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Private funds to boost Philippines' New7Wonders campaign PDF Print E-mail

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, July 22 (PNA) -- Private sector stakeholders will pool funds for boosting the Philippines' bid to make Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) in Palawan among seven winners of the New7Wonders of Nature global search.

"They'll help us encourage people to vote for PPUR," Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje said Friday on the side of government's media launch for such bid.

The bid seeks to generate more pro-PPUR votes as authorities believe winning the search will help showcase the Philippines' natural beauty and boost tourism in the country.

"Our tourism revenues can increase ten-fold if PPUR ends up being among winners of the search," said Paje who's national campaign manager for the public sector.

Citing a new report by international consultants' organization Grant Thornton, officials behind New7Wonders said each winner of the search stands to gain an estimated economic value of US$ 1 billion over five years.

"If you add the marketing, advertising, image and branding value, you'd easily double the numbers, which means the New7Wonders of Nature campaign is likely to generate well over US$ 10 billion in economic and marketing value globally," said New7Wonders director Jean-Paul de la Fuente.

New7Wonders of Nature is an international initiative to identify seven natural attractions which people worldwide voted for.

The official New7Wonders of Nature campaign commenced in 2007 following conclusion of a similar initiative to identify the new seven man-made wonders on earth.

PPUR is reputedly the world's longest navigable underground river lying within a unique, complex, valuable and high-energy karst eco-system.

The private sector group's lead convenor Tony Abaya said telecommunication companies and other business entities will pool funds that would serve as prizes for PPUR voters who would win in the Department of Trade and Industry-approved electronic raffle to be launched next month.

"Entities concerned earlier agreed on this so more people can be encouraged to vote for PPUR," he said on the launch's side.

The plan is for one raffle winner to garner the top prize of P7 million and for seven other winners to receive P1 million each, he said.

"We also plan giving away P7,000 in cash to each of 77 more winners for their shopping spree in Metro Manila," he said.

He said stakeholders concerned were also planning to give prizes consisting of seven all-expense paid trips to PPUR with each travel package good for two people.

They also target giving out some 350 similar travel packages for other destinations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, he said.

Abaya said the stakeholders would soon finalize prizes for their raffle.

Even people who cast their votes when the search began would be included in the raffle, he said.

DENR reminded people to vote either online until Nov. 11 this year or through short messaging service (SMS) until Sept. 25 by texting to 2861 the characters PPUR, PPUR7 or PPUR15.

Aside from PPUR, the search's finalists are the Amazon (South America), Angel Falls (Venezuela), Bay of Fundy (Canada), Black Forest (Germany), Bu Tinah Island (United Arab Emirates), Cliffs of Moher (Ireland), the Dead Sea (Israel, Jordan and Palestine), El Yunque (Puerto Rico), Galapagos (Ecuador), Grand Canyon (United States), Great Barrier Reef (Australia and Papua New Guinea), Halong Bay (Vietnam), Iguazu Falls (Argentina and Brazil), Jeita Grotto (Lebanon), Jeju Island (South Korea), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Komodo (Indonesia), Maldives (the Maldives), Masurian Lake District (Poland), Matterhorn/Cervino (Italy and Switzerland), Milford Sound (New Zealand), Mud Volcanoes (Azerbaijan), Sundarbans (Bangladesh and India), Table Mountain (South Africa), Uluru (Australia), Vesuvius (Italy) and Yushan (Chinese Taipei).

Official declaration of the search's winners will be on Nov. 11 this year.

Paje said the PPUR bid would be an opportunity for Filipinos to unite for the nation's sake.

"We seldom find a common cause - this is a rare chance for us to stand up as one," he said.

Robredo agrees, noting support for the PPUR campaign is "neither for Puerto Princesa City nor for Palawan only but for the entire country."

Paje said it is possible for PPUR to emerge as the search's top winner if Filipinos support the campaign.

"There's no reason why PPUR can't make it," he said, noting studies show Filipinos are particularly fond of SMS and send daily an average of two billion text messages.

If half of such messages are votes for PPUR, he said the underground river will undoubtedly top the search.

Hagedorn is also bullish about PPUR's chances.

"I'm confident we'll top the voting," he said during the media launch.

He gave out during the event all-expense paid travel packages for five media practitioners who'll get the opportunity to see and experience PPUR.

During the launch, stubs bearing such practitioners' names were drawn in a raffle. (PNA)









































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