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Cablegate: Ambassador Emphasizes Environmental and Cultural

VZCZCXRO3293
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHML #3948 3510939
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 170939Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9201
INFO RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 003948

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MTS
PASS TO PEACE CORPS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR ECON EIND PGOV PHUM OEXC SENV RP AGR
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR EMPHASIZES ENVIRONMENTAL AND CULTURAL
PRESERVATION IN NORTHERN PHILIPPINES

1. Summary: The Ambassador visited three provinces in Northern
Luzon December 5 to 7 and spoke to enthusiastic crowds principally
on the theme of preservation. She presented the Embassy's
International Woman of Courage award to Isabela Provincial Governor
Grace Padaca, delivered an address to 65 international experts at a
conference sponsored by the Ambassador's Fund for Cultural
Preservation, and distributed seedlings to farmers at a USDA-funded
site. The Ambassador also remembered slain Peace Corps volunteer
Julia Campbell at the site of a forested memorial park. End
Summary.
THE PROVINCES OF CAGAYAN, ISABELA AND IFUGAO
2. Cagayan province, in the northeastern tip of the Philippines,
and Isabela province directly to the south, are the rice and corn
granary of Luzon island. Other agricultural products such as
peanuts, fruits, and livestock (mainly cattle, carabao, and poultry)
drive the regions' economies. Logging bans have caused the wood
industry to decline considerably. However, furniture using narra
wood and other indigenous forest materials continues to be made.

3. Ifugao, a landlocked province in the mountainous region of
Luzon, is home to the Banaue Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage
Site often called the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The rice
variety most suited to the area's cool climate takes a long time to
mature and limits the terraces' yield. As a result, some Ifugao
families abandon their land in pursuit of alternative livelihoods.
IFUGAO AND THE BANAUE RICE TERRACES
4. The Ambassador addressed approximately 65 international
delegates attending a Banaue training conference arranged by the
International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). The
Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation partially funded this
conference focused on preserving the Rice Terraces. A film team
preparing a documentary about the conference for Philippine national
television interviewed the Ambassador.

5. The Ambassador visited two Peace Corps projects December 6 near
to where Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell was murdered in April
2007. The Ambassador recognized this loss by visiting Asipulo,
where 40 hectares have been donated for the Julia Campbell
Agroforest Memorial Park. Mayors of surrounding towns expressed
their hope that this tragedy would not deter the presence of
volunteers in the future, a sentiment which the Ambassador
supported. Asipulo's mayor thanked the Ambassador for visiting
difficult-to-reach portions of the northern Philippines, which
helped counter the perception among some that the Muslim south
commands more U.S. attention than other regions, he said.
WOMAN OF COURAGE AWARD TO ISABELA GOVERNOR PADACA
6. In the Isabela provincial capital of Ilagan, the Ambassador
presented Governor Grace Padaca on December 5 with an International
Woman of Courage award for overcoming physical challenges while
promoting government transparency. Padaca, who had traveled to the
U.S. on a U.S.-sponsored Aquino Fellowship, said her stay made a
significant impact on her approach to democracy and transparency.
Padaca subsequently won two contentious elections and says that as
governor she is using a spirit of openness to unite people. The
Ambassador's visit coincided with a monthly "People's Day" when any
resident can request an audience with local officials. Further
underscoring the theme of open access to government, the Ambassador
witnessed the opening of a newly constructed handicapped access ramp
at the capitol building.
USDA-FUNDED SITE IN CAGAYAN
7. Near Tuguegarao City the Ambassador visited a cacao nursery
funded by the USDA Food for Progress program and witnessed ongoing
training in propagation and grafting techniques. The program will
enable 20,000 farmers to benefit from better cocoa-farming
practices.
MEDIA COVERAGE
8. Local and national newspapers and radio and television networks
covered the Ambassador's visit. Coverage of the conference to
preserve the rice terraces and the ceremony honoring Governor Padaca
were positive. One national newspaper article focused on the
Ambassador's comments about how the Peace Corps is working hard to
move forward with good projects that will honor the memory of slain
Peace Corps Volunteer Julia Campbell. The Ambassador's visit to the
USDA-funded cacao cultivation project attracted coverage from
Tuguegarao-region cable TV stations and radios.

9. The Ambassador fielded questions from the press about the Julia
Campbell murder, aid to the region following a recent typhoon, and
the status of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who is being held in the
U.S. Embassy compound under terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

KENNEY

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