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The Lack of a Backup Plan and Why Ribbon Cuttings Won’t Do the Trick

  I spoke with a friend of mine a few days back, and he told me he is now ready to implement his backup plan – which is to migrate to another country to study a new field and leave all his tourism-related businesses behind.   He told me he did not see it coming. Like with all the others in his sector, he thought that COVID19 is a temporary anomaly and won’t stay for long.     But now, all his businesses are closed, and his cash reserve is bleeding. Despite the many times that the Provincial Government of Bohol announces re-opening with ribbon-cutting events here and there, tourists did not come by truckloads.   They came like summer rain – very few and far in between.     The province’s economic recovery plan is ill-advised and short-sighted.   We all know we relied primarily on tourism to fuel the local economy despite the fact that the sector is the most affected by the pandemic and will continue to be so in at least 3 to five years based on conservative
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Reviving the Insurgency Narrative in Bohol: Who Benefits?

  Recently, one cannot help but notice several anti-insurgency slogans painted in red letters on white sacks, hung conspicuously in public places in the province.   I have seen a few of these, even near the Dauis Plaza.     It feels bizarre, to say the least.   Dauis town, for example, is a tourism destination and have not been considered a hotbed for communist insurgency historically.   Seeing these slogans can potentially scare tourists that tourism stakeholders are trying to lure back and visit the province.     Vice Governor Rene Relampagos echo this concern during a meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council in March this year.   It was reported that the vice governor sought clarification from the Philippine National Police, which identified Bohol, along with Negros Oriental, as the region’s “red” areas.        In his response, Regional Intelligence Chief Police Lt. Col. Robert Lingbawan said that the “red-tagging” is caused by “monitored recov

Bohol opens up further, but are we ready?

March 3 marks the beginning of the Provincial Government of Bohol’s restrained abandonment of strict entry measures to incoming travellers. The lengthy text of the policy that you can find here relaxes the several requirements imposed in prior months regarding travellers entering the province.   Very briefly,   it just means less stringent protocols for visitors and returning residents to allow the economy to recover.         I agree that the economy has suffered significantly.   Our research , even when it only covers the city of Tagbilaran, the provincial capital, indicates that at the height of the implementation of strict community quarantine protocols, at least 5,154 jobs were either temporarily or permanently lost.   Undoubtedly, this figure was higher province-wide.   The visual signs are also evident. If you go to Tawala , that tourism strip in Panglao Island, on a Friday night, the area resembles a ghost town of dark and closed buildings, save for a few establishments which

COVID-19, Business Taxes, and the Fate of the Local Economy

  A good friend told me days ago that she has been thinking of closing her tourism-related business.   For the last eight months after stringent entry restrictions have been implemented in the province, the business has been very slow to a crawl.   But she chose to operate and kept her core workers, those who have stayed with her for the last ten years because she did not want them and their families to starve.     But now, she has doubts.   It’s true that the tourism sector is the most severely affected by the pandemic, brought about by stringent mobility restrictions imposed by   governments . Based on most recently available data, the Southeast Asia region has one of the sharpest declines in tourist arrival, at 78% based on annualized figures.   But projections in the next two years are far from optimistic. Despite the good news that the vaccine is already available, and governments are racing towards inoculating their citizens, tourist confidence may not

If we honour our health care workers, we can't relax our guards

  Missy told me she was scared.   She’s on her duty shift again in the only COVID-19 hospital in the province. Apart from the fact that she will not be able to go home and spend time with her family while she is on duty, because together with her co-workers they will be billeted at a nearby hotel, she’s worried that she’d get the virus.   She and her family live with her parents, both senior citizens.   She also has a 5-year old daughter.     For fourteen days, she will be in this kind of situation. Then she’d be on 14 days quarantine before going home.   She told me she already missed her husband and her kids.   She’s still on her fourth day of duty at the COVID ward.     Missy is just one of the many who are facing the invisible threat of COVID-19 on a daily basis.   Sadly, they are also part of those underpaid, and oftentimes unappreciated health care workers not only in the province of Bohol, but across the country.   Based on most recent statistics, nurses are paid Php

3 Reasons Why I am Worried about Education During this Pandemic

  The last four weeks or so, we have seen how the delivery of basic education has shifted significantly from face-to-face to a myriad of forms, masked by fancy labels as synchronous (e.g. fully online, virtual classes), blended (e.g. a mix of online and face to face instructions allowed only in specific contexts), and distance modular (e.g. learner-paced learning based on scheduled learning modules, done either through paper or web-based learning management systems). There have been significant apprehensions from different people, including parents such as myself.  Firstly, there is the problem of weak internet connectivity.   We all know that the technological infrastructure is not ready for a fully online learning delivery. There have been serious complaints in the past three years on the inability of telecommunications companies to deliver on their promised connection speed.  Based on statistics, our country has one of the slowest internet speed across the Asia Pacific .  Second, we

The Rise of the Local Online Sellers (and how we can raise them higher)

  When the whole province of Bohol was under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in March 2020,  all business establishments were ordered closed except public markets, slaughterhouses, supermarkets and grocery stores, hospitals and health facilities, pharmacies and drug stores, and other essential businesses.  When the province transitioned to general community quarantine, some two months later, restaurants, service establishments, and other businesses as bookstores, accounting and legal offices, publishing and printing, are allowed to open but at 50% capacity. Throughout this period, the island province was closed to tourists and ports of entry were closed to incoming travelers, except for locally-stranded individuals and returning OFWs.  With these restrictions, it is unavoidable that businesses will have significant losses in revenues. Based on our study on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Tagbilaran City, the service sector reported the worst decline in sales. Before the