Chad de Guzman

The bilateral talks between the Philippines and China on Tuesday resulted in six new agreements, including the hiring of Filipino English teachers in China and a proposed Davao City expressway.

On the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his happiness with the "higher level of friendship" between the two countries.

"One of the things that we would like to assure you is that we would like the fullest cooperation between our two countries regarding transnational crimes and address terrorism," he said, addressing Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Among the deals signed were:

  • Agreement on the Economic and Technical Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the People's Republic of China
  • Exchange of Letters on the Phase III of the Technical Cooperation Project for the Filipino-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology
  • Exchange of Letters for the Pre-Feasibility Study of the Proposed Davao City Expressway Project
  • Exchange Letter for Broadcasting Equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) of the Philippines
  • Memorandum of Understanding on the Employment of Filipino Teachers of English Language in China; and the
  • Preferential Buyer's Credit Loan Agreement on the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project

Duterte also thanked China for extending assistance to combat terrorism in the Philippines.

The President said China and the Philippines can "do more to boost military and defense cooperation" under the framework of the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation.

In June 2017, at the height of the Marawi siege, China donated thousands of weapons worth some 50 million yuan ($7.35 million) to help fight the Maute terrorists. Duterte said the move "highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations."

Duterte's presidency saw warmer relations with the eastern giant, despite tensions arising from an unsettled maritime dispute over islands in the South China Sea.

He expressed his interest in resolving the sea row through bilateral talks in November 2017, a shift from his initial position to conduct multilateral discussions.

by Dahli Aspillera


GINA Lopez, environmentalist and philanthropist: “We can get our country out of poverty. I need the help of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST),” at a National Science & Technology Week celebration. 

A pioneer in corporate social responsibility, Lopez has taken her advocacy to the next level. Her foundation called ILOVE (Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies) launched “Quest for LOVE” a nationwide search for loving organizations seeking to transform marginalized communities into agro-forestry, fisheries, or eco-tourism sites.

Lopez was looking at DOST’s program called CEST (Community Empowerment through Science and Technology) as the help she needs to aid the country in getting out of poverty. CEST is a program of the DOST which aims to alleviate poverty through S&T interventions in health and nutrition, water and sanitation, basic education and literacy, livelihood and enterprise development, and disaster risk reduction and management.

ILOVE reached out to several government agencies to give a hand. Because of its CEST program, the DOST became one of the ILOVE’s partners. Other partner government agencies include Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare and Development,
Department of Tourism, Department of National Defense, Department of Public Works and Highways, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Social Economy Action Research Foundation, Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development, and the private sector. The ILOVE-government partnership raised P5 million.

Because of its noble intent, ILOVE caught the heart of DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña: “I would like to express my admiration to the Quest for LOVE. This is very relevant, timely, and innovative. We have a program that matches ILOVE very well and we call it CEST.” To date, the CEST program has already benefited many grassroot communities around the country. One example is Barangay Apang in Alilem, Ilocos Sur which was dubbed as the poorest of the poor in most surveys. Farmers and fisherfolks are now able to find alternative income by selling fruits and vegetables in nearby markets and stores to be able to buy other goods for their families. Unlike the usual reality TV competitions that showcase talents such as singing and dancing, the Quest for LOVE wants to put the spotlight to loving organizations that are passionate and goal-driven.

Lopez: “The stand of ILOVE is to bring genuine economic growth through area development. Why do we just give awards to those who sing well? Why don’t we give awards to communities that have the guts and creativity to help themselves get out of poverty?” The competition will feature the journey of the transforming poor communities into social and economic enterprises in a reality TV show that Lopez will produce.

ILOVE’s “Lola Sayong Eco Surf Camp” in Gubat, Sorsogon--a kind old lady transformed her property where local street kids were provided food, shelter and jobs by giving surfing lessons to tourists. “... I got money from Energy Development Corporation (EDC); we put surfboards, boat refurbishing, beach tents, multi-purpose hall, toilet and shower facilities, and glass bottom floating cottages. It is area development.” From being a poor community, Gubat has grown to be a role model for area development. From P1.5 million, after a year, their gross revenue already increased to P5.9 million. “Because of the investment of P1.5 million, agriculture and fisheries came up. The cost of transportation was affected because a lot of people are going there. Also, other ecotourism sites sprang up in nearby towns like Sorsogon City, Bulusan, and Mat. 

The project also provided new services as the town now has massage therapists and tourist guides as well as emerging developments in other micro enterprises such as T-shirt printing, souvenirs, handicrafts, and food production. “One thing that I want to say from my experience is that: the key is the change agent. You can have a lot of money, scientists, or government assistance, but if you do not have a change agent, it is not going to work....The spirit of the Quest is to search for loving organizations that have the LOVE idea: a great, splendid idea on how to lift up village economies.”

The Quest is open to social enterprises, cooperatives, people’s associations, foundations, NGOs, and other socially-oriented organizations. They must have an ongoing intervention program for a specific community and/or have completed at least two successful community
development programs in the past. Sixteen organizations will be pitched in the initial screening and will be trimmed down to the Top eight deserving loving organizations that shall receive PhP 100,000 plus direct access to government support.

The Quest for LOVE will run for eight months and will be aired as a segment in Gina Lopez’s TV program “G-Diaries”. At the end of the period, the top three loving organizations will be awarded based on tangible enterprise and the social and environmental outcomes they achieved.

The winners shall receive additional direct assistance from ILOVE and its private and government partners. For the complete mechanics and details of the project, visit

Cet Dematera


LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines  —  Mayon Volcano’s alert level may be lowered next week if its downward trend will continue, an official of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said yesterday.

At a press briefing at Camp Simeon Ola, Phivolcs resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said Mayon has been quiet since the alert level was lowered to 2  on March 6. He said lava flow stopped in the past three days.

“We are going to observe the volcano...until next week before we decide if we will lower the alert level,” Laguerta said. 

He said Mayon has ejected around 65 million cubic meters of volcanic materials since Jan. 13.

Laguerta said they could not immediately lower the alert level due to the risks faced by residents within the six-kilometer permanent danger zone. 

At a meeting presided by Mayon crisis manager Francis Tolentino said 1,630 families or 6,302 individuals remain in evacuation centers in Camalig, Guinobatan, Malilipot and Tabaco. – Celso Amo


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