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USAID, through the Philippine Environmental Governance Project, assisted the local government (Davao City) in establishing, through a local ordinance, the mangrove area as a marine protected area. A crucial part in effective coastal resources management is law enforcement with Bantay Dagat teams playing a crucial role by safeguarding local waters. In Davao City Philippines, Bantay Dagat members protect mangrove areas from illegal cutting, thus conserving areas for fisheries and marine biodiversity habitats.


Duterte reminds public of firecracker ban

By Arianne Caryl N. Casas

THREE days to go before Christmas, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte reminded anew the public about the firecracker ban being enforced in the city for 12 years now.

Duterte issued on Sunday an order to arrest anybody caught possessing even small quantity of any type of firecracker.

The firecracker ban, Ordinance 060-02, Series of 2002, prohibits “any person or business establishment to manufacture, sell or offer for sale, distribute, possess or use any firecrackers or pyrotechnic device or such other similar devices within the territory of Davao City.”

"Pag matsambahan ka, miski muingon ka dili nimo na ibaligya. Ang balaod man gud, gibawal miski possession. If you are caught possessing, miski muagi ra ka, but if you are caught, sabit ka gyud. Kay kaning mga gaihg ulo, kada tuig naa na sila sa prisohan. Magtapok na sila. (You will be arrested even if you said you are not selling it. Possession of firecracker violates the law. Don't be hard-headed)," Duterte said during his “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” program.

The 12-year-old policy is the reason why Davao City records zero-casualty rate during Yuletide season. However, there are still those who violate the policy.

"(Kung) ako maglagot, akong ingnan ang police nga ibutang ra mo sa isa ka selda, kanang mag tapok mo nga wala nay makahigda. Mukaon mo naga tindog. Matulog, naga tindog. Dudot mong tanan.pinanglitan kanang selda nga good for 10 persons, pansakan ko na ug 50 persons, tan-awon nato dili ba mo mag dutdot. Kanang maguot gyud.Kani akong buhaton ninyo. Mga gahi mog ulo eh (I will place these law violators to packed prison cell, where you can't even move)," Duterte said.

He said even transit of any firecracker is still prohibited.

“Strictly speaking, explosive na eh. Unya kung naa ka, magduda ko nimo. Unsa may buhaton nimo ana diri sa Dabaw? Ambakan ta gyud ka. Malay ko ba gawan mo yan ng bomba. Miski isa. Miski usa lang ka watusi o usa lang ka stick nga kwitis, sabit na ka,” he said.

For those who found violating the ordinance, the penalty for the first offense is a fine of P1,000 or imprisonment of not more than one month but not less than 20 days, or both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.

For the second offense, a fine of P3,000 or imprisonment of not more than three months but not less than one month, or both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court; while a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment of not more than six months but not less three months, or both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court for the third offense.

“If the violation is committed by a business establishment, the president or general manager or the person, acting in behalf of either the president or general manager, shall be held liable in the case of a corporation or partnership, or the owner or proprietor or the person acting in his behalf shall be held responsible in the case of a single proprietorship,” the provision read.

The ordinance also states that the permit of the business establishment shall be cancelled by the city mayor upon the commission of the third offense.

Meanwhile, the Smart Communications will hold its 2nd Smart Davao Torotot Festival on December 31.

“Kung gusto ka ug noise to drive away evil spirits, you can have torotot,” the mayor said.

48,000 Lumads go to Davao City for Christmas


Known as Lumads, these natives go down to the city proper from the mountains to ask for financial contributions and other Christmas presents like old clothes, food items, and other goodies

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – It’s like an annual Christmas exodus from the mountains.

About 12,000 families or 48,000 indigenous people are huddled like evacuees within the urban districts of Davao City. But this is not to prepare for a disaster – it’s their way of celebrating the Christmas season.

Locally known as Lumads, these natives go down to the city proper from the mountains to ask for financial contributions and other Christmas presents like old clothes, food items, and other goodies.

Most of them, including children, ply the streets all day long to sing yuletide carols in exchange for alms and donations from the city residents. Some mothers engage in selling their crop produce and other by-products, which they display and sell with their co-natives while in Davao City.

At night, they are accommodated in covered courts spread across 8 barangays – Bangkerohan, Buhangin, Bunawan, Matina Aplaya, Toril, Mintal, Tugbok and Calinan. Some of them have been staying in those areas since December 4. They are expected to return to their homes right after Christmas or on December 26 via vehicles provided by the city government.

Aside from temporary shelters, the city government also provides them with daily food rations composed of rice, noodles and canned goods – enough to feed a family of 4.

Experiencing city life

According to Rey Rigor, project coordinator for the reception of Lumads, it is the annual practice of natives to go to urban areas to experience city life.

"They go down every year to experience Christmas in the city. They go to Rizal Park for picture-taking and they also visit other places to witness city lights," Rigor said in a phone interview.

Rigor added, “They also go carolling for clothes and any other donations that can be given to them so that they can bring something when they go back to the mountains."

A family of 12 was spotted walking in Barangay Biao Escuela heading towards Calinan gym. The most senior woman in the group gladly shared her reason for going down to the city proper every December.

"Mayor Duterte asked us to come down to the city so that our children who are still in growing years can be trained in speaking Visayan. Every year we go down to the city so that our children will not become ignorant of the Visayan way of life, they can also see moving vehicles and be trained," she said.

Lumads, a strong voting bloc?

Rayman Luna, a tricycle driver from Mintal who has been observing this annual practice, believed that Lumads represent a strong voting bloc in local elections.

"The reason why the Dutertes were always winning here in Davao is because of how they take care of the Lumads. There are too many natives in the mountains so if they support you solidly, you will surely win the election," Luna said.

Contrary to rumors that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is encouraging the Lumads to go down to the city every December as a favor, Rigor said that the Mayor does not encourage such practice but only requests city residents to accept the Lumads while they are here especially in view of the Christmas season.

“We prepare every year not to tolerate the practice but to properly organize them. We have an anti-discrimination ordinance here in Davao that everyone should abide to so whatever service we can provide, we give it to them because they deserve to be protected somehow,” Rigor added.

Professor Ryan Christopher Maboloc of Ateneo de Davao University agreed, saying that the the Davao city government is doing what it can to keep the Lumads safe.

Maboloc said that mainstream society should not treat them as outsiders. As citizens, no one can prevent their freedom of movement, he added, further arguing that more than a local issue, this social pathology is a reflection of a bigger problem of inequitable development.

“What is NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) doing about this? They should intervene on this matter by gathering stakeholders and not just rely to the local government for basic support. It is NCIP who should provide guidance and direction to this problem so that we can look for long term solutions," Maboloc said.

Numbers steadily growing

Rigor said the biggest challenge they city government faces is the growing numbers of Lumads going down to the city each year. Back in 2007, when he was first involved in receiving the Lumads, he recalled that they only responded to roughly 4,000 families. But today, their numbers had tripled to include other natives coming from the neighboring provinces.

The project coordinator said that natives now come from Aracan Valley, Bukidnon, Kalaingod in Davao del Norte, Agusan, and Surigao provinces.

With this in mind, Barangay Captain Ramon Bargamento of Mintal said proper preparation and management is the key to organizing the Lumads every time they go down to the city.

In his case, he said, he prepares ahead of time by assigning "point persons" from his barangay and a counterpart from the natives to be in charge of cleanliness, sanitation, health, and security.

"I even remind the natives that since they are staying within my barangay, they should follow our rules because they belong to my community while they are staying here,” Bargamento said in an interview

Joy Adan of the Davao City Social Services and Development Office assured that the basic needs of the Lumads are looked after by the local government. She said a health desk is stationed at the back of the gym and that huge electric fans are provided along with an LCD projector to make them feel comfortable and entertained.

Talking to leaders

Maboloc said rectifying this annual dole-out practice will require using grassroots democratic mechanisms like talking to the council of elders of the different tribes.

“Clearly, there’s a mixed signal here. On one hand, as individuals we would like to help them. On the other hand, we cannot just tolerate the practice because we are subjecting them to a lot of risks. We have to respect the basic dignity of indigenous peoples but at the same time, institutional mechanisms should be set in place because this is an issue of social justice,” he said.

Maboloc also thinks that Davao city officials can have a dialogue with the communal leaders because by tradition, the Lumads listen to their elders.

“If the LGU and civil society will educate the elders about the dangers involved every time they go down, I think it will spell a difference," he said.

Maboloc added: "Davao City is very known for implementing the rule of law. The Mayor has succeeded in implementing a smoking and firecracker ban here in the city. I think it is now time to correct this practice."

Davao City purchases Indian-made vehicles for emergency response

(PIA/RG Alama)

DAVAO CITY- The City Government of Davao has purchased an initial batch of 120 Tata Ace II vehicles for emergency response.

“The Tata Ace is the only vehicle that has a diesel engine, it has sold a million units in India already.” Nicandro Mariano general manager of the Pilipinas Taj Autogroup, distributor of Tata vehicles in the country said of the main reason it was chosen by the city.

Slightly bigger than a gasoline-powered multi-cab, The Ace Tata can seat 14- 16 persons, its high clearance will help the vehicle traverse flooded streets.

The City Government is aiming to provide 184 barangays comprising the city each with an Ace Tata emergency response.

Mariano said the vehicles are developed ina way which can fit the needs of the barangay.

The initial batch of the vehicles were turned over to City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte during the blessing of the Tata Motors Davao showroom yesterday (December 18).

Mayor Duterte said they chose Tata since the brand is known for its quality and durability. He said there are no recall issues over the said vehicle and it being widely sold and used in India.

The Ace utility vehicles are more spacious than multicab vehicles but also small enough narrow barangay streets in the city ideal as a responder vehicle in the barangays.

Multi-billion investment in Davao

By Arianne Caryl N. Casas

DAVAO CITY'S property development sector gets further boost with the entry of another big national player bent on pouring in multi-billion investments, mostly for horizontal residential projects in the city next year.

Taking advantage of a new market segment, the so-called affordable market that is emerging in the city, whose economy is projected to be driven by manufacturing and agricultural sectors in the next few years brought about by stable power supply, property developer Eco Dwellings Corp. has focused its expansion in the city.

"Davao City is the next big thing in terms on investments. It's economic growth is among the fastest in the country and we are very much confident on its potentials," Arnulfo De Asis, Eco Dwellings president, said at a press briefing Tuesday.

For a start, he said the company will develop two residential projects in the city in 2015, on top of its joint venture with the city's prominent clan, the Dizon family, to develop a 2.8-hectare property in Bacaca into a condominium complex, called the Urban Hive Palms.

The two projects, one of which is located in Catalunan Pequeno, will eat up P1 billion from the company's capital expenditures (capex) next year, according to De Asis.

"We will allocate at least P1 billion from our yearly capex for Davao City," he said, adding that the company is eyeing more areas in the city for expansion.

He said these projects, which are set to be launched early next year, are socialized housing development that will cater to the affordable market, comprising mainly of starting families and the working force who will flock the city for employment.

"We are confident of our products, which are very affordable at a minimum price package of P900,000 for a house and lot," Angelica "Casey" San Luis, vice president for sales and marketing.

San Luis said the city is the company's first expansion area outside of Metro Manila.

"Property development projects thrive in this part of the country. Almost everybody is here," she said, apparently referring to big national players in real estate industry, such as Megaworld, Ayala Land, Vista Land, Robinsons Land and DMC Urban Property Developers Inc.

San Luis said they are expecting to launch in the first quarter of next year their development projects in the city, which will kick off simultaneously with that of their joint venture with the Dizon family.

The P2 billion Urban Hive Palms is set to rise within Dizon family's sprawling 2.8 hectares property on Amazon St. by the side of Bacaca Road.

De Asis said that the property is an abandoned nursery planted with palm trees, most of which they will not touch.

Confident with the company's in-house capability and 30 year experience in luxury condominium construction, the company has set its sights on Davao City and inked a joint venture deal with the prominent Dizon Family.

The project consists of a seven building, six-storey residential multi-unit with a central activity center (clubhouse with roof deck, adult and kiddie pools, fitness gym, basketball court and jogging paths) amidst the backdrop of lush trees and flowering plants.

Each building comprises 120 units, whose price range from P3 million to P6 million.

He said the project -- middle to high income, medium rise residential community development -- follows the green rule of 30% green surroundings and 70% development carrying the reputation of quality development at very competitive prices.

San Luis said each of the seven buildings has one, two and three bedroom units ranging from 37sqm to 65sqm., all of which are priced 30% lower compared to the other competitors.

She said they are looking at small families, newlyweds, professionals and entrepreneurs as target market for Urban Hive Palms.

Eco-Dwellings is the development arm and subsidiary of Datem Inc. which has been in the construction industry for the last 30 years as one of the nation's leading construction company.

Some of landmark buildings under Eco Dwellings' belt include luxury residential developments, such as Serendra, One Rockwell, One Shangri-La Place, Grand Hyatt Residences, Axis Residences; commercial buildings -- Powerplant Mall, Greenbelt Ayala Mall, Market Market, Shangri-La Mall- New Wing, St. Lukes Global City; hospitality developments --Discovery Shores Boracay, Marriot Hotel Resorts World, Maxim Hotel Resorts World.

German firm invests P1.2M for marine protection study

By Arianne Caryl N. Casas

A GERMAN company will invest P1.2 million to conduct research on Davao City's marine protected areas calendared on year 2015-2016.

Councilor Marissa Salvador-Abella, chair for committee on agriculture and food, said the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) will allocate P1,268,000 through the University of Southeastern Philippines (Usep) Extension Office that will facilitate the research.

Salvador-Abella said the committee submitted a project proposal to the GIZ, entitled "Strengthening Established Marine Protected (MPA) Network within Davao City and Conservation of Biological Important Species."

The project proposal aims to establish and manage a network of marine protected area in the city; reduce illegal fishing activities by 10 percent through enforcement of Local Fisheries Code of Davao City; increase level of awareness of the community by 10 percent through active participation and involvement in the management of established MPA network through social marketing approach; and identify supplemental livelihood opportunities for communities directly involved and appropriate mechanism.

Abella said the GIZ is a German company that conducts developmental activities on environment and infrastructure.

The activities include waste, energy and water management, natural resource management, transport and mobility, implementing international environmental regimes or environmental policy, climate change-related capacity building and agriculture, fisheries and food.

"Our city is very fortunate to have been chosen as a recipient of the project. On the part of the city, it does not have to shell out additional funds for this project because the allocation for MPA ordinance implementation will serve as counterpart and the same is already available in the City Agriculturist Office," Abella said in her privilege speech during the regular session on Tuesday.

"I wish that the city will grab this opportunity for the proper management of MPAs. I believe more support from GIZ will be coming once the first project will be successful," she added.

145 'pawikan' hatchlings released in Davao City


DAVAO CITY, Dec. 16 (PNA) -– For almost two months of monitoring and taking care of “pawikan” eggs which were discovered last October 12, the officials of the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park released on Tuesday 145 hatchlings to the sea.

Fermin Edillon, Davao Light's Community Relations Manager, conducted the release of the healthy pawikan hatchlings, witnessed by Davao Light's executive vice president Arturo Milan, community volunteers, some Davao Light employees and University of the Philippines Mindanao researchers.

The pawikan hatchlings, which are of the endangered Hawksbill turtle species, appeared from the nest.

According to Edillon, the hatching rate which is at 91 percent is the highest so far for this year.

“We are hoping to release more pawikans before the year ends as there are still three nests with a total of 608 eggs about to hatch. We are also hoping for more pawikans to lay eggs within the month in this Aboitiz Cleanergy Park.” said Edillon.

Another batch of eggs was found in the area. The transfer of the eggs will be scheduled to keep them safe from animals and humans.

Edillon and team will closely monitor for a possible new nest in two weeks’ time.

Quarterback Tim Tebow’s Orthopedic Hospital opens in Davao City


DAVAO CITY, Dec. 15 (PNA) -– After getting the approval of its license from the Department of Health (DoH), the Tebow Cure Hospital, the dream project of former quarterback and now football analyst Timothy Tebow, is now accepting patients.

Leron L. Lehman, Executive Director of the Tebow Cure Hospital, however, said the grand opening will be held early next year with Mr. Tebow as guest of honor.

“The Tebow Hospital will initially open with a 17-bed capacity but will ultimately have a 30-bed capacity,” Lehman said.

A team of 54 people has started conducting free clinics last month for the screening of children with leg, foot, bone and other physical disabilities for surgery.

The Tebow Cure Hospital, which is a joint project of non-profit organization CURE International and the Tim Tebow Foundation, has become popular locally and internationally because of its affiliation to Timothy Richard Tebow who was a former quarterback for the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets.

ESPN hired him in December last year as a college football analyst. ESPN is a U.S.-based global cable and satellite television channel that is owned by ESPN Inc.

Lehman said the charity services of the Hospital will be supervised by an American surgeon who will get support from local doctors. But while it will prioritize charity medical care for children with orthopedic problems, the Hospital will also offer paid services for adults including plastic and reconstructive surgery and cosmetic operations.

Tebow was born in the Philippines which explains the choice of the country as the first ever hospital of Tebow Foundation in this part of the globe.

Davao City was chosen as the location of the Hospital because it was assessed that very few have access to proper orthopedic care in Mindanao so there is a significant need for such a facility here. Tebow has often said that the Philippines has a special place in his heart because his parents have spent more than 30 years in the country as missionaries.

“I was born in the Philippines while my parents served as missionaries, and I have always had a great love and passion for the Filipino people,” Tebow said in a statement. “It is so exciting to be able to provide healing and care for these incredibly deserving children halfway around the world," he added.

The hospital broke ground in January 2012 and construction was completed in September 2014.

The fifth floor of the Tebow Cure Hospital will be the location of Timmy’s Playroom, which usually comes with entertainment, games and sometimes even a mini football field, to give children a break from the stress of their treatment and give them a chance to just enjoy their childhood. The fourth floor will be the outpatient area, private clinics, radiology, physical therapy and laboratory. Third floor will be allotted for the expansion from 17 to 30 beds while the second floor will be for charity beds and patient ward. The upper ground floor will be the location of the administrative offices, cafeteria, kitchen, pharmacy and reception while the lower ground will be for the sterilization facilities and operating suite.

Davao bags golds from lawn tennis

By Karlo R. Pates

BACOLOD CITY -- Davao City lawn tennis player Lordrens Pacheco copped two gold medals in the 15-under boys singles and 15-under boys doubles events, respectively, at the close of the Philippine Sports Commission-Philippine Olympic Committee (PSC-POC) Batang Pinoy National Finals 2014 held at the University of St. La Salle court, Saturday afternoon.

Pacheco of Emar Human and Environmental College (Ehec) copped the 15-under boys singles title by besting his opponent from Baran in their titular showdown, 8-5.

The 15-year-old player who hails from Bangkal, Davao City, said in an interview with Sun.Star Davao that his last stint in the Batang Pinoy games was worth it after copping medals for Davao City, adding, "First time nako sa Batang Pinoy games pero last na pud nako ni mao gibuhat gyud nako akong best para makauli ug medals para sa akong team ug Davao City (This is my first and last time here in the Batang Pinoy games that's why I did my best during the competition in order to bring honor and recognition to Davao City)."

Pacheco teamed-up with Jose Pague of Zamboanga Sibugay as they captured the 15-under boys doubles event after demolishing their opponent from Bacolod City in the finals match, 8-1.

He added that he will dedicate these medals to his parents, saying, "Para sa akong mama ug kuya gyud ning medals kay grabe kaayo ilang supporta ug sakripisyo para sa akoa na makaapil ug mga competitions. Dako kaayo akong pasalamat sa ilaha. (I dedicate these medals for my mom and dad for their effort and support for me to join different competitions. This is my only way to repay back their sacrifices and for that I'm really thankful to them.")

Despite hauling two gold medals in the Batang Pinoy games, Pacheco will still go back to his regular training schedule immediately when he goes back to Davao City, saying, Practice pa ko ug balik ug mas magtarong pa gyud ko para mas hawd nako next time (I will practice immediately when I get back in Davao City and this time I will practice harder so I will get better in my future competitions.

Over at the New Government Center (NGC), Davao City chesser Irish Yngayo settled for bronze in the standard chess event.

Yngayo, in a separate interview, said that she's upbeat with her achievements in the Batang Pinoy games, adding, "Happy kaayo ko kay bisan wala nako nakuha ang gold at least nakuha gihapon nako ang bronze medal. Siguro napressure lang ko na makagold during sa matches mao siguro mapildi ko (I'm very happy that despite I didn't win the gold medal, I still satified with my bronze medal. I was just pressure to win my second gold medal maybe that's why I lost)."

Yngayo, of Davao Central College (DCC), who hauled a gold medal in the rapid chess category event, said that she will always continue to strive for more in future competitions.

"Thank you kaayo sa akong parents kay supportive kaayo sa ilaha sa akoa mao sa ilaha nako idedicate akong medals para mabalik nako ilang mga efforts sa akoa (I thank my parents for being supportive during my competitions. I dedicate these medals to them as my way of thanking them for everything.)," Yngayo added.

Davao's volleyball girls team secures Batang Pinoy bronze

By Karlo R. Pates

DESPITE playing against the hometown favorites, the Davao City girls volleyball team bounced back from a first set loss and beat Negros Occidental in two straight sets to secure a bronze medal finish in the on-going Philippine Sports Commission-Philippine Olympic Committee (PSC-POC) Batang Pinoy National Finals held at the University of St. La Salle here yesterday.

The Davao City National High School (DCNHS)-bannered girls team hacked out a 2-1 victory over Negros Occidental in their bronze medal match. The Negros Occidental squad controlled the tempo in the early going of the opening set as they managed to secure easy points from the several miscues and errors of the Davao City team.

Davao City team led by their team captain Lycha Ebon along with teammates Thea Mariz Borres, Lyle Darren Amora, Lucille May Almonte, Farrah Alfaro, Khem Consencino, Michaella Crisanto, Jonessa Irish Monteposo, Shaina Lyka Panchito, Nicole Victoria Sasuman, Alex Unilongo and Coline Theah Hebres regained their footing as they stormed back to secure a 8-6 lead.

Negros Occidental countered immediately by powering a 10 to 3 surge to snatch the lead once again 16-11.

The Cristy Balbon-mentored Davao City team tried to muster a last minute rally but couldn't get their acts together as the Negros Occidental take the first set, 25-22.

In the second set, Davao City spikers Ebon and Amora exchanged booming attacks to regain cotrol of the momentum as they took a 7-2 advantage before Negros Occidental fueled a 5-1 run to cut the deficit to one, 8-7.

With the score tied at 9-all, Coach Balbon called a timeout to regroup her spikers. Following the timeout, the Davao City spikers answered back with a 6-0 burst to break the game open with a 15-9 lead midway through the second set.

As errors and miscues continue to pile up for the hometown team, Davao City spikers capitalized on it to secure the second 25-18.

As team captain Ebon continued to power her attacks for points, she was constantly cheered up by her teammates on the bench, chanting"Ebon! Ebon! Ebon!" and even some hometown spectators were amazed by Ebon's spiking skills as they also helped cheering for the Davao City team.

Through sheer guts and determination, the Davao City team managed an inspired effort as they took control of the game tempo in the third set, extending their largest lead of the game to 15-9.

Negros Occidental failed to stop the momentum of the visiting team as the Davao City team escaped with a dominating 25-17 third set win.

After the game, the whole team was seen huddling at the sidelines while cheering each other for their bronze medal achievement in the Batang Pinoy games.

The games were sanctioned by the Philippine volleyball Federation (PVF).

Mindanao-wide summit underscores cacao industry growth


DAVAO CITY, Dec 12 (PNA) -- With the common goal of making Mindanao’s cacao globally competitive, industry leaders convened here Wednesday for a three-day summit aimed to provide a platform for the discussion of industry issues and the creation of strategic alliances that will help strengthen the region’s cacao sector.

Dubbed as Mindanao Cacao Summit and Inter-agency Convergence, the recently concluded event was spearheaded by the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc. (CIDAMi), in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

“I see this convergence as our initial step in ensuring a brighter future for the region’s cacao industry, as we aim to develop a distinct brand for the cacao and cacao-based products from Mindanao,” said MinDA Chair Luwalhati Antonino.

Antonino, who has declared full support for cacao development in Mindanao urged the industry leaders to utilize the summit as an opportunity to craft strategic steps in helping Mindanao cope with the increasing domestic and international demand for chocolate.

In her opening speech she reported that the global supply deficit for cacao currently stands at 160,000 metric tons (MT), and Mindanao aims to produce at least 80,000 to 100,000 MT of cacao beans targeted for both the increasing domestic and global markets.

The Philippines’ share to world production is less than 1 percent or only about 4,800 metric tons in 2012. Mindanao contributes 90 percent of the country’s total production.

“The challenge is huge and the road ahead for this target is not easy. This means that we have to plant more than 41 million trees by 2018, and I am more than happy to announce that we have already started our massive campaign for the planting of cacao trees,” she said.

A production and trading agreement between Marihatag, Surigao del Sur and Kennemer Foods International that will initiate the massive planting of four million cacao trees in the town’s 5,000 hectare pilot site was sealed in July this year.

Other initiatives that strategically complement efforts to push for cacao industry development are also being implemented in the island-region.

Cacao is identified as priority crop in the region’s industry roadmaps which aim to firm up links between agri-based products and the needed infra and logistics support through the Mindanao Development Corridors Program.

The Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program, a public-private sector collaboration aimed to ensure that farming communities become integral components in the agri-industry supply chain was launched by MinDA and the Philippine Business for Social Progress in September this year.

"We also assist in the implementation of the Barangay StraTREEgic Forest Project that supports the National Greening Program targets by intercropping at least half of the targeted 34,000 hectares with cacao trees, which we anticipate to yield at least 6,000 MT of cacao by 2016," Antonino said.

Pasko Fiesta barangay-based contests set

By Reuel John F. Lumawag

DIFFERENT barangays in Davao City are holding various competitions as part of Pasko Fiesta sa Kasadya, a barangay-based activity during the celebration of Pasko Fiesta 2014.

The activity is composed of three competitions, namely, Sing-a-long ni Pulong, Sayaw Children and Youth, Panayegon and Sayaw adult.

The barangay competitions started last December 8 until December 19. Scheduled for the barangay competition Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is Calinan District.

Winners in the competitions will be competing in the grand finals on December 21 to 23 at Rizal Park.

Pasko Fiesta 2014 celebration kicked off last December 8 with the lighting ceremony led by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Representatives from the Davao Tourism Association, Restaurant Owners Association of Davao, Malls Association of Davao, Davao Travel Agencies Association, Davao Association of Tourism Operations, and Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions organizers were also present to support the opening of the month-long celebration.

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