Baguio opens to tourists from Luzon on Oct. 22

RESIDENTS from anywhere in Luzon can visit Baguio again starting October 22, the city government announced Sunday. The city tourism office, in a post on its Facebook page, listed the guidelines for visitors, which will be limited to 200 per day. Among the continued prohibitions are day trips and staying with relatives or friends at a private house. Visitors must book at a facility accredited by the Department of Tourism as listed on the city’s digital tourism registration site. Testing for the coronavirus is also still required, “either prior to travel (done within 3 days prior to travel) or upon arrival for a fee.” Baguio first reopened to tourists on Oct. 1, but limited to those from provinces in its neighboring Region 1.

SM gets original proponent status for Baguio public market development

SM PRIME Holdings, Inc. has bagged the original proponent status for the redevelopment of the Baguio public market, the city government announced Friday. “This office finds the unsolicited proposal of SM Prime Holdings more complete and therefore, more beneficial to the city. Let a certificate of non-acceptance be issued to Robinsons and certificate of acceptance to SM Prime holdings for its conformity,” Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said in a memo to the local public-private partnership screening committee dated Oct. 14. The committee recommended Robinsons Land Corp.’s proposal, but the mayor overturned this, citing lack of substance in the company’s documents showing better benefits to the community and revenues for the local government. With SM Prime’s original proponent status, the Sy-owned company will be able to match challenger bids. Existing operators at the public market also joined the start of the solicitation process, but failed to submit all the required documents. The project involves the redevelopment of the 39,000-square meter public market into a modern commercial facility under a 50-year lease agreement.

Gold-rich Davao de Oro eyes processing, jewelry production investors

DAVAO DE Oro, a gold-rich province in the country’s south, is ramping up its marketing program to attract investors for processing facilities. “We are promoting our province to investors who are willing to invest, especially in processing gold such as jewelry or other items,” said Governor Jayvee Tyron L. Uy in a virtual briefing last week. Mr. Uy also said small-scale miners are gaining from the uptrend in global prices as gold fetches higher demand as an investment amid the coronavirus crisis. “The gold trading price has now reached from P2,900 to P3,000 per gram compared to P2,200 pre-COVID-19,” he said. Davao de Oro, formerly named Compostela Valley, has gold deposits of about 36,328,699 metric tons based on a 1998 report by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau. Ten of its 11 municipalities host mining sites, both large- and small-scale with areas officially declared as Minahang Bayan (national mining sites) under Republic Act No. 7076. The Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corp. (PHIVIDEC), a government-owned and controlled corporation that manages the 3,000-hectare industrial estate in Misamis Oriental, said last year that Davao de Oro is one of the top ideal locations for an economic zone given its mineral resources. PHIVIDEC Administrator Franklin M. Quijano said setting up an ecozone would significantly increase the value and contribution of the raw minerals to the economy.

The province is celebrating its annual Bulawan Festival on October 19 to 21, a commemoration of its founding anniversary and natural resources. “Here we are in the middle of pandemic so we will do the festival online… We are in the period of resilience and recovery so we opted to do it online, no face-to-face but at the same time still still promoting what we usually celebrate every year at the same time honor those people who have great contributions, especially the frontliners,” Mr. Uy said. One of the main events of this year’s festival is the Biz iCon, an online business and investment conference that will include matching activities between large corporations and local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). — Maya M. Padillo

First Gen donates P33M for Nueva Ecija town’s water infrastructure

LOPEZ-LED First Gen Corp. is donating P33 million for the completion of the water supply and distribution system of Pantabangan town, where the company operates a 132-megawatt hydropower plant. The Pantabangan municipal government and First Gen Hydro Power Corp. signed a memorandum of agreement on October 8, formalizing the latter’s commitment to the town’s water service project. The power firm, in a statement over the weekend, said the fund will be used for well drilling and construction of water sources, renovation of the municipality’s pump station control house, and the expansion of the Pantabangan Municipal Water System’s distribution lines. In July, the company said the preliminary assessment and feasibility study for the project was already completed. It is now securing permits to proceed with the construction work. Apart from the donation, First Gen has remitted around P70 million to the Pantabangan government under the Department of Energy’s Regulation 1-94, which mandates power generation firms to set aside a centavo per kilowatt-hour of electricity they generate for their host communities. The local government said it has so far used the fund for the town’s electric system. — Adam J. Ang