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Cablegate: Strong Past, Present Ties in the "City of Gentle People"

VZCZCXRO0535
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHML #1701 2000750
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180750Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1325
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS MANILA 001701

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO RP EAID
SUBJECT: STRONG PAST, PRESENT TIES IN THE "CITY OF GENTLE PEOPLE"

1. SUMMARY. The Ambassador underscored the positive effect of
dedicated U.S. Government assistance to the province of Negros
Oriental in the Philippine's central Visayas region, during a trip
to Dumaguete City, the "City of Gentle People." Beginning the visit
with a speech to Silliman University students, the Ambassador
witnessed the results of over a decade of environmental engagement
through USAID's Coastal Resource Management Initiative (CRMI) and
the Local Initiatives for Affordable Wastewater Treatment (LINAW) at
Dumaguete City's wastewater treatment plant. Finally, at nearby
Amlan, the Ambassador received an enthusiastic welcome at one of
USAID's rural health units and at a Peace Corps marine sanctuary.
This committed USG engagement has allowed the Dumaguete City and
Amlan areas to become models of health and environmental management.
END SUMMARY.

-----------------------
100 YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP
-----------------------

2. Speaking before a large crowd of Silliman University students,
former Fulbright students, International Visitor Program
participants, and American Studies Alumni, the Ambassador noted the
long-standing ties between the United States and the university.
Originally founded by the U.S. Board of Missions of the Presbyterian
Church in 1901, Silliman University is the oldest American
University in Asia and is among the Philippine's top institutions of
higher learning. From 1995-2001, USAID's Coastal Resource
Management Initiative enabled Silliman University to become a Center
of Excellence in Coastal Resource Management. An additional USAID
grant helped the University strengthen nearby marine protected
areas. Silliman University also features an American Corner in its
library with unique, interactive displays.

-------------------------------------
LOCAL SOLUTIONS TO UNIVERSAL PROBLEMS
------------------------------------

3. A tour f Dumaguete City's public market wastewater treatmnt
plant illustrated the importance of funding clean water programs.
As recently as 2003, Dumaguete City's coastal waters contained over
22 times the allowable standard for dangerous bacteria. Under the
LINAW program, Dumaguete City built a wastewater treatment facility
and inaugurated a city-wide system to clean and treat septic tanks.
The treatment facilities are both efficient and environmentally
friendly. These are low-cost, low-maintenance, natural treatment
systems utilizing minimal electricity and mechanical parts. Wetland
areas at the final stage of treatment are already attracting birds
and butterflies. Residents told the Ambassador that they are
pleased with the results and are proud of their accomplishments in
cleaning up their city.

4. Thanks to coastal clean up projects spearheaded by the current
resident Peace Corps volunteer and the local mayor, the town of
Amlan, near Dumaguete City, ranks as one of the best coastal
resource management programs in the Philippines. The Peace Corps
also maintains the Tandayag Marine Sanctuary that prevents
over-fishing and coastal contamination. With help from the local
government, fishermen now recycle plastic bags, producing hand bags
as an additional source of income.

----------------------
A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP
----------------------

5. USAID and Amlan's partnership began in 1996 when, with technical
assistance, Amlan's Rural Health Unit (RHU) became the first in
Negros Oriental to be certified by the Philippine Department of
Health for meeting the standards for quality public health. The
Ambassador's tour of the RHU brought attention to its twelve years
of outstanding service in prenatal, delivery, postpartum, and family
planning services in Amlan. PhilHealth, the Philippine national
insurance carrier, earmarked substantial funds for Amlan, further
improving the RHU's service.

-------------------
BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD
-------------------

6. The Ambassador's visit generated positive media attention both
regionally and nationally. During stops at a local radio station
and during pullaside interviews, the Ambassador noted that in
addition to USAID and Peace Corps efforts, the U.S. is helping to
increase food security assistance to Negros Oriental. Through
partnerships with U.S. businesses, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) funds the purchase of dairy cows, a dairy
processing plant, and training to local farmers. In cooperation
with the American Soybean Association, USDA is also providing
assistance to local soybean farmers to improve production.

KENNEY

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