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PAL celebrates 75 years of service to Filipinos

It was on that fateful day on March 15, 1941 when the first ever-commercial flight under the registered name of Philippine Air Lines flew Mr. Andres Soriano Sr. and his friends from the Nielsen Field to Baguio City. Few people remember where this historic flight emanated because most people don't even remember a Nielsen Field. It is actually in the heart of Ayala Avenue in Makati City where the original Nielsen Tower has been kept restored as a fancy restaurant.

That was 75 years ago and PAL will always have the distinction of being Asia's first airline. It is a fact that a leased DC-3 PAL planes was the original airplane that started the Japan Air Lines so PAL really has a very rich history in Asia. As they say the rest is history.  And PAL grew through all the years until it temporarily crash-landed towards the end of the 1990s due to heavy financial losses and overstaffing. It resumed operations in the 2000 with a new vigor that we hope it would never end.

To mark this milestone, PAL once more makes another piece of history when this afternoon, PAL PR-122 will fly the first ever direct, non-stop flight from the Mactan Cebu International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). A select few of us in Cebu has been invited to fly with this historic flight today, which is why from today, my columns will be about our visit to Los Angeles, California. Kudos to Philippine Airlines!

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Let me say it here that I was very happy that finally, the Cebu Ocean Park would be opening at the South Road Properties  near SM Seaside. This was something missing in Cebu's tourism destination. But I read last Sunday that a group is opposed to this venture with 1,203 signatures to prevent the SM Entertainment Group from opening this park, which in my book is a very educational park, something that Cebu needed for a long time.

The oppositors complain saying, "Putting animals in cages is not protecting or conserving them. Putting animals on display is exploiting them and depriving them of their natural habitat. No matter how big an aquarium, it will never be able to come even to the ocean."

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I have no quarrel with these groups. But where were they when they build the Manila Ocean Park? There are similar facilities in Thailand right in downtown Siam Paragon, Hong Kong's Ocean Park and Singapore's Marine Life Park in Sentosa, Singapore.

What we are seeing here are human beings fighting for animal rights and I'm with them on this except that in my book, Ocean Parks are the best way to teach the young to take care of our biodiversity. I have seen many of these Marine Parks and I am always awed by the magnificence of these sea animals gliding above me over tempered glass. I could never ever hope to see these sea creatures alive as I am not a diving enthusiast. Let me say it here that only when our children are exposed to such parks would they realize the need to take care of them.

These oppositors are even using wrong logic in their opposition to the Cebu Ocean Park when someone said, "If SM wants to create more entertainment, why not invite circuses or build a concert hall instead?" If you ask me, the circus is the wrong example to use if we are talking animal rights here. I know how these NGOs work. First they openly complain to the public, then they will have the complaint reported in the newspapers, then they document it and collect from their mother organization. Many of these organizations have international networks or links.

Because SM is a huge entity, these people have been emboldened to block this project. Yet I don't hear them complain how the animals are being kept at the old Cebu City Zoo. I dare say to SM, keep the construction going because Cebu is an important hub for education and no matter how much you, animal right groups, try to advocate helping the biodiversity, I still believe that a Marine Park is our best bet to educate our children about the sea world.

Whether we like it or not, Marine Parks like SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida is one of its best attractions in the USA. But it is too far away. We are lucky that we are having many marine parks being constructed in Asia, which is easily accessible to the rich and middle class. But what about the poor who needs to be educated on protecting the marine life?

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I also read a Freeman report that the docking areas for the crossing the Mactan Channel from Mandaue to Lapu-Lapu are being readied. This was reported in a presscon by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza. I'm glad that finally the Lapu-Lapu City government has seen the light that if we put barges to be operated during the repairs of the old Mactan Bridge, it could certainly ease the mad traffic. But while they are now thinking ahead, they must think more flyovers for Mactan and Mandaue City because flyovers are the best way to decongest our clogged streets!

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