Bohol is bent on making history by getting a Unesco recognition as a geosite, the first for Philippines.

Gov. Edgar Chatto, Acting Vice Gov. Venzencio Arcamo, and Third District Rep. Arthur Yap led the symbolic unveiling of the Geomarker at the Chocolate Hills Complex on Sunday to boost Bohol’s application for Unesco declaration of the entire province as a global geological park.

Etched on the marker is the “Aspiring Bohol Global Geopark” title with the simplified description of how “a single platform of thick and widespread buildup of coral reefs” evolved into what is now the “uniformly shaped conical isolated hills” called the Chocolate Hills.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is “the same agency that proclaimed the Chocolate Hills a national geological monument and proposed its inclusion in the World Heritage List”, as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) puts in its past feature on post-earthquake Bohol.

The DENR also explained in its feature that “once declared a Geopark, Bohol will be included in the Global Geoparks Network being supported by the UNESCO”.

For his part, Prof. Mario Delos Reyes, dean of University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP-SURP), narrated that when he, together with Professor Dr. Emeritus Gero Hillmer–a retired scientist, and Nancy Aguda–a geologist, was assessing and evaluating geoparks, they thought “it’s not Palawan underground, it’s not the Sand Dunes of Ilocos or the Taal seascape or landscape.”

He said they selected Bohol to be the first global geopark, because “Bohol is the best.”

Delos Reyes, Aguda, and Hillmar authored the book, “Bohol A window to the Philippines’ Natural History Towards Sustainable Island Development”, published in December 2016 where they featured the geosites in the province.

The book is also intended to help the Philippines’s application for geopark declaration by Unesco.

The book contains a comment from UP President Alfredo Pascual, describing it as “important not only as a corpus of knowledge on Bohol’s natural history, but also as an evidenced-based document which forms part of the submission to, and eventual approbation by Unesco Paris for the establishment of Bohol Island Province as the First National Global Geopark in the Philippines”.

Delos Reyes added that Unesco will be coming here in March 2018  for the pre-valuation of a geopark.

“This year, there are a lot of applications and they said that if the Philippines will apply, they will be much interested because in the Philippines, there is no geopark yet. So if we apply, it is already approved,” according to Delos Reyes.

He also said “the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) will also be holding a meeting in Bohol “to showcase our first and only geopark in the Philippines”, .

Chatto, for his part, recognized the authors of the book as the “the brain behind thinking of pushing Bohol to the nomination in Unesco”.

“When they approached me at my office, I had so many questions. What will that mean? What efforts we are going to put in place so that we can reach that goal? What will be its impact to Bohol? Will our farmers lose the land and they will be provided with restrictions because we are declared with what we call the Bohol Global Geopark declaration? All my [questions] were clarified and they said there will be no such restrictions, because this will only be an advocacy of preserving what we have,” Chatto said.

The advocacy is unique in a sense that it would be for a global recognition, according to Chatto.

“When we reach that goal, we hit the record of being the first province to be declared a Unesco geopark in the whole Philippines. The other Unesco-declared areas are only sites. But here in Bohol, uniquely, they convinced me that is the whole province that should be declared a geosite. Not just the Chocolate Hills, not just the Hinagdanan Cave, or the other areas, not just our heritage churches, but the entire province,” Chatto added.

He said that he realized how important it would be for the province and make an impact, he suggested that the best time to launch it is on the occasion of the anniversary of the earthquake that happened in 2013” and so the launching was held on October 15.

“We had said time and again that the earthquake actually happened to Bohol, but it would also be like saying that ‘when God closes a door, He opens several other windows’. And, indeed, the windows of opportunity for the province of Bohol have been opening up every year. And it has not stopped until now. Every year, there are opportunities opened for Bohol simply because we have struggled as one province to stand again after the devastating earthquake,” according to Chatto.

He added that “if Bohol makes it as a Unesco geopark, it is proclaiming to the whole world that Bohol is a province that stands together with the rest of the geoparks in the country and Unesco will be actually promoting our province, both as a tourism destination and also as an environment and geologically-protected area as well.”

He said it will also be enhancing the Boholanos’ desire to keep the province environmentally sustainable in adherence to the principles of sustainable development.

The governor also mentioned that on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the Great Earthquake- -as the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in 2013 has been dubbed- -the province also “opened the new Capitol as the testament and monument of what is called the cultural heritage of the province of Bohol”.

“In Tagbilaran, we just opened the old Capitol Building now as the new Bohol National Museum. Next year will be the grand opening where all the exhibits will be there. Now, you will see work going on to put all the exhibits in place but the entire building is already completed,” Chatto said.

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March 6, 2016March 6, 2016
NO NEED FOR NEW PIER FOR EQUIPMENTS; AIRPORT TO START NEXT MONTH It is now final and official. There is no more need for a temporary seaport in bringing in heavy equipments needed in the construction of the New Bohol Airport in Panglao. This development surfaced after the main contractor, Chiyoda Mitsubishi Joint Venture ( CMJV), a Japanese consortium and sub-contractor EEI Corp. agreed to the “night shift” policy suggested by Gov, Edgar Chatto amid the controversy arising from the rumored plan to construct a temporary pier in barangay Tangan, Panglao town. The suggestion of the governor which seems adopted by the contractors was part of last Sunday’s editorial of The Chronicle. Meanwhile, the new Bohol Airport will officially commence its construction next month. Only recently, the controversial plan for a temporary pier generated strong public opposition citing the environmental destruction it brings in the area. Hauling and transport by heavy equipment of the materials for the 30-month construction of the new Bohol airport will be done nightly until early morning to avoid likely heavy traffic never seen here before. Last Wednesday, Gov. Chatto witnessed the Manila signing between the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the consortium of the deal for the construction of the airport on Panglao island. DOTC Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya led the signing together with Associate Director and Deputy Division Director Tadayoshi Kimura of Business Development Division of the Chiyoda Corp. and Deputy General Manager and Division Head Masahito Nonaka of the Global Environment & Infrastructure Business Division of the Mitsubishi Corp. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative to the Philippines Noriaki Niwa and Project Formulation Advisor Shimizu Toshihiro of JICA Economic Growth Section also witnessed the sealing, which paves the start of the construction. “Construction will start in June. We appreciate if the airport can be done in one-and-a-half year,” Chatto quoted Abaya as saying during the signing, although the construction from start to finish takes 30 months per contract. In the coordination conference here, the local Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) assured of berthing spaces at the Tagbilaran City port for vessels that carry the equipment and construction materials. Not just the traffic on city roads identified for routes of the equipment and materials to Panglao prosite, port congestion itself is expected to heighten considering the unusual frequent volume loading, hauling and transport. The contractor agreed to haul and transport—at 75 trips daily—during night time, preferably from midnight to six in the morning (6am) when roads are usually not or less used. City traffic is back to busy with the opening of classes in June. The local Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said the bridges along the identified hauling routes from the city to construction site can contain the weight of the loaded equipment with strict regulation observed. As the city port is still undergoing rehabilitation after the earthquake, the port in Alburquerque has been eyed for alternate docking of barges loaded with heavy equipment and construction materials. But according to the PPA, the town port has also been damaged by the earthquake and its repair could cost some P20 million. While the airport contractor is willing to help rehabilitate the port, the entire work is estimated to consume eight months. Rep. Rene Relampagos, who also attended the coordination meeting, agreed with the governor that securing the funding for repair and the process through which project procurement undergoes before the actual concrete works are a different story that also takes time. The First District solon could not attend the Manila signing last Wednesday because of a meeting of the congressional tourism committee which he chairs. The peak period of airport construction is expected to start from the third week of September this year until the middle of February in 2017. Every week within this period, an average of three vessels arrive at the port, loaded with an average volume of almost 6,000 metric tons of materials and requiring 425 truck loads en route to construction site. FREQUENT COORDINATION Chatto and Relampagos would want as shorter interval of regular coordination meetings as possible so that the expected concerns which may hinder fast implementation could get addressed. It is likewise a proactive system to ready measures or policy guidelines for other possible yet unforeseen problems as construction progresses, they said. The Local Project Management Team (LPMT) handled by Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio has been focused on all concerns within its mandate and capacity surrounding the gigantic undertaking. The team presented updates on varied concerns during the coordination meeting, which was also attended by Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero. These concerns include the rerouting of existing Panglao barangay roads that traverse the airport site and have to be closed and cut once construction starts or possible opening of new access roads. Yesterday, Chatto and Relampagos led the signing of the deed of transfer of the resettlement for the project-affected families (PAFs) right at their finished relocation site, which negotiation, preparation, construction, supervision, monitoring and completion had the LMPT at the painstaking front. 11th BUSIEST Once done by the middle or final quarter of 2017, although some say early 2018 is the safest projection, the Panglao airport will replace the Tagbilaran City flight terminal as the 11th busiest airport in the country. Ten times bigger than the city airport, it is foreseen to accommodate 1.7 million air passengers annually, although Chatto and Relampagos is already moving this early to secure support for its expansion in the future. Officially, the project is billed the New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project (NBACSEPP), said to be the first ever package deal assisted by JICA in the country. The airport has been designed to be the Philippines ’ “first world-class eco-friendly, green airport.” (Ven rebo Arigo) The Bohol Chronicle May 31, 2015