DENR, Smart, Huawei tap mobile phones to save PH rainforests

It is a cliché to say that mobile phones have become indispensable tools in accomplishing many activities of daily living.

But to add further to the long list of mobile technology’s importance, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PLDT wireless unit, Smart Communications, and Huawei Technologies Philippines (Huawei) signed an agreement to use mobile phones to assist in saving and protecting endangered Philippine rainforests.

In a landmark initiative, the DENR, PLDT wireless unit, Smart, and Huawei agreed last February to collaborate in pilot testing an Internet of Things (IoT) solution that taps mobile technology to detect and record rainforest sounds that can help prevent illegal logging and poaching activities in the country’s rainforests.

The IoT solution has been deployed to five DENR-designated areas in Palawan, which is recognized as the “last ecological frontier” of the country. Designated pilot sites are Cadlao Island, Maranlao and Pasadena in El Nido, and New Guinlo and Pancol in Taytay.

Developed by US-based NGO, Rainforest Connection (RFCx), the innovation makes use of old cell phones to monitor and record ambient sounds of priority forest areas identified by the DENR.

The bio-acoustics are then uploaded to a cloud service using Smart connectivity. The information can be accessed via the Rainforest Connection mobile application.

Information on the mobile app may be used by key community stakeholders to interpret patterns of forest activity and take corresponding action in affected areas.

PILOT SITE: Aerial photo of one of the pilot installations in New Guinlo, Taytay, Palawan. (Smart Newsroom Photo)

Real-time listening post for the country’s forests

The solution makes use of old cellphones that are installed in strategic areas of the rainforest.

Powered by solar panels and wireless connectivity, the mobile devices are repurposed as “Rainforest Guardians” or listening posts for sounds of the forest.

Audio recordings of the Rainforest Guardians are accessible to DENR forest rangers, who also receive real-time alerts on sounds of chainsaws, trucks, and other sounds of forest destruction.

“The DENR welcomes this collaboration between the government and the private sector to help protect the country’s forest cover. This supports Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu’s resolve to level up the enforcement mandate and capability of DENR by employing technology to complement our current systems,” Nilo Tamoria, executive Director of the DENR Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force.

“This initiative highlights the important role of technology in nation-building. As the country’s leading digital services providers, PLDT and Smart are in a unique position to leverage on our platforms and technical expertise to aid in the protection of the environment,” Manuel V. Pangilinan, PLDT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said.

“It is our hope that this significant step will not only benefit policymakers and forest workers, but also surrounding communities who rely on rainforests for food, shelter, and livelihood,” Pangilinan said.

“At Smart, an integral part of our services are initiatives that help improve the well-being of the communities we serve. By being at the forefront of technology and environmental initiatives such as this, and by leveraging on our vast network coverage, Smart aims to help curb the impact of global warming and climate change,” Alfredo S. Panlilio, president and CEO of Smart Communications and executive vice president and chief revenue officer of PLDT, said.

RAINFOREST CONNECTION CEO Topher White with the RFCx Dashboard (Smart Newsroom Photo)

Telco partnership, a world first

This is the first time the innovation has been rolled out in the Philippines, and the first time that a telco has been tapped by Rainforest Connection to serve the platform’s connectivity requirements.

As the first Philippine telco partner, Smart provided wireless connectivity to all the designated pilot sites in Palawan, namely Cadlao Island, Maranlao and Pasadena in El Nido, and New Guinlo and Pancol in Taytay.

“As the pioneer connectivity partner for this initiative, we have been able to successfully demonstrate a complete and interoperable ecosystem for Rainforest Connection’s innovation — that which connects the key government unit, the primary NGO, a technology partner, and a telco, to help guard the rainforests in the Philippines,” Chaye Cabal-Revilla, PLDT SVP & Group Controller and concurrent PLDT Group Chief Sustainability Officer said.

“Our support for this initiative underscores our commitment to provide services that promote environment stewardship and sustainability,” Cabal-Revilla said.

“The dedication of the local DENR forest rangers in Palawan is known worldwide, as are the unique challenges and dangers they have faced in protecting this last frontier of Filipino wilderness from logging and environmental threats,” Topher White, CEO, Rainforest Connection (RFCx).

“Huawei and Smart teamed up to give RFCx an opportunity to help these brave men, and now, with their new technical advantage, the forest is always connected to its protectors, 24/7, thanks to the reliable and extensive Smart network covering the island,” White said.

RAINFOREST SAVIORS: (From left) Daniel Guo Zhi, Huawei Philippines Vice President/COO; Chaye Cabal-Revilla, PLDT SVP & Group Controller and concurrent PLDT Group Chief Sustainability Officer; Topher White, Rainforest Connection CEO; and Brian Lachica, DENR Information Systems Analyst (Smart Newsroom Photo)

Mobile telephony helps curb deforestation

The solution has been successfully rolled out in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia, Peru, Romania, and South Africa.

Results have also been promising since its implementation in the Philippines.  After the pilot rollout of Rainforest Connection in the country, several alerts of illegal logging in Palawan were verified and foiled by forest rangers.

“This initiative highlights our seriousness in helping create a more sustainable future for families, communities, and the country,” Cabal-Revilla said.

#Environment #IOT #MobilePhones #MobileTelephony #Smart #PLDT #DENR #RainforestConnection #Palawan #Rainforest

Results have also been promising since its implementation in the Philippines.  After the pilot rollout of Rainforest Connection in the country, several alerts of illegal logging in Palawan were verified and foiled by forest rangers.

“This initiative highlights our seriousness in helping create a more sustainable future for families, communities, and the country,” Cabal-Revilla said.

#Environment #IOT #MobilePhones #MobileTelephony #Smart #PLDT #DENR #RainforestConnection #Palawan #Rainforest

UP-PGH Covid19 Bayanihan Na! Operations Center to be launched

The Oblation / UP MPRO Photo

The UP-PGH Covid19 Bayanihan Na! Operations Center is expected to be launched at 7 am today / March 30, 2020.

The UP-PGH COVID-19 Bayanihan Na! Operations Center is a public service initiative of the University of the Philippines System.

The Department of Health (DOH) has designated the UP-Philippine General Hospital as a COVID19 “referral center.”

The UP-PGH, the Dr. Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City, and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City are the three Covid19 referral centers in the National Capital Region (NCR), with an estimated population of at least 12 million.

The launching program features an invocation by the UP Medical Alumni Society Chorale and messages from UP President Atty. Danilo L. Concepcion, UP Manila Chancellor Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla, PLDT President and CEO Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, and PGH Medical Foundation President Dr. Telesforo E. Gana Jr.

UP-PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi delivers the closing remarks.

The ceremonies will be livestreamed via

#Covid19PH #UPSystem #UP #ServeThePeople #UPPadayon #Covid_19

Day 1 Metro Manila lockdown chronicle (March 15, 2020)

While doing my 8 am to 10 am Sunday morning (March 15, 2020) walk around Welcome Rotonda, I spotted two groups of riders specializing in food delivery.

I asked them if there was a noticeable decline in food orders this morning. They chorused a resounding yes. They explained that Metro Manila residents went out of the region since Friday morning.

Without the lockdown, the riders said Sunday mornings are busy periods for them.

They said they are “nagbabakasakali na may oorder kasi po wala kaming kakainin at ipapakain sa asawa at anak.”

Bike riders are also prohibited from picking up passengers due to “social distance” policy being implemented.

Tens of thousands are out of work suddenly.

#MMLockdown #MMQuarantine #Covid19 #NoSafetyNet #InformalSectorHardestHit

Canceled rock opera ‘Rama, Hari’ supposed to close 50th BP season

(Note: I am posting this for posterity. A group of friends was scheduled to join today / March 14, 2020 National Artist for Dance Alice Reyes, the Ballet Philippines dancers, and featured singers during their rehearsals at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Due to health concerns posed by Covid-19, several shows at the CCP, including Rama, Hari were canceled.)

Monica Gana as Sita with Ronelson Yadao as Rama / Photo by Jojo Mamangun

Five national artists come together for the upcoming re-staging of Ballet Philippines’ “Rama, Hari.”

The production is a collaboration among Ballet Philippines Founder and Artistic Director Alice Reyes (National Artist for Dance); Ryan Cayabyab (National Artist for Music); Bienvenido Lumbera (National Artist for Literature); the late Salvador Bernal (National Artist for Theater Design); and the late Rolando Tinio (National Artist for Theater and Literature).

Rama, Hari is based on the ancient Sanskrit epic that follows Rama from his marriage to Sita, their 14-year banishment, and their encounters with Ravana and Soorphanaka.

Rama, Hari is Ballet Philippine’s 5th and final production for its 50th Golden Season.

Ronelson Yadao as Rama / Photo by Jojo Mamangun

“This rock opera interpretation translates Rama, Hari into very human and contemporary terms,” Reyes said.

Inspired by the Ramayana, the production premiered in February 1980 for the company’s 10th season.

Jemima Reyes as Sita / Photo by Jojo Mamangun

The original cast consisted of Basil Valdez, Kuh Ledesma, and Leo Valdez as Rama, Sita, and Ravana, respectively. Adding movement to their incomparable vocal performances were Nonoy Froilan and Robert Medina, alternating the role of Rama; Effie Nañas and Ester Rimpos alternating Sita; and Mario Esperanza and Nonoy Froilan alternating as Ravana.

Denise Parungao as Soorphanaka / Photo by Jojo Mamangun

It was later staged the same year for BP’s 11th Season, again in 1983 for its 30th season, and in 2012 for its 43rd season. The 2012 staging featured Christian Bautista alternating with OJ Mariano as Rama, and Karylle alternating with Kalila Aguilos as Sita.

Rama, Hari was toured extensively around Asia since its premiere, and was received by audiences with glowing reviews.

Monica Gana as Sita / Photo by Jojo Mamangun

This year, a star-studded cast of musical theater stars performs together with Ballet Philippines’ company of dancers.

This year’s cast features Gian Magdangal alternating with David Ezra as Rama; Aicelle Santos alternating with Shiela Valderrama-Martinez as Sita; Poppert Bernadas alternating with Nar Cabico as Ravana; Jimmy Marquez alternating with Kakki Teodoro as Soorpanakha/ Kooni; Sweet Plantado-Tiongson alternating with Celine Fabie as Kaikeyi; Audie Gemora as King Dasaratha/ Lakshmana; and singer, dancer, and choreographer Brezhnev Larlar as Hanuman alternating the role with Ian Ocampo.

John Ababon as King Dasaratha / Photo by Jojo Mamangun

They will be joined by the Ryan Cayabyan Singers, the PWU Indayog Gong Ensemble, and the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antonio Maria P. Cayabyab.

Rama, Hari runs on March 20 (8 pm), 21 (2 pm and 7 pm), 22 (2 pm), 27 (8 pm), 28 (2 pm and 7 pm), and 29 (2 pm).

Dan Dayo as Hanuman / Photo by Jojo Mamangun

Photos by Jojo Mamangun

#BP #Ramayana #RamaHari #AliceReyes #Rama #Sita #Ballet

Philippine Collegian’s unofficial mascot, Tibo, turns 41 this year

By Ibarra C. Mateo

Tibo cartoon strip by Rizaldy Zuno

Created by UP College of Fine Arts alumnus Rizaldy Zuno during his stint with the Philippine Collegian in 1979, Tibo or Primitivo Collegiano was born on Sept. 27, 1979.

Tibo’s maiden appearance was initially planned to be a one-time form of protest when then President Marcos banned Voltes V and other Japanese animation shows in April 1979 because they contained “excessive violence” and were “harmful” to children.

Tibo was received positively by the UP Diliman students, prompting Mr. Zuno and the Collegian staff to make him a regular feature of the newspaper.

We do not know the student number of Tibo. But he eventually leaped from the pages of Collegian to a student theater stage. I am trying to find out details of his stage debut.

Happy 41st birthday, Tibo!

Tibo #PrimitivoCollegiano #Kule #PhilippineCollegian #UPD #UP #Anime #VoltesV

US Coast Guard conducts ‘Train the Trainer’ course with PH Coast Guard

As part of ongoing US-Philippine cooperation to enhance maritime law enforcement capability, the US Coast Guard (USCG) instructors conducted a “Small Boat Operations” course for eight Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) participants in Manila from Feb. 24 to March 6, 2020, the US Embassy in Manila said on Monday /March 9, 2020.

“It’s a great exchange of professional knowledge between USCG and PCG. It will further enhance the Surface Support Force capabilities to respond to search and rescue cases,” PCG Commander Christie Cabuyaban said.

US Embassy in the Philippines Photo

The event was the first in a series of “train the trainer” courses that will prepare PCG instructors to manage small boat operations training for PCG in the future.

The course covered pre-mission planning, risk management, docking, towing, and navigation.

Follow-on courses in this series will develop the technical skills of PCG instructor-candidates, while introducing PCG student-participants as trainees for the instructor development process.

Since 2014, the US has partnered with the PCG to develop its expanding workforce and establish training programs to sustain operational readiness.

“We really enjoy working with the Philippine Coast Guard. They have great small boat handling skills,” USCG Machinery Technician First Class Tony Pagador said.

US Embassy Photo

Director, veteran actors make their Repertory Philippines debuts in Anna in The Tropics

In the production “Anna in the Tropics” written by Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz, a New York-based production designer and a group of veteran Filipino actors make their debuts on a Repertory Philippines’ stage.

Making his directorial debut via Anna in the Tropics is New York-based production designer Joey Mendoza, who is also Anna’s set designer.

Mendoza is joined by fellow New York-based creatives Fabian Obispo for sound design and Becky Bodurtha for costume design. They team up with Barbie Tan-Tiongco for lights design and GA Fallarme for video projection design.

Conchita forms a friendship with the charming new lector at her father’s Cuban cigar factory as she grapples with her husband’s extramarital affairs. L-R: Palomo (Brian Sy), Conchita (Skyzx Labastilla), Juan Julian (Ricardo Magno)
Lector Juan Julian (Ricardo Magno) reads Leo Tolstoy’s classic Anna Karenina to Cuban cigar factory workers in Tampa, Florida

Featured actors are Skyzx Labastilla as Conchita, Gab Pangilinan as Marela, Paolo O’Hara as Cheche, Gie Onida as Santiago, Madeleine Nicolas as Ofelia, Brian Sy as Palomo, and Ricardo Magno as Juan Julian.

These veteran actors, more widely known for their Filipino productions, will be treading the boards together for the first time in Anna in the Tropics, heralding their Rep debut performances.

Anna in the Tropics explores the dynamics within the Alcazar family that owns a Cuban cigar factory in Tampa, Florida. L-R: Ofelia (Madeleine Nicolas), Marela (Gab Pangilinan), Santiago (Gie Onida)
Gab Pangilinan is Marela, Santiago’s younger daughter

In Anna in the Tropics, dark family dramas intermingle with dangerous intentions.

It runs from March 13 to April 5, 2020 at Onstage Theater in Greenbelt 1, Makati.

Ricardo Magno plays Juan Julian, a lector at a Cuban cigar factory
Skyzx Labastilla is Conchita, Santiago’s daughter who has to deal with the cracks in her marriage

With a stylized and modern treatment, this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama promises to further Rep’s pursuit of bringing intelligent and thought-provoking material to the fore.

In sunny Tampa, Florida in the 1930s, things are not as bright as they seem. In one of the last remaining factories that still rolls cigars by hand, the Alcazar family eagerly awaits the arrival of their new lector, Juan Julian. When he starts reading from Leo Tolstoy’s Russian classic Anna Karenina, the scandalous lives of the characters start to bleed into the lives of his avid listeners as they come to terms with their torrid extramarital affairs, unresolved bitterness, and forbidden yearnings.

Brian Sy is Palomo, Conchita’s unfaithful husband
Paolo O’Hara is Cheche, Santiago’s half-brother

Each character’s destiny somehow intertwines with Anna Karenina, and they undergo a profound, undeniable transformation—a testament to the power of literature, for better or worse.

Brimming with intrigue and scandal, Anna in the Tropics is a steamy dark tale of passion that nonetheless speaks to universal themes of family, love, and misfortune.

Gie Onida plays Santiago, the owner of a Cuban cigar factory in Tampa, Florida who’s neck-deep in gambling debt
Madeleine Nicolas is Ofelia, the strong-willed wife of Santiago

Don’t miss this deeply engrossing and earnestly poetic lush family drama Anna in the Tropics from March 13 to April 5, 2020.

For ticket inquiries, please contact Rep at 8451-1474, Ticketworld at 8891-9999, or by visiting

Contact Rep for show updates and schedule via its FB page.

#RepPH #Rep #AnnaInTheTropics #NiloCruz #JoeyMendoza #RepertoryPhilippines