Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

Special greetings to Grace Torejas, president of the Urban Workers Homeowners Association of Davao shown here (standing extreme right) during their assembly last Thursday.

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She was elected today as National Council member of the newly-formed Aksyon Mindanaw! (Action Mindanao!) party-list group.

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Grace represents a new breed of women community leaders – articulate and dynamic.

Afrim has new ED

ANNOUNCEMENT

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of AFRIM, I would like to formally announce the appointment of Maria Lisa T. Alano as AFRIM’s Executive Director, following the resignation of Mary Luz M. Feranil.

Lisa was AFRIM’s Administrative Officer prior to her new designation. She joined AFRIM in 1995 as a Researcher and has since been assigned to key positions within the organization, as head of the Information Services, Research, and Public Advocacy Departments. AFRIM values her commitment and contribution in the task of providing timely and relevant analysis of issues, which has been AFRIM’s hallmark as a social development organization working for peace and development in Mindanao. Lisa studied Community Development in the University of the Philippines – Diliman, an institution that provides the highest quality education as well as fosters an environment for activism and critical thinking. She holds a master’s degree in Development Studies with specialization in Rural Livelihoods and Global Change and minor in Poverty Studies from the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, The Netherlands.

The AFRIM Board has full confidence in her abilities and look forward to more years of success for AFRIM under her leadership.

Allow me, also, to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Malut for her valuable contributions towards the attainment of AFRIM’s mission in over a decade of committed work with the organisation.

(Sgd.) Wilfredo F. Rodriguez

Chairperson, Board of Directors

2 March 2009

Halal food processing

Mindanao can kiss its hope for a Brunei-funded halal food processing venture here goodbye. This after our ASEAN neighbor has decided to develop a new deep water port with export processing facilities for halal food.

Brunei has just awarded the development of Pulau Muara Besar, an island off the coast of the eastern tip of the oil-rich sultanate, to companies from Singapore and the Philippines.

The plans of the Department of Agriculture to attract funds from Brunei for the development of halal food processing plants in Mindanao have therefore been overtaken by Brunei’s own development initiative.

The DA has offered Mindanao as the site for a regional halal food processing facility which could supply halal food to Muslims in southeast Asia as well as to the Middle East.

I also wrote a letter two years ago to Brunei offering Davao City as possible site for the halal food processing center.

This would no longer be possible with the development of Pulau Muara Besar, a 995-hectare island in Brunei Bay, into a new container port with export processing zone for halal food and other manufacturing facilities. Brunei is undertaking this project to help diversify its industrial growth and lessen its dependence on oil and gas.

The project would be developed by the Surbana Consortium from Singapore and its port operations to be managed by the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. of the Philippines. Both won in the international tender or bidding.

The Manila-based ICTSI operates 16 international ports in 11 countries.

2nd Mindanao bloggers summit

Best wishes to all Mindanao bloggers who are attending the 2nd summit at General Santos City starting today.

I would not be able to make it to the Tuna Capital of the Philippines to attend the conference. I am confident though of its success following last year’s inaugural summit held here in Davao City.

With the likes of Avel of Bariles Republic at the helm and supported by the The Usual Suspects who were involved the 1st summit, things are indeed looking bright for the relevance of bloggers in this part of the virtual world.

I am truly happy that our ranks are expanding although I feel frustrated that not many public officials answered our own calls for them to use this new tool to promote government-to-citizen and citizen-to-government (G2C-C2G) communication.

Maybe by the 3rd summit more public officials, by the proximity of the 2010 elections, would embrace blogging.

Cheers!

World food day activities

Davao City will play host at the 3-day National Organic Conference starting today as part of the week-long activities marking World Food Day tomorrow.

In addition to the activities listed in this flyer, the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao together with the Task Force Food Sovereignty Mindanao will hold panel discussions on Friday on The Food Crisis: Regional Impacts, Roots and Responses at the Mindanao Training and Resource Center.

A battery of speakers from farmers, civil society groups, academe and government will tackle the food situation in Mindanao, the country’s food basket, but where hunger and poverty are prevalent.

I will be one of the reactors.

Check more activities posted at this blog action day network.

Tits for tat

Kosovo declared its independence early this year with the backing of the EU and the US to the objection and consternation of Serbia and Russia.

Yesterday, Russia supported the independence of not one but two breakaway regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – to the objection and condemnation of the EU and US.

Russia had its tits for EU’s and US’s tat.

The conflict in Georgia has strained relations between Russia and the EU and the US to a point that a new cold war has begun. And it is getting hotter.

Kosovo is now recognized by 46 countries but is not yet a member of the United Nations. Russia is certain to veto its membership in the world body.

The same can be said of Abkhazia and South Ossentia. Even if more countries, particularly allied with Russia, would give it recognition, its membership at the UN would be blocked by EU states and the US.

Hhmmm. My mind is playing tricks on me due to this issue.

What if the Bangsama Moro nation declares its independence and Abhkazia and South Ossetia recognize it? What if Taiwan calls for the formation of the United Countries (UC) to rival the UN and invites Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Bangsa Moro, and perhaps Kosovo as its charter members?

What if the likes of Iran and North Korea which are pestered by a UN atomic agency or Palestine which is fed up with UN Resolutions that Israel does not respect suddenly bolt the UN and join the UC?

What if liberation fronts all over the world seeking their own homelands are given observer status at the UC?

The possibilities playing tricks on me are endless. Thank God they are only in my mind.

Tit-for-tat, the cold war is indeed getting hotter!

5:20 a.m.

Heroes day

I just came from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beside the City Council building where we held the commemoration of today’s National Heroes Day.

I represented Vice Mayor Sara Duterte and delivered the welcome remarks. Our guests include the consuls from Japan and Malaysia, government and police officials, war veterans and representatives from many civil society groups.

Our keynote speaker was my colleague 6-term city councilor Nilo Abellera. He paid tribute to our heroes and extolled their virtues that we should emulate like courage, patriotism and sacrifice.

As I sat beside the Malaysian consul-general Nik Mustafa Kamal Nik Ahmad, we had a quiet conversation while the flower offering was going on. We covered quite a lot in the short span of time. Foremost on my mind was the stalled peace process where Malaysia plays a crucial role as both a mediator and a member of the ceasefire monitoring group.

The consul expressed concern that their mandate of being in the monitoring body would lapse at the end of this month. He said both parties, the GRP and MILF, must come to terms asap with regards this international monitoring mechanism.

He thanked Mayor Rody Duterte for lending a voice of moderation in the on-going conflict in Mindanao. He was also elated that the Kadayawan festival last week went without a hitch.

We likewise touched on the current political situation in Malaysia where former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim is seeking a parliamentary seat in tomorrow’s by-elections in Penang. We talked about the wind of change sweeping Malaysia akin to the Obama mania in the US.

I also had the chance to congratulate the consul on Malaysia’s silver medal in badminton at the Beijing Olympics where our own local sports heroes brought home none.

My hero today is war veteran Sotero Palabyab who noticed the list of “distinguished national heroes” printed in the program. He remarked that most of those in the list were heroes of the Spanish era.

He said we should pay attention too to contemporary heroes. His suggestions: Manuel Quezon, father of the Wikang Pilipino and president during the Commonwealth period, who once said he would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than one run like heaven by the Americans; and Ninoy Aquino martyred for freedom and democracy 25 years ago who said the Filipino is worth dying for.

9:07 a.m.