This is the first in Philippine history of agriculture and business: An OFW in Australia discovered this wild raspberry- sweet, sour and bitter – to have phytochemicals that may prevent and cure Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
This Philippine wild raspberry “Sapinit” processed into juice, jam, and wine has broken through in the market with its unique taste and richness in leucoanthocyanin, anti-Alzheimer’s, and anti-cancer phytochemical content.
The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) has seen an initial success in its P1.55 million-funded project that has sent the market craving for Sapinit food products.
“They come looking back again and again for our juice in our promo booth because of its distinct taste. Children especially like them,” said Anniewenda Reyes, municipal agriculturist of Dolores, Quezon, BAR’s partner local government unit (LGU).
The processing facility in Tiaong only has a capacity now of processing 100 kilos of raw fruit per day. But its impact is added livelihood and income to 18 women members of the Bangkong Kahoy RIC and some 20 members of the Bangkong Kahoy 4H club, along with the economic benefits to their families.
Products like Sapinit that are unique to the Philippines, particularly to the wilds of Mt. Banahaw in Quezon and Laguna, really need a big boost in research and marketing support from the government, according to Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, BAR director.
“You can’t find Sapinit anywhere as much as you find them thriving in our wilds even without a delicate need for nurture and care. They are protectors of our environment,” said Eleazar.
Other funders of the project are the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council and Japan’s KR2 Program.
Sapinit has a bright potential as a specialty product as its price in the market is high. Farmers can sell it fresh in the San Pablo City wet market at P300 per kilo. However, shelf life of fresh fruits is only three-four days.
That is where processing comes in. Sapinit juice is sold at P35 per 350 milliliters (ml), P85 for 250 ml jam, and P300 for 350 ml wine.
The preparation into a delicious juice, jam, and even wine is part of BAR’s project with the Quezon Agricultural Experimental Station (QAES). Sapinit is also processed into vinaigrette for salad dressing by a proprietor in one Quezon resort. Tea is another potential product from the leaves.
“Sapinit has a very important role in uplifting the livelihood of communities because without it, they just depend on cash crops,” said Dennis Bihis, QAES researcher.
One kilo of raw Sapinit may be turned into four bottles of jam or four bottles of juice. The same one kilo may also be processed into five 350 ml wine.
The main market for the processed Sapinit is the beach tourists of Quezon and the pilgrimage and mountain climbing guests of Mt. Banahaw. Dolores Development Cooperative and the Bangkong Kahoy RIC keep stores where Sapinit products are sold.
The BAR program also funded a phytochemical analysis of Sapinit by the Industrial Technology Development Institute and the University of the Philippines Los Banos-Biotech.
This has shown the presence of anti-cancer phytochemicals including leucoanthocyanins, anthraquinones, saponins, deoxysugars, free fatty acids, hydrolysable tannins (inhibitors of HIV duplication), unsaturated steroids, and benzopyrone nucleus.
An important function of anthraquinones is it inhibits formation of Tau aggregates and dissolve paired helical filaments thought to be critical to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
With anthraquinones, Sapinit also gets an industrial use potential. Anthraquinones is a precursor to synthetic dyes, an additive in paper pulp making, and is a material for hydrogen peroxide.
Leucoanthocyanin is a flavonoid found in many plants including berries which are potential modifiers of carcinogens. Moreover, some saponins have been shown to very significantly augment the cytotoxicity of immunotoxins and other targeted toxins directed against human cancer cells.
The Department of Science and Technology also carried out microbial analysis, preparation of nutrition facts, and packaging as funded by the BAR-QAES project.
Many investors, including candy manufacturers that seek raw materials for flavoring, have expressed interest in putting money into Sapinit. But QAES is carefully working first on the needed research before signing more memoranda of agreement.
“There were many who are interested in participating. But before receiving them, we want to ensure that the pioneering community who ventured into Sapinit growing be benefitted first,” said Bihis.
Sapinit is a shrub that has prickly stem, thereby identifying it with the rose family and making it a raspberry rather than a strawberry. It reaches to a height of six feet and grows in a higher elevation of 1,000 to 2,000 feet above sea level. Its fruit has bright red-orange color that accounts for its phytochemical richness. It has sweet-sour-bitter taste that makes for its uniqueness.
In the wilds, its yield is just 800 kilos per hectare. With the technology introduced by QAES, yield may increase to 1,000 kilos to 6,000 per hectare, depending on the level of organic fertilizer applied.
Field studies show that yield increased to as much as 6,103 kilos at a fertilizer treatment of 1,000 kilos. The field that was not fertilized at all gave only 856 kilos per hectare.
Another technology that was introduced is maintaining a planting distance of 1.5 meters in between rows and 0.5 meters in between hills.
Farmers here are already somehow familiar with the use of organic fertilizers since it is seven kilometers away from the poblacion, the town proper, where organic fertilization is practiced.
While prospects for expansion arising from market demand is high, the limitation on production of Sapinit is still a problem.
However, the package of technology (POT) has so far already stretched the harvesting and processing period from only three months (November to January) to six months– from October to March of the following year.
Interestingly, Sapinit was not infested by any pest or disease during the conduct of the QAES evaluation. Sapinit is propagated both through suckers and cuttings.
The potential expansion area in the Mt. Banahaw covers 30 hectares. At present, Sapinit is only planted with technology intervention in two hectares—one in Dolores, Quezon, and one in Lucban, Quezon.
But expansion may be in Sariaya, Tayabas and Lucban in Quezon and Majayjay and Luisiana in Laguna. The fruit’s planting presently supplements farmers’ growing of pinakbet (ampalaya, squash, string beans) and chopsuey (sayote, carrots, Baguio beans) vegetables.
The expansion should further enhance livelihood opportunities for the natives.
“Because of their growing of Sapinit, the community has become united because they begin to realize they can do something for the community,” said Rolando Cuasay, QAES officer-in-charge.
Upon the initial discovery of Sapinit by a Filipino OFW in Australia, Dionisio Pullan, together with the natives of Mt. Banahaw, QAES established in March 2009 a 1,000 square meter technology demonstration site. The first harvest was made in December 2009.
Expansion of Sapinit may even extend beyond Quezon as this wild raspberry is widely distributed in open secondary forests from Luzon to Mindanao at low to medium altitude. This is for as long as there is abundant soil moisture.
Sapinit is considered a plant useful for environmental sustainability as it does not need continuous cultivation, and it can live for many years. This way, it retains soil fertility.
Source: Bureau of Agricultural Research
Picture: From AgriPinoy
The Philippine Embassy in Damascus reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the Syrian Ministry of Interior issued Decision Order No. 500 dated 04 March 2012 excluding Filipinos from the list of foreign nationals allowed to work in Syria.
The DFA already relayed this recent development to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for the issuance of proper guidelines for prospective applicants.
A deployment ban imposed by the Philippine Government is currently in place because of the worsening security situation in that country.
The DFA raised crisis alert level 4 in Syria last December 22, and the mandatory repatriation of all Filipinos in the country is underway. Under crisis alert level 4, the Philippine Government pays for the cost of repatriation when necessary.
A Rapid Response Team, composed of DFA, Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Interior and Local Government personnel, remains in Syria to help in the repatriation and to extract Filipino nationals in the country’s conflict-stricken areas, especially in the governorates of Homs, Hama, Idlib and Dara’a.
The Government is doing its utmost to repatriate all Filipinos in Syria, according to the DFA press release.
(Picture of map from http://philippinehistory.ph/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/syria_map_2012worldfactbook_300_1.jpg)
EMBASSY OF THE PHILIPPINES, DAMASCUS
Hon. (Ms.) Olivia V. Palala
Deputy Chief of Mission
Hamzeh bin Al Mutaleb St. Building No. 56,
West Mezzeh Area, Damascus,
SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC
Tel No. (+963-11) 613-2626 (+963-11) 613-2626
Fax No. (963-11) 611-0152
Email: email@example.com@gmail.com / firstname.lastname@example.org@ambaphilsyria.com
Overseas Filipinos under the banner of the militant United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) called on the Department of Labor and Employment to make official its recent announcement on the issuance of an overseas employment certificate (OEC) for OFWs without any precondition.
Labour Attache Manuel Roldan in a Leader’s Forum last February 12 made the announcement, according to the group’s chairperson, Dolores Balladares.
Balladares reported Labatt Roldan announced that effective February 1, OFWs applying for an OEC will not be any more required to present proof of payment of OWWA membership. He also further said OFWs who will have to go back to the Philippines to wait for the processing of their visa will also be issued an OEC in Hong Kong.
“This is clearly a victory of the campaign of OFW groups in HK to remove preconditional fee requirements to get an OEC. We do, however, want it to be more official and urge the DOLE or the POLO to issue an order stating such,” she remarked.
According to Balladares, the call for the issuance of an OEC free from any other charges was part of the demands that more than 100 OFW organizations in Hong Kong submitted to Pres. Noynoy Aquino upon his resumption of office.
“While we welcome this development, it is highly disappointing that such action was made more than year after we submitted our demands. Notable still is that P-Noy himself is still disturbingly quiet with the demands of OFWs and only because of the persistent efforts of OFWs did the POLO-HK relent in this issue. With the rate this government is going, are we going to wait for more than a year more for our other concerns to be addressed?” she asked.
Included in the demands of HK OFWs are: lowering of passport fee overseas to the same rate as that in the Philippines, not putting of other preconditional fees (Pag-IBIG or PhilHealth) as precondition for an OEC, immediate issuance of voter’s ID for overseas absentee voters, lifting of the ban on direct hiring, and more funds for on-site services for OFWs in need of assistance.
On March 11, OFWs under the banners of UNIFIL and GABRIELA-HK will hold a protest action to further push the government to respond to the demands of OFWs. The action will be a part of the commemoration of the International Women’s Day.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reiterates its appeal to all Filipinos to avoid accepting offers from individuals or groups to carry illegal drugs in their luggage or in their person when going abroad in exchange for money, as harsh penalties await them in their destinations.
This is in light of the Philippine Consulate General in Macau SAR’s report to the DFA on the arrest of two Filipinos, a man and a woman, on February 1 by the Judiciary Police (PJ) in Macau SAR for alleged drug trafficking.
The two were apprehended in an apartment with 46 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, popularly known in the Philippines as shabu. The drugs have an estimated street value of 90,000 patacas (US$11,392.405). Several drug paraphernalia were also found in the apartment.
A suspected buyer, also a Filipino, was also brought in for questioning.
Consulate officials extended assistance to the Filipinos to ensure that their rights are respected and have been coordinating with Macau SAR authorities on the matter.
The Consulate has been constantly warning Filipinos based in Macau and Filipino tourists against using and dealing in drugs.
As of date, there are some 19 Filipinos currently detained in Macau on drug cases.
The Philippine Government has a strong anti-illegal drug policy, and is closely cooperating with law enforcement agencies in other countries on efforts against anti-drugs trafficking. It is undertaking comprehensive and proactive measures to address the drug mules issue and to prevent the further victimization of Filipinos by international drug syndicates.
The DFA has been working closely with other concerned agencies on drug trafficking cases, according to its press statement.
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center will offer a thanksgiving mass today (6 pm) at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay City in gratitude for the act of forgiveness and reconciliation between two OFW families that paves the way for the eventual freedom of a Filipino on Saudi Arabia’s death row.
Susan Ople, president of the policy center, noted that three years of pain and anguish were resolved in a ten-minute meeting held this morning at the Coconut Palace with Vice-President Jejomar Binay, DFA OUMWA executive director Eric Endaya, OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon and the Mendoza and Langamin families.
In May 2008, two seafarers aboard a ship located near Saudi Arabia had a serious altercation which resulted in the fatal stabbing of Robertson Mendoza. For the said crime, Jonard Langamin, son of sweet corn vendor Edith Langamin, was thrown in jail for murder, an act punishable by execution through beheading in the said Kingdom. The agreement reached this morning between the two families effectively negates such a possibility, thus saving the life of OFW Jonard Langamin who faces the death sentence early this year.
Edith Langamin’s body shook with shock, relief, and joy as she cried and kneeled in front of Robert Mendoza, father of Robertson, in gratitude for his forgiveness. She also hugged Vice-President Binay while repeatedly expressing her thanks. Ople, who was seated beside Edith and her sister, Rina, had to calm down the highly emotional mother.
“I told her that the first thing she must do is to offer thanks to the Lord because this is a New Year blessing and a miracle. The case has been pending with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi court for more than three years. Time was really no longer on Jonard’s side until today,” Ople who was present during the private meeting said.
“Nanay” Edith brought the case of her son to the attention of the Blas F. Ople Center in April 2011. The Center has been following up on Jonard’s case with the DFA. The blood money being sought for was pegged at the equivalent of Php 5 million, an amount way beyond the financial capabilities of the fishball and sweet corn vendor. On the average, “Nanay” Edith, as she is fondly called by the Ople Center staff, earns Php 300 a day, an amount that is only enough to feed her family.
Last December 16, around 500 overseas Filipino workers and their families who attended the Christmas party of the Ople Center at Philam Life Auditorium were able to chip in Php 5,000 in addition to Php27,000 already raised by the Langamin family. This amount is still a far cry from the blood money required of Jonard Langamin.
“The act of forgiveness that would be converted into a formal letter to be submitted to the Saudi court is the key that would soon lead to Jonard’s freedom. Vice-President Binay handled the meeting with tact and sensitivity to the plight of both families. The victim’s father did not say much but was very humble and receptive. It’s hard not to divine the Lord’s guiding hand in what happened this morning,” Ople said, adding that the Ople Center had also invited the Mendoza family to attend tomorrow’s mass which shall also be offered in memory of their son, Robertson.
Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas made an initial report to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that MT Mattheos I, with 14 Filipino seafarers on board, was released from
captivity today and is proceeding to a neutral port.
In the same report, all crew members are well and safe.
MT Mattheos I, a Cyprus-flagged and Norwegian-managed tanker, was seized on September 14, in Lome, Togo in West Africa. The vessel has a total of 23 seafarers of mixed nationalities onboard.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has alerted and instructed concerned Philippine Embassies to provide appropriate assistance and to make arrangements for the immediate repatriation of
the Filipino seafarers to Manila.
The Philippine government has undertaken measures to minimize the exposure of Filipino seafarers to piracy attacks, including making arrangements with ship principals and manning agencies for vessels to
travel along a safety corridor and to adopt best management practices as a deterrence to piracy attacks.
It has likewise taken up the issue of maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean before the United Nations and other international organizations. The Philippines is a member of the intergovernmental Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.
(Photo credit: eaglespeak.us)
A tearful, joyful homecoming, a steaming bowl of “sinigang na hipon”, and assured jobs in a well-known hotel in Cebu await Diana Jill Rivera and Mary Anne Ducos, two domestic workers recently rescued from the residence of Col. Moammar Qaddafy’s niece in Tripoli, Libya when they arrive in Manila within the week.
This was the announcement of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization that has been closely monitoring the case since February 2011. Former labor undersecretary Susan Ople, head of the BFO Center, said that several non-government organizations are also planning to host a thanksgiving dinner in honor of Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa who spearheaded the rescue of the two “kasambahays.”
Ople said she is in touch with Jane Ampeloquio of the Hotel Academy in Cebu which is also in charge of training programs for employees of Days Hotel. James Concepcion, president of Days Hotel, is willing to employ the two women in one of his hotels in Cebu City after they complete the required on-the-job training provided by the Hotel Academy.
When asked whether the two women were open to working locally at Days Hotel in Cebu City, Jenny Rivera, sister of Diana Jill, replied that both OFWs are excited about the job offer.
Diana’s father, Jaime Rivera, said he would no longer allow his daughter to leave the country to work abroad. He said that he almost fell off his seat while watching the evening news when he heard that her daughter was finally rescued. According to Jenny Rivera, the family is eager to treat Diana to her favorite dish of “sinigang na hipon.”
The Ople Center has made arrangements for the family of Mary Anne Ducos to travel from Isabela to Manila as the labor department continues to work on travel arrangement for the returning OFWs and Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa.
Meanwhile, the Ople Center and several other civil society groups like Kakkampi International, Filipino Migrant Workers Group, PSLink and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines have agreed to extend a hero’s welcome to Labor Attache Mustafa.
“He is a hero not only in the eyes of Diana Jill and Mary Anne but also to us in civil society because he practically risked his life just to get these two OFWs out of harm’s way,” Susan Ople explained.
Accompanied by an embassy driver and a Libyan friend, Labor Attache Mustafa was able to identify the residence where the two women were being held against their will by their employer after going back and forth to the area for ten days.
“Just to be sure that they had the right residence, he had to request Mary Jane to climb up the roof of the house and wave. The rescue was done while the rest of the household were still asleep and as soon as Diana and Mary Anne were in his car, labor attache Mustafa instructed the driver to proceed to the border of Tunisia,” Ople said, adding that she hopes that proper recognition can be given by the Office of the President to the courage and heroism demonstrated by the said labor official and his companions.
In a statement issued to the media, Migrante said that Cuyugan must be recalled due to his failure to read the actual peace and order situation in Syria. He kept on saying publicly that the OFWs have ‘nothing to worry about’ as the situation in Syria is ‘not worst’.
Migrante said in the statement that it has been receiving contracting reports from trapped OFWs who have been seeking to be evacuated and repatriated.
“Ambassador Cuyugan even dilly-dallied and acted too late on the repatriation of about 60 distressed OFWs then temporarily seeking refuge at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) since June 2010 or at the start of the upheaval in Syria in which we have exposed and pressed him hard,” the statement explained.
The ambassador was more of a liability to the DFA, it further said. He failed to provide assistance to trapped OFWs who pleaded to be evacuated and repatriated without further delay, Migrante further said.
“We welcome his recall from the post, while we continue to urge the DFA to clean its ranks from inept and incompetent envoy especially here in the Middle East as the Arab Spring continues,” the organization reiterated.
Migrante likewise said that OFWs need “pro-active and action men” envoys such as Secretary del Rosario and Usec Seguis who have led the the actual evacuation of trapped OFWs in Libya recently.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said today that the teams from the DFA and the Philippine Embassies in Tripoli and Damascus continue to provide assistance to Filipinos in Libya and Syria in light of escalating tensions in said countries.
In Libya, 35 Filipinos were able to board the International Organization for Migration (IOM) chartered vessel, M/V Tasuko, which sailed from the port of Tripoli at 9 p.m. local time (3 a.m. today, Manila time). It is expected to arrive in Benghazi on Saturday at 11 a.m. local time (5 p.m. Manila time).
From Benghazi, the Filipino repatriates will travel by land to the Egyptian border of Al Salom. A team from the Philippine Embassy in Cairo is already in place at the Egyptian border and will receive and assist these Filipinos in their repatriation back to Manila.
In Tripoli, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis and Philippine Ambassador to Libya Alejandrino Vicente, together with the Philippine Embassy personnel, continue to convince Filipinos to leave Libya and to assist Filipinos who have expressed their desire to be repatriated.
In Syria, as of date, some 395 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have already expressed their desire to come home and avail of the voluntary repatriation of the Philippine government. An Embassy team is negotiating and making the appropriate representations with their employers and with the concerned Syrian authorities for the immediate release of their exit visas.
To date, the Philippine Embassy in Damascus has already processed the exit visas of some 108 OFWs and is arranging their immediate repatriation.
Embassy officials and community coordinators in Syria continue to contact Filipinos there to inquire about their condition and to inform them of the Embassy’s voluntary repatriation program. They have also advised Filipinos not to venture outside, especially if tensions are nearby.
Upon the instruction of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos, Jr. went to Syria last week to assist the Embassy in the implementation of its contingency plan and to implement measures for the Syria-wide Alert Level 3. DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) Executive Director Ricardo Endaya also went to Syria to assist the Embassy in the repatriation efforts.
The Embassy has activated the “Task Group on Voluntary Repatriation” wherein three teams were convened to attend to specific assignments. A five-man “outgoing calls” team from the Embassy actively calls OFWs and urges them to leave and avail of the government’s voluntary repatriation program. Another five-man “incoming calls” team receives calls from the OFWs who have decided to avail of the voluntary repatriation program. The third team, called the negotiation team, negotiates and represents the OFWs, who have expressed their desire to come home, with their employers and the concerned Syrian authorities for the immediate release of their exit visas.
Meanwhile, 12 Filipino nationals arrived Thursday, August 25, from Syria via Emirates Airways.
Representatives from the DFA, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Office of the Vice-President (OVP) welcomed the Filipino repatriates at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The DFA continues to attend to families of Filipinos in Libya and in Syria, briefing them about the government’s measures being undertaken and in place.
The Philippine Embassy in Damascus’ hotline number is 00-963-116-132626. Families may also e-mail their requests and concerns through the Embassy’s e-mail address email@example.com.
In Manila, the DFA-OUMWA also activated hotline numbers for families of Filipinos based in Syria and in Libya, at 834-3245 and 834-3240.