New Year low and highs
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - December 31, 2019 - 12:00am

The Year 2019 has left us with high and low moments.

The year ends with sad news about non-cooperating countries on bolder climate action. Deputy Speaker and Lone District of Antique Representative Loren Legarda expreses her disappointment over the outcome of the 25th session of the Conference of Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which failed to conclude key matters and adopt critical decisions on financing for developing countries, loss and damage, and the rues on carbon markets.

“We are disappointed with the general outcome of COP25. Delaying actions on relevant issues on climate will drive higher risks to vulnerable countries like the Philippines. Based on the outcomes of the summit, it appears that most of the developed nations do not see the urgency of taking action now to keep to the 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement,” said Legarda, head of the Philippine delegation to COP 25.

However, Legada’s media bureau said she notes that the Philippine delegation sees a silver lining to the outcome having asserted the rights of developing countries to development in terms of emissions avoidance and access to long-term climate finance.

“Emissions avoidance is now a serious option for climate change mitigation strategy instead of just the constraining emissions reduction. As guaranteed under the Convention and the Paris Agreement, developing countries can pursue economic development and poverty eradication with whatever energy supply means at their disposal,” Legarda said. “Moreover, we were able to champion the continued consideration of the long-term finance needs of developing countries. Long-term finance deliberations must be given a new lease on life and should not stop until the urgent needs of developing countries like the Philippines in addressing climate change impacts are secured,” she added.

“The Philippines, despite contributing only 0.3% – one-third of one percent – to the total global carbon emissions, has been a vocal champion for the most vulnerable countries and played an important role in the global climate arena.”

Legarda’s media bureau says it will be recalled that the Climate Vulnerable Forum under the Philippine chairmanship advocated strongly for the 1.5 C climate ambition to define and drive the global climate action, a stand embodied in the Manila Paris Declaration adopted in November 2015, by more than 40 developing nations then, at the resumption of negotiations at the COP21 in December 2015 in Paris.

The Philippines, notes Legarda, will continue to strengthen its stand and policy advocacy on the pursuit of the 1.5 C threshold, and will work with the COP26 presidency and the CVF member Parties to address the unresolved issues of COP25.

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The good news is borne by the report of the population growth of the Philippines showing a decline of 0.21 percentage points (ppt) to 1.52% in the latter half of this decade, from the previous 1.73% between 2010 and 2015. 

Given this statistic, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) projects the population in July 2020 to be 108.7 million Filipinos, which is lower than its earlier estimate of 109.9 million, or a difference of 1.2 million.

According to Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, MD, MPH, the expected increase in population between 2019 and 2020 is about 1,483,828, or an annual increase of 1.38%.

Regarding the new population projection, Perez commented: “We welcome the new information from the PSA – proof that our nationwide efforts on reproductive health as well as family planning (FP) are yielding positive results, as they are steadily being embraced by Filipinos.”

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My best 2019 Christmas  gift was the coming over from Manila to Saeed’s and my place in Gingoog of my son Andres, his wife Joabi and son Santi, and my nephew Oliver Alfonso and his GF Kay Cera. It’s always a joy to have our children around during the happiest of seasons. It’s an opportunity for them to go bonding with their cousins – the children of my brothers Warto and Greg and sister Milagros “Tenten.” Just yesterday, Warto’s son Xander and wife Aina Marie and niece Sophie and her Japanese husband made a surprise visit to the thrill of their “old” folks.

I must add that the centerpiece of our “handaan” was the roast turkey that my nephew Warren sliced with my age-old electric knife, like a pro. I had brought the 6-kilo dressed fowl to Gingoog from the turkey farm in Antipolo of Prime and Gil Quizon. The frozen fowl was already marinated for days, and I needed only to thaw and bake it for five hours – and presto, the taste and aroma of the turkey was just terrific. Only the fowl’s skeleton was left on the table. For orders, call Prime and Gil at CP 0916 234 0122.

Possibly the grandest of homes in the city is that of Juval “Boy” and Evelyn Nadal. Their two-story residence stands in the middle of a 5,000 sq.m. lot, has modern, high-tech lighting fixtures and  marble flooring, plus a swimming pool and beside it a stage for cultural shows. The couple designed the house, with no help from an architect. The venue was the site of the Christmas party of the Gingoog Rotary Club. 

The small city looks lovely at night, with white lanterns strung on posts. The beach front features brilliant strings of multi-colored blinking Christmas lights. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the place comes alive with bands playing and local talents belting modern tunes, and stalls selling mostly grilled meats. The project is an innovation of City Mayor Erick Cañosa, Vice-Mayor Peter Unabia, and the City Tourism Council headed by entrepreneur Jose Bollozos. Tourism department head Audie Ocampo says the consensus is that the Food and Music Expo will continue “till kingdom come”, to draw tourists from near and far to the city, which it already has.

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We took our kids to Cagayan de Oro 2 l/2 hours away by car, stayed at the modestly priced Grand City Hotel where three reservations had been made by my former high school classmate Susan Fernandez Rola. Good that she managed to do this as the city’s lodging places were full because of the holidays. We had dinner at Saeed’s Upsilon fraternity brod Archie Velasco and wife Marisse’s resto called Melquiades for native cuisine. We had lunch at the Del Monte clubhouse in Manolo Fortich for sirloin steaks. Saeed, the irrepressible golf player, walked over to the golf course and spotted what he thinks has the potential of an international champion player – 16-year-old Sarriah Rehume, whose handicap is 3. “Look at her swing,” Saeed urged me to stop and look, as the professional golf coach nodded in affirmation. 

The piece de resistance of the trip to Bukidnon, of course, was the Dahilayan Forest Park, which offers such activities as enjoying Asia’s longest dual zipline which looks down the forests from 4,700 feet above sea level, walking over a hanging bridge, hitting balls at a mini golf place, Go Carting, Bumper boating, a Monkee Challenge where one climbs up to 40 feet above the playground and is dropped down carefully by a device, an AstroZSorbit giant inflated ball where one is trapped inside the ball and rolled down a hill. Then there’s something like sitting on a chair and cruising down the zipline. My second generation companions took most of these rides and came out huffing and puffing, and ready to jump into bed upon reaching our hotel in CDO.

As if those rides were not enough, the next day they went white water rafting on the Cagayan River. Pictures show the thrill of their water-riding experience. 

Such fun to be young and going on sports adventures!

As for me, I sat in the restaurant where I could only sit if I order something to eat, wait for my companions like forever, and ride back to the hotel.

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