Nayong Pilipino to open  at Clark
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas () - December 18, 2007 - 12:00am

Pampanga has been the place to go for exquisitely beautiful Christmas lanterns and delectable kakanin. But now it will offer more, with the inauguration of Nayong Pilipino sa Clark Expo on December 22 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The inaugural program is in keeping with the expo theme’s “Kasaysayan at Kalinangan: Kayamanan ng Ating Dakilang Bayan,” and so will have cultural performances, rites and product showcase, and art demos showing the diversity and color of Filipino culture, particularly the arts of Northern and Southern Philippines.

Charito Planas, Nayong Pilipino Foundation executive director, says the park has great potential as a grand cultural and tourist attraction.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos, who steered the commemorative Centennial Clark Expo in 1998, will grace the occasion. Also present at the official opening ceremonies are Nayong Pilipino board of directors led by chair Dr. Evelyn Kilayco and Attorney Planas, Clark Development Corp. president Levi Laus, and Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano.

 There will be daily cultural performances, concerts and dancing at the park, as well as product samples of regional crafts —  from the silversmiths of Apalit to San Miguel pastillas wrapper makers and Paete taka artists and lantern makers of San Fernando. And food, lots of it.

According to Planas, the opening of the park fills the void created by the closure of the main Nayong Pilipino in Pasay City. To be showcased are “living heritage” replicas of rice terraces, Kalinga, Ifugao and Kapampangan villages, the Barasoain Church, the convento theater, a plaza, museum, and others. So, one sees the Philippines in microcosm at Nayong Pilipino sa Clark.

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 Legislators concerned about climate change should work for the quick passage of the Renewable Energy Bill to resolve the country’s energy problems in the face of rising fuel prices in the world market. This was what Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes told renewable energy coalition members during his visit to the Chevron Geothermal Holdings Philippines, Inc. (CGPHI) steam field facility and the National Power Corporation (NPC) plant in Laguna. Chevron is the largest private producer of geothermal energy in the world, accounting for more than half of all privately developed geothermal  power.

The secretary also asked support for Department of Energy (DOE) projects to help check the adverse effects of climate change, such as strong typhoons, floods and droughts. He called for the development and use of “reliable energy resources” which reduce harmful gas emissions from fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, thus promoting a “green” environment. With no net carbon emissions, renewable energy could help mitigate the environmental impact on the country’s expanding energy use.

He said that  through the right incentives, an encouraging policy environment and market rules, the development of renewable energy resources could increase dramatically, thus contributing to better substantial air quality benefits and power self-sufficiency.

Geothermal energy, he said, is one of the cleanest forms of established power generation systems inasmuch as it utilizes the earth’s natural heat by cycling water through steam and fluid phases. This continuous availability of steam also makes geothermal operations “optimal for base load power generation.” Currently, geothermal energy accounts for about 12.5 percent of the country’s total installed power generation capacity.

What the legislators should know is that the Philippines is Southeast Asia’s largest wind energy producer, and is also the world’s second largest geothermal energy producer, with the capacity to become the leading producer. Right now the United States is the current leader in geothermal energy production.

Since 1971, Chevron Geothermal Philippine Holding Inc., with the National Power Corporation, pioneered the commercial development of the country’s vast geothermal energy resources.

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Another bill in Congress that demands immediate action is that seeking to restore English as the medium of instruction in schools. Two hundred seven members of the House have signed up as authors, led by Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas (1st District, Cebu), as principal author. The Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), said Gullas, has adopted the bill as a high-priority measure. In fact, President Arroyo and Education Secretary Jesli Lapus are pushing for the bill’s swift passage.

Below are the salient features of House Bill 305:

• English, Filipino or the regional/native language may be used as the teaching language in all subjects from preschool to Grade 2;

• English would be the teaching language in all academic subjects from Grade 3 to Grade 6, and in all levels of high school;

• English and Filipino would be taught as separate subjects in all levels of elementary and high school;

• The current language policy prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education would be maintained in college, and

• English would be enlivened as the language of interaction in schools.

The bill, said Gullas, requires English as the language of assessment in all government examinations as well as entrance tests in all public schools and state universities.

Once enacted, the bill would supersede Department of Education (Deped) Order No. 25, which proclaimed a “bilingual” teaching policy.

The “bilingual policy” was adopted in 1974 to develop “a nation  competent in the use of English and Filipino. The subjects as social studies, character education, values education, industrial arts, home economics, physical education were taught using Filipino, while other subjects were done in English.

 Gullas lamented that under the bilingual policy, subjects that were supposed to be taught in English were actually done in “Taglish,” or a combination of English and the local dialect.

“As a language is best learned through  constant exposure and use we have to prescribe again by law, and not simply by administrative fiat, the restoration of English as medium of instruction, except of course, in Filipino taught as a subject.”

The legislator said while most Filipinos are convinced that English mastery leads to better opportunities, national proficiency in the language has declined by 10 percentage points over the last 12 years, according to a 2006 survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The survey showed that only two out of three Filipino adults or 65 understood spoken and written English. Some 14 percent said they were not competent at all in spoken and written English.

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