by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros

caption: An article on Grand Residences Cebu’s groundbreaking that this blogger penned featuring its president Ryan Bernard Go.

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES —  Ten months after breaking ground, North Towers A and B of a five-towered Grand Residences Cebu (Banilad) have topped off. Ryan Bernard Go, president of Grand Land Inc., underscored that this is the company’s commitment: to make sure that two months after launch, project construction could get started and in less than a year after the groundbreaking ceremony, subject on drawing board becomes visible and tangible. “That’s our way of showing to the community how serious we are in our commitment in and outside of Cebu. We are one of the youngest real estate players, and one of the most dynamic, driven by the earnest desire to change Cebu’s real estate landscape with our brand of service. In 2015, we work with “#LiveGrand” at the core of that commitment.”


On how swift supposedly is turnover of units to homeowners

While it is good to provide solutions to varying needs for housing and shelter forms, there should be no shortcuts.


That retail industry and real estate are complementary

We can always put up a mall beside a housing development, or within, vice versa. The two industries are not actually separate, as every commercial center or mall has a real estate component in it. Everything should boil down to convenience these days. Parents who are already both working seek to live at the vicinity where they can work with less hassles, shop and dine and send their children to school away from the worsening traffic jams.

The aura of being hushed – never rushed!

“That’s because I work with the right team, good people, and I’m willing to learn,” Go beams. “I’m just so blessed to be working with the right people, excellent consultants, and I get to enjoy the very thing I love doing. Like you, di ba, writing is never taxing if you enjoy it. It’s the same thing with management – with overseeing this type of business. It’s more play than work if you get to love it. No amount of pressure can pull your spirit down. Yes, having national consultants is much costly but we don’t have to go through a long way with learning and we have also avoided the more expensive trial-and-error approach.

Work is love made visible (to point out a Kahlil Gibran wisdom)

I am very passionate about buildings. While I grew up exposed to the shipping industry, I was able to shape my passion for buildings. And as we are confident with our project, being a very good project because of its location primarily, the mother company (Gaisano Grand Group) is willing to shell out.


Hierarchical structure still works for you or would you rather go lateral, as is the trend in corporate settings today?

I still believe that there has to be one on top of the game. But I keep an open mind. Open-door policy, that has always been my leadership style. Even a janitor can voice out such a beautiful mind if given the chance. So I listen. For as long as one has a brilliant idea to share that would lead us to where we’re supposed to be headed, then I listen. In the process, I also grow in knowledge. I learn to deal with challenges one after the other. At the end of the day, we try to achieve happiness and harmony as is our corporate tagline.

#grandlivingcebu, #grandlifecebu, so is the Grand Corporate Tower

Structure-wise, this is to complement our brand positioning. We get to touch and tap other business entities. We are sensitive to the needs of startups that don’t need a big overhead. They can settle with an office table first. But this is not the so-ho type, I would emphasize. For as long as the Internet connections are powered for optimum use, which is really the top concern, I know they will be fine. As today, we can’t really be up and about without a helping of the Internet. So we adapt. Even in our marketing strategies, we have adapted to today’s standards. What worked 20 years ago won’t work anymore today, even with a team of professionals. We compel ourselves to catch up with technology, to always be active and knowledgeable of the trends. You might want to use the newspaper industry as an example at how we have to catch up with the next thing. Yesterday, we were compelled to pick up a paper and browse the news. Today, there’s just too much info, literally on hand, in the digital format, very accessible at our fingertips. All you have to bear in mind is to just be discerning about who or what to read.


Age of Collaboration, or still stuck with Age of Competition?

Well, at the end of the day, you would really want to watch over competition. It’s not really that hardcore competition though, because I discourage my team from engaging in loose talks about competing products. But I also make sure that even though we are a young player in the industry we are at par with those banking on the “most experienced” peg. Basta ang importante lang, we move in a complementary manner. Because it is important to have more players here; that encourages more creativity, dynamism, diversity, quality.


Grand Residences Cebu (Banilad) is the flagship project of Grand Land, Inc. of the Gaisano Grand Group. Two of the five towers are set to be turned over to homeowners by 2015. Started in 2012, GLI is one of the youngest real estate players in Cebu but already prides in its Amani Residences (Mactan) and City Homes (Mactan, Mandaue and Minglanilla) projects.


‘Tara Na’ to pilot June 21 over TV5-Cebu

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — An events and travel show is set to air every Sunday from 7:30 to 8:30 am over at TV5 Cebu beginning June 21.

In a recent presscon, it was announced that “Tara Na!” is to provide viewers up-to-date info on recent events and travel destinations as well as the many places and happenings to look forward to in the Visayas region.

Tara Na will be hosted by Cordova Vice Mayor Mary Therese “Teche” Sitoy Cho, Gino Galicia, and TV5 Artista Academy graduate Benjoe Leoncio. Artista Academy is a talent search staged by TV5 Manila.

The production crew looks at 13 episodes for the first season. According to director/producer Cris Damo, the filming material is of premium quality already. “Ikapasigarbo gyud ni nato ang quality sa production. Thanks to technology.”

(“We certainly can take pride of this show production-wise”).

When asked if she’s ready on forms of media picking on the show as, sort of, ‘prosthetics’ to several controversies hounding Cordova, Sitoy-Cho said that she is ready for such. “We will not be talking about politics. I won’t be answering issues through this program. But I can’t veer away from negative comments that may arise once the show goes on air.”

“What we hope is that the public may know the real Cordova. We start with Gilutongan, our marine sanctuary. It offers the real story of our people, fishing as livelihood.”

Cordova, in recent years, figured on banner stories in various media platforms because of cybersex. But in another incident, Cordova has been a victim too of environmental crime when oil spill caused by a collision of a passenger ship and a cargo ship devastated significant patches of mangrove forests.

The title of the show, by the way, embraces all Visayans – Warays and Ilonggos. The medium is a variety of English, Taglish (Tagalog-English) and Bisglish (Binisaya-English) to make it all-embracing.###

First Yakimix branch in Cebu opens

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Spacious, conducive to conversation, an average of 150 dishes including beverages and dessert items worth indulging are the best features of Yakimix Restaurant on Escario, Capitol Site here.

Birthdays also become exciting and memorable because promotions cover free treat to the celebrator, along with three members of the family or friends.

Robert Chua, manager, whose main line is into distribution of fruits and vegetables, sees to it that special occasions become worth celebrating all the more, for the price of none. “We start with some noise we will sustain the bang with a tribute to birthday celebrants. They can choose to celebrate it seven days before their birthday, or seven days after, that is if they can’t be available on the very day of their birth anniversary. Just to make things convenient,” he explained.

Regional manager Chito Manlapaz pointed out that diners will sure be very excited about Yakimix’ cooking features because they have brought in the smokeless grill that their 10 Manila branches are famous for.

“Guests can enjoy very minimal smoke emanating from items cooked on our built-in smokeless grill on every table. They will get to know what it’s like to experience grilling their own food, grill all they can, grill all they want – as we have a selection of marinated meat and seafood. And with our Cantonese chefs Tony Lau and Ken Diao, we assure that every hot dish is cooked and served just right,” Manlapaz added.

Says print media practitioner Que Bajenting: “I’m glad to know Yakimix is already in Cebu. Judging from the rates, it seems a lot better here in Cebu, and you still get to enjoy close to 200 dishes that the restaurant has been known for.”

Lunch is at 499Php while dinner is at 599Php, Monday to Friday. On weekends and holidays, lunch and dinner rates are at 599Php. Children below three feet can dine for free, while children below four feet are to pay 299Php only.

Yakimix, which began operations last year, already claims top spot in being the best smokeless grill restaurant in the Philippines. FB/Yakimix and Tweet @Yakimixo_o.

Yaki means grilled, broiled or pan-fried. Mix means “to put together.”

It offers a fusion of Asian cuisine, mainly Japanese, Korean and Chinese or a cornucopia of the best dishes in these regions.

The facility can seat a maximum of 140 pax.###

Nautilus, dugong highly endangered in Tanon Strait

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU, PHILIPPINES (May 27, 2015) — Overfishing, pollution and climate change, lack of enforcement and accountability in the management of Tanon Strait put the chambered nautilus as most critically endangered along with 14 species of cetaceans in danger of extinction.

Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo, DENR-7 regional director, in delivering his State of Tanon Strait Address today here in Badian, southwestern coastal town of Cebu Province, mentioned that only a few nautilus species have survived to date as this unusual resident of Tanon Strait is highly prized for its shell. Its population is believed to have been overfished since the 70s.

With the assistance of non-government organization Oceana (Protecting the World’s Oceans), it was learned that decline in population of important marine species is traced to illegal commercial fishing, destructive fishing, juvenile fish catch, lack of enforcement and accountability, pollution and climate change.

Montejo said that sea mammals, accounting to 14 species of 27 found in the country, like spinner dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, dugongs, whale sharks, among others, suffer from indiscriminate fishing as well as lack of a reliable enforcement of existing laws that govern sustainable economy along with development.

On the occasion of the 17th anniversary today of Presidential Proclamation 1234 creating the Tanon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS), Montejo and Oceana led the inauguration of a TSPS office in Barangay Malhiao, Badian. This was witnessed by over 60 stakeholders from various government agencies, local leaders, community partners, fisherfolk, print media, and bloggers.

The office placed at the “center of Tanon Strait” serves to link the gap in data gathering, and facilitate solutions to “save Tanon from illegal commercial fishing, destructive fishing and pollution.”

“Tanon is a migration corridor to sea mammals. It has 18,830 hectares of coral reefs and an estimated area of patches of mangroves, 26 species, reaching around 5,000 hectares. But all of these are threatened by industrial waste, being a natural catchment,” Montejo further explained.

Thus, the need for strong leadership, effective enforcement of Fisheries Code, special protections within the seascape and accountability when transiting a protected seascape. As cited by Oceana in its journal, Tanon Strait “needs strong leadership at all levels in the conservation efforts.”

“The Protected Area Management Board has a clear mandate to responsibly manage fisheries, including establishing a comprehensive plan for protection.”

“Effective enforcement of the Fisheries Code will require increased monitoring of fishing activity at sea and in port, increased resources for interception, and strengthening the judicial process.”

“Urgently needed is a management plan which includes regulations specific to the unique needs of the seascape.”

“Although commercial fishing is banned in Tanon Strait, commercial vessels transit through the Strait regularly. When commercial fishing vessels come to port in Tanon Strait, they must be held accountable for the origin and legality of their catches.”

Moreover, environmental lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos said that tools, with improved technology, could help monitor these commercial vessels. “I know of drones, image-capturing satellites, web systems that can help monitor activities at sea. If we have this technology on Tanon seascape, and continue to build on this effort, then it would be a lot easier to facilitate stewardship, address critical concerns in protecting our coral reefs, our fisherfolk, our future.”

TSPS is the largest marine protected area in the Philippines, and the third largest park, nearly as extensive as the two largest terrestrial natural parks in the Northern Sierra Madre and Samar Island which protect the Philippine eagle and other wonders. Tanon Strait is their marine counterpart, with an area of 5,182 km squared, more than three times the area of the Tubbataha National Park.

Oceana went on to report that the Strait is extremely narrow (27 kilometers), 160 km long and 500 meters deep. At its widest, the Strait is only 27 km., and narrowest near the south at a mere five km.

The deep waters which attract dolphins, whales, sharks and manta rays extend down from the surface a distance roughly half a kilometer. Oceana pointed out that in Cebu City, this is equivalent to a jeepney ride between the Basilica del Santo Nino and Fort San Pedro. In Dumaguete, this is equivalent to a walk between the Dumaguete Cathedral and Silliman University. Tanon Strait has a coastline of 450 kms.

Tanon Strait is that body of water between Cebu and Negros Island.###

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce project finalist in Italy world congress

caption: Editha Bonghanoy found P600 among trash at the Umapad dumpsite in Mandaue City. The amount enabled her to start a food business.

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Women in Need, Now Entrepreneurs and Rolemodels or WINNERS made it as a finalist to the 9th World Chambers Congress in Torino, Italy picked from 79 applications of 39 countries.

In an electronic correspondence, Alexandra Jercaianu, project officer of International Chambers of Commerce – World Chambers Federation in Paris, France congratulated the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry as WINNERS has been “selected as a finalist in the Best Non-Conventional Project category.”

A record number of 79 applications from 39 countries were received for the 2015 World Chambers Competition and that the full list of finalists in the said category are: Stavanger Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Norway), Chamber of Commerce of Zaragoza (Spain), Calgary Chamber of Commerce (Canada), and Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Philippines).

According to WINNERS project chairperson Ms. Carmel de Pio-Salvador, the chamber will be joining other finalists in front of WCF’s panel of international judges for a live presentation at the 9th World Chambers Congress from June 10 to 12, 2015 whereby a Q&A session will tackle the innovative nature of the project, the impact of the project on the chamber and or the business community; measurable outcomes (financial, business and job creation, participation rates, membership recruitment, people involvement); the relevance of the program in the target category, as well as potential for the project to be successfully adopted by other chambers of commerce throughout the world.

The “Search for WINNERS” was launched on July 26, 2011 at the Benedicto College Campus in Mandaue City. Now on its fifth season, the project is MCCI’s quest for model women micro-entrepreneurs from Mandaue City who are supporting their families and are struggling to rise from abject poverty through their business ventures. Their stories of perseverance and creativity, integrity and strength of character are to inspire other women to be empowered, says de Pio-Salvador.

Community development leaders validate the competence of these micro-entrepreneurs to represent barangays of Mandaue City. The finalists go through Basic Entrepreneurial Skills Training, Basic Banking, Formulation or Structuring of Business Plans, Personality Development, as well as Sponsors Tour wherein they gather more insights and perspectives in other traders’ business ventures.

“It is our goal to make the program a national advocacy. Women entrepreneurs today make up more than 50 percent of the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises, thus they should be given a place in national development,” de Pio-Salvador shared.

Editha Bonghanoy, for example, is scavenger turned entrepreneur.

Bonghanoy, a vendor from Barangay Umapad, lives near the city’s dumpsite. She used to survive on segregating trash that can be sold at junkshops, a way of life she, sort of, inherited from her mother. One day, while performing the backbreaking task of scavenging, she pulled out of the dump an envelop containing P600 (six hundred pesos) or roughly 14 US dollars (based on US$1 = P43 exchange), as of this writing.

Bonghanoy decided to leave scavenging behind by investing the money in a startup business. She started frying chicken parts like neck and feet which became a hit in the neighborhood. The crispy chicken business provided for her family decent meals, an opportunity to send her grandchildren to school, thereby nurturing hope that the blessing breaks the cycle of poverty in her family.###

Check a halo-halo, rice bowl @ Kublai Khan

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Do you remove lettuce from your burger? Or has the habit of picking out of your sandwich the cheese wedge?

Would you rather have red mung beans over boiled corn grains on your halo-halo (refreshment using ice shavings, milk, and a cocktail of colorful ingredients), a dessert item that is so much a part of the Filipino food culture. Or are you fond of setting aside julienned carrots of a veggie-based dish?

Kublai Khan Restaurant on the Ayala Center Cebu Terraces has developed a system to make it convenient for clients to enjoy their rice bowls and halo-halo. So diners won’t end up tossing the bean sprouts out of the bowl. Through the “Check a Bowl” and “Check a Halo” services, clients are given a list of ingredients divided into four sections – meat and sauces, condiments, vegetables, and base which is either rice or rice noodles (bihon or canton). Customers choose the items according to preference. That way they can enjoy their meals more, preventing further wastage of food, and paying only for what’s necessary.

This blogger, for example, is not so much into Schezuan but can tolerate native chili for hot and spicy Warrior Bowl. Doesn’t really pay attention to gizzard but adores liver (chicken and pork). And as tofu is a very healthy stuff, it is on top of the “ticking job.”

For the halo-halo, tahore or red mung beans is a favorite along with the natural sweetness of nata de coco, the pretty colors of kaong, the softness of coco strings.

According to Juditha Batino, store manager, they make sure that ice is shaved only the very moment the order comes in to maintain safety in food handling. “There’s no pre-shaving. We want ice to be pure as it should be, so preparation comes only after real-time orders are taken.”

She takes pride in “specially formulated milk that doesn’t need further granulated sugar.” Ingredients such as green gulaman, monggo, sweetened banana and sweet potato, jackfruit and leche flan, among others, are said to be homemade.

Rice bowl costs P140 while halo-halo is pegged at P79 but one can add P20 to get all 12 ingredients or the “7-5” formula (base and toppings).

Expect congee at its Cybergate outlet on midtown Cebu next month featuring chicken congee, seafood congee, and black congee or with squid ink.

Of the four outlets in Cebu, the one in Ayala Terraces is the biggest with 128 seats. Kublai Khan is also at the Parkmall, Robinsons Galleria at Fuente Rotunda, and at SM Foodcourt. One is in Bacolod. Two more outlets will be opened soon here.###

SM Hypermarket – Lapu launches retail spaces

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

LAPU-LAPU CITY, CEBU, PHILIPPINES (April 24, 2015) — A community center is what SM Hypermarket in Pueblo Verde, Basak is all about. Says Steven Tan, senior vice president of SM Supermalls, the community here deserves a store in a “community format.”

“SM Hypermarket makes it convenient for Mactan Export Zone workers, Mactan residents, and travelers flying in or out of the Mactan Cebu International Airport by opening at 6 a.m.,” Tan said.

Product offering includes groceries, household items, appliances, clothes, toys, and furniture.

Today, service of around 30 retail stores on the second level is launched. These are a mix of mobile phone stores, cable TV services, lottery outlet, kids’ play pen, salons, among others.

Restaurants and food stalls are located on the first level of the said facility.

Restaurants occupying the first level include Cebu Lechon Belly, Dunkin Donuts, Ice Castle. Soon to open is Jonie’s Sizzlers & Roast.

Watsons is on the first level too.

Shops on the second level include Hollywood Spectacles, Oro China, Mr. Quickie, Avery Integrated Hub lotto outlet, Wow Travel & More, Aerophone, Audionet, Cellpod, RC Goldline, CQE, Apollo Cellshop, CD-R King, Quantum, Cherry, Oppo, JV Shop N Shop, Potato Corner, Digibabe, VIP, Franzy Salon, among many.

These stores are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

According to Sherry Tuvilla, regional operations manager-Visayas of SM Supermalls, with Jocelyn Veloso, vice president for operations – Visayas, services are expected to add excitement to customers’ shopping experience as SM Hypermarket Lapu-Lapu also incorporates bills payment, foreign exchange, and Western Union money transfer services to answer monthly, weekly, and routine transactions.

The duo explained that SM Hypermarket along Kadaugan Avenue, Pueblo Verde, MEZ II is the “first SM Hypermarket with a provision of over 30 retail spaces, accommodating dining facilities, clothing, services, cyberzone, and other dry goods.”

Guest performer was Kapuso talent Tom Rodriguez.

To recall this one-stop hypershop opened officially last February 26, this year, marking SM’s 43rd hypermarket- the third in the densely-populated Mandaue-Lapu business zones. Wattpad celebrity Nadine Lustre came to entertain shoppers.

Check and “Like” SM Hypermarket Lapu-Lapu on Facebook, or call 520.9425.###

‘Technotour Amazing Adventure Challenge’ to explore southern, midwest Cebu

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #CebuBloggingCommunity

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Cebu’s best can be experienced through technology and a set of mental and physical challenges.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Cebu Provincial Capitol, Cebu Parklane International Hotel, and local government units initiate “Technotour Amazing Adventure Challenge” (an experiential tourism through technology) from June 16 to 18, 2015 covering southern and midwest Cebu.

In a press conference today, April 20, it was learned from organizers that this is a three-day, two-night adventure challenge that will promote and showcase Cebu’s tourism, food, people, culture and heritage through technology and adventure.

The event is open to teams composed of four participants, must be 18 years old and above. Teams must have a four-wheel vehicle sturdy enough to navigate and bring them from the city, to the south, midwest of Cebu, and back to the city, for three days. The challenge will start and end here in Cebu City.

Each team must have either one smartphone or tablet wherein they will use to download the app to get all instructions while they are on the road. They must be able to answer questions while they are on the road. They must be able to answer questions from the app to pinpoint the control points which will correspond to a historical site. The team must also be required to perform a task pertaining to a respective culture or product of a municipality. The first team who will be able to complete all control points, tasks and get to the finish line will be declared as the winner.

Registration fee per team is P20,000 (twenty thousand pesos) which includes two-room accommodation for two nights (twin-sharing), meals, race jersey and other freebies.

It was further learned that prizes may come in the form of gadgets, and other items, amounting to P30,000 for top spot depending on sponsors’ discretion.

This is just one of the activities in line with Cebu Business Month (Glocalized Cebu) 2015.

Participating component cities and towns are Talisay, Minglanilla, Naga, San Fernando, Carcar, Sibonga, Argao, Dalaguete, Alcoy, Boljoon, Oslob, Santander, Samboan, Ginatilan, Malabuyoc, Alegria, Badian, Moalboal, Alcantara, Ronda, Dumanjug, Barili, Aloguinsan, Pinamungajan, Toledo and Balamban.

For more info, email info@cebuchamber.org or mymelgar@cebuchamber.org or jeff.saromines@gmail.com. Check cebuchamber.org or cebubusinessmonth.net/. Call the Chamber at 6332.232-1421 to 24 local 107-108.###

Diamond Suites blogger, backpacker friendly

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: Front office **grabbed from diamondsuitescebu.com.ph

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Diamond Suites Cebu, a businessperson’s hotel on Apitong corner Escario Streets here, embraces the significant contributions of bloggers and backpackers in moving the economy via information sharing and grassroots travel, respectively.

Recently, Diamond Suites Cebu hosted the first meetup and pool party of the Cebu Blogging Community. The bloggers group, geared at strengthening support for members, finds an ally in the hotel as the latter renews commitment to provide a venue conducive to discussion, debate, and relaxation. The hotel is also open to the current work culture of bloggers that party-mosphere is reward to “hours of brain-firing.”

Executive and marketing officer Keene Albert Tan introduced Diamond Suites’ management team who welcomed CBC headed by executive director/chief blogger Ruben Licera, Jr. with community leads Margarita “Mary” Narvasa, Chanel Marie Imperial, and Gay Aida Dumaguing.

CBC has just facilitated a renewal of its members, now reaching around 50, as well as talks on CBC rules and guidelines, syndication of blogs, netizen media writing and social responsibility.

Tan, an aspiring blogger himself, shared that it is important for them to partner with bloggers which he finds as significant as traditional media. In a chat during the pool party, Tan along with sales account manager Pearlyn Hortelano pointed out that bloggers are already an essential in making stories go viral. “Blogging is an essential tool in today’s means of positioning a brand, selling services, marketing strategies so we stand by our commitment to make the blogging community part of the Diamond Suites family,” this the duo underscored.

Backpackers have a special place too at Diamond Suites Cebu via rooms designed for “wash-up purposes” whenever the need arises. “We have guests who find it a necessity to see the countryside, so they don’t really stay that long in the city. Thus, we came up with a wash-up room for P1,500 good for six hours, the right package to meet their ‘fly-in, fly-out’ approach to travel,” Hortelano informed.

Diamond Suites Cebu has 102 fully functional guest rooms. It used to be 129 but the 27 condominium units already have permanent residents. Rooms vary from Superior, to Deluxe and Suite Rooms. At the disposal of the business traveler are complimentary internet, gooseneck reading lights and a work space, alongside an LCD television that guests can enjoy while relaxing on a plush bed with memory pillows.

Visit diamondsuitescebu.com.ph for pocket-friendly rates, exclusive use of pool on sixth floor (top floor), and other concerns.###

No tax rest in ravaged Bantayan Is.

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #newmedia specialist

caption: Establishments like Balikbayan Resort get no tax reprieve even when badly beaten by the storm. Agnes Gilbuena, owner, reveals how they have to make ends meet: start all over again from scratch while settling dues.

BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU, PHILIPPINES — No such thing as zero-percent loan interest and tax rest period for Bantayan Island traders and entrepreneurs.

In its first-ever media presentation, the Bantayan Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BICCI) lamented how crisis lashes at them double whammy.

Having close to nothing at all to expect from the government when it comes to efficient post-Yolanda rehabilitation programs, the chamber looks at humanitarian consideration in loan grants tax reprieve and or levies, or for that fact, a rest period.

“However, it didn’t come. We have to survive crisis of sorts since we have to settle our taxes by the book while taking all the means to be able to stand above the storm,” Agnes Gilbuena who heads the hotels, bars and restaurants association here disclosed. She runs Balikbayan Resort in Santa Fe which you might want to check because of its cozy space where diners can talk – really talk over meals and wine.

Vince Escario, vice president (external) of the Bantayan Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a chapter of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce, also lamented on the lack of zero-percent interest rates even in the name of humanitarian consideration.

“Financial institutions have offered a one year grace period but on the second year of the loan, a six percent annual interest rate applies,” he said.

As for BICCI president Arthur Despi, he noted that even loan guarantors are asked to settle four percent in taxes, the risk being passed on to loanholders. “It’s really hard for us to cope with that because while we are trying to spread hope around here, some forms of help are also accompanied with a burden to loanholders. We are in the process of strong writing and lobbying that the Bureau of Internal Revenue relaxes their way with us, makes it a bit easier for us, knowing what we went through.”

Another burden to the island is the cargo and passenger rates. “Compared to Camotes-Danao and the Escalante-Tabuelan or Tuburan routes, the Hagnaya-Santa Fe route is shorter but more expensive. The Marina has to do something with direct shipping lines to reduce the rates especially the goods from the mainland,” Escario added.

The chamber was created last year to raise issues and provide proper forum for dialogue. It eyes collaboration among entrepreneurs in the island’s three towns, mostly fishermen, to understand the dynamics of economics in their trade and distribute efficiently the benefits of rehab efforts in the area.

This is the first-ever media presentation of the BICCI in line with the #iBLOGforBANTAYAN event, a brainchild of Escario’s, which saw the convergence of the Cebu Blogging Community and traditional media, as well as the Philippine Information Agency-7 in shouting out social good as Bantayan Island takes a proverbial resurrection from the ashes.

After the presentation, the #iBLOGforBANTAYAN participants were taken to a GawadKalinga site to take a literal stance to “ecovoluntourism.” The group took over shoveling and painting, and other construction works, as our share in rebuilding and relearning hope.

The area in Barangay Ticad is actually intended for a municipal village. GawadKalinga houses sit on an eight-hectare lot, with 300 units now home to some 59 families.GawadKalinga is connected to social enterprise “Human Nature,” a pro-Philippines, pro-environment, pro-poor beauty and wellness products. GK is best known for its sweat equity scheme in providing mass housing.###