Mindanao Times » Features http://mindanaotimes.net Thu, 20 Sep 2018 01:47:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.25 Bringing BT eggplant to Filipinos’ table http://mindanaotimes.net/bringing-bt-eggplant-to-filipinos-table/ http://mindanaotimes.net/bringing-bt-eggplant-to-filipinos-table/#comments Sat, 31 Dec 2016 02:39:38 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=37431 ]]> THE APPLICATION of biotechnology to improve food security has long been realized by scientists here in the country.

For example, many small farmers have long adopted biotech crops ever since GM corn has been commercialized in 2003. Of the estimated 1.2 million-hectare yellow corn area in the country, 800,000 hectares of these are GM corn, which are generally used for livestock feeds.

People do not need to look far into the future to see how this tech can improve agriculture and food production. Research has provided a solid background showing that crop biotechnology increases yield, strengthens disease and insect resistance, and creates tolerance in extreme environment conditions.

One of the most promising crops to be given a boost by biotechnology is the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) eggplant.

The eggplant is the leading vegetable crop in the Philippines in terms of area and volume of production. Small-scale farmers in many provinces grow eggplant and depend on it for their livelihood.

The eggplant is also a popular ingredient in Filipino dishes like the pinakbet, torta, sinigang, ensalada, and kare-kare. It is rich in dietary fiber and a good source of vitamins and minerals.

However, eggplant production suffers yield losses from pests, diseases and extreme environmental conditions.

The most destructive insect pest of eggplant in the Philippines and other Asian countries is the fruit and shoot borer (FSB). Eggplant yield losses from 51 to 73% due to FSB have been reported in the country.

By using biotechnology to introduce FSB-resistance in eggplant, farmers may benefit from high yields of good quality fruits. They also save on production and labor costs as less pesticide will be necessary to control the FSB.

The Bt eggplant produces a natural protein that makes it resistant to FSB. Once the FSB caterpillars feed on plant leaves, shoots and fruits, they stop eating and eventually die. The Bt protein in the biotech eggplant only affects FSB and does not affect humans, farm animals, and other non-target organisms. Studies have shown that the Bt eggplant is as safe as the ordinary eggplant and has the same nutritional compositions.

Before the Bt eggplant is approved for commercial use, scientists and regulators ensure that it passes through many tests and safety assessments. In the country, biosafety is evaluated in four stages: contained research in laboratories and screenhouses; small confined trials; multi-location field trials; and commercial release.

Davao City is being considered by scientists to be an area for Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) eggplant production once it is given a go in 2020 for market release.

Dr. Lourdes Taylo, scientist from the University of the Philippines Los Banos – Institute of Plant Breeding, said in an interview that adoption rate has been proven and tested in Mindanao where other genetically-modified crops like corn has been grown. (According to Monsanto, at least 70 percent of corn farmers in Mindanao are GM crop growers.)

She said the go signal by the government agencies concerned is to be given after stringent evaluation of bt eggplant as a product. The release of the GM crop for the market is governed by a joint department circular led by the country’s departments of science and technology , agriculture , environment and natural resources , health , and interior and local government.

The DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular 1 No. 1, series of 2016, Taylo said, makes research guidelines more stringent but “it gives hope for the technology” after the Supreme Court banned development of genetically-modified products.

Taylo said that if they are able to address the concerns of the extensive joint circular, they will be given a go to bring to the market the bt eggplant.

She said that the process involves writing and submitting peer reviewed articles. Integral the approval also includes having robust scientific regulatory dossier that validates the concerns and issues raised by the five departments.

The scientist is optimistic that, under the Duterte administration, support will be given to this much needed technology that will address food security issues.

Last December 2010, the Davao City Government ordered UP Mindanao to uproot crops from an in-campus field testing site. The order was given by Mayor Sara Duterte because the university reportedly failed to conduct consultations with the city and barangay governments. The consultations are a requirement for the conduct of field tests for genetically modified crops.

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The gift of birth -first in vitro fertilization facility opens in Mindanao http://mindanaotimes.net/the-gift-of-birth-first-in-vitro-fertilization-facility-opens-in-mindanao/ http://mindanaotimes.net/the-gift-of-birth-first-in-vitro-fertilization-facility-opens-in-mindanao/#comments Sat, 07 Nov 2015 05:45:20 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=20047 ]]> THE FIRST in vitro fertilization facility in Mindanao formally opened in the Woman Center of Brokenshire Hospital last October 28 with hopes to reach out to couples in the region who are part of the 10-12% in the world and in the country who are going through challenges on fertility.

Dr. Veronica Deniega, acting chairperson of the obstetrics and gynecology department of the hospital said that this key populations should not be left out in terms of giving out medical services especially for reproduction. “These are social situations that couples face here and around the world,” Deniega said. “This is the segment of the society that shouldn’t be neglected have right to children.”

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DRA. Maria Lourdes Cabling, Chairperson of IVF Davao, welcomes guests to the newly opened In Vitro Facility at the Brokenshire Women Center.

Dr. Maria Lourdes Cabling, chair of the In-Vitro Fertilization Davao, Inc. (IVF Davao) said that this number is from the national census of the Philippine Obstetric and Gynecological Society where she presides as the president for Mindanao.

Without mentioning numbers, Cabling said that infertility cases continue to rise in number here and abroad. She said that this may be attributed to lifestyle: how many couples shift priority on career over birth.

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THE RESIDENT OB-Gynecologists of Brokenshire Hospital

Other factors that affect infertility include medical conditions, obesity, sexually transmitted infections. Exposure to extreme working conditions also affect reproductive abilities of both men and women.

Through IVF technology, medical experts will be able to help a couple conceive a child by collecting ovum of a woman and have this fertilized by a male sperm in a lab. The fertilized egg will then be transferred back to the uterus.

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THE DAVAO Fertility Specialists with their guests/mentors Drs Leonardo Almeda ( Cardinal Santos Medical Center ) Concepcion Oreta & Delfin Tan ( St. Luke’s Medical Center) 802: Davao’s finest Obstetrician- Gynecologists along with fertility experts from all over the Philippines and representatives from the Department of Health

Cabling said that IVF’s arrival in Davao City and in Mindanao will change the way people look at in vitro fertilization.

“It should open their minds,” she said, mentioning how, in the past, people used to look at this process to be so out of this world. “But if you look at the process, it’s easy, simple, and the tech is available.”

At least four medical experts will be focusing on IVF and its services. By opening the IVF, Brokenshire Hospital is able to pave a path for a future where they hope to become a medical establishment with advanced reproductive technology and venture into services and training and research.

The going rate for the services, Cabling said, will largely depend on the age of the client. Age is always related to success ratio.

She said that for someone who’s 30 years old, services will start at P300,000. But clients older than that will likely spend more because as we mature, the female human body produces less eggs. “The success rate goes down to five percent when we age beyond 40,” Cabling said. The rate will include supporting medications.

Pre- and post-treatment infertility counseling will be free during select weekends in the coming months and by appointments.

Cabling said that a package programs are also being explored so that these can assist clients in loan applications in the near future. She added that IVF is creating mechanisms to have lower costs possible to reach out to more couples.

The 25-30 million-peso worth of technology that the hospital bought from Europe, along with medical expertise, will come in as mediators in situations where no amount of surgery and medication can achieve pregnancy.

Counseling and information drives remain one of the priorities of the facility. Cabling said that they want to be able to reach out to key populations and direct their needs to available resources and proper guidance.

In Mindanao, she said that there continue to be recurring challenges on acceptance and making the first step to solve infertility problems.

The issue on cost and how to make the tech available for them is also a challenge to some. But the doctors are optimistic that through proper counseling, “we can make this work rather than just believing in destiny,” Cabling said.

Cabling also mentioned that she wants to be able to send out a message that infertility is not solely caused by the woman. A common misconception she said is that a woman always blames herself as the problem.

“We want to correct those myths on infertility,” she said. “We have to explain to them that this is not an individual problem.”

Cabling said that the current take home baby rate in the country is at about 40-50 percent. She has high hopes that for IVF, the same or a higher number will be in fruition.

Before the facility even started its operations, last November 1, Cabling said that several clients have already pre-booked for consultations and initial testicular biopsy for men.

Cabling, along with experts from her department said that Mindanao is ready for the technology, as reflected in the many couples that have been sending inquiries about it. She compared this from five to six years ago of when this tech appears as foreign to them.

For the month of November, there are five men and three female candidates who are booked for appointments. On December and January, there are eight couples who have already expressed interest in the services of IVF.

She said that the hospital is also preparing for the ASEAN integration to accommodate even for foreign clients.

The first IVF clinic in the country opened in Manila in September in 1989.

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Malagos Chocolate’s 2nd International Award for the year http://mindanaotimes.net/malagos-chocolates-2nd-international-award-for-the-year/ http://mindanaotimes.net/malagos-chocolates-2nd-international-award-for-the-year/#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2015 03:56:51 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=19782 ]]> It’s official: One of the world’s best drinking chocolates can be found in the Philippines.

Judges at the 2015 International Chocolate Awards’ World Drinking Chocolate Competition have adjudged the Philippine-made Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate as one of the world’s best. In an announcement made on its website on October 9, 2015, the organization gave Malagos 65% Dark Chocolate the Silver Prize as one of the world’s best drinking chocolates. The Davao-made chocolate won in the Dark Drinking Chocolate Category, specifically drinks made with milk. Winning the Gold was Chocolate de Mesa from the United States.


Entries to the 2015 World Drinking Chocolate Competition of the International Chocolate Awards were judged using a specially developed judging system, created after international trials and consultation with independent experts around the world. The competition drew entries from around the world. The entries were judged live at the Schokolade Gourmet Festival in Hannover, Germany last September 2015, using consumer recipes prepared by a team of chefs according to the entrants’ consumer recipes.

This honor comes soon after Malagos Chocolates’ recent victory at the 2015 Academy of Chocolate Awards in London, where its 100% Pure Unsweetened Chocolate won the Bronze Award for Best Unflavoured Drinking Chocolate.

“We are very proud of this achievement. Winning two international awards in the span of only one year proves that Philippine-made chocolates can be elevated to world-class standards,” said Rex Puentespina, Chocolate Maker at Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp., the company that makes the award-winning chocolates.

The Davao-based company started making premium single-origin cocoa liquor in 2012. They received training from the Mars Cocoa Sustainability Team, which taught them how to process high-quality beans to international standards. The company also started working closely with more than 40 small farmers in the area, using cacao beans harvested from trees growing in the foothills of Mount Talomo in Davao. The area is a highly diverse agricultural zone on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

Malagos Agri-Ventures grows Trinitario clones, a cross between the Criollo and Forastero varieties, specifically and predominantly the UF 18, BR 25 and PBC 123 clones. These beans are considered as fine flavor beans. These are manually harvested then fermented on the farm to further enhance naturally their complex flavor.

The company also invested in solar dryers, precision-controlled roasters, ball mill grinders and tempering machines. The company continues to invest in equipment and technology, producing other premium, single-origin fine chocolate products such as Malagos Cocoa Liquor /Mass, Malagos 100% Pure Unsweetened Chocolate, Malagos Roasted Cocoa Nibs and Malagos Dark Chocolate in 65%, 72% & 85%.

The International Chocolate Awards is an independent competition recognizing excellence in fine chocolate making and in the products made with fine chocolate. As the World’s only fully independent international fine chocolate competition, it aims to support companies producing fine chocolate and chocolatiers, small companies and artisans working with fine chocolate. By helping these markets to grow and develop, it also aims to support the farmers that grow fine cacao.

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Director of Department of Education Region XI Spoke to MCI Weekly Study Forum about General View of Alternative Deliver Mode of Education System http://mindanaotimes.net/director-of-department-of-education-region-xi-spoke-to-mci-weekly-study-forum-about-general-view-of-alternative-deliver-mode-of-education-system/ http://mindanaotimes.net/director-of-department-of-education-region-xi-spoke-to-mci-weekly-study-forum-about-general-view-of-alternative-deliver-mode-of-education-system/#comments Sat, 26 Sep 2015 05:57:07 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=18161 ]]> BESIDES giving scholarships and implementing other projects, MCI offers Saturday night weekly study forums to discuss current issues. In this regard we invited the head of Philippines’ Department of Education Regional Director, Attorney Alberto T. Escobarte CESO IV, Region XI, and Dr. Janette G. Velosa, Ed.D OIC-CLMD Department of Education Regional Office, on Saturday night, September 19.  They presented a general overview of ADMs; the different modes of instructional delivery and learning principles; the roles of school administration, teachers, learners, NGOs and community; and the challenges and benefits of implementing such learning systems. We were especially interested in the role of state and non-profit organizations in the education of the disadvantage students. After our guest speakers finished their talk, students and MCI tutors asked questions about the ADM program and the Philippine’s government K-12 program. The Director argued that ADM program gives an opportunity for youth who do not have a means or a way to attend school full time, but through the ADM program students can still manage to finish high school. MCI student tutors wore their green T-shirts for easy identification. Director Escobarte and Dr. Velosa honoured MCI by contributing their knowledge and opinions to the MCI weekly Saturday night


forum. MCI partners with several universities in the Philippines and abroad. These liaisons serve MCI‘s goal for educational development, which increasingly has become the main focus of all MCI’s programs because significant indicators point to education as the chief means of bolstering literacy in all its forms, training students for their careers, mentoring future community leaders, and subsequently alleviating the social ills that accompany illiteracy. In addition, MCI is partnering with Thompson Christian School (TCS) to implement a faculty exchange program between TCS and Boles Independent School District in Texas. MCI is currently helping TCS to develop a K-12 program and to prepare students for graduation through the Alternative Delivery Mode (ADM) program in which MCI tutors high-risk students who are not succeeding in a traditional setting in order for them to obtain a diploma. To help them overcome social and economic constraints in their schooling, the program addresses the learning needs of marginalized students and of those learners who may have dropped out. The ADM innovations are believed to make the schools more inclusive and more flexible, especially for children who do poorly in school or are at risk of dropping out, or are hard to reach, living in highly congested learning environments or having difficult coping with a regular school calendar. Because the partnership for basic education programs, including childhood education, aims to increase quality education for vulnerable populations, we target the disadvantaged young people, out-of-school youth, marginalized students, or students who are struggling to go to school every day, and tackle the causes of their inadequate or inequitable education such as their need to work, lack of finances, family and personal problems, distances from their home to school, lack of role models, early pregnancy, early marriage, and other justifiable and legitimate reasons. Because of problems as well as a lack of motivation, value for education, discipline, and role models, these students did not go to school or did not continue in it. Therefore, to prevent drop out and to improve retention, MCI envisioned a mentorship program to make students more comfortable in a learning environment, to make the learning experience more interesting and engaging, and to develop personal relations with them in order to listen to them as they voice their struggles as well as to encourage them to finish the program.

              Our research determined that the combined collaborative efforts of four entities–Minority Care International (MCI), Thompson Christian School (TCS), the Department of Education in the Philippines (DepEd), and a university partner (in this case the Department of Special Education at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP), among other universities–would produce the most effective and sustainable educational benefits for the high risk population mentioned above. At the end of the semester the DepEd will provide a certificate to college students who volunteered to tutor ADM students as an incentive for college students to help the less fortunate and to accrue on-the-job training in their field of education. 
             ADM students register at TCS and will graduate from that K-12 institution. ADM students go to TCS once a week; in addition, they attend MCI tutorial sessions during week. MCI provides the physical place for ADM students with university students tutoring and mentoring, rotating grade levels during different evenings of the week. Tutors are matched based on their subject range, suitability for each student’s needs, and scheduling. In addition to providing academic assistance, tutors also become a role model and mentor for their students through the strong bond they develop. TCS provides modules for ADM students to follow. Aside from the physical space, MCI also provides computers to offer students a foundation in computer literacy and to teach the use of basic information and communication technology tools. ADM students will earn 60 % of their credit from study at TCS and 40 % from attendance at the mandatory MCI tutorial sessions.. Both TCS’s ADM coordinators and MCI’s coordinators meet at least once a week with the TCS administration and the MCI college students who tutor the ADM students one-on-one. Both MCI’s ADM coordinator for the tutors and TCS’s ADM coordinators closely monitor the ADM students to make sure that each student follows the modules and attends the tutorials. TCS provides tutors a notebook for each ADM student to take notes, and those notes are given weekly to the TCS administration. Most of the tutors who teach the ADM students are majors in special education, so they are already trained for these types of tasks. As of now, there are 60 students enrolled in the ADM Program. They have registered at TCS, attend Sunday sessions there, and study one scheduled weekday for two hours for the tutorial sessions offered by MCI. Each college student who tutors has a booklet about each ADM student to evaluate them weekly, and to give the result to the TCS program head. Presently, 40 students and volunteers come from different universities to tutor the ADM students, but predominately the main feeder institutions are the University of Southeastern Philippines, the University of Mindanao, and the University of Immaculate Conception. The program leads give tutors authority to rate the students’ performance based on how they respond to every question the tutors give, their attendance, and their readiness (preparedness) when they arrive at the tutorial center in the Turkish Coffee Shop. The tutors give their assessment of the students to the ADM teachers at TCS, and that grade is added to their Performance Tasks (PT) with the 
percentage of 40% for the overall evaluation.

             Besides giving scholarships and implementing other projects, MCI offers 

Saturday night weekly study forums to discuss current issues. In this regard we invited 

the head of Department of Education Regional Director, Attorney Alberto T. Escobarte 

CESO IV, Region XI, and Dr. Janette G. Velosa, Ed.D OIC-CLMD Department of 

Education Regional Office, on Saturday night, September 19.  They presented 

a general overview of ADMs; the different modes of instructional delivery and learning 

principles; the roles of school administration, teachers, learners, NGOs and community; 

and the challenges and benefits of implementing such learning systems. We were 

especially interested in the role of state and non-profit organizations in the education of 

the disadvantage students. After our guest speakers finished their talk, students and MCI 

tutors asked questions about the ADM program and the Philippine’s government K-12 

program. The Director argued that ADM program gives an opportunity for youth who 

do not have a means or a way to attend school full time, but through the ADM program

students can still manage to finish high school. MCI student tutors wore their green T-

shirts for easy identification. Director Escobarte and Dr. Velosa honoured MCI by 

contributing their knowledge and opinions to the MCI weekly Saturday night forum.

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Helping children cope with disaster trauma through art http://mindanaotimes.net/helping-children-cope-with-disaster-trauma-through-art/ http://mindanaotimes.net/helping-children-cope-with-disaster-trauma-through-art/#comments Sat, 05 Sep 2015 06:16:33 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=17284 ]]> EVER since he was young, Nikolo Salazar, a Tacloban-born young artist has always had a knack for the visual arts. He said that when he was young, he would draw on the walls of his parents’ room human figures, animals, and airplanes.

His journey to becoming an artist was jumpstarted with good education in De La Salle–College of Saint Benilde where he finished a BA in animation, followed by an intensive seven-month course computer graphics in Cebu where he was a scholar.


But it is perhaps his real life struggle that honed him to become an artist not just for himself but for his own community.

Nikolo was among the thousands of victims who went through the wrath of typhoon Haiyan—one of the world’s strongest tropical cyclones—when it hit the country last November 2013.

At 24, Nikolo looks back at his life changing experience, ponders on how fragile people can be and has his creative process largely shifted to making art meaningful for the people around him: children.


“I think I took a leap of faith to devote myself to teaching and to practice arts,” he said. A year after his experience with Haiyan, Nikolo, from his usual dark and mysterious art, put more light on paper and drew resilience in so many forms.

This shift led him and a network of equally passionate individuals to create Art Road Incorporated, a social enterprise aimed to support young boys and girls in pursuing tertiary level of education.

Art Road has its focus locked on children who survived from disasters but lost their parents and those young individuals with disabilities that have the capacity to pursue higher level of education. By producing art and putting these out on the market, Art Road hopes to be able to raise funds for these kids. (For more information on how you can be involved, visit Facebook.com/pages/ArtRoad-Inc/975755452446084)

Today, Nikolo makes baby steps by being engaged in doing art workshops for children who are going through trauma.

A coffee table book that is underway best describes where he is right now as an artist. This tome comprises a compelling series of hand drawn portraits on children called Beauty of Survival.

Using his medium–a careful mix of charcoal, watercolor, and oil, and old analog and digital tools—he said that he wants to keep engaging audiences by putting focus on children and their need to cope with life’s difficulties.

“I taught them how to express their traumas,” he said. All of the kids that he met tell the same story: “a lot of them have something to prove and to fulfull their dreams.”

By empowering kids to express themselves, Nikolo, conversely, learns more about art and its importance.

“If you’re a man of the arts it’s easy for you to understand things in life. Whether it’s trauma or difficulties that you’re doing through, you’re able to interpret these creatively,” he said. “I learn a lot in terms of understanding individuals. Art, to them, becomes the exit of turmoils.”

Art is not just there because it’s fancy and because people love it look at it, he said when asked about art as therapy.

“We do this because we want to help ourselves and to enrich our minds,” he said. “It’s therapy with an output that reminds you of your process. It inspires you.”

Nikolo is also active in participating in disaster response mobilities that concern children—especially in initiating activities for child-friendly spaces (CFS). These CFSs are an integral component of emergency response calamity specially created by NGOs to help children cope with trauma.

These pop-up spaces are relevant in the way these provide comfort and services to children who are going through tough times.

Nikolo said that he will always remember one of his students who told him how learning how to make art relieved him of so much emotional turmoil. This kid 10-year-old kid went through severe trauma after finding out that his beloved friends perished during the typhoon.

Other than closely working with NGOs in the past and now teaching art to kids in workshops, Nikolo busies himself with film production. He handla a film production crew that he co-handles Wolfpac films where he works as producer and film scorer. He also acts, draws, animates, and composes.


Going through the typhoon and having to deal with the trauma that went with it was tough. But at the end of the day, Nikolo said that he was taught to value the things around him. “It’s all about being able to appreciate daily life,” he said.

Nikolo recalled his experience at the height of the typhoon and waking up to its left trail. “Everyday we had to search for food,” he said. “Money didn’t matter. It’s all about survival. We were all back to zero.”

He said that he is lucky to have been spared by Haiyan’s full wrath: his family at the mercy of the tip of the storm surge. “I thought that the whole world was affected—that it was the end,” he said.

After the typhoon, he was subjected to even more trauma when he saw dead bodies. “They were all piled up,” he recalled. “I initially thought to myself that life as it is, is what you have. It is fragile and you just have to make the most of it depending on circumstances.”

After the typhoon and now getting back on his feet as an artist, he said that “I’m just going to love life everyday,” he said, sharing that at trying times, even the fate of the strongest of people are sealed.

As he teaches kids to explore trauma as he also explores his, Nikolo said that questions about life and coping never stop to crop up.

“We do not run out of questions to ask ourselves, but as long as you’re doing the things that want to do, no matter what happens, you will always arrive with good answers.”

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Roots, fruits, and the Kadayawan Festival http://mindanaotimes.net/roots-fruits-and-the-kadayawan-festival/ http://mindanaotimes.net/roots-fruits-and-the-kadayawan-festival/#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 08:04:51 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=16709 ]]> IN A CITY like Davao, fruits and crops are royalty this time of year, during the celebration of the annual Kadayawan Festival.

Founded 30 years ago, the Kadayawan Festival has year after year invited visitors from all points of the earth to an event touted the Festival of Festivals. The word, loosely translated, means ‘celebration of bounty’.

Photos by Bing Gonzales

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Visitors need simply ask any local where the fruits are. Pummelos? Drive or walk towards the road near Madrazo Compound. There are also boxes of these ready for flights out of the city towards the drive to the Francisco Bangoy International Airport. Mangosteen? Lanzones? Rambutan? Bankerohan is your best bet, with the city’s biggest public market as the most relatively near the plantations in the third district.

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Word easily gets around about the seasons and the average price. As of this week, the per kilogram pricing for fresh durian ranges from P40 to P80, with the days approaching the festival dropping the price of the city’s king of fruits.

While there are the usual haunts for durian, say the corner streets of Rizal and Anda and the stretch along Magsaysay Park, the vendors of the sweetly pungent fruits have gotten creative over the years, selling the fruits from the backs of multicabs and pickup trucks.

But what has really been the state of the fruit basket of the country?

According to an earlier report, production for durian has been seen to decline this year because of changes in weather conditions.

Candelario Miculob, who leads the influential Durian Industry Council of Davao, said the harvest this year would be late this year to September instead of July or August.

To local buyers, this means the cheaper durian will flood the city’s streets a month later. To producers, this means lower sales for all their markets, even as they look for alternative buyers, even those abroad.

Data from Philippine Statistics Authority-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (PSA-BAS) showed that the region was able to produce 62,768.76 metric tons of durian last year, which dropped from 70,063.66 metric tons in 2013.

Aside from the fruits paraded around the city’s streets, the Kadayawan Festival has always been a celebration of diversity. This time of year, the city and the rest of the world are reminded that here, there is life and there is peace.

Lumads (or indigenous peoples) from across different groups historically converged in the city and formed it through a reference to Mt. Apo and what would now be the Davao River’s namesake, Davao City.

In the recent years, the Lumads have enjoyed a greater participation to the celebrations. Last Friday we crowned an Ata, Floramea Manyawron, as this year’s Hiyas ng Kadayawan. Five tribes last week “battled it out” through 13 tribal games.

But there is another side to the Kadayawan that must be examined, an elephant in the room.

The Lumads from other provinces have even made this city their own haven, from the unrest of their own locales.

Since earlier this year, around 700 Lumads from Kapalong and Talaingod in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon have made the city their home, fearing the worst in their areas.

In an interview yesterday at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Datu Men Malibato, 42, of Gupitan, Kapalong, said the Lumads have themselves seen the direct effects of man’s slaughter of the environment to crops, including food staples like taro, corn and rice.

Harvest season, he said, no longer depended on the month, but on the prevailing weather.

Datu Men said that for years, the summer seasons of March has now become April or May, with the harvest season coming two to three months later depending on the crop.

For high value upland rice, the harvest cycle comes five months later.

Malibato belongs to a community with around 98 families, comprising around 600 people.

Dato Jimboy Mandagit, a Manobo form Bukidnon, said harvest seasons have not changed. But Mandagit said his people was not enticed to parade around the streets, choosing to fight for their advocacy of demilitarization instead.

The Lumads at the UCCP Haran compound have been camped in the area for months, demanding the pullout of military troops from their areas, including schools.

Mandagit’s sitio in Bukidnon is home to around 1,000 people.

Even with the city as his sanctuary, Datu Mandagit laments the crops that have been left back home. “We moved to Davao with only the clothes on our backs,” he said. “I’m sure that wild animals have eaten our crops by now.”

While thankful for the support of the city, singling out the moral support publicly given by Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte and the logistical support of Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, Lumads like Mandagit would rather stay at the camp rather than walk the streets.

“We are curious of course of what the celebration is all about,” the young Datu said. “But at every corner of the city there are soldiers and police.”

Some of the evacuees figured in a scuffled last month touted a misunderstanding by all parties concerned. Riot police figured in a brief fight with Lumads last July 23 on an operation touted as a “rescue mission” by legislator Nancy Catamco, who leads the House committee on indigenous peoples.

Mayor Duterte has since excused the police and said the problem to ideology, a complication intesified by the entry of more conflict last month. He had harsher words for the congresswoman, however. The military also promised an internal investigation.

The Lumad leaders said that even before the conflict, the fruits of their labor have always been barely enough for the needs of their communities. A harvest of corn, for example, would yield sacks worth of products, which they would transport via floating raft downriver, or via a hired motorcycle or horse. The choice has always been spend more or earn enough for products like rice and corn. “At times, it looks like we are just delivering the products with our expenses with transporting the products,” one of the leaders says.

The Lumad leaders said they sought the sanctuary of the city because of the good things they hear about the place, as well as the proximity to their own homes.

Asked if there were fruits in their own areas, Datu Mandagit said that Davao and Bukidnon had similar crops with our city, and shared in the celebration of the same abundance every year.

“Had we been visitors to the city instead, we would have given our own harvests away,” Mandagit said. “Our culture tells us to share what we have to others.”

For the duration of the weekend, tribes from all over Mindanao have all gathered towards the city, each with their own reasons. For some, it is for celebration, while for the rest, it is for hope for change.

Over the years, the city has led this role. Mediator between deity and earth, bridge between two sides of a river, a melting pot for peoples of different beliefs.

And we will stay that way for years, one Kadayawan Festival after another.

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Tourist arrivals spike this year – Alabado http://mindanaotimes.net/tourist-arrivals-spike-this-year-alabado/ http://mindanaotimes.net/tourist-arrivals-spike-this-year-alabado/#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 08:04:25 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=16707 ]]> AS THE CITY is celebrating the 30th Kadayawan Festival, the Department of Tourism (DOT) projected an increase in tourist arrivals by 10% this month.

DOT XI expected that the arrivals will spike from August last year’s record at 152,747 tourists. Of the figure, majority were local tourists that totaled 141,719 while there were only 10,424 foreign visitors who arrived in time for the month-long festivity.

Tourism regional director Roberto P. Alabado III told the reporters yesterday at the sidelines of the conduct of Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan that hotels are fully-booked.

Alabado said the representatives from the hotels told him that there were international visitors from Japan, Taiwan, China and others. The contingents of different activities like Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan and the conduct of different meetings, conventions and conferences also contribute to the increasing number of tourists.

“There were even some hotels that declined incoming guests as they were already fully-booked,” he said, adding that this is a “very good indicator” as it means that there are a lot of tourists.

If by bus, Alejandro J. Alilin, manager of Davao City Overland Transport Terminal, told the TIMES they expected an increase on the number of passengers this weekend, when the major events such as Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan and Pamulak Kadayawan are conducted, from about 25,000 to 35,000 passengers.

“There will be visitors too that would just travel here and go back in their provinces within the day,” Alilin said.

The Kadayawan Festival, the CTOO said, “is an annual celebration in the city of Davao during the third week of August. It is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living.”

“It also focuses on the multicolored mix of Davao and Mindanao’s indigenous communities as well as migrant settlers, whose identities make up the rich cultural heritage of this island,” CTOO said, as this highlights the tribes based in the city such as Sama, Bagobo-Klata, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Matigsalog, Ata, Iranun, Maguindanaon, Tausug, Maranao, Kagan and Ovu Manubo.

During the opening ceremony of Kadayawan Festival Thursday at San Pedro Square, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte hoped that this year’s festivity will be successful and attract “a lot of visitors” as they are offering different activities.

Tourists can opt from shopping at various trade fairs, eating Durian, witnessing the street dance competition Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan, having a selfie with the winner of this year’s Hiyas ng Kadayawan, being mesmerized at the huge floral floats, partying at Kadayawan Street Party to listening at various artists in Hudyakaan sa Kadayawan.

Visitors can also check on the new attractions like the city’s festive photo booth installed along Rizal Park, airport or in front of City Hall. They may even see how the mayor jive the “Twerk it Like Miley” dance.

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Showcasing flowers, bountiful harvest http://mindanaotimes.net/showcasing-flowers-bountiful-harvest/ http://mindanaotimes.net/showcasing-flowers-bountiful-harvest/#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 08:00:26 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=16715 ]]> THE CITY boasts of the grandiose floral float parade, Pamulak Kadayawan, where it features bountiful harvests and colorful flowers.

The annual floral float parade that is set to be conducted today will feature the city’s abundance of flowers that continues to blossom amidst the change in weather.

“You can see a lot of floats filled with flowers, as we are blessed with natural resources,” Pamulak Kadayawan committee chair James A. Zimmerman said in an interview, adding that there would be celebrities too that would join as an added attraction during the parade.

In this year’s Pamulak Kadayawan, there will be 71 contingents, including 13 participants that would compete for the alternative category while 14 in the traditional category.

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FLORAL float from International Pharmaceutical Inc. bagged the grand winner in the traditional category of the “Pamulak” last year. BING GONZALES

For the traditional category, the grand prize is P500,000, followed by P300,000 for the second placer, P100,000, for the third placer, and P50,000 as consolation prize.

For the alternative category, the grand winner would bagged a prize of P150,000, followed by P100,000 for the second placer, P50,000 for the third placer, and P30,000 for the consolation prize.

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BARANGAY Sta Cruz, Talikud Island won third place in the traditional category of the “Pamulak” last year. BING GONZALES

Under the official rules and guidelines for the floral float parade, the floats for traditional should have a minimum size of eight feet in width and 12 feet in height while the entries for alternative category may use miniature cars such as Volkswagen, Beetle, golf rarts, mini tractors, push carts, karo, kalesa, or pedicabs.

The competing floral floats will use at least 80% fresh flower, plants, fruits and vegetable while the non-competing entries are require to use at least 10%.

If the contingents will not follow this rules and guidelines they will be disqualified from the competition or barred from the parade.

The route for the Pamulak Kadayawan was shortened to cater to all the participants.

“There might be something that might happen that will contribute to the delay,” said Zimmerman. The parade will end at about 11:30 a.m.

Zimmerman noted that the parade would start at 8 a.m. and begin from Magsaysay St., then to C.M. Rector St., turn left to San Pedro St., right to Pelayo St., right to Bonifacio St., right to C. Bangoy St. and left to Palma Gil St. The floral floats will be displayed in People’s Park.

Zimmerman also lauded the local cut flower industry as majority of the flowers that will be used to decorate the floats are grown here in Davao City.

So if you miss Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival, do not ever forget to catch this year’s Pamulak Kadayawan here in Davao City.

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Word magic -Luzon-based spoken word artist Kooky Tuason believes in the power of words and she tells us why http://mindanaotimes.net/word-magic-luzon-based-spoken-word-artist-kooky-tuason-believes-in-the-power-of-words-and-she-tells-us-why/ http://mindanaotimes.net/word-magic-luzon-based-spoken-word-artist-kooky-tuason-believes-in-the-power-of-words-and-she-tells-us-why/#comments Sun, 09 Aug 2015 05:10:18 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=15963 ]]> EVERYTHING that she is doing as an artist is largely anchored on her advocacy to help people find their own voices—big or small.

Tuason said that spoken word, as a medium, is a combination of theater, storytelling, poetry, dance, and music.

“It’s an all in one performance,” she said. “I want everyone to be conscious of their words.”

Tuason, and her spoken word partner (and project manager) Marty Tengco both believe that words are a powerful too. “Words either bless or curse,” Tengco said who also acts as Tuason’s percussionist during performances.

“When you declare words to the universe, the universe throws it back to you,” Tengco said.

(Photos by Angely Chi, Karla Singson, Sam Respecia, Pam Chua, and Silingan Art Space)


KOOKY Tuason and Marty Tengco

Tuason narrated that her love affair with words started with writing in high school. She continued to pursue her love for words since then. She’s been witness to how powerful words are when she once performed a experience-based piece about being mugged. She omitted one of the lines in that piece (that said something about blaming God) after she got mugged yet again.

“Every time it perform that piece, I become more aware and conscious of the words that I use,” she said.

Tuason shared that she is currently enjoying writing about love—the kind that not a lot of people often discuss: love that goes beyond the soul and the spirit.

In her workshops, Tuason said that she always wants to teach people to find their own voice. “I just want to help everyone to think,” she said. “I just want to to inspire everyone to get into the scene; I believe that everyone has a voice and a story to tell.”

Spoken word, to Tuason, is unlike any kind of media that always puts focus on “amazing and aspirational” people. “I just want everyone to be truthful,” she said.

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PARTICIPANTS of Tuason’s spoken word workshop at Silingan art space were taught to find their own voice

“Not everyone’s perfect; some are shy. But just because your voice is small doesn’t mean people shouldn’t to you,” Tengco added, saying that even small voices—like those of shy and introverted people—are meant to inspire.

Aside from holding performance poetry workshops (like the one currently being held in Silingan art space this weekend), she has also published four spoken word albums, which are available for sale. She is also the founder and the creative genius behind an online channel called the Thinking Man’s Classroom.

“We’re changing the face of education through alternative learning,” Tuason said. The website, which only started February this year, currently houses five video-based shows and gained a strong number of followers.

Earlier this year, she also released a coffee table book called Picket Lines: Dialogues Between Eves, Among Eves and For Eves. The tome contains 100 photos of women with poetry; it’s published for a cause, with the Women’s Crisis Center as its beneficiary.

With all the projects that Kooky is doing, it’s easy to see how words can change lives and communities.

“Spoken word will continue to flourish as long as people are willing to be real,” Tuason said. Tengco added that these contemporary practices of the oral tradition storytelling traditin will continue because people love stories and to listen to these.

“It’s a learning experience that helps people identify with one another,” Tengco said. “Some also get healing from that.”


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MOTLEY| Auntie Sising: Our inspiration for kindness and humility http://mindanaotimes.net/motley-auntie-sising-our-inspiration-for-kindness-and-humility/ http://mindanaotimes.net/motley-auntie-sising-our-inspiration-for-kindness-and-humility/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 02:48:00 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=15572 ]]> DR. CASILDA “Sising” Aparis, Doctor of Education, the Assistant Director of the UM Fitness & Wellness Centre, Vice-President of the Mary Immaculate Health & Educational Foundation, and Most Outstanding President of the Rotary International District 3860, is my role model of simplicity and a meek heart. Through all the times that I have witnessed her journey in life, she has shown gracious composure in dealing with the uncertain day to day living.


AUNTIE Sising during her 62nd Birthday.

   Sising, as she is fondly called by family, relatives and close friends, joined our Creator last July 24 after succumbing to complications brought about by her right brain tumor. Auntie Sising never complained aloud of any pain but instead chose to keep them to herself. Everytime I asked her in the hospital if her head was aching, she always move her head to signal “no” for an answer. She is definitely stronger than I thought she was. Auntie Sising passed away in her sleep surrounded by us her loved ones in the break of dawn. A family prayer was then offered for her eternal rest in peace. Auntie Sising was well-loved by her family up to her last breath.


CHRISTMAS 2014 with the family.

 As the Assistant Director of the UM Fitness & Wellness Centre, she always saw to it that thousands of its students every semester are taught not just about physical fitness but also with spiritual wellness. She kept telling our students to pray unceasingly because for her it is only through prayer that we can receive God’s grace and Divine intervention for our daily needs and supplications. She was UMFWC students’ avid prayer warrior. She loved our students so much that she kept telling them: “we extend our hands in friendship with you.” Surely, her gentle demeanor and sincere compassion for the enlightenment and upliftment of a God-centered life for our students will be greatly missed.


AUNTIE Sising with Ate Remy, her sister with Down’s Syndrome (center) and sister Espie (left).

  Auntie Sising is one of the strongest pillars of the Mary Immaculate Health & Educational Foundation, a 27 year-old foundation helping the less fortunate indigenous and marginalized out-of-school youth including other numerous charity works that deals with health, education, and community services. Together with her sister and partner, Professor Espie Chinel Aparis, Auntie Sising was able to surpass all the hardships and difficulties of maintaining the missions of the foundation and was always up and about ready to serve at all times and at whatever cost.


WELL wishing niece and nephews singing early morning birthday songs to Auntie Sising on her 63rd Birthday.


THIS writer and Auntie Sising relaxing in Panglao Island, Bohol.

She does the field work of keeping the papers of the Mary Immaculate Health & Educational Foundation always updated and bounded by the letters of the law, even if it takes her to be walking under the scorching heat of the sun and riding jeepneys and tricycles just to get to where she must be.

After completing a fruitful year of club presidency with the Rotary Club of South Davao, Dr. Casilda Aparis, was awarded as the Most Outstanding President of the Rotary International District 3860. She has carried out the ideals of Rotary unto her daily services to the community, steering RC South Davao to be awarded as the Most Outstanding Club as well. She often made time to visit the adopted schools and communities of the RC South Davao in order to make sure that services are continuously rendered to these particular recipients. And, in her own simple and humble ways, she made every moment with their beneficiaries worth meaningful by imparting in them Rotary’s motto and sharing to them her own motto: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul.”

Auntie Sising lived a life full of happiness and joy! Her prayerful life was an epitome of surrender to the awesome goodness of the Lord! Her love and prayer for Mama Mary made her very pleasing to God because she taught us to pray the Holy Rosary everyday. Auntie Sising will forever be remembered by us her family, and by her close friends and relatives, because in her simple kindness to each of us, a concerned and caring Auntie Sising shall be forever live in our hearts and minds. She left two words to Auntie Espie on her last night with us for us to remember and live by: “GUGMA ug PAGLA-UM (sa Ginoo) (Love and Hope in the Lord). We will miss you Auntie Sising! We Love You!

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