Search of the Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon

Nigel Simpson, Curator of Birds at the UK’s Bristol Zoo, was in Negros this week to discuss ongoing projects with local partner-environmental organizations including the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation (NFEFI) and the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (PBCFI).

ABS-CBN's Marty Go, Bristol Zoo's Nigel Simpson, NFEFI's Curator Dr. Joanne Justo, NFEFI Trustee Robert Harland

ABS-CBN's Marty Go, Bristol Zoo's Nigel Simpson, NFEFI's Curator Dr. Joanne Justo, NFEFI Trustee Robert Harland

The main focus of his visit was the Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon, one of the most critically-endangered birds in the Philippines and number one in Bristol Zoo’s top 10 ‘at risk’ species.

The critically-endangered Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon

The critically-endangered Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon

The zoo, in association with NFEFI and PBCFI, has mounted a series of biodiversity surveys in Negros Occidental and Oriental to ascertain if the bird is still present.

“Even though there are only occasional sightings of this rare bird, we are optimistic there are still breeding pairs in the wild. BirdLife International estimates there are only 300 Bleeding Heart Pigeons left in Negros, so their future here is uncertain,” said Mr. Simpson.

“The problem is the drastic loss of lowland forest areas where the birds thrive, hence the low numbers. But with the establishment of more conservation areas we are confident their population can increase.”

NFEFI’s Biodiversity Conservation Center in Bacolod City has successfully hatched eight of these rare birds and they can be seen at the NFEFI compound by the Provincial Lagoon.

Said NFEFI’s Curator, Dr. Joanne Justo “These captive-bred pigeons could be released into the wild once protected areas have been established.

Bristol Zoo, which last year celebrated its 175th anniversary, is working with organizations like NFEFI and PBCFI to develop local conservation areas in various parts of the province where rare birds and other endangered animals can be released.